Lois (kalalanekent) wrote,

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Heirs to the House of El: Fast Approaching Free Fall (Part Two)

And to think I was sure it would all fit in one post. HA!

Getting more frustrated by the minute, Jamie headed back toward the dorms, ready to tell her mom that the guy was off campus. That was when she saw him, striding across the green with his head down and shoulders hunched. He was even wearing the same coat as in one of the pictures Maggie had been able to scrounge up.

And he was less than five minutes from walking into his dormitory, and probably tripping over Lois. Jamie speed-dialed as she caught up to him. Rather than try to have a conversation, she kept the phone in her pocket and called out, “Nick! Nick Powell!” loudly enough for Maggie to hear on the other end of the line. That would have to be enough.

He turned, and Jamie had a moment to think that at least Kala had good taste. Tousled blond hair, cleft chin, strong jaw, high cheekbones, nice eyes, hint of a tan even in winter … the very definition of a golden boy. Had she met him under any other circumstances, Jamie would have been coy and flirtatious around him.

Right now, though, she had to suppress the urge to throttle him. She forced herself to smile, knowing most young men got a little tongue-tied in her presence. Not this one, though. “Yeah?” he said, his tone sharp.

“I need to talk to you,” Jamie said, and gave him her name as well. She’d expected a lot of different possible reactions, but grumpy annoyance wasn’t one of them.

“What about?” Nick asked. He shifted his weight backward, ready to turn around and walk away; his mind was somewhere else, and Jamie was just an irritation.

She’d been prepared to engage him with questions about his classes, claiming that she’d missed the assignments, or to pretend to have a crush on one of his friends and ask for advice. At worst, she would’ve flattered him, if he could be persuaded to show interest in something other than jailbait. But Jamie realized none of that would work – she was a law student, but also the daughter of two police officers, and her instincts were keen.

Maggie strolled casually around the corner of the building up ahead, letting Jamie know that if Nick tried to run, he’d find himself in deep trouble. With that reassurance, Jamie gambled everything. “It’s about Kala,” she said.

She expected a guilty expression, or an attempt to bluff his way out of the situation. Nick, however, looked relieved and excited. “You’ve seen her?” he said. “I’ve been trying to get in touch with her since yesterday – she hasn’t been to Fuel, she doesn’t even know…”

“She ran away from home yesterday,” Jamie said bluntly, and Nick’s face fell. “She split because her parents grounded her for not making curfew, and for coming home covered in hickies. Know anything about that, Nick?” Jamie took a step toward him as she asked that, not looking behind Nick, where Maggie drifted silently closer.

“Ah, shit,” Nick sighed, and finally looked embarrassed and guilty. “I knew that was a bad idea… But wait, she ran away yesterday? And no one’s found her yet?” He searched Jamie’s face worriedly, and she saw the dread in his eyes as he realized why she was looking for him.

“No,” Maggie said coldly from right behind him, her hand falling on his shoulder heavily. The young man startled, his eyes going wide. “No one’s seen her, not her brother or her best friend, and you’re the only other person she would’ve gone to.”

“She’s not with me,” Nick said. “I spent all of New Year’s Eve, most of yesterday and this morning trying to find her!”

“Believe me, I want to hear everything you have to say on the subject,” Maggie growled. “But not out here. Move it, kid.” With that, she shoved him toward his dorm, keeping one hand on his shoulder just in case he decided to make a run for it.

Nick had been in a state of barely-controlled terror ever since he’d heard the unmistakable note of authority in the older blonde’s voice. His mind was racing far too fast to make any sense, and his hands shook as he unlocked the door to his room. He’d already stepped inside when he registered the presence of two more people. He tried to stop right where he was, but the woman behind him just pushed him forward into the room. Jamie followed her in and locked the door.

The black-haired woman who faced him with a vicious glare looked enough like Kala that Nick immediately knew who she was: Lois Lane, Kala’s mom. And then the man who’d been sitting in Nick’s desk chair stood up … and up. Nick swallowed, his throat suddenly dry, and muttered, “Oh, shit,” under his breath. That was Kala’s father, obviously – and Mr. Kent looked ready to tear Nick in half. “I swear I don’t know where she is,” he said, raising his hands to show empty palms. “I didn’t even know she was gone – I thought she just wasn’t returning my calls because she was mad about the other night.”

