Author: mythirdeye PM
Chloe and Lex. All fluff. PG-13 for swearing. All usual disclaimers apply. Reviews would be good too.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Humor - Chapters: 4 - Words: 12,374 - Reviews: 37 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 07-11-03 - Published: 06-24-03 - id: 1396769
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
It's 4:30 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon, and it's freezing.
But that's hardly the highlight of my afternoon. Or maybe it is the highlight of my afternoon, because of the absence of other highlights in my afternoon. Smallville has never ever experienced such a month-long draught, a veritable season of dullness. Which is all good and well if it means that no one's about to get injured through some freak of meteorite-affected nature, but when your life centers around the credibility and well-being of The Torch, no news means bad news.
I could hardly write about the freezing weather. There's no conspiracy around Mother Nature.
And anyway, I already wrote about the weather in last week's edition. That's right, I, Chloe Sullivan, dreamer of meteorite theories, has already scraped the bottom of the controversial barrel. Which just hardens my resolve to not make this edition as pathetic as the last.
Seems weird for a normal sixteen year old girl like myself to worry about the credibility of the Torch, which is a) free and b) with a principal on my case all the time about meteorite theories, already on its way to lost credibility. Yes, my life does center around this newspaper, very sadly so. It's like a man with a handicap – the loss of one sense heightens the sense of another. In my case, forcing myself to concentrate wholly on the paper makes me ignore those splinters I find gathering at the pit of my stomach that I call my Shattered Ego. All of which can be thanked to a very tall, unfortunately good-looking and unfortunately too great a person to hate for too long a time without any worthwhile reason, farm boy by the name of Clark Kent.
Which explains the reason why I'm so hung up on this paper and not worrying about normal sixteen-year old girl things. I managed to get myself sucked into the trivial matters of teenhood once, and it was a lousy vacation. Allow me to be a weird single nutcase again, thanks very much.
So when my usually dependable town has nothing growing in its swamps for the past month and I've been combing the edges of my mind trying to find a worthwhile topic, I find myself getting all despairing again over that Spring Formal That Never Was.
I have to find something to write about!
Lana has not been helping at all. I'm pretty sure that she guesses that I'm depressed about something, but her flying over to the table every five minutes with a beatific grin on her face and a thermos of coffee in one hand, asking breathily, "More coffee, Chloe?" has been killing me, to say the least. Don't get me wrong, I love the girl, honestly I do, but there's a very thin line between 'Caring' and 'Annoying' and Lana doesn't know how to spot that line yet.
I already had a saucer gripped in my hand to throw at Lana after she asked if I wanted more coffee for the hundredth time when Lex Luthor and another man walked in. I figure that remaining a patron at the Talon seems more worthwhile than getting into a saucer throwing fight with the assistant manager in front of the owner and hence getting banned from the place altogether (although I'll have to think really hard about that one).
Nevertheless, at the hundred and first time: "More coffee, Chloe?"
"NO!" I all but screamed.
Affronted, but still breathy, Lana says, "Oh. How about cake?"
"Lana, I don't need cake! I don't need coffee! Okay, maybe I do in about fifteen minutes, but I don't right now. You know what I need, Lana? A story! Give me a story!"
"Chloe, if you're looking for a story, I doubt that barricading yourself into a corner of the Talon is going to help you find it," Lana suggests.
I narrow my eyes at her. "Well, I've got to start somewhere."
And Lana, pretty or no pretty is still a nice little town girl right down to her pretty bones, says brightly, "You can start with cake. Or a muffin."
Hmmm. And that's when I realize that boredom really has struck, when I've started contemplating the selection of cakes at the counter, hence contemplating suicide through poisoned pastries.
"My treat," Lana adds, tantalizingly.
It really is about time that Lana learns that that tone of voice is not going to work on anybody of the same sex as hers, but she has treaded on one of my principles, being: Never turn down free food.
"Oh, alright," I say grudgingly, and follow her to the counter to make my choice.
Lana speaks to me over her shoulder during the short journey, saying coffee shop things like: "Not a lot of customers today" and "Business has been slow going to be honest" and "The muffins were baked just last night" i.e. things that I'm not wholly interested in.
