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Disclaimer: Smallville and all related elements, characters and indicia © Tollin-Robbins Productions and Warner Bros. Television, 2002. All Rights Reserved. All characters and situations—save those created by the authors for use solely on this website—are copyright Tollin-Robbins Productions and Warner Bros. Television. Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster.

Author's Note: As with any work in progress, this story ended up way beyond where the author had originally envisioned taking it. The first chapter was supposed to be it, but then ideas kept growing, characters kept talking, and the hormones, snark and caffiene kept flowing. This is an example of margarita canon (definition provided later) and the Lex that is used is not the Lex of most fiction. He is, rather, a kinder, gentler Lex. At this point, mid-S1, any meeting, etc. between Chloe and Lex is a manufactured reality. But that's the point of fanfic, isn't it? To explore strange, new worlds and have everyone join Star Fleet. And I don't know Jack about coffee, so I had to wing it. But thanks to those who suggested drinks. Thanks to C1everish and Jenn for the unwitting inspiration for this story, Kassie and the rest for their responses and support. It means a lot that people might have had as much enjoyment reading these stories as I have had writing them. Constructive feedback is always appreciated.

Would You Like Some Java With Your Snark?
by käthe

Chapter 1: Coffee. Black.

Coffee. Black and steaming. It sat on the low table in front of her. Mocking her. Mocking her inability to chronicle the mundane goings-on of the Beanery. Chloe wondered at her choice of writing exercise and scowled at the nearly empty journal page in front of her.

An impulse had drawn her to the Beanery one day after school. She held Outsider status among the young adult population of Smallville and once again she intended to put it to good use. She would just sit in a corner observing the world, scribbling bits and pieces of nonsense in her journal, building characters and storylines for what she saw before her. At least that was the plan.

And there was no character better than Lex Luthor, real or otherwise. Chloe looked back to her journal, and the notation, "Red Sea", next to Lex's name. Lex dropped by the coffee shop on a regular basis, and when he did the crowds parted like they were under orders from Moses and God on high in some Cecil B. DeMille movie. It wasn't so much a physical part as much as one that you could feel spread out over the room. People instinctively shrank away from his presence.

She wondered if it was just his appearance. It defied the stereotypical teenage conformity, but then again he wasn't exactly a teenager anymore. He occupied that nebulous area that existed between being a teenager and starting a 401k. Not like he needed it. Plus, that head of his wasn't exactly inconspicuous. She liked it though. It fit the rest of his personality. He knew what he wanted and got it, nothing stood in his way, not even hair. Sure, he was making an effort to become somewhat involved in Smallville society, but she had to wonder how much of it was brought about simply because of his association with Clark. And that was another can of worms, one she didn't care to open at the moment. Really though, he hung out with some of the local kids and made donations to the high school, but it wasn't a comfortable association.

He still drove his flashy car and wore fine suits that showed his sophistication and general superiority to the supposed small town hick. Even his customary, "Call me Lex," was forced, insisting that he was just a regular guy while the next minute trying to subtly remind you exactly who he was. There were too many incongruities for Chole to ignore, it was the reporter's instinct, and he was a puzzle—one that she wanted to solve. The fact that he seemed to be interested in her meteor shower theories just sweetened the deal.

Almost as if her thoughts had generated his presence, and in Smallville nothing was impossible, Lex swung the door of the Beanery open. The crowd parted on cue and Lex made his way to the counter. Chloe was too far away to hear his order but was amused by the motions that Lex was making to show the employee how to get the foam just right. Finally his order was finished, he grabbed his cup and quickly scanned the room for a familiar lanky frame and black hair. No joy. However, he did find someone else that he had been meaning to catch up with sitting in the corner.

Chloe watched him weave his way around clusters of chattering patrons, smug expression fixed in place.

"Miss Sullivan," he nodded in greeting before sitting himself in an overstuffed chair across from her. It occurred to her that he was probably used to spare furnishings, not a chair that could envelope you whole. She could almost see him squirm.

"Mr. Luthor. I see we're out to tour the serfs today, seeing how we get on and all."

"Well, you know, as your lord and master, I do have an interest in your collective well being and productivity."

"Oh, we're all happy little bees today. Your share of the harvest should arrive at Luthor Manor any day now."

"Good to know. But you're just the person I wanted to see."


"Really. I've been thinking about your wall lately. I seem to be seeing a whole new side to your berg lately..."

"So you've been converted to the Wall."

"I was at ground zero. That was my conversion. But I wanted to ask you, why are you the only one that blames the meteors?"

"Side effect of being the outsider, I guess." At his quizzical expression she continued, "I moved to Smallville after the meteor shower, so I tend to look at things related to it without a personal connection, or at least as much of one." She glanced nervously at his skull and carried on. "Add to that the fact that I'm kind of the social outcast, partly by making, and partly thanks to my cynical nature," she said the last part with pride, placing her hand on her chest and trying to look very much the heroine.

"And you get the Wall of Weird," he finished for her.

"Exactly. It's an awful name, isn't it? Sounds like it should be a booth in the sideshow. Though it does sort of fit some..."

"Of the more interesting people around town?"

"Yeah. Exactly. My most recent dating opportunity being one of them."

"Currently resides in my lake?"

"That's the one."

"Ah, you can do better. Dryer, and room temperature at the very least."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence."


"Speaking of love lives."

"I thought we were talking genetic mutants."

"Radioactively affected mutants."

"Ah, I stand corrected. So sayeth the Wall of Weird."

"Sayeth it does. But don't try and change the subject. Love lives. Yours and Clarks?"

"Healthy and non-existent. At least at his last obsessive check in."

"Good to know you're still in denial. I meant it as in terms of Lex and Clark."

"Why Miss Sullivan, what ever do you mean?"

"Coy doesn't play well with you, Lex. I saw that look you gave him in the Torch office that day, and all that time you two spend locked away in the castle. Please, it's the stuff of great fiction. The lord of the manor and his, er, beautiful lady."

"I'll find some way to inform Clark that you think he's a beautiful lady. As for the rest of it, fine, I'll just say this. Good things come to those who wait but sometimes you just have to..."

"Seize the day?"

"Exactly. Since we're on the subject, what about the Cynic and the Optimist? Romantic comedy in the making."

"One I wouldn't pay seven-fifty for. In this particular case, the fruit needs to ripen. This is a horrible metaphor, y'know? God, and you're over there smirking. You just found a new use for papaya didn't you?"

"Among other things."

"Nefarious plans of the semi-idle rich. There's a story for you."

"I resent that. I'm not semi-idle. I'm quite busy, thank you. But nefarious, yes."

"Sure. Busy coming up with plans to corrupt rosy cheeked farm boys."

"What can I say, it keeps me out of trouble."


"Why Miss Sullivan, I'm hurt. Is that the thanks I get for what happened at the plant?"

"No. Thank you for that, really. But supervillians are always better when they have some redeemable qualities, don't you think?"

"Good point."

