Season 5, an expansion and rewriting of part of "Solitude"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the WB and DC Comics, not to me.
Clark is somewhat startled to find himself with his arms wrapped around Chloe and his mouth on hers. She seems frozen with surprise for a moment, then her hands slide into his hair… and suddenly she’s kissing him back. Her lips taste good, like coffee and cream, and he feels a compulsion to deepen the kiss, and barely manages to restrain himself. They’re friends, after all. And there are some rules friends have to abide by.
One of those rules is that friends don’t French kiss each other.
He knows he ought to pull away, but he couldn’t stop if the house started crashing around his ears the way the Fortress did earlier. He knows he shouldn’t be kissing Chloe, because he has a girlfriend. Lana something-or-other. But his mind is muddled and his heart is pounding against his ribs and Lana is the absolute furthest thing from his mind right now.
Chloe feels soft and warm against him, and he can’t stop thinking about the way she put herself into danger to save him. The way she's done that so many times in the past. His hand splays out over her lower back, and he draws her closer.
He’s barely aware of their surroundings, can hardly feel the heat from the fire, barely notices the odor of slightly wet dog. All he can smell is Chloe’s vanilla scent, and all he can feel is the sensation of her body against his.
Faintly, at the outer edges of his consciousness, he hears a creaking sound as someone comes down the staircase. That creak means someone just stepped on the third step from the bottom. He knows, because it creaks every time someone steps on it, and has ever since he was a little kid.
Pulling away from Chloe is the last thing he wants to do, but it begins to dawn on him that someone is standing there, watching them. The sane part of his mind realizes the fact that he’s kissing Chloe when he’s supposed to be dating someone else is going to be sort of hard to explain to his parents.
Hell, it’s hard to explain to himself.
Raising his head, he sees his mom watching them with an expression he can’t quite decipher. She lifts her eyebrows at him wordlessly, then turns and disappears back up the stairs.
Clark blinks at the staircase for a long moment, then looks back down at Chloe. She’s staring up at him with shock. Even Shelby is gazing at them both with a look of canine surprise, his ears up and his head cocked.
“Uh,” Clark says. Not exactly the most brilliant remark, but the best he’s able to do right now. Whenever he finds himself in an awkward situation with a girl, his ability to talk goes straight out the window. It’s irritating as hell.
Chloe stares at him a moment longer, her eyes round, then she looks away from him, into the fire. “It’s okay, Clark,” she says softly. “Like you said, it’s been a rough couple of days.”
Yeah, it has. But that’s no reason to jump on Chloe like he’s some sort of—what did she call him, a caveman? A vision flashes into his mind, an image of himself dragging Chloe off to his cave by the hair. Although Chloe’s hair is really too short for that sort of thing. But that’s totally beside the point. He's slightly alarmed to discover that the idea of dragging Chloe off by her hair has a strange sort of appeal. He remembers sinking his hand into its silky depths earlier, and his fingers itch to do it again.
“Uh,” he says again, forcing his brain back into the here and now. “I’m really sorry, Chlo. I think it’s the adrenaline.”
Which is a perfectly reasonable explanation, really. He had a pretty intense fight with Fine earlier, and he’s still all worked up about everything that’s happened over the past forty-eight hours. It makes perfect sense.
Only it’s not the reason he kissed her, and he knows it.
He lets go of her, moves back so there are a few inches of space between them, and turns to stare into the fire, too. Things are suddenly back on a normal footing. Two friends, sitting in front of the fire. Not touching. Not hugging. Not kissing. Not doing anything but talking.
Except they aren’t talking, because there’s a very uncomfortable silence filling the room.
“So,” his mother says later. “Want to talk about it?”
Clark is sitting in his loft, staring out the window. It’s a gray, foggy day, and a light mist is wetting the earth. If he concentrates, he can see every droplet as it falls, and he’s been occupying himself that way for the past ten minutes, because it’s easier than thinking about everything that’s happened today.
“Not really,” he answers.
His mom doesn’t take his not-so-subtle hint, which doesn’t surprise him. She sits down next to him. “So," she says brightly. "What’s going on with you and Chloe?”
He rolls his eyes. “Geez, Mom. The world almost ended today, and you’re asking me about my love life.”
“I don’t know about you,” his mother says dryly, “but I’d rather focus on love than the destruction of the world.”
“Love has nothing to do with it,” Clark answers. “I don’t love Chloe, Mom. You know that.”
“I’m wondering if you know that, Clark.”
