//So go on and scream
Scream at me, so far away
I won't be broken again
I've got to breathe
I can't keep going under //
The morning had come too quickly, Chloe groused silently as she stumbled up the front steps of the school and into already teeming halls. She raised her eyebrows at a few of the curious looks that passed over her, not the least bit surprised that the news had spread so rapidly. What else was there to do in this boring little town other than gossip? Tip cows? She snorted under her breath at her own joke, ignoring the looks that were shot her way. Any second now she was one hundred percent sure that her good humor would fade completely.
Because any second now she was bound to run into one of her friends.
Who would it be first?
Lana, dressed to the nines in pink of all colors, wearing a fake little smile and eyes flashing uncalled for and unwanted support?
Perhaps it would be Pete. He would, of course, be dressed in his uniform. There was a game tonight, after all, and nothing came between a Smallville High football player and his dreams of the ‘big game’. He’d make time to talk to her, but inevitably he’d have to run off after one of his teammates with a promise that they’d ‘talk later’.
Chances were, though, it would be Clark with his wide-eyed innocence that hid secrets so deep that she couldn’t even begin to fathom them. His adoption was a sham, that much she’d figured out last night before finally crawling into bed. Now all she had to do was trace that sham back to the source. Then and only then would she feel like she was finally getting somewhere with her investigation into what exactly it was that made Clark Kent tick.
“Tick, tock, tick, tock,” she whispered under her breath, rounding a corner to find that, gasp, all three of her so-called friends were waiting at her locker. Not a scenario she had envisioned, but still manageable. She steeled herself quickly and silently against what was to come. Between the three of them she had no doubt they could wear down her resolve, given enough time. They’d play on that part of her that they thought they knew so well, the kind side that she’d only developed after moving here.
She wouldn’t let them get that far. Not this time. They’d held her down long enough with their small town ways. No more. No Lana. No Clark. No Pete, even though he’d tried his best to be her friend. If she was going to wash her hand of two of them she would just be done with the whole lot. It would be easier that way.
Besides, they owed it to her for making her forget, for even a short time, who she really was. Chloe Sullivan, would-be investigative reporter, was just a creation of her own bored mind. And, like an actress getting out of her role, she would cast off this persona for her true one; the one she had put aside all those years ago for one last shot of making her father proud of her.
She took a deep breath and continued around the corner, pasting a steely glare onto her face. Her lips pressed together tightly. Let them take a good look at her resolve and cower under its fierceness.
Pete was the first to see her, his eyes widening slightly as he took in her appearance, no doubt. There would be no more frumpy shirts or skirts for her. No more dressing like she both did and didn’t want to attract attention all at the same time. This morning she’d chosen a tight fitting t-shirt and a pair of hip-hugger jeans that were almost too small. They rode low on her hips, exposing a good deal of the smooth skin of her lower back and stomach. She looked good and she knew it.
And now her ‘friends’ knew it, too.
Pete nudged Clark who in turn poked Lana, until the three of them were just standing there, at her locker, watching her walk towards them. She bit the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing out loud at the incredulous looks on their faces, each one so similar yet different all at the same time. A smirk passed flitted across her lips, taking up rest in the corner of her mouth.
“Chloe! We’ve been so worried!”
The blonde resisted the urge to roll her eyes at Lana’s over exuberant exclamation for once because it was, well, over exuberant, but also because she wondered how either she or Clark could have cared enough to worry about her when they hadn’t cared about the state of her heart yet again.
“Well – I’m here and I’m fine,” Chloe offered with a careless shrug of her shoulders. She peered around the brown haired girl with a lift of her eyebrows. “And you’re blocking my locker.”
Silence met her snide remark and Chloe found herself crossing her arms over her chest. Her eyes met each of theirs in turn, unflinching until she came to Pete. Then and only then did she feel that same guilt that she’d tried so hard to squelch since day one.
Maybe she wouldn’t be so hard on Pete. It wasn’t his fault that she’d never let him in, never shown him who she really was. If she did and he could accept it…not to mention accepting the fact that she was going to destroy one of –his- best friends, then she didn’t see why he couldn’t still be a friend to her, too.
But that was a big maybe. He’d been friends with Clark long before she arrived on the scene and thinking on it for a brief second as she began to rifle aimlessly through her locker, Chloe couldn’t see him choosing her over the dark haired farm boy.
But, hey, at least she’d give him the option.
“Your dad is worried…Lana’s worried…I’m worried…and Pete, too, and all you can say is that we’re blocking your locker?”
She didn’t need to look up to know that Clark was giving her one of his morally superior chastising looks. The kind that he’d learned from his father starting at apparently a very young age. The same kind that made her want to smack him right here and now, in the middle of the school hallway. She grabbed a book from her locker and shoved it in her bag, hoping that it was the one that she’d need for her first class of the day but really not caring one way or the other.
“Chlo’, c’mon. What’s going on, girl? Talk to us. We’re your friends.”
The blonde snickered. Pete sure could sound sincere when he wanted to. True, usually she’d only heard him apply that much sincerity to a girl he was hoping to go out with once or twice, but that was beside the fact. She turned to face the trio, schooling her face back into the cool aloofness she had initially approached with.
