On any other Saturday morning, Chloe Sullivan would have been thrilled to be in the archives of The Daily Planet. She would have reveled in reading the old news stories, and wondered what ever happened to the reporters. She would have read the articles with a critical eye and thought of how she would have covered the story differently.
Unfortunately, journalistic research was not the reason for Chloe being in the basement of The Daily Planet. She was there because of a history assignment. A horribly, boring, senseless, mind numbing extra credit history assignment to be exact.
For the life of her, she couldn't remember why she had decided to do the research project. She had gotten a B+ on her midterm, and her paper on the French Revolution had been graded at an A-. But, there was still that little nagging voice in her head that kept telling her that if she did this extra credit, she'd be well on her way to getting straight A's in all of her subjects.
That was always a point of honor for her and her dad. He tolerated the amount of time she spent at The Torch and he would smile indulgently when she did her various assignments for The Smallville Ledger and The Daily Planet, because she always brought home excellent grades.
Chloe was proud of her scholastic achievements, but her journalistic endeavors were what she was most passionate about. And she knew she needed good grades to be able to pursue her reporting dreams. And most of all, she wanted her father to continue being proud of her.
Suddenly, Chloe bolted upright in her seat, hitting her head against the monitor and knocking her mouse to the ground. She grimaced at her own clumsiness, and bent over to pick up the mouse, while rubbing her forehead. She looked at the clock and was stunned when she saw saw how much time had passed.
Chloe glanced around the room, glad that there hadn't been anyone present to witness her napping. Shaking her head to clear the cobwebs, she gave herself a little pep talk. 'Okay, time to get back to work. I need to stay focused on the reason I'm here, and not let my mind wander.'
She concentrated on the screen in front of her, and blinked a couple of times to get her bleary eyes to focus on the article. The first thing that caught her attention was the rather lurid headline that was featured across the top of the article: METROPOLIS DOCTOR BUTCHERED. The headline screamed National Intruder, but then again, even the most ethical of journalists had to grab a reader's attention.
Chloe's eye moved onto the two pictures, featured next to the article. One picture was of the slain doctor, and the second picture was of his alleged killer. Chloe leaned in closer to the screen to read the name of the victim, a Dr. Charles Flint. His picture showed a distinguished looking man in his fifties, with an intelligent face.
She then looked at the picture of the person who had allegedly killed him. She read the name, and paused. No, this couldn't be right. Feeling slightly sick, she looked more closely at the picture, but it had been taken while the suspect was in motion. The police had been in the middle of the arrest, and had partially blocked the perpetrator's face.
Chloe felt as though the room was spinning and she closed her eyes. She opened them again, and looked at the name, hoping that her sleep fogged brain had made a mistake.
No, the name was still the same, and the picture was still as blurry. She shook her head in disbelief and read the first sentence in the article. "Claire Sullivan, the wife of Luthor Corp manager, Gabe Sullivan, was arrested for stabbing Metropolis psychiatrist, Charles Flint."
The name of the alleged killer was Claire Sullivan. Chloe could have almost fooled herself into thinking that there were two Claire Sullivan's living in Metropolis 12 years ago when she and her parents lived there.
But it was harder to fool herself that both women had husbands who were named Gabe, and who had both been Luthor Corp employees. Chloe would not have discounted the possibility of clones having lived in Smallville for so long, but the events in the article had taken place in Metropolis, and Chloe was forced to face the ugly, hard truth that was staring at her from the computer screen.
The woman who had been arrested for Dr. Flint's murder was a person from Chloe's past, an unwanted ghost from a time that Chloe had almost forgotten about.
The woman, Claire Sullivan, had been her mother.
The drive from Metropolis to Smallville was usually a fairly peaceful journey. Chloe usually used it as a time for reflection, a chance to gather her thoughts. On this drive, however, Chloe was anything but calm. She was bitterly angry with her parents, particularly her father.
He should have told her about her mom's mental problems, and she should have definitely been told about the crime her mom was accused of. For the past 12 years, Chloe was filled with questions about what compelled her mom to leave.
Maybe if she had known about her mom's arrest, she would have spent less time blaming herself for Claire's leaving. Then, maybe Chloe wouldn't have become, for a brief, ego bruising time, a doormat for Clark and Lana.
