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Title: From the Outside In
Author: Victoria P. []
Summary: "Chloe knows she has no shot at Clark."
Category: Clark/Lex, pre-slash, Chloe POV
Rating: PG
Spoilers: entire series up to Hourglass, I guess.
Disclaimer: All Smallville characters belong to a bunch of people who aren't me; this piece of fan-written fiction intends no infringement on any copyrights.
Archive: Lists, Muse's Fool
Feedback: You know you want to.
Notes: Thanks to Jen, Pete, Dot, and Meg. I blame Jenn. She's the one who convinced me to watch. Once I saw the incredible hot slashiness, this was inevitable, I suppose. <g> This is my first Smallville fic, so please let me know if I'm getting it right. Also, the two people who did the main beta are in Australia and haven't seen the show yet, so while they caught writing errors, they don't know the characters. All errors are my fault.

From the Outside In

Chloe knows she has no shot at Clark. She has resigned herself to this. At first, she'd found comfort in her mom's romance novels and the conventions of every romantic comedy she'd ever seen. She is the best friend, while Lana is the unattainable princess, and so she is the one Clark should end up with, while Lana goes on to fame and loneliness.

But Lana isn't the true competition, and there's no way Chloe can match up against Lex Luthor.

She finds it typical of her life so far that her Prince Charming has a Prince Charming of his own.

She shivers, recalling the tension between the man and the boy, each beautiful in his own way.

They don't even see it. That's what makes it so delicious. Clark thinks Lex has taken an interest in him because he saved his life. Lex thinks he's repaying a debt, perhaps seeing Clark as the younger brother he never had.

But Chloe's not blind, and she can feel it whenever they're in a room together -- it raises the hair on the back of her neck and makes her nipples peak. It's lust and sex and *power* and she laughs because they don't know.

If she mentioned it to Clark, he would blush and stammer, reminding her yet again why she loves him -- he's so endearingly *Clark-like*, and that's not something anyone else has. Plus, he's hot enough to peel the paint off a car.

As for Lex, she doesn't know him well, but she has a feeling he'd give that wry grin he sometimes wears, and say nothing. He's open to possibilities, Lex is, and willing to wait to get what he wants. And what he wants is Clark, in one way or another.

She's thought of talking to Pete about it, but he's both too straight and too in love with Clark himself to discuss it.

She wonders how it is that Clark can tie them all up in knots and yet be totally unaware of his effect. That's the most damning factor of all, the one that tells her that no matter how he stalks Lana, and moons over her, he's never really been interested in winning her, because if he were, she wouldn't still be with that idiot Whitney. Clark's sheer physical presence is enough to overwhelm any female from one to ninety-two; He hasn't grown into it yet, doesn't know how to use what he's got, but when he does, she thinks, both women and men will fall at his feet. One burning look from those smoky green eyes, one pout with those lips, and Lana should be his.

Since she's not, Chloe concludes that he mustn't really be trying.

She's very observant -- it's why she's involved in "The Torch" -- a way to put her outsider status to good use. She knows that people don't really see her anymore -- she's just that weird Sullivan girl, the one who's always sticking her nose in where she doesn't belong. They talk in front of her, do things they wouldn't normally be seen doing, because after all, she's just Chloe, part of the furniture. If she happens to overhear and squirrel away their secrets, they shrug, thinking she can't cause them any harm.

So, she's had a lot of opportunity to observe the interactions between Clark and Lex. Clark is the sun that draws everyone -- they all want to bask in his warmth; Lex, the darkness of the moonless night sky that so fascinates Clark, the velvet black broken only by the distant light of a billion stars. Lex produces no light -- when he shines, he is simply reflecting Clark's brilliance. It makes them uniquely suited to each other, and yet so very wrong. The most interesting kind of romance, she believes. It can't end well, but it will certainly burn hot and bright when it finally happens.

Now, she sits on the grass, huddled in a blanket, eyes watering from the smoke. She watches Clark check on Lex. Once again, Clark has played the hero, rescuing half the teen population of Smallville with his quick thinking and actions. He doesn't know that Lex is the one who had the building set on fire. She doesn't know if that would matter to him, since Lex is the one who ran into the burning building to find him and tell him what was happening. Clark, of course, was already shepherding people out the back door, seemingly everywhere at once in his need to save them all.

