Just a little Chlex to put an (evil) smile on your face.

Chapter One

It was her birthday, not that it mattered. It was her damned twenty-first, too. That seemed to matter even less. It didn't matter to the boyfriend who dumped her, now cozying up to a blonde Kryptonian. It didn't matter to her best friend, now playing house with the "love of his life." Nor did it matter to her cousin, who said she would be out late working on a story. It didn't matter to anyone, really.

Chloe Sullivan was now twenty-one and there was no group of girlfriends dragging her out for margaritas. There were no blow job shots and jaeger bombs and stupid karaoke. There was just her, creeping up to the apartment above The Talon, wondering when something that should have been a milestone had become just another night.

To be fair, she would have forgotten herself. But when she'd collected her mail, she'd found a birthday coupon from Imperial Pizza. "Happy Birthday," she read, digging in her purse for her keys. "Have a free personal pizza on us." It looked like she'd be denied even that. Most things in Smallville closed at nine and it was now past ten. Gabriel had stuck her on Black Friday shopping woes for the evening edition. Boring, dry, and full of statistics. She had no idea what he had Lois on. But it better not be...

She shook her head and stabbed her key into the lock. Lois said that it was over between her and their editor. She believed her. If you couldn't believe family, who could you believe?

Then again, she was low on trust lately. Lana had been the closest female friend she had, besides Lois, of course. Now... She sighed and stretched as she closed the door. Faking her death. Chloe could forgive that. She didn't know what she'd do if she was stuck to a Luthor. But there was something about her that didn't sit right since she'd come back from Shanghai. She supposed that's why she cut off Lana's Lex-related video feed. If Lana had told her about the room, she might have understood. But something didn't sit right. Lana was secretive now. From her, from Clark... Things were changing. It was hard to know what was right, what was wrong. About the only person she truly believed in was Clark.

She toed off her shoes and moved towards the dark kitchenette. She couldn't share Clark's unfaltering belief in Lana. Maybe that was why she felt so alone, especially tonight. They were all walking on tightropes, trying to pick their way across this mess they were in. Just for one night, she'd like to take a fall. Maybe get blind drunk and do something absolutely stupid, take the edge off.

She looked under the sink. Lois usually kept a bottle of something-or-other there. She groaned, finding only Drain-o and cleanser. She stomped a bare foot. Considering it was her twenty-first, having a drink was an undeniable right. It just figured even that would go sour. She opened the fridge. "Not even a beer. Not a fucking drop of alcohol in the place."

"I wouldn't say that," a voice drawled from behind her.

She didn't even have to turn. She'd know the smooth tone. She could even see the smirk on his face. She straightened and closed the fridge, bathing the room in darkness again. She turned slowly, not giving him the satisfaction of knowing he'd startled her.

He was sitting at the table off the kitchenette. The scant light from the street hit the top of his bald head. "Mind telling me what you're doing here, Luthor?"