Title: Mistakes
Author: Minnie-May
Distribution: Archive permission granted to: On Your Word all others please ask
Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters. Obviously. Although I wouldn't mind owning Lex ^_~
Summary: Chloe's first mistake was taking the offer...her second was trusting him. Post Exodus.
Rating: PG-13
Feedback: is my life! Please send! Send to: sweet_senshi@hotmail.com
Dedication: To Carm....who guilted me into writing this because she's obsessed with Chlionel.

Mistakes

She supposed her first mistake was taking the offer.

Funny, now that everything was all said and done, how she could see every step where she had faltered. Every tiny mistake that had lead to this point was blown up and magnified times one hundred. Chloe understood clearly now where she had gone wrong, where the plan had failed. Little comfort that that was.

Sitting in that office after her fight with Clark, staring across the small table at Lionel Luthor's knowing smile and accepting his offer. That had been the first mistake. The second was thinking that she could somehow control the situation. With the blood red light pouring in from the stained glass windows painting her in crimson she knew exactly what she was doing. Thinking back on it now she still can't remember if the plan had came before or after the decision to work with the elder Luthor. She knew her intentions weren't entirely noble when she had shook hands with Lionel that day. When he had patted her on the back like a particularly favorite pet and shepherded her out of the office.

Had it been about protecting Clark then? Probably not. It had been about revenge.

Chloe Sullivan had always been an emotional person. She was always the one that cried at the end of Old Yeller, even though she knew that the dog was going to die. Her emotions always seemed to work against her and after several days in seething rage over everything that happened she realized with a sinking feeling that she couldn't go through with it. She couldn't betray Clark. And that was when the plan came about.

If it wasn't Chloe digging up the secrets of Clark's past then it would be someone else. Someone who hadn't given Clark his first kiss or taught him what a by line was. With the paperwork trail that Clark left it would only be a matter of time before that someone found out who Clark really was. Chloe couldn't have that. So she thought up a plan, one she thought was fool proof.

Pete had been enraged when he heard that she had gotten a part time job with LuthorCorp. He hadn't know what she was really doing, of course. Staring down the dark alleyway with the rain dripping off her blonde hair, Chloe was glad that Pete had never found out. She didn't want to be remembered that way. She didn't want to remember either.

"You can't trust a Luthor Chloe, they're all bad news!" Pete had said, still staring at her slack jawed. Chloe had smiled reassuringly and took a sip of her coffee, acting nonchalant when her stomach was doing acrobatic flips.

"It's just a summer job Pete," she had told him, rolling her eyes. "Don't worry," she'd added when she saw that he was very much not comforted. "I don't trust Lionel Luthor."

But she did. Not at first of course, she wasn't that stupid. At first she had looked for the hidden motive in every little word, every tiny gesture. When he had sent her jewelry for her good work on getting leads into Clark's origins she had rolled her eyes and shook her head. All her information, although false, was very convincing and she soon became one of Lionel's favorites.

After awhile it was harder to trace his motives. He began to be genuinely nice to her for no apparent reason. Sometimes he would stop by her small office and lean casually against the door frame. The computer screen would be full of information, not just about Clark now but about business competitors and rivals. Chloe would swivel around in her chair, hair a mess from worried fingers raking through it and fingers covered in ink from a pen that had burst and would be surprised to find that Lionel had brought her lunch.

He would pull up a chair in her cramped little space and spread out the food. At first Chloe merely stared at him in wonder, or cracked a joke about moving on down. But after some time lunch in Chloe's office began to become something of a tradition. Chloe didn't feel the same strange discomforting chill when she was in Lionel Luthor's presence. In fact, being around Lionel had become more and more comfortable. Their conversation was jaunty and thought provoking and a friendship of sorts sprung up between them.

No, not a friendship. It was never a friendship.

One day Lionel suggested that they move to the more luxurious comforts of his office for lunch and Chloe had complied. She could see now, with the rain splattering in her eyes and the dark brick of the alleyway glimmering in the half light, that this was just a move to control her. At the time she had not thought twice about the change in locations; Lionel was right, her office was just too small.

Just as with lunch, her work was also branching out. This too, Lionel had manipulated subtly, as he did everything. Her talents were being wasted on merely researching Clark, he had told her affectionately when he first asked her to investigate a business partner. She had told him that dealing in dirty business wasn't what she had signed up for. As long as she was doing this research about Clark, throwing Lionel off his trail, she could justify everything to herself. She refused to be another of Lionel's puppets. But Lionel Luthor knew how to make you do things that you never set out to do, and two weeks later she had helped him get a two million contract by bribery.

He took her out to dinner and told her to order anything off the menu she wanted. All through dinner he had complimented her until she almost believed that she had done a good thing. As she changed for bed that night she caught a glimpse of herself in her bedroom mirror, still in her fancy clothes from dinner. There was something about the way her elegant black dress looked, or perhaps it was her carefully styled hair, that made her realize she didn't even recognize herself anymore. She had cried herself to sleep that night, hopping to muffle her large hiccuping sobs under the covers so that Lana wouldn't hear. The last thing she had needed was pity from someone who could not understand.

Lex found out eventually as Chloe realized he would. He strode into her cluttered little office purposefully, not caring that he knocked over books and papers as he went.

"You have no idea what you've gotten yourself into," Lex had said, trying to speak calmly when it was clear he just wanted to take her by the shoulders and throttle her. Chloe couldn't help but be a little amused by this outburst and had leaned back in her chair, giving Lex an appraising look.

