[personal profile] ardensregina
Title: Here In Norman Rockwell's Neighborhood (1/2)
Fandom: Smallville
Characters/Pairings:
Chloe, Clark, Lionel, a bunch of other people, Clark/Chloe (what!), Jimmy/Chloe (that's more like me.)
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: in this chapter, from the first season through the beginning of the fourt season. through season eight in the next.
Word Count: 4,606.
Disclaimer: Smallville and its characters is owned by the CW, Warner Brothers, DC Comics and Al Gough and Miles Miller, not me. Also, a substantial amount of the dialog herein is from the show itself and was not written by me, I just incorporated it into my reading of the story.
Summary: At seventeen, Chloe Sullivan thought she had seen it all. A character study of Chloe Sullivan.
Author's Note: And to think that this started off in my head over a month ago now as a short little vignette of the Chlark scene in Arrival. Over 4500 words and hours upon hours of writing later, I haven't even gotten to Arrival yet. Up until fairly recently, this was going to be a one shot, but it was just getting so unwieldy that I thought I'd better post this now that I'm at a stopping point about half way through before its too long for all of your attention spans. Thanks, as always, to [livejournal.com profile] svgurl for the beta.



01.

She had been so pissed at her father that morning. Smallville, Kansas. Smallville. Smallville. He had to be joking. This had to be a joke. She couldn’t be expected to live here.

A thirteen-year-old Chloe Sullivan stood staring up at a sign that read SMALLVILLE JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL, cursing her dad and his refusal to turn down the transfer from Luthorcorp Metropolis office to the Smallville plant. She prided herself on being a city girl. She did not belong in towns with the word ‘small’ in their name.  Steeling herself, she took a deep breath and went inside. The first thing on her agenda was to visit the main office, wherever the hell that was. She wandered around for a few minutes, until finally she saw a door whose bright yellow lettering seemed to be telling her she’d found her destination.

There was a boy leaning up against the door. He was looking at her, a small smile on his face. Not like he was laughing at her, but he may have been a little amused. “Chloe Sullivan?” he asked, but it sounded like it was just a formality and he knew exactly who she was.

Chloe took a good look at him. Wow. Tall, dark and handsome didn’t even begin to cover it. For the first time, she thought that maybe Smallville wouldn’t be that bad after all. “Yeah,” she said in answer to his question but added a little city girl defensiveness, just so he’d know she was too good for this place, “but what’s it to you?”

The boy just smirked. “I’m the one who gets to show the new girl around.” He shifted the books he was holding onto his left hip so he could offer her his right hand to shake. “I’m Clark Kent.”

Chloe took the hand. “Nice to meet you, Clark Kent. Now, do you know where a girl can find a copy of the Daily Planet around here?”

Clark blinked, and looked a little taken aback. But then he smiled and nodded.

And that was how Chloe Sullivan met Clark Kent.

02.

A little over a year later, and life for Chloe wasn’t quite as bad as she’d originally predicted. Clark and his friend Pete had become her very good friends and even if Clark was clearly not interested in her the way she would have liked him to be, he really was a great friend, and she could dream, at least.

She found herself one night sitting in front of her computer, as usual. In a coup that surprised even herself, she had managed to capture the editor’s job at the school newspaper in her freshman year. Of course, when the decision was made, all the upper classmen had resigned in protest and with only an editor now, the paper’s faculty advisor decreed that it simply could not be done and quit herself. But Chloe was never going to give up that easily, so she recruited Clark and Pete and they did as much work as could be asked of two guys who were really not that interested in journalism, but most nights Chloe could be found alone in her office at midnight or even later, putting the finishing touches on tomorrow’s issue. Her father worried that it would hurt her grades, but as long as she proved him wrong he let her keep it up.

On this particular night, there was a pep rally going on outside her window, which Clark and Pete were both attending because they were traitors and thought joining the football team sounded like a good idea but Chloe was hard at work; she had a big scoop to report on.

That first day she met Clark, on that first visit to his barn, she’d told him that she didn’t think she’d find anything weird or unexplained in Smallville, but she had been so very, very wrong. In fact, there were more unexplained things here than she could have ever possibly imagined. The rocks from the 1989 meteor shower were giving people superpowers, Chloe was sure of it. So she vowed to write about every one she could find, until people started believing her.

Of course, all this unmasking was a little dangerous. And Chloe was about to learn that out the hard way. Not that it would keep her from trying again shortly.

