Monday, November 20, 2006

Giving Up Everything

Clark/Chloe/Lois
Seasons 3, 5, and futurefic (scenes from "Whisper," "Delete" and "Splinter")
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.

You don't know anything about this race. Yes, they can be petty and dishonest and betray each other over nothing. But they can also be honest, and loyal, and they would give up everything to protect someone they loved, even if they were from another planet. -Clark Kent

Chloe Sullivan was his friend... and she'd betrayed him.

Clark Kent walked through the crowded halls of Smallville High School with his friend Pete Ross. He struggled to block out the noises that raged around him, beating at his ears, but without much success. His hearing had abruptly developed to a new, more acute level, so that every noise slammed into him, striking against his eardrums with painful clarity. There were hundreds of people around him, and he could hear every thudding footstep, every pounding heartbeat, every word. The horrible cacophony made him want to run away and hide.

But he'd been blinded in a freak accident the day before, and he couldn't use his superspeed without vision, because he might crash straight through a wall, or kill someone. He just had to grit his teeth and try to survive the agonizing noise.

Even worse than the awful noise were the thoughts raging around in his mind-- the memory of the phone call he'd just overheard. Chloe's voice, talking to Lionel Luthor. About him.

She'd apparently agreed to feed Lionel information on him. He wondered exactly what she'd told Lionel, exactly what Lionel knew about him. If she'd discovered enough, he might find himself in a LuthorCorp lab soon. The thought made his head reel, even more than the dreadful noise pounding at his eardrums.

He felt off-balance, like someone had kicked his legs out from under him and sent him tumbling off a cliff. He felt scared, violated, and shocked to the core. He'd always known his secret might come out sometime, but it had never occurred to him that Chloe might be the one to betray him. He'd known Chloe Sullivan since eighth grade, and they'd always been the best of friends.

But apparently they hadn't been as good friends as he'd always believed.

He staggered, feeling dizzy and sick, and Pete's hand closed around his arm, offering support. "You okay, man?"

"Yeah," he said roughly, though he knew he wasn't. He wasn't sure things would ever be okay again. "I'm fine."

*****

"I may have lost my sight, but things are becoming much clearer now. Exactly how long have you and Lionel been working together?"

Chloe gaped at Clark, grateful that he couldn't see her expression. Oh, God, she thought. He knows.

She'd driven over to the Kent farm to see how he was doing, how he was coping with his blindness, but the moment she'd walked into the barn, he'd attacked her, his words sharp and angry.

There was obviously no point in denying his accusations, so she spoke honestly. "Since last spring. The day after Lex's wedding."

"When you saw Lana and me together." He sounded disgusted. "Is that why you did this?"

Put that way, her actions all sounded so petty, so childish. She wanted to defend herself, to explain, but she couldn't find the words to explain how hurt she'd been when she'd seen him with Lana. Kissing Lana. It had felt like a spike right through her heart.

But she knew that didn't justify what she'd done.

"Your silence is deafening," he snapped. "What did you give Lionel?"

That, at least, she could answer without shame. "Nothing," she said honestly. "Nothing he didn't already know."

He made a noise of disbelief. "Then what has he shared with you?"

Beneath the anger, there was a note of fear in his voice, and once again she wondered exactly what secrets Clark had that he was so desperate to protect.

"Nothing." She walked toward him, struggling to explain, struggling to justify her actions. "Believe it or not, Clark, I did this to protect you."

"By spying on me?"

"No. I-- no. By trying to figure out exactly why Lionel's so intrigued with you."

Even with his expressive eyes concealed by sunglasses, she could see the disbelief in his face. "And if the Torch got a few new computers, and you made a name for yourself at the Daily Planet, that was okay too."

She fell silent again, unable to defend herself. She had to admit that making a name for herself had been at the forefront of her mind when she'd first made the agreement with Lionel. The idea of having her own column at the Daily Planet had dazzled her. And at that moment, she hadn't wanted to protect Clark. She'd wanted to hurt him.

