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Between the Earth and the Sea

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Prologue:

1997

Clark was nine when a dark blue car pulled into his gravel driveway. He remembered the day clearly, the lowing of the cows in the far field, the sky was bright blue, the corn tall in the fields indicating late summer, but what he hadn’t known was that the chance meeting would forever change his life.

 

“Mom! Someone’s here!” Clark yelled from where he was playing with his toys.

His mom stepped onto the front porch, wiping her hands on a dish towel. “Clark, what have I told you about yelling?”

Clark could see the amusement on the stranger’s face when he answered, “But mom, how could you hear me if I didn’t yell?”

“Yeah, Martha,” the man said with a grin.

“Jack!” Clark’s mom draped the towel over her shoulder and went down the steps to give the man a hug. “How are you?”

“Hey Martha, I’m good. How are you and Johnny doing?”

She laughed, kissing him smartly on the cheek. “Oh, busy with the farm as usual.”

Clark heard his dad driving the tractor up, obviously having seen the blue car in the driveway. “Dad’s coming,” he said and jumped up, about to race to the barn when his mother shot him a look. He winced and ran normal speed to let his dad know they had company.

Jonathon looked up when his son scampered into the barn. “Hey son, I need your help on the tractor later.”

“Sure, Dad,” Clark said, not phased by the request. “There’s a man here named Jack and he knows Mom,” he informed his father.

“Jack?” Jonathon asked quizzically, then his face lit up and he clapped Clark on the shoulder. “Oh, he’s an old buddy of mine from the Air Force! We met in Germany years ago.”

“I didn’t know you were in the Air Force, Dad!” Clark said, happy to see his dad so happy.

“I did a four year stint after college,” Jonathon told his son as he washed his hands in the huge porcelain sink in the barn. “Your grandfather expected me to serve my country since he did during World War II.”

Clark tilted his head, watching from the bale of straw he was perched on. “Did you fly planes?”

“No, he fixed ‘em,” the stranger named Jack’s cheerful voice came from the door.

“Jack! You old dog, how are you?” Clark’s dad asked with a smile as the two men hugged and thumped each other affectionately on the back.

“I’m good,” Jack said, checking his old friend over, liking what he saw. They’d kept in touch but he hadn’t seen his friend in years and Jonathon looked happy and robustly healthy. “I see Martha is as beautiful as ever.”

“Yes, she definitely is,” Jonathon replied with a grin. “Clark, I want you to meet Jack O’Neill, Jack, this is our son, Clark.”

Clark liked the man’s eyes, they were a velvety brown and twinkled at him. “Hi,” he said shyly as he shook hands.

Jack grinned, even as he felt a pang. The bright eyed curiosity reminded him of Charlie. “Nice to meet you, Clark.” He remembered when Jonathon had written about adopting the kid after he and Martha had been unable to have children themselves.

“You’ll stay for dinner?” Jonathon asked as they headed towards the house.

“Turn down Martha’s food? I don’t think so,” Jack said with a grin at his friend as they walked to the house, carefully wiping his feet before he stepped into the Kent’s homey kitchen. Glancing around with interest, he loved the lived in classic country feel that reminded him of his grandmother’s in Minnesota. “What a beautiful kitchen, Martha,” he said earnestly.

Martha dimpled as she began to place dishes on the table. “Thank you, Jack. I haven’t done anything special.”

“Nothing special, she says,” Jonathon rolled his eyes good-naturedly. “My mother had all avocado appliances and metal cabinets in here. Martha designed the new cabinets and as we had the money we got rid of the old green appliances for the ones we have now. This kitchen is her baby.” At Clark’s look of surprise, he grinned, “and so is Clark.”

“I’m not a baby!” Clark said indignantly, making the adults laugh.

--

Jack pushed back from the table, comfortably full of Martha’s wonderful meal. “You’ve spoiled me, Martha. The Air Force doesn’t feed us this well,” he said with a smile.

“So, ~where~ are you stationed now, Jack?” Jonathon asked curiously.

“NORAD, still in Colorado Springs,” Jack replied. “Deep Space Telemetry. I could use a good mechanic,” he teased his friend who snorted.

“Oh no, the cows don’t feed themselves,” Martha said prosaically. “By the way,” she stood to start clearing, “how is Sara?” She regretted that Jack and Sara’s marriage had fallen apart with Charlie’s death.

Jack shrugged. “We don’t talk, but I ran into her dad at the local Lowe’s and he said she was dealing.”

“Dealing with what?” Clark asked innocently after clearing the mouthful of green beans he taken.

Jonathon stood. “Clark, come out and help me with the tractor while your mother gets dessert ready.”

Subdued, and unhappily aware that he’d said something wrong, Clark mumbled, “Yes, sir.”

Watching father and son disappear out of the door, Jack scrubbed his face with his hands and sighed heavily. “Don’t be hard on the kid, Martha. He didn’t know.”

Martha bent and kissed Jack’s cheek. “Don’t worry, Jon will explain it to him. How does fresh apple pie with ice cream grab you?”

Jack brightened. “Can I take you home with me?” he asked, only half joking.

This made her laugh and blush prettily. It was nice to be appreciated by someone else other than your own husband, though she’d never tell Jon that. “It will be about 10 more minutes, why don’t you join the boys in the barn?” She had completely forgotten that Jonathon had mentioned Clark was going to help him with the tractor. And Clark helping didn’t mean handing his father wrenches.

“A little higher, son,” Jonathon directed as he man-handled the large tire off. He rolled it away, making sure it hit the straw bales, then turned back only to jerk at the sight of Jack in the doorway. Shit.

Jack, for his part, was frozen in shock at the sight in front of him. There, in front of his eyes, was his friend’s nine year old son holding up the tractor like he’d hold a doughnut.

Clark saw his father’s face and turned his head to see Jack in the doorway, and realized that they’d shown something that his parents had told him to keep hidden. He whipped his head around to look at his dad and held his breath…

“Let the tractor down easy, son,” Jonathon said resignedly. “Hey, Jack.”

Doing what his father said, Clark was filled with uneasiness. What would Jack say?

“Well, huh,” Jack said, coming further into the barn. He’d known that Clark was adopted, he ~hadn’t~ known that Clark was different. He looked completely human, but under the physical similarities, the differences (how many kids could hold up a tractor?) made it blindingly obvious that he was an alien. And Jack would know about aliens, he worked with aliens every day as the head of SG-1.

“Jack,” Jonathon’s voice cracked. “I know you have to report this, but please give me time to…”

Jack’s head shot up from where he was contemplating the brick floor and he stared at his friend. “Do you really think that I would do that to you? Johnny, this is me! You saved my life, I saved yours!” he caught Clark’s wide eyed gaze and laughed quietly. “Oh, man. If you only knew how surprised I’m ~not~.”

Jonathon relaxed fractionally. “What do you mean?” He went over and ruffled Clark’s curls reassuringly.

With a sigh, Jack sat himself on a bale of straw. “I work at NORAD okay? But there are things, shit, it’s all classified…” he trailed off and grinned at Clark. “You’re special, kid. Don’t doubt it, but be more careful, okay?”

Martha suddenly appeared at the barn door, red cheeked and panting, and Jonathon shook his head at her. “A little late, honey.”

At her look of dismay, Jack stood and held up his hands. “Hey, not only did I not see anything, I need pie to fortify me on my drive home.”

Martha and Jonathon exchanged what Clark called their ‘mom and dad are worrying about something important’ look, that was silent but spoke volumes, then Martha smiled. “Clark honey, would you like some apple pie, too?”

His mom’s apple pie? Clark’s eyes went wide and just like that the latest crisis in his life was over. “Can I, Mom? Can I have ice cream on it, too?” he asked pleadingly.

The adults laughed and Jack nodded knowingly. “Now that’s a kid who can appreciate pie.”

“You have no idea,” Martha rolled her eyes. Clark was already eating enough for a grown man, she could hardly wait to see what his high school years would bring.

 

Later at the blue sedan, Jack hugged Jonathon good-bye then stepped back. “Johnny, I want you to promise me something.”

The serious look on Jack’s face made Jon’s heart jump, but he nodded. “Okay, shoot.”

“If you ever, and I mean ~ever~ need anything for Clark, and you were in the military, you know what I mean,” he stopped, eyeing his friend meaningfully and waited for Jonathon’s rather sick and knowing nod, “you can send him to me and I’ll protect him. With my life,” he added seriously.

So grateful, god, so damn grateful for such a good man as a friend, Jonathon pulled Jack in for another back-slapping hug. “Thank you. We’ll be careful, but if we need to…”

“Good.” Jack gave him a nod, clapped him on the shoulder, waved at the house before getting into the military sedan and driving away.

~*~

13 years later-

Lex had heard that particular tone in his father’s voice before, and lingered outside of the old man’s office to see what was up. It never meant anything good.

“Sam, I’ve finally got the proof on that Kent boy. Your daughter did well. He’s as alien as the rock samples brought from Mars. He needs to be used, or neutralized before he becomes a threat.” Lionel’s voice was viciously gleeful and Lex felt his stomach roil with anxiety and fear.

“How many people do you think we’ll need, Lionel?”

The hard voice of General Sam Lane made Lex suppress a shudder. This was bad, very, very bad.

“Ten men ought to do it. I’ll release the meteorite to you personally for distribution. Tell them to keep it on them at all times, it will weaken the boy enough to capture.”

“Good, I think if we…” the voices trailed off as Lex sped away on silent feet. He had a best friend to warn.

~*~

Clark was packing, getting ready to move to Metropolis to start his new job as reporter for the Daily Planet. He’d graduated just a few weeks before with his major in Journalism and a minor in Military History, a subject that he’d aced with Lex’s help. He was excited, nervous, ready to become the adult his parents had hoped he would be.

“Clark, do you have clean underwear?” His mother asked absently.

“Mo-om, I have ~plenty~ of underwear. God, what if Lois heard you?” Clark asked, his voice scandalized. It was a moot point. Lois had moved to Metropolis a few weeks before they had graduated, only coming back to gather all of the girly stuff she’d left behind, and to harass Clark.

Martha chuckled. “She’d thank her lucky stars that you wore clean underwear.” The older woman had become fond of Lois. The daughter of one of the country’s most influential Generals had lived with them off and on for five years. She was almost good enough for Clark.

Clark snorted and tossed some more underwear into his duffle bag, leaving it unzipped for more stuff. “You’re such a funny mom. Not.” He knew his mom had entertained thoughts of him and Lois, but even the mention of the smart and abrasive Lois Lane could set his teeth on edge. He wasn’t sure how he was going to deal with working with her day after day.

“Son, will you need any more suitcases? If so I need to make another trip up to the attic,” Jonathon said when he poked his head into Clark’s room.

Looking dubiously around, Clark shook his head. “No, I think I have everything. And what I don’t have you’re bringing to Metropolis, right?”

The sound of tires screeching and gravel being thrown caught their attention and Clark leaned out his window. “Hey, it’s Lex! I wonder what he’s doing here?”

He pounded down the stairs and went to the front door which was unceremoniously flung open.

“Clark!” Lex’s face had sheer relief on it.

“Hi Lex,” Clark said, eyeing his frazzled, (a rarely seen sight, ~Luthors~ never got frazzled,) friend. “Are you okay?”

Lex steadied himself, slipping shaking hands into his pockets. “You’re in danger, Clark. I overheard my dad and General Lane. They know what you are.” His eyes went to Clark’s parents who were both white. “I’m sorry, but Clark needs to disappear.”

Clark stood staring at his friend, stunned into immobility. He’d thought as an adult he was finally free and clear to live his own life, and it was crumbling to dust around him.

“How? Who?” he stuttered.

Lex winced. “I overheard my dad say that Lois had done a good job.”

It was betrayal of the worst kind. Lois Lane had been spying for her father and Lionel under the guise of being a friend. Clark wanted to throw up.

He turned to his parents, “Mom?” he said, voice quivering.

“Shit!” Lex said.

~That~ made Clark turn back around and smother a slightly hysterical laugh. Lex never cursed. “What now?” he asked his friend who was patting himself frantically.

“After you finally told me the truth about who you are, I set plans into motion regarding your safety. Of course I’d hoped I wouldn’t need them,” Lex added distractedly.

“Wait, you told Lex?” Martha asked, her voice high.

Clark looked at his mom. “I told him my sophomore year in college, Mom. It was time.” He gave his unhappy father who had been about to speak, an impatient headshake. “It’s done.”

“Found it!” Lex dipped into his breast pocket and pulled out an envelope. “Here, it’s a new identity. I bought it years ago, through, well, never mind that, but it’s virtually untraceable. There’s also a bank account that corresponds with it. It has a million dollars in it.”

“Lex!” Clark gasped. A million dollars?

Lex crookedly smiled at Clark’s reaction. This time he didn’t think Mr. Kent could refuse him this gift. He glanced at his watch. “You’re running out of time. Lane’s soldiers probably already have the meteorite and are on their way here.” His blue gray eyes were desperate with worry and more that Clark didn’t have time to unravel even as it warmed him.

“Where do I go?”

Jonathon moved decisively to the table, flicking Lex a look. “Go upstairs and get your dufflebag. Lex, can you go with him make sure he has what he needs?”

Lex followed Clark up to his room, watching with compassion as his friend gazed helplessly about.

“What do you pack when you disappear from your life?” Clark asked.

The older man went to the duffle bag and rummaged through it. “Got enough clean underwear, Clark?” he asked, smiling even as he caught the blush on Clark’s face. He saw socks and tossed them in, looked around and grabbed the box of extra large Ziploc bags and tossed two spiral notebooks, pens and pencils into it, then another where he put shampoo, conditioner and deodorant before putting it into the bag. Two pairs of jeans and several t-shirts got thrown in along with Clark’s red windbreaker which Lex rolled up and slid in at the side. Lex looked around for a moment, then his eyes lit upon some of the books that Clark had read in college and he grabbed a couple, sliding them in between the clothes before zipping up the bag. His friend may be going on the run but he at least he wouldn’t be illiterate.

“Done.”

“Lex…” Clark began, his voice cracking.

Lex threw his arms around Clark and held on tightly. He didn’t want to think about what was going to happen next. “Just promise me you’ll be safe.”

Clark’s arms wrapped around his friend, emotions like admiration and affection withering in the face of the love he felt for this complicated man who’d been his best friend for so long. “I promise,” he said, not knowing if he was telling the truth.

Two faces, close enough to kiss, gazed at each other and knew. The friendship of legends paled in the face of love.

“Clark!” His father hollered from downstairs.

Clark moved back regretfully. He felt Lex shakily touch his cheek and savored the feeling for a moment before turning and grabbing his duffle. “Coming, Dad!”

Downstairs, Jonathon handed Clark another envelope. “Take this along with the i.d. Lex got for you.”

Clark gathered both envelopes and was grabbed into a family hug, his mother crying. They stood there for a moment, Lex looking on, hands in his pockets, then Jonathon pulled back.

“Come here, son.”

He pulled Clark to the door, shaking his head at his wife and Lex who were about to follow. “What you don’t know can’t be used against you,” he told them.

Out on the porch, Jonathon pulled out his wallet and handed Clark a battered business card. “Go here, and ask for him. He promised to protect you.”

Clark was abruptly reminded of that day so many years ago, and nodded. “Okay, Dad.” Movement on the horizon caught his eye, and he sucked in a breath. “They’re coming!”

Lex heard that and stepped out onto the porch. “Go, I’ll stay with your parents.” It was a promise and the two young men knew it.

Another look passed between Clark and Lex, then Clark kissed his mother, hugged his father and disappeared in a swirl of dust.

~*~

General Sam Lane glared at the three people before him. “You’re harboring a fugitive!” There were three bored soldiers watching the proceedings, weapons at the ready.

“Technically, harboring means that the fugitive is here, and Clark’s not,” Lex pointed out.

The Sergeant in charge of the search came into the kitchen. “Sir, there’s no one else on the premises.”

“Where is he?” Lane demanded.

Jonathon raised an eyebrow at the General who was practically frothing at the mouth. “My ~son~ is long gone, Lane. And hey, I really appreciate the thanks we get for looking after your daughter.”

Lex suppressed a grin at the sarcasm in Clark’s father’s voice.

“You’re hiding the alien! You can be tried for treason!’ the man thundered.

This made Lex snort. “Treason? What a load of bull. And just for the record, General Lane, if anything happens to any of us? I’ve got steps in place to shine the glare of all the unwanted publicity you’d ever hope to see on this little operation. Aliens? The public will think you’re mentally unfit and you’ll be crucified.” He smiled a little at the frustration on the military man’s face.

Lane knew when he was beat and made an inarticulate sound of rage, before getting up and stomping out of the house, his soldiers following him. The vehicles started up and the convoy drove out, one of the humvees taking out a section of fence.

Martha was about to say something but Lex held up his hand and shook his head. “Bugs,” he mouthed and Martha’s eyes widened while Jonathon nodded resignedly. He grabbed a sheet of paper, quickly writing in his decorative scrawl which told them he’d send someone to clear the house for them.

“Well, I’m going to head back to Metropolis. I blew off a couple of meetings to get here so I need to reschedule,” Lex said cheerfully.

Martha came over and gave Lex a tight hug. “Thank you, Lex,” she whispered in his ear. “For everything.”

Lex patted her on the back gently. “I’d do ~anything~ for Clark,” he answered softly.

And Jonathon eyed the young billionaire with dawning understanding. “I’m beginning to realize that.”

*~*

It took Clark all of about two minutes to reach the gates of NORAD. It was imposing, a military base dug into a mountain, nine foot chain link fence topped with concertina wire, security cameras, soldiers with dogs and soldiers with guns. He was being sent into his worst nightmare.

“Can I help you?” The Sergeant in the window of the security gate asked politely.

Clark cleared his throat and handed the envelope with the name scrawled on it to the man. “I need this to be delivered to Colonel Jack O’Neill. Please.”

The Sergeant gave him a look that said, ‘Are you shitting me?’ “I can’t just give an envelope to the General. He’s a General, now, by the way.”

Swallowing hard, Clark tried a harmless smile. “My dad and the General served together. I really need to speak to him.”

Daniel arrived at the gate in time to hear the young man plead his case. He nodded to the guard. “Hey, Sgt. Adams, what’s going on?”

“This kid wants to see the General, has an ~envelope~ for him.” The Sergeant rolled his eyes. Envelopes of unknown origins were a big no-no since 9-11 and the anthrax infections.

“What’s your name?” Daniel asked, momentarily admiring the handsome man with the lovely green eyes.

“Clark Kent,” he said. He was so nervous that he was shaking, and just wanted to sit somewhere and calm down.

Heeding his intuition that this was important, Daniel held out his hand for the phone. “Let me call Jack,” he said. The Sergeant nodded and handed him the phone.

 

In his office, Jack was pretending to by busy, but in reality he was playing Doom on his PSP. His phone rang and he absently answered it. “O’Neill.”

“Hi Jack, I’m at the gate.”

“Hey, Danny!” Jack said, putting the PSP into the desk drawer after pressing the off button. “Why are you calling from the gate instead of seeing me in person?”

“There’s a young man down here who says you served with his father. His name is Clark Kent,” Daniel replied.

“Shit,” Jack said, jumping out of his seat. By his quick calculations Clark was either in college or just out, and if he was here then he was in trouble. “Get him up here, Danny. Sign him in but don’t use his name, understand?”

Confused, but knowing Jack never did anything without a good reason, Daniel agreed. “We’ll come right up to your office.” He hung up the phone and smiled at the guard. “It’s okay. I’ll sign him in.”

“Yes sir,” the Sergeant said. It was common knowledge that Dr. Jackson was just as important as the Generals who worked in the mountain and was to be obeyed implicitly.

Clark gave a grateful smile to the guard. “Thanks for your help,” he murmured.

Polite to a fault, Daniel thought as he signed in the newcomer as Dr. Ballard. The guard didn’t even blink an eye, just issued a temporary i.d. and waved them in.

 

Jack was pacing back and forth, muttering to himself when there was a knock on his door. “Come,” he ordered.

Daniel poked his head in. “Hey Jack, I’ve got Dr. Ballard to see you.”

“Dr. Ballard?” Jack asked, his eyebrow quirked in the direction of his archeologist. The door opened more and he shook his head. “Damn, Clark, I think you’re taller than your dad.”

Clark smiled at the man he remembered so well. “Hello, sir. It’s good to see you again.” He shook Jack’s hand, almost able to control the trembling.

Jack felt it though and waved at him to sit. “Sit down before you fall down, kid.”

Daniel made a move towards the door, but Jack shook his head. “I think I’ll need you for this, Daniel,” he said. At Clark’s nervous look, he smiled reassuringly. “If there’s anyone you can trust with your life besides me? It’s Daniel.”

“Yes, sir,” Clark said softly. He watched as the Doctor sat down and gave him a smile.

“Tell me what happened,” Jack ordered.

Clark gave Daniel another nervous look, and Jack snorted. “Clark, trust me. You are not the only alien on Earth.”

Another shock. “I’m not?” Clark squeaked in surprise. He wasn’t alone? Were they Kryptonians too?

Daniel made an impatient sound. “Let Clark tell what happened and then we can deal with disclosure, Jack.”

“You’re right, Danny,” Jack said. “Sorry, Clark. Go ahead.”

Clenching his hands together, Clark gathered his thoughts, trying to make it short and concise like he’d been taught. “Lionel Luthor is the father of my best friend, Lex. He owns Luthorcorp and had always suspected I was different but he’d never overtly done anything.” Which left out all of the criminally underhanded and sneaky things Lionel ~had~ done. He swallowed hard and Daniel got up and poured him a cup of coffee which he gratefully sipped. “When I was a senior in high school, the daughter of General Sam Lane came to live with us…”

Jack cursed and Daniel made a face. They knew Sam Lane, part of the NID and a former crony of former VP Robert Kinsey. And from the information that had come into the SGC, Lionel Luthor was a highly placed member of the Trust

“She’s the cousin of one of my friends and needed a place to stay.” Clark’s face darkened. “Or so we thought. Anyway, I guess she’d been spying on me the entire time, spying for Lionel. And she saw something, I don’t know what, but enough that Lionel finally knew what I was and felt confident enough to send Lane and his goons after me.”

“And your dad sent you to me,” Jack finished. “We’re going to have to hide you. Lane has his dirty fingers in just about all sections of the military, including here.”

A thought occurred to Clark. He pulled out the second envelope and handed it over to Jack. “Lex got me this identity a few years back for a situation like this,” he said. At Jack and Daniel’s surprised looks, he shrugged. “He knows what his dad is capable of.”

Jack nodded and opened the envelope, sorting through the various papers. “Damn, he’s good. Birth certificate, social security card, driver’s license, a history, and wow, a big bank account.” He looked up at Clark who’d winced apologetically. “No, it’s a good thing. The money can be used for a new identity if someone gets too close,” he assured the younger man.

Daniel had a whole new line of questioning for Jack, about his knowledge of getting and needing secret identities for someone. But one problem at a time…

“What’s our new officer’s name?” Daniel caught the surprised looks from the two men. “What? What better way to hide him than in plain sight? I think he’d make an excellent new Lieutenant just assigned here.”

“Have I ever told you that you’re a genius, Dr. Jackson?” Jack asked with admiration. He looked at Clark. “You’re in college, right?”

“I just graduated in June. I majored in Journalism and minored in Military History,” Clark answered, a bit confused about where the General was going with this. He wasn’t seriously considering Dr. Jackson’s suggestion. Was he?

“Excellent,” Jack answered. He leaned forward and pressed a button on his desk. “Walter, I need you.”

The door opened and Clark turned to see a slight, bespectacled man in uniform waiting for his instructions. “

Jack held out the envelope. “I need you to get me an iron clad military i.d., background and everything. Make him look like any of the other thousand of 2nd Lieutenants on the base.”

Sgt. Harriman nodded, they’d done their fair share of new identities at the SGC and he knew what to do. Looking Clark over, he narrowed his eyes thoughtfully. “Dr. Jackson needs to get him a haircut so I can get an i.d. photo. And I’ll need his vitals and a physical.”

Clark blinked. A physical? That meant blood had to be drawn, crap. “Um, physicals are going to be a problem.”

Jack waved a hand. “Get everything else done, Walter. We’ll worry about the physical later and keep it all under the radar,” he ordered the Sergeant who rolled his eyes at being told how to do his job and left, closing the door behind him.

Daniel tilted his head, eyeing Clark thoughtfully. What could the Trust possibly gain from this kid just out of college?

“So, I know that you’re strong, what else would the physical uncover?” Jack asked curiously.

Clark sighed. It was tough going against everything his parents had taught him about keeping his abilities secret, and his phobia about the military was really making him squeamish. About to open his mouth, he stopped when Daniel held up a hand.

“Jack, now I think is the time to let him in on what we do here. He’s obviously uncomfortable discussing himself, so let us prove that he can trust us,” Daniel said. “And we can get his haircut. But what’s his name so I don’t have to call him, ‘hey you’?”

“Oh,” Jack said. “How does Christopher Jonathon Alexander sound?”

Clark blinked away a sudden burning in his eyes. Jonathon, for his father and Alexander. Lex. Always a reminder of who he had left behind. Always Lex’s. “Wow, it’s long,” he managed to say through the welter of emotion.

“We’ll call you C.J.,” Daniel said practically. “Calling you Lt. Christopher Alexander will cause a ripple in the fabric of time if we use it everyday.”

Jack laughed and Clark smiled crookedly. “My real initials are C.J. so it should be easy to remember.”

Getting to his feet, Jack rubbed his hands together. “Time to blow your socks off, kid,” he said. Daniel chuckled and followed Jack.

Clark followed the two men, watching how they interacted with everyone they passed in the hallways. There was a mutual affection, and more importantly, an honest respect that helped soothe Clark’s ragged nerves. He knew his dad would never knowingly send him into danger, it was just good to see proof.

He was thinking so hard that when he saw through the large window into the cavernous room, he just wasn’t processing what he was seeing.

