Disclaimer: Not mine. No money. Not even from the fabric softener people...
Rating: maybe PG-13 for language but...
Category: First time, advice, not really episode connected although a couple of passing references are made.
When Chloe glanced up from shoving her notebook into her bag and saw Lex and Clark reflected in the mirror that dominated one wall of the atrium, she almost forgot to breath. Clark, cheeks flushed, was staring down at the toes of his work boots and Lex was staring at Clark. She recognized Lex's expression. She'd worn that expression.
The one that said, "For fuck's sake, Clark, I'm not stupid and I'm not blind and I know what you're hiding and I *need* you to tell me because every time you prove you don't trust me, it rips another great, bloody chunk out of my heart."
As expressions went, it covered a lot of ground.
Then Clark started to look up and Lex's face went carefully blank and Chloe concentrated on neatly slotting her pen into the narrow pocket designed for it. She spent a few moments thinking about how purses had become more and more like briefcases over the years and what that indicated about women entering the work force and when she thought she could meet their eyes without giving anything away, she raised her head, tossed her hair back off her face, and said, "Thank you for the interview, Mr. Luthor."
"Lex." And if her smile was a little forced, hopefully he'd think it was because of how she felt about LuthorCorps and not because she was, for the first time, totally in sympathy with its heir apparent. She knew what it was like to love Clark Kent. And it sucked.
Clark's loft was empty when Chloe got there so she crossed over to the telescope and took a look.
Yep. Still stalking the not-at-all-wild although admittedly becoming-more-likeable-with-extended- contact, Lana Lang. Had it been anyone but Clark she'd have beaten him to death with his own surveillance equipment -- even focused on the porch, this was an invasion of Lana's privacy, and objectifying, and insulting to women, and, well, when it came right down to it, illegal. But, because it was Clark, it was a bit creepy but it was safe. She knew it would never turn to more than worshipping the unattainable from afar.
Oh yeah. She knew. In tedious, repetitive detail.
The screen door slammed, the wind whistled where there'd been no wind, and she didn't bother trying to turn fast enough to catch Clark's arrival. She knew she wouldn't. She never had. So she pretended she didn't know what that sound meant, pretended she believed there was a short cut to the high school from the Kent farm that could beat the bus, pretended anyone could have run from the football field to the Torch's burning office between one pounding, terrified heart beat and the next, pretended like she always did and stared out at the evening sky.
"Chloe. You, uh, got here fast."
So did you, farmboy. "My dad gave me a lift." She turned and smiled. Pretending. "If you needed to talk to me because you're bailing on that chess club coverage, think again. It's exactly the sort of boring crap Kwan wants the Torch to cover."
"Oh, I'm sorry, did I say boring crap? I meant exciting school activity."
"I'm *not* bailing."
She felt herself responding to his grin, just like she always did. She'd tried to describe the feeling in her journal once, but the best she'd come up with had been "like a flower opening in sunlight" and that had been so sappily purple she'd almost puked. And then nearly shattered the backspace getting rid of it. //You and I ought to get together, Lex, maybe we can come up with a way to beat this thing.// "Okay, if it's not the chess club, what?"
He sighed, walked over to the couch and dropped down onto it with that kind of long-legged grace teenage boys just didn't have. She kept her gaze locked on his face because sprawled out like that in faded jeans and soft flannel, Clark Kent was enough to tempt a saint.
"Chloe, can I ask you something?"
Earnest voice. Earnest and unsure and impossible not to respond to even when she knew they were about to revisit the Lana zone. "Clark, in grade seven you asked me if my breasts were growing. I think we've moved past the point where you need to ask if you can ask."
Because attached to her, breasts were not sexual. The oblivious bastard.
"It's just... well, it's personal."
Sitting beside him meant she could stare at the same spot he was examining on the opposite wall. Less visually tempting. Unfortunately, she could now smell the fabric softener his mother used, warmed by his body heat and making her want to bury her face in his shirt. Love made the damnedest things erotic.
"It's about..." He paused.
As the pause extended, Chloe rolled her eyes. "Lana?"
Whoa. She hadn't expected that. Not when all the signs pointed to... Her mouth went suddenly dry and she didn't recognize her voice when she said, "Lex?" in tones that would have given the whole thing away had Clark not been -- in spite of tossing personal curve balls -- still remarkably oblivious.
"Yeah. He... uh... I mean, I... We..."
"We? As in, you and Lex?" A forced laugh because it was better than the alternative. "I think you better define your terms, Clark."
The way he said her name drew her head around. She knew that expression too. The one that said, "I never meant to love him; what the hell do I do now?" Over the years, she'd spent a lot of time staring at that one.
"Oh, god, Clark... Are you sure?"
He nodded, a strand of hair falling over his face. Her fingers itched to push it back. "Yeah, but Lex... I mean, he wouldn't... doesn't..."
Okay. Enough was enough. She smacked him upside the head as hard as she could. Her hand stung and he barely blinked. Quel surprise. Not. "Lex *does* you moron. He looks at you like you're the only thing that can save him."
