Monday, September 25, 2006

Clarkmas, Chapter 10

Season 6 (based on spoilers and my imagination) - based on "Lexmas"
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me

Clark seriously envied humans their ability to get drunk. Because he really wanted to get smashed about now. He'd stood there staring stupidly at Chloe kissing Jimmy, like it was some sort of surprise to him, until they'd broken apart. And then he'd turned tail and fled into the crowd, still reeling in shock.

News flash, Kent. They've been dating for months.

He'd known on an intellectual level that Chloe and Jimmy were probably intimate, or close to it, but he'd been doing his best to ignore the whole idea somehow. But given his memories of the future-- Chloe and Jimmy married, Chloe pregnant with his baby-- he really couldn't ignore it any longer.

He'd screwed up in a massive way. Chloe could have been his. She should have been his. But it was too damn late now, because just like always when it came to women, he hadn't had the guts to assert himself. And now she belonged to Jimmy.

Damn it.

Since a beer or ten wouldn't do him much good, he was standing next to the table full of desserts, devouring his mom's cookies like they were some sort of mood-altering substance. And in a way they were, because his mom's sugar cookies were mixed up indelibly in his mind with comfort and happiness and the memory of much better holidays. But even Mom's sugar cookies weren't doing much to improve his mood right now.

"Sucks, doesn't it?"

Clark looked around and found Lois standing next to him. She had another Budweiser clutched in her hand, and her eyes were starting to look bleary.

"I don't know what you mean," he said stiffly, grabbing another cookie. His seventh? His eighth? He wasn't sure, but he knew he was heading for a cookie hangover in a big way.

"Seeing someone you want pick someone else," she said, her voice slurring a bit. "Or something else. Seeing your destiny get snatched out of your fingers."


All of a sudden he remembered his dad's words: You've been given a chance few men receive. The chance to see your destiny before it happens.

The memory of those words slashed into him, and bitterness and pain coiled inside his heart at the bleak realization that he didn't have a choice after all.

Lois was his destiny. There was no point in fighting it.

"Hey," he said, snagging the beer bottle out of her fingers. "If you'll quit drinking, I'll quit stuffing my face with cookies. Deal?"

She made a comical face, grabbing for the bottle. "No deal. I'm having a much better time since I discovered Gabe's beer stash in the garage fridge."

"You've had enough," he said, holding her hand as she attempted to get the bottle back. Her hand was soft and warm in his, and surprisingly fragile. Lois was such a badass it startled him to realize she was no tougher than any other human, and he curled his fingers around hers in an instinctive reaction, masculine protectiveness combined with the sheer need to touch somebody. It was kind of nice to hold a girl's hand, even if it was just Lois' hand.

He figured it beat the hell out of not ever holding anyone's hand, anyway.

"Come on," he said, steering her away from the table and hoping she'd forget about the beer. He drew her across the room, into the crowd, but all of a sudden she dug in her heels, pulling him to a stop.

"Hey, Smallville," she said softly. "Let's show 'em we don't need them."

He looked around and realized they were standing under the mistletoe. And Lois was looking up at him, her face flushed, her lips parted... waiting for him to kiss her.

He knew perfectly well she didn't really want him that way. She was just trying to prove to herself that Ollie didn't mean anything to her. And he really didn't want to kiss her all that much, either. Before tonight, he'd never given serious consideration to kissing Lois. He just didn't think of her that way. But she was beautiful, and a good, decent person underneath her tough outer shell.

And right now, she was every bit as wounded as he was.

Oh, what the hell, he thought. Yeah, she wasn't totally sober, but it wasn't like he was taking advantage of her or anything. It was just one little kiss. After everything he'd been through tonight-- after he'd gotten freaking killed-- he thought he was entitled to a kiss from a pretty girl.

Besides, a quick glance across the room showed him Chloe was observing them out of the corner of her eye. She was pretending to be deeply engaged in conversation with Jimmy, but he knew her well enough to know she was watching.

You made your choice, Chlo, he thought bitterly. And now I don't have a choice.

He put his hands on Lois' arms and bent toward her.

All of a sudden, a memory flashed in his brain, the image of the little china sprig of mistletoe that had hung on their tree in the future, and he remembered what Jonathan had said. Our destinies are often shaped by very small events.

All of a sudden he knew how he and Lois had wound up together. Their future together started right here, and right now.

If he kissed Lois.

