Season 6, spoilers for "Promise"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
The music is "Real Gone," by Sheryl Crow.
Well, we been driving this road
For a mighty long time
Payin' no mind to the signs...
Well this neighborhood's changed
It's all been rearranged
We left that dream somewhere behind...
“So, Clark, are you going to be renting a tux next weekend, or a DVD?”
Chloe Sullivan had asked the question a week ago, and he’d blinked at her. “What possible reason would I have to watch Lana marry Lex?”
Chloe knew perfectly well that Lana Lang had once been his girlfriend, and Lex Luthor had been his best friend. And he was pretty sure she realized Clark had about as much desire to see the two of them get married as humans had to undergo a root canal. But Chloe shrugged, her eyes sympathetic.
“Maybe because if you showed up, it would send a message that you’re actually moving on. You know, to Lana… to Lex… and more importantly, to yourself.”
He’d thought about Chloe’s words over the course of the week, and now he found himself walking into the sanctuary of the old, ornate Episcopal church on Smallville’s main street. He was a little late, and the ceremony had already started. The afternoon sunlight slanted through the stained glass windows, illuminating the wedding party in shafts of purple and gold and crimson.
Lana Lang stood at the front of the church, draped in yards and yards of white satin, and next to her stood Lex in a tux, his bald head glinting a bit in the sunlight. Off to the side of the bride and groom stood the best man and maid of honor--Lionel, Lex’s father, and Chloe.
Chloe wore a violet silk gown that swept almost to the floor, her dark blonde hair piled on top of her head, her lips curved in a sweet smile. Heavenly golden light illuminated her, making her hair gleam and her skin glow, making her look absolutely angelic.
Clark knew he should find a seat, but he couldn’t seem to stop staring.
God. She’s beautiful.
To his shock, he realized he wasn’t staring awestruck at Lana.
He was staring at Chloe.
Slow down, we're gonna crash
Baby you were screamin'
It's a blast, blast, blast
And look out baby you got your blinders on....
He and Chloe had been friends for a long, long time. They’d met in eighth grade, and she’d planted a kiss on him the day she met him—“just to get it out of the way, so we can be friends.” And they had been friends, good ones. He’d asked her out once the next year. They’d gone to the spring formal together, and he’d almost kissed her. But a natural disaster had intervened, forcing him to leave, and when they’d talked it over the next day, they’d decided it was safer and easier just to be friends.
He’d never really regretted just being friends with her, because she was his best friend, and he couldn’t live without her. A romance might have complicated things, or screwed up their relationship. But she’d been awfully pretty that night at the spring formal, dressed in a dark pink gown, her golden hair piled in curls on top of her head.
He realized her hair was done in almost exactly the same style today. Her gown looked similar, too, although it was a different color. But the way it exposed a good deal of her breasts, while demurely covering her ankles, made him think of the gown she’d worn all those years ago.
She’d been gorgeous at the spring formal, and five years later, she was even more lovely. He stared at her, wondering how he’d ever thought of her as just a friend, or why he’d thought he loved Lana instead of her. Chloe was the one who was always by his side, who helped him when he needed help, who’d even helped him save the world more than once.
Whenever he needed someone, Chloe was there.
He realized he’d fallen in love with her a long time ago, and just hadn’t seen the signs somehow. It was like he’d had blinders on, blinders that had somehow prevented him from seeing the truth. The truth that Chloe Sullivan meant the world to him.
A message that you’re actually moving on… most importantly to yourself.
Apparently he had moved on, quite some time ago, but he just hadn’t realized it. But as he stared at Chloe, he realized whatever he’d felt for Lana was entirely gone. At some point he’d fallen out of love with Lana… and fallen into love with Chloe instead.
The realization felt like crashing into a brick wall. Not painful, but definitely shocking.
Lana glanced back over her shoulder, frowning slightly, and he realized he was still standing in the back of the church, gaping like an idiot and distracting people’s attention from the ceremony. He stumbled to a pew and practically fell into it.
But he didn’t take his eyes off Chloe.
But there's a new cat in town
He's got high paid friends
Thinks he's gonna change history
You think you know him so well
Yeah you think he's so swell
But he's just perpetuating prophecy...
The reception was held at the Luthor mansion, an ancient and imposing edifice, almost a castle, that had been brought over from Scotland, stone by stone. Clark attended the reception too, not because he especially wanted to celebrate the “Lexana” wedding, as the tabloids had dubbed it, or even because he wanted free, fancy food… but because he didn’t want to stop looking at Chloe.
