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lexcorp_hope in ship_manifesto

Chloe/Lex (Smallville)

Title: Verbal Judo
Author: Hope
Spoilers: To third season finale
Email: hope@secrets-and-lies.com
Personal Website: Secrets & Lies




Chloe Sullivan

Hailing from Metropolis, Chloe Sullivan moved to Smallville in eighth grade when her father, Gabe Sullivan, was transferred to LuthorCorp Plant #3. Early on, she proved her mettle when she nearly escaped a kidnapping attempt, and her snarky wit brings much-needed lightness to the show.

She worked her way up to editor of the Smallville Torch- journalism is the center of her life, and she collects sources wherever she goes, sharpening her journalistic instincts for her planned return to Metropolis. She keeps track of the goings on back home with a subscription to the Daily Planet, and she, in her own words, is the kind of girl who drinks coffee, but doesn't serve it.. A consummate city girl, Chloe initially assumed that Clark was Amish because he lived on a farm.

Chloe's mother abandoned the family when Chloe was just five years old; she doesn't know why her mother left; her father never explained the abandonment. Chloe remains convinced that she wasn't good enough for her mother to love- a feeling that is rooted in the fact that she knows where her mother is, and that her mother has chosen not to see her. This episode in Chloe's life has fueled her obsession with uncovering the truth. This aspect of her nature has served both as a boon and a bane to her relationship with Clark Kent; he relies on her for information-gathering and help in various investigations, but at the same time, holds her at arms' length because her interest in the truth extends even to him.

Another source of conflict between them has been her long-standing, but unrequited, feelings for Clark. After a disasterous first (and only) date, she stepped back and grew more and more bitter as Clark continued to pursue Lana, whom Chloe rightfully believed he'd never stopped wanting even during the brief courtship she and Clark shared leading up to the Spring Formal. Despite these entanglements, Chloe and Lana struck up a relationship when the Sullivans offered Lana a home in Smallville so she wouldn't have to move to Metropolis with her aunt. Trying to create her own family, Chloe went so far as to mark Lana down as her sister in a school family tree project. However, Clark and Lana lied to her about their burgeoning relationship, and a very bitter Chloe struck an ill-advised deal with Lionel Luthor to further investigate Clark Kent's mysterious origins.

In spite of that lapse of judgment, Chloe resisted offering Mr. Luthor any pertinent information about Clark, going so far as to hide the fact that she knew where Clark was during his lost summer in Metropolis. When she finally severed her official relationship with Mr. Luthor, she lost her internship at the Daily Planet, as well as her father's job at LuthorCorp. Though she held this somewhat against Lex, as he's the one who made the actual termination, Chloe went to Lex for help when she caught Lana's latest flame, Adam Knight, shooting up in the Torch office. She, in turn, provided help for Lex when he was being drugged by his father, and ultimately took advantage of a brief ability to force people to tell the truth to gather evidence against Lionel Luthor, which she later turned over to Lex. Though she fully understood the dangers of crossing Lionel Luthor, she still agreed to testify against him in federal court.

When last we saw Chloe Sullivan, the safehouse she'd been assigned by the Witness Protection Program exploded in a ball of flames, leaving her fate uncertain as we lead into the fourth season.


Lex Luthor

Another outsider to Smallville, Lex Luthor's first encounter with the town came at nine years old, when he accompanied his father on a business trip to negotiate the purchase of the Ross Creamed Corn Factory. Bored with adult conversation, young Lex wandered into Riley Field, where he discovered the crucified, but still-living, Jeremy Creek, begging for help from his perch. Before Lex could do anything, he found himself in the middle of a meteor shower which left him unconscious and prematurely bald.

A fearful child, Lex's relationship with his father had already been contentious, but the effects of the meteor shower lessened him in his father's eyes. Though his mother, Lillian, was sickly, she became pregnant when Lex was twelve, bearing a child that she feared would supplant Lex as the rightful heir to the Luthor dynasty. Lex was delighted with his new baby brother Julian, and shattered when he discovered his mother had suffocated the new baby in the middle of the night. Protecting his mother, Lex claimed responsibility for the death, creating a divide between himself and Lionel Luthor that could not be reconciled.