“Friends?” The word bubbled from her lips, a harsh laugh of a sound that spilled over them like a slap, judging by the looks on their faces. “Sure, Pete. You’re my friend. I’ll talk to you later if you want, maybe after school. But these two?” She directed her gaze from Clark to Lana, then back again to the boy she’d mistakenly given her heart to. Well, no more. Let the bridges be burned, she thought merrily. “They aren’t my friends. Watch your backs, guys.”
She pushed past Lana, ignoring the shocked gasps that rose from the other woman’s throat almost in time with the same non-syllabic response from Clark. A cruel smile curved at the corners of her lips as she continued down the hall, ignoring them when they began to call out to her. That had gone better than she’d imagined, come to think of it, she smiled as she entered the Torch’s office, locking the door behind her. Wouldn’t do to have any of them follow her in here. Not when she had important things to get done before first period.
Like taking care of her Lana problem once and for all.
“Bad Nell,” Chloe whispered to herself as she reached for her cell phone. “Leaving your ward all alone with someone that isn’t even a relative or guardian…Tsk, tsk, tsk.”
Even as the phone rang in her ear, though, the blonde was already thinking of other matters.
Like the bald billionaire that she was currently staying with. He’d already left by the time she crawled out of bed, much to her displeasure. She had woken actually looking forward to a good bout of verbal judo to get her warmed up before coming to deal with the hell that was high school.
Oh well, she sighed as the phone picked up on the other end, she’d just have to make sure she got a nice, satisfying round with him later.
And as of that moment she couldn’t decide if she was thinking of verbal judo or something much more physical.
“Gabe, can you join me for a minute?”
Lex studied his plant manager discreetly as the older man entered his office, shutting the door behind him when Lex gestured for him to do so. There were circles under his eyes that were just a little darker than normal, most likely due to lack of sleep while he tried to figure out where Chloe was and what she was up to.
Well he was going to take a little of that stress away right now. Or perhaps add to it, Lex smirked mentally. There was no way to know for sure until he told the other man what he had to tell him. But at least he would have tried. The last thing he wanted to do was see Gabe suffer unnecessarily. It would be bad for business if the plant’s manager suddenly was unable to concentrate on his day to day tasks. Admiration for the work Gabe did kept Lex from wanting to even consider hiring another manager to replace him…ever.
But that didn’t mean he wouldn’t do it if it became needed.
“Morning, Mr. Luthor.”
“Morning, Gabe,” Lex smiled even as he slipped into the role of caring onlooker. “I wanted to tell you something before it gets around. I figured it was better that you hear it from me instead of one of those rumormongers in town.” He paused for one carefully planned moment, as if trying to decide how to ‘break the news’ to Gabe, before continuing on. “Chloe is staying at the mansion until she can find a place.”
“She –“ Gabe’s eyes widened, his voice trailing off as he struggled to digest what Lex had just said. “Mr. Luthor –“
“Lex,” Gabe shook his head. “You don’t understand. Chloe’s mixed up in some things that aren’t quite…legal.”
Lex raised his eyebrows, firming the expression on his face to not betray the shock that leapt to the fore. Gabe was more worried about –his- welfare than that of his own daughter? It was enough to make the billionaire wonder what kind of falling out the two had been engaged in prior to making the move to Smallville. “Her and I have had a discussion regarding the nature of her activities and I believe that she is best suited staying at the mansion for the time being. Under my supervision, of course.”
He threw in the last part with a placating smile and a tiny shrug of his shoulders. It sounded like a nice, caring thing to say. A way to ease Gabe’s mind.
However watching Chloe’s every action wasn’t what he had in mind when it came to ‘supervising’ her.
Unless it was each and every tiny action she made in the bedroom, that was.
Or the couch in his office… Maybe the pool table….Definitely the pool…
Lex shook himself from his thoughts, mentally berating himself for getting so lost in the idea of fucking Chloe senseless that he neglected the conversation at hand. It was definitely time to get a handle on things…meaning, of course, get a handle on ‘Chloe’. Maybe one they’d consummated the attraction between them two or three dozen times he’d be able to think clearly again without his mind painting fantasies of her naked body sleeping under his very roof.
“Sorry about that, Gabe,” the billionaire smiled winningly. “Don’t worry. I’ll look out for her until things smooth over again.”
“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Gabe shook his head. “I don’t approve of what she’s doing and that isn’t going to change.”
Lex shrugged. “Maybe. Maybe not. Perhaps she’ll come to her senses and decide that this isn’t the kind of life she wants to lead.”
The words came easily but he didn’t believe a single shred of what he was saying. Chloe was happier than he’d ever seen her before and it had everything to do with casting off the ridiculous good girl image she’d been forced to cultivate. He could relate on so many levels it was frightening.
“We’ll see,” Gabe was saying as he half-rose from the chair. “I have a report to finish before the morning meeting –“
“Of course,” Lex nodded, pleased with the way the conversation had gone. Gabe was looking a little better, if not completely unconvinced that his errant daughter would mend her ways, and he had his mind on work.
Perfect, if Lex did say so himself. One task for the day down…
One to go.
In his bed.
Naked and screaming his name.
Judging by her flirtation last night, that task was going to be even easier to accomplish than this one had been.