Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Heart and Soul, Chapter 2

Season 4, expansion of "Spirit"
Rating: PG for language
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the WB and DC comics, not to me

Chloe had been thrilled to be on Clark’s arm, even if it had been offered more for support than affection. She would have loved to walk back into the prom that way, on Clark Kent’s arm, but Dawn had apparently gotten all teary-eyed while wearing Chloe’s body, and mascara had dribbled down her cheeks. She stopped by the ladies’ room in order to get the black streaks off her cheeks, then headed back into the gym. She walked toward Clark, who was standing with Lois, and heard the opening chords of a Lifehouse song she really liked, “You and Me.”

“Look,” Clark was saying to Lois, looking extremely uncomfortable, “I’m sorry you got dragged into all this. But as long as you’re here, you might as well get a dance out of it.”

“Chivalry noted,” Lois said in her normal crisp tones. “But I’m not the one you want to dance with, Smallville.” She tipped her head in Chloe’s direction. “She is.”

Chloe felt a rush of gratitude toward her cousin. Good old Lois. She wasn’t terribly fond of Clark, but she knew how Chloe felt about him, and she wasn’t above trying to give Clark a little push.

Clark lifted his head and looked in Chloe’s direction, and an expression of shocked delight filled his green eyes. He flashed his most dazzling high-wattage grin, and she smiled back at him, feeling her heart lift straight into the air like it was filled with helium.

She’d never in her life expected to see Clark look that way when he gazed at her, and she was a bit surprised. It wasn’t like she’d done anything in the ladies’ room to transform herself, beyond washing her face and putting on a little more lipstick. But she didn’t want to question the moment, either. Things were finally going her way. Clark was beaming right at her.

Maybe, she mused, it had to do with everything they’d gone through tonight. Maybe he’d realized she meant something to him when he’d seen her lying on the concrete floor of the boiler room. If so, she was terribly grateful to Dawn Stiles, even if the girl had tried to steal her tiara, hijacked her body, and bitch-slapped her.

Clark left Lois’ side and started walking toward Chloe, that stunned expression still on his face. Chloe decided she’d wear tiaras every day of the week if it would make Clark look at her that way.

He made his way through the crowd straight toward her, as if she was a magnet, and she extended her hand to him as he approached.

And then he walked right past her as if she didn’t exist.

Stunned, Chloe dropped her hand and watched him continue to stride through the crowd. Her heart plummeted to the ground as if it were suddenly filled with lead, and a sick humiliation filled her at the realization that his beautiful, brilliant smile hadn’t been for her. He hadn’t even seen her.

He’d been smiling at Lana Lang, the love of his life, who’d just arrived.

Lana wore an ice pink satin gown, and her hair was arranged in glimmering ripples that cascaded down her back like a dark waterfall. She possessed a radiant, ethereal beauty that glowed more brightly than ever, and Clark’s open, honest face expressed clearly that he was totally in love with her. It was as if both of them had forgotten that Lana had been involved with Jason Teague since last summer. It was as if the last year had never happened at all.

He reached out to Lana, and she placed her hand lightly into his. He wrapped his fingers around hers, and they began dancing, moving gracefully to the music, as if they were meant for one another.

Chloe made her way to a table, zombielike, and sat down heavily. A moment later Lois joined her.

“He’s a dumbass,” she announced. "I can't believe he walked right past you that way. He's a complete and total dumbass."

Chloe almost cracked a smile at her cousin’s blunt pronouncement. Almost, but not quite. She wasn’t sure she’d ever smile again.

She looked at Clark and Lana dancing together, the way he held her in his arms as if she were fragile and infinitely precious, the expression of rapture on his face, and she wanted to crawl under the table and hide away forever.

“I think I’m the dumbass,” she answered at last, wryly.

Lois reached out and patted her hand with uncharacteristic gentleness. “You know, next year this’ll all seem like a distant memory.”

Chloe appreciated her cousin’s sympathy, even if she didn’t agree with the sentiment. “I doubt it. It seems like just yesterday that he left that nervous freshman on the dance floor.”

She’d gone with Clark to their freshman dance, and he’d ditched her because Lana was in danger. She’d been angry at the time, because his actions had seemed absurd and irrational—what could a fifteen-year-old boy possibly do to protect Lana from a tornado? Now that she knew about his strength, she understood that it hadn’t been an absurd quest, and she had a suspicion he’d actually saved Lana’s life. So it was hard for her to truly resent the fact that he’d left her standing alone on the dance floor.

Even so, the memory still hurt.

This time he hadn’t even come to the dance with her, so the feeling that she’d been abandoned by Clark a second time was ridiculous. And yet she still couldn’t banish it.

“Please,” Lois said, rolling her eyes. “You’re destined to be a big shot reporter at the Daily Planet. You’re going to make a fabulous life for yourself in Metropolis. Do you really think Clark Kent can keep up with you?”

Chloe felt her lips twitch at the contemptuous way in which Lois uttered Clark’s name. She might as well have said that hick hayseed. “I think you might be surprised,” she said.

“I doubt it.”

The music ended, but Clark and Lana didn’t seem to notice. They stood together on the dance floor, gazing into each other’s eyes like they’d never look away from each other again. Lana looked small and fragile next to Clark’s muscled, tall body, and Clark’s dark head was bent over hers protectively, like he’d take on any danger in order to keep her safe.

And he would. Chloe knew that from experience. There was no question in her mind that Clark Kent was a hero.

With every fiber of her being, she wished that he was her hero.

