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Disclaimer: Smallville and all related elements, characters and indicia © Tollin-Robbins Productions and Warner Bros. Television, 2002. All Rights Reserved. All characters and situations—save those created by the authors for use solely on this website—are copyright Tollin-Robbins Productions and Warner Bros. Television. Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster.

I Drive The Car
by Dyce

The life of a reporter was not an easy one.

And it seemed to get much more than its fair share of Murphy-attacks, Chloe thought resentfully. Twice now she'd heard kids at school talking about 'strange lights' at the old Thompson barn, long ago abandoned and now mostly buried by the encroaching woods. Nobody ever went to that part of the woods these days... except for amorous teenagers looking for a quiet place to make out, which was probably why they were the only people who'd seen it. Apparently a new 'No Trespassing' sign had gone up, too. Which was odd, since old Mr and Mrs Thompson had always been - and still seemed to be, judging by the conversation she'd had with them - militantly indifferent to trespassing, especially on the distant, long unused back end of their farm.

In short, Chloe's tenderly nurtured reporter's instincts - in accordance with her well tuned nose for any Manifestations of Weird - were telling her that something worth investigating was going on at the old Thompson barn. And it was Saturday, so she had time. She was, in fact, all ready to go, with her trusty camera at the ready, hiking boots and sensible clothes on, and she was even wearing her Lucky Surreptitious Investigation beanie. Unfortunately, she was still lacking one crucial piece of her investigative wardrobe - a Useful Guy.

Chloe was not, and she was clear on this, a Lana-Lang-I-Need-A-Guy-To-Tie-My-Shoes kinda girl. But there were times when a Useful Guy was a crucial accessory, like good shoes and the right kind of flashlight. Like, for example, when you were trying to break into or at least peek into a barn which still had a sturdy, lockable, unbreakdown-able-by-Chloe door, and the only un-boarded up window was way too high for her to look through unless she had something to stand on - a Useful Guy, for example.

And Clark was busy with chores, and Pete had not deigned to say what he was busy doing, but obviously it was something because he'd been quite firm on the phone that he couldn't come story-hunting any time this weekend. Chloe realized, not for the first time, that she needed a larger stable of Useful Guys. Or a boyfriend. Someone who HAD to be a Useful Guy if she needed one. That would be nice, she thought wistfully, but it was never going to happen, so she shouldn't bother daydreaming about it.

She went to get coffee, instead, gracing Lana with her presence and her coffee-money. "Cappucino, please," she said, flopping into the comfiest available chair. "I need cheerful coffee. Happy coffee. Coffee that's sprinkled with powdered chocolate. And put a chocolate spoon in it."

Lana gave her a sympathetic smile. "I'll see what I can do," she said, bustling off. Lana wasn't a bad person, Chloe conceded grumpily. She was just a born Damsel, who only had to look the tiniest bit distressed for every male in the vicinity to put on his Sir Galahad suit and rush to her aid. Chloe had no Damsel in her nature, she knew. She was more of a Joan of Arc type, she tried to comfort herself, tough and in control and with God on her side. Surely God wasn't the type to be drawn in with wide, dewy eyes and cute dimples.

"Unusual order," a voice commented from behind her. She turned around, and there was Lex Luthor, sipping a cup of coffee and - of course - resting his feet on one of the coffee-tables. "Bad day?" He sounded as if he didn't really care to know, but was trying hard to be polite. Chloe had noticed that he sounded like that a lot, as if civil interest in others didn't come naturally to him, but he was willing to make an effort to change.

Since efforts at self-improvement should be encouraged, she wriggled around in her chair and leaned her arms on the back so she could look at him. "Kinda. You?"

"Same old, same old. Dull, but necessary," he said, giving her that brief, insincere smile he was so good at and hefting the folder full of paper that was open on his lap. "Caffiene will stunt your growth, you know."

