Warnings: AU, occasional but barely detectable OOC, Smallville Timeline has totally gone out the window
Summary: rewrite of season 6 Reunion according to the Exceptional Universe.
banner by 552158
I expect this sequel to be about 2-3 short chapters long, but I can't make any guarantees about how quickly I will be updating. The rating is currently subject to drastic change–I really have no idea where I'm going with this.
Enjoy! As always, thank you for reading, and thank you for the tremendous response An Exceptional Young Woman received last year.
P.S. The opening monologue/dream sequence is from Tennessee William's A Streetcar Named Desire.
May I speak plainly? Well, if you'll forgive me, he's common. You can't have forgotten that much of our bringing up, Stella, to just suppose that any part of a gentleman is in his nature! Not one particle, no! Oh, if he was just–ordinary! Just plain–but good and wholesome, but–no. There's something downright–bestial about him! You're hating me saying this aren't you?
Well, he acts like an animal, has an animal's habits! Eats like one, moves like one, talks like one! There's even something–sub-human–something not quite to the stage of humanity yet! Yes, something–ape-like about him, like one of those pictures I've seen in–anthropological studies!
Thousands and thousands of years have passed him by, and there he is–Stanley Kowalski–survivor of the stone age! Bearing the raw meat home from the kill in the jungle! And you–you here–waiting for him! Maybe he'll strike you or maybe grunt and kiss you! That is, if kisses have been discovered yet! Night falls and all the other apes gather! There in front of the cave, all grunting like him, and swilling and gnawing and hulking! His poker night you call it–this party of apes! Somebody growls–some creature snatches at something–the fight is on!
Maybe we are a long way from being made in God's image, but Stella–my sister–there has been some progress since then! Such things as art–as poetry and music–such kinds of new light have come into the world since then! In some kind of people some tenderer feelings have had some little beginning! That we have got to make grow! And cling to, and hold as our flag!
In this dark march toward whatever it is we are approaching...don't–don't hang back with the brutes!
Oliver stared at the fifteen-year-old Chloe standing on the stage, sweat beading on his forehead as she preached her warning to Claire and Diana and everyone foolish enough to think something worthwhile existed in him. Her eyes glued on him, filled with cold, staggering hatred. Slowly he melted into his chair, as if her glare had the power to obliterate him, to make him exactly as small and worthless and despicable as she believed him to be...as he really was.
Her monologue ended and she kept her disdainful, unfeeling eyes locked on him before adding icily, "I will never love you."
Oliver shot up in bed, gasping for breath, clutching his chest as he accidentally fell out of the bed altogether, tumbling to the floor in a tangle of sheets.
His face met the carpet and he swore as reality washed over him.
That was the fifth nightmare this week.
He knew the reason. The squirming feeling in his gut was reminder enough that tomorrow was the tenth year reunion for his graduating class at Excelsior. He was grateful that Chloe wasn't around this evening to witness him succumbing to fear once again. He'd carefully avoided letting her know about the anxiety he was experiencing. He wasn't sure Chloe fully understood how unpleasant his last couple of years at that school had been. The two of them had barely spoken for most of their time there. Come to think of it, not being around her had definitely contributed to his misery. He had missed her, had been frustrated that she refused to be honest with him–however much he currently understood the reason behind all that. But the worst part had been seeing Lex everyday. Passing him in the halls, knowing, down in his gut, that he had contributed to the mental breakdown Lex had had.
He still had nightmares about Duncan Allenmeyer sometimes, especially when he'd been spending too much time thinking about Excelsior. It hadn't taken him long after graduating to drift apart from Alden and Geoff. All he wanted was to forget about everything that reminded him of what he had almost become: selfish, spoiled, arrogant, and cruel.
Not to mention they reminded him that he had turned Lex Luthor into the mentally unbalanced villain that he was.
He made himself sick.
Most days he was able to forget his once-connection to Lex. He had pushed back memories of his days as a bully to the furtherst, darkest corner of his mind and convinced himself that Lex would have turned out that way anyway, that there was nothing anyone could have done to prevent it. But with the reunion looming ever-nearer, he could almost envision his sixteen-year-old self taunting a young, helpless Lex, mocking and making his life miserable.
Back when Oliver had been the villain and Lex the victim.
All he wanted was acceptance. And I refused to give him that.
All of a sudden a buzzer went off and Oliver realized he'd woken from his nightmare only ten minutes before his alarm was set to go off. He rubbed a hand over his face, exhausted, wondering how in the world he was going to get through today.
Chloe smoothed her dress in front of the mirror, checking herself from each angle.
"I like the other one better," Lois said behind her.
Chloe sighed. "Me, too." She walked back to the closet and pulled the teal dress off the door then back to the mirror, draping it in front of her. She nodded to herself. "Yeah, definitely this one."
Lois smiled, watching her cousin fret about clothes for once in her life. "So, you scared that all the CEOs and heiresses are going to look down their noses at you?"
Chloe chuckled, glancing at Lois in the mirror. "Something like that. It was tough going to school there, you know." Though tougher on some than others, she thought sadly, her mind's eye flitting to a young man in a shabby uniform, accompanied by his inexplicably bald friend. She shook thoughts of Duncan Allenmeyer from her head. Today was a day to be happy, to catch up with old friends.
"Whatever happened to those two girls you were such good friends with?" Lois asked. "What were their names again?"
