I decided to take part in bradygirl_12's 2011 DCU Fic/Art Halloween Challenge. I'm honestly pretty geeked about this fic, guys. First of all, because I love Halloween, and second of all, because I finally get to write what I have always wanted to write: young Bruce Wayne in Smallville! \o/
Without any further ado, here is the first half of my Halloween fic! Enjoy, guys! :D
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Characters/Pairings: Pre-slash Clark/Bruce, Chloe
Continuity: Smallville (Season 1-3ish)
Warnings: Shameless implantation of young Bruce Wayne into Smallville continuity, and some language.
Word Count: ~3,300
Prompts Used: Ritual, Haunted Houses, Pentagrams, Spells/Curses/Hexes, Trick or Treating (In the next part)
Summary: A demon gets loose in Smallville just before Halloween, and Clark and Chloe realize they aren’t the only ones investigating…
Author’s Note: Haven’t watched Smallville in ages – apologies if anything is terribly wrong!
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“Did you hear?” Chloe burst into the Torch’s newsroom, brandishing a newspaper in one hand. She snapped the paper open to the first page and slammed it onto the table in front of Clark, completely obscuring the biology homework he was trying to complete.
“Hear what?” he asked, his pen still poised over the space previously occupied by his notebook.
“Bruce Wayne is coming to Smallville,” Chloe said, tapping on a small headline in the bottom right-hand corner of the front page. “Can you believe it? How weird is that?”
Clark blinked up at her. “Bruce who?”
Chloe stared at him. “You’re kidding, right?” Clark shrugged, his face innocently clueless, and Chloe rolled her eyes and let out a long-suffering sigh. “Jeez, Clark. Don’t you ever read the gossip section?”
“Not really, no.”
“Then allow me to educate you.” Chloe grabbed the paper and opened it forcefully to the middle, then folded it and slammed it down once more, this time pointing at a small black and white photograph of an attractive teenage boy, clad in a suit and stepping out of a limo. “Bruce Wayne is a millionaire teenager from Gotham whose parents were killed in a shooting when he was young. He has a reputation as a playboy and a flake and apparently he’s taken the semester off to tour the country, simply because he can. And this week he’s in Smallville.”
Clark raised an eyebrow. “And this is news because…?”
“Because he’s famous, Clark! And I…“ Chloe grabbed the paper and folded it, slipping it under her arm with a triumphant smile. “… am going to get an interview.”
“Uh-huh.” Clark smiled and bent over his homework once more. “Good luck with that.”
“Speaking of luck… can you stop doing that and pay attention for a minute?” Chloe swiped his notebook out from under his hand. His pen left a long mark over the page, and he frowned at her in annoyance.
“Was that really necessary?”
“Yes.” Chloe set the notebook aside and leaned forward, all business. “Have you heard about the weird stuff going on around town lately? People have been having bad luck all over.”
“Weirder than usual?” Clark asked. “Remember, this is Smallville.”
“I know, but this is, like, super-supernatural stuff. Some people are already crying ghost.”
“Lots of things.” Chloe started ticking things off on her fingers. “Random valuables are being stolen from locked houses with no evidence of a break in. Pets are going missing, or simply going crazy. And more than a few witnesses claim that strange activity is going on in the old abandoned farmhouse off of Hickory Lane. Apparently they’re seeing shadows.”
“Yep. Ghosts.” Chloe wiggled her fingers and waggled her eyebrows.
“And you don’t think any of this has to do with the fact that it’s getting close to Halloween and people like to play pranks?”
“Huh.” Chloe sat back with a frown. “Never would’ve pegged you for a skeptic.”
Clark sighed. “You want to investigate, don’t you?”
“Fine.” Clark checked his watch. “I can be at the Hickory farm by eight tonight. Does that work?”
“Perfect. We’ll make a night of it.” She tossed his notebook back to him. “Thanks, Clark! See you later.”
- - -
Clark checked his watch, thanking his superhuman vision that he could make out the hands in the dim light of the late October evening. His breath curled in the air and he jammed his hands into his pockets to stave off the chill.
It was a quarter past eight, with still no sign of Chloe.
Clark glanced up at the Hickory farmhouse from his post beneath a gnarled, leafless oak tree in the lawn. The house loomed overhead, a dark and formidable silhouette against the hazy night sky. The moon glowed silver from behind a drifting cloud, casting long shadows across the craggy, unkempt lawn and illuminating the house's drooping eaves and shattered windows, framed with discolored lace and cobwebs.
“Boo!” Cold hands clamped around Clark’s waist and he jumped.
