Monday, July 03, 2006

Enemy, Chapter 3

Late Season 5
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the WB and DC Comics, not to me

"Pete was supposed to come visit me and Clark today, but he's a little late."

Chloe stalked back and forth across the kitchen, sweeping up the fragments of glass, as she talked on the phone with Judge Ross. Behind her, she saw Clark manage to get himself into a kitchen chair. It was obviously slow and painful work, but at least he'd been able to pull himself up off the floor. She was relieved to note that the black veins were no longer visible beneath his skin, and his breathing sounded normal. She was pretty sure he was on his way to recovery.

"He left early this morning," Pete's mom responded in her ear. "He should have been there by ten or so."

Chloe frowned. She didn't want to panic Pete's mom when she didn't really know what was going on, so she chose her words carefully. "Well, we haven't seen him. Maybe his car broke down somewhere. Does he have a cell on him?"

"I'm afraid not." Judge Ross chuckled. "I'm sure he'll turn up eventually. You know how Pete is."

"Okay," Chloe said. A heavy fear started to settle in her chest, but she did her best to keep her voice light. "Thanks. We'll let you know when he gets here."

She broke the connection and turned to see Clark watching her with the intent expression that meant he was using his superhearing. "You heard all that?"

He nodded. "Pete's four hours overdue, Chlo. That's not good."

"And in combination with the fact that someone assaulted you, it looks kind of ominous. I know." She dumped the dustpan full of glass into the trash, put the dustpan and broom back in their places, and walked over to him. "Turn around."

He obediently turned to the right. "Wow," she said, studying his back with something akin to amazement. His body's healing powers never ceased to astonish her. "It's almost healed up already."

He tried to look over his shoulder again and immediately sucked in a deep breath, making a little sound of pain in his throat.

"Quit doing that, will you? Honestly, you need some brain to go along with all that brawn." She stepped closer. "It's still really red, like a bad sunburn. But I think the skin's all healed up. It's a little hard to tell with all the dried blood, though. You mind if I sponge it off?"

"I can just get a shower. I seriously need one."

"Yeah. Like you're going to make it up the stairs."

"I'm fine. I can make it up to the shower with no problem." He stood up, swayed, and immediately collapsed back into the kitchen chair, so hard it creaked under his weight. "Or not."

"Uh-huh. I could have told you that, dumbass. Just let me sponge off your back, okay?"

He looked up at her with wide eyes, reminding her of a child afraid of having antiseptic put on a scraped knee. "It'll hurt."

She walked over to the sink, grabbed a clean hand towel, and started running it under warm water. "You're a big wimp when it comes to pain, Clark."

"I'm not used to pain. You'd hate pain too if you almost never experienced it."

"Everyone hates pain, actually. You're very normal that way." She came across the room and walked around behind him.

"How nice," he said between his teeth as she put the cloth against his back. "I'm so glad that something about me is normal."

She sponged his back off, hearing his sharp intakes of breath every so often. "I'm sorry to hurt you," she said softly. "But it really is a mess."

"I don't want you to think..." He broke off, hissing. "That I'm not appreciative. I mean, you cleaned all the puke out of my hair earlier. Not many friends would be willing to do that."

"I'm sure you'd do the same for me," she answered lightly. "Not that I ever intend to have puke in my hair."

"You should attend more parties at college. You'd be surprised how fast you can get puke in your hair."

She was too busy working and studying to attend parties, and he knew it. Striding over to the sink, she rinsed out the cloth, seeing quite a lot of brownish-red water go down the drain. He'd really lost a lot of blood. No wonder he felt lightheaded. She walked back to him.

"It looks like the blistering is all gone," she said, running the cloth over his back again to get any remaining dried blood.

"Just not the pain," he said, gritting his teeth audibly.

"It's obviously getting better, or you wouldn't be able to stand this at all. Quit whining."

She tried to ignore the melting feeling in her stomach as she touched his heavily muscled back. Even through the cloth it made her fingers tingle to be this near him. Thank God he'd healed up, because it would be a real shame for a back this beautiful to be marred permanently. She didn't get to see Clark's back very often, and it was really a sight to behold.

Part of her wanted to go on touching the wide expanse of muscle and bone, to come up with some excuse to keep washing him off for the next thirty minutes or so, but she didn't want to cause him any more pain than necessary. She moved the washcloth away and drew in a deep breath.

"You still reek," she said.

"Thanks so much."

"Well, kryptonite makes you sweat." She rinsed out the cloth again and handed it to him. "Sponge off your chest and arms, why don't you?"

He took the cloth in his hand, reached toward his other arm, and instantly groaned in pain at the movement. "Forget it. I'll just have to reek."

"I'll take care of it," she said. "Just hold still."

She ran the washcloth over his flat abs, his solidly muscled shoulders, his pecs, his ribs, and heat grew in an ever-tightening spiral in her stomach. If it had been hard for her to ignore her body's reactions to touching his back, it was doubly hard now.

She looked down at him and saw him watching as her hand moved over his body. Something about the intent expression in his heavy-lidded eyes made the heat in her stomach suddenly surge to dangerous levels.

Pete, she reminded herself. As soon as Clark was feeling better they needed to find out what had happened to Pete. They didn't have time for anything... frivolous... right now.

She finished sponging off his chest and started to pull the washcloth away, and he suddenly reached up and captured her wrist in his big hand. "Chloe," he said softly.

"Clark," she said, trying really hard to ignore the way he was looking at her, trying to ignore the fire blazing in the green depths of his eyes. "If you think you can walk now, we need to go see if we can figure out what happened to Pete."

His hand dropped away from her wrist. He looked away from her, blinking hard, and slowly maneuvered himself upright.

"Okay," he said. "Let's go see what we can find out."

Read Chapter 4 here.

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