small town girls




How To Be A Great Journalist
by Pearl-o

Chloe keeps a piece of paper in her pocket. Her three rules to being a good journalist.

They're the rules she tries to follow with the paper. The guidelines she uses to make sense of her life in general.

The paper's old. Like, years old, and it's been folded and unfolded so many times it's practically falling apart. She doesn't really need it anymore: she has all the words burned into her brain. She couldn't forget them if she tried. But it's nice having the paper near, anyway. Reassuring, maybe. It's always there.

How to Be a Great Journalist, by Chloe Sullivan

I. Observe.

Every night, she goes through the newspaper page by page, looking for stories for the Wall of Weird.

Most of the kids at school look through her as though they don't even see her.

Her father looks at her with a paternal pride so obvious it embarrasses her. Behind her adolescent mortification, though, she can see that he really is a good man -- smart, competent, caring. Even if he is a big dork.

Clark's parents look at him with love and a worry that Chloe doesn't entirely get, because if there's one person you don't have to really worry about, it's Clark. He's not exactly fragile. She thinks it may have to do with his being adopted: they had so many problems having a baby at all that it makes Clark extra special to them, and so they're that much more protective of him.

When they're together, Lex Luthor looks at Clark with an intensity -- a hunger -- that would make Chloe blush, if she were the sort of girl that blushes. As it is, though, it makes her kind of uneasy, like she's stumbled in and interrupted something private.

It's still amusing, though, and she regrets that she can't tease Clark mercilessly about the situation. Because Clark looks at Lex the same way, but Clark doesn't get it, and Lex does.

He smirks at Chloe whenever she catches his eye.

She's pretty sure Lex would make a great journalist.

Clark looks at Chloe like he sees something special. Like he sees the real Chloe, deep within, something beyond the performance she puts on, something beyond what everyone else sees. Something she might not even know about. She likes herself more when she's around him.

Clark doesn't look at Lana like that. Clark looks at Lana like she's something different entirely. A fairy princess still, maybe. Someone who's not really there, not human, not down at the level of everybody else. He doesn't see Lana at all.

Lana is quiet, the sort of quiet that makes some people think she's dumb. Factor in that's she was a cheerleader, that she's really, really nice, and that she's pretty, and well, it's an easy assumption to make.

But Lana's not dumb, and just because she doesn't say anything doesn't mean she isn't feeling anything. She's the sort of girl who keeps most of what she feels inside. Like she could be working through the most intense or thrilling emotions and not have a muscle on her face give it away.

Pete is the opposite: everything he's thinking shows immediately on his face. He doesn't seem to have that built-in filter between what he feels and what he lets the world see.

Chloe could never live like that. That exposed. That ... naked.

II. Learn to ask the right questions.

Chloe sits at the computer in the newsroom, exhausted. She's trying to finish this thing up so she can actually be out of here before three tonight, and maybe get a couple hours of sleep before Geometry. So far, the odds aren't looking good.

A knock at the door, and she almost jumps out of her chair as her concentration breaks with a sudden snap.

Huh. Well. Lana's the last person she would have expected to be making a late night social call.

If Clark or Pete heard her say that, they'd make a stupid comment about how she'd be probably have expected Lana before the President, say, or Lionel Luther, or some random Japanese tourist, or something. But Chloe lets it go, because she's pretty sure now's not a time she wants to be examining her psyche in too much depth.

"What are you doing here?"

She realizes that her shock probably came out wrong. Rude. Mean. She does that a lot. She's ruined it; now Lana's going to think that she's annoyed at her, like Chloe thinks she's horning in on her turf again or something. And she'll leave, and Chloe won't know what to do to make it right again.

But Lana doesn't look like she took it that way. She's friendly and smiling like she didn't even notice, and Chloe's kind of relieved. Well, really relieved, if she's being honest with herself.

She decides it's probably a good idea to let that one go, too.

"I come bearing food," Lana announces, swinging the bag in her hand in a grand and mocking gesture. "And coffee."

"Ah. Then you've found the key to a lonely newspaper editor's heart."

She goes over to help, and they begin spreading out the food before them. Candy bars, cookies, Doritos, gummy worms...

"God, Lana. How much junk did you buy?"

"I remembered how much I was craving this stuff when I was finishing up that one issue. I figured it'd be even worse for you, since you know what you're doing and all."

"Normally I would retort that the hunger merely sharpens and enhances my natural skill, but jeez. This looks really, really good." She pauses. "Yeah, I think I'm about due for a break, anyway."

