Had she changed on the outside, she wondered as she stared at herself in the mirror. She still looked like Lana Lang, but she didn't feel like Lana Lang. She didn't know how she'd gotten back here, in Gotham City. She didn't know what she was doing in this condo. She only knew where Lex was she belonged. Only he could take care of her.
She felt Lex's hands before she saw the reflection in the mirror. A jewel on a chain was laid around her neck, another of Lex's many gifts. There was a comfort in his touch, the familiar. It was the only thing she knew of her old self.
"Is this for a special occasion?" she asked.
"No, I don't need a special occasion to give you gifts" Lex said sliding his arms around her and giving her a soft kiss on her neck. "But?"
"But," he said going to the bar and pouring himself a drink. "There is a party tomorrow, some business man's something or another. I'll required a lovely lady on my arm. Can I count on you?"
"Of course," Lana replied getting a glass and having Lex fix her a drink to. "You don't seem to thrilled Lex."
"Wayne is going to be there. He isn't too pleased with me currently and he's refusing to sell me a piece of land I need. The guy doesn't know how to separate business and personal."
"So how personal would I have to get with this Wayne whatever to get you what you want?"
"First of all, Wayne is his last name, as in Bruce Wayne. Second, you'll refer to him as Mr. Wayne, at least until he allows you to call him Bruce."
Lana shrugged, the name meant nothing as most things did these days. "You still haven't answered my question. How personal do I have to get with Mr. Wayne?"
"I don't know. Wayne's not like most people. He's, I don't know, sort of like our old friend Clark."
Lana's eyes dropped when she heard her old friends name. What would Clark think of who she was today? Would he hate her or would he try to save her. It didn't matter, Lex was the only one who understood.
"Lana? Do you still love him. Clark?"
"Did I ever love him?" Lana asked Lex.
"You tell me."
Lana put down her drink and sat on Lex's lap. She gave him her lips which he met with a sweet kiss. There were no words for the way Lex kissed or the way his touch made her feel. Maybe intoxicating. When there lips parted she curled up beside him.
Ever since she was a teenager in Smallville she'd been attracted to Lex, but she couldn't say anything and she hardly acknowledged it herself until an accidental conversation with Chloe where both of them admitted an attraction to him. But it was a different girl who sat embarrassed with Chloe in the Smallville High school library. A lot of things were different back then, even at her worse she was an innocent small town girl. She wasn't close to that now.
She didn't know when she lost control of her life, maybe she'd never had control. And she was still being controlled, not by Lex. She choose to stay with Lex, she choose to help him, she choose to kiss him, but it was because he had saved her. If not for him, she'd still be turning tricks on some corner. That's what she was been doing the last time she was in Gotham and now she'd returned as the consort of respected business man Lex Luthor. Why had he taken her and all her problems into his life? Did he love her?
"I'm going to bed," Lex said finishing what was in his glass.
Lana turned and looked at her handbag.
Lex turned her face toward his. "Try to make it through the night without it."
"You know I can't," Lana told him looking away in shame.
"Lana," Lex said. "You have to stop," he pleaded. "Your going to destroy yourself."
"Don't wish it. Don't ever wish that."
"If you don't want it to happen, Why do you get for me?"
"Because I'm afraid of the alternative," Lex said.
He got up and headed to his room. Could she go the night without it? A few minutes past with her just staring at the bag. Then she grabbed it and went into the bathroom.
Chloe Sullivan changed the tape in her tape recorder as Selina Kyle hugged her daughter good-bye.
"I wish I could go with you," Helena said.
"It's not a party for little kids."
"I'm 12 years old, I'm not a little kid," Helena protested.
"Most of the people will be stuffy old rich men."
"Not all of them are old," Helena said with a naughty smile.
"I know about your little crush on Lex Luthor," her mother told her. "But this party isn't a place for you."
"I don't have a crush on Lex Luthor" Helena said unconvincingly.
"You're going to your friends house," Selina said. "Now go, Josie is waiting on you."
Helena sadly walked out the door and got in the car next to her friend.
Selina saw Chloe smiling to herself.
"What's so funny?"
"Lex Luthor," Chloe said with a smile.
"What? Do you have a crush on him too?"
"I can say I understand the appeal of a rich mysterious guy," Selina told her.
"Don't tell me you liked Lex," Chloe said.
"No, not Lex. Another rich mysterious guy."
"Helena's father?" Chloe questioned.
"That's none of your business. Not many people know I have a daughter, I like it that way. She's a part of my personal life, my personal life is no one's business. So no mention of her."
"I understand," Chloe replied.
"Have you ever met Lex Luthor?" Selina questioned.
"I actually kind of knew him."
"From Smallville," Chloe told her.
"Lex lived in a place called Smallville?" Selina replied shocked.
Chloe laughed. "Believe me, he wasn't on some farm bailing hay. He was still Lex. It was like he had his own little Luthorville inside of Smallville. Had his own castle shipped in and everything. He had these shinny cars that ripped through the streets. Believe me, everyone knew he was the crowned Prince of Luthorcorp. There was nobody like him in Smallville. I think it was hard not to be seduced by the idea of someone like him living in this small town."
"And you just ran into him one day."
"Well he was a friend of a friend and my dad was a lead man at his fertilizer plant in town, so we were bound to meet eventually."