“Of course I do. I just…” He sighs. “It’s been a terrible couple of days. I guess I was, I don’t know, looking for some comfort.” He slides a glance at her, sees the disapproval on her face. “And before you start yelling at me, yeah, I know it’s wrong to use girls that way. It was kind of an... accident.”
“I understand,” his mom says in a soft voice. His hand is clenched on his knee, and she pats it gently. “When you're under stress, sometimes strange things can happen. But you know, I wonder if Chloe doesn't mean more to you than you think.”
“Mom. I’m dating Lana, remember?”
“I know that. But I'm starting to think maybe your feelings are a bit muddled. Can you honestly sit there and tell me you don’t love Chloe?”
Clark hesitates, thinking again about the way she risked her life to save him today, and not for the first time. Then his mind drifts on to the way her lips tasted, and the way she felt cuddled against his chest. The memories are disturbingly vivid, and he realizes he's hardly thought about Lana all afternoon. His mind has been full of Chloe.
Chloe's told him before that she thinks he's a hero. Some hero, thinking about kissing one girl when he's supposed to be dating another. He can't even get his love life together, let alone save the world.
“She’s been my best friend for a long time,” he says at last. “I guess I do love her… but as a friend. That’s all. Honest.”
“Hmmm,” says his mom, wisely dropping the subject. She’s been the mother of a teenager too long not to recognize when she’s pushing him too hard on the subject of girls. She smiles at him. “I just came up here to tell you I baked an apple pie.”
“You did what? You should be resting, Mom. You almost died.”
“I feel fine. And there’s no point in lounging around when there’s work to be done. Come on down and have a piece of pie with me and Dad. You’ve earned it.”
He looks at the hopeful expression on her face, realizing that she wants to spend some time with her family. After everything she’s been through, he can understand that. “Sure, Mom,” he says softly. “I’ll be down in a couple of minutes.”
She smiles, then stands up and disappears down the staircase.
Clark heaves a sigh, gets up, and ambles over to his desk, which is covered with framed photos of his friends. He picks up a photo idly and stares at it.
It’s a picture of him and Chloe, taken when they were younger—just kids, really. In the photo, which was taken sometime in eighth grade, he hasn't hit his final growth spurt yet, so he looks kind of gangling and skinny, and he doesn't tower over Chlo the way he does now. In the photo, they’re both beaming goofily at the camera with identical, wide grins. He looks at himself in the picture and wonders why he never grins that way with anyone else.
There’s an ink inscription in a corner of the picture, and he remembers that Chloe insisted on signing it for him, telling him with a giggle that she knew he wanted her autograph. It's written in a girly, flourishy script, and the ink is faded from sitting next to the window, but he can still read it clearly enough.
It says simply: Your friend, Chloe.
More footsteps sound on the staircase, and he puts the picture back down on the desk, sighing. His dad used to call this loft his Fortress of Solitude, but today it’s more like freaking Grand Central Station.
But his irritation fades as Chloe’s blonde head pops over the railing. “Hey,” she says, still standing on the staircase, obviously trying to respect his personal space. “I wanted to tell you I was going to head home.”
He’s oddly disappointed by the news. “Oh, don’t do that,” he says. “Mom told me she just baked a pie.”
“Yeah, but I think she wants to spend a couple of hours with her family. I figured I should give you guys some Kent quality time.”
“You are family, Chlo,” he says.
Still on the staircase, she looks at him and tilts her head, looking uncertain. “I just thought maybe you felt a little… uncomfortable after what happened earlier. You didn’t have much to say after that.”
“It was a little weird,” he admits. “Things got a little out of hand, I guess. But we’re still friends, right?”
She nods, and he can’t tell what she’s thinking, because her face is very carefully wiped smooth of expression. “Always, Clark.”
“Well, then,” he says, grateful, because losing her friendship would mean that his world was ending, or at least changing so dramatically as to be unrecognizable. He's been friends with Chloe for so long that he really can't envision his life any other way. “Stick around for some pie.”
She flashes her bright smile. “Okay.”
He feels his own grin flash in response. He's incredibly relieved to realize he hasn't screwed anything up permanently, and that things aren't too weird between them. Chloe's still his friend. No matter what happens, she'll always be there for him.
He thinks about what she wrote on the picture in eighth grade: Your friend, Chloe.
Nothing has changed. After all these years, after everything that's happened, even after she discovered he was an alien... they're still friends.
Still smiling, he walks over to her and loops a casual arm around her shoulders, and they walk down the staircase, together.
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