"I'm already short. It's not gonna make me any shorter," she pointed out. There must be a guy around SOMEWHERE who'd allow himself to be made use of, in a completely unrewarding-for-him way. Maybe she could borrow Whitney. No. She was never going to be THAT desperate. Sure, Lana would lend him willingly, but how much help could Whitney the Peanut Brained Gorilla be? He'd just whine the whole way. Chloe couldn't stand guys who whined. Where to find a guy, where to... hey. She narrowed her eyes and looked speculatively at Luthor. He was technically of the male persuasion. And looked to be in quite good shape. And he was making such an effort to be nice and normal, it would practically be doing him a favour to give him a chance to do it some more...

Of course, she couldn't just come out and ASK, she'd have to somehow get him to agree to it or at least be interested before he knew how much hiking would be involved.

"What?" he met her prolonged stare with another amused smirk. "Do I have something on my head?" He smoothed a hand over it in that characteristic gesture, and Chloe wondered - not for the first time - what it felt like. It looked so shiny and smooth, but did it feel that way too?

"Huh? No, you don't have anything on your head." She leaned her chin on her arms and gave him an openly speculative gaze. "People ask you for favours all the time, right?"

"Frequently." He nodded, sipping his coffee. "Why?"

"Because I need a favour. And I'll bet you you can't guess what it is." She turned her cutest grin on him. "Go on, try, you'll never get it."

"New camera. New computer for the Torch. A new colour photocopier for the Torch," Lex guessed, starting to look a little bored and annoyed.

"Nope. I'll give you a hint. You need hiking boots for it." Chloe smiled sunnily. Surprise him. Intrigue him. Reeeeeel him in...

Lex stopped with his cup halfway to his mouth and blinked at her. "Hiking boots?"

"And sensible clothes. If you own any," she said, giving his expensive suit a dismissive look.

"This is a favour I have to change my clothes for?" he asked, giving her a suspicious but now rather interested look. "Why?"

Chloe grinned. "Hey, Lana!" she called. "Can you make that cappucino to go?"

Half an hour later, wearing hiking boots and the requisite sensible clothes, or as close to as he could manage... black jeans, black t-shirt, and his black leather jacket, remants of his wild youth that still, thankfully, fitted... Lex Luthor wondered how on earth she'd talked him into this.

He rather liked Chloe. She was amusing and intelligent, she had never made the slightest attempt at flirting with him, and she could be quite refreshingly rude and confrontational. He liked rude and confrontational. He never got it from anyone else, they were all too afraid of him. But on the other hand, he didn't really know Chloe very well, and he almost never did favours for anyone unless there was something in it for him, and he didn't like woods very much. They were messy and easy to get lost in.

But she'd asked him for a favour, not as Lex Luthor, not as her dad's boss, but as a guy who just happened to be handy when she had a task that required fairly fit guyness. She'd been quite honest about having run through nearly her entire list of other potentially useful guys first - all two of them - and then looked imploringly at him and said that if he said no, she was either going to have to go by herself, or take Whitney. Whitney, she'd said mournfully. Whitney doing investigative journalism, or trying to. Imagine it.

He had, and had found it vastly amusing. That hadn't been the selling point, though. The selling point had been being asked to do a Guy Thing. Nobody had ever asked him to do Guy Stuff before. It was making him feel unusually... well... manly. He wished he'd had a flannel shirt to put on.

She hopped over a big branch, and then stopped, looking speculatively at him again. "You know, we're going to have to do something about that," she said thoughtfully.

"Do something about what?" he asked, a little worriedly. What was she going to do, make him take off his jacket or something? He was very fond of his jacket, he didn't want to just abandon it in the woods.

"Your head," she explained. "It is kind of unique. If anyone sees us breaking in, they'll know it's you right away." She pulled off her rather cute knitted cap and bestowed it upon his head before he could do more than blink. "There. You can borrow my Lucky Surreptitious Investigation beanie. But don't lose it."