Walt Arnold, the beloved football coach who had been at Smallville High basically as long as anyone could remember, could start and control fires with his mind. And Chloe knew that not only had he helped his players cheat, he was also using his ability to intimidate not only those players, but also Principal Kwan. Which is how she ended up in her office during the pep rally writing an expose on Coach Walt.

In hindsight, her timing wasn’t very good. Because all of a sudden, as Chloe was diligently writing away at her desk, the room around her began to spontaneously combust. First it was her mouse that erupted in flames and that was shortly followed by her computer monitor and soon her own desk. Panicking, Chloe jumped up and rushed across the room, not very surprised when the fire seemed to follow. She found herself up against the window and looked outside where the pep rally was still going on. And there was Clark, who, as luck would have it, happened to be looking in her direction. She opened the window and yelled out “Clark!” waving her arms around. It worked; he saw her and bolted towards the school.

Confident that Clark would get help, Chloe figured that she’d have to not be cornered by the fire when that help arrived and decided she had to make a run for it. She took off her sweater and covered her head with it and ran through the fire. It burned and she yelped and found herself rolling and throwing the flaming sweater away but that wasn’t the worst of it. The fire was moving again and blocking her from getting to the door. Seriously freaking out now, she turned back around in a daze, only to find more flames jumping up on that side as well. And now it was all around her, licking at her heels and so close to her face that she could almost feel the pain that she knew would soon envelope once it got it’s chance. “Oh my God!” she screamed, thinking that it was all over and maybe trying to expose Coach Walt had been a very, very bad idea.

Then she heard voice scream her name and suddenly the fire was gone. She turned around to see Clark running into the smoldering office and let him wrap her arms around her. In that moment, Chloe felt safer than she had in a long time and she knew that there was no way she was going to give the story up after all.

And that was the first time Clark Kent saved Chloe Sullivan’s life, even if she didn’t know it at the time.

03.

Shortly after Chloe met Clark, it had become painfully obvious that he was not interested in her the way Chloe perhaps wished he were. On about her third day in Smallville, as she sat in the cafeteria with her new friends, she had caught Clark staring off into space and when she followed his gaze saw that he was looking straight at the beautiful girl with the dark hair from her English class—Lana?

Later that day, Chloe asked Pete about it, hoping she didn’t sound jealous. There was no way she was about to tell this guy she had just met, who was probably one of her best bets at having a friend, that she thought she might be falling in love with his best friend.

But Pete seemed to see right through her. “Yeah,” he said, sounding sympathetic, “He’s been totally in love with her since we were, like, five. It’s kind of sad really, I’m not sure she even realizes the poor guy’s alive, but he just won’t give up on the dream. I’m sorry, for what it’s worth.”

“What are you sorry about?”

“Oh, please. I’ve seen the way you look at him.”

Chloe looked up from her plate, startled. But she wasn’t going to give in that easily. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

+

About two years later, Chloe found herself at the spring formal on Clark Kent’s arm. It was all she could have ever wished for but then it was cruelly pulled away when word came that a tornado was wrecking havoc in Smallville—and Lana was out in it.

The next day, Chloe pulled the friend card and kissed any hope of a real relationship with Clark goodbye.

04.

It wasn’t like she didn’t have her questions about Clark. He was always there right when she needed him, always ready to swoop in and save her life. And he had that annoying habit of being there one minute and gone the next. And it seemed to Chloe very much like Lionel Luthor had somehow doctored his adoption papers, which made absolutely no sense at all but she couldn’t quite dismiss the thought because of the fit he threw when she tried to ask him about it.

Yes, there certainly something of a mystery surrounding Clark Kent.

But that did not mean, disregarding new computers Lionel Luthor donated to the Torch and the fact that he had landed her her dream as the youngest columnist at the Daily Planet ever, that Chloe would willingly betray Clark. He was her friend and she could never do that. Not to Clark. So she told him to take his offer and stuff it down his thousand dollar pants.

+

Except, maybe she could. It wasn’t that she’d caught him and Lana in a particularly passionate embrace that was less than unexpected. It was the fact that he seemed incapable of telling her. That was the real betrayal. She’d come to terms with the fact that Clark didn’t feel the same way about her as she did him, but to think that he would actually avoid telling her about his and Lana’s little tryst. They were supposed to be friends! But she was going to give him another chance to come clean. One more chance.

When she got there, it was obvious Clark didn’t want to talk to her. It was like he was trying to get rid of her. But Lana had told her that morning her was looking for her. This was not going well. And why did he seem so distracted?

