Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Clark's mouth slammed onto hers, and he yanked her against him, kissing her ferociously. She yelped, and he felt something wet and hot all over his chest. He pulled back a little to see her outraged eyes glaring at him.
"You spilled my coffee!"
"Shit," he said, feeling ten kinds of stupid. His physical need faded somewhat under an onslaught of concern for her. "Are you okay? Did it burn you?"
"No." She looked down ruefully at the dark stain on her nightshirt. "It wasn't that hot. But you wasted an awful lot of coffee."
He knew that as far as Chloe was concerned, getting between her and a cup of coffee was one of the seven deadly sins. "Sorry," he said, very meekly. He got up in superspeed, retrieved paper towels, and started patting her down before she could even blink.
"Hey," she said, scowling at him as he patted briskly at her chest. "Are you using this as an excuse to feel me up?"
"The thought never occurred to me," he said, then grinned evilly. "Until now, anyway."
"Clark..." She didn't look amused. She caught his hand, stilling its movement. "Look, I really don't think we're ready for this."
He frowned at the dark patch on her nightshirt. "Well, if you really think you want your shirt to be soaking wet all night..."
"Not that," she said, her voice impatient. "Everything. The whole relationship thing."
"What makes you think that?"
"Gee, I don't know. The fact that you've spent the last month moping around being miserable. The way you cried your eyes out at Lana's funeral. The fact that you told me just tonight that your life wasn't worth living without Lana. Stuff like that."
"Yeah, but I've learned a bunch of things about Lana since then, Chlo."
"Which we both know doesn't really change the way you feel, deep down." She frowned more deeply, took a handful of paper towels, and began wiping her own shirt. "If you want my opinion, I think you're interested in me because you subconsciously want to hit back at Lana for disappointing you."
"What?" He was horrifed that she might think that he was using her as some sort of revenge, even unconsciously. "No, Chlo. It's not like that."
"Maybe it is, and maybe it's not. Either way, if you're really interested in me, it won't hurt you to wait a few days. It'd be the sensible thing to do."
It wouldn't hurt him, except he thought he might burst. But he recognized the wisdom of what she was saying, even though he didn't like it. A list of logical, rational reasons to wait rose in his mind. His feelings were still confused, and it was really too soon for him to move on emotionally from Lana, and besides, Chloe was his friend...
He told the logical, rational voice in his head to shut the hell up.
"I'm tired of being sensible," he said softly. "I'm tired of pretending there's nothing between us but friendship. I'm tired of pretending you don't mean an awful lot to me, Chlo."
She hesitated and looked up into his face, staring into his eyes as if trying to see exactly what he was thinking. Whatever she saw there must have reassured her, because the corners of her mouth curled up slightly. She took another paper towel and started patting at his shirt, and all of a sudden he remembered the coffee had spilled all over him, too. Thank God the letter in his pocket hadn't gotten wet. He wasn't quite sure why that letter mattered so much to him, but it mattered. It mattered a lot.
Unfortunately, the touch of her hand against him made something blaze up inside him, something that was a lot hotter than coffee. He closed his eyes as she patted, very carefully and thoroughly, down his chest.
And then she began patting at his crotch, and his eyes snapped open. "Hey," he said suspiciously. "Are you using this as an excuse to feel me up?"
"The thought never occurred to me." She smiled at him innocently. "Until now."
Her hand moved against him, a little more slowly, and he closed his eyes and shuddered. A soft moan rose out of his throat.
"You need to stop that," he said. He was shocked to hear how hoarse his voice was.
"Well," she said, echoing his earlier words. "If you really want your jeans to be wet..."
The problem was, he thought, they seemed to be in imminent danger of getting wetter. A lot wetter.
He didn't want to stop her, but he reached out and grasped her wrist, holding it loosely in his hand. The bones of her arm felt very fragile, and he knew he could break them with a touch. He had the sudden bleak realization that her emotions were just as fragile, at least where he was concerned, and he could break her if he wasn't careful.
"Chlo," he said, very softly. He knew she'd been trying to keep it light, but he deliberately changed the tone of the conversation, letting his voice get serious. Because deciding to make love to your best friend wasn't frivolous or trivial. It was a hell of a big decision. "Are you sure this is what you want?"
She looked right into his eyes. "Yes."
He reached for her. "Yeah," he said in a low voice. "Me too."
An hour later he was sprawled naked in her bed, her head pillowed on his chest. He sighed happily.
"That was great. Why didn't we do that before?"
"We weren't ready," she said softly. "At least you weren't."
"I was stupid."
"No." She turned her head and brushed a kiss over his chest. "There's nothing stupid about loving someone, Clark."
"I loved you too," he told her. "I just didn't want to admit it."
"Yeah, but you loved Lana more. Or thought you did, anyway. And you really can't help who you love, or I would have quit loving you years ago, because it hurt too much."
He spoke in a whisper. "I'm glad you didn't."
"Yeah. Me too." He felt the curve of her mouth against his chest as she smiled. "You were worth the wait."
He recognized a line from the letter, and he smiled too, wryly. "It would have been even better if we hadn't waited," he said into the darkness. "If I'd just admitted I had feelings for you clear back in high school."
"No. Because you had feelings for Lana too. You had to work it all out, or you never would have been happy with me." She ran a loving hand through his hair, and he closed his eyes and sighed with contentment.
"Chlo," he said softly, "I've always been happy with you. You make me happy. You always have. If I'd had any sense, I would have figured that out a long time ago."
"Yes, well..." She chuckled. "We both know you've never had any sense."
He growled in pretend annoyance and grabbed her, rolling her over so he was on top of her. He lowered his head and kissed her. He meant it to be a quick, affectionate brush of lips, but he couldn't seem to stop kissing her, and the kiss slowly intensified, becoming something deeper and more meaningful. Something he hadn't expected when he started.
Just like his relationship with Chloe.
At last he lifted his head and looked down at her in the dark. He could barely make out her eyes, staring back at him.
"Maybe I'm growing up," he said softly.
"Sure you are." He could hear the teasing note in her voice again. "That'll be the day."
He liked the way she poked fun at him, stopping him from taking himself too seriously. She'd always been that way, always been the only one who could save him from falling into a black hole of mopiness and never finding his way out again. He thought about how she'd been there for him over the last month, standing by him, helping him through his grief, even though she was grieving too.
It made him think of his dad's old saying again. A wise man builds his house on rock.
All his years of friendship with Chloe were solid bedrock to build on. There was nothing more stable or reliable or constant in his life, and he figured she probably felt pretty much the same about him. They'd always been there for each other. They always would be.
It seemed like a pretty damn good basis for a relationship to him.
He remembered thinking his whole world had crashed down around him on the day Lana died. But tonight, he'd come to realize her death hadn't been the end of the world for him. He was still terribly sorry she died, of course, and he knew both he and Chloe would always miss her. But he realized now that he and Lana would never have really been happy together. He'd been in love with the girl in his head, not the real girl. And that wasn't so much Lana's failing as it was his.
He remembered telling Chloe that his life was meaningless without Lana, but he knew now that he'd been wrong. Because holding Chloe in his arms, feeling her body, warm and vital against his, made him realize he had an awful lot to live for.
He bent his head and kissed her again.
For the first time in a month, he was ready to put his grief aside, ready to move on. He was ready to leave his loft, ready to get up and face the world and start living again. Despite Chloe's teasing words, he thought he'd grown up a lot tonight.
After all these years, he'd finally grown into her.