When he arrived at the mahogany front door, he was directed to a huge ballroom on the ground floor. He politely went through the receiving line, shaking hands with Lex and squeezing Lana’s hand. She studied his features as if looking for signs of pain, but he only smiled at her, then headed off in search of Chloe.
He found her with her boyfriend.
Crap. In the shock of realizing he loved her, he’d almost forgotten she had a boyfriend. His name was Jimmy Olsen, and he was a photographer at the Daily Planet and a disgustingly nice guy. She’d apparently met him years ago, but they’d reconnected about six months ago, and the two of them had been dating for a while now. They were pretty serious, but as far as he knew she’d never admitted to being in love with Jimmy, which was somewhat encouraging.
As he approached, Chloe looked up and smiled. “Hey,” she said. “You came.”
“Yeah.” He smiled back at her, hoping against hope it wasn’t a foolish, dorky, infatuated smile. He had a bad feeling it was, though, because Jimmy frowned. Chloe didn’t seem to notice.
“Lana’s pretty annoyed with you,” she said. “The way you stood in the back of the church staring at her—she’s kind of pissed.”
“Staring at her?” He lifted his eyebrows. “But I wasn’t staring at her, I was staring at…”
Jimmy’s frown grew darker, and he shut the hell up. Jimmy, at least, knew who he’d been staring at, he was certain. And given the glower on Jimmy’s face, he was pretty sure the smaller guy was considering trying to beat the hell out of him.
But his mom was here, on the arm of Lionel Luthor, and she’d kill him if he got involved a fight at a wedding, so he backed off. For now.
“I’ll see you guys later,” he said, with what he hoped was a friendly smile, rather than a goofily sappy one, and headed off to talk to his mother.
He managed to talk civilly to Lionel Luthor for half an hour, even though he wasn’t really thrilled about the developing relationship between Lionel and his mom. But his mother had been widowed for over a year, and she was a big girl, so her love life really wasn’t any of his business.
Anyway, he had no business telling anyone else how to run their love life. Look how badly he’d screwed his up. He’d thought he was still in love with Lana, when in fact he was totally in love with Chloe. And if only he’d realized it earlier, he could have told her before she got involved with Jimmy. He’d messed everything up.
But somehow or other, he was going to fix it.
Slow down, we're gonna crash
Baby you were screamin'
It's a blast, blast, blast
Well, look out, you've got your blinders on
Everybody's lookin' for a way
To get real gone
When the band started to play some old forties tune he vaguely recognized but couldn’t have identified, he watched the bride and groom dance together. They looked happy, he thought. They really did. He hoped Lana wasn’t making a huge mistake, but he was pretty sure she was. But he knew it was her mistake to make.
Next Lana danced with her biological father, Henry Small, and then Lex and Lana danced together again, while Chloe and Lionel danced too. He watched Chloe moving gracefully to the music, her curvaceous body draped in violet silk, her mouth quirked in a very typical bright smile, and an ache grew somewhere deep inside him. Not a sexual ache, but an emotional one.
When the music ended, he stood up, intending to ask her to dance with him, but he saw Jimmy headed in her direction, and he forced himself to sit back down. Naturally she’d want to dance with her boyfriend first. If he got to her side before Jimmy did, he might just provoke a fight, and he didn’t want to do that. He’d caused enough problems for Lana, enough ugly headlines in the tabloids, without instigating a brawl at her wedding.
But he damn well intended to dance with Chloe before the night was over.
He got his chance about fifteen minutes later. Jimmy stepped away for a moment, and Clark jumped to his feet and made his way through the crowd, barely able to prevent himself from going into superspeed.
“Hey,” he said.
Chloe turned around and smiled. “Hey yourself. I thought you’d have cut out by now.”
“I wanted to dance with you.” He held out a hand. “May I have this dance?”
She stared at his hand for a long, long moment, an emotion on her face that he couldn’t quite read, and he had an awful feeling that she was going to refuse. Maybe because it would upset Jimmy to see them dancing, or maybe because it was safer to maintain the status quo of their friendship, or maybe just because her feet hurt. But whatever her reasons might be, the idea that she might reject him hurt.
But finally she said, very quietly, “Sure, Clark. I’d love to.”
The knot of anxiety in his chest loosened, and he put a proprietary arm around her shoulders and steered her toward the dance floor. He slid an arm around her waist, took her small hand in his big one, and started to dance. She followed his lead gracefully, and he looked down into her eyes. He hadn’t danced with her in years, and he’d forgotten how good she felt against him, how perfectly they fit together.
“I’m surprised you didn’t ask Lana for a dance,” she said.