Her eyes fluttered shut, and he realized she was waiting for him to kiss her. He could see their future together unfold, as clearly as if it were on a movie screen in front of him. They were both bitter and lonely, and they'd turn to each other and fall into a relationship that wasn't any good for either of them.

And eventually they'd grow to resent the hell out of each other.

Not a good option. He remembered how screwed up that future Lois had been, how screwed up he'd been. Lois deserved better. So did he.

He remembered the other words his father had said, words of wisdom he'd said to Clark hundreds of times in life: There are always choices.

He straightened up and dropped his hands away from Lois' arms. Her eyes opened, and she glared up at him, looking seriously annoyed by his rejection.

"Wimping out on me, Smallville?"

Clark sighed. "You don't want me, Lois. You want Ollie." He reached into his pocket, finding the cell phone Chloe had recovered from the snow. "Give him a call. He probably hasn't left town yet. Make him change his mind and take you with him."

She reached out and took the phone, staring at it. Then she looked up at him.

"He already made his decision," she whispered hoarsely.

He could hear the hurt in her voice, the echo of too many bad relationships that had left her scarred and beaten... and afraid. "So what?" he challenged her. "Are you going to let him get away with that crap? I don't believe it. The Lois Lane I know never backs down from a fight."

Still she hesitated, and he lifted an eyebrow and pushed her a little harder. "Come on, Lois. You're not going soft in your old age, are you?"

She looked at him a moment longer, then her eyes narrowed, and she started furiously punching buttons.

"Kick his ass, Lois," Clark said softly, and turned toward Chloe.

She was still talking to Jimmy, and she appeared totally unaware of his approach, but he could hear her heartbeat, over the sound of forty or fifty other heartbeats, over the sound of a large crowd of people talking and laughing. He heard her heartbeat accelerate as he walked toward her, and he knew she was very aware of his presence.

He paused next to her. "Chloe," he said. "Could we talk for a minute?"

She turned her head and looked up at him. "Sure, Clark. What did you want to talk about?"

He looked down into her hazel eyes and gave serious consideration to grabbing her and kissing her, right in front of Jimmy. Part of him wanted to mark her indelibly as his. But he pushed back his more alpha instincts, because Jimmy was a nice guy, and he didn't want to hurt Jimmy. At least, not any more than he had to.

But he damn well wasn't letting Jimmy have Chloe, either. Chloe belonged to him.

He thought about that for a minute. It sounded kind of strange, because he and Chloe had always been friends. Very, very good friends, but just friends. And yet beneath the surface of their friendship, there had always been a sexual awareness between them, and he'd always regarded her with a kind of fierce possessiveness.

If he'd had more than two brain cells, he would have figured out he was in love with her a long time ago.

He pushed the useless thought back. It was too late to worry about what could have been. All he could do now was cope with the future. He didn't like the future his father had shown him, didn't want to wind up that way. And he recognized that it was possible that a future with Chloe wouldn't turn out any better.

But as he looked down into her eyes, he knew Chloe was worth the gamble.

He became aware that Chloe and Jimmy were looking at him oddly, and realized he'd been standing there, silently staring at her. "Uh, could we talk outside?"

She glanced at Jimmy. "I don't know, Clark. Jimmy and I are kind of in the middle of a conversation here."

"It's okay," Jimmy said. He flashed his bright, geeky grin, but to Clark's eyes it looked a little sorrowful. "I'm going to go refill the punch bowl, okay?"

Chloe grinned in response. "Make sure Lois didn't spike it, will you?"

She watched Jimmy go with a bright affection in her eyes, and Clark realized that she really did like the guy. A lot. But he was pretty sure she didn't love him.

At least, he hoped she didn't.

She turned back to him, and the affection faded from her eyes. Suddenly she looked wary. "Okay, Clark. What do you want to talk about?"

"Let's go outside," he said, and put an arm around her shoulders in a carefully friendly gesture, steering her toward the door. Despite the platonic nature of the gesture, a startling heat poured through him at the nearness of her body. She felt right against him, warm and soft and perfect, and he couldn't imagine why he hadn't put his arm around her that way before.

She apparently didn't feel the same way, because the moment they stepped out onto the porch, she shrugged free of his arm and turned to face him. "What's up, Clark?"

He looked out into the yard, seeing snow flurrying around the lit bushes. "Check it out," he said. "It's snowing again."

He walked down the steps into the front yard, so that flurries danced around him in the dim light. Chloe followed him, rubbing her arms with her hands.