"So, care to divulge any of your evil plotting for the next edition of the Torch? Should I let any other farm boys know that you've got a flannel fetish?"

"Nah. But remember what I said about good things coming to those who wait?"


"Good," he stood up and turned to leave. He stopped and turned around, "Good things, Miss Sullivan. Good things."

Chapter 2: Green Tea

Algebra book. Check. Bio book, ugh. Check. Chloe mentally ticked off the list of books she would need for the first part of her day. She was standing at her locker in one of the busiest hallways of Smallville High. It was a blessing and a curse. A blessing because she could hear all the school's gossip in a three minute break between classes, and a curse because sometimes people would make a point to stop talking as they neared her. Those times she knew that she was quickly on her way to becoming school pariah. Added to all of that, Chloe wasn't the most imposing of figures and she had been accidentally smacked into the lockers on more than one occasion.

She had started to put her exercise journal in the locker when she was again reminded of her chat with Lex Luthor the day before at the Beanery. Something had been gnawing at her ever since he left with that half way cryptic, "Good things, Miss Sullivan. Good things." What in the bloody hell? She had to stop watching those British comedies the local PBS station aired on Saturday nights.

First off, it had surprised her that Lex had even talked to her at all. She was Clark's friend, but still. Sure, the Wall of Weird and Lex's interest in the meteor shower had been a natural conversation starter, but. Exactly. But. They had quickly progressed into love lives. Her non-existent one and his... the love that dare not speak it's name. Or something like that. She groaned and rested her head against the locker door. And she had been the one to bring up the whole love subject in the first place. With Lex Luthor. The man with impenetrable exterior, that was the man she had been trading barbs with yesterday. She must have taken leave of her senses. Yeah, that was it. But that still didn't explain the almost flirtatious nature of the conversation, and it wasn't one sided either.

Freakishly bizarre. Wall of Weird material indeed.

"Maid Marion am I? Or is it Repunzel, only with raven hair?"

Distracted by her analysis, Chloe hadn't noticed Clark squeeze himself in next to her locker. Lex had obviously mentioned the whole "beautiful lady" thing to Clark, but she would bet money that he hadn't mentioned the context in which the comment was made. Play innocent? It would have to do. Feigning incomprehension Chloe drawled out a "Hmmmm?" and opened her eyes as wide as they would go.

Clark wasn't buying it. The boy was her own personal lie detector. Maybe Lex could be helpful in finding ways to defeat...

"Okay, okay. So I said you were pretty..."

"And a woman."

"Incidental. It was only for the analogy. But you are pretty, Clark. Hell, if they woke up and stopped the immature bad boy—jock fixation, the female population of this school would be swooning at your feet."

"Thanks, I guess."

"Anytime. Walk me to Bio?"

"Sure. Hey Chlo," they began making their way through the throng at the staircase, "what's up with you and Lex at the Beanery?"

"Beats me. I was sitting there, contemplating my bleak future as a fiction writer, when he came and sat down. That was that. It all just happened you know. He just wanted to know a little bit more about the Wall of Weird. Really Clark, it's not like it's going to happen again."

Clark paused for a moment, forcing Chloe to stop and stare at him. "I wouldn't be too sure. When he mentioned that he had talked to you he almost..."

"What Clark? He almost spontaneously combusted, because, you know, I was reading something last night—and around here, chances are..."


"Sorry. Sort of a side-occupational hazard."

"Right. Anyway, he almost seemed to be, well, smiling. Lex smirks, Chloe. He doesn't smile. Not without an underlying reason anyway."

They resumed walking, and Chloe nudged into Clark, a semi-sisterly, semi-flirtatious move she had picked up recently. "You have nothing to worry about, okay? I'm not stealing your buddy," she had to be careful not to say boyfriend, "but if he sits with me again, which I sincerely doubt, I'm not going to ignore him. He's interesting and he's fun to talk to. Plus, he's not of this," she gestured to the now emptying hallway with the ever present "Caw Caw" spirit posters. "In case you hadn't noticed, I'm the outsider around here, and aside from you and Pete..." She sighed, "I need to make other friends, and as strange as it may sound Lex Luthor might be a ready candidate."

It was four days later, a windy Saturday, before Chloe found herself with enough time to relax with a cup of green tea at the Beanery. She had decided to drop by for a number of reasons. First, she had put the Torch to bed the night before and large amounts of caffeine seemed like a Nobel Prize winning idea. Second, for all her confidence with Clark on the Lex issue, she wasn't quite sure she wanted to see him again—and if she did, she wasn't sure how she would act with him. She might not have admitted it to Clark, and why would she? or even truly accepted it for herself, but she felt damned special that Lex Luthor had conversed with her in such a candid manner. Not that she really minded of course, it was all just so odd.

Freakishly bizarre. She should rename the Wall of Weird.

"That's a new look for you."

Chloe looked up and saw Lex smiling in amusement, presumably in reference to her baseball cap. "I do the wind blown look, not the gale blown," she answered, pointing outside.

"Ah, I see. I don't really have to worry about the wind issue," he responded, snaking a hand over his scalp. His trademark move.

"If you don't mind my asking, what colour was your hair? You know, before?"

"Bright red. Just this side of orange in my opinion."

"Did anyone ever break a slate over your head and call you carrots?"


"Don't worry. Obscure reference."

"Right. Anyway, at least it's a Metropolis team you're sporting," he nodded, indicating her cap.

"Yep. Metropolis United. Best team in the league, and oddly enough not owned by Luther Corp."

"Touché. My father thought it tacky to own every Metropolis team. Overkill."

"Luthor's not into overkill? That's a first. The castle, the cars, hell, the PR alone."

"I guess we just found something we're good at."

"And what else are you good at?" Chloe mentally smacked herself. Oh yeah, nice little innocent conversation, down the drain. She had the will power of a gnat. There was that smirk Clark had been talking about. She could swear that his eyes were twinkling too, mischievous like a little boy. The combination was sexy as hell, and not helping matters any. "And with that we kick off the innuendo part of this afternoon's conversation," she muttered. Nice save, Chloe.

Lex just continued smirking ignoring her last comment. "Lots of things actually." He took a sip from his mug, eyeing her from over the rim. The ball was in her court; he wanted to see what she would do with it.

"Really? Multi-talented, are we?"

"Just figured out a new use for papaya."

Chloe felt the blush rising in her cheeks. "You just had to remind me, didn't you?"

"Great memory for seemingly insignificant detail. Yet another one of my many talents."

"Well then, maybe we should give you a spot next to the Wall of Weird on the sideshow circuit. I'm sure the Bearded Lady would love to have someone to talk to besides Lizard Boy."

"Ouch, sarcasm and a good memory! You're multi-talented yourself, Miss Sullivan. Maybe we could share the spot on the sideshow circuit."

"As tempting as that sounds, I think the combined snark and multi-talentedness of it all would cause some sort of inter-dimensional rift and we would be sucked straight to hell. I don't know about you, but I can think of better vacation locales."

