Anyway You Slice It by Maveness
'Chloe knows, but half the fun is in the telling.' (pg-13)

Someone to Watch Over Me by SullivanLane
'Clark would always remember her that way, despite all that they had gone through.'  (pg)

Witness by Amy
'Before she could formulate any words, her
best friend was gone in a blur of light.' (pg)

A Faustian Bargain by Medie
'Chloe Sullivan puts it together...and finds herself with a choice to make.'  (g, stargate crossover)

A Definition of Power by Hope
'Since Chloe was being irrational anyway, why not go for the Unreasonable Hall of Fame?' (pg-13, s3 spoilers)

Americana Tails by Regina
'Chloe. Seriously. You‘ve known about me for almost a year now, and I‘ve spent the majority of that year doing your bidding.' (pg)

Fixate by JollyCynic
'When Chloe finds out, it's not Clark who makes her blood boil.' (pg-13, s3 spoilers)

Moment by Huffy the Campfire Slayer
'Chloe and Clark exchange their secrets and Clark ponders how the two of them can be walking such parallel paths, yet be on such different journeys.' (nc-17)

Windfall by Wiccid Sister
'An encounter in Burnham Woods leads to a discovery.'  (nc-17)

Countdown to the Inevitable by Tara O'Shea
'She'd known for seven years, four months, seventeen days, five hours, and twelve minutes by the time he finally figured out that she knew.'  (pg)

Twist by Chiriru
'Her own curiosity had made her hang on to the ring; it was her fault that he had it. She had to stop Clark before he hurt himself because of it.' (pg-13)

My Immortal by Paperbkryter
'She was tired of watching him bleed to death.' (nc-17)



Contributor Links:
* An Unexpected Snow
* Chandler's Field
* Chiriru.Net
* Comma Issues
* Crimson Idealist
* Lightstar Designs
* LondonRain.Net
* Maveness Delights
* Sarcastic Ramblings w/Regina
* Secrets-and-Lies.Com
* Tig-TV
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The chill water cascaded over her smooth, white shoulders, continued down her lightly freckled back, and ran along her birthmark before sliding down her legs and off of her. Her closed eyes pasted more images of him in her mind, and her hands moved to make the water even colder, to combat the steamy scenes playing out in her mind. A gasp escaped her lips, whether from the icy shock to her already burning skin, or the imagined warmth of his flesh along hers.

She pushed her way numbly out of the shower, and grasped desperately for her towel. Rich cotton swept the beads of water from the pale skin of her body, bringing unbidden fantasies flashing through her more insistently. The cooler shower had left no fog of condensed water on the mirror, but she brushed it with the towel out of habit, regardless, and stared hard into her own hazel-green eyes.

"You are going to stop thinking about Clark Kent that way, Ms. Sullivan," she ordered her reflection, "or you’re going to ruin a friendship, and the best thing going in your miserable, faltering life." She half-frowned at herself in disappointment, pushed away from the cool marble sink, and continued to dry herself off. She tried to distract her mind with thoughts of the Torch’s website, instead.

"No, not really. The layout is perfect the way it is, Chloe. But all the yellow and red is really harsh on the eyes. Have you thought about maybe some softer colors like pink or baby blue?"

Chloe’s startled response made it difficult to keep control of her stylish red Volkswagen, and she gave a wide-eyed look of shock at her roommate, Lana. "I don’t think Dr. Reynolds would …"

The lilting laugh that interrupted her let her know that Lana had only been teasing her. "I think that Dr. Reynolds has even less of a sense of humor than you do, this morning." Lana’s wide, always-moist eyes turned to Chloe with a look of earnestness. "What’s got you so worked up this morning? Where’s that famous Chloe Sullivan wit?"

Chloe sighed inwardly, not wishing to expose herself to her roommate. No matter what they went through together, no matter how estranged Clark and Lana became from each other, she’d never feel comfortable discussing him with her. The few times she’d tried, she’d felt a keen pang of anger at the smug pall she seemed to sense Lana pulling around herself. Even in the moments when Lana Lang wanted nothing to do with Clark, she still felt it necessary to find a way to point out that she’d always be Clark’s first choice. Being second best was on the list of a thousand different ways Chloe didn’t need to feel, right now.