Lex gave her a long, hard look as she turned and went back to leading the way through the woods. He usually didn't like people to comment on his baldness. Chloe need not think she could get away with that. But at the same time, she'd been so matter-of-fact about it that it had hardly stung at all. And for a moment he'd felt absurdly almost honoured at being allowed to wear the Lucky Surreptitious Investigation beanie.

Then he blinked. "Wait, what do you mean, if someone sees us breaking in? Breaking into what? You said we were going to see if anything weird had been happening around some old barn."

"Around or IN," Chloe explained patiently, ducking under a low branch. "And there's only one place to look in and it's too high for me to reach by myself. But if we see anything really suspicious, you may have to break the door down."

"I may have to... of course. I'm the Useful Guy. I wondered why you needed one." He tried to sound annoyed, but he couldn't help being amused. He'd never actually broken down a door. Picked locks, yes, broken into places, many times, but never actually broken a door DOWN. It might be fun.

Fun breaking a door down might be. Having Chloe climbing all over him with her little booted feet was considerably less so. He'd shed the jacket to protect it from her muddy boots, and now he was standing, propped against the wall, with Chloe's feet on his shoulders. For the first time, he was learning that mud had a smell. An odd, damp smell, not particularly unpleasant, but weird. "Can you see anything?" he muttered.

"Not yet. Can you shuffle a little bit over to the left?" she asked, steadying herself against the wall with one hand, her camera clutched firmly in the other. They were looking through one of those big opening things at the front of barns, like Clark's big 'window' in his own barn, where Lex was vaguely aware that once upon a time hay had been thrown out. This one was shuttered, but Chloe had managed to pull out a loose board to make a peep-hole at the bottom, and since it was a rather small barn, she was almost high enough to see through it.

Lex shuffled obediently. "For someone so small, you weigh a lot more than I thought," he muttered, and then he let out a very undignified yelp as one small boot clipped him firmly across the ear.

"I heard that!" she said from far above, balancing apparently fearlessly on his shoulders as she stood on tiptoes to peek into the barn. "Never insult a woman's weight when she's in a position to stamp right on your head, *Mr* Luthor."

Lex winced, but he couldn't help chuckling a little. "Under the circumstances, Miss Sullivan, you can call me Lex," he said, and this time he meant it, instead of using it as a meaningless social gesture. "I don't usually let people trample on me unless we're on a first name basis."

"I doubt you ever let *anyone* trample on you... Lex," she conceded cheerfully. "And call me Chloe. Nobody ever calls me Miss Sullivan unless I'm in really big trouble for something."

"All right. Chloe. I'll save the Miss Sullivan for when I'm annoyed at you." Which could be any time... even though this WAS kind of fun. In a muddy, sweaty, very lost sort of way.

She made a little grumbling noise, still peering in through her little hole. "Damn. I can't see anything inside, it's too dark.... my eyes are going to take a minute to adjust..."

"No problem," Lex said, grunting a little as she shifted her weight. "You're such a light, dainty little pixie. I could stand here like this all day."

"Bite me," she said, straining to see in. "I definitely see something... oh boy. Meteor rocks. Meteor rocks are never, ever a good thing to see. I'm telling you this now. You ever see anyone with one on their person, or in their garden, or under their pillow, then you run like a wussy man."

"I'll keep that in mind." He thought about it, and frowned. "How will I know if they keep one under their pillow?"

Chloe snickered. "Well, rumour does have it that you HAVE seen the underside of a Smallville pillow or two that's not your own, now and then," she said with the innocent glee of someone with a rather naughty mind.

"The rumours of my prowess are greatly exaggerated," Lex said, and then very quietly nearly died of shock that he'd even thought such a thing, let alone said it out loud. He carefully pulled the Lucky Surreptitous Investigation beanie off and stuffed it into a pocket, in case it was overheating his usually well air-cooled head. "I assure you, I've never seen the underside of any Smallville pillow not my own. I was warned before I came here about attempting conquests in a small town. I bring mine in from Metropolis, like my clothes. And why are you interested in my sex life?"

