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Thread: The Deal (strong R - Chloe/Bruce Chloe/Lex UST) - Complete

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    scifichick774
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    The Deal (strong R - Chloe/Bruce Chloe/Lex UST) - Complete

    Just so you know, I'm super hesitant to post this here since the Chlex is only UST. If you all want it removed, then feel free.

    Title: The Deal
    Author: scifichick774
    Rating: strong R
    Category: Drama/Angst/UST
    Spoilers: No specific eppies that I can think of, but anything through the end of the second season is fair game.
    Summary: Chloe runs into Bruce Wayne at a Luthor company function and something interesting happens. Chloe/Bruce Chloe/Lex UST
    Disclaimer: Not mine, no infringement intended, please don’t sue.
    Feedback: YES!! REVIEW!! Geez, that sounded incredibly needy.
    Archival: Sure – just let me know where.
    Author’s Note: Many thanks to Catheryne, who is the only other true Chloe multi-shipper I know. This is for you. Also, I’m only going to be posting this at my archive, but if you want it – just ask. *smile*

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    “Nothing like a charity ball to make rich people feel good about themselves,” Chloe said under her breath as she eyed the entryway to the ballroom. Lex had given her dad two tickets as part of a ‘rewards’ package, and rather than turn them down, Gabe decided to go. Lex had been pleased to hear that Gabe was going to make use of them. Not only would it be good for the company to have his plant manager making contacts, but Lex theorized that it would allow Gabe to have a little bit of a social life too. He had no way of knowing that Gabe’s date would get called out of town at the last minute, or that Gabe would still insist on going but bringing Chloe as his ‘date’ for the evening. Gabe pulled his daughter closer as they started walking toward the door.

    “Remember what I told you,” he said in a quiet voice. “I want you to behave yourself in there.”

    “I’m not two, Dad.”

    “You know what I meant. No hounding people for interviews, no insinuating illegal activities, no ---” Gabe was cut off by the sound of Chloe’s laughter.

    “Why did you even bother to bring me then?”

    Gabe stopped walking and turned to face her with a sad smile.

    “I just feel bad, Chloe. It’s one thing to be my age and never get out, but you’re young and ---”

    “It’s okay, I know what you’re saying,” she said as she forced a small smile onto her face. ‘A pity date from my own father. I *really* need to get a boyfriend.’

    “You look great sweetheart,” Gabe said. “And you never know – you might meet somebody here tonight.” Chloe watched as an older wealthy couple went walking by them and then she let out a sour, yet amused chuckle and slapped her dad on the back.

    “Ye-ah,” she strung out. “I don’t think so.”

    Within a few minutes of being inside the event, Gabe ran into someone he knew and they started talking about --- something. Chloe lost interest almost immediately and politely excused herself so she could wander around without having to plaster a fake smile on her face and nod at every insipid story she had to hear while in her dad’s presence.

    As she looked around at all of the people in their formal attire, she unconsciously smoothed out the line of her own dress with one hand. It had been a little expensive, but Chloe rationalized it by saying that she hadn’t spent the money on prom dresses or anything like that for the last two years.

    ‘Not that I wouldn’t have,’ she thought a little bitterly to herself. But, the one boy she wanted was never emotionally available and Pete and Lana had started going out, leaving her without even a backup guy. She looked down at the dress she was wearing now. It was long and had spaghetti straps, but the sparkling silver blue material hugged her curves like no other she had tried on. Her dad had even been a little apprehensive about letting her wear it, but he knew that she would get attention in it, and inwardly he just wanted her to be happy.

    She heard a distinctive woman’s cackle and couldn’t help the cringe that overtook her body. Millicent Pelton – a tall, beautiful brunette who had recently been spotted by several papers with Lex Luthor recently. She had even met Millicent a couple of times, when Lex brought her into the Talon. She seemed nice enough, albeit a little vapid, but her laugh made Chloe want to run as far away from her as she could with her hands pressed firmly over her ears.

    Chloe didn’t notice the handsome man, who had been silently observing her since she came in, but he watched her cringe with the sound of Millicent’s cackle and he saw his opportunity. Acting quickly, he darted over to where she was and stood behind her.

    “It’s rather --- unique,” he said. Chloe turned her body slightly and looked up at the man. Tall, dark, handsome, and impeccably dressed. She recognized him immediately. There were few people in the country – or even possibly the world – who didn’t know who Bruce Wayne was. Chloe’s mouth dropped open a little before she smiled and gave him a suspicious look. He held out a flute of champagne for her and although Chloe had no intention of drinking it, she accepted it anyway. He motioned with his head in Millicent’s direction to explain his previous statement. “Her laugh, it’s kind of like ---”

    “A homing beacon?” Chloe finished somewhat snidely. Bruce smiled.

    “I was going to say car alarm, but I think homing beacon works too,” he said. Chloe laughed and shook her head lightly. “Bruce Wayne.” He stuck out his hand and Chloe did the same.

    “Chloe Sullivan,” she said. She was going to shake his hand, but instead, he brought her hand up to his lips and gave it a chaste kiss. Chloe felt color spread across her cheeks and hoped that she hadn’t turned completely red. She quickly ducked her head and then looked back in Millicent’s direction so she could try to save a little bit of her dignity. She wasn’t surprised to see Lex standing next to the brunette, but she was surprised to see him looking so bored. “Huh.” Bruce arched a questioning eyebrow as he brought his own champagne up to his lips. “And here I thought she was destined to become wife number four,” she said. Bruce choked a little on the liquid he just sipped. “Are you okay?” Chloe asked with concern and Bruce tried to return to looking like his normal, stoic self.

    “Fine,” he said. Few people outside of Lex’s inner circle knew about all three of his previous marriages, and since Bruce hadn’t seen Chloe with Lex or his friends before, he now wondered how she knew that information. He quickly glanced around the room, searching for the man he had seen her come in with. He looked too old for her, but that wasn’t at all uncommon in that part of society. Older, richer husbands with their younger trophy wives and a couple older, richer women with their younger boyfriends. Still, Bruce didn’t fancy the idea of getting in a fight with her husband. He casually glanced down at her ring finger and saw no ring there. ‘Boyfriend then,’ he thought to himself, ‘or maybe I’ll get lucky and he’s just her date.’ Since Chloe seemed as smart as she was lovely, Bruce didn’t rule out the last possibility. He smiled again when he didn’t see the man and took the champagne out of her hand without asking, and then placed both glasses on the table next to them. “Would you like to dance?”

    “I ---” Chloe paused and smiled. She should really say no. If her dad caught her dancing with Bruce Wayne, he was liable to jump to the conclusion that she was hassling the poor man. She narrowed her eyes just slightly in a questioning manner. “I thought you were supposed to be coming to this thing with Veronica Heyworth?” Bruce got a somewhat childlike grin on his face and leaned toward her, allowing his fingers to skim on her upper arm.

    “Can you keep a secret?” He asked in a hushed, husky voice. Chloe almost started laughing, but instead she smiled up at him mischievously.

    “Sometimes,” she replied with a quirky smile. Both of Bruce’s eyebrows rose in surprise.

    “Honesty,” he mused, “interesting.”

    “Does that make you more or less likely to share your secret with me?” She asked with a teasing quality to her voice. Chloe had no idea why she was suddenly acting a little flirtatious with Bruce Wayne of all people, but she shrugged it off. It was time to make the most of this ‘pity date’. Bruce observed her thoughtfully and then nodded once.

    “More, I think,” he said. There was a slight lapse in the conversation as they just stared at each other, the air between them almost electric. He stepped closer and leaned down so he could speak directly into her ear. This wasn’t information that he wanted the general public, even if they were high society, to know. “There is no Veronica Heyworth,” he finally said in almost a whisper. She pulled back slightly and looked at him with an expression that Bruce couldn’t quite place. Unfortunately, she only intrigued him more with the fact that he couldn’t read her like a book. She finally nodded a couple of times as if she accepted the information he had given her.

    “That would explain the complete lack of photographs,” she said in an almost amused voice. “I’m guessing ---” she nibbled on her bottom lip a little while she contemplated what to say and Bruce had to restrain himself from replacing her teeth with his own. “---Publicist’s angle?” Bruce felt a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.

    “Good guess,” he said. Chloe shot a blinding smile at him, part of it because she was proud of herself for the educated guess and part of it because she was genuinely enjoying his company. He motioned toward the dance floor and held out his hand. He led her to the dance floor and took her into his arms as they started to sway back and forth to the mellow music. “You don’t seem angry with me,” he observed. Chloe looked up at him.

    “Was I supposed to be?”

    “Most women would take the fact that I lied about someone’s existence as a sign that they shouldn’t get involved with me,” he said. Chloe nodded understandingly.

    “Dishonesty,” she said and then gave a little shrug of her shoulders. “Well, everyone has secrets I guess.”

    “Everyone?” He asked and spun her around. Chloe laughed at the movement and then smiled at him. “Like you for instance? You’re probably thinking of what to say to your boyfriend when he asks you where you’ve been all this time.”

    “Hmm, well, that could be difficult seeing as how I don’t have one,” she said. Bruce grinned.

    ‘Good. He’s just her date,’ he thought. ‘Or she’s married and doesn’t wear a ring.’ His grin fell with the latter thought.

    “But, I suppose I could always make one up,” she said with a teasing smile and a gleam in her eyes. Bruce half-smiled at her and then he cocked an eyebrow.

    “What about the man you came in with? I don’t think I’ve seen him before. What’s his name?”

    Chloe laughed and Bruce reveled in the feeling of her body shaking beneath his hands. His mind drifted to a completely different context in which that would be happening, and he had to force down the blush he felt starting to rise to his face when he caught Chloe staring at him. Chloe decided not to make a big deal out of obviously catching Bruce in some sort of daydream. God knew that she did it enough. And, it was kind of enduring to see Bruce Wayne, a man normally associated with the words ‘dark’ and ‘broody’ acting like a normal person.

    “The man I came in with is my dad,” she said. “You probably haven’t ever seen him before, because he doesn’t usually come to things like this. And his name is Gabe Sullivan.” Bruce was shocked, and he blinked a couple of times before speaking.

    “Your d---”

    “He’s a little protective,” Chloe said, hoping that would explain it rather than having to tell him that she wouldn’t have been able to find another date even if he had just given her both tickets. Bruce let his eyes wander down Chloe’s body, and although he tried to make it not look obvious, he found Chloe smiling and tilting her head to the side knowingly when he got back up to her face. He cleared his throat.

    “I – um; I can see why,” he said. Chloe’s smile grew a little wider and she leaned toward him.

    “I’ll make you a deal,” she said. “You don’t tell anyone that I was forced to come to this thing with my dad, and I won’t tell anyone that your publicist invented good old Veronica.” Bruce nodded once, enjoying Chloe’s proximity to him as she leaned in. He leaned down and brushed his lips against her ear as he spoke.

    “Deal.”

    The sensation of his warm breath in her ear sent a shiver of delight down Chloe’s spine. She found herself closing her eyes as Bruce was just about to reach her lips with his own. Someone clearing their throat loudly interrupted the couple and both Chloe and Bruce looked over to see who it was.

    “I’m not interrupting anything, am I?”

    --------------
    Ch. 2
    --------------

    A/N: I’m so sorry if I insulted all of you other Chloe multi-shippers out there. Hopefully it wasn’t enough to turn you away from reading the story. *smile*

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    Bruce forced a fake half-grin to his lips and curtly nodded, but didn’t extend his hand to the man in front of them.

    “Luthor,” he greeted. Lex mimicked Bruce’s demeanor almost exactly.

    “Wayne,” Lex said. He let his eyes glance over at Chloe and the corners of his mouth started to lift when she gave him a little wave.

    “Hey Lex.”

    “Chloe. I’m surprised to see you here.”

    “I’d say the same, but seeing as how it’s your company that’s hosting the event ---” she trailed off when Lex’s grin grew wider. Bruce looked back and for the between them questioningly, trying to figure out what kind of relationship they had exactly.

    “I didn’t realize that you two knew each other,” Bruce said, interrupting what seemed to have turned into a staring contest between Chloe and Lex.

    “Life is full of surprises,” Lex responded dryly.

    “It is,” Chloe agreed. “Like the fact that you’re standing in the same room being civil to me.” Lex smirked and brought his glass to his lips.

    “You got rid of my primary competition for me, Chloe. I should be throwing you a parade,” he said. Now Bruce was really intrigued. He would have never associated Chloe with any sort of business takedown.

    “Please don’t.”

    “Are you sure?”

    Chloe held back the roll of her eyes by allowing her gaze to drift out over the crowd of people. Unconsciously, she took a couple of steps closer to Bruce when she saw the woman who was headed in their direction.

    “Chl-oe!” Millicent squealed as she strung out her name. Lex cringed ever so slightly and Bruce barely held in his snicker. Millicent outstretched her arms to envelop Chloe in a large, friendly hug even though the two barely knew each other. Chloe pulled back and flashed Millicent a bright, albeit fake smile. “How have you been?”

    “Good. How have you been, Millicent?” Chloe asked. Millicent nodded and smiled as she looped her arm through Lex’s.

    “Millie,” she corrected, as if the two were best friends. “Not bad at all, although I’d be better if those damn photographers would get off their asses and do their jobs,” she answered. Chloe sucked in a breath to keep the forced smile on her mouth. Millicent Pelton was spoiled, rich, and generally used to being the center of attention. Chloe suspected that was one of the main reasons that the girl was dating Lex; it secured her position in the limelight. Her fake smile turned into a genuine, mischievous one.

    “I could call them over if you’d like,” Chloe joked. Millicent threw her head back and laughed, causing Chloe to immediately regret saying anything. Bruce placed his hand on the small of her back, giving her a sympathetic look as he did so. Millicent calmed herself down and grabbed a glass of champagne off of a passing waiter’s tray. She raised the glass to her lips and took a long sip, reminding Chloe of all of those parties her friends had talked her into going to where the jocks would have ‘chugging’ contests.

    “The truth is, they’d probably come over if you told them who you were,” Millicent said. “Roger has been complaining to me that you haven’t been returning his calls. Seriously, every paper in the country has been trying to get in touch with you since you wrote that article on Lex’s dad – which, basically put him away for good, but still ---” she paused and kissed Lex on the cheek, not noticing that he wiped the remaining saliva off almost immediately.

    A few months earlier, Chloe had gotten lucky and come across some documents while investigating a new company in Metropolis. She wanted one last substantial article to go out on a bang from the Torch with and Principal Reynolds had not so kindly suggested that it not be something meteor-related. The material implicated Lionel in several illegal business dealings with them, and naturally, additional snooping came up with even more companies and illegal business transactions. She wrote an article about it that was picked up by the Ledger, and amazingly enough by the Associated Press. She turned her research over to the police and Lionel had ended up actually being convicted. His lawyers were currently appealing, but he wasn’t even up for parole anytime soon because he had been convicted in a few murder for hire charges.

    Several papers had been calling her to offer her jobs, or at the very least interviews, since then; but Chloe hadn’t taken any of them up on it. God knew she wanted to, but she didn’t feel right accepting a position just because she got lucky with one story. It’s not like she would be able to come up with stuff like that all the time. And the ‘Roger’ that Millicent had been talking about was incredibly persistent. He was in charge of hiring for the Gotham Times – and although it was a reputable newspaper, Chloe got a bad feeling in her gut any time she heard the guy’s voice. She had learned enough from being in Smallville that she should always listen to those ‘gut feelings’.

    “My point is, you should be taking advantage of these opportunities. I mean, how many people just out of high school do you know get offered positions at the Daily Planet, the Gotham Gazette, or the Gotham Times? None!” Millicent flailed her arms around and spilled a little of the champagne from her glass onto her dress. “Oops.”

    It was only now that Chloe, Bruce, and Lex noticed that Millicent had started slurring her words. Chloe thought quickly and took hold of Millicent’s arm with one hand and taking her glass away from her with the other. She handed off the glass to Bruce, who put it on another waiter’s tray.

    “Come on, let’s get you cleaned up,” Chloe said. Millicent smiled half-drunkenly at her.

    “Wow, you’re so nice,” she said. Chloe grimaced as Millicent slung her arm around her shoulders and put more of her weight on her. Millicent shook her head and forced herself to stand up straight, although she was still wobbling a little bit. “No, no. It’s just a little champagne. It’ll come out. Right now I want to hear about Bruce Wayne and his mystery girl,” she said as she poked him in the chest. Bruce looked down at her finger and then back up at her face. “I’ll have you know that I am *very* well connected, and I can’t find out a damned thing on this Veronica person you were supposed to be coming here with tonight. So, what gives?” Bruce and Chloe exchanged an expression and Lex narrowed his eyes somewhat suspiciously. He didn’t generally keep up with the society pages, but he knew Millicent did – and if she said that Bruce was supposed to be here with someone named Veronica, then why had he been about to kiss Chloe?

    “Yes, do tell *Bruce*,” Lex said. Bruce opened his mouth to speak, but closed it when Chloe gave him a reassuring pat on the arm.

    “It’s okay,” she told him with a small grin. She turned to face Lex and Millicent again and drew in a deep breath to give her the confidence to lie straight in the face to them. “Veronica Heyworth was just a name that his publicist came up with,” Chloe said quietly. “You know how I am about privacy, and ---” Millicent’s mouth dropped open and she looked back and forth between Chloe and Bruce.

