Summary: Helen Bryce wants everything … but will Chloe be the person who helps her get it?
Warnings: Slash. Clark/Lex, Chloe/Helen.
Disclaimer: I don’t own them, but if I did no one would ever look at a pool table the same again.
A/N: Many thanks to the SV Gang for reading, for Nuala for the femme slash support, and for Blandine and Privatetentacle for the betas, oral and written. Any remaining problems are mine. I wrote for Self. She requested Chloe/Helen and at least a kiss. This is my first attempt at femme slash, although in some ways it's still a Clex tale at heart. PG-13. It's set during "Visage", S2. I've tried very hard to make it fit within canon, although Chloe and Helen have no scenes together in the show. Part of the dialogue is taken directly from "Visage", and there are a few references to "Dichotic" as well.
Chloe can feel her heart pounding, blood rushing under her skin. She tries to steady her breathing, but it’s as if she is drowning. She sucks at the air, dragging great huge gulps, trying to fill her lungs. She tries to move, but her muscles won’t respond. She is rooted to the spot. Her eyes dart back and forth.
Someone is with her. Here, in the dark.
She peers into the shadows, tries to make out the face of the person just beyond reach. Thick dark hair, a pale beautiful face, large eyes that seem to shine in the faint light. God, those eyes are so beautiful. Large and luminous and provocative. Like the eyes of a doe standing under the moon. Eyes that fill the entire room, promising to fill up all the empty spaces inside of her–places Chloe hadn’t even known were empty. Until now.
Those eyes whisper temptation like a serpent coiled in the darkest corners of Eden. Long lashes bat against them, slowly, luxuriously like the languid sweep of a paint brush fluttering over canvas. Chloe’s breath catches as she thinks about those full lips, plump and wet and waiting to be kissed. Waiting to kiss her.
She feels a hand reach through the darkness and touch her face. The hand is cold–unexpectedly cold. She flinches and the hand withdraws. She watches as a long finger is slipped between full, red lips. Lips purse around the finger, a slow suck, and then withdraw, tip glistening wet in the moonlight. Chloe feels her own tongue dart from her mouth, wet her parched lips. The finger moves gracefully towards her. She closes her eyes, aware that she is trembling as the finger traces the outline of her mouth, pushes gently against her lips, seeking access. She resists for only a moment before sucking the long slender finger into her mouth. She licks at it slowly, like an icicle, long and cold and sweet.
The voice is sultry, familiar. Breath ghosts across her face like a caress. Chloe knows the voice, just like she knows the touch. She lets her teeth graze lightly over the finger between her lips, feels the small pain of regret as it slips out of her mouth, away from her body.
“Chloe, you can have everything you want.”
Yes, Chloe thinks. Yes, everything. There is someone standing close to her now, close enough to touch. She smells jasmine, sandalwood, a touch of something exotic, something distinctly Metropolis. Chloe’s fists clench at her sides. Mustn’t touch, she tells herself. Must. Not. Touch.
Chloe bites her lip, suddenly afraid. Another body, inches from her own, should bring unbearable heat, but there is nothing but a cool sheen of ice against her. Chloe feels the touch on her flesh as if she’s been burned. Lips, cool and perfect, press hard against hers, freezing the breath in her lungs, pinning her hard against the wall like a butterfly on display. She is a sculpture in ice. Frozen.
“Chloe. Everything you want.”
And Chloe knows there is something she is expected to do in return, something she must give up to have this, to have everything, to be allowed to melt. She feels heat flare in her body in a way that is completely new. The finger trails softly over her lips, tracing down her chin to the smooth skin of her throat. The curved nail presses hard against her flesh and drops into the open folds of her shirt. She stops breathing as fingers tugs lightly at the button there. Cold lips press against her skin. Chloe can feel the imprint, a blue bruise. The coldest kind of brand.
Chloe opens her eyes and she is alone again. Fully awake. The faint smell of night-blooming jasmine tickles at her nose like a memory. Her heart pulses hard against her chest, and she presses a hand there as if to keep her fear inside. Goose bumps pearl along the bare flesh of her arms, and she tries to pretend that the warm ache in her body is part of the dream.
She leans back against the pillows, pulling the blankets higher. She closes her eyes against the room full of shadows and prays for sleep.
“Clark, what do you think of Helen?” Chloe asked over coffee at The Talon.
“Lex really likes her,” Clark said non-committally.
“That’s not what I asked,” Chloe said. “I asked what you thought of her.”
Clark shrugged. “She’s okay, I guess. I don’t know if I trust her.”
