"'Round About Midnight"
Chloe Sullivan circulated the room with a champagne glass in her hand, its long stem clasped between the midnight blue gloves which covered her hands and matched her dress. She was generally bored with the whole party thus far. Metropolis hadn't changed much since she'd last been there as a journalism student in Met U's grad program. Same snooty people, both in and out of the business she'd chosen as a profession and the same types of snakes and weasels at every party. Tonight was no different.
There were entirely too many of them, including Chloe herself, who had come from all the way from Gotham at the host's insistence. In fact, they were all there at Lex's insistence, which was what made it weird. This was supposed to be a party for employees and colleagues. Lionel Luthor had never allowed members of the press to attend his company's holiday bash in years past. Then again, Lex wasn't Lionel and Lex was in charge now.
"Chloe?" A familiar, yet distinctly changed voice queried from behind her and Chloe turned, coming face to tuxedoed chest with Clark Kent. "I thought that was you!" Clark exclaimed eagerly and enveloped her in a friendly bear hug.
Well, almost a little too friendly, Chloe thought as she disentangled herself from the clinging hug to look at her one-time crush. He was beaming at her with the slightly goofy grin he always used, though Chloe also detected a hint of longing in the farm-boy-turned-reporter's eyes.
"Clark, hey!" she greeted. "Long time, no see!" Not since graduation, in fact, although she read his byline in the Daily Planet all the time now. Right next to her cousin, Lois's. They were partners, a team. Or a match from Hell, according to Lois's e-mails. Lo-lo claimed Perry White had paired her with 'Smallville' as a way to torture her.
Clark's infrequent e-mails-the last one had come over three months ago-had labeled it as 'a great opportunity to work with someone who knows their way around the business.'
"Yeah..." Clark flushed and shuffled his feet from side to side in reminiscence of the days of high school and first crushes. "I should write more often," he admitted. He seemed to be scanning the room for someone and then asked, "Are you with someone?"
"Currently..." Chloe tossed back at him, noting how he'd given her appearance not only a once but a twice over. "I'm with you, Kent." He grinned and she threaded her arm through his when he offered it. They walked, mingling with the crowd as they chatted about little things. Clark kept giving her these long stares, and Chloe couldn't help but remember the days when she'd longed for those looks from him. The ones that said he wanted her and not Lana. But that was a long time ago, and Chloe was amazed to see those looks now. If she didn't know Clark better, she'd swear he was interested in her.
It was kind of cute, Chloe decided as she sipped her champagne, considering everything that lay between them. "Have you seen Lex yet?" she asked in a lull in there conversation.
Clark shook his head. "No one has," he commented. "It's weird, but it's almost as if Lex is waiting to make some grand entrance."
"He probably is."
Lois approached them, smirking. "If Cue Ball hasn't shown his face yet, you know it has to be something. Rumor has it, he went and got himself hitched."
"Married? Lex?" Clark shook his head. "Where'd you hear that, Lois?"
"I have my sources, Smallville," Lois chided, not telling him who those sources were. "Did you by chance tell Chloe how beautiful her dress was yet?"
Clark seemed taken aback, while Chloe and Lois shared a small snicker. "Your dress looks beautiful," Clark said dutifully.
Lois rolled hers at her cousin and excused herself to go work the room in an attempt to dig up more dirt on Lex. Or to find him and demand an interview. Chloe turned back to her companion. "You didn't have to let Lois bully you into saying that, you know," she told him.
"She didn't bully me," he protested. "I wanted to. You look... " He flushed a little and turned his head, looking into the crowd. Music had begun to play, piped in from some unseen speakers. People were beginning to dance. "Would you like to dance, Chloe?" Clark asked after a moment.
It reminded Chloe of when he'd asked her to the Smallville Spring Formal, nervous but hopeful that she'd say yes. The outcome of this dance wouldn't be anything like that one. She took his arm and let him lead her into the middle of the rest of the throng.
"You and Lo here together?" she asked casually. Lois had certain physical traits Clark had always been interested in.
Clark wrinkled his nose, making a face, and laughed. "Lois? With me? Chloe, are you kidding?"
"I guess I was," was Chloe's comeback. "Lois here for the story? Or the hot billionaire..."
"You know Lois,"Clark began, not noticing that Chloe's voice had trailed off and that she was trying to stare over his shoulder at another couple on the floor. "She's always work--" Chloe placed a hand on his cheek and turned his head sharply to the left. "--ing." Clark finished, stunned. "Oh."
Lois was dancing with Lex, whom she'd somehow managed to find at last. Chloe's eyes narrowed as she watched her cousin dance with their host. Lex looked like the leading man out of an old movie. The tails of his black tuxedo fluttered a little behind him as he moved with Lois to the rhythm of the music.
"Is she interviewing him?" Chloe snorted. Lois was, indeed, talking rather animatedly to Lex.
"Looks like it," Clark confirmed. "Maybe she'll find out who the mystery woman is." At the same time, he risked rejection by slipping his arms around Chloe's waist and pulling her a little closer as they danced. Chloe continued to watching Lex and her cousin.
As the night neared midnight, the rumor had circulated that yes, there was a mystery wife and Lex would make her identity known to them by the last dance of the evening. After dancing with Lois, he worked his way through most of the women in the room.
"He's smooth," Lois snarked, watching Lex work the crowd.
Chloe nodded in agreement. "He sure is," she muttered as she watched Lex switch dance partners yet again. "At least he's giving every woman here one last thrill." Clark on the other had, had been loathe to relinquish her to anyone else the whole night. Looks like his crush on her from high school had come back.
Lois had sent him off to get them both more champagne once she finished dancing with Lex for a second time. "He asked about you and the Flannel King," she told Chloe.
"Really?" This was a twist. "What did he want to know?" Chloe asked, just as the song changed to a slower tune and the golden clock on the wall chimed Midnight.
"If he'd mind giving me back my wife..." Lex's voice materialized beside the cousins and he held out his hand to Chloe. Taking it, Chloe let him lead her out onto the dance floor.
"I think Clark has a crush on me," she said as she stripped off the gloves which hid the sparkling ring on her finger. She let them drop to the floor as she wrapped her arms around Lex's neck. She could feel the envious glare of every female in the room as they fastened their eyes on her.
"Does he now?" Lex sounded amused. Clark had always had a habit of wanting other men's treasures. Smiling, Lex bent his head to kiss her, making it more than obvious to the on-lookers what this was the woman he wanted by his side this Christmas and many more to come.
Chloe kissed him back and the world shrank to just them. Lex and Chloe. Chloe and Lex. Everything--and everyone--else faded into the Christmas-colored background.
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