Lana hands Chloe her coffee, and it's just the way she likes it, which is surprising. In a good way. It's nice that Lana remembered something tiny and stupid like that. It's really...

Thoughtful, her brain offers. Caring. Like she was paying attention to you.

Chloe just sips at her coffee.

"Seriously, Chloe, I don't know how you do this every week," Lana says. She has a bag of M&M's, and Chloe can't help but watch as she bites each candy perfectly in half before eating it. "I mean, I never realized how complicated it was. You make it look so easy, and really it's just. Wow."

Chloe shrugs, and looks down a little so Lana can't see her expression. "Well, when you really care about something, it's not that hard, you know? You don't mind the crap surrounding it as much."

There's a silence, so Chloe looks up again. Lana looks different -- as if she's concentrating on some especially hard math puzzle or something.

"Lana?" Chloe asks, a little more uncertain now. Like maybe they're not talking about the same thing anymore.

"It's just ... I don't think I have anything like that. Something that makes it easier."

Chloe regrets what she says even as it comes out. "Well, you have Whitney." She sounds petty. Jealous. Like a stupid teenage girl.

But Lana does that little half-smile of hers and just shakes her head a little. "No, I don't, not anymore... I don't think I have for a long time, actually."

Lana looks struck, almost lost, and Chloe thinks she might begin to cry, so she moves closer and puts an arm around her. Does it before her brain can start talking again.

Lana's face is in pressed into her shoulder, and Chloe can feel her breath as she sighs.

Chloe closes her eyes and bites her lip.



"Why are you here?"

She feels her move away and she really doesn't want to open her eyes.

Lana is looking right at her. "Chloe, I told you, I really want us to be friends."

The smile returns to her lips unbidden, and she gets up and walks back to the computer. The speech coming out of her mouth sounds almost giddy. "Friends, right. Okay. So, what do you think of this headline: Crows--"

A hand on her shoulder. "Chloe, I don't think--"

"It's okay, Lana," Chloe says.

"No, it's not," and is that Lana, angry? Annoyed? Weird. But Chloe doesn't have time to ponder this, because she just turned around, and Lana's arms are around her and they're pressed against each other and her face is only a few inches away.


She tries to catch her breath. "Yeah?"

"Can I kiss you?"

III. Follow your instincts when necessary.

And those are four words Chloe never expected to hear from Lana's mouth. Not addressed to her, at least. She doesn't have much time to think too much about this before she realizes that she's leaning in towards Lana, and then they're kissing.

Chloe has made out with people before -- a couple guys, but there was that one cute girl from the bus in Metropolis last summer, too. Nobody knows about that except Clark, and him only because of a special emergency Truth-or-Dare session last August. Even then she had forced from him multiple pinky-swears of secrecy before answering. Smallville is not the most welcoming place for teens who might not exactly be, well. Not queer.

None of the people she kissed before were anything like this, though. It's a light kiss right now (sweet and pink, she thinks, like Lana, and when did she become the sort of person who thinks schmaltzy thoughts like that?) but it's nice. Really nice. Ridiculously nice. So nice Chloe has to pull away.

"Um. Wow."

Lana giggles a little. "Yeah."

"You know, if I didn't have to put this paper to bed..."

"I understand," Lana says.

Chloe grins. Her stomach feels like it's melting. A nice melting, and Chloe can't even think of a metaphor.

Lana smiles back. "I'd better get back home now. Nell will be worried if she wakes up and I'm not there."


"I'll see you tomorrow, Chloe." She leaves, stopping to wave from the door.

Chloe tries to turn her attention back to the computer and the paper there. Paper. She has a responsibility to the newspaper. She has to concentrate.

Tomorrow, she tells herself firmly. Get your perspective back. It was just a kiss. From Lana Lang. A kiss from Lana Lang. Lana Lang who likes you. Lana Lang who might want to be your girlfriend.

Chloe can't stop smiling. Her face is going to ache if she keeps it up. She wonders if this is going to ruin her bitchy faŤade. Expose her true nature to her public.

"Back to the paper. Right." She forms her face into the most serious frown she can manage and stares at the screen firmly. Her hand slips into her pocket and strokes the slip of paper there, and Chloe really wants to just squeal right now, so she does.

A little high pitched noise echoing through her newsroom, and it's all too much, and all of a sudden Chloe can't stop giggling because it's all right. And wow, this isn't something she'd ever prepared herself for. Too much goodness.

And, yeah, that's something she can learn to deal with.

But first she's got to meet this deadline.