Clark spoke up then, and his low, furious voice made the three women move quickly. “She had a right to be angry.”

The older blonde quickly got between Nick and Mr. Kent, putting her hand on the man’s chest and murmuring, “Sit down, Clark. Right now.” He dropped into the chair, but never took his eyes off Nick.

It was obvious that the younger man hadn’t been expecting to have this kind of confrontation. And that he had been feeling more than a little guilty over it. “The only thing I did wrong was not get her home by curfew,” Nick said pleadingly. “Seriously. The rest of it … I’d never kiss a girl who didn’t want me to.”

“Yeah, but she’s sixteen,” Jamie snarled behind him. “Or did you know?”

He looked away then, running a hand through his hair in agitation. The answer came out in a sigh. “I knew…”

Meanwhile, the older blonde was walking around the room carefully. The place had been ransacked, but that wasn’t even registering with Nick in light of all the other trouble he faced. She ended up beside the overturned bed, where the contents of his desk drawers had been poured out. Nick felt a deeper chill in his gut when she poked through those items with a pen and started to chuckle.

In amongst the usual litter of a college student’s desk – spare pens, coins, receipts, notes, crumpled bits of paper, a couple buttons that had popped off his shirts – was a small plastic baggie. Nick groaned as she lifted it with the pen; inside were two old and beaten-up marijuana joints he’d forgotten he even had. “Oh God, you’re not gonna call the cops, are you?” he asked, feeling sick.

“No, sweetheart,” she all but purred. “I am the cops. Inspector Margaret Sawyer – and Kala’s aunt. Know what this means?”

Nick groaned in disbelief and practically collapsed onto the edge of his bed; this was it, his life was over. How had everything today gone so completely downhill? “It means I’m screwed,” he said bleakly.

Inspector Sawyer sat down in the room’s other chair, leaning forward so he could see the wolfish gleam in her eyes. “It means I can fuck you up, down, and sideways if I want to, little boy,” she growled. “How does possession of a controlled substance on top of kidnapping charges sound?”

“Kidnapping?” he yelped, his look incredulous. “Look, I don’t know where Kala is! She got out of my car New Year’s Eve and I haven’t seen her since!”

“And we’re supposed to buy that?” That was Lois, sounding just as angry as the cop. Meanwhile, Jamie glared sardonically from the doorway, and Mr. Kent just stared. The man’s eyes were practically expressionless now, and Nick had the suspicion that the older man was suppressing a strong urge to punch him in the face.

Under the weight of four pairs of angry eyes, Nick’s panic crystallized. He had nowhere to run, no way to escape this, and his only option was to fight back. “Hey!” he snapped. “I don’t know who you think I am, but I’m just the guy who makes sure your kid doesn’t ride the subway by herself. I was looking out for her!”

“And looking out for her means gnawing the hell out of her neck?” Lois shot back.

That hit Nick where he lived, enough so that he decided to set the record straight, regardless of the trouble he was already in. “I didn’t mean for that to happen,” Nick explained angrily. “I was trying to be a decent guy, take her out to dinner after her performance at Fuel since no one else was there for her, but we started flirting and it just got a little out of hand. Both of us stopped when we realized it was going too far. I didn’t hurt her, and I didn’t do anything she didn’t want me to do.”

He looked around at the four of them and realized something else. With a bitter laugh, Nick added, “You have no idea, do you? I mean, it’s not like any of you were there with her that night. The girl can sing. When I went to Fuel the next day, the club owner told me that three bands want to talk to her. Kala’s good – damn good. She had a club full of Goth kids singing along with freakin’ Britney Spears, for chrissake.”

“Oh, so you had to be the gentleman and take her out for a congratulatory dinner?” Sawyer said softly, ignoring the taunt he’d thrown in there even as she saw Kala’s parents look away with a moment’s guilt. “Followed by a polite, chivalrous necking session in the back seat of your car?”

Again, Maggie had struck a nerve and Nick responded in kind. “I didn’t mean for that to happen! And it was the front seat of the car – Kala’s not the kind of girl who gets into the back seat of a guy’s car.”