Selina laughed. "So Lex Luthor was hanging out in a small town and cavorting with a bunch of high school kids? And he ran a crap factory?" Suddenly she realized she may have offended Chloe. "I'm sorry Chloe."
"It's okay. I mean, when you think about it that way. I guess it is kind of hard to believe." Chloe paused. "Thanks for the invite by the way."
"No problem. I know you hate working for that show, maybe this party will help you make some connections higher up the food chain."
Chloe smiled. She and Selina Kyle had met while Chloe was on the job. Last year a man had been caught genetically engineering extinct creatures, one surviving beast got lose. Despite causing a scare, it didn't actually kill anyone. It was caught quickly. It was the first episode on "You'll never believe it's true" that made it's way to the news. It was a complete fluke that she even ended up on the staff of the crappy TV show. She thought maybe she could turn the show around, but now she wanted more. This life she had now wasn't the one she had dreamed of since she was 12.
From the moment she met Selina Kyle, she wondered how she had ended up interviewing someone so elegant for the low-quality cable show. She usually ended up with some country hick or the town drunk. Selina had come to the animals defense and spoke out against his destruction. She wanted it clear that while the man responsible for his creation was wrong, he no more deserved to die than a lion or Gorilla that might have escaped from the Zoo. They decided to neuter the animal and let it live out it's life on a preserve. Even after the verdict came down on the animal, Selina and Chloe kept in touch.
"The car is here," Selina said.
They left the house together. Chloe liked the smooth glide to Selina's steps. She was completely female and had a very feline gracefulness. She was intelligent and not someone to be messed with. Everything about her commanded nothing but respect. It was the way she hoped people saw her, but she doubted it these days. She didn't even want to tell most people what show she worked on.
"I'm surprised you and Bruce Wayne aren't accompanying each other on this trip," Chloe said.
"Bruce and I haven't been close for awhile."
"Has he met Helena?"
"Helena's not his concern."
Chloe didn't push the issue as they climbed in the limo.
"Bruce and I have known each other for a long time," Selina said. "At times we have shared each others company, both in private and at public events. However people want to see that is up to them." Selina paused. "Bruce knows people at the Gotham Globe you know."
"And a few other papers."
"Thanks a lot Selina. You've been a good friend."
"You don't belong on that show," Selina said. "I knew that from the moment I met you. Gotham City is a good place for you. There are mysteries that lie in the shadows and perfectly respectable papers are looking for a story on them."
Chloe smiled to herself.
They arrived at the party some time later. It started out fine, mingling with guest Selina introduced her to. Then Selina spotted Bruce Wayne and told her to come over for an introduction. She was fine with this until she saw him ... saw them ... the last two people she ever wanted to see, talking to Bruce Wayne. She wondered what in the hell he was doing in Gotham City ... with her. Clark Kent and Lois Lane of the Daily Planet. She had resented the fixation Clark had with Lana Lang and in her worse moments wanted to hate Lana. But with Lois it had been different, she felt betrayed by Lois in ways she couldn't explain. Lois was family, she trusted her, but then...
"I don't think I can meet him right now," Chloe said to Selina halting there movement to the other side of the room.
"Those two, I know them or I knew them and I don't want to see them right now," Chloe said.
"Alright," Selina said shrugging. "I have to say hello, maybe I can wiggle him away from those two and meet up with you in a few minutes."
"That's okay with me," Chloe said.
They parted ways and the she got as far away from Lois and Clark as she could. She needed a drink after seeing them. She was surprised when she found herself catching another familiar face in the crowd, another person with dark hair and the initials "L.L." that was on Clark's "people I adore" list. Lana Lang was there and on the arm of none of other then another L.L. in Clark's life, Lex Luthor. Clark's entire L.L. gang was at this party. It was too much of a coincidence. She felt like any moment Pete and Whitney would appear in the crowd. Even though there was a time Lex Luthor was at the top of his list, she knew Clark and Lex had fallen off since. So she didn't think running into him would make Clark want to celebrate, neither would finding out Lana was currently dating him.
She thought about Lana, the "perfect" girl from Smallville at different points in her life. There had been times when they had almost been friends, but something always stood between them. At times it was Clark, but it wasn't always Clark. She hated it, but she resented Lana Lang. She sometimes imagined Lana fat on a farm somewhere with 20 kids and an ex-jock for a husband who worked some local low-paying job. She imagined showing up at there reunion, years from now with a successful marriage and children to brag about. And she knew it was an immature and petty fantasy. At any rate, Lana wasn't fat and she was as gorgeous as ever. She probably had never had a child. And she was on the arm of Prince Lex Luthor, or was it King Lex now. Lex was Luthorcorp after all, not just the son of the boss. He had probably bought Lana's dress from some exclusive designer, it fit her like a glove, flowing with her curves which called the attention of every man she went near and a few women. Still, she didn't have the sensation to run she had when she saw Clark. She just watched her for awhile. Then she broke away to find Selina. She found her talking to some man she was later told was named Keterly. When that conversation ended, Chloe asked about Bruce.
"He had some other people to talk to, but I told him about you," Selina said. "And he's big on being the hero, so he'd like to meet you and see what he can do."
"God, am I that hopeless? I've been reduced to a charity case."
