Season 5, sequel to my story "What the World Could Be," which followed "Void"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the WB and DC Comics, not to me
I'm here without you baby
But you're still on my lonely mind
I think about you baby
And I dream about you all the time
I'm here without you baby
But you're still with me in my dreams...
-3 Doors Down, "Here Without You"
Trust Me, Book 3
The loft glowed with candlelight. Lit candles were everywhere—on the railings, on the walls, on the trunk that served as a coffee table. The warm golden radiance looked pretty romantic, Clark thought, surveying his personal space with satisfaction.
And then Chloe Sullivan popped her head over the railing.
“What’s with all the candles, Clark?”
He immediately blushed, thinking he’d made a mistake, that it looked like he was trying too hard. He should have realized that this many candles weren’t romantic—they were just a serious fire hazard. “Uh,” he stammered. “Uh, well, I’m kind of going for the romance thing here.”
“Clark Kent and romance.” She walked up the remainder of the stairs and flashed her wide grin. “There’s two subjects you don’t often hear mentioned in the same sentence.”
Wordless, he looked at her, feeling stupid and awkward. He'd only been dating Chloe seriously for a few weeks, and was still feeling his way in this new relationship. And the truth was he’d never been really smooth with girls anyway. It didn’t take much to make him feel off balance and uncomfortable.
Chloe must have read the dismay on his face, because she immediately quit ribbing him. She walked across to him and patted his shoulder. “I’m just kidding, Clark. It’s beautiful.”
“Really.” She smiled up at him. “Romantic, even. So what are we doing tonight? Just… hanging out?”
“Actually,” he said, returning her smile with a hesitant one of his own, “I wanted to dance with you.”
“Dance, huh?” She lifted an eyebrow. “That’s a nice euphemism.”
“I’m serious, Chlo.” He walked over to his CD player and pushed a button, and Remy Zero started to play.
“I love this song!” she exclaimed. “I haven’t heard it in years.”
“Yeah,” he answered. “It’s ‘Perfect Memory.’ We danced to it at the spring formal our freshman year, remember?”
She nodded, and her eyes glowed almost as brightly as the candles. “I remember.”
He put his arms around her and drew her against his body. They fit together like they’d been made for one another, the top of her head snuggled just beneath his chin, the curve of her waist fitting into the crook of his arm perfectly. “So let’s dance.”
She slid her arms around his neck, and they started to sway together. She wore a lavender sundress, her golden hair falling loose around her face. Clark was wearing a nice pair of khaki pants and a pale blue Oxford shirt-- a far cry from his usual flannel and denim outfits, but not exactly the tux he'd worn to the spring formal, either. She'd worn a very fancy pink gown that night, and her hair had been very carefully arranged, but as he looked down at her he thought she looked even more beautiful now than she had then. Her facial features had matured from impishly cute to strikingly lovely, although her brilliant smile hadn't altered one bit. She smiled up at him just as brightly as she had on that night five years before.
Memories, some perfect and some less so, came flooding back to him as they danced. Even though the spring formal was years in the past, Clark still remembered the moment they'd danced together like it was yesterday. “I almost kissed you that night,” he said softly, pressing his face against her hair. “I came thisclose to kissing you.”
“I remember,” she whispered.
After that night, things had gotten muddled, and they had eventually settled on just being friends. He’d only admitted to his feelings and begun dating her in earnest very recently, and now that he knew what kissing Chloe was like, he really regretted not having kissed her that night. If only things had been a little different, he might have had four years with Chloe by now, instead of just a few weeks.
“I can’t help but wonder,” he said, “what would have happened if I’d kissed you that night. I wonder if things would have been different between us.”
“I don’t know, Clark. Maybe things happen for a reason. Maybe we needed to go through everything we’ve been through to get to the point we’re at now.”
“You could be right,” he answered, burying his nose in her hair and inhaling. He’d developed a serious addiction to the scent of her hair over the past few weeks. “Even so, I kind of wish I’d actually kissed you that night.”
“Me too,” she said softly. “But there’s no point in thinking about the past when the future’s right here.”
“Meaning… you can kiss me now, doofus.”
He laughed softly, lowered his head, and let his lips brush over hers, while the candles flickered softly and “Perfect Memory” played on.
The next morning, Clark was up at the crack of dawn to take care of his chores. He still referred to his work on the farm as his “chores,” just as he had when he was a kid, even though the burden of running the farm fell almost entirely on him now. His father had died a few months back, and his mother was now a state senator, which meant she spent quite a lot of her time in Wichita and Metropolis. They couldn’t afford to hire any farm hands, so the work didn’t get done unless he himself did it.
Farm work didn’t require a great deal of mental focus, so while he did the necessary physical labor he let his mind float, sifting through the very pleasant memories of the night before. He and Chloe had danced together for a long time, and eventually that had led to other activities that were even better than dancing.
