small town girls




Memento Mori
by FayJay

It's morbid, is what it is. She wouldn't say that to Clark, of course, because it's not like he's exactly Captain Objectivity when it comes to Little Miss Lang, but Chloe thinks there's something deeply twisted about wearing a piece of the very thing that killed your parents. What the hell was that all about? Chloe bet none of the kids orphaned by the Hindenberg disaster were in any hurry to wander round wearing remnants of the zeppelin. Her mom's analyst would have a field day with Lana; probably write some great big paper laced with polysyllables on the subject of infantile bereavement and displacement of affection to inanimate objects. Chloe's seen what the meteor rock does to people and there simply isn't enough money in Metropolis to tempt her to go around wearing a chunk of the stuff next to her skin all day every day. And yet there Lana goes, wistfully wearing the reminder like a dainty little albatross around her slender throat. Crazy.

Chloe finds her eyes drawn to that deceptive little stone, with its smooth, polished surface and the faintest hint of power quiescent at its core, and she wonders. Kids transforming into bugs. Shapeshifters. Invisibility. She watches Lana; watches her nibbling the end of her pencil in math class, watches her laughing at Whitney's jokes in the lunchbreak (marvels that Whitney apparently makes jokes, but then Lana's laughter is no guarantee that they're funny jokes), watches her shopping with Nell, drinking coffees in The Beanery, turning to perfect strangers with exactly the same bland Sweet'n'Low smile that she offers Clark and Pete and Chloe; and she wonders whether anything lurks beneath that candy coating. Something dark and bitter, perhaps, or something sharp and sour. Something unexpected. There are hints of it sometimes; little flashes of temper, little sparks that suggest there could be something more inside. Surely nobody could be so soft and sweet and inoffensive? Lana Lang: Human Cappucino. The pale epitome of 'nice'.

But it seems to be what Clark wants out of a girl.

Chloe isn't nice; not in her heart of hearts. She's good, but she isn't nice. And she's okay with that. Chloe Sullivan would rather be an espresso any day of the week; something to scald the tongue and stimulate the brain; something strong and bittersweet to set the pulse to racing. An acquired taste. But she wishes it were a taste Clark would acquire.

In her less charitable moments (of which there are many, and for which she is undoubtedly going to be burning in hell) Chloe does wonder whether Lana consciously plays up her part. Because however bright and cheerful Lana Lang might be, she's always, always always wearing that goddamned stone; never lets anyone forget for a single moment that she's a brave little toaster. There's power in this, and Chloe's quietly sure that Lana knows it.

That's the thing that has Clark hooked, in Chloe's humble opinion; that constant reminder of loss. It isn't just the Bambi eyes and the silk curtain of shiny, shampoo-commercial-perfect hair; it isn't just the slender neck, the delicate wrists or the touchable body that she hides under a host of uninteresting girl-next-door outfits. It's the cover of Time Magazine. The broken wings. The polished stone. It's these long-ago things with which Chloe can never compete, the things that remind Clark that Lana is an orphan too.

But that's not the whole story either; and Chloe sometimes wonders whether Clark even wants Lana to come down from her pedestal. There's something safe about pining for someone unattainable, after all; and occasionally, when she watches Clark smiling at his unlikely new best friend the billionaire, she entertains speculations that would shock Pete. Or perhaps they wouldn't shock Pete at all. Nothing's ever straight-forward in Smallville.

Lana seems to be an open book, but Chloe has her doubts about that. For one thing she doesn't quite believe the Lana-and-Whitney show; there's something not quite right there. They're both young and attractive, after all, with hormones in full swing; and while Chloe isn't saying that they should be making out in the corridors every day of the week, surely there should be something -- something hungry in the way they look at each other. In the way they touch each other. But it's all so friendly and easy and -- say it, Chloe -- sexless. Comfortable. Safe.

She isn't stalking Lana; that's Clark's job, after all, and he does it disconcertingly well, the big dork. But Chloe studies Lana Lang like a personal project, like some promised scoop, trying to fathom just who the real Lana is. She might have hidden shallows, of course, but Chloe doesn't think it's that simple. It's more like watching somebody carefully going through all the motions of being sweet and good and well adjusted; being mild and reassuringly frothy; being just stimulating enough without actually making anyone uncomfortable. Chloe doesn't quite believe it.

She can't stand this Lana, the one who sends Clark all dreamy-eyed and wistful; but the other Lana, the secret one she sometimes suspects might lurk under the surface -- Chloe finds herself wondering about her. Her eyes track Lana across the cafeteria, follow the swing of her skinny hips and the innocent bounce of her hair, and she wonders what Lana Lang really dreams about at night. It's just her journalistic instincts that make her conscious of Lana every time they're in the same room; that make her notice the way Lana tilts her head when she's thinking; that make her pay attention to which scent Lana wears, and spray a little on the skin of her own wrist the next time she's in the drugstore; that make her want to grab the girl's narrow shoulders and shake her until her teeth rattle; because she knows that Lana's hiding something, and it's driving her insane trying to figure out what it is.

So she watches Lana narrowly, and she wonders what effect the meteor rock is having on Clark's fairy princess day after day, week after week. It's not that she actually wants anything terrible to happen to Lana. She isn't praying that Lana Lang will wake up one morning covered in scales or fur, or sprout an extra nose or two. Not really. But at least with an extra nose or a vivid green pelt you'd be able to say it was just another meteorite mutation; and it would become manageable, in a whacky, Smallville kind of way. It's the not knowing that worries her; like living on the San Andreas fault. It's the possibility that there's nothing wrong with Lana Lang at all; the possibility that it isn't some meteorite-enhanced pheromone signal that makes Chloe's skin prickle when she accidentally brushes against her in the locker room; that it isn't just her journalistic reflexes that Lana Lang occasionally arouses.

Chloe's all for the pursuit of the truth, but she isn't sure that she's quite ready to go there. Yet.