"Hey, a lot of people have help on the way up Miss Sullivan. They only help you get the door open. It's up to you to keep yourself from getting kicked out." Selina paused. "Oh god," Selina said rolling her eyes. "That Lang woman is flirting with Bruce," she said pointing across the room.
"Lana?" Chloe said turning toward the direction Selina was looking in.
"You know her."
"Knew her in High School. I thought she was here with Lex."
"More like pimping herself for Lex," Selina said. "I've heard stories."
"Go save him from that woman, perfect chance to introduce yourself."
Selina went to mingle. Chloe headed toward Bruce Wayne, but suddenly found herself in no rush while trying to observe Lana in action. She certainly did seem to be flirting and Bruce seemed to be providing his best polite disinterest. Lex joined them, words seemed to be exchanged and the three headed into a nearby hallway and disappeared into a study. She surveyed the area and crept near the door, luckily it wasn't completely closed, she could see all three through a crack in the door.
"Luthor, don't send your whore after me again," Bruce said more sharply than Chloe guessed would have in polite company.
"She's not a whore," Lex pointed out. "She a friend and if she came on to you, it's not my doing."
It seemed odd to Chloe that they were talking about Lana like she wasn't in the room. And though she was present, looking in her eyes she didn't seem to be in her body. She had never seen eyes so empty. What was going on here?
"I know exactly what she is Lex, a bargaining tool. And I know exactly what you are."
"I'm no different from you Wayne," Lex said.
"We're worlds apart," Bruce told him and headed towards the door. Chloe slinked behind it as he left. He never saw her.
"I'm sorry Lex," she heard Lana say as she peaked back into the room.
"Don't be," Lex said kissing her forehead tenderly.
"I have to go the bathroom," Lana said turning away from him.
"Don't," Lex said sharply. "You said you'd try to make it through the evening without it."
"Well I can't Lex, I can't," Lana told him. "I need it."
Lex looked defeated, a look he rarely had. Then he left the room and Chloe ducked out of his way. She decided to slip back into the party before Lana left the room. She was only back in the room a few minutes when she ran back into him. Not Bruce Wayne, Lex Luthor. He was still enigmatic, some dark beautiful mystery that needed unraveling. Despite what she had heard and observed of him possibly pimping out Miss Lang for business deals, he was still Lex Luthor. The Prince of Luthorville. And there was still something in her that melted like a schoolgirl at the sight of him.
"Miss Chloe Sullivan? What are you doing at this affair?"
"I'm the guest of a friend. And you?"
"This is my world. One of those occasions that require my attendance."
"And how is the king of Luthor corp. these days."
He smiled at being called a king.
"He's lonely," Lex replied with real sadness laced in his reply.
"From what I saw, you have no reason to be alone."
"Chloe a man can be lonely even he isn't technically alone."
"That's true," Chloe said. "It's a feeling I know too well."
"Well isn't this a surprise?" a familiar voice said from behind Chloe. Chloe turned and met Lana Lang's eyes. "I didn't know you were here?"
Lana walked over to Lex and gave him a long kiss. Her eyes didn't seem as empty as they had been before. She seemed like someone had given her a shot of perkiness or something.
"So how long have you two been seeing each other?" Chloe questioned.
Lana and Lex laughed.
"That depends on what you mean by seeing each other," Lex said.
"We're not dating exactly," Lana said.
Chloe couldn't believe Lana had said that about a guy she had just deep throated.
"So what are you?"
"Friends," Lex said.
"Friends with benefits," Lana added and they both smiled.
"Whatever you say," Chloe replied casually. "You're both adults." But she was wondering where the good girl-next-door from Smallville had gone.
A man in a black jacket entered and whispered in Lex's ear. Lex nodded back at him.
"I have some business to take care of ladies. Please try and enjoy the party without me."
They watched Lex say good-bye to the host and make his exit and then they turned back to each other.
"So," Lana said. "What are you doing in Gotham City?"
"Following some story maybe."
"Close, that's all pretty much finished now," Chloe said. "And you?"
"Just following Lex, where he goes I go."
"That a pretty strong statement, even if you're friends with benefits. I mean what are you, one of his servants?"
"Maybe," Lana said with a bit of distance. "Maybe I like it that way."
"Okay Lana, something's not right. I mean you don't seem--."
"A lot of things aren't right," Lana told her "But Lex is right. At least for me right now. He understands me, he understands," Lana sighed. "He understands things you don't know about." Suddenly Lana caught sight of something across the room. "What's he doing here?"
Chloe caught sight of the same person Lana was referring too. Clark Kent was without his female counterpart this time, talking to Bruce Wayne again. "Clark Kent?"
"The one and only," Lana said turning away. "You two still keep in contact?"
"No, we aren't really that close anymore."
"You know, you grow up, move away, lose contact."
"I don't want Clark to see me like this," Lana said.
Chloe's mind said 'like what?'. After all Lana was as gorgeous as ever. What exactly didn't she want him to see? Was it something just beyond the surface, Lex's friend with benefits, maybe Lex's whore -- though it was hard to imagine. Still, Chloe's lips didn't ask any questions they instead said, "I don't want to see him either."
"You want to get out of here?" Lana asked.