Lex suffered a mental breakdown while away at boarding school, then suffered another blow when his beloved mother passed away of a terminal illness. Pamela, his mother's nurse, and a woman who cared for him as well, was summarily fired, leaving Lex essentially alone in the world. As he reached his teenaged years, he began to rebel against his father, inviting enough trouble with the law that a rogue cop was enlisted to help clean up his messes. These incidents culminated in the shooting death of Jude Royce, the fiancé of Lex's friend Amanda. Though the details remain unclear, Lex brought Amanda to Club Zero so she could witness Jude's infidelities, and a fight ensued that left Royce dead and Lex claiming responsibility for it to protect Amanda, whom he later claimed was the real shooter.

Exiled to Smallville to clean up his act, Lex took over Plant #3, and attempted a corporate split from his father, briefly forming LexCorp to compete with him. His new company was dissolved through various machinations between LuthorCorp and LexCorp, and after two failed marriages- the first to Desiree Atkins, who beguiled him with meteor-enhanced pheremones, the second to Helen Bryce- who may or may not have been working for Morgan Edge, Lionel Luthor himself, or in her own interests to defraud Lex of his life and his fortune- Lex Luthor put himself on a direct adversarial path with his father.

Discovering that his father was responsible for the murders of the Luthor grandparents, Lex slowly builds a case against his father, only stopped when his father- in collusion with a therapist hired to help Lex work through the three months he spent marooned on a desert island- drugged him to bring forth another mental breakdown like the one he experienced in boarding school. Forcibly admitted to Belle Reve institution, Lex is ultimately subjected to electroshock therapy by his father's orders to erase his memories.

Determined to regain that lapse, Lex turns to Dr. Garner to undergo a series of experimental treatments, finally retrieving enough of his memories to help the FBI build a case against his father. Lionel Luthor attempts to frame his son for deaths that occur in an experimental drug program run by LuthorCorp. Wearing a wire to collect evidence, Lex's machinations are revealed and his father- from prison- manages to order a hit against his own son. With a sip of poisoned scotch, Lex exits season three in grave danger.


Chlex: Canon

Early canon evidence for Chlex comes in the first season, Lex visits the Torch offices specifically to see Chloe, time they spent talking about Chloe's Wall of Weird. (Craving.) Lex grants Chloe an interview at the manor (Kinetic) something which he repeatedly states throughout the first season that he chooses not to do as a general rule (going so far as to create a new position for Carrie Castle to prevent her from publishing an unflattering story about him.) That particular incident sets the tone for Chlex, when Chloe insists on asking hard questions about LuthorCorp, and Lex excuses himself, saying he "look(s) forward to resuming our verbal judo."

Their relationship is close enough that Chloe attends both Lex's wedding (Heat) and his funeral (Phoenix) and as Lex begins his drug-induced spiral to insanity (Shattered,) she works closely with Clark to investigate the matter in an attempt to save Lex from certain psychiatric admission. Also in Heat, Chloe discusses the relative merits of Lex Luthor versus Clark Kent as an object of desire for Desiree Atkins, and Clark decidedly comes up on the short end of the comparative scale. However, while under the influence of a meteor illness, Chloe makes fun of the fact that Lex is incredibly wealthy, and yet, can't afford a good toupee. (Rush.)

