Whitney watched his best friend saunter towards them at lunch the next day. Chloe wore a self-satisfied grin on her face. How dare she look so smug? Gabe Sullivan railed at him for most of the night for not delivering Chloe early enough. They had an understanding that they would go to Lionel Luthor's together, and she escaped.
When Chloe plopped down on the bench beside Pete, she greeted, "Hello all!"
She turned to Whitney with a smile. She didn't even pretend to be ashamed of what she did. Whitney shook his head. Just as he was to give her a piece of his mind, Whitney saw the youngest Luthor walking towards them. He noted with disbelief that Lucas was carrying a notebook. Whitney could bet there was nothing in that notebook.
Chloe turned around and saw Lucas heading her way. Her eyebrow arched. "What do you want?"
Whitney glanced at Chloe in surprise. This was not the Chloe heart Lucas or Lex he knew. Why was she not gushing over the prospect of Lucas getting closer to her?
"Wanted to see if you'd meet with me for the project. It's twenty percent of the grade, after all." Pete scoffed aloud. Lucas glared at him. It was the only way to get closer to Chloe. How would he know her other interests?
"May I sit with you?"
Clark shrugged. "It would be weird since we're all eating and you're not."
Lucas drew a wrapped burger from his pocket. Lana winced at how flat it looked. It was better to focus on other things, not in the way Clark seemed to be repeatedly and accidentally brushing his hand against Chloe's.
Lucas studied the crowd Chloe Sullivan hung out with. Not everyone looked like losers. Still, she could do better. Like the cheerleaders. Or the drama club.
He noticed the gooey eyes flannel-boy was throwing at Chloe. Pete had a casual arm around Chloe's shoulder. The blonde quarterback took her hand, which made Lucas stiffen, and asked her what movie she wanted for tonight's movie night.
When Chloe said she would let Whitney choose, Lucas shook his had. All eyes turned to him.
"Chloe Sullivan and I need to work on our project."
Chloe agreed, but Lana burst out laughing. "Chloe Sullivan and Lucas Luthor need to work on a project," she mimicked. "You can call her Chloe, you know!"
Glaring at Lana to remain quiet, Chloe turned to find Lucas, amazingly enough, not pissed off. In fact, he was nodding along as if appreciating the humor.
"So can we work on the project over at your place?" he suggested. The farther away from Lex, the better.
"Let me check with my dad." Chloe's heart was skipping now. She had been prepared to be irritated by Lucas. Now completely unbidden, the yummy A-hole was becoming more attractive to her again.
'Do not expect anything,' she cautioned herself. 'Prepare for the change.' Sooner or later the charming guy would slide back into being the repulsive cum attractive person he truly was.
She dialled her father's number and frowned at the reception. "Dad?!" she said in a raised voice. "I can't hear you well. Where are you?"
Chloe stood and walked, trying to see if she could get a better signal. As she slipped farther from the group, the entire posse turned to Lucas, studying him. Lucas paid them no mind and concentrated on his burger.
He looked up only when Chloe came back. "So you ready?" he asked.
"Sure." Chloe reached to pick up her books. Her eyebrows rose when Lucas waved her away and took the books himself.
They approached the manor and Chloe remembered just how much she had always wanted for this to happen. In her dreams Lucas would drive her to his house and sweep her into his arms, then introduce her to his father. That would have been possible still if this guy was not a Luthor. Then again she might not even dream about Lucas. As Pete had said, the crush came from her fascination with the Luthors. She didn't know if that was insulting or not. From the way he said it, it definitely was no compliment.
"So," Lucas began when he ushered her in, "you'll be waiting in the salon while I get the supplies.''
"No problem." Chloe sat on the couch and looked at her surroundings. Finally, she grinned and turned, hoping to catch Lucas still at the door. "Hey."
"This is a living room!"
Then there was that smirk that she first saw and admired in Lex Luthor. Lucas replied with, "Never when my father is in the premises. Call it salon. It takes him back to his roots."
Chloe shook her head, chuckling. When Lucas had left, Chloe stood up and walked around the room. Even in that most public of their rooms, Lionel had displayed what appeared to be priceless artifacts. She wondered if the Luthors would really miss one of those items if she slipped them in her bag.
"You enjoy archaeology, Ms Sullivan?"
Chloe turned and saw Lex Luthor stepping into the 'salon.' "Hard to tell," she responded, "since I've never unburied any secret treasure or joined an excavation."
"You think you'd want to?"
"Discover ancient secrets and all that? Hell yeah!"