"You know, you may not care that it's cold, but I'm not fond of being turned into a popsicle," she complained. "So if you've got something to say, go ahead and say it before I have to be thawed out in the oven."

He turned back around and looked at her, seeing the snow drifting around her. A few flakes landed in her hair, and he lifted his hand and gently brushed them away.

She shifted impatiently under his touch, but he heard her heartbeat accelerate. "Clark," she reminded him. "I'm freezing. Speak."

"Fine," he said with a sigh. "Chloe, I'm in love with you."

She suddenly went very still, staring at him. At last she opened her mouth. "Excuse me?"

"I love you," he repeated.

She blinked, looking as confused as if he'd spoken in Kryptonian. "Clark," she said at last, gently. "Where is this coming from? I mean, is it just because you got killed earlier? Because this is like totally out of left field. I know that people sometimes freak out when they're hurt, and I--"

He put a finger to her lips, shutting off the flow of words. When Chloe was nervous, the words tend to gush forth like water flowing from a faucet. No, more like water rushing over Niagara Falls.

"No," he said, more firmly. "I mean, yeah, being killed made me realize how I felt..." And he couldn't possibly begin to explain how, because even Chloe's open mind would have a hard time swallowing the notion that he'd had a vision while he was dead in which his father had shown him his future. "But I've loved you for a long time, Chlo."

She narrowed her eyes, in full-fledged investigative reporter mode. "How long?"

He frowned, considering the question. "Not sure, exactly. I mean, I've always loved you, but I'm not sure when I fell in love with you. I think it might have been when you kissed me, right before I went off to face Zod."

"And you didn't mention this when you got back from the Phantom Zone because...?"

"Um." He looked down at the ground, biting his lip. "Because I'm an idiot. You introduced me to Jimmy, and I knew the two of you had a history, and I just sort of... wimped out."

She glared at him. "You know, for a guy who's not afraid of bullets or knives or poison, you sure are a big coward when it comes to relationships."

You have no idea, he thought grimly. The idea of how close he'd come to making the choice that would have led to his bleak future with Lois still scared him. His dad had showed him an unpleasant future, and he'd nearly blundered right into it anyway.

"I know," he said meekly. "I'm trying to do better."

"It's kind of late now, isn't it? I mean, Jimmy and I have been dating for a couple of months now."

He lifted his eyes and looked at her, pain stabbing into his heart like the shard of kryptonite had earlier. Maybe it was already too late, and she was in love with Jimmy. The thought reduced him to stammering. "Uh. Well. I just sort of. Um. I didn't mean to..."

She looked at him, then something very like sorrow filled her eyes, and she shook her head. "Look, Clark, let's just forget we had this conversation, okay?"

She turned around and walked back toward the house, and panic spiked through him. He was losing her, the exact same way he'd let her slip through his fingers two months before.

But he couldn't let her go again.

He took two long steps, caught up with her, and spun her around.

"No," he said. "We're not forgetting this conversation, Chlo."

And he lowered his head and kissed her.

The kiss they'd shared at the Daily Planet had been interrupted by the sound of a phone ringing. Nothing interrupted this kiss but the soft brush of snow falling over them. She wrapped her arms around his neck, her lips molding to his, and he slid his arms around her waist, pulling her against him so hard that her feet left the ground. And still he didn't stop kissing her, only deepened the kiss, their tongues caressing so intimately it left him breathless.

At last he heard a sound his brain identified as a door opening. He didn't want to let go of Chloe, but he reluctantly lifted his head and looked at the intruder.

Lois was headed down the stairs toward them, her tall frame wrapped in a faux leopard fur coat.

"Here you go, Smallville," she said, tossing his cell phone at him. He snatched it out of the air in an automatic response and stuffed it in his pocket. She grinned at Chloe. "Sorry to leave in the middle of the party, cuz, but I'm heading out."

"Hey," Clark said suspiciously. She looked a lot happier, but he could still smell beer on her breath. "You're not going to drive, are you?"

"Nope. Ollie's coming to pick me up."

Sure enough, there was the sound of a motorcycle's engine, and the bike stopped at the curb.

Chloe frowned. "Is that thing safe on icy roads?"

Lois grinned. "I'm through playing it safe, Chlo." Her grin faded, and she looked more serious. "Listen, I don't know when I might be back. But I'll see the two of you sometime."

"Damn," Clark said, trying not to smile. "I sort of hoped you'd be gone for good."

She laughed, looking much more like the Lois he knew. Slightly tipsy, to be sure, but her normal optimistic, painfully cocky self. She slugged him on the arm.