“Wow! What ~is~ that?” Clark asked. The huge metal ring was definitely not of Earth origin, his x-ray vision told him that. There was just ~something~ about it that said ‘I’m not from around here’.

Daniel smiled at Clark’s awe. “It’s called the Stargate. It establishes a stable wormhole to other planets that we can travel to.”

Dumbfounded, all Clark could do was stare. And wow, wouldn’t the science geek in Lex just about squeal like a girl if he knew about this? Other planets. Other planets? He turned to Jack. “I’m not alone,” he said with awe in his voice.

Jack shook his head. “Nope. We have about 12 teams off world on other planets, visiting other civilizations in our fight to keep Earth and the other planets safe. At the present time we have five ‘aliens’ for wont of a better word, living here on Earth, but others go back and forth just about everyday.”

“That’s why you weren’t fazed by me,” Clark said, awe in his voice. If only he’d known that he wasn’t a freak, but common sense told him that Jack couldn’t have said anything. Then his inner journalist kicked in. “How come no one knows about this place?”

“Because people in general are not ready to believe, and the governments of Earth can’t agree on anything,” Daniel said dryly.

“And because the bad guys will try and screw it all up for their own gain,” Jack said grimly.

Bad guys.

Lionel.

“Oh shit,” Clark blurted. “Lex is in danger!”

Jack understood immediately. Then he smiled. “Danny, take him to get his hair cut, I’ve got a phone call to make.” He slapped Clark on the back. “Don’t worry, Lex will be fine.”

~*~

It took Lex a little over two and a half hours to get back to Metropolis, making only one phone call to his personal assistant using the code they’d devised for an emergency.

As he headed up to his office Lex noticed a distinct lack of his dad’s goons, but knew better than to let his guard down. Now that he’d placed himself firmly in the enemy camp he knew that his dad would declare war.

His assistant looked up with relief when he stepped into his office. “Mr. Luthor,” she said. “You have some messages.”

Lex rolled his eyes but obediently took them, flipping through them, only saving a couple before tossing the rest. “I’m not in if my father calls, Marjorie.”

The petite older woman nodded. “Yes, Mr. Luthor.”

He smiled and headed into his office, collapsing into his seat with a sigh. He’d already called bodyguards for his assistant because his dad would use her in a heartbeat. Just look what he’d done to Chloe, Clark’s Mom, Lana and now Lois.

“Shit,” Lex said bitterly. Poor Clark, all of the women in his friend’s life had been fucked over by Lionel. It was a surprise that Clark still trusted him. Thank God they’d mended their friendship after the years of hatred, hurt, and lies on both sides.

Oliver Queen may have been a bastard when they were kids in school, but he’d grown up to be an honorable man. It was his and Bruce Wayne’s intervention, which had included kidnapping Lex and forcing him to see reality, about Lionel, his relationship with Lana, about his own less than ethical dealings, and about himself.

As usual when confronted with his own failings, he’d ignored it at first- an inbred Luthor trait. But, out of the blue one day he’d stumbled across Clark helping rescue someone. No one that Lex knew, but a stranger, and when he’d seen the strangers’ beatific face once he’d realized that he was safe, it shattered open memories of how Clark had saved him, and how Clark had continued to try, even after everything that had gone wrong between them.

Facing the truth about himself had been beyond painful, but he’d done it. He done it because if he couldn’t be honest with himself, how could he ever expect Clark to be honest-which is what had driven Lex away in the first place. So, he had confessed to Lana about the false pregnancy and how he’d trapped her into the marriage to get back at Clark, accepting the blame and sent her home to Smallville. He’d cleaned up his businesses which included shutting down his less than legal projects and brought Lexcorp back above board, much to Lionel’s disgust.

When he’d finally done as much housekeeping as he could, when he’d finally felt clean enough, he’d driven to Clark’s dorm on campus and politely asked him if they could talk.

What had followed had been two days of bitter acrimony, blame passed back and forth, a lot of shouting, then secrets spilled and finally acceptance. Chloe still teased them both about how she’d found he and Clark curled up together on the couch like puppies (preposterous, Luthors didn’t do cute) sound asleep, the detritus of sandwich wrappers, pizza boxes, a couple of wine bottles, Starbucks cups and Tynant bottles littering every available flat surface.

And it had taken time on both sides for the trust to be rebuilt, but he and Clark had worked hard on it.

For the sake of friendship Lex had buried the love he had for Clark (since his friend was fifteen and Lex had opened his eyes to see the dripping angel over him, for Christ’s sake), buried it deep, but as he tapped his desk with his pen he remembered the look in Clark’s eyes. He hadn’t imagined it- Clark felt the same way he did, and now it was literally too late.

*~

“Well, what do you think, Dr. J?” the base barber asked.

Daniel had privately thought that Clark had looked good with his dark curls and green eyes, but without the hair distracting him all you could see was devastating cheekbones and a strong manly face that made him look more mature.

“Good job, Ed. I’d never recognized him,” he said teasingly as Clark blushed. “C’mon Lieutenant Alexander, you’ve loafed around long enough.”

It was weird to hear himself being referred to with a military address, Clark reflected as he dusted his curls onto the floor. “Hey, that’s what leave is for, right?” he replied back.

Smiling approval at the correct term, Daniel nodded. “But now it’s down to business. Let’s get you some uniforms.”

In supply Clark submitted to being manhandled by a beefy sergeant who measured him thoroughly and started tossing fatigues and uniforms at him. He put on the set of green ones, which Dr. Jackson called BDU’s, short for Battle Dress Uniform he was informed, then started stacking the other items while his nametags were being sewn up.

“What happened to your other uniforms, Lieutenant?” the Sergeant asked as they bagged up what Clark had been given.

“There was a fire at his apartment,” Daniel lied glibly. “Everything, poof!”

“Bummer,” the Sergeant said and Clark nodded.

Technically he ~had~ lost everything, including his name. “I was lucky that I wasn’t there,” he said softly.

 

~*~

A few days later Martha was in town making deliveries to the store. As she shut the gate to the truck, she turned and started in surprise when she saw Lois standing on the sidewalk. She eyed the girl she’d thought of almost as a daughter, and wanted to wring her neck.

“Hey, Mrs. Kent,” Lois said cheerfully.

“Hello Lois, how’s work at the Planet?” she asked, coolly polite though inside she was madder than a wet cat.

“Oh, it’s good. I haven’t seen Clark there. I was…” she stopped, eyes widening when Martha held up her hand sharply.

“You lying bitch,” Martha spat. “Don’t pretend with me, I know what you’ve done and from here on, you no longer exist to me or mine. Go back to Metropolis and tell your father and Lionel to go to hell.”

She ignored the stricken look on Lois’s face, ignored the interested crowd that had gathered and sailed into the Talon to get herself a cup of tea before stress made her throw up and humiliate herself in public.

When she got home that evening she methodically put the groceries away, then went out to get the mail. Inside she was sorting through it when a colorful postcard caught her attention. On the front was a picture of the Garden of the Gods and on the other side the message said, ‘Your package arrived safely. Loved the pie, Jack.’

Martha clasped it to her chest and cried silently in thanksgiving. Once she got despair, loss and relief out of her system she wiped her eyes, made herself a cup of tea and settled down at the dining room table to wait for Jonathon.

She was going to hug him, and then read him the riot act.

~*~

Gaunt and with dark circles under his eyes, General Lane’s computer expert was trolling through every bit of information that they possessed on Clark Kent and his parents, when something caught his expert’s eye and he stopped.

“Sir, I have something,” he called. Thankgod, he thought with exhaustion blurred relief.

Lane hung up in the middle of the conversation he’d been holding and strode over. He peered at the computer and started cursing like an old Cavalry soldier. “Get me a plane, dammit.”

“Yes, sir,” he said and lunged for his phone. In the next cubicle over a Private typed an emergency message and sent it off.

*~*

“Luthor,” Lex answered absently his phone.

“Sir, your father is here to see you.”

Lex huffed out a breath. He should’ve expected this visit but he was actually more surprised that his father didn’t barge in like he usually did. “Show him in, Marjorie.”

“Yes, sir.”

He stood, making sure everything was in place when his father sauntered in. “Hello, dad,” he greeted the man evenly.

“Lex, my boy,” Lionel replied jovially. “You outwitted me. To the victor go the spoils.”

Lex didn’t release the sigh he wanted to. His suspicious father had kept prodding him about taking his life into his hands when he’d mended fences with Clark, and now that his father knew Clark was truly not from Earth…

“No spoils, dad. Just the knowledge that my best friend is safe is enough for me.”

Lionel smirked. “But are you safe?”

Despair. His father would never quit this game of cat and mouse until he destroyed Lex. “I don’t know,” Lex answered honestly. “As long as you’re alive then I’ll wonder, won’t I?”

There was a damning silence, the Lionel tilted his head. “I did warn you, son. You would have been better off letting us have him.”

“Who is us?” Lex asked. “And why? Clark wasn’t a danger to us.”

Lionel shook his head, but didn’t meet Lex’s eyes. “Let’s just say that you should’ve left the boy to the professionals,” he said and turned on his heel, leaving Lex’s office.

Jesus. What was his father mixed up with now?

*~*

Clark finished the last battle manual and tossed it onto the bedside table with the others. He’d speed read the UCMJ and all of the Air Force manuals that the General and Sgt. Harriman had given him, though he figured that actually understanding everything he’d memorized would only make sense in the context of serving with other officers and the enlisted men and women of the Air Force.

He’d been inside of NORAD for just over a day and had already been seamlessly assimilated into the rank and file of the SGC and the greater environs of NORAD installations as just one more junior officer.

The General and Sergeant Harriman had decided that they were going to crosstrain him in several specialties, his math skills more than good enough for several areas of Operations in addition to being a Communications and Information specialist which his journalism degree would help him with.

It had been an interesting afternoon, with becoming a bogus 2 Lt. and all, interacting with people his own age in an intelligent and (surprisingly) fun, if rigid environment. Listening to the Officer in charge and the understanding and applying new knowledge was always satisfying, plus Lex would totally flip over the techie stuff he’d be able to play with.

Then there was loneliness, Clark thought as he laid in his bed of the quarters that Dr. Jackson had assigned to him. He hoped his folks and Lex were okay.

~*~

 

“Mmmph, Jack…” Daniel protested as Jack pulled out of his arms. Smiling fondly down at his lover, Jack slipped a hand over the tousled hair and Daniel settled under his touch. Again the cell phone sounded, ringing from the living room where he’d left it. It had him moving quickly, knowing it was an emergency if they weren’t trusting the landlines.

“O’Neill,” he answered.

“Sir, it’s Sergeant Harriman. I just received a heads up from an old friend in the Pentagon. General Lane is coming to see you this morning.”

“Shit,” Jack cursed. “E.T.A.?”

Walter glanced at the e-mail and checked his clock. “0800, sir.”

Jack wanted to shoot something. He needed to hide Clark, he also had two teams heading out and the Daedulus was due to leave…

“Walter! Get Lt. Alexander up and kitted out for Atlantis. Get a hold of Caldwell and tell him he’s having an early departure and set up a meeting with Hermiod for as soon as I get there,” Jack ordered, checking his watch. “I’ll be there in thirty minutes.”

“Yes, sir,” Walter said to the buzzing phone. The General had already hung up.

*~*

Hermiod blinked as the O’Neill strode into Daedulus’ control room. “I was not notified of an emergency,” he said, unable to fathom why the O’Neill would be on board the ship so early Earth time.

“Hey, Herm,” Jack said. “It’s not really an emergency, but I need to ask you a favor.”

“Do not call me ‘Herm’ and I will grant you any favor within reason,” Hermiod said a little stiffly.

Jack grinned. He liked the starchy Asgard. “I’m going to hide someone on board, in plain sight. I need you to keep an eye on him for me.”

Not showing his surprise for the unusual request, Hermiod shrugged his diminutive shoulders. “It would be a pleasure, O’Neill. When do I meet this mysterious personage?”

This was something Jack couldn’t wait to see, Clark meeting the Asgard. “Walter is getting him geared up right now. I’ll introduce you before you leave.”

“Very well,” Hermiod said. “I have details to go over…” he trailed off meaningfully and Jack took the hint and left.

~*

Clark silently followed the Sergeant, eyes wide as he was issued weapons, (shit, how do I ~use~ these? None were like his dad’s .22 they used for groundhogs and rabbits), more uniforms (how much of this stuff am I gonna have to wear?), emergency rations (probably not like Mom’s cooking), bulletproof vest, (won’t need that), finishing off with a huge backpack stuffed with survival and camping gear. The Sergeant pulled him aside and taught him how to fold, spindle and otherwise stuff everything in the backpack without it ending up wrinkled or potentially damaged beyond repair. Clark wanted to remember how to do it and impress his Mom.

“Don’t open your mouth to anyone, understood? You’re just one more dumb second louie who doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground,” the Sergeant sternly warned him.

Mentally translating the Air Force lingo, Clark decided what the Sergeant had meant was, ‘children should be seen and not heard.’

“You can talk, get to know people, but stay out of Colonel Caldwell’s way,” Walter amended. “The General is going to introduce you to someone who will keep an eye on you.” The Sergeant professionally eyed Clark over, smiling at his nervousness. “Did I mention where you’re going?”

Mutely, Clark shook his head.

“I’ll let the General tell you,” Walter said.

“Let me tell him what?” Jack asked as he strode in.

“Where am I going? Um, sir?” Clark asked, starting to get nervous.

Jack ran his experienced eye over all of the gear and nodded at Walter. “Get everything to the ship, find him a berth by himself. I want it all on board before they leave,” he ordered. Walter nodded and disappeared out of the door.

Turning, Jack smiled at the young officer in front of him. “Walk with me and I’ll explain everything I can.”

~*

Hermiod glanced over as the O’Neill and another human walked into the room. The shock on the younger man’s face was mildly amusing. “Greetings, O’Neill. I assume that this is my charge?”

“Yep,” Jack said. “Lt. C.J. Alexander, this is our Asgard liaison, Hermiod.” He glanced around carefully but it was still early enough that no one was in control yet. “Hermiod, this is C.J. He wasn’t born on Earth.”

Clark thought he stammered something to the little alien, but wasn’t sure. He could only stare in shock. Grey, short and just like the pictures he’d seen in that stupid book of Chloe’s on the cover up in Roswell.

Hermiod blinked. “Indeed. Where are you from, Lt. Alexander?”

Jack nudged Clark who cleared his throat. “Sorry. Um, I’m the last survivor from the planet Krypton.”

Even Jack could see the interest flare in Hermiod’s normally bland face. “Indeed. My ship was one of the first vessels to arrive after the cataclysm, we had no idea that someone had survived. You have my sympathy for the loss of your race.”

Clark nodded dumbly. “Thanks,” he replied softly. “My parents knew that the planet was unstable so they’d planned ahead and sent me to Earth.”

This was stuff that Jack hadn’t known and he filed it away for later. “How did your folks find you?”

Correctly interpreting the General’s question to mean his parents in Kansas, Clark answered, “Do you remember the meteor shower of ’89?”

Jack had been a little busy, but he remembered the tizzy that the Air Force had been in at the time. “And, so?”

“My ship, pod, whatever you want to call it, brought chunks of my planet here with it. Most of it landed in my hometown, killing several people. Dad and Mom found me then,” Clark said, keeping the story short. It still bugged him how much his hometown had suffered because of him.

“Fascinating,” Hermiod said. “But why are you being sent to Atlantis?”

Jack made a face. “Let’s just say that corrupt sections of our government have found out that C.J. here is special, and they want to take him apart to see what makes him tick.”

Clark made a face and even Hermiod seemed to wince slightly before saying, “I will endeavor to keep Lt. Alexander safe, O’Neill.”

“That’s all I can ask,” Jack said. “Thanks, Hermiod.” The noise of crew members entering made the three look around. “I’ve got to speak to Caldwell and make sure C.J. isn’t assigned watch for the trip,” he said, turning to leave.

“Sir?” Clark said..

Jack turned back. “Yeah, kid?”

“Thanks for, well, ~everything~.”

“Do your best and if you have any questions ask Hermiod.” Jack slapped Clark on the shoulder, nodded good-bye to Hermiod and grabbed one of the crew to ask him a question.

Hermiod looked at Clark. “Come with me, Lt. Alexander.”

“Do I call you sir?”

“No. You may call me Hermiod,” Hermiod replied.

Clark nodded. “You mentioned that your ship came after the planet exploded. Did the Asgard ever come to my planet just to visit?” he blurted curiously.

“We did indeed,” Hermiod answered. “The Asgard were the ones that took your progenitors from Earth and seeded them on the planet known as Krypton. There the minerals on your planet affected your race’s physiology and they advanced much more quickly than anticipated.”

Wow, this was the answer to one of Lex’s burning questions. How could a humanoid race develop so far from Earth yet have similar basic physiology? “Huh. Why did you put humans there?” he asked.

“It is, what the O’Neill calls, a very long story,” Hermiod replied.

~*

Jack watched with relief as the Daedulus took off, early and with most of its crew. The rest would have to wait for the next trip, but getting Clark off planet was more important. Lane and the Trust were already way too nosy about the SGC’s business and it made Jack very happy to thwart their plans.

“Sir,” one of the technicians said.

“Major?”

“There’s a General Lane to see you, sir.”

“Excellent, tell Walter to show him to the conference room and get his group refreshments,” he ordered.

“Yes sir,” the Major said and relayed the order.

 

Lane glanced around curiously and was amused that he and his guards were only ushered into public areas. The conference room was comfortable but gave nothing away of the SGC’s mission. He sat down, his guards moving to each side of the doorway while his aide helped the Sergeant with the coffee.

“Sam, what a surprise,” Jack said as he strode in, looking every inch the commander and General in charge. He held out his hand politely.

“Jack, how are you?” Lane replied, shaking hands just as politely. The men were close in age and had known and cordially hated each other for twenty years. Lane had always been on the fast track to General while O’Neill had been the consummate fuck-up but by some miracle had been promoted anyway, which pissed Sam off to no end.

“I’m good. Knees still bitching at me, but hey, what can you do?”

“My back,” Lane grunted in sympathy.

The two men sat, Walter beside Jack and Lane’s aide poised to take notes beside him.

“So, what can I help you with?” Jack asked curiously.

Sam eyed the other man, wondering if he was barking up the wrong tree after all. “I’m looking for an alien who’s masquerading as a human. I thought he might have come here.”

Jack frowned. “Come here? The only alien’s we have are the ones who come through the Stargate and we know who they are. You’re hunting for an alien? I thought that the Pentagon had given ~us~ that job?”

“We have proof that he’s dangerous, but it’s classified,” Lane said. “Even above your clearance,” he added patronizingly. “He’s the ‘adopted’ son of your old Air Force buddy, Lieutenant Jonathon Kent.” His gaze narrowed to catch any reaction from the other man.

“Captain,” Jack corrected absently, tapping his fingers on the conference room table. “I’ve only met his kid once, back, oh, eight or nine years ago. He didn’t strike me as dangerous, and I’m reliably sure his parents are human.”

“His parent’s are but he’s not,” Lane said flatly.

Jack shrugged. “I run the SGC, Sam. If it doesn’t involve us directly then I haven’t heard about it.”

“You’re telling me that Jonathon Kent hasn’t called you to hide his son?” Lane asked disbelievingly.

“I’m telling you I haven’t spoken to Johnny and his wife in about four years, and if he’d been hiding an alien he wouldn’t have told me.” He meaningfully waved at his uniform. “We do exchange Christmas cards, but that’s it,” Jack replied honestly.

Lane eyed Jack narrowly. “There’s someone else in your house.”

Jack chuckled. “You’re surveilling me, Sam? God, that’s got to be a boring job for some poor schmuck,” he said laughingly. “After Dr. Jackson’s house blew up, he moved in with me. It’s been like, four years now. We’re the SGC’s original ‘Odd Couple’.”

Damn. This had been a wild goose chase, Lane thought. “I’ll bet that’s hard to explain to a date,” he said.

Jack rolled his eyes. “You have no idea. We hang a sock on the doorknob if one of us is getting some,” he joked and the men in the room chuckled.

~

Walter made sure that Lane and his group were all accounted for when they left, swept the areas they’d been in for bugs and finally went to the General’s office. He knocked twice and walked in. “They’re gone, sir. We destroyed nine bugs.”

“That bastard,” Jack sighed. “Too bad I can’t have him fragged. He’s such a pain in the ass.”

“Yes, sir,” Walter said with a straight face.

“You did good, Walter. It’s up to the kid now,” Jack said.

Sergeant Harriman shrugged. “He was asking the right questions. I’m sure the Lieutenant will do fine.” He paused thoughtfully. “I think Dr. Jackson is a genius, sir.”

“Me, too. It’s a good thing he works for the good guys,” Jack replied with a grin.

~*~

Hermiod watched Lt. Alexander hunch his shoulders and blend in, staying back from the hustle and bustle of crewmen. The Kryptonian was the very model of his species, tall, commanding with a natural presence, but somehow the Lieutenant could make himself blend in the background and not be noticed. An impressive skill.

“Who in the hell are you?”

Unnoticed by everyone, except Colonel Caldwell apparently, Hermiod mused. The Colonel was scowling at Lt. Alexander, who straightened up and stood at attention.

“Lt. Alexander, sir!”

“What are you doing on my bridge. Lieutenant?”

“I am training Lt. Alexander to take over the controls if there is an attack and I am incapacitated or killed, Colonel Caldwell. The Lieutenant was recommended personally by General O’Neill when I expressed my concerns to him,” Hermiod interjected calmly.

“Why wasn’t I informed?” Caldwell barked.

Hermiod gave him his look of, ‘Please, who’s the super genius alien around here?’, “I cannot comprehend how you were not informed. May I now return to instructing the Lieutenant?”

Unable to think of a rebuttal, Caldwell waved a hand. “At ease, Lieutenant. And I’d like to speak with you at 1600 hours.”

“Yes, sir,” Clark said, barely unstiffening to form parade rest. His shoulders slumped as the grumpy Colonel marched off.

“I think my not coming to the Colonel’s attention isn’t working,” Clark said in an aside to Hermiod.

“It does not signify. Come to this side of the console and look at the controls. They are Asgard in design but your superior intellect should help you assimilate their functions adequately,” Hermiod made a ‘get your ass over here’ motion and Clark stepped lively.

“Oh, you were serious,” was all he said as he peered obediently at the controls while Hermiod launched into detailed explanations.

*

There had been an ‘emergency’ (Clark was sure that Hermiod had done something,) and he hadn’t had to meet with Colonel Caldwell, and now it was late so he was standing outside of the room he’d been assigned. He x-rayed the complicated door panel (darn alien technology, and how ironic was ~that~?), pressed it and entered his room .

The room was tiny but well designed, Clark thought distractedly as he checked the compartment under his bunk, blinking as he saw all of his things folded and stored neatly. A search of a narrow closet showed more of the same, and an overhead bin held the rest. Military efficiency at it’s best. (His Mom would be impressed.)

He discovered the equally tiny bathroom and did his evening ablutions, only bumping his elbows on the narrow metal walls three times (and having to smooth out a dent he’d accidentally made, once). Back at his bunk he found a letter addressed to him and he plopped down to read it.

 

“Dear Clark, or C.J. I guess we need to call you,

I know this has knocked you for a loop, but I can honestly say that I think this was the best decision for you. Daniel is right, (he always is but don’t tell him I said so) hiding you in plain sight and with the military that would abuse you is the safest thing for you.

Atlantis can use you, so really it’s doing the Air Force’s mission of putting the best person in the right job and achieving your potential. I know it’s not your dream, I checked out your grades and saw that you had a job already with the Daily Planet, and I’m sorry this fucked it up.

All I can say is do your Dad proud. Do your best, trust Colonel Sheppard, Dr. McKay and Dr. Beckett. I do. McKay won’t steer you wrong and Sheppard will help you with all things military.

Oh, and I let your folks know that you were all right. Don’t worry, I’ll keep an eye on them and your buddy Luthor.

Your Dad’s friend, and yours too,

Jack O’Neill”

Clark stared at the letter for a long moment before folding it carefully and stowing it back under his bunk. He lay down on the bunk and wondered how powerfully his life was about to change…

 

Life on the Daedulus was very interesting. Clark slowly made friends, and learned a lot about how the military mindset worked. He also learned that everyone was completely blasé about aliens, which he supposed was normal for them. It just amazed the hell out of him.

He’d been onboard for four days but he was absorbing a lot from Hermiod whose sense of humor was desert dry but recognizable, and Dr. Novak, who had a quick smile to go along with her intelligence and slightly neurotic tendencies.

Right now he was supposed to meet Hermiod in the little Asgard’s quarters for more training. It was early, but to the son of a farmer, and being an alien that was progressively needing less and less sleep, the hour didn’t bother him. He raised his hand when the door slid open.

“Come in, Lt. Alexander,” Hermiod ordered.

Clark stepped inside and glanced curiously around. The quarters were large but plain, with its own console and what looked like a very uncomfortable bed in the center. “Um, nice place.”

Hermiod looked around in surprise. “It is adequate for my needs. Please, be seated,” he stiffly invited and sat down himself in what looked like a metal chair, which had to be uncomfortable.

Obediently, Clark sat.

The Asgard shifted slightly. “How are you faring on board the Daedulus, Lieutenant Alexander?”

This question made Clark blink a little, unexpectedly being taken back to the Smallville school counselor. “Um, okay. I miss my family and stuff…” he trailed off at Hermiod’s intent look. “Surprisingly, I’m really enjoying myself and learning a lot. And I feel almost human since I haven’t had to use my powers.”

Hermiod blinked. “Powers?”

Clark shrugged. “Well, alien stuff.”

“Elaborate,” Hermiod ordered and Clark did, explaining how he was extraordinarily fast, could fly, was bullet proof, the hearing, the x-ray and laser eye thing.