Clark spoke for the second time since Nick arrived, once again belying his mild-mannered mien in both words and the level of anger in his gaze. “Before last night, I would’ve said my daughter isn’t the kind of girl who stays out after curfew with a boy this much older than she is. But obviously I was wrong.” Only Lois saw the pain that lurked in those words and hated hearing it.

Those words wrenched at Nick, too. “It wasn’t her fault. I meant to bring her home on time,” Nick said quickly, defending Kala immediately. “I just … someone had to let her know how incredible she was. None of her friends were at the club, I was the only person there who really knew her. And she’s really that good. She’s going somewhere, one of these days she’s gonna have a record deal and a music video on MTV.”

Maggie stared at him with implacable ice-blue eyes sharp. “And you want to be able to point at the television some day and say you slept with her, I’d imagine?”

Again, his reaction was too violent and genuine for them to dismiss, the boy going wide-eyed. No! Jeez, it’s not like that! I’m not a creep. I swear to God, I’m not,” he pleaded earnestly. “I really like your daughter and I don’t want anything bad to happen to her. Please, you’ve got to believe me.”

Sawyer turned to look at Lois, who had been watching him with a mixture of distrustful anger and something that looked like a hurt sort of nostalgia. Feeling eyes on her, the reporter shook her head and gave a sigh. “I hate to say it, but I think he’s telling the truth,” the dark-haired woman said honestly. Something lingered in her features, something uneasy and a bit regretful.

Telling herself she’d get to the bottom of Lois’ uneasiness once this was over, Maggie Sawyer pinned Nick down with her gaze once again. “I think so too,” the cop replied, giving Nick a disgusted look that still somehow conveyed the fact that she wouldn’t be arresting him … yet.

Mr. Kent, however, had other ideas. “If I ever find out you lied to us, you will answer to me,” he said, very softly.

Nick’s reply was immediate, calming down now and determined to make the gathered group realize that he wasn’t the enemy. “Sir, I promise you, I’m telling the truth. I don’t know where your daughter is. And if I even had an idea, I’d have been helping you find her right now, regardless of how pissed you’d be.”

There was a long moment of tense silence, while Nick felt a trickle of nervous sweat working its way down his spine. Lois finally broke it with a frustrated growl under her breath. “Dammit, another freaking dead end,” she swore, raising one hand to rub at the silver locket she wore. Now where are we gonna look?”

As all four of the searchers fell silent again, trying to think yet again of any place they had yet to canvass, it was the new-found ally who spoke up first. “Have you tried the clubs?” Nick ventured.

Sawyer gave him a somewhat less unfriendly look. “We’ve had people at every teen club in town, and most of the adult clubs.”

“Some of them might not cooperate with police, especially not when Kala ran away, you know.”

“Which is why we didn’t send cops to ask,” Maggie told him. “Her brother and her friends went.”

Nick rubbed his temples, trying to think of someplace Kala might be. “Did you get Imperiale?” he asked. “It’s an adults-only Goth club, but she might be able to get in without getting carded.”

“I showed her photo there,” Jamie spoke up. “We hit all the teen clubs, all the Goth clubs, pretty much every place she hangs out.”

He sighed again. “And you already got the train stations and the hotels and stuff, I’m sure. Damn.”

Nick saw a look pass between Sawyer and Lois. “We need to regroup,” the cop said. “Lois, Clark, can I turn your apartment into command central? There are still people out canvassing, but I think we’re going to have to rethink our strategy.”

“Let’s do it,” Lois said dejectedly.

“If there’s anything I can do to help…” Nick began.

“If we brought you back with us, Kala’s brother and her best friend would probably beat you within an inch of your life,” Maggie said. “And I don’t want to arrest the kids. But if I need you, I’ll get in touch.”

“Thanks,” Nick said. “Let me know what’s going on. Please? Even if she doesn’t want to hear from me, I need to know Kala’s okay.”

And that, finally, won a tiny smile from Lois. It wasn’t approval, but for the first time since New Year’s Eve, Nick felt like his life wasn’t spiraling down.

Coughing sour fumes, her whole body an unresponsive lead weight from which her consciousness dangled, Kala began to wake. She felt bleary, her eyes refusing to open, everything numb and slow. But a sense of urgency began to percolate through her groggy mind, and she shook her head, trying to force herself back to awareness.

