Ow, ow, ow...
Opening her eyes, Chloe was vaguely aware of the watchful figures of Sam, her uncle, and Garshaw, the Tok'ra Councillor, but she didn't acknowledge them. In fact, she didn't pay them much attention at all. She couldn't be bothered, really. Not with the mother of all headaches that was currently battering around her skull, like Godzilla and Tokyo, chomping on neurons like they were Toyotas.
Understanding the pain, Selmak, the symbiote her Uncle Jacob was host to, leaned in to press a hand to her shoulder. "Breathe deeply." The Tok'ra advised, a look of empathy on his face. "The pain should pass momentarily." A grin suddenly spread across the face as her uncle took control, "Hurts like hell, huh, kiddo? Don't worry. Selmak's right. It'll pass off pretty quick once Tirzah's had a crack at it. Better than aspirin these guys."
The newest host of the Tok'ra groaned softly, rubbing her forehead. She'd believe him just as soon as Tirzah did as promised and got rid of the headache. Which, she could feel receding slowly as the symbiote did as promised. "There's just so much...I think my brain melted."
That comment earned sympathetic looks from the others. They all remembered the feeling of a sudden influx of several thousand years of experience, knowledge, and memories only too well. The result felt pretty well like exactly what Chloe had described. Complete brain meltdown. For a while anyway.
"Other than the massive headache," Sam interjected with a smile, "how do you feel?"
With a slow exhalation of air, Chloe took careful stock of herself and the newfound presence in her mind before smiling. "Honestly? A lot better than I thought I was going to. A lot better than I have in a long time." She looked at her uncle with a grateful expression. "You were right. Having Tirzah here...it's helping with some things. They make a lot more sense now."
"Good." He grasped her shoulders firmly and pulled her into a quick hug before stepping back to meet her gaze. "Speaking of, mind if we talk to Tirzah for a minute?"
There was a half second's hesitation before Chloe began speaking again, her changed voice a telltale sign of the symbiote's control, "Before you ask, Jacob," his fellow Tok'ra scolded with an amused look, "I have no intention of revealing the identity of the Kryptonian. Chloe is steadfast in her determination to keep the secret. I will not circumvent her wish in this matter. Besides," her smile was mirthful, "I think she's right."
"Well, you can't blame a guy for trying." Jacob shrugged, grinning unrepentantly before letting Selmak emerge, "You cannot deny, Tirzah, that the survivor would be safer among us."
The symbiote within Chloe laughed, the sound strange coming from the teenager's mouth, "Actually, my old friend, I can." Chloe came to the fore then and smiled at Selmak. "Okay, first off? That felt really weird. Second? The `survivor' is perfectly safe. Trust me on that one. There is nothing more we can do here that would improve that safety. Nothing more than what I've already done in volunteering to be Tirzah's host. Trust me."
Jacob nodded, speaking for himself and his symbiote. "Okay, kiddo, we'll go with it for now. But you now know as well as I do what the Kryptonians meant to the Tok'ra. We're pretty damn desperate to protect this friend of yours."
Giving way to her symbiote, Chloe let Tirzah surface. "I have every intention of protecting the Kryptonian, Jacob." She vowed firmly. "I will do everything within my, and my host's, power to see it is so. Of this, be assured." The stubborn set of her jaw was an expression Jacob knew well. Chloe was more like her mother than she knew. Evie had given him that look more times than he could count and he knew it's appearance on Chloe's face, even while the body was under Tirzah's control, meant there was no arguing. "For now, I agree with Chloe's reasoning, the Kryptonian's identity will remain a secret to both the Tok'ra and the Tau'ri."
"Case closed." Sam noted, exchanging an amused look with Garshaw. "I know that look. It's pretty safe to say, their minds are made up."
Garshaw sighed and inclined her head in acquiescence. "I cannot say the Council will be pleased...but the compromise of Miss Sullivan agreeing to host Tirzah will have to be enough. I can think of no one better equipped to deal with the task of safeguarding the Kryptonian than Tirzah herself."
"You're right." Chloe agreed, looking to the Tok'ra councillor. "Going by our memories of her contact with the Kryptonians....there is no one better." She nervously passed a hand down her shirt, pulling it into place. "Speaking of...when are we heading back to Earth?" With little warning, Tirzah came forward. "The caves of which Chloe has spoken, I believe there is much within them that may explain what happened to the Kryptonians. The chance exists they may have left some sort of message behind. If so..."
All eyes went to Garshaw. "I shall inform the Council that the blending is complete and you are ready to leave. Tirzah, join me, the others will wish to speak with you before you depart."
Nodding Chloe moved to join her as she left the chamber. Before rounding the corner, the teen looked back and rolled her eyes in an exaggerated motion, making her uncle chuckle.
Sam missed the action and turned to her father, curious. "What?"
