Season 6, "Noir"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
In the moment when Clark Kent had seen Chloe Sullivan falling through the air, he'd realized he couldn't live without her.
In the moment when he'd caught her in his arms, he'd realized she meant everything to him.
In the moment when she'd looked up into his eyes and smiled, like she'd fully expected him to save her, he'd realized he was in love with her.
The realization shocked him almost senseless.
Despite the fact that she'd plummeted ten stories, she didn't look nearly as stunned as he felt. She only smiled and said lightly, "You didn't have to wait till the last possible second, you know."
I love you, he thought. God, I love you. Aloud, he matched her casual tone, smiling back at her. "What fun would that be?"
Her smile widened. He'd always loved that bright smile, and suddenly he wanted to tell her that he loved her. He wanted to bend his head, just a little, and kiss her. But before he could follow through on that thought, a frantic voice called from above. "Chloe!"
Jimmy Olsen, he'd realized. Her boyfriend. He stepped hastily under the staircase, so Jimmy wouldn't see him holding Chloe in his arms and realize that Clark had somehow saved her in a humanly impossible way. He smiled into Chloe's eyes, and she wrapped her arms around his neck and dropped her face against his shoulder in a warm, grateful hug.
Something inside him swelled, so warm and powerful that he was hardly able to stop himself from putting his hands all over her, or showering kisses over her face.
She'd almost died. If she hadn't taken the time to call him, she would have died. He imagined her body, smashed and broken, against the marble flooring, and the thought made him dizzy with fear. He was so grateful to have her warm and alive in his arms that it was all he could do not to kiss her.
But he could hear footsteps thundering down the staircase, and he really couldn't explain how he'd managed to save her. So he deposited her on the leather couch beneath the staircase and whooshed out of sight.
"Chloe!" Jimmy, who naturally didn't have superspeed, finally appeared, gasping as he ran down the last flight of stairs. He skidded to a halt at the sight of Chloe, who rose gracefully-- and impossibly-- to her feet and smiled.
From his vantage point behind a set of metal shelves, Clark couldn't see Jimmy's face, but he could hear his shocked stammering. "How did you-- how could you-- you couldn't possibly--"
Chloe had always been able to think fast, and she wrapped her arms around Jimmy's neck and kissed him, hard. Clark felt his heart sink. Even though he knew they were dating, watching her kiss Jimmy that way, after he'd been the one to save her, somehow felt like a betrayal. He knew she was just trying to distract Jimmy, to prevent him from asking awkward questions she couldn't answer. Even so, he didn't like seeing her kiss the other guy. Not at all.
After what Clark considered far too long a time, she broke away from the kiss and rested her chin on Jimmy's shoulder. She opened her eyes, smiled at Clark, and mouthed, Thank you.
Warmth spilled through him again. He nodded solemnly, barely able to restrain himself from flashing a big smile in return, and turned around, leaving the building at top speed.
"There's my hero!"
Clark stopped by the Talon to see Chloe that evening, but to his dismay, Jimmy was already there, waiting for her in the alley behind the building. She pulled up in her Yaris and ran toward Jimmy, waving a copy of the Daily Planet that showed a picture of Jimmy beneath the big letters, HERO AMONG US. She was beaming from ear to ear, and Clark drew back into the shadows of a narrow side alley, feeling a completely ridiculous spike of jealousy.
He wanted to be Chloe's hero, damn it. It wasn't so much that he wanted to be recognized in the Daily Planet for what he did or anything. But he wanted her to smile at him, and only at him, that way. Because he'd been the one to save her, after all.
He was Chloe's hero. He'd always been her hero.
"I made you a playlist to keep you company while I'm gone," Jimmy said in his light tenor voice, and Clark's heart leapt upward with sudden hope at the realization that Jimmy was leaving town for a while. But then he saw the sorrow in Chloe's eyes, and his heart sank toward his toes.
She loves him, he realized, his chest aching. She really loves him.
Jimmy plugged his iPod into Chloe's car, and it started playing:
I need somebody else
Somebody who loves me
Jimmy gathered Chloe into his arms and swept her into a deep, romantic kiss. Her arms went around his neck, and she kissed him back with unmistakable adoration.
Pain rolled through Clark, and he lowered his head, staring at the ground so as not to watch the woman he loved kissing another guy. Damn it, he thought. All this time he'd thought what he felt for Chloe was just friendship. But now that he'd finally figured out she meant a lot more to him than that... it was too late. She was already in love with Jimmy.
They put their arms around each other and headed inside, and Clark turned away and trudged slowly into the dusk. He didn't bother with superspeed, since there wasn't really any place he was needed. He walked very slowly, because he didn't have any particular place to be. Without Chloe by his side, he had absolutely no idea where he was headed.
The only place he really wanted to be was with her-- but he couldn't be. Not now. Because she already had somebody else.
Somebody who loved her.