author: pen
fandom(s) BSG/Smallville
a/n: for sloane

[ a l m o s t   f r e e   t o   c o m e   a n d   g o ]

*

she'll make her own way there

There are thirteen other reporters after the end of the world, and all of them refuse to talk to Chloe. Forty eight hours after the last frantic jump, all the reporters gather in one place and Chloe makes the tactical error of admitting to working for a shitty little rag. She places herself firmly at the bottom of the reporter rung in the new world, and she hates it.

She spends three days with the worst seat on Colonial One; three days with no friends and no gossip, until she realises how stupid she is and starts helping around the fleet. She stops thinking of people as stories and starts looking at them as comrades.

She sleeps alone and eats alone, and doesn't care.

She gets a job, if you can call it that, looking after orphans. She's not sure how she got it - visiting a ship with supplies, she was roped into watching them for five minutes, and suddenly it was permanent. She receives no pay and there are bags under her eyes, and sometimes she wonders if a room of squalling babies is Hell.

She hates babies, but she's assisting humanity, and it helps.

The weeks pass, and in amongst the mess of tears and humans, and amongst their hunger for food and their hunger for children she forgets she was ever a reporter until she's washing a parent-less child and hears a familiar voice on the wireless.

"I fully support Mr Zarek," says Lex over the wireless and she thinks in disbelief, he's not.

He is, and she thinks he might be crazy.

But then, she always has.

She might not be living like a reporter, but that doesn't stop her from being one and she sweet talks her way onto Cloud Nine with pursed lips and a little leg. Since the end of the world she's stopped shaving, but she makes a special effort.

Lex is dancing with that bitch Playa when Chloe lifts a glass of champagne and settles herself strategically. He looks polished, as always, and she ignores the state of her shirt. She hadn't packed for a party before the end of the world. She knows when he graciously leaves the dance floor by Playa's obliging protest, and she tracks his path across the room by the mirror behind the bar.

"Chloe," he breathes in her ear like he isn't surprised to see her, and she thinks he probably knew exactly where she was.

"Lex," she says like they planned to meet.

He leans back against the bar and plucks her glass out of her hands. "It's good to see you alive," he says, and sips.

"Yes," she replies.

"Been here long?" he asks idly, and she knows.

"As long as you have," she takes the glass back, and he motions to the bartender for another.

He watches her as she lifts the glass to her lips and makes eye contact.

He looks away first.

He pushes off the bar. "Are you coming?" he asks, and puts his hand out. She tilts her head to look at him.

She stands without accepting his hand, but follows him out anyway.

She'll be number one reporter soon enough.

*

the devil and his details

It's funny that his ship has room for fifteen in comfort, and thirty two by current fleet standards. She doesn't know why he's been holding out but she has plans to keep on talking until she wears him down and he's sharing.

But first, clothes.

She opens doors, and behind door number four is a lot of clothes that look familiar. She selects a top and she can't stop herself from grinning. She spins to face him. "Lex," she says, "how sweet of you to pack for me."

"I like looking after people," he says, and she laughs.

"Looking out for your fellow man?" she asks.

"Do I need to look out for you?" he asks back.

"Turn around, Lex," she says, changing the subject with a lack of subtlety that would surprise her if she wasn't talking to Lex, "I'm getting changed."

"Nothing I haven't seen before," he says, and sits down in an armchair. "What do you think of this fleet?" he asks.

"Oh, you know," she shrugs, and ignores his eyes on her body. She pulls her shirt off and replaces it, and when she turns around Lex is still watching her. It makes her feel cheap, but she pushes the feeling aside. Like he said, it's nothing he hasn't seen before.

She meets his eyes.

"Oh, I know what?" he asks without breaking eye contact.

She waves a hand in the air, and uses it as an excuse to look away. "Ragtag. Hodgepodge. What you'd expect in the middle of a war. But they're doing their best." Chloe shrugs, keeps looking anywhere but Lex. He rises from the chair.

"Yes, they are," he says, and she knows he's mocking her choice of words. "And what have you been up to, Chloe?" he continues, and she can't believe he's playing this game.

"You know exactly what I've been doing," she says, and pokes him in the chest. He smiles.

"Oh?"

"Don't you 'oh' me, Lex Luthor. If you expect me to believe you're throwing your weight around behind Tom Zarek and you have a closet full of my clothes but you didn't know I was alive, then you're insulting my intelligence!" Her voice rises as she speaks, and she takes a step forward. Lex doesn't back down.

"I knew exactly where you were, Chloe," he says quietly, and she nods, satisfied with herself.

"Why didn't you tell me you were alive?"

"Would you have come with me if it meant not helping people?" he asks.

"Yes," she says, and sits down.

He keeps smiling, right up to the moment when he leans down and kisses her.

*

these are the things that we do not talk about

She pops aboard Colonial One a couple of weeks later, long enough to let them think she's not going to spill but soon enough to keep them hopeful. Playa's marked her as persona non grata, but McManus stands up when she enters the room.

"Chloe," he says, "do you have a present for me?"

Chloe shrugs. "Don't know if you want a present from me," she says, putting on a sad face. "You didn't want anything from me before."

"Take a seat," says McManus, motioning Playa to move out of the way. Playa protests, but McManus insists. He indicates that Chloe should sit beside him, and she gives Playa a shit-eating grin as she refuses.

"It's cool," she says. "I won't be here long."

She's lying. She stands for two hours in heels she hasn't worn in three years, and her feet are killing her but frak she looks impressive.

When she gets back to the ship, she runs a bath just for her feet and doesn't feel guilty about the water.

Lex returns to the ship late in the cycle. When he walks in, she's wrapped in a bathrobe and scribbling notes. "How domestic," he says.

"You wish," she snaps back. Doesn't look up.

"Chloe," he says, voice low. "Don't write about me."

"Yeah, right," she says, and keeps on writing.

"Chloe." His voice is low and filled with warning, and he pulls the writing pad out of her hands. "I'm serious," he says as he climbs onto the bed and pushes her backwards.

She kisses him back, but climbs out of bed when he's still sleeping. It takes him three days before he finds her. She's not sure if she's getting better at hiding or he's starting to care less, but when she steps into the ship the shuttle has barely disembarked before he pushes her against a wall.

"Twelve weeks," he says into her hair.

"Six," she counters.

"Ten."

"Eight."

"Ten, and I'll tell you who Zarek's girlfriend is married to."

She holds him at arms length. "Say please, Lex."

"Chloe," he says, and reaches for her again.

She pushes him back. "Say please, Lex."

"I'll tell you what's going on over on Galactica that not even Roslin knows."

She laughs at him and stops pushing him away. As he bends his head to her neck, she grins.

He's running for president. She can wait a couple more weeks.

*

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