by Tara LJC OShea
The apartment was perfect, down to the last detail. From the cosy over-stuffed furniture in the living room, to the colours he'd picked for the sheets on her bed. She'd been worried, when he'd opened the door, that it would be like the castle somehow. But it wasn't. She supposed that was because one doesn't decorate a vintage loft quite the same way a multibillionaire would outfit his supposed ancestral home.
There were fresh flowers in the kitchen every Wednesday and Friday. Never roses, tulips, or sunflowers. She was never sure how he'd known to stay away from those particular blooms. She'd enjoyed the daises the best. Something about daisies always seemed to brighten her mood. The lilacs had been nice as well, and she wished they hadn't been whisked away quite so quickly. The waxy blooms hadn't even begun to brown when she came to get a cup of coffee and discovered the tiger lilies had supplanted them.
When she'd first moved to Smallville--when they still had the house on Oak, she'd arrived to find her father had painted her new bedroom. The dominant hues had been pink and peach. She hadn't had the heart to tell him that it wasn't perfect. When she turned 15, Pete and Clark had helped her re-paint the pink wall a shade of green that had seemed like a good idea when she'd been staring at a little 2 inch paint chip, but had been much more... green when they'd gotten the first two coats up. She'd ended up covering up most of that wall with her desk and bookshelves. It had been a shock, when the movers had hauled all her stuff over to the new house on Sycamore, to see the unbroken expanse of emerald.
She'd never bothered painting her new room. Lana had made noises about re-decorating the first few weeks, but half the boxes she'd packed stayed packed, and were in storage in the empty apartment above the Talon. Chloe and her dad had hauled them all up the week-end before the trial.
It seemed a million years ago.
The bedroom Lex had created for her was all warm tones, but not a drop of pink to be found. Tan, ochre, and pumpkin with cheerful butter-yellow trim. It should have been garish. Like most things Lex was involved it, the planning always seemed over the top, but somehow he always pulled it together in the execution. The windows looked out over a rooftop garden, the city skyline rendered Impressionist by distance and summer heat. The bathroom had a tub deep enough to drown in, and there were never any cobwebs in the corners of the high ceilings. If there were, the unseen maids took care of them while Chloe was sleeping. Sometimes she felt like Beauty in that old French movie. She expected to see candles floating across the rooms if she turned a corner quick enough to catch them.
The closet was full of clothes in her size. Everything the hip young 17 year old in Metropolis could ever want, from $200 Diesel jeans to hand-painted tops from Spain and Japan. She'd recognised his taste in a few items--and she'd wondered if he'd handed the task of outfitting her to a minion, or if he'd actually called up the designers himself. He'd even arranged for a stylist to come over once a month, if she wanted a haircut. She hadn't, and her bangs were too long and she had visions of waking up at 3am and hacking away at them with nail scissors one of these days. But they were just idle fancies. She supposed in another month or two, it might be a different story.
The fridge was always stocked. It had to be, since she couldn't actually run out to the store. If there was something she craved, she either wrote it on the message pad magnetted to the giant stainless-steel doors, or picked up a phone and called the guard, who called someone else, who brought it to her. From Thai to a hotdog from the stand across the street from the baseball stadium, she'd yet to make a request that wasn't met within 45 minutes.
It was better than Domino's.
The flat screen TV got every channel. She had no idea what the monthly cable bill must cost, but she guessed it was equivalent to a year's tuition at Kansas State. She'd spent three days watching nothing but the BBC, and soon switched to alternating between Bollywood musicals and Argentinean soaps. There was a case of DVDs with everything from His Girl Friday to Girl With A Pearl Earring. He even had screeners of all the stuff which opened in theatres delivered week by week, but somehow, she just couldn't imagine sitting on her couch, watching Troy without Pete or Lana right there beside her, either to ridicule the history or drool over Eric Bana in leather.
Clark was never in the picture. Clark hadn't been in the picture for a long time. And it didn't hurt this summer the way it had last summer. She wasn't sure quite why. She still missed her friend, but it wasn't the same way she missed Pete and Lana.
Even if she hadn't testified against Lionel, she would have had to have faced a summer without them. When she'd first heard about the Ross's marital problems, she'd sympathised, having lived through divorce herself. But it had come as a shock. The last time she'd seen Mr and Mrs Ross together had been their annual Homecoming backyard barbecue, and everything had seemed so normal as Mr Ross had handed out charred burgers and brats, while Judge Ross had made sure no one lacked for potatoe salad or lemonade.
Of course, nothing had shocked her quite the way Lana's sudden yen to travel had. She didn't even speak French, and aside from decorating the Talon, had never really shown much interest in art. It had hurt, finding out that Lana had already talked to Nell and made all the arrangements to apply to school on another continent, leaving Chloe completely out of the loop because she hadn't trusted her.
*I just can't wait to get out of here and go somewhere where people don't judge me. *
Driven was never quite the word Chloe would have used, to describe Lana. In her less charitable moments, "self-involved" was more easily expressed as "spoiled" and "convinced the universe revolves around Miss Lana Lang."
What hurt most--what had always hurt the most--was that the universe really did seem to revolve around Lana. It was jealousy, plain and simple. Clark's universe had revolved around the raven-haired Lana from the moment Chloe had met him. Even Lex went out of his way to make sure no waves ever splashed up against her shores, disturbing the mirror-surface of her tranquil little world. The Talon was failing financially? Oh, he'd hem and haw and make noise about selling. But in the end, everyone always made sure that Lana landed on her feet. Everyone--including Chloe. She could have been free of her sometimes-rival, sometimes-sister once and for all, but she'd begged her father to let Lana move in with them. Not so much because she'd wanted Lana there, so much as to keep one more person in her life from abandoning her completely.
Chloe hadn't exactly landed on her feet, this time. Not without some hard knocks that had left bruises and scars that she was beginning to think would never fade. In her perfect apartment where she wasn't allowed to cross the street to get a paper and a cup of coffee, Chloe was utterly alone. It was a lovely gilded cage, but a cage all the same. And she'd handed over the key knowingly, believing it was all for the best.
The first time Lex had come to find the place trashed and Chloe curled up on the corner of the couch, still in her flannel pyjama pants and tank top, her face puffy and red from crying, he'd just knelt at her side and touched her shoulder. That had been all it took for her to dissolve into waterworks all over again.
He'd held her awkwardly as she'd cried herself out, not even bothering to whisper hollow words of comfort, because that's not who he was and that's not who she wanted him to be.
The second time, he'd easily ducked the cut crystal vase she'd thrown clumsily as he'd stepped through the foot-thick door. The shards remained there all night.
She had everything she could want. He'd made sure of that.
All she wanted was her father.
The next morning, the flowers in the kitchen hadn't been changed. One of the orchids was just beginning to brown around the edges, marring the perfect white petals, and Lex had made her an omelette with goat cheese and tomatoes while she'd brewed the coffee.
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