Clark, Chloe futurefic
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
When you're gone
The pieces of my heart are missing you
When you're gone
The face I came to know is missing too
When you're gone...
I miss you
-"When You're Gone," Avril Lavigne
Clark Kent is lonely.
More and more often now when he's among humans, he finds himself feeling like an outsider. An imposter. He spends a lot of time at the Fortress of Solitude. And even when he's in his apartment in Metropolis, he feels alone and isolated.
He's more aware of his differences than ever. There's nothing really to connect him to humanity any more. His dad's been gone for years. His mother died a couple of years back.
And he hasn't seen Chloe Sullivan in months.
He doesn't like to admit it, but that's what's bothering him, more than anything else. Chloe has been his best friend since high school, and she's his link to humanity. She always has been. Without her, he's just an alien with a big S on his chest.
He misses her. He misses her a lot.
Even Lois Lane, who can be amazingly obtuse when it comes to him and his feelings, has noticed his preoccupation.
"Come on, Smallville," she says impatiently, tossing a big file onto his desk. "Perry's waiting for that story on Intergang. I know you're the world's slowest typist, but try to get it finished before next week, okay?"
He sighs, shoves his dark-framed glasses up on his nose, and looks up at her. Lois is a pretty woman-- beautiful, really-- and he's moderately fond of her, although she's a major pain in the ass to work with. She's rude and obnoxious, she can't spell, and she has a really bad habit of trying to print stories without enough proof, a habit left over from her days at the Inquisitor. She's come perilously close to getting the Daily Planet slapped with a libel suit more than once.
But despite Lois' flaws, he likes her a lot. She figured out his secret identity about two seconds after Superman came to Metropolis, and she could easily get a Pulitzer by printing the truth about him, but he knows she won't. At her core, she's loyal and decent and dependable. He thinks maybe he could have loved her, in another lifetime.
A lifetime in which he hadn't met Chloe Sullivan.
He shuffles through the papers dispiritedly, and she rests her hip on the edge of his desk and looks down at him. "Why don't you just call her?"
He glances up at her, doing his best to look obtuse. "Who?"
"Chloe. Who else?"
"Why would I call Chloe?"
"Because you're in love with her, dumbass."
He narrows his eyes at her, annoyed by her condescending tone. "I haven't seen her in months, Lois."
"Yeah," she says, her voice as tart as always, "but you've been in love with her for years. The two of you always spent every waking moment together. And you've done nothing but mope ever since she left for Star City. You obviously miss her. Give her a call."
"She hasn't called me."
He must sound more bitter than he intended, because she rolls her eyes. "Oh, God, the two of you. It's like you're still stuck in junior high school or something. You won't call because you want her to call first. How much do you want to bet she won't call you for the same reason? Come on, farmboy. Man up and give her a call."
He's still thinking about her words that evening, when he finds himself standing on the top of the Daily Planet building in his costume, staring over the city as night blankets the tall buildings. A soft rush of air makes his cape ripple, and then a gloriously beautiful, dark-haired woman lands next to him.
"Still moping, Kal?"
"I'm not moping, Diana," he says, staring out into the darkness. "I'm just keeping an eye on things."
"Lois thinks you're moping."
He growls under his breath. Damn Lois and her nosy ways. Why can't she just leave him alone?
He turns his head and looks at Diana. She's dressed in her costume, a red, white and blue scrap of fabric adorned with gold armor. Her golden lasso hangs at her side, and silver bracelets wrap around her wrists. She's stunning-- quite likely the most beautiful woman on the face of the planet, possibly the most beautiful woman in the history of the world-- with wavy ebony hair tumbling around her shoulders, dark eyes that can literally see into a man's soul, and a figure that is quite simply superhuman. She's an incredibly striking woman.
But beyond her beauty, she's a warrior, a philosopher, and far and away one of the best people he's ever known. He thinks he could probably have loved her in another lifetime, too.
