Chloe threw her arms around her father and hugged him, grinning. "Miss me?"
"Always, sweetheart." He kissed her on the cheek and stepped back. "So what brings you back to Smallville this time?"
"Wanting to see my dad isn't good enough?"
"Nope." Gabe smiled. "What's up?"
"I have some news for you." Chloe grinned. "But can we go inside and sit?"
"Sure, sure." He opened the door and they went inside, sitting at the kitchen table. "So?"
"Daddy--" Chloe hesitated. "I'm engaged."
"You're what?" He looked at her in surprise. "Sweetheart, I didn't even know you were dating anyone."
"Yeah, well--" Chloe shrugged.
"So who's the lucky man?"
Once again, Chloe bit her lip before answering. "Lex," she said nervously.
Her father's jaw dropped. Literally. "Lex. As in--Lex Luthor? My old boss?"
She nodded. "We--um. We've been seeing each other on and off since I was in college, and he proposed a week and a half ago. See?" She showed him the ring. "The diamond was his mother's."
"It's beautiful, sweetheart." Gabe patted her hand and leaned back in his chair. "So. My baby's marrying a Luthor?"
Chloe nodded again. "We decided it would be better if I told you first, then have him come over. Should I call him?"
"Yes, you should. If you're getting married, I want the right to interrogate your fianc." He smiled.
"Daddy..." Chloe made a face at him before picking up the phone and dialing Lex's cell.
"Hello," he said on the second ring.
"Hey. Want to come meet your future father-in-law?"
"Words cannot express my joy at this thought. I'll be right over." He hung up.
"He's on his way," Chloe said, turning back to Gabe.
"All right." Her father stood and went to the cabinet, getting three glasses. "Have you two eaten lunch?"
"No--we're meeting his father for a late lunch in a couple of hours."
"Oh boy." Gabe set the glasses down and went to the fridge for a pitcher of juice. "I take it he doesn't know yet?"
"Nope. Lex insisted we both be there when we told him."
"Not a bad idea, given what I know of the elder Luthor." The doorbell rang and Gabe nodded at it. "Go let him in, honey."
"Hey," Chloe said, opening the door. "Come on in."
Lex bent and kissed her briefly, linking his fingers through hers in a gesture of solidarity. She smiled and squeezed his hand. "It's okay. Unlike your dad, mine doesn't bite."
"You say that now, but you're his only daughter. Fathers get protective when their princesses get married--especially when the prince is an infamous ladies' man and a Luthor, to boot." Lex gave her a dry look. "Forgive me for being a little paranoid."
"Infamous ladies' man?" Chloe raised an eyebrow at him.
"I'm reformed now."
She laughed and pulled him into the kitchen. "Mr. Sullivan," Lex said, holding out his hand.
"If you're marrying my daughter, I think you can call me Gabe." Chloe's father shook his hand and smiled. "Would you like some juice?"
"Sure, thank you." Lex took a seat at the table, as did Chloe. Gabe poured three glasses and sat opposite them.
"So. You and my baby are engaged," he said, shaking his head. "I don't mind admitting I'm a bit boggled."
"Chloe has a way of doing that to people," Lex said lightly.
"Hey!" Chloe glared at him. "Be nice or I'll let you face your father alone."
"I meant it as a compliment, sweetheart." Lex smirked at her; she rolled her eyes.
"When will the wedding be?"
"June, we think. It'll be here--Lana's arranging a lot of it, which is both good and terrifying."
"I still think we should elope," Lex muttered.
"If you're marrying my daughter, you're going to do it right," Gabe warned him.
Chloe laughed, taking Lex's hand. "Relax, Dad, I talked him out of the elopement by promising him he got to choose our honeymoon." She grinned. "He still won't tell me anything."
"I promise you'll enjoy it." Lex smiled and squeezed her hand.
"I feel oddly not reassured by that."
"Chloe, you want to give your fianc and me a few moments alone?" Gabe asked.
She rolled her eyes. "Is this the part where you get all protective and warn Lex that if he doesn't treat me well you'll kill him?"
"Yes, and you're not supposed to be here for that."
Chloe sighed but stood, leaning down to kiss Lex briefly. "I'll be outside." She left, leaning against Lex's car while she waited for him to emerge.
About five minutes later, Lex came out. "Well, all things considered, that wasn't so bad," he said lightly.
"What'd he say?"
"He said that he didn't know why or how this had happened, but you looked so happy he wasn't going to question it. He said that you'd keep me on my toes, and that we were well suited for each other." Lex unlocked the car and they got in.
"And then he got all misty-eyed and admitted that he didn't want to see his baby all grown up. It was scary enough when you went away to college." Lex smiled, a little wistfully.
Chloe smiled and took his hand. "He'll cry at the wedding, you know."
Lex turned to face her. "He loves you, Chloe. He's allowed to cry." There was a look in his eyes she couldn't quite read. Envy, perhaps?
"Yeah. I know." She leaned over and kissed him. "We've got a couple of hours till we have to meet your dad," she said, sitting back. "What do you say we go back to the castle and make the most of them?"
"I like that idea." He started the car.
"Somehow I thought you might."
Despite their arrival fifteen minutes early, Lionel was already waiting for them. "Psychological power play," Lex murmured in her ear. "Don't get offended at anything he says--he'll try to rattle you."
