Season 5, expansion/sequel to "Hypnotic"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the WB and DC comics, not to me
I’m really not sure what the correct response is when your best friend tells you she’s been checking out your ass. Thanks seems kind of inadequate, but Hey, your butt is great too seems like it might venture into some pretty dangerous territory.
Seriously, I had no idea how to respond to her comment. I’m pretty sure Miss Manners’ column never covered this topic. And my mom sure never told me how to cope with it. It’d be one thing if Chloe was joking, but there was a note in her voice that made me feel uncomfortably certain that she was at least a little serious.
I guess I was quiet for too long, because she sighed. “I’m sorry, Clark. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”
“Um, I’m, uh, not, uh, uncomfortable.”
“Yeah, and that’s why you’re suddenly so articulate. Come on, Clark, you always stammer when you’re nervous. I obviously freaked you out.” She heaved another sigh. “I should really learn to keep my mouth shut.”
“It’s okay, Chlo.”
“No, it’s not. I was just trying to lighten the mood, because I hate to see you moping.”
“But I do it so well,” I said wryly.
“God knows that’s true. You’re a world-class moper. In fact, you should consider majoring in moping when you get back to college.” She tried to tug her hand away, and her voice grew more serious. “I was just trying to make you feel better, and instead I made things awkward between us again. I’m sorry.”
“You need to lighten up a bit yourself, Chlo.” I didn’t let her pull her hand away from mine. “Things can never be awkward between us. You’re my best friend.”
I heard what sounded suspiciously like a sniffle. “I just hate for you and Lana to be so unhappy.”
“Staying a couple wasn’t going to make us happy,” I responded philosophically. “We’re always unhappy. We can either be miserable together, or apart. I’m not sure it makes a lot of difference.”
“It’s just not fair, Clark. You deserve to be happy. You’ve gone through so much this year.”
“Lana deserves to be happy too,” I said quietly. “And I wasn’t making her happy.”
“Yes, but what about you? You’ve always been in love with Lana.”
“Maybe,” I said.
There was a long silence. “What do you mean, maybe?”
“I just…” I struggled for words to express some of the thoughts that had gone through my head this evening. “I’ve had a crush on Lana for a long time, Chlo. I can’t deny that. But a crush isn’t the same thing as real love. The honest truth is that once we became a couple, it wasn’t… quite as great as I expected.”
“Wow,” she said, sounding shocked. “I am truly amazed. I never thought you’d admit that.”
“Why the hell not?”
“Because it looked to me like you were determined to pretend your relationship with her was the greatest thing in the world, no matter how miserable you got. I mean, you proposed to her, Clark.”
“That was a different timeline.”
“Still, it actually happened for you, right? You really did propose. That just shows how determined you were to make a go of it with her.”
“I was afraid of losing her.” I stretched out my legs and propped my feet on the trunk I use for a coffee table. “In retrospect, I’m not sure that’s the greatest reason to propose to someone.”
“That’s the understatement of the century, Clark. The only good reason to propose to a woman is if you’re absolutely certain you want to spend the rest of your life together.”
I thought about how the day Lana had agreed to marry me. My dad had congratulated us and said to Lana, We can’t imagine Clark spending his life with anyone else. The words had jolted me, and I’d tried to envision spending the rest of my life with Lana. I’d only managed to see a kind of strange blankness. I couldn’t quite imagine what our future would look like, and it had made me wonder if maybe we weren’t meant to be together after all.
“At the time, I kind of thought I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her,” I said slowly, “but I’m beginning to think I was wrong.”
“Oh, my God.” Chlo let her mouth drop open in an exaggerated gesture of shock. “Another stunning revelation.”
“I’m nineteen,” I said impatiently, irritated that she was poking fun at me. “I’m just saying maybe it’s a little early for me to think about settling down.”
“Yeah. No kidding, moron.”
I scowled, annoyed. “In that timeline, you told me you were happy for me.”
“Obviously I don’t remember that. But if I said that, I can guarantee I was being polite. Underneath the courtesy, I was probably actually thinking you were dumb as dirt.”
I bristled. “Gee, thanks.”
“It’s just that…” Her hand squeezed mine gently. “You have important things to do, Clark. You have a destiny. I’ve believed that ever since I found out about your powers.”
“Abilities,” I corrected. I don’t like the term powers. It makes it sound like I think I’m superior to humans or something. Which I’m not, in any way that truly matters.
“Whatever. You aren’t meant to work on a farm forever, marry, and have one-point-eight kids, Clark. You have more important stuff to accomplish.”
Since I was a totally different species from any girl I knew, I figured the chances of my ever having one-point-eight kids were remote at best, but I let that slide for now. “So are you saying I should never get married? Never have a relationship? That sounds kind of lonely, Chloe. I’m not sure I want to accept a destiny that leaves me totally alone.”
“You just need to look for a girl who doesn’t mind sharing you with the world, Clark. I think maybe Lana does mind.”
I blinked, feeling like her words had suddenly illuminated something I’d hidden away in the dark recesses of my mind. She was right. I’d always found it impossible to resist helping people in trouble, and Lana had always reacted with anger when I left her without explanation in order to help someone else. Even if Lana knew my secret, I was pretty sure there was a part of her that would resent me when I left her to save other people. She wouldn’t want me running off at all hours of the day to help people. She wouldn’t want to share me with anyone. Most women wouldn’t.
“I don’t know if there’s anyone like that out there,” I said with a sigh.
“Of course there is.” She squeezed my hand again. “You just have to keep your eyes open.”
“I guess you’re right,” I answered, thinking about it. “You understand me, after all. So there must be others. There must be a woman out there somewhere who’ll accept what I do. A woman who could love me for what I am. A woman I could love.”
Even in the darkness, I could see her head jerk to the side like I’d slapped her. “Yeah,” she said vaguely, her voice sounding oddly choked. “I’m sure you’re right.” She abruptly yanked her hand away and stood up. “You know what? I think I’d better get going. It’s late.”
I blinked at her, confused by her sudden desire to leave. We’d been talking about girls who might love me, and then suddenly…
Yes, I am a complete and total moron, Chlo. You are absolutely right.
I'd hurt her feelings with my last comment, and I instantly regretted it. I'd always known Chloe had kind of a thing for me, but I never meant to hurt her. I didn't want her to go away mad.
In fact, I didn't want her to leave at all.
Because all of a sudden it occured to me Chloe was right. There was someone out there for me. I just had to keep my eyes open for a girl who could love me for who I was, and whom I could love in return. I didn’t even have to look very hard.
There was a girl like that standing right in front of me.
Read Chapter 4 here.