emeraldstag: Sailor Moon's Usagi & Luna (chloe sullivan)
[personal profile] emeraldstag
TITLE: Chapter 6 - Endure
FANDOM: Smallville
RATING: SFW (Safe For Work)
GENRE: Action-Adventure/Romance
CHARACTERS: Chloe Sullivan, Lex Luthor, Lana Lang, Clark Kent
PAIRINGS: Clark Kent/Chloe Sullivan
WORDS: 3271
CHAPTER SUMMARY: Chloe Sullivan's week has not gotten off to the greatest start. Having taken to avoiding Clark after witnessing his ship theft, she finds herself unable to get away from his influence entirely as visits from Lex and Lana prepare her for a talk with Clark she never imagined having.
ARCHIVED: Fanfiction.net
STORY LINKS: (First Chapter) | (Previous Chapter) | (Next Chapter)
STORY NOTES:
  • No year wait this time around! I think we can all agree that even two months is too long of a wait, and what a cliffhanger to leave the story on. But fear not, the next chapter will be ready in a few days. :)



***

For Chloe, Monday morning brought with it confirmation that the spaceship theft she had witnessed previous night had not been a twisted dream from her psyche and that there was no miracle explanation to be found that revealed why Clark would do something so underhanded as stealing from her behind her back.

Getting through the day brought its own set of problems, including the fact that Chloe and Clark generally are around each other constantly while at school but Chloe made sure to brush off his attention early in the day, making excuses of a deadline at the Torch that would keep her busy; the deadline was true, but she used it to her advantage since Clark did not know she had already decided to use Pete's rescue interview to fill that need. That left Chloe with some time to herself to decide how she was going to handle Clark's actions and if she was going to confront him about it.

That cut down their interactions with each other to the classes they had together and Chloe limited herself to flashing Clark a quick forced smile before sitting down away from him, either next to Lana or another friend that she had in the class. Chloe knew the distance she put between herself and Clark would give away that she was upset, but his faux-innocent act that morning when he had asked about her progress on the spaceship made her so angry that it took all of her will not to go off on him right there in the school hallway.

Instead, she used her ever-growing instincts as a reporter to not reveal anything and respond nonchalantly to Clark at the time before scurrying off to her sanctuary a few rooms away, the classroom that was home to the Smallville Torch. Her fluctuating emotions thanks to Clark were driving Chloe crazy but luckily Clark smartly stayed away from her domain the entire day.

Eventually she put aside her Clark problems and was able to focus on preparing the next issue of the Torch for print. Before she knew it, the school day was over and through the windows of the Torch the sun could be seen setting across Smallville. Chloe was so in her element that she did not notice she was no longer alone until the newcomer broke the comfortable silence of the room.

“Nice picture of Pete.”

The voice came from over her shoulder, startling Chloe into jumping in her seat. She swiveled her chair around to find a smiling Lex Luthor standing behind her holding a coffee cup and small paper bag from the Talon in his hands.

“Did Clark send you?” she asked.

“I come in peace with caffeine and croissants,” said Lex. He held his hands up in deference, waving the bag in front of Chloe until she snatched both it and the coffee out of his hands.

Finally letting herself feel fatigued, Chloe gratefully sipped the coffee. “Thanks,” she said, flashing her first true smile of the day up at Lex.

“Seeing that smile made the trip worth it,” replied Lex smoothly. “Any chance I can help solve whatever the problem is that has Clark doing chores into the night back at the Kent Farm instead of spending time with his Girl Friday who herself is busy slaving away at her computer here alone in a very empty Smallville High?”

Chloe glanced away from Lex, picking at the croissant she had chosen. “I'd rather not talk about Clark right now, Lex. There is a conversation in our upcoming future that I am not looking forward to.”

Lex surprised Chloe by crouching next to her and grasping her croissant-filled hand. “I hope you know that I don't consider Clark my only good friend in Smallville. If you need me I'm there for you too.”

“I appreciate that, Lex, but I'm a big girl. It takes more than a little fight with Clark to rattle my cage,” said Chloe, turning back to her computer and casually wiping her suddenly wet eyes with the back of her hand.

