"He's not here."
Chloe raised an eyebrow, shaking her head. "No. He is." She laughed softly, humorlessly. "Didn't think we'd get off that easy, did you?"
Lana frowned. "But ... where?"
Pointing towards the large window that covered nearly the entirety of one of the penthouse's living room walls, Chloe jerked her thumb to one side of it... at the tiny fluttering of red cape that was just barely visible, off to one side.
Damn hiding farmboy.
Lana's mouth opened in a tiny 'o' of understanding. "Just like Clark to be hovering where he isn't wanted."
Chloe hid a snort of amusement behind her hand, discreetly keeping an eye on the snippet of cape. Despite Lana’s comment, he hadn’t moved. Not that she’d expected him too. It was hard to admit when you’d been caught. Especially when you were supposed to be a super sneaky, superhero type, she supposed. The thoughts were bitter in her mind. "You gotta admit it's also totally like him to think that he can, well, hide something from us."
"Hide something? Oh, you mean like *himself*?" Lana rolled her eyes. She glanced over her shoulder just as the superhero in question finally decided to make his presence known 'officially'. Chloe smirked at the look on his face - a mixture of stern reproof and open wariness.
"Can I come in?" he mouthed through the closed window.
"Use the door," Chloe's response was firm, devoid of welcome and she knew that, closed window or not, he had heard her. Within seconds he had disappeared from view.
She turned back to Lana with a sigh. "This totally sucks. It's not bad enough that I have to marry Lex... Oh, no... Not bad enough by far. No, now I have to talk to my least favorite would-be hero."
"Least favorite?" Lana laughed, flopping down bonelessly onto the couch, dislodging one of the couch's expensive silk pillows so that it landed on the ground. Leather couch... Silk pillows was there nothing about Lex that didn't scream wealth? "So... who's your most favorite, then?"
Chloe's eyebrows rose. "Well... Batman, I guess. You have to respect a man that can run around in that getup and still look so...so..."
"Mysterious? Hot?" Her friend supplied with a quirk of her lips.
"All of the above?"
"Best get those lusty thoughts out of your head. You'll be a married woman soon enough."
Chloe's eyes narrowed menacingly. "Not funny, Pinkie."
A sharp rap on the door ended the conversation, Lana smirking in a devilish way that Chloe was sure she'd picked up way back in the 'old days’ when both of them were still acquainted with Lex on a friendly basis. It was funny how a friendship could change you...
For better or worse, she added to herself as she trudged reluctantly to the door, Lana's m0cking laughter following her. Clark must have used superspeed to get up here that quickly.
Why couldn't he just leave the two of them alone? Wasn't it enough to hurt them like he had, never letting them fully inside his life?
She steeled herself before opening the door, forcing her gaze to remain stony in the face of his timid expression. If he was nervous, all the better. Maybe he wouldn't hang around so long. The sooner he left, the better - gave him less time to reopen those emotional wounds she had hoped she’d buried a long time ago. He’d taken the time to put on his street clothes before coming to the door, thankfully. Clark visiting the penthouse was one thing… Superman doing the same thing, coming right up to the front door even, was something else entirely.
Not an ‘else’ she wanted to explain to Lex.
"Clark - wish I could say it's good to see you again." Chloe pushed the door open, stalking back toward Lana. The other woman looked decidedly peaked now that Clark was actually in the penthouse with them. The door shut somewhere behind her, his slow steps echoing off of the polished, gleaming wood of the floor.
Only then did she begin to feel like a caged animal. Smooth, she chastised herself. Taunt him until he can't help but want to track you down for answers.
His greeting was received with a cool snort and a not-so-subtle roll of Lana's eyes. Like a parent watching their child walk for the first time, Chloe couldn't help but be proud. Long gone were the days when Lana let any man, or woman for that matter, walk all over her. Sure, she hadn’t reached that level of snark that Chloe herself possessed, but she wasn’t the meek and mild Lana Lang of Smallville anymore, either.
"Can we get this over with quickly?" the blonde grumbled. "No telling when Lex will be home... Unless you were hoping to play this little reunion game with him too?"
"What did I do to you?!?" Clark exploded suddenly enough to elicit a tiny stab of fear in Chloe and a genuine, if not small, whimper from Lana.