“Very interesting,” Hermiod said after Clark had finished. “Your people were strong as well, however that is attributable to Krypton’s gravity being considerably higher than Earth’s. There were some who had other abilities as well, but it was a small fraction of your people’s population.”

“Lex thinks that my abilities must be a by-product of the radiation from Earth’s sun.” And Clark had a sudden, very frightening thought. “I’m going to lose my powers in Atlantis, aren’t I?”

Hermiod blinked slowly. “I think not. The Altaren’s deliberately chose Earth because of it’s similarities to Earth, including its sun. In fact the Atlantis sun and the Terran sun are almost identical.”

Clark was torn between relief and regret. On one hand he could be human, and no one would try to cut him open, and on the other hand he needed (Lex called it pathological) to help people. “My parent’s knew how I’d react because my father had been to Earth almost 50 years before.”

“We were aware that several of the Krytonians had been to Earth. As they did not pose a threat, we did not intervene,” Hermiod replied.

“Huh,” Clark said thoughtfully. “My father left quite a bit of technology on Earth for me to find. I know he wanted me to rule Earth, but my parents didn’t raise me that way. I just want to help,” he looked at Hermiod. “I haven’t threatened Earth, why do they want to experiment on me? I don’t get it.”

Hermiod pondered the subject for a long moment. “To answer your last question, O’Neill is aware that the government is working with the private sector and the military, looking for anything that will give Earth the ability to protect itself from the Goa’uld, and other threats. You are aware of the Asgard Treaty?” he asked Clark and received a nod. “The Asgard have done their best but we have our own battles to fight. As to why your father wanted you to rule…” he trailed off. “I confess I do not have an answer for you, Lieutenant.”

The two aliens sat in silent contemplation before Hermiod sent Clark back to his quarters.

~*

 

At the moment he was eating lunch in the crew mess, chatting with Dr. Novak about Asgard technology when a dreaded voice barked “Lt. Alexander!”

Clark winced, standing and turning to face his personal tormentor. “Dr. Carl.” The doctor had discovered that there wasn’t an updated physical in his records jacket and had been harassing him every time he’d seen Clark, which seemed like a gazillion times so far but in real life was probably only three times. Maybe he was a tad sensitive?

“I need you to come to the infirmary…” the man began but Dr. Novak stood and caught his attention.

“He can’t right now, Dr. Carl,” Dr. Novak said, and hiccupped. “Hermiod and I are training him and he won’t have the time today.”

“Then come tomorrow morning before breakfast, Lieutenant,” the stymied Doctor ordered before stamping out.

“Crap,” Clark said with relief. He grinned at the hiccupping woman. “Thanks, Dr. Novak. He’s like my own personal stalker or something.”

“Can you tell me what’s going on?” she inquired, her eyes on him as she quickly sipped her drink to stop her hiccups.

Clark winced. “We need to talk to Hermiod.”

 

Hermiod glanced over when Clark and Dr. Novak arrived. “Lieutenant, Doctor,” he greeted.

“I’m in trouble, Hermiod,” Clark blurted.

“Indeed?” Hermiod asked curiously.

“Dr. Carl seems to think that Lt. Alexander needs a physical,” Lindsey said blandly. She watched with interest as Hermiod and the Lieutenant exchanged a look.

“You can trust Dr. Novak,” Hermiod said.

The young Lieutenant looked at him seriously, then nodded. “I’m not from Earth,” he said abruptly. “I’m originally from a planet that was destroyed many years ago. General O’Neill knows my dad and he put me on the Daedulus to keep me safe. And trust me, a physical is a really bad idea.”

Lindsey was sure that was the short version, but since it was obvious that Hermiod trusted the younger man then she would too. “Okay. So, I guess the first thing we need to do is find your physical, right?”

“What?” Clark asked, then his eyes rounded. “Oh!”

 

It turned out that Lindsey Novak, respected doctor, SGC scientist and stalwart sidekick of Hermiod, had been a champion illegal i.d. maker in college (It was about getting into advanced Science competitions, not bars, she’d hiccupped to Clark) and she fabricated Clark a set of medical records that even passed by the paranoid Dr. Carl’s eyes.

Hermiod had made the appropriate impressed noises and then ran them both through emergency drills until their eyes crossed.

~*

Lex stood when Lois Lane came into his office. He’d already heard about what had happened between her and Martha through the Smallville grapevine.

She was already making a name for herself in Metropolis as a bull-dog reporter, recently smearing him more than once in the news, and he was looking forward to taking his pound of flesh.

“Ms. Lane,” he said blandly.

“Lex,” Lois replied stiffly. She settled into her chair, declining Lex’s polite offer of a drink.

He shrugged and sat down, steepling his fingers. “What can I do for you, Ms. Lane?”

“I want to know what you’ve done with Clark,” she stated belligerently. It was obvious she was trying to be on the offensive even while her eyes stated that she wasn’t there of her own free will.

“What ~I’ve~ done?” Lex inquired. “I’ve done nothing but be his friend. Can you say the same?”

Lois flushed. “My dad said that he’s a threat. I’m serving my country.”

Lex wanted to jump up and shout but instead leaned back languidly in his seat. “You’re an adult. Even you should be able to recognize that ‘Father doesn’t always know best’,” he parodied sarcastically, ignoring her attempt to defend herself. “But as to Clark, you lived with him. You knew he would rather die than to hurt another soul, and yet you willingly turned him over to people who would cause him harm.”

He stood. “Good-bye, Ms. Lane,” he said implacably and watched her get to her feet and head huffily to the door. “Oh, and Ms. Lane?” She stopped just outside the doorway and glanced back at him. “I’ve revoked your press pass to any and all LexCorp functions. Good day.” And he reveled in her furious expression as the door swung closed.

~*

Clark kept back as the crew quietly panicked then professionally went about their duties even as the enemy Wraith ship closed on their position. The ship rocked from enemy fire and he watched over Hermiod as the small alien and Dr. Novak pulled every trick out of their sleeves, well, not Hermiod since he didn’t even wear clothes, (snap out of it, Clark! he told himself). Then he had an idea…

“Hermiod,” he said quietly.

The small alien glanced over at Clark even as he moved stones around. “Yes?”

“How vulnerable is the Wraith ship?”

Now Hermiod looked interested. They’d done some testing of Clark’s abilities earlier in the voyage, Hermiod making interested notes about the effect that the sun had on native Kryptonians, which had surprised the small alien since on Krypton they’d had no need of such extreme powers, merely superior intellect. “I believe that your abilities would indeed help us.”

Flicking a look toward Colonel Caldwell and command, Clark tilted his head toward Hermiod, catching Dr. Novak’s eye. “The scanners need to be down.”

The Asgard nodded his head once and Clark disappeared. “Dr. Novak, please come here,” he ordered.

 

The outside of the Daedulus was just as impressive as the inside Clark thought as he hovered briefly outside of the ship. Then as the Wraith ship fired again he interposed his body between the ship and its energy weapon. He was pathetically grateful that it didn’t hurt him, only scattered and destroyed two darts.

However, the Wraith ships scanners were working because they began to fire on him, and that was not working for him. He used his lasers to slice the large Wraith ship in half, then quickly destroyed the remaining darts that hadn’t been taken out by the Daedulus.

A quick second of making sure that the enemy was gone (he’d fought against other aliens and won! How cool was that?) Clark flew back toward the Daedulus. As he was about to fly back into the jumper bay he noticed a thin stream of atmosphere being vented and he flew closer to check it out. Using his x-ray vision he saw that there were people in spacesuits trying to fix it from the inside but the pressure was starting to make the fissure larger, so he flitted back and got some scrap from one of the doomed darts, welded it into place and was back by Hermiod’s side in a flash.

“Captain Jensen says the breach is fixed, sir,” the helmsman reported.

Clark noticed there were a lot of bewildered faces and he looked over at Hermiod who merely nodded his head.

“Sir, scanners are back online,” Novak piped up.

“Well?” Caldwell asked and then you could see everything. Which was basically the Wraith scrapheap that Clark had left behind.

“What the…” Caldwell said, leaning forward to stare.

“Colonel, we have full power. I believe we should continue on to Atlantis,” Hermiod announced seriously.

“But what happened to the Wraith?” Caldwell demanded.

Dr. Novak blinked, then turned and looked at Clark wide-eyed before smiling and looking back at her own console.

Hermiod looked studiously at his own console. “There are no other ships in the area, but I do not believe that we should linger in case there are more Wraith.”

Caldwell made a frustrated face, but reluctantly accepted Hermiod’s suggestion and leaned back in the command chair. “Get us out of here and to Atlantis.”

“Yes, sir,” the helmsman squeaked.

~*

It was becoming an annoying parade, Lex thought with resignation as Oliver Queen strode towards him.

Two days ago it had been Lana, who had left the dubious safety of Smallville with the mistaken thought that their shared past and her big doe eyes would make him reveal what he knew. She’d been frustrated enough by his non-answers that he was pretty sure that his father had been behind her queries, though she hadn’t admitted it outright before she’d indignantly sailed out of the penthouse, her ‘disappointment’ that he hadn’t changed leaving him curiously unaffected.

Then it had been his father’s henchman, who’d tried to kidnap him off of the street. They’d been stopped by his new, highly paid and recommended security detail, two gorgeous women who were incongruously called Mercy and Hope but were deadly with more than weapons.

He’d thought that maybe eating in public would keep the random people away, though he ought to have considered Clark’s hero league of dorks.

“Luthor,” Oliver said evenly as he sat down without being invited.

Lex moved his head slightly to discourage Hope from moving from her post. “Mr. Queen,” he replied just as evenly.

“I’ve been trying to get a hold of Clark Kent. Lois says she’s worried about him.”

Lois. Lex hadn’t realized that she and Queen were still seeing each other, which was about to complicate things for both of them.

He was aware that his father still had him under surveillance, so he didn’t do anything except display polite curiosity. “I don’t know where he is, have you asked his parents?”

“They said he’d left on a trip, which is odd because I’d promised him an interview,” Oliver replied blandly enough, but his eyes were sharp.

Taking a bite of his scone, Lex weighed his options. His father already knew that Clark was gone, and knew why, and if Oliver didn’t get the answer he wanted then Lex knew he was sure to be harassed by the others. On the other hand, if he displayed anything more than the usual prickly politeness, then his father would become suspicious of Queen as well. He swallowed the sip of coffee and placed his elbows on the table, lacing his fingers together. “That’s all I know, as well,” he said evenly. “However, I would like to discuss a business proposal where there are less ears about.”

Oliver’s eyes narrowed, but he nodded, taking the bait. “We can take my car,” he said.

Reluctantly leaving his scone, Lex glanced over and the waiter came immediately. He signed the bill and stood, and followed Queen out of the restaurant, Hope trailing unobtrusively behind.

“Can she meet us somewhere?” Oliver asked, and Lex considered him for a moment before sending her back to his offices, knowing she would tail them anyway.

Inside of Oliver’s car, Lex watched as the man opened up the dash and pressed a button which started an almost silent buzzing noise. “Okay, no one can hear us,” the blond man said as the car pulled into traffic.

“My father found out about Clark’s abilities,” Lex said bluntly, watching as Oliver paled. “Fortunately I overheard him and General Lane planning to capture him, and I warned him just in time. And no, I don’t know where he’s gone but I am assured that he is safe from my father and General Lane’s machinations.”

“Son of a bitch!” Oliver cursed. “How did he find out? And what did Lois’s father have to do with it?”

Lex raised an eyebrow. “What do you ~think~ the government would do with Clark? Tell me that you’re honestly not that naïve?”

The sarcasm made Oliver twitch. He had contracts with the government, just like LexCorp did. “Fuck,” he said savagely. “Clark has done nothing but help people, why hurt him?” He looked at Lex, “Who told your father?”

“Lois.”

“What?” Oliver asked in disbelief. “No way.”

Lex gave him an impatient look.

“Fuck,” Oliver cursed again and closed his eyes. “It’s my fault.”

“How is it your fault?” Lex demanded.

“I must have tipped her off somehow,” Oliver groaned.

Lex merely raised an eyebrow.

Oliver rolled his eyes. “Please, like I’m the only one who’s ever thought with his dick.”

The tart rejoinder made Lex chuckle. “I can’t stand Lois. And no, as much as I hate to set your mind at rest, I don’t believe it was your fault. I suspect her father and mine planted her at the Kent’s with the sole purpose of finding out his secrets. Oh, by the way, she’s banned from all LexCorp activities, no matter how trivial.” His voice was cold steel.

“I can’t confront her on this,” Oliver said quietly. “Not without her becoming suspicious.”

Lex shrugged. “What you do is your business, and what I said is true. I do not have any idea of where he’s gone.”

“I’m glad,” Oliver said, then amended his statement at Lex’s cold look, “I mean that I’m glad that you warned Clark in time. He deserves better than what was planned for him.” He glanced out the window, tilting his head as he noticed where they were. “Tell whoever is watching you that we’re co-funding a homeless children’s charity.”

Smiling, Lex stepped out of the limo in front of LexCorp. “It was a pleasure working with you, Mr. Queen,” he said, loudly enough to be heard.

“I’ll have my secretary call yours to finalize the plans for the charity,” Oliver replied. He smiled distantly and the door closed, the big car rolling away.

Hope appeared and raised an eyebrow. “Have a good meeting, sir?”

Lex looked after Oliver’s car. “Surprisingly, I believe that I did.”

~*~

John watched as the newbies beamed down to Atlantis. He’d already received the data burst from Novak and he was scrolling though it when something flashed on the screen.

“Fuck. Ow!” When he’d cleared the starbursts from his eyes he found that somehow his gene had activated a private message for him. Intrigued he wandered to a quiet section, away but close enough to keep an eye on the proceedings, and began the message.

“Sheppard, hope you’re doing well,” General O’Neill’s voice said. “As of right now I’m going to ask you to perform an act of treason, but for all of the right reasons.”

“Crap,” John said, and decided he needed to be somewhere else to finish the rest of this.

“Oh, you might need McKay there too.”

“Double crap,” John repeated and put the message on hold and went to find Rodney.

 

~*

Radek shook his head as he scanned the area where the hull breach had been repaired. “Is not very graceful repair, but it did it’s job,” was his professional assessment.

Caldwell rubbed his forehead. “But who did it, and how?”

Radek shrugged philosophically. “Someone who is not our enemy?”

“Fine,” Caldwell said shortly. He hated goddamned mysteries. “Get rid of it and have someone fix it properly.”

“I misspoke,” Radek said. “It is not a very graceful repair, true, but it is so well done that it is actually stronger than area around it. No need to replace.”

“I wish…” the Colonel began, then irritably sighed. “Thank you, Dr. Zelenka.”

With a smile, Radek went on to find what else he could help Hermiod and Dr. Novak fix. He didn’t know what had happened, but he knew that Rodney could not resist a mystery and he’d find out soon enough.

~*

Clark knew he was gaping but he couldn’t help it. Atlantis looked very similar to his own peoples’ cities, except instead of being icy and cold it shone with warmth and light. The sun blazed through the windows and he could feel it recharging him. He hadn’t realized how much he missed it in the two week journey, though both Hermiod and Dr. Novak had noticed his tiredness after the short battle with the Wraith.

“If everyone would follow me?” a Marine said, and the group obediently followed him through the passageway into what looked like a sister to the gateroom back on Earth, except more beautiful, in Clark’s opinion.

A woman took the Marine’s place and smiled. “I’m Dr. Elizabeth Weir, the leader of the Atlantis expedition and I would like to welcome you to Atlantis.”

Clark jerked back as a half visible woman appeared in front of him and said something, appearing very sincere.

“Um,” he stuttered, and jumped again when Dr. Weir showed up beside him.

“It’s an Ancient hologram. She said, “Welcome, Honored Visitor, to Atlantis,” Dr. Weir translated, looking at him curiously.

“Oh,” Clark said, eyeing the hologram warily. “Thanks?”

The hologram spoke again and then winked out. Dr. Weir laughed lightly. “She said that you were to enjoy your stay and that if you needed anything to just ask. Like a concierge, I presume. It’s odd, we’ve never seen that program activated before. Do you carry the gene?”

Clark felt large and clumsy beside the petite woman. “No ma’am,” he answered politely, and realized what must have happened. The city must have recognized him as Kryptonian and welcomed him accordingly. He needed to let Hermiod know.

“Alright campers,” a jovial voice called out and Clark looked up to see a military man, clad in black standing on the catwalk above them. “Military come with me, scientists go with Dr. McKay,” he said, indicating a shorter man with blue eyes who positively radiated genius. He reminded Clark of Lex.

 

As the group of military people followed, John kept an eye on the big Air Force Lieutenant. He had to be at least as tall as Ronon, or taller, built like the Satedan too, but somehow kept in the background of everything, taking it all in and staying unnoticed. Trying to appear harmless, but after the message O’Neill have given him John was going to make his own assessment.

 

McKay got the incoming scientists settled (well, foisted them off on Zelenka but the same thing) and hurried to find out what Sheppard wanted. When he’d contacted Rodney earlier he’d been firm, and mysterious, a lethal combination when it came to Rodney’s curiosity. He got to Sheppard’s office and opened the door and barged in. “Okay, what’s going on, Colonel?”

John tossed his padd over to Rodney. “Check this out.”

Mystified, Rodney started the program and began to listen.

“Sheppard, hope you’re doing well,” General O’Neill’s voice said. “As of right now I’m going to ask you to perform an act of treason, but for all of the right reasons. Oh, you might want McKay there too.”

Rodney shot John a look of surprise but the other man just pointed to the padd. “Keep watching.”

“One of your newbies is a man named Lt. C.J. Alexander. He’s in the Air Force and I think he’ll be a great help to you. His real identity is going to stay a secret, but he’s not a threat. He’s an alien that’s lived on Earth his entire life, and he’d just graduated from college when the Trust figured out what he was and with the help of our government decided to take him into ‘custody’,” Rodney could hear the sarcasm in General O’Neill’s voice, and agreed. “I found about it first and sent him to you guys. I trust you both to take care of him, for all that he’s alien, he was raised by human parents and is really just a kid. He’s got superpowers, for lack of a better word, he can run faster than the speed of sound, is extremely strong, nothing can hurt him, at least not there, and he’s extremely smart.

You’ll probably need to let Dr. Beckett in on this, but I’ll trust your instincts if you want to tell anyone else.” Rodney could hear the heavy sigh. “He’s just been ripped from everything he’s ever known, take him under your wing, okay?” and then the message ended.

“Wow,” Rodney said, dumbfounded.

“Yeah,” John agreed. “My mind is whirling with all sorts of possibilities, but we really need to talk to him first.”

Rodney nodded slowly, his own mind going in all directions at once. “I think I saw him earlier. Freakishly tall and shy kid in the back? Hmm, I wonder what the General was alluding to when he said that nothing could hurt him here?”

“Another good question,” John agreed. “I’ll let him settle in then get him in here for a chat.”

~*

Clark was amazed by the size of his quarters, after the little room on the Daedulus. He unpacked and grinned when things activated automatically. He might not have the gene but the city recognized him as a guest and was treating him accordingly. Which reminded him, he needed to go see Hermiod and Dr. Novak to tell them good-bye before the Daedulus headed back to Earth, and thank them for helping him so much.

After a minute of hesitation- the group of new arrivals had been told that they had the rest of the Atlantis day free after the obligatory ‘Don’t touch or it will kill you’ lecture. Clark stepped into the corridor, nodding to a couple of passing Marines. He wanted to explore his new home. He also thought, as he winced, was he had to figure out how to compensate for the sound that bounced off of the glass everywhere. It was like he could hear everything, including peoples’ voices and the machinery of the city, then it was narrow in on one voice before spreading out again. He even thought he heard a familiar woman’s voice, but shook his head at the improbability of knowing someone in Atlantis.

“Lt. Alexander,” someone called and his hearing snapped back to normal and he turned to see the military commander of Atlantis walking towards him. He took a minute to admire the man, Colonel Sheppard was handsome, no doubt about it, but his heart was elsewhere.

“Sir?”

“C’mon, let’s have a chat.”

Clark wasn’t sure if he should be worried when the older man clapped him on the shoulder, much like his dad used to do. “Quit worrying, it’s nothing bad.”

“Yes, sir,” he dubiously replied.

 

Rodney looked up from his laptop when the two men came in and smiled crookedly. “We’re just waiting for Carson,” he told John. He caught the look of apprehension on Clark’s face. “Carson is our CMO. And don’t worry, he’s not into alien autopsies since we work with aliens on a daily basis.”

“Geez, Rodney!” John said with a scandalized voice, making Rodney grin.

“Yes, yes. Politically incorrect, shouldn’t make fun of the aliens,” he replied with an eyeroll and caught the younger man trying to hide a smile. He silently congratulated himself for putting the young officer/alien at ease.

Carson came in, looking frazzled and a bit put out. “Where’s the bloody fire?”

John laughed and mentally closed the door behind the doctor. “Relax, Doc. Rodney, get him a bottle of water.”

The Doctor rolled his eyes impatiently but took the water and drank some. “Thank you, now will someone explain the emergency?”

Rodney silently handed over John’s PDA. “Just press start.”

Carson sighed, then pressed start. He listened to the message but his eyes kept darting to the visibly uncomfortable young man who was overwhelming the chair. “Oh, really now. You’ve gotten General O’Neill to help with your bloody practical jokes. I’m a busy man and I…” he trailed off with a squeak because Clark had picked up the chair, with him in it and was holding it over his head one handed.

Rodney was laughing so hard he was crying and John was trying to get him to stop through his own laughter, “Okay, Lieutenant, you’ve made your point.”

Clark smiled as he gently set the chair and the shell-shocked doctor on the floor. “Sorry, sir. It just seemed like showing you would be easier than explaining.”

“Aye, seeing is believing,” Carson said slowly. “What else can you do?”

“I’m indestructible, I can see through walls, well, anything not lead or whatever the Ancients used here, lined. I can shoot lasers out of my eyes, I can fly…” he stopped when Rodney pointed at him.

“You! You’re the one who killed the Wraith ships and fixed the Daedulus! But that was in space, how did you breathe in space?” Rodney demanded.

Clark smiled gently at the excited scientist. “I don’t need to.”

“But, you’re…you’re doing it!”

“Rodney, give the lad a break,” Carson broke in, voice exasperated. “So, I assume that your medical records are false?”

“Well, sir,” Clark blushed. “Sort of. I really did get sick the times that were in the records, but beyond that, yeah, it’s pretty much fiction.”

“Science * cough * fiction,” John coughed into his hand, and Rodney swatted him.

“Very well,” Carson said, ignoring them pointedly as he pushed to his feet. “I’ll need ye to come into medical so we can at least get a baseline that I can work off of in the future, God willing we won’t need it, of course.”

Clark blinked. He wasn’t sure if he’d ever get used to be accepted like this. “Yes, sir.”

“Welcome to Atlantis, Lieutenant. I’ll see you at dinner, lads,” he said and left.

John shook his head. “We’d be lost without him” he said fondly. “Now, I know you said you’re indestructible but the Pegasus galaxy has a way of coming up with things to injure you that you’ve never even thought of so you can’t go around being careless.”

“Yes, sir.”

John looked at Rodney, who was staring thoughtfully at the Lt. “Rodney, stop it, you’re even freaking me out.”

Clark snickered as Rodney gave the Colonel a withering look. “I was just thinking we can trust Ronon and Teyla with the truth.”

Thoughtfully, John nodded. “Yeah. And I could see him on a gate team, but he’d need additional training. With no powers,” he added sternly.

“That’s no problem, sir. I’ve lived my entire life that way,” Clark replied sincerely.

“Good,” John said and stood. “Welcome to the dysfunctional Atlantis family.” He held out his hand and Clark shook it.

“Yes, yes, welcome and all of that crap. I’ve got to get to the lab before the bozos blow it up,” Rodney said and left.

Clark had to grin. He really thought he was going to like it here.

~*~

Elizabeth sighed sharply. “There was a transmission sent from Atlantis to someone onboard the Daedulus. Have you identified your spy?”

Caldwell pinched his nose and added his own sigh. “No, and I guess you’ve had no luck on your end, either.”

“Radek and I have been on it as much as we’re able, working around the usual emergencies,” Rodney said, almost pouting. He hated not being able to find the traitor in their midst.

John held up his hands. “We’re trying, Elizabeth. All we know for certain is that it’s not someone military.”

Elizabeth was about to speak when Rodney slowly straightened, his face getting bright. “I’ve an idea,” he said and rushed from the conference room.

She gazed at the door as it closed, then looked meaningfully at John who sighed and got to his feet. “I’ll just go find out what idea Rodney’s got,” he said and after a nod to Caldwell, went chasing his errant scientist.

Caldwell chuckled. “I am so glad he’s your responsibility.”

Elizabeth smiled. “I’ve learned to let him play to his strengths and we get along fine, Colonel. How about lunch?”

“Let me take you to the Captain’s mess on the Daedulus,” Caldwell offered graciously.

~

Clark had just finished lunch and was headed back to class when Dr. McKay grabbed his arm, turned him around and began towing him down the passageway. “Dr. McKay?”

“I’ve got a job for you,” Rodney said and after glancing into a room, yanked Clark in after him.

Inside was a storage room, and Clark raised an eyebrow at the shorter man. “Gee, Dr. McKay, I’m not sure we should be doing this,” he said, tongue in cheek.

“What?” Rodney spluttered, then he looked around and rolled his eyes. “Oh, yes. Ha ha. Very funny. Now shut up and listen. We have a spy from the Trust here in Atlantis and on board the Daedulus. I need you to keep your eyes and ears peeled so we can find them. The last thing we need is the IOC back here breathing down our necks.”

The Trust. The organization General Lane and Lionel were part of. Great. “Sure, I’ll start keeping track. Do you know what I’m listening for?” he asked.

Rodney threw up his hands. “No, if we knew that then Radek and I could made a program of what to look for and we’d have caught the bastard before now.”

The frustration made Clark smother a smile. “Yes, sir. Um, I’m going to be late for class.”