Finally, Chloe cracked. “So how’d you decide?” There was a bit to her voice that was becoming much too common in her conversations with Clark. “Rock paper sissors, coin toss, or did you just draw the short straw?”

Clark turned to her, looking utterly mystified. “Decide?”

How dare he play dumb. “Who was going to tell me that you and Lana are together.”

“You know?!”

“Yeah, I came over to the barn the other night to warn you about something—”

“About what?” She should have just come clean right then and been done with it. Everything would have happened so differently.

But she didn’t; she couldn’t. “You know, it doesn’t matter now.”

Two minutes later, Chloe was driving away from the Kent farm, thinking that she’d never, ever speak to Clark again.

+

“I’m glad that you decided to accept my offer.” Lionel Luthor was smiling at her with that Lionel Luthor-like smile that was somewhere between kind, condescending and creepy. “You know, don’t you, you have a very exciting future ahead of you, Miss Sullivan.”

Chloe shouldn’t have been there. Chloe really, really shouldn’t have been there. “Well, opportunities like this aren’t dropped on your doorstep every day.”

There was the smile again. “Why the sudden change of heart?”

“You were right about Clark.” That bastard Clark. Chloe didn’t want to think about him right now. She didn’t think she’d be able to go through with it if she did.

“Oh?” Lionel sounded politely curious, but there was an undertone of victory to that syllable.

“I’m surprised I hadn’t noticed earlier. So much for my crack journalistic skills.” But she really didn’t want to be thinking about Clark right now.

Lionel blew that notion right off “No, no, love has a way of blinding even the sharpest minds. We don’t look because we don’t want to see. But once love has been stripped away, then we see the real person clearly. They’re revealed to us with all their flaws, all their foibles. And their secrets.”

Was that it? Had Chloe’s love for Clark been stripped away? She didn’t think that was quite it. Maybe she just wanted to know the truth about Clark, like Lionel.

Lionel had a meeting and Chloe excused herself but as she was almost to the door, something stopped her and she turned back around. “Mr. Luthor?” she asked, “why are you so interested in Clark?”

But Lionel just chuckled, that part kindly part menacing Lionel Luthor chuckle. “You don’t expect me to show all my cards now, do you?”

“No, I guess not.”

“All will be revealed in good time, Miss Sullivan.”

“Thank you, Mr. Luthor.”

Chloe went home and was told that there had been an explosion at the Kent farm, that their storm cellar had been completely destroyed, that Martha Kent had miscarried and that Clark had run away. Chloe wondered for the first time, but not the last, if maybe she had just caught Clark on a bad day.

05.


The first time Chloe saw Jimmy Olsen, he was standing by the vending machine, laughing with another one of the Planet’s interns. She thought he was cute, not that she considered at the time that she’d be interested in him like that. Because no matter how much she was trying not to, she still loved Clark. But then he asked her out on a date and that part of her that wanted so badly to be over Clark made her say yes.

And it turned out Jimmy Olsen was as cute as her first impression. He was funny and looked at her like the most beautiful thing in the world and such a breath of fresh air; he had no idea about anything related to her life in Smallville. Jimmy knew the Chloe Sullivan of the Daily Planet, hard hitting journalist with a gift for prose, not the Chloe Sullivan who sold out her friends for a high profile column and was pathetically in love with her best friend’s boyfriend.

Her first time was his first time. It happened on their fifth date. They went home to Jimmy’s apartment and it was awkward and messy and they were both sixteen and neither had any idea what they were doing. When it was over, they mutually agreed that it was nice and all but maybe they shouldn’t do it again and that they really should try to remain friends. But Chloe didn’t hear from Jimmy again for a long time after that.

+

One afternoon that summer, some of high school interns at the Planet handed Chloe a fake ID and invited her out to a club that night. She accepted; something to take her mind off everything for one night—how bad could it be?

She found out just exactly how bad about forty-five minutes after she had arrived. The girls were gossiping at the bar, Chloe’s back turned toward the door, when all of a sudden her companions gasped.

“What?” Chloe asked.

 “Hottie, ten o’clock,” Annie, the girl who had invited her out, answered.

Up for some eye candy as much as the next girl, Chloe turned to look at ten o’clock. And almost fell off her chair. There stood Clark Kent, unmistakable despite being clad in an uncharacteristic leather jacket and bright green t-shirt with a girl on both arms. He was greeting the bar tender like they were best friends. “Oh my God.”

“I know right?” Annie giggled, “Hottest guy in the room!”

