Season 5, sequel to "Reckoning"
Rating: Adult. If you're under eighteen, please go elsewhere now.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the WB and DC Comics, not to me.
Afterward, Chloe can barely keep her eyes open. The warmth of his body on hers, coupled with the relaxation of total sexual satisfaction, combine to make her very sleepy. She's so drowsy she hardly notices when he sits up, finds her clothes, and dresses her, then picks her up in his arms and carries her up to his loft. He places her gently down on the old tattered couch and covers her with a red blanket, and she drifts off into a peaceful slumber.
Sometime later she's awakened by voices. She opens her eyes and blinks at the beams of the ceiling, hearing Clark's deep rumble, along with a higher-pitched, feminine voice. She figures Martha must have come home.
But then she recognizes the feminine voice, and it's not Martha. It's Lana.
She shoves the red blanket to the floor and creeps toward the railing. She's spent so much time in this loft that she knows where all the creaky floorboards are, and she avoids them carefully. Clark could hear her moving if he happened to focus his hearing, of course, but she doesn't really care if he knows she's awake or not. She just doesn't want Lana to know she's here, because she's afraid it could be a little difficult for Clark to explain how she happened to fall asleep in his loft. Clark's never been any good at lying.
"Chloe and my mom went to town together," he's saying now, and she realizes he's excusing away her red Beetle in the driveway. And his voice is pretty loud, pitched deliberately so that if she's awake, she'll be able to hear it. Good thing she didn't walk right down the stairs, or Lana would have had yet another lie to hold over his head.
Okay, then. She'll stay in the loft, because covering for Clark is what she does.
"And how are you doing, Clark?"
There's real concern in Lana's voice, the concern of a woman who loves a man deeply. Chloe feels a grudging respect for Lana, who loves Clark so much she's willing to put aside all their differences in order to comfort him when he really needs it. Part of her-- a small, petty part-- wishes Lana weren't that good a person.
But she is. Which is why both Chloe and Clark have been friends with her for so long. Because at bottom, Lana's a good, solid, dependable friend.
Chloe knows she really ought not to listen in on their conversation, but she just can't help herself. Unfortunately, the two of them turn together and walk side by side toward the end of the barn, and their voices drop into a more intimate register. She wishes she had superhearing-- it must make eavesdropping a hell of a lot of easier-- but maybe it's just as well that she can't hear the conversation. Because now they've paused, and they're standing there looking into each other's eyes, and Clark is looking at Lana the way he looked at Chloe when they made love. Like she's everything in the world to him.
Pain twists in Chloe's chest, and she tries to look away, but can't.
And then Lana stands on tiptoe, puts her arms around Clark's neck, and hugs him, and his arms go around her waist, holding her tightly against him.
Chloe knows she ought to feel glad that Lana's finally put her differences with Clark behind her, for now, at least. Because Clark needs all the support he can get right now, and he loves Lana more than anything. She's the one who ought to be there for him. It looks like Lana's come to that conclusion, too.
Chloe knows Clark will feel better if Lana's at his side through all this. But that small, petty part of her wishes she'd been the only one to comfort him.
She steps quietly back from the railing, unwilling to watch anymore. Tears burn her eyelids, which is silly. She knew Clark didn't love her, after all. She remembers assuring him that she was experienced enough that she wouldn't confuse sex with love.
But even when she'd said it, she'd known it was a lie. And she's more painfully aware of that than ever.
She wonders if she should have made love to Clark. Did she really do it for him, to comfort him, or did she do it for herself? She's not sure. But right now she's certain that no matter what her motivations were, it was the wrong thing to do. Because she feels like someone plunged a dagger into her chest and twisted it.
Her heart aches so badly that she can't hold back the tears running down her face.
She sinks down on the floorboards and buries her face against her knees, her shoulders shaking with sobs that are every bit as silent as Clark's were.
It's her turn to grieve.
When Chloe hears Lana's car drive off, she sneaks down the stairs, sticks her head out of the barn cautiously, and glances around. Clark is nowhere in sight, and she figures he went back to the house. He probably forgot all about her the minute Lana showed up.
She pushes that bitter thought away, knowing that he probably just figured she was still asleep. Heading for her little red convertible, she gets in and turns the key in the ignition. The engine roars to life, and she puts the car into gear.
All of a sudden there's a whooshing sound and a breeze, and Clark is sitting in the passenger seat, right next to her.
She jumps in shock, slamming the gearshift back into park. Good thing she hadn't started down the driveway yet, or she probably would have run right into a fence or something. You'd think she'd be used to Clark's sudden comings and goings by now, but apparently not.