"Yes," Chloe said. She wanted to talk to Bruce Wayne, but she was more concerned with avoiding Clark. And besides that, there was something going on with Lana, something begging her attention. She couldn't and wouldn't believe Lana Lang was being pimped out by Lex Luthor for business deals. It just wasn't the kind of thing Lana would do. And of all the things she believed Lex Luthor capable of, it wasn't that. She had to find the real story behind it all.
They arrived at Lex's Penthouse some 20 minutes later. Lex had given Lana her own personal driver.
"What's it like to live in Luthorville?" Chloe asked as she took in the surroundings.
"Oh, well it use to be great?"
"Use to be?"
"Now it's just life," Lana said. "It's my beautiful accident. What's it like Chloe? What's it like to grow up and become exactly what you wanted to be."
"I wouldn't know."
"So you're not a reporter."
"To say the very least, I'm not living out any childhood dream."
"You're close enough I bet. I mean who really is living a dream."
"Clark Kent, all those years we...and neither one of us got him." Lana sighed. "Can you unzip me?" Lana asked.
Chloe paused shocked she had heard those words. It was a simple request, no need to make it out to be anything else. She walked up to Lana and unzipped the dress' back zipper. There weren't any little fat hugging tricks under the dress. Still perfect...except there was a horrible bruise on her side.
"Who did this?" Chloe said touching it without thinking.
Lana jumped a little. "It doesn't hurt ... much ... at least not anymore."
"Me and this guy were playing and he forgot the safety word," Lana said. "Don't worry," Lana said moving away, shredding the second skin that was her dress. "Lex took care of it."
"So Lex didn't hit you?"
"You know better than that Chloe. Lex takes care of me, he would never hit me."
She laid down on the couch in the lace black underwear she had been wearing under her dress. Chloe tried not to look at Lana to much. It wasn't as if she had never seen Lana partially clad, they'd gone to High School together and shared gym classes and therefore had been in a locker room together. But this was different. It was just the two of them and Lana was laying on the couch making some seductive performance out of touching her bruise. It was the only imperfect mark Chloe could find on her body.
"Bruce thought Lex did it. He touched it by accident trying to push me away. And I jumped. He knew it was an injury." Lana looked at Chloe. "I've never been pushed away before. Bruce is a good guy, like Clark."
"I think another woman has his heart anyway, like Clark."
"Not that dreadful Kyle woman," Lana said swinging the conversation back to Bruce Wayne.
"I kind of like her," Chloe said. "In fact she's a friend."
"If you want it to stay that way, don't tell her I'm your friend."
"Don't ask," Lana replied.
"I hear it has something to do with Lex pimping you out for business deals."
Lana sat up and locked eyes with Chloe. "Lex wouldn't do that. I only do what I want, when I want. If what I do helps him it's just a coincidence."
"Who are you?" Chloe questioned.
"I don't want to be your next story Chloe," Lana said getting up and getting herself a drink.
"This isn't about--"
She paused as the door opened and someone came in. It was Lex. He entered the room and Lana met him with a kiss.
"How are you feeling?" Lex asked with affectionate touches.
"Tired," Lana replied. "Chloe's here."
"Really," Lex said turning toward Chloe. He sported a sexy grin. "So are you interviewing Miss Lang about my deep dark secrets?"
"Isn't it possible that I'm not here on a story hunt?"
"No," Lana and Lex said together.
"We're kidding," Lex said. "You know you're our favorite reporter. We love having you here."
Chloe noticed the way he said 'we'. They may have claimed to be just friends with benefits, but the use of the word made it seem like much more.
"I'll be right back," Lana said moving away from Lex.
"Lana ... don't," Lex said holding her arm.
"It's not that, I really need to you know, go," Lana told him. She went toward the bathroom.
Curious behavior Chloe thought. Lex watched her leave the room like she might not be coming back.
"Lex, is everything okay with Lana?" Chloe asked.
"There's no point in lying to you, she's not okay. If you must know, she's sick, I handle it."
"What? She's sick? Except for that bruise, she seems healthy."
"Sometimes people have a sickness that's beyond the surface."
"If that's the case, take her to a hospital."
"It won't do her any good."
"Is it terminal."
"I don't know."
"Then shouldn't you take her to a doctor?"
"She doesn't trust a doctor, she trust me," Lex said sharply. "Leave it alone Chloe." Lex turned away for a moment. Then he quickly switched gears. "Besides," he turning his seductive eyes on her as he took a seat on his couch, "I'd rather find out where life has lead you."
Lex patted the seat on the couch beside him and Chloe sat down.
"Nowhere special," Chloe replied.
"I don't believe that. Not the girl that ran a High School newspaper with professional quality. Not the girl that turned school projects into investigative reports. Is it even possible you decided not to be a professional journalist?"
"Lets just say I got really close to my dream job at the Daily Planet and it didn't work out."
"Clark works for the Daily Planet."
"Clark didn't work out either. Anyway, my job search lead me to a cable show, 'you'll never believe it's True', and now I seek out stories for them."
"I've seen it, but I've never seen you."
"You wouldn't have, I've never been seen on the show. I just do the investigating and some off-screen interviewing if necessary. I could have worked on the Ledger, but I didn't like the thought of going back to Smallville with my tail between my legs."
Lana entered the room and sat on Lex's lap. They shared another deep kiss and then she began kissing his neck and unbuttoning his shirt. Chloe sat there unsure of how to escape the situation without making it awkward.
