Title: The Art of Sacrifice
Author: rockadaisy
Rating: T
Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing. Just borrowing it for a bit.

Summary: Chloe makes a decision and has to deal with the consequences. Kind of up and down angst, but there's a greater purpose, I promise. Method to the madness.

CHAPTER 1

Lex pushed his glass of scotch around the dark wooden desk abstractly as the door to his study opened. A blond head peeked through the gap between the door and the wall, the attached body allowing only a moment of hesitation before storming into the office like a thundercloud.

"Nice of you to drop in, Ms. Sullivan."

"For God's sake, Lex, you've known me for five years now, you think you could call me by my first name?"

"So much for courtesy."

"Your methods of intimidation don't work on me, Lex, I've had the pleasure of experiencing them from the real thing." Her eyes scanned over the man at the desk, the impeccable black suit and crisp linen shirt, the perfectly ironed pants and the shoes that cost more that a year's tuition at Met U. "He'd be awfully proud of you, you know. Manipulating others for your own profit, eliminating that pesky interference…what is it called again, oh yes, a conscience?"

The topic of Lionel Luthor did not appeal to Lex at all. His father had always held a position of strength in his life; every year presented another challenge, another battle for control. Although Lionel had miraculously recovered with his bout of insanity after the second meteor shower, the image remained untouched in Lex's mind- a grown man locked behind glass walls, wrapped up in buckles and cloth like an infant, reduced to childlike nothingness. As much as Lex had dreamed of the day his father would no longer be a threat to his own life and desires, he had found himself inexplicably disappointed. Instead, as always, he focused on the issue at hand. "As much as I enjoy your friendly banter, Chloe…" he over enunciated her name, spitting out the consonants. "I asked you to come here for a different reason."

"The same reason you've been following me around, harassing me ever since the meteor shower?" Chloe shook her head in frustration. "I can't answer your questions, I don't understand what happened myself. Besides, I'm just as interested in finding some understanding on the mystery that is Smallville as you are, only I don't do it in an obnoxious, power-hungry, creepy stalker way."

Lex shut his eyes tightly and pressed his hands together, breathing deeply. "Chloe you don't understand."

"I understand that you have been doing everything in your power to spy on Clark, a supposed friend of yours, and if that's how you treat your friends, I'm not interested in becoming one of them."

Lex stood up abruptly, slamming his fist against his desk. Chloe jumped at the sudden violence and quickly shut her mouth. "You don't understand, Chloe, if you…." His shouting trailed off into silence. He eyed Chloe carefully, warily. "Just…follow me." He walked out of the room, into the hallway. Chloe looked around the empty office, sighed loudly and stomped out of the office after Lex.

"This is…definitely weird." Chloe murmured, her hands tracing the outline of the crushed car in the air, afraid to touch such a strange memento.

"I saved it to remind me of how quickly life can change its path. I should have died that afternoon I crashed through the bridge. I, by all means of nature, should have drowned in that lake. But I didn't." Lex couldn't explain the sudden, confidence-inspiring nature of Chloe Sullivan, but felt a strange urgency to explain this to her rise up in his throat. He forced himself silen, smiling wryly as she examined the car thoroughly, ever the investigative reporter.

Chloe stared at the hood of the car, ripped open all the way to the front seat. A string of memories connected that car to every truck Clark had flipped, to the car she had seen Clark stop with her own eyes the night Alicia set out to expose Clark's secret. His strength never ceased to amaze her, to astound her.

"Well, I don't know what to tell you, Lex. You've got a wrecked car and a lot of expensive computers telling you what should have happened, and yet here you are, quite clearly alive. Maybe you should stop worrying about alternate possibilities and accept a glitch in the forces of nature."

Lex began to pace around the room anxiously. "Chloe, people like you and me, we don't 'accept glitches'. We set out to understand them and explain them."

Chloe stiffened at the thought of a shared trait with the notorious Lex Luthor, and yet couldn't help but feel somewhat flattered. "I don't know what makes you think this has anything to do with Clark, and I don't know what it is you've been doing with Lana, but you should know, if we're so alike, not to play with fire. I know more than you think, Lex, about your business wheeling and dealing- mass amounts of cash 'disappearing' into strange accounts, chemical testing without proper registration, you name it, I've got it. So just leave me and my friends alone, Richie Rich, and I'll be on my way."

She turned on her heels and marched righteously to the door, praying to God he wouldn't call her on her bluffed bravado.

"Stop." He demanded. She didn't. "Please. Chloe, just…please." She stood still, her hand on the doorframe. The tone of his voice caught her offguard, leaving her frozen in her tracks. "This isn't even why I called you..." he laughed uncomfortably, before looking back to Chloe with a renewed fire in his eyes. "Isn't it human to question existence, fate and destiny? To examine the few truly amazing people that exist on this planet? People so spectacular, they verge on inhuman?"

"Are you trying to tell me you think Clark isn't human?" Chloe sputtered nervously. "I think all that meteor rock is going to your head. Clark is just a normal, every-day, average guy with a penchant for plaid."

"Chloe, you of all people should know how…miraculous Clark can be. Always in the right place at the right time, overtly honest and-

"Just give him a cape and he's a superhero." Chloe taunted sarcastically. She tapped her foot impatiently. "What is it you want from me, Lex? As surprising as it may sound, I've got better things to do than talk auto shop with you in your freaky little museum."

Lex walked over to Chloe, leaning into her closely with a slight leer in the tone of his voice. Some energy about him darkened visibly, and Chloe felt her strength begin to waver. "I respect Clark and Lana, and your whole little crew, but I still get the strange feeling that something is being kept from me, something big. I don't appreciate being lied to, Chloe."

"I- I can't help you." Chloe stood tall and allowed herself to look directly into Lex Luthor's eyes, refusing to back down or shy away from the closeness of his body. "I'm sorry. There's nothing I can do."

Lex stared her down for a minute more, making it impossible for Chloe to break eye contact. "Then I guess there's nothing left to discuss."

"No. There's isn't. Except why you called me here in the first place. Was it just to harass me about things I don't know?" She took a breath in and pulled at the last traces of gentility she could find within herself.

"You…you said you had something to tell me. On the phone. So…what is it, Lex?"

Lex turned his back to her and returned his focus to the smashed car, letting his eyes linger on the scratched paint and torn metal that he knew like the back of his hand. His face was unreadable and this frustrated Chloe to no end. "I heard your father has been ill."

Chloe felt as though cold water had been poured on her, rushing from the top of her head down her spine. She gritted her teeth as she fought for control. "That is none of your business, Mr. Luthor, though I appreciate the concern."

"Chloe, I might know something that can help. My team of scientists has been working with treatments for the liver failure due to extreme exposure to meteor rocks for some time now, and I just wanted you to know that with some observation, I could possibly-"

All pretention of kindness and manners disappeared. Chloe's eyes burned furiously as she ran at Lex and shoved him hard. "How dare you! Your father sticks him in a metal box of a lab full of meteor rocks for years but now that you have a real live lab rat in the deal, a living witness and the perfect example of the effects of the meteor shower, you say you 'might know something' to help? Fuck you!"

Lex staggered under the weight of her push, but pulled himself up quickly. He understood grief quite well. "Loss is a part of life, Chloe," he said calmly. "Does Clark know?"

"I'm leaving." Chloe turned on her heels and exited, purposefully ignoring the gray eyes that followed her out of the room.