Lex stood up and politely took his time to look around the classroom. “So I noticed not seeing anyone else on my way in; it left me wondering how a sophomore ended up with the carte blanche to run the school paper unsupervised into the night?”

Chloe blushed at the implication but was grateful for the change of subject. “Well, originally the Torch editor would have to get the room key from the sponsoring teacher but before I arrived last year a school paper wasn't high on Smallville High's priority list; so the teacher requirement was skipped on a trial basis until my effort and dedication proved I didn't need one.”

“Impressive,” said Lex, his finger hovering near the Time magazine cover featuring Lana as a young girl that was pinned on Chloe's Wall of Weird.

“I tend to exceed expectations on a daily basis,” said Chloe proudly. “But to finish answering your question, with no teacher sponsor I would just pick up the keys from the school office after school and stay until Principal Kwan would come by to say he was leaving for the day and that it was time close up. Then that accident last spring killed him and the school has only had temp principals since. Dealing with new authority figures on a daily basis was not something I wanted so I just didn't return the keys and no one seems to care that I kept them instead.”

Lex smiled and walked back to Chloe's desk. “I never liked going through red tape either,” he said, pulling out a few sheets of paper from inside his coat. “That's why I was hoping you could help me find something I'm missing. It's an octagonal disc.”

Chloe looked at the papers Lex handed her. On them were several crudely drawn sketches of an octagonal disc. “Art is not one of your best skills, huh?”

“Being an artist was not an encouraged career goal at Excelsior,” said Lex with a laugh. “Still, it's pretty impossible to get an eight-sided disc wrong right?”

Chloe held the papers up, looking at the sketches at different angles. “You would think that ...”

“This must be that wit Clark is so fond of,” said Lex dryly. “Back to the disc, can you help?”

“I'll try but this seems like a very generic object. What is so special about it that you would look for my help?” asked Chloe.

Lex's brief hesitation did not escape Chloe's notice. “It was mostly a paperweight on my desk for a brief time but then it disappeared during the storm. The reason I'm looking for it is that there were etchings on the disc that so far no one I've consulted knows of a language it might be or what material the disc might be made of.”

Chloe's eyebrows slowly rose as her interest in the missing mysterious disc grew. “Ah, the weird and unexplained, I see my reputation precedes me.” Reaching over to turn on her scanner, her hand was stopped by Lex.

“Yes, your reputation as someone who finds ways to get to the truth others can't,” said Lex. “I'll be the first to admit that some of my methods can be less virtuous than Clark may think myself capable of but I am trying to become a better man than my father and this is a step in that direction. I trust Clark and Clark trusts you; so then I trust you, Chloe Sullivan.”

Lex's sudden bout of soul-baring honesty stunned Chloe into silence, which did not help for appearance sake when the moment was broken by an equally surprised Lana Lang.

“I'm not interrupting anything am I?” asked Lana.

Chloe and Lex's heads snapped toward the doorway where Lana stood watching them. Chloe jerked her hand free from Lex's grasp before clearing her throat and moving her hands back to the safety of her keyboard. “Nothing earth-shattering, Lana. Please come in, Lex just came by because Clark asked him to check up on me and he was just about to leave.”

“Are you sure?” said Lana, staring at Lex.

Lex smiled while adjusting his coat. “It's fine, Lana. I did my duty for Clark and should be getting back to my father now. I'm sure he's missing me.”

Chloe watched as he passed Lana before stopping at the doorway to glance back her way. “You'll let me know if you find anything?”

Shuffling the papers he had given her together into a folder to deal with at a later time when she was alone again, Chloe nodded. “I'll email you the moment anything turns up.”

Lex nodded and left with a wave to Lana, leaving Chloe alone with a curious girl. “What was all that about?” asked Lana.

Chloe sighed before waving Lana towards the chair next to her. “Nothing, really. The Torch just seems to be the place tonight for members of the Clark Kent fan club.”

Lana looked surprised at Chloe. “You make it sound like that's not a good thing,” she said. “Is that why Clark asked Lex to stop by? I certainly didn't expect to walk in on you two having a moment.”