"See ya around, Smallville."

She turned her head and looked at Chloe. The two women gazed at each other for a long moment, then suddenly embraced.

"Good luck," Chloe whispered.

"You too, cuz." Lois pulled away from the hug and wrinkled her nose. "If you're really planning on choosing Smallville, you're gonna need it."

She turned away from them, her fake fur swirling around her, and walked rapidly toward the motorcycle. Clark watched as Ollie put his arms around her and held her for a moment. Then she put a helmet on and climbed on behind him, and the two of them were gone in a spray of slush and a roar of noise.

"I hope it all works out for her," Chloe said softly.

Clark cocked his head, watching the red taillight recede in the distance. "I guess you never know for sure," he said. "But I think maybe it will." He looked down at her. "So what's the verdict? Are you choosing me?"

She sighed. "I don't know, Clark. What about Jimmy?"

"Do you love him?"

She looked into the swirling snow for a long moment. "No," she said at last, very softly. "I guess I was using him. I didn't mean to-- but I think that's what I've been doing."

"In that case, it'd probably be kinder to let him go."

"I guess you're right. Not that you have any agenda or anything."

"Of course not." He did his best to look offended. "But you know, if you're going to be single again, I was wondering if maybe you'd want to date me."

She looked up at him, very seriously, then grinned. "I don't know, Clark. That was a pretty good kiss..."

He frowned at her. "Pretty good?"

"Well, yeah, it was... adequate. But you know, I'm not sure I can make such a momentous decision based on one kiss. I think a little more data is required."

"Adequate," he grumbled, stung. "Adequate?"

He grabbed her again, his mouth meeting hers in a long, demanding kiss. Several minutes later he lifted his head away from hers, and she smiled up at him in the darkness.

"Definitely adequate," she pronounced. "I think you'll do, Clark."

"Gee. Thanks." He pulled her against him again and pressed his face into her hair, while the snow swirled around them. "I think maybe you'll do, too."

"Took you long enough to figure that out, dumbass. For a guy with superspeed, you sure are slow."

He wanted to kiss her again-- he didn't ever want to stop kissing her-- but he figured they'd been outside way too long already. "We better go back into the house," he said reluctantly.

"I suppose." Unhappiness shadowed her eyes. "I guess I'd better go ahead and talk to Jimmy when we get inside. It's not going to be easy. I really hate to hurt him."

"You'd hurt him worse if you weren't honest with him."

"I know. Honesty is important." She looked up at him, her eyes earnest in the darkness. "I'm glad you finally decided to get honest with me, Clark. And with yourself."

"Yeah," he said, putting his arm around her shoulders. "Me too."

Together they walked back toward the house, and he looked down at the head of golden hair beside him. Despite the chilly breeze and the snow, he felt very warm inside. There were still some things that had to be straightened out, but in spite of that, everything looked a whole lot brighter than it had earlier in the evening.

Maybe a man could never know his destiny for certain, but he had an odd conviction that this was the way things were supposed to be. The way things were meant to be. And he felt happier than he had in a long, long time, because his life was finally going in the right direction.

He was walking into his future with Chloe beside him.

Read the epilogue here.


sally said...

Very good. I like how you showed this. Seeing exactly what choice he made. Good Job! I just love your stories. I'm kind of addicted.

Monicaop said...

Thank you!!! I was so close to freaking out and think we have lost you!!! Anyway ;) I love the fact that he recognized what he was doing and he made the right choice, this one rocked.. as always, hugs!! Be well and take care.

Anonymous said...

yes yes YES !! thank you for giving Clark backbone

really looking forward to the Chlark ;)


Anonymous said...

great update as always :)


Anonymous said...

soooooooooo much better than the episode in season great job

blackheart_me said...

aww the last lines were beautiful. YES IT HAPPENED! Finally they got some sense knocked into them :P Loved this line: "He wasn't sure, but he knew he was heading for a cookie hangover in a big way." Just the term was so funny. I also loved how u pointed out the moment where his future would turn out like his dream. And the fact that he made a different choice. Point 1 for Clark who finally used his brain :P

Anonymous said...

I know you won't see this until after the holidays but I just want to wish you a very Merry Christmas and happy new year.

I really do enjoy your stories especially Chlark holiday stories =)!

Joanna (kidkarmina)

Anonymous said...

Yes Clark finally found his BRAIN! HOORAY! It's how it should be Clark and Chloe, Ollie and Lois! Perfection I love it!