There were times when Chloe’s only defense mechanism was to attack without thinking. It had nearly cost her relationships with best friends, her father, and, in the back of her mind, may have cost her the relationship she had with her mother. No matter what the consequences might be, she’d shoot first and aim later. Which is why she caught herself too late asking, "So what was the deal with that Adam guy, huh? I mean, if you hadn’t gone all Frequency on him, he could have been your last stalker."

On one hand, she knew that it wasn’t a nice topic to broach. On the other hand, Lana wasn’t likely to bring up Clark again.

"How can you say something like that, Chloe?" Lana petulantly demanded. Her lips squeezed together in some kind of pout, or maybe she was sucking something out from between her teeth. "All the men," she began, and stopped shortly before continuing, "and Tina, who have spent so much time, just to get to know me before … Before …"

"Before dying?" Chloe interrupted helpfully.

"Chloe!" Lana shouted at the top of her supersonic lungs. "That was mean! You don’t think I’ve felt each of those deaths on my conscience? You don’t think I worry myself to sleep every night thinking about every single one of them?"

Chloe practically hummed to herself with cheer as one of her hands pulled itself over the other to steer the car into the high school’s parking lot, and replied with, "Actually, Lana, I’m pretty sure you do. Remember, I can hear everything you do in bed at night."

Silent rage answered Chloe back, as Lana’s mouth opened wide in angry shock. Before she had to listen to the razor retort from Lana, however, Chloe unbuckled her seatbelt, opened the car door, and left. She turned back just prior to closing the door, however, and lifted a hand to indicate Lana’s burning cheeks. "Now that, Miss Lang, is a stunning shade of pink on you."

She hadn’t even gotten to Home Room, yet, and Chloe had already deliberately sabotaged one relationship, and her subconscious had done its best to make a mess of another. She mentally kicked herself for her weakness, and vowed that she’d find some way to make it up to Lana. She knew, though, that it’d involve countless hours of groveling, begging, and probably covering a few bonding trips to … the mall. It’d be worth it, though, to get her friend and her Talon latte privileges back.

It unnerved her that she had no clue where all this heat was coming from. There had been plenty of times when her emotions had gotten the better of her, but how she’d let herself get so far out of line today, with so little prompting, was completely beyond her. She wanted to get to the bottom of it and put a stop to it before she ended up doing some permanent damage. It was already too late to keep from saying something she’d regret.

As she walked, the heels of her sharp, avocado pumps echoed through the hallways even above the din of the school populous. Other students would bump and jostle with each other as they walked and passed, but she noticed she was given a wide berth. Several moments were spent analyzing this before she noticed the hard expression she wore on her face, the one she normally reserved for uncooperative interviews.

"Hey, Chloe!" she heard shouted from behind her, "Wait up!"

She closed her eyes to brace herself, to steel herself from what might come out of her mouth after what happened earlier, and slowly turned around. With a painted and plastic smile plastered onto her face, she opened her eyes, and mustered all the cheer she didn’t feel to say, "Hi, Clark. I was … hoping to run into you." She managed to get it out without stumbling over her own tongue, much.

His wide, bright smile faltered a bit as a brief look of concern darkened it, and he appeared to be taking in her features. "Is everything okay, Chloe?" His large, gentle hand, which she herself had seen lift people right into the air, breezed along her upper arm and shoulder, to rest carefully beside her face.

As much as she craved those dazzling smiles of his, this look, the one that said that your pain was more important than his own joy, was the one that grasped at her stomach and made her lose balance and find it hard to think of what he was asking or what he was looking at her like that for and is he waiting for some kind of response or … "Hmm?"

"Chloe? Is everything okay?" he asked again, his face taking on more of a worried look than concerned. A slight pressure from his hand, pulling her slightly toward him finally jarred her from her mental vacuum.

"What?" she asked. Her face was quickly schooled into a slightly offended, slightly mocking look, with her eyes wide, her eyebrows quirked, and her lips twitching toward a smile. "Of course everything is okay, Clark. This is high school, not one of your crime investigation scenes."

He leaned back, and his smile fought to triumph again on his broad face. "Crime investigation scenes are your venue, Chloe. I’m more about the farm, working with my hands, taking care of my dad’s cows." His tone was light again, and she found her smile becoming earnest because of it.

"Whatever, Clark," she shot back at him. "I’ve seen what you do best, and there aren’t a lot of lives to save on you father’s farm. Not including the cattle after a LuthorCorp toxic land spill conspiracy." She folded her arms in front of her tightly, and tried to look across to him rather than looking up at him. In the back of her mind, she was certain that added at least two inches to her height. "You’d do better to follow in my footprints than you would to follow in Jonathan Kent’s."