"Bali's nice."

"Or we could go the route of Gauguin and Brando and hit Tahiti."

"Tops optional. I like the way your mind works, Chloe."

"Ohhh, dammit. Lech. My mind was not," Chloe was completely flustered. Despite all her intentions the conversation had once again been reduced to sex. "Do you think it's possible that we could have one conversation that does not degrade to this point?"

"Possible. But I wouldn't want to lay odds."

Still playing, "You know, I can have perfectly decent conversations with Clark. It's you. You're a bad influence."

Lex just smirked. Again. "Like that's one I haven't heard before. Chloe, if you only knew. You're missing out growing up in Smallville."

"Oh you'd be surprised. Keggers were made for frats and high school students, Lex. Grab a keg, get a couple of trucks to use for light, and well, after the beer gets flowing, and bam, you've got yourself a party. Ever hear the lyric, 'She grew up tall, she grew up right, with them Indiana boys on an Indiana night.' There's truth in that."

"Interesting that you know that right of the top of you your head."

"It's catchy. I also know, 'Oh my my, oh hell yes, honey put on that party dress.' So what do you want to make of that?

"You want to see me in drag?"

"You're lucky this is a public establishment, else I'd hurl my cup at your head."

"I don't doubt it."

Glancing at her watch, Chloe realized she was late to meet Clark and Pete. "Listen, I'm late for a playdate," she made air quotes and rolled her eyes dramatically, "but who knows, maybe one day I'll get lucky and we'll have a conversation in a more private location—one where I can actually hurl something at you."


Smile. Not a smirk.

Oh crap. Chloe glared at him, got up and left without turning back.

Chapter 3: Mocha Lattes

Lex Luthor was practicing the fine art of looking out the window when Clark Kent walked into his office. The weekly chats accompanying the produce delivery had become a regular thing around the, what, household? Hardly. That would convey some sense of comfort and permanence, wouldn't it? The only thing that the castle (and Smallville on a larger scale) felt like was a stifling prison. And every once in a while, Lex got the feeling that Clark Kent was the warden, or maybe the priest checking up on he, the inmate. Should he confess all his sins to this innocent?

Bad idea.

He had been dreading Clark's visit this week in particular. It would be the first time since he had seen Clark since his last chat with Chloe. Okay, so that wasn't entirely true. There was the museum opening. But Clark, thankfully, hadn't brought anything up at that point. Lex wasn't sure he could have dealt with that and Victoria in the same night. Smallville was making him tired. It sure as hell was making him provincial. Enjoying time just staring out the window. The simpler pleasures indeed.

This conversation with Clark wasn't likely to be pretty. Guys like Clark, correction, guys like Clark with friends like Chloe tended to be a little on the protective side. They were like older brothers with a wacky underground attraction for their best friend that they didn't know quite how to deal with. What was worrying him wasn't so much that he might have crossed a line with Chloe, she seemed to take everything in stride, and he was pretty damn sure that she really would have thrown something at him had she really been offended. No, he was more worried about having crossed some line with himself. He leaned his head against the cold glass of the window and wondered not for the first time just what the hell he was doing in Smallville.

"Afternoon Clark."


"Some party the other night? Did you enjoy yourself?"

"It was great Lex, just you know, maybe not my thing. But, Victoria," he said her name with a sense of awe. "She's not exactly what you would find in Smallville."

Lex turned just in time to see Clark do his Incredibly Earnest thing, stick his hands in his pockets, lower his head and look at you through his lashes. He was like some innocence pinup. Lex smiled at the thought. "No, no she isn't. Though you have your own attractions. Lana, Miss Sullivan." Trap baited and set.

"Lex," Clark paused, unsure of how to broach the subject. "What's this thing with you and Chloe?"

"Clark, I'm not sure how to react to that. There is no thing between Chloe and I. I find her interesting, charming, and a nice distraction while I get my coffee."

"Funny, that's exactly what she said."

"Great minds think alike then, I guess."

"She's my best friend, Lex. I've known her forever. It's just that I worry about her. I don't want her to get hurt, and that thing with Sean through her for a loop."

"Exactly what are you saying, Clark?"

"You're older, rich, good looking. You've got women like Victoria hanging on your every word, so I have to wonder what your attraction to Chloe is all about?"

"The same as yours, Clark."

"My what?" Clark was blushing furiously. Lex decided to bring down the teenage embarrassment quotient just a tad.

"She doesn't let you get away with anything, right? She's funny, and puts a different spin on things. Those are some of the reasons you like her, am I right?"


"That's why I like her too. She makes me laugh, and very few people can do that. I appreciate them when I find them. Don't worry Clark, I'm not going to run away with your best friend. I have nothing but the most honourable intentions in regards to Miss Sullivan."

"Mind if I get that in writing? You've got to have a lawyer stashed around here someplace. In the dungeon maybe?"

"Bellfrey. Dungeon's being remolded."

Grudgingly, Clark acquiesced. Lex knew that things were relatively okay when Clark asked him to visit Chloe. "She lost the paper, Lex. Principle Kwan went off on her meteorite stories, saying something about the paper not being a tabloid, and fired her as editor."

Lex was stunned. He could clearly see that the Torch was Chloe. It was her identity. He asked stupidly, "How'd she take it?" Hard you asshole, how do you think?

"It wasn't pretty. Then to make matters worse Lana went to Kwan to lobby for Chloe's reinstatement and ended up being named editor instead. I've never seen Chloe react like that Lex; it was horrible when she found out. Anyway, Lana told the truth about the whole thing in the next edition and Kwan ended up reinstating Chloe so you'd figure that she'd be happy now. Instead she's been moping for the past two days. Even Pete hasn't been able to cheer her up." Clark shuffled nervously. "Help us Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're our only hope."

Lex had to laugh. How could you let something that funny happen and not at least crack a smile. "Okay, Princess Leia. I'll see what I can do."

What Lex could do was supply the caffeine.

Clark had told him to try the Torch office since this was Chloe's normal paste-up night. It was a Friday. That said a lot of things right there. He had driven around a while mainly to think about this situation with Chloe. He'd honor his agreement with Clark. But he had this nagging feeling, like a tickle in his throat, that he might have fudged the truth a little bit. Not that this in it of itself was any big deal, but Clark had formally opened Pandora's box. What were his intentions towards Chloe?

For the moment he was messenger boy, delivering coffee and scones to a reportedly depressed young lady, sort of a bald-millionaire candy gram. When he pulled in front of Smallville High he spied the light on in the Torch office. Bingo.

When he opened the door to her darkened office, Lex found Chloe starring blankly at a computer screen—Grape iMac. Not exactly what he would have pictured for her. Like someone had flipped her slow motion switch, Chloe slowly turned her head to find out the source of the offending light. What she found was a less than offensive Lex Luthor, holding a small brown paper bag and two large cups of what appeared to

Bless the powers that be.

"Clark sent you, didn't he?"

