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Thread: Two Sides of the Coin (PG 13/R) Update 9/6/05

  1. #31
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    Re: Two Sides of the Coin (PG 13/R) Update 6/12

    AN: This chapter has been kicking my ass and my usual beta-reader has deserted me (does anyone want to earn my eternal gratitude and do a little beta-reading, by the by?) so please be patient with this chapter. The road of artistic creation never has run smooth. And thank-you for all your favorable comments, thus far! I love this site and all you beautiful people!

    Chapter 4-

    Anthony’s people usher them out the back door and they catch a cab across town to catch another cab, and another, and even a fourth. Chloe thinks it’s a little extreme but Lex insists. The last cabby drops them three blocks away from the apartment in front of a popular all night dinner. They don’t go in, although the thought of waffles and a cup of coffee is enough to make Chloe’s mouth water but there is no arguing with Lex like this. There’s no talking to Lex like this and that is both good and bad. Good because she is so incredibly embarrassed by what she did on the dance floor she can’t even put it into words and bad because the silence feels accusatory and angry. Chloe doesn’t try to break it though. She considers it her due, her rightful punishment for toying with him in a situation that was dangerous enough already.

    It is almost four in the morning when they finally get back to the apartment. Exactly eight inches in the door, Chloe flings off her shoes with a groan. Stupid fashion whore heels, she thinks. She kicks them in front of her like soccer balls. Lex drops the stolen hoodie on the floor just inside the door and sits down wearily on the couch. He has an ugly bruise forming on his cheek. With a sigh Chloe drags herself into the kitchen and comes back with a towel full of ice. She sits down on the coffee table in front of him and offers it to him. He takes it without speaking and her throat tightens unexpectedly. She should get up and . . . go somewhere else. She starts to do just that but Lex is looking at her, the ice pressed to his face.

    “I owe you an apology, “ He begins. He looks so stiff, so formal even with a towel against his cheek and Chloe’s heart pounds in her throat. She can feel his lips on her neck again.

    “That’s really not nec-“

    “I let those men provoke me and I put us in danger. It was incredibly stupid.”

    He’s not talking about the dance. He’s not talking about the dance. He’s been quiet all this time because he thought he had done something wrong.

    “It’s. . .” Chloe is so thrown off, she has a hard time thinking of what to say, “It worked out okay. Don’t worry about it.”

    Lex nods. He doesn’t look like he thinks it’s okay but she is afraid to argue with him, in case it brings up other mistakes from tonight.

    Instead she says, “I’m going to take a shower.” Suddenly, she can’t wait to get out of this costume, to get the smell of tonight off of her. Maybe if she scrubs hard enough, her skin will stop burning.

    When she’s done, Lex is in the study and she’s grateful. Chloe climbs into bed and hopes that when she wakes up, everything will have been a dream. She’s almost asleep when she realizes that while he said he owed her an apology, Lex never actually gave her one.


    The next morning, Chloe rolls over sleepily and finds herself face to face with Lex. Before, even in sleep, they have managed to keep a certain distance. The bed is large and they never touch, even accidentally, even unconsciously. Now, she is close enough that she can feel his breath on her face. With his bruised cheek pressed into the pillow, he looks truly young for once instead of just youthful. Chloe studies him for a moment before she realizes, to her horror that she’s the one who has moved. She has crossed the no man’s land between them and is almost in Lex’s territory. She starts to slip backwards, trying to minimize the movement and keep from disturbing Lex. The covers tent and Lex frowns in his sleep, tugging at the blanket to block out the cool air coming in on him. Chloe freezes. When she is sure he is fully asleep, she slides back again and then rolls over out of bed.

    She makes coffee on automatic and sits down at the counter to drink it. She wonders what she will do today while they wait for Anthony to get back to them. Wonders what she will do with no research to perform, no stories to investigate. Chloe isn’t used to idleness, has never been good at waiting or sitting still. She wonders if Lex can be talked into going out but doubts it. She tries hard not to think about her dad . . . or Clark or Pete or Lana or her beautiful Torch office. Clark. Her feelings for Clark were not what they once were. She realizes that she misses him as a part of her dear safe world in Smallville and as a friend but nothing more. That day in Lex’s office had cemented it for her.