The loud barking sound that Chloe had come to expect as Clark’s laughter rang out suddenly. "I have a lot of respect for my dad. I can only hope I turn out half as well as he has. You might not do so bad to take some lessons from him yourself, Chloe."

With her eyebrows raising even higher, a look of bewilderment came across her face. "Me?" she asked, incredulous. "In a flannel shirt, carrying a pitchfork, and hounding my poor family with quaint farm sayings that don’t actually mean anything? This is for the talent show, right? The comedic stylings of Mr. Clark Kent?" Her head seemed to punctuate what she was saying by bobbing higher every so often.

Clark’s smile dimmed to his farm-boy grin, and he clapped her lightly on the back and started to walk away. "I’ve got to get to class, but Pete wanted me to get this to you. I think he said something about it being his article on the Spirit Week assembly."

"Oh, right," she quipped sarcastically after him as she caught the blue folder from his hands, "his assignment. Some people like to get these to me before I put the Torch to bed so I can actually print them!"

He turned around as he departed down the hallway, and walked backwards with his shoulders raised in a shrug around the straps of his backpack. He shouted back and was barely audible before he continued away again, saying, "That’s what e-mail’s for! Getting in after the deadline!"

All day long as she sat through classes, Chloe’s mind raced back to the shower she’d had before school, distracting her from her studies. His hand would brush along the gentle curves of her stomach, into her hips, just as a teacher would interrupt her, asking for her homework assignments. She could almost feel his lips, as they molded to her neck, fingers grasping desperately in her hair, before someone would tap her shoulder, asking for an extra pencil.

Her concentration was shot, and she was happy when she could retire to her own corner of the world in the Torch office, and get some kind of bearing on the day.

After half-heartedly adjusting the layout of the website, and typing Pete’s chicken-scratch handwriting into the computer, she’d come to realize that the most disturbing part of the day hadn’t been the shower, and hadn’t been behaving like a two-year-old with her roommate.

In point of fact, she’d decided that she’d treated Lana exactly as a sister would have, and thought the two of them may even find some degree of solace in that. She was understandably shaken over the intensity of the feelings she’d gone through that morning, and she’d lashed out at Lana when the conversation threatened to expose a fresh vulnerability. That was all perfectly understandable to her, even if she wasn’t happy with the way that she had chosen to react.

What was really bothering her was that despite the insistent fantasies that had wrestled her in the shower, and then all throughout the day, she had felt nothing of it when standing face to face with the object of her attraction. It had been like every other time she’d been near him. He excited her, he delighted her, he melted her very heart with that grin of his. But he didn’t ignite her, make her burn and smolder as even the memory of the fantasy was doing to her.

She sighed, and noticed one of her hands trying to twist her hair around a glittery blue pen. She dropped the pen, and brushed her fingers through the hair at her temples, unconsciously feathering it in frustration. The man in her fantasy, she forced herself to realize, was just that: a man in a fantasy. He may have looked like Clark, but he wasn’t Clark. He was more passionate than Clark. He took what he wanted, and that made her feel even more desired in the daydream. He even scared her a little, and she had to admit to herself that she even found that to be sexy.

No, Clark Kent was not the man in her fantasy. They were two different …

"Oh, my God!" Chloe shouted as she surged straight up out of her chair. The wheeled office chair glided noisily back before stumbling into Pete’s desk and knocking some garish action figure to the ground. "They’re two different men!"

There was only one time in Chloe’s life that she had ever felt anything but perfectly safe in the presence of Clark. When Clark had been living in Metropolis under the pseudonym of Kal, she knew he was different. She knew that he wasn’t himself, and she knew it had something to do with that damned ring of his. One of the main things she prided herself on as a reporter was paying attention to details. The last time that Clark had been acting like Kal was when he was running around with Jessie Brooks, wearing the same ring.

Chloe wasn’t shocked to think that Clark and Kal were two different men. She’d known that since first laying eyes on Kal. He was a wild version of Clark, untamed and dangerous. She was shocked to think that Clark and the man in her fantasy were two different men.

She was fantasizing about Kal.

With a buzzing in her ears that drown out all thought, she walked emotionlessly to the filing cabinet. Almost as an automaton, she reached into her pockets to withdraw the key, and unlocked the top drawer. Her face was slack without emotion as she withdrew a metal box which filled her arms. With a hollow clunk, she managed to set it onto a nearby desk, and she sat down to unlock and open it.