Chloe recovered rapidly, wide eyes narrowing with pure ire.
"How about what you *didn't* do?" she all but growled. “Like, I dunno… that part where you didn’t tell us that you not only had powers… but that you’re not even one of the normal meteor mutants we’re used to. Oh, no. Not our Clark Kent. He had to fall right from the sky.”
“You realize that you just used the phrase ‘normal meteor mutant’, right?”
“Shh,” Chloe quieted Lana with a tiny, tight smile before turning back to Clark. “Well? Anything to say for yourself?”
“Sorry? You kept something that big from me – your supposed best friend – and Lana – the love of your teenage life… and all you can say is you’re sorry? My God. You really don’t have a clue what it takes to be human, do you?”
Her words whipped through the air in a millisecond, slapping him across the face with all of the force of the actual phsyical blow she dare not deliver herself. For one brief moment she felt guilty. That comment had been low. Lower than low. Knowing Clark he was almost certainly insecure about not being from this planet. It was just the type of thing that would have stayed with him his entire life, lingering in the background of his mind at all times.
For the barest fraction of a second she wanted to apologize, take the statement back. Do anything to erase that hurt look upon his face.
But she didn’t.
And the feeling passed.
Years of righteous anger had hardened her, but there was nothing she could or would do to change it at this point. It was a shield around her heart and she intended to keep it that way.
“Chloe… Lana… “ Clark sighed, shaking his head. “You two were special to me.”
“Yet we didn’t even rank a confession,” Lana sounded bitter, her response short and clipped. Chloe sat down next to her, regarding Clark with cool eyes as she put an arm around the other girl’s shoulders in a sign of support.
“I wanted to tell you both –“
“Then why didn’t you?” Chloe snapped, rolling her eyes. “It wasn’t rocket science. All you had to do was sit us down and… tell us. That’s it. No fancy speech. No heartfelt proclamations. We were your friends, Clark. We would have done anything for you. And instead how did we have to find out? By watching the evening news? Talk about your shocker. Does your mother know you’re running around Metropolis in spandex?”
She chuckled softly, but stopped just as quickly when she saw hope blossom in his eyes. There could be no hope.
“She made the suit.”
“No!” Lana gasped, hand flying to her mouth. Even Chloe felt a little taken aback by that statement.
“Martha made that hideous thing? Let me guess – you told her what colors, right?”
He blushed again and she chalked up a silent point for herself.
“The colors aren’t that bad.”
“They’re hideous.” Lana sniped.
Chloe watched with surprise as Clark actually got up the nerve to roll his eyes.
Her mouth about dropped open when he joined the snark fest with –
“And Pink and White would have looked better?”
Lana, on the other hand, actually did let her mouth drop open, shock registering plainly on her pretty face. Chloe snickered, hiding the laugh behind her hand. The feeling of amusement lasted for all of a moment before Clark turned to look at her, a soft smile on his lips, and she remembered that she was mad at him.
Very, very mad at him.
“We’re not friends anymore.”
“We could be.”
“No,” she shook her head. “I found out your ‘big secret’ one night watching TV, Clark. It’s not like you called me up and said – Chlo’ there’s something I need to tell you. Of course not. That would imply trust, which we obviously didn’t rate. There’s no recovering from that.”
“So – we’re enemies, then?”
Chloe snorted. “Is that all there is in your black and white world? Friends and enemies? No one in between?”
“You’re marrying Luthor. There is no ‘gray area’ when it comes to him. If you aren’t my friend, you’re my enemy.” He frowned. “And what is up with that anyway, Chloe? Marrying Lex? He’s not a nice man.”
“He –“ Chloe bit the inside of her cheek, halting the words that had almost come to her lips. She couldn’t very well say that he’d never hurt her, could she? Sure, it had only been that one time… but it had been a doozy. And wow if that one time wasn’t when they broke off their not-quite-relationship oh so long ago. Still – “He won’t hurt me.”
“Don’t be naïve. You cannot do this.”
“I cannot –not- do this.” she snapped, irritated. “Don’t suppose you remember a night in the Talon all those years ago. Me and Lex making a marriage contract… you and Lana witnessing it?”
“I – Oh… oh wow. Yeah, I remember that. He kept the contract?”