“No—well, yes—but that’s definitely beside the point. Excuse me.” Chloe jumped off of her chair and without giving it much thought hurried over to Clark. She eyed the girls he was with and decided they were nothing more than your run of the mill hussies.

“Kal, man,” the bartender was saying, “do you ever stop? A new girl every night. What’s your secret?”

“Believe me, it has nothing to do with the girls.” Chloe thought that it was strange that Clark would say something like that and stranger still that he was answering to the name ‘Kal;’ she’d never heard that before. But then, this whole thing was one of the strangest situations she had ever found herself in.

“Clark!” she said in the most commanding voice she could muster and he turned to her with a small smirk gracing his features.

“Chloe. What brings you here?”

“I’m with some friends from the Planet,” Clark nodded, signaling that he understood, still smirking in a most un-Clark-like fashion. “But nevermind that. What the hell?”

Clark looked at her quizzically but didn’t say anything, so Chloe reiterated “What the hell?” and made a gesture aimed to encompass their whole environment, the girls and his clothes. She had to yell to be heard over the beat of the music blaring from the speakers. “You know everybody at home is going crazy, don’t you? The farm’s a mess, Lana’s a mess, your parents are a mess. And you’re just hanging out in a club in Metropolis?”

“None of that’s my problem anymore,” he said.

“What the hell do you mean it’s not your problem?”

“That’s all in my past now.”

“Bullshit. You need to come home.”

“No, I don’t.” He fixed her now with a gaze so ferocious that it made Chloe almost literally quake in her boots. She had never suspected that he could be so terrifying. “And listen to me, Chloe. You are not to tell anyone you saw me here, understood? I don’t want to be found. Now go back to your friends. And don’t even think of coming here again.”

Chloe nodded meekly and went back to Annie across the room (“You know him?” the intern asked, not able to keep the jealousy and amazement out of her voice. Chloe shrugged it off the best she could.). But as soon as Clark left, Chloe followed him back to his apartment, staying far back in the shadows.

A month later, she finally shared the information with a furious Lana and Clark came home the next day.

06.

Looking back on it, Chloe could never be sure when exactly she realized she was in too far over her head with Lionel Luthor, but she suspected it was probably around the time she realized that he had murdered his own parents. And she wasn’t likely to forget Clark’s fury when he, now back to as normal as he ever was, got word of her betrayal of him. But it wasn’t the fury that broke her heart, it was the look on his face; the look that said I can’t believe you could ever do something like this to me. Eventually he was able to forgive her, but their relationship would consist of them walking on metaphorical eggshells for a while to come.

And then, when she tried to free herself from Lionel’s clutches, everything started falling apart. Her column at the Planet disappeared, the Lionel-donated computers at the Torch were rescinded and even the job that her father had held at Luthorcorp for fifteen years was taken away. He couldn’t get a job anywhere, no matter how hard he looked.

Lionel’s son Lex was the first to discover his father’s crime and Lionel had his brain fried for it. After with much deliberation with Clark, it was decided that Lex should not be re-told because Lionel was just too dangerous. They resolved just to leave it alone; they were two high school kids from Nowhere, Kansas. When they were honest with themselves they could see there was really nothing they could do about it. And it wasn’t until Chloe found herself, once again, in serious, life-threatening danger that she hit the jackpot. Initially, it was all in order to save her father’s livelihood, but then it became so much more. Eventually, it became another of the series of life and death situations Chloe’s life had come to consist of.

After an illicit late night jaunt into Luthorcorp, she was infected by the meteor rocks, but she didn’t care. They had given her the best gift any reporter could ask for. Now, when she asked someone a question, she could expect nothing less than the truth. Nothing this great had ever happened to her, not even in her wildest dreams. Now she could get the answers to questions that had been nagging at her for years. But of course, when she asked Clark what it was he’d been hiding, he was somehow able to not answer the question. But the expression on his face when he said, “I can’t believe you’d ask me that,” was not one that she would soon forget. And it only added to the list of things Chloe didn’t understand about Clark.

But that wasn’t the jackpot. Clark had done his homework and realized just how dangerous the drug coursing through her system was and tricked her into the hospital. Of course, they didn’t know how to treat her, which wasn’t exactly comforting but the meteors weren’t letting it worry her too much.

Then Lionel showed up in her hospital room. “Miss Sullivan,” he said in his usual drawl, “you look a bit peaked. Well, I suppose a steady diet of truth can wear upon a person. I understand you borrowed one of our Luthorcorp security cards.”