A lifetime in which he hadn't met Chloe Sullivan.
"Lois is wrong," he says curtly.
Diana sighs. "I know you've never wanted to admit you're in love with her, Kal. But maybe if you just talked to her..."
He knows she isn't talking about Lois, and he scowls more deeply than before. "I'm fine."
"All right, Kal," she answers in her musically accented voice. "If you're sure."
She shrugs a little, then leaps up into the air in a graceful arc and speeds away, into the night. He watches her go, then looks back over the city and sighs, so heavily that the flag on the roof of the building across the street ripples wildly.
The next day, he's down on the streets of Metropolis in his Clark Kent persona, wearing an ill-fitting suit, his dark-framed glasses, and a fedora, buying a pretzel. Someone pauses at his elbow, and a girlish voice he knows very well speaks.
He turns his head and sees yet another beautiful face smiling at him. "Lana," he says, smiling in return. He doesn't see Lana nearly as much as he used to, now that she's living in Topeka. "How are you?"
"Great. That's great. How's Pete doing?"
"He's fine, thanks. Everyone says he's a shoo-in for state senator." She pats her rounded stomach. "And he's totally thrilled about being a father again."
"I bet." Clark looks at her big belly with a pang of envy. Not because he wants Lana for himself. Hell, no. There was a time, long ago, when he'd been wildly in love with her, when he'd loved her with the desperate, unreasoning love of the very young, but he eventually came to realize she wasn't the right woman for him, and his youthful love for her has faded into mere affection. Because, yes, she's lovely, and one of the few people on Earth who knows Clark's secret, and yet deep down he doesn't quite trust her. And he's old enough now to know that trust is an integral part of love.
But maybe that's his failure, not hers. Maybe he could have loved her forever, in another lifetime.
A lifetime in which he hadn't met Chloe Sullivan.
At any rate, he's certainly not envious in the romantic sense, even though Lana is still gorgeous, even at eight months pregnant. His envy has more to do with her very pregnant belly. He can't help imagining what Chloe would look like pregnant, and a vision of Chloe, so round she can barely walk, pregnant with his child, hits him with the force of a hurricane. Which is crazy, because he and Chloe have never even made love.
Part of him really wishes they had.
"How are you doing?" Lana asks.
"I'm fine." He sighs, wondering how many people are going to ask him that question, and shoves his glasses up on his nose again. "Just fine."
"Oh, you are not. You only eat pretzels when you're depressed." She gives him her blinding smile. "You really ought to call her, you know."
Lana doesn't clarify the word her, but he knows perfectly well whom she's referring to. He glares at his pretzel, annoyed that his comfort food gave away his emotional state.
He wonders why every single woman in his life suddenly feels compelled to give him advice on his love life, or lack thereof, but he already knows the answer. It's Lois being nosy again. He just knows it. She's tired of seeing him mope at the office, so she's decided to take drastic measures, to harass him unmercifully, both directly and indirectly, till he gives in and calls Chloe.
Next thing he knows, she's going to set Ollie and Bruce on him. And maybe the whole damn Justice League. He might as well just go ahead and call Chloe, because Lois clearly isn't going to give up until he does.
Lois, he thinks sulkily, is a big pain in his ass.
"Fine," he growls. "I'll call her, if you'll tell Lois to get the hell off my back."
"Lois?" She smiles innocently. "I haven't been talking to Lois. I just happened to see you from across the street."
He rolls his eyes, letting her know what a bad liar she is. "See you later," he says curtly, and heads off down the street, clutching his pretzel.
That evening, he should be dressed in his costume and flying over the city, but instead he's pacing his apartment, his cell phone in his hand. Just call her, he thinks. Get it over with.
But for some reason he can't quite bring himself to push the button that will dial her number. Maybe it'd be safer to just go see her, to talk to her in person.
Or maybe it'd be safest just to never talk to her at all, and just resign himself to moping for the rest of his life.