However, as we pass Lex Luthor's table on our journey to Muffin Land, I hear him saying something that I am absolutely interested in. His head bent low with the other man, I hear him say, unmistakably: "….. it's all through meteorite-induced theories, although I must say odd things do pop up in this town…"
"Who's that guy?" I ask Lana, nodding my head in the direction of the man sitting with Lex Luthor.
Lana glances at them. "I have no idea, I haven't seen him here before. Business partner, maybe. Blueberry or chocolate chip?"
I take another discreet glance over my shoulder at the man sitting with him. He looks remarkably young to be a business partner. But then again, Lex Luthor is hardly hitting forty himself, although you can't help but assume that he's much older than everyone if only because of the many selections of Armani he usually has on. Plus that whole bald thing he's got going isn't something you find amongst normal twenty-something men.
But young or no young, you couldn't exactly look at a man sitting with Lex Luthor, in jeans and a black sweater and sneakers, and assume that that's a business partner. But then again, aside from Clark, it's not like the man has any friends. That I know of anyway. Not that I know much. Not that anyone knows much about the elusive Lex Luthor, actually.
I was just thinking about one other very interesting attribute about the man in question when Lana voices it out for me, mid-muffin selection: "He's pretty cute."
Of course Lana would think he was cute, we have the same tastes after all, and it's no wonder that we would find a long-legged man with black wavy hair undeniably attractive. Look at the only other common denominator in our lives.
With that in mind, and the all too clear reminder that there's no way for any warm-blooded female to get any cute guy in this town when there's a force like Lana Lang behind the counter, I have dismissed the idea of him before I even started.
"What's the selection of freebie cakes today?" I ask instead.
After my selection of muffin, and another cup of coffee (Lana insists, she seems to believe that the way to cheer me up is through free caffeine; to her credit that assumption isn't too far from the truth), I make my way back to my table (where blank papers awaited me with impatience). I'm suffering a sort of bleariness that could only be a result from having no inspiration of any sort (I guess I could write about that Car Wash for Charity the cheerleaders are scheming up, but why deny Pete of the pleasure?).
Life, I realize with a sigh, could not get any worse. Free coffee, sure, but Lana made coffee is not something you'd pay for in the first place.
Then of course, because Life is so nice to Chloe Sullivan, Life figured that just because she can't come up with any interesting story for The Torch doesn't mean we can't kick her while she's down! Hence, there the puddle of coffee came from nowhere, and there came my foot into it, and there came my face falling downwards towards what looked like a very uncomfortable floor, and there Lex and Cute Guy sat, with front row seats, just two feet away from this whole debacle.
After an ominous silence that probably lasted about two seconds after I fell but feels more like two eternities, Lex says, "Huh."
Figures. Bald bastard.
But his company proves to be more enterprising. I look up and find him kneeling over me, a concerned look on his face, with his hand stretched out. He asks if I'm okay, I think, because suddenly my head is fuzzy. Could it be the nearness of him? I grope blindly and find his hand, and feel two hands gripping my arms and helping me up, of whom I can only assume is Lana. I think she asks if I'm okay too, but I'm feeling even more light-headed than ever. I stand up and he's a lot taller than me, and he's looking even better close up. But he's not looking at me. He's looking somewhere else.
At this point in time, I'm feeling weak in the knees. Literally. I almost fall down again but he grabs me.
Somewhere in the back of my mind I smell nice aftershave cologne.
Somewhere to my left Lana gasps.
Somewhere in front of me Lex has grabbed hold of my hand and is saying, "Chloe! Chloe, are you okay?"
Funny how warm Lex's hand feels in mine. I don't know why, but I always assumed that he'd be cold. Okay maybe I do know why. When he puts an arm around my waist, I feel even warmer than ever, but I'm also wondering why they're making such a big deal out of the whole thing. I mean, God, I only fell down! Spare me some embarrassment and focus away from me please.
There's something else about Lex's hand. It's very…. gooey.
Then I look down.
And I realize I wasn't the only one that fell. My muffin did too, and the plate, because I see murderous looking shards of white porcelain all over the place, and some dust of that on my jeans.
And my hand is bleeding… a lot. Kind of getting now why I'm feeling a bit fuzzy.
A more sane part of my mind is saying, "Oh look! Finally a story."
Then I faint.
