Her world is ashes. Her life is in ruins.
It should be the worst time of her life. It is the worst time of her life. Somewhere in the world, her father is clinging to life, fighting for every breath and she very nearly was the same. She should be dead. She isn't. And worse...she's happy. She's in the most beautiful place in the world. Sitting in the lap of luxury, being spoiled rotten and she's happy. Not only is she happy...she doesn't feel the least bit guilty about it. She's glad.
The staff of the villa think they're a young couple in love. Chloe thinks maybe they are but knows that is also a very basic description that doesn't come close to capturing the depth. But the staff knows nothing of what their 'newlyweds' left behind in their home country or what waits for them there. They only know what Lex and Chloe have chosen to present them. This lack of information gives the staff what they want, room to speculate. They spin all manner of romantic stories about the couple, Lex told her that. He's heard them. She hasn't. They don't speak English. Her Italian sucks. She's learning though. She's had plenty of time to do a lot of things. Recuperation has meant lots of bed rest, though now she can get up and move about the villa's grounds. She spends a lot of time reading. In the morning she walks, swims, then in the heat of the day, she surfs the net, listens to music and sometimes language tapes. This newfound life of luxury is a world away from Smallville and it's easy to forget.
Remembering what it was like before is like remembering a dream. Sometimes, she wonders if maybe it was. She's slept so much that maybe she dreamed it all. She knows that isn't true but she likes to pretend. It doesn't hurt that the first days after the explosion are a blur of pain, drugs and sleep and not a lot of memory. She doesn't know how she got from the house to Metropolis but she did. Someone found her and her father, Lex's people perhaps. They got them out of there and got them help. Everyone in Smallville thinks they're dead. It's safer that way. That's what he tells her and she believes him. Something about the way he spoke when he told her...he was telling the truth. He believes that, as long as she's believed dead, she's safe.
She doesn't disagree. She might have before but now, Chloe's found she likes being dead. Dead in Tuscany isn't something she can find much fault with. She loves it here. Loves the place, loves the company, loves who she's become. She's different and so is Lex. He seems older. Something happened to him too but he won't say what it was. She's managed to glean hints from him. Little clues that don't quite make a puzzle. All she knows is he's holding something back. It haunts him, even in sleep. He has nightmares. Wakes them both when he grabs for her as if he's afraid she'll be gone. She's not sure what he's dreaming but each and everytime, they fall back to sleep clutching each other tightly. He can rest then. When he's wrapped up in her, he can rest. Chloe thinks he's become more wrapped up in her than even he'd expected.
When she woke in Metropolis, he was at her side. He'd looked terrible and that's when she'd realized something had happened. She was, and is, sure her family wasn't the only one Lionel had destroyed. His own is in shambles now. Lionel has quite effectively obliterated it. Lex had drawn a line. His father had crossed it. Everything was different. Everything was new. Lex is the only thing of her old life that has remained. She hasn't even seen her father since she woke. Lex promised when she did that he's still alive, safe in a hospital overseas. He couldn't keep them in the same place. It's too dangerous for that. Lionel isn't sure they're dead and Lex isn't about to let him get a second shot. He'd promised to protect Chloe and he's damned well going to do it.
The fierce look in his eyes had been unexpected but not surprising. She'd always seen it, lurking beneath the surface. Lex Luthor is not someone to be trifled with. Not even Lionel and now that he has, she's waiting for it. The impending explosion. There's blood in the water and Lex has the scent. It's only a matter of time before Lionel pays and pays dearly. Soon she thinks, the blinders are going to come off and hell hath no fury like Lex Luthor unleashed. She can't wait to see it.
She thinks, maybe, he sees something similar in her. That there's a fire inside her just waiting to burst out and consume everything. She thinks he might be right.
But she doesn't mind.
There's a few things she'd like to watch burn.
Lex stirs beside her in bed but doesn't wake. He moves closer, his hand sliding across her bare belly to curve his arm around her waist while his face presses into the curve of her neck. She could get used to this. In truth, she already has. She can't sleep without the warmth of his presence beside her, she just hasn't told him that. They're beginning to depend on each other and neither one of them is complaining much. Perhaps they've begun to believe the staff's whispered theories. Maybe what's been simmering between them since they came here is the cause of those theories. Maybe they're both delusional and whatever this is will only blow up in their faces.
Whatever. Chloe's used to her world blowing apart. It happens with what should be frightening regularity. Lex is used to it too and for the same reason. It's probably why what's between them is growing so fast. For all their differences, their lives really aren't that different. They've learned many of the same lessons. Their battles with Lionel have left them both scarred and those scars will not fade easily but the funny thing is Chloe doesn't mind. Something was forged between them in the midst of their battles with Lionel. Even now it is still new and still fragile but deepening and growing steadily, nurtured by their isolation and the Tuscan sun.
The time is coming, as inevitable as the changing of seasons, and Chloe knows that soon they will return to the States, to Smallville. There's still Lionel to be dealt with. Lex is preparing daily for that. He receives regular reports on his father's activities in prison even as he works on securing the company. LuthorCorp is supposedly his to command but he doesn't trust it. His father's life is based upon contingency upon contingency and Lex knows full well that the company is a minefield of his father's booby-traps. One false move and it will all blow up in his face. Lex is as accustomed to that as she is. They've both learned to walk their fair share of minefields and this one's no different.
Except it is. They're walking it together now. They move in sync. Their bodies fit together as naturally and as seamlessly as though they were made to be so. Lex for Chloe and Chloe for Lex. She likes that idea. Even if it is romantic and full of fancy. She's never had much cause for fancy but she thinks she could use a little now. Flights of fancy can replace the harshness that has become her life any day. There won't be much fancy in her life for long.
Going back will mean things will change. She doesn't know what will happen exactly.
But she does know one thing.
Nothing is going to be the same. She is never going to be the same.
And she likes that.
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