“We were not having a moment,” denied Chloe. “And like I said to Lex, I'd prefer it if Clark was not a topic of conversation tonight if you don't mind.”

“Believe me, I'm so tired of dealing with relationships lately that I think I can refrain from prying for at least tonight,” admitted Lana. “I just had to get out of the house. Ever since Nell met Dean the insurance adjuster after the tornado it has been hard to avoid their dating rituals.”

“Gush-fest?” asked Chloe.

“At times,” said Lana. “Other times they're bickering like an old married couple. Two extremes with no in-between and I can't stand it.”

“I guess I should be glad my dad never tried jumping into the dating scene again after my mom left,” said Chloe soberly.

“Don't get me wrong, I want Nell to be happy, but she's like a schoolgirl again with Dean seeming to occupy her every thought now,” replied Lana. “I spend more time away from home these days just to avoid any awkward moments with them. That reminds me, I might have mentioned to Nell that I stayed over at your house last night for a sleepover.”

That surprised Chloe. “I had a pretty eventful night last night but I'm pretty sure I don't remember seeing you there. Where did you go?” she asked.

Lana blushed and looked down. “Oh, I didn't want to bother you or your dad so I just crashed in one of the booths at the Talon.”

“Not exactly ideal, huh,” commented Chloe. “You know, next time you don't have to lie. You can stay at my house for real, any time.”

Lana broke out a wide smile. “Really, Chloe? That would be wonderful.”

Chloe shrugged back. “Hey, what are friends for? I take it the reason you're here then is that Nell and her gentleman caller are having one of those 'moments' back at your place?”

“Yes,” Lana sighed. “And the Talon lacks a certain comfort at night when it's dark and empty. If this keeps up I might just have to renovate that upstairs studio into an emergency bedroom for myself.”

“Nonsense,” said Chloe, dismissively waving her hand. “You'll just become a regular at Casa Del Sullivan. Let me save my work and close up the Torch and we'll head home to a relationship-free zone complete with mugs of hot chocolate that have our names on them.”

Confident she was not going to get any more work done, Chloe shut down her computer and slipped on the large beige overcoat that used to be Clark's coat but he had left it at her place one time and she had since claimed it as her own. It dwarfed her due to her size compared to Clark but it kept her warm and whenever she had it on she swore she can still smell him on it. It brought her a comfort that she definitely needed at the moment.

Talking about current relationship dramas made Chloe think of Lana's own beau and current long-distance relationship. “At least with Whitney overseas you don't have to experience the same ups and downs of a relationship anymore,” commented Chloe offhandedly.

When Lana didn't reply, Chloe turned to her friend and noticed for the first time that night Lana's sad eyes. “The Lang-Fordman ship is still smooth sailing, right?” she asked.

“It ran aground awhile ago,” confessed Lana. “Remember that tape of video messages I had everyone make for Whitney a few weeks back? Well, when my turn to record a message came I had to say what I felt and a long distance relationship at fifteen to an eighteen-year-old fighting a war thousands of miles away is something I just can't handle, right now or ever I imagine.”

“Oh, Lana,” said Chloe softly, pulling her friend into a hug. “I can't imagine how you haven't gone crazy with all this silly relationship business running rampant around you. Here I've been so wrapped up with the good and bad of my relationship with Clark that I didn't notice you were hurting.”

After accepting a few moments of comfort, Lana pulled back and put her hands on Chloe's shoulders. “I'm hurting Chloe, but I will get over the loss and move on eventually. It took me awhile to realize that what I felt for Whitney was puppy love and not something more like you and Clark have. Watching the way the two of you light up and come alive in each other's presence, it's magical, Chloe and that's why you need to get past whatever is bothering you about him. He's going to be a good man, just like his dad. I can tell.”

“I used to think that way without a doubt,” said Chloe honestly, finally opening up to her friend. “But sometimes those we are closest to can surprise you in the worst ways.”

“Did Clark do something wrong?” asked Lana.

Chloe sighed. “I don't know what I saw, but it's hard not to think the worst.”

