Another Girl's Paradise
by Kaite

How could I resist?
You are desire.
- 'Another Girl's Paradise', Tori Amos

I - A Sorta Fairytale

Somewhere along the line, Chloe Sullivan has turned not being Lana Lang into an art form. Lana is Walt Disney's Snow White, Chloe sees herself more as Drew Barrymore in Ever After. No more waiting for her prince, since it was painfully obvious that he was never going to come, never going to realize that it was her he really wanted, because it wasn't. The thing is, Chloe doesn't blame him.

It started as checking out the competition, but the truth is, Lana notices Chloe in a way Clark never did. They were never quite friends, not when Clark stood between them. Of course, if it hadn't been for Clark then Chloe would never have seen her as anything more than the glossy magazine-cover girl image she projects to the rest of the world. And Clark was Lana's in everything but name, so of course Chloe wanted him. They even looked alike -- dark hair and pale skin, huge eyes you could lose yourself in. She imagined kissing Clark because it was easier than imagining kissing Lana. Clark was the one she was supposed to want. That was how things went. The best friend who didn't even know she existed. You didn't fall for the girl your best friend loved. Apparently, Chloe did. Then again, she's always been individual.


II -- Another Girl's Paradise

Lana wants to get inside Chloe's skin. She figures any life lived like that would be better than the one she has now. She imagines what it would be Chloe Sullivan, investigative reporter. Chloe Sullivan, best friend of Clark Kent. Anything except Lana Lang, ex- head cheerleader; Lana Lang, the woman Clark idolizes. One day he's going to wake up and realize that she's not as perfect as he thinks she is, as everyone thinks she is. No doubt he'll feel as cheated as she did when she woke up and realized the same thing.

It's a relief to be around Chloe, the one person who would like nothing more than for Lana to tumble down off her pedestal. The one person in town for whom her perfection is just an irritating character flaw. She's so sick of the so-called friends, the acolytes, of all the people who let her believe that it was all about her.


III -- The Waitress

The chairs are stacked neatly; all except for the one Lana is sitting at. One long slim hand spread on the table as she applies a coat of green nail varnish. Chloe isn't close enough to see whether or not she smudges any, but she doesn't have to be. Goopy green nail stuff would never dare spoil the flawless Lana Lang image. She snorts at this, making Lana glance up, with a jump. Feeling guilty for startling her, feeling guilty for standing there in the first place, ogling her like the flocks of teenage boys who populate Smallville, Chloe steps out of the shadows.

"Hey. Just me. Didn't mean to scare you. The...uh...the door was open. Just saying hi." Her voice trails off and she clamps her lips closed before she can mangle the sentence any further. Lana looks relieved. If she's masking the disappointment that her late night visitor isn't Clark she's a better actress than Chloe ever gave her credit for. Then again, she's a lot of things that Chloe never gave her credit for.

"Chloe, hey. Want a coffee?"

"Amazingly enough, no. I think I've exceeded my caffeine intake for one day by a frightening amount."

"We have decaff..."

"Forget it. Crime against nature."

They laugh, and the tension ebbs away by a few percentage points. Chloe's never been one for small talk -- words are too important to squander on the kind of frivolity the kids at school use them for. Lana seems content to sit in silence, painting the nails of her other hand with the same hypnotizing strokes while Chloe watches, thoughtfully.

"I've always wondered something...."

Lana glances up, shadows lancing across skin that seems to be a little more flushed than normal.

"What, Chloe?" Her voice is huskier than Chloe's used to and it takes all her willpower to keep her own from trembling.

"How do you get it to not smudge?" At that moment in time, that is the lamest question Chloe has ever heard. And as a fledgling reporter in charge of a lot of other fledging reporters, she's heard a lot.

"How do I get what to do what?"

"Your nails. How do you get the color not to smudge?"

Somehow, Chloe is holding one of Lana's hands in her own, to illustrate the point. The warmth of her skin is surprising. In her more uncharitable moments, Chloe had half-expected her to be made of ice, like the beautiful sculptures she saw on TV once. Hard, chilly and untouchable. But it turns out that Lana Lang is human after all. Soft skin that doesn't feel like velvet or silk any of the nauseous euphemisms they use in romance novels. It just feels like skin, with the pulse in her wrist throbbing against Chloe's palm. All of a sudden, Lana feels a hell of a lot closer than she did before, a smile arching its way across gentle features.

"You know, I never thought about that. It just...doesn't I guess."

"Oh." Chloe has nothing left to say about that, but her brain fights for excuses to keep holding Lana's hand.

"Is that what you came here for? Make-up tips?"

With the gradual realization that she's not letting go of Lana's hand, comes the realization that Chloe doesn't know what she came here for. But she knows she's not leaving until she gets it.


IV - Spark

The words are out of Lana's mouth before she can take them back. For one thing, the idea of Chloe asking anyone for make-up tips is ridiculous in itself. She doubts Chloe has ever had to ask for advice in her life. It also raises the question of what Lana wants her to be here for. Chloe's the twist in the already tangled tale of Clark Kent and Lana Lang, and as much as she'd like things to be simple, she knows enough to realize it's not going to happen anytime soon. Whatever she does next. Even in the dark, she can see Chloe blushing -- one of the things Lana loves about her is how honest her face is, the way you can see her emotions play out in a crinkle of her nose or the quirky smile her lips form no matter how hard she tries to prevent them. She's amazed at how obtuse Clark must have been to never have noticed how Chloe felt about him. But the more the silence drags on and the pinker Chloe's cheeks get, the more Lana appreciates that Clark as unrequited love object is firmly in the past.

"Y'know, I don't....I mean, I was just walking past. I thought I'd stop by."

Chloe tries to pull back her hand, but Lana grips it tightly, feeling their wrists brush against each other. Their pulses are pounding in sync and maybe it's this, or maybe it's Chloe's perfume that makes her run her fingers up Chloe's arm, feeling soft, trembling skin. Her breathing is ragged and her eyes are half- closed, and when Lana reaches the sleeve of her t-shirt and traces the skin there with a freshly-painted fingernail, Chloe moans. As Lana pulls back, she notices a smear of bright green.

"Um, Chloe? I smudged it." Lana is still smiling when Chloe crushes her lips to hers and her original suspicion that Chloe wouldn't need tips for anything is confirmed.


V - Bliss

Chloe can taste Lana's lipgloss, and when she pulls back and runs her tongue across her lower lip, the apple flavoring coats her tongue. It mixes with her own chapstick and bubblegum taste and somehow it tastes best that way. As Lana's tongue slips into her mouth, she reaches up and runs her hands through long dark hair. Her last coherent thought is that looking like a Disney heroine is vastly underrated.


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