"What-- what--" She realizes she's stammering and manages to get her tongue working. "What the hell, Clark?"
"I didn't want you to leave while you were upset," he says, looking at her, his forehead wrinkled with concern.
"I am not upset," she says, lifting her chin. And it's true. She quit crying a while ago. Sure, maybe her eyes are a little red-rimmed, but that's because she's sleepy. Really.
He just looks at her. "Chloe," he says, "remember who you're talking to. I heard you crying."
Oh, hell. She thought she was being quiet enough that he wouldn't hear, especially while he was focused on Lana, but he could probably hear a snail crawling across a leaf five miles away, so naturally he could hear her crying. "Geez," she snaps, annoyed. "It's like having Shelby for a best friend. Only Shelby is more intelligent."
He ignores her defensive snark. "I'm sorry I upset you, Chlo. Really."
"I'm fine," she says, looking away from his worried eyes and glaring belligerently at the speedometer like it's just insulted her. "I don't have any right to be upset, Clark. You're the one who's just lost someone, after all."
He leans his head back against the headrest and closes his eyes. "And then I went and dragged you into the middle of everything," he says softly. "I'm really sorry, Chlo. I'm a jerk."
"You didn't drag me into anything."
"Yeah, I definitely dragged you into it." He cracks an eye open, lifting an eyebrow. "Literally."
She remembers his belt around her wrists, and her cheeks flame red. "I didn't exactly object," she says stiffly. "And I knew how you felt about Lana, Clark. I realize you're not going to get over her any time soon. Even though I am fabulous in bed."
His mouth twitches slightly. "No argument about that." He sighs. "But you're right. I'm not going to get over Lana any time soon."
Of course he's not. He just proposed to Lana less than a week ago, after all. It's not like he can turn his feelings off like a lightswitch. She can understand that, because she's been trying to turn her feelings for him off for five years now. But emotions just don't work that way, and she knows that better than anyone.
"So are you two..." She barely manages to shove the words out past the tightness gripping her throat. "Back together?"
"No." He closes his eyes again, and she stares at his profile. With the dark stubble shadowing his jawline, he looks older than usual. Or maybe it's not the stubble at all, and coping with his father's death has matured him somehow. At any rate, he suddenly looks much older than the boy she's known since junior high school. "I'm all mixed up right now, Chlo. This isn't the best time for me to be making decisions. About anyone."
"And Lana's okay with that?"
"Yeah. After everything that's happened, I don't think she wants to get back together with me, anyway. She just came by to give me some support."
"Oh." She feels some of the tightness in her chest ease, and tries to ignore her reaction. Lana or no Lana, nothing's settled between her and Clark. Clark may not be Lana's any more, but he's not hers, either.
At least not right now. And maybe not ever.
"Chloe," he says, reaching out and covering her hand with his. She realizes she's still clutching the gearshift, so hard her knuckles are white. "Don't go away mad, Chlo. I've lost everyone else. I can't lose you, too. I just can't."
She lets go of the gearshift, turns her hand over, and intertwines her fingers with his. "You're not going to lose me, Clark," she assures him in a soft voice. "Not ever. I promise."
She sees his eyelashes fluttering a bit and realizes he's blinking away tears again. "Clark," she whispers. "I'm not going anywhere."
"I'm glad." His eyelids flicker open and he looks at her, and she can see the dark emotions reflected in his eyes. Earlier he was hiding everything under anger, but the anger's evaporated, and now she can see the vulnerability and loneliness and stark need in his gaze. "Maybe..." He sounds hesitant, almost tentative. "Maybe you could stay a little longer."
"Maybe I could. With the right incentive."
He thinks about that for a minute, then there's another whoosh and a rush of air. Suddenly she finds herself in the cold dimness of the barn, and he's kissing her again, hard.
"Hey," she says, shoving at his shoulders. "Whoa. What about your mom?"
"She called from her cell while I was in the house. She's going to be gone at least another hour."
"Cool." She runs her lips over the prickly bristle on his throat. "That ought to be plenty of time."
"Maybe," he says, a glimmer of amusement in his voice. "And maybe not."
He cups her face in his hands, tilts her head up, and kisses her, a long, passionate kiss that sends fire through her veins and warmth into her heart. They kiss for a long, long time, and eventually her clothes disappear again through Kryptonian magic, and their bodies seem to merge into one. He begins to make love to her, lifting his head and looking deep into her eyes.
Nothing's settled between them. And maybe nothing ever will be. But he's looking at her that way again, his gaze intent and serious, staring into her eyes like she's the most important thing in the world to him.
And right now, that's enough for her.