“Then there's only one thing left for you to do,” said Lana solemnly, wrapping her arm around Chloe. “Tell him the truth, Chloe. He cares for you as a friend and girlfriend but you need to make sure he respects you as an equal partner in your relationship.”

Lana handed Chloe her messenger bag and led her out of the Torch while Chloe thought about what she said. What Lana said made sense to her but Lana was not finished dispensing advice. She had one last thing to say on the subject as they walked through the dimly lit empty parking lot of Smallville High towards Chloe's car.

“Confront Clark because hiding the truth only keeps people apart.”

***

Chloe knew the next time she saw Clark again it would be sooner than later and when the sun rose on Tuesday morning along with it came said boyfriend knocking on her front door. Thankfully her dad had already left for work and would not be around to contribute to the awkwardness that was bound to surround the conversation she and Clark were about to have.

Butterflies in her stomach aside, Chloe made the decision that morning to wear a light red blouse with a plunging neckline that showed off the little cleavage she did have in hopes of reminding Clark of her feminine wiles while at the same time she had her reporter face on to show her resolve when she opened the door to greet Clark.

“Hey, Chloe,” said Clark, flashing his trademark smile at her before his eyes darted down to take in her choice of attire.

“Eyes up here, Farm Boy,” said Chloe amusedly. “You are not on my good side right now.”

Clark's eyes snapped up to meet hers, and he flinched at the seriousness of her gaze. He started to open his mouth to reply but it shut just as quickly as he seemed to rethink his approach. “I know you're avoiding me for some reason that I don't understand–”

“You don't understand?!” snapped Chloe, interrupting him. “I know I can be a lot of things to you, Clark, but I didn't think an idiot was one of them. I saw you.”

“Saw me?” asked Clark, confused. “Chloe, you've been avoiding me since the ...”

“The word you are looking for is spaceship, Clark. You can't even finish your lie that I'm sure you cleverly thought up because even you don't believe it!”

“That's not true, Chloe,” said Clark with a frown. “The spaceship has nothing to do with this.”

“Nothing?” asked Chloe. “Then why haven't you stopped by for an update on the spaceship since you left in a rush on Sunday?”

Clark stood his ground under Chloe's verbal assault but there was no doubt that the nearly one foot shorter Chloe was a very intimidating presence at the moment. “I'm not … a big space fan,” he finished lamely.

“So I guess I've been boring you this whole time with my date ideas?” she said icily.

Chloe angrily tried to slam the door shut in his face but Clark's quick hands prevented her from doing so. Instead Chloe let go of the door and retreated further into the house.

“I guess we are not as compatible as I thought,” said Chloe, her eyes landing on a photograph of them from Spring Formal sitting on the mantle. “Maybe we should have stayed just friends.”

“Don't say that, Chloe, we can get past this,” said Clark, placing his hands on her shoulders in an attempt to calm her but Chloe stiffened under his touch.

“I don't know if we can,” said Chloe, staring off at a bare spot of the wall just above the photograph. “I saw you, Clark. Sunday night in the carport just outside. And the spaceship was gone.”

She couldn't see Clark shaking his head in denial. “That's not–”

“Don't lie to me, Clark. I was still awake, on the phone with Lois when you came by. I saw your dad's truck, and you get in it.” Turning around, Chloe looked up into his eyes. “Why did you do it? Steal the ship and act like nothing happened. I probably would have let you taken it to your barn if you asked. You mean more to me than some strange object but you don't seem to feel that way about me. Why, Clark? What was so fascinating about the ship that you would just take it like that behind my back?”

Clark's shoulders sagged and he dropped his head. “I can't explain Chloe. It's not something I take lightly.”

Chloe pulled away from Clark. “Then, I think you should go and not come back expecting anything more than friendship and maybe not even that because lies and deceit are not things I take lightly in a friendship let alone a relationship.”

Looking sadly at Clark one last time, Chloe turned and ran out of the room, wiping the tears falling down her cheeks with her hands. Her heart hurt and so did her head. It felt like a part of her had been ripped out and she would never be whole again.

And what she had imagined would be the best week ever after the discovery of the spaceship had quickly become the worst week of Chloe Sullivan's life.

September 2014

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