Season 5, after "Fanatic"
Rating: Adult. If you're under eighteen, please go elsewhere now
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the WB and DC Comics, not to me
"So where have you been?"
Clark's head jerked around as Chloe bounded up the stairs of his loft and smiled at him. Instantly his mind filled with the memory of his dream last night, the way she'd grinned at him just before they started making love, and he felt himself grow hard in an instant. His cheeks went scarlet, and he turned back to the book he was reading, hoping she wouldn't notice his blush.
"I've been busy," he said awkwardly. "A whole lot of studying."
"Still. It's not like you to not call or drop by the Planet for a whole week, Clark."
He heard her footsteps as she walked toward him, and he slumped down in his chair, hoping to cover his unfortunate reaction to her presence. It wasn't like he'd never, ever reacted to Chloe that way before. She was a very pretty girl, they hung out together all the time, and sometimes the occasional wayward thought passed through his brain and caused the normal male response. But he'd never just gotten this hard from a simple smile before.
It's just the damn dreams, he told himself.
Her hand came down on his shoulder in a friendly gesture, and he jumped. She didn't seem to notice. "So what's going on?"
He stared at the sociology textbook in front of him, but the words didn't register on his brain. All he could think about was the heat of her hand on his shoulder, and the faint scent of her perfume. It made him harder than before, and he shifted uncomfortably.
"I haven't been sleeping well," he said at last, deciding the truth-- or a portion of it-- was his best alternative. "I've been having these weird dreams."
"You and the rest of Lowell County."
He turned his head sharply and looked up at her. "What?"
"That's why I'm here, actually. There have been an awful lot of people in Lowell County complaining about sleep disturbances in the past week. I'm doing some research on it."
He lifted his eyebrows. "I thought you were still writing obituaries."
She shrugged. "It's one of those tabloidy stories no one else is interested in. But I've had enough people calling the tipline about it to make me wonder. When it comes to Smallville, my weirdar is second to none."
"Can't argue that." He looked up at her, trying to ignore her palm on his shoulder. He could feel her skin burning his through his t-shirt, and the heat of her touch was really hard to ignore. "So it's not just me, huh? A lot of people are having weird dreams?"
"Not just weird. Vivid. That's one reason people have been calling the tipline, because in some cases they thought what they dreamed actually happened. I don't know what's causing it, but I think there's definitely something going on. This isn't just a random thing. Something is causing these dreams."
He phrased his next question very carefully. "What exactly are people dreaming about?"
"All sorts of things. But when I've questioned people about it, the common thread seems to be that people are dreaming about what they most want. Is that what you've been dreaming about, Clark?"
"Uh... not exactly. But I'm Kryptonian, not human, so maybe I'm not reacting to whatever it is the same way humans do."
She shrugged. "Could be." She lifted her hand from his shoulder, to his mingled relief and dismay, and started to walk back and forth across his loft, gesturing as she talked, the way she always did. "The first thing that occurred to me was the time we all had the bad dreams because of the toxin that was released from LuthorCorp. Remember that?"
"It's not the kind of thing I could forget, Chlo."
"No, me neither. So I was thinking maybe LuthorCorp had created some sort of toxin that makes people dream about what they most want."
"That doesn't sound like a toxin, per se. It actually sounds kind of harmless."
"You're right." She nodded seriously. "Maybe they're still messing around with the scare toxin, and they developed this as a kind of antidote. Or maybe it has some other function entirely, and the increase in dreams is just a side effect. I don't know. I'm not sure why they'd release it into the atmosphere, either, unless it was an accident, like last time."
"I'd think they'd have learned their lesson, and they'd be more careful now."
"Yeah, me too. But I guess accidents can happen. And it might not be Luthor-related at all. The tipline is anonymous, so I have no way of telling exactly where people were calling from, but several people did mention they lived near the LuthorCorp fertilizer plant."
Clark frowned. The fertilizer plant wasn't far from the Kent Farm, either. "Lex has been working on stuff with military applications lately," he said. "It could be whatever they're doing has a military application of some sort."
She sat down on the corner of his desk, swinging her leg back and forth, and her shorts rode up, exposing an awful lot of bare thigh. Clark tried to ignore the expanse of bare skin, but his eyes just seemed to be drawn to her. "Could be," she agreed. "I'm not quite sure what the military could do with something that causes good dreams, but anything's possible."
"So," he said, looking determinedly back at his sociology textbook. "Let me guess. You're here because you want me to help you break into the fertilizer plant?"
She grinned. "That doesn't always work so well. Sometimes we get in major trouble. Maybe it'd be easier just to go to the source."
"I figured we could go talk to Lex," she said.
"I'm flattered." Lex Luthor leaned back in his expensively upholstered leather desk chair, steepling his fingers. He was clad in a black silk shirt that probably cost more than Clark's family made in a year, and the dark clothing, along with his entirely bald head, gave him a slightly menacing air. "So people are having good dreams, and immediately you thought of me?"
"Not you," Clark said. "LuthorCorp."
Clark had once been close friends with the young billionaire, but their friendship had been slowly unraveling for the past year. Their relationship had totally collapsed this year, when Lex had endangered his family and Lana in order to test Clark's abilities. He didn't like the circumstances that forced him to speak to Lex, and he was being civil but terse.