    “Y-you ---? Oh my God! Why the hell didn’t I see it before?! I mean, you’re gorgeous, you’re blonde, you’re completely his type! And you were standing close to each other and ---” Millicent trailed off, shaking her head lightly before smiling impishly at Chloe. “Well, that settles it. You’re my new project.”

    “What?” Chloe face paled and she looked horrified at any prospect that included her, Millicent, and some sort of ‘project’.

    “Ooh!” Millicent said, clapping her hands excitedly. “I’ll bet we can get those papers to up their offers by at least another zero by the time I’m done with you.” Chloe looked to Lex for an explanation and narrowed her eyes at the smirk on his face.

    “Didn’t you know? Millicent’s an aspiring publicist,” Lex said. If that information didn’t make Bruce Wayne want to run away from Chloe at full speed, then he didn’t know what would.

    “Oh,” Chloe said, her face contorted in a mixture of confusion and panic. “Listen, *Millie*, I don’t think you’re grasping the whole ‘I value my privacy’ thing.” Millicent sloughed off the comment with a wave of her hand.

    “Calm down. It’s not like you’ll have to do a lot. Hell! Even a nice sized picture of the two of you together tonight should get people more interested in you than they are already,” she said.

    “I don’t want ---” Chloe was cut off by Bruce wrapping his arm around her waist almost protectively. She followed his gaze to the photographer weaving his way over toward them and she looked up at Bruce with a pleading look on her face.

    “You look like you could use some air,” he said. She nodded thankfully.

    “Air is good,” she agreed. Millicent’s mouth dropped open a little in surprise that the couple just left her and Lex standing there.

    “I can’t believe she’s dating *Bruce Wayne* and she doesn’t want to advertise it,” Millicent said with a pouty expression.

    “Persistence pays off, Millicent,” Lex said before turning on his heel and walking away from her.

    He wasn’t entirely sure why, but he wasn’t comfortable with the idea of Chloe dating Bruce. Maybe it was because after Chloe had written the article, he had felt some sort of odd kinship toward her; or maybe it was because Chloe had that annoying yet enduring quality of true loyalty and he had a bad feeling that if she and Bruce became close that he might very well never see her again. That last thought made Lex inwardly frown. He refused to believe that he didn’t want Chloe to be with Bruce simply because he was a little jealous. He shrugged off the thought and took another glass of champagne. If Millicent took his advice, then he wouldn’t have anything to worry about.

    -------------
    Ch. 3
    -------------

    “I didn’t realize you were *that* Chloe Sullivan,” Bruce said as they stepped outside. Chloe stared straight in front of her as she leaned against the balcony.

    “And now you want to run away,” Chloe said in an understanding voice. Bruce arched an eyebrow, but was silent as he came up behind her. “I ---” Chloe turned around as she started talking again and found her face almost right up against Bruce’s chest. She looked up at him with a confused expression on her face to find him staring down at her.

    “Why would I run away from you?”

    “Well, you know, because I’m a reporter – or used to be anyway – and ---”

    “Chloe, you helped bring down *Lionel Luthor*,” he said in a somewhat impressed tone. “And you’re still alive.” Chloe let out a nervous chuckle.

    “Yeah, for now anyway.”

    “I doubt he’ll try anything for a while,” Bruce said reassuringly, tentatively placing one hand on her hip. Chloe didn’t push him away, so he rested his other hand on her other side. “The trial went by in an unbelievable amount of time and he’s under the magnifying glass a little too much right now. Of course, there’s nothing stopping him from trying something in another six months or so.” Chloe nodded and gave him a shaky smile. His closeness was unexpected and it was setting the nerves in her body on alert.

    “I guess I need to rethink this whole ---”

    Bruce leaned his head down and kissed her. It was soft and gentle and first, as if he were testing the waters, but Chloe reciprocated and the simple kiss turned into something much more passionate. Chloe couldn’t believe this was happening. Sure, she felt a little bit of a connection with him when he had originally come over to her, but she had never expected anything like this to be happening.

    They kept kissing, arms entwined around each other, completely oblivious to the rest of the world around them. The reverse was not true though and a small crowd of onlookers had gathered at the window to peek at the couple. Bruce Wayne with a one time date who he was likely to take home after the evening was one thing; Bruce Wayne locked in a passionate embrace with a woman who no one knew anything about, and at a social function no less, was another thing entirely.

    Millicent drug one of the photographers over and pointed at the couple. And of course, one photographer attracts others. Soon, a few others were over at the window taking several shots before Chloe and Bruce pulled apart and got a flash of light in their eyes. Chloe shielded her eyes with her arm and Bruce quickly turned his back on the people to block their view of her.

    “Are you alright?”

    “Fine,” she answered. “I’m sure I’ll regain my vision eventually.” Bruce let out a low chuckle and she smiled apologetically up at him. “I’m sorry about this. I had no idea that Lex’s girlfriend would go this far.”

    “It’s okay – or it will be if you don’t mind a little more dishonesty on my part,” he said in a hushed voice. Chloe raised a questioning eyebrow and Bruce took her hand in his and turned back around to face the crowd. He gave them a small grin and then proceeded to walk through them, pulling Chloe along beside him. The people buzzed and murmured about what had just happened, but only a couple of straggling photographers and journalists had the nerve to follow them.

    “Bruce – is this the mysterious Veronica Heyworth?”

    “Mr. Wayne – does this mean you’re off the market?”

    “Miss – is it true that you used to date Lex Luthor as well?”

    “What?! No!” Chloe stopped and spun around at the last question. She shook her head and looked up at Bruce, who just looked as calm as he could be. She wondered how he did that and made a mental note to ask him later. Bruce placed his hand on her back again and stared down the reporters.

    “What was the question again?” He asked. He had heard everything they said, but he may as well make them repeat it if he was going to bother addressing them.

    “Is this beautiful young woman Veronica Heyworth?” The first reporter asked.

    “No. Next question.”

    “Weren’t you supposed to come here with Veronica Heyworth?” Another reporter questioned. Bruce glanced down at Chloe as if he were asking for permission to tell them as well. She tightened her grip on his arm ever so slightly and he nodded once at her before turning his attention back to the members of the media.

    “This is a little embarrassing to admit, but there is no Veronica Heyworth. That was just a name my publicist came up with to protect our privacy,” he said. For a split second in time, the journalists looked completely stunned. “Now, if there’s nothing else ---”

    “Wait! What *is* her name?”

    “If I told you that, it would defeat the purpose of lying to you in the first place,” Bruce said dryly. Chloe snickered and Bruce grinned down at her, neither one of them noticing that a now very drunk Millicent Pelton was headed their way. “Now, if you’ll excuse us, we really must be going,” Bruce said. They made it as far as turning around to face the doors before Millicent’s voice carried through the crowd.

    “Oh, no you don’t! You’re not going anywhere, Chloe Sullivan! I still need to talk to you about --- oh, God,” Millicent made a nauseated face and Chloe could have sworn that the girl’s skin turned a light shade of green before she vomited all over the floor and parts of the journalists’ legs. The photographers happily started taking pictures of the fallen debutant and the situation she was in. Bruce tugged on Chloe’s arm and the two made their escape from the ballroom while the members of the media were otherwise occupied.

    “I don’t suppose you know why Lex is dating her?” Chloe asked. Bruce leaned his head to the side and arched an eyebrow. He was probably interpreting her innocent question incorrectly, but he needed to make sure. He had certainly seen how unhappy Lex had been with their lie that they had planned to come together, and the last thing he needed was to date another woman who was really interested in someone else.

    “You’d know better than I would,” he said. “I rarely talk to Luthor outside of business.” Chloe shrugged.

    “I rarely talk to him at all, so I think you have me beat there,” she said. “Of course, despite what he says, I don’t think it helped that I wrote that article.”

    “What kind of a relationship did you have before the article?” Bruce asked, trying to keep his tone casual. Chloe gave a half-chuckle and shook her head.

    “The non-existent kind. He’s really just a friend of a friend. So, I guess nothing’s changed,” she answered. He nodded once and grinned. He could tell that Chloe was being honest and he was pleased with the information. “Why?”

    “Just wondering,” Bruce said. “Not many friends of friends care what people do with their lives. I just think it’s interesting.”

    “Ah. Well, you’re not exposed to every society bimbo or gold-digging bimbo he brings back to Smallville with him,” Chloe said. “If anything, I’m more concerned about having to be around them myself. I’d like to see him meet someone who’s nice and doesn’t want him just for his money, but it’s really more for my sake than his. And – wow – that just made me sound *really* bad.” Bruce threw back his head in a low laugh and Chloe smiled brightly. “Sorry.”

    “Don’t be,” he said, reaching out a hand to tuck some hair behind her ear. “You manage to be concerned about others while maintaining your survival instinct. It’s an admirable quality.” He let his fingers linger a little longer than necessary and Chloe felt the color rise to her cheeks. He was about to lean in to kiss her when the chauffer pulled his limousine to a stop in front of them. Chloe bit her lip as she looked back to the entrance of the building.

    “My dad is going to kill me.”

    “Does he have his cell phone with him?”

    “Probably. He usually does.”

    “Call him from the car,” Bruce suggested. Chloe laughed.

    “And tell him *what* exactly? ‘Hey Dad, I’m just going to let Bruce Wayne give me a ride back to the hotel. You don’t mind do you?’”

    “*Would* he mind? I remember you saying he was protective, but you’ll be safer back at your hotel than you would be if you stayed here,” he said.

    “I agree,” Chloe mumbled. She took a large breath of air and then nodded. “You’re right. I’ll just call him from the car.”

    -----------------
    Ch. 4
    -----------------

    Chloe settled into the limousine’s comfortable leather interior while she took her cell phone out of her small purse. She pushed the memory key for her dad’s cell phone and smiled at Bruce as she lifted the phone to her ear.

    She still couldn’t believe that she was sitting in Bruce Wayne’s limousine. Granted, it probably wasn’t his personal one seeing as how he lived in Gotham, but it was still nice and he was in there with her. She frowned when the phone rang a few times and there was no answer.

    “What’s wrong?”

    “He’s not picking up,” Chloe responded.

    “Maybe he didn’t bring it with him.”

    “Maybe,” she said, unconvinced.

    “Sullivan,” her dad finally picked up.

    “Dad,” she said, “I was starting to get worried about you.” She heard her father make a displeased noise into the phone. ‘Okay, that didn’t sound good,’ she thought to herself.

    “Lex tells me that you left the party with Bruce Wayne,” Gabe said. Chloe winced.

    “Um – well – sort of,” she said. “But it’s not what you think.” Bruce lifted an amused eyebrow, but Chloe couldn’t see it because he was looking down as he opened a bottle of champagne.

    “And what do I think?”

    “Look Dad, he’s just giving me a ride back to the hotel. The press in there started wigging out and ---”

    “Yeah, about that ---”

    “What’s that Dad? You’re breaking up,” she said as she held the phone further away from her. Bruce was barely able to contain his laughter with what she was doing. “I’m hanging up now. I’ll talk to you later.” She reached her other hand out and clicked the power button so the phone turned off. Bruce let out a low chuckle and handed her one of the glasses after she shoved the phone back in her purse. Chloe lightly shook her head at the situation and then took a sip of the champagne.

    It was good. Much better than the times she had tried champagne before at various wedding receptions and the occasional slumber party, which she insisted she was too old for but Lana drug her to anyway. Chloe didn’t know why she was surprised. Of course, this was Bruce Wayne, billionaire. He could afford something better than they had sprung for at those other events. He grinned at her over the rim of his glass and she arched an eyebrow at him.

    “What?”

    Bruce took a sip and then lowered his glass as he leaned back into the seat.

    “I was just thinking that you haven’t asked me any personal questions,” he said.

    “Were you expecting me to?”

    “Not until I found out who you were,” he admitted.

    “Oh,” Chloe said, raising the glass to her lips again. “Well, I suppose I *could*, but I wouldn’t have anywhere to print it.”

    “You’ve had several job offers,” he pointed out. Chloe made a disgruntled sound and Bruce leaned toward her. “Even a couple in Gotham.” Chloe blushed at the suggestion, but forced it down quickly. Bruce reached out and tucked some hair behind her ear sweetly.

    “Do you like living there?” she asked. Bruce’s expression was neutral as he shrugged.

    “It’s dark, it’s wet, it’s cold ---”

    “Wow. Way to sell the place,” she said with a joking sarcasm. Bruce smiled.

    “It has its moments,” he said. Chloe nodded and took another sip of her champagne.

    “I guess every place does,” she mused. Bruce let his smile fall just slightly as he motioned to her glass.

    “Here,” he said, holding out his hand so he could refill it. Chloe’s eyebrows shot up in surprise when she realized she had sipped away the entire glass.

    “Oh, my God. I didn’t even realize,” she said and then shook her head. “No, thanks. I shouldn’t have even had that.”

    “Why? Are you a mean drunk?” he teased. Chloe laughed.

    “Are you implying that I could get drunk off of one glass of champagne?” she retorted with a smile. He nodded.

    “It’s possible. You don’t weigh a lot and you don’t generally drink so your tolerance ---”

    “How do you know I don’t generally drink?” she asked with suspicion. Bruce gave her a lopsided grin.

    “You didn’t drink anything at the party,” he said observantly.

    “I didn’t drink anything when I was with *you*,” she said. “How do you know that I didn’t just finish off a couple of glasses before that?”

    “Oh. Well, for a couple of reasons,” Bruce said, leaning toward her again. He rested his arm around the back of her seat as he started talking again. “First of all, I would have smelled it on your breath.”

    “Ok-ay, I’ll take that one,” she said. “And second?”

    “And second,” Bruce said, ducking his head a little bit in embarrassment, “I had been watching you since you first came in.”

    Chloe blinked her eyes in surprise.

    “What?”

    “You didn’t wonder how I knew about the man you came in with?”

    “I – I didn’t think about it,” Chloe admitted.

    “You – uh – never answered my question, by the way,” he said.

    “Which question was that?” she asked, tilting her head as she leaned her shoulders back against his arm. His face drew ever nearer and Chloe, despite the fact that she had only had one glass of champagne, was feeling a little tipsy. She leaned toward him and their lips lightly brushed against each other’s. She let out a small moan as Bruce’s hand wove into her hair and the kiss started to deepen. His tongue darted out, running along the crease between her lips, begging for entry. Chloe’s hands rested on his shoulders, but slowly crept to the back of his neck and head as she opened her mouth for him. Their tongues slid against each other passionately and Bruce’s hands caressed her body as they started to lie back against the seat.

    Then a familiar ringing sound came from his jacket. Bruce groaned and Chloe chuckled as they both sat back up.

    “I’m sorry. I have to get this,” he said. She shrugged it off.

    “No problem,” she said. He pushed the button to answer the cell phone and then held it up to his ear.

    “Wayne,” he greeted.

    Chloe snickered. That was the way Lex always answered his phone too – last name only. Come to think of it, her dad did that too.

    ‘So why was the Lex the first one to come to mind?’ she wondered.

    “Bruce, it’s Lex,” Lex said from the other end of the phone.

    “Ah. My own personal snitch,” Bruce joked.

    “You didn’t expect me to not inform Gabe, did you? He’s one of my most valued employees,” Lex said smugly.

    “Hmm,” Bruce said and rubbed his eyes a couple of times. “Why are you calling?”

    “Is she with you?”

    “Does it matter?”

    “Wayne, listen to me.”

    Bruce took note that Lex’s voice was no longer teasing and suddenly very serious and stern.

    “You can’t go out with her,” Lex continued.

    “Why?”

    “She’s a friend of a friend,” Lex said. “And this particular friend will kill you if she gets hurt in any way. Trust me on this. It’s one of the only reasons I didn’t go after her myself.” He mumbled the last part, but Bruce caught it.

    “Thanks for the warning,” Bruce said nonchalantly.

    “Are you going to heed it?”

    Bruce looked over at Chloe and a smile lifted the corners of his mouth.

    “No, but thank you anyway.”

    He clicked his phone off and then turned the power completely off.

    “Won’t you miss some important business calls if you do that?” Chloe asked. Bruce leaned toward her again with a mischievous glint in his eyes.

    “I think I’m willing to risk it.”

    --------------
    Ch. 5
    --------------

    The chauffer opened the car door for them and Bruce stepped out first, offering his hand to help Chloe after he did so. He briefly glanced up at the hotel in front of them as he kept his hold on her hand.

    “This is where you’re staying?” he asked, a slight tinge of disbelief and snobbery mixing into his tone. Chloe gave him a wry grin.

    “It’s not that bad,” she said.

    “It’s not that good either,” he replied. Chloe shrugged.

    “It’s decent, it’s clean, it’s not in a bad part of town, and it’s got a bed with freshly laundered sheets on it,” she said. “That’s all you really need when staying at a hotel.” Bruce didn’t look convinced and Chloe noticed that he hadn’t started walking her toward the hotel’s front doors yet.

    “I think you should stay at my hotel,” he said after a moment of not speaking. He gave her a hint of a smile and tilted his head to the side. “It’s nicer,” he said in an almost pleading voice.

