Season 6, "Freak"
Rating: Adult. If you're under eighteen, please go elsewhere now.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Based on a plot bunny by sullivanlane, used with permission.
"What the heck did you do to my girl, Kent?"
At the accusing words, Clark stiffened. He'd heard Jimmy coming, and they'd hastily pulled their clothes back on. Chloe had inadvertently loosened her bandage a bit, and he'd been in the process of taping it back on her shoulder when Jimmy walked in. He didn't much care for Jimmy's tone, or the possessive way he called Chloe his girl, and he lifted his head and glared at the smaller guy. But Chloe cut in before he could snap out an answer.
"There was a GPS device implanted in me," she said, her tone placating. "Clark had a pocketknife."
Clark tried his best to look earnest and innocent. "We improvised."
Improvised was a nice euphemism for what they'd done, he thought. Jimmy didn't seem to entirely buy Clark's innocent expression, because he frowned more deeply than before. "Improvised?"
"It barely even stung," Chloe assured him.
Clark shot a quick glance at her, his eyebrows drawing down. He hoped it hadn't stung at all. She gave him a tiny shrug and a smile, and he relaxed.
Jimmy apparently noticed the quick exchange of looks. He frowned more deeply than before, looking like he wanted to throw Clark out the nearest window.
Clark had a feeling the conversation between Jimmy and Chloe was going to come a lot sooner than she'd wanted it to.
“You look dazed and confused. Are you okay?”
Clark paused just inside the etched glass doors of the Daily Planet’s basement. He started toward Chloe’s desk, then hesitated, because she crossed her arms over her chest, looking oddly defensive.
“I can’t sleep,” she said softly. “I can’t work. I can’t think about anything else.”
He would have liked to think she was thinking about making love to him, but he could tell from her expression that wasn’t what was on her mind. And no wonder, because she’d had to deal with an awful lot of crap in the past twenty-four hours. He took another step toward her and then hesitated, gazing down at her sympathetically. “You’ve been through a lot.”
She lifted her head and looked at him. “There was a reason they took me.” Her eyes were sorrowful but resolute, as if she’d realized she couldn’t flinch from the truth. That didn’t surprise him, because Chloe never hid from the truth. “And we both know it’s not because I was a witness. Tobias didn’t identify you, because you’re not a meteor freak. It was me.”
“Chloe.” He couldn’t bring himself to face the idea, because they both knew meteor freaks usually went psychopathic when their abilities manifested. It just couldn’t be true. “It must have been a mistake.”
“How do you know that?” She jumped to her feet and stalked toward him, staring up at him defiantly. Chloe never let him hide from the truth, either. “I mean, I’ve been exposed to more kryptonite than practically anyone else in this town. It’s not that much of a stretch to think I could have been infected somewhere along the way.”
“But you don’t have powers.” He frowned, suddenly concerned that she hadn’t told him everything. “Do you?”
“No, but that doesn’t rule me out. There’s a percentage of the Wall of Weird that were latent for years. They didn’t exhibit any of their powers till long after their exposure.”
“Okay.” He wanted to wrap his arms around her and hold her against his chest, but he didn’t quite dare, because he wasn’t exactly sure where they stood right now. Yeah, they’d made love a few hours ago, and she’d assured him she was going to talk to Jimmy, but that didn’t mean he could assume the two of them were necessarily a couple now. Her life was complicated now, and he wasn’t sure if she was going to want another boyfriend right away.
Instead of holding her, he walked past her, putting some distance between them, and then turned to face her. “All right. Let’s say it’s true. Who’s to say you’re going to develop any powers at all?”
“All I know is that every single meteor freak I’ve ever run into has wound up either dead or in Belle Reve.”
That was something of an exaggeration, he knew, but he understood her point. The vast majority of meteor mutants they’d encountered had gone very, very bad. The thought of Chloe’s personality suddenly changing distressed him, and the idea that she might wind up as someone totally different than the decent, kind girl he’d always known scared the hell out of him.
But he couldn’t believe she’d wind up as a psychopath. He just couldn’t. No matter what happened, no matter whether she remained perfectly normal or developed some sort of strange powers… she was still Chloe.
She walked back around her desk, dropped into her desk chair, and put her face in her hands. “Face it, Clark,” she said, the words trembling. “I’m a walking time bomb.”
He couldn’t keep his distance any longer. He walked over to the desk, pulled over a stool, and sat down next to her. Sliding an arm around her shoulders, he spoke in a soft, gentle voice.
“Then consider me your own personal bomb squad.”
She lifted her head and looked up into his eyes, and a tremulous smile curved her mouth. He reached over, wrapped his fingers around her forearm, and stroked her arm with his thumb in an unmistakably possessive, protective gesture. She stared down at his hand for a long moment, then she turned a little, wrapped her arms around her neck, and pressed her face into his shoulder.
“Clark.” She whispered his name into his blue t-shirt, and he knew from the way she said it that he didn’t have to worry about Jimmy. Jimmy was history. And he didn’t have to worry about her not wanting him, either. The way she clung to him made that very clear.
"Clark," she said into his shirt, her voice muffled. "I wanted to tell you I talked to Jimmy. I told him everything. Everything about us, I mean."
Clark winced. "I guess he didn't take it too well."
"No. But I don't think he'd be able to deal with this anyway. The idea that I might be some sort of freak..."
"You're not a freak." He spoke sharply. "You're the same person you've always been."
He heard her let out a breath. "I'm glad you feel that way."
He held her a little closer, glad to know for sure that she'd resolved the Jimmy issue. Having her in his arms felt right, and he wondered why on earth he hadn't made love to her before. He figured he hadn't quite been ready to admit what she meant to him. But after the events of this evening, he was definitely ready now.
Jimmy was the past. He and Chloe were the future.
The problem was, he didn’t know what the future held, or what might happen to Chloe. But he did know he’d protect her with his life. He hoped with all his heart that would be enough to save her from whatever lay ahead.
He became aware that she was shaking, soft, miserable sounds coming from her throat. "Hey.” He pulled her against him more tightly, his arms locked around her. "Take it easy. It's going to be okay, Chlo."
“No, it’s not.” Her voice shook.
He could feel her tears wetting his t-shirt, and he held her tighter, trying to let her know that he’d protect her, no matter how. He brushed a kiss over her forehead and spoke very gently, trying to soothe her, trying to reassure her. Somehow he'd find a way to protect her.
“Shhh. It's okay." He spoke softly into her hair. "Hold onto me, Chlo.”