“Go away, Kal.” Chloe growled, angered, irritated and hurt. She knew that Clark would act badly if he knew that she was attending Lana and Lex’s engagement dinner, but she’d never have expected him to do the things he’d done--or say the hateful, hurtful things he had to her.
“What if I don’t want to?” He asked from where he laid on her bed, acting as comfortable as could be.
“Don’t you have Lana kidnapped somewhere?” She asked, trying not to sound bitter. “Go and entertain her.”
“Are you jealous?” He asked, grinning smugly as if he already knew the answer. “Did you think that with Lana engaged you and I would finally get it on?”
Oh, if he was going to start with that crap again--!
“She’s fine.” He waved off her other question. “I left her in the loft, pressed a little nerve that sent her right to sleep before coming to see you.”
“Listen to me Kal, Lana is pregnant, you shouldn’t be doing any weird Kryptonian thing to her!” Chloe gasped, honestly horrified. “Are you trying to make her miscarry?”
He made a face at her.
“Get out of here.” She ordered. “I’ll pull the ears off of Clark whenever he gets smart enough to get rid of you, but I refuse to talk to you. Okay? So leave.”
“Your loss.” And with a gust of wind he was gone.
Chloe closed her eyes and collapsed on the bed, telling herself that those hurtful, taunting words that’d escaped Kal’s mouth at the dinner hadn’t meant a thing to her. That Jimmy’s words and insecurities were stupid.
Tried to convince herself that it didn’t hurt her that even as Kal he preferred Lana to her.
What’s so wrong with me? Why doesn’t he love me?
Tears falling down her cheeks, Chloe curled up on the bed and cried.
Eyes opening slightly, Chloe blinked away at the brightness in the room before yawning and smiling up at Lex Luthor. “Morning handsome.” Smiling as he pressed a kiss against her lips before raising from their bed like a king, she enjoyed the view of a naked Lex as he made his way to the bathroom to perform his morning constitutional.
“I feel your eyes on my ass.” He laughed as he entered the bathroom and disappeared from sight.
“You know, for a guy, you have a great ass.” She teased, stretching languidly in the bed and trying to fully awaken from the dream she could no longer remember. It’d been happening to her a lot now, she’d have vivid dream that she knew she should remember when she awoke, and yet didn’t.
“Pervert.” Came the laugh from the bathroom.
“Didn’t hear you complaining last night.” Giggling at the moan coming from the bathroom, the blonde sat up in bed, pulling the sheet around her naked body as she gazed contentedly at their bedroom.
Despite the fact that they’d been going out exclusively for eight years, and that she’d been in love with him since she was in pigtails, it’d been a shock to her when he’d asked her to move in with him. She’d been hesitant at first, because this was a really big step, and if she was honest, it felt as if something deep inside was begging for her not to do this, but Chloe’d pushed that aside and accepted his offer.
And she was happy, deliriously so.
The only thing that bothered her were the restless nights in which she knew that she had dreams that were so vivid she’d wake up screaming or crying--and yet couldn’t remember what they were about.
“So, is Lois Lane going to work today or is Chloe Sullivan taking up my offer to take her driving?” Lex appeared and leaned in the doorway, naked and glorious as the day he’d been born.
“Ooh, visual blackmail.” The star reporter who worked at the Daily Planet under the nom de plum Lois Lane smirked, getting up and walking passed him with a wiggle of her hips, knowing quite well that he was getting distracted by just watching her naked body. “Two can play that game.”
Lex chuckled as he turned and watched her in their large bathroom, watched as she turned on the shower and waited for the water to warm up, watched her as she pinned up her glorious, silky hair as to not get it wet. He smiled in adoration. “Have I told you lately how beautiful you are?”
“Yep.” She smiled perkily despite the fact that she usually wasn’t a morning person. The short, curvy woman turned to look at the large mirror and ignored the water running in their shower as she picked up a strand of her long, brown hair. “I was thinking, maybe I should go for a different look.”
“Oh?” He asked, leaning his head against the doorframe, watching her.