And once she'd calmed down and cooled off... it had been too late to end her agreement with Lionel.

A sneering voice inside her head asked if she'd honestly been willing to try, anyway. She had a column at the Daily Planet. Even though she'd gotten it at Clark's expense, she had something she'd always wanted, and she really didn't want to give it up.

"Chloe," he said in a distant, cold voice. "How could you do this to me?"

At the raw hurt in his voice, tears sprang to her eyes. "He just caught me at a really bad time," she answered, hating herself for causing him such pain. "He offered me everything I'd ever wanted. And I... I caved. I've been trying to get out of it ever since, but when people like Lionel Luthor have their hooks into you, they don't let you go."

She looked up into his angry, tense features, and agony rippled through her, so intense she had to blink back more tears. "I'm sorry," she whispered.

Turning, she fled from the barn.

*****

"Everything that's happened... part of me feels like I deserved it. Like it was my penance for what I did to you."

At Chloe's soft words, Clark felt affection fill him. He'd almost killed her last night, under the influence of a hypnotic suggestion, and today she'd almost been killed by his parents, under the same influence. He'd barely gotten there in time to save her from being strangled by a chain wielded by his father.

She could have died, and seen in that light, everything that had happened between them suddenly seemed less important. He couldn't just forget it had happened, but maybe they could get past it somehow.

He and Chloe could work this out. They had to. Because they'd been friends too long to let anything come between them.

"You can't totally blame yourself," he answered, swinging off his backpack, dropping it to the floor, and sitting down on a desk. "You went to Lionel because I pushed you away." He sighed. "Pushing people away seems to be one of my hidden talents lately."

"Not so hidden." She laughed, but it sounded like she was trying to cover tears. Suddenly he wanted to put his arms around her, to comfort her. He only barely managed to suppress the impulse.

"I never set out to investigate you, or to hurt you, Clark. I just... it was so flattering that someone like that was interested in my work."

He nodded, understanding how important recognition was to her. "It made you feel like you mattered."

"Yeah. And I just gave in to all my worst instincts."

"Chloe," he said gently. "Lionel caught you at a weak moment. We all have them." He sighed. "You found me at mine in Metropolis. And you didn't turn your back on me. You gave me a second chance, and I at least owe you the same."

As he said the words, he recognized how true they were. Chloe had protected him, forgiven him, even though he'd been on a red K bender and had acted like a serious ass. If she'd forgiven him for everything he'd said to her that summer, she deserved a second chance, too.

A tear rolled down her cheek. "I'd like that," she whispered. "I won't ever betray you again, Clark. I swear."

He looked into her eyes, seeing the pain and the affection there. "I believe you," he said.

*****

"I need to come clean about something," Chloe said. She stepped into Clark's path and faced him. "Those emails from Lionel you saw on my computer-- you didn't imagine them."

She saw a flicker of hurt in his eyes. "So you have been talking to Lionel."

She felt stab of pain that he could possibly imagine she'd betrayed him, even for a microsecond, but reminded herself that she'd betrayed him once before. Yes, it had been two years ago, and Clark had forgiven her, but he couldn't really be blamed for wondering about her loyalty every now and then. "Yes," she answered steadily. "But not about you. About Lex. He's been feeding me inside information on Lex's campaign."

He thought about that for a minute, then nodded with understanding. A wave of relief flooded her as she realized that he believed her.

"Clark," she said, staring up into his eyes earnestly. "I know you haven't been yourself the past couple of days. But you have to believe I'd never tell Lionel your secret. I'd die before I'd betray you, Clark."

He looked down at her, and then his mouth quirked into a small, affectionate smile, and he put his arms around her, hugging her tightly. She wrapped her arms around him and pressed her face into his shoulder, knowing that what she'd said was true. She'd learned her lesson, and she'd never, every betray him again.

If she had to, she'd even die for him... with a smile on her face.

She loved him that much.