When Lionel recalls the computers he donated to the school paper, Lex makes a special point to take Chloe to the morgue to show her what happens to people who meddle with Lionel Luthor. (Magnetic.) When she confesses that she made a deal with his father to investigate Clark, Lex promises to protect her, and in fact, takes her into his own home when attempts are made on her life. (Delete) Later, she's the one to tell Lex that Lionel murdered his parents, and provides the evidence Lex needs to help the FBI take him down. When she agrees to testify against Lionel Luthor, Lex twice tries to warn her away from it, but promises once again to protect her when she remains steadfast. (Forsaken, Covenant) Chloe's seen firsthand what Lionel Luthor will do to someone who threatens him; there's no better testament to a fandom pairing than the willingness for one party to die for the other- a sacrifice it seems Chloe makes for Lex as of the finale. (Covenant)


Chlex: Subtext

Lex tends to talk to Chloe as though she were another adult, and she acts as his peer (and is often treated as one,) when they work together on a problem (as compared to the way he speaks to Lana, which often takes on an "older, wiser brother" tone.) There are visual moments- Mack and Rosenbaum plainly have chemistry with one another; they stand close to one another, nearly chest to chest, while conversing, and Lex frequently watches Chloe's exits with an appraising eye. Unlike most characters on the show, Chloe doesn't hesitate to touch Lex, often putting a hand on his arm as she leans in to speak to him.

They share a fascination with Clark Kent that goes beyond mere interest, they're both outsiders in Smallville, citizens of Metropolis, and they share the loss of mothers and distance with fathers in common. Likewise, given their mutual fascination with Clark and the inevitable breakdown of their relationships with him, there's a wide foundation there to bring the two together. Both characters are consumed with knowing every facet of a person, while at the same time, holding back on their own details, and both seem to be willing to put up with quite a bit of upset to gain someone else's love.

Though apparently not Lex's physical type (which trends toward busty brunettes,) Chloe shares in common quite a few intellectual traits with the women who have intrigued Lex in the past. Like Carrie Castle, she's competitive and challenges him; like Victoria Hardwick, she could present a danger to him (through her chosen line of work as a journalist,) and like Helen Bryce, she is independent and strong-willed. Lex seems to be a man who would be easily bored by a pastoral romance, and that's something Chloe would never offer.

Likewise, Lex has demonstrably proven an appeal to Chloe's curiosity (his inclusion in her digital Wall of Weird,) something that's is far from an impediment to romance to her (her reaction to discovering Justin Grave's meteor mutation in "Crush," was fascination, not horror.) When Lex shows an interest in someone, it's focused almost to the point of obsession, something else Chloe longs for (as expressed in "Obscura,") and she wants much more than a simple life in Smallville- she and Lex both want to return to Metropolis.


Why Chlex

Smallville is unique in that it has a variety of valid and exciting shipping possibilities, but Chlex is one of my favorites because of the intellectual excitement it provides. Chloe and Lex are similar enough that they can find common ground, but both ambitious enough to present a partnership that is passionate both privately and professionally. What especially appeals to me is that their relationship can encompass more than just romance- as a team in the boardroom, they would be an indomitable force, complementing one another's strengths and compensating for each other's weaknesses.

And dangerous together, they can also be dangerous to each other- Lex has not been shy about using Chloe to get information he wants, nor has Chloe been shy about meddling in Lex's (and LuthorCorp) secrets, both secretively and in the open. I enjoy pairings that stand on equal footing and Lex and Chloe are an excellent match for each other in that aspect- they could hurt one another just as effectively as they could help one another, and from that springs a delicious tension that never settles.

One of my favorite scenes between them is the scene where Chloe insists on testifying against Lionel Luthor; the vulnerability and strength that both of them show at that moment really seals how willing they both are to commit to a course of action together, and to see one another through to the end.

Chlex Recs

Let Go by Andariel

It's the little details that really make this story- Lex checks his caller ID, Chloe is quite practical calculating just what it'll take to make him forget there's a world outside at all, and it's all wrapped up with a hint of anger at the first, and a shade of grey at the end, which utterly suits both of them.

The Martinelli Affair by Linda Seaton

A lovely, lovely character piece with a point, wherein Chloe and Lex attempt to make small-talk and open a bottle of apple juice. The pushme pullyou between the characters is just spot on.

The Gloves by käthe

One of my absolute favorite Chlex stories (käthe pretty much invented the genre,) this one is quiet and contemplative, and it absolutely outlines how subtle Lex and Chloe can be together.

