Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me
Clark had known Chloe long enough to know the sight of the crumpled paper made her very uncomfortable. She wasn't prone to blushing and stammering when she was embarrassed, the way he was, but her gaze instantly slid away from the letter, and she stared at the floor.
"Uh, something Lana wrote, I guess," she said. "Otherwise it wouldn't be in her diary."
He narrowed his eyes at her, the way he did when he wanted to use his x-ray vision. Only this time he was trying to see through her in the metephorical sense, not the literal one. "It sounds like your writing."
She lifted her head and gazed at him, her eyes wide with blatantly fake innocence. "What would something I wrote be in her diary?"
"Not sure." He looked at the tattered piece of paper and started to read it out loud. "I want to let you in on a secret..."
"Stop." She cringed. "Don't read it. Please."
He couldn't restrain his smile at her expression of pained embarrassment. "Ah-ha. You did write it."
"Fine," she said sulkily. "I wrote it. But I was very young and stupid."
He scanned over the letter, noting the rather telling phrase he'd read before: I'm the girl of your dreams masquerading as your best friend. Chloe had been his best friend for years. "Did you write this for me?"
"Well..." She actually squirmed with discomfort. "It was a long time ago, Clark."
He lifted his gaze and studied her. "How long ago?"
"Years and years. That time you were sick and your mother was in the hospital."
That had been a while. He hadn't known for sure that she'd had feelings for him at that point, and he frowned at her. "You could have told me you felt this way, Chlo."
She sighed. "Would it have made any difference, Clark?"
"I don't know." Probably not, he admitted silently. He'd become aware that Chloe had a crush on him more than once in the course of their friendship, but he'd been so focused on Lana all these years that he'd always tried to ignore the awkwardness of any sort of romantic entanglement with his best friend. "I just don't know why you went to the trouble of typing it out if you were never going to give it to me."
"Actually..." She bit her lower lip, worrying it between her teeth nervously. His eyes dropped to the tiny gesture, and for some reason he found himself staring at her mouth. Her lips were plump and full and a rosy shade of pink. They looked surprisingly... biteable.
He jerked his head up, startled by the direction of his thoughts, and she went on, oblivious to his moment of distraction. "Actually, I meant to tell you about it. In fact, I read it to you while you were sleeping on the couch."
He rolled his eyes. "Typical girl move. Bare your feelings to a guy while he's unconscious."
"With you? It's a lot safer that way. Trust me."
"Yeah, but the problem is, it's not baring your feelings at all. You can't actually get rejected if I'm not awake." He shrugged. "Which I guess was kind of the point."
"Believe it or not," she said with a wry twist to her mouth, "you managed to reject me even though you were unconscious."
He blinked at her. "Huh?"
"I read this letter to you." She pressed her lips together as if she were trying to stop them from quivering, and once again he noticed how lush they were, somewhat to his discomfort. "I read it to you, and then I reached over and stroked your hair, and you kind of stirred. And then... then you said Lana."
He winced in sympathy. "Ow."
"No kidding. That pretty much cured me of baring my feelings to you, I can tell you."
"Chloe..." He gave a long sigh, feeling for her. The pain in her voice said clearly that she still wasn't over the incident, despite the years that had passed. "Look, it might not have been what you thought it was. The last person I was with before I passed out was Lana. Maybe I was just saying her name because I thought she was still there."
"Or maybe you were saying her name because you've always been hopelessly in love with her."
"Uh... yeah. Might have been. I don't know, Chloe. All I know is, I don't think I can be held responsible for the things I say when I'm unconscious."
"No," she admitted. "I don't suppose you can be." She reached out and snagged the letter from his hands. "And I can't be held responsible for the stupid ramblings of youth, either."
He looked at the yellowing, rumpled paper, and a strange warmth bloomed in his chest as he thought of the words she'd written: There are two types of girls-- the ones you grow out of and the ones you grow into. I really hope I'm the latter.
He and Chloe had done a lot of growing together over the years.
"Chloe," he said, very softly. "I don't think it's ever stupid to love someone."
"No." She'd been clutching the paper like she was going to crumple it between her hands, but she hesitated, then started smoothing it out instead. "I guess the question is if you love the real person, or just an illusion."
He knew she was thinking of the things he'd learned about Lana tonight, and his realization that he hadn't loved her as she really was, but just the picture of her he held in his mind. "You know me a lot better than you did when you wrote that letter," he answered, smiling a little in an attempt to lighten things up a bit. "I guess the person you loved was just an illusion, too."
"No." Her voice was soft. "You kept all your abilities hidden, but I always knew there was something special about you, Clark. I didn't love an illusion. I loved what was really there."
He stared at her, frozen, utterly arrested by the words. She studied the letter a moment longer, then lifted her head and looked into his eyes.
"And now that I know who you really are," she whispered, "I love you more than I ever did."
Read Chapter 4 here.