Wednesday, September 14, 2005.

Word count: 764

Pet Hates

Clark's never had a pet. He suspects that deep down he'd probably be a dog person. Rabbits and hampsters and mice and turtles are cute, but they just don't seem like… friendly animals. And cats are just weird. All arrogant and stand-offish and needy. And they sleep on clean laundry. Which would drive his mom insane.

Clark's dad liked dogs, but not the idea of having one. Too many bad things can happen on a farm, what with cattle and harvesting and hunters and such. And Clark figured he had a point. Clark was busy all the time anyway; he hardly had time for his friends let alone a dog. Pete gave him a heads in that department. Pete understood the whole farm and teenager thing, "But Chloe, if she didn't like you so much she'd have written you off by now."

Chloe had a cat once, a stray that she'd found and was eventually collected by the old lady that owned it. Chloe had called him Kibble, and she'd written stories about how her and Clark and Pete were detectives and this cat lead them to crime scenes and they had to figure everything out from there. Pete had though it was stupid, but liked Chloe enough that he didn't say so, and Clark didn't know what to think. In the stories the cat always seemed smarter than Clark, and got beat up less.

Pete and Chloe were the hero's. Pete had more time for Chloe back then than Clark did, which was weird sometimes. Best friends within best friends. But then, Pete had all these brothers and a sister and more aunts and uncles and cousins than Clark could remember to count, and that meant he had more reason to get away from home. Pete had three homes: his own home, the Kent farm, and where ever Chloe was.

Clark couldn't imagine what it would be like to have as much to like as Pete did, or to like things as hard as Chloe. Chloe had just her dad and the Torch. No one but Chloe knew which of the two she loved more – they shared the top place on her list of things she liked about life. Both Clark and Pete were on the list somewhere, but Pete was determined to work his way up. Doggedly determined.

Dogs were good. They were faithful and loyal and protective. Cats sullied the flower garden and threw up in shoes. Or maybe that was just Kibble. Chloe had been good about handing over the cat to the lady, but she'd cried after. Only a fortnight, but she loved that cat. And the cat was pretty, in a way. Like Lana, with its slim nose and it's chocolate colour. Chloe had to teach Clark how to pat a cat. All gentle and respectful, like a pair of gloves made of tissue paper. Except around the ears and whiskers, then it was all rough and playful, with fur being bent and mussed. If you do it right, cats like being rubbed up the wrong way. Not like Lana at all, more like…

Lex. Lex who looked at Clark like he was something to trust, or something to play with, or something to stalk all at once, like he couldn't make up his mind. In a world that he could own, Lex liked things that weren't solid, things that moved and changed. Clark was solid enough to stop a truck, but Lex never looked at him the same way twice.

Clark knew that most people gave up on him, because he was too small, too secret. That's why Chloe was almost writing him off, why Lana didn't just leave Whitney and admit she'd been thinking about it, why Pete spent more time thinking about Chloe than he did talking to Clark. The things he didn't say upset everyone more than putting his foot in his mouth ever could.

But not Lex. Clark suspected, deep down, that Lex liked the unspoken words. Clark's secrets meant he didn't have to be honest either. When Clark lied it was as obvious as a Labrador barking at four in the morning. It cut through the air and everyone knew, and hated him for it even if they wouldn't say it, and the angry silence built until Clark was surrounded by nothing but white noise from everyone. But not Lex.

Lex just slinked back into the shadows, a little more with each lie, keen eyes giving away his interest. Watching with that half smile, and flexing his claws.