"Because you're the only person I know who probably HAS one, except Mr and Mrs Kent," she pointed out, not unreasonably. "And anyway, you're Smallville's only eligible bachelor, and I'm a reporter. If I wasn't a lady, I'd be asking you what sort of underwear you prefer." He shifted in annoyance under her, and she patted him clumsily on the shoulder with her foot. "Don't worry, I won't print anything we talk about today, but... reporter IS the short word for 'must-know-all-must-see-all-miss-curiositypants. I'm just nosy."

He laughed. He actually laughed, a genuine laugh that made her wobble a bit as she balanced on his shoulders. He couldn't remember the last time he'd heard such an honest - and honestly funny - self-assessment. "Well, I can't argue with that. But I'm not going to tell you my taste in underwear. I don't want to have to face your father on Monday with my conscience burdened with the knowledge that I corrupted your innocent baby mind."

She kicked him in the ear again. "I am NOT an innocent baby," she said firmly. "Not even the tiniest bit. And it wouldn't burden your conscience at all, and you know it."

"True. That's true. I am a shameless liar." He looked at the faded boards in front of him some more. "Lana wears a chunk of meteor rock sometimes. Should I run from her?"

"Absolutely. Those dewy eyes and dimples and so on cannot be the work of mere nature. She's got man-luring meteor-caused mutant powers, I guarantee it," Chloe said firmly. "Hey, there's another loose board here-" it thumped to the ground beside him "-and I think I can actually get inside now without breaking down the door. Can you lift me a bit higher? Maybe if you get your hands under my feet?"

"I'll try." He hoped he didn't drop her. She was strong, for her size, but really quite little, and if she fell off his shoulders she might hurt herself. Carefully, he lifted his hands, getting one under her raised foot. "All right. Try it now."

She hung the camera around her neck, put her weight on the foot on his hand and her own hands gripping the sill, hiked up the other, and then there was a long scuffling moment of wobbling and grabbing and then she was folded over the sill of the big windowthing, making excited noises, and Lex's ears were ringing slightly from a sharp blow to the head. One of her damp, muddy feet had slipped out of his grip, and come down quite sharply on the top of his head. "You stepped on my head!" he said, in his best Annoyed Powerful Business Guy voice.

"I'm sorry!" she called, sounding genuinely repentent. "I've never done this before, I didn't know my foot would do that. Hey, there's still some loft floor here, it was blocking a lot of the view before but now I can get on it, I think..." She started to wriggle in through the opening.

"Chloe, how are you planning to get down?" Lex demanded, patting his head tenderly. "Because if you think I'm going to let you jump on my head again, you-" He was cut off by a groaning, cracking noise, and a brief scream... and then a thump, right in front of him, as of a small but heavy body hitting the floor on the other side of the wall. "CHLOE!"

He didn't hear a sound. Shit. Shit. She'd fallen down, and gotten hurt, and it was all his fault and he had to go in and rescue her. And pray that she wasn't concussed, and remembered the way back to his car, because he was really, really lost.

He raced around to the other side of the barn, with the small people-sized door that seemed to be the only one whoever-it-was was using, grabbing his jacket on the way. You were supposed to keep injured people warm, he knew that. It wasn't very warm. Well, it would have to do.

He reached the door. Shit. Padlocked, chain, nothing he could do about it without at least a lockpick, or something... but the frame of the door itself looked pretty old and worn down. He slammed against it with his shoulder. It wobbled, but held. He gritted his teeth, thinking of Chloe probably unconscious, bones broken, most likely, and backed up further, hurling himself at the door as hard as he could.

It gave, and he stumbled through it. His shoulder hurt, but the important thing was-

"Oh, good, more light," Chloe said, looking incredibly dirty but otherwise not much the worse for wear. "I broke my flashlight when I hit."