“What, and give all the tabloid writers something to write about?” His name had been linked to Lana’s in the papers, and it had been suggested she’d hesitated to say yes to Lex’s proposal because of him. The scandal had all died down eventually, but he sure as hell didn’t want to do anything to stir it up again. He might not be in love with Lana any more, but he still had some residual affection for her, and he didn’t want to complicate her life unnecessarily.
“I guess that wouldn’t be a good idea,” she admitted. “But you already gave them something to write about when you stood there staring at her in the church.”
“I wasn’t staring at her, Chlo.” He looked into her eyes for a minute, then decided to go for it, to give her some hint of what he was feeling. “I was staring at you.”
Well here I come
And I'm so not scared
Got my pedal to the metal
Got my hands in the air
Well look out, you take your blinders off...
Chloe missed a step and stumbled, and her heel came down on his foot. Those heels could take a normal guy’s toe right off, but fortunately, he was invulnerable. If bullets couldn’t go through his skin, a spike heel certainly couldn’t hurt him.
He steadied her, tightening his arm around her. She stared up at him for a moment, her eyes wide, then apparently decided to treat his comment as a joke. “Yeah, right,” she answered, rolling her eyes. “Of course you were staring at Lana, Clark. Everyone knows the bride is always the most beautiful woman on the room.”
“No,” he said with soft sincerity. “You’re the most beautiful woman here, Chlo.”
She studied his tie. The music played on, and they continued to sway together. At last she looked up. “What, did they spike the champagne with red K or something?”
“I didn’t have any champagne,” he said impatiently. “Look, Chloe, you’re the one who told me I needed to come to this wedding to help me move on from Lana. But when I got to the church and saw you… I realized I don’t have to move on. I’ve already moved on.”
She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, right. I’ll believe that when I see it.”
Given his on-again, off-again relationship with Lana, he didn’t blame her for her skepticism. But he figured she’d realize he was serious eventually. And then…
And then he had no clue. He didn’t know if she’d choose him over Jimmy. He didn’t even know if she wanted him, if she loved him as anything other than a friend. Fear filled him, the fear that he might have fallen in love with her too late. Panic gripped him so hard that his chest tightened, and he couldn't say anything else. A long silence fell between them.
“Remember the spring formal?” she said at last, her voice barely a whisper.
“Yeah.” His arm tightened around her waist. “You looked beautiful. A lot like you do today, in fact.”
“You looked great, too. A lot like you do today.”
He liked to think he’d grown up a lot since then, but he decided not to say so. “That was a great night, Chlo.”
“Yeah. It was. Right up until you ditched me for Lana.”
He sighed. “I didn’t ditch you for Lana, Chloe. I left because I thought I might be able to save her.”
“Oh, I know that now,” she admitted. Chloe was the one person besides his mother who knew all his secrets, and he trusted her to keep them. “But that night, I thought you’d dumped me for her. That’s why I backed off the next day.”
“I wish you hadn’t backed off.”
She smiled wryly. “I wish you hadn’t let me back off.”
“I was young,” he said. “Young and stupid.”
“Yeah, me too.” She looked straight into his eyes. “But we’re all grown up now, so I don’t think the youth and inexperience excuse flies any more.”
“I guess not.” He looked back at her, feeling himself drowning in the hazel depths of her eyes. “Listen, Chlo…”
“Not today.” She spoke tersely. “I’m still dating Jimmy, Clark.”
His arm tightened around her even more, and he pulled her a little closer than was proper. The music ended, and another song started, but he had no intentions of letting her go. He figured Jimmy was probably seething by now, but her body felt good next to his, and he didn’t care nearly as much about Jimmy’s feelings as much as he ought to. “We need to change that,” he said softly.
“You’ll need to give me a good reason to change it,” she answered.
He could understand her hesitation. After all, he’d been madly in love with Lana for years, or had at least thought he was. And he’d treated Chloe as nothing other than a friend for all that time. Well, except for a stray kiss or two.
The fact was, she had no reason to believe him. He’d have to convince her that his feelings for Lana were totally gone. He’d have to convince her that his feelings for her were genuine.
But he was pretty sure he’d be able to do that. And given the way she was looking at him, he was pretty sure she wasn’t going to choose Jimmy over him. He wasn’t scared any more. He was pretty damn certain things would work out between them.
Right now, though, he wasn’t all that worried about what was going to happen in the future, or about how things were going to work out. For now, he decided to push the future out of his mind and concentrate on the present. Because at this moment, everything was just perfect.
He was dancing with Chloe Sullivan in his arms, and for now, that was enough.