She wonders about his hero-complex. It's both endearing and incredibly annoying, because it puts him -- puts them all -- in danger way more often than she'd like. It's not that she doesn't want to help people; she does. But she could have lived without the threat of getting all the warmth sucked out of her body, or dying in a nasty fire, or being attacked by a girl who could shape-shift. And hanging out with Clark seems to lead to more of these situations as time passes.

Her reporter's instinct says it's the effects of the meteor shower. That thought makes her smile -- everyone else goes evil or crazy, and Clark becomes super-good. Maybe those green rocks that litter the landscape bring out a person's most salient characteristics. She's incredibly curious (and how many times has her dad warned her that curiosity killed the cat? She laughs him off, but the way things have been going these past few months, suddenly, it's not so funny), Lana's exceptionally nice, and Clark is so wholesome he sometimes makes her teeth hurt.

She figures that's what draws Lex to him. If Clark is clean and pure, Lex is dirty, tainted. He was marked physically by the meteor shower, on top of being marked at birth as a Luthor. They say opposites attract, and while Chloe thinks falling back on cliche is the sign of a lazy mind (and not to be tolerated in articles for her beloved paper), she realizes that they don't become cliches unless they have a grain of truth to them.

And there's no doubt that Clark and Lex are attracted, even if they're still in denial about it.

The firemen arrive and begin putting out the blaze. No lives have been lost, but one of the historic farms of old Smallville has been destroyed. No one except a few old ladies from the Historical Landmark Society, who could bore their grade school Civics teacher to death, and, of course, the kids who regularly came out here to have parties, would miss the place.

Lex would, as always, get what he wanted.

After wrangling with the town's Historical Landmark Society for the better part of a year over the old Johanssen farm, Lex had hired an arsonist from Metropolis to burn the place to the ground. Sometimes it amazes her how careless he is, that he would make such plans while she was within earshot. That's when she remembers he's only five years older than they are, and the veneer of sophisticated ennui he wears is still not hardened into impenetrability. He's not quite the adult he believes he is, though he's probably more of one now than Clark will ever be.

As for the Johanssen farm, she can't blame him, really. He owns the land, and the Historical Landmark people hadn't done a damned thing but thwart his plans to -- do whatever it was he was planning to do. She hasn't yet found out that particular bit of information. They'd just insisted that since Sven Johanssen had been one of the first settlers in Smallville, his farm was sacrosanct, a monument to the perseverance of those hardy people who settled the plains. At least, that was what Mrs. Forbush had said the last time they'd been lectured on the subject in school.

She's convinced Lex didn't know that the outsiders of Smallville High society had taken to having their parties in the barn. The look of horror on his face when he'd heard the music and realized what was happening had been genuine.

And once again, as Lex's gaze follows Clark's every move, she remembers Lex running into the burning barn, grabbing her and furiously demanding that she tell him where Clark was and that she get out, fast.

She wonders how long it will take for Lex to realize what he wants from Clark, and then how long it will take for him to get it. And she fiercely hopes that it turns out to be exactly what they're looking for, but she already knows it won't. She's going to enjoy the show while it lasts, though, and if Lex begins to join Clark in her evening fantasies, well, no one needs to know what a girl does in the privacy of her bedroom, right?

Pete settles on the grass next to her, startling out of her thoughts. She hopes she's not blushing. He looks to see what has her so enraptured, and she wonders if he catches the cracks in Lex's carefully prepared mask, the horror in his eyes at what almost happened, and the sheer relief that Clark is there. He grabs onto Clark's shoulder, as if reassuring himself that his friend is all right.

"They make a nice couple, don't you think?" she murmurs. Pete swings his head around to stare at her, his mouth agape. Then Clark returns the gesture, practically pulling Lex into a hug, and Pete shuts his mouth with a snap.

Chloe nods knowingly, taking his silence for agreement.

She'll never have Clark that way, she thinks, but she'll be around to pick up the pieces after Lex has broken him.


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