Smallville Fanfiction: What If - 17. Part 3 Chapter 4
Sooooo… yeah, I don’t think I’ve updated this in… almost six years. Huh. Well. The IDEA is still there, and I found myself at least trying to finish up this episode. No, it’s not completed, but this is the next section, and there are (slight) dialogue changes from the actual episode. Variation will grow within the next two, and I’m going to do my level best to get them out in a timely manner. As for anything after ‘Hothead’… well, it depends on how long inspiration holds.
Part 3 Chapter 4
Cloe glanced around, making sure none of the other students were paying her any attention before making her way off the football field towards the locker-entrance to the school. A flash of disappointment welled up when she didn’t see Trevor, the only football player who’d cheated and seemed likely to talk about it.
No, there he was: back in the shadows, out of line-of-site of the bonfire on the field. “Trevor, there you are.”
“Why’d you call me? What do you want?”
Cloe frowned; that wasn’t the guilty defensiveness she’d expected. That sounded defensive, sure—but afraid. Well, then again, he probably didn’t want to get booted off the team—and that thing with the rigged sprinklers had probably psyched most of the players out. Maybe Trevor was afraid of fire or something. “I want to know if Coach Walt supplied the test answers. Look, you can talk to me now or later: either way, this picture is going on the front page of tomorrow’s Torch,” she flipped the digital camera to show the best shot she’d gotten of Walt and the players in the fire-streaked field.
Trevor rocked back, paling. “Just—just leave me alone!” He shoved past her, half-running towards the field’s parking-lot entrance.
Cloe watched him go. “Huh.” So, probably genuinely scared of Walt and his flaming sprinklers. She shrugged, just bit, and turned to head into the school. She had the next day’s Torch to finish and print.
Trevor barely kept from running, not wanting to draw attention as he dodged between parked cars to his own, fumbling with the key. He just wanted to get away.
A hand closed around his forearm, hard, but the pain wasn’t from a too-tight grip. Instead it was searing, like he’d run up against a hot carburetor or a baseboard heating pipe. Panic closed around his mind.
“Talking to the school newspaper, now, Trevor? I thought you were smarter than that.”
The Coach. “I didn’t say anything, Coach, I swear! She was at the field, she’s got a picture of us and the sprinklers!”
Walt’s expression shifted to a different kind of anger and he let go of the terrified football player’s arm. “All right. Go home. I’ll take care of this.”
The man walked back towards the school building without so much as glancing at the boy leaning against the side of his car, half-sprawled on cold pavement with one arm curled protectively against his chest, a handprint seared into his skin.
Cloe clicked the picture into place in the open computer file, adding the final touches to the front page of the school newspaper, and slid the mouse down towards the ‘print’ button in the corner of the screen.
The monitor promptly burst into flames, quickly followed by everything else on the desk and the computer tower beside it.
Cloe yelped and jolted back, leaping up and scrambling away from the heat. Flames spread downward, licking across the carpet with intent, cutting off any way to the door, and crept towards her.
She spun towards the window, forcing it open as wide as it would go—not wide enough to get through—looking for any possible source of help.
Clark, there, on the field, looking towards the school as though searching for someone. Cloe’s heart leapt with desperate hope and she waved her arms, “Clark!” she shouted, knowing he wouldn’t be able to hear her over the cheerleading squad but praying he’d at least see the light and motion.
He started on seeing her and pushed his way through the football players.
She didn’t wait to see how long it would take for him to cross the field, knowing she didn’t have that kind of time. She snatched up her jacket and wrapped it around her entire upper body, using it to shield her head and arms while hoping that her pants were thick enough to hold back the heat for a few seconds, took a deep breath, and leapt across the burning section of carpet.
Biffed the landing, and had to scramble back to her feet—seconds lost.
Fire swept between her and the door, malicious and hungry.
Clark pushed himself to go faster, acute hearing catching the crackling hiss of flame from Cloe’s Torch-editor office—and Cloe’s sharp, frightened breaths.
“Cloe!” he called, already almost to her.
The hiss died away, leaving only a fading crackle and occasional sharp pops. Cloe’s breath rushed out in a relieved gasp, “Clark?”
He slowed before rounding the corner, dropping to a human-speed sprint before slowing again to human jog as he entered the room, gathering the terrified girl into a hug, putting his own body between her and the largest of the dwindling flames left.
After Cloe calmed, she and Clark put out the remaining embers and Clark sighed. He wanted to make a quip about the office, but was pretty sure Cloe wouldn’t appreciate it. “What do you think caused this? I mean—it’s not looking very accidental.”
Clark blinked, “Really?”
“Considering the recent human battery and bug-boy? Yes, really.”
“Cloe…” Clark winced.
“I know, I know—but it’s easier to cope if I don’t think of specifics on ‘who’.”
Clark tipped his head, acknowledging the point. “But…”
“Well, first off, it was like the fire knew what I was doing. It cut me off from the door twice. The second time it had to go around me. Someone was behind it, controlling it, and I’m betting on Coach Walt.”
“Why do you think it’s him, though?”
Cloe sighed, “Think about it, Clark! Principal Kwan tried to launch an investigation into the cheating scandal and is promptly trapped in his own burning car. Then one of the football team steps forward and the whole group who’d been tagged as cheaters ands up on a field of pyrotechnic sprinklers with the coach—who, by the way, is the only one who doesn’t seem alarmed. Then I am about to print that picture and the Torch goes up in flames.”
“So you think he’s behind the cheating, too? Cloe…” Clark trailed off. Oh, he believed her, but this intent on being able to out the truth had already put her in direct harms’ way and they had no proof.
“Coach obsessed with winning his two-hundredth game helps bonehead players pass the test so they can secure his position in the pantheon of high-school sports god-coaches.”
Point, and good point, at that. The fact that the Coach was obviously trying to kill, though… and they needed proof. “Do you have another copy of that picture?”
Cloe sighed and prodded the burnt husk of her camera, “No, and I doubt there’s a way to recover the files from that, either,” she gestured at the computer tower.
“So, we don’t have any proof.”
“Trevor Chapell,” Cloe countered.
Clark frowned, “What about him?”
“I’m sure he’s the one who talked to Kwan about the cheating. He wants to stop this. I know it—but he’s too scared to talk to me. He might open up to you, though.”
Clark considered that, then nodded. “I’ll talk to him.”