Maybe this, maybe that. Chloe shook her head furiously, and said, "Enough with the maybes and what ifs. It's time to get some answers."
By the time Chloe pulled into the Sullivans' driveway, she had a list of questions in her head. She knew that confronting her dad with any type of animosity would not help her cause. Her dad didn't tell her about what happened to her mom because he was trying to protect her from the truth.
And, he probably couldn't even begin to explain what happened to a child of 5. But when she got older, she could have handled the news. It would have been devastating, but Chloe would have finally had a reason. And all the years of self-doubt would never have happened.
Chloe shook her head again, more forcefully, and willed those thoughts to disappear. She walked to her front door, grasped the handle and walked into the foyer, already knowing where her father would be.
Gabe Sullivan was at the kitchen table, drinking a cup of coffee and reading the newspaper. Chloe smirked at the irony of the situation, and cleared her throat. Gabe looked up at his daughter, and smiled. "Hi, Sparrow. Find anything interesting at The Planet?"
Normally, hearing her childhood nickname always gave Chloe a warm feeling in her heart, a feeling of family and of being loved. This time, the endearment seemed almost hollow. She pushed down her hurt, and focused on her question. Not being one to mince words, Chloe blurted out, "Dad, why didn't you tell me about Mom?"
Gabe slowly lowered his paper and took one look at Chloe's face. She looked angry and hurt, but she also had that telltale inquisitive look. The look that told Gabe that his daughter had gone into reporter mode.
He was suddenly struck with a memory so vivid, his breath got caught in his throat. The memory is of an eight year old Chloe, hounding her Religion teacher with questions about how she really new that there was a Heaven. He had gotten Chloe to back off the aging nun, who had scarcely known what to do with such a persistent little girl.
Gabe was secretly proud that Chloe had the nerve and intelligence to question authority. She just needed the life experience to tell her when to leave some situations alone.
Now, Gabe wished that Chloe had learned that some stories should remain hidden. He saw the newspaper clippings in his daughter's hand, and lowered his head resignedly. He shouldn't have been surprised that she would have uncovered the story, but there was a part of him that had hoped that she would never have found out.
The kitchen was filled with an uncomfortable silence, as both Sullivan's regarded each other. Chloe was the first to speak. "Mom was arrested for killing someone and you never thought to mention it to me?" She tried to keep the bitterness out of her voice, but it still stung that something this important had been kept from her.
Gabe sighed wearily and tried to answer her. "Chloe, there's more to the story than was reported in the press."
Chloe rolled her eyes in exasperation, and shot back with "Then enlighten me, Dad. Because I can't help but notice that the year of the murder, is the year that Mom left."
Gabe cringed and spoke softly, "Your mom had…problems."
Chloe looked at her father imploringly and placed her hands on the kitchen table for emphasis. "Dad, please stop being so cryptic. Just tell me!"
Gabe sighed again, and he spoke rapidly, as though he wanted to get the story out in one breath. "Your mom suffered from depression. She would be fine one day, and down in the dumps the next. I finally insisted on her going to see a professional."
Chloe nodded and said, "Enter Dr. Flint and his drug therapy. I read that much in the paper. What else?"
Gabe continued, "At first, the therapy seemed to be working. Your mom's moods were stable. But then, that night happened. It was awful, seeing her, covered in blood, holding that knife."
Gabe suddenly stopped and looked at Chloe. "Did the paper say where your mom was found?"
Chloe suddenly felt sick at the look of fear on her dad's face. She nodded again, not trusting herself to speak.
Gabe spoke softly, as if whispering the words would lessen their harshness. "She was clutching a knife that was covered in blood, and she was talking to herself."
Gabe stopped again, and looked at Chloe. Her face was pale, and she was shocked to see the worry lines that appeared on her father's face, as he relived the horrible memory.
She stared into her dad's pale face, one more time, and she wished she had never found that article. But, it was too late now. She had to learn the truth.
"Dad, tell me where you found Mom." Gabe took a deep breath, and spoke. "Your mom was found standing by your bed, with that bloody knife raised, muttering that she had to protect her baby."