Everyone seems to be running around in it. There's something about chaos; no matter how much people seem to run away from it, they seem to love it too. Maybe it's the dramatic side of us. Or maybe it's just a matter of geography – you have to get hyped up over anything in Smallville if you're ever going to be sane. Even if it only comes from the cut hand of a reporter.
Luckily, I'm an old hand at chaos. You would have to be, when you're just a bald outsider who is forced to come to grips with the chaos running around you in a plant, where everyone is at least ten years older than you and they know it, you sort of learn how to cope.
Mike's another species of man altogether. My roommate for a majority of the torturous years spent in University, he doesn't like to deal with chaos. He likes to be in the center of it. And if it's the cause of a damsel in distress?
I remember all too clearly his famous pick-up line: "Hi, I'm Mike."
Flirty teenaged girl who can't chew and walk at the same time: "Mike what?"
"Mike nothing. Just Mike." And then that slow upturn of a smile, that straightening of the Versace leather jacket, and before you knew it, Just Mike justified himself with a girl who's just an idiot.
Mke isn't my favorite person, but at the same time, he's a rare friend. And believe me, there's not a lot of that going around in the life of Lex Luthor (that is, with the exception of Clark). Mike and I take each other in short bursts, because as much as he annoys me, I know that I annoy him just as much. This is mostly due to the fact that we know each other well enough, (which is too well) and being annoyed with him is just a matter of me accepting his faults and not bothering to deal with it.
There's a solid basis of friendship, if ever I heard one. Except that we can only take each other in small doses.
And so Mike came knocking on my door yesterday and announced his plan to stay a week. Doubtlessly hotel accommodation in Smallville is not up to par with Mike's normal Business Suite standards and he decides, without conferring to me, that he will stay at the Luthor Residence until his week is up. Two steps in the front door and already he has managed to vex me.
So, I'm guessing that the reason why Mike has taken up criminal law is because it's a decent job that would allow him to go into as much dramatics as he possibly can. Which is why, after he completes his Bar exam, I would never hire him to be my lawyer. Being a lawyer is bad enough, without being a lawyer who revels in your despair.
Digressing from the original topic, as for the damsel in distress, irony would have it that we were talking of her two seconds before she fell unceremoniously on her face. You might also find it ironic that she would be the cause of the chaos when she's usually the one trying to sneak her way into the center of it.
Mike was asking me what form of entertainment is available at Smallville. I told him, besides the once a month freak shows, very sadly there is no other form of entertainment to be seen at Smallville, and if having fun was on his agenda, then it was best that he traipse along back to Metropolis. Which would be to his benefit, and to mine, because I hate unplanned visits. Look at how I deal with my father.
However, I was willing to point out a variety of freaks who would be more than willing to find someone to kill/mate/eat, which would surely provide him with some form of entertainment.
Mike, in all his usual drama, was a bit subdued at the news. Actually, he's been a bit subdued since he arrived yesterday. It could be the weather. Hell, it could be Smallville. You just have to sit within the town limits for a minute before you find yourself sinking into a depression. A town slump depression. Yet Smallville can be pretty eventful, but the past month, with the rain, the whole town has gone depressed. Even the mutated freaks can't get worked up.
I thought he wasn't paying attention to me, watching the retreating backs of Lana and Chloe as they passed our table, a thoughtful expression on his face.
But he shrugged and said, "Just as well. I feel like some peace and quiet."
I had to pause when he said that. That didn't sound like Mike at all.
"Peace and quiet?" I echoed, disbelievingly.
He nodded. "Things are kind of shitty at home. Would feel better to just stay away from the general Metropolis area. Take a break. Hey, I deserve it. I've been studying my ass off." He looked away from me, and I had to wonder if it wasn't Mike here that had turned into a freak show. Weirder things have happened in Smallville.
A moment later, I realized the source of his thoughtfulness, when I looked at the objects of his gaze: Lana and Chloe picking muffins at the counter.
"Who's she?" he asked.
"She's a sixteen year old girl," I replied.
He grinned. "Sixteen? Jeez, they get younger and younger. Or is it that we're getting older?"
"Your brain hasn't. It doesn't matter, anyway, not with that girl. Get in line, Mike."