"If you want to stay, I have an extra room," Lex said. "It's getting pretty late, I would hate to send you out into the Gotham streets alone."
"Thanks," Chloe said. "But I should really be--"
"It's okay," Lex said.
Chloe noticed Lana was moving even lower on Lex's chest. If she sat here long enough would Lana mount him right in front of her? It would be quick and easy to just take the room. But that would mean she was back there while they were out here--
"Thanks Lex," Chloe said getting up as quickly as possible and heading toward the guest room.
Chloe felt something warm in the middle of the night. Her eyes barely opened as she caught a dark haired girl crawling into the bed. The invader just climbed in, rolled over and proceeded to sleep.
"Lana, this isn't Lex's bed," Chloe said sleepily thinking Lana must have made a mistake.
"I know I can't sleep with--," Lana began, then paused. "I usually sleep in here. Am I wierding you out? I can go to the couch."
She didn't understand, but she figured establishing trust was important if she was going to find the truth.
"You don't have to," Chloe said trying to turn away and put some space between them in the bed -- as a courtesy.
"Thanks," Lana said curling up next to Chloe.
At first it was weird to feel this body beside her. But in her sleep Lana wasn't the woman with the questionable lifestyle, she was like a kid that was seeking a parents bed for protection and security. So she let it be and drifted off to sleep.
The warm body beside Chloe was gone by morning. She sat up in bed alone and looked for her phone. She called Selina, leaving a message on her machine saying she had stayed with friends. Just then Lana appeared in the door. She was still wearing nearly nothing.
"I guess you could call it that," Chloe said climbing out of bed. She had worn a nightgown she found in one of the dresser drawers. She assumed it belonged to Lana. Not that it seemed like Lana wore them. "Do you ever wear clothes?" Chloe asked.
"I am wearing clothes. When I'm alone I don't wear this much."
Chloe's look asked a question her mouth didn't.
"No, I'm not kidding," Lana replied. "Do you want breakfast?"
"Who's cooking, you, Lex, or will one of the servants be coming up?"
"Lex already had his breakfast," Lana said with a naughty smile that reminded Chloe of that day Lana turned bad girl. But then it disappeared. "Lex has things to do. At least I'm not alone this morning, you're here, even if it's only for the morning."
Had Lana changed so much? Or was she still Lana somewhere underneath this ... whoever this woman was? She suddenly was in no rush to leave.
"I could ... you know ... waste a day with you," Chloe said. "We could talk about old times."
Lana half smiled. "I'm making breakfast." Despite this, she seemed distant again. Her eyes were empty.
Chloe went in the bathroom after Lana left the room and freshened up.
Chloe didn't know what she expected, but Lana's idea of making breakfast turned out to be pouring cereal in a bowl and topping it off with milk. Still, she couldn't really say much considering her usually breakfast was a cup of coffee on the way out the door. On an exceptional morning she might factor in a bagel or a donut. This morning, there was no coffee in sight only a cup of juice.
"This is an interesting breakfast."
"Were you expecting something more?" Lana said sipping on her own cup of juice.
"No, I just haven't had a nearly normal breakfast since I was like 11. At about that age I mastered the fine art of grabbing something and running out the door. A year later mom let me have some coffee for a late night study session and then I needed a little bit of an upper the next morning. From that point on, I haven't been able to kick my coffee addiction."
Lana smiled. "Thanks for not getting all weird about me crawling into your bed."
"It's no big deal."
After breakfast, they both got dressed casually (jeans and t-shirts) and went out. Lana's eyes spent the day hidden behind a pair of designer sunglasses. Chloe had a feeling that it was an attempt to mask secrets. Mostly she window shopped and talked about old times. Serious questions were avoided. It was the quietest day Chloe had had in a long time, but she couldn't kick the need to know how Lana had gotten to this place in her life. She had every reason to be perfectly content, but she seemed depressed. Even Lex seemed worried about her depression, though he tried to hid it with that Lex charm of his. Was Lana truly seriously ill. When they sat down for lunch, Chloe decided it was time to approach these topics.
"Lana, if I ask you a question, will you give me an honest answer and not another word game."
"How did you end up with Lex Luthor?"
"Why? You jealous?" Lana said in a teasing way Chloe wasn't use to.
"Answering a question with a question is just a way to avoid the question."
"Are you looking for a story Chloe?" Lana asked. "I know how you feel about me, how you felt about me. You dealt with me, you never really liked me."
"That's not true," Chloe said.
"I could never win with you. I was just in your way."
"Lana I'm not going to pretend I never wanted to dislike you. The problem is I never did," Chloe sighed. "It wasn't about you. High School is a mess and you don't realize how trivial it all is until it's over. But when your in, you have to pick a place and distinguish yourself. Or you just end up like Tina and Greg and Eric and so many kids we knew back then. And in the beginning you were just a random pom-pom. One that my best friend happened to believe he was in love with, but then--"
"Then you became Lana. My friend, sort of. When you got hurt, I worried about you. When you called I didn't cringe, when you came by the Torch office and I was alone it didn't upset me."
"But we could never get rid of that sort of in our friendship."
"It was High School Lana. It's just the way things were." Chloe said. "Now that you've managed to grill me about our past, will you answer my question?"