    Lex. She indulges for a moment, remembers his body against her, his lips . . . and lowers her head into her hands with a groan, tugging at her hair. She must be crazy, to feel all hot and swoony like a little girl. It was all part of the act, part of their disguises- for both of them. Lex Luthor certainly was not coming on to her in any way, on any dance floor, at any time. Nor was she coming on to him. There was no reason to be embarrassed or to apologize and definitely no reason to sit around thinking about it.

    With his usual impeccable timing Lex chooses that moment to saunter into the kitchen. He helps himself to a cup of coffee and leaning against the counter he raises one eyebrow at her, “What? No breakfast?”

    Obviously, Lex feels the same way. It was just a dance, nothing more. She realizes she hasn’t responded to him. He is looking at her patiently. She scowls at him, “I’m not one of your little household lackeys. If you want breakfast, bowls are in the cupboard, cereals in the pantry, and you can find the milk yourself.” She pushes away from the counter and heads for the shower.

    Chloe is grumpy and restless most of the day. Lex takes a book from the study and reads in front of the windows in the main room, presumably to avoid her. Chloe reads a little, surfs the internet, does some laundry, and even scrubs the tub. It feels good to be in motion- even if it means cleaning. But she can’t settle down to one thing for any length of time. She knows she is being unpleasant but she can’t seem to help it. It is almost five o’clock, the time they usually start dinner. They have barely spoken all day. In an apartment with six rooms, Lex has managed to avoid her. It pisses her off- really pisses her off, all of a sudden- the quiet, this stupid feeling of guilt that she had decided was not necessary. Chloe decides she’s not going to put up with another second of it. She marches into the kitchen and starts pulling things off the shelves.

    Lex appears in the doorway in his usual, ghostly fashion, “Are you auditioning for a part as a concert percussionist or are you still just angry with me?” He asks coolly. Chloe sets a large pot on the stove. She knows she's avoiding his eyes but it seems to be the only course of action she can take.

    “I’m not angry at you.” She says. I’m angry at me. He’s not the idiot who is shaking just because they’re standing in the same room.

    “You seem angry.”

    Chloe puts flour and salt and other things in a bowl. She holds the edge of the bowl tightly with both hands so he can’t see them trembling and speaks to the flour mixture. “I don’t like waiting and my Dad-“ She is mortified by the sudden pinching in her throat and the thin sound of her voice.

    “What are you making?” His voice is completely normal, letting her pull herself together.

    “Pizza.”

    “Can I help?”

    “You could chop the tomatoes for the sauce.” She says after a moment.

    “Alright.”

    They work quietly and Chloe begins to relax as she kneads the dough. Lex puts in a CD and Chloe makes a crack about people who are addicted to ambient house music, which results in a very lively and very normal fight. When the argument is over she feels almost like herself again. Lex reaches into the cupboard to start setting the table.

    “What are you doing?”

    “I was going to set the table,” he frowns, “or the counter as the case may be.”

    “You don’t eat pizza pushed up to a table with a knife and fork. That’s un- American.” She shakes her head in mock disgust, “I can’t believe they haven’t kicked you out of Smallville yet.”

    “Me, too.” Lex says under his breath but Chloe catches it. To change the look on her face, he asks, “So what is the proper American way to eat pizza?”

    “Curled up in front of the TV watching a movie, of course.”

    Lex thinks about the tiny leather couch and low coffee table in front of the television. He envisions the nightmare of trying to eat pizza with a plate balanced on his knees and Chloe pressed against him. “I’m not so sure that would be a good idea, Chloe.”

    She’s frowning to and he knows she is aware of his concerns.

    “Yeah . . . “ Then she straightens in that way he is learning to love and dread. “I’ve got it!”

    “It?”

    “The solution. Try to keep up, Lex.” Chloe heads towards the main room but turns back at the door, “Chop the green pepper, onions, and mushrooms. I’ll be back in time to help with the pepperoni.” Strangely enough, they can’t agree on music but they like the same things on their pizza.

