It was late in the evening, nearly midnight, and Chloe Sullivan lay in the circle of her lover's arms with eyes heavy from exhaustion. She'd had a rough day trying to keep up with her busy schedule - juggling a full course load with a full time job was not easy - and now even the coffee she'd downed all day was not helping her stay awake. She could not allow sleep to claim her however or she would be late for a very important meeting; one she could not blow off just for sleep as much as she wished she could.

It did not help, either, that the weather was cold and he was so comfortably warm.

Or that he was currently nibbling on her ear.

"Clark."

"Hmm?"

"You know I have to leave."

He stopped what he was doing abruptly and sat up on one elbow. His bangs hung into his eyes.

God he was cute.

"No, its midnight Chloe! Where do you have to go?"

"Lex's..."

He flopped onto his back with a groan and a curse. He raised his arms, scrubbing at his face with his hands in frustration. "Now?" His grey eyes turned back to her blue ones.

"The master summons. He has a story for me."

"Chloe I swear to God if I didn't know better, I'd say you were two-timing me with him."

Chloe flinched.

If you knew.....

She forced a laugh. "Jealous?"

Distraction was the key, and she would use it.

She rolled towards him, and with a smile, wrapped herself around him with her breasts pressed close to his side and her hand rubbing the hard flat stomach she found so incredible. He wrapped one arm around her shoulders to pull her close, and their mouths met. She felt his tongue caress her palate, and she drew it in with her own, at the same time slipping her hand past his navel for a different sort of caress. When his fingers brushed over her breast, and his body shifted against hers, she knew she was going to be late for her meeting. Her breath caught, but her eyes were bright as he gently made her his own, and the contented warmth grew higher and higher into the fiery heat of passion. Her eyes glazed, and her voice broke out into the darkness as she flew....

Damn him.

Lex was going to be pissed.

Chloe swallowed heavily, fighting to catch her breath as they lay side by side looking up at the ceiling once again. Clark, she could tell without looking, was grinning the silly grin at her that made her want to slap him. She looked at him.

He was grinning, and she had to grin back.

"I hate you."

His eyes were merry as he laughed at her.

There was the Clark she remembered so well. Chloe shook her head slightly to herself. When she'd left Smallville he'd still been with Lana, and they looked to be a hot ticket item. Seeing him, nearly four years later, on the campus of Metropolis University when she'd transferred back, had been somewhat of a shock. He'd always been her biggest crush. His coltish body and sweet, boyish face, had attracted her from the moment they'd met in middle school. When she'd discovered his personality actually went right along with his looks, she'd been hooked, yet she'd never had the guts to act upon her affections.

Four years changed people; time had changed Chloe, and it certainly changed Clark. He'd grown an inch taller, and wider in the shoulders, but he still affected the clumsy farm boy attitude with his faded jeans, work boots and over sized flannel shirts, despite the urban college atmosphere. She'd said it once herself: you can take the boy out of the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the boy, and she expected nothing short of a large somewhat, paunchy kid beneath his clothes. When their friendship rekindled, and then kindled further into something more, she'd gotten to see what exactly he hid beneath those frumpy clothes.

The body of a fitness guru complete with washboard abs had taken her by surprise. He was the best built, sexiest man she'd ever laid eyes on, let alone had in her bed. All he had to do was look at her to make her blush with excitement, not to mention what happened if he touched her, and she found that difficult to relate to the shy awkward kid she'd known in high school. She lusted after his body, true, but beneath it all there still existed the sweet farm boy, and Chloe loved him with all her heart and soul.

In fact....

She'd sold her soul to the Devil to have him.

She rolled out of the bed, hastily grabbing this way and that for her scattered clothing. "I am late."

He pulled the sheets up around him and curled into a ball in the center of the bed, watching her. He grey eyes glinted with subdued amusement. "I'm sure he'll understand."

"Oh sure." Chloe dropped to her knees and felt around under the bed for her other shoe. She grimaced as she came up with an empty pizza box. "Jesus Clark, don't you ever clean?"

He feigned outrage. "All the time!"

She tossed the pizza box at him as if it were a frisbee. "Missed a spot. Ah, there's my shoe!" She grabbed her missing piece of footwear and sat on the floor to put it on, laughing as he hung his head over the edge of the bed to kiss her.

"Goodbye Clark." Chloe wriggled away before he could grab her and pull her back into the bed with him.

He was so extremely cute when he pouted.

"Are you coming back?"

She gave him a wide eyed stare. "Tonight? Clark its midnight! I have to get home and feed Pun-Kin, and I have to go to class in the morning."

He grinned. "Tomorrow?"

"Dork." Chloe shook her head. "Call me." She said, although she knew she would be over to see him as soon as she got off work, as always.

"Top of the speed dial."

She headed for the door.

Once there, she paused, looking back into his little one room apartment at the bed where he still lay watching her. "You know I love you Clark."

"I know." he said softly.

Chloe favored him with a gentle smile, and shut the door behind her.

In the hallway she paused at the top of the stairs, and put a shaking hand to her mouth to muffle the sobs that threatened to escape her. Her eyes filled with tears.