Lex glared at her. Worry for someone else's welfare was not a customary feeling for him, but he'd been very worried that Chloe - who was very small and relatively innocent and if she got killed it would thus be HIS fault - had been hurt. Now he knew that she wasn't, he had a strong urge to make sure that she was. "All this had better be worth it," he growled, pointedly dusting himself off.

She pointed beyond him. "I think this is what they call a drug-lab," she said soberly. "I've seen them on television."

Lex looked around. He'd seen them too, NOT on television, and she was right. Someone was making and presumably peddling drugs. In HIS town. "Hell," he said grimly. "Chloe, this is not Wall of Weird material. We are going, and we are going right NOW."

"I know," she said, unusually meekly. "I'm just getting some pictures to take to the cops, and then we'll go."

Lex wandered around a little while she took her pictures. He found a small cache of guns - a couple of farm rifles, nothing exciting - and took the precaution of moving them to the other end of the barn, burying them under the pile of old, smelly hay that had apparently broken Chloe's fall - using the Lucky Surreptitious Investigation Hat as a sort of glove, so his fingerprints wouldn't get on anything. He supposed he was glad she wasn't hurt, but the aftershock of that panicked moment of concern was getting to him. He tried to put himself back into his usual ennui-ridden frame of mind, as the adrenaline started to fade. After a minute, he put the Surreptitious Investigation Beanie back on. He *really* didn't want anyone to recognize him in connection to this. Brewing up cheap homemade drugs with meteor rocks? Not his brand of evil.

Then he heard something, and oh, good, the adrenaline was back. He thought he was about to need it. "Chloe," he hissed, grabbing her arm. "I hear a car. Truck. Whatever. Going *now*."

She didn't protest as he dragged her out the door, keeping up easily. They were moving fast...

...but not fast enough. They'd gotten about six steps down the path before two men appeared around the corner. They looked like nearly every other Smallville native to Lex - flannel, hats, boots, general aura of woodsiness. But if they were coming here... yep, they were. The howl of rage and the way they were charging towards them were a giveaway.

And then Chloe grabbed his arm in turn, and yanked, and he was off the path and into the undergrowth.


Shit. Shit. This was WAY over her head. She'd just been expecting some poor freak messing around with bees or bugs or getting youthified or something. Normal Smallville stuff. Not scary illegal drug stuff.

At least Lex was keeping up. Right behind her, down the slope, slipping and sliding a little in the mud and dead leaves but staying grimly on his feet. Damn. She really hadn't meant for anyone to see them, it had been supposed to be pure reconaissance, and a way of getting him out in the fresh air... "I'm sorry about this," she gasped, dragging him bodily through a small stream.

"Feel free to apologize... for trampling on my head... and making me hold you on your shoulders forever... and dragging me through the woods," he gasped back. "The drug-dealers aren't your fault."

"Gotcha. Sorry for the first three." Okay. Okay. She knew where she was now. She could hear the men behind them, but still a ways behind, and she didn't think they knew where she was going. "This way." She turned sharply left, shoving her way past branches still on trees and jumping over the ones that had fallen. "Come on, I know where we're going now!"

"You didn't before?!" he demanded. "Sullivan, you are the most twisted, bizarre, fundamentally annoying person I've ever-"

"Shush!" she hissed. They'd come out of the woods, and were heading across a strip of open ground towards a cornfield. "C'mon, we can hide in here, they'll never find us!" Then she jolted to a halt as the owner of the arm she was still holding onto came to a sudden stop. "LEX!" she hissed, tugging frantically. "Hiding! Now!"

"But-" he said hesitantly, looking at the cornfield as if it might bite him.

"NOW!" She dragged on his arm again, and this time he followed her. They pushed through it, trying to be quiet. He wasn't very good at it. Luthors weren't encouraged to be quiet and unnoticable, it seemed.

She could hear the men searching behind them, so she pushed on until they were close to the opposite end of the field. "Okay," she whispered. "We've got a few minutes to get our breath, at least. And they might go away. But be really quiet, okay?"