Chloe snorted. “Have you ever liked any of the women Lex has been involved with?” Chloe snickered as Clark glared at her. “I mean, there was Miss Atkins–-”
“-–who used her crazy pheromones on Lex and had me thrown in jail.”
“And Victoria Hardwick.”
“She was only interested in taking over Lex’s company.”
“And now Helen,” Chloe finished. “What is it with you, Kent? Jealous?”
Clark got up abruptly and grabbed his jacket. “I’ve got chores, Chloe. And why are you so interested in Helen Bryce anyway? I didn’t think you even knew her.”
“I don’t,” Chloe countered. “I—I saw her around when your Mom was in the hospital last time.” Chloe hoped she wasn’t blushing. The truth was that she hadn’t been able to get the doctor out of her mind—-or her dreams—-since the first time she’d seen her.
“Oh. Well, what do you want with her?”
“I was curious, that’s all,” Chloe said. “She seems... interesting.”
“No investigating, Chloe. Please. Lex is my best friend. I don’t want anything to screw that up. Please, whatever you’re up to, just leave it alone. For all our sakes.”
Clark tossed his backpack over his shoulder and pushed out the door.
“Interesting,” Chloe murmured into her coffee and sipped at it slowly.
Chloe pushed through the door of the hospital and looked around. She wasn’t exactly sure where Dr. Bryce’s office was located, but Smallville’s Medical Centre wasn’t that big. Chloe turned a corner and crashed into Lex.
“Hey, Lex,” Chloe said breathlessly, stepping back.
“Chloe. Chasing a story?”
Chloe grinned. “Something like that. I was hoping to talk to Dr. Bryce, actually.”
“Oh?” Lex looked intrigued. “What about?”
“I’m doing an article on women in medicine for The Torch,” Chloe said brightly, hoping it didn’t sound too lame. It wasn’t the kind of article that The Torch usually published, but Chloe didn’t think that Lex would know that.
He raised an eyebrow and examined her closely. “Not your typical Torch article,” Lex said. “Aren’t you usually interested in more eclectic material?”
Chloe flushed slightly. How the hell was she supposed to know that Lex read The Torch? For crying out loud, next someone would be telling her that Lionel Luthor read her high school paper too.
“I’m–I’m trying to do some more mainstream pieces for my portfolio,” Chloe said, hoping it didn’t sound like she was grasping at straws. “You know, features-type writing.”
“Well, I just left Helen at her office.” Lex gestured to a room down the hallway. “Do you want me to introduce you?”
“No,” Chloe said too quickly. “I’ll just go talk to her myself. I wouldn’t want her to feel pressured. But thanks for the offer.” Lex gave a short nod of approval. She could tell he liked people that did things for themselves. Not that she wouldn’t drop his name as soon as she met Dr. Bryce, but she would get through the door on her own.
“Good luck with the article.” Lex moved past her, towards the exit. Chloe took a deep breath and headed for Dr. Bryce’s office. The door was partly ajar and Chloe could hear a woman’s voice, tight and angry.
“I told you I’m not interested.” There was a pause as she listened. “No, there is nothing you could possibly... What do the Kents have to do with this?”
Chloe’s ears perked up at the mention of Clark’s family. It seemed like everyone was interested in the Kents and their family secrets. She held her breath.
“No, I don’t think... it would be very... no, I understand, but–but I don’t think I can...”
There was another extended pause. When Dr. Bryce finally responded, Chloe had to strain to hear. “Fine. I’ll meet you. The formal gardens at the mansion, 4:00 tomorrow. And you’re positive that Lex will never know?... Fine. We can discuss it then.”
Chloe heard the sound of a phone being thrust roughly back into its cradle. She waited a moment, then knocked firmly at the door. The force of her hand pushed the door open, and Chloe caught the startled expression that flew across Dr. Bryce’s face.
“Dr. Bryce?” Chloe said brightly, stepping into the room. “I’m Chloe Sullivan. I’m a friend of Lex’s.” Chloe could see the doctor evaluating her quickly. She smiled skeptically.
“A little young, aren’t you?” Dr. Bryce returned. She was looking at Chloe as if she expected her to drop a paternity suit on the desk. Chloe flushed.
“Actually, I’m a friend of Clark Kent’s,” Chloe said, assuming that Helen would be more likely to accept her if she understood how she knew Lex. “And my father works for Lex at the plant.”
Helen nodded, her dark eyes examining Chloe from head to toe. She suddenly felt exposed, all too aware of her chaotic blonde hair, her low-cut top, her usual ensemble of a wraparound skirt tied over pants. She’d never felt more like a high school kid in all her life.
“What can I do for you, Chloe?” Helen said, her voice relaxing slightly as she leaned back in her desk chair.