But he wasn’t, she reminded herself fiercely, remembering the way he’d walked straight by her as if she wasn’t there. In fact, that was the way things had always been. As far as he was concerned, when Lana was in the room, she wasn’t there.

Sure, he liked her a lot, and they were close friends, but that was all he felt for her. Maybe it was all he’d ever feel.

She loved him, heart and soul, and all he felt for her was friendship.

Another slow song began to play. Clark and Lana began to move to the music, and she blinked hard to keep her mascara from streaking her cheeks again.



Chloe sat in her VW Beetle in the dark parking lot, staring at nothing. The top was down, and someone suddenly stuck their head over the door. She looked up, startled, to see Clark.

“What are you doing out here?” he asked. “The dance is over.”

“Yeah,” she answered. “I know. I was about to get going.”

He looked at her through narrowed eyes. “It looked to me like you were just sitting and staring into space.”

Clark tended to be so oblivious to most social nuances that it always surprised her when he picked up on her feelings, even the most obvious ones. “I had an eyelash in my eye,” she lied. “I was trying to get it out before I drove home.” She patted the seat next to her. “You want a ride home? Or did you drive the truck over?”

"I rode over in Lois' car, but she already left." His face immediately went wary. “I figured I'd go home with my parents.”

She'd already seen the Kents' battered truck pulling out of the parking lot, so she guessed he actually planned on running home the way he often did. A guy as fast as Clark didn’t really need cars, but it did make it difficult for him to explain how he got places so quickly without the use of one of the old Kent trucks. It forced him to lie about it. She wished he didn’t feel like he had to lie to her.

"I'll give you a ride home,” she offered, and immediately regretted it. The last thing she wanted was to be alone with Clark right now. Earlier in the evening she would have loved the chance to spend some time alone with him, but now she just wanted to lick her wounds in solitude, metaphorically speaking.

Or maybe not. Because her heart, which she’d thought was dead, gave a little jump as he came around the car and settled in next to her.

He was so damn gorgeous in his tux that it hurt to look at him. She sighed as she put the car into gear, and he glanced at her again, his forehead furrowing in concern.

“You okay, Chlo?”

No, because you squished my heart under your size fourteen shoes like an overripe tomato, you big jerk. Aloud, she said, “Sure, I’m fine.” She added with a wry grin, “I’m Prom Queen, after all. What more could any girl want?”

“I didn’t see you dancing with anyone at the prom.”

“I’m not much of a dancer.” And she hadn’t wanted to dance with anyone besides Clark, but she sure as hell wasn’t going to say that. She still had a little dignity left, and she wanted to preserve it as much as possible.

“Me neither.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that.” She swallowed, then uttered the next words in an uncomfortable rush. “I thought you and Lana looked great together.”

Clark gave his boyish grin, a broad smile that showed a ridiculous number of teeth. “Thanks. Things have been pretty weird between us lately, but I feel like Lana and I are finally getting somewhere.”

Oh, joy. “You guys danced together quite a bit.”

“Yeah,” he said, looking happy. “We did.”

Chloe was hard-pressed not to club him with her beaded purse. Not that it would hurt him, anyway. She turned into the Kent’s dirt driveway and continued to lie through her teeth. “I’m glad you guys are getting closer. I know you’ve missed her.”

“I have,” he admitted. He looked at her. “So you’re… okay with this?”

There was no way on earth Chloe would ever admit that for five seconds, she’d believed his gorgeous, brilliant smile was for her, and that he was coming to ask her to dance with him. She could never admit that for those five seconds, she’d been happier than she’d ever been in her lifetime.

He’d chosen Lana, not her, and she needed to face that. She'd never been one to avoid cold, hard reality.

“Sure,” she answered steadily. “It’s great, really. I’m happy for you.”

She brought the car to a halt in front of the yellow farmhouse the Kents called home. Looking over at him, she somehow managed to dredge up a bright smile.“Good night, Clark. I’m glad you came to the dance.”

He looked at her, his eyes serious in the darkness. “Me too,” he said. “Congratulations, Chlo.”

He paused for a second longer, then bent over and pressed a quick kiss to her cheek.

“Night,” he said, and got out of the car.

Chloe watched his tall, solid form as he walked quickly to the house. Her hand slid up to her cheek, where she could still feel the imprint of his lips.

A friendly kiss on the cheek wasn’t what she wanted from Clark, not at all. It left her feeling empty, and despite her best efforts, a tear escaped her control and slid down her cheek. She wanted so much more from Clark, more than he was able to give. Perhaps more than he’d ever be able to give her.

If only... she thought. If only Lana hadn't showed up. If Lana hadn't showed up, who knew what might have been? Maybe things would have been different. Maybe Clark would have taken her into his arms and danced with her. Maybe he'd have really looked at her, instead of looking through her. Maybe he'd have realized she wasn't just a friend, but an attractive, funny girl he might be able to fall for.

Or maybe not. She couldn't really blame Lana for the way things had turned out. The simple truth was, Clark simply didn't feel that way about her. At least not right now.

Right now, she realized, a kiss on the cheek was all she was going to get from him.

She turned the car around and drove away from the Kent farm, into the darkness of the night.

-The End-

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Anonymous said...

I like the Lois in your version of "Spirit" so much more than the show's version. And poor Chloe!!! Clark is such a BDA...oy. But great job capturing Chloe's pain Elly!!! Great fic, as always!!

Francesca said...

poor Chloe! Clark can be so stupid sometimes, Lana is so not for him why can he see Chloe is his real love??