Mold Me, Make Me by DebC

I really like reading stories where Chloe and Lex have a few peaceful, happy moments completely separate from the maelstrom that directs their days to days, and I really like stories where they have those moments together. A little clay, a wee Sullivan-Luthor hopped up on coffee, and a lot of smiles, I really enjoyed it.

Underneath Your Clothes by Boniblithe
(currently down)

Even though the vid is supposed to be metaphorical, it really works on a shipper level as well, highlighting the wonderful chemistry that Mack and Rosenbaum bring to these two characters together, and giving a wonderful view of what Chloe could see in Lex.

Archives, Etc..

Chemistry

Naughty Seduction

Lexcite

Verbal Judo

Electric Fanlisting

Comments

Great essay:)
Thanks for the recs. I've been craving some good Chlex and didn't know where to go.
Thank you so much, I'm glad you liked it! And if you want more good Chlex, go read everything kathe ever wrote! I didn't want to put in nine hundred recs, just to keep things from being cluttered, but she really is my source of all things Chlex!
I often try to pin down exactly why I love this pairing so much and end up failing miserably. This essay, however, nails down each and every reason...Especially this one:

they could hurt one another just as effectively as they could help one another, and from that springs a delicious tension that never settles.

which is wonderful, since half of their draw is that they can be shippy without being shippy at all.

Wonderful job on the essay, m'dear!
Thank you so much; it's totally an honor to hear that from you. And that really is the great part about Chlex- they can be friends, they can be lovers, they can be adversaries- and they could be all of these things, all at the same time! Viva le Chlex!!
Bizactly, bizactly! I love it that they can work, fight, or love, together, or apart, and they're still fascinating. That multiple-possibility dynamic just keeps me coming back!
really great essay. very much enjoyed reading it.

Mmmm Chlex.
Thank you so much, I'm glad you enjoyed it. They are tasty, aren't they?
totally ;)

the recs were great, too. thanks for those.
I *heart* you. This was a compelling essay, and if I didn't already like the two of them together, I would start :) I only hope my essay will be as convincing.
I have no doubt that it will; thank you so much for your kind words! I really do love this pairing, and it was a pleasure to get to talk about them!
That was a great essay! Not that I needed anymore reasons to believe or obsess with Chlex, but that makes me want to go re-read all my favorite fics.

They're just great together, any Chlex interation is entertaining and to me? Very much welcome.
Yay, I'm so glad it got you in the mood for Chlex, thank you so much! I just absolutely love them together, and I'm really, really hoping this is the season where we end up with Chloe and Lex in canon. Wheeeeeeee!
*crosses fingers* I hope so. I mean from where they left last season? Impossible not to have at least SOME Chlex interation.

Also? I'll add this as a memory to chlexers.
I enjoy pairings that stand on equal footing and Lex and Chloe are an excellent match for each other in that aspect- they could hurt one another just as effectively as they could help one another, and from that springs a delicious tension that never settles.

Guh! Yes yes yes! Brilliant essay, Hope. *hugs and pets essay*

*blush* WOw, thank you so much, 'm glad you liked it! And thank you for inviting me to participate!
Thank you so much for your kind words, I'm glad it was persuasive! I love this pairing, and I was just thrilled to get a chance to point out why. I think they would be *fantastic* together. I just hope TPTB are listening! C'mon, Almiles, give us the Chlex!
Vive le Chlex! It seems my pulling medie's icon out was perfect timing. Fantastic essay and I have to agree that K's my main source too.
Kathe brings the goods, for serious! Thank you so much for reading, I'm glad you liked it! And thank you for sharing the icon; that's *gorgeous*!
*huggles Hope like a mad fiend*

You've really hit the nail on the head with this one when you say they can hurt each other as well as help each other. And in such similar degrees. There's a syncretism between Chloe and Lex that just isn't found often on shows- usually the male or female character overshadows the other in terms of intellect, determination, desire, etc. Sure, Lex may be a few years ahead of Chloe in "the game," but she's got the skills.