"It doesn't matter, why I'm here, how I got here, why I stay. It just doesn't matter."
"Lex said you were sick," Chloe said.
"Maybe, but if I am, Lex is my cure. Sometimes the only time I feel alive is when I know he's there, when he's inside me. He knows every bad thing I've done and he still looks at me and touches me like he could love me."
"Does he? Love you I mean."
"Doesn't matter," Lana told her. "I've stopped being able to love."
"I don't believe you," Chloe said.
"Chloe," a voice called from behind Chloe.
"Excuse me," Lana said as Chloe turned to see who had called her name.
"Selina," Chloe said shocked. "And Helena, How are you?"
Lana had made her exit so quickly that Chloe had Clark flashbacks.
"Fine," Helena said.
"Go get me a paper," Selina said handing her daughter some money.
"Okay," Helena said running to a nearby magazine stand.
"What are you doing?" Selina asked.
"I think something's wrong with her," Chloe said. "The Lana Lang I knew didn't sleep around for the sensation of it. I wasn't her biggest fan growing up, but I know this isn't her."
"What are you saying?"
"I don't know. Trying to get a straight answer from her or Lex is worse than pulling teeth. I have to see this through."
"Well I was going to call you to give you this, but..." Selina reached in her bad and handed her a piece of paper. "Call this guy say you're Chloe Sullivan, Bruce told me he told him about you. You might just get yourself and interview. Oh, and I hope you're right about that woman."
Helena came back over and handed her mom a paper.
"Thanks, Lets get go buy your uniforms."
"Okay, bye Miss Chloe," Helena said.
"Bye," Chloe said as mother and daughter left.
About 30 minutes later Lana came back. The sunglasses were off and there was a returned life to her eyes.
"So, she hand you a list of my sins?" Lana asked.
"No," Chloe replied. "And she's still my friend, despite my knowing you."
Lana shrugged. "You want to go catch a movie or something?"
"Actually I'd like go make a call."
"Alright, let's go back to Lex's."
Chloe and Lana went back to the penthouse. Chloe made her phone call and secured herself an interview for two days later. Lana sat watching evening cartoons and laughing like a little kid. It was odd how she switched gears, one moment a seductress, the next second a child, and the next moment someone who was lost somewhere inside her own head. Chloe asked Lana if she could use Lex's computer to check her e-mail and she said 'sure'. So Chloe checked her e-mail and was surprised to find one from Bruce Wayne. He wanted to meet. He said he had heard nice things about her from Selina. He offered a time to meet the next day and she agreed. When she went back to the guestroom she found Lana laying on the bed looking at a book.
"Am I still her?" Lana asked.
Chloe came closer and saw she was looking at a yearbook from Smallville High.
"I don't know, are you still her?"
Lana didn't answer.
"Lana, I ask again. Why are you with Lex? Why are you here if it doesn't make you happy?"
"He does make me happy," Lana said."He's the only thing that makes me happy."
"You're not acting like it. I mean this is one glamour filled life you got here. Lex is a handsome, rich guy. He wants you here, he likes taking care of you. He--"
"He's afraid for me."
"Why? Do you really have some terminal disease? What is it?"
"Myself. I'm my own terminal disease Chloe. Lex is just letting me go in peace. And until then, if Lex needs a pretty girl, I'm his pretty girl. I don't know if there's much more in me anyway. And if I need a fuck, he fucks me. It's the only feeling I understand anymore. After all, that's what guys think when they see me, she's a good fuck. They don't care what books I've read in my lifetime, they don't care who I am, I'm just a good fuck. Do you remember when I left College to be with Ryan? The guy I thought I loved."
"Kind of," Chloe replied.
"I thought he loved me. He could just get so jealous, but I just thought it was because he loved me so much. I thought if I moved with him here so he could go to medical school, he'd know I loved him. I got a job to help support us, but I had this boss who thought I would be a good fuck. And it didn't matter that I didn't think the same about him, Ryan swore we had something going on. So, I decided to quit to prove my love for him. But my boss wasn't letting me go without that good fuck he wanted, without that good fuck Ryan imagined I was giving him anyway. I don't remember much, ripped clothes, repugnant cologne, him saying I wanted it and calling me a bitch, a tease. And Ryan telling me he couldn't look at me afterward. Ryan didn't believe me, he believed him. Of course he did, they both wanted the same thing, a good fuck. He threw my stuff out in the street. I lost my job, my self respect, I lost myself. And then Lex found me and he tried to fix me, but he found out that he couldn't, so he's letting me go in peace."
Lana was crying by the end of her story and Chloe suddenly realized she was crying too. She didn't know what to say or do.
"Lex doesn't know anything but how he found me. I don't...I don't talk about it."
"Why did you tell me?"
"I don't know, maybe for the same reason that I could sleep beside you and I can't with Lex. He's tried to hold me after and I can't. I can do ... but I can't."
"Lana," Chloe said sitting beside her and taking her in her arms. "It's okay. You need to talk to someone though. Someone who can help you."
"I can't," Lana said. "Would you just keep holding me please? I need...I don't know what I need, but..."
"Okay," Chloe said stretching out on the bed laying beside Lana. "It's okay."
"Thank you Chloe."