"Not exactly, sent per se, but yeah." Lex entered the office and started for the chair in front of Chloe's desk. "He actually pulled out a pretty funny quote to ask me too."

"Hand it over," Chloe ordered, pointing to the coffee. She had just officially resigned herself to being one of the boy scout's special projects. "What did he say?"

"Obi-Wan, you're my only hope."

Chloe stopped dead. "He didn't." She saw Lex trying to hold back his laugh. "He did."

The pair broke out laughing.

"He's just bound and determined to be the captive princess up in your tower, isn't he?"

"Seems that way."

More giggles from Chloe. Lex just smiled. Chloe noticed, but didn't say anything.

"Thanks. I really needed that." Chloe reached in the bag and pulled out a cinnamon scone. Her favorite. "You're going all out, Obi-Wan. Bringing a girl subsisting on microwave popcorn her favorite pastry. Clark told you all about the Torch debacle, didn't he?"

Lex watched as she pinched off a little bit of her scone with quick fingers and popped it into her mouth.

"Gave me the basics. So how are you holding up?"

"As well as anyone after having their power stripped away from them. Fine, just fine."

The look he gave her told she was doing a crappy job of lying, at least to him. He just waited for her to go on, knowing there was more to the story.

"Dammit. I barely know you, how come you can drag this out of me with just a look?"

Here was a new one. Predatory grin, all toothy and slick. "Survival technique." Lex took a sip of his latte. "So spill."

Chloe sighed. Figuring the best way to do this was the Band-Aid method, she launched quickly into her story. "Paper go bye-bye. Lana gets paper. Jams my printer. Paper comes back to me with the proviso that I don't do the tabloid journalism thing. Intrepid reporter can't write anymore."

"What do you mean you can't write anymore?"

"Exactly what I said, Lord of the Manor. I've been starring at this damned computer screen for four hours, with nothing to show for it except the need for coke bottle glasses. It seems that I'm only able to write things pertaining to that," she hooked a thumb over her shoulder to the Wall of Weird. "I'm destined for a bright future at the National Enquirer hunting down monsters in people's washing machines and gnomes living in their cupboards."

"I'm sure that's not true. You're a born writer. Look how you go to the coffee shop with that little book of yours, scribbling away like there's nothing else in the world but you, it and your caffeine IV."

She laughed. Not a full hearty laugh, or even a girlish giggle. It was a short, sharp, laugh too full of sarcasm for one so young. Lex instantly hated it. "But that's the funny thing, Luthor. That journal was supposed to help me start writing fiction, keep up my writing skills, y'know? But you know what's in it?" She rummaged in the bag on her desk, produced the little journal and handed it over to him.

He began to open the cover, under her watchful yet disinterested gaze, but stopped for what amounted to a millisecond in normal time. This was it, that line was being crossed. He felt like Caesar crossing the Rubicon. He was pretty sure she hadn't shown anyone else the journal, not even Clark. She was letting him see something no one else had, even if it was because of stubborn will and emotional duress. And it scared the shit out of him.

But he opened it anyway.

What he saw were scattered entries, not even following the ruled lines of the paper, of people's names with little descriptions beside them. Some weren't more than a basic physical description while others were more abstract, a quote or world observation, perhaps. And there was his name, and by it, "Red Sea", in black ink that looked like it had been written over in boredom at least a few times. He liked how she wrote his name. "Red Sea?"

"You part the crowds like Moses with the Red Sea."

"Moses, huh? Funny, when it comes to religious figures, I'm usually compared to Satan."

"Nah, the horns would ruin the whole look you've got going."

"So Moses and Obi-Wan in the same day? And I'm sitting here talking to? Who do you want to be?"

He had meant the question in spirit, and Chloe initially smiled but then her lips settled into a set frown. "Lana Lang."


"No way Obi-Wan. You get the Jedi mind trick, I get to be smart and beautiful, and have every straight man in a twenty-mile radius adore my tragic face."

Lex rolled his eyes.

"She's the antithesis of everything I am, Lex. Do you know how hard that is?" Chloe stood up and started to pace between her desk and the file cabinets on the far wall. "How hard that is to see that perfect shining example everyday and know you'll never even be able to get anywhere near it? Do you know what's it's like to have your best friend place this person on a pedestal while you stand next to him like some androgynous troll?"

"Stop it." Her emotions were running high, making his run high. And for once he wasn't going to analyze exactly why that relationship existed. "Listen to me, you may think that Lana Lang is the antithesis of you, and maybe in some way she is. But don't think for one minute that you aren't smart and beautiful, and that you don't enthrall all straight men over eighteen. I'll tell you something about Lana Lang, something that I think you know for yourself. That thing that makes everyone adore her tragic face, that makes them put her on a pedestal, it's the same this that keeps everyone from getting close to her. She's got spirit just as strong as you do, Chloe Sullivan. You're two sides to the same coin and you'd probably like her if you gave her half a chance."

Chloe had been struck dumb by the force of Lex's response. Leaning against the filing cabinet for balance, one arm over the top so she wouldn't just slide right down, her eyes were glassy and her lips were parted slightly. Then they fixed into that same thin frown again. Lex was ready for her retaliation. "I do like her," she said softly. It wasn't the response either of them expected "But being ignored takes it's toll, okay?"

"Being in high school takes it's toll. You're in Dawson's Creek land till you're eighteen, the land of the hormonally stupid." When Chloe cracked the smallest of smiles, Lex felt intensely proud because he had done it. And then he felt terribly happy that he had. In a flight of fancy, some minute part of his brain quoted the Grinch, "his heart grew two sizes that day." His mother would have been proud.

His mother would have liked Chloe.

"I think that sums up Clark right there." In the place of the small smile, an evil grin started to appear. "Are you sure you want to pursue the hormonally stupid?"

Lex knew that Chloe was referring to Clark; his answer however was a bit more ambiguous. "Perhaps. Especially if they're mature enough to recognize they're one of the hormonally stupid."

"I love how you talk like you're ready for the nursing home, old man. You're not that far removed from the ranks of the hormonally stupid yourself."

"Don't remind me," Lex groaned. "At least with age I think the whole, 'This is the end of the world' feeling starts to dissipate."

Crossing back to sit at her desk, "That's all well and good Obi-Wan, but this," she pointed disdainfully at the iMac, "is still a problem."

"Well for one thing, grape iMac?"

"Clarification—school iMac."

"Well then, all that's really left to say is that you are a born writer. You can do anything; write anything you set your mind to. Just let it be open and you'll be inspired. Everything will follow from there."

"Ever consider a career as a self-help guru?"

"Sorta conflicts with the whole evil mastermind thing, doesn't it?"

"Ah, but the guru thing would be the perfect cover. Look at Martha Stewart. I'm none too comfortable about what she's got growing in her garden. I think I saw her hanging around Smallville not too long ago." Chloe took a sip of her latte, "But I think we have a more pressing problem than Martha's garden right now."

"Oh, and what's that?"