“Yes, yes, go forth and learn meaningless drabble that you’ll learn better in the field,” Rodney said and pushed him into the passageway.

Where John’s eyebrows went up to his hairline and a grin widened on his face. “Well well, Lieutenant. You and McKay in a supply closet, I’m impressed.”

“Yes, sir,” Clark replied straight faced. “He’s the love of my life, sir.”

“Oh, for…you’re not funny,” Rodney said with an exaggerated eyeroll, feeling very put upon. “Go back to your class, you stupid Air Force grunt. And you,” he pointed at the snickering Sheppard. “Wipe that look off of your face and come with me.”

 

Back in class Clark listened with interest about the societies that had been found in the Pegasus galaxy, and wistfully wished that Lex could be there listening with him.

 

*

Oliver paced back and forth in his office as he debated how to break it off with Lois. On one hand he really liked her. She was independent, didn’t need the hearts and flowers thing of a relationship, and the sex was stellar. On the other hand she was a treacherous bitch and had tried to sell Clark up the river, and who knew what would happen if she ever found out he was the Green Arrow. She’d proved herself untrustworthy and that was it, really, in a nut shell. She had to go.

He went over and picked up his phone. “Darla, I need someone to act as my date for tonight. I…” then he smiled. “Never mind, I have someone.”

 

Chloe had known something was wrong when Clark disappeared and Lois began nagging her about where he’d gone, but had known better than to bring attention to herself by digging too deeply into it. She saw Lionel’s fingerprints all over it and never, ever wanted to get tangled up with him again.

Working in Gotham had given her the much needed fresh start, and she wasn’t going to fuck it up. She was worried, sure. But after a check of Clark’s parents, and seeing their lack of anxiety, her heart had resettled itself. She knew he was alright, wherever he was.

Her ringing phone jolted her out of her reverie. “Chloe Sullivan, Gotham’s go to reporter!”

“Hi Chloe, I know we haven’t spoken much recently…”

“Oliver Queen,” she drawled as she leaned back in her chair. “What can I do for Lois’s boytoy?” and almost giggled as she could almost feel the millionaire’s wince over the phone.

“Actually, I wanted to take you out to dinner.”

Chloe let her feet drop to the floor. “An interview?” Lois would cut off her head and spit down her windpipe.

There was a silence, then a, “I was thinking more in the line of a date.”

Oh, oh. Trouble in paradise. She sat there for a long moment, then went with her instincts. “Sure, how about the Tower restaurant in Gotham Towers?”

“Excellent. Tonight at 8?”

“That’s fine,” Chloe said, mentally tallying her wardrobe that ~wasn’t~ at the dry cleaners. “I’ll see you then,” she said and hung up, worrying her lower lip with her teeth.

“I guess I’ll find out,” she said aloud. She glanced at the clock over her desk and sighed. It was gonna be a long five hours until dinner.

 

Oliver straightened his cuffs as he got out of the car, smiling when Chloe dashed out of her apartment building, maneuvering in her high heels gracefully. He wondered, again, how in the hell women could do that. “You look lovely,” he said honestly. She was wearing a silk shantung suit in a dark shade of peach that made her glow, her blonde hair tastefully streaked and tousled.

“Thanks, you don’t look so bad yourself, Mr. Queen,” she said cheerfully and got into the limousine. Oliver grinned and followed.

As soon as the door shut he activated the anti-listening device and turned to her. “I’m going to break up with Lois.”

“Shit,” Chloe said, her stomach rolling hard. “Why?”

Oliver sighed. “Lois was spying for her father and Lionel Luthor. They were going to take Clark in and experiment on him, but Lex found out and got to him in time.” At her horrified look, he took her hand in his. “Lex assures me that Clark is safe, and you know Lex would do anything for the Kents, okay?”

“That bitch!” was not the response that Oliver expected.

“What?”

“Lois has been nagging at me to tell her where Clark is. ‘You’re his friend, he’d tell you!’” she spit out. “I’m going to fucking kill her!”

“Whoa, Tiger,” Oliver said even as he admired the bright color that rage brought to her cheeks. “She’s been under a lot of pressure to find Clark, between her father and Lionel. I can’t even imagine what she’s going through.”

“I can,” Chloe said and slumped back into her seat. “I worked for Lionel once upon a very bad time. Worst mistake ~ever~.”

“Ah,” Oliver said diplomatically. “I’m sorry.”

Chloe sat up and straightened her shoulders. “I’m not, because it was a very valuable lesson that has served me well. I’ve learned that I will never let myself get desperate enough to ask for help from anyone except friends or family.”

He’d thought he knew Chloe, but now he was filled with admiration for her. “Sounds like a lesson we could all learn. How about dinner?”

She flashed him a bright smile. “Let’s do it, I’m starved.”

~*

About a week later Lois waited impatiently, rocking on her heels until Oliver’s secretary nodded. “He’ll see you now, Ms. Lane.”

“Gee thanks,” Lois replied sarcastically. She’d never been told to cool her heels in Oliver’s outer office before and she was mad. Inside, Oliver was on the phone. When he saw her he held up a finger to indicate he was almost finished and continued his call, leaving the frustrated Lois even less happy. He’d always been deferential; dropping everything for her and this new behavior was puzzling.

“Sorry about that, business call,” Oliver said smoothly and set his cell down. “What can I do for you, Lois?”

“Well, Ollie. You can explain why you’re not returning my calls,” Lois said sharply.

Oliver sighed. “I’ve actually been very busy. But now that you’re here, I’ll get straight to the point. I don’t want to see you anymore.”

Lois blinked, not sure she’d understood. “What? I don’t understand.”

Sitting back in his chair, and hoping like hell Lois didn’t throw a tantrum, he tapped his fingers together and braced himself. “I don’t want to date you anymore, Lois. You’ve become abrasive and overbearing and where it was cute before…” He shrugged. “Now it’s just unpleasant. I’ve always admired your independence, but sometimes a man needs more in his life.”

Lois’s face turned red. “You’re dumping me.”

“Regretfully, yes,” he replied. “And I’m sorry for it.”

She got to her feet. “Then it’s over. Good-bye, Oliver.”

He inclined his head. “Ms. Lane.”

Outside of Oliver’s office it was all that Lois could do to not fall down, sobbing. She’d been under a lot of pressure recently, being banned from anything even remotely related to LexCorp had pissed her boss off and put her on very fragile footing at the paper. She kept getting phone calls from her dad about Clark’s whereabouts, and threatening e-mails from Lionel.

She’d tried to find Clark, using all of her resources, including nagging Chloe because she couldn’t believe that Clark wouldn’t contact her cousin after they’d gotten so close at Met U, but nothing from her either. And now this.

“Fuck,” she said and pressed her fingertips to her burning eyes.

 

Lex watched as Lois miserably called a cab, satisfied for now.

 

~*

Dr. Novak looked up from her console with a smile. “Lieutenant, how are you settling in?”

Clark smiled. He’d become fond of the slightly neurotic officer during the trip from Earth. “It’s so cool!”

“I know! It’s so amazing to see the tech that the Ancients left behind,” she replied, enthused.

Hermiod blinked curiously. “Do you have allies among them?”

“Yes,” Clark said. “General O’Neill gave Colonel Sheppard and Dr. McKay a personal message.”

“Do you trust them?”

Clark thought about it for a moment, then he went with his gut and nodded. “Yeah, I do. By the way, I want to thank you for everything that you and Dr. Novak did for me.”

Hermiod nodded. “It was, as they say, no problemo.”

Novak started giggling and Clark eyed Hermiod amusedly. “Where did you hear that?”

“I have watched Earth entertainment while on board, in the vain attempt to understand humans,” Hermiod said prissily.

“Buffy,” Novak garbled through her laughter.

“Ah,” Clark said with a nod. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer is cool but not exactly an accurate representation of human behavior, Hermiod.”

“Indeed,” Hermiod sounded disappointed.

“I’ve got a couple of letters,” Clark began and Novak held out her hand.

“I’ll mail them for you,” she said.

“Not from Colorado Springs,” Clark said quickly, but she waved the letters at him.

“No worries, I’m headed to England for my leave. I’ll mail them from there.”

“Thanks, for everything.”

“We will see you in approximately 60 days,” Hermiod said firmly. “I expect a concise report at that time.”

“Yes, sir,” Clark replied, and thought he saw a ghost of a smile on Hermiod’s face. Or it could have been indigestion. You just couldn’t tell with the Asgard.

~*

Clark had finished what passed as Atlantis’s basic training and was now going through gate travel training, including reading the previous mission records that Dr. McKay had slipped him on the sly.

He was following their instructor, Major Lorne, into the line for lunch when he stopped dead and stared. A dark haired woman sitting with the scientists had caught his attention, and he almost let his heat vision go in his abrupt rage. Helen Luthor was alive and well, and sitting at a table in Atlantis.

“C.J., you’re holding up the works,” a voice said from behind and Clark snapped out of it, anxious to be somewhere else before Helen recognized him. But when she glanced up at the small commotion in the line, her eyes passed over him without a flicker of recognition and he almost gasped in relief.

“Sorry,” he said and moved up in line, methodically picking his meal. He grabbed some milk and walked blindly to a table and sat down, trying to not be hyper aware of one of his enemies seated behind him.

“Alexander, are you okay?”

Clark blinked and saw that Ronon Dex was seated across from him, watching him with curiosity. “Um, yeah,” he said. He looked over at Major Lorne who was seated next to him. “I’m going to have to miss class this afternoon.”

Lorne took a bite of his roasted beast and raised an eyebrow. “And?”

“I need to speak with Dr. McKay.”

“Oh hell, those are the magic words,” Lorne said with a grimace. “You have my blessing to miss class and not piss McKay off.” Ronon snorted as he continued to eat.

“Thank you, sir,” Clark said. “Hey, before you go, sir. Can you tell me the name of the pretty dark haired scientist over there?”

Lorne glanced over his shoulder. “Her? She’s a little old, isn’t she?”

Clark almost choked on his soda while Ronon snickered. “No, I was thinking I might have met her at the SGC,” he lied glibly.

“I doubt it, Dr. Bryan has been here from almost the beginning. I think her first name is Helena or something,” Lorne said, and went back to his meal.

Glancing (casual, must stay casual) over his shoulder, Clark could see she’d had plastic surgery, but it hadn’t changed the color of her eyes or the shape of her face. He looked back at his meal, waiting tensely until she left the cafeteria. He totally did not want her to see him, and he wondered how many times he’d seen her without realizing it.

Lorne gave him a puzzled look. “You’re acting like you’ve seen a ghost, Alexander.”

“More like someone’s walked over my grave,” Clark replied grimly, pushing his meal away. He wasn’t hungry anymore. “I’ve got to speak to Dr. McKay.”

He wasn’t aware of Ronon’s speculative gaze as he headed out of the cafeteria.

*

Sheppard was in the lab with Rodney when the new Lieutenant stepped inside. “Hey, Alexander. What’s up?”

Rodney looked over his shoulder and his eyes lit up. “Well?” he demanded.

He hesitated for a moment, then the door behind him slid shut emphatically and Colonel Sheppard gave Rodney a specific look. “~He~ was your plan?”

“It worked, didn’t it?” Rodney said, waving a hand at Clark.

“I don’t know, Rodney,” Sheppard drawled. “Lieutenant?”

“I know who the spy is, sir,” Clark admitted. “But I didn’t need to use my powers. I’ve seen her before.”

“And? And?” Rodney demanded excitedly.

“Oh for the… sit down,” Sheppard ordered Clark, who hadn’t realized he was still shaking from reaction.

“A name, please,” Rodney said.

Clark nodded. “Dr. Helena Bryan. Which is not her real name.”

“Huh,” Rodney said as he rolled over and accessed his computer. “She must have had a lot of money to forge her background, it’s impeccable. I know Carson is going to be crushed, he recruited her.”

“What is her real name?” Colonel Sheppard asked.

“Dr. Helen Bryce Luthor,” Clark said. “Well, assuming Lex didn’t divorce her after she tried to kill him by drugging his drink on their honeymoon and her and her pilot bailing and leaving him in a plane that crashed. He was lucky that he didn’t die.” There was a summer he didn’t recall with any fondness.

“Whoa,” Rodney said. “I guess you know Lex Luthor, then? Because the venom in your voice and the way your eyes turned red and then that desk you practically liquefied didn’t just give it away.”

Clark blinked, winced and quickly lifted his hand. Dr. McKay was right, the desk was ruined. “I am so sorry,” he began but Rodney waved it away.

“It’s fine, I’ll take it out of your hide later. Answer my question.”

“Lex is my best friend,” Clark said simply. “He’s saved my life, more than once. He’s the one who overheard his father issuing orders to have me captured.”

“And we don’t want her to know you’re here, because that will blow your cover,” the Colonel said, as if were thinking outloud.

“Yes, sir. Helen is ambitious and dangerous, make no mistake.”

“Okay,” John said slowly. “Dismissed, Lieutenant.”

Clark got to his feet. “Yes, sir.” And he left.

Rodney and John stared at each other for a moment, before John’s lip quirked. “Best friends, huh?”

“Oh sure,” Rodney said with an eyeroll.

 

Clark was surprised when Ronon found him on the balcony he’d taken refuge on.

“Alexander,” the big man (Satedan, Clark remembered from his classes) rumbled.

“Mr. Dex,” he replied politely. “Was someone looking for me?”

“Yeah, me. There’s a celebration at the Athosian settlement. Sheppard is flying us over and there’s room for one more. Do you want to go?”

Clark studied the other man for a long moment. “Drinking?”

“Yep.”

“Dancing?”

Dex shrugged and smirked. “There always is.”

Clark grinned. “Cool.”

Ronon grinned back. “We’re leaving at sunset. Be ready.”

 

~*

“Dr. Bryan,” a voice said and she looked up to see Carson, who looked upset, Colonel Sheppard and four Marine guards.

“Is there something wrong?” she asked, blinking behind her glasses.

“We need to speak with you, if that’s alright, Dr. Bryan,” Sheppard said politely.

“I’m sure it’s just a wee misunderstanding, Helena,” Carson added.

“Of course,” she replied, ignoring the guards and sweeping out of the lab.

It was quiet as they passed the other labs and went into the transporter, when suddenly she burst into action, pulling some kind of weapon out of her pocket and pointing it at Carson. There was a split second of shock inside of the transporter then John sharply brought his hand down on the side of her neck, dropping her like a stone.

“Bloody hell!” Carson said, horrified, staring down at the woman who’d been a friend as well as on again off again lover.

“He didn’t lie when he said she was dangerous,” John said flatly as he and one of the guards began to search her for any other surprises.

“Who?” Carson asked bewilderedly.

*

Rodney and Carson watched through the glass as she regained consciousness in the chair she’d been strapped into. “I canna believe it,” Carson softly. “It has to be a mistake.”

“A mistake? She tried to ~kill~ you, Carson!” Rodney snapped as Dr. Weir stepped into the room with their prisoner.

 

“What’s going on?” the woman in the chair asked sharply, after she became aware of her surroundings.

Sheppard leaned against the wall, arms crossed over his chest. “Gee, why don’t we start with who you really are, shall we?”

“I’m Dr. Helena Bryan,” she snapped. “I’ve been in Atlantis practically since the beginning.”

Rodney had applied his considerable acumen on the computer and dug under her cover story enough that it was apparent to everyone that it had been faked, and Elizabeth was pissed. “Yes, you have. And you’ve betrayed us since the beginning as well, haven’t you?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Liz!”

John snorted. “Nice, use friendship to distract. But unfortunately it’s too late, Dr. Helen Bryce, oh, wait, I forgot to add ~Luthor~.”

Helen jolted as if she’d been shocked. “How…”

“I’ll bet Lex Luthor will be pleased to find out that the woman who tried to kill him is alive and well to face prosecution,” John drawled, pleased to see the flicker of true fear in her eyes. “Unfortunately the government gets to take the first crack at you,” he continued, “since you’re a traitor and you tried to kill Carson.”

Elizabeth’s eyes narrowed. “If you survive, of course. I understand the Trust tends to take care of its operatives when they’ve been discovered.”

“I can offer names,” Helen said desperately. “But I want protective custody.”

 

From the other side of the window, Carson gave a disgusted sigh. “I canna watch any more of this tripe. Tell me what gets decided, Rodney.”

“Sure thing, Carson,” Rodney said, pleased that they’d been right. “Don’t forget the party.”

Carson shot him grateful smile. “Aye, I’ve got plenty of hangover remedy ready for the morning,” he said, making Rodney chuckle.

In the passageway where he’d been eavesdropping, Clark sighed. Hopefully Helen would sing like a canary and be punished for her crimes. Lex was still alive, it would be enough.

~*

Clark smiled shyly when Teyla came to greet him.

“Lieutenant Alexander. You are most welcome.”

“Thanks, Teyla, and please, call me C.J.,” he said and pressed his forehead gently to hers in greeting. Teyla and Ronon had been told about his abilities and neither had even blinked an eye, not with what they’d seen in their own galaxy.

“C.J.,” she said with a smile. She smiled at Ronon and the other members of her team. “Come,” she said, gesturing towards the people who were milling about, the sounds of music beginning to start. “Let us celebrate life.”

 

Clark was having fun. There was an abundance of food, alcohol and pretty, scantily dressed women. It was almost like a frat party, if you ignored the two moons in the sky, the weird looking food (actually, ~that~ was like a frat party too), and the dancing soldiers.

He ate his roast beast and grinned as Teyla dragged Dr. McKay out to dance. He’d been kept busy dancing as well, and fending off offers from Athosian women to sneak away from the party. They’d been surprisingly gracious when he let them know that he had someone at home. Which seemed a really inadequate way to describe Lex.

“Hey, c’mon,” Cadman said, appearing at his elbow and snatching a piece of meat off of his plate and popping it into her mouth. She reminded him forcefully of Chloe, with explosives experience.

“C’mon, what?” he asked, holding his plate higher so she couldn’t steal any more.

“Cheater,” she pouted for a moment before the change in music caught her attention. “Let’s dance. You’ll keep the Athosian guys away, they keep asking me to have their babies and it’s getting old.”

“What?” he asked, obediently letting himself be dragged out to the flat grassy area, and almost mowing down his drunk and laughing commanding officer who was now dancing with Teyla and Dr. McKay.

“Fertility festival,” she sing-songed and Clark blinked.

“Oh.” He was going to kill Ronon.

“And I can see the way the women are watching you like you’re a piece of chocolate, so we can help each other,” Laura added with a commiserating grin.

She began to dance and Clark smiled, “Thanks,” he said and joined her.

 

It was dark and Clark watched through the flickering flames of the dying fire as people paired off, in surprising pairings too. The party was winding down and he thought he caught a glimpse (he’d steadfastly refused to use his x-ray vision) of Rodney and possibly Colonel Sheppard, and decided that the best part of discretion dictated that he head back to Atlantis.

About to get up, a“Hey, Alexander,” stopped him and a very happy and partially drunk Ronon settled noisily beside him.

“Ronon. You didn’t mention that this was a fertility festival,” Clark said mildly, and got a wicked laugh.

“A party is a party, besides with the wraith we need all of the fertility we can get,” Ronon said practically.

“I guess so,” Clark agreed. “Man, Teyla can dance.”

“Oh yeah,” Ronon said fondly, taking a long drink of whatever was in the bottle he carried (something that Rodney swore was poison) and burping. “I’ve never been to Earth. What is it like there?”

“You mean the Colonel and Dr. McKay haven’t told you?” Clark asked incredulously.

“They’re ~from~ there, you’re not,” Ronon said simply.

Clark sighed. “I don’t remember much about my own world, but I’ll tell you what I love about Earth,” he said, and proceeded to tell Ronon about the blue skies and green fields as far as the eyes could see… he told him about home.

 

~*

Lex watched pensively as the Lamborghini burned merrily. His dad had finally started the war, and fired his opening salvo. And Lex had almost died, if it hadn’t been for the letter he’d received from Clark he would’ve been in the car, (his favorite car, he mourned).

“Sir, are you okay?”

He looked over at his newest security team, Hope and Mercy, both former military with excellent references. Their names only heightened the irony. “I’m fine. I’m going to need a ride, however.”

“No problem, sir,” Mercy said as a LexCorp limousine pulled up. Both women motioned him back as they thoroughly searched it, then let him enter. Once inside he called the police and his insurance agent before closing the phone and pulling out Clark’s letter. He didn’t have to reread it, he’d memorized it already.

 

“Dear Lex,

I hope that you’re staying safe for me. That’s the most important thing.

I’m safe, and I’m learning so I’m getting a two for the price of one. I can’t tell you where I am, but it’s wonderful and I wish you were here with me.

I don’t know when I’ll be back, the people who took me in think this could be long-term. I hate it, Lex. No, that would be a lie and we promised not to do that anymore. I’m making friends and learning a lot and everything, but I miss you. Not exactly what we thought I’d be doing, huh?

And as I look this over I sound pretty pathetic, sorry.

If you see my Dad and Mom, please tell them that I’m okay. I’ve sent them a letter too, so just, whenever. Also if you could let Chloe and the guys know?

I don’t know when I can send my next letter, but I promise I’ll write again.

Yours, Clark”

Lex turned it over to study the London postmark, and then sighed and closed his eyes. After a moment he slipped the letter into his breast pocket, straightened his tie and began to plan.

~*

Jack answered his phone. “O’Neill.”

“It’s me, sir.”

“Is he okay?”

“Physically fine, sir. Mentally, well, he’s a fighter, sir.”

“Excellent. Keep him safe, Major. I’m counting on you both.”

“No problem, sir. Mercy out.”

Satisfied, Jack hung up his phone.

~*

After training, all of the newbies had been assigned to a gate team. Not all of them would stay in one, a lot of them were scientists that wouldn’t be going through the gate, but Dr. McKay insisted that they could hold their own in case of an emergency. The military would be assigned to a final team after six months of rotating team assignments, because Colonel Sheppard was a big proponent of team’s meshing personality-wise (though there were a lot of raised eyebrows at this since the man had Rodney McKay on his own team).

 

Clark stepped out of the gate first, automatically checking with his sight and hearing if there were any threats. He pushed his radio. “All clear, sir.” He’d been assigned to AT-1, since they knew his secret.

“Roger, that. Coming through.”

He trotted off of the ramp and went to stand by the dhd, watching as the rest of team stepped out of the event horizon.

“Lieutenant?” Colonel Sheppard asked as he slipped on his sunglasses.

“There are some animals in the area but nothing big enough to be overtly dangerous,” Clark reported, covering his smirk when Rodney’s head swung wildly around. “And I don’t see anything in the space above either.”

“That is sooo cool. It’s just like Warrior Angel,” Rodney said, awestruck.

Ronon and Sheppard exchanged amused looks at Rodney’s gushing, and John coughed into his hand, “Geek”.

Rodney snorted. “Ignorant plebian,” he replied, reminding Clark so much of Lex that he grinned.

Teyla smiled. “It is a gift of the Ancestors that sent us Lt. Alexander.” Clark cursed the fact that he could still blush, especially around women. Ronon chuckled understandingly and thumped him on the shoulder. “Come, let’s find this thing.”

*

It was the same routine for the next set of missions, ~Go through, follow Dr. McKay around to make sure he stayed out of trouble, go home~, but on the sixth mission, everything went to hell. Clark stepped through the gate to visit a planet that Teyla had recommended when his eyes saw the one thing they’d been fearing.

“Do not come through the gate. I repeat, shut down the gate, there are Wraith all over the place! I’m going to try and help the people here.”

John cursed as the message came through. “Alexander? Stay out of sight. Lieutenant? Son of a bitch,” he cursed when he didn’t get a response. “I’m gonna kill that kid.”

“What does he think he can do?” Elizabeth asked in confusion, and her sharp eyes caught the look between Rodney and John. “Is there something I should know, gentlemen?”

“Ma’am, there was nothing on the MALP, I don’t understand,” the gate technician said.

“That’s because it only can see the immediate area. The attack could be miles away!” Rodney said with a groan, almost smacking himself in the head with his forgotten padd.

“Rodney!” John barked, making the scientist wince. “Elizabeth, we need a puddlejumper, and we need to follow the Lieutenant, and I swear when we get back we’ll tell you everything. Please,” he asked sincerely.

Elizabeth stared at him for a long moment before she nodded. “I’m looking forward to it. You’ll need a medical team.”

“Probably,” he agreed. He tapped his headset even as handed off his weapons to Ronon before running up the stairs. “Doc, we’ll need a medical team to meet us in the gateroom. Someone we can trust.”

In the infirmary Carson could hear as Sheppard ran. “What’s happened?” he asked even as began to gather up supplies.

“Wraith attack. No idea of the casualties but we’re involving Alexander.”

A pause, then a clipped “Understood,” revealed that Carson knew as well, which made Elizabeth’s face tighten.

Teyla shifted slightly, and Ronon stood, his face like stone while Rodney fidgeted guiltily in the uncomfortable silence of the gateroom. Then the great bay doors above the gate room opened and the jumper floated to the deck, the back opening just as Carson and one of his nurses came trotting in, loaded down with equipment.

“Jumper one,” John began when everyone was inside, but was interrupted.

“You have a go, and remember that talk we’re going to have,” Elizabeth said, and inside of the jumper Carson watched in bemusement as both John and Rodney winced.

~

Clark flew as fast as he ever had, saving the screaming little girl first then soaring into the upper atmosphere where the Wraith Hive ship was. He bored a tunnel through it, killing every Wraith he could find on board before leaving it adrift.

He then started methodically taking out dart after dart, trying to keep them relatively intact so the people could be released. As he flew he heard the ‘jumper come through the gate and grimly made sure there were no more darts and no living Wraith to interfere with rescue.

 

John landed in a hidden spot and cloaked the jumper before everyone got out. As they came closer to the village they could hear the happy exclamations, and John made a face as they made it to the clearing. In the center stood Alexander, blushing, as he greeted the excited and thankful villagers.