Dark brows drew in. "Save him from what?"
Chloe only barely resisted the urge to smack him again. "From himself."
"But he's never..."
"Clark, you're sixteen. He's twenty-one. It doesn't matter what he feels, he's never going to make the first move. If you want him, you're going to have to throw him to the floor and stick your tongue down his throat so that he *knows* you mean it."
Clark's cheeks were scarlet but he appeared to be seriously considering the idea. Chloe couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if she'd ever been so blunt during the interminable talks about Lana.
"That's kind of a huge leap of faith, Chloe. How do you know I can trust him?"
When she closed her eyes, she could see Lex's expression in the atrium mirror. When she opened them, she could see the hope on Clark's face. "I just *know*. Okay?"
He nodded. And smiled. Trusting her enough for that at least. When he wrapped his big, warm hand around hers, she pulled free and shook her head. "Go. Now. Before you lose your nerve."
He leapt up and paused. "Chloe, you can't tell..."
"Please, do I look like an idiot? This is *Kansas*. I can keep a secret." //Went outside for a breath of air and saw you stacking trucks and never said anything did I? In fact, kept Pete and another couple from following me outside. And by the way, does the word discretion mean anything to you?//
"The um... guy thing doesn't bother you?"
"Are you kidding?" She looked up at him through her lashes. "You and Lex? It's quite the turn on." He didn't say 'Eww' but he didn't have to. In Clark Kent's world, Chloe Sullivan was not a sexual being. "Go on, Kent. Scram. I'll see myself home."
Boots clumping down the stairs, across the barn floor... She ran to the window and leaned out. "Clark?" She had to swallow before she could continue. "After the tongue and the floor thing, *talk* to him."
"Chloe!" A sideways glance toward the house as though his parents might have overheard. He didn't even realize that she spoken in barely more than a whisper. He never did realize. Never had.
"I mean it, Clark. I know you're a guy and all, but *talk* to him. Please."
He frowned slightly, and his eyes narrowed as he looked up. She tried to put his entire future into her expression. After a long moment, he nodded.
Chloe stepped back into the loft so she could pretend to not hear the wind. He'd be with Lex before she reached the farmyard.
With Lex. Damn. Whole different ballgame than with Lana. It *was* quite the turn on. At least her fantasy life was looking up.
She'd be taking a sheet of fabric softener to bed with her again tonight.
She spotted them the moment she entered the Beanery. Clark saw her a moment later and waved her over. Why not?
They were... well, they weren't glowing but it was damned close. Good thing the whole town was in such a case of denial. //Not just a river in Egypt, people...// Clark was looking like a debauched angel and Lex... Lex looked like the bleeding had stopped.
Just for an instant, she hated him.
Lex's eyes widened, then softened, then shuttered. Understanding but not pity.
And she hated him for an instant more. She groped for a chair and almost fell into it, wondering when it would stop hurting. If.
"You okay, Chloe?"
Clark. Dear, sweet, oblivious, just got fucked through the mattress it was so obvious, Clark. "I'm fine. I just skipped lunch."
"I'll get you a muffin."
Oh yeah. That would do it. He hurried off, leaving her alone with Lex.
"You sent him over."
Not a question but she answered it anyway. "Yes." About to toss off a blithe, it was nothing, she stiffened and looked him right in the eye. Because it wasn't nothing. "I told him to talk to you."
//Because I want him to be happy so badly I'm willing to take the hit.// "Because I'm not sure you have enough heart in there to lose any more of it in great bloody chunks..." Oh god, she was clutching the front of her coat. Right over her heart. Could she be any more obvious?
Lex had too much control to look surprised. To give him credit, he didn't look amused either -- had their positions been reversed she wouldn't have been man enough to resist a triumphant smile. Man enough. She hadn't been man enough for Clark. Joke. Okay, not a good one but she was hurting here.
Lex shrugged, a minimal rise and fall of one shoulder, and said, "I'm not sure I do either."
Lost in her own thoughts, it took Chloe a moment to realize what he wasn't sure of. Who'd believe it? An honest answer from Lex Luthor. That would be Clark's influence. Already. Was Lex ready for the full impact of Clark Kent in his life. He couldn't possibly be. She hadn't been.
The moment seemed to call for melodrama. "If you hurt him, I'll make you pay."
Lex glanced over his shoulder at Clark, obliviously charming the girl on the cash register. Then back at her. "I know."
This smile had no edges. To her surprise, Chloe found herself sharing it. If they hadn't been who they were, it could have been a Harlequin moment.
He said: "I can keep his secrets, Chloe."
She heard: "I can keep yours."
"They didn't have any blueberry left, so I got you the oatmeal date. And a coffee."
The world's largest muffin hit the table in front of her. The coffee followed a little less emphatically.
"Thank you." She said it to Clark. She was looking at Lex. Then she turned and smiled, pretending, and demanded to know where the article on the chess club was.
Clark's expression was priceless.
And he still smelled like fabric softener. She'd have stop at the grocery store on the way home.