This is chapter 2, now with a proper lj-cut.
All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men stand by and do nothing.
-Attributed to Edmund Burke, but likely paraphrased
Most days, Clark's bullheaded stubbornness was something that Chloe admired in him. He didn't compromise his principles for anything. Today, it was frustrating. She couldn't bear to argue with him. How could she, when she knew that he only asked because he cared, because he was afraid for her just like she had been for him so many times when he went out to face the monsters like the Big Damn Hero. And at the same time, she didn't want to tell him. Didn't want him to look at her differently in light of what she would have to reveal to answer the questions he wasn't verbalizing, the ones that really mattered. The ones who's answers would win her his cooperation... and lose... God, what they would lose... It wasn't even what she would think of her, really. She'd pined after him so much in high school -his regard for her falling short of hers for him was old hat now. No, the loss would be for him just what it had been for her, years ago. Innocence.
Clark, even after all that had happened, still believed in the inevitable triumph of good, happy endings, and true love. He believed that evil would not win because good men would not stand by and do nothing. And right now, he believed that his friend Chloe Sullivan was a wonderful person, who despite having a few flaws, was exactly what he saw her as -a loyal, kindhearted, friend who did the right thing. She was beyond the point where she wanted to hide her sins from him because she feared his reproach. She did fear it, but it was better to disappoint your friend with your imperfections, than to betray him with your secrets; she'd learned that lesson the painful way. No, she feared the damage she would do to his faith. Clark believed in people, believed in her even when she had given him every reason not to by playing pawn to Lionel. Even now, despite all the empty, meaningless protestations he was making about the danger in her plans, he believed in Lex too. Pete compared it to Luke Skywalker's hope for Darth Vader.
That was why she hadn't told him, was why Lex hid things from him when they were younger. Neither she nor Lex could bear to take away that optimistic naivety from him. And now, she was going to cross that line. She was going to admit to keeping the secret and show him the part of her she'd wanted to bury forever. And face not just his reproach but his pity. She'd told herself didn't owe it to him to share all her thoughts and secrets -hadn't he kept his from her for years? But now, with the prospect of revelation before her, she felt the hot twist of shame in her gut.
She sighed. It wasn't just any sigh, but one of those subtle gestures between friends that say more than a thousand words. And how sad was it that she had a sigh just for capitulation to Clark? It was an idle moment's wonder, but the sheer juxtaposition of that silly thought with the tension of the moment made her choke for a moment before she could manage a coherent word. "F-fine, Clark. You want to know why I'm doing this? I'll tell you. Because both of us know where Lex is headed, and both of us think it's not to late to change it, and both of us know that no one else gives a damn." She took a deep breath. "And both of us know he won't listen to you." She'd let the words hang in the air for a moment, let him make the obvious rejoinder. It was just delaying the pain, but she needed that moment of reprieve.
"Why do you think would he listen to you?" The 'and not me' was left unspoken.
She opened her mouth, and spoke the words that would change everything.
Author's Note: Sorry to cut you off there, but I don't want to reveal what's weighing on Chloe's conscience just yet. Oh, and if it hasn't been obvious already, this is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay AU.