“Huh, he left the darts intact,” Rodney pointed out. “He must have listened when I talked about Wraith technology.”

Teyla smiled as she recognized some of the survivors. “Hail Myrana,” she called out and a tall woman turned and smiled with delight.

“Teyla Emmagen! Did you send the son of the Ancestors to help us in our time of need?”

Shooting a look at the red-faced and wincing Clark, Teyla accepted her friend’s greeting. “No, but he is a friend of mine. Lieutenant Alexander, meet my friend, the headwoman of the Gremavan people, Myrana Dall. Myrana, these are friends of mine, Colonel John Sheppard, Ronon Dex, Dr. McKay, Dr. Beckett and Major Sullivan both of whom have healing experience.”

“You ~were~ sent by the Ancestors. Welcome to Gremava,” Myrana said with satisfaction.

Sheppard came up and wrapped an arm around Clark’s shoulders. “I’m glad that we can be of help, Myrana. Lieutenant, if I may have a word?”

Sensing the tension, Carson said, “I’ll just get tending patients, shall I?” and bustled off.

“I’ll just go free the people from the darts,” the usually clueless Rodney said and headed to the nearest downed dart. Ronon grunted and followed him.

Teyla smiled at Clark sympathetically. “I will help with Myrana’s people.”

John knew that realistically he couldn’t move the younger man, but Alexander followed along like a docile puppy until the reached a copse of trees that was far enough they wouldn’t hear him yelling.

“So, anything you’d like to chat about?” John asked casually.

Clark winced. “Sir, I’m sorry but I knew that I’d have the…”

“Stop!” Sheppard held up his hand. “You ever heard that old saying, there is no ‘I’ in team?”

Hanging his head, Clark nodded. “Yes, sir.”

“Next time you wait for us, we’re your team. Five minutes wouldn’t have made a difference, except not to piss off your CO.”

“Sir,” Clark knew his eyes were damp but he stood his ground “The first thing I heard was the scream of a little girl. She was lying on the ground and terrified, then I could ~see~ the Wraith leaning down to put his hand on her chest. I used my abilities to save her, and I wouldn’t have done a darned thing different.”

“Damn it,” John said tiredly, knowing that this time he was beat. A child, the first time Alexander had really seen a Wraith in action, and he couldn’t even disagree with the kid’s actions if he’d had the same abilities.

“Okay, I can see where you’re coming from,” he said with a wry nod. He caught the younger man’s eyeroll. “I ~can~. I’ve broken my share of the rules to try and save people, but maybe next time you give us more information to work with before you swoop off. We’re pretty capable of defending ourselves, you know.”

Clark eyed the Colonel for a long moment, then nodded. “Yes, sir. Um, I left the Hive ship drifting in space.”

John blinked. This kid was more fucking powerful then anyone realized. “Really? Is it flyable?”

“Hm, I don’t think so. I pretty much trashed it, though I could fly it back by myself if I knew where this planet was in reference to Atlantis.”

“No, I don’t think that’s necessary,” John said, feeling out of his depth by about a gazillion miles. “Let’s go see if Carson needs help.”

Carson did but he dragooned John as his extra helper, while Rodney nabbed Clark for his own, “I need muscle boy, here,” he’d said before dragging him to the closest of the darts.

Once there Rodney had the younger man move the dart this way and that so he could get in and rescue the people that had been culled. And all of the time he’d chat, or complain, or curse which made Clark absurdly think of Chloe, which made him suddenly very homesick. Then he heard a familiar name and his head snapped around. “What?”

Rodney huffed impatiently, but his eyes were sly. “I ~asked~, so, what’s Lex Luthor like?”

“He’s brilliant,” Clark said promptly.

“Like me?” Rodney asked, making an impatient lifting motion to which Clark obeyed, lifting the dart up.

Clark smiled a little at Rodney’s ego. “He’s been finishing his master’s degree in molecular genetics and biology in between running LexCorp. When he was younger Lionel yanked him out of school, and well, to be honest he also got kicked out for blowing up a lab once.”

“Hey, that’s a rite of passage!” Rodney protested with a laugh.

“That’s what Lex said.” Clark grinned. “He wants LexCorp to head the world scientific community. Separate himself from his father.”

“Ah, the old father and son push-me, pull-me, give me an ulcer,” Rodney agreed as he activated the beam and people appeared, and both men watched as they were hugged by family and friends, no longer lost.

Clark smiled, nodding shyly when people thanked him.

“If we can drag you from your adoring fans so we can get to the next dart?” Rodney interrupted tartly.

“Sorry,” Clark apologized as he led the way to the next dart which was lying on its side with the dead pilot still in its seat, twin holes where he’d burned through the cockpit visible. “It’s just weird,” he said suddenly. “No one ever knew if I saved them before. I’m not used to people ~knowing~.”

Rodney gave him an exasperated look. “We’re not all out to dissect you, you know. Even if we could.”

Clark snickered. “I think I’m starting to believe it. I really am.”

 

Helen paced back and forth in her cell, aware that her time was running out. How had they figured out who she was? She’d spent millions on changing her appearance and her fingerprints, and yet someone had recognized her and it was driving her mad. And she was also afraid for her life-if Lex ever found her.... Thankfully, she had someone on the outside, so she just needed to bide her time.

~*

Gotham-

Bruce handed the article over to Lucius. The older man raised his eyebrows but obediently took the bound manuscript and began to read. After about 15 minutes he set it down and slipped off his glasses. “It’s an interesting premise, and it would certainly explain the metas. He’s going to publish this?”

“Yes. It should be out in Journal of Genetics and Genetics Society of America today. I anticipate the media should have it by the evening news.”

Lucius smiled. “The return salvo.”

Bruce merely tilted his head. “I prefer to think of it as a solid business investment.”

“Mmhm.”

The younger man stifled a smile. “I’ve got patrol tonight. Is my new suit ready?”

“Aren’t they always?” Lucius asked, mock offended, and Bruce chuckled.

Alfred stuck his head into the office. “Dinner will be ready at seven. Please be prompt.”

“Yes, Alfred,” Bruce and Lucius chorused.

 

Metropolis-

Oliver deliberately sat back in his chair and watched the business news with interest, and he knew Lex was in his penthouse doing the same thing.

“And today in business news, the LexCorp president has been a surprise hit in the scientific community. Lex Luthor is the author of ‘The Human Genome and the Future of the Human Race’. He writes that mutations in the human genetic structure are already evolving in our present day, using the sightings of unexplained so-called ‘superheroes’ in our midst as an example, along with micrographs of anonymous DNA and his theory that there is an ‘off-planet’ influence.” The man stopped speaking and was obviously listening to his producer, then he blinked in surprise.

“In addition, and in a rarely seen move, LexCorp, Wayne Industries and Queen Industries, also of Metropolis, have announced a three way merger of their scientific divisions. It will be a joint endeavour into the changing human genome with an eye to curing the world’s diseases and protecting the Earth.” The anchorman seemed thrown for a moment, then nodded. “Yes, that’s what the press release states. It makes you wonder if they know something that we don’t,” the anchor finished and laughed a bit nervously.

Oliver switched off the plasma tv and smiled.

 

Colorado Springs-

Sam blinked at the TV, then lunged for the phone and pressed the button. “Daniel, it’s Sam. Are you watching the tv? No, not the Naked Archeologist. Yes, I’m sure mountain lions and their role in mythology is fascinating. Hey, weren’t you just saying last week that he’d been smoking something illegal when he did that piece on Ramses? Uh huh, can’t mess up mountain lion mythology, huh? What did I want?” She fought an eyeroll. “Go to Business in Review. I assume it’s on the same channel I watch it on. No, no, yes. No, I know they’re talking about Wal-Mart. Just wait for the re-cap and you’ll see. Uh huh. Call me when you see it. No, you’ll recognize it, trust me. Yes, Daniel. Even you,” Sam said and laughed as she hung up the phone.

~

The next day, stock in LexCorp shot up almost ten percent, with similar rises in Queen and Wayne’s stock. Media demands for interviews, and talking heads already tearing apart Lex’s paper were all over the news shows. Bruce, Oliver and Lex had already decided which shows they would appear on, and Lex was eager to start implementing his plan.

“Sir, we’ve called the police on another attempt,” Mercy said from the doorway.

Lex outright grinned. “That’s two, right?”

She shook her head at his amusement at being targeting for assassination. “It’s not funny, sir.”

He saluted her with his glass of juice. “It’s a measure of my dad’s frustration. Two mean’s he’s pissed but still in control.”

“Technically it’s three,” she riposted blandly, but her lips twitched at her boss’s irrepressible good humor.

“It will be more,” he warned.

Mercy sighed. “Yes, sir.”

 

Sitting on Louis Van Duyk’s set of Wall Street Weekly, Lex couldn’t help but sigh happily. He’d made it. Even if he died tomorrow, which would be a damned shame because he wanted to see Clark again, he’d realized one of his dreams- which was being a guest on the PBS business show he’d watched as a kid. Bruce leaned forward and caught his eye, making him chuckle at the knowing look on his friends’ face, the one person he’d told about this particular dream.

The older white haired man strode onto the stage and shook each of their hands and made small talk while the makeup man made sure no one was going to blind the camera.

Oliver smirked as the man patted Lex’s head with a cloth before using a whisk like brush to apply powder. “Make sure you put a lot on ‘Chrome-dome’ there. Wouldn’t want to blind the audience,” he said teasingly.

Lex rolled his eyes. “It’s a true test of time when you’re still as unfunny as ever, Ollie.”

The byplay made Bruce smile. “Settle down boys, or the Headmaster will hear us,” he teased mildly, bringing back memories of their childhood boarding school.

Oliver and Lex shared an exasperated groan.

Their host smiled at their antics, and then the producer held up his hand and started the countdown. When the familiar theme song began, Lex sat up straighter in his chair. They were about to make history.

 

Daniel leaned forward to see if he could spot Jack in the kitchen. “It’s almost on, Jack!”

“Yeah, yeah. Why am I watching this again when I could be watching the Simpson’s?” Jack plaintively asked as he came out with a large bowl of popcorn, making Daniel roll his eyes.

“It’s only a half hour show, Jack,” was all he said.

“And? So?” Jack said as he sat down beside Daniel.

“Sh, it’s on.”

 

The interview was almost over when Louis dropped his question. “One more question, Mr. Luthor.”

“Alright,” Lex said agreeably.

“You stated in your press release that the current evolution could be prompted by ‘off-planet’ influences. Your father claims that you had an actual alien in your grasp that could solve the world’s problems,” Louis asked, surprisingly straight-faced.

Lex praised the acting classes he took at prep school. “I’m sorry, did you say my father said ~alien~?” he asked, the disbelief on his face obvious.

“Then you deny it?”

“I…” Lex shook his head sorrowfully. “My father and I have been estranged for almost a year due to his paranoia and aggression. I was not aware that his mental capacity had already degenerated so much. He’s one of the reasons that I put this merger into motion, I want to find a cure for diseases such as mental illness and Alzheimer’s.”

He held out his hands to indicate helplessness. “When I mentioned ‘off-planet influences’, I merely meant meteors, which in some areas have already been scientifically proven to cause minor mutations, and the dust from comets. As far as I know, the government hasn’t announced ‘proof’ of aliens.” It was a very careful skirting of the truth.

Bruce played beautifully into Lex’s plan by leaning over and gently touching Lex’s arm, the obvious concern about Lex’s welfare was so at odds with his publicly seen careless playboy persona that it leant the aura of honesty that warmed the average viewer, and reinforced what Lex was selling to the audience.

*

In Metropolis, Lionel Luthor had finished screaming at his big screen TV. He had just been humiliated, publicly disgraced by his son on an internationally viewed business and financial news show. Taking a big swallow of his cognac, Lionel eyed the smoking remains of his formerly top of the line big screen plasma TV and darkly vowed revenge. Lex was hammering the final nail into his coffin because Lionel wasn’t going to let it go.

What the older Luthor didn’t realize was that his son had carefully planned the appearance on the show as a diversion, and was at that moment stealing his father’s considerable supply of meteorite. At the same time trusted contractors working for Oliver Queen were liberating the military’s supply as well.

*

In Colorado Springs, Jack was choking on his laughter. “Holy crap! Lex Luthor should be an actor! What a great reply!”

Daniel rolled his eyes. “Yes, but remember, he ~knows~ about aliens. Which means Oliver Queen and Bruce Wayne probably know as well. In addition, the three of them are very powerful in their own right, have military contracts and are producing some pretty important items that we use everyday in the Stargate program.”

Startled, Jack put down his popcorn and turned to face his lover. “You’re serious? You want to bring in the three of them into the program?”

“They’re not part of the Trust,” Daniel pointed out. “And think about the contacts that they would bring, along with their expertise. Then think about the advances that would happen if we let them work with the technology we’ve been able to bring from off-world.”

“Hmm,” Jack said thoughtfully, and reached for his phone.

*

Lex stared into the sky and wished upon a star. He wished that Clark was by his side in this moment of victory…wished that they’d had more time to explore that spark that had began the moment that he’d opened his eyes on that damp riverbank with the dripping wet gorgeous teenaged boy hovering worriedly over him.

The sound of the door opening behind him made his lips quirk slightly. “I’m fine.”

Oliver Queen stepped out onto the balcony and moved to Lex’s side. “I’m sure, but Bruce told me to check on you anyway.”

Lex sighed and slipped his hands into his slacks pockets, face still turned up to the sky. “I miss Clark.”

“Ah,” Oliver said. “I miss the big boyscout too.”

This slightly irreverent nickname made Lex snort and glance at the smirking blond man who was looking up at the sky too.

“Go home, Ollie. I’ll be fine.”

Oliver bowed slightly. “Get some sleep,” he said, and slipped back into the penthouse.

Sleep. Lex knew he’d sleep when he knew that Clark was safe.

*

When Lex got up he was pleased to see LuthorCorp stock was down 15 percent. And there was an e-mail from Alfred-

‘Master Lex, I’m making a celebratory meal. You will join us this evening’ The imperiousness of the command made Lex laugh, celebrating the irony of the scariest man in Gotham who still had the man who’d wiped his butt as a baby working for him. After he answered the e-mail, he had a leisurely breakfast and got dressed, opening the door and smiling at Hope.

“Anything?”

Hope raised one eyebrow. “Your father is frothing at the mouth so much that he looks like he has rabies. Does that count?”

Lex grinned. “Sounds like a good day, then. And the other thing?”

Now Hope echoed his smile with a sharks’ grin. “Taken care of, Boss.”

He’d known it would be, between Bruce, Oliver and himself, they couldn’t fail.

“Excellent,” Lex replied.

As soon as he stepped outside of the building, the press started screaming questions at him.

He held up his hands to hopefully stop some of the noise, grinning at Chloe who was plugging her ears. “If everyone would stop, I’ll answer a few questions.” He watched as they all settled down and he took advantage of the lull to point at Chloe. “Ms. Sullivan?”

Chloe smirked. “Your father said he’s robustly healthy, and I could ‘ask his girlfriend’, direct quote, and the only thing that is wrong with him is an ungrateful son.”

“Well,” Lex began, his face pained. “I’m not sure I need, or want, to know about my father’s sex life,” he said, smiling at the reporter’s laughter. “But on the serious side, I can only hope that my father doesn’t delay but seeks treatment, if not for himself, then for me.”

“Mr. Luthor!” another reported yelled.

“Yes?” Lex answered.

“There’s a rumor that there was a theft of something dangerous from LutherCorp last night. Care to elaborate?”

Lex lifted his hands. “You know what ~I~ was doing last night,” he said, to more laughter. “We went onto Louis Van Duyk’s show, which as a Luthor was a boyhood dream of mine. I had some drinks with Mr. Van Duyk, Mr. Queen and Mr. Wayne afterwards and then I flew home and to bed. However, with a lot of painful experience behind me, I can truthfully say that LutherCorp’s security has always been woefully inadequate, and quite frankly it doesn’t surprise me that they were hit again. As to first hand knowledge of the event?” He shrugged. “I’m not involved with LutherCorp anymore.”

*

On the other side of the city Lionel had just found out about the theft of his green mineral stash, then he’d picked up the phone in time to hear an enraged General Lane telling him about the theft of the government’s as well.

Then his assistant came in and told him to turn on the newly replaced tv, where he watched his son torture him some more. The combination of the bad news, which normally would be something he could handle with his eyes shut, but the previous evening his traitorous board of directors had held a loss of confidence vote because of that damned interview and now his hands were tied, the drop in stock and the loss of the green mineral all caused the headache that he’d been trying to get rid of for the previous two days to explode, making him drop like a rock.

For all of his religiously attending his annual physicals, Lionel hadn’t been paying attention to what his doctor had told him. And now the years and years of bad diet, stress, scheming and anger had all contributed to the weakened arterial flow and blocked heart valves, and somewhere a clot had been thrown and made its way into his brain.

He was screaming inside of his head from the pain, but no one could hear him.

It was hours before his assistant finally braved the office and discovered him on the floor in front of the TV, blood dripping out of his ears.

 

~*

 

Clark appreciated the fact that Teyla and Ronon didn’t consider him a freak, but Dr. Weir was making him feel more alien than ever, the way her eyes kept cutting over to him.

“Cut it out, Elizabeth,” Colonel Sheppard finally said. “You’re freaking him out.”

Elizabeth jerked and made an apologetic face. “I’m sorry, Lieutenant. And I’m privileged to be part of your secret.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he said, blessing the formality of the military that gave an answer for everything.

Rodney rolled his eyes at Clark. “So, now you know. Can we get back to work now or is there something else? I was hoping to get back to the planet and maybe check out the Hive ship.”

“Yes, that would be…” Elizabeth began when alarms started going off and Clark shot to his feet.

“What’s going on, Major?” Sheppard barked into his radio.

There was shouting bleeding through and then Major Lorne spoke. “Sir, Dr. Bryan has escaped.”

“You need to stay here, Alexander!” Sheppard snapped, aborting Clark’s move toward the door.

“But sir,” Clark protested, his ears filled with the sounds of weapons fire, voices snapping orders, and cries of pain.

“No. She can’t see you, understood?”

“Yes, sir,” he said reluctantly, and watched helplessly as everyone ran out.

~

Helen smirked as her fellow conspirator slid to the floor, a hole in his chest. “Sorry Dr. Kenseth, but you’ve become a liability,” she said and then began to reprogram the transporter. Once she’d finished she hopped on and took it to the lab she’d specially prepared for just such an occasion.

~

Rodney was typing frantically on his computer, trying to keep track of everything that the bad Doctor was doing when Carson stepped up beside him.

“I thought medical was locked down,” Rodney asked absently, then he cursed and backspaced before typing even faster.

“I had them lock it down after I left,” Carson said softly. “I canna believe this. It’s entirely my fault.”

“Oh please, get off of the cross,” Rodney scoffed. “We need the wood.”

“Rodney!” Carson said with barely concealed horror at the blasphemy.

“Yes, yes. Just a minute. Sheppard,” Rodney said sharply. “She’s in one of the labs near Pier 5. Wait, wait! Don’t go in there! Do not go in there!”

Carson leaned over and gasped at the violently flashing symbol. “Bloody hell, is that what I think it is?”

“Yes,” the scientist answered shortly. “There’s a bio-hazard in with her and she’s trying to open up the vents. She’s going to try and kill us all.”

“What can we do?” Elizabeth asked him, voice shaking slightly.

“I don’t what ~we~ can do but I’m trying to shut down all of the vents and…”

“Atlantis,” the doctor’s voice sounded throughout the city, “ this is Dr. Helen Bryce. I have a virus that I mutated from…well, that’s not important. What is, is that you will all die fairly quickly, which is more than you deserve, quite frankly.”

“Oh, shut up,” Rodney replied and muted the sound of her gloating.

“What about Atlantis’s quarantine?” Sheppard demanded on Rodney’s channel.

“What? You think I haven’t tried that?” Rodney responded testily. “She’s somehow shut that down as well.” He glanced over at Carson. “Can you reactivate the medical quarantine protocols for that section?”

“I’ll try,” Carson said without much hope and went to another console.

*

Meanwhile, Clark had had enough waiting and sped through the corridors, until he arrived in the corridor where Colonel Sheppard was pacing and speaking to Dr. McKay while Dr. Zelenka was trying to do something with the passageway console.

“You got those vents yet, McKay?”

There was a sound and alarms started blaring, making even the hardened military Marines in the passageway pale.

In the control room, Carson shook his head with disbelief while Rodney cursed viciously and ordered Elizabeth to evacuate the city, even though everyone knew there was not enough time.

*

Helen smiled, the skin stretching uncomfortably in the mask as she activated the venting system, which didn’t start. She pressed the button again and the smile fell from her face when nothing happened, making her screech angrily as she banged her hand on the console in frustration.

An odd noise made her turn around and what she saw made her stare.

~

The alarms abruptly shut off and Rodney frowned. “The room has been sealed off from Atlantis.”

“I haven’t been able to reinstate the protocols yet,” Carson protested.

“It wasn’t you, it was something internal.”

“Was it Atlantis?” Elizabeth asked, hope in her voice.

“No,” Rodney said, his fingers flying over the keys. “No oxygen is going in or out.”

“Can you get video?”

“Genius here. Of course I can, but it will take me a few minutes.”

~

“Hello, Helen.”

“No, no way. If I didn’t know better I’d think I was hallucinating,” Helen said, backing away.

“Nope, not hallucinating,” Clark said calmly.

“Clark Kent, what an unpleasant surprise. You’ve cut your hair,” she said distastefully.

“And you’ve changed your name and your face but not the fact that you’re a lying bitch.”

He stood there, watching her without expression and she started to get nervous. She abruptly remembered the anomalies in his blood, Lex’s room that had been dedicated to the mystery of Clark Kent, and all of her husband’s, and Lionel’s unanswered questions.

“I’ve already released the virus,” she boasted. “You shouldn’t have let your hero complex get you into trouble again, because this time you’re going to die.”

“But you’ve forgotten something, Helen,” Clark said, smiling almost fondly at her. “I’m different.”

Suddenly she noticed her breathing was starting to become labored. “What have you done?” her scream muffled by the mask.

Clark shrugged. “I guess there’s no point in keeping it a secret any longer. I’ve sealed all of the vents. No air in or out.” He watched impassively as she started to panic, gasping for air in her mask. “Oh yeah, I don’t need to breathe, either,” he added as she frantically ripped the mask off, dropping it to the ground.

He saw the understanding dawn when she realized that she’d just condemned herself to the horrible death of her own design, and felt only mild pity as she began to bleed from her eyes and nose, then collapse onto the floor. He moved back, taking care to stay out of the spreading blood pool before tapping his head set. “Dr. McKay, this is Lt. Alexander. Dr. Bryce is dead.”

Rodney and Carson exchanged startled looks.

Sheppard sighed loudly over the radio. “Alexander, what happened to not letting her see you?”

“She’d already released the virus, sir. I got in through one of the ventilation shafts and sealed them up behind me. Dr. McKay should probably flush the rest of Atlantis’s system to be safe.”

From the passageway, Radek blinked slightly. “There is no oxygen in the room.”

“It’s a long story,” Clark heard the Colonel say.

~*

“I’m not sure what to think, Lt. Alexander,” Dr. Weir said severely. “From my position it seems as if you deliberately killed Dr. Bryce. Was it out of revenge? I understand that you knew her from before.”

Clark sighed, feeling the water from his hair drip down his neck and dampen his uniform. He’d been ordered to the conference room after his decontamination shower in the infirmary. “I didn’t kill Helen. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not glad she’s dead.”

“Elizabeth,” Sheppard jumped in before it got ugly. “Rodney said he’s able to retrieve the video from the room.”

Crap. “Sir, can you ask Dr. McKay to blank out my name?”

“What for?” Elizabeth snapped.

“Because General O’Neill promised him anonymity,” the Colonel interrupted smoothly. “For his safety, and because of the Trust, for ours as well.”

Elizabeth looked at John for a moment. “Very well. Let me know when the video is ready, and Lt. Alexander is not to be left alone,” she ordered sharply and swept out.

Clark grimaced. “Nice to know that I’m not trusted.” Like usual. Heck, how long had it taken for Ollie to trust him?

Sheppard leaned back in his seat and crossed his arms. “I get why you did it, Alexander. It’s just you’ve got these abilities and Elizabeth just had a big scare and an even bigger betrayal.” He saw the look on Clark’s face. “Get the thought that it’s your fault outta your head. It’s not.”

With a put upon sigh Clark rested his head on his folded arms.

“By the way,” John began with a wry voice, “You’ve gotta know, people are talking.”

Lifting his head up, Clark rolled his eyes. “Gee, I’m surprised. Not. This is just like living in the small town I grew up in. My mom would already know if I had got into trouble before I even got home. And as fast as I am, that’s saying something.”

Sheppard chuckled. “I know what you mean. But I want you to understand, despite disobeying a direct order –again- you did good. Rodney said there wouldn’t been enough time to evacuate everyone.” He wanted Alexander to understand that sometimes the wrong orders were made for the right reasons, and that he understood the need to circumvent them to save lives.

Clark threw himself out of the chair and began to pace. “Nobody gets it. I ~need~ to help people. Why have these abilities if I can’t use them? I mean, I knew,” he said, and paused, “Well, I was ~pretty~ sure that the virus wouldn’t hurt me, and I definitely knew I could seal all of the vents. And,” he turned to face the Colonel, “I knew that Helen was going to die. I had no problem with it. Yeah, to be honest it probably had something to do with my past, but I also didn’t see a way to save her since she’d already released the virus.”

“I get it,” the Colonel said thoughtfully, looking at Clark for a long moment as if he were trying to discover something.

Clark made a face. “What?”

“Maybe Rodney, and don’t tell him I said this, but maybe he’s right. Maybe the superhero gig, like Warrior Angel or the Green Arrow, is what you need to be.”

“What? So I wear a costume?” Clark asked scornfully, thinking about how silly he thought Ollie looked in his.

John shrugged. “To help people and still be anonymous doing it? Then, yeah.”