“Yeah.” Chloe nodded, looking at herself and sure enough she saw a flash of herself with short, spiky blonde hair before the reflection in the mirror returned to that of her normal self. That’d been happening for a while now and it intrigued her. Had she been blonde in a past life? “Maybe I should cut it--and maybe try being blonde?”
She turned to look at Lex, surprised at the conflicted look in his eyes. “Why not?”
“I don’t know.” Lex confessed, looking bothered. “But the thought of you as a blonde, I don’t know, it just doesn’t sit right with me. And anyway, no one would take you seriously if you were blonde.”
“That is not true.” Chloe snorted, but gave her hair another long look and smiled, realizing she’d been silly to want to cut or color it. She had beautiful hair, everyone always admired it. Why would she want to change it all of a sudden?
Lex appeared behind her, embracing her and resting his chin on her shoulder. “I love your hair just as it is.”
“You just say that because you like to pull on my hair when we’re fu--.”
“Someone woke up a pervert this morning.” Lex chuckled deep within his throat as he pressed tiny, adoring kisses against the curve of her neck.
“Someone perverted someone else when they were a young, impressionable child.” Chloe closed her eyes, enjoying the feel of Lex.
“Stop channeling my father.” He laughed against her skin. “You kill the mood.”
“Horndog.” Chloe whispered affectionately, turning in his embrace and pressing a soft kiss against his lips before slipping away from him and into the shower, closing the sliding glass door behind her. “So,” she reached for the liquid body gel. “Where are you taking Chloe Sullivan today?”
The bottle slipped from her hands and crashed on the shower’s floor. “What?”
“Smallville, it’s the place dad would have sent Gabe and you when you were in eighth grade if I hadn’t threatened him with disgracing the family name, remember?” Lex asked, turning on the sink and putting toothpaste on his toothbrush. “I’ve been curious about the place and I thought that you might like to see where you might have lived if I hadn’t selfishly kept you.”
“Kept me.” She snorted with a roll of her eyes, bending down to reach for the bottle of liquid body wash. “I’m not a puppy.”
His chuckle was distorted as he brushed his teeth.
“But you know what?” Chloe asked, pouring the wash onto her skin and beginning to rub it in. “I like your idea. Let’s go visit Smallville.”
“It’s a leafy little hamlet.” Chloe announced, decidedly unimpressed with the place and thanking all heaven that Lex had gotten her out of having to spend important teenaged years in such a boreville like this one. “Look, another farm. I wonder if they are all Amish or something.”
“I might be the filthy rich one of us two, but you are definitely the snob.” Lex teased from where he sat behind the wheel of his silver Jaguar.
Sticking her tongue out at him, Chloe sighed as they drove into the town itself. “Hey, look, it’s a coffee shop! Let’s stop there.”
“Coffee isn’t good for your health.” And yet Lex was already signaling the turn he would need to make to get a good parking space.
“I know, I know.” Chloe nodded in agreement, and was out of the car the moment he’d parked.
The brunette took in a deep breath of what she was sure was the purest air she’d ever inhaled, and looked around the small town square, noticing that Lex and her were getting quite a bit of attention from the townspeople.
Then again, everyone was wearing casual clothes, driving in pickup trucks, and probably knew each other by sight, so Lex and her were probably a big change to their normal scene.
“So, what is it that has you so enthralled? Is it the flannel?” Lex whispered in her ear, surprising her because she hadn’t felt him come to her side.
“And you say I am the snob of the relationship.” She slapped his chest playfully before grabbing his arm and leading him towards the building called The Talon.
The moment they entered the place Chloe felt as if she’d come home, and that feeling frightened her. Why did such a foreign place call to her soul like this?
Her eyes went unconsciously towards the back of the building and she saw a stairways to a room she’d somehow already known was there.
What’s going on?
“Hello!” A bright voice announced, dragging Chloe from her thoughts. “My name is Lana Lang, you two must be new.”
Chloe looked at the petite woman in front of her and was shocked at the momentary mixture of feelings. There was friendship, jealousy and envy, mixed with regret and longing.
She blinked, placing a hand to her head.
“Yes, we are.” To anyone else Lex would sound cool and composed, by Chloe knew him better than anyone else, and she heard that tiny bit of confusion in his voice.