“Can't you just say 'hello' like a normal person?” he grumbled.
Chloe grinned. “Not when it’s only two days until Halloween and we're about to investigate a haunted house. Come on.” She tugged his arm, heading for the house. “Let’s go do some sleuthing.”
Clark allowed himself to be led, smiling slightly when he knew Chloe couldn’t see; he had planned on acting put out for as long as possible, despite the excited jitters running up and down his spine. Said jitters were becoming uncomfortably common whenever Chloe dragged him along on her adventures.
“Remind me again of why we’re here,” he said, glancing up at the looming house.
“Basically, people have been seeing ghosts and shadows moving in the windows. And there have been weird noises coming from the house, too, even though it’s supposedly abandoned.”
“And you’re hoping to find… what, exactly?”
Chloe paused just in front of the steps and turned back to raise her eyebrows at Clark. “The truth.”
“Right.” Clark gestured toward the door. “Lead on, oh great ghost hunter.”
Chloe stepped up to the front door and pulled out a small flashlight. She shined it on the rusted lock and pulled out a bobby pin, but paused before she began working on it.
“That’s odd,” she muttered, leaning closer to the lock.
“What is?” Clark peered over her shoulder, trying to see.
“Some of the rust around the lock has been scraped away,” Chloe said, rubbing a careful finger over the scratched metal. Slowly, she pushed on the door and it swung open with an ominous creak and surprisingly little resistance.
“Someone’s been here,” Clark said, keeping his voice low as Chloe aimed the thin beam of her flashlight into the hall.
“Or they’re still here.” Chloe turned to Clark, cocking an eyebrow. “Shall we see?”
“I’ll check it out. Stay here for a sec.” Clark pushed past her into the front hall, motioning for her to wait.
“Why do you get to go first?”
Clark grinned, teeth flashing bright in the moonlight. “Because I’m the invulnerable one.”
Chloe grumbled something noncommittal at that, but she did not put up a fight. Clark slipped quietly into the house, his gaze sweeping the dusty room. Gray-stained sheets covered most of the furniture, and everything else – floor included – was coated with a thick layer of dust. Clark looked down at the ground and saw shuffling tracks in the grime, leading further into the dark house.
“You’re right,” he whispered to Chloe. “Someone’s been here.”
“Then let’s go find them.” Chloe entered the room, the slim beam of her flashlight cutting through the darkness, illuminating dust motes and dangling cobwebs. The light reflected off an old tarnished mirror across the room and Chloe jumped slightly when she caught sight of their reflections, caught like spectres in the smeared glass. Clark caught her arm and she grumbled again, face flushed.
“Do you smell that?” Clark asked suddenly, catching a whiff of something from the room to their right. He edged toward the doorway and glanced inside. It had clearly been a living room at some point, complete with sheet-covered couches and a large grandfather clock with a cracked face. The coffee table had recently been wiped so clean that it shone, and what looked like a pentagram had been etched into the surface, surrounded by half-melted candles. In the middle of the pentagram was a heavy chalice full of what smelled like burned herbs.
“Chloe, come look at this,” Clark said, stepping over to the table and crouching beside it. A few papers covered in a barely legible scrawl were strewn over the table. Clark slid one towards himself, trying to read it as Chloe came up behind him, shining her flashlight over the pentagram.
“Holy crap,” she whispered, her eyes wide.
“Actually, I think this might be the opposite of ‘holy,’” Clark said. Chloe leaned over, reaching for one of the papers, but as soon as her fingers brushed it, Clark jerked to attention, his eyes on the far door.
“What is it?” Chloe asked, freezing.
“I heard something.” Clark got to his feet and moved toward the doorway, his stance wary. “Stay back. I’m going to see what it was.”
He paused near the doorway, peeking around the edge into what looked like a dining room. He scanned the room, watching for any movement, but it appeared empty. He stepped inside, and no sooner had he cleared the doorway than something blurred past him and a shockingly strong grip locked on his right arm, yanking it up behind his back at a painful angle. Before Clark even realized he was being attacked, he slammed into the wall face-first, pinned and quite thoroughly stunned.
“Who are you?” demanded a low, rough voice near his ear.
“Calm down,” Clark said, holding up his free hand. “I’m just a high school kid, looking around. I don’t mean any harm.”
“You shouldn’t be here,” said the voice, and Clark winced as his arm was twisted even further. “It could be dangerous.”
“I really think I’ll be fine.”
“What makes you so sure about that?” the voice growled, pressing him further against the wall.