    When she comes back to the kitchen she refuses to tell him what she did in the main room, except to say they will take their pizza in “proper American fashion”. Chloe slides the pizza, a construction of crust, sauce, green pepper, onion, pepperoni, mushroom, and lots of cheese into the oven.

    “Okay, now we have to pick a movie.” She tells him. Lex raises his signature eyebrow.

    “What’s the American way to do that?”

    “Well, if we had similar taste we would simply choose something we could both agree on but if your taste in movies is anything like your taste in music that’s not going to happen. So I suggest we paper, rock, scissors for it.” Chloe tilts her head to the side, “Best two out of three.” She aids. She expects him to argue but instead he shrugs.

    “Okay.” Then he beats her all three times. Lex gives her his broadest, most smug smile and strolls toward the main room with exaggerated nonchalance. He stops when he sees the main room. Chloe has moved the couch, the table, and the two chairs off against the wall and in their place thrown down a blanket over the thick carpet. Apparently they are going to have a picnic. It occurs to Lex that he has never eaten on the floor in his life. His father would absolutely hate it. He rather likes the idea. Piled along the opposite edge of the blanket from the TV are all the pillows from the bed. They can sit to eat their pizza and then lie back on the pillows to watch the rest of the movie.

    Chloe is watching him anxiously from the hall while trying to pretend not to be anxious. Lex picks the remote up off the TV and flips it on to the movie channel menus. He then very deliberately sits down on the blanket. He can’t see Chloe but he thinks he hears a relieved sigh. He glances over his shoulder.

    “Shouldn’t you check on the pizza?” He asks and then adds, “Also, I would like ice water with lemon to drink. Thank-you.” He turns back around to grin at the TV before she can respond. Lex can hear Chloe stomp into the kitchen. She brings him back his glass of water, with lemon, a few minutes later. “Thank-you.” He repeats, surprised.

    “Don’t thank me. You don’t know if I spit in it or not. What are we watching?”

    “It’s a surprise . . . like whatever is in my water, apparently.”

    “No, slasher movies please.” Chloe’s voice is imploring and demanding at the same time. An impressive feat.

    “I won rock, paper, scissors. Three times,” Lex adds and Chloe scowls delightfully at him, “I am the victor: we will watch whatever I want- slasher movies included.”

    The blonde retreats to the kitchen again and when she returns she hands Lex a plate of pizza. Then she throws his napkin at him. It hits him on the head but he only gives her a mild look which irritates her even more. As Chloe sits down Lex jumps up. She watches, confused as he starts turning lights off all over the room.

    “What are you doing?” There is an edge of panic in her voice she doesn’t like.

    “Don’t you know you’re supposed to watch movies with the lights off?” Lex asks her mockingly.

    “I was just afraid you wouldn’t be able to feed yourself without being able to see.”

    “I’ve handled much more complicated activities in the dark than eating pizza.” He tells her. Thank God for the dark. Chloe could feel the blush on her face. As her eyes adjust to it, she can see him settling down beside her. Why is it that in the dark everything else seems magnified? She can hear his breathing perfectly- steady in and out, not like hers which seems erratic and out of control. Just how she feels.

    “I’m not interested in your hobbies.” She manages. He chuckles and she feels the sound like a warm breath against her ear. She shifts restlessly. “Are we going to watch this or what?” He starts the movie and she takes a bite of pizza and tries to relax.


    Half way through the film, Chloe begins to grope around for the remote control. Her hand skims Lex’s thigh and he jumps. So does she. “Sorry.” She apologizes hastily, “I’m looking for the remote.” Her fingertips tingle where she touched him.

    “Why?”

    “Bathroom and ice cream break.” He pauses the movie, obligingly.

    “Ice cream?” He asks.

    She nods. “Just let me go to the bathroom, first.”

    “I’ll help with the ice cream.”


    Lex has the ice cream softening on the counter when Chloe gets out of the bathroom. Mint chocolate chip she notes with approval.

    “So what do you think of the movie?” Lex asks her.

    “It’s not what I expected.”

    “How so?”

    “I never would have figured you for a ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ man.”