Oh, the games they could play...

One thing I wanted to mention that I think really informs the Chlex relationship is the information Chloe discovered during "Truth." Up until this point they'd had the Verbal Judo, information sharing, the promise/failure of protection...but in this episode, Chloe gets to see the more vulnerable side of Lex that really only one other female character has seen in snatches: Lana. And possibly Helen as well. The difference is that Chloe's discovery is part of a power play, where Chloe had the advantage. But I see "Truth" as the episode where "sentiment" is added to the Chlex checklist of sensuality, power, wit, intellect, and curiosity.

So glad you were the one to discuss the fantastic pairing!
As wacky as it sounds, the reason I didn't use the Truth example was because it embodies just how complicated their relationship is (and how complicated it could be.) Chloe's high, she's been asking people things she's curious about but she knows they'd never answer otherwise, so there's a consent issue because Lex never would say it that bluntly given a choice, but at the sametime, of all the questions she could ask Lex (just based on the ones she asked him in Kinetic for the interview,) for some reason, she chooses a personal one to Lex (as opposed to a personal one to her, like she did with Lana and Clark.) And as soon as he answers, her demeanour visibly hanges to sympathy, but we can't take any of the follow-up answers from Lex to mean anything about Chloe ebcause he's compelled to tell the truth whether he wants to or not. Then again, it doesn't have a bearing on the way he treats her afterwards, and he knows full well what she did and what he said to her. So did she ask because she knew it would embarass him to answer- she's tried to embarass him before when she was high on the K-juice, after all. Or did she ask because she genuinely wanted to know, and finally had a way to get him to say? It's deliciously Chlexy complicated, but way too complicated to discuss in an overview. *grin*

I think "Oh, the games they could play" should be the official motto of Chlexdom, for serious. That's exactly them in a nutshell! Thank you so much for reading and commenting, I appreciate it! And the huggles, too! *hugs*
I really enjoyed this essay! You hit all their mutual strengths and weaknesses, and showed the very quirks and characterisitics that would draw them towards each other.

I hope the show picks up on this as well. *fingers crossed*
Me too, man, me too! And forgive me for taking a million years to respond to this and thank you for reading; LJ is ASS, but I should have checked back on my own!
Great essay, Hope!
I like Smallville universe and I always saw some undercurrents in Chloe\Lex relationship. It's curious that both share the same trait - reinvention of original canon. Chloe is a reflection of Luis Lane - she's a reporter as well as strong, independent, opinionated girl. Lex... well... is Lex. Both are products of classical mytholоgy reinvented for XXI century. Both have great potential. Especially together.
Thank you so much for reading and commenting- and you know, that's something I didn't really ping on but what makes a really good point- they're absolute reinventions of either their original version, or original type. What a fantastic point, thank you so much for sharing!
This is a fantabulous essay. I'd like to add to the recc pool if I may?

http://www.livejournal.com/community/good_fics/9062.html#cutid1

And don't forget the incomparable Autumn People, my all time favoritest of Chlex fics. (Hard R)
Oops, sorry- LJ ate the comments, and I didn't realize you'd replied, I am so sorry! THank you so much for reading and your kind words- please do add to the rec pool, more stories is more fun for everybody! Thank you!
i think you did a great job discussing CHLEX...some people just refuse to see the potential of this pairing, but i'm sure i'll be able to convince them now with this essay of yours. wehehehe!

i'm also making my own CHLEX essay, and would be posting it on my LJ soon. i don't know why i haven't come across yours before. i've been looking for a sample essay to compare notes with.

would you mind if i refer to your arguments when i present mine in my essay? you'll be credited, of course. *grin*
Lovely essay. I love couples that are good for some "verbal judo", and Chloe/Lex (or Chloe/Lionel, but *eek*) is one of the ones that can really supply it. Plus: the two sexiest individuals on the show belong together.
blue by darkhavens

January 2018

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