Part 13 Disaster

i She's so far gone
I can't help her
She can't stay in control /i

Perhaps it was the only way she could pay tribute to a life cut short; perhaps it was a way to temper the guilt she felt for not having done the job as well as she could have had she not been overwhelmed with her own life the last time she was here; or perhaps, and most likely, this was the only place she could run to where Lex's influence would not reach.

Either way, Chloe found that the last four years she had spent working with children of Lipaztan's genocide victims was the closest she had been to heaven—the feel of a young boy clutching her shoulders as he screamed for his dead mother while volunteer doctors extricated a shrapnel from his flesh was more welcome to her now than the suffocating pleasure of lying in Lex's arms while he called her by her cousin's name.

i This time I worry about her
But I won't go back to that world
/i

The blood around her took her closer to Lois on those last moments. The children's tears took her to her son.

Yes, she thought, as another child was brought in with his arm hanging limply to his side as he screamed in pain.

Chloe reached for the child and placed him on a makeshift cot. "Completely out of the socket," Lydia told her.

Yes, she was in heaven.

i You're a disaster
But you make me happy
Laughter is so hard
Disaster, I won't let this kill you
The past hurts but we'll move on
/i

On her second week in Lipaztan, she turned on the television in the small camp and watched the news. That early in her self-imposed exile, Chloe thought it would help her to hear news from home. She watched the news of hurricanes in the Midwest, and she wondered briefly if the farms of her childhood have been affected. And then she watched gossip on celebrities who got together and was saddened for them.

They were happy now. She hoped they weren't too happy.

It hurt more when you fell from such heights.



"That's so romantic."

Chloe turned around and saw Lydia sitting on a plastic chair. She had been alone when she started watching. Now there was company. Lydia graduated nursing six months ago, and went on to work in one of the most prestigious hospitals in LA. When Lydia arrived with her, Chloe had asked her what she was running from. To her surprise, Lydia told her she was running to the devastation, not from anyone or anything from her past.

Chloe smiled thinly. "After everything you've seen, that word is still in your vocabulary?" she asked.

"After everything we've seen here,' Lydia answered, "you better etch that word into your brain. I'll keep you sane."

"They'll be divorced in a year, with a keep to shuttle around, and fighting for their meager assets."

i She's reckless
One can not face it
She barely has a soul
I tried to warn her
But she lives in her own crazy world
/i

Chloe flipped the channel and stopped at the still photograph on the screen. Even from so far away, he could take her breath away. He had made a generous donation to the campaign of Pete Ross, dragging to the surface long forgotten suspicions that he had a hand in the fiery death of Lana Lang Ross.

"He's going to serve jail time," Lydia said, breaking the heavy silence.

Chloe turned to the other woman. "Why?"

"Insider trading? Murder?" Lydia tried. "They haven't made it public. I bet it has something to do with Mrs Ross."

i You're obsessed I must confess
You're never gonna change
Angel, I can't lose you
/i

If it was, Chloe thought that maybe it should be herself imprisoned. There was a loud explosion that jerked her out of her reverie. Someone screamed. The television died. She and Lydia both came running out of the small shelter and saw the smoking hut a few yards away from them.



A few people from their group were starting to pull injured volunteers out of the shelter. Chloe assessed the wounds of the first victim. Even from the distance she could tell that he was going to lose an eye.

And then she felt better, because this heaven was worse than any prison Lex could find himself in.

Maybe someday she would get lucky, and attacks like that would fall directly on her head.

i You're a disaster
But you make me happy
Laughter is so hard
Disaster I won't let this kill you
The past hurts but we'll move on
/i

No matter how many of these she'd set, Chloe could not help her hands from trembling when she heard a young person scream while she held him. Eric would never have suffered like this. No, Lex Luthor's son would never cry like this from pain.

Lex Luthor's son died peacefully in his sleep.

And that was when she found herself tearing up. "You never had a chance," she said softly to the little boy, who could not understand her anyway. She sniffled.

A hand closed over her shoulder. She looked behind her and saw one of the visiting doctors. "I'll handle this," he told her.

"I can do this," she assured him.

"You have a guest," he told her. "Freshen up. He's waiting in the main office."

Chloe grimaced at the words. He almost made it sound as if they were back in civilization, and the main office was not a makeshift cabin with a door, and her guest was waiting in the parlor. Over the months, Chloe had fielded off different journalists who dropped by offering to create a documentary on her experience.

She was a journalist once. She knew what that entailed. She wasn't willing to answer their questions on her reasons for coming here.

Chloe nodded and left her station with one last look at the crying little boy. She walked out of the clinic and jogged towards the main office. Automatically, she reached for the band that held her hair up. This was how they freshened up out here. She shook the blonde hair free of knots, then tied it again. Out here, no one minded that a few months after she joined, half of her hair grew blonde while the ends remained a fading brown.



She pushed the door open. The visitor turned around. Chloe took a step back, then another. Chloe closed the door and started stalking back to the clinic.

"Chloe!"

She stopped still, under the sun; with no walls between them, she felt exposed. She had never thought to hear that name again coming from his lips.

i I find it funny how you think I've been blind
All this time
I know you love me but you made me decide
You're not my kind
/i

She did not turn around. Maybe if she closed her eyes long enough, he would be gone. Chloe counted in her head. Maybe if she reached a hundred, he would have disappeared. She was barely at twenty when she felt his hands close around her shoulders.

i You keep running away from our lives
Well you're going in circles
So stop acting like you don't care
I won't be there for you
/i

"It's done," he said softly.

"What?" she asked, not turning around.

"Everything that I thought I'd done. It wasn't me, Chloe. I didn't kill Lana." He took a deep breath. "It took years, and I didn't fight it." He leaned to whisper into her ear, "Come home."

"When?" Chloe asked. Finally, she turned around, and Lex knew she was not asking about coming home.

He shook his head. "There wasn't an epiphany. It was slow and excruciating, one detail on top of another." He ran his fingers through the hair that he had missed so much. "But I was sure the last night, when I realized I'd fallen in love again. I knew it had to be you."

i You're a disaster
But you make me happy
Laughter is so hard
Disaster I won't let this kill you
The past hurts but we'll move on
/i

And his words were real, she could see it in his eyes. Chloe's eyes filled with tears. "Then why did you let me go?"



He took her in his arms. "Because you needed to," he said into her hair. "You were so lost."

She took a deep, shuddering breath. She confessed, "Nothing's changed. I still feel that it's wrong for me to be here, alive."

His arms tightened around her.

"I'm afraid about what I'll do."

From obsession after obsession that he'd learned to live through, Lex knew that this was just another one that he would decide to take on. She'd fought against his control, and now, she would learn to depend on it. "You'll be fine."

i Disaster I won't let this kill you /i

fin