    “I’ll bet,” Chloe said wryly and then smiled. She let go of his hand and took a few steps away from the limousine. She turned around for a split second to beam another smile at him. “But this one is already paid for.” She started walking toward the hotel’s front doors, making no move to turn around again or to bother saying goodnight to Bruce. Bruce frowned and held up his hand to the driver to indicate that he should stay there. He quickly closed the space between them and placed his hand on the small of her back. She arched a questioning eyebrow and Bruce gave a light shrug of his shoulders.

    “It wouldn’t be very gentlemanly of me to not walk you to your door,” he explained in an almost teasing tone. Chloe laughed and shook her head.

    “No, I guess not,” she said.

    They walked through the hotel lobby to the elevators, barely even catching the attention of the one person in the room who was standing behind the desk. The young man gave them a polite grin and a nod of his head as a greeting. The elevator came and Chloe and Bruce stepped onto it. He turned to her after the doors closed and made an unsatisfied face.

    “They don’t even have proper security here, Chloe,” he said. Another smile spread across Chloe’s lips.

    “They don’t have security here at all,” she pointed out. “Well, unless you count the security cameras in the lobby and hallways.”

    “It doesn’t sound like you care.”

    “I don’t,” she said. “I’m a big girl; I can take care of myself. Besides, it’s not like anyone is coming after me anyway. If I was in your position, I might be more concerned.” Bruce quelled the urge to remind her that she was currently with him, and therefore subjected to any danger that he might be in. Chloe was independent and obviously stubborn. Arguing semantics with her wasn’t going to do any good. Chloe saw right through him though and the amusement on her face faded. “Are you always this protective?”

    “Generally speaking?” he asked. Chloe nodded. “Yes.” Chloe smiled. At least he was honest.

    The elevator doors slid open and Chloe and Bruce made their way to her room. She took the key card out of her small handbag and unlocked the door, turning to face Bruce as she did so.

    “I’d invite you in, but I wouldn’t want you to be in danger by staying with me,” she quipped. Bruce gave her a mock frown.

    “I knew I shouldn’t have said anything,” he half-mumbled teasingly. Chloe laughed and Bruce smiled at her. “Can I see you tomorrow?” Chloe’s smile fell.

    “It’ll have to be early. My dad arranged for late check-out, but we’ll still be going back to Smallville at two.”

    “Two,” he repeated thoughtfully. “So – lunch?” Chloe nodded.

    “That would be great,” she said. Bruce grinned and leaned forward to kiss her. Their lips seemed to melt together and their mouths opened at the same time to deepen the kiss. Their tongues touched playfully and Bruce only pulled away when breathing became a very important issue. Chloe panted for breath as she held her hands against his shoulders.

    “Will you do me a favor?” Bruce asked. She looked up to see him looking down at her.

    “What?”

    “Just *think about* taking one of the jobs in Gotham,” he said. Chloe’s mouth fell open a little and Bruce swept down to kiss her again, taking advantage of the fact that her mouth was already open for him. When he finally pulled back, both of their breathing was ragged; and when he tried to kiss her forehead, it ended up being just a brush of his wet lips against her skin. “Just think about it,” he repeated. Chloe nodded and Bruce smiled at her, giving her one last peck on the lips before saying goodnight.

    Chloe shook her head as he walked away. Had she seriously just agreed to think about moving to Gotham? It was on the other side of the country! And for a man she had just met? She shook her head again in disbelief. When she turned on the door handle, the door to her room remained locked.

    She frowned and realized that her kisses with Bruce had taken too much time and the light by the door handle was no longer green. She smiled to herself as she slid the card in again, thinking that kissing him could never last too long. He was definitely more experienced than the boys she had gone out with before, and it showed. He was an amazing kisser.

    She opened the door and was immediately struck by the fragrance of her favorite flowers wafting through the air in her room. She furrowed her brow a little until she turned on the lights to the dimmest setting possible and saw the many vases of flowers littered throughout the room. Her eyes grew wide and she actually pinched herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming.

    “What the ---?” she trailed off as she searched around for a card – some indication of who had done this. ‘Well, obviously Bruce did it,’ a little voice in her head spoke up. ‘Who else would be sending you flowers?’

    “But I just met him,” Chloe argued with herself. ‘And he wasn’t out of my sight afterward. He wouldn’t have had the opportunity to arrange this, let alone know what my favorite flowers are.’

    She finally found the card attached to one of the vases of flowers and without realizing it, nervously started chewing on her lower lip as she lifted it from its holder. Her hands were shaking lightly as she tore into the envelope. If it had been Bruce who sent them, then she may very well have to consider moving to Gotham. She had never met someone who was as good of a kisser as he was, let alone one who was apparently considerate, thoughtful, and liked her too. Chloe opened the card and her eyes started to scan over the contents.

    ‘Forgive me?’

    “That’s it?” Chloe thought aloud, flipping the card over to make sure that more words weren’t scrawled on the back. ‘That doesn’t help at all!’ Then she caught the flashing red light on her phone out of the corner of her eye. “Maybe they left a message,” she mumbled to herself. She picked up the phone and followed the instructions on how to retrieve her voice mail.

    <beep>

    “Hi, sweetheart, it’s dad. I just wanted to let you know how sorry I was for lashing out at you earlier. I know that you’re an adult now and you’re perfectly capable of making your own decisions. Plus – if you end up getting involved with the guy, you could marry rich and I wouldn’t have to worry about supporting you anymore.”

    Chloe snickered at her dad’s joke and listened as the first message ended and the next began.

    <beep>

    “Chloe, it’s Lex. I – I wanted to say I was sorry about this evening. Millicent’s behavior was unacceptable and *sigh* I guess I wasn’t entirely supportive of the idea of you being with Wayne…”

    Chloe rolled her eyes at his statement. She could almost hear her dad in the background, telling Lex what to say so she wouldn’t think he was an ass anymore.

    “So, anyway, I hope you accept the flowers as an apology, your dad said they’re you’re favorite,” his voice on the recording continued. “I have some engagements tomorrow, but why don’t we meet for breakfast so we can clear the air a little bit?”

    Chloe sighed and started to reach around to the back to unzip her dress as the message ended. Lex had sent her the flowers. He wanted to clear the air between them. She wasn’t sure whether that was a good or a bad thing. He could be earnest in his apology and want to make things right, expecting her to do the same in regards to his father at breakfast the next morning. Or – he could be setting up a hit and when she showed up expecting eggs and toast then she could get a bullet to the back of her head instead. She inwardly chuckled at the thought. Lex would never do something like that. His father? Yes. Him? No.

    It struck her that Lex hadn’t actually left instructions on where to meet him or what time. She rolled her eyes and let the dress slide down her body, pooling around her feet.

    “Way to set the date,” she muttered under her breath, still not noticing the man leaning against the bathroom’s doorframe near the far side of the room.

    “I thought it might be more effective if we came to an agreement on where to meet in person,” Lex said, smoothly stepping out of the shadows. Chloe screamed and tried to jump back, tripping and falling over the dress that had circled her feet. A smile spread across Lex’s lips and he let out a low chuckle. Chloe quickly scampered to a standing position again and brought the dress up with her, holding it in front of her for coverage. She glared angrily at the bald man in front of her.

    “What the hell are you doing here?!”

    “Like I said ---”

    “And why didn’t you tell me you were here *before* I started taking my dress off?!”

  2. #2
    scifichick774
    Just a Guest!
    Ch. 6
    ---------

    “Why would I do that?” Lex asked somewhat teasingly as he took a few steps toward her.

    “Gee, I don’t know,” Chloe said sarcastically, “Common courtesy maybe? Of course, if you had that, then you wouldn’t have broken into my room in the first place.”

    “Technically speaking, I didn’t break in,” he said and took another step toward her. Chloe clutched her dress tighter at her chest in hopes that it would cover her up a little more.

    “What’d you do? Bribe the manager?” she asked with a little irritation lining her voice. Lex smirked at her and Chloe rolled her eyes. “Turn around.” Lex gave her a blank expression and Chloe moved her finger in a circular motion. “Turn around. I need to put my dress back on.”

    “I saw you take it off. I hardly think I’ll see much more if you put it back on,” he pointed out.

    “Turn around, Luthor&#33;”

    Lex snickered and turned so his back was facing her. Chloe slipped back into her dress, but was having trouble getting the zipper back up. A small grunting noise escaped and from her throat and Lex turned back around to see her back to him and her hands reached around, struggling with the zipper. He smiled to himself and closed the space between them. Chloe shivered when she felt his hand clasp over one of hers at the back of her dress.

    “Let me,” he said, his husky voice ringing in her ear. In one fluid movement, her dress was zipped and she had turned around to face him.

    “Why are you here, Lex?”

    Chloe hoped to God that the nervousness she felt didn’t come through in her voice. It had been strange enough running into him at the charity ball, even though she knew there had been a possibility that it might happen, and now – now he had filled her hotel room with her favorite kind of flowers, *sort of* apologized for how the evening had gone earlier, and had seen her in just a lacy strapless bra and matching panties. She would have been embarrassed if the look on his face hadn’t brought up a distinctly different reaction. Lust.

    ‘No, no, no,’ she thought. ‘Not going there. He has a girlfriend – a really *annoying* girlfriend – but a girlfriend none the less, and I’m practically dating Bruce Wayne.’

    “You always have to look for the ulterior motive, don’t you, Sullivan?”

    “And you always answer a question with a question,” she countered.

    “You want a direct answer?”

    “That would be nice.”

    “Alright,” Lex said and placed his hands on Chloe’s hips. Chloe looked down at them and then questioningly back up at Lex. “I don’t think you should see him.”

    “Bruce?”

    “Unless there’s another man that you’re not telling me about,” Lex answered, leaving the end of it hanging like a question. Chloe shook her head slightly and tried to ignore how the heat from Lex’s hands seemed to be burning her skin through the fabric of her dress.

    “Why don’t you think I should see him?”

    ‘Because he’ll take away any shot I might have with you,’ Lex thought to himself. He sighed. “Chloe, it’s hard to explain, but I know him.” He released his hold on her hips and took a few steps away from her as he looked like he was contemplating what to tell her. “Bruce can go out with a dozen different women and not have any regrets about never seeing them again after the first and only date, because he never establishes any sort of feelings for them.”

    “And you think that’s the case with me?”

    Lex pursed his lips, but he wasn’t facing Chloe, so she didn’t see him.

    “Like I said, I know him. He’s the kind of guy that when he *does* finally fall, he falls hard.” Lex twisted his body slightly so he could look at her.

    “What are you trying to tell me, Lex?”

    “He asked you to move to Gotham, Chloe.”

    “How did you ---?” Chloe trailed off and her eyes darted to the door. “Oh.” She paused as she took a deep breath and released it. “You know, he actually just asked me to *consider* taking one of the jobs there, he didn’t ---”

    “He thinks he’s in love with you Chloe&#33;” Lex interrupted. They eyed each other, trying to read the expressions on each other’s faces. Lex looked almost desperate for his information to sink in and for Chloe to have some sort of reaction, but Chloe’s face was frustratingly unreadable as she thought about what Lex had just said.

    She considered making a comment about how she and Bruce had only met that evening, and how he couldn’t possibly be in love with her, but she chose not to. The truth of it was that if Lex was right, then she could completely understand where Bruce was coming from. When they kissed, it had been like nothing she had ever experienced; even just being in his presence, joking with him, it seemed comfortable and right.

    “You’re not really giving me a good reason to *stop* seeing him,” Chloe finally said, her arms folded across her chest and an eyebrow arched in the air. Lex ran a hand over his smooth head in aggravation.

    “You’re not stupid, Chloe.”

    “Thanks,” she said sarcastically, not liking the tone with which he voiced his words.

    “What happens if you do start seeing him? You move to Gotham – away from your friends and family? You end up making sacrifices like your career, because you can’t be on both sides of the media fence at once? And then what? You’ll be unhappy and unfulfilled – try to move back to Smallville maybe, but he won’t let you. And as many stalkers as Clark has helped you get rid of, I doubt there’s much he could do to get rid of a man with Wayne’s money or power.”

    “You have given this *way* too much thought, Lex,” Chloe said with a bemused grin. “Have you ever considered that after having lunch with him tomorrow that we may decide never to see each other again?”

    “No,” Lex said honestly, “because that won’t be what happens.”

    “Not to be rude or anything, but I don’t really see how this is any of your business,” she said.

    “Chloe, I’m your friend.”

    “No, you’re not – you’re a friend of a friend – an acquaintance.”

    “A *friendly* acquaintance,” Lex corrected. Chloe shrugged.

    “I guess,” she said. “But I still don’t think you have a valid reason for not wanting me to see Bruce – not one that you’ve given me anyway.”

    “I like you.”

    “I like you too, but ---”

    “No. I *like* you. I have for a while now, but I knew if I asked you out that it would practically kill Clark,” Lex said.

    “So, this is about Clark?”

    “He’s your friend, and I think he still harbors unresolved feelings for you,” Lex said. Chloe snorted.

    “He’s got a strange way of showing it,” she said. “And you?”

    “As much as I like you, I would never hurt Clark like that. He saved my life – I owe it to him to ---”

    “To what?&#33;” Chloe yelled, letting the anger she felt finally boil over. “Make sure I have no social life with anyone until *farm boy* works out his issues?&#33; Well, screw that&#33; Did it ever occur to you that maybe I’m not interested in him like that anymore? Or that I have a right to be with anyone who might actually like me back without waiting on Clark Kent’s seal of approval?&#33;”

    Within the blink of an eye, Lex closed the space between them and slammed his mouth down against her own. Chloe’s eyes grew wide and she tried to push him away, but Lex’s arms wrapped around her, drawing her closer and preventing her escape.

    “Lex – no&#33; We can’t ---”

    His tongue pushed its way into her mouth and while she tried to maneuver it back out with her own, they ended up getting intertwining and sliding against each other. Chloe’s eyes closed and Lex felt her begin to reciprocate the kiss.

    His long fingers slid the zipper to her dress back down and his warm palm rested against the small of her back as the dress dropped to the floor. Chloe pushed his jacket off his shoulders and Lex moved his arms to let it drop to the ground. She tugged at his bow tie and started to frantically unbutton his shirt.

    “Chloe,” he murmured against the soft skin of her neck. “Just tell him you don’t want him.” Chloe creased her brow and pushed away from him slightly, but Lex pulled her back even closer and she could feel the hard bulge underneath his pants press against her.

    “Lex ---”

    “Just tell him,” Lex whispered in a half-pleading, half-seductive voice. “Tell him who you really want.”

    Chloe’s head jerked up from her pillow. Her brow was sweaty and her breathing was ragged as her heart pounded against her ribcage. Out of the darkness of the room, the man who had been lying next to her ran his fingers up and down her arm lovingly.

    “What’s wrong?”

    “I ---” she paused as it took her a moment to remember where and, more importantly, *when* she was. Chloe caught his hand as it stilled on her arm and gave it a reassuring squeeze. “Nothing,” she lied. “Just a bad dream.”

    “Hmm,” Bruce said and gingerly drew her body back down so she was lying next to him again. “Nervous about the wedding?”

    “No – at least I don’t think so,” she said and casually ran her own hand along his chest. “I don’t know.”

    “Do you want to talk about it?”

    “Maybe in the morning,” she said quietly. Bruce nodded in acceptance of her answer and wrapped his arm around her to bring her closer to him when she turned onto her other side.

    “It’s okay,” he half-whispered against her bare shoulder and then placed a gentle kiss on the soft skin there. “It’s going to be alright.”

    -----------
    Ch. 7
    -----------

    Lex stared out his bedroom window at Smallville’s night sky. He had yet another dream of what he *should* have done with Chloe the night of the charity ball, but had woken abruptly when the dream reeled itself backward and replayed the truth of what had actually happened.

    “As much as I like you, I would never hurt Clark like that. He saved my life – I owe it to him to ---”

    “To what?&#33;” Chloe yelled, letting the anger she felt finally boil over. “Make sure I have no social life with anyone until *farm boy* works out his issues?&#33; Well, screw that&#33; Did it ever occur to you that maybe I’m not interested in him like that anymore? Or that I have a right to be with anyone who might actually like me back without waiting on Clark Kent’s seal of approval?&#33;”

    “Chloe ---”

    “No,” Chloe said and shook her head. “I’m not going to stop dating Bruce just because someone else has issues about us being together, so you can just forget it.”

    Lex opened his mouth to speak, but was silenced by Chloe walking over to the door and opening it – a sure sign that he had overstayed his welcome, if he had ever been welcome at all. He nodded once in acceptance of her decision, but paused when he reached the door.

    “If you ever change your mind and need a friend, you can always call me.”

    Chloe refused to meet his eyes as she looked past him. If she didn’t say something then she had a feeling that she was never going to get rid of him; but she didn’t want to say something in anger that she might regret later.

    “I’ll do that. Have a good night, Lex.” She watched him start to walk down the hall, his back turned to her, and she frowned. “Lex?” He stopped and turned around to face her. “Tell Millicent that she’s forgiven, but I meant what I said.”

    A sad grin quirked at the corners of Lex’s lips and he nodded.

    “I will.”



    Lex let out a sigh and rested his forehead against the cold glass of the window. It had been a little over six months since that evening, and in that time, he felt like his life had been shot to hell.

