When Chloe wakes up, she’s kicked the sheets off entirely. She stretches out her arms, arches her back, and curls her toes, humming softly as she relaxes. It’s hot in her room, so she opens the window and stands there for a while, looking out at her front yard. The grass lies flat, all the way out to the road. The gravel driveway is so bright a white that it hurts her eyes to look at it.
Chloe rubs her fingers over her lips. They’re swollen, tender, and she smiles sleepily over her shoulder. Lana’s curled on her side, and her hair is a dark wave across the pillowcases. She makes a small concerned sound in her sleep, and scoots closer to where Chloe was sleeping, but doesn’t wake. Chloe walks past her toward the bathroom, and rubs Lana’s calf lightly, running her hand over the smooth skin.
She showers, breathing in the steam and still smiling as water washes away the sweet smelling bubbles. She spreads her hands over the planes of her stomach, and closes her eyes, thinking about Lana’s lips there and Lana’s eyes looking up at her in the dark.
When she steps out of the shower, Lana’s brushing her teeth by the sink. She hands Chloe a towel, and mumbles “Morning,” around a mouthful of toothpaste.
“Good morning,” Chloe responds, pushing Lana’s hair behind her ear. “You snored.”
Lana rolls her eyes and rinses her mouth. “You really don’t have to say that every morning,” she says dryly.
Chloe’s surprised no one’s figured it out yet, but then again the only ones around to figure it out are Clark and Pete and neither of them have ever won prizes for attentiveness. Not when it comes to her, anyway.
They’re in the Torch, and it’s late afternoon. Chloe’s got her feet up on the desk, and she’s reading through the articles for the next edition, chewing on the end of her pen without really thinking about it.
“Are you hungry?” Lana asks, and her eyes are on Chloe’s mouth. It makes Chloe grin, and her tongue flicks out to wet her lower lip. Lana sucks in a quick breath, and Chloe bites back a laugh.
“No, I’m fine,” she says, leaning back and fixing Lana with a long look until Lana starts to blush, and ducks behind the fall of her hair. She darts Chloe little glances, and Chloe can tell she’s about to laugh, too, and what Chloe really wants to do is walk over to Lana, take her hand, and pull her out of there. Or maybe just lean over and kiss Lana’s neck, right where it meets her shoulder, where the skin is soft, and pale. Right at the place that makes Lana gasp, every time.
It seems strange that once, Chloe didn’t know that – that there was a time when her hands and her lips didn’t know how to make Lana arch and call her name. It wasn’t so very long ago when she touched Lana for the first time; that first slow, sweet, scared kiss under the covers. Salty and simple, and so very, very gentle.
“I won’t break,” Lana told her a few days later, nipping at Chloe’s ear.
“I might,” Chloe had responded, pressing tighter against Lana. “I really might.”
And Lana’s small hand had splayed over Chloe’s back. She’d rubbed her nose against Chloe’s, and whispered, “I won’t let you. Trust me.”
“Hey, Chloe?” Clark calls, and Chloe blinks out of the memory, turns to him. He’s leaning against the desk, and maybe he’s been calling her name for a while. She’s not sure, and it doesn’t bother her. She doesn’t want him any more, not really, and wonders when that happened.
When Clark walks out of the room, his eyes are on Lana. But Lana’s eyes are on her – Chloe can feel it.
They don’t call it anything. They don’t really talk about it much, honestly. But Chloe’s hands seem drawn to the curve of Lana’s hips, even when they pass each other in the hallway and Lana says hello tugging Chloe’s hair lightly. She always has a cappuccino waiting for Chloe when Chloe walks in, and when she passes it across the bar, their fingertips brush. They smile at each other, and let their hands linger as long as they can.
They kiss hello in the morning, and they kiss goodnight before falling asleep. When the door to Chloe’s bedroom closes behind them, they hold each other. They lie across the floor, doing homework, and Chloe toys absently with Lana’s fingers as she frowns at her physics assignment.
“You’re not doing that right,” Lana says, propping her chin up on Chloe’s shoulder and looking at her notebook. “You’ve got to divide by the acceleration.”
“Since when did you become Bill Nye, Science Guy?” Chloe asks, raising both eyebrows.
“Since I got a 98 on the last physics test and you got an 82,” Lana points out, smiling sweetly. “Try it. You’ll see.”
“Way to be competitive,” Chloe grouses, but she’s smiling because Lana’s not pretending to be anything but herself right now. “And I’m not going to tell you that you’re right, because there’s no way both of us will be able to fit in here with your ego if I do.”
Lana giggles, and touches her lips to Chloe’s shoulder in a quick kiss before turning back to her own homework. Her ponytail’s loose, and off center, with long pieces of hair dangling around her face, and she’s got her retainers in. There’s a smudge of ink on the bridge of her nose. Chloe thinks she’s beautiful, and knows no one else has ever gotten to see this. Not even Whitney.
They make love with all of the lights off. Chloe’s father is downstairs somewhere, so they’re quiet.