Caught by the thought, Clark stared at Colonel Sheppard until Rodney came bustling in, Elizabeth on his heels.

They watched the recording silently, Clark absently noticing that Rodney had done what he’d asked, even as they watched Helen die.

“Ew, Carson was right. Some kind of hemorrhagic disease,” Rodney said, face screwed up with disgust as they watched.

Elizabeth sat back in her seat. “Lieutenant, you have my apologies,” she said.

Surprised, Clark looked at her and saw that she was serious. “Yes, ma’am.”

~*

Bruce leaned back in his chair, and shook his head. “You can’t be serious.”

This was the unusual scenario, disbelief followed by calling your sanity into question, Jack thought fondly.

Daniel just smirked at the look of shock on Bruce Wayne and Oliver Queen’s faces. Lex Luthor merely looked thoughtful. “I’m very serious, gentlemen. We have been through the stargate to numerous alien worlds.”

“Why tell us?” Luthor asked, his blue eyes giving away nothing.

At the end of the conference room table, Jack, with his hands comfortably folded across his stomach, shrugged. “I’ve learned to trust Dr. Jackson’s instincts on this.”

“It’s all about secrets, isn’t it?” Daniel asked bluntly. “I mean, look at your alter-ego as Batman,” he said to Bruce Wayne, “or the Green Arrow,” he added pointedly to the shocked Oliver Queen, “and the meteor mutants in Kansas…” Daniel finished with a look to Lex Luthor, stopping as the men all stiffened. “If you can keep those things secret, then I have faith you can keep our secrets as well.”

Jack inwardly smiled. Trust Danny to use reverse psychology, assuring their guests that the SGC trusted them because of their own secrets.

“We have ten years of technology from other worlds, ten years of allies and unfortunately ten years of enemies as well. And while we employ brilliant scientists from all over the world, we’re behind the eight ball in engineering any usable tech to protect Earth. Your companies would level the playing field and you’d been doing Earth a service, not just the United States.”

“What’s in it for us?” Lex asked.

Jack chuckled. “How did I know you’d ask that?” He sent a knowing look to Daniel who inclined his head to let Jack know that he was right.

He stood and gestured to the pile of paperwork that the three corporate head’s had signed. “Dr. Jackson made a legitimate point when he said that you are the good guys. And the SGC needs all of the good guys on its side that it can get. And to answer Mr. Luthor’s question, LexCorp, Wayne Industries and Queen Industries will get special privilege on bidding on contracts in relation to us.”

“As I understand it, the government requires bidding from any company that is interested in a contract,” Bruce Wayne said, after exchanging looks with the others.

Jack smirked. “You’re right, if we weren’t dealing with aliens and alien tech. But this way we get to control who and what see what toys we have. And we keep the bad guys out.” His eyes tightened and he looked at Lex. “I was sorry to hear about your father.”

“Speaking of bad guys,” Lex said with no small amount of irony. “Thank you for the sentiment, General O’Neill.”

Daniel clapped his hands together in the ensuing silence, startling everyone. “Well, I think we should treat out guests to a tour so they can see how their contributions will help us day to day.”

“Geez, Danny,” Jack said, rubbing his chest and scowling. “I’m old here, try not to give me a heart attack.”

“Oh please,” Daniel said without sympathy. “If you would follow me?” he asked.

Jack watched as the three powerful men that Daniel had seduced to their side meekly followed him out of the door, and thanked his lucky stars that Daniel was on their side, because if he wasn’t…Nah, that was too creepy to contemplate.

He shook his head and went back to his hated paperwork. There was one more puzzle piece to deal with before he could relax.

~*

Depressed.

He was a college graduate with the requisite psych courses under his belt, he knew what depression was. And that’s what he was self-diagnosing, Clark snorted to himself.

Leaning on the balcony, he let his sight take him as far as it could before planetary curve hid the view, enjoying the sight of the animals that looked liked Earth whales but were different enough to be fascinating. He knew he was hiding. It was just he was tired of being treated like a freak by Dr. Weir.

It had been long month, but his feeling about Helen’s death had been satisfaction. She was dead and wasn’t going to hurt Lex ever again. And there had been thanks from the others who’d treated him the same as usual, but Dr. Weir hadn’t been able to move past it, apparently. She had been having him followed by a Marine, who apparently thought he was stealthy, but was just pissing Clark off instead. He knew he could fly away, but running would alienate, hah, Dr. Weir even further.

So at the moment he was hiding.

A flicker to his left made his head turn and he sighed as the city showcased another hologram for him, a different one this time.

“Citizen of Krypton, you are unhappy? Do you wish for anything to be delivered to you? Do you wish entertainment?” the hologram asked in accented Kryptonian. Clark snorted. It was a hospitality hologram, he needed to tell Rodney.

Clark sighed and tilted his fact up to the sun. “Thank you, no. I am adequately entertained.” He could feel the hologram gazing at him and before it disappeared he looked over at it. “Wait, there is something that you can do for me. I would like my life sign signature take out of the system.”

“Consider it done,” the hologram beamed and disappeared.

He cocked his head, and when he knew the Marine wasn’t going to check up on him, let himself lift up to an isolated balcony high above the city to get some much needed peace to think about Lex, and home.

*

Rodney was heading to one of the botany labs when he overheard the whine.

“Ma’am, I don’t know ~where~ he is, and he’s not showing on the life signs detector anymore.”

“Look, Sergeant,” Elizabeth’s voice came, steely and pissed. “I need you to find Lt. Alexander. He may be a danger to Atlantis and the sooner we know the sooner we can protect ourselves.”

A resigned ‘Yes, ma’am,” made Rodney frown and take a left to find John.

~

Elizabeth looked up in startlement when her door snapped open smartly instead of the gliding motion it usually did. “John?”

“You need to get over this, Elizabeth,” John said harshly. “He’s just a kid and he saved Atlantis and sending one of ~my~ Marines to trail after him without asking me is unacceptable.”

Elizabeth face flushed with anger as she stood. “He’s shown himself to be a danger…”

John opened his mouth to argue when the door opened and Rodney came in, his face scowling. “You need to stop harassing Alexander. Carson and Lorne have both come to ~me~. They’ve been that worried about him. Use some of that diplomatic crap that you’re famous for and treat him like a powerful ally, which he ~is~, instead of a possible enemy that you’re worried about turning on us.”

John nodded his head toward Rodney. “What he said.”

“Besides, General O’Neill wouldn’t have sent him here if he was a danger,” Rodney tartly pointed out.

Elizabeth looked at the implacable faces of her counterparts on the command staff and sighed, pressing her fingers to her eyes. “I’m trying to keep Atlantis safe.”

“That’s my job,” John said flatly. “So let me do it. Alexander is one of the good guys, I promise.”

“Anyway, we would never have told you if the thing with the Wraith hadn’t come up, so just pretend that you don’t know now,” Rodney said, in what he thought was a reasonable tone.

John rolled his eyes. “Not helping, McKay.”

Elizabeth laughed a little at the two of them, then sighed heavily. “I know, I know. I’ve been overreacting. It’s just, Helena, ~Helen~…” she trailed off.

“I know she was your friend,” John said quietly, compassion in his voice. “But she wasn’t Atlantis’s friend. Plus she cold-bloodedly killed Dr. Kenseth, which despite the fact he was probably with the Trust, he didn’t deserve that. Then she tried to kill Carson and almost killed ~all~ of us.”

“And if Alexander hadn’t been indestructible, when the Daedulus came back it would’ve been to a floating city full of bodies.” Rodney made a face. It had been an incredibly close call. Again.

Elizabeth made a face back. “All right, Rodney. I get it. And John, I’m sorry for usurping your authority with your Marine.” She tiredly sank into her seat.

John glanced over as Rodney nodded. They had swayed her this time, hopefully it would be enough.

~*

 

Ronon was leaning against the wall beside Clark’s quarters and glanced up when he heard the footsteps. “Hey, I’ve been looking for you.”

“Here to spy on me too?” Clark responded bitterly.

The other man blinked. “What?”

Clark measured his friend’s respiration, his eyes and realized that he was truly in the dark, or a good liar. “Sorry. What did you want?”

Ronon tilted his head, but let his questions slide. “Lunch?”

A laugh bubbled up and Clark nodded. “Yeah, I could eat.”

“Good, then you can tell me and Teyla what’s going on.”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told ya,” Clark replied with a wry smile as they walked down the passageway together.

“You might be surprised,” Ronon said understandingly.

 

Clark was sitting in the mess, laughing with Ronon and Teyla at Major Lorne’s uncanny impression of Rodney when Dr. Weir walked over with her tray and sat down across from him.

“Lieutenant,” she said politely.

“Ma’am,” Clark replied quietly back.

Lorne took the hint and stuffed the rest of his sandwich into his mouth in an unintended impression of Rodney. “See you, Alexander.”

“Yes, sir,” Clark said, refraining from sticking out his tongue at the second in command of the military detachment on Atlantis for deserting him. Ronon and Teyla exchanged a look and Ronon silently asked if Clark wanted them to stay. He shook his head and smiled wistfully as they both stood and left.

Dr. Weir sipped her drink and eyed him. “I want to apologize, Lieutenant. What I did was wrong and I’m sorry for my behavior of the past month.”

Clark’s fork froze halfway to his mouth and he stared at her in surprise. “Ma’am?”

Elizabeth sighed. “I really liked Dr. Bryan. She was a good friend and we had similar educational backgrounds, and she was someone I enjoyed when it all became too much. It’s been hard for me to reconcile that friend with the person that tried to kill everyone, the people she’d worked with for years, me…”

“I know what you’re feeling,” Clark responded gravely. “She took care of my family and me when we were sick, then she married my best friend and left him in a plane to crash and die. And as nice as she was to my mom, she had this dark side that she didn’t control. And it’s all about control, isn’t it?”

Dr. Weir gazed back at him for a long moment. “I guess it is.”

The two of them finished their meal companionably, and Clark went back on duty, feeling lighter than he had in awhile.

 

~*

 

“Sir?” The Sergeant’s voice asked from the doorway. “I have something that you need to take a look at.”

General Lane huffed an impatient sigh. “What is it, Sergeant?”

“I think, no,” the Sergeant corrected himself. “I ~know~ where Clark Kent disappeared to.” It had been almost a year but he finally had something to show for all of his long hours.

Finally, Lane thought vengefully. “Show me.”

Placing his laptop on the General’s desk, the Sergeant brought up a document. “See this? It’s on the same day that the Kent kid disappeared.”

“So, who is Dr. Ballard?” Lane asked, baffled.

“I had to dig around because I thought the timing was suspicious, but Dr. Ballard is Dr. Jackson’s grandfather and after hacking the SGC’s records I’ve discovered that he’s been off world for almost 8 years.”

Lane eyed his Sergeant. “He couldn’t have been visiting?”

He shrugged. “Maybe, but then I hacked their security feeds for the Cheyenne Mountain gate that day,” and he pressed another button to show a security still of Dr. Jackson and Clark Kent getting waved through the gate.

“That son of a bitch,” Lane growled. “Thank you , Sergeant. I’ll take care of it. Good job.”

“Thank you, sir,” the Sergeant beamed.

When the Sergeant left Lane picked up his phone and began to bark orders. He might now know where O’Neill hid the alien yet, but it was just a matter of time. First things first.

*

Daniel was beat. It had been a busy couple of days at the mountain, plus a mission where the time differences combined with the vigorous physical exercise made Daniel one very tired archeologist. And apparently Jack had thought so too because he’d taken one look at him and had and ordered him home.

He stepped inside of the house that he and Jack shared and closed the door. He was relieved he’d left his briefcase at the mountain because he didn’t even have the energy to deal with that. Moving further into the house, it took him going into the kitchen to realize that he wasn’t alone, the gun pressed into the side of his head making him curse the fact that he’d been too out of it to notice.

“What do you want?” he asked quietly, his brain going into overdrive as he tried to calculate every possibility.

“Just you dead, Dr. Jackson,” the man said. “General Lane gives his regards.”

Daniel didn’t respond, just twisted and shot out the heel of his right hand directly into the man’s nose, dropping him and killing him instantly. There was a stunned moment of disbelief from the other man in the kitchen but Daniel was already moving, running down the hallway as fast as he could while simultaneously pulling his weapon and blindly firing it behind him.

He grunted as return fire caught his shoulder as he rounded the corner but he knew he was going to make it. He slammed the door to the master bathroom, buying him the precious seconds to press the buttons that opened the secret room. Falling inside, Daniel slammed the door shut, letting out a whimper of relief as its locks automatically clunked into place. Then with the waning energy he had left he pressed the panic button and slid to the thickly carpeted floor, peripherally aware that the blood was gonna be a bitch to get out, then everything went black.

*

Jack was starting to gather up his things when Walter burst into his office. “Sir, the panic button at your house has been activated.”

“Get SG-1 and Ferretti’s team,” Jack ordered briskly.

“Already done, sir. The helo will be ready as soon as you get up there.”

“Good job,” Jack praised as he shrugged into his bullet proof vest. “Weapons?”

“Colonel Mitchell said he’s going to retrieve yours, sir.”

Jack nodded. “Alright. Colonel Reynolds is in charge, make sure he doesn’t blow up the mountain, Walter.”

“Yes, sir.”

 

In the helo he nodded his thanks to Mitchell and started to buckle and snap his weapons on, then his harness. “Do we know anything?” he asked, easily heard over one of the Special ops’ new quieter helos.

Carter’s face was grim, her own gear already in place. “No sir. The camera is working but we’re not getting a response from Daniel. Infrared indicates he’s in there…” her voice was frustrated.

Which meant that Daniel was alive, but for how long? “Ambulance?” Jack asked, his heart pounding even as he kept his face still.

“It’s on the way but we’ll beat it by a couple of minutes, sir.”

Jack nodded and glanced over at Teal’c who merely raised an eyebrow. But those eyebrows also said a lot if you knew how to read them. This one was saying ‘have faith in Daniel Jackson’… and Jack was trying.

The Crew Chief gave them the 2 minute warning and Mitchell got the rappelling gear ready, and when the Master Sergeant gave them the thumbs up, Teal’c went first, followed by Mitchell, Carter, then Jack stepped into the humid dark and let his training take over, the familiar feel of the zip line in his gloved hands almost reassuring as he descended.

Once everyone was on the ground Jack gave the signal and the helo silently flashed away. The sight of the front door half open gave him a chill but SG-1 went through, handguns at the ready as they stepped inside the house. Carter silently pointed out the first obviously dead body, and they exchanged grim looks when they found the second body of a man in black in the hallway, but Teal’c’s soft call of ‘Clear’ ahead made Jack hand off his pistol to Mitchell and hoof it to his bathroom, inputting the code.

The door slid open and Jack dropped to his knees beside a pale and bloody Daniel, fingers to the younger man’s neck. “Shit. Danny?”

“J’ck?” Daniel asked, his eyes fluttering open.

“Hey, Danny,” Jack said, weak with relief. He and Teal’c carefully lifted him (how many times had they did this in the field?) and quickly placed pressure bandages front and back on the gunshot wound in Daniel’s shoulder.

Daniel gave him a weak smile. “You were right, an’ I was wrong.”

Jack blinked. “What? Did you hit your head too?”

“Ha ha,” Daniel rolled his eyes, irritation with Jack causing color to darken his cheeks. “You were right about the panic room,” he said.

“Oh, that,” Jack said. “I’ll remind you later that you said so.”

“Sir, I hear sirens,” Carter said, poking her head in and smiling at Daniel. “How are you?”

“I feel like I’ve been shot,” Daniel snipped, but sent Sam an apologetic look almost immediately. Jack and Teal’c exchanged knowing looks at the level of snark. It was a good sign.

“Medics coming back!” Mitchell called.

The Air Force medics came into the small room, ignoring Jack and Teal’c as they began to work on stabilizing their patient.

Jack looked at Teal’c and jerked his head for them to get out of the medic’s way when Daniel suddenly clutched Jack’s arm. “I think I killed one of them, but before I did he said that ~General Lane~ gives his regards.”

Years of practice kept Jack from letting what Daniel had told him show on his face. “You got ‘em both, Danny. We’ll handle it, okay? Just listen to the Doc and I’ll see you in a little while.”

Teal’c stood, and he and Jack exchanged a look over the men working on Daniel. It was something that he and Teal’c had perfected over the years, and this look was the one that guaranteed total agreement that General Lane was in whole hell of a lot of trouble.

In the hallway Jack took Mitchell aside. “You and Carter stay with Dr. Jackson. Do not let him out of your sight, understood?”

Mitchell nodded soberly. “Yes, sir.”

“Sir?” Sam asked quietly.

Jack patted her shoulder absently. “Teal’c and I need to take out the garbage. You and Mitchell stay with Daniel, and Carter, get someone in here to clean up this mess.”

She nodded, understanding. Whoever had tried to kill Daniel was going to pay, probably painfully. “Yes, sir.”

“Thanks, kids,” Jack replied. He and Teal’c disappeared out of the front door.

Mitchell whistled soundlessly. “What do you think happened?”

Sam shook her head. “I don’t know, but when the General wants us to know then he’ll tell us.”

~*

Martha frowned at the clock, then looked out toward the far field. Jonathon usually came into the house for lunch by noon, but it was going just past one and she was starting to feel uneasy. She wiped her hands on a dishtowel and stepped onto the porch, shading her eyes further with her hand as she peered at the fields where she expected to see him.

Heart starting to beat a little quicker, Martha stepped off of the porch and began to head down the gravel drive.

“Jonathon?” she called. “Jonathon Kent, you’d better answer me! It’s not funny anymore,” she called sharply. When she got no answer she panicked and started to run. She ducked around the opening in the fenceposts that Clark had put in before he’d graduated from college and into the almost chest high field of corn, “Jonathon?” she called, her voice cracking.

Some instinct had her turning right and she was moving through the rows when she caught sight of his red flannel shirt, “Jonathon!” she screamed and when she got to him, she knew, but threw herself to the ground beside him and put her head onto his chest, wishing, hoping, ~praying~, but there was no reassuring thump underneath her ear.

With the knowledge that he had left her alone, she began to cry.

~*

Lex was happily messing about in his labs when one of his scientists answered a ringing phone. “Sir? It’s for you.”

Surprised, Lex walked over. “Luthor.”

“Sir, Jonathon Kent was taken to the hospital an hour ago,” Mercy said gently. “He was DOA.”

“Fuck,” Lex uncharacteristically cursed. “Where is Martha?”

“She’s still at the hospital, sir.”

“Get the helicopter ready to go,” Lex ordered as he began to remove his lab coat, handing it off to one of his scientists.

“Already waiting, sir,” she assured him.

“Let Mr. Queen know,” he said and hung up his phone.

 

Martha was sitting on one of the hard plastic chairs that lined the hallway, staring blankly at the wall when suddenly a familiar face was in front of her.

“Mrs. Kent?”

Blinking, she smiled at the billionaire who had obviously dropped everything to be with her. “Lex, you didn’t need to come.”

“Of course I did,” Lex said gently, moving to sit down beside her. “Clark would expect me to, but I consider you and Mr. Kent friends.”

She took his hand in her own, and shook her head in bewilderment as she felt tears begin to stream down her face again. “Goodness, I don’t know why I’m crying again.”

Lex pulled her to him, cradling her gently as she sobbed out her loss and wished with all of his heart that Clark was there.

~*

It was late the next day in Washington D.C. when General Lane tossed his briefcase into the trunk of his Mercedes and got in, peeved that he hadn’t heard from the team he’d sent after Dr. Jackson.

He got into his car and pulled out of the Pentagon parking lot, eventually turning on to Jeff Davis highway and heading north out of the city towards his home. As he drove he pressed the button on his steering wheel, cursing when he got static instead of the crystal clear sound he was expecting. “Fucking new car and the radio’s already busted,” he said disgustedly. He pressed another button and the resulting static made him reach for the phone to give the Mercedes dealer a piece of his mind when the static abruptly fell silent.

“Is this thing on?” a voice came out of his radio, making him jump.

“What in the hell…”

“So, Lane, how have ya been?” the voice asked, and now Lane recognized it.

“O’Neill,” he spat.

“Yeah. It kind of sucks that my voice is the last one that you’re ever gonna hear, huh? But that’s okay. The team you sent that tried to take Danny out? Dead. Just like you’re gonna be.”

“You can’t threaten me!” Lane yelled as began to dial his phone, but a click made him freeze.

“It’s not a threat,” Jack’s voice came through, eerily calm. “Good-bye, Sam.”

Intense fear, the likes of which he’d never felt before, made Lane reach for his door handle when the force of the explosion blew the car into a lot of little pieces, spreading General Sam Lane and his brand new Mercedes all over the road and nearby pasture.

Jack stood silently and watched pieces of burning wreckage fall to earth.

“It is done,” Teal’c said. “Let us go home.”

The sounds of sirens made Jack nod and the men hiked through the trees where they had parked. As soon as they got into the truck, Jack’s phone rang and his answered it.

“O’Neill.”

“Sir, it’s Hope. Jonathon Kent was pronounced DOA at Smallville General about an hour ago.”

“Forcryin’outloud! What in the hell happened?” Jack cursed. He shook his head at Teal’c’s look and mouthed, ‘not Daniel’.

“Looks like a heart-attack, sir.”

Jack sighed through his nose. “Okay, get me everything that you can and keep me updated.”

“Yes, sir.”

He tossed the phone onto the dash. “No one you know, T. I just got bad news about an old friend of mine. He just died of a heart attack.”

Teal’c absorbed the news with his usual equanimity. “My sympathies for your loss, O’Neill.”

Jack nodded. “Thanks, big guy. The worst thing is that his kid is in Atlantis.”

“Indeed.” And Teal’c knew the difficulties of deciding to how to notify someone about a death in the family, especially with the inherent problems of contacting them in another galaxy to consider.

~

Daniel shifted uncomfortably, making Jack’s head whip around.

“I’m fine,” he said, for the fortieth time.

“Do you need a pain pill?” Jack asked, feeling remarkably restrained since he didn’t think Daniel should have come with him anyway, and was answered with a huff.

“No!”

“Turn left in 150 feet,” the GPS announced.

Ahead they could see car after car, pickup trucks interspersed with small sedans and even a horse and buggy parked in uneven rows around the small church. “Wow,” Daniel said softly.

Jack swallowed. “Johnny was born and raised here. I think his grandfather settled here in the mid 1800’s or something.”

“Roots,” Daniel said softly. “I can’t imagine how hard it was for Clark to leave here.”

“Well,” Jack said with a sigh. “I know the kid didn’t want to be a farmer.”

“Does he know yet?”

“Message goes out tomorrow,” Jack said flatly, parking the rental SUV between two trucks in various states of rusty disintegration.

“God,” Daniel exhaled as he gingerly got out of the car, the anthropologist’s side of him automatically cataloguing the example of small town grief. It kind of reminded him of Abydos. Not the physicality of the place, but the closeness of community.

*

Lex tried to be unobtrusive, well, as much as he could, as he stood beside Martha while people paid their respects. He was surprised at how many he knew, either from the plant or someone he’d met at the Talon, or just knowing a family member who’d been affected by the meteorites.

The questions of where Clark was, were handled by him because each time Martha welled up and wasn’t able to speak. His official answer was Clark had gone overseas and no one had been able to reach him with the bad news yet.

“Lana, thank you for being here,” Martha said and Lex jerked out of his musings to see his ex-wife standing in front of him and Mrs. Kent.

“I admired Mr. Kent a great deal,” Lana said quietly. “I’m sorry for your loss,” she continued and looked at Lex with cool disdain. “Hello, Lex. I’m surprised Clark isn’t here.”

Lex knew that prior to his father’s stroke he’d been putting pressure on Lana to find Clark, and was pissed that she’d have the gall, and bad taste, to bring that up at Mr. Kent’s funeral.

He stiffened but as Martha put a calming hand on his arm he answered, “He’s been overseas and unreachable for a few weeks. We’re expecting a call at anytime,” he finished, lying with complete sincerity.

Lex noticed detachedly as Lana’s forehead crinkled with disapproval before she nodded and moved on, and honestly wondered what in the hell he’d ever seen in her. She’d never been able move past her own needs, either with Clark or himself, and it had taken him longer than it should have to realize that while he’d wanted a partner, he’d never trusted her to be that for him.

To be fair, Lana hadn’t wanted a partner either, she’d wanted someone to take care of her completely before anyone and anything else. It was too bad that it had taken Lex almost losing Clark for good to make him realize what a colossal mistake a marriage based on lies had been.

“No offense, Lex,” Martha said quietly, “But I’m glad that Clark and Lana didn’t get together. Thank you.”

He sent Clark’s mother a wry look. “Glad I could help,” he said and she patted his arm with a look of knowing amusement in her eyes.

 

He glanced at the door to gauge when he could signal the minister to begin, the church was almost full, when he froze at the surprising sight of two men he’d only recently met. Lex met Jack’s eyes and received a nod, but no indication of what in the hell was going on until Martha saw them as well.

“Jack, I didn’t expect you,” she said warmly.

“Martha, I am so sorry,” Jack replied, handing his uniform cap to Daniel and hugging her tightly. Lex noticed that the older man whispered into her ear, and then caught her as she sagged even as he scrambled to brace her.

“Thank you,” she said, pulling herself together after a minute, affectionately cupping the General’s cheek with her hand. “Thank you for being such a good friend to me and mine.”

“Is there ~anything~ you need?” he asked seriously.

Martha shook her head, her faded red hair swinging slightly. “No, I have everything I need now.” She smiled and took Lex’s hand in hers. “Lex has been standing in for Clark admirably.”

The General nodded and met Lex’s eyes. “I appreciate it and I know that Johnny’s boy will as well, Mr. Luthor.”

“Thank you,” Lex replied automatically.

Turning, O’Neill pulled Dr. Jackson forward. “Martha, this is Dr. Daniel Jackson. He works with me. Danny, this is Martha Kent,” he introduced, taking back his cover.