"Claire and Diana," Chloe replied, all traces of sadness leaving her face. "We still keep in touch by e-mail, but they lead such busy lives...it's difficult to find time to visit. I haven't seen them since..." she trailed off, remembering the last time she'd seen them.
"Chloe, honey? Open up. We know you're in there. The cute farmboy told us."
Chloe tilted her head slightly, surprised to hear the sound of Claire's voice on the other side of the door. "Claire?" she asked in surprise.
"Who else, darling? Let us in. We come bearing gifts."
Chest tight, Chloe put down the dishtowel she had been using to dry a few mugs with and headed for the door to let in Claire and Diana. Claire instantly flung her arms tightly around Chloe. "Oh, sweetie, how are you? Are you holding up all right?"
There was no use hiding the fact that Chloe had been crying. Her eyes were dry and red, and her cheeks bore treacherous tear-streaks. She sighed as Claire released her. "I'm fine," she said as she turned to give Diana a more delicate hug, as she was holding a tray of coffee and a paper bag that promised muffins of some variety. "What are you two doing here?" she added, a bit confused by the sudden visit.
Claire scoffed, entering Chloe's apartment and seating herself on the couch. "You're joking, right? We watch the news, Chloe. And we both have the DailyPlanet special ordered, by the way. We read the obituary you wrote, you poor dear." She looked at Chloe sympathetically. Diana had busied herself in the kitchen, unloading the muffins onto a plate, handing Chloe her coffee. She put away the mugs Chloe had been drying and disappeared, reappearing moments later with a broom to start sweeping the kitchen for Chloe.
"Diana," Chloe said with a faint tickle of laughter in her throat, "that's not necessary. Come sit down."
"It's no use, Chlo. Some people send cards. Some make casseroles. Diana's way of comforting is to help clean."
Diana just shrugged at Chloe, giving her a meaningful look, and Chloe sighed, recognizing a losing battle. She squeezed Diana's hand gratefully and told her, "Come sit down when you're done?"
Diana nodded, smiling comfortingly. "Of course."
"Anyway," Claire continued her explanation, "it was the weirdest thing. I was asking Diana if she had heard from you recently because we both figured this would probably hit you pretty hard after–"
Chloe's eyes flashed with warning and Claire–for once–faltered slightly.
"Um...after everything. And then, out of nowhere, I got a call from Mr. Christopher."
Chloe choked on her coffee.
"You remember the drama teacher, right Chloe? Well, I hadn't heard from him since school, but out of nowhere he calls me–I don't even know how he got my number–and tells me that he thinks Diana and I should go see you because you're not doing so great. Are you in touch with him?" she asked curiously.
Chloe took a nervous, guilty swig of coffee, thinking of her outburst just the day before, yelling at Mr. Christopher and Mr. Williams about how they needed to fix everything and bring Oliver back. She swallowed tightly. "A little."
Claire nodded, surveying Chloe speculatively. "Huh. He always was weirdly intuitive, wasn't he?" She tugged Chloe onto the couch with her so she could wrap her arms around her in a comforting hug. "Diana and I have decided to stay in Metropolis for a week," she announced to Chloe's surprise. "Now, you could go make your best friends in the whole world stay in a hotel somewhere," she sighed dramatically, "or..."
Chloe chuckled, and her face almost hurt as if she had forgotten how to smile, "Of course you guys can stay with me. Any time." She hugged Claire back, finally accepting comfort.
"Do you have any bleach?" Chloe heard Diana ask from the kitchen, and Chloe sighed, realizing that her apartment was probably going to be spotless by the end of this visit whether she liked it or not.
"I'll give it to you if you come sit with me for ten minutes and catch me up on your life," Chloe bargained, and Diana obligingly joined them on the couch, gentle smile in tact as she took Chloe's hand.
Chloe shook herself from her thoughts, swallowing tightly as she realized she hadn't seen Claire or Diana since Oliver had been shipwrecked. They still sent e-mails and Christmas cards with updates, but it wasn't the same as seeing them in person.
"So teal dress," Lois said, getting up from Chloe's bed to head for the closet, "silver shoes," she continued, tossing the shoes onto Chloe's bed, then heading to Chloe's dresser and jewelry box, "and silver choker from boyfriend-extraordinaire."
Chloe grinned at Lois's assessment as she offered up the necklace. "Perfect, Lo, thanks."
"I still can't believe you went to school with Lex Luthor," Lois mused.
"You can believe I'm dating Oliver Queen but not that I went to school with Lex Luthor?" she questioned.
"Well, Oliver's really...human," Lois pointed out. "Lex is so..." she trailed off, shuddering.
Chloe's face became more serious. "You know, Lex wasn't always like he is now. He used to be a lot more..." she searched for a word. Tortured? "Well, approachable."
"I'm serious. He had a really rough childhood." Duncan's smiling face flashed through her mind, followed by the closed, disdainful expression of Lionel Luthor. She turned her eyes sadly to the mirror and started unzipping the pink dress she'd been trying on.
"Hmmm," Lois replied noncommittally. "If you say so. I still can't picture him as a little kid, though. Let alone a teenager."
Chloe's throat constricted and she saw Lex's outraged face, shouting obscenities at her after Duncan's memorial service.
Her fingers fumbled with the zipper, and Lois got up to help her with it.