banking on the (good)will of others
by bantha fodder

Chloe fans herself with her bouquet, and hopes that no-one notices. The air around her shimmers with the heat, and Chloe can feel the perspiration running down the back of her neck. It is very unbecoming, but she is a woman, and therefore sweats, and there is nothing that she can do about it.

Afterwards, Chloe sits at the table reserved for the wedding party, and drinks the complementary wine. She listens to the murmurs of "it was a lovely ceremony," and "wasn't she beautiful?" and wonders what makes a ceremony lovely. Chloe doubts it was the flies, or the baby screaming in the back row. She knows it was not the words the pastor spoke, nor the bridesmaid's dresses. Perhaps it was the borrowed veil that Lana wore, passed down from Kent to Kent. Another small town tradition. She shuts her eyes and rolls the glass across her forehead. The wine inside is slowly warming, and the glass does not bring the cooling relief she is aching for.

Chloe watches Pete take a turn about the dance floor with a glowing Lana. A good glow, not a bad, meteorite-related glow. Lana laughs at something that Pete says, and they are dancing close enough to Chloe that she can hear Lana's laugh. Lana sounds happy, which is appropriate, as it is Lana's day too, not just Clark's.

Pete pauses on the edge of the dance floor, and the pause carries on too long as Lana looks on, puzzled, whilst Lex whispers in Pete's ear. He claps a hand on Pete's shoulder, and then moves on as Pete frowns and draws Lana back out into a spin.

They are actually very good dancers. Chloe is surprised, but knows she would not be if she had bothered attending the wedding rehearsals.

Clark is dancing with Mrs Kent, and Lex murmurs, "aren't the bridesmaids supposed to be the most popular girls at a wedding?" She can feel his breath on her ear as he seats himself, and it makes her feel slightly uncomfortable. She rolls her eyes at him.

"I don't believe you're a member of the wedding party, Lex," and it is a sign of the alcohol she has already consumed that she languidly slurs her words and does not care.

Lex grins. "It was unavoidable, that I would be called away mid-ceremony-"

"You're very busy. I know."

The music changes.

He smiles condescendingly and follows her glass with his eyes as she lifts it to her lips and sips. She grimaces: the white is too warm. He turns to gaze out into the room, and she turns away. She does not need to see what he does.

"How is the paper?" Lex questions idly, eyes still on the dancers. Chloe is not fooled; after all, Lex is too busy to waste time on polite chit chat. And she knows he did not come to the wedding out of friendship.

"It's terrible. Job cuts and reshuffling and suppressed stories about criminal dealings. It's difficult to get a story printed that's going to win me a Pulitzer, you know."

Lex takes the hint, and quietly swipes her wine when she is not looking.

Chloe plays with the glitter sprinkled on the table, and rakes it into a pile. After five minutes of ignoring each other, she has gathered all that she can reach without moving from her seat, and pushes it into her hand as Mr Kent approaches.

"Chloe!" Mr Kent throws his hands out exuberantly and exhorts her. "A beautiful girl like you owes the groom's father a dance!" Chloe smiles briefly and rises, looking at the glitter in her hands as Mr Kent reaches out a hand to her. She lifts her cupped hands above her head and slightly to her left, moving her hands apart just as they reach their zenith. The glitter drifts to the ground, and showers both herself and Lex in sparkles. He raises an eyebrow, and she grins.

She takes Mr Kent's hand and he leads her in an enthusiastic jive. She is lacking in skill and lacking in enthusiasm, and when she sees Lana with her head on Clark's shoulder she withdraws from Mr Kent, pleading tight, girlie shoes, and he relinquishes her with only a short protest.

Lex still sits beside her seat, and she would continue to wander, and perhaps venture outside, but he watches her and she will not back down from his gaze. She approaches him, and as she does, he changes colours in the light. She had forgotten the glitter, and the memory makes her smile.

He amuses her, and she tells him so. He does not believe her, but then, she did not expect that he would.

Lex Luthor is used to being a figure of mockery; of power; of deceit; he is not used to being amusing.

It displeases Lex that Chloe uses their past to colour her dealings with him now, but if he is honest, he knows that is only because she has formulated an opinion of him of which he disapproves.

He believes she does it to spite him, and her punishment will come tomorrow, when Lana and, more importantly Clark, are no longer in the country and too busy to be disturbed.

Lex rises as Chloe reaches him. "Goodnight, Miss Sullivan," he says, a mocking chivalry as he bows to her. She laughs briefly and curtsies, cheerful but ever cautious of what he offers. He smiles, and departs before the bride and groom do, without taking his leave, and uncaring for the portents.

When Chloe arrives at work in the morning, only to discover she no longer has a job, she will know exactly where to go. Lex will welcome her with open arms and she will greet him with a slap, but she will not leave until he has tied her to his side.

Lex makes his own luck.


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