“Maybe the fact that I have a taser, and I know how to use it?” Chloe stepped into the dining room, her taser pointed at Clark’s attacker with the little flashlight on top. She glared. “Let him go, or I hit you with 10,000 volts.”
Clark felt himself get released, and he turned to watch a dark figure step away from him, hands held up in surrender.
“Why are you here?” Chloe asked, following the figure with both flashlight and taser. The flashlight’s beam caught the figure’s chest and chin, and Clark realized with a flash of embarrassment that it was just another teenage boy, clad in a black hooded sweatshirt with a muffler wrapped around the lower half of his face. Light eyes gleamed in the shadows of the hood, and Clark shivered slightly; those eyes looked dangerous.
“I could ask you the same question,” the boy said, and the roughness was gone from his voice, leaving it a pleasantly low, smooth tenor.
Chloe narrowed her eyes. “Were you the one who performed that ritual?”
“No. I’m actually here to find the one who did,” the boy said.
Chloe lowered the taser and flashlight slightly. “So are we.” She paused, looking the boy over. “Did you hear about the hauntings, too?”
The boy crossed his arms, clearly annoyed. “Why else would I be here?”
“Who are you?” interjected Clark. “Why do you even care about this?”
The boy glanced at him sharply. “Why do you?” Clark just glared – two could play at intimidation – until the boy finally turned away. “I don’t have time for this,” he said. “Stay if you want, but don’t get in my way. I’m going to find the summoner.”
“Summoner?” Chloe asked.
“Who do you think drew that circle?” said the boy, quirking an eyebrow.
“Wait,” Chloe said, and the boy paused in the doorway. “Do you… do you want to work together?”
The boy looked over his shoulder. “… Why?”
“Yeah,” Clark said, fixing Chloe with a dark look. “Why?”
“We’re all here, we’re after the same thing, and you’re clearly competent, since you managed to get the jump on my friend here.” Chloe elbowed Clark in the side, and Clark made a face. “So… how about it?”
The boy said nothing for a minute, apparently thinking it over, then said, “Fine.”
“Great,” Clark grumbled. Chloe elbowed him again.
“So… what’s your name?” she asked.
“Do you really need one?”
Chloe frowned. “Well, what are we supposed to call you?”
The boy’s eyes crinkled as he smiled behind his muffler. “You could call me Sherlock.”
Clark snorted. “Sure. And that would make us Watson, right?”
The boy shrugged, his eyes still shining with mirth. “If you want.”
Clark glared, but before he could make a comment, something thudded loudly upstairs. Chloe jumped and snatched at Clark’s sleeve. All three of them looked at the ceiling.
“What was that?” Chloe hissed.
“It must be the demon,” said the boy, his eyes fixed on the warped wood above them.
“The – the what?” Chloe said, eyes going wide.
“The demon summoned during the ritual.” The boy dug in his pocket and pulled out a set of gleaming brass knuckles. He slipped them over his fingers with practiced ease, hefting his fists to check the weight. “It’s here in the house, and so is its master.”
“Very good, young one,” said a cackling rasp of a voice, and the trio rounded on the doorway to the living room. In it stood an old wisp of a man, his eyes rheumy and wall-eyed with blindness, his mouth agape in a lunatic grin. “This Halloween, you see, there will be blood,” he said, wringing his skeletal hands. “This Halloween, my demon will thrive.”
A shadow loomed behind him, too tall to be human, and Clark stepped forward, automatically placing himself between the demon and his companions.
“You summoned the demon?” he asked the old man.
“But why?” Chloe asked.
The old man’s grin widened and his head cocked to one side as he stared sightlessly at them. “Because, dear girl. I can.” He thrust out his hand with a whoop of manic laughter and the shadow rushed forward.
“Move!” yelled the boy, and Clark ducked out of the way just as claws much too solid to belong to a mere shadow raked through the air right over his head. He heard the other boy curse, followed by the dull thud of a punch meeting flesh. A pained, inhuman shriek filled the room and Clark whirled to watch as the other boy began pummeling the shadow creature into a corner, brass knuckles flashing, arms and legs lashing out with lithe strength.
“Dude,” Chloe whispered at Clark’s side, her eyes fixed on the fight. Clark set his jaw in displeasure.
“While you’re busy gawking, I’m going to grab the old guy,” he said.
“Good call,” Chloe said, and suddenly there was a small video camera in her hand, recording the battle between boy and demon. Clark rolled his eyes and glanced around for the old man, but he was nowhere to be seen. Clark was about to run into another room to look for him when the demon let out a triumphant screech and the boy yelled. An ominous crash followed, and Chloe screamed for Clark.