Was he getting the same odd feelings she was?
“I’m Lex and this is my girlfriend, Lois.” Very few people knew her real identity, because only a few people really needed to know. There was her father and mother, of course, and there was her cousin, Dinah Sullivan, another leggy brunette with ‘an attitude the size of California’, as Lex liked to describe her.
Dinah could understand Chloe’s position anyway, since she worked for the Daily Planet as well and wrote a controversial (and very popular) politic column under the name Dinah Lance.
Sometimes it was dangerous beings a journalist, so having an alter ego was a way of keeping you and your loved ones safe, both Dinah and herself understood that. And Chloe herself had to be very careful because thanks to Lex’s father, the Luthors weren’t exactly the most beloved people in the world, so just being associated with Lex could be dangerous for her.
But he loved her, and protected her, and she loved him for that.
“It’s great to meet you two.” Lana smiled, looking at them both silently for a moment before shaking her head, smile growing larger. “Would you two like a coffee? Muffin? Or something else?”
“Coffee, black, for me.” Lex was looking around the building, sounding as distracted as Chloe felt. “A mocha latte for my girlfriend.”
“Coming right up!” Lana smiled that infectious, eternal smile of hers. “Why don’t you two find a table and I’ll be right up with your orders?”
But by then Chloe had already drifted away to the side, looking at the wall filled with pictures. This was obviously a family place and one beloved by the townspeople because the pictures of the people on the wall were pictures of a lot of people sitting in the seats having a coffee or a muffin at that very moment.
Chloe felt connected somehow, and she couldn’t tear her eyes from each picture. She saw several of them with a younger Lana wearing a cheerleader uniform and hugging a tall, blonde guy in a jersey that said Crows.
Figures she’d be a cheerleader, she’s really cheerful.
There were other pictures as well, some of Lana being crowned prom Queen, of a handsome dark boy scoring a winning shot at a high school basketball game (the back of his jersey read Ross), and then there was a shot of another boy, one with black hair and bluish green eyes.
Chloe’s throat went dry as her eyes were transfixed on the picture of the boy smiling at the camera, yet whose smile seemed forced, and whose eyes betrayed a sadness that she couldn’t understand--or could--and didn’t want to.
“He’s my son, Clark Kent.”
Turning to the sweet voice behind her, Chloe felt a jolt of recognition zinging throughout her body as her green eyes rested on the lovely redhead. What was it with her today? “Oh.”
“He’s not around anymore.” The woman’s smile was wide and sincere, though her eyes held hints of the same sadness that was visible in her son’s. “He’s off training, but he’ll be back some day.”
“Training?” Chloe couldn’t help asking. “He’s in the army?”
“Something like that.” The woman smiled at her. “My name is Martha Kent, and that’s my husband over there by the counter. His name is Jonathan.”
Chloe peeked at the corner and saw a large blonde man, eating two brownies at once, much to her amusement. She smiled and turned to Martha, shaking her hand. “My name is Lois, Lois Lane.”
Shock and confusion quickly passed through Martha’s eyes. “Lois Lane?”
Chloe wondered why the woman looked so confused. “Yes, I’m Lois Lane.”
“Lo?” Lex called, coming up towards her and eyeing Martha oddly. “You’ve made a friend already.”
“Yes.” She smiled at him, hugging him tightly, glad for the anchor he was for her. “Darling, this is Martha Kent, and that’s her husband over there, Jonathan.”
Martha’s eyes were wider as she looked from Lex to Chloe and back, as if unable to believe what she was seeing.
“Mrs. Kent, this is my boyfriend, Lex.” She left out Luthor on purpose, not many people reacted well to Luthors.
“Martha?” her husband called from where he sat, obviously just realizing that his wife had left him.
“Coming Jonathan.” She turned to Chloe and Lex with a shaky smile. “It was nice meeting you two. Will—will you be in Smallville long?”
“We were planning on spending the weekend, my family have a home here.” Lex spoke slowly, cautiously, and by now Chloe was sure he was feeling the same way she was.
This was not a coincidence.