    “I like kung-fu movies.” He says casually. Chloe gives him a rather incredulous look. “What? Billionaires’ sons can’t like kung-fu movies?”

    “I guess I just thought you would have been too busy planning corporate take-overs, seducing young heiresses, etc.” Chloe feels a glow of satisfaction as he recognizes his own line fed back to him. Lex has been having it his own way far too much tonight. He needed to be taken down a little. It was good for him.

    “That’s only for weekdays, Chloe. A person has to have something to do on the weekends.”

    “Good to know, Lex.”

    “Why do you do that?” He asks curiously.

    “Do what?”

    “Say my name back to me like that when I use your name.”

    Chloe bites her lip and Lex has to suppress the urge to demand that she stop doing that. It makes him wild- because she shouldn’t hurt herself, even in such a small way and because it makes his heart pound in a manner that is completely inappropriate. He sees her the way she was last night, a flame flickering on the dance floor. He pulls himself away from the image as he has been doing all day, when she answers.

    “I’ll answer your question, if you answer one of mine.”

    “I don’t make bargains.” He’s gone all cold and he’s wearing his ‘keep out’ face and Chloe represses the urge to call him a coward. It makes her wild- because she knows it’s not good for him to be so closed off all the time and because it makes her want to push into his space and touch him and demand to be let in. She rubs absently at her neck.

    “A deal,” She corrects, “I know you make those.” She gives him a small smile. “Off the record.”

    The smile is more persuasive than Lex would ever admit to. “What’s the question?”

    “Why did you invest in the Talon?”

    Lex frowns at Chloe, surprised by her again.

    “Do we have a deal?” The girl presses. She is studying him- half intent, which terrifies him and half mocking, which irritates him. He responds to the mockery.

    “Fine. You first.”

    “I noticed it even back in Smallville. You use people’s names all the time. You always call Clark’s Mom and Dad, Mr. and Mrs. Kent. You say ‘Hey, Clark’ instead of just ‘Hey’. You greet everyone by name. Part of it is a manners thing- it’s polite. And part of it is a charm thing- ‘I remember your name and I use it even though I’m Lex Luthor’. It makes people feel special.” It’s a well orchestrated illusion, really. She doesn’t say this aloud but she knows it’s true: he uses the courtesy to keep things formal, to keep people at a distance. It makes him into a persona, instead of a person, even with her. She hates that standing here in this apartment, where their lives depend on each other he continues to uses her name and his cool smiles to shut her out. She’s been shut out quite enough in her life. Chloe pauses to take a breath and get two bowls out of the cupboard.

    “You’re not answering my question.” He observes. She knows her didn’t like the part about ‘I’m Lex Luthor’.

    “I’m getting to it.” She retrieves two spoons from the drawer, “But names are power. In the myths of many cultures they can be used to banish demons, to summon ghosts, even to destroy heroes. They have the power to compel their owners. When you use my name it’s because you want me to do what you ask. I use your name back because I have no intention of falling for your mind control voodoo . . . or your charm.” Hearing the words come out of her mouth, Chloe realizes how harsh they sound. Sometimes she surprises even herself with her furious truths. She repents a little. “You don’t have to influence me, Lex.” She adds quietly, “You just have to ask.”

    “I’ve never been very good at asking,” His mocking smile, comes and goes quickly. “It’s not the Luthor way.”

    God, Chloe’s sick of that.

    “Well, get good at it!” She snatches up the ice cream scoop and attacks the frosty treat. He’s done it again, she realizes. Distracted her. She whips around, pointing the ice cream scoop at him, “Your turn.”

    He eyes the utensil warily. “I’ve been threatened with a lot of different weapons in my life but never an ice cream scoop,” He observes. Chloe’s lips twitch a little but she refuses to smile.

    “Talk.” She demands.

    Lex shrugs. “There’s not a lot to say. Lana had a good business plan and it didn’t cost me much to say yes.”

    “And?” Chloe prompts.

    “And I knew it would make Clark happy and as well as the good townsfolk.” Lex watches her closely when he says Clark’s name but sees nothing, good or bad in her expression.

    “That’s it?”

    “What else is there?”

    Lana, Chloe thinks. There’s always Lana.