The metal case wasn’t what was left of her Wall of Weird, but it was related. The Wall had been intended to be kept private, away from prying eyes. But every week it seemed as though someone new had become obsessed with her Wall of Weird, and almost always unhappy with it. The case was different. Where the Wall of Weird had held rumors of unsolved mysterious phenomena, and sometimes what her friends had helped her uncover, the case held proof of the things she’d discovered and wished to keep a secret. She’d never shown it or even mentioned it to anybody else, but to herself, she called it her Box of Bizarre.

She didn’t know how Lionel Luthor had never managed to get his hands on the Box of Bizarre. She imagined that he would assume that someone like Chloe would trust computer encryption algorithms over a couple of flimsy padlocks. Or maybe he’d been through the Box long ago, and was just toying with Chloe now for his own ends. A feeling like a spider running down the nape of her neck made her shiver uncomfortably.

As she pushed the lid open, her eyes raked over the materials inside. Mostly she sifted through hard copies of photographs she had taken with her digital camera. There were also autopsy reports, medical reports, psychological profiles, all of which she’d managed to copy under the noses of some of her many contacts. Many other items had been spirited away from the Daily Planet just in time when her column was cancelled. Stray green rocks positively littered everything else in the box, and she brushed them all aside to pull some items from the very bottom.

She had long ago stopped investigating Clark. It was not, however, because of her altruistic moral outrage at Lionel Luthor. It was not as the personal favor to Clark that she had led him to believe. She would have stopped looking into his background, again, for that reason, but it really no longer mattered.

Chloe Sullivan was no longer investigating Clark Kent, because Chloe Sullivan already knew.

She knew everything. A photograph of a vial of blood and a lab report on the vial was shuffled to the side. She knew about his blood chemistry. A photograph of a vial of clear liquid was behind it, with another lab analysis. She knew about the platelets. She lifted out a heavy, metal plate that had used as a mold for something octagonal, which had cost her more than she was willing to admit. She knew about the key, she knew about the caves. She took out a cheap Smallville High School ring with a fake ruby, and slipped it onto her finger. She knew about Kal.

She didn’t know how the ring worked, but she knew what it did well enough. It turned mild-mannered Clark Kent into the man she couldn’t erase from her mind, the man she couldn’t stop thinking about, despite how much he had once terrified her.

When he was wearing the ring, it was like a drug to him. He wasn’t in control of his own actions, as if acting on impulse alone. Somehow, Chloe understood that right then. She yearned to act on impulses of her own, to take the ring down to the Kent farm and see if Clark himself would know that he was under its power if she kept it hidden from him. Maybe he’d think she was the one causing him to forget who he was, to give into his desires. Maybe he’d just think that she was his one desire that he couldn’t resist …

With great difficulty, she shuffled the photographs and other evidence back into her Box of Bizarre, and safely locked it again. She secured it in its filing cabinet, and locked her computer for the night. She lifted her hand to flick the light switch on her way out, only to have the lights glint off the ring she had forgotten to take off.

"Oh no!" she exclaimed to herself with an exasperated grunt. "Well, I suppose I can wait another three minutes to put it back before going to the Talon to make peace with Lana." She had just slipped the ring back off her finger when a small gust of wind brushed past her from the door opening.

"Chloe! Good, you’re still here," Clark said excitedly. "I was thinking I might get a little help on my paper?"

Chloe exhibited all the desire to move of Stonehenge. Her mind, however, would even have outpaced one of Clark’s Smallville to Metropolis jaunts, as she raced to find a quick way out of the mess. "Uh, sure, Clark …" she said haltingly. "Just let me get …"

In the end, though, it was too late to find a quick way out. He had set his backpack down next to her, his strong fingers brushing past her as he did. Unseen to either of them, the paths of his veins on his hand briefly shown red, and his smile changed. This smile didn’t comfort her, but it still melted her, and she felt something ignite.

"On second thought, Chloe, why don’t we go work on this at your place? Lana’s at the Talon, and you said your dad’s still up in Metropolis looking for work. Nobody’ll interrupt us there." As he talked, he stepped closer, and Chloe could feel the warmth of his muscles through his tight, red shirt.

Nervous, almost shaking, but unable to force herself to do anything else, Chloe grabbed her bag in one arm, his arm in her other, and followed Kal out of the office.

After all, she was only human.



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