Rating: Adult. If you're under eighteen, please go elsewhere now.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
"Reason number three you should choose me instead of Jimmy Olsen." They stood together on solid ground, and his voice was very soft and muffled, because his face was still pressed against her shoulder. He couldn't quite bring himself to look in her eyes. "Because I love you, Chlo. I've always loved you."
She was very still and unmoving, and at her long silence his heart began to sink. At last she turned her head and brushed a kiss over his ear.
"I love you too, Clark."
Relief washed over him in a wave, and he dared to turn his head and look into her eyes. "Okay, then," he said harshly. "You're not going to marry Jimmy. Right?"
She met his eyes unflinchingly. "I want that ring, Clark."
He noticed she hadn't answered the question. A terrible fear rose up in him, the fear that she was just trying to get the ring back, that she'd been playing along with him. Anger filled him along with the fear, but he forced his churning emotions back and tried to keep some semblance of rationality.
Chloe would never make love to him under false pretenses, and she'd certainly never tell him she loved him if she didn't. He knew her well enough to be certain of that. So she must have some good reason for wanting the ring.
"Why?" he asked at last.
"Because I have to make sure Clark Kent's the one who loves me, and not just Kal."
He thought about that for a moment. "Okay," he said at last. "But if it's really red K, it's going to be near enough to me to affect me as long as I'm holding you. Let me take you back to Metropolis, and then I'll let you have it."
"I can't go back to the Planet right now." She sounded scandalized. "I'm not wearing panties."
"Yeah, I guess that could be a problem." He tried very hard not to smile, but didn't succeed. "Because you can't possibly type when you're not wearing underwear."
"Hush." She batted at him. "It's not that, and you know it. It's just that, well, ladies don't walk around without panties on."
"If you ask me," he said, "the world would be a better place if they did."
She made a clicking sound of disapproval with her tongue. "You're such a pig on red K, Clark."
"Thank you." He grinned and pulled her against his chest more tightly. "Ready to go back to Metropolis, Chlo?"
He wasn't at all ready to leave their idyll here in the middle of nowhere, wasn't ready to leave the summer sunlight and the warm breeze and the feel of her arms around his shoulders, but he knew they had to go back to real life sometime. And that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. If she really believed he loved her, and if she really loved him back, real life would be greatly improved. If not-- well, he'd cope with that later.
She hesitated, and he suspected she was having some of the same thoughts. Or maybe she was just worrying about her lack of panties. But at last she looked up into his eyes and nodded.
"I'm ready," she said, her voice soft but resolute.
The way she said the words sent a spike of hope through him. All of a sudden, he was pretty sure things were going to work out okay.
He held her tightly, and they shot up into the air and flashed toward Metropolis.
Clark sat in his loft alone. Darkness was beginning to fall, and with it the feeling of loneliness that filled him every evening about this time. Dusk was a dark and lonely time for him. It had been that way ever since he and Chloe had started drifting apart, ever since he realized he couldn't count on a daily phone call from her any more, couldn't count on seeing her four or five times a week. Dusk was the time when he missed her the most.
Earlier this afternoon, he'd taken Chloe back to her corner office and given her the ring, and since then he hadn't heard from her. Not even a text message. His imagination was running wild-- well, wilder than usual-- with all sorts of scenarios in which she ran off to Vegas with Jimmy and got married tonight.
She wouldn't do that, he assured himself. She said she loves me. She made love to me. She's not going back to Jimmy.
But deep down, he wasn't all that confident. Because he'd watched Chloe slipping away from him for a long time now, as she grew closer and closer to Jimmy. He wasn't sure the warm, close friendship between him and Chloe was enough any more. There was a time when the love and affection they had for one another could have easily been a solid basis for a relationship. But now that they'd drifted apart, he wasn't quite sure there was enough between them any more.
She deserved better than him, anyway. Jimmy had his life together, whereas he himself was still struggling to get a degree. And maybe Chloe had realized that, and chosen Jimmy instead...
He heard footsteps on the staircase, and hope filled him. He turned his head and stared.
A blonde head appeared over the railing, and Chloe grinned at him.
He grinned back as relief and hope and love twisted together in his gut. "Hey," he said, keeping it casual. Because OhGodI'msogladtoseeyoubecauseIloveandadoreyou might be a little much to hit her with, the minute she walked in.
"Hey," she answered. "How's it going?"
He really wanted to keep it casual, to protect himself, but he couldn't quite stop the words from spilling out. "Better, now that you're here."
"Yeah." She smiled. "Me too. Here, catch."
She tossed something at him. Reflexively, he caught it, and realized it was the engagement ring Jimmy had given her. He frowned at her, curling his fingers around the ring.