Lex's eyebrows lowered slightly as he contemplated Chloe and Clark. He hadn't offered them a seat, and as a result they were both standing in front of his desk like supplicants. "What exactly do you think LuthorCorp might have to do with people in Lowell County having good dreams?"
"They aren't just good dreams," Chloe answered. She leaned forward, putting her hands on the desk, and Lex's eyes dropped to her cleavage in an automatic male response. Chloe tended to wear low-cut shirts, and today she was wearing a tank top that didn't leave a lot to the imagination. Clark saw a flash of appreciation in Lex's eyes, and an unreasoning anger coiled in his gut, filling him with the blind urge to defend Chloe... and hurt Lex.
But before he could give in to his uncharacteristic desire to slug Lex, the other man looked up, into Chloe's eyes, and Clark's sudden rage faded.
"What do you mean by that, Chloe?"
"I mean," Chloe said, "they're very specific. Everyone I've talked to says that their dreams have revolved around what they most want." She shrugged. "Except Clark, anyway."
Lex's gray eyes flickered toward Clark. "Well, Clark is an exception to every rule." The corners of his mouth turned up in a sardonic smirk. "So tell us, Clark, what have you been dreaming about?"
Clark's cheeks went red. "Uh," he said. "I, uh, really don't want to talk about it."
"Never mind." Lex's smile grew a little more genuine. "I think I can figure it out. What else do teenage boys dream about, after all?"
Chloe turned her head and regarded Clark with amusement, and he wished he could just sink through the floor and disappear. Unfortunately, teleportation wasn't one of his powers. "Have you had any dreams, Lex?" he challenged.
Lex leaned back further in his chair. "Now that you two mention it, I have." His fingers twisted together in an uncharacteristic gesture of anxiety. "I hadn't really given it much thought, but I've had a single, vivid dream, over and over again, all week."
"What was it about?" Clark asked.
Lex hesitated, staring up at him for a moment with wide eyes. For an instant he looked almost... vulnerable. Then the fleeting moment of vulnerability was gone, and he gave a quick grin, a dangerous flash of teeth. "Tell you what, Clark. You tell us about yours, and I'll tell you about mine."
Clark turned red again, and Chloe apparently took pity on him. "Look," she said, "the point isn't the precise content of the dreams you two have had. The point is, an awful lot of people in the county are having these dreams. Something must be causing them."
"And you suspect LuthorCorp," Lex said.
Chloe shrugged. "After the incident involving the nightmare toxin, it seems like the most likely culprit."
"The difference is," Lex responded, "that the nightmare toxin had an obvious military application. I don't see a military application, or any other practical application, for a toxin that induces good dreams. In fact, I'd hesitate to call such a thing a toxin at all. It sounds like a godsend, frankly."
"Maybe," Chloe answered, biting her lip. "But I think anything that influences people's minds is suspect."
"Lex," Clark said. "Is LuthorCorp working on anything that could have this effect?"
Lex hesitated-- only for a second or so, but enough to get Clark's attention. "Not to my knowledge," he answered at last.
Clark stared at him, trying to read that smooth, emotionless face, but with no more success than he'd ever had. He'd never been able to see what was really in Lex's heart, and his failure to truly understand Lex had almost gotten his family and Lana killed. Lex often had very good intentions, but his good impulses tended to be overshadowed by his dark side.
He could be deadly, and Clark knew that better than anyone.
"Okay," he said at last. "Come on, Chlo." He hesitated a moment, then added grudgingly, "Thanks, Lex."
"So what do you think?"
Chloe trotted next to Clark. Because he was irritated, he was walking through the stone corridors of the Luthor mansion pretty quickly, and he suddenly realized Chloe was almost jogging in order to keep up with him. He forced himself to slow down to a more moderate pace.
"He's hiding something," he answered. "Besides the content of his dreams, I mean. He knows more than he's letting on."
"He always does," she said with a sigh. "But he's got a point. I really can't see why LuthorCorp would be developing something that induces good dreams."
"Medical applications, maybe? Something to counter depression?"
"Maybe." She bit her lower lip again, drawing his gaze to her mouth. He suddenly discovered he wanted to kiss her, so badly he could barely resist the impulse. He forced himself to look away before he walked into a wall or something.
"Uh," he said, struggling to get his mind back on the conversation. They exited the dark, gloomy castle through the heavy mahogany door, stepping out into the afternoon sunlight. "I mean, LuthorCorp does have medical subsidiaries. So I don't think it's impossible they might be working on something like that."
"I just can't believe they'd be stupid enough to let it into the atmosphere again," she said, frowning. "They must have better safety protocols in place now. So maybe it's not a toxin at all."
Clark sighed. "I don't know, Chloe. I don't think we can guess what it is without more information. But whatever it is, it doesn't seem to be hurting anyone, so maybe it's not a really big deal."
"Maybe." She looked up at him, and he stared into her eyes and thought how beautiful they were, then turned his head away with a jerk. "I think you're right. We need more information."
"Okay, that makes sense. Are you going to start interviewing people?"
"Maybe later. Right now I need to experience the phenomenon firsthand."
She laughed softly, a low, sultry sound that made his body jump to attention. He'd never before realized how sexy her laughter was, and he had to force himself to focus on her next words.
"I'm going to dream," she said.
Read Chapter 3 here.