She didn't know when she fell asleep, but much later she awoke alone in bed. She heard someone moving around and assumed it was Lex. She didn't know how to feel or what to do. How long had this rape been eating away at Lana, destroying her? She walked into the bathroom and found Lana sitting lifeless on top of a closed toilet. She froze for a moment, unable to think. Then shook away the shock and began looking for a clue as to what happened. She checked Lana's head for injuries, maybe she had fallen. Nothing. She checked the floor for pills. It was possible she had attempted suicide. Finally she opened Lana's hand and found a small cylindrical object with a pin sticking out one end and a button on the other end.
"What the hell?" Chloe said.
"It's called Shock," Lex said coming into the bathroom. "It's a street drug. She's an addict."
"I've heard of it. It's a pretty deadly drug. How long have you known about this?"
"Since I found her. I can't make her stop."
"This is the reason she does those things for you?."
"What are you talking about?"
"Bruce Wayne and God knows how many others. She's so strung out trying to get rid of the pain, she doesn't know what she's doing or why she's doing it. And you're allowing it, you're letting her kill herself so she can be your whore."
"I'm not his whore," a horse voice said as Lana seemed to return from the dead.
Lex helped her up and into the bedroom. He laid her down and covered her up. Then he led Chloe into the kitchen.
"I didn't start her on the stuff," Lex told Chloe. "I tried to stop her. You were half right, there was a time she was someone's whore, but I wasn't the one. I bought Lana Lang from her pimp."
The words didn't sound real. "So she belongs to you?"
"No. I've never bought a woman in my life, but it was the only way to get her away clean. She didn't have anywhere to go and she didn't want to tell me how she had ended up on the streets of Gotham City, so I let her stay with me. I tried to get her to call her aunt, but she was too ashamed. I didn't know about her being addicted to Shock at first, but I quickly discovered that Lana Lang had become little more than a shadow of her former self."
"You should have taken her to a hospital Lex."
"Don't you think I tried that!!!" Lex yelled. "The first night I found her, just like you did. I panicked. I took her to a hospital. She ran away, I found her on the street. She didn't want to stop. She just wanted to die. I took her home again, she tried to make love to me. 'Tell me you want me and you can have me' she said. I told her she didn't have to pay me back. But she kept on and she said she needed it, that it wasn't for me, it was for her. And that's how it began. But afterward..." Lex stopped. "She won't talk about it."
Of all the futures she had imagined for Lana Lang, she had never wished this kind of self destruction on her. All she wanted right now was to go back to her. But she didn't know what she would say that would make Lana want to change. She knew Lex was part right, she couldn't save an addict that didn't want to be saved, but she couldn't just sit back and let this continue.
"I can't let this go on."
"Do you love her?"
"I saw you, laying together. I can't get her to let me do that."
"Of course I love her, she's my friend." She knew what Lex was probably asking, but she decided it was the best way to answer the question.
Chloe went back in her room and found Lana sitting up on her bed.
"Do you hate me now that Lex has told you how he found me?"
"No, I don't hate you," Chloe said.
"But I was a whore, I'm still a whore."
"I thought you said you weren't Lex's whore."
"Not in the way you ... I'm not Lex's whore. Maybe I always was a whore," Lana said. "I mean I was never stupid, I know just how much my looks won people over during the course of my life. That's all anyone ever cared about. "
"You know what Lana, stop. It doesn't matter what other people see when they look at you. It matters what you see," Chloe said sitting on the bed. "Besides, not everyone is like that. I want to help you."
"You can't help me."
"You're going to kill yourself."
"Haven't you been listening? I know that."
"You don't want to die."
"Why wouldn't I? I can't look anyone I ever love in the face again? I can't let them see this person."
"Then get rid of her."
Lana looked at her, her eyes no longer empty or showing some false joy, there was so much pain in them. Suddenly she leaned towards Chloe. Before the other woman knew what was happening, there lips had touched and they were sharing a long tender kiss. It was sweet and careful. Lana's lips were unbelievably soft beneath her own. Her touch was gentle and ... Lana's hand was going up her shirt! Chloe suddenly pushed her away.
"What are you doing?"
"I want to make love to you," Lana said softly.
"You want to --"
Chloe never finished. She didn't know if it was the "shock" or not controlling Lana's actions, but she found herself thrown back on the bed trapped beneath Lana. Her lips attacked by Lana's. By the time they were released she was running on a state of blood rushed confusion.
"Tell me you want me and you can have me," Lana said.
Who was this girl? Chloe wondered.
"Are you scared?" Lana asked. "Have you ever been with a girl? I've always wondered..."
"I won't do this," Chloe said pushing Lana off of her. She got off the bed. She knew exactly what Lana was doing, using her body to manipulate the situation. The same way she had with Lex.
"I'm sorry, I read the signals wrong," Lana said. "I thought maybe--"
"It's not that. I mean if ... that doesn't even matter Lana. I care about you and I won't do what those guys did to you. You're sick Lana, you need help."
"Lex tried to help and it didn't work."
"No, Lex gave up on you!!" Chloe came back over to the bed and took Lana's hand and put it to her chest. "You feel that. It's your heart Lana, it's still beating. And as long as it's there we have a chance to save you. You can give up, but you don't have to give up."
Chloe backed away. "I'm leaving," Chloe said. "You can leave with me or you can stay with Lex and keep playing with his mind and destroying yourself."