*****

"Good news, cuz. I just found out I'm going to receive my first Pulitzer."

Jealousy struck into Chloe's heart as she sat at her desk at the Gotham Gazette, but she tried really hard to repress it. "No kidding!" she said into the cell phone, doing her best to sound enthusiastic. "That's fabulous, Lois!"

"Thanks." Lois laughed brightly. "Clark's thrilled, too. Of course, I never would have gotten this far without him."

"So the Pulitzer's for the Superman articles?"

"Yeah." Lois sobered a little. "Listen, Chlo, you're a better writer than I am, and we both know it. I just got lucky."

"That's not true," Chloe assured her, meaning it. Mostly. "You deserve this, Lois. You had kind of a rocky start, but you've grown into a fabulous writer."

"Thanks, cuz." Chloe heard a deep voice in the background. "Oh, Clark's here for lunch. I gotta go. See you soon, Chlo."

The phone went dead in her ear, and Chloe put it down on her desk and stared into the quiet newsroom. The Gotham Gazette was a small paper, and not particularly well regarded. But it provided her with a steady paycheck, so she wasn't complaining.

Even so, she couldn't entirely suppress the envy that ate at her soul. Lucky Lois, working at the greatest newspaper in the world.

Of course, Chloe herself had worked at the Daily Planet herself for a couple of years. She'd started writing obituaries, then slowly moved up to real news stories, turning out reasonably competent copy. But every time she'd unearthed a story that was truly groundbreaking, she'd somehow found herself unable to turn it in to her editor. The Green Arrow, the Martian Manhunter, Aquaman-- she'd investigated all of them, learned their stories, and written articles that should have catapulted her to the front page. Stories that should have made her a star reporter. And every single time, Clark had somehow learned what she was investigating, and asked her to kill the story.

"As a personal favor," he'd said, giving her the wide-eyed, earnest look she'd never been able to resist. "Come on, Chloe. Don't look into them any more."

She'd sworn never to betray him, and even though these stories were at best tangential to his secret, the men involved did know him. So publishing them could be regarded as a betrayal of his secret. She'd promised never to betray him, so she'd sighed and pressed the "delete" key, every single time.

Eventually, the Planet's editor-in-chief, Perry White, had called her into his office and told her that although she was a very good writer, she didn't really have a knack for big news. He'd let her go, looking very regretful, and hired Lois Lane, her cousin, who'd been writing for a tabloid called the Inquisitor for several years. Lois hadn't been handicapped by an awkward promise, and she'd published several big articles on superheroes, becoming something of a star in the process.

And then Superman had come to town, at the same time Clark Kent began his reporting career at the Daily Planet. Lois had been the reporter to write the first article on Superman. Chloe knew that Clark had given her an exclusive interview.

Why Lois? she thought bitterly. It should have been me.

She'd known Clark's secret since she was eighteen, and kept it faithfully. She could have written about him, exposed him to the world as an alien, and gotten a Pulitzer. But he was her friend-- the man she'd loved, if she was going to be totally honest about it-- and she'd protected him.

I'd die before I'd betray you, Clark. She'd told him that, long years ago, and she'd meant every word. She'd never once considered exposing his secret.

But landing an exclusive interview with Superman could have been a huge story, a story that would have put her on the front page and kept her there. Instead, Clark had confided in Lois the moment he came to town, and let her interview him.

At first she hadn't been able to figure out why he'd gone to Lois instead of to her. But eventually, when she heard that Clark and Lois were engaged, she'd understood why.

She'd loyally kept his secret for ten years... and now Lois was going to get a Pulitzer.

Chloe struggled to push back her resentment and envy, and the bitter feeling that in the end, Clark had betrayed her. She didn't have time to indulge in jealousy. She didn't have time to sit here and daydream about the Pulitzers she could have won, or the man she'd once loved. She had work to do.

She sighed, turned to the computer, and went back to composing obituaries.

-The End-

10 comments:

chlarkfan333 said...

