Rating: Adult. If you're under eighteen, please go elsewhere now.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Note: Written at the request of CircularTime, and along a general plotline she suggested.
Read the story from the beginning here.
Read Chapter 6 here.
Screencap from Allison Mack Web.
The enormous, oak-paneled ballroom in the Luthor mansion was tightly packed. Men in dark suits and red ties danced over the marble floor, holding satin-clad women in their arms. A live band played everything from Glenn Miller to Three Days Grace.
Lex had sent a limo to the Talon to pick Chloe up. She had to admit there were certain benefits to sleeping with a billionaire-- the plush Rolls-Royce limo definitely beat the hell out of her Yaris. She'd donned her very best dress, an ice blue satin gown. She'd been a little worried that Lex would give her another of those scornful "off the rack" looks, but instead he'd taken one look at her, then dragged her into his study.
She'd complained at his arrogance, they'd argued, and then they'd had fast, steamy sex on top of his cherry desk.
Somehow her dress had come through the experience none the worse for wear. She'd fixed her rumpled hair, then ventured out into the crowded ballroom on his arm.
Ordinarily being seen publicly as Lex Luthor's date would have appalled her. But the first thing she saw was Clark and Lana, standing together. She had no idea how Lex had convinced them to come, but there they were. Clark wore a dark suit that he generally reserved for funerals, and Lana was clad in a burgundy silk gown, and together, they were heartstoppingly beautiful. The perfect couple, she thought snarkily.
Clark stared at her, his green eyes brimming with shocked hurt, and her innate self-honesty forced her to admit to herself that she hadn't agreed to this arrangement just because of the hot sex. Because yeah, the sex was totally hot, but she'd had a deeper, darker reason.
She'd been angry with Clark for choosing Lana over her. She'd been hurt to the core, and she'd wanted to hurt him in return.
She lifted her chin, staring at him impassively, and then she stepped onto the dance floor and began to dance a sexy, suggestive tango with Lex.
She tried to focus on Lex, tried to smile as if she was having the time of her life, but she couldn't stop herself from glancing in Clark's direction every so often and seeing that look of shock in his eyes. Suddenly she remembered a terrible time, years ago, when Clark had chosen Lana over her, and she'd betrayed him with another Luthor.
But that had been different. She'd truly betrayed Clark that time.
This time, the only person she had betrayed was herself.
I don't care, she thought angrily, shrugging off her dark thoughts. I'm entitled to have sex with anyone I want. I'm entitled to have fun sometimes, damn it.
The tango ended, and Lex steered her off the dance floor and began greeting his guests, holding Chloe possessively by his side. She was aware that he was flaunting her publicly, probably with the intention of hurting Clark and Lana, but she didn't object. There were worse things than being on the arm of a sexy, famous billionaire. She knew peple were whispering about her, but she didn't care. At least she tried not to care.
The room was crowded with the movers and shakers of Metropolis. There were a surprising number of Daily Planet employees there as well. Chloe's cousin Lois wasn't there, because she was out of town on assignment. She'd called Chloe this morning, crying, because she'd heard that the Planet's Editor-in-Chief, Grant Gabriel, had resigned. And since Lois had been sleeping with him until last week, this was a shock for her.
"He called me and told me he was going to Chicago," she'd said between sobs. "I'll never see him again, Chloe."
Chloe had done her best to console Lois, but secretly, she wasn't all that sorry Grant had left. It had never sat right with her that Lois was sleeping with the boss. She knew that if it ever became public knowledge, it would utterly destroy Lois' budding career as a journalist. She'd been worried that despite their good intentions, Lois and Grant would start their affair up again, but now that Grant had left town, that was one worry off her mind.
Chloe let Lex escort her around the ballroom, introducing her to politicians and celebrities, solicitously bringing her food and wine, and holding her in a way that could leave no doubt in anyone's mind that they were an item. Her photo would probably be on the front of the Lifestyles section tomorrow, captioned "The New Lex Girl." The thought bothered her a bit, because if she was ever going to expose Lex, she really ought not to be sleeping with him.
But she reminded herself that she could use their relationship to gather information on him. Sooner or later, she'd bring Lex down. It didn't matter how hot the sex was. All the terrible things Lex had done had to be exposed to the world.
She glanced at Clark again, seeing that the hurt look had faded from his eyes. He had begun to look pissed.
She couldn't help enjoying that.
At last Lex squeezed her one last time, then made his way up to the stage. The band stopped playing, and Lex stepped up to the microphone.
"I want to thank you all for coming tonight," he said, smiling. "I hope you're enjoying the party."
Cheers and applause rose from all corners of the room. Lex smiled more broadly.