Daniel smiled gently. “I’m sorry our first meeting is at such a sad time. Jack has raved about your cooking for years.”

Martha laughed. “Because men think with their stomachs, Jonathon and Clark are,” she took a steadying breath, “were the same. It’s nice to meet you, Dr. Jackson.”

Lex watched Jack kiss Martha’s cheek and move off with Dr. Jackson, his head tilted to hear what the other man said as they headed towards an half empty pew, the unexpectedness of the General’s Air Force uniform causing fresh gossip.

 

The funeral was simple, but filled with the testimony of people who’d known Jonathon all of his life, and Lex hoped that he’d have even a quarter of the heartfelt testimonials when he died.

There was a slight pause, and Lex heard someone clear his throat, and then General O’Neill stood. “I was wondering if I could say something?” he asked and Martha nodded.

“Of course, Jack.”

The striking white haired man with the medal heavy dress uniform went behind the pulpit and smiled. “Except for Martha, none of you know me. But I knew Johnny for a short time. You may remember that he served his country in the Air Force after he left college, like his father before him. We met over in Germany at Landstuhl Air Force Base. He was a fantastic mechanic, no doubt due to what he learned on the farm he grew up on.” There were knowing nods from people in the audience.

Lex listened avidly, fascinated by this new knowledge about Clark’s family.

“We met when he was fixing my plane. He didn’t obey the unspoken rule of mechanic’s being seen and not heard ‘cause he walked right up to me, told me his name and that he was from Smallville, Kansas.” Jack smiled and shook his head. “He was never ashamed of this town, and I can see why. It sounds like you all appreciated him, I know I did. He was a great friend, a great man who had to the courage to do what needed to be done, a great husband and a great father and I was privileged to know him.”

Martha was damp eyed as she mouthed a heartfelt ‘Thank you’ to the General as he headed back to his seat, and the rest of the service went by quickly.

After the graveside service most of the assembled were on their way home, including Mrs. Kent who had left with some of her girlfriends. Lex was about to leave himself but was surprised by General O’Neill stopping in front of Mercy. “How are you doing, Major?”

Mercy shot a look at Lex, but nodded. “It’s all good, sir. With the two major players out of commission everything has calmed down considerably.”

“I am assuming that you two know each other?” Lex asked evenly, trying to force the sense of betrayal he felt to the background before he exploded.

O’Neill shrugged. “I was asked to make sure that you would be safe. And I may have stacked the deck of who you were presented with when you went bodyguard shopping.” He looked at Lex critically. “I didn’t do it for you, Luthor. I did it for Clark.”

Stunned by the fact that the General ~knew~ Clark, and therefore extrapolated that the General knew where Clark was; Lex snapped, “I want to see him.”

The General blinked. “Tough, ‘cause you can’t.”

“You’d better see that I do or I’ll blow the secret wide open, General,” Lex threatened calmly.

“Now you listen, kid,” the older man fired back when Jackson put a hand on his arm, a moment of silence where his blue eyes saying something that the General apparently understood.

“Ohfortheloveof…fine,” O’Neill irritably huffed. “I’ll get it set up. Don’t call me, I’ll call the Major with the details. C’mon, Danny. I have a powerful need for a corndog.”

Mercy hid a smirk as the General and Dr. Jackson walked away.

“What’s so funny, Mercy?” Lex asked.

The bodyguard lifted her head and grinned. “You just bluffed the General. I never thought I’d see the day.”

Lex adjusted his cuffs and smirked. “I wasn’t bluffing, Mercy. Let’s go home. I need to pack, and while we drive to Metropolis you’ll let me know what information that you’ve been passing to the General.”

She stopped and looked at him seriously. “I would never betray you, sir.”

The billionaire stopped and looked at her just as seriously. “I believe you.”

 

~

At Arlington Cemetery in Washington D.C. Lois Lane was sitting beside Chloe, her Uncle Gabe and her younger sister Lucy, who was drugged to the gills, as they watched their father being buried with full military honors.

Lois still couldn’t believe that her father was dead. The cause was listed as a faulty gas tank, but she’d been suspicious enough to go see the wreckage, which had been a mistake. It had been devastating for her to see that there hadn’t been enough of the brand new Mercedes to fill a garbage can.

The sound of the rifles salute jerked her out of her reverie and she had to put an arm around Lucy who was so startled she began to loudly cry. It pissed Lois off, Lucy hadn’t been around for the past five years and now ~she~ was the devastated daughter while Lois had to be the strong one.

The torture of the service ended with Lois accepting the folded American flag from the man on the behalf of a ‘grateful nation’. She sighed and turned and looked at her uncle and cousin. “If its okay, we’re leaving,” she said flatly.

Gabe nodded. “Of course.” He led them through the multitude of Army military officers, none of whom would meet Lois’s eye.

Inside of the limo, Chloe sighed and toed off her shoes but didn’t say anything as she retrieved a bottled water for the still crying Lucy.

“Did you notice that no one even came up to us to express their condolences?” Lois asked.

Chloe snorted. “Maybe because he was part of a shadowy government group who thought they were above the law and who pissed everyone else off?”

“Shut up!” Lois snapped.

“Fuck yourself, Lo,” Chloe snapped back. “I know what you did to Clark. Don’t think I’ve forgiven you, either.” She pointedly looked out of the window.

“Girls!” Gabe yelped incredulously.

He watched as Lois paled and sat back in her seat beside the oblivious Lucy, and was totally taken aback by the rage his daughter had just shown to her previously favorite cousin. Obviously something had happened to Clark that he had no knowledge of, and he wondered if he truly wanted to know.

*

“Incoming transmission,” the gate technician called.

It wasn’t an emergency, just the regularly scheduled transmission from Earth, though this time they were asked to delay their response for 24 hours, which was unusual.

Chuck noticed that there were two separate parts to the transmission and dutifully sent the section addressed to Colonel Sheppard to him without notifying Dr. Weir.

 

Rodney had discovered that Clark had been ‘downloaded’ with the Kryptonian’s scientific information and the Chief scientist of Atlantis had been interrogating him for everything he remembered, or so it seemed. Kinda what Lex had done as well when he’d found out that Clark was from Krypton, apparently geniuses in whatever galaxy were scarily a lot alike.

“So, how do you think the power transfers happened?”

Rodney’s voice snapped him to the present, and Clark huffed a sigh. “I was a ~Journalism major~,” he said, hearing the whine in his voice but feeling completely justified.

“Yeah, and who’s boneheaded idea was that?” Rodney asked him scathingly.

“Gee, there’s this thing called ‘free will’,” Clark shot back just as sharply, but his grin matched Rodney’s when the other man just waved a dismissive hand.

“Alexander.”

Clark was surprised to see that the Colonel had come into the lab and he hadn’t noticed him. Rodney exchanged a quick look and they both silently agreed that something had happened by how serious Sheppard’s face was.

“John?” Rodney asked softly.

Sheppard managed a surprised grin. “Hey, you used my first name! I’ll mark it in my calendar.”

“Har de har har,” Rodney replied sarcastically. “What’s the matter?”

The Colonel looked at Clark, and Clark felt that sinking feeling start when his CO asked, “Rodney, could you excuse us?”

Surprised, Rodney half rose but Clark shook his head. “It’s okay, he can stay, sir.”

The Colonel nodded and Rodney sank into his chair.

“General O’Neill sent a message,” Sheppard began formally, “It reads; Lieutenant Alexander, I regret to inform you that your father died August 1st, and was buried August 5th. Myself and Dr. Jackson attended the service and I spoke to your mother. Aside from your dad’s untimely death, she’s doing fine, including the farm etc.

Lex Luthor has been helping her through this difficult time in your stead. You ~cannot~ come home yet…” Sheppard paused and shook his head when he sensed Clark’s non-verbal protest. “It’s not safe yet, but soon, I promise. Take the time you need, kid, but know that Lex Luthor and your mother are safe. General J. O’Neill, Commanding.”

Clark couldn’t even phrase a coherent question. His father was dead. They’d known that his heart had been bad for awhile but he thought that he had time. They all did.

“Alexander?” Sheppard asked, concern in his voice.

Clark shook his head. “I’m…I…”

Rodney flapped his hands. “Go.” He and John watched as Clark literally disappeared, leaving a small windstorm in his wake, then a sonic boom over the city let them know which direction he’d went.

“Wow,” John said at the same time their radios went crazy.

“It was a bird,” Rodney snapped to the frantic queries before muttering, “Morons.” He turned off his radio. “It must be nice to like ones parents,” he added rhetorically. “We should tell Teyla. Maybe she could do that ceremony for Alexander.”

“Good idea,” John said, hiding a smile. Not very many people knew the sweeter side of one Dr. Rodney McKay.

~*

Clark flew, leaving Atlantis and everyone behind. He went to the Pegasus sun and let its heat dry his tears as he grieved for his family and Lex, and mourned that he hadn’t been able to see his father for a final time.

 

It was much later when he arrived back in Atlantis, energized physically by his proximity to the sun, but grief making him weary to his soul. He really didn’t need much sleep anymore, but at the moment all he wanted was to lie down and seek the oblivion of Atlantis’s night.

He quickly zipped into his room, naked from his uniform being burned off by the sun, and stumbled to a stop after a startled squeak of surprise to see Teyla on his bed.

Teyla kindly averted her eyes. “I will wait until you are clothed, Lieutenant.”

“Thanks,” he choked and zoomed into the bathroom to take a quick shower, get dressed and was back in front of her in the time it took her to take a breath.

She blinked and laughed. “Your abilities continue to surprise me.”

Clark sat down in the office chair and eyed her tiredly. “What do you need, Teyla?”

Carefully folding her hands, Teyla looked back at him seriously. “Since you are not able to grieve with your family, Colonel Sheppard and Dr. McKay have suggested that we have a traditional Athosian mourning ceremony for your father.”

Touched beyond belief that they’d thought of him, Clark could only nod, his throat too tight for words.

Teyla smiled and patted his hand before getting to her feet to leave. “You will always miss him, but maybe this will ease the pain of his unexpected passing.”

And it did. Everyone who could, filled the room and Clark let Teyla’s soaring voice ease his guilt and sadness, not ashamed of his tears as he grieved for the man he’d loved as a father, surrounded by the people he considered a second family.

~*

 

The day after the ceremony Elizabeth cracked the whip to get the base ready for another IOA inspection. Apparently along with the bad news of Clark’s father’s death, there had been an announcement that more VIP’s were coming with Woolsey and she wanted to have her ducks, and everyone’s stories (especially about Dr. Bryce’s death), in a row.

Clark had heard the wild stories about the IOA, and none of them good. He could felt the tension ratchet up as the ‘visit’ came closer. AT-1 went on several trade missions to get items that were native to the Pegasus galaxy to show off to the IOA’s important guests.

 

In between missions Clark went flying. When Rodney had figured out about his little expedition to the Pegasus sun, he’d enlisted Clark’s help keeping an extra eye for anything unusual in their part of the galaxy, including spaceships of foreign origin or any wandering Wraith.

“What? It makes sense not to waste what power we have if Alexander takes a quick look everyday,” Rodney had pointed out (in his famous, ~I’m being reasonable, what’s your excuse~ tone) when the Colonel asked mildly asked if Rodney wasn’t taking advantage.

Clark had reassured their team leader that he was fine with it, and had outright laughed at the triumphant look on Rodney’s face, and the scowl when Sheppard had said, “Fine, when momma’s happy everyone’s happy.” He still snickered when he thought about it.

 

Lucas paced almost maniacally while Lex sat watching their father, the ‘great’ Lionel Luthor, die.

“It’s not your fault that he was a fuck-up as a father,” Lucas said, the words dropping into the quiet with almost as much impact as a bomb.

Lex sighed. “Intellectually I realize that, Lucas. Yet I feel I contributed to his death, nevertheless.”

Lucas spun on his heel to glare at his half brother. “Why? Because you won? It was his own fault he taught you how. Now get the fuck over it.”

After a moment, Lex quirked a smile. “When did you get so damned smart?” he asked almost fondly.

The younger man smirked. “I might not be the sharpest tool in the shed but even I can figure it out. All without a shrink, even.”

“I hope you get everything,” Lex said abruptly.

Now Lucas did a double-take. “What?”

“I hope you get everything and invest it in strip clubs and casinos,” Lex repeated firmly, referring to where Lucas’s money had gone so far.

Both men glanced over at their father.

“Now, if ~that~ didn’t do the old man in…” Lucas quipped.

The doctor chose that moment to enter the room, cocking an eyebrow at the two men before he checked Lionel’s vitals. “It will be soon.”

With a sharp nod Lex got to his feet. “Very well, call me when he passes.”

“Oh, thank Christ,” Lucas said. “I didn’t want to play dutiful son anymore.”

They ignored the doctor’s dismay and left Lionel’s room with relief, Lex ordering Mercy to keep watch and make sure no one hastened the old bastard’s demise, or had him ‘sign’ anything.

~*

Jack read the obituary and shook his head. Lionel Luthor had gone out with a whimper, not a bang. He’d also unexpectedly spilt his estate evenly between his sons, except for a million dollar bequest to his girlfriend.

“Well?” Daniel asked.

“I don’t know, Danny.”

“It looks like the threat to Clark is over.”

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned…” Jack began thoughtfully, “is that even if you cut off the head of the snake, there’s still poison in its fangs.”

Daniel’s eyebrows rose. “Why, that’s positively pessimistic, even for you Jack.”

Jack chuckled and flicked the papers on his desk. “But our solution may be headed to Atlantis.”

*~
Bruce sighed. “Be careful, Lex.”

Lex smirked and looked challengingly at Oliver. “What, no words of wisdom or arguments to talk me out of it?”

Oliver sipped his water and smiled. “Would you listen?”

“No,” Lex said, and chuckled when he realized that Bruce had said it at exactly the same moment. “Shut up.”

Lex rocked on his feet, watching the hustle and bustle of the gateroom, not quite believing that he was actually going to travel on a space ship and to go the fabled city of Atlantis, and best of all, see Clark.

“So,” a voice asked cheerfully from behind and Lex was careful not to jump in surprise, “You ready to go?”

Turning, Lex eyed the smug man. “General, know this. If Clark has been hurt in anyway…”

O’Neill smirked, hand in his pockets. “Yeah, yeah, doom and destruction and revelation of the entire Stargate program, blah blah. I heard you the first time.”

“Just so you remember,” Lex replied evenly.

Woolsey came up and rubbed his hands together. “So, O’Neill. You promised me this trip will be uneventful, right?”

The General shrugged. “Well, I can’t predict the future. After all, you’ve done this before and know how it is.”

“Great,” the man said morosely, irritating Lex. “Replicators and bugs and energy sucking vampires. I should’ve become a doctor like my mother wanted.”

A “Sir?” caught their attention and General O’Neill nodded.

“Enjoy your trip, kids. Icarus, you have a go.”

~*

Clark stared up at the Icarus in awe, amazed that the fragile, to him, space ship had made the voyage from a different ~galaxy~. He was so amazed by the sight of it in orbit around Atlantis that he missed the first people beaming into the gateroom, until the sound of a heartbeat that he knew better than his own caused his attention to snap back to the gateroom.

 

He stepped forward, his hands gripping the railing as his eyes devoured the one person that he’d missed more than anything, dreamed, wanted… “Lex,” he breathed.

 

Lex had materialized in Atlantis and was immediately distracted from the amazing surroundings by a gut feeling, an instinct that made him turn and look up…into Clark’s beautiful green eyes.

 

Clark would never remember how he got there, but he would remember the smell and feel of Lex after a year fraught with change, new dangers and old and a world so different from home. Except now, home was in his arms.

Lex laughed and thumped Clark enthusiastically on the back then pulled back, beaming at his friend. “How are you?”

“Shocked,” Clark said with a grin. “Amazed. How did you get to come here?”

“Oh,” Lex said with an answering grin, “I may have blackmailed General O’Neill.”

“L-ex,” Clark groaned, but couldn’t help smiling, because that was classic Lex.

Lex’s fingers flexed on Clark’s arms. “You’re okay, right?”

“I’ve been good, really,” Clark assured him. “It’s so amazing here! You wouldn’t believe all of the times when I said, ‘Man, I wish Lex was here to see this, or see that.’”

“Well,” Lex said with satisfaction. “I’m here now. So why don’t you introduce me to your friends.”

Clark glanced over his shoulder and saw his team smirking at him.

“We would meet your friend, Lt. Alexander,” Teyla asked, her eyebrow raised. Ronon just looked amused.

“Well, ~I~ know who he is,” Rodney announced. “I just want to see if he’s as smart as Alexander says he is.”

“Rod-ney,” Sheppard said with exasperation. “Play nice.”

Clark grinned and brought Lex around to face the team. “Guys, this is Lex Luthor, my best friend. Lex, this is, from left to right, Colonel Sheppard, head of the military in Atlantis and my boss, Dr. Rodney McKay, head of the scientific side, Teyla Emmagen, leader of the Athosians, who you’re going to meet later, and Ronon Dex,” he said proudly.

Rodney stepped up and enthusiastically shook Lex’s hand. “I read your paper on biological power structures. Stupid premise but interesting conclusions.”

Sheppard snorted, shoving Rodney to the side with his shoulder and holding out his own hand. “Cut it out, McKay. It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Luthor.”

“Call me Lex, please,” Lex said, wanting to be liked by these people who were so obviously important to Clark.

“We have heard much about you, Lex,” Teyla said with a smile.

Ronon reached out and clutched Lex’s forearm briskly before releasing it. “He said you’re as smart as McKay.”

Lex shot a look at his beaming friend. “Well, Cla…I mean Alexander is biased.”

“C’mon,” Clark said. “I want to show you around.”

“I’m sorry, Lieutenant,” Lex heard Woolsey say. “I need to introduce him to Dr. Weir and we’re going to have a meeting, followed by an inspection.”

Dr. McKay briskly clapped his hands. “Good luck with that. I’ve got new scientists to keep from blowing up Atlantis.” And ran for his life.

“I need to keep McKay from killing the scientists,” Ronon grunted and headed after McKay.

“Oh, he so does not,” the Colonel pouted under his breath, but not quiet enough for a pinch-faced Woolsey to miss it.

Teyla bowed her head. “I am sorry but I must see to my people, it was nice meeting you, Lex,” she said politely and headed off in the same direction with long ground eating strides.

Lex smirked. “Well, Woolsey. You sure know how to clear a room.”

Clark muffled a laugh into his hand. “I have to head to Dr. McKay’s too. I’ll see you after the meeting?”

“Fine, desert me in my hour of need,” Lex said in long-suffering tones but his blue gray eyes danced.

“Work first, play later. Isn’t that what you used to tell me?” Clark grinned, his own green eyes warm. He wanted nothing more than to get Lex alone and show him how much he’d missed him, and he could tell that Lex felt the same way.

“I’ve learned a lot since then,” Lex said with a grin, and was about to continue speaking when…

 

No one noticed the soldier who pulled out his weapon until he started firing in the crowded gateroom.

Clark spun, using his body to guard Lex but the Colonel shoved his shoulder. “Go, we’ve got Luthor. Stop the gunman!” he shouted to Clark over the screams.

Clark quickly checked Lex who waved him away impatiently, nodded to Sheppard and made sure to be careful as he zipped around people. He was nearly to the gunman when an entirely familiar and unwelcome feeling caught him, stealing his breath and making his body want to writhe in pain. Kryptonite, his brain registered as he fell to his knees. He gasped for air as he realized that the shooting soldier had a large lead box flipped open at his feet with a large piece of the green mineral that had been the bane of his existence on Earth.

Lex was trying to look over the Colonel’s shoulder as he was manhandled out of the gateroom when he caught sight of Clark staggering, his face green-tinged, then his collapse, disappearing behind other soldiers. “Clark!” he shouted as he was pulled behind a door that slid sharply shut.

“Did you shut the doors?” Lex heard Sheppard ask and heard McKay’s negative answer in the background as he tried to find Clark in the chaos below.

 

Pain was battering him in waves as the soldier kicked the box with the kryptonite towards him. “How does it feel to know you’re going to die?” the man sneered, continuing to fire.

“I’m here, you’ve got me. Stop shooting!” Clark croaked as he moved in front of an injured Marine to try and protect him, grunting when the soldier fired point blank, the mineral letting the bullet penetrate his chest.

The soldier smiled cruelly, reloading his pistol effortlessly when suddenly there was a bright light and a force-field appeared around the boxed kryptonite.

“No! No! ” the soldier shouted, firing at the force-field which deflected the bullets, one of which ricocheted and struck the gunman in the head, dropping him dead to the floor.

Clark gasped at the abrupt cease of the nauseous waves of pain, his bloody fingers pressed to his chest. And before he could even register what had happened, the Atlantis hologram appeared and knelt beside him.

“What do you need, son of Krypton?” she asked, her grey eyes concerned for him.

He could feel that he was healing but he knew what would help, “Sun,” he gritted out and she nodded, the large windows immediately opening above the gateroom letting in a flood of fresh air and sunshine and as he pulled his hand back he felt the bullets as they were pushed out of his body.

“I will let in the healers,” she said and stood, and from where Clark knelt he could see the doors slide open.

“Thanks,” he whispered.

“Clark!” he heard Lex shout and he got to his feet, feeling abruptly dizzy.

Strong hands gripped his arms. “Are you okay?” Lex asked frantically, eyes going to the blood that was all over the front of Clark’s uniform.

Looking over his shoulder at the column that protected him from the malignant piece of his former home, Clark nodded, paling as he caught sight of the all of his injured comrades .

“Atlantis has it contained and the sun healed me,” he said, trying to reassure Lex. “Can you help Dr. Beckett?” he asked anxiously, knowing that Lex had medical training.

Lex glanced around the chaos. “Of course.” He jerked his head towards the doctor. “Let him know so he doesn’t toss me out on my ear.”

Clark quickly made his way to Dr. Beckett’s side, helping hold down a thrashing Marine. “Dr. Beckett, Lex has medical training. Can he help?”

Beckett finished injecting the Marine with a sedative, before glancing at Clark. “Are ye sure he can help?”

“Yeah,” Clark said earnestly, carefully lifting the Marine to a waiting gurney. “He had to get a solid medical background for his studies.”

Beckett looked over at Luthor who’d stripped off his suitcoat and rolled up his sleeve, and was looking back awaiting his permission, which made him think better of the man. “Fine. Tell him to just get them stabilized, I’ll sort them out in the infirmary.”

Clark grinned. “You won’t regret it,” he said and zipped over to Lex, who nodded and got to work.

 

Several hours later a very tired group were in the conference room, the debriefing being somewhat stilted because Dr. Beckett, Lex, Sheppard and his team were ferociously guarding Clark’s identity, and it was playing havoc with telling Woolsey and Dr. Weir about why Clark had miraculously healed and how the city had come to the rescue, and why the soldier had acted the way that he had.

The door to the conference room opened and Clark jerked upright when he saw Rodney carrying the box that had almost killed him into the room.

“Relax, Alexander. Atlantis has rendered the mineral inert,” the Physicist said, dumping the box onto the table.

The Colonel also had straightened. “Did you get an i.d.?”

“Pfft, of course I did. The Sergeant didn’t even try to hide it. His name was Michael Williams and previous to here, he was working for General Sam Lane.”

“Of course,” Clark said bitterly.

“And Lane was working for the Trust before he was turned into air pollution over the Virginia countryside,” Lex added acidly. He’d also discovered that his father had worked for the same low life government agency.

“What? Williams was part of my team. Are you saying he worked for the Trust?” Woolsey asked incredulously.

Dr. Weir’s face lost its pinched look at the secrecy and sighed. “Is there anyone ~else~ from the Trust here?”

“No, Radek did a search and no one else working for General Lane or any of the known Trust members,” Rodney said confidentially. “Also, this thing is out of commission.” He knocked on the box.

“Atlantis really likes the Lieutenant,” Sheppard said with a wry smile.

“And you’re still not going to tell me what went on in the gateroom,” Woolsey said with resignation.

“You saw what happened, Woolsey,” Lex said, a tad sharply as this was the twentieth time the man had asked. “Williams went nuts, Atlantis inadvertently, or purposefully, and I’ll bet on purposely, stopped him.”

“The end,” Sheppard murmured in an aside to Rodney who smirked.

“Dr. Beckett?” Elizabeth asked quietly.

Carson sighed. “We nearly lost Corporal Johnson but the lad’s not called ‘Lucky’ for naught. The rest of the injured will be back on two legs in no time.”

“And the Lieutenant?” Woolsey asked archly, looking pointedly a Clark.

Beckett smiled. “Aye, he’s fine as well.”

“Can we go?” Ronon asked long-sufferingly. “I’m hungry enough to eat even McKay.” Teyla rolled her eyes.

Clark exchanged a quick smile with Lex when Rodney squeaked and noisily scooted his chair over towards the Colonel who facetiously promised to protect him.

Elizabeth, used to their shenanigans, merely sighed. “Yes, dismissed.”

*~

Lex wandered Clark’s quarters, touching the items that his friend had collected in the Pegasus galaxy. “I missed you,” he said quietly, aware of those beloved green eyes watching his every move.

“I missed you even more,” Clark said, putting the letter from his mother down.

Turning, Lex walked over to Clark and grabbed him by the lapels, yanking him close. “I’m going to show you how much I missed you,” he growled, enjoying the full body shiver from the younger man.

“Let me,” Clark growled back and Lex found himself abruptly naked, on his back in Clark’s bed, with an equally naked Clark straddling him, cock against cock, his hands over his head in Clark’s grasp.

“Yes,” Lex said, his lips parted to receive the passionate kiss Clark bestowed. Both men moaned as Clark’s movement rubbed their leaking cocks together.

When Clark pulled his head back, Lex could only admire the man over him. Smooth skin, muscular, wide shoulders and tight abs, though the short hair was different, it looked terrific. “You’re so…” he gulped as their cocks slid together again, “…beautiful.”