He nodded. They were standing very close together, she noticed. It was oddly comforting. He was shorter than Clark, but enough taller and stronger than her that he was reassuring to have around. She wasn't in trouble with a couple of big strong guys all by herself, and that was always comforting.

Even if he was looking a bit wigged. Oh, BAD pun, Chloe, make wig jokes about the bald guy... "You okay?" she whispered.

"The last time I was in a cornfield, I found Clark strung up like a modern-day messiah on one of those scarecrow pole things," he whispered, not looking at her, his eyes searching the forest of slender stalks for any sign of approaching discovery. "The time before that, the meteors hit and I wound up bald and buried under a pile of cornstalks. I don't like corn." Then he blinked, and gave her an embarrassed look, seeming surprised that he'd said so much.

"Oh. I understand." She gave him a sympathetic look, which he didn't get much of the benefit of because he was looking the wrong way. She patted his shoulder, too, and for a wonder he didn't shrug her off. "Okay. We've got our breath back. Let's try'n get to the house."

He nodded and gave her a rueful half-smirk. He looked different with the beanie on... more human, sort of. Less sardonic. "Maybe I should just stay out here," he whispered. "Mr Kent doesn't like me hanging around."

"It'll be okay." Chloe grinned impishly at him. "Mr Kent likes me. He never gets mad when I'm around, even the time when I was twelve and I drove the tractor into the side of the barn."

He blinked, giving her a puzzled look as they sneaked towards the barn, trying to stay quiet and, whenever possible, under cover. "Why did you try to drive the tractor?"

"Because Clark said I couldn't do it because I'm a girl," she explained reasonably.

"Oh. Of course." He accepted the logic at once, and Chloe beamed. Already he understood her enough to know that she'd probably light herself on fire if someone said girls couldn't do that. She thought of it as being strong-willed and willing to fight tradition.

Thankfully, they made it to the house without being spotted, and sneaked in through the unlocked kitchen door. "Hello?" Chloe called quietly, so nobody outside would be able to hear her. "Anyone home?"

"Hi, Chloe," Martha Kent replied, coming in... and blinking. "And Lex. Hello. What happened?"

Chloe looked down at herself, and then over at Lex. They were both muddy, she was covered with muck from falling into the damp, moldy hay, and Lex had a little hat on. "We kinda got bit on the butt by a story," she explained, and then grabbed Lex and dragged him under the table."

"What the hell-" he got out before she clapped a hand over his mouth.

"What on earth-" Martha began a little more politely, concern clear in her eyes.

Chloe pointed at the door, dragging Lex on hands and knees into the next room. "Tell them we're not here!" she hissed. "Please!"

Martha blinked again, but Chloe knew from past experience that nobody did covering up like Martha Kent. She could do an innocent, sweet, helpful look that made Lana look like the Wicked Witch of the West. The expected knock came after a minute, and while they couldn't see from around the corner, Chloe could *hear* the wholesomely pure expression in Martha's voice. "Can I help you with something?"

"Have you seen a couple of kids come by? Maybe come to the house?" a rather gruff voice asked. "They were messing around on private property, looked like they were trying to set a fire or something."

Lex and Chloe looked indignantly at each other. "Kids?" Lex mouthed with a sour expression. "Fire?" Chloe mouthed back, feeling thoroughly irked. Honestly, was that the best they could do?

"My goodness! No, I haven't seen anyone." Martha was, by the sound of it, clasping her hands earnestly. "My husband and son are out at the moment. You wouldn't mind having a quick check around the barn before you go, would you? Our fire insurance isn't very comprehensive."

"Sure thing, ma'am," the gruff voice said in a satisfied tone. "Don't you worry. They're probably just looking for a little excitement. You know kids."

"Oh, yes," Martha agreed, sincerity positively dripping from her voice. "My Clark would never do such a thing, of course, but some of the kids who live in town..."

