Hands on her shoulders, Lex guided Chloe into his study.
"Lex, stop steering me like one of your sports cars," the young woman in question snapped, each word slurring just a little as it came out of her mouth. "I can make it on my own steam, you know."
Lex cast a doubtful glance towards the back of her blond head. "Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure. What a stupid question!" Clearly peeved, Chloe shrugged off his hands, took one angry step forward...and promptly started to fall on her face.
"Okay!" Lex said, grabbing her arms to hold her upright. "I think I'll steer for the time being."
"Whatever," Chloe said with a huffy sigh, as if he hadn't just saved her from a grievous injury.
Lex lead her to a chair. Shrugging his hands off again, Chloe turned to face him, then all but dropped into the seat. "See?" she said with a triumphant smile.
Lex's brow crinkled with confusion, because he wasn't sure exactly what he was supposed to be seeing.
"It's hot in here!" Chloe suddenly slurred, reaching up to tug on the collar of her sweater. She gave Lex an entreating glance. "Don't you think it's hot in here?"
Lex glanced around the room. "No. Actually, it's very comfortable."
"Okay, if you say so," she shrugged, still tugging at her collar. "But it's hot in here!"
Shaking his head, Lex tried to suppress a grin. Chloe probably wouldn't like being told she was an amusing drunk, but the facts were the facts. Still, the one time he'd dared laugh out loud, she'd given him such a fierce scowl, he hadn't dared do it again.
"Let me call for some coffee," Lex said, pushing his hands into his pockets. "Then you can tell me how you ended up in this condition. Not to mention parked at the side of a deserted road."
"Huh?" mumbled Chloe, who was staring at his knee in apparent fascination. Finally, she lifted her head--with some effort--to look up at his face. "Oh, okay." And she gave him the dismissive wave that usually took members of royalty years to perfect.
Lex started to chuckle, but quickly turned it into a polite cough. Walking to his desk, he picked up the phone. As he placed the call to the kitchen, he watched Chloe. Elbow on the arm of the chair, she'd rested her head against her hand. As her eyelids drooped, a tired, pitiful sigh issued from her lips.
Lex told the cook to make plenty of coffee. Hot, strong, and with enough caffeine to keep an elephant awake for the next week and a half. Then, hanging up, he returned to his guest.
"I'm up!" she exclaimed, quickly straightening in her seat. "I'm...Lex?" She squinted up at him. "Don't scare me like that!"
"Sorry," he said, not sounding sorry at all. "But you were going to tell me what you were doing driving around drunk at 10 o'clock at night."
"Hey! I'm not drunk!" An outraged Chloe jumped out of her seat, and immediately started to tilt to the left. Lex casually reached out to steady her.
"You're not drunk?" he drawled.
"Well, I am. But not really. When you say it like that, it in-flies that I went out and got liquored up on purpose."
"Implies," Lex absently corrected.
"You meant `implies'."
"Oh." Chloe nodded. Then, after a pause, she shook her head in confusion. "Huh?"
"Never mind. It's not important. You were saying..."
But she didn't continue right away. She stared at some point over his shoulder, a frown of concentration on her face. Lex could almost see the smoke coming out of her ears as her brain, sluggish with booze, tried to work at its normal speed. And, as her mind worked, her body swayed, her feet instinctively making minute shifts to maintain her balance. She swayed from side to side, around and back, to the left, and around again. It was kind of hypnotic, actually. After a few seconds, Lex found his head moving to follow the motion. Side to side, forward then back, and around...
Giving his head a quick shake, Lex smiled ruefully. "Chloe, it's okay. Just tell me what happened."
"Oh, right. Right. So, I was at Michelle Masons party. And there was this punch. And it just looked gross!" She shivered in revulsion. "I mean, it was bright pink. Like neon, Lex. And it was filled with...fruit!" She said it like fruit was the most disgusting thing ever to exist on the planet. "But I was thirsty, and I didn't want a soda. I don't know why!" She threw up her hands in defeat and, of course, started to tilt back. Lex, who was ready for something like that to happen, grabbed her arms, pulling her upright again. "And it was so good," she continued, as if unaware he'd just saved her from a fall. She stared at her host with earnest eyes. "I mean, it was really good, Lex. You would've liked it."
"I'm sure," Lex murmured, skeptical about how good a fruit punch thrown together for a high school party could've been.
"Anyway, I was finishing my fourth cup when Michelle finally thought to tell me the punch had been spiked. She's such an airhead!" Chloe scowled threateningly at nothing in particular. "But I felt fine. Really!" She gestured wildly and Lex jerked back, just managing to catch her hand before it smacked him in the face. "And, since I hadn't even tasted the alcohol in the punch, I figured it must not have been very strong. And I decided to leave, because it was a boring party anyway. Then, when I was driving home, it hit me. WHAP!" She slapped her hands together in a sloppy clap. The sound echoed through the room. "Like that!"
When it seemed she wasn't going to continue, Lex gave her a little prompting. "And you were pulled over onto the side of the road because..."
Huffily, voice filled with righteous indignation, she planted her hands on her hips. "Well, I couldn't drive drunk, could I?" she asked, just before her body was shaken by a hiccup.
"No, I suppose not," Lex answered, struggling to sound solemn...and keep a straight face. He'd seen plenty of people under the influence in his time. But never had it been this entertaining. Maybe it was because she was trying so hard not to seem drunk...and failing miserably. "So, were you going to call your father to come get you?"
She looked at him like he was insane. "Are you insane? My dad would kill me if he saw me like this. And he wouldn't believe it happened by accident, either. I thought about calling Pete or Clark. But Pete's out of town visiting his aunt or something. And Clark would lecture me about how irresponsible it was to let myself end up this way. And you know what?" She quirked her finger, urging him closer.