Chloe pulled out her notebook and pen. She took a deep breath and plunged ahead. “I wanted to ask you a few questions about your work here in Smallville.”
It was almost an hour later when Chloe emerged from Dr. Bryce’s office. She had six pages of notes, and was feeling exhilarated. Once the doctor had warmed up to her, the interview had gone extremely well. Helen was passionate about her work and more than willing to talk about her career. She was slightly more guarded when it came to her relationship with Lex, but truthfully, Chloe wasn’t that interested in talking about it, and Helen seemed relieved to meet someone who was interested in her and not her attachment to Metropolis’s favourite billionaire.
While they talked, Chloe had found herself inexplicably drawn to Helen–the way she’d played with a loose tendril of her long hair while she talked, coiling it around her finger like one of Medusa’s snakes; the way her eyes had flashed when she spoke of wanting to save people; the way her cheeks coloured when she mentioned the prestigious research offers she’d had from top facilities around the country. Chloe thought she was fascinating.
“I met a friend of yours today,” Helen said, sliding onto the couch beside Lex. The fire crackled, as he looked at her expectantly. “Chloe Sullivan.”
Lex nodded and swirled his brandy in his glass. “And did you give Miss Sullivan the interview that she wanted?”
“Of course. She’s an interesting young woman. Ambitious. Determined.”
“Head-strong,” Lex added. “She gets herself into things that she can’t get out of.”
Helen was intrigued. “Like what?”
Lex just smiled. “Oh, there’s always something to get into in Smallville.”
“Really, Lex, I’m surprised that all the high school kids seem to know you,” Helen said, her light tone somewhat forced. “I know the social opportunities are slim here, but you’re... what... five? Six years older than them?”
“And you’re six years older than me,” Lex said smoothly. “What’s your point?”
Helen tilted her head to the side, so her hair draped over one of his shoulders. “We’re both adults, Lex. They’re not. People will think it strange if you’re hanging out with high school girls.”
Lex laughed. “I’m hardly hanging out with Chloe Sullivan. She’s a friend of Clark’s.”
“And people don’t find your friendship with Clark odd?” Helen felt Lex stiffen beside her. She’d learned to tread carefully around the subject of Clark and the Kent family. She remembered Lex’s pronouncement in her office: “The Kents are like family to me, more than my own.” Lex seemed to have an overwhelming need to protect them, although Helen wasn’t entirely sure she understood what he felt he needed to protect them from. Then again, given her phone call earlier in the day, maybe Lex had just cause to worry.
“My friendship with Clark is no one’s business.” Lex eyed her the way a cat might evaluate his prey. “Why the sudden concern for my reputation, Helen?”
Helen met his eyes and smiled. “Lex, you know I don’t care what people think. I just don’t really understand what you and Clark have in common, that’s all.”
Lex shrugged. “Why do we have to have anything in common? It’s more interesting that way. He saved my life, you know.” Lex looked across to make sure she understood what he was saying. Helen nodded. Yes, she’d heard the story of the meeting on the bridge. She suspected it had grown larger and more impressive in Lex’s mind with every telling. Clark hadn’t just jumped in and pulled him out, but had somehow miraculously saved him even after being hit by the car at sixty miles an hour. Lex had turned the teenager into some sort of guardian angel, and for reasons she didn’t want to examine too closely, Helen didn’t like it.
Oh, she liked Clark alright. He was a handsome, affable young man with enough country charm to make all the girls swoon, but there was something different about him. Something mysterious. Something unattainable. She suspected that very little had ever been out of Lex’s reach before, but Clark was like the carrot being perpetually dangled in front of the horse’s nose. Lex kept pushing ahead, but never getting any closer to the mystery that was Clark Kent. Helen suspected that Lex would spend his whole life chasing after Clark and his secrets, without even realizing what he was giving up to do so. She inched closer.
“Lex, he saved your life. That’s wonderful. You thanked him. That should be enough.”
“I bought him a truck,” Lex said almost to himself. “He returned it.”
“He’s my friend, Helen. He’s saved me–-a lot of times. A lot of ways. It’s hard to explain, but I need him in my life. Don’t ask me to give that up,” Lex said, and there was a note of clear warning in his voice. Helen accepted it as a challenge, but didn’t voice that thought.
“I would never do that, Lex,” she purred in his ear. “You can have everything you want. Everything.”
Chloe woke up covered in sweat, her thin cotton nightgown sticking to her skin. She’d been having the dream again. The same dream that had been haunting her since she’d first caught a glimpse of Dr. Helen Bryce. She didn’t understand why she was so fixated on someone she’d only seen a few times, but now after meeting her the dreams were even more intense, more vivid.