    After her public drunken binge at the ball, Millicent’s father sent her off to a rehabilitation center in Mexico somewhere. Lex couldn’t claim that he was terribly upset by it – or upset at all for that matter – and he offered her nothing but his blessings when she opted for a quickie marriage to a local businessman down there.

    Chloe’s situation, on the other hand, *was* something that upset him. She had indeed moved to Gotham, though she refused to take a solid position at any one paper and was working freelance. She and Bruce had continued dating and Lex heard that although Bruce had asked her to move in with him right away, she had only done so three months ago.

    It had given Lex some semblance of hope when she wasn’t living with Bruce yet, but now he feared that a marriage proposal was imminent – especially given the upcoming nuptials of two of Chloe’s best friends from Smallville. Lex allowed himself a small smirk before wandering over to the bar and pouring himself a drink.

    Life had a strange sense of humor sometimes. Clark had obsessed over Lana throughout most of high school, only to have her stolen out from under his nose by his best friend. Clark told Lex it was a good thing though, because it helped him realize who had been there for him the whole time – Chloe. Unfortunately for Clark, by the time he woke up and smelled the coffee, Chloe had already left with it.

    Clark had been completely stunned by the information that Chloe had started dating Bruce Wayne, and not in a good way. He pleaded with her to stay in Smallville and think about her options – to reconsider college or to just accept the position with The Daily Planet that she had been offered – but she had refused. She said that she would always love him as a friend, but she needed more than that if she was going to get on with her life, and that she had finally found it in Bruce.

    And now, in two days time, Lana Lang – Clark’s high school crush - would be walking down the aisle to marry Peter Ross – his best friend. And Chloe – the woman who Clark professed he had made the biggest mistake of his life with by letting her go - was going to be Lana’s maid of honor; which meant that she would be standing directly across from him during the wedding ceremony, but her heart would never be his.

    Lex had meant what he had told her that night. He would never make a move on her as long as Clark still had unresolved feelings for her – even if she didn’t return them and was practically engaged to another man. The thought crushed him. In his younger days, he would have gone after what he wanted and not given a damn about the consequences. He would have made Chloe his and Clark could have wallowed in self pity over seeing them together instead of seeing her with Bruce. Why should it have made a difference since Clark was going to be moping either way?

    ‘The difference is - *you’re* his friend and Bruce isn’t,’ he thought to himself. For a moment he wondered what would have happened if Bruce had been Clark’s friend as well. Would the young man from Gotham have still gone after Chloe? Lex came to the conclusion that he probably would have. From what he understood, Bruce had basically fallen in love with her at first sight; and once Bruce wanted something, he still acted with disregard to other people’s feelings. And, if the circumstances had been different, if Lex hadn’t fallen for her a little bit himself, then he would have agreed with the idea of Chloe being with Bruce. He was a good man; one who would never be unfaithful to her, one who could provide her with anything she desired for the rest of her life.

    Lex sighed and then finished off the amber-colored liquid in his glass. He would need it if he was going to get any rest tonight.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    Chloe sipped at the hot coffee she held in her hands. For the third night in a row she had the same disturbing dream about Lex – what might have happened if he had made any sort of advance toward her that night after the charity ball. It never went past Lex saying those words to her, but it was more than a little unsettling, because she loved Bruce and she shouldn’t be dreaming about another man and the road not taken. Hell, if she was going to start doing that, then she should be dreaming about Clark – right?

    Bruce smiled over at her and she found herself returning it.

    “It’s going to be alright,” he said comfortingly, as if reading her mind, but not really. She nodded, knowing that he was talking about the wedding.

    “I know. It’s just strange,” she said.

    “That two of your best friends are getting married? Or the dress Lana picked out for you?” he asked, the latter question with a teasing glint in his eye. Chloe laughed, but it tapered off quickly.

    “A little of both,” she answered. “I mean, for the longest time, I totally thought that Lana would marry Clark – even after she started dating Pete. And then, you know, the whole pink dress thing.” Bruce chuckled.

    “You look beautiful in it if that helps to ease your discomfort.”

    “Yeah - it really doesn’t,” she said with a thoughtful smile, “but thanks anyway.”

    “Of course.”

    They sat in silence for the next couple of minutes as they ate their light breakfast.

    “Chloe?”

    “Hmm?” she asked, her eyes darting up from the paper to look at him.

    “Why does the wedding scare you? Really?” he asked. Chloe let out a small sigh and shook her head.

    “I don’t know. I think it might have something to do with going back to Smallville. I know I haven’t been gone that long, but it seems like forever,” she said. Bruce nodded.

    “I understand,” he said. “It’s hard to remember a time without you in my life now.” Chloe smiled at him.

    “Flattery will get you everywhere,” she said. Bruce smiled impishly back at her.

    “Really? I’ll have to remember that,” he replied. He stole a quick glance at the clock on the wall and pushed himself away from the table. “We should get going,” he said as he held his hand out to help her up. “We don’t want to be late for your best friend’s wedding.”

    “Her wedding isn’t for another two days, Bruce,” Chloe argued. “The most we’d be late for is the rehearsal – which I’m perfectly fine with.”

    “Uh-huh,” Bruce teased.

    “And besides, Lana’s not my best friend.”

    “She’s not?” Bruce asked with surprise, but realization looked like it dawned on him and the expression on his face changed quickly. “Oh, right – Clark and Pete too.”

    Chloe smiled at him and ran her hands up his chest until she was standing on her tiptoes and bringing his mouth down to meet her own. She gave him a gentle kiss.

    “No. *You’re* my best friend,” she said and they kissed again. “So, in order for me to be going to my best friend’s wedding, *you* would need to be the one getting married.”

    “Hmm,” Bruce hummed against her lips. “Interesting.” They kissed again, this time their mouths opening and their tongues tangling with each other. When they finally pulled apart for air, Bruce looked completely serious as he rested his forehead against her own. “So, what would you think about that?” Chloe’s eyebrows rose in surprise and she looked up at him.

    “What?” she barely squeaked out.

    Bruce grinned and brushed his lips against hers one more time before releasing his hold on her and bending down on one knee. He held her hands in his, his heart beating quickly against his ribcage in fear that she might turn him down.

    “Chloe, I love you. And if living with you has taught me anything, it’s that I don’t ever want to live without you again. Will you marry me?”

    ----------
    Ch. 8
    ----------

    A/N: Those of you who are averse to the Chloe/Bruce pairing (why are you reading this?) should probably cover your eyes for this chapter, as it lives up to the strong R rating.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    Bruce nuzzled his face against Chloe’s neck.

    “You’re sure your father won’t mind us staying at a hotel instead of with him?” he asked, then allowed his teeth to lightly rake over the soft skin. “I don’t want to offend him – especially since I haven’t technically asked him for your hand yet.” Chloe let out a small laugh and raised her hands to run through Bruce’s black hair, pushing his mouth against her neck.

    “He’ll be fine with it. I bet he wishes that *he* could stay at a hotel,” Chloe said. “It sounds like Lana has turned the house into ‘wedding central’.” Bruce snickered against her skin and pulled slightly away from her, giving her a smile as he met her eyes.

    “At least he won’t have to worry about that with ours,” he said.

    “True,” Chloe agreed. “A nice little elopement and ---”

    “You want to elope?” Bruce asked with surprise.

    “You know how I am with big social events, Bruce.”

    “Mmm,” he hummed in what she thought was agreement. “Witty – charming – intelligent,” he said, kissing her after each word. “Gorgeous.” Chloe smiled and took him by surprise by shoving him against the backrest of his seat in the private jet. Bruce arched an eyebrow at her and she slid out of her seat and moved to straddle his lap.

    “As much as I love your flattery,” she said, running her hands down his chest and earning a hitch in Bruce’s breath, “there’s always the more practical side to consider.”

    “Oh? What’s that?” he asked in little more than a whisper. Chloe smiled and leaned down to nip his earlobe. “Chloe,” he breathed as she took between her lips and started to rub the lower half of her body against him in time with her sucking.

    One of his hands rested on the small of her back, pulling her closer to him until he was able to take her breast into his mouth through the light layers of fabric that her blouse and bra provided. Chloe let out a whimper of appreciation and pushed her body toward him. He suckled her through her clothes and she continued to writhe rhythmically on his lap, desperately seeking the friction that she needed.

    Her hands traced down to his pants and unbuckled his belt. The button came next, followed by her unzipping his slacks, freeing the hard bulge that had been hiding beneath the fabric. Still straddling his lap, she rose to her knees and their mouths met with a fevered passion. Immediately opening her lips for him, their tongues glided hot and wet against each other. Chloe was so caught up in the embrace that she barely noticed the sound or feeling of her panties being ripped away from her body underneath her skirt.

    “Bruce,” she half-moaned against his mouth. Their eyes locked and Bruce pushed her skirt up as Chloe slowly slid down, taking his length inside of her inch by inch. Bruce grabbed her hips and shoved her down the rest of the way. Chloe gasped and closed her eyes before she started to lift herself again and develop a stride for riding him. Bruce met her thrust for thrust, building up the source of their mutual pleasure. “Oh – God,” Chloe moaned loudly and her inner walls began to clamp around him. “Bruce&#33;” Her body started trembling with her release and she could hardly make out the grunts and groans of her name pouring from Bruce’s mouth.

    He breathed heavily, taking in large gulps of air as he pulled her closer, resting his head against her shoulder as they came down from their climaxes. His hand wove lovingly into her hair and brought her mouth to his to kiss her again. When they pulled apart, Chloe grinned in temporary exhaustion and started to raise herself off of his now softening cock.

    “I love you,” she said.

    “I love you too,” he replied, watching thoughtfully as she blushed slightly as she sat back down in her own chair. “What were you going to say?”

    “What?”

    “Earlier,” he said. “You were going to give me a practical reason why we should elope.”

    “*That* wasn’t enough of a reason for you?” Chloe asked, somewhat surprised. Bruce knit his brows together and Chloe let out a humorless trace of a chuckle. “Come on - we’d never make it down the aisle.” Bruce let out a loud laugh and smiled broadly at her. “You know I’m right,” she continued, “I’d get halfway down the aisle and you’d jump me.”

    “Hmm,” Bruce said and then smirked as he leaned closer to her, “A distinct possibility.”

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    Lex cursed under his breath when he realized that there weren’t any parking spots in front of Gabe’s house or in his driveway. This was too important to be stopped by Lana’s over-abundant wedding plans though. He parked the car in the street and jogged up to the front door.

    Just moments earlier, he had been informed that his father had seen the small blip in the Smallville Ledger about Lana and Pete getting married and how Chloe was going to be the maid of honor. He already knew about the contract that Lionel had taken out on Chloe’s life, and the outdoor wedding would be a perfect opportunity for a sniper to attack. Lex rang the bell, squaring his jaw and pumping his hands in and out of fists as he waited for someone to answer.

    “Lex,” Gabe greeted as he opened the door. The older man’s face immediately fell when he took in his visitor’s demeanor. “Is something wrong at the plant? You could have just ---”

    “I need you to call Chloe,” Lex interrupted.

    “What?”

    “Bruce isn’t answering his cell phone and ---”

    “He probably turned it off. They’re on the plane on the way here now; I talked to them not ten minutes ago.”

    “Damn it&#33;”

    “Lex – what’s wrong?”

    Gabe watched as Lex ran a hand over his smooth head in frustration. Something was obviously very wrong in Lex Luthor’s world.

    “My dad,” he said as if that should explain everything. Gabe’s brow furrowed.

    “What about him?” he asked. Lex let out a small sigh and shook his head.

    “He found out that Chloe is going to be Lana’s maid of honor,” Lex started to explain. “And since it’s just Smallville, Bruce won’t bring a lot of security detail with him.”

    “But Lionel’s in prison,” Gabe said, “he can’t do anything.”

    “I’m sure you’re not ignorant enough to believe that his reach doesn’t extend just as far as it ever did,” Lex retorted. Gabe frowned and then looked at Lex warily.

    “What do you want me to do?”

    “If she calls again, tell Bruce to have the plane turned around,” Lex said. Even as the words came out of his mouth, it killed him to say it. He wanted to see her again, *needed* to see her again, but if she came to Smallville…“Chloe can’t be in this wedding, Gabe.”

    “What?&#33;” Lana shrieked from the stairs and then came marching over. “Why not?”

    “It’s not safe for her here, Lana,” Lex explained. “I’m sure you can have one of your bridesmaid step up and take her place.”

    “No,” Lana protested. “*She’s* my maid of honor. And Chloe can take care of herself, I don’t see why ---”

    “My father has put a hit out on her.”

    Lana and Gabe both paled.

    “W-what?” Lana asked.

    “Strictly second-hand information, but it’s from a reliable source,” Lex said. “And now that they know where she’s going to be and that she won’t have Bruce’s normal entourage of protection circling her ---” he trailed off, hoping that he wouldn’t have to say anything more about it. Lana let out a whimpering noise.

    “She’s my maid of honor, she’s *got* to be at this wedding, Lex,” she said with a small pout. Lex barely pushed down the urge to pummel the girl into the ground. Granted, it was her wedding and she had every right to be disappointed, but shouldn’t her friend’s safety come first? Gabe’s reaction to what Lana had said was quite different though. He placed his hand on her back comfortingly.

    “She will be,” Gabe said. “Don’t worry. We’ll tell them when they get here and Bruce can take care of whatever needs to be done to get more security at the wedding. Okay?” Lana nodded her head a little and smiled thankfully at him.

    “Okay,” she said. “I – um –” she stammered as she looked at Lex’s hard expression and then back at Gabe, “I better go check on Aunt Nell. She was freaking out about the flowers.” Gabe nodded and Lana took one last hesitant look at Lex before scurrying away.

    “She’s been looking forward to Chloe coming home ever since she left,” Gabe explained with a slight smile.

    “I understand, but ---”

    Gabe shook his head.

    “Lex, thank you for telling us, and I’ll be sure to give Bruce the information as soon as they get here; but I’m not going to tell my daughter that she can’t be in Lana’s wedding. It wouldn’t be fair to her or any of her friends.” Gabe gave him a tight grin. “Anyway, I’m sure that Bruce can take care of it.” He faltered a little under the cold, determined look on Lex’s face; knowing that Lex felt responsible for all the harm his father had done. “Maybe you could arrange some extra security and then talk to Bruce about it when they get in?”

    Lex nodded, but the worried expression didn’t leave his face. Gabe folded his arms across his chest as he observed Lex. He had worked for him long enough to know that something else was bothering him.

    “What’s really going on here, Lex?”

    ---------
    Ch. 9
    ---------

    “So – I can’t be in the wedding?” Chloe asked her dad through the cell phone from Bruce’s rented limousine. She could barely restrain the glee she felt from coming through in her voice and Bruce arched an eyebrow at her.

    “No, no,” Gabe argued. “Don’t worry. I told Lex that you were going to be in Lana’s wedding no matter what. You’re just going to have extra security there.”

    “Ah,” she said. “Let me hand you over to the guy in charge of all that sort of stuff then.” She handed her cell phone to Bruce and he looked at her questioningly, only having caught bits and pieces of her short conversation with her dad.

    “Mr. Sullivan,” Bruce greeted in his deep voice.

    “Bruce,” Gabe answered, returning the sentiment. “As I’m sure you overheard, there’s a bit of a situation.”

    “What kind of a situation?”

    “The kind where Lionel Luthor has taken a contract out on my daughter’s life and Lex thinks that someone’s going to try and kill her at he wedding since your usual security entourage won’t be there.”

    “They will be,” Bruce stated assuredly.

    “What?”

    “I have security with us whenever we have to travel,” Bruce said. “But I must say, if Luthor has put out a hit on Chloe’s life, then I don’t feel comfortable with her being anywhere near Lana’s wedding.”

    “You sound like Lex,” Gabe commented with a small grin. “I’m sure it will be fine as long as she’s protected.”

    “Their wedding is outdoors. There’s only so much protection the security team can provide in such an open area,” Bruce said almost worriedly, casting a glance over at Chloe, who seemed more amused by the situation than anything else.

    “Well, Lex is providing a security team too, so I really think she’ll be as safe as she can be,” Gabe responded. “Although, Lana might put up a fuss about all of the guards being in her wedding video.” Bruce heard Lana slap Gabe’s arm playfully and then Gabe chuckled. Bruce frowned. It seemed like the only two people taking the situation as seriously as it needed to be taken were he and Lex, and although he knew what his motives were for wanting Chloe to be safe, he could only suspect what Lex’s were.

    “Mr. Sullivan, I ---”

    Chloe reached out and grabbed the phone back from him, giving him a mischievous smile as she did so.

    “Hey&#33; I’m back,” she said into the receiver.

    “Hey, sweetheart,” Gabe said.

    “Sorry, but it sounded like things were about to escalate into an argument there, and really, it’s better if you just let Bruce win, because he usually does anyway,” she said. Bruce couldn’t help snickering.

    “You just don’t want to wear the pink dress,” he said quietly.

    “Duh,” she retorted, halfway putting her hand over the phone so her dad couldn’t hear her as well.

    “Chloe, it’ll break Lana’s heart if you’re not here. You know it will.”

    “Calm down, Dad. I’ll be there – surrounded by a SWAT team, but I’ll be there.”