She nodded, leaning slightly into Lex's hand on her back as they went to the table. Lionel rose as they approached, smiling slightly. "Lex, this is a surprise--when you said you had news for me, I thought it would just be the two of us at lunch."
Lex shrugged easily. "Dad, may I introduce Chloe Sullivan? Chloe, my father."
"Pleased to meet you," she murmured, holding out her hand. Lionel shook it, still smiling politely.
"Please, the pleasure's mine." He gestured to the other chairs. "Won't you have a seat?"
To Chloe's surprise, Lex held her chair for her, brushing his hand over her shoulder before taking his own seat.
"So, Lex, Chloe--may I call you Chloe?" Lionel asked. She nodded. "Might I ask why we're all here?"
"Well, Dad--Chloe and I are getting married." Lex said, taking Chloe's hand. "And as you're the father of the groom, we thought we should tell you."
To Lionel's credit, he controlled his expression admirably. "Married," he said, sounding mildly surprised. "Well, this is a surprise." He smiled; it would have been more effective if it had reached his eyes.
"A happy one, I hope?" Lex asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Of course, of course." Lionel turned to Chloe, smiling. "I must say, I'm surprised. I'd given up hope of Lex settling down years ago. Someday you must tell me how you did it."
"Actually, I didn't do anything. Lex proposed." Chloe smiled sweetly. "I was surprised as well." She felt Lex's amusement in the gentle squeeze he gave her hand.
Lionel looked momentarily nonplussed before covering it with a smile. "So what do you do, Chloe?"
"I'm a reporter with the Daily Planet."
"And is that how you met Lex?"
Chloe couldn't help it; she laughed. "No--Lex and I met years ago, when he was still in Smallville. My father was the manager of the plant, and between that and my friendship with Clark--" She shrugged easily.
"The only story Chloe's ever done on me was for the Torch, wasn't it?" Lex asked lightly.
She nodded. "I won't compromise my journalistic ethics by reporting on someone I'm personally involved with." Let Lionel make of that what he would.
"Admirable of you," he commented.
The waiter came by and Lionel ordered champagne--"After all, this is a celebration!"
"I had Mom's diamond reset for Chloe," Lex commented as they were looking at the menus. "Chloe, show Dad your ring, please?"
She smiled and held out her hand; Lionel took it in his to examine the ring. "Beautiful," he murmured. "Suiting the hand."
Chloe took her hand back, smiling. "You're too kind." She resisted the urge to wipe her hand on her skirt. Lionel made her skin crawl.
After they'd ordered, Chloe excused herself to go use the bathroom. On her way back, she found that if she stopped behind a nearby partition, she could hear what Lionel and Lex were saying without them seeing her. Spying on her fianc and his father--welcome to dysfunctional.
"Lex, don't you think this is a little--abrupt?" Lionel said.
"Why? Is she not good enough?"
"She's a reporter, Lex. The last time I checked, your feelings for the press matched mine."
"Press in general, yes. This one in particular--no."
"I'm not saying you shouldn't have an affair with her. Go ahead, knock yourself out. But do you really have to marry her? At least get a prenup, for God's sake."
"Feel free to skip the wedding, Dad," Lex said tightly.
At that, Chloe decided it was time to return; she hurried back to her seat, taking care to look a little breathless. "Sorry about that," she said cheerfully.
"Not a problem." Lex kissed her on the cheek. "Dad was just expressing some reservations about our engagement."
"Oh?" From somewhere, she managed to pull off an innocent, bright-eyed look. It didn't fool Lex, but Lionel seemed to buy it. "Like what?" Chloe tapped a finger against her lips thoughtfully. "I've got it. I'm not good enough? Or I'm just after his money? Or--wait, I like this one--I'm a reporter, so once I learn all the Luthor secrets I'll be on my way after writing a scathing expose?" She smiled sweetly.
Next to her, Lex was hiding laughter; across from her, Lionel just looked stunned. "For the record," she said, dropping the sweet tone, "I'm not a social climber, I'm not after Lex's money, and if I wanted to write a story on LuthorCorp I'd do it without sleeping with him." She looked at him coldly. "If you'll excuse me, I've lost my appetite." Tossing her napkin down, she rose and left.
She'd just walked outside when Lex caught up with her. "Don't touch me," she snarled, whirling away from him. "Not until I've had a shower."
"I can arrange that." Thankfully, he didn't touch her; just waited for her to whip around and face him.
"Either you overreacted or you heard him," Lex said. "Which was it?"
"I heard him," she admitted, deflating. "You want a prenup, I'll--"
"I don't want a prenup, Chloe. You know that."
She sighed and leaned against the silver side of the car. "Maybe it's not such a bad idea, though."
"I don't want one." Lex's voice was quiet but firm. "What was it you said to me? You're stuck with me, Chloe."
"Well, right now I need a shower before I'm willing to be stuck with anyone." She rubbed at the back of her neck.
"Get in--we'll go back to the castle and you can have one."
Halfway back to the manor, Lex suddenly smiled. "I think you won his respect, by the way," he told her.
"Wonderful." Chloe rolled her eyes. "Do I still have to dance with him at the wedding?"
Also, why not join Level Three, the Smallville all-fic list?