Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
The music is from Crosby, Stills and Nash's album "Daylight Again."
1: Turn Your Back on Love
If you believe it
Love is quite strong enough
Be together, honest and free
No turning back on love
Lonely days and lonely nights
Will we ever get it right
Don't be blinded by the light
Turn your back on love
"This was a mistake."
Clark Kent opened one eye and watched sleepily as his best friend, and now lover, Chloe Sullivan yanked her jeans on. They'd made love for the very first time in his bedroom, and he'd been well on his way to sleep when her annoyed tones had jarred him back to consciousness. "Chlo," he mumbled. "Where are you going?"
It started to dawn on his fuzzy brain that she wasn't happy. He'd been drifting in the quiet, pleasant haze of afterglow, but apparently she'd been lying next to him seething, working her way up to an angry boil. Maybe she hadn't gotten quite as much out of sex with him as he'd wanted her to.
"Don' leave," he said, blurrily but sincerely.
"I have to leave." She pulled her bra on with quick, annoyed movements. "This isn't right, and you know it as well as I do."
He woke up a little more, even though he didn't particularly want to. "There's nothing wrong about it, Chlo."
"We're friends, Clark!"
"Mmmm. So? We can be friends who have sex."
She pulled her t-shirt over her head and rounded on him, her eyes flashing. "So we can just use each other to relieve our sexual tension? Is that what you're saying?"
"Uh..." Put in such blunt terms, it did sound less than pleasant. But yeah, that was pretty much what he'd meant. Not that he wanted to use his best friend, not really. But the problem was he'd abstained too long, until he'd pretty much reached the meltdown stage. He'd been desperate, overflowing with physical need, and he'd rather have sex with Chloe, the girl he loved and admired most, than with some stranger. "Not exactly, but..."
"This was a mistake, Clark," she said. An anger he didn't quite understand, but couldn't fail to notice, threaded through her voice. "A huge, monumental, monstrous mistake. And it won't happen again. Ever."
He blinked away the last of the sleepiness and sat up, hoping to get her to sit down and talk about this, but it was too late. The door of his bedroom slammed shut behind her, so hard the walls of the old farmhouse shook.
And she was gone.
2: Wasted on the Way
Look around you now
You must go for what you wanted
Look at all my friends who did
And got what they deserved
And there's so much time to make up
Everywhere you turn
Time we have wasted on the way
So much water moving
Underneath the bridge
Let the water come and carry us away
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Chloe Sullivan sat at her desk at the Daily Planet. She'd recently been promoted upstairs, and ordinarily she took great pleasure in sitting here in the newsroom, observing the bustle around her as she typed at top speed.
But not today. Because her mind was still back in a bedroom in Smallville.
Stupid, she thought again. She'd known better than to fall into bed with Clark. Really, she'd known better. Clark had been in love with Lana Lang for as long as she'd known him, and now that Lana was dead, things hadn't changed. If anything, things were worse.
She couldn't compete with a ghost. She just couldn't.
She'd fallen into bed with Clark yesterday afternoon because she'd always had difficulty keeping her hands off him. In that moment when they'd bumped into each other in the loft, and he'd looked down at her with hot eyes, she'd suddenly been taken by the crazy notion that it was time to seize what she'd always wanted.
But too much water had flowed under that bridge. There was no way they were going to be able to make a relationship work. It just wasn't going to happen.
And besides, she didn't want to be Clark's rebound girl. She really hated that idea. She knew Clark didn't have romantic feelings for her, and she didn't want to be pathetic and pitiful, throwing herself at him the minute he was available.
Too late, she thought grimly, remembering the way she'd seduced him. You were already pathetic and pitiful.
Angry with herself for her own weakness, she turned to the computer and forced herself to go back to work. She concentrated on the story she was writing, focusing so hard she forgot about Clark entirely.
Well, not at all. Because an image of Clark kissing her breast flashed through her mind for the ninety-eighth time, and she realized glumly she was never going to forget about Clark, no matter how hard she worked.
Stupid, she thought with angry self-contempt, and typed faster.
Stream of consciousness
On a sleeping
Street of dream
Like scattered leaves
Slowed in midfall
Into the streams
Of choice and chance...
It took Clark a very long time to get to sleep. He couldn't stop remembering. They'd made love in the bright light of afternoon, and he remembered watching her hands, sliding over his shoulder and chest and arms. He remembered the way she'd pulled her clothes off, slowly, and stood nude in front of him. He remembered...