Something was drawing them to this place, to these people.
And Chloe Sullivan was going to figure out what it was.
She had to!
Martha smiled genuinely at them. “You’ll have to come and have dinner with us tomorrow night! I’m having a little get together.” She quickly gave them directions to her farm and left before they could come up with an excuse not to go—not that they were planning on. Something about Martha Kent called to them, and they were going to figure out what it was.
“I just don’t understand it, Jonathan.” Martha whispered to her husband as they sent covert looks in Chloe’s and Lex’s direction as the young couple drank their coffee and smiled adoringly into each other’s eyes. “Why is she calling herself Lois? When Jor-EL changed the past—did he get rid of the Lois we knew or is she out there calling herself Chloe?”
Unlike his wife and son, Jonathan Kent had no recollection of this supposed other life they’d lived before Jor-EL had changed events, so he really didn’t feel the same concern that his wife did.
Actually, he was rather glad.
“You said the guy was an obsessive maniac before, honey.” He announced, holding her hand, trying to pull her attention from the young couple’s table. “But from the looks of it, staying in Metropolis made him have no interest in anything that could endanger Clark. He’s no longer Segeet, if he ever truly was.”
The blonde farmer looked at the couple, who were grinning at each other. “They look in love, and if your Chloe has managed to make him happy and oblivious to Clark or anything pertaining to Clark, then I say let’s toast to their love and let them be.”
“You don’t get it Jonathan.” Martha sighed, unable to tear her eyes off of them as Chloe—Lois?—leaned forwards and pressed a soft, tender kiss to Lex’s lips. “Clark’s in love with her!”
“Clark was in love with Chloe Sullivan.” Jonathan pointed out, thinking this was a clear point. “Not Lois Lane.”
“But she’s the same person!”
“If Luthor isn’t the same person, don’t you think that there could be a chance that your Chloe isn’t as well?”
Martha’s heart dropped to her stomach. She’d grown up with Clark remembering their other life. Clark had never forgiven Jor-EL for his part in his separation from the woman he’d always loved, yet never had realized it until she’d been ripped from his life by his own father.
Clark’s only hope was that as soon as his training was over he’d be able to find her…
But Martha didn’t want her son to see Chloe so happy with his enemy.
Lex is not Clark’s enemy anymore. She reasoned to herself. He’s a good man—Chloe has made him a good man. Anyone can see he only has eyes for Chloe and that anything else if unimportant for him. A soft smile touched her face. Chloe always swore she’d protect Clark--and she’s doing so even now without realizing it.
Martha’s heart broke a little more.
I’d just really wished she’d be my daughter-in-law.
“Your training is nearly complete, my son.”
Clark Kent nodded from where he stood in the training room of the Fortress, but he really wasn’t listening to Jor-EL, he was listening to her heartbeat--something he’d been doing ever since Jor-EL had taken her from him.
He would never forgive the AI for what he’d done, never understand why he’d thought it necessary to rid Chloe, his Chloe, of all memories of him, to make it so that she’d never gone to Smallville, and to allow Clark to keep the duel memories of both being with her and being without her.
It’d been torture.
He hadn’t realized the extent of how much he truly needed Chloe, how much he truly cared for her, until he was made to live memories of a life without her. It’d been a solitary, miserable existence. Without Chloe to push him, to brighten his days, he’d realized early on how Lana was really only a lovely face whose boyfriends all ended up either dying or going crazy.
And in the other life, hadn’t Clark himself lived up to that rule and died when he’d been stripped of his powers?
Of course, many good things had come from Jor-EL’s actions—like his father being alive and well, and the Luthors never coming to live in Smallville—but Clark knew that without Chloe by his side all those victories weren’t half as sweet.
Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud.
Her heartbeat was calming, and it was near.
She must be close to the caves…she might be in Smallville.
“How much longer must I stay here?” He knew that he sounded impatient, but he didn’t care. He needed her, and he couldn’t stand this frustration any more. He had to find her, he had to right every wrong Jor-EL had done them.
“Just a little longer, my son.” Jor-EL promised, as if he knew what was in Clark’s heart. “Just a little longer.”