"Cold coffee."

"Well I don't know of any evil mastermind or intrepid reporter that can operate on cold coffee. What do you say we go and seek out some steaming hot java?"

"I'd be delighted. You know that I'm going to have to expose you when you become that evil mastermind, don't you?"

"Miss Sullivan, I wouldn't have it any other way."

Chloe gathered up her things and met Lex at the door. "Well, you're certainly gallantly evil, that's for sure."

"Is there any other way to be?" Lex put his arm on Chloe's before she was out the door. "Hey. Don't let this," he gestured to her now darkened office, "define you. You are way beyond just being the intrepid reporter. Don't forget that," he said softly.

Chloe looked up at him as they stood face to face in the doorway. "I won't," she answered softly.

Chapter 4: Cappuccinos—of a sort.

Of all the things he'd pictured about his life, including the more unpleasant visions of Cassandra's, Lex Luthor had never pictured himself like this. He was crouched behind a tree in the cold Kansas night, with Chloe Sullivan next to him gleefully throwing a glob of pizza dough between her hands. The rest of their "team" were in similar positions on either side of a rough-hewn road through the woods awaiting the "enemy".

"Chloe," he whispered, exasperated.

She silenced him with a finger. The rude one. "Quiet!" she whispered back.

No one would have ever thought that a Luthor would allow themselves to be talked to in such a manner, but Chloe had made it clear early on that he was a city boy, didn't know what the hell was going on and that he should follow her lead. So far the results had led him into the annual Smallville Dough Fight in Henry Woods.

A dough fight. If his prep school buddies could see him now.

Only a few short hours before he was sipping his coffee in the Beanery, going over some LuthorCorps figures and waiting to see if Chloe would show up.

"I'd like to make you a proposition," a feminine voice said from behind.

For a second he thought it might be Victoria, but as the blond head that went with the voice moved in front of him, he discovered it was Chloe. She was looking, well, happy.

He'd hoped that her mood had carried over from the previous night. After leaving the school they had sat in the Beanery for a while trading obscure references, inane jokes and he had found himself actually opening up to her. Not sharing the dark secrets of his past, of course, but hitting the less scandalous and more humorous adventures of his not too distant youth. She responded to him the way he thought she responded to Clark, with a bit of sisterly concern, friendly humor, and something indefinable that made him like her even more. The line was so far crossed that he couldn't even see it anymore.

Chloe had gone home the night before thinking about what Lex had said in her office, about not letting the paper define her. It was good advice. So she had gone up to her room, pulled out a yellow legal pad, and had begun to restructure her life. She didn't go in for the self-help guru books, though she would have bought Lex's just for the fun of it, but she did believe strongly in her own will. If she made a concerted effort to get out, have fun, and chip away at that Outsider status, damned if she wouldn't do it. And she was going to drag Lex Luthor along for the ride.

"What would that be?" Lex answered as Chloe settled herself across from him.

"You, as Lord of the Manor, are going to spend time with your serfs tonight."

"And why pray tell, would I want to do that?"

"To check in on them, of course. Make your presence known. Listen for rumblings of mutiny."

"Mutiny? Chloe, I think you've got your metaphors mixed up."

"Fine. Rebellion, coup, whatever," she waved her hand dismissively, "but you are coming out with us tonight."

"This is the point where I just stop trying to argue and submit to your will, isn't it?"


"This is how you get Clark to go along with your hair brained schemes, right?"

"Very good. The multi-millionaire gets a cookie."

"I'm going to ignore that. Fine, now that I've agreed to this ill-fated outing, who is 'we' and what are 'we' doing?"

"The 'we' is comprised of you, me, Clark and Pete. Plus some other members of the Smallville under-20 set..."

"Ha! Got you there," Lex interrupted. "I'm 21, that makes me over qualified."

"So does your degree from Princeton, your wardrobe, and your superior sense of humor, but we still love you anyway. Now stop arguing. Pretty much everyone is welcome, as long as you aren't married and aren't a parent. Now assuming you meet those guidelines..."

"Thankfully, yes."

"Then, sorry Lex, but you're going to be a participant in this year's dough fight."

"Dough fight? Is this what small town America does for entertainment?"

"On occasion, yes. See, several years ago two guys working at the local pizza place got bored and started throwing pizza dough at each other." Chloe saw the bemused expression on Lex's face and continued, "Oh I don't know, they're your gender. You tell me. Anyway, they figured out that the dough could hurt like hell on impact and could also be picked up and reused—a never ending supply of ammunition. One weekend they got some friends together and went out to Henry Woods and the annual dough fight was born."

"I see Metropolis youth have been missing out on something. I can see it now, droves of young glow stick wielding teens forsaking their ecstasy in favor of raiding their local Papa John's. Maybe I should start buying stock."

"Laugh now, Obi-Wan. But look at it this way, it can be your own little war game in preparation for your eventual world domination as an evil self-help guru."

"How do you remember this stuff? Do you have a tape recorder surgically implanted or something?"

"Good memory, that's all; can actually be a total pain in the ass."

"Did I just hear right? Did Chloe Sullivan swear?"

"Call it your bad influence, Luthor. That's why I'm going to this fool thing tonight. I'm letting Bad Chloe out for some fun, letting myself be defined by more than The Wall of Weird and the Torch. Or don't you remember telling me to not let the Torch define who I am?"

"Fair enough," he raised his hands in mock surrender.

"So I'll have Clark pick you up around eight-thirty, since he knows where we're going and you really don't want to take your car out there."


"Mud. And try, if possible, to dress like Clark. It's going to be battle, in moonlight, in the woods. Basically the natural enemy of your wardrobe."

"Noted. But could it be that you just have a flannel fetish?"

"Look who's talking."

While waiting for Clark to arrive that evening he absently wondered what Chloe would look like in nothing but a flannel shirt. It wasn't all that unpleasant of a picture, but he reminded himself that if anything at all happened with Chloe, it was because she made the first move. "Go to Smallville, son. Watch the corn grow, play with mutants, lust after sixteen year olds, get into dough fights," Lex made a parody of his father's historic banishment. "Thanks Dad."

Contrary to popular belief Lex Luthor did own clothing that did not require dry cleaning. It was his dirty little secret. He was currently attired in what, to his mind anyway, made him look like a reject crook from a Pink Panther movie. He was wearing a black turtleneck sweater, dark jeans, and a pair of black motorcycle boots that he had gotten in college. To top it all off he had found a black knit cap—those who still believed he had robbed the Smallville bank would love to see him like this.

Clark arrived promptly at eight and judging from his expression, that was exactly what went through his brain. Lex merely smiled tightly and grumbled something about dictatorial blond reporters. Clark smiled and nodded.

Chloe had arrived with Pete just before Lex and Clark. After chatting with Lana a second, automatically sending the vibe the rest of the kids that she was therefore acceptable, she hurried over to what she mentally called 'her boys'. "Nice duds, Obi-Wan. You mug a Backstreet Boy?"

