by dafnap

Chloe likes girls.

She has come to this conclusion after a particularly heinous cup of coffee, some mocha-frappo-columbian travesty that she hadn't meant to order, but drinks anyway. Lana had given it to her, leaning in over the steaming cup and grinning that wide smile that Chloe couldn't refuse. Lana made it just for her; she thought Chloe would like it. It was coffee, and Chloe liked coffee, right? That was Chloe's 'thing'.

It was horrible coffee, too cloyingly sweet, too painfully dense; Chloe can't decide whether to chew or swallow. Lana is sitting on the edge of the bar though, her legs crossed at the ankles, the bottom of her shirt riding up. Chloe catches a little peak of skin on her stomach, a little sliver of belly button and she finds a way to choke it down.

She wonders if she was too obvious.

It would be the only explanation, Chloe surmises, braving the foam and the powdered sugar disaster, the only reason why she was drinking this shit in the first place. Lana had smiled and Chloe couldn't really ever say no.

She wonders if this is a permanent thing; maybe it's one of those 24 hour colds; a little chicken soup, a day spent in bed and she can go back to being straight the next day.

She can't be all gay; not really. She likes Clark right? Clark, he's a boy, she tells herself: he's got boy hands and boy feet and a boy chest, and he smells like boy. Except when he doesn't. Sometimes, when they're working late after school, bent over computers, fingers aching from typing too slow while trying to go too fast; sometimes she can close her eyes and smell girl. And when she opens them again she can see only his lips, unnaturally flushed and red and she wonders how they would look like sans Y-chromosome; she doesn't imagine that it would look any different.

Lana grabs the coffee from her hands, dipping her tongue into the foam. Chloe can feel her cheeks simmer red; Lana giggles and Chloe looks down.

Lana always wanted to be friends.

Chloe and Lana had never been close; never bosom buddies that giggled over the phone about the boy two desks down. She never whispered in Lana's ear, never remembered her birthday, and never passed notes to her during class. Even lately, though she offers Lana her home, hangs out with her during lunch, gives her rides to and from school, even now she doesn't feel particularly close to the girl. Lana is different from Pete or Clark. With Lana Chloe wants to hide pieces of herself; wants Lana to find them again. Seeing Lana everyday doesn't make Chloe want to get closer to her, not in the way that she could.

She doesn't want to be friends with Lana, she doesn't think she could handle it; it would be Clark all over again.

She's tired of being the friend; tired of being the support and the back to lean against, the shoulder to cry on, the myriad of clichˇs that seem to dictate her life. She's tired of hoping; hoping that things will change and she will finally slip into focus. She's not Lex with his cloying mystery; she's not Clark with his strong arms and big heart; least of all she's not Lana, so beautiful it hurts to talk sometimes.

Chloe babbles: she's Chloe, she's normal.

But she doesn't want to be normal; when Lana stays up at night to talk with her, to lean in her pillow and whisper about the day Chloe wants to tell her to shut up. She wants to tell Lana to shut up about Clark and about Whitney and about Math third period and just stop talking. Couldn't Lana just stop talking and kiss her?

And that's not normal, Chloe tells herself, that's not who she is; she likes guys. She likes people like Clark, like Lex, like all the boys that tried to kill her; she liked ölikes- them. Not Lana, not Carrie from English, not the girl at the supermarket with the flipped out red hair and blue eyes. No. She likes boys, because liking boys is normal and she's tired of being weird. She's tired of being the girl without a boyfriend, without a mom, without a clue.

She gets it, she really does.

Chloe finds herself endlessly fascinated by the tiniest things: the green rocks that glow, the obituaries, the Luthors, the spot where Lana's cheek meets her ear. Sometimes she writes articles about them; sometimes she doesn't tell anyone, least of all herself. What squiggy feelings does she have for girls? None. She likes boys; boys with soft hair and pursed lips and the tiniest hint of red on the cheeks. She's normal, as normal as she can be in Smallville where the only boys that like her are not: they are fraction-boys, ice- cool boys, boys with minds that have the power to /move/ her. And then there's the boy with plush lips and warm hands.

She doesn't really like girls; projection Freud says: so lost in Clark's eyes you match the blue with Lana's, you match the gold skin with long thighs that peak out under pig-pajamas; when she comes into your room with a toothbrush and lips tipped with foam, you don't want to lick SpongeBob Squarepant's Minty Sparkle from the corners of her mouth.

You want Clark. Clark is a boy. Clark is normal. Chloe is normal too; nothing is wrong with her, move along, nothing to see here. That's what the Wall of Weird is for.

But Chloe is not stupid. Projection works both ways, it can be a mirror reflecting upon another; endlessly convoluted, unable to tell who's reflecting who. She'll never be able to tell until she touches one, pulls it away and sees who peers back from beneath the glass. Projection works both ways and she wonders how long it has been playing in reverse.

When she comes home from the Torch, when she sees Lana studying on the couch, her lips slick from biting them over electrons and protons and neutrons; when Chloe looks a little too long at the form in the shower in the morning...she'll know why.

It doesn't change the fact that the coffee is still shit.


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