Chloe was so confused. Sometimes the luminous eyes in the dark were green–Clark’s eyes, the colour of meteor-rocks and fields of corn, and sometimes they were black, like Helen’s, like the ink that had spilled from Chloe’s pen as she’d hurried to get down all of Helen’s words.
Chloe looked at the sticky note on her alarm clock. “4:00, formal gardens.” Something was going on with Helen, something that involved Lex and the Kents, and Chloe was determined that she was going to investigate. She closed her eyes and tried to banish beautiful eyes and full lips from the corners of her thoughts.
“Clark.” Lex slid into the booth at The Talon and smiled at his best friend.
“Hey, Lex.” Clark grinned and moved his backpack so that Lex could move closer. Lex draped an arm casually around the back of the seat, his long fingers barely touching the edge of Clark’s jacket. Barely touching.
Helen stood behind the pillar and watched. Neither Lex nor Clark had seen her come in. They apparently only had eyes for one another. Helen felt a sharp stab of something inside her. She’d never been good at losing, and she didn’t know how to compete with the affections of a sixteen year old boy. She’d never had to worry about that before. She’d known Lex liked to walk on the wild side–she’d treated him for a drug and alcohol overdose in the emergency ward at Metropolis General when he was a teenager–and his reputation for being a ladies man and a man’s man was no secret. But still, she didn’t know how to feel about his relationship with Clark.
“You up for a game of pool later?” Lex asked, waving at the waitress to bring him a coffee.
“You up for getting beaten at your own game?”
Lex smirked. “You’re feeling pretty cocky, Clark.”
“You have no idea.” Helen watched as the two men’s eyes locked–Clark may have been young, but he certainly looked all grown up, particularly when he was focussing intently on something, like he was now. Focussing on Lex. Her Lex.
And she didn’t know for sure that anything was going on. In fact, she was pretty sure there was nothing between them or else Lex wouldn’t be so eager to have her in his life. She didn’t think that Lex was the type to let convention stand in the way of something he wanted. If those looks were anything to go by, if something wasn’t going on between them yet, it would be soon. Clark didn’t seem nearly as naive as she’d thought.
Lex leaned forward slightly, voice dropping to a sultry register. “Think you can take me?”
“Yeah, I think I can take you, Lex,” Clark said, his voice also low. Helen shivered at the undertone of sexuality in both their voices. She wasn’t sure she’d ever be able to look at the pool table in quite the same way.
“I taught you everything you know.”
“Yeah, but I’ve learned a few tricks on my own.”
“Really?” Lex seemed intrigued. Helen had to strain to hear him. It was as if there were no one else in the room except the two of them. Helen had seen that look before–had felt it turned on her–that feeling of being the only person in the entire world. When Lex looked at you, nothing else existed.
“I’ve been working on some new moves. I know you like a challenge,” Clark said.
“Yes, I do admire stiff competition,” Lex agreed.
“You’re going to have to work for every shot, every ball.”
“I guess I’ll have to roll up my sleeves.”
“Prepare to sweat a little.”
Helen could feel her face flush. Her boyfriend was shamelessly flirting with a teenage boy in the middle of a public coffee shop–and the teenage boy was flirting right back. The two of them were still sitting too close, eyes too focussed. Helen felt jealousy grab her like a steel fist. Perhaps that meeting with Lionel would offer her some relief. She hated being played for a fool, and she hated to lose.
“I’m worried, Clark. I hope I’ll be able to handle it.”
“I think you'll be able to, but you’ll definitely need to be in top form tonight.”
“I’m in top form every night, Clark,” Lex said, accepting his coffee from the waitress and handing her a five. He waved off the change. Clark laughed and started to pile his books into his bag.
Helen tuned out the rest of their conversation and slipped towards the entrance. All she’d really wanted was a decent coffee and a break from the hospital. She hadn’t wanted to see this, hadn’t wanted to know what she’d already suspected. Whatever feelings Lex might have for her, however determinedly he might pursue her, she would never be able to compete with an angel-faced farm boy who always seemed to be in the right place at the right time where Lex was concerned. Even if Clark was just flirting, it was only a matter of time before Lex pushed hard enough to get a real response, and knowing Lex, Clark would have a hard time resisting–especially if he really did care for Lex as much as seemed to. Lex was pretty damn hard to resist when he’d made up his mind he wanted something. Or someone.
Helen closed the door quietly behind her. From the street, she could see the two of them still huddled together through the window. Clark was pulling on his backpack, and Lex was laughing at something he was saying. Helen quickened her pace and checked her watch. She was going to be late for her appointment if she didn’t hurry. She suspected that it wouldn’t be wise to keep Lionel Luthor waiting.