    “That’s my girl.”

    “Hey, Dad?”

    “Yeah?”

    “Don’t hang up, okay? Bruce has something he needs to ask you,” Chloe said, an impish fire lighting up her eyes. Bruce gave her a mock glare.

    “You want me to ask him over the phone?” he asked in surprise. Chloe shrugged and handed him the phone.

    “Why not?”

    “Because it’s not proper ---”

    “Bruce?” Gabe asked as Bruce was just holding the phone up to his ear.

    “Yeah, I’m here,” he answered.

    “You had a question?”

    Bruce took a deep breath and released it before speaking again.

    “I – um ---” he uncharacteristically stammered. “I’d like permission for your daughter’s hand in marriage.” Gabe arched an eyebrow, and even though Bruce couldn’t see him, he could sense it. “I love her and ---” he was cut off by the sound of Gabe’s light chuckle.

    “I know you love her,” Gabe finally answered. “I was just surprised that you even bothered to ask me. After all, you two have been dating for – what – a little over six months now? For three of which, you’ve been living with each other.”

    “I ---”

    “You have my permission to marry my daughter,” Gabe interrupted. Bruce felt the corners of his mouth lift. “Just do me a favor?”

    “Anything,” Bruce replied sincerely, his loving gaze locked on Chloe as she smiled back at him.

    “Consider eloping – or at least have the wedding in Gotham so I don’t have to have my house torn apart again,” Gabe said. Bruce let out a small laugh.

    “It’s remarkable how much you and Chloe think alike.”

    “Wedding in Gotham?”

    “No – eloping. I was in shock when she brought it up as an option, although I suspect her motives are entirely different.”

    “Tell her that her grandparents are going to expect pictures of her in a white dress no matter what,” Gabe told him almost warningly. “So she can’t get away with going through that drive-in wedding chapel in Vegas or anything.” Bruce threw his head back a little in laughter.

    “I’ll let her know.”

    “Good,” Gabe said. “So, how much longer until you two get here?”

    “We’re on the way to Smallville right now, and we’ll probably stop at the hotel first,” Bruce said as he thought aloud. He glanced at his watch and then smiled at Chloe again. “I’d say one and a half to two hours.”

    “Alright. We’ll see you then,” Gabe said. “Tell Chloe I love her and congratulations.”

    “I will – and thanks again,” Bruce said before hanging up the phone and handing it back to Chloe.

    “See? You got all worked up over nothing,” she said almost teasingly.

    “Hmm,” Bruce hummed in thoughtfully in agreement. “He said that your grandparents will expect pictures of you in a white dress no matter what.”

    “Figures,” Chloe grumbled, shoving the phone into her purse. Bruce gave her a half-grin and Chloe frowned when she looked up at it. “What?”

    “I really don’t like the idea of you being in her wedding with one of Lionel’s employees being out there,” he said.

    “Again, getting worked up over nothing,” she said.

    “Chloe ---”

    “Look, I’m all for getting out of having to wear the hideous creation that Nell helped Lana pick out, but I can’t let her down like that – and I think we both saw the Luthor thing coming,” she said. Bruce nodded.

    “Still, though…”

    “Would it make you feel better if I wore a bulletproof vest under the bridesmaid dress?”

    “No,” he answered, giving her a glint of a smile. “They can always aim for your head. Besides, if you did that, I’m pretty sure that Lana would try and kill me for ruining the lines of the dress.” Chloe laughed.

    “Good point.” Chloe’s smile fell when she saw that Bruce was deep in thought. “There’s something else that’s bothering you, isn’t there?” she asked gently and reached her hand out to touch his arm. “What is it?” Bruce frowned and squirmed a little in his seat.

    “I don’t want to tell you.”

    “Why?”

    “Because it will make me sound incredibly petty,” he replied. Chloe snorted in amusement and Bruce gave her a small smile before turning serious again. “I’m worried about Lex.”

    “Why? You think his dad is going to try and kill him too? Although, I certainly wouldn’t put it past him,” she admitted.

    “No,” Bruce said. “But he’s the only other person taking this threat against you seriously. I’m worried that he hasn’t gotten over you.”

    “Bruce, there was nothing to get over,” she said. “He said he liked me, but it’s not like we ever went out or anything. Besides ---” she paused and flashed him a bright smile, “I’m taken.”

    Bruce leaned over to kiss her and it quickly turned from a brush on the lips to something substantially more passionate. Their tongues delved into each other’s mouths, exploring the warm, wet recesses within. Bruce started to lean her back against the seat in the limo and was hovering over her when they finally pulled apart to breathe. She looked up at him questioningly through half-closed lids and he swept down to capture her mouth again, this time, letting a hand slide along the side of her body. His hand reached her breast and he smirked as she arched into his touch.

    “Mine.”

    ----------
    Ch. 10
    ----------

    The song is “A Sunday Kind of Love” by Etta James and I don’t own any of the rights to it. *sigh*

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    I want a Sunday kind of love
    A love to last past Saturday night
    And I’d like to know it’s more than love at first sight
    And I want a Sunday kind of love
    Oh yeah yeah


    “She makes it sound like love at first sight is a bad thing,” Bruce commented as he twirled Chloe around on the dance floor at Lana and Pete’s rehearsal dinner. They were the only ones dancing, but Chloe didn’t mind. She had gotten used to the formal parties that Bruce drug her around to in Gotham and, to her surprise, found that she really liked dancing outside the Smallville typically approved dancing venues of parties and high school dances. She let out a small laugh as Bruce pulled her closer to him.

    “Depends on the people, I guess.”

    “And us?” he asked, a slight smirk on his lips. Chloe arched an eyebrow, but her smile betrayed the impish tone her voice took on.

    “Are you implying that I fell in love with you at first sight?”

    “No,” he replied, leaning down closer to her until his lips brushed against her ear. “But I fell in love with you.”

    “Lust – not love,” Chloe corrected. Bruce shook his head.

    “You’re wrong,” he said. “I saw you – and I knew.”

    I want a love that’s on the square
    Can’t seem to find somebody
    Someone to care
    And I’m on a lonely road that leads to no where
    I need a Sunday kind of love


    “I love you,” Chloe said after a second and then smiled as their mouths moved toward each other. That is, until Bruce felt a hand on his shoulder and they turned to see Clark standing there.

    “May I cut in?” he asked, staring directly at Chloe and completely missing the warning glare that had crossed Bruce’s features.

    “No,” Bruce and Chloe said at the same time. Bruce looked at her through the corner of his eye and grinned. He didn’t doubt Chloe’s love for him, but he knew that her past with the young man standing beside them had been spotted at best.

    “Chloe,” Clark said almost pleadingly and gave her a look so similar to the ones he gave her in high school. You’re my friend – we need to talk – alone. Bruce caught the look and grumbled under his breath. He was about to give in when Chloe spoke again.

    “No,” she repeated firmly. “Whatever you so obviously want to talk about can wait until after I’m done dancing with my fiancé. Now, if you’ll excuse us?” Bruce barely held in a snicker as he spun Chloe around and they fell back into the rhythm of the dance, leaving Clark to stand there gaping in disbelief.

    I do my Sunday dreaming Oh yeah
    And all my Sunday scheming
    Every minute, every hour, every day


    “And here I thought you might still have feelings for him,” Bruce said with a light chuckle. Chloe frowned.

    “You think I was too rough on him?”

    “No. I think he was too presumptuous in assuming that your past relationship with him ---”

    “I didn’t *have* a past relationship with him. We were only friends – at least until I decided to move to Gotham and then he wigged out on me.”

    “He realized what he would be losing,” Bruce said. Chloe shook her head.

    “He realized what he lost,” she corrected. “After I met you, and yes, the ball was kind of a night from hell, but nobody ever treated me like you did.” A wry grin crept across Bruce’s lips.

    Oh I’m hoping to discover
    A certain kind of lover
    Who will show me the way


    “Love at first sight,” he said somewhat smugly. Chloe couldn’t help but let out a sound of amusement.

    “Love at first meeting anyway,” she said. “Love at first sight --- well, you do look awfully good in a tux.” He smiled and placed his hand on her back to dip her. Chloe’s smile grew as he leaned over her.

    And my arms need someone
    Someone to enfold
    To keep warm when Mondays and Tuesdays grow cold
    Love for all my life to have and to hold
    Oh and I want a Sunday kind of love
    Oh yeah yeah yeah


    “We could get married while we’re here, you know?” Bruce casually suggested. “All of your friends are already in town and ---”

    “No.”

    “No?” Bruce asked. “Oh – you don’t want to ruin Lana’s ‘special day’. Well, we could ---”

    “Despite what I said about wanting to elope, I think we should get married at the manor.”

    “Really? And when did you come to this decision?” he asked. Chloe shook her head a little.

    “I’m not sure,” she admitted. “Right after you asked me I think. It’s going to sound kind of corny, but I pictured coming down the stairs in my dress and having Alfred tell me how glad he was that we finally did the proper thing.” Bruce threw his head back with a heavy laugh and his eyes were sparkling when they returned to Chloe.

    “Sorry,” he said somewhat unapologetically, “but he’s been harping on me to ask you since you moved to town.” Chloe chuckled and nodded.

    “I had a feeling,” she admitted. “So, I’m guessing that he was the one sending me the cut-outs from bride’s magazines?”

    “What?”

    “I didn’t tell you?” she asked with a slight laugh. “Oh, man. When I still had my apartment, I would get home and almost every week I would have a plain envelope delivered to me with different wedding type things – like pictures of dresses or flowers, or whatever. I just assumed it was Lana trying to get me in the spirit, but she said it wasn’t.” Bruce frowned.

    “Why didn’t you tell me? It could have been a stalker ---”

    Chloe pulled his head down to kiss him, effectively silencing whatever concerns he had been about to voice.

    I don’t want a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday, Friday or Saturday
    Oh nothing but Sunday oh yeah
    I want a Sunday Sunday
    I want a Sunday kind of love
    Oh yeah
    Sunday, Sunday, Sunday kind of loooove


    Bruce smiled down at her, his forehead resting against hers as they existed in their own little world on the dance floor. The song stopped and most of the people, with the notable exceptions of Lex, Clark, and all the security hovering around the place, started to applaud.

    “I like that song. We’ll have to remember it for our wedding,” Bruce said. Chloe let out an uncharacteristic giggle and slapped his arm playfully.

    “You only like it because I told Clark to take a hike.”

    “A valid argument,” he conceded with a smirk. “Now if I could only get you to tell off Luthor too ---”

    A series of shots rang out, followed by a blur of screams and fearful chatter, effectively cutting off Bruce’s only half-joking statement. He instinctively tightened his grip around Chloe, only to find her slumping in his arms.

    “Chloe?”

    She looked up at him, the pain and confusion etched on her face. Her mouth hung open slightly in shock and her eyes started to close.

    “Chloe?&#33;” he yelled, shaking her a little, hoping that he was wrong about what happened.

    “Help me,” she managed to only whisper out, but even through the background noise he heard her. He tried not to let the panic he felt completely take over his body.

    In one swift movement, Bruce swept her into his arms and started carrying her quickly to the door. He could feel the warm ooze of her blood sticking to his hands from where he had them on her just moments before. Chloe was going to be alright. She had to be.

  3. #3
    scifichick774
    Just a Guest!
    Ch. 11
    ----------

    Gabe rubbed his eyes and then turned them to the floor yet again. He sat in one of the hospital’s waiting rooms, his forearms resting on his legs as he leaned forward and hung his head in guilt and anxiousness.

    Two of the extra security detail Lex had hired were apparently in on the attempt on Chloe’s life, and both had been hit with several bullets immediately after firing on her. Gabe closed his eyes. Lex wasn’t taking the situation well. In a fashion that Gabe had come to expect of the man, he was blaming himself for failing Chloe and letting her get hurt – and possibly killed.

    It was three hours later and she was still in surgery. Three hours filled with waiting, talking to police detectives, and overhearing bits and pieces of hushed but obviously angry conversations between Bruce, Lex, and Clark. He forced himself to walk away and not to listen. As it was, he could see where each of the young men were coming from and he saw no point getting in the way of them taking their frustrations with the situation out on each other.

    Clark and Chloe had been friends forever, so naturally he was upset. Gabe knew from the small talk he had recently made with the Kent boy that Clark was really looking forward to Chloe’s return to Smallville, only if it was only for a few days. He also suspected that Clark had some unresolved feelings regarding his daughter, and for that, Gabe felt a little sorry for him. But, such was life. Sometimes you didn’t know what you wanted until it was gone. Gabe only hoped that Clark would accept the news that Chloe and Bruce were getting married graciously.

    Lex was obviously upset because it was his father who ordered the hit on Chloe. Gabe had noticed his protective behavior toward her even before she and Bruce got back into town and given Lex’s history with Lionel, Gabe felt that he completely understood where his boss was coming from. Of course, he had no idea that Lex harbored unrequited feelings for Chloe.

    Bruce was upset because he had let Gabe and Chloe talk him into letting her attend the wedding, despite his reservations after hearing about Lionel’s plot to kill her. He loved Chloe deeply, that much was apparent. Even the harsh, bitter words that were exchanged as means of a release weren’t enough to keep the man from brooding. He told Gabe that he would go get some “good” coffee and that he would be back in a little bit. Gabe couldn’t blame him for not wanting to sit in the hospital, knowing that he was completely helpless there.

    He raised his head to glance at the clock again. Three hours and ten minutes. One of the nurses, a woman who Gabe placed at around ten years younger than himself, kept coming out every half hour to reassure him that sometimes surgeries could go on that long and that it didn’t indicate anything was wrong. Gabe knew better. He knew there was a chance that he was never going to see his little girl alive again. Still, the reassurance was slightly placating – even if he did need to wait another twenty minutes for the next one.

    “Mr. Sullivan.”

    Gabe turned his head to see a tall cup of coffee being handed to him. He gave Bruce a wince of a smile as he took it.

    “Thanks.”

    Bruce said nothing, but looked over in the direction of the doors that led to room that Chloe was in.

    “Nothing yet,” Gabe said, answering the younger man’s unspoken question. Bruce closed his eyes for a second and nodded once before sitting down across from Chloe’s dad. A few minutes went by with neither one of them saying a word. Both seemed to be caught up in their own thoughts when Bruce decided to speak.

    “She wants to get married at the manor.”

    Gabe blinked, surprised not only by the fact that Bruce had spoken, but also the words that he said. He looked over at him, but Bruce’s eyes were still fixed on the coffee cup in his own hands.

    “That should make her grandparents happy,” he said almost absently.

    “Alfred too,” Bruce said, matching Gabe’s tone. “He’s wanted us to get married since he first met her.” Gabe nodded and grinned lightly, letting it fall when his eyes finally met Bruce’s.

    “Did you get things settled with Lex?” he asked, watching as Bruce squared his jaw and clutched his cup of coffee a little tighter. “This wasn’t his fault, Bruce.”

    “He ---”

    “He tried to warn me,” Gabe interrupted. “If you’re going to blame anyone, then you should blame me.”

    “He’s the one who hired the security personnel,” Bruce argued.

    “He went through a company that’s never let him down in the past. He had no way of knowing.”

    Bruce sucked in a breath as he tried to calm himself. It wasn’t Gabe’s fault, not entirely anyway; it wasn’t Lex’s fault, no matter how much he would have liked to blame him; and it wasn’t his own fault. There was nothing he could have said that would have made Chloe completely cancel on attending Lana’s wedding. Even if he brought up the pink dress over and over again, she still would have gone. No. Chloe’s condition was one man’s doing alone. Lionel Luthor. And he had just gotten done making sure that Lex knew that if he didn’t take care of the problem, it would be taken care of for him.

    “I know,” Bruce said after a moment, pushing aside the mixed feelings of animosity and jealousy that were swimming in his head.

    “Where is he now?” Gabe asked somewhat hesitantly. Bruce paused for a second, contemplating what words to use before he spoke.

    “Tying up loose ends,” he responded cryptically, but not so much so that Gabe didn’t know what he meant by it. Gabe frowned a little, but nodded. Normally he wouldn’t have approved of the vigilantism with which Bruce and Lex were acting, but in this case it needed to be done.

    “And Clark?” he asked. Bruce’s face conveyed none of the emotions he was feeling and Gabe couldn’t help but compare him to Lex in that way. ‘Maybe it’s a rich kid thing.’

    “With Lana and Pete the last I saw him,” Bruce answered. “She seems pretty shaken.” He covered his anger well, but only because he had excused himself from the conversation after Lana launched into a ‘why is this happening to me?’ speech. Bruce had trouble understanding why Chloe would have ever been friends with someone who so obviously felt the world revolved around them. The fact that the words had even come out of Lana’s mouth had only fueled Bruce’s anger and disgust, and he had to leave before he did something very ungentlemanly like slamming her head into the wall hard and watching the blood ooze out of her nose and mouth.

    Gabe watched as Bruce’s eyes flickered with something that he couldn’t discern, but quickly turned away as he caught a glimpse of the doors opening from the corner of his eye, and both he and Bruce stood up as they saw a doctor come through.

    The man gave them a nod of his head and let out a small sigh as he rubbed his forehead with his arm and then stopped in front of them. He gave Gabe a hint of a grin before speaking.

    “Your daughter is one extremely stubborn young woman.”