Well, he remembered a whole lot of explicit details that made it hard for him to fall asleep.
He lay in bed and watched the moon rise higher through his open window, and eventually his eyes drifted shut, and he dreamed.
He dreamed of Chloe. But not, as he'd half expected, of making love to her. He dreamed of other things. He dreamed of catching her in the Daily Planet after she fell from the tenth floor balcony. He dreamed of catching a bullet out of midair just before it hit her. He dreamed of coming to her rescue.
He dreamed of saving her.
And then he dreamed of the one time he hadn't saved her, in another dream that had seemed all too real. She'd been shot, and had died in his arms, while he wept helplessly.
And when he awoke from this dream, he discovered there were tears on his cheeks.
"Chloe," he whispered into the darkness, recognizing the truth that had spilled out of his subconscious. He'd lost another girl he'd thought he'd loved, and he'd managed to survive it.
But there was no possible way he could survive without Chloe.
He'd thought he was just using Chloe to relieve his sexual tension. But suddenly he realized he'd made love to her for reasons that ran much, much deeper.
Chloe wasn't just his friend. She wasn't even just his lover.
She was part of him.
4: Since I Met You
Feeling very strong about you
I don't want to live
Without your love
Since I met you
I met you
I became a stronger man
Trying too hard
To prove too much before...
"I already told you. No."
"Come on, Chlo. It'd be fun."
"No. N. O."
"Please, Chlo. We could go see a movie, or get some Italian..."
"Did I equivocate? I don't think so."
Chloe stalked down 23rd Street, Clark walking beside her. Not that she'd asked him to walk beside her. She just hadn't been able to get rid of him. Which was annoying, because she was on her way to interview a scientist for a story she was writing. She ought to be going over her interview questions in her head, not listening to Clark pestering her for a date.
A date. The irony was, before Lana died, she would have been thrilled if he'd asked. But now he was just pissing her off.
She came to an abrupt halt and spun to face him, glaring at him. "Look," she said through her teeth, "what the hell is your problem? Didn't you hear me the other day? I said sex with you was a mistake. A huge mistake. I said it wouldn't happen again."
"Yeah, I heard that. I just don't happen to agree with it."
She scowled. "I don't care if you agree or not. I'm not interested in going out on a date with you. Ever."
He stared back at her, and she saw anger begin to roil beneath his calm, placid surface. She could see sparks lighting in the depths of his green eyes. But he kept a lid on his temper and spoke very calmly. "Exactly what is the problem here, Chloe?"
She turned away from him and began walking briskly. "There is no problem, except that you're trying to get me to go out with you when I've already told you I'm not interested in you that way."
"Oh, sure," he scoffed. He didn't have any difficulty keeping up with her, despite her rapid pace, because his legs were about twice as long as hers. "That's why you slept with me, because you aren't interested in me that way."
"I told you, that was a mistake."
"No, Chlo." He caught her by the arm, spinning her around, and suddenly she was up against his chest, staring up into green eyes that were definitely brimming with anger, along with other emotions that weren't as easy to define. "The mistake would be walking away from me. Walking away from this."
"This?" She shoved at his shoulders, knowing it was futile but unable to prevent herself from trying. Her voice rose. "What's this? This is just you grieving for Lana, and using me for comfort. Why the hell should I hang around with you so you can use me that way?"
"Chloe." He looked dismayed, and his arms tightened around her. "It isn't like that. I've loved you since I met you, Chlo."
Her throat constricted, because in a way she knew it was true. She and Clark had been close, loving friends for a long time. But friendship wasn't all she wanted from him. It had never been all she wanted from him.
She forced herself to reply in as snarky a tone as she could dredge up. "Maybe so," she answered. "But you loved Lana more."
He caught her by the hair in a way that was highly unClarklike. It wasn't at all like Clark to tap into his inner caveman. But he tightened his grip and pulled her head back, staring into her eyes. He was so close to her that their noses almost touched.
"You're wrong," he said, very softly but very intensely. "I love you more than anything, Chloe."
5: Into the Darkness
Into the darkness
Soon you'll be sinking
What are you doing
What can you be thinking
All of your friends
Have been trying to warn you
That some of your demons
Are trying to drag you
Into the darkness
Chloe sighed against Clark's bare chest. She was weak. Weak, weak, weak.
Then again, when weakness felt this good, who cared?