"Is she always like this?"

"Pretty much, only now she's even more with the snark," Pete replied. "You should have heard her on the way over, half of the music industry should be crying in their pillows."

"Really, if they would actually make music instead of noise, then maybe I wouldn't have to question their means of compensation. Then again, maybe I would."



"Forget the Intruder, want to come work for me?"

Chloe smiled wickedly and turned on her heel, headed in Lana's direction.

"What got into her?" Pete asked no one in particular.

Clark looked to Lex who was in turn watching Chloe's retreat with great interest.

It was two hours later and Lex was cold, rumpled and had a bruise forming on his leg where someone had popped him with a rather large clump of dough. After seeing his rather feeble attempt to throw it at someone, anyone, Chloe had taken him under her wing.

More accurately she had told him he couldn't throw for shit but that he might still be useful for some strategy.

In one swift move he'd become Chloe's bitch.

"How much longer?" he whispered. His legs were starting to ache from crouching behind the tree and he had just annoyed himself further by sounding like a five year old.

"Not long. See, you can spot Clark now...and there's the rest of the group behind them..."

Lex saw Clark's slumping frame coming down the path, and sure enough the rest of the opposing team was right behind him. It was a perfect ambush. Only a few more seconds before they would all be in range and they could end this nonsense once and for all.

They never knew what hit them. From across the way Tim gave the signal and all hell broke loose. Dough flying everywhere, kids scrambling for cover and more than a few people dying with laughter.

Lex had just successfully thrown a piece at that Whitney kid's head and was taking a second to celebrate when he saw something large and off white hurtling towards his head. The force at which it hit knocked him off his feet and into Chloe who was standing behind him. A mass of tangled limbs, they rolled down the slight incline that they had been on top of, settling at the bottom covered in leaves. Lex didn't realize what an awkward position they were in until Chloe arched her back trying to get some of his weight off her. He shifted a bit then, moving off to one side, but not making any move to actually go anywhere. "We've got the moonlight, so where's the orchestra?"

He knew everything was fine when she smiled back at him. "Probably back at the fire staying warm."

"How did I forget about the fire?"

"The force of my charming personality, perhaps?"

"How about fear of your charming personality?"

"That works too."

"You know, you really are beautiful in the moonlight," his voice was low. He picked a stray leaf out of her hair and threw it to the side.

"And you're really pale. Ethereal almost." She reached up and cupped his face. "This is where I'm supposed to kiss you, right?"

"Only if you want."

"Oh please," the sarcasm dripping from her voice.

And then she kissed him.

Lex certainly wasn't expecting it. The kiss was sweet, nice, and a little dangerous—she flicked her tongue lightly on his upper lip as she pulled back—he was intrigued.

And right on cue Clark shouted from above, "Are two okay?"

Lex looked to Chloe, rolled his eyes and answered. "Fine Clark, just fine. We'll meet you back at the fire." To Chloe, "You know he's going to play mother hen all the way back, don't you?"

"Yes. And that's why we love him."

The walk back was quiet. Lex was wrapping his head around the very real possibility of carrying on with a sixteen year old, and then trying to decide on what exactly "carrying on" would entail. He wanted to be out and out responsible with her, and that was new for him. Usually his relationships had some ulterior motive. The only ulterior motive here was to see what Chloe would look like in nothing but a flannel shirt— or maybe one of the outfits that the girls wore to his favorite Metropolis clubs—yeah, he could really enjoy that. First and foremost he enjoyed her company, her wit and spirit and the way that she made him feel normal—cheeky, not evil or all powerful. She liked him as a person, and that made him feel good. It was a concept he was still getting used to.

There must be something in the water.

For her part, Chloe was striding blissfully along next to Lex with one thing scrolling again and again through her brain. It started out as, "I just kissed Lex Luthor." Then it became, "I kissed Lex." Finally it was, "I kissed him." She smiled. Chloe used to roll her eyes whenever clichés like, "walking on air," or "fire of a thousand suns" were batted about but now she knew exactly where those saps were coming from. Because...damn.

If she weren't careful she'd start skipping.

As it was Lex just commented on her shoes.

"Chloe, what the hell are you wearing?" he pointed at her heavy black shoes. "I think I've got a bruise on my shin the size of the Hope Diamond."

"Which you probably own."

"Haven't checked the inventory lately."

"They're my Docs." She lifted one foot, turning it from side to side. "See. They can go through oil, fat, acid, petrol and alkali with these babies on."

"Walking through a lot of that in Smallville, are we?"

"Nah, but I'm a girl that likes to be prepared. Plus I like saying petrol," she chirped.

"You are definitely one of a kind."

"We can tell our own," she said. Chloe hooked her arm through Lex's and leaned her head against his shoulder.

They continued like that until they were in sight of the others gathered around the fire. She looked into Lex's eyes, and he titled his head in resignation. She instinctively understood and parted from him, but stayed in close proximity.

"Did you know that McDonald's came out with cappuccinos?"

"Are we regarding this as a sign of Armageddon?"

"More of a crime against nature."

"Lex! Chloe! Where have you two been? Pete almost got flattened by the keg!"

Chloe turned to Lex, "I can't believe we missed that. Darn."

Chapter 5: Hot Chocolate

It occurred to her that it was extremely silly that all the source of her current consternation was due to a little card three and half inches by two inches. Okay, she conceded that her hormones and lips might have a tiny part to play as well. She knew it was horribly clichéd, she had read enough fanfic to know, but that kiss was seared on her brain. The kiss had been wonderful. The walk back had been this side of perfect. It was too bad that the rest of the night had gone downhill from there.

After Pete's near incident with the keg, and Jesus, how funny was that?, he had wanted to leave rather early. She could've hitched a ride with Clark, but that would have meant riding with Lex too. She really hadn't been sure if she could handle that particular dynamic. Lana and Whitney might have been a possibility too, but even though Chloe had made plans to meet Lana for coffee later that week, riding home with her wasn't a bright option either. This all meant that while she said her goodbyes she had one eye locked on Lex watching her from across the fire. It was beyond frustrating. And when she had to say goodnight to him? Forget it. And then he handed her his card when Clark wasn't looking. His card— the one with the private phone number on it. "Call me," he had whispered.

That was Saturday—four days later and she was still flipping the card between her fingers, phone untouched. She hated being mocked by inanimate objects. It wasn't that she didn't want to talk to him. In fact, each day that had gone by she had missed him more and more. Actually, it was the fact that she didn't know how to deal with the ramifications of her actions. It wasn't that long ago at all that Lex Luthor was just the rich guy in the castle, her dad's boss...and there was another point she didn't want to think about. But he was the guy that she couldn't stop thinking about, wishing for all the world to be back on that hillside in the moonlight. Rapid change does not a comfortable psyche make.

And now she was about to take the détente with Lana one step further. Girl talk.