Noooo! That was bloody painful, probably cause that's what's going to happen anyway. Brilliantly written nevertheless...as always. :)

Anonymous said...

oh friggin hell! that was more depressing than I thought! But as the previous poster said..it is probably what is going to happen..or something like it.

Chloe will have to give up alot of stories to protect him, but Lois does not have to...hence her big scoop on the Green Arrow previously, and future episodes where she tries to figure out who he is. She doesnt have a promise to keep like Chloe....again, everything handed to her on a silver platter!

Aint it a damn shame that Chloe will be giving up alot for him, and Lois will reap all the rewards?...the man she loves, and the job she worked for....and yet, despite all this sacrifice, TPTB never want to put them together as they deserve to be...damn..i guess life is hard for some people.

Smallville shows Clark's sacrifices...but we cant ignore the sacrifices people make for HIM. Wonderful story Elly...sorry if I went off on a tangent, but after 5 years, I feel really strongly about this.

mp

Sweeteen_200 said...

Oh evil...
Well written, but evil.
I think I'd have to personally talk to TPTB if that happened.

SecretVandalist said...

Oh no! How horrible for Chloe.

I see this happeneing already with the green arrow information and the way Clark went behind Chloe's back to delete all the information.

I still dont feel right about Chloe letting that go...It was awful of him.

I hope this doesnt actually happen but from the direction things are going it seems right.

Amazing writing, again.

SelfAppointedCritic said...

Oh my, that was a hearbreaker. Exquisitely written, but so, so, sad. ITA with the poster above, after dedicating five years of my life to SV, its hard to bear; though very likely. You, as usual, are so ahead of the game Elly. Perhaps I should start reading more Clois stories to help soften the eventual blow (*shudders*). Then perhaps I can move past my vehement denial. Long live Chlark!

sally said...

oh, I so hope this doesn't happen. It does look like the show might go this way. But I still have hope that it won't. Clark and Chloe have to some to some kind of arranment where she can still protect his secret and still pursue her DP dream. That would be so aweful after all she's done and sacrificed for Clark that he would give Lois the exclusive. Grrrrr!

Great writing as usual and so so sad.

Anonymous said...

Man...well written, but holy hell Clark is a jerk. I think there should be a statute of limitations on promises like that - once he lets the secret out, it should be fair game. Only Clark never played fair with Chloe. He always put the woman on his arm ahead of Chloe, even when he pretended that woman was her, jerk.

Sorry, but this fic highlights the parts of the show that I hate...the worship of Clark and any woman with dark hair. I wish they's acknowledge that Clark can really be an ass sometimes, and write for Chloe more. She's the heart of the show, and they're totally going to screw her over for Lois. Ugh, like the Blana worship wasn't bad enough.

OK, now I have to go read one of your happy stories to make me feel better.

I don't suppose you could be pursuaded to write a sequel - maybe Lois finds Chloe's old stories, confronts Clark, and Chloe grows a pair and finally REALLY stands up to Clark. I could see Lex 'leaking' the stories to Lois for his own ends, and Lois (for all her many shortcomings)loves her cousin, she'd hate to know he tanked Chloe's career while establishing Lois'. Maybe even a little Bruce for Chloe?

sunnydlita said...

Talk about angst! That was beautifully written as always but depressing as hell!

blackheart_me said...

ELLY!!
This was so heart breaking it literally made my heart hurt. I felt so incredibly bad for Chloe. I'm bawling like a little kid at this end :P. I needed some angst though and I found it. Now I'm crying it all out. How heart breaking. Never read something so shattering and honestly because of the show I think this is exactly how it might turn out. It makes me feel even worse for Chloe. And that's kinda sad since she's a fictional character :(
Wonderful writing Elly! U make it easier for me to cry ;]

Elly said...

Thank you very much, blackheart_me. You're always so generous with the comments that I feel really bad for making you cry:-(. But if you need angst, this is probably a good story for it. In fact, the whole "futurefic angst" section is pretty grim...