Season 1, from "Obscura"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Chloe was out there somewhere.
I thought of her shut into a pine box in the dark, running out of oxygen, gasping for breath, and I knew I didn't have time to waste. I went into superspeed and zoomed up the windmill that loomed over Chandler's Field.
My friend Lana Lang had been having visions of Chloe for the past day. She'd seen her abducted, seen her kept prisoner, seen her hands bound and her mouth gagged. And only moments ago, she'd had a vision of Chloe being buried. She'd heard dirt thudding onto the coffin, seen Chloe trapped, helpless to save herself. And she'd seen a windmill, so I was pretty sure Chloe was somewhere here in Chandler's Field.
All I had to do was find her before it was too late.
I squinted, focusing my eyes so that my X-ray vision activated. This was still a new ability, and I had to concentrate pretty hard to get it to work. Sometimes it acted up, as if my eyes just didn't want to cooperate. Fortunately, this wasn't one of those times.
I looked over the field with X-ray vision and saw a casket, buried in the middle of the field. And inside it I saw a body... a body that wasn't moving.
I zipped off the windmill and across the field, faster than I'd ever moved before. I didn't even waste time trying to dig her out. I just slammed my hand into the ground, grabbed the casket by a handle, and pulled hard. It was heavy, but the dirt over it was loose, and I yanked it out of the ground without too much effort.
I shoved frantically at the lid and threw it aside. Chloe was lying inside, motionless. She wasn't even breathing.
"Chloe," I said in a hoarse whisper, reaching for her, but terrified I was too late. My voice rose in panic. "Chloe!"
At the touch of my hand, she drew in a long, shuddering breath, and her eyes fluttered open.
Relief flooded me. "Chloe," I said again, kind of stupidly. Like she didn't know her own name or something. But I couldn't seem to find any words beyond her name.
"Clark," she whispered with a tremulous smile, but the word quavered and broke. She started to sit up, and I helped her. My arms slid around her waist, and she wrapped her arms around my neck and pressed her face into my shoulder.
"It's okay," I told her, patting her awkwardly. "It's okay."
"It's you," she whispered into my flannel shirt. "I knew it would be you. It's always you."
She felt warm and alive in my arms, and I shut my eyes, overwhelmed with relief. A few more minutes, and she would have been dead. I thought of her suffocating, all alone in the darkness, and the thought made my chest ache.
"Chloe," I whispered again.
She looked up at the sound of her name, her face still streaked with tears... and I kissed her.
It was an accident, honest.
Okay... so it wasn't exactly an accident. But it wasn't planned, either. I just was so happy to see her alive, and breathing, that I couldn't quite help myself. I'd been kind of torn between Chloe and Lana Lang for several months, unable to make up my mind which girl I liked better. I wasn't sure which girl meant the most to me.
But in the darkness of Chandler's Field, with Chloe in my arms, there suddenly wasn't any question in my mind who was the most important girl in my life.
Her lips felt warm and soft, and I wanted to deepen the kiss, to pull her against me and kiss her really hard. But I remembered she'd been through an awful lot. So I pulled away, put a hand on her cheek, and swallowed to steady my voice.
"Let's get you to the hospital," I said, and picked her up.
I carried her all the way to the hospital. It was a long walk at human speed. Fortunately she fell asleep in my arms after about ten minutes, so I supersped the rest of the way. I could have called an ambulance on my cell, but I was afraid to let her out of my sight. A psycho had buried her alive, and he was still out there somewhere. And I wasn't about to let him hurt Chloe again.
So I carried her to safety, while she slept peacefully in my arms.
"You need to get some rest."
I'd been hanging around the hospital, watching over Chloe, and the nurses had finally let me come in and see her for a few minutes. She'd told me about her experiences, shedding only a few tears as she spoke, but she was obviously worn out from everything she'd been through. I started to stand up so she could get some sleep.
"Clark..." She caught at my hand. "Would you mind staying a while longer?"
Her voice was very small, and very unChloelike, and I hesitated. "The guy who did this to me is still out there," she said, blinking hard. "And I..."
Her voice trailed off, but I got it. Somehow she believed I could protect her. Even though she didn't know about my superstrength, or any of my special abilities, even though she thought I was just an ordinary Kansas farmboy... she trusted me to protect her.
"Of course I don't mind," I answered, sitting back down on the bed beside her. I'd been planning on hanging out in the waiting room again, but I didn't have a problem with staying in her room, either. "I'll stay as long as you need me."
She gave me a watery smile, her palm still pressed against mine, and my fingers curled around hers protectively. Her hand felt very small and fragile in mine. I reached out with my other hand and stroked her hair. Just to comfort her, I mean. The fact that her hair felt like silk against my palm was totally lost on me.
"So I guess this means you're going to spend the summer in Metropolis."
A week later, the guy who'd hurt Chloe was dead, and she'd recovered from her ordeal. Chloe had come to the farm to tell me she'd gotten an internship at the Daily Planet. I knew she'd always wanted to be a reporter for the Planet, so I was filled with pride at her news, but I couldn't help but feel a little dismayed at the prospect of a whole summer away from her.
She smiled up at me. "You'll come visit me, won't you?"
"Sure," I said. I wanted to reach out and touch her hair again, and the impulse was so strong I had to stop myself by wrapping my hand around the handle of the pitchfork I'd been using. "Of course. I'd never pass up an opportunity to see you in your native habitat."
She laughed, and then looked at me for a long moment. I stared back at her, kind of stupidly, unable to think of a single thing to say. Actually I had lots of things to say, but they were all kind of ricocheting around in my brain and getting all mixed up together. Words in my brain had a tendency to do that.
Ever since I'd found her buried in that coffin a week ago, I'd begun to realize how much she meant to me. I'd been thinking about asking her out to the spring formal, but somehow, faced with her wide eyes and big smile, I just couldn't get the words out. My tongue was frozen.
A very awkward silence ensued. At last Chloe smiled with artificial brightness. "Well, I just wanted you to be the first to know my news," she said, and started to turn toward the door.
All of a sudden my tongue loosened up. "Chloe," I said in a rush. "Do you have plans for the spring formal?"
She turned back toward me. "Not at the moment."
"I was wondering... would you like to go with me? As my date, I mean?"
She hesitated for a long moment, just looking at me, and I felt my heart sink. But then she smiled, and her hazel eyes seemed to light up from the inside. She was beautiful when she smiled like that, far and away the most beautiful girl I'd ever known.
"I'd love to, Clark."
I smiled back at her, unable to stop the big dumb grin that curved my mouth. "Great."
She gazed into my eyes a moment longer, then turned toward the door. "I guess I better go before my good karma runs out," she said.
She turned back and looked at me, one eyebrow raised.
"I'm sorry I didn't ask you sooner," I said, and I wasn't talking about just this one dance. I was sorry I hadn't figured out what she meant to me a long time ago. I was sorry I'd ever let myself define our close, complex relationship as "just friends." I'd finally realized we'd been a lot more than "just friends," ever since the very first day we met. I'd just been too obtuse to see it.
"That's okay, Clark." Her eyes glowed. "It was worth the wait."
She turned and walked away from me, and I watched her go, feeling a happy buzz of anticipation. I could hardly wait for our date. And after that... well, if she went to Metropolis, I'd be able to see her on weekends, at least. And I definitely would, because I wasn't going to let Chloe out of my life. Not now.
I'd been unsure of my feelings for her for a long time, uncertain whether I wanted her or Lana, but when I'd found Chloe in that coffin, when I'd come within moments of losing her, I'd finally figured out what I felt. It was her.
It was always her.