Author's Note: This is my first Smallville fanfic, though I've been reading them for a while. I'm a huge Chlex shipper and a burgeoning Lex/Lana fan, and I think both would be incredibly fun to write. This fic is completely inspired by tonight's season finale and may or may not be continued.
For a time, Chloe Sullivan was aware of simply existing.
Trapped in limbo, knowing with whatever part of her mind still capable of rational thought that she was in very real danger, she could only remain as she was – ethereal and unattached to anything resembling solidity. I'm not dead, she knew instinctively, struggling to fight her way past the layers of haze, past the vague oblivion that was threatening to pull her down, down, until she was lost from herself and everything else.
I'm not dead.
Clinging to that vital shred of knowledge, she concentrated on becoming as she was meant to be – something breathing, something moving. And finally, almost unexpectedly, awareness returned to her in a violent rush. Lungs struggled to breathe past a constricting weight; blood pumped furiously, thunderously, through her veins. She drew a sharp breath as her eyes snapped open, and all that had happened came back to her in a screaming, unavoidable recollection.
Lex, pushing her roughly, yelling at her, pulling her with him into the depths of caverns –
A light so radiant it seared her eyes, but what was that within the glare? A person -?
Coughing spasmodically, Chloe curled in on herself as her body fought for air. She couldn't see anything; brilliant spots of white danced across her darkened vision from the aftermath of the … explosion? Gasping, she willed her body to relax, to ignore the many jabbing pains and aches that were beginning to make themselves known at random throughout her being. She felt as though she'd fallen from a thirtieth floor window to hit the unforgiving concrete beneath; it wasn't, she knew with an almost hysterical irony, a completely unbiased comparison. The last thing she remembered was an eruption of light and sound –and Clark's frantic voice- before the world had dissolved around her.
She lay still for long moments, attempting to orient herself, to try and calm her nerves, which were growing increasingly rampant and panicked. Worst case scenario was that she was trapped down here, beneath thousands of tons of subterranean rock –
A small sob escaped her then. What if she was trapped? What if she was buried alive? If Clark was still here … he could get them out …
"C-Clark?" She tried to call, only to erupt into more coughing as her voice cracked. The spots were slowly fading from her vision; she rolled slowly and painfully onto all fours and called out hesitantly again, "Clark?"
Her voice fell flat on the oppressive stillness that seemed to encompass her, thus confirming her dreaded suspicions. She knew from experience that voices carried in the caves, creating a myriad of vaguely haunting echoes …
"Oh, God, no." She breathed. She moved forwards on her hands and knees, feeling tentatively at the ground around her, wincing as a sharp pebble sliced into her naked palm. She kept going, squinting to try and bring the darkened surroundings into clearer focus, when abruptly her hands met something solid, something slightly vertical. Knowing what it was, but needing to validate her fear anyways, she felt blindly upwards; nothing but rock here, but maybe if she went in the other direction … she carefully reversed her direction and made her way painstakingly across the rocky floor; minutes later her querying fingers met the same obstruction as they had before. A low keening wail escaped her then as she was forced to realize the severity of her situation.
She was walled in.
Whatever had happened with Clark, whatever that blinding light had been, it had triggered the cavern to collapse in upon itself. And she – thrust into the situation with only the faintest knowledge of what was transpiring in this underground enigma-had been caught literally in the middle.
"Oh, God," she whispered, collapsing against the wall she'd just discovered, resting her face against the coolness of the stone. A moment later, terror threatening to smother her completely, she lifted her head and shouted desperately, in a badly quavering voice, "Clark?"
"I think it's safe to say he's not here, Chloe," answered a familiar voice, albeit somewhat distant and strained.
She was torn in that instant between dismay and relief; she wasn't alone, but neither was she entirely safe. Lex Luthor was the reason she was in this situation, after all, and his demeanor in the moments previous to the explosion had been quite vehement and alarming. Turning her head in the direction his voice had emanated, she found herself asking a rather pointless question, "Lex?"
"None other," was the response, a mixture of irritation and dry, acerbic humor – a tone that belonged with him more than the barely constrained fury he'd showed as he'd forced her to accompany him. After a moment of silence, he ventured a question. "I gather you're not severely injured?"
"No," Chloe said softly, though her body complained through aches and throbs with enough force to make her wonder if perhaps her answer had been validated. She settled down against the wall, pulling her knees to her chest and turning her attention in the direction of her newfound companion.
"Good. I think –" There was the shuffled sound of movement over stone, followed by a harsh grunt of obvious pain. "I think," he continued in a thick voice, "that my leg is broken."
Serves you right, Chloe thought, but said instead, "What did you see before … this?"
"Light. Lots of it." There was a poignant pause before he continued. "And I heard Clark's voice."
Pointedly choosing to ignore the last part of his sentence, Chloe voiced her fears. "We're trapped down here …"
"Ah. A journalist's flair for stating the obvious."
Despite her state, Chloe bristled at the young billionaire's remark. "We wouldn't be down here, Lex, if it wasn't for you."
"As I don't think an apology would rectify things at this moment, I'll save it for later. I think what we need to focus on right now is how we're going to get out of here."
"What do you propose?" Chloe snapped, channeling her worry and terror into ire directed at the Luthor heir. "We dig our way out? From the feel of it, these walls are solid. Perhaps you have a retinue of prestigious miners at your disposal for situations such as these? By all means, Lex, call them up on your cell phone -which will work, I'm sure, just perfectly even though we are buried under tons and tons of rock." As she uttered the last of her tirade, her voice had gained a slightly higher pitch, and she hated the fact that her apprehension was so blatantly obvious.
"Chloe, this isn't helping."
Knowing he was right and hating that fact, she rested her head on her upright knees with a disconsolate sigh. All factors considered, she was still alive, and she wasn't alone. Perhaps together, they could make it out of this only a little worse for wear …
"Yeah." She lifted her head, rapidly blinking back the tears that threatened to spill over even though she was certain they couldn't be seen. "Keep talking, Lex. I'm coming over to you."
"I wonder what's left of Smallville?" He asked, doing as she'd directed. She got to her hands and knees again and began to crawl in the direction of his voice. He continued, "Irony seems to be a theme with this town. A natural disaster on the day of graduation – your graduation, nonetheless."
"Go figure," Chloe muttered.
A small snort of wry amusement indicated that the billionaire was close. It was another moment before she realized she could see him –a vague outline slumped against a large, jagged outthrust of rock with one leg laid out awkwardly before him. His head was turned in her direction as the sounds of her approach grew louder, and when she drew to a halt by his side she could see the small smile that momentarily creased his face.
"I know the feeling isn't at all mutual, but I'm rather glad to see you."
"Save it," Chloe said curtly. If there were ever a person capable of generating the perfect love-hate tendencies in other people, it would be Lex Luthor. She rocked back on her heels, craning her neck to look down the length of his injured leg. Even in the almost blackness, she could tell it was a compound fracture; Lex had to be in a tremendous amount of pain, and she felt a small, unwanted flicker of respect for the fact that he was putting up such a strong front.
"I don't think there's anything that we can do for your leg," she said, settling down cross-legged beside him.
"I know," he said, leaning his head back to stare at the cavern ceiling so well hidden in darkness.
A silence fell between them, heavy and tense; both were well aware, all pretences aside, that there was a very good chance they would die in this small collapsed chamber. Unable to stand it, Chloe finally asked, "So – how do we go about getting out of here?"
It was Lex's turn to sigh, a heavy sound. "I don't know."
"That makes two of us," she said, and silence fell once more.