“Me?” Clark asked, astonished. “~You’re~ the beautiful one,” he said softly, admiring the creamy skin over the muscles that were larger, seductively well defined as if Lex had been working out, as if he’d had to, which made Clark inexplicably sad. “I’m so sorry that I put you in danger.”

Lex rolled his eyes and yanked Clark down until they were nose to nose. “You’re such a dork,” he said and kissed Clark, his tongue moving against Clark’s, their bodies bucking together, fireworks and explosions and love all coming together to wring orgasms so intense that Lex knew he’d never ever forget the first time that he and Clark made love.

 

~*

Breakfast the next day was not as uncomfortable as Lex thought it would be. Dr. McKay only smirked and exchanged a speaking look with the Colonel who raised an eyebrow, and Teyla gently pressed her forehead to his greeting while Ronon grunted his greeting and dug into his breakfast. At Clark’s complete unconcern, Lex guessed that it was a typical morning in Atlantis.

“So, did Alexander tell you about the ‘Who’s Life’ moment we had about you?” Rodney asked, taking a big drink of coffee.

Momentarily confused about which Alexander McKay was speaking about, Lex realized that the scientist was speaking to him. “What?”

“Oh, you know, crazy ex-wife number whatever,” McKay said cheerfully, purloining a piece of bacon off of Sheppard’s plate and popping it into his mouth.

Clark blinked, then his eyes rounded. “Oh. Her.”

Lex glanced at Clark, then looked back at Rodney. “~Who~ her?” he asked, then his head snapped back towards Clark. “Are you serious? ~Helen~ is ~here~?”

“She ~was~ here,” Rodney corrected, “until she tried to poison us all with Ebola disease because of her persecution complex.”

“It wasn’t Ebola,” Sheppard scoffed.

With a sigh, Clark pushed his still mostly full plate back. “Helen apparently was a part of the Trust too, and she was spying for them. I recognized her and realized that she was the spy that they’d been searching for. She killed one man, and tried to kill everyone else but I stopped her. Unfortunately she died from her own disease. The end of Dr. Helen Bryce Luthor.”

Lex looked at Clark for a long moment, seeing from his lover’s body language that he expected to be castigated for his actions. “Huh,” he said mildly and went back to his breakfast, catching Clark’s muscles relaxing beside him. “I had wondered why my private investigators could not locate her.”

“Yeah, kind of hard when you’ve moved to a different galaxy,” the Colonel quipped. “And I hate to point this out,” he drawled, shooting a look at Rodney, “it’s supposed to be a secret.”

Rodney airily waved a hand. “If anyone needed to know, it was Mr. Luthor.”

“Lex,” Lex said firmly. He needed these people on his side because he’d seen enough of what Clark did in the Pegasus galaxy to realize that there was no way he was leaving these people when they needed him. Which changed his own plans, somewhat.

“Lex,” Teyla said, head tilted. “It is an interesting name.”

“It’s short for Alexander,” he told her.

Ronon snorted. “Interesting coincidence,” he said.

Clark smirked as Rodney echoed Ronon’s snort and whispered to Sheppard, loudly, “At least he didn’t pee on him.” If Clark turned pink, everyone was kind enough not to point it out.

“So,” Rodney said as he finished his meal. “I’m curious.” He ignored the less than restrained eye-rolls from his teammates. “How did you get the clearance to come to Atlantis, Lex?”

Lex hummed. “Well, General O’Neill and Dr. Jackson made Oliver Queen, Bruce Wayne and I, an offer we couldn’t refuse.”

“Interesting,” Rodney said thoughtfully. “Batman, the Green Arrow and the infamous Lex Luthor. General O’Neill isn’t as dumb as he acts, sorta like Sheppard here.”

“Hey!” the Colonel protested mildly.

Clark choked on his milk. “What?” he coughed, accepting Ronon’s thumps on the back as he stared with consternation at Rodney.

“Please, genius here,” the scientist scoffed.

Lex started laughing, both at Rodney’s sarcasm and Clark’s obvious horror that the ‘secret’ identities had been so easy to discover.

“Relax,” he ordered Clark. “And to answer Dr. McKay’s question, our separate companies were already making items for the Stargate program. Of course, we only were aware of the specifics of the contract, not what the government used the items for,” Lex explained. “They’ve offered us exclusive rights to the scientific discoveries, and access to the technology to expand our research even more.”

“Oh good,” Rodney said with sarcastic cheerfulness, “the U.S. Government has finally gotten its head out of its collective ass.”

“Who is this Green Arrow and Batman?” Ronon asked curiously.

“Green Arrow is a crime fighter that has a secret identity and uses a bow and arrow. Batman does the same thing, but at night and no bow and arrow, just a lot of cool gadgets. He wears a costume that looks vaguely bat-like, and both work during the day as mostly regular guys,” Rodney explained as he swiped Sheppard’s coffee and took a drink. “Batman could probably beat both you and Teyla in hand to hand.”

“Perhaps he should come here and teach,” Teyla said, always interested in new fighting techniques.

Lex grinned. “What a great idea.” He’d love to see uptight Bruce in the more free-wheeling environment of Atlantis.

“You should have a secret identity,” Ronon grunted at Clark. “That way you could do what those guys do.”

“Why, what a great idea!” Rodney pointed out snidely, “In fact it’s something that I may have mentioned.”

“Like a thousand times so maybe Alexander’s been tuning you out,” Ronon said flatly, but shooting Clark a wink, making Teyla giggle and the Colonel bark a laugh.

“Oh, har de har har. Conan the Barbarian has found himself a sense of humor,” Rodney dead-panned, and now Lex and Clark were laughing.

~*

As Lex waited to be beamed aboard the Icarus, he had a thousand thoughts running through his head. How hard it was going to be to leave Clark, how much fun he’d had with Clark and his team, not withstanding his disastrous arrival, and how difficult it might be to implement his new plans.

“Well, maybe I can visit,” Clark said, his voice cheerful but his face miserable as he waited with Lex.

Lex sighed and bumped Clark’s shoulder with his own. “As soon as the General and I are sure that the threat is eliminated, we’ll let you know. And I’ll deliver all of your letters and make sure you get some of the farm’s produce sent here just for you.”

This last promise made Clark grin. He’d bragged about his family’s produce until Rodney had slapped down some Canadian money and told him to get his ‘rich boyfriend’ to send some to Atlantis. Said ‘rich boyfriend’ had smoothly picked up the Canadian money, commented that it wasn’t much use for paying for things but it would look nice in his Monopoly game, which had sent the Canadian scientist sputtering and the Colonel roaring with laughter.

“I’ll give the funny money to Martha, she’ll enjoy it,” Lex said, a little louder since Rodney and the team was starting towards them.

Knowing when he was beat, Rodney only rolled his eyes. “You’re not as funny as you think you are, Luthor,” he complained lightly. “So when are you coming back to harass us?”

“Rodney!” Teyla protested.

Lex smiled. “Admit it, McKay, you only want me for my science toys.”

Dr. Weir chose that moment to join them, and had to suppress an eye-roll at their banter. “It seems like you fit in here very well, Mr. Luthor. I want you to know that you’re always welcome.”

“Thank you, Dr. Weir,” Lex replied just as formally.

“Ready to send everyone home, Dr. Weir,” they head the Captain say, and she nodded. “Go ahead.”

Lex turned to Clark, making sure that his last look of Atlantis was of Clark’s beloved face.

~*

 

Bruce, Lucius, and Oliver all stared at Lex.

“You want to what?”

“It’s a logical next step,” Lex said reasonably. “I can be the first to decide what needs to be looked at closer. We are going to be on the cutting edge of technology, and we need all of the advantages that we can get.” He paced back the other way, not paying attention to his fascinated audience. “In fact, I believe all of you should visit as well.” He shot a cheeky smile at Bruce. “Teyla would love a chance to spar with you, Bruce.”

Bruce’s expressive eyebrows winged up. “Oh, would she?”

 

~*

Clark was flying in the outer part of the solar system where Atlantis was, one to patrol, and two because the Colonel was tired of him moping around Atlantis because Lex had left. Apparently he was the least closeted lieutenant in the Air Force, but no one seemed to care in Atlantis. Of course, that could be because Rodney and the Colonel weren’t the least obvious of couples.

He caught something slowly approaching into the system out of the corner of his eye and stopped, staring at the graceful ship that had apparently stopped to regard him. Using his vision he could see what looked like a partial complement of people, and he could also tell that the ship had been damaged.

“Um, hey,” he said, waving a little lamely, then realized that they probably couldn’t reply. He eyed the ship thoughtfully, then said, “Okay, I’m Kal-el of Krypton,” he said, deciding not to tip his hand until he figured out who the visitors were. “I’m a peaceful explorer. May I board your vessel? If so, flash your lights.”

There was a long enough pause that it made Clark frown and cross his arms, when the ship’s lights flashed. “Well, okay then.” He flew around the ship and found a hatch opened and he flew inside. It was well lit and he could feel the air re-pressurize around him, and the door open.

“Greetings, son of Krypton,” a pretty blonde woman dressed in white, said. “I am Captain Helia and you are aboard the Lantean warship Tria.”

Clark nodded, “Nice to meet you. Can I assist you with anything?”

The Captain looked at him curiously. “I had not realized that your people were in this section of space.”

“Oh, I’m just visiting.”

He caught the looks that the Lantean’s gave each other. “Who are you visiting?” she asked.

“Well, I’m not at liberty to say anything until I speak to them. I can give you superficial repairs, then I’ll need to contact my people.”

“Atlantis is ~our~ city!” one of the Lantean’s said belligerently.

Clark regarded the man. He could see the stress that lined the Lantean’s faces, and truly, he understood that they’d probably been looking for home for a long time, he could relate to the loss but he wasn’t going to just hand Atlantis over. “Atlantis may have been your city, 10,000 years ago, but now your descendants are living there. Do you need my help or not?”

The Lantean was about to reply when the Captain put a restraining hand on his arm. “Be still, Galin.” She gave the man a look, then looked back at Clark. “We would gratefully accept your assistance, but perhaps you could ask those who live in Atlantis if we could visit.”

He measured her respiration and heartbeat and decided that she was mostly on the up and up, though he knew she would probably have trouble with her crew. “I’ll be back soon. Please do not attempt to come closer to Atlantis, I take their safety very seriously.” Clark politely nodded and when the door closed behind him he powered his way to Atlantis.

 

Dr. Weir looked skeptical. “Lanteans? Are you sure?”

Clark shrugged. “It’s what they told me, and their tech is very close to what we have here.”

“How many?” Ronon asked.

“A hundred, give or take,” Clark answered.

“This news has already spread to my people,” Teyla said. “It was foretold that the returning of our ancestors would bring about the destruction of the Wraith.”

“I think you need to wait on that,” Clark cautioned her. Everyone looked at him in surprise.

“Why?” Dr. Weir asked.

“Because their ship is damaged beyond their ability to repair it. Who were they fighting?” he asked reasonably.

“It was probably the Wraith,” Teyla hesitantly began but Clark shook his head.

“I’ve seen Wraith damage, remember? This wasn’t it.”

Sheppard smiled. “We’ve made you paranoid. I’m so proud.”

Both Ronon and Rodney smirked, but Rodney waved a hand. “However it happened, Alexander’s right. If they can’t fix themselves how can they defend us?”

Elizabeth considered her people. “Alexander, go ahead and repair their ship and we can…” she stopped when Clark raised his hand. “Yes?”

“I have an idea,” he said. “I can just bring their ship here.”

Rodney exchanged a smirk with John at Elizabeth’s pole-axed expression. “I think that’s a good idea, Elizabeth. That way we can a good look at the technology and maybe help each other.”

“Very well,” she said. “Keep in contact with Dr. McKay.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Clark murmured as she walked away.

“Did you see if they had any Zedpm’s?” Rodney asked curiously.

Clark sighed. “It didn’t occur to me to check.” He put on his radio and was getting ready to head back out, when Colonel Sheppard stopped him.

“Keep an ear out, Alexander,” he said seriously. “I want to know what trouble we’re in for.”

“Yes, sir.”

~*

Helia looked hunted as her crew argued. So close to home, yet so far, and with their enemy at their heels and then finding that their city was occupied.

“That’s enough!” she said sharply and the crew slowly fell silent. “We will go to Atlantis and claim our home. And we will defeat our enemies.”

“But what of the inhabitants?”

Helia’s face grew feral. “It’s ~our~ home.”

Clark hovered, a thoughtful frown on his face before he flew closer so that their sensors could detect him. “It’s been decided that you can visit. I am to bring your entire ship to Atlantis as it is. If that’s okay, blink once.” When they blinked, Clark flew under the ship, placed his hands on the underside and braced himself, then began to fly.

 

Rodney watched as the ship entered sensor range. “Okay, it’s a big ship but we can accommodate it on the East pier.”

“What do you think happened?” Elizabeth asked John as they watched Alexander carefully land the battered ship on their pier.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Sheppard said.

 

Clark let the ship down with a thump, brushing off his hands, his thoughts on what he’d overheard and how he certainly did not like it. He stared for a moment at the ship, then zipped into a sheltered corridor inside of the city. “Atlantis?” he called.

The hologram appeared. “Citizen of Krypton, how may I serve you?”

He eyed her with a slight smile. “I know that you’re not a hologram, but that’s not why I’m here. The Lantean’s on the pier are planning on kicking us out of Atlantis, they’ve had their behinds kicked by someone. I need to know where your loyalty lies.”

Atlantis blinked. “With my makers, of course.”

“We’re not the ones that left you alone for 10,000 years. I would’ve thought you’d think more of the descendants who’ve done so much for you, with so little,” Clark replied mildly.

The city tilted its head, eyes narrowing thoughtfully. “What do you want?”

Clark smiled. “Do the right thing, Atlantis. Give the codes to the city to Colonel Sheppard.”

The city’s face softened. He knew that Rodney complained that the city had a crush on the Colonel, but it was something that Clark was gambling on.

“I will consider what you’ve said,” she replied and blinked out.

Clark sighed and scrubbed a hand through his short hair, then headed out to ‘welcome’ their new visitors with the rest of his team.

 

“Dr. Weir, the Ancient delegation is ready to beam in.”

“Thank you,” she said, and watched as five Ancient’s beamed into the gateroom.

Clark stepped forward. “Dr. Weir, this is Captain Helia of the Ancient ship Tria. Captain, this is our leader Dr. Elizabeth Weir, our military leader Colonel John Sheppard, our head scientist Dr. Rodney McKay, Teyla Emmagen of Athos and Ronon Dex of Sateda,” he introduced.

“It’s an honor to meet you,” Dr. Weir said, smiling politely.

“Thank you. From what I’m told,” she said, her eyes going to Clark, “you’ve done a remarkable job preserving our city.”

“We did what we could with what we had.” There was an eyeroll from Rodney, but the scientist stayed quiet.

“I will need to speak to the leader of your people,” Helia said.

Elizabeth looked puzzled. “I am the leader of the Atlantis Expedition.”

“You misunderstand me, Dr. Weir,” Helia said, “I meant the leader of all of your people.”

Clark had gone back to parade rest but stiffened. The Lanteans did not know where the people were from.

“That can certainly be arranged,” Dr. Weir said cautiously. “Why?”

Helia smiled and held out her hand, frowning when nothing happened. She held out her hand again, and her companions began to mutter when still nothing changed.

“What’s she doing?” Rodney whispered loudly.

Sheppard suddenly closed his eyes and swayed, McKay catching him before he collapsed. “Sheppard?”

“I’m okay, just had a weird out of body experience,” Sheppard said as his eyes opened. He regained his balance and looked at the Lanteans. “You’re welcome to stay in Atlantis, but only if you work with us. If that’s too much for you to do, we’ll patch you up and we’ll send you on your way.”

Clark was impressed at how implacably serious his boss was. Lex could take lessons.

“Atlantis is ours!” Helia spat.

“You left Atlantis 10,000 years ago,” Dr. Weir pointed out gently. “Janus gave us the chance to save the city, and now we’re here. We can help you, if you let us.”

“We built Atlantis, it’s ours,” Helia repeated desperately.

“What are you running from? Why are you so desperate to hide here?” Clark asked.

“It doesn’t matter. They cannot harm Atlantis.”

“Who?” Dr. Weir insisted.

Helia drew herself up, her face going cold. “The Asurans.”

“Oh, wonderful!” Rodney threw up his hands. “Your great science project run amuck. I thought that they couldn’t ‘attack’ their creators?”

The Ancients were shaken. “We don’t know what happened. But we’re positive that they cannot attack here,” one of them said.

“Oh right. Just like I couldn’t reprogram them. Oh wait, I did!” Rodney said.

“You! You did this to us?” Helia snapped.

“I didn’t ~do~ anything except try to save ~our~ lives,” Rodney snapped. “You’re the idiots that created a sentient death machine. And for a race that’s supposed to be so advanced, you’re morons if you think they won’t attack here if they attacked you.”

“Rodney,” Colonel Sheppard put a hand on Rodney’s arm, and to Clark it looked like a caress rather than a reprimand, “no one likes their faults pointed out,” he said before he turned to their visitors. “It’s not a difficult decision,” he drawled. “Stay or go. Your choice.”

The Captain of the Tria eyed the group. “Who are you?”

Clark stepped forward. “We’re from Earth, or more accurately, Terra.”

One of the women Ancients clasped a hand over her mouth, her eyes huge and Helia gaped. “Terra?”

Dr. Weir smiled gently. “I believe that the Lieutenant already told you that we were your descendants.”

“It is what we dreamed,” the woman said, her eyes glassy with tears. “That we give up Atlantis so that our children would inherit her.”

“The Kryptonian is not our descendant,” one of the other’s protested.

“Kryptonian?” Rodney asked, looking at Clark.

Clark suppressed a wince. Truth time. “My planet was destroyed when I was a baby. I was raised on Earth.”

“Sent to Earth to conquer, I’ll wager,” one of the Ancients said knowingly. “I remember how the Kryptonians felt about lesser races.”

“Alexander?” the Colonel laughed. “Hardly. He’d rather save a child from a Wraith than listen to me.”

“I’d rather work for Dr. McKay than rule a planet full of children,” Clark grumbled.

“Hey, we resemble that remark,” the Colonel said, a sly grin on his face.

Helia impatiently pushed back a curl out of her face. “I will need to consult with my people, but for the moment we would be glad of any help that you can offer.”

“Sweet,” Rodney said, rubbing his hands together. “How many zedpm’s do you have and can we have a couple?”

“Rodney!”

*~*

Bruce Wayne argued long and hard against going to Atlantis. He hadn’t wanted to leave Gotham unprotected, but Alfred merely packed for him and Oliver and Victor Stone had promised to keep an eye out.

As he stood in front of the first gate of the gatebridge, he turned to Lex, a little wild around the eyes. “I remember, I…”

Lex laughed in his face. “You need a Prozac, Bruce. Just relax, you’ll be fine.”

“Ohgod,” Bruce said as the gate began to dial. “I don’t think I’m ready for this.”

More than a little amused at the formerly uptight and pulled together man he called a friend going to pieces beside him, Lex clapped his shoulder and squeezed it reassuringly. “I’ll be with you, Bruce.”

The man, known and feared as Batman to the criminal element of Gotham, took a deep breath and mentally pulled himself together. “Okay.”

The event horizon whooshed out, and Lex watched Bruce’s demeanor undergo a transformation. “I’m going to another planet,” he said with awe.

“I don’t think it will be the last time,” Lex said thoughtfully. Years later he’d wonder if the meteor rocks had given him some sort of prescience as he watched the Justice League go to other planets, even other dimensions.

 

The Lanteans had reluctantly integrated themselves into the community of Atlantis, but had quickly found that the people were generous and kind-hearted, everything that they could hope for in descendants, and it made the bitter pill of being among the last of their kind easier to swallow.

Rodney appreciated the great timing, because the zpms, and extra drones and drone making capabilities that the Lanteans carried on board the Tria had enhanced Atlantis’s defensive and offensive systems. That combined with the virus that Carson and he had created with the Lantean scientists had completely decimated the Asuran scourge in the Pegasus galaxy.

Of course there was still the Wraith to consider, but with the zedpms they weren’t an immediate threat.

 

Galin watched, reluctantly impressed, as Rodney connected the space bridge. “That’s very creative. What made you think of it?”

Rodney snorted as he tapped keys. “There was no power left when we got here, you know that right? No zedpms. We had to do this with a shoestring and gum and my genius.”

Ronon grunted. “Without McKay, Sheppard and Alexander, we’d all be dead.”

Rodney blushed slightly. “Well, it was mostly a team effort, and my genius.”

“Of course,” Galin said dryly, already used to Rodney’s grandiosity. He couldn’t dispute the man’s genius, however.

The gate opened and people began to step through. Rodney checked out the visitors. “Oh, good. It looks like the usual complement of grunts and scientists who can’t find their asses with either hand,” he snarked before he grinned at the sight of a familiar bald head and leaned to speak into the microphone. “Hey, looks who’s here.”

Lex looked up and grinned, holding up his bag. “Hey, Rodney. I brought toys,” he called back.

Rodney smirked. “You’re a little bald for Santa Claus, Lex.”

Lex glanced around. “I don’t see my present.”

“Eh, he’s working on the space ship on the East Pier,” Rodney said. “Who’s your friend?”

Lex grinned at the stunned Bruce. “He’s here to spar with Teyla and Ronon.”

“Ah,” Rodney grinned. “They’re looking forward to it, right Ronon?” he said and Ronon grunted, looking menacing enough for even Bruce Wayne to swallow hard.

*

Clark sealed the damage and was admiring his work when a familiar heartbeat caught his attention and his smile flashed so brightly that even Helia was dazzled.

“Gotta go,” he said and was gone, wind swirling in his wake.

“Oh, he is so beautiful,” she said.

Radek snorted from where he was inspecting the ship. “Yes, yes. Very pretty. But also is very taken by a powerful man.”
~

Lex couldn’t stop smiling as he found himself wrapped in Clark’s arms. “Hey, I missed you too.”

Clark pulled back, “What are you doing here? How’s my mom? Did you bring any apples? How are you?” he babbled.

“Sh,” Lex soothed. “Your mom’s fine, and she sent bushels of fruit and vegetables,” he indicated with his head the crates of produce that were being pushed out of the gate, all neatly labeled ‘Kent Organic Farms’ on their sides, “I’m great now that I can see you, and I’m here for good.”

Sheppard with Elizabeth and Rodney on his heels, trotted down the stairs to greet the new arrivals and laughed when he caught sight of a completely dumbstruck Clark staring at Lex Luthor. “Hey, Luthor, you’re like a bad penny,” he said, reaching around the still staring Lieutenant to shake Lex’s hand.

“Hello, Colonel,” Lex laughed. “I’d like to introduce you to friend and business partner, Bruce Wayne. Bruce, this is Colonel John Sheppard, Dr. Elizabeth Weir and Dr. Rodney McKay.”

Bruce couldn’t be dark and stoic in the sunshine filled space and actually smiled as he shook hands. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Atlantis.”

Rodney smirked. “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Wayne. I hope you brought your cape for show and tell.”

“Rod-ney,” Sheppard said repressively while Wayne glared at Lex.

Lex shook his head. “I believe I told you that Rodney was a genius. I didn’t have to tell him.”

Clark seemed to pull himself together, finally, and smiled brilliantly at Rodney. “Lex is staying!”

Rodney smirked. “I heard a rumor, Lieutenant. I also see a large stack of what looks like produce. I think Lex played Santa.”

And it struck Clark that he’d never been happier in his life. He had Lex, he was making a difference, both for Earth and the Pegasus galaxy. There was nothing else he could ask for, except one thing.

“Alexander?” Lex asked softly.

“Call me Clark,” Clark said firmly. “My real name is Lieutenant Clark Kent,” he announced to Sheppard and Rodney and everyone else in earshot, then smiled at Lex. “But I’ll always be Alexander’s in my heart.”

“Please, I’m going into a diabetic coma from all of the sap,” Rodney muttered, oofing when he was gently elbowed by Sheppard.

Dr. Weir only smiled. “Well, we had VIP quarters set aside for you, Mr. Luthor, but I guess you won’t be needing them.”

Lex smiled at Clark. “No, no I won’t.”

 

Epilogue:

Earth already had superheroes, Batman of Gotham, the Green Arrow of Star City, Martian Manhunter, Cyborg and Impulse to name a few. Life on Earth was changing.

When Superman appeared, however, he turned out to be a superhero for Earth, though he was frequently seen in Lex Luthor’s hometown of Metropolis. His costume of red and blue with the gold crest stood out against the sky, his red cape becoming a welcome and familiar sight at disasters and rescues.

No one would know that Lex and Rodney had spent hours texting, (insulting each other’s intelligence) and e-mailing each other about the design using specially made Lantean fabric that was almost tough enough to protect Clark. That it had been a group effort on the part of Clark’s mom and the entire contingent in Atlantis to come up with the colors of red and blue, bright enough to be seen but generic enough not to be nationalistic. That the crest on his chest was a combination of the crest of Alexander the Great, in tribute to Lex, and the Kryptonian El family crest.

The people in the know could only pat themselves on the back and tell each other, “See, I knew he’d be a great superhero!” and Rodney would exchange a knowing smile with John, now retired from the Air Force but both men still living in Atlantis. The city, lonely for so long, was now filled with families, the threat of the Wraith gone thanks to a whole lot of factors, not the least of which were Clark and Rodney.

 

In a Kansas cornfield Martha Kent would smile, waving as her son flew away to save another life, or just head home to the man that she loved as a son as much as she loved Clark.

Sometimes she wished she could be standing beside Jonathon and show him what a brave new world that her boys had ushered in.

 

In Colorado Springs, Jack O’Neill puttered around his garden, occasionally leering at Daniel, who would be reading on the porch and who still consulted for the SGC, both men traveling frequently to Atlantis.

And as Jack stood and watched the red and blue blur cross overhead, he smiled and remembered the promise he’d made to an old friend, and knew he’d done the right thing.

~*