Unsure what she was up to, Lex took a step forward, and bent down a bit. "Hmmm?" he inquired.
Moving close to his ear, Chloe lowered her voice to a whisper, as if about to impart some secret. "I really don't like Clark lectures. They're almost as bad as my dad's."
"Hmmmm," Lex sort of agreed.
Suddenly, she staggered away from him, lurching across the room. Lex followed, arms held out just in case she started to fall again. But, although it took some time, she made it to his desk without incident. Using her hands for leverage, she somehow managed to pull herself up to sit on the edge. There wasn't a lot of grace in the action, but she did it.
"So," she began again...then paused to let out a huge, jaw-cracking yawn, one hand covering her mouth. "So, I decided to sleep in my car for the night."
Lex frowned. "That doesn't sound like a good, or safe, idea."
"But I had it all figured out," Chloe argued. "My dad's used to me staying out all night to chase a story so, if he thought that's what happened, I'd probably only get grounded for a couple of days. But he isn't used to seeing me drunk, so he'd probably over-react and ground me for a week. Two weeks." Nodding at her own logic, she swung her legs back and forth. "See?"
Lex considered pointing out that her father's reaction wasn't what he was worried about. It was the thought of a young woman, all alone, sleeping in a car on a deserted road overnight. But he figured she was in no condition for that bit of advice to really sink in just now.
"I hate those kinds of parties," Chloe said, reclaiming Lex's attention. "Since there are no parents around, it's really just an excuse for everyone to make out. Everywhere you look, people are kissing, and pawing each other. And, when you don't have a date, it just sucks!"
Lex, aware of how people who'd been drinking could hop aimlessly from one subject to another, simply folded his arms and waited for the coffee to arrive. Idly, he wondered how Chloe would've reacted to some of the parties he'd been to when he was her age.
"I bet you're a pretty good kisser, huh?"
Lex, whose attention had started to wander, snapped back to attention to find Chloe staring at him speculatively. "I beg your pardon."
"I've thought about it a few times," Chloe continued in all seriousness. "And I pretty much decided you must be a great kisser. I mean, it seems like you've had plenty of experience."
At a loss, all Lex could say was, "I wouldn't know. I suppose you'd have to ask someone I'd kissed."
"Oh, are you kidding!" she exclaimed, waving her arm so vigorously, she almost toppled off the desk before catching herself. "I'd kill to interview one of your paramours for the Torch. But I know plenty of girls who just want to know to know, you know?"
"I mean, you wouldn't believe how many groups of girls I've come across who are talking about what it must be like to kiss you. And can you blame them? You're rich. Handsome. You're on every `most eligible bachelor' list. And, I mean, look at your lips!"
Instinctively, Lex put his hand up to his lips. He'd assumed most of the citizens of Smallville talked about him, and most of what they had to say wasn't flattering. But he'd never really considered...
Ducking her head, Chloe started to snicker.
"What?" Lex demanded, feeling oddly self-conscious.
"Kissing you isn't all they think about," she said, snickering some more. "They also think about...Well, let's just say that if you ever decided to pose for a magazine in the...You know." And she wagged her eyebrows up and down, and wiggled her fingers in a vaguely disturbing gesture. "I bet every issue between here and Metropolis would be sold like that." She tried to snap her fingers but met with little success. After a few more attempts, she shrugged and gave up. "And, okay, I admit I've thought about it, too. Really, who hasn't? And, I mean, it's not like a person can help wondering just how big your..."
"Chloe!" Lex exclaimed, cutting her off.
The young woman jumped, startled. "What?" she asked, looking surprised. Then, she gave him a disapproving frown. "Why did you yell at me?"
Lex took a deep, calming breath. He had seen, and done, some things in his time. But never before had his face felt this hot, his ears burned this much.
"Why did you yell at me?" Chloe repeated, looking highly displeased.
"I'm sorry," Lex said. "It was nothing."
The young woman studied him for a long, quiet moment, as if trying to figure something out. The effort seemed so great, Lex actually saw her eyes cross for a moment. Then a bright, sunny smile spread across her lips.
"Hey, you're blushing!" For a moment, she seemed highly pleased by this revelation. Then, she frowned in confusion. "But why? I'd bet you don't have anything to be embarrassed about. I mean, I've never seen for myself, but I'm pretty sure you don't have a teensy, tiny, itty, bitty little..."
"Chloe!" Lex exclaimed again, impulsively reaching out to cover her mouth with his hand.
"Hey!" she exclaimed, smacking his hand away. "Whatcha do that for?"
Sighing, Lex lowered his hands. "We're going to try to sober you up a little. Then, I'm taking you home."
As if on cue, their was a knock on the door. As the butler came in with a coffee tray, Chloe tugged at her collar again. "Why is it so hot in here?"
When Chloe woke up the next morning, the sun was shining, the birds were singing...
It was torture!
Groaning, she pulled the pillow over her face. Her head was throbbing. Her stomach was lurching. Her eyes hurt. And her mouth tasted like a wet sock.
So, this was a hang-over, huh? Well, she wasn't loving it.
Eyes squeezed shut, she tried to recall what happened last night. She remembered the punch. She remembered deciding to sleep in her car, which--in the cold light of day--seemed like a really stupid idea. She remembered Lex pulling up in his Porsche, like a knight in shining armor. And she remembered...drinking cup after cup of coffee. And being just sober enough to get past her dad without him realizing the condition she was in.
Chloe frowned. There had to be something between the car and the coffee but, at the moment, she was drawing a blank.
"Oh, man," she muttered into the pillow, groaning again. "I hope I didn't do anything too embarrassing."
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