Thoughts of everything they’d done together filled his head, and eventually he noticed he was whistling as he worked—something he hadn’t done in quite some time. Happy though he felt, though, he had the nagging impression that something wasn’t quite right in the world. He couldn’t quite put his finger on what might be wrong, but the feeling niggled at the back of his mind, making him oddly anxious. The tune he was whistling went offkey, then trailed off entirely.
Annoyed with himself, he shoved his concerns aside, figuring he was just being paranoid. It had been a long time since he’d been this happy, and naturally he was waiting for disaster, thinking that something was bound to go wrong. Which was stupid. This relationship wasn’t like the last one he’d struggled through with Lana Lang. Chloe was a sensible, smart, nice girl, he loved her, and they got along great. In fact, they were better friends now than they'd ever been. Nothing was going to go wrong between them.
He decided to ignore his paranoia, and went back to whistling.
Finishing up his morning work, he headed for the house. About half the time these days he wound up cooking his own meals as well as doing the farm work, because his mother was just too busy right now. When Mom was at home, though, she generally cooked him a big breakfast. Even though she often worked late, she was still up early in the mornings—a habit instilled by long years as a farmer’s wife. As he entered the house, he smelled pancakes cooking, and he headed for the kitchen to wash his hands.
“Hey, Mom,” he said cheerfully, scrubbing his hands at the sink.
“Morning,” Martha Kent answered, turning from the griddle to smile at him. Her long auburn hair was pulled back in a careless ponytail, and she wore jeans and a t-shirt. She didn’t look like the state senator she now was, but like the farmer and mother he’d always known. “You look happy today.”
“Yeah.” He grinned at her over his shoulder. He’d had a hell of a rough year, but lately things seemed to be looking up. For a while he’d felt so miserable he thought smiling might crack his face, but the genuine smiles were coming more easily of late. And a lot of that was due to Chloe.
He dried his hands off with a paper towel and turned to face his mother, deciding on the spur of the moment to share his secret. He’d kept it to himself for a while, but it was time to let her in on it. He’d always been close to his mom, and he knew she’d be happy for him. After everything that had gone wrong in his life, something was finally going right. Really, really right.
“Look, Mom, I’ve got something to tell you.”
His mom lifted an eyebrow. “Something about a girl, I’m guessing.”
He laughed. “Am I that transparent?”
“Well, you’re right,” he admitted. “I’m kind of seeing someone.”
The truth was, he was more than “kind of seeing someone.” He was head over heels in love with Chloe, and suspected he’d been in love with her for years but had somehow just failed to notice. Complicating matters was the fact that his Kryptonian sexual biology had somehow gotten kickstarted with a dose of red kryptonite, causing him to realize Chloe was his soulmate and compelling him to recite the Kryptonian life-bonding ritual to her every time he got close to her. It also meant he had to make love to her every couple of days, or he couldn’t sleep or eat, which added a bit of alien complexity to an otherwise nice, normal relationship.
But he wasn’t ready to confess all that to his mom. He was fully aware that the words “life-bonding” would totally freak her out, considering he was only nineteen. And Mom wouldn’t be thrilled about the fact that he was making love to a girl on a regular basis, either. Anyway, these feelings were all very new to him, and he wasn’t quite ready to share them yet. “Kind of seeing someone” was about as much as he was willing to admit to, even to his mother.
His mom flipped the pancakes over, then turned back around to study him. “I’m glad,” she said. “After everything that happened between you and Lana, I was really afraid you wouldn’t be able to find anyone new.”
“Well,” he said, “it’s not exactly someone new. It’s Chloe.”
Her eyebrows shot up. “Chloe?”
He understood her surprise. He and Chloe had been close for years, but except for the ill-fated spring formal, they’d never really dated. They’d spent much of their spare time together, but only in the most platonic way. Obviously he was about as bright as the cows he’d just milked, because it had taken him a very long time to realize exactly how much she meant to him.
“Yeah, Chloe,” he answered. Martha gave him a blank look, and he laughed again. Chloe had been a frequent visitor to the farm for years, but he guessed his mom hadn’t really ever thought of her as potential Clark-girlfriend material, because he’d been so stubbornly fixated on Lana Lang for so long. “You know, Chloe Sullivan. Short. Blonde. Mouthy. Gave me my first kiss in eighth grade. My best friend for five years now. Knows everything about me and likes me anyway. That Chloe.”
His mother looked alarmed. “She knows everything about you?”
His parents had always been a little overprotective about letting other people in on his secret—not surprising, considering he was an alien from a distant planet. That was a pretty big secret to keep. But Chloe was utterly trustworthy, and his mother knew it. “Mom,” he said, rolling his eyes. “Chloe’s known my secret since last year. You know that.”
Martha Kent stared at him for a long moment, her forehead wrinkled in maternal concern.
“Clark,” she said at last, slowly. “I’ve never heard of anyone named Chloe Sullivan.”
Read Chapter 2 here.