    “What are you really asking me, Chloe?” Lex moves a little closer to her.

    Chloe looks up at him with what Lex thinks of as her ‘false front’ smile. “I’ve always wondered why you would have bothered, that’s all. The parking garage would have made a good immediate profit.”

    “Maybe that’s not what I was after.” He’s taken another step towards her. It’s unconscious, an instinctual response to Chloe herself. But he does it most often when he senses a lie. Lex picks up a bowl of ice cream to hide the fact that he has been pushing into her space again. She nods and picks up the second bowl. Now he knows something is wrong, if Chloe isn’t arguing.

    They return to the movie but Lex isn’t really watching anymore. He’s thinking about her accusations, and her offer, and her question. What does she see with her hazel eyes full of light? What does she really think? He goes to bed wondering what the woman next to him is hiding.

  2. #32
    Escapeism Artist Senior Member asharnanae's Avatar
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    Re: Two Sides of the Coin (PG 13/R)

    ohhhhh!!! I just LOVE this story, and this chappy is no exception, I love the banter, and the thoughts, you have captured them so well.

    MORE! this is too good to wait for!!!

  3. #33
    NS Full Member Krysia's Avatar
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    Re: Two Sides of the Coin (PG 13/R)

    I wonder how long it will take for Lex to realize how insecure Chloe is about Lana.
    Great chapter my favourite part was Chloes explenation of why she uses his name like that. I always perceived it as a defence mechanism. In her way she is showing him that she knows what he is doing when he uses peoples names and that she can do it as well.

  4. #34
    NS Full Member campbti's Avatar
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    Re: Two Sides of the Coin (PG 13/R)

    I like the way you are allowing each of them to feel the attractino beginning to grow. I hope Lex will have the right answer to the Lana question. Ooooohhh 24/ with Lex, now that is a good way to spend some time.

  5. #35
    NS Full Member Louise's Avatar
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    Re: Two Sides of the Coin (PG 13/R)

    I am loving this fic, it's just the right blend of fun, action and emotion

    Especially loved this:

    “Don’t thank me. You don’t know if I spit in it or not. What are we watching?”
    this:

    “I’ve handled much more complicated activities in the dark than eating pizza.”
    and this:

    I use your name back because I have no intention of falling for your mind control voodoo . . . or your charm.” Hearing the words come out of her mouth, Chloe realizes how harsh they sound. Sometimes she surprises even herself with her furious truths. She repents a little. “You don’t have to influence me, Lex.” She adds quietly, “You just have to ask.”
    was all at once a clever insight into Lex, a painful truth, and then an awww... moment! Can't wait for more!

  6. #36
    NS Full Member Louie's Avatar
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    Re: Two Sides of the Coin (PG 13/R)

    This is such a great story, I never even thought about the name thing but you explained it so well, loved that Chloe compaired it to vodoo.

  7. #37
    Spunky Chick Senior Member hfce's Avatar
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    Re: Two Sides of the Coin (PG 13/R)

    Oh great update. I love the interaction they had in this chapter.


    Hope
    "Everyone seems normal until you get to know them. "

  8. #38

    Re: Two Sides of the Coin (PG 13/R)

    She’s almost asleep when she realizes that while he said he owed her an apology, Lex never actually gave her one.
    I don't know why it struck me so strongly, but I just *really* loved this line. Perfect encapsulated Lex! The chapter was wonderful; I love how careful and deliberate their verbal judo and nonverbal responses to each other have become. I can't wait to see what comes next!
    :-)
    Em

  9. #39
    An Accused Heretic Senior Member Kit Merlot's Avatar
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    Re: Two Sides of the Coin (PG 13/R)

    I adore the way you are showing Chloe and Lex's growing attraction to each other. And I really like how real they are with each other--I like that they get on each others nerves, and that you just don't have them gazing at each other and sighing. Lex and Chloe are both complicated people, so a romance between them would not be easy going.

    Excellent work
    KATHY

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  10. #40
    slyflame
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    Re: Two Sides of the Coin (PG 13/R)

    I ejoy reading this story - it has a lot of insightful and truly original scenes. Not to mention that I love the banter

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