What was she doing?

**********************

The penthouse apartment at the top of the LuthorCorp tower was a far cry from Clark's quaint little corner within the old Victorian townhouse. There was nothing cozy about Lex's Formica fortress with its walls of glass and its expansive view of the city. It was as cold, and dare she say it - bald - as its owner. Walking off the elevator and into the sterile atmosphere of the recycled air, made Chloe feel as if she were walking into a morgue, and she shuddered as the doors closed behind her.

Her footsteps echoed upon the smooth marble floor as she climbed the steps into the "den". There were no walls in the huge space, but rather the rooms were delineated by varying floor levels, and the den was upon a raised part of the floor in front of one of the gigantic floor to ceiling windows. Dwarfed by the window, and the cityscape behind him, Lex sat at his desk toying with a pencil and staring pointedly at Chloe as she approached. His expression was neutral, but she had dealt with him long enough to know his facial expressions were more than a little misleading.

He was pissed.

"You're late." His voice was quiet, and conversational, bordering on pleasant.

He was really pissed.

"I know. I couldn't get away."

"From his bed?"

"You put me there, deal with the consequences." Chloe snapped, crossing her arms across her chest. "I'm here now. What do you want?"

Lex smiled slowly as he leaned forward in his chair and put his elbows on his desk. He pointed at her with the pencil he still held. "A blood sample." he said softly.

The penthouse was perfectly temperature controlled, Chloe knew that, but at his words a cold chill ran up her spine as if the room had suddenly grown several degrees cooler. To mask her fear, she immediately reached for her facetiousness, and the laugh she forced from her lips echoed around the high vaulted ceiling of the room.

"I always knew you were a vampire Lex. You may look like Nosferatu but your accent stinks."

He said nothing, but he put down the pencil and moved the phone to the center of his desk where Chloe could see it clearly. His green eyes were mild. Chloe could not look away from them.

"One phone call and your father loses his job and his retirement. Another and you lose your job at the Inquisitor. A third and you are kicked out of college." His lips spread in a Cheshire cat grin. He spoke very slowly, drawing out the agony growing within her heart. "And lastly I will call our dear friend Clark. What shall I tell him first Chloe? Should I tell him about the trouble you got into in California? Should I tell him you know all his little secrets? Or should I tell him about the look on your face when I make you come?"

"Fuck you."

"Oh please do, give me more ammunition."

I will not cry. Chloe thought desperately. I will not let this slimy weasel see me cry.

But she was not above begging.

"Lex please, I can't do this anymore." This time she did look away, staring off into the sunken living room where she saw two glasses and a bottle of champagne sitting upon the table.

God, no. Don't make me do that too.

"You did it to yourself Chloe."

Okay, that was unfair, and it was her time to be angry.

"Oh how Lex? By finding out what was up with Clark before you did and making the mistake of keeping it from you? You sent daddy to California. My problems out there were your fault...."

"And I fixed them...."

Chloe's voice rose, and the echo sounded shrill and panicky. "Just so you could blackmail me later! You only brought me back to be your little spy, and I can not do it anymore!" She was breathless when she was finished, but she managed a little more. "I love him too much."

Lex stared at her.

For the briefest instant Chloe swore he was going to break. She could almost hear him tell her "fine, you're free, be gone" and she bit her lip in anticipation of the release he would give her. She could go back to Clark, and forget this nightmare ever happened.

He picked up the pencil, and with the eraser hit a button.

"Top of the speed dial." he said softly.

One ring, and Clark's voice flooded the room.

"Hello?"

"Clark..." Lex said brightly.

Chloe lunged forward and slammed both hands down on the phone, hoping to god she hit the release button somewhere in the process.

The call cut off abruptly.

They were nose to nose over the desk.

"Tsk, tsk Chloe." Lex intoned, frowning mockingly at her. "Now he's probably going to show up on my doorstep. Whatever will I tell him?" He pushed back his chair, and opened one of the desk drawers, withdrawing from within a syringe and two vials. One was empty, and the other contained a small amount of faintly iridescent green liquid.

Chloe took a step backwards, her mind racing.

What Lex did not realize, and the real reason Chloe felt the need to stop her spying game, was the fact she'd hacked into his personal files. She knew all about his plans for Clark and what her role would be in his implementing them, and she'd been waiting for this day for a long time. Slip him a Mickey, Lex would say. With this drug in his system you can stick him easily and get the blood sample I need to continue with my experiments. As long as I have you "collecting" for me Chloe, I don't need to have him bottled up in a jar. Neither of us want that, do we?

She knew what was in that vial, and she knew if she gave it to Clark it would kill him.

This was it.

"All right." she said finally. "I have no choice do I?"

But she did. She would take the vial back to Clark, and tell him everything. She would lose him, he'd never forgive her, but he would live.

Lex smiled. It was the benevolent smile so many people found so charming. Chloe watched him carefully, as one might keep an eye on a wild animal if it seemed to be getting too close, and stiffened as he came to stand close to her. She flinched as he touched her. His hands were cold.

"That's better." He whispered as he pressed closer still and slowly began unbuttoning her shirt. "This is the Chloe I know and love."