No. That's stupid. Because this helpless longing for her is starting to affect his work at the Daily Planet, and even his work as Superman. As much as he hates to admit it, Lois is right. He needs to talk to Chloe and straighten this out.
He looks at the phone a moment longer, then drops it and flies out the window.
He's in Star City before the phone hits the floor.
The Justice League used to be headquartered in Metropolis, in Ollie's old apartment there, but Ollie's built a shiny new facility in his hometown of Star City. Chloe works for Ollie fulltime now. She once aspired to being a journalist, a reporter who wanted to bring truth to the people, and even wrote for the Daily Planet for a while.
But somewhere along the line she decided to work at saving the world more directly, and signed up with Ollie and company. Her code name is Watchtower, and she runs JLA operations, as well as putting her researching skills to use digging up new information on Justice's enemies. She also uses her own metahuman power to heal the members of Justice when they're injured, and heals anyone they rescue who's injured as well. Given all her talents, he wasn't really surprised when she decided to work for Justice fulltime.
He's always known Chloe's a superhero.
He's inside the Justice HQ a second or two later. It has all sorts of fancy security devices to guard against unauthorized intrusion, of course, but he doesn't have any difficulty getting past them. He's Superman, after all, not some hapless cat burglar. He zooms down the hall, toward the living quarters, and taps on Chloe's apartment door.
The door opens, and she stares at him, gaping.
"Hey," he says casually, like he comes to visit her all the time. "Can I come in?"
She's dressed in jeans and a dark blue t-shirt that says in big red letters, Justice for all. Her dark gold hair is really long now, tumbling down her back in loose waves, and she looks like she's lost some weight. Probably she's been guzzling too much coffee, and forgetting to eat again.
He stares down at her, drinking in the sight of her. Objectively, she's not as beautiful as Lois, or Lana, or Diana. Her mouth is too wide, her chin too decided, her nose a little too prominent for classical beauty.
But as he looks into her face, he can't even remember what the other women in his life look like.
She's staring right back at him, and he sees an echo of his own longing reflected in her eyes. He thinks maybe Chloe misses him as much as he misses her, and the thought makes his heart lift a little.
"Uh," she says finally. "Sure. Come on in."
She steps aside, and he walks into her apartment. He's been here once or twice before, but he's always struck by how Chloe it is. The funky decor, like a fifties-style red sofa and a fake zebra skin rug, is totally her. The typewriter he and Lois gave her as a birthday present, once upon a time, is displayed proudly on the coffee table, and a few of Lois' best-known articles about Superman hang in frames on the wall.
"Sit down," she says, waving toward the sofa.
He eyes the graceful sofa dubiously, wondering if it'll take his weight, but finally goes ahead and sits. It doesn't break.
She sits across from him in a black leather chair, tucking her bare feet up under her legs in a habitual gesture he knows well. "It's good to see you, Clark."
"Yeah," he says softly. "You too."
"Any particular reason you dropped by, or did you just want to say hi?"
He looks at her a long moment.
"I miss you, Chlo," he says at last. "I miss you an awful lot."
She looks back at him, then lowers her gaze and stares at the floor.
"We're both busy people, Clark," she answers softly. "Too busy for any sort of... complications."
He notices she didn't say she missed him, too, and a complex mixture of emotions blooms in his chest. Being this near her, after so many months of not seeing her, makes him almost giddy. But the idea that maybe she's just blowing him off, that she doesn't feel the same way about him, upsets him. In fact, if he's going to be perfectly honest about it, it pisses him off. He doesn't like to consider the possibility that she just doesn't feel that way about him.
She has to love him as much as he loves her. She has to.
He stares at her, golden hair falling over her shoulders, and he aches with a sudden desire, the need to wrap his arms around her and bury his face in her hair and never let her go.
"It isn't a complication, Chlo." He doesn't look away from her. "It's just the way things are. We can't live without each other."