That drew his attention away. "What? Don't tell me the great Lex Luthor is actually waiting in line with some common folk of Smallville for a piece of ass? Surely you jest."
I smirked. "She's a little too sixteen for me," I told him. And pointed out another obvious fact: "And I wasn't talking about me. My good friend Clark Kent has had his eye on her for years."
"Because some guy is too dumb to make a move already? Think not. That doesn't make her his property."
"She is in my book," I said shortly.
He glanced at me, then shrugged again. That tone of voice never worked on Mike for too long. You would have to have a longer attention span and more imagination to give that tone of voice more respect. "Okay, at least tell me her name."
I weighed the odds and found them in my favor. Even if Mike dared act up on it, I could just kill him. "Lana Lang. The blonde's Chloe Sullivan."
Mike stared at me like my head was suddenly sprouting hair. "I was talking about the blonde."
I stared back at him.
"Oh," I said, realization dawning. "You were talking about Chloe? The blonde?"
"Huh," I said, thrown back despite myself. I don't even know why I assumed that it was Lana he was talking about, he could have just as well have been talking about Chloe. I mean, Chloe's pretty too. Not as obviously so as Lana, but the idea is there. After all the months of Clark's fixation on Lana, I've started to think that everyone else would feel the same way about her. Like she's the epitome of all men's fantasies.
It's not that I don't find Chloe attractive, it's just… an assumption. A standard, stupid male assumption. Thank God Chloe won't know about this. She'd have a complex for years, and Clark would be blaming me for it.
And another thing, why was I reacting so strangely to the fact that it was Chloe? A number of possibilities immediately arose in my head, quick justification to a question I couldn't quite answer (it's guilt, let's face it – I feel guilty of the fact that I naturally assumed it was Lana. It would mean that I was in the same category with Clark in terms of blindness). Perhaps it was because I liked her father. Perhaps I just didn't want to see Chloe's youth trampled on. Anyway, it hardly makes a difference. I stared at him, found myself staring at him, stopped myself from staring at him and threw a coat of nonchalance over it.
"Well, she's private property too," I said.
"What, are all the girls private property? Or is she the property of that ignorant friend of yours too?
Funny, I always did wonder about that. That ignorant friend of mine should make his mind up. "No, but…"
"Well there you go."
Having used up the Clark excuse already, I decided to point out the top most obvious reason why he shouldn't be going after her. "She's only sixteen."
"Old enough to drive, old enough to make her own choice."
"And she wouldn't give you the time of day."
I know that I have successfully drawn his attention from Chloe by trampling on his ego, you could tell by how defensive he gets. "What makes you so sure?" he demanded.
I shrugged. "Because I know Chloe. She's too smart, too sharp, too incapable of bullshit."
"What is she, plastic?"
"Maybe she's too woman for you," I said, hoping that would finish it, before Chloe fell on her face that second to disprove that theory.
Back to the present. Chaos. Chaos usually comes hand in hand with blood, which is everywhere. Lana's screaming for towels. Mike's got Chloe's hand in a viselike grip to stop the bleeding and yelling at everyone to shut up. I've got Chloe's head on my knee, trying to figure out a way to wake her up, and assessing the cut.
Blood drips on my suit. My new suit.
Which is just fucking great. This girl has me defending her and protecting her virtue, and now she's costing me too.
I slap her gently (ish) across the face.
Chloe comes to, unlike any person I've ever seen before. There's an immediate reaction. All engines on, all four cylinders turning, her eyes fly open wide, showing a startling blueness, and she looks down at her hand.
"Oh for God's sake!" she says angrily and glared at her hand as if it was a separate being that dared bleed on her.
I'm only too obliged to add a little rain on her parade. "Chloe, you need stitches. We have to take you to a hospital."
She looks up, only just registering me, and she stares in a disoriented gaze, as if trying to ascertain who it is that's speaking to her. As if there were millions of bald men in her life.
Somewhere above me, Lana says, "Lex, can you possibly allow me to take her? Her car's parked just around the corner…"
I seriously consider it. It would leave my afternoon free, after all. But then, in all the drama of the situation, I forget who it is that is in my company, and who would certainly love the idea of whisking a girl off to a hospital.
"Don't worry, we'll take her," Just Mike says and grins at me.
Chloe passes out again.