"I can't leave Lex, he saved me."
"You stay with Lex because he makes it easy. He didn't save you," Chloe said. "You're not happy Lana and you can be. Maybe with Lex, maybe not, but you can't keep doing this. You've numbed yourself and you've found ways to feel pleasure for a moment, but you're not happy."
"I'm afraid Chloe."
"Good, that means you know it's not going to be easy. Accept that you're afraid and walk away. I can only help you if you want to be helped."
Chloe turned and walked out the room, forcing herself not to look back. She couldn't drag Lana kicking and screaming into treatment and she wouldn't try. Once outside, she waited a few seconds hoping to hear something. Then she flagged down a cab and climbed in.
"Wait," she suddenly heard and turned to see Lana running toward her. She stopped in front of her. Chloe couldn't help but smile as they crawled into the cab together.
Chloe tripped as she ran into the restaurant where she was suppose to meet Bruce Wayne. Her hair was unkempt from having slept in a hospital waiting room. And her clothes were a mess. Still Bruce smiled at her and offered her a seat.
"I'm sorry I'm late, I didn't want to stand you up. My friend, she's in the hospital..."
"How did you know?"
"I guessed Lana might be on Shock a long time ago. All the victims have this look in their eyes. This was suppose to be a casual meeting, but knowing what happened to your friend I think this information is all the more important."
Bruce Wayne handed her a large manila envelope.
"It might help your friend and if this Gotham Globe job works out you might have the first part of your first story. Take care of your friend Miss Sullivan."
Bruce excused himself and Chloe sat down, ordered a cup of coffee, and began to read.
Hours later she was banging on Luthor's door. He opened the door, shocked to see her.
"You're back?" he asked. "Where's Lana?"
"In the hospital where she belongs."
"Can she have visitors?"
"I know what you did Lex," she said throwing some papers at him. "You bought a lab 3 years ago. That lab has been linked to the drug Shock."
"No one's proven--"
"Don't play that game with me Lex. Not only did you know exactly where the drug came from, you've been buying it for her."
"I didn't know what else to do. She's a junkie Chloe. She would have been one with or without help."
"Lex for a minute, I thought maybe beneath the surface, you actually cared about her."
"I did, as much as I capable of caring about someone. And I would rather have given the drug to her than have her out there in some ally trying to earn enough money for another hit."
"Do you take any responsibility for this?" Chloe yelled. "She was raped Lex. It tore her up inside, that's why she can't sleep in the same bed with you." For a minute it seemed like this hit a cord.
"It didn't stop you."
"We didn't do anything."
"Good-bye Chloe. If you come by here again, I won't be here. And I suggest you don't publish anything you can't prove."
Lex closed the door on Chloe that day and it was the end of all she thought she knew about him.
The interview worked out, the Gotham Globe liked Chloe. The story didn't, Lex had made sure there was no way to connect him to the street marketing of Shock. Chloe stuck close to Lana during her recovery. She needed a lot of counseling and she almost relapsed more than once. When she was ready to face the world again, Chloe brought her to the little apartment she had acquired as her local residence. The morning after, Lana was gone, out of the apartment, out of her life, like some phantom that wasn't really there.
Some time later, Chloe's father told her casually about Lana's marriage to Pete Ross. She couldn't believe it until she saw the pictures. They hadn't even invited her.
Lana's son was asleep in her arms as she sat in the back of the car. She was still amazed to look at him, her perfect little man. She felt like there were so many things she had never understood about love until she'd held Clark for the first time. She was already late for her dinner date with Pete. As she came through the door she was shocked to see he wasn't alone. Some woman who's face she couldn't see was sitting with him. When she got close enough to look at her, her heart dropped in her throat.
"Lana, look who's in town," her husband said.
"Chloe," she said pretending at pleasant surprise. She had hoped she would never have to face Chloe again. She wouldn't understand why she had left.
"This your little boy?"
"Yes, this is Clark. You want to hold him."
"Sure," Chloe said standing up.
Lana slipped the baby into the other woman's arms.
"He's beautiful," Chloe said. "Who knew you and Pete would make such a beautiful kid?"
"Why don't I let you two get reacquainted," Pete said getting up. He gave a his wife a kiss on the cheek before walking away.
Lana could read through the look on Chloe's face. The questions would burst from her the second Pete was gone.
"So, what happened?"
"What do you mean?" Lana said taking the baby and sitting down.
"I wasn't even invited to your wedding."
"I was confused enough, I couldn't look at you. I hear you and Clark made up."
"Yeah, Clark and I made up, Lois and I made up. I still don't understand why you cut me out of your life. If you didn't want...I would have understood, but you just left."
"I couldn't fail in front of you. So I left and I said, if I'm clean a year, I'll call, but I was still afraid. So I made it two years, then three. Time kept passing, things happened with Pete, with Clark, with Lois, with a lot of people. I began to live again, to have relationships with people I thought I'd lost. I even faced Lex again. But after so much time had passed, I didn't know how to face you. I started to write letters and e-mails but I never finished them. I was wrong okay, I was selfish," Lana said. "Can you forgive me?"
"I guess I have too." Chloe looked back at the baby. "I guess things are the way they should be. I told you there was a reason to live."
"And here he is," Lana said looking at her son
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