“Give the boy a prize,” Lana sneered. “Did you think she was marrying Lex out of a misplaced sense of love?”
Chloe didn’t wince at Lana’s comment, though it was hard not to. It wasn’t all that long ago that she would have willingly married Lex out of that same ‘misplaced sense of love’ that Lana so casually taunted Clark with now.
“I wouldn’t be surprised.”
“What?” Chloe and Lana yell as one.
“Well, you always did have a blind spot when it came to Lex, Chloe,” Clark continued, unaffected by their indignant shriek.
“And you were determined to make him the villain,” Chloe growled, rising from the couch. She stalked over to Clark, glaring up into his face.
“Are you going to tell him about me?”
“About you? Or about your not-so-ambiguously gay alter ego?”
“Don’t worry,” she shrugged. “I’m not blowing your secret to Lex. If he’s too blind to see what’s right in front of his face I’m not going to be the one to let him know.”
That, and she wasn’t in the mood to be nice to Lex. If that meant keeping a secret like this from him, then so be it.
Wasn’t like they were getting married for ‘love’ anyway. There was no trust between them to lose from a little oversight or lie on her part. No contractual stipulations to be broken if she didn’t let him know about Clark’s spandex fetish.
“I –am- sorry, Chloe.”
“Just… don’t’,” she sighed, pointing over his shoulder, toward the door. “Go. Or,” she stuck a thumb over her shoulder then, at the window. “Go. Either way, I don’t care. Just go away.”
He turned from her, casting sad eyes at Lana.
“Sorry, Clark.” His former high school sweetheart murmured. “Like Chloe said… There’s no recovering from that.”
Chloe felt the mood of the room drop from unfriendly to depressing within seconds. She’d have to have a talk with Lana… later… make sure this was still what the other woman wanted. Far be it from her to stand in the way of Lana rekindling a friendship with Clark if that was what she wanted.
Even if he didn’t deserve it.
The front door clicked open, breaking the silence of the room as Lex’s voice floated from the hallway. “Chloe? You here?”
“I’m in the living room… with Lana and Clark.”
“Kent?” Lex was frowning as he stepped into the room. He held out a silver wrapped package to her, dropping a kiss on her cheek before she could move away. Biting back a growl, Chloe turned to watch the train wreck, her fingers tearing absently at the wrapping paper. Jewelry was what she was guessing, by the long, flat shape of the box that was concealed beneath it.
“Luthor.” Clark’s voice was cold enough to freeze water. “I was just leaving.”
“Not on my account, I hope.”
“You don’t scare me.”
Chloe raised her eyebrows. So typically Clark – melodramatic to a fault.
“I wasn’t trying to,” Lex smirked. He turned away from the little group, pouring himself a drink at the mini bar. “Did you get the wedding invitation? I’m assuming that is why you’re here, of course.”
“Of course,” Clark bit out. Chloe didn’t miss the glance he threw her way, as if trying to determine if she really wasn’t going to just give him away right then and there.
She shrugged, sliding the top off of the box.
“To the cars I had delivered this afternoon,” Lex was still smirking as he turned. “I couldn’t decide which you’d prefer, so I purchased both. Hope you like them.”
”How sweet,” Lana cooed, causing Chloe to roll her eyes even as Clark ground his teeth together so hard that his jaw flexed with the force of it.
Of course, there was something she could do to get him out of here… to drive a nail into the coffin of their friendship.
With catlike grace the blonde stalked toward Lex.
“Thank you,” she murmured as she leaned up. Her lips brushed his gently, almost tenderly to anyone that didn’t know better.
“Not love?” She heard Clark demand angrily of Lana. “Could have fooled me.”
Chloe stiffened, but didn’t pull away as Lex moved to deepen the kiss. She let him explore her mouth with his tongue, tasting the scotch that he’d just indulged in. Rich, biting. Just like the man himself.
“He’s gone…. Chloe… Chloe…”
The blonde pulled away from Lex, her eyes dazed and unfocused, barely registering Lana’s voice in the background. She met his cool eyes, her heart racing from the intimacy they’d just shared. Her lips were still wet from the kiss and she could still taste him in her mouth.
“Damn you,” she hissed, all but running from the room.
For making her feel something for him… even if just for a second.