Her head jerks up, and her eyes begin to glitter dangerously. "Speak for yourself, Superboy. I'm doing just fine on my own."
He knows she and Lois are in touch, and it dawns on him that Lois wouldn't have bugged him to go to Chloe if Lois had truly thought she was "doing just fine." Because although he and Lois are friends, she and Chloe are cousins, closer than a lot of sisters, and Chloe's the one Lois is probably really worried about.
And if that's the case, Lois obviously thinks Chloe isn't fine.
He doesn't challenge her statement, because he doesn't want to put her on the defensive. "Maybe you're fine," he says instead, "but I'm not. I really miss you, Chloe."
Her eyes soften a little, to warm liquid gold. "I miss you too, Clark. But the thing is, I'm totally devoted to my job."
"I'm devoted to mine, too. Both of them. What do our jobs have to do with anything?"
"We live in different cities..."
"Plenty of people live in different cities and make a relationship work, Chlo. It's even less of a problem when you consider that I can commute from Metropolis to Star City in two seconds flat."
"Yeah, but..." She sighs. "My life is here, Clark. What Justice is doing is important. I like being a part of it."
"I understand that," he says. "And I like working with the JLA, too, when they need me. But Metropolis is my first priority. It has to be."
"I understand that," she says softly. "You've always been a loner."
He thinks about how miserable he's been without her, and he smiles wryly. "Not a very good one, I"m afraid."
"Still. Your life revolves around Metropolis, and mine revolves around Star City. I'm just not sure we can make that work."
He looks at her and speaks softly. "I don't know how we can ever find out if we don't try."
"You know, it's kind of late to be addressing this now," she points out, frowning at him. "You let me go, and never said anything. You didn't act like I mattered to you all that much."
He was silent for a long moment. The truth was he hadn't realized how much she meant to him till she'd already gone. But once she'd left, there had been a hole in his life that nothing could patch. At last he says, "You matter to me, Chlo. Trust me."
She sighs. "Fine. So it's finally dawned on you that you miss me. Okay. Let's just say for the sake of argument that we try a relationship. What if it doesn't work out?"
"What if it doesn't? Is missing each other all the time any better?"
She looks down at the floor again.
"No," she answers in a whisper. "I guess it isn't."
"Chloe." He leans forward and stares at her with something approaching desperation. "I can't live without you. I've tried. It's not working."
"Yeah," she says softly. "Me either."
And then she's standing up and walking toward him, very quickly, and he's on his feet before he knows it, and his arms are around her and his mouth is on hers, and it feels so right he wonders how he's survived all these months without her.
And if he's going to be honest about it, surviving is all he's been doing. Without Chloe, he doesn't feel really alive. He doesn't feel tuned in to the world. Without her, he feels alienated and alone.
But now, with her in his arms, he suddenly feels totally alive, like he's just waked up again after months offline.
Their hands and mouths are all over each other, their clothes falling to the floor, their bodies pressing together eagerly. And then he's picking her up and carrying her toward the bedroom almost in superspeed, and she's laughing at his desperate haste. Her giggles make him laugh, too.
It's the first time he's really laughed in months.
Maybe, he thinks, he could have managed to get along without her, if he'd never met her. Maybe his life would have been just fine if he hadn't become addicted to the sight of her wide smile in junior high school, if he hadn't become dependent on talking with her five or six times a day by the time they were sixteen. Maybe he could have fallen for one of the other women in his life, if there had never been a Chloe Sullivan to compare them to. Maybe he might even have been happy just living by himself in another lifetime.
A lifetime in which he hadn't met Chloe Sullivan.
But in this lifetime, she's an integral part of his existence. He can't fall for anyone else. He can't even be content living by himself. He's tried it, and it just hasn't worked. He simply can't survive without her.
He might as well accept the truth, he thinks, kissing her deeply as he sinks down onto the bed with her and finally lets himself become part of her.
In this lifetime, he and Chloe Sullivan belong together.