Chloe pushed aside a small branch and wondered again what had possessed her to hide out in the formal gardens of the Luthor mansion. So far, all she’d gotten for her troubles was twigs in her hair and a scratched arm from where she’d inadvertently tangled with a rosebush. A rosebush with distinctly green blossoms, and she was definitely not going near that section of the garden again. She was already freaked out by the perpetually frozen lake that she’d had to skirt around when sneaking onto the property, and if she hadn’t known better, she could’ve sworn that there was the outline of a body frozen beneath the ice. Best not to look too closely where the Luthors were concerned, she thought, and settled in to wait.
She didn’t have to wait long. Lionel Luthor, guided by one of the household staff, settled onto a stone bench across the courtyard from Chloe’s hiding place. She wasn’t sure that she’d be able to hear anything that was said, but it was too late to move now. Helen, looking calm and cool in a dark navy suit, emerged from the other side of the garden and moved to join Lionel on the bench.
They spoke for a few moments in low undertones, Chloe straining to catch the words. She thought she made out Lex and Clark’s names, and maybe the Kents, but the two of them were speaking too quietly for Chloe to hear. She wished she’d taken the time to get into a better position. She raised her digital camera and snapped a few shots, although she wasn’t sure what she was planning to do with them. Helen was beautiful, dark against the grey sky and green shrubbery. She seemed angry, and Chloe thought she heard her mention money. At one point she stood as if to go. Lionel reached up a hand and grasped her arm. Chloe snapped more photos. She watched as Lionel said something, and gently stroked Helen’s arm as if trying to soothe her. It looked a little creepy to Chloe, but Helen seemed satisfied and sat back down.
Lionel spoke for a few more moments, then patted Helen’s hand. Helen pulled away, but she was nodding. Chloe got the feeling that she’d agreed to something she wasn’t entirely comfortable with. Chloe snapped another photo and slipped the camera into her bag. She backed carefully away from the hedge that was concealing her, and headed back towards the mansion. She’d left her car parked behind the servants’ residence. All she wanted to do now was get home and look at the pictures she’d taken. If nothing else, she’d have a tangible example of the face that had been haunting her dreams.
Chloe was moving quietly along the stone wall of the servants’ quarters when she felt a hand roughly seize her shoulder and spin her around. Chloe’s eyes opened wide with fear when she saw who it was that had caught her sneaking back to her car.
“Helen,” Chloe breathed. She was suddenly at a loss for words.
Helen leaned in closer and pressed Chloe’s body against the wall. The stone felt cold against her back. Chloe’s bag fell loosely to the ground.
“Chloe,” Helen murmured, her mouth close to Chloe’s skin. “What did you hear?”
“Nothing,” Chloe whispered, knowing it sounded like a lie, even though it wasn’t. She’d been too far away to actually hear anything, only close enough to snap a few pictures of Helen and Lionel. She suspected their conversation had something to do with money and favours, but she had no more proof of that than she had of Clark’s secrets. She had nothing to go on.
“You’re lying, Chloe,” Helen said, her grip on Chloe’s arms tightening.
“I didn’t hear anything, I swear,” Chloe said more sharply. She looked into Helen’s eyes, willing her to believe.
“So what were you doing?”
“I... I was...” Chloe struggled for an answer. She closed her eyes and offered up the truth. “I was following you.”
That was clearly not the answer Helen had been expecting, but it only seemed to shake her for a moment. She leaned closer, and Chloe could smell the other woman’s perfume–musky, with a hint of jasmine. It was heady, and Chloe struggled to stay focussed. She knew she was in danger, even though she didn’t think Helen would hurt her. There were other kinds of danger.
“You were following me?” Helen repeated. “Why?”
“Because... I’ve been thinking about you. Dreaming about you.” Chloe opened her eyes and saw Helen look at her skeptically. She plunged ahead. “I couldn’t get you out of my mind, and I just wanted to see you again.” Chloe hated that it was the truth, that it sounded so desperate and pathetic. It was the same kind of overwhelming need she felt around Clark, and she couldn’t explain that either.
“I didn’t figure you for the stalker-type, Chloe,” Helen said darkly, but she was smiling. Her grip on Chloe’s arm lessened, but she didn’t let go. Chloe could feel her skin tingling where Helen was touching her.
“I’m not. I jus... I can’t explain it,” Chloe said helplessly. “Sometimes I get crazy when I like someone.”