Someone had taken her, drugged her. She remembered that, being grabbed from behind while she walked through the dark subway station, the awful smell of the cloth pressed against her mouth and nose, blackness rising up to swallow her. Rage that she could be taken so easily, kidnapped again. Then an unknowable space of time, trapped in troubled dreams. Confused impressions without context: the sting of a needle in her arm, a hiss of air into the mask over her face, sometimes a glimpse of a man in a white lab coat staring down at her, but mostly darkness haunted by an uneven drumbeat she eventually realized was her own heart.

And now this: struggling to regain consciousness and control of her body, weak and dizzy and feeling like a stranger in her own skin. She had the sense of motion, uneasy swinging motion, unlike the feeling of travel over the past … hours? Days? Kala couldn’t tell exactly what was real and what wasn’t. Coarse laughter was the first sound to penetrate her ringing ears. Then her blurry eyes saw a tile floor passing beneath her. And finally, feeling came back…

…just in time to feel a hand close on her breast and squeeze painfully. That tore the cobwebs from Kala’s mind, and she tried to jerk away. She quickly realized several men were carrying her, all of whom were amused by her struggling. One grabbed her chin and tilted her head up, forcing her wild hazel eyes to meet his leering gaze. “Hey now, pretty girl, none of that,” he chided, wagging a finger under her nose. “We wouldn’t want you to get hurt, now would we, boys? If you try and fight back, well, accidents could happen.”

The others were laughing, and the one with his hand on her chest gave another squeeze for emphasis. For a second, rage blotted out Kala’s mind; she had been raised with the notion that no one could touch her like that without her consent. Little did these men know that she had the courage and the strength to enforce it…

Thrashing in their grip, Kala got one leg free and kicked out sharply. Someone groaned, and then both her feet were on the ground and she could fight in earnest. The one who’d spoken to her took a punch that knocked him down, and then Kala turned on the one who’d groped her. He ducked and bent to protect his groin, expecting her to knee him, but that just made it easier for Kala to kick him in face. He, too, went down and didn’t get back up.

Other men had come running, someone was yelling, and Kala was surrounded. She was stronger and faster, but she was outnumbered. The drugs hadn’t yet worn off entirely, and she was fighting on instinct and anger, no plan but vengeance. In the narrow hallway, her defiant yells and the shouted orders of the men mingled into cacophony that hurt her ears. Her vision was still blurry, and more confused by the speed with which she moved, until the men were just shadowy forms around her at which she struck out wildly. All of it had the feeling of a nightmare, steeped in incomprehensible terror. For all that, Kala was still winning, the men unwilling to come too close to the shrieking fury that only moments ago had been a very pretty, if unconscious, teenager.

A heavy blow fell across her shoulders, and Kala stumbled. It hurt, and worse, it threw off the rhythm of the fight. Someone grabbed her arm, and Kala tried to jerk away, but she saw the one who’d struck her out of the corner of her eye, raising his hands. She managed to raise her other arm quickly enough that the blow fell on her wrist instead of her head, but a bolt of pain raced up her arm, leaving numbness in its path. Another man caught the back of her shirt, holding her steady, while the one who’d clubbed her grinned. “Lights out, kiddo,” he growled, and Kala saw the police baton he was holding begin to descend toward her head. He seemed to be moving in slow motion, but Kala couldn’t move any faster, trapped in despair and pain.

Suddenly the man dropped his weapon, cursing and clutching his hand. “Cease this disturbance at once,” a new voice demanded, and to Kala’s surprise her captors fell back.

Holding her injured wrist, she drew herself up, glaring at the men furiously in hopes that they would be discouraged from further assault. Only then did she look toward her savior.

He took a few steps toward her, and all the men backed up again. Piercingly intelligent eyes looked at her out of a face Kala had seen in newspapers, and she felt her spine turn to ice. “You do not know me,” he said urbanely, with the barest hint of a polite nod in her direction. “I am…”

Kala cut him off, her eyes blazing. “I know precisely who you are, General Zod,” she spat in her most formal Kryptonese. “I am Kala of the House of El.”
Tags: heirs to the house of el

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