"We'll get back to the music in just a moment," he said. "But first, I wanted to make a small announcement. I'm pleased to say that I'm expanding my business operations. This morning, I purchased 'Metropolis' greatest newspaper,' the Daily Planet."
Chloe gaped at him, her mouth dropping open.
"I will be acting as the CEO," Lex said, still smiling. His eyes shifted toward Chloe, and she thought she saw a glacial cold beneath the smile. "The Planet is a well-oiled machine, of course, but I will nevertheless be making a few personnel changes. The most obvious is that the current editor-in-chief, Grant Gabriel, has left us. That leaves us with an unfortunate vacancy, which I'm happy to say I've already filled."
Chloe stared at him, horror filling her. Oh, no. No, no, no...
"I'm pleased to announce," Lex said, smiling broadly, "that Ms. Chloe Sullivan has agreed to become the Planet's Editor-in-Chief."
There was a faint smattering of applause across the vast room, but the clapping rapidly faded into a shocked silence, and Chloe was horribly aware of heads swiveling to stare at her. She understood the bewildered stares all too well. She was a junior reporter who'd been working in the basement the past two years. She didn't even have a degree in journalism yet. She was manifestly not qualified to be any sort of editor, let alone the Editor-in-Chief. There was really only one way she could have earned the position.
On her back.
Given the possessive way in which Lex had been showing her off earlier, she realized that everyone in the room was simultaneously coming to the same conclusion. They thought she'd known Lex had bought the Planet, and that she'd struck up a relationship with him in order to get a better job. And she couldn't blame them for believing that.
If it would have looked bad for Lois to be caught sleeping with the head editor, it looked far, far worse for her to be sleeping with the Planet's owner, and to be getting a job she wasn't qualified for as a result.
At last, far too late, she understood Lex's Rube Goldberg scheme. She'd thought he was trying to use her to hurt Clark and Lana, but it was a lot more complicated than that. He'd realized she was getting close to a publishable expose on him, so he'd set out to destroy her professional reputation.
And he'd done a damn good job of it.
Everyone in this room thought she'd slept her way to the top. Even Clark believed it. She could see the disbelief and shock in his eyes.
Before she could object, before she could cry out that she had no intention of accepting the EiC position, Lex stepped away from the microphone. The band struck up again, and Lex headed for her.
She stood her ground and glared at him.
"Son of a bitch," she snarled through bared teeth.
"That's not nice," he chided, taking her elbow and steering her into the crowd. He put an arm around her waist and began dancing. "I just gave you the job of a lifetime, Chloe."
"Everyone in this room thinks I slept my way into it," she snapped.
She glared at him, wishing she had Clark's heat vision, so she could incinerate him. "I had no idea you'd bought the Planet, Lex."
"Of course you didn't." He smiled into her eyes. "But no one will ever believe that, will they?"
The smug look on his face infuriated her. "I'm not taking the damn job, you know. You and the job can go fuck yourselves."
"Oh, don't be absurd," he said, very calmly. "Of course you're taking the job. Once you cool off, you'll take it. It's the job of a lifetime. It's what you've always wanted."
"I never wanted it this way!"
"Maybe not," he answered. "But think of it this way, Chloe. I'm now in control of the greatest newspaper in Metropolis. One of the greatest newspapers in the world. Are you really going to step aside and let me control the news to that extent? Are you going to let me destroy the Planet, to turn it into a tabloid rag that the world laughs at, maybe even shut it down entirely? Or are you going to take the job so you can fight me every step of the way?"
She stared at him, angry and frustrated. "I can't work for you, Lex. I can't."
"No," he said, very softly. "But you can work against me. If you think about it, calmly and logically, you'll see that you can't pass up this opportunity. It's really your only chance to stop me from destroying the Planet entirely."
"But everyone will think--"
"Which matters more to you, Chloe? Your reputation, or the Planet's reputation?"
She closed her eyes for a long moment as they continued to dance. Not with the close intimacy of lovers, but rather the wary, cautious circling of deadly enemies. She knew perfectly well that he hadn't hired her so that he could fight with her on a daily basis. He wanted to break her down, to use her as a mouthpiece to promote LuthorCorp. He'd use sex, blackmail, threats, and every other dirty trick at his disposal to break her. She knew him well enough to be certain.
And yet... if she didn't at least try to fight, he'd ruin the Planet, the newspaper she'd loved from the time she was a small girl.
"Damn you, Lex," she said at last, very softly. "Damn you to hell."
He gave a low, sexy chuckle. "I take it that's a yes?"
"Yes, damn you. I'll take the job. But I swear to God, I'm going to take you down, if it's the last thing I do."
He didn't let go of her. He kept his arms around her and smiled at her, a challenging smile that held more than a hint of genuine admiration.
"I expected no less of you, Miss Sullivan."
Read the sequel, Exposed.