“And you like me?” Helen asked, taking a step closer. Chloe could feel the smooth material of Helen’s suit brush against her clothing. Helen was quite a bit taller than her, and Chloe found herself forced to tilt her head upwards to see her properly. Her eyes were so close, so dark, and Chloe found she was once again in danger of drowning in those eyes. “Do you really like me, Chloe?”
“But you like Clark, too,” Helen whispered, surveying her face. Chloe nodded. She wasn’t sure where this was going, but she seemed helpless to resist. “What is it about Clark Kent that makes everyone in this town want him?”
Chloe didn’t know how to answer that, so she said nothing. She wasn’t even sure how the topic of Clark had come up anyway. Helen was still close, close enough to touch, but she was looking past Chloe now, staring at the chill grey stone of the wall.
“Everyone wants Clark. You do. Lionel does. Lex does.” Chloe stared at the other woman. The bitterness in her voice was palpable. “At least you admit it, Chloe. You’re honest. I like that. I like that a lot.” Chloe could feel Helen’s hands rubbing gently up and down her arms. Chloe trembled at the touch.
“So maybe we can help each other out, Chloe,” Helen was saying. “Maybe we can both have everything we want.”
Chloe felt a surge of warmth as the soothing voice from the dream was right in front of her, breathing on her skin, making her feel alive. “What can I do?” Chloe asked breathlessly. She would do anything. Her body wouldn’t resist anything Helen wanted.
Helen’s eyes were suddenly on Chloe, dark and huge, pupils overwhelming the whites like a total eclipse. All Chloe could see was blackness.
“Do you know what it’s like to make love to someone and know that he wants someone else? Someone he might never have, but still someone who is so close to wanting him back that the room seems to crackle when the two of them are in it. Lex touches me, but it’s not me he wants. Do you know who he wants, Chloe?”
Chloe started to shake her head, then stopped. She let out the breath she’d been holding. Yes, she knew.
“Clark,” she whispered. It was so obvious; it had always been so obvious. The two of them were drawn to each other. When they were together, everything else seemed to pale beside their destiny. It was like standing in the shadow of the sun, knowing that the heat would never touch you. She’d watched the two of them enough–seen them argue, seen them touch, stare at each other, fight for each other, save each other. Why hadn’t she ever realized it was so much more than friendship?
“Yes, he wants Clark, and Clark wants him, although he doesn’t know it yet. But he’s getting closer all the time,” Helen said. “Clark just needs a reason to step over that line, and Lex will keep pushing, keep pulling him closer. If Clark comes to him, if Clark offers himself to Lex, there’ll be no going back. Do you understand, Chloe?”
Chloe shook her head. She felt as if the world were spinning out of control. She felt hot and cold. The stone was rough against her shoulder, and Helen was closer than ever. Chloe could feel the heat of Helen’s body pressed long and lean against hers as she talked.
“Lex and Clark. If the two of them connect, there’ll be no room for anyone else in their lives. Ever. They will protect each other or they’ll destroy the world trying. I’ve seen it in the way they look at each other. And you have too.”
Chloe let out a shuddering breath. God, yes, the two of them together would be something unfathomable... something so powerful that she couldn’t even begin to name it. It would be like passion and salvation and apocalypse all at once. Maybe it would be destiny. Love.
“What do you want from me?” Chloe finally asked, embarrassed that her voice sounded so young, so fragile, as if she might shatter at any moment. She felt Helen’s heat shift against her, her small breasts brushing against Chloe’s softer curves.
“Everything,” Helen murmured, and leaned in to kiss her. “Everything.”
Chloe sat in her car in the driveway of the Luthor mansion, trying to make sense of what had happened. She’d tried to go home, but ended up driving around for an hour, her thoughts circling like jackals. She eventually gave up and found herself back at the mansion, sitting in her car. She had a feeling she was waiting for something. A sign. Someone to tell her what to do.
Her lips were still tingling from Helen’s kisses. Chloe closed her eyes and tried to remember what exactly had happened. There had been dark eyes and warm lips and hands that were at once too gentle and too rough. She’d wanted more, wanted something harder and she’d wrapped her arms around the other woman instinctively, pulled her closer. She’d been surprised at Helen’s body, tight and firm, not soft like her own, not wide and smooth like Clark’s either. Helen was something different, something entirely new, and she’d responded to her with a flush of heat everywhere.
Chloe touched her lips, trying to understand how that mouth, those eyes could make her want to give up everything. Only Clark had ever made her feel that way before–-Clark, who everyone seemed to want... except Helen. Helen wanted Lex-–and maybe her. Maybe. But she definitely wanted Lex, and Chloe understood that kind of wanting. She’d wanted Clark for so long it was like a dull ache in her side that refused to go away. The pain had become almost pleasant. Familiar. Chloe understood what need could do, what want could do. She understood the need for a plan.