As if you ever loved anyone but yourself.

He kissed her cheek, her throat, and moved his hands down to her thighs as he bent to add a kiss the breast he'd exposed. She hated him for it, and hated herself for the shivery feeling that rose up through her in response to his groping. He'd have her, she knew, and she'd enjoy it.

Her eyes found the vial sitting on his desk.

But never again.

Chloe sighed, about to resign herself to her fate, when something beyond the desk caught her attention. It was a flicker of movement from outside the window, and it drew her eyes up from the desk to peer out into the darkness and the bright city beyond.

At least that was what she expected to see.

"Oh God." she breathed.

Clark was standing in the window.

Sixty three stories up, and Clark was standing in the fucking window.

Not standing precisely, but hovering. He looked as if he were standing on some invisible platform, unsupported and alone in the sky, with his arms crossed and the most horrible expression on his face Chloe had ever seen. It was a mixture of hurt and fury, and she struggled to get Lex's attention as those grey eyes bore into hers with nothing but cold accusation.

When had he learned to fly?

"Lex, " she pushed at his shoulders. "Damnit, Lex!"

He looked up from her breasts, irritated. "What?"

"Clark...."

"What about him?"

Outside, Clark raised a fist.

"He's at your doorstep." Chloe said, her voice surprisingly calm.

Clark burst through the window in a rush of air and a swirling maelstrom of broken glass, his body surging forward over the desk and one hand reaching out to grab Lex by the collar before he could twist away. Chloe fell backwards to the floor as Clark's feet touched the ground and he dragged Lex up to meet him eye to eye. Had it been Chloe in Lex's position, she would have either passed out under that cold steely glare, or, at the very least, wet her pants.

Lex did neither.

He smiled.

"Are you forgetting something Clark?"

Chloe slowly got to her feet, and as she did she saw Clark's face shift from an expression of murderous anger, to confusion and - pain? He gradually lost his grip on Lex's collar, and his breathing became labored as he sank slowly to his knees. His face was twisted in pain, and his hands were pressed against his abdomen as if holding in his insides while he stared up at his betrayer in silent agony. And Lex, in the guise of a holy man blessing a pilgrim, put his hand to Clark's forehead, and shoved him backwards into the floor with a thump and the sound of crunching glass.

It was then Chloe saw the ring flash upon Lex's hand and she knew why he'd been so cocky lately. Clark couldn't touch him, and he knew it.

They'd seen the signs, and Chloe more than anyone knew it to be true:

Lex's obsession with Clark had turned to madness....

And now he was going to kill him.

He glanced once at Clark lying unconscious in a field of glittering glass shards, then turned and met Chloe's eye. That look told her everything. He'd known she'd hacked into his files, he'd planned on her balking at this last task, and he had counted on making the phone call that would bring Clark to him. It was all a set up, and Chloe had been the bait.

They stared at one another.

"No." Chloe said, and bolted for the desk.

He moved with her, and together they lunged for the vial.

Chloe got there first, and her fist closed around the vial just seconds before Lex got a grip around her wrist. Their bodies hit the top of the desk, which was built for style rather than function, and it collapsed under their combined weight. The chair spun backwards out of control and when it hit the window it flipped up and out the hole Clark had made when he burst through. Neither Lex nor Chloe noticed. She sobbed as she fought to hang onto the vial, holding her arm over her head to make it more difficult for him to reach it, but he was much stronger than she.

Lex growled, literally growled, as he planted one knee in Chloe's mid-drift to hold her still and jerked her arm down. She cried out when her elbow was twisted the wrong way, and punched at him as he attempted to pry open her fingers. He very nearly succeeded.

He had not counted on Clark.

One hand closed around Lex's ankle, jerking him down and off of Chloe, who took advantage to scramble to her feet through the wreckage of the desk. She stood panting before the window, the wind blowing her hair wildly around her tear streaked face, and watched Lex struggle to escape from Clark's grip. The look on Clark's face was manic, and with jaw grinding determination he painfully dragged Lex down every time he attempted to get up. The stalemate did not last very long however, for Lex turned, and planted one foot in Clark chest, prying himself loose with one mighty shove. Clark's fingers slipped from Lex's ankle and Lex staggered to his feet.

Time seemed to slow down, and Chloe could hear only the rush of the wind from the broken window, her own pounding heart, and the faint moaning as Clark dragged himself after Lex.

Lex stood before her with his hand outstretched. "Give it to me Chloe."

She immediately threw the vial out the window.

They stared at one another, two strong wills, battling over one man.

"I have more." he said quietly.

Chloe looked over his shoulder, and saw Clark now on his knees. His face was pale, strained, but he looked at her and she saw comprehension in his eyes. He understood what she'd been through, and what price she'd paid to have him, finally, as hers. He also understood how dangerous Lex had become, beyond the dirty business dealings and the merciless corporate takeovers. Clark would not fall victim again.

And Chloe would make doubly sure of that, by removing Lex's last remaining hold over him.

"I love you." she whispered.

Clark's eyes widened.

Chloe stepped backwards out of the window....

And into oblivion.