Keeping Score

by Dannyblue

Disclaimer: SMALLVILLE and its characters do not belong to me. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: All you have to do is ask.
Feedback: Yes, please.

Lex was keeping score.

Leaning back in his chair, he forced his body to relax. He took a sip of the coffee he didn't really want, glanced at his laptop without really seeing what was on the screen.

Sitting his coffee cup down, he glanced back up. Chloe was still smiling at the boy who was approaching her table. And he was a boy. Tall and gangly, all arms and legs. Wide-eyed and fresh-faced.

And Chloe's smile grew wider, like she was truly happy to see him.

In Lex's mind, another strike appeared on an imaginary chalk board. The board had filled out quite a bit lately. He was almost running out of space.

The boy sat down, too awkwardly tall to do so with any kind of grace. But Chloe didn't seem to notice. Still smiling that smile that appeared like sunshine through rain clouds, she leaned across the table to be heard over the noise of the Talon. As good an excuse as any. When the boy reached out to rest his hand on top of hers, she didn't pull away.

And another strike appeared on the board.

Elbow resting on the arm of the chair, Lex pressed his fist against his lips. Outwardly, he appeared calm, relaxed. But his jaw was clenched tight, the tension running down his neck. And the deep breath he took didn't relieve the pressure he felt building inside.

They were both leaning across the table now, chatting happily, like two young people in the first stages of...

Lex's thoughts stumbled to a stop. He wouldn't call it love. How could someone like her--so bright, and smart, and complex--truly be interested in someone so dull and simple. No, he'd forgive her feelings for Clark--whatever they were--before he could accept that.

But they were still holding hands. She was still smiling that smile.

And another strike appeared on the board.

He really was running out of space.

Mind wandering, Lex considered the strikes that adorned his board. Or should he call them gashes. These weren't simple marks made in white chalk. These were slashes, like someone had taken a knife and stabbed at the board, trying to make it bleed.

These were for the times he'd caught her gazing at Clark, a look of wistful regret on her face. Like she was thinking of what might have been, what a part of her still wanted to be. Oddly, those gashes weren't too deep. He'd gotten used to those looks she occasionally gave Clark long before they had the power to bother him.

These were for the little flirtations that seemed to come to her so easily. A little deeper, even though he knew those flirtations didn't mean any more to her than the boys she flirted with. Still, there was a slash for every coy glance. A gash for every teasing smile.

The slashes had gotten much deeper since she this boy. Gazing at him with wide, hopeful eyes, and bright, cheerful smiles. And the board looked like a living, wounded thing, huge pieces of it hacked away. Ready to pounce on the cause of its pain. To make them suffer just as hard, just as deep.

Maybe once the board was full, once there was no space left.

Suddenly, she stood, moved to the seat that put her closer to the boy's. She was now facing away from him, so all Lex could was the shimmery gold of her hair. As the two leaned into each other, Lex's hands balled into fists, nails digging into the palms of his hands. His eyes bored into her back, ice blue lasers cold enough to burn.

And another strike appeared on the board.

Of course, it wasn't fair. She didn't know the rules of the game. She didn't even know they were playing. Or what would happen when she lost.

Lex wasn't sure what would happen either. He just knew the weight in his chest was getting heavier, and angrier. All of her innocent little betrayals had cut deep enough to make him bleed inside, and there were so many ways to make her pay. He knew because he'd spent hours dreaming, counting. They were stark and vivid, his constant companions through those long nights when he couldn't sleep.

When the board was full, he wondered which one he'd choose.

Chloe was standing at the counter, waiting for her order to be filled, when she realized she didn't have her purse.

"Damn!" she muttered. Shaking her head, she turned to head back to the table...

And collided with the body standing behind her.

Startled by the impact, she staggered back. But a hand grabbed her arm, and helped to steady her.

"Are you okay?" a man's voice asked.

"Yeah, I..." Then she looked up into a familiar face. "Oh, hey, Lex. Sorry about that."

"Don't worry about it." He smiled, but it didn't seem to reach his eyes. In fact he seemed a little angry.

Of course he does, Sullivan, she thought. You almost bowled the man over.

Chloe stepped back until his hand fell away from her arm. She was surprised to feel her arm throbbing. Absently, she rubbed her bicep. She could almost feel the imprint of Lex's hand on her flesh.

Then again, by grabbing her, he'd kept her from falling on her butt, so she wasn't going to complain.

"Sorry again," she said. Giving him an apologetic smile, she walked around him.

Lex took a deep breath, breathing in the scent that lingered on the air. It was citrusy and sweet, full of light and energy. Just like her.

Turning, he watched her hurry back to the table. Back to the boy with the wide eyes and fresh face. And the weight in his chest grew heavier. There was another stab deep inside, drawing more blood.

There were so many ways to make her pay.

Maybe he'd try them all.


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