    Gabe let out a breath of relief.

    “Tell me about it,” he said. “How is she?”

    “Incredibly fortunate,” he answered. “The surgery lasted longer than expected because one of the bullets lodged itself in some nerves near her spine. We had to call in a specialist to make sure there wasn’t going to be any lasting paralysis if we removed it.”

    “And?” Bruce asked. The doctor turned his head slightly to look at him. Bruce Wayne. It really was him. He had heard some of the nurses gossiping about Bruce bringing Chloe into the ER, yelling for someone to help his fiancée, but he hadn’t known whether to believe it or not. From the society pages his wife read, he knew that the young billionaire was in a serious relationship with someone who originally hailed from Smallville, but he hadn’t heard that they had gotten engaged. His wife was going to be thrilled when she heard.

    “She’ll be fine,” he said. “She lost more blood than I would have liked, so much so that I thought we were going to lose her, but her heartbeat barely wavered.” He stopped for a second, grinning with a touch of smugness at Bruce. “Like I said – stubborn.”

    “Can we see her?” Gabe asked.

    “She’s been moved to a private room for recovery, but I suspect she won’t wake up from the anesthesia for at least another hour,” the doctor answered. Seeing the impatient looks on both Gabe and Bruce’s faces, he barely resisted rolling his eyes. “I’ll have someone show you to her room.” He motioned for one of the volunteers behind the desk to come over. “Show these men to Miss Sullivan’s room. She’s in 406.”

    The older woman nodded and turned toward the doors without giving either of the men so much as a smile.

    “This way,” she said blandly. They followed her through the doors, to the elevators, and then down a couple of hallways, until they finally reached the door that said 406 on the front of it. She raised her eyebrows to indicate that they had reached their destination and turned and walked away from them. Gabe and Bruce exchanged a look, but neither of them said a word about the woman’s behavior, figuring that it was probably difficult to keep a positive attitude when you were at the bottom of the totem pole.

    Gabe reached out and slowly opened the door, letting out a breath that he hadn’t realized he was holding in when he saw Chloe’s sleeping form on the bed. Both of them walked in, Bruce closing the door behind them, but neither of them turning on the lights. Gabe took one of the chairs next to Chloe’s bed, but Bruce just walked to her other side and stood over her now frail-looking body, willing himself not to break down in front of Chloe’s father.

    Chloe groggily started to open her eyes, squinting to make out the people in the darkened room. Her eyes fixed on Bruce and she gave him a tired smile before closing her eyes again.

    “You’re awake,” Bruce observed. “The doctor thought it would be another hour.”

    “Mmm - what happened?” she asked in a dry, raspy voice.

    “You were shot.”

    Chloe opened one eye and gave him a mock glare.

    “No shit Sherlock,” she quipped dryly.

    “Language,” Gabe said. Chloe’s head lobbed over to look at her dad and she gave him a meek grin.

    “Sorry. I meant, what happened *after* that. Come on, I’m a reporter, I need details.”

    Gabe couldn’t help but chuckle.

    “Glad to have you back, sweetheart.”

    ----------
    Ch. 12
    ----------

    A/N: This part takes place the next day.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    “Wayne.”

    “Luthor.”

    The greetings were dry and curt; polite, yet masking any emotion that either of the men might have. Lex glanced at the hospital room door that Bruce had just closed.

    “How is she?”

    “The doctor said that she’ll be fine. He’s expecting a full recovery,” Bruce answered. Lex nodded once, careful not to allow any of his feelings to show through. “And your father?” Lex lifted an eyebrow and Bruce continued in the most casual voice he could muster. “I saw the news – something about a mix-up in the prison’s infirmary?”

    “Penicillin,” Lex said, matching Bruce’s tone of voice. “He was supposed to receive a Tetanus booster due to some incident with a fellow inmate and received a shot of penicillin instead.” He couldn’t keep the corner of his mouth from lightly twitching upward. “He’s highly allergic.”

    “I see.”

    “They’re keeping him under observation in the infirmary, but it’s very doubtful that he’s going to live.” Lex and Bruce exchanged a wry and knowing look before tapering off into a tense silence as they looked down opposite ends of the hallway. “Gabe said that you’re planning on getting married at the manor.”

    “We are.”

    “Hopefully she’ll have better taste in bridesmaid dresses,” Lex said jokingly. “Although, it doesn’t appear that Chloe will have to wear the pink frock that Lana picked out.”

    “Oh?”

    Lex grinned at the questioning and almost warning tone that Bruce used.

    “She and Pete decided to elope,” Lex informed him. “Something about having already received gifts with their names and wedding date engraved on them.” Bruce let his own lips curl into a small smile.

    “Chloe will be happy to hear that.”

    Another uncomfortable silence followed and Lex focused his eyes on the door behind Bruce as he started to speak.

    “Clark is still in love with her.”

    Bruce nodded.

    “So are you,” he observed. Lex’s head turned to stare Bruce directly in the eye.

    “It’s different,” he argued. “They have a history, Bruce. No matter what you do, you can’t just erase it. You can’t come in and simply take her away from him.”

    Bruce shrugged.

    “I didn’t,” he said. “She was never his to begin with.”

    “She could have been.”

    “Perhaps, but I hardly think I can be to blame for Mr. Kent’s tardiness in recognizing his feelings for her,” Bruce said.

    “No. I suppose not,” Lex conceded. Bruce gave him a pointed look.

    “Nor for yours,” he said. Lex opened his mouth to speak, but Bruce cut him off. “I don’t question the fact that you may have had feelings for her before the night of the charity ball, but you never made a move on her until after you saw her with me – and you realized that Clark had real competition.”

    “You do realize that what you just said makes no sense whatsoever?”

    “It makes perfect sense,” Bruce said. “You were waiting for them to finally get together and then realize that they weren’t right for each other. They would break up and you’d be free to date her without any remorse to weigh on what little conscience you have.” Lex squared his jaw. Bruce was entirely too perceptive for his own good. “The problem is that she realized that she and Clark weren’t right for each other before they ever went out.”

    Lex balled his hands into fists and then released them, fixing a glare at Bruce as he did so.

    “Is she awake?” he asked. Bruce’s eyebrows rose at Lex’s gall. “I told Lana that I’d tell Chloe about the elopement when I visited.”

    “I ---”

    “Bruce&#33;”

    Bruce and Lex both turned their heads to see Gabe coming out of the elevators at the end of the hallway. Gabe hurried over to them and gave Lex a nod of his head as a greeting before looking at Bruce.

    “I’ve been trying to get a hold of you,” Gabe said. Bruce frowned.

    “They make you turn your cell phone off in here,” he said. “What’s wrong?”

    Gabe shook his head and tried to regain his breath.

    “I don’t know. Alfred has been called a couple of times. It sounds kind of urgent, but he wouldn’t tell me anything.”

    Bruce nodded and gave a curt nod at each of the men.

    “If you’ll excuse me,” he said. It was a polite statement rather than a question and Gabe and Lex both turned to watch Bruce disappear down the hallway. When he was gone, Gabe twisted slightly and flashed a friendly smile at Lex.

    “You here to see Chloe?”

    Lex lips curled into a grin.

    ‘Thank goodness for Gabe and his unassuming nature,’ he thought. He nodded kindly back at him. “Bruce says she’s feeling better.”

    “She’s amazing,” Gabe said with a tiny shake of his head. “Most people who get shot twice in the back don’t live to tell about it, let alone get released a couple of days afterward.”

    “She’s being released?” Lex asked with surprise.

    “Bruce didn’t tell you?” Gabe responded.

    “No.”

    “Huh. Well, I know Chloe didn’t want to make a big deal out of it – something to do with being sick of the press following her around all the time as it is,” Gabe said. Lex snickered.

    “Interesting choice of words given her chosen profession.”

    Gabe chuckled.

    “Don’t tell Bruce, but she’s hinted that she’s reconsidering that.”

    Lex’s eyebrows knit together.

    “Why?” he asked. “I’ve read her stuff – it’s top of the line. Besides, I didn’t think she ever wanted to be anything else.” Gabe shrugged.

    “To be honest with you, I think it’s probably for the best. I mean, they’re getting married, and in a few years they’ll want to have kids,” he said, too wrapped up in the prospect of becoming a grandfather to notice the way Lex cringed with his statement. “It’s better that she’s not out putting herself in danger while she’s researching her stories.”

    ‘And what do you want to bet that it was Bruce’s idea to begin with?’ Lex thought angrily. ‘Overprotective asshole. She shouldn’t be with someone who’s going to stifle her like that. She should be with ---’

    “Lex?”

    “Hmm?” Lex asked, snapping out of his inner rant at the sound of Gabe’s voice. Gabe grinned at him.

    “You okay?”

    “Yeah, fine --- I’ve have a lot on my mind,” Lex smoothly lied. Gabe nodded understandingly and then motioned toward the door.

    “Well, you’d better head in there before they come to give her another round of painkillers,” he said. Lex grinned back at him and reached for the door handle.

    “Thanks Gabe.”

    “Of course,” Gabe answered. “Tell her I said hi.”

    “I will.”

    He turned the handle and slowly opened the door to see if Chloe was awake. Her eyes were open and fixed on the TV screen hanging from the wall in front of her.

    “Hey,” Lex greeted. Chloe turned her head and her mouth fell open when she saw Lex standing there.

    “Lex.”

    Lex walked into the room and closed the door, tilting his head toward the TV as he got closer to her bed.

    “So, what has the indestructible Chloe Sullivan’s full attention?”

    Chloe frowned sympathetically.

    “You haven’t heard,” she said in an observational tone. With one click, the television was turned off and she patted her bedside for him to come and sit down. Lex arched an inquisitive eyebrow, but he wasn’t about to argue with her when she was clearly inviting him to sit on the edge of her bed. “Lex – your dad ---”

    “I know. They gave him the wrong injection at the prison and he had a reaction to it. Is that what’s caused that frown on your face?” he asked somewhat teasingly.

    “Lex --- he’s dead.”

    ---------
    Ch. 13
    ---------

    Lex’s face held no hint of emotion as he moved to sit on the side of Chloe’s bed. She gave him another sympathetic look and took his hand. She had certainly never been on good terms with Lionel Luthor, but she held no personal animosity toward the man – even after she found out that he was going to try and have her killed.

    “I’m sorry,” she said. Lex took the opportunity of her hand in his to lightly stroke her skin with his thumb. He looked down at the contact, but made the mistake of looking up at her as he began to speak.

    “They told me it was likely.”

    Chloe’s eyes narrowed slightly with his tone. He seemed fine with the situation, completely remorseless that his own father was now dead. She adjusted her position and then grimaced at the pain that shot through her back.

    “I’m not going to ask,” she finally said.

    Lex gave her a curt nod in understanding. Some things were better left unsaid, and though he had no doubt that she had pieced together what had happened, that he was somehow behind his father’s untimely death, there was no need for him to confirm her suspicion.

    “How are you?” he asked.

    “I’ll be okay.”

    “That’s not what I asked,” he replied with a tiny smirk on his lips. Chloe let out a half-chuckle.

    “I’m okay,” Chloe said, “in pain, but okay. I’m not dead, I’m not paralyzed, and I don’t have to wear the hideous bridesmaid dress that Lana picked out until they reschedule the wedding. All in all, I’d say ---”

    “You don’t have to wear the dress at all,” Lex interrupted. Chloe arched an eyebrow at him and the corners of her mouth quirked upward.

    “I have a feeling that Bruce wouldn’t want me to attend the wedding naked,” she said wryly.

    “Bruce doesn’t want you to do a lot of things,” Lex grumbled under his breath.

    “What’s that supposed to mean?”

    “Nothing.”

    “No, you said it, so obviously you ---”

    “Why are you giving up your dream for him?” Lex asked shortly.

    “What?”

    “Your dad – he said that you’re thinking about giving up reporting. You worked so hard for so long - why would you let Bruce talk you into something like that?” he asked, his temper getting the best of him. Chloe groaned and let her head fall back against the pillow.

    “Geez, you say one thing,” she complained and then paused before continuing. “I’m not giving up reporting, Lex. I think my dad was probably referring to a conversation that he and I had in which I was griping about how even the serious newspapers are going the way of tabloid reporting and how I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay in that line of work if it kept going that way.”

    “Oh.”

    “Yeah,” Chloe said. “So, why did you think that Bruce had anything to do with that?”

    “I’m not sure,” Lex lied and then tilted his head to the side as he grinned at her. “He just strikes me as the kind of guy who would want his wife to be at home, barefoot and pregnant.” Chloe snorted, but bit back the initial scathing remark that her mind immediately jumped to.

    “Yeah, well, that’s not going to happen for a few years, so I guess he’ll be out of luck until then,” she said. Lex’s eyebrows rose, surprised that the Chloe Sullivan he knew would ever contemplate taking time off of work to have children. “Besides, that’s the beauty of being an independent reporter; I can pretty much write wherever I want.”

    ‘Ah, so that’s it,’ Lex thought. ‘I should have known. She’s smart, beautiful…doesn’t care about his money. God, he doesn’t deserve her.’ Chloe cleared her throat and Lex realized that he had just been staring intently at her.

    “Anyway,” she said, trying to clear what she felt was an uncomfortable silence, “why don’t I have to wear the dress?”

    “Oh, right,” Lex said aloud, but more for himself than for her. “Lana and Pete decided to elope, something about needing to get married today because some of their gifts are already engraved with the wedding date.” He saw the shock on her face and decided to elaborate. “They left for Metropolis about an hour ago.”

    Chloe’s mouth dropped open and instead of seeing the pleased look that he was sure was to follow, Lex saw anger flicker in Chloe’s eyes.

    “Unbelievable&#33;” she yelled. “She *begged* me to come be in the wedding. I didn’t even want to come back to stupid Smallville, but she *begged*. And then, *then* I get *shot* and she decides to *elope*? I can’t believe this&#33;”

    “You didn’t want to come back to Smallville?” Lex asked calmly, but with a twinge of hurt in his voice. Chloe stared blankly at him and a beat went by before she responded.

    “*That’s* the part of my rant you chose to single out?” she asked in bemused surprise. Lex kept the neutral expression on his face as he answered.

    “It’s the only thing I know I’m responsible for,” he said. Chloe frowned and turned her head to look away from him before letting out a small sigh.

    “It’s not you,” she said.

    “Clark then?” Lex asked knowingly.

    “Lex ---”

    “If he had told you how he felt about you before you met Bruce ---”

    “He did,” Chloe said, cutting him off.

    “He did?”

    “Yeah,” she said, “but words are only words without the actions to back them up and he ---”

    “--- didn’t back them up,” Lex finished for her. She nodded.

    “Exactly,” Chloe confirmed. “Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good friend, but when it comes to emotional commitment, he’s just not there.”

    “He still loves you.”

    “He does,” she agreed, “but as a friend. And once he comes across the real thing, then he’ll realize that.”

    “Chloe?”

    “Yeah?” she responded, taking in the hesitant look on his face.

    “Do you remember the night I found out that you and Bruce were together?” he asked.

    Chloe nervously raked her teeth over her bottom lip, expecting the conversation that she had been dreading since she found out that Lana and Pete were getting married and she would have to go back to Smallville to be at their wedding.

    “Ye-ah,” she strung out. Lex was silent for a moment, looking down at his hands before meeting her eyes with his own.

    “If I had asked you out before you met Bruce ---”

    Chloe frowned and looked sadly at him. It wasn’t the conversation she had been expecting, but she could tell that it was going to be just as bad.

    “Don’t do this,” she said in a pleading whisper. “I love him, Lex. I’m *marrying* him.”

    “I know you are. That’s why - Chloe – I have to know,” Lex said, a little more determination in his voice than Chloe possessed. “Would we have had a chance? Would it be our wedding that you’re silently planning in your head?” Chloe was stunned by his forwardness and she found herself closing her eyes to try and block out the mental images that Lex was creating with his words. “You have no idea how many times I’ve replayed the night of the charity ball in my head, how I should have done things differently, but didn’t.”

    “Lex,” she said and shook her head a little, “you need to let it go. You’re not going to get anywhere thinking about what you could have done differently with your life.”

    “I’m just trying to keep from making the same mistake again, Chloe,” he half lied. “Would we have had a chance?”

    “I can’t answer that,” she finally said quietly, looking into his eyes as she spoke.

    “Why not? It’s a yes or no question.”

    “You said you’re trying to keep from making the same mistakes, but it’s going to be different with every other woman in your life, Lex. People and situations are all different and you have to treat them as such.”

    “Yes or no, Chloe?”

    “No,” Chloe answered sadly. “You wouldn’t even ask me out because you thought it would hurt Clark. If we *had* gone out, those feelings of betraying your best friend would probably always be there, eating away at you, and you’d never be able to fully commit yourself to the relationship.” Lex’s eyes closed as she was speaking, his mind begrudgingly accepting what she was saying as the truth. “And the fact is that I *did* meet Bruce – and I’m pretty sure I was meant to. We just…belong together.”

    Bruce smiled in relief on the other side of the door. He had been ready to kick the door down and throw Lex out the hospital room’s window when he heard that he was in there and then overheard what he was saying to Chloe, but his fiancée had handled things exceptionally well on her own. He slowly opened the door and Chloe and Lex both looked over at him.