Chloe could keep Clark occupied, keep him happy. Keep him away from Lex. And Helen would do the same for Lex. In keeping the two men apart, there would be the chance to sow the seeds of deception, unrest, mistrust. They would grow apart. They would cease to be two magnets trying to reach each other. The bond would weaken. Break. There might be room for someone else to slip in unnoticed, like a note beneath the door.
And, Helen had whispered, there could be more. Stolen kisses against cold stone. Dark hallways and promises of pleasure that Chloe had only allowed herself to feel in her dreams. She remembered Helen’s hands brushing over her, lips murmuring in her ear, the slick dart of a tongue that made her blood sing and her flesh tremble. Helen had said she could have everything–Clark and Helen and a body alive with wanting. She felt the faint markings of a bruise against her throat, knew that it would disappear in the daylight, that she would never have to explain the scent of jasmine on her clothes, or the curved half-moons of nails pressed into her skin like longing. She could have everything. And more.
Chloe sat there until the shadows started to lengthen, the car growing cold around her. She wasn’t at all startled when she heard a car pull into the main driveway, saw the beam of headlights cutting a ribbon of light into the side of the mansion. She suddenly knew what she needed to do. She stepped out of her car.
Helen stood in Lex’s study and tried to smile. Things had been going fine with Lex. They’d had a number of dates–alone, without Clark hanging around–and she felt like things were working out just as she’d planned. Just as she’d hoped. And with Chloe Sullivan on her side now, well, there wasn’t a lot that could stand in the way of getting what she wanted. Maybe more than she’d ever wanted before.
“Sorry I’m late. Had a patient go into cardiac arrest, and saying ‘Sorry, I have a date’ might have come off as slightly insensitive.” Helen chuckled. She clutched her black evening back a little tighter. Lex was just staring at her, left hand resting thoughtfully against his mouth. His blue eyes were clear... and angry. Helen was taken aback. This was a different kind of anger than what had landed him in the Anger Management course with her. This was cold. This was what betrayal looked like from the other side. She shivered and wished she’d thought to bring something more substantial than a scarf to cover her bare shoulders.
“Patient’s fine now. Thanks for asking,” she said, trying to lighten the moment. Had he found out about her plan? Had he realized she was trying to keep him and Clark apart? Had he learned something about Chloe?
“You told me you never met my father,” Lex said thrusting a file folder in her direction. Helen glanced at the array of photos. Her meeting with Lionel Luthor in the garden. Had it only been a week ago? The photos were clear. The photographer had been close. That bitch, Helen thought, trying to back-pedal in her mind. She’d liked Chloe, liked her entirely too much. Liked her soft skin and innocent mouth and eager hands, her body and spirit both pliable, both willing to be shaped by someone with a plan.
“Who took these photographs?” Helen asked, already knowing the answer, and knowing that Lex would lie to her, just as she would lie to him. The game wasn’t over. It was just beginning.
“A private investigator.”
“You had me followed?” Helen didn’t have to pretend to be angry.
“No, I had my father followed,” Lex said casually, as if fathers and sons behaved this way all the time. Helen remembered what Lionel had wanted, what he’d asked of her, what he’d wanted her to do... and she shook her head. The Luthors were more fucked up than she’d ever realized. No wonder she felt at home here. “Unless you both share a passion for feeding pigeons, there must be a reason for you meeting. How long have you been working for him?”
Helen stared at him. He was far too close to the truth, and he could never know it. Not if she wanted to have everything. It could still work, but he had to come to her. She narrowed her eyes and lowered her voice. “It took me five dates to figure it out. You’re delusional.”
“A 100,000 dollars wired into your bank account from LuthorCorp–-is that a delusion?”
“You checked my bank account?” The anger was back, like an old friend. It would help her here. It would convince him that she wasn’t lying. She could do righteous indignation with the best of them, and he’d had a lifetime of being made to feel guilty for misinterpreting people’s actions. Yes, Lionel had given her that much to go on.
“After I discovered you were having a tete-a-tete with my father, I ran a complete background check. I imagine those two weeks a year you spend in Rwanda treating orphan children does wonders for your conscience.” Helen winced. He’d definitely been trained by someone who knew just how far to drive the knife in, and when to twist. Well, so had she.
“Who are you?” she asked, shaking her head and looking at him with contempt.
“Someone who’s been burned by the opposite sex more times than he cares to admit.” Lex rose from his chair with the sinewy grace she’d come to expect from him. He was like a spring uncoiling. Or a snake. “So tell me, why does a Harvard-educated physician, a woman of supposed integrity, accept a six-figure sum to spy on a man she claims to have feelings for?”