Lex's eyebrow arched. Chloe's belly fluttered. She was over her Lex crush right? She sighed. Was a Lex crush ever truly over? "When I finance one of these things, I'll be sure to ask your father to let you go. Right now, I do have an invitation for you." Chloe waited. She did wonder idly why Lex appeared to have sought her out. Then again, she was told never to look a gift horse in the mouth. Looking at Lex's mouth was still captivating though. "A cup of coffee."
"Not as exciting as archaeology, but good enough. Unfortunately, I have a project to work on with your brother. Can't leave."
Lex nodded and to Chloe's surprise, instead of walking away, he walked closer to her. He extended his hand. "We're just going to the kitchen. I have wonderful beans imported from about six countries. I'll let you pick your poison."
Her mouth watered at the thought. Lex Luthor's beans had to be delicious! She flushed at the implication of those words. She gazed at him for a long moment, then put her hand in his. "I'd love to try some."
He led her to the kitchen, where miraculously, the maid had a cup of coffee prepared for Chloe. She glanced at Lex askance, and he grinned. "I took the liberty of having them prepare a cup of each. Try this first."
Chloe accepted the cup gratefully and inhaled the wonderful aroma. Her eyes closed. She reverently tipped the cup to her mouth and moaned as the hot liquid slipped down her throat. Her eyes fluttered open to see Lex looking at her intently, his face close to hers. "Do you want to try another one?"
"I'll die if I do," she breathed.
The loud and rude clearing of a throat made Lex straighten. Chloe jumped in surprise. Lucas waited at the door with his arms folded in front of him.
"Your partner is here," Lex said unnecessarily. "I was going to invite you to my library. I have some new curiosities I'm sure you'd be interested in."
Chloe brightened. "You'll let me feature them in the Torch?"
"Of course. Anyway, feel free to drop by and inspect them anytime."
Lucas strode in and stopped beside Chloe. "Shouldn't you be off polishing dad's shoes, Lex?"
Chloe's head whipped towards Lucas. "Lucas, that was ru—"
"I have a paying job," Lex parried. "I do recall that you're still only a mouth to feed so maybe that's a good start for you."
Damn. 'Luthor men can act like bitches!' she thought.
"I'll think about it, Lex," Lucas returned. He turned to Chloe and said, "Would you mind stepping outside for a bit? I have something to tell my brother."
Chloe shrugged and did as she was asked. She really had no wish to caught between two stubborn Luthors. The thought sent a thrill up her spine. Why did everything Luthor remind her of roses and silk and handcuffs? She stayed just outside the door, trying to catch bits and pieces of the brothers' confrontation.
"Don't use the girl," she heard Lucas say.
"Don't call me on something you're doing yourself," Lex answered coldly.
"What do I care about the plant when I'm leaving this wretched town no matter what your father does?" Lucas demanded. "You're the golden boy, Lex, not me."
There was silence for a long moment. Chloe realized why the conversation stopped. She quickly jumped away from the door in time to see Lucas storm out with his leather jacket swung over his arm. He shrugged it on and glared at her.
Chloe's eyes widened. She nodded, following after him and hopping behind him on the motorcycle. She clutched him as he sped away from the town and drove through the fields. She didn't know Lucas even knew the dirt road that passed through the fields. He didn't speak. It would have been useless anyway. They would not hear each other above the whip of the wind.
Finally, about ten minutes later, they stopped on a clearing. He got off the bike and sat on the ground. Chloe gingerly walked over to him and plopped down beside him. The girls at school would freak out if they found out she was caught in this drop-dead romantic situation with Lucas Luthor.
"You know anyone who says that home is out there?" Chloe did, but she didn't say anything. "I don't believe in that."
Now she could speak and still allow him to share his thoughts. "You don't?"
Now he looked like a little boy. Gone was the rebellion and disgust that usually graced his face in school and even in his own home. "I don't have a home anywhere."
"That's not true."
"What do you know?"
"There's always a home, Lucas," she reasoned. "No one can keep you from creating it."
"That's easy for you to say. Smallville is your home."
He could not be more wrong there. "No. Right now, my dad is my home. We can go anywhere and I'd be home because I choose my home to be with someone I love."
"See?" he replied. His eyes were stark, sad and angry at the same time. "I don't have a home."
Chloe grabs her bag and gets a sketch pad. "Show me home, Lucas."
They stared at the blank page for a long time. He grabbed it and poised the pencil high over the paper. Then Lucas gave up and stood. He helped her up. "I want a cheesecake."
Chloe took the materials and placed them back in her bag. "The Talon has some."
He shook his head. "I know the best place to get cheesecake." Chloe stared at him. "Are you coming?"
"Do you want me to?"
He shrugged, showing her he didn't care one way or the other. "It's up to you." Chloe's eyebrow arched. Lucas sighed, showing his disgust. "I'd like the company," he allowed reluctantly.