"Why are you giving this back to me? I thought you wanted to make certain how I felt when I wasn't high on red K."
He tilted his head, confused. "I wasn't what?"
She walked across the loft, sat down next to him, and looked up into his eyes. "You weren't high on red K, Clark."
He frowned at her, then opened his fingers and looked at the red stone glinting on his palm. "I don't understand."
"It's not red K." She reached out and took the ring. "I had it checked by three separate jewelers in Metropolis. It's just a plain old ruby, Clark."
"No kidding." He thought about the raw lust that had hit him when he'd first touched her hand. He'd suspected maybe she was right, and that it was red K exposure. But apparently it was just that he hadn't touched her in too long a time. He'd dreamed of touching her too many times, and when he finally had... he'd totally and completely lost it.
"Yeah," she said. "Just a ruby. So all that stuff you said, all that stuff you did-- I guess you really meant it."
"Of course I meant it." He looked down at her. She wore her long hair loose over her shoulders, and the dim lighting glinted on it, turning it dark amber. Her eyes were huge and fathomless in the semidarkness. She looked so beautiful it made his chest hurt. "I love you, Chlo."
"It's just... you could have told me all this earlier, you know? Before I got to this point with Jimmy."
He stretched out his legs, propping them on the trunk that served as a coffee table, and stretched out his arms along the back of the couch. His left arm just coincidentally happened to fall around her shoulders.
"I know," he said gruffly. "And I'm sorry. I thought you were happy, and I was trying to keep out of everything, because I didn't want to screw up your life."
"I thought I was happy too." She leaned her head against his shoulder. "Shows you what I know."
"Well... it could be worse." He let his arm tighten around her. "I could have never said anything at all. Then we'd both go through life missing each other, forever."
"Yeah. That'd be worse, all right." She was silent for a long moment. "I'm glad you finally told me how you felt."
He frowned at the ring in her fingers. "So are you going to break up with Jimmy?"
"Oh, I already did. He wouldn't take the ring back, though. I think he was hoping I'd change my mind. I'll get him to believe me, and to take it back, eventually."
"But you won't wear it any more."
"Of course not."
"Because I was sort of hoping maybe you'd wear this one." He reached into the pocket of his flannel shirt and drew out a really big diamond ring.
Her eyes widened. "Wow. Did you make that one?"
He nodded, feeling a little shy.
"So..." She hesitated. "Are you proposing to me?"
He sighed. "I'm not very good at this, Chlo. If I were any good at telling you how I felt, we wouldn't have gotten into this mess to begin with. But I want you to spend the rest of your life with me. I don't ever want to let you go again. So yeah, I guess I'm proposing."
"And so romantically, too."
He scowled and started to drop the ring back into his pocket. "Fine. I'll do it the right way later this week. Violins and poetry and hot air balloons, or something."
"No." Her hand captured his before he could let go of the ring. "The way you did it is fine, Clark. Very... you."
"You mean awkward and clumsy and totally inarticulate about my feelings?"
"Yeah." She grinned. "That's you all over."
"Thanks so much."
"Truth hurts, Clark. Now put that ring on my finger."
He took her left hand in his, noticing how small it was compared to his massive paw, and slid the ring carefully onto her third finger. Possessiveness swelled inside him, and he looked at her hand with fierce satisfaction. "It looks good there. I knew a diamond would suit you better than a ruby."
"It does look nice." She studied her hand for a long moment, then looked up at him. "I don't think it's the stone, though. You suit me better than Jimmy did. I never felt the way about him I feel about you. I tried... but I couldn't."
"And I tried to think of you as just a friend. I really tried. But I couldn't."
"Well..." She wrapped her fingers around his. "It took a while, but we got things straightened out."
"Yeah." He looked down at her, very seriously. "I'm never letting you go again, Chlo."
She smiled. "I'm okay with that. So... want to see what it's like to make love in midair in the darkness?"
At the thought, he was suddenly so hard it hurt. He remembered making love to her with the sun beating down on them, the summer breeze blowing over them, her hair whipping around them, and he got harder.
So hard he wanted her right now.
"How about we see what it's like to make love in a barn loft?" he suggested.
Her lips curved. "In a hurry, Clark?"
"Totally. We can fly together later."
"Okay," she agreed. "Let's see what it's like to make love in a barn loft. And who knows? Maybe we'll wind up in the air anyway."
He reached over, pulled her into his lap, and kissed her. He suspected she was right-- they'd wind up floating together. Already he felt like he could hardly keep himself grounded, and he'd barely kissed her. He was pretty sure that by the time they were actually making love, they'd float right out the window together, no matter how hard he tried to keep himself on the couch.
Reason number four why we should be together, he thought, kissing her harder. Because Chloe Sullivan makes me fly.