"Shoot me now," she muttered. Raspberry mocha chip Frappuccino with Lana at the Beanery, the place she had been avoiding (much to the annoyance of her caffeine level) so she wouldn't run into Lex. She must have pissed off someone royally in a previous life to deserve this kind of cosmic hilarity.

"That bad?" Lana slid into the booth across from Chloe with their order.

"Probably not, but thinking about it constantly isn't helping any."

"Mmm, I see. You know, I think that's part of my problem. I think about things so hard, trying to make everything perfect, and nothing ever changes."

"So you're saying that we should throw caution to the wind and stop thinking all the time?"

Lana answered with a genuine smile, the only kind she knew. "Sounds great, doesn't it?"

"Yeah," Chloe sighed. "But that's exactly what I did. Look where that got me," she threw up her arms in resignation.

"Well then, I've got one important question for you."


"Do you regret what you did?"

Chloe didn't even have to think. "No way."

"Well then, there's your answer. Just be honest with yourself, that's the most important thing."

"Then I'll pass along the same advice to you."

The two girls stared at each other, both not daring to acknowledge to what Chloe was referring.

Their conversation continued as they steered clear of Clark and Whitney. Lana still didn't know exactly what or whom Chloe had been speaking about earlier, but when Lex Luthor walked in the door she began to get an idea. He saw the two of them, with Chloe's back to the door, and catching Lana's eye, put his finger to his lips and shook his head. His meaning was clear, "don't let Chloe know I'm here". With some slight motion of her head Lana agreed and Lex turned and left the building. Chloe dragging Lex to the fight on Saturday, their solitary return, and the looks that they threw at each other all night when they thought no one else was looking...yes, it all fell into place. Lex and Chloe, who would've ever thought? Lana smiled in spite of herself.

Even with her newfound sense of mental freedom, Chloe still worked Friday night paste-up in the Torch office. It was a tradition. Listening to those 80s mix tapes that a previous staffer had left behind, bad food, and a late night trip to the teacher's lounge to raid the good vending machine were all features of Chloe's Friday nights.

Apparently Lex Luthor was trying to make himself part of the tradition as well.

"If I didn't know any better I would think you were trying to avoid me."

Chloe nearly jumped out of her chair. As it was it rolled out from under her and she slumped over her desk to keep from falling on the floor. "Would you give a girl a little warning there, Obi-Wan? Criminey."


"Talked with my cousin last night. Her lingo's creeping in. And I haven't been avoiding you, either."

"Usually when I give a girl my private line she doesn't waste any time making use of it."

"Well I think we established the fact that I'm not a normal girl, right? Besides, I didn't want to bother you. Aren't you supposed to be running a plant?"

Lex left his place at the doorway and began to cross her office. "I could have used a little bit of the Chloe charm this week. I was disappointed when you didn't call."

Seeing his pitiful attempt to make with the puppy dog eyes, Chloe had to smile.

"Okay, so I'll call next time. Happy?"

"Beyond words. Now pack up your stuff, we're late."

"What do you mean 'late'? I've got paste-up, I can't leave."

"What do you have left to do?"

"Well, everything's done except for importing the final stories and writing captions for the sports page..."

"Nearly finished, just as I thought. You can finish that tomorrow. Now come on, I said we were late."

"Whoa, settle down there. I know some girls like the domineering thing, but not this one. These boots," she lifted her leg to show the chunky black boots under her jeans, "were made for walkin'"

"And that's just what they'll do," he extended his left hand to her and gestured with his right to the door. "Come on, I've got a surprise for you," he smiled warmly.

She took his hand and didn't let go as she came around the desk and they started for the door. "What is it?"

"If I told you it wouldn't be a surprise, now would it."

"Lame." She stopped walking and planted her feet. "I'm not moving until you tell me."

"Well, I guess that's prudent," Lex sighed. "You were always taught never to run off with the Big Bad Wolf."

"My Grandma, what big eyes you have."

"All the better to see you with, my dear." If he could market sexual tension, he'd be a rich man. "After our little outing last weekend, I decided to indulge in another teenage tradition."

"Oh lord, what have you done?"

"Just and old fashioned movie night. And since my house has the best theatre..."

"The only theatre..."

"We're going there for the evening." At the look of trepidation on her face Lex assured her that he had invited Clark and Pete, and they had invited some others to make it a small, friendly gathering.

"I can't believe they went behind my back! And Clark!"

"Clark is still worried about you. Seems you've been a little distant all week," he said with a knowing smile. "He really does excel at the mother hen routine."

"Martha's good influence. As opposed to yours..." Before he could object she continued. "So lead on Big Bad Wolf. We don't want to worry Grandma."

"So this is the Luthormobile."

"Please. Lexmobile has a nicer ring to it. Less like an ice cream truck."

Chloe liked the way the leather seats of Lex's Jaguar squished when she moved around. It was like being in an insanely expensive beanbag chair. And the smell of the leather and Lex's cologne was just...heaven. And then like a slap in the face she remembered what Lana had said days before.


"Hmmm?" He turned his head slightly to encourage her before turning back to the road.

"About the other night. God, that sounds so trite. Listen, I'm not sorry for what happened. In fact I'm kind of happy about the whole thing, but I just don't know..."

"Where to go from there?" Lex reached his hand over to clasp hers. "One thing I've learned is that you can only anticipate so much, the rest you just have to deal with."

"Okay, but there are larger issues here than just your normal philosophical whatnot."

He cut her off, "And I'm telling you that I'm highly aware of their presence, but as of this moment they don't matter." Lex turned and saw the hurt expression on Chloe's face. He needed to soften his argument, fast. "Listen, right now all I need to know is that I like spending time with you," and with a devilish grin, "and I'm attracted to you. That's good enough for me."

"Then I guess that's good enough for me, too." Lex squeezed her hand in his.

"Now look in the glove compartment."

She did, with no small amount of wariness. What she found was a paper box about the size of her palm and about the same height. "What is it?"

"Just open it, you'll see."

Her curiosity getting the better of her Chloe opened the box. "It's a tea cup. Aww, Lex, you shouldn't have. Just what I've always wanted!" she said sarcastically.

Lex just smirked and pointed to the plastic teacup. "That, my dear, you can throw at me anytime."

Chloe's jaw dropped and she starred at him. Somehow this was the sweetest thing he could've given her, a freaking plastic teacup. Instead of saying 'thank you' she said, "I'll be sure to make good use of it."

"I was counting on it."

The banter was back. Crisis averted, everything would be fine.

They arrived at the castle to find Clark and the others, including Lana and a grudgingly polite Whitney, camped out in Lex's home theatre. Chloe was surprised at how many people Clark had been able to wrangle into this little scheme, but she figured it had more do with seeing Lex's house than cheering her up. Lex seemed to notice her discomfort and placed a warm hand on the small of her back when no one else was paying attention. After waving to a few people Chloe found an empty corner on one of the large couches that looked like something out of MTV Cribs. She fancied that this was one room that Lex definitely had a hand in decorating; she could never picture Lionel in the muted, ultra-comfortable environment that she was ensconced in.