The shadow demon was hovering over the other boy, who had been tossed into a china cabinet across the room and was lying motionless in the wreckage.
“Hey!” Clark yelled, waving his arms to get the demon’s attention. Its featureless face turned in his direction, and Clark lunged for it, tackling it into the opposite wall and away from the stunned boy, who was just sitting up and shaking his head groggily.
The demon writhed in Clark’s grip and Clark managed to give it a few good punches before it hissed and dissolved, leaving Clark only punching the wall, with the result of a spider web of cracks and dislodged hunks of dusty plaster.
“That must have hurt,” the other boy said from where he stood near the ruined china cabinet. His hood had fallen and he held one hand against his dark hair, pulling it away periodically to check for blood.
“Yeah,” Clark said, shaking his fist with a feigned wince. “Ouch.”
“Did you break the skin?” the boy asked. He sounded surprisingly calm for someone who had just spent the past few minutes battling a shadow demon.
“Er, no,” Clark said, flexing his hand. “And I don’t think anything’s broken.”
The boy looked at him oddly. “Lucky break.”
“There’s no sign of the old guy or the demon,” Chloe said, and Clark noticed that she was just then reentering the room, slightly out of breath. “What do we do?”
“We dismiss the demon,” the boy said, stalking past her into the living room, where the papers still lay strewn over the coffee table. “It poses more of an immediate threat than that old man, and I trust he’ll show up if we get rid of his pet.” He picked up a handful of papers and moved into a small patch of moonlight to start flipping through them. It was only then that Clark realized that the boy’s muffler had been shredded away by shadowy talons, revealing the bottom half of his face.
Chloe gripped Clark’s sleeve, staring at the boy with wide eyes.
“… Bruce Wayne?” she asked, and the boy glanced over at them, his face expressionless.
“You know who I am,” he said dryly, then sighed, folding the papers and stuffing them into a pocket. He continued in a sotto voice, as though talking to himself. “I stop at the smallest po-dunk town I can think of, in the middle of freaking Kansas, and they still know who I am. Christ.”
“Sorry,” Chloe said. “It’s just… well, I didn’t expect to see you here of all places.” She gestured at the dilapidated farmhouse with a helpless smile.
The boy – Bruce Wayne, Clark corrected, silently memorizing his face, from the wolfish blue eyes to the dark hair and aristocratic features – returned the smile, albeit rather grimly.
“You and me both,” he said. “This was originally supposed to be just a stop on the road, but when I heard about the rumors of a haunted house…” He shrugged. “I figured I’d check it out. Couldn’t hurt, right?”
“So what are we doing about this?” Clark asked, eager to get back on topic; he was still watching the shadows for any trace of unnatural movement, convinced that the demon’s retreat had been all too easy.
“I’ll research the summoning spell and see if I can find a way to reverse it,” Bruce said.
“I can look into the pentagram,” Chloe added, stepping over to the table, camera in hand. She gave Bruce a meaningful look as she started recording the set-up, candles and chalice and all. “You did say we could work together, after all.”
Bruce looked rather nettled. “I know I did.”
“Should we reconvene sometime tomorrow for the dismissal, then?” Chloe asked. “Clark and I will be at school, but we could meet up after. I feel like we should take care of this demon as soon as possible.”
“That works for me,” Bruce said. He slid a hand into his pocket and produced a white card, blindingly bright in the moonlight. “My number’s on here. Give me a call if you need anything.” Then he nodded to them both and disappeared out the door.
Chloe was holding the card like it was a precious gemstone, her eyes sparkling.
“This is so cool,” she said. “Who would’ve thought Bruce Wayne was an amateur detective?”
“I don’t like him,” Clark said.
“Of course you don’t," Chloe said, putting the card carefully into her pocket. "He’s another dominant male, invading your territory. And he’s incredibly competent. That’s got to be annoying. But you two are going to have to quit your posturing for long enough to get rid of this demon, or we’re going to have a much larger problem on our hands than an alpha male pissing contest.”
“I am not posturing,” Clark said. “And I don’t have pissing contests.” But Chloe was not paying attention. She was making sure she captured the pentagram from every possible angle and with every single detail. Clark shoved his hands into his pockets and glared out the window. He knew he was being petty, but something about Bruce Wayne simply rubbed him the wrong way. He thought maybe it was the eyes. They were far too knowing, far too sharp. Or maybe it was the fact that he tried to hide his identity from them, or that he called Smallville a “po-dunk” town.
Whatever the reason, Clark was definitely not looking forward to seeing the boy again.
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