"Hey Lex" she had said casually, as if he hadn't said a word. "Long time, no life or death situations. How have you been?" Lex had fumed then and let go of the little control that he had left.

"I don't know why you're working for my father, I don't know what he's told you but I can promise you that everything he's said are lies," Lex told her, putting a hand down heavily on her desk.

"Really? Even the stuff about the stock market? `Cuse that seemed pretty factual," Chloe tried not to let her anxiety over the conversation show. She wondered how much Lex knew about what she was doing for his father. She wondered if he thought she had betrayed Clark. `Probably not,' she had pointed out to herself reasonably, `or he wouldn't be here.'

"You might think that he cares about you but you're wrong, my father doesn't care about anyone" Lex had said, angry now. Chloe could feel the color flush to her cheeks as she realized what Lex was implying.

"I don't care who your father cares about to be quite honest," Chloe said angrily, staring at Lex. "And I can take care of myself just fine. You have NO idea what I'm capable of," she said menacingly.

Lex shook his head and stared at her sadly.

"I think I do know what you're capable of Chloe. It's my father's capabilities that are the problem."

Not listening to Lex; suppose that was mistake number three.

The rain continued to pound the streets all around her and soak into her skin. She felt something hard dig into her back and bit back tears. She wasn't ready.

She hadn't been ready for what happened next either. Clark had messed up big this time, threw a truck about 40 feet through the air as she watched in horror...and Lionel watched in interest. There was no way to cover up what he had seen; to repair the damage that had been done. Lionel spoke on for days about how amazing it was, the untapped potential of Clark Kent. He wanted to open him up, see what made him tick and then make a whole army of super beings to be at his disposal. Chloe smiled as he talked to her about his plans while all the time wondering how she would get Clark out of this one. Stupid, brave Clark just had to save that couple even though it risked exposure. The worst part was that Clark didn't even know he had been exposed; he had no idea that anyone had seen him.

Chloe was still trying to work out another plan when she overheard a conversation Lionel was having with someone in his office.

"The boy's amazing...some experiments will need to be done to see what makes him so strong. See if there's any way to replicate his powers, maybe even see if he can do anything else beside lift trucks. It should be very interesting research, but of course I doubt what happens to the boy interests you," Lionel's voice leaked through the door to his office. Chloe cracked the door open just a bit more so that she could see that a rugged looking man stood in front of the desk Lionel was sitting at.

"Not much, no. I care about the money and that's about all," the man replied, crossing his arms so that Chloe could see he was carrying a gun. She thought she might be sick, her stomach was doing flip flops and her heart was trying to break through her rib cage.

"Fair enough. Well then here are your orders. I want you to capture Clark Kent; unhurt and alive. I have a substance that will help you very much towards this end," Lionel produced a green sliver of meteor rock from his desk draw and pushed it over to the mercenary.

"What about this kid's parents? What if they try to stop me?" he asked, pocketing the rock.

"Well then..." Lionel trailed off. "Sacrifices are necessary, make it look like an accident."

Chloe could feel her breath catch in her lungs and felt her eyes burn with unshed tears. She was in over her head now and she knew it, but she had no idea what to do. She couldn't let him take Clark, she couldn't let anything bad happen to the Kents, who were like a second family to her.

Chloe backed away from the door quickly, still too much in shock to process everything that was happening. She had to stop this, she had to make things right. Chloe ran from the LuthorCorp building as fast as she could. She scratched the side of her door with her car keys in her mad rush to get to safety. The car peeled out of the lot at nearly 80 miles an hour and she didn't stop driving until nearly an hour later. Then she had pulled out her new cell phone, a ridiculously overpriced model that had been a gift from Lionel, and called up the Kents to tell them everything.

If she could do one thing over again...but there were a lot of things she wanted to do over.

The phone was bugged and hours later here she was; held at gun point in some rundown alley in the pouring rain. Her only comfort was that the Kents were safe and that Lex would see to it that no harm came to them. It was too late for her though.

Lionel Luthor leaned back against his limo, clutching a wide black umbrella in one hand and shaking his head at her sadly. He looked sorely disappointed and Chloe felt sick knowing that his would be the last face she saw, the last person she talked to. She didn't even feel the rain anymore or the way the wet material clung to her body. None of it mattered, not anymore.

"You're a liability you see," Lionel said suddenly, breaking the silence. He walked up to Chloe and traced an affectionate finger down her cheek. She recoiled from his touch and felt the gun dig more painfully into her back.

"Chloe, Chloe, Chloe...such promise. It's a shame really that you can't be trusted."

Chloe considered begging with him, pleading, telling him he could trust her. That she would do anything. It was obviously what he was waiting for, he was giving her an out. But she couldn't say any of those things because they weren't true. She wouldn't give in to him anymore, she wouldn't play his games. Lionel let out a long sigh and stared at her sadly, then backed away towards his limo.

"I'm sorry about this Ms. Sullivan," Lionel said, getting into his limo and folding up his umbrella. "Nothing personal."

The limo drove away slowly and the only sounds left in the alley were the splattering of rain and the breath of those that would kill her.

She had made a lot of mistakes to get her to this point. She looked at them all spiraling away from her and then put them into a box in her mind. Instead she thought of happy things, better days. Spending time with her friend at the Talon. One of Clark's bad excuses about why he was late. Going to the carnival with her father when she was seven. She heard a click behind her that had to be the gun.

Chloe closed her eyes and began to count to ten. It was a trick her mother had taught her when she was a little girl. Count to ten and by then all your troubles will go away.

Chloe only got to five.

END