    “Hey,” Chloe greeted cheerfully.

    “Hey,” Bruce returned with a smile, purposely ignoring Lex’s presence in the room at all. Lex stood up and nodded once at him before giving Chloe an unreadable expression.

    “I’ll let you two be alone,” he said. Chloe gave him a sad grin.

    “Thanks.”

    Lex nodded again and Bruce watched as he left the room.

    “Alfred called.”

    “Oh?”

    “He wants to know what colors we’ve chosen,” Bruce said with a small, amused smirk. Chloe laughed.

    “Told you he was the one sending those cut-outs to me,” she replied. Bruce nodded and grinned as he moved to sit down in the chair next to her bed. “So, how much did you hear?”

    Bruce opened his mouth to speak, but closed it as he thought better of it, opting for a small smile instead.

    “Enough.”

    ------------
    Ch. 14
    ------------

    Five months later…

    Clark shoved his jaw onto his open hands as he went into full-blown brood mode and Lex threw back the last swig of bourbon in his glass.

    “You really think it’s a good idea to be drinking?” Martha asked. Lex barely lifted one corner of his mouth.

    “I’m not the one flying the plane,” he said. “And given the experiences I’ve had with flying in the past ---” he trailed off when Clark’s mom gave him an understanding nod of her head.

    “I can’t believe she’s really gonna marry him,” Clark started for what seemed like the hundredth time. Lex pursed his lips to resist rolling his eyes.

    “They started living together three months after they met, Clark. What did you think was going to happen?”

    Clark reached out and fingered the gold-embossed ivory invitation on the seat next to him.

    “I don’t know,” he said quietly. “I guess I thought we could work things out when she came back to Smallville for Lana and Pete’s wedding.”

    “There wasn’t anything to work out,” Lex reminded him. Clark frowned. Although he and Lex had started going their separate ways for the last several months, he hadn’t expected Lex to make such a cold comment – no matter how true it was. Lex saw the wounded puppy-dog look on Clark’s face and quickly added, “And she obviously still considers you a friend or she wouldn’t have invited you to the wedding.”

    “I never thought I’d hear myself saying this, but Lex is right, son,” Jonathan said. “You need to let what could have been go - concentrate on your present and future.” Clark was unable to hold back the groan that escaped his lips.

    “You’re not going to lecture me on that ‘B’ again, are you?”

    Jonathan gave Clark a pointed look and Lex smirked, happy that the conversation had moved away from something that was emotionally gut-wrenching for him and that he wouldn’t have to put up the façade of being pleased about Chloe and Bruce getting married.

    “Grades are important, Clark,” Jonathan said. “And Daily Planet internships aren’t exactly easy to come by; there’s a lot of competition.”

    “Not that you have anything to worry about,” Martha quickly added, reaching over to her side to touch Clark’s shoulder comfortingly.

    “Martha,” Jonathan said in a warning voice.

    “It’s just one ‘B’, Jonathan,” she argued, “and Clark has lots of other skills that they might find valuable for that position – like, he’s a fast typist.” Lex snickered and Clark leaned his head to the side to give him a dry look. Martha, ever the peacekeeper, gave a nervous smile to the men surrounding her. “Anyway, I think the wedding will be beautiful.”

    “At least there won’t be any assassination attempts at this one,” Jonathan said as he folded his arms across his chest.

    “Not how you’re thinking anyway,” Lex mumbled in a whisper under his breath. He caught the quizzical look that only Clark shot him and gave the Kent family a quick, forced grin as he stood up. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to talk to the pilot.”

    Clark raised an eyebrow, Jonathan gave a half-shrug of his shoulders in disinterest, and Martha smiled kindly at him.

    “Of course, Lex. Take your time.”

    Lex nodded once at her and within a minute, disappeared behind the door to the cockpit. Jonathan frowned.

    “What do you suppose that’s about?” he asked.

    “I’m not sure,” Clark answered, his eyes still fixed on the closed door. Martha looked at both of them disapprovingly.

    “You know all too well what that’s about,” she said. “You brought up his father – and you know how sensitive he is about that.”

    “Martha,” Jonathan whined.

    “Don’t you start with me, Jonathan Kent,” she warned. “You’re going to give him an apology the second he comes back in here.”

    Clark glanced at his parents and then back to the door. Having been the only one able to hear Lex’s comment, his suspicious nature was peaked and had settled uncomfortably in his stomach. He used his x-ray vision to look through it and saw Lex talking on a cell phone. The worried expression on Clark’s face only became more pronounced as he used his super hearing to eavesdrop on the conversation.

    “You sure about this?” the gruff, crackled voice on the other end of the line asked. “Wayne is a pretty powerful guy – you know?”

    “So am I,” Lex responded coolly. “And it’s time he learned not to take what belongs to me.”

    “But ---”

    “Or what should have.”

    Clark cringed with Lex’s last statement, his friend’s behavior for the last year or so now making only too much sense. The conversations about Chloe and Bruce, the overprotective behavior toward Chloe before and *after* Lana and Pete’s wedding, the oddly-placed comments telling him to move on with his life and date someone from Metropolis University.

    ‘Lex is in love with Chloe – oh, shit,’ he thought, the words ringing in revelation through his mind. His face twisted in confusion. ‘But he barely even knows her.’ The devil’s advocate in his head decided to pipe in with a highly sarcastic, ‘Yeah – and he knew all of his ex-wives sooo well before he married them.’

    And then Clark realized what a problem he was facing. Allow Lex to move forward with his plans, get Chloe to come home to Smallville, but take a giant leap toward becoming like his father or, try to talk some sense into the man who had been his friend for so long, and risk exposing his powers – because there was no way Clark could breech the topic without telling Lex how he knew about his plans in the first place.

    Clark sank back into his chair. Either way, he had to give up his own feelings for Chloe. There was always the possibility that he could steal her away. He had recently gained the ability to fly, so he could just…Clark grumbled discontentedly. Sometimes choosing to do the right thing was an incredibly difficult decision to make.

    “Clark? Clark?” Martha asked, trying in vain to get her son’s attention.

    “Earth to Clark,” Lex quipped, rewarding his friend with an amused smile when he finally snapped out of his thoughts.

    “Sorry,” Clark mumbled as he let an embarrassed blush grace his cheeks. “What were you talking about?”

    “I was just saying how strange I think it is that Chloe and Bruce aren’t having a wedding rehearsal or rehearsal dinner,” Martha said.

    “Oh,” Clark replied. “Well ---”

    “You can’t blame the girl, Martha,” Jonathan cut in and shot her a look, “not after what happened at Lana and Pete’s rehearsal dinner.”

    “But it’s different this time,” she protested, not immediately cluing into the fact that she had just made Jonathan apologize for what was practically the same topic. She opened her mouth to speak again, but shut it when she realized what she had done. She flashed a quick, somewhat nervous, apologetic smile in Lex’s direction. “I didn’t mean it that way. I’m so sorry, Lex.”

    “It’s okay,” Lex said. “Hopefully *this* wedding won’t end up as an elopement.” Clark cleared his throat, casting a small warning glare at Lex that seemed unwarranted to everyone else. “Problem, Clark?”

    “No,” Clark lied. “I was just going to say that Chloe decided against the rehearsal thing because of Lana.”

    “Oh?” Martha asked.

    “Yeah,” Clark said, his eyes still focused on Lex as he spoke to his mother. “Something about not wanting Lana to be on her feet any more than necessary.”

    “That’s considerate of her,” Martha practically cooed. “Pregnancy can be so hard on any woman, but especially for a little thing like Lana.”

    Jonathan made a disgruntled face.

    “I still say it wasn’t a great idea for them to get pregnant so soon after getting married,” he said.

    “Too late now,” Clark said under his breath, earning him a tiny smile from his mom. Jonathan had been harping on the fact that Lana and Pete were too young to have a baby ever since they had announced it when they got back from their honeymoon.

    “People need time to get to know each other before they bring a new baby into the mix,” Jonathan continued, not having heard Clark’s comment.

    “They’ve known each other their entire lives, Dad,” Clark rebutted with a bemused smile.

    “It’s different when you’re married, son,” Jonathan said. “Trust me.”

    Martha raised an accusatory eyebrow and Lex snickered. It was always nice to see the rare occasions when Jonathan would stick his foot in his mouth and someone would actually call him on it.

    “And *how* is it *different*, Jonathan?” Martha asked defensively. Jonathan opened his mouth to speak, but quickly shut it, opting for a guilty grin instead.

    “I – uh ---” Jonathan stalled. “I’m sure that Lana and Pete will make excellent parents.”

    Martha let a mix between a grumble and a scolding hum pass through her lips before moving the topic along.

    “So – how long do you think Chloe and Bruce will wait before having kids?”

    Clark grimaced. The ‘stealing Chloe away’ plan was looking better and better.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    Chloe ran the fluffy, oversized towel over her wet hair as she walked out of the bathroom in her robe. She had pleaded with Bruce to stay in the same room with her despite tradition, but he said he wouldn’t allow anything to jinx their special day and had taken one of the guest rooms about halfway down the hall for the night.

    She let out a sigh and then her eyebrows knitted together for a second when she saw a VHS tape sticking out of the VCR with the label, ‘Play Me’ on it. Her eyebrows relaxed and a warm, lazy smile crossed her lips when she figured it was probably something from Bruce. She took a few steps and turned the television on, pushing the tape in after she turned it to the right channel.

    Her brow furrowed in confusion again after the tape started. Instead of something romantic, it appeared to be a security camera tape with an audio track that was barely clear enough to make out. It was Lex and Bruce and they were standing outside the room that she recognized as being hers when she was in the hospital in Smallville.

    “Clark is still in love with her.”

    Bruce nodded.

    “So are you,” he observed. Lex’s head turned to stare Bruce directly in the eye.

    “It’s different,” he argued. “They have a history, Bruce. No matter what you do, you can’t just erase it. You can’t come in and simply take her away from him.”

    Bruce shrugged.

    “I didn’t,” he said. “She was never his to begin with.”

    “She could have been.”

    “Perhaps, but I hardly think I can be to blame for Mr. Kent’s tardiness in recognizing his feelings for her,” Bruce said.

    “No. I suppose not,” Lex conceded. Bruce gave him a pointed look.

    “Nor for yours,” he said. Lex opened his mouth to speak, but Bruce cut him off. “I don’t question the fact that you may have had feelings for her before the night of the charity ball, but you never made a move on her until after you saw her with me – and you realized that Clark had real competition.”

    “You do realize that what you just said makes no sense whatsoever?”

    “It makes perfect sense,” Bruce said. “You were waiting for them to finally get together and then realize that they weren’t right for each other. They would break up and you’d be free to date her without any remorse to weigh on what little conscience you have.” Lex squared his jaw. Bruce was entirely too perceptive for his own good. “The problem is that she realized that she and Clark weren’t right for each other before they ever went out.”


    Chloe felt her knees grow weak and she stumbled backward to sit on the bed. She had never known Bruce to be so cold, not ever. Sure, she knew that he had that side to his personality – he needed to have it to be able to make all of the business deals he did – but she had never witnessed it first hand, and now that she had, she was quite sure she never wanted to witness it ever again.

    The tape flickered once and new images came up on the screen. Several clips from Gotham’s nightly news stations flashed across the set, some of them having to do with her upcoming nuptials and some having to do with the mysterious, winged vigilante that had been fighting off crime since before she moved there. She failed to see what the connection was until the tape focused on video footage of Batman and stilled.

    Whoever had made the tape did a close up zoom of the mask and Chloe’s mouth dropped open when she realized that she recognized the eyes only too well.

    “Bruce,” she half-whispered in disbelief, quickly shaking her head in disbelief. “No.” How could the man she had been involved with for almost a year be Batman? And she never even suspected? Worse, he never told her – or even hinted at the possibility. Chloe barely managed to summon the strength to push the button to turn off the television.

    Her heart was beating wildly against the inside of her ribcage, but she felt like it had been shattered into a million pieces. Could she still marry a man who had kept the truth from her? Did she want to?

    She set down the remote on the bed as she stood up and then she walked slowly over to the door. It creaked open and she blinked as she saw Bruce, champagne in one hand, two goblets in the other, striding toward her down the hall.

    “Great minds think alike,” he said with a smile. When he reached her, he leaned down to give her a soft kiss on her mouth. “You were right – I’m sorry.” He walked past her into the room and Chloe shut the door before turning around, half in a daze. “I don’t know what I was thinking. I can’t even sleep without you next to me.” Chloe raised her eyes from the floor and stared at him. Bruce’s face fell. “What’s wrong?”

    “Why didn’t you tell me?”

    “Tell you what?”

    “Why didn’t you tell me that you’re Batman?”

    ----------
    Ch. 15
    ----------

    “Chloe ---”

    “Just tell me,” Chloe managed to choke out, tears starting to slide down her cheeks. She had been so happy, so close to obtaining that happiness for what she thought would be forever. ‘Stupid girl,’ she mentally chided herself.

    She felt she should have seen, should have pieced together everything that Bruce had actually told her, but hadn’t even thought twice about it; and for some reason, that’s what stung the most. Not the fact that he hadn’t told her, though she wasn’t pleased about that, but the fact that in the course of knowing and dating Bruce Wayne, she had lost what she had always considered to be an integral part of her personality.

    “God, I’ve wanted to tell you – so many times,” Bruce started, snapping her out of the whirlwind of thoughts that were encompassing her brain. “I was planning to tell you when we were in Smallville, but then ---” he trailed off and Chloe shook her head.

    “I don’t want an excuse, I want an explanation,” she said emotionally. She really didn’t need this crap. Hadn’t she learned anything from being friends with Clark Kent all those years? And even when she went digging and found what she was looking for, Clark hadn’t been the one to tell her, and to that day had continually offered excuses and lies to cover his abilities rather than just tell her the truth that she already knew. Chloe knew she couldn’t go through that again, and especially not with someone who professed to love her outright. “I mean, I get the whole vengeance thing, I really do. I just don’t understand why you didn’t think you could tell me. *Me*, Bruce – the woman you claim to want to spend the rest of your life with.”

    “I *do*,” Bruce said quickly, grabbing her upper arms with his hands to still her. “I love you more than anything, Chloe.”

    “You obviously don’t or I wouldn’t have had to find out about your alter ego from a video tape,” she said, her voice tweaked with bitter sadness.

    “What?” Bruce looked over to the TV and finally noticed the image of himself costumed as Batman paused on the screen. “Where did you get this?”

    Chloe gave a cold, unceremonial shrug of her shoulders and took advantage of Bruce’s distraction to pull away from him.

    “I wasn’t investigating you if that’s what you’re implying,” she said defensively, making her way over to the closet as Bruce picked up the remote to rewind the tape. “It was just in there when I got out of the bath.”

    Bruce made no comment, his eyes fixed on the television in front of him as it replayed the security tape from the hospital. He realized that it showed a side to him that he rarely showed anyone except business associates, and one that he had certainly never shown or wanted to show to Chloe. There was little doubt in his mind as to who had managed to get past his extensive security to make sure Chloe saw the tape, but unless Lex Luthor decided to confess to the whole thing, then he would probably never have any evidence to prove it. The very thought of someone besides him being in Chloe’s room while she was naked in the adjoining bathroom was enough to make him livid.

    He turned his head to look at Chloe, blinking once in surprise when he saw that she had gotten dressed in a pair of form-fitting blue jeans that she rarely wore and a clingy long-sleeved moss green v-neck shirt. She didn’t even look at him as she slid her feet into a pair of loafers and snatched her car keys and purse off the top of a small, decorative table that sat against the wall.

    “Chloe?” Bruce asked, finally moving toward her. “Where are you going?”

    “Out.”

    “Chloe,” he said, gripping her arm and spinning her back around to face him. “It’s nighttime.” He motioned toward the window to make his point, but Chloe stubbornly looked in the other direction. “It’s Gotham. It’s not safe.” The comment earned him a hard glare and Bruce looked at her remorsefully, realizing that if he didn’t finally give her as good of an explanation of why he hadn’t told her that he was Batman sooner that there was a very good chance that there wouldn’t be a wedding the next day.

    Unfortunately, the phone next to the bed chose that exact moment to start ringing. Bruce cursed under his breath, but Chloe simply nodded toward the phone and stepped away from him.

    “That’s your business line,” she said quietly. “You should get it.”

    “Chloe --- wait. Just wait, okay? I’ll explain everything.” He picked up the phone, answering it with a gruff utter of his last name.

    “Bruce,” Lex said in what could only be construed as a sing-song voice. “It’s Lex Luthor. I was just calling to make sure that Chloe received my present.”

    “The crystal goblets or the *other* present?” Bruce spat. He could almost hear Lex’s smirk come through over the phone.

    “The other one.”

    There was a lapse in the conversation as Bruce clenched his free hand into a fist and his grip tightened around the phone. He was trying desperately to reign in his temper, especially since Lex wasn’t in the room to pummel into oblivion, but his “calming techniques” weren’t working too well. He finally let his feral side break through when he noticed that Chloe had left their bedroom.

    “She doesn’t love you, Luthor&#33; What right do you have to walk into someone’s life and ---”

    “And *what*? Tell her something that you should have told her months ago, if not when you first started dating?” Lex said mockingly. Bruce squared his jaw.