Helen refused to be intimidated. She knew how to use her body like a weapon. She stepped in close and held his gaze. “First of all, I don’t remember claiming anything of the sort. And second of all, if you think I’m going to put up with your pathetic, paranoid attempts at invading my privacy, you’re even more arrogant than everyone said you were.”
She brushed past him as she left, strong even strides towards the door of the study, slamming it as she left. She knew he would stare after her, wonder if he had made a mistake. She wondered when Chloe had gone to him, if she’d betrayed her the very day she’d taken the pictures. If that were the case, it had still taken Lex a week to confront her. He needed to make sure. He needed to do his own investigating. There was a chance Helen could make this work. She kicked herself for not thinking to check Chloe's bag. She'd been... distracted.
Helen knew Lex would call Chloe, double-check if she'd overheard anything, ask her again to recount everything she had seen, every movement. Chloe would be unable to help him make a decision. Finally, he would have to decide whether to believe her or not. Trust her or not. He would remember long nights of exploring her smooth skin, hands mapping every curve and angle, like he was conquering new territory. He would remember sliding into her warmth, thrusting hard inside her, and whispering her name. He would remember how she pretended not to notice when he’d whispered something else in a moment of weakness, a moment of passion. He would remember her dark hair, full mouth, her huge eyes, and he would know that she might be as close as he would ever come to having what he really wanted, who he really wanted.
Then he would call, and she would let it ring. She wouldn’t return his call. She would let the messages pile up. She would let him think and re-think and re-examine. He would begin to believe that there was a reasonable explanation, and he would need to know what it was. He would need to hear it from her.
Then he would find her. Maybe at the hospital. Or The Talon. He would find her and ask for an explanation, and she would give him one. She would have time to create one that would be acceptable, one that would push all the right buttons. She would mention his father. She would make him feel guilty, think he’d misjudged her. By then, he would be desperate to believe it. He would apologize for being who he was, for being unable to trust, to love, for not being as good a man as he believed he could be. He would beg her to reconsider. He would ask her for help and forgiveness, things he had never asked for from anyone. He would trust her where he didn’t trust himself.
And he would be mistaken.
Yes. She could still have everything. Even without Chloe Sullivan.
Helen smiled as she let herself out of the mansion.
Chloe hung up the phone, exhausted. Lex had insisted she go over everything about the afternoon with Lionel and Helen in the garden. Again. She’d already told him everything she knew, everything she was willing to tell him. She hadn’t heard anything. All she had done was take the pictures. She knew he’d done his own investigating since then. She just wanted to be left out of it. She wanted to move on.
Chloe stared at the small screen of her digital camera. Helen’s perfect face was still there, leaning towards Lionel in the garden. Every curve of her face, every slight shadow was clear. Chloe felt herself shiver. She’d done what she felt she had to do–she’d given the photos to Lex. He’d promised her that Helen would never know that she was the source, but Chloe knew it was no use. Helen would know. She would know with absolute certainty that it had been Chloe.
Chloe put a hand to her lips, as if she could still feel the imprint of Helen’s lips on her own. Making her shiver, making her melt. She would never have that again. Ever.
Helen had said she could have everything. For a moment, it had seemed possible. With her back against the cold stone and lips pressed against her skin, hands touching her all over, she had believed that anything was possible. Everything. And she had even thought for a moment that she could do it. She could betray Clark, betray Lex, betray what she could so clearly see between them. And she would have done it gladly just to keep those lips on her skin, those hands roaming over her flesh.
Except she’d waited too long and she’d thought too much, and she knew in her heart that as much as she wanted Clark, she didn’t want him like this. She would only ever be second choice. Consolation. Not Lex. She didn’t think she could deal with that, even with Helen’s whispers and promises. With everything.
Chloe sighed and looked at Helen’s image once more. Those eyes were so dark and beautiful. Full of shadows and promises. Chloe suspected that Lex wouldn’t be able to let her go, even though he knew the truth, knew that she was meeting with his father. Chloe wondered what kind of explanation Helen would give him, what she would tell him to convince him that it was innocent.
Chloe smiled. As if anything about Helen was innocent.
Chloe’s finger hovered lightly over the camera’s controls.
“Delete all pictures?” The blinking text seemed to taunt her, dare her to get rid of the evidence. It didn’t matter anymore. Lex had copies of everything and it was up to him now. It was his game to play. Chloe knew when she’d been out-played. Beaten. The fact that she had reclaimed a piece of her integrity seemed a hollow victory.
She rubbed her finger lightly across the button, almost a caress. She sighed and pressed it, watching the screen grow dark.