Lana’s wicked, and playful, and she knows what she wants. She moves Chloe’s hands all over her body, and makes whispered demands. She pulls Chloe’s hair when she wants to kiss her, and holds Chloe in place with a hand over her mouth as she makes Chloe come so hard that she forgets to breathe. She licks her fingers, and crawls up Chloe’s body, and Chloe thinks that there is nothing sexier, nothing more amazing than the girl kissing her.
It makes Chloe bold. It makes Chloe wild. It makes her want to give Lana everything she can, everything she has, and it makes her hope that’s what Lana wants.
She falls asleep with Lana’s hand on her hip, and Lana’s taste in her mouth.
Chloe’s always been jealous. She’s always been afraid of being left behind. So when she finds Clark and Lana alone in the Talon after school the next day, it makes her dizzy and frightened. Clark’s hand is next to Lana’s on the counter top, and he looks guilty.
Lana doesn’t look any different than she normally does. She puts whipped cream on Chloe’s cappuccino, but their hands don’t linger. Their eyes don’t meet.
Clark stays no longer than he has to, before murmuring something about Lex and chores and ducking out of the coffee shop. Chloe watches him go, and then turns back to Lana. She’s busy wiping down the counter top, even though it’s spotless.
“Are you okay?” Chloe asks her, and Lana just nods quickly, once, so Chloe presses her. “Are you *sure* you’re okay?”
“I’m fine, Chloe,” Lana tells her, with an edge to her voice. “Really.”
It feels like the world’s beginning to spin in a different direction, and Chloe grips onto her chair, tightly. “So, what was that all about?” she asks, waving toward the way Clark just left.
Lana smiles a sad smile, and shakes her head. “Nothing,” she tells Chloe, going back to cleaning. “Nothing at all.”
In the middle of the night, Chloe wakes up to the sound of running water and she knows something isn’t right. The door to the bathroom is locked, so she knocks on it lightly. “Lana? You okay?” she calls.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Lana replies, but her voice is thick.
Chloe rolls her eyes, and sighs. “Sure you are. Want to let me in?”
There’s a watery chuckle, and Lana says, “Not really,” but she does anyway. Her eyes are red, and her cheeks are blotchy. She’s been crying, and Chloe pulls her into a hug immediately, wrapping her arms around Lana’s waist and pressing her lips to Lana’s temple.
“What’s going on?” she asks. “Bad dream?”
Lana just nods, her face warm against Chloe’s shoulder through the thin t-shirt Chloe’s wearing. Her fingers dig into Chloe’s back, pull her closer. Chloe just runs her hands over Lana’s back again and again until Lana lets go of her, steps away. Strands of hair stick to her cheeks, and tears stand in her eyes. They shimmer in the dark.
“Chloe, I want you to promise me something, okay?” Lana says, seriously, pressing her lips together.
“Sure, yeah, anything,” Chloe tells her, meaning it. She rubs Lana’s arms, frowning with worry. “What do you need?”
“If…if we don’t…” Lana breaks off, looks away. Chloe’s eyes travel along her jaw, and her neck, and she thinks again how lovely Lana is.
When Lana looks back, she’s determined, and her eyes are almost fierce. “If we don’t work out…don’t go away. I mean, just…my parents are gone, Nell’s gone, Whitney’s gone. Clark might as well be. You’re all I’ve got left and you’re too much to lose.”
And that…it hits Chloe hard, and her hands drop off Lana’s arms. She nods, swallows, and can’t look anywhere near Lana’s face. “Is…is that why…?” Chloe asks, gesturing vaguely between the two of them. “Because if it is…if…” her voice shakes, and she takes a step back.
Lana reaches out, and Chloe’s the one who’s being hugged, who’s being comforted. Lana is whispering her name over and over, “Oh *Chloe*,” she says, kissing Chloe’s forehead. “No, that’s not…No. That’s not why. Not at all.”
“Why, then?” Chloe asks, her, pulling back, looking into the curves of Lana’s face. Her eyes are earnest, and green, but Chloe is a twist of worry. She swallows hard. “Lana, I’m not going to be a stand in, okay? I’ve played that game once. I have to know that this is more than that.”
“Don’t you know?” Lana asks her, starting to smile, reaching up to cup Chloe’s face. “You’re *nobody’s* stand in.”
“And Clark today?” Chloe asks, forcing the question even though Lana’s thumb is brushing over her lips.
“I owed him an explanation,” Lana says slowly, inching closer to Chloe. “He deserved to know that there’s never going to be anything between us.”
Chloe’s eyes drift shut, and she leans into Lana’s hands. “There’s not,” she says breathily. “So we’re…?”
“Yeah,” Lana murmurs against her lips. “We are.” She kisses Chloe slowly, like it’s their first time, one of her hands reaching around to cup Chloe’s neck.
Air blows in through the open window, and Chloe shivers, her eyes snapping open. What she sees is Lana, watching her, and there’s no way to mistake what’s on her face, or what the gentle touch of her hands on Chloe’s skin means.
So Chloe pulls back, reaches down, knits her fingers with Lana’s and takes her to bed. Lana pants her name over and over, and tears leak across her face. Chloe kisses them all away.