    “And you think you’re any better for her?” he taunted through gritted teeth.

    “I know I am,” Lex responded confidently. “Chloe needs someone who isn’t going to keep secrets from her – God knows she went through enough of that with Clark.”

    “And you’re the paragon of honesty,” Bruce replied with heavy sarcasm. “Or does she know that you had your own father killed?”

    Silence.

    The corners of Bruce’s mouth lifted ever so slightly when Lex didn’t shoot an immediate comeback at him, but quickly fell with Lex’s next question.

    “Does she know that you were the one who demanded it?”

    Silence again.

    “I didn’t think so,” Lex said. “Anyway, Chloe has been aware ever since we first met that I have a darker side and we’re still on good terms. I sincerely doubt that she’d be even remotely surprised if I told her the real circumstances surrounding my father’s death.” He paused for a second as he smirked again. “Of course, that’s what it all comes down to with her, isn’t it? Honesty. She just wants to get to the truth. It’s a shame you want to put a damper on that investigative spirit just so she can play society wife.”

    “So help me,” Bruce started in a voice so quiet that it was almost a whisper, but still dripping with every ounce of the menacing venom that was intended, “if you show up at our wedding tomorrow, I’ll have you shot on sight.”

    “I hardly think you’re in a position to be making threats, Mr. Wayne,” Lex said. “Especially since my informants tell me that there might not even be a wedding tomorrow – at least not one that *you’re* involved in.”

    Bruce slammed the phone back onto the receiver and stormed out of the room, bumping into Alfred on the way out the door.

    “Trouble, sir?”

    “Where is Chloe?” he growled out. Alfred gave him a knowing look, the same knowing look that he used to give him when he was a boy and had gotten caught having done something that he shouldn’t have.

    “I believe Miss Sullivan said that she needed some air,” he answered, “and then something about a drive being just the thing to calm her down.” He let the end of his sentence dangle with a questioning tone and an eyebrow slightly peaked in the air.

    “Which car did she take?” Bruce asked, quickly making his way downstairs.

    “*Her* car, sir.”

    Bruce stopped in his tracks and looked back up at Alfred from the bottom of the stairs.

    “The Volkswagen?” he asked in disbelief.

    “I could be mistaken, but that *is* what the engine sounded like.”

    “Shit.”

    It was one thing to have his friends in the police department keep a look out for one of his expensive automobiles, as one of them would be easy to spot even among the cars of other members of Gotham’s elite; but Chloe’s car – it wasn’t old, but it was average, and she would have no problem blending into whatever part of town she decided to drive through. Not only would that make it harder to find her, but it could possibly put her in harm’s way as well; and even if she was angry with him, Bruce wasn’t about to let that happen.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    Chloe had watched as her fiancé dashed to answer the phone and then turned around and walked out the door. If he truly felt a need to explain, then he would have done it before now, before the truth was exposed. She didn’t want to leave him, and had no intention of it being permanent, but she needed some time alone to think.

    A couple of hours might do it, or perhaps the entire night, but either way she wouldn’t get any inner peace if she stayed in the manor to try and sort out her thoughts. Bruce might actually leave her alone, but she would still be surrounded by his smell, by the walls decorated with priceless pieces of art, by the memories they had made over the past year. It was hardly an impartial setting to make a life-changing decision in.

    Chloe sighed and rested her head on the steering wheel as she came up behind yet another limousine. Perhaps it was all that time she spent in Smallville, or the fact that she rarely drove anywhere herself anymore, let alone in her Volkswagen convertible, but Chloe couldn’t help but think how pretentious it made the town look to have all of these people flaunting how much money they had when people on the other side of town were poverty-stricken and resorting to crime to make ends meet.

    She frowned at the thought. It was possible that Bruce not only felt vengeful for his parents deaths, but also guilty for living in the grand lifestyle in which he was born into when so many others in the city were starving. If he could do his part by ridding their neighborhoods of organized crime and local thugs in addition to the countless charity benefits he contributed to, then maybe it made him feel better. Her heart warmed up a little bit and she had to force herself to remember why she was angry with Bruce in the first place.

    ‘I’m not mad at what he’s doing, I’m mad at the fact that he didn’t tell me that he was doing it.’

    She sighed again. After a couple of hours of driving around aimlessly, her temper had lessened and she had started to wonder why she hadn’t just stayed there to talk things out with Bruce. Surely he could have just told her the reasons rather than her having to figure them out for herself as she seemed to drive through every section of road in Gotham at night. But would she have listened to him? Chloe already knew the answer, and could only hope that Bruce would too.

    Her head rose with a start when a car horn honked behind her, not so subtly informing her that the traffic light had turned green and she was still stopped. She drove through the intersection and pulled off on a side street, having every intention now of turning around and driving back home to work things out with Bruce, when she heard the familiar click of her passenger side door opening.

    Her heart thumped wildly against the inside of her chest, the fear of the situation raising her adrenaline to an unreal level. How could she have forgotten to lock the door? Granted, she didn’t use this car that often, but she still should have remembered that Gotham had the reputation as a dark city for a reason – nighttime or not.

    She clasped her hand over her heart as a familiar man slid into the passenger seat and gave her a cocky grin.

    “You’re a difficult woman to track down.”

    -----------
    Ch. 16
    -----------

    “I don’t suppose you’d like to explain what you’re doing in Gotham – in *my* car?”

    “You’re getting married tomorrow,” Lex responded smoothly. “You didn’t think I’d miss your wedding, did you?”

    “Honestly, yes,” Chloe answered. “And that still doesn’t explain how you found me and why you just got into my car and scared the living shit out of me.” She paused and frowned. “You know what? I don’t even want to know. Just get out.”

    “My sincerest apologies if I scared you,” Lex said jokingly, a light smile on his lips, “but I’m afraid I can’t get out of your car.”

    “Why not? Are you glued to the seat?” Chloe bit, looking out at the traffic, not really needing to search for an opening since there was a stoplight, but desperately needing not to look at Lex. Lex let his grin fall at her harsh tone and lack of eye contact.

    “Why were you out driving alone the night before your wedding?”

    “Guess,” Chloe said dryly and turned her eyes away from the road to give him a pointed look.

    “The video.”

    “Ding, ding, ding – give that man a cigar.”

    “Actually, I’d prefer one of those little stuffed animals,” he managed to retort with a straight face. Chloe couldn’t help the bright smile that spread across her face, followed by a gurgle of laughter. Lex smiled back at her, but it only lasted a second. “How are you holding up?”

    Chloe sucked in a breath and then slowly let it out.

    “I’m not sure.”

    “Cold feet?”

    Silence.

    Chloe turned onto the street after the light turned green and kept quiet for a few more minutes before she spoke.

    “Why?”

    “Why what?”

    “Why did you send me the video?”

    “Technically, I didn’t send it, I had it brought to you,” Lex said in a light voice as he tried to ease the tension in the car. It didn’t work and he let out a small sigh. “You know why, Chloe.” Chloe shook her head lightly and kept her eyes on the road.

    “You can’t keep doing this, Lex.”

    “Chloe ---”

    “No,” Chloe cut in firmly. “You don’t even really know me. And even if you did, I’m *with* Bruce – I’m getting *married* to Bruce.”

    “Even after he lied to you?” Lex asked, rubbing a little more salt into the wound. “Even after you saw another side to his personality – a distasteful side? You say that I don’t know you, but I know you well enough to know that you would never put up with someone being dishonest with you – at least you wouldn’t have. Have you changed that much?”

    “He didn’t lie to me, he just ---”

    “--- Omitted the truth,” Lex finished for her and gave her a disapproving look. “I just thought after going through that with Clark that you wouldn’t be willing to be in a relationship like that again.”

    “That was a completely different situation and you know it,” Chloe argued. Lex conceded with a single nod of his head, accompanied by a tiny frown on the corners of his lips. This wasn’t going anywhere near as smoothly as he had planned. “And can you honestly tell me that if I had gotten involved with you that things would have been any different? You kept secrets from Helen throughout your entire relationship with her. Could I really expect you to be any different with me?”

    “Speaking of completely different situations,” Lex threw back at her. “First of all, you already know the truth about Clark.” He gave her an arch of an eyebrow, challenging her to say any different, but she remained quiet. “And second, Helen was working for my father – at least at the beginning.”

    “So, she came up with the killing you thing all by herself?”

    “Sadly, yes.”

    “No offense, but you have horrible taste in women.”

    Lex let out a half-snort and grinned at her.

    “Up until now, I would have agreed with you,” he said, an almost endearing tone creeping into his voice. Chloe suddenly looked away from him as if she was burned and Lex bore his gaze into the side of her face. “You’re still going to marry him, aren’t you?”

    “I love him.”

    “Chloe ---” Lex trailed off as he realized the car was slowing down and Chloe pulled along the side of the street.

    “Maybe in another life, or maybe even in this one if you had gotten your act together before I met him, but I need you to stop this now. I love Bruce and I’m marrying him tomorrow. You need to let it go.”

    Lex tilted his head to the side, a serious expression on his face.

    “I’m not good at that.”

    “I’ve noticed,” she replied with a sad smile. Lex nodded once and reached for the door handle. “Lex?” He stopped and turned his head to look at her again. Chloe leaned over and softly kissed his cheek in one last goodbye. Sparks of electricity seemed to shoot through Lex’s veins and he looked at her wide-eyed. “I’m sorry.”

    Lex blinked, barely resisting the urge to reach out and shake some sense into her. Hadn’t she felt the spark? She was really saying goodbye to him? Choosing Bruce Wayne over him? The look on her face told him as much, but in Lex’s heart, he knew this was far from over. But, being a Luthor, he could lie with the best of them. He gave her an impassive grin and stepped out of the car, making a point to lock the door as he shut it behind him. Chloe would have snickered if the situation had been slightly less emotional. She watched as he took a cell phone out of his jacket pocket and held it up to his ear before driving away.

    ~*~*~*~*~

    Under any other circumstance, the flashing lights of police cars in the large circular driveway might have made her heart leap into her throat with fear, but not that night. That night, she knew why they were there. Bruce had undoubtedly called and had half the police force out looking for her.

    ‘And yet, nobody pulled me over,’ she mused. ‘Incompetent idiots. No wonder Bruce has to do the winged vigilante thing.’

    She couldn’t help but smile as she walked up behind an irate Commissioner Gordon, his arms flailing in the air and his face turning a bright shade of red as he used every last breath to yell at his minions. Even with a tap on the shoulder and the officers’ wide eyes, he still didn’t turn around, only issuing a gruff, “Not now” to her.

    “But sir ---” one of the officers started.

    “Why are you talking? Did I give you permission to speak? You’re supposed to be looking for Bruce Wayne’s *fiancée* for God’s sakes&#33; And instead you’re here giving me excuses&#33; I can’t believe this, I just can’t believe this. Geez&#33; Do they give you *any* training at the academy anymore?”

    Chloe let out a small chuckle at Gordon’s rant and he furrowed his brow, finally turning around to see her standing right behind him.

    “Miss Sullivan&#33;”

    “Commissioner Gordon,” she greeted with an amused smile.

    “I – I ---” he stammered. “We thought --- oh, thank God.” He stopped talking and placed his hands on her shoulders as he checked her for any visible scrapes or bruises. “Are you alright?”

    “I’ll be okay,” she answered almost cryptically and then gazed over toward the house. “Is he here or ---?” She left the end of the question dangling, her eyes speaking the rest of it silently for her. Gordon leaned his head to the side.

    “Of course he’s here,” he replied. “Where else would he be?”

    ‘Apparently I’m not the only one he didn’t let in on his little secret,’ she thought. “I don’t know,” Chloe said, running a hand through her hair and playing the part of the frazzled woman down to the last detail, making sure Gordon didn’t suspect anything from her earlier statement.

    “Listen, I don’t want to speak out of turn here, but he’s a good guy – a little eccentric, but a good guy. And I can tell he really loves you.”

    “I know.”

    “So ---”

    “Don’t worry, Commissioner, the wedding’s still on,” Chloe said, the corners of her lips quirking upward, but quickly falling. “At least if it’s up to me.” Gordon couldn’t help but roll his eyes.

    “Sweetheart, I have a feeling that everything in Wayne’s life is up to you.”

    He hadn’t meant it as an unspoken question as to whether Chloe would let Bruce continue on as Batman or not, but he realized how it sounded after Chloe looked pensive, as if she were trying to make up her mind about it. He ducked his head to look at the ground. He hadn’t been pleased when Batman first arrived on the scene. In fact, he had been suspicious that he was even on the right side.

    When it became clear that he was, he then felt threatened because a lone civilian was doing the job better than his whole department. A month or two later and he had changed his mind yet again, pleased that the crime rate had been going down and his department was basically getting the credit for it. He decided that it wasn’t such a bad thing to have someone the papers dubbed as a “superhero” in town.

    He knew Bruce Wayne from numerous society functions, and a series of hints and run-ins with Batman had him convinced that it was Bruce behind the mask, but he had no evidence to confirm it. The woman in front of him could very well verify his suspicions or blow them out of the water.

    “I wouldn’t worry about that either,” Chloe finally said, snapping him out of his thoughts. Gordon looked at her questioningly, but she just gave him a light smile to gloss over anything that she might be thinking. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ve spent enough time away from my fiancé already.”

    “Of course, of course,” Gordon responded hurriedly. “I’ll walk you to the door.”

    They turned to walk toward the door, only to find Bruce rushing out of it toward Chloe. Within moments, she was swept up in his embrace, his arms tight around her as if he was unwilling to let go. He remained silent, all of his emotion pouring out into that one hug.

    “Well, now that she’s home safe and sound ---” Gordon started, tapering off when Bruce waved his hand to shoo him away. “Right. We’ll just be going then.”

    Bruce moved his hands to cup Chloe’s face, searching for any hint of a decision that she may have made one way or the other. She had caught him in his ongoing deceit and seen him at his worse, and although he still couldn’t imagine his life without her, he realized that he couldn’t keep her there against her will if she chose to leave him because it was his own fault. Chloe drew in a deep breath and her eyes darted around, making sure that all of the officers were out of earshot.

    “I don’t want there to be anymore secrets between us,” she said quietly.

    “I don’t either,” Bruce said, pulling her closer and kissing the top of her head, thrilled at the shimmer of hope that wove its way through his body with her words.

    “Good,” she replied and stepped away from him slightly to dig into her purse. She pulled out what he immediately recognized as the small tape recorder she took with her on interviews. “Then there’s something you need to hear.”


    TBC...

  4. #4
    7 comes on too strong
    Join Date
    15 May 2003
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    532
    You know how I feel about this story already. This is my favorite UST story ever&#33; As I&#39;ve said at your Archival, this story is absolutely brilliant, beautiful, and is the reason WHY I love Chlruce. And&#33;&#33;&#33; because of it, I am now a die hard Lex and Chloe UST fan. Regardless of what happens throughout the story, it can not be denied that this story is work of genius.

    :worship2: :worship2: :worship2: :worship2: :worship2:
    Whatever happens to it, PEOPLE, you have to read it.
    :biggrin:

  5. #5
    PHD in Procrastination Senior Member vardaquareien's Avatar
    Join Date
    03 Jul 2003
    Location
    Sydney, Australia.
    Age
    37
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    3,832
    Yay&#33; Your posting this here&#33; I&#39;d read up to Ch 12 at Malu&#39;s site and am ecstatic to find four more chappys here&#33;&#33;&#33; Whatever anybody says, there&#39;s no way you can remove this even if it is only UST - it&#39;s incredible&#33;

    Even though I like Chruce I&#39;m still Chlex first so even though I know it&#39;s UST I still can&#39;t help rooting for sexyLexy&#33; Bruce is wonderful too though I love the way he comes running out when he finds that Chloe&#39;s come back to him & how he takes her into an enormous hug in front of everyone. It&#39;s just beautiful&#33; *sniff* I wish someone would do that to me *sniff*.

    Now MORE, MORE, MORE&#33;&#33;&#33;

  6. #6
    Elviriel
    Just a Guest!
    I love that story &#33; It is so great &#33; I love the Chruce &#33; Wow....
    Bruce Wayne is so cool. If Chloe never gets Lex on Smallville, I hope she has Bruce.
    Congratulation s&#33; :worship2:

  7. #7
    odd duck
    Join Date
    01 Dec 2002
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    855
    Absolutely amazing story. I don&#39;t know which I want more, Chruce or Chlex.

  8. #8
    NS Full Member
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    02 Mar 2003
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    You. are. killing. me. Wow, I was hesitant to read this, but, lordy, it&#39;s good. I know that it&#39;s UST but I cannot help but root for Lex. And the scene in the hospital room between them, break my heart much?

    Blue

  9. #9
    NS Full Member
    Join Date
    01 Jan 2003
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    111
    Wow. Just wow. I remember reading the start of this fic somewhere and I have to say, excellent, excellent fic :worship2:

  10. #10
    NS Full Member jem's Avatar
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    i alternate from nc17 fanfiction forum to la la land...
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    chlex please??? chruce is cool... but?? no.. please??

    aw well i wanna see how it ends either way...

    update soon &#33;
    i do so like green eggs and ham
    i do so like them...sam i am
    –Dr Seuss “Green Eggs And Ham”--

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