Clark had swept her up in his arms and whooshed her out of Metropolis, right back to the Kent Farm, and they'd made love again. She still wasn't fully convinced that he loved her, or that she wasn't just a substitute for Lana, but none of that had seemed to matter much when he'd kissed her.
Idiot, she told herself again. You're going to get hurt.
But maybe not. Because Clark had really seemed to mean it when he'd told her he loved her. He'd repeated it several times while they were making love, too, whispering it in her ear so fervently it was hard not to believe him.
I love you more than anything, Chlo.
The ghost of Lana rose up, reminding her that he'd loved Lana a great deal more than he loved her, no matter what he said, but she pushed it away. After all, Lana was gone, and there was no doubt that he did love Chloe as a friend, at least. And even if he was using Chloe for comfort, maybe he'd eventually learn to really love her, maybe even as much as he'd once loved Lana.
It could happen.
"Chlo," he mumbled against her hair. "Love you."
"Yeah." She tried to suppress the thrill of warmth that bloomed in her chest at the words, because she still didn't really believe them. But she answered honestly anyway. "I love you too. Now go to sleep."
"'M not sleepy."
She could barely suppress a laugh at the blurry, barely comprehensible words. It was the middle of the afternoon, but apparently sex made Clark sleepy, because this was the second time he'd pretty much crashed after making love to her.
"Sure you're not," she whispered, looking up at his peaceful, relaxed features, seeing the long sweep of eyelashes against his cheek. She couldn't stop herself from reaching up to lovingly stroke his disheveled hair.
He answered with a soft buzz that she realized was a snore.
His strong arms were wrapped tightly around her, and she was pressed up against the solid warmth of his body, and life was better than it had been in a long time. She pushed her demons away, shoved away all the insecurities and the feelings of inferiority and the uncomfortable certainty that he really didn't love her that way. Just for a little while, she let herself be at peace with it all.
She closed her eyes, and before long she'd drifted off to sleep, too.
She woke up with a start, not certain what had awakened her. Beside her, Clark was making an indignant hmmmphhhing sound into his pillow, the sort of sleepy noise she imagined he made when the alarm went off at five a.m. and he'd rather keep sleeping. But the noise that had awakened her couldn't be his alarm clock, because it was the middle of the afternoon.
Cell phone, she realized as her brain started to work. Damn. Suddenly she remembered she was supposed to be working. She'd been on her way to interview that scientist when Clark swept her off her feet, quite literally.
Crap. She was in trouble. Well, it wouldn't be the first time Clark had gotten her in trouble.
She struggled out of his arms, rolled off the bed, and dug in the pocket of her suit, which had been carelessly discarded on the floor of his room. Clark rolled over a little and cracked one eye open, observing her naked curves with sleepy interest.
Finally she found the phone and flipped it open. "Hello?"
A voice she hadn't heard in weeks answered. A voice she'd never expected to hear again. Chloe froze and listened for a long moment. At last she slowly pulled the phone away from her ear and lowered it, staring at Clark. Numb shock and disbelief and relief all battled together in her mind.
"Lana's alive," she whispered.
6: Too Much Love to Hide
So you know now
You found out
This is the kind of love
You can shout about
Leave your loneliness
In the past
This is the kind of love
That's gonna last
I believe, I believe, I believe enough
I believe when I see her eyes
I believe there is too much love to hide
It was past ten, and Chloe was still seated at her desk, typing away. She was the only person left in the newsroom, and Clark paused at the door, studying her, admiring the intent expression on her face, admiring the way her hair gleamed gold.
The light from the Tiffany lamps looked really good on her.
He walked toward her through the empty newsroom. She looked up at the sound of his footsteps, and a cautious smile curved her mouth without touching her eyes. "Hey, Clark."
"Hey yourself," he said, resting his hip on a corner of her cluttered desk and smiling down at her.
She looked away, back at the screen. "You told me you were going over to talk to Lana around six. I figured maybe you weren't coming back over here tonight."
He lifted a shoulder. "There was a lot to talk about. But I'm back now. And it's time for you to quit work for the night."
"I just have a few more paragr--"
"Time. To. Quit. Work." He smiled despite his stern tone. "Come on, Chlo, you work too hard. Let's go have some dinner."
She blinked at him. "I kind of figured you and Lana would have already eaten."
He shook his head. "We were just going over ways for her to get safely away from Lex. Obviously she's terrified of him, or she wouldn't have faked her own death. Did you know he hit her?"
Chloe's eyes went wide. "Lex did?"
He nodded, pressing his lips together. "We both figured Lex wouldn't hurt her. I guess we were wrong."