“I was only trying to help my dad,” Chloe answered fiercely. “What’d you do, blacklist him?”

“You’re damn right I blacklisted him,” the billionaire responded. “He’ll be lucky to get a job as a dishwasher.” Lionel was obviously surprised by his own forthcoming. Chloe just smiled. “Well,” he continued, “I warned you there’d be repercussions if you defied me and I’m a man of my word.”

“There’s only one way to find out.”

“What?”

“Did you order Morgan Edge to kill your parents?”

Lionel did not hesitate. “Of course I did,” he said. “I did it for their life insurance. I needed that money to start my company.” He registered what he had let slip and a dangerous shadow came across his face. “Oh, I’m sorry you asked me that question, Miss Sullivan. That’s very dangerous information for you to have. Why did you ask me that?”

“That’s not important. This is.” She pulled her cell phone from behind her back and played back the recording. Of course I did. I did it for their life insurance. “I have your entire confession recorded on my voicemail and I’m the only one who has the password. So if I were you, I’d reconsider my father’s employment situation.”

She made for the door, intending to leave with the upper hand, but Lionel closed it before she got there. “I’m impressed,” he said, “but unfortunately I don’t respond to blackmail.”

+

A few hours, another betrayal of Clark and another instance of Clark saving her life later, Chloe was back in her office, checking her voicemail. Hello, Miss Sullivan. It's only me. Um, oh, no need to look for that conversation we had earlier. It's gone. And, um, well, that’s it. No need to call back.

+

When Lex, having rediscovered the first of his father’s trespasses, decided to go ahead and try to nail his father on the murder charges, Chloe volunteered to get on the stand and testify about the confession. The recording was gone, but that didn’t mean Chloe couldn’t swear under oath to what she had heard. That was the beauty of the judicial system. But, needless to say, it was a dangerous undertaking. Precautions had to be taken.

When she was honest with herself, Chloe knew that she was doing this not so much so that justice could be served in a murder case which was by then forty years old (Lionel was Lionel; Chloe was sure Lachlan and Eliza Luthor weren’t the last people he’d killed) or even because Lionel deserved to be behind bars (although he obviously did). No, Chloe was mostly doing this for herself; to get herself out of the mess she’d gotten herself into. And this time she couldn’t rely on Clark to save her because no inexplicable arrival coupled with a suspicious excuse could get her out from under the clutches of Lionel Luthor. It was something she had to do on her own. So she would testify.

Anyone who knew Lionel knew that he wasn’t going to just roll over and take a murder trial easily. He was going to take steps to make sure he wasn’t convicted. And ‘taking steps’ meant killing Chloe. No witness, no testimony, no conviction. So Chloe and her father agreed to be housed in a safe house during Lionel’s pre-trial incarceration. But Lex seemed to think that those measures weren’t quite enough.

On the day they were scheduled to move into the safe house, the two Sullivans were escorted to an undisclosed location. They pulled up in a black government SUV with tinted windows, got out and began grabbing their bags and heading into the house. Gabe looked in and turned back to Chloe with a nod of approval for their temporary quarters. When Chloe herself stepped inside, she had to agree. The place was huge and she could see a stereo system the likes of which she’d only seen before at the Luthor mansion in the corner of the room on her right. She couldn’t wait to explore this place.

But that was never to happen. Not even two seconds after Chloe had stepped inside, a group of men separate from her government escorts rushed towards them. “Mr. Sullivan,” one of them said to Gabe, “we’ve located an explosive device under the house. You and your daughter have got to come with us.” Chloe and Gabe didn’t even think about it, they just followed the men, who turned out to be from Luthorcorp security, down a passageway that led out of the house. As soon as they were safely out, the entire building erupted in flames behind them.

No, Lionel Luthor was not the kind of man who took threats against his liberty lightly.

Chloe spent that summer in another safe house, this one owned by Luthorcorp and operated by Lex’s people. As far as the world was concerned, Chloe Sullivan was dead. She was kind of sorry she missed the funeral.

A few months later, Clark came and found her, accompanied by her cousin Lois. She testified against Lionel, who was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. She and Clark finally seemed to have settled back into a comfortable friendship without suspicion of betrayal, although Chloe certainly still had her questions about him. Lois’ father, a five star general, forced her to go back to high school and she eventually ended up moving in with the Kents. Surrounded by her friends and family, Chloe looked forward to her senior year.

At seventeen, Chloe Sullivan thought she had seen it all, but this was only the beginning. The real wonders were still to come.
 
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ardensregina

December 2010

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