At her low-voiced question, Selmak surfaced to reveal, "Tirzah has long loathed any interaction with the Council. Finds them tedious. She often remarks she would sooner face a battalion of Jaffa than suffer through even the shortest of meetings with the Tok'ra. Patience, I'm afraid, has never been one of her strong suits."
A snicker escaped Sam as she turned to watch her cousin's retreating form. "It's a match made in heaven."
Smallville looked different. Logically, Chloe knew it wasn't, but, still as she drove into town, she couldn't shake the thought that it looked different. In the back of her mind, she felt Tirzah stir from her rest and survey the passing buildings through her eyes. Amusement swept over her as her symbiote revealed that her previous host, a woman named Alia, would have been awed by the size of the town.
Having grown up on a sparsely populated world with few large cities, Alia had never managed to shake the perceptions that had instilled in her. No matter how many worlds with how many massive cities they had visited together, Alia had never completely let go of those perceptions. Managing to be awed by cities and buildings that Tirzah had barely given second thought to. It had been one of her most endearing traits.
Sadness and grief replaced the amusement as the realization of Alia's absence settled in again. They had been together for over two hundred years, the grief Tirzah felt was deep and as much a part of Chloe as anything she'd ever felt. Shared emotions were par for the course with the Tok'ra, Uncle Jacob and Selmak had made that eminently clear as had Sam, and Chloe accepted it knowing it went both ways. For as much as she felt Tirzah's grief at Alia's death, Tirzah also felt everything she did. And, as far as Chloe was concerned, Tirzah had gotten a far worse deal than she had. Compared to her backlog of emotional angst, a little grief was more than manageable.
Naturally, Tirzah objected to that and, as much as Chloe hated to admit it, the teenaged self-pity she'd been indulging herself in was misplaced. Though, she refused to let go of it just the same which, on many levels, amused her newfound companion but Tirzah persisted. The memories that she had brought to the blending were anything but pleasant and she reminded Chloe of the horrific nightmares that had plagued the new host's dreams that first night back in Colorado. Images of the ghoulish atrocities committed by the System Lords was now permanently etched into Chloe's memory and it took little effort to summon up the images again. Bodies of Jaffa, of innocent men, women, and children littering fields. Entire towns, countries, planets wiped clean of life at the barest whim of a System Lord.
The memories nauseated Chloe and she swallowed bile, pushing the memories aside. She and Tirzah had spoken of this before blending. She'd known what she was getting into but the images were more brutal and horrific than anything she'd ever seen, even in Smallville. The comforting reassurance of her symbiote's presence eased the pain. Tirzah had much experience in processing pain. It was an old friend going back longer than any host. The relationship her symbiote had with pain was one Chloe understood only too well. It was one she was developing herself. Pain meant you weren't dead yet. If it hurt, you were still alive.
Chloe knew that feeling too well. She'd been hit with the first lance of it when she'd come downstairs to find her Dad making breakfast and her Mom nowhere in sight. She'd felt it again when her father'd informed her they were leaving Metropolis for Smallville and she'd felt it a thousand times since. Yeah, she knew it too well.
An equivalent of a mental hug from Tirzah made her smile and thoughts shifted away from the melancholy of the Tok'ra existence to something else entirely.
Clark had dominated her teenage existence for a lot of reasons but she'd never expected it to be because of this. For as much as she was experiencing Tirzah's memories and Tirzah's experiences, the Tok'ra was doing the same with her. The shock Tirzah had felt upon seeing the face of the Kryptonian her new host was so determined to protect still lingered. They didn't know what Clark's real name was yet, the name his Kryptonian parents had given him, but they knew who he was. The son of Jor-El. The famed scientist still so revered by his Tok'ra friends. There was simply no way he could be the son of anyone else. An image of the scientist and his bride filled Chloe's mind and she smiled, if only a little. Clark looked so much like his father it was scary and his mother...she was beautiful. Lara. She, too, had been a scientist respected much by the Tok'ra. Like so many others of their people, the couple had believed in the cause of the Tok'ra. Their world had been one secure from the System Lords but the Kryptonians had still offered their aid to the Tok'ra, believing their cause just.
The friendship between the two peoples...it was the reason the Tok'ra were so determined to protect Clark.
For Tirzah, it was more than that, she had been the Tok'ra liaison to the Kryptonians. Jor-El and Lara had been her friends. If they were dead, she wanted to know why and, knowing now what Chloe knew of Lionel Luthor, she would protect Clark with her very last breath if needs be. Her resolve matched that of her host. There was simply no way the last son of Krypton would fall. Not if they had any say in the matter.
What the host feels...
The symbiote feels..
Chloe felt her jaw set, determination settle in, whether it was an action born of her own feelings, Tirzah's, or both, she didn't know.
Lionel wasn't getting anywhere near Clark.
Also, why not join
Level Three, the Smallville all-fic list?