Chloe sighed. "I wish she'd come to us, Clark. I hate that she felt like she had to cope with all this on her own. I thought she knew we would help her if she needed us."
"I think she was so scared she didn't know who to trust, and she panicked after Lex hit her. So she faked her death and got the hell out of town. She only came back because she finally picked up a paper and realized Lex had been arrested for her murder. She didn't want him to go to jail for something he hadn't done. So she came back."
"That took guts."
"Yeah. She could get in major trouble for what she did. But I think we've got it all taken care of. She and Lionel worked out a cover story, so she won't go to jail for fraud or anything, and she's already started divorce proceedings. Before long she'll be free of Lex forever."
"That's good." Chloe bowed her head, her blonde hair falling forward like a curtain, hiding her face. She studied her keyboard as carefully as if she'd never seen one before and spoke in a carefully even tone. "I'm happy for you both, Clark. Really."
He stared at her a long moment. He couldn't see her eyes, but he knew her well enough to see the grief in her posture, and the meaning of her words finally sank in.
"Chloe," he said gently. "Are you under the impression that I'm going back to Lana?"
"Well..." She lifted her hands, and her fingers fluttered over the keyboard without actually touching the keys. "You love her, and she's alive, and she's leaving Lex..."
He reached across the desk and put a hand on her shoulder, looking at her downbent head. "You didn't believe me when I said I loved you, did you?"
She sighed, a soft sound that reflected years of quiet sorrow. "I know you love me, Clark. Just not the way you love Lana."
At his terse words, he saw a tear splash onto the keyboard, and his heart twisted inside his chest at her silent grief. She'd loved him for years and years, patiently hoping he'd come to her one day. But he'd spent so many of those years chasing Lana that she just couldn't believe he could ever choose anyone else.
"Chloe," he said, very gently. "I told you earlier, I love you more than I ever loved Lana. I love you more than anything."
She lifted her head, just a bit, and shot him a hesitant, sideways glance through the curtain of hair. "I guess maybe after what happened this morning, you might be a little confused," she said, her voice low. "But I think once you get a little distance, you'll realize that the woman you really love is La--"
"No." Annoyed, he jumped to his feet and stalked around the desk. "You are not listening to me, Chlo." He caught her by the arms, rather roughly, and hauled her to her feet. She put her hands on his chest to balance herself, and he wrapped his arms around her waist and yanked her right up against him.
He kissed her, a long, hot, possessive kiss, then lifted his head and stared straight into her eyes.
"I love you, Chlo."
She stared back, looking shocked by what she saw in his eyes. "Oh, my God," she whispered. "You really do, don't you?"
"I really do." He squeezed her. "Listen, Lana is heading for Paris again."
"Yeah, she wants to start over fresh, away from Smallville. I told her I thought it was a good idea."
"But I thought... I thought she was in love with you."
"I don't think so. I think she was just looking for a way out of her marriage, so she turned to me. But I don't think she loves me. Not really. I'm honestly not sure she ever did." He sucked in a deep breath. "Look, Chlo, I'm not going to pretend. I was in love with Lana. At least I thought I was."
It was true. He'd spent years "in love" with Lana. But making love to Chloe had started a chain reaction in his head, compelling him to figure out who really mattered to him. And seeing Lana alive had only reinforced his conclusions. He'd been glad to see her, of course, had been very relieved she wasn't dead, but even after the weeks that had passed, seeing her hadn't filled him with the rush of joy he felt just at seeing Chloe smile.
She didn't answer. There was still a shadow of doubt in her eyes, so he went on. "I admit it, I really thought I was in love with Lana. But when we made love the other day I realized you meant so much more to me. What I felt for Lana-- well, it just wasn't the same thing. Not at all."
She stared into his eyes for a moment longer, and he didn't try to hide his emotions. He didn't think he could, anyway.
"So Lana's going to Paris," she said at last, softly. "And you're letting her go?"
He knew she wasn't talking just about Paris. "Yeah," he answered. "I'm letting her go." He tightened his arms around her. "But I'm not letting you go... anywhere except to dinner. With me."
She stared into his eyes a moment longer, studying the emotions he couldn't conceal, and then her mouth curved in that wide grin he loved.
"Okay," she answered. "Let's go. It's kind of late for dinner, but this is the big city, after all. I don't think it's too late to find something decent to eat."
He wrapped his arm around her waist and smiled back at her.
"No," he agreed. "It's definitely not too late."