It wasn't that the movie wasn't entertaining, Clark had picked some action flick that everyone else seemed to be enjoying, it was just that she had other things on her mind. Like the little glances she and Lex kept throwing each other and the fact that she had gone from thinking of Lex Luthor as an interesting coffee shop partner-in-crime to actually contemplating some sort of relationship with him in zero to sixty. And now the movie was influencing her vocab—she tried to focus once again on Angelina Jolie's funky hair but it wasn't working. Dammit. What the hell was her problem? Chloe was sixteen, she reminded herself again, and under Kansas law, that made her legal enough to do exactly what she wanted to do with Lex at that very moment. But she was also sixteen, still in high school and daughter of a top plant employee. Did any of it matter? Okay, outside of the legal part, she thought. She felt something for Lex, and was sure that Lex returned those feelings; he probably wasn't in the habit of giving plastic teacups to women he just wanted to bed. There were things a lot less personal and a lot more impressive that he could give them. That teacup, and Chloe by extension were special.

Chloe started to fidget, playing with the tattered hem of her jeans, tucking the hair behind her ear over and over. She needed to get some air, be by herself. And if Lex followed her, then so be it. She wouldn't mind. "Anybody want hot chocolate?"

"Yes," was the resounding chorus.

"I'll have some sent up."

"No Lex, don't bother. I'll make it," she said a little anxiously.

Lex started to understand her sudden quest. "Kitchen's on the ground floor, first hallway to your right."

Flashing a thumbs up in recognition, Chloe made her way out of the room and down the grand staircase. The White House, she had heard, was designed to impress and intimidate visitors. She expected the same was true of this castle, then figured Lex probably had a love-hate relationship with the place. At the bottom of the stairs she turned down the hallway that Lex had indicated and quickly found the kitchen. The staff seemed to be elsewhere so Chloe set about to find everything she needed in the dim kitchen. Because she was a resourceful young woman, and with no small amount of luck on her side she was able to find everything she needed and prepare the hot chocolate. The stove gave her a little trouble. She decided the thing could probably launch the space shuttle. Now all she needed was whipped cream to put on top. And that meant another trip to the cavernous refrigerator.

"Oh goody." Chloe began to scan the visible contents of the fridge. "Jesus, everyone has a can of Reddi-Whip somewhere....just have to find it," she muttered to herself. She bent over to check the back of one of the shelves and hit gold. "Bingo!"

"What, you hit China?" Lex was standing in the doorway admiring the view.

Extricating herself with the can she gave her response with the other.

"Chloe Maureen Sullivan! I'm shocked. That is not an appropriate response for the Lady of the Manor," Lex joked.

"How did..." she sputtered.

"Not that hard actually. If you know where to look you can find just about anything."

"I'll let the Feds know about that. You could help them find Jimmy Hoffa lickity-split, AJ."


"Yeah, Alexander Joseph. That's what I'm calling you from now on," she grinned back at him. "Two can play that game."

"Fine. You win. Truce?"


"Need any help? Might be a little difficult for one person..."

"Actually," she looked at the number of mugs she had prepared, "I think I will. I'm almost done," she shook the can of Reddi Whip, "just have to put this on top."

"Wait. What is that?"

"You don't know Reddi Whip?" Chloe held the can in front of him like it was some prize on a game show. "Boy, you really did lead a sheltered life. No whipped cream shots, ever?"

"Chloe, I have done shots of many kinds—some I'd like to show you some day, but never shots of that," disdainfully, Lex pointed at the can.

"Well then, you're missing out." She jumped up to an empty space on the counter. "See, you just hold your head back, line up the nozzle and press down..." a small mountain of white appeared in her mouth. Lex watched, amazed. Chloe closed her mouth, titled her head back up and flashed a grin at Lex that he wasn't soon to forget. "And that is how you do a whipped cream shot. Aren't the connotations fabulous?" she giggled.

Nodding dumbly Lex replied, "Seems I've been missing out all these years."

"That you have. Come 'ere, well do you," she motioned for him to stand in front of her. Chloe spread her legs so Lex could stand flush at the counter, his head just below hers.

Taking in their position, Lex flashed a predatory grin. "You are a wicked, wicked woman." He steadied himself by resting his hands on her thighs.

"That's what makes me so fun. Now open your mouth."

"Yes ma'am."

"Cheeky sod," Chloe swatted him on the shoulder.

Lex did as he was told and Chloe administered the shot, their eyes locked the entire time. Lex finished his dose of whippped cream and leaned into to close the already scarce distance between himself and Chloe. "Wow," he whispered before kissing her.

She leaned in and wrapped her arms around his neck, one hand clasped at the back of his head, opening her mouth to his without any prodding. Lex responded by deepening the kiss, and when they finally pulled apart they were both flushed and a little short of breath.

Chloe pulled back a few inches and looked deep into Lex's eyes. "Do you trust me?"

Lex nodded in response, still in a happy daze.

"Okay, then close your eyes." He did and Chloe gently tilted his chin, baring his neck.

The next thing Lex heard was Chloe shaking the can, and then the comparatively loud hiss of air escaping from it as she ran a cold, wet line of whipped cream from his Adam's apple to just below his earlobe. He felt her hands press on his shoulders, using him to support her upper body. A ragged, "Wow," escaped his lips as he felt Chloe's warm mouth descend onto his neck, licking away the whipped cream, alternating with wet open-mouthed kisses.

She took a break to whisper in his ear, "So this is how to get you non-verbal," before she continued her work. His hands were reflexively kneading the flesh on her thighs. She finally reached his earlobe and flicked her tongue before sucking on it. When she bit it, Lex produced a low moan from deep in his chest that sent shivers down her spine.

He grasped hard at her hips trying to pull her closer to him. "Where in fuck did you learn how to do that?" he whispered hoarsely.

Chloe's breathing wasn't all that steady either. "A girl's gotta keep some secrets. I'm just glad," she hooked a finger in the collar of his crew neck sweater, "that you wore this instead of your dress shirts. Might have been a lot messier."

"And I never would have pegged you as a biter."

"Well, you just tasted so good..." was her coy answer.

"Christ." Lex cupped her face in his hands and kissed her again. "I would love to return the favor, but do you think we could wait till we could get some more skin exposed?"

He looked so turned on, but earnest at the same time, that Chloe couldn't do anything but laugh and nod her head. "As long as you also remember to teach me the breast stroke. I heard you were an expert."

Lex looked slightly bewildered for a few seconds before it all clicked. "Why do you have to be sixteen?" he whined, or as close as Lex Luthor would ever come to whining.

"Technically I am legal..."

"But..." Despite the legal reassurances, he still had some reservations. She was an innocent, though after their little performance, he would have to find a new word to use for her.

"Good things come to those who wait. Good things, Lex Luthor. Good things." Chloe winked at him and put her hand to his cheek.

Lex smiled back, turned and placed a kiss into her palm.