"Those're usually the ones, ma'am," gruff-voice agreed. "We'll have a quick check around your barn, and then keep looking. Don't want them to think they can get away with it."

The kitchen door closed firmly, and Martha came around the corner and looked down at them as they sat on the floor. "Well, I know you two weren't out starting fires," she said, folding her arms and giving them both a you-better-'fess-up-right-now look. "So what WERE you doing?"

They both scrambled to their feet, Chloe trying to dust off her sweater and Lex sheepishly pulling off the Lucky Surreptitious Investigation Beanie. "Well, we were investigating something weird going on in the Thompson barn," she explained. "The old abandoned one, not the new one. And it turned out to be actual real *drugs*. Here in Smallville! I mean, I was thinking another Weird Bee Girl or someone getting mad and starting fires, but not something so... so..."

"Normal?" Lex said rather dryly.

"Yeah!" Chloe sighed. "Can we get a ride back to Lex's car? We need to go to the cops with this, I think. I took pictures of the lab thing." She brightened. "Hey, and you got a good look at them. You could come make identikit pictures or something."

Martha nodded, but she looked a bit distracted. "Sure. Just wait until Jonothan and Clark get back with the truck." For some reason, her eyes kept straying up to the top of Lex's head. Chloe followed her gaze, and couldn't stifle a snicker.

Lex gave them a puzzled look. "What?"

Chloe gently took his arm, and shuffled him over a few steps until he could see into the mirror on the wall. Right on the top of his once-pristine head was an unmistakeable muddy bootprint. "I'm really sorry," she giggled. "I didn't mean to..."

"You stepped on his head?" Martha tutted, reaching up to brush off some of the mud. "Chloe Sullivan, you should be more *careful*. Lex, does it hurt? Do you have a bruise?"

He ducked away from her hand, giving her a sheepish grin and rubbing at the muddy bootprint. "I'm fine. She didn't really tread on me very hard. Anyway, that's not important. The important thing is that we get this reported to the proper authorities as soon as possible." Chloe and Martha both had to conceal smiles at the cuteness of the Embarrassed Male Seeking To Restore His Manly Dignity. Wow. Lex Luthor could be guy-ishly cute. Who knew?

"Of course," Martha agreed seriously. "Jonothan and Clark should be back soon. Uh... would the two of you like to clean up a little while we wait?"

Chloe leaned back, sipping her coffee, and smiled contentedly. She had caffiene, she had an after school cookie treat, and she had a nice fresh copy of the Torch. With her drug-busting exclusive on the front page. Not that anyone knew it was HER exclusive... the police had suggested that she and Lex keep their identities under wraps, just in case.. so she'd credited a couple of anonymous sources with the exciting story. Which was also going to run in the Ledger, since it was the most interesting thing that'd happened all week.

The life of a reporter might not be easy, but sometimes it was a very good life all the same.

"Admiring your work?" Lex sat down opposite her, sipping his own coffee... and holding his own carelessly rolled up copy of the Torch. She'd had one sent over, so he could read about how brave the Anonymous Guy had been. "Well written story. Very interesting." His eyes gleamed over the mug. "Almost felt as if I'd been there myself."

"That's one of the signs of a good reporter," she said complacently. "When she writes up an event, you feel as if you witnessed it with your own eyes." She took a bite of her cookie, and admired her headline some more. "Principle Kwan was pleased. An actual, verifiable news-story that at least indirectly impacts on the student body. Cool, huh?"

"I'm glad the suffering of your two muddy anonymous tipsters wasn't in vain." He sounded sardonic, but there was an amused glint in his eyes. "Altogether very impressive, Nancy Drew. Whatever will your next case be?"

"I'm Nancy Drew?" She raised her eyebrows, grinning at him. "Who does that make you, one of my two gal-pals who go everywhere with me and get kidnapped all the time?"

He gave her a perfectly straight-faced look. "Not at all," he said, with great dignity. "I'm Ned. I drive the car."

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