Rating: Adult. If you're under eighteen, please go elsewhere now.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
He didn't really see her any more.
It wasn't that he didn't love her. She was quite certain he loved her as much as he ever had, and maybe more so. But between her workaholism, and the fact that he essentially worked two jobs every day, they hardly saw each other any more. And when they did, they were both exhausted.
As a consequence, he tended to stagger into the apartment late, looking haggard, then grabbed a bite to eat and went straight to bed. The hours of conversation that had always been a major component of their relationship seemed to have faded away, replaced by quick hellos and goodbyes. And sex--- well, it happened every now and then, but not nearly as often as she wanted it to.
And when they did make love, she always had the uncomfortable feeling he was listening for trouble with part of his brain. She hadn't felt like he was solely and completely focused on her in a long time.
It was like she'd faded into the background. And that irritated her, because Chloe Sullivan Kent didn't like being taken for granted. She was the star reporter at the Daily Planet, and in her private life she expected to be the star of her husband's life, too. Being ignored annoyed her.
One day she finally decided to do something about it.
Clark stumbled into the apartment about eleven. She knew he'd left the Planet at five, and if he were any other man she'd probably be worried he was cheating on her. But she knew perfectly well what he'd been up to, and cheating wasn't it. There were ten million people in this city, and a significant percentage of them needed help.
"Hi," he said, taking off his fedora and tossing it at the couch, then wandering toward the kitchen. "How was your day?"
She noticed with a little pang that he hadn't really looked at her. The man had supervision. He could see objects ten miles away, or focus his vision like a microscope so that he could see bacteria.
But apparently he couldn't take the time to focus his vision on his wife.
Lately he tended to talk on autopilot too, mouthing polite, empty phrases: How was your day? Yeah, it was busy today, wasn't it? That Perry's a real slave driver. She couldn't think of the last time they'd had a real conversation.
"Fine," she answered, trailing behind him. "There's some chili in the fridge."
"Great. Thanks." He busied himself, grabbing a bowl out of the cabinet, scooping out some chili, and warming it with his heat vision. He sat down at the table and began to devour it.
Poor guy, she thought, watching him wolf down the chili she'd made like it was ambrosia. He was definitely working too hard, and not getting enough of the basic necessities. Food. Sex. Affection. Somehow she had to get him to slow down a little, to remember he had a personal life, and to enjoy it.
Getting him to notice his wife again seemed like a reasonable place to start.
She poured him a glass of milk and went toward the table, putting it down on the table in front of him.
"Thanks," he said, rather indistinctly, around a mouthful of chili. But he didn't look up.
She suppressed a sigh. She wasn't sure he'd have noticed if she'd been standing here naked. In fact, she had the terrible feeling she could have done a lapdance without him noticing.
It was like she was part of the ivy wallpaper that decorated the walls. She didn't like being part of the wallpaper. Something had to be done, and now.
"Clark," she said softly, and put a hand on his shoulder.
He turned his head, as if her touch had pulled him out of his self-absorption, and looked up, and suddenly his eyes went wide behind his glasses.
"You dyed your hair," he said.
She smiled, pleased that he'd finally noticed. "I decided to go back to blonde for a while."
"I... " His spoon clattered against the bowl as he dropped it. "Wow. It's been brown so long I'd forgotten what you looked like blonde."
"You like it?"
"Yeah." He stood up, chili forgotten, and looked at her, very carefully. "Not that I didn't like you with brown hair. It's just that-- this is the way you looked when we met."
She liked the way he was staring at her, with sexual interest clear in his eyes. He hadn't looked at her that way for quite some time. She lifted her hands and put them on his shoulders, and she saw sparks of heat vision light his eyes behind the glasses. Suddenly he was kissing her, with a ferocious intensity she hadn't felt for a while.
Her lips parted automatically, and his tongue swept into her mouth, stroking and caressing her intimately. Her hands dug into the charcoal gray fabric of his suit, and her body pressed against his.
"Chloe." His arms tightened around her waist, and he spoke hoarsely against her mouth. "I've missed you so much."
"There's no reason for you to have missed me. I've been right here."
"Yeah." He kissed her again, long and hard, then spoke quietly, his voice very grave. "I just... things have been crazy, Chlo. It's like I never see you, and when I see you, we don't talk."
"I've tried to talk to you. You don't ever seem to want to talk."
"I'm always tired when I get home." He lowered his head, pressing his face into her hair, and spoke in a whisper. "I just don't feel like I can justify leaving people in Metropolis unprotected any longer than I have to. So I stay out as late as I possibly can. When I get home I'm exhausted."
"You're driving yourself too hard, Clark. You need to take time for your own life, too."
"I can't." He spoke into her hair, sounding miserable. "I can't, Chlo. The last time I came home early, there was a big robbery over at the Metro Bank. Remember that?"
She remembered. It had happened a couple of months ago. "Yeah. What about it? It wasn't your fault."
"Not exactly." He sounded miserable. "But I should have been there, Chlo. I should have been there, but I wasn't listening, because you and I were... well, busy. I didn't know about it till I picked up the paper the next morning." He was silent a long moment, then burst out, "Two security guards died, Chlo."
She lifted a hand and stroked his hair in gentle reassurance. "Not your fault, Clark. You know you aren't going to save everyone."
"I realize that." His voice was muffled against her hair. "But when I come home early and spend the evening with you, and two people die that same night... it's hard not to feel like it isn't my fault."
Slowly, she began to better understand what was going on in that alien brain of his. She'd thought he wasn't seeing her. She hadn't realized he was actully trying to avoid seeing her.
"So, what? You're just going to never let yourself have a life?"
"I don't know." He blew out his breath in a sigh that made her hair ripple wildly. "Maybe I should never have tried to have a life of my own, Chlo."
"You can't live by yourself, with no family and no friends," she whispered against his throat. "That's not the kind of person you are, Clark. You need people in your life. You love people. Otherwise you wouldn't be Superman."
"I don't know what to do." He sounded miserable. "I want to spend more time with you. I love you, Chlo. But if people die when I spend time with you..."
"People die when you sleep, Clark. You can't be on call 24/7. You just can't."
"Yeah, but I can't help sleeping. I have to sleep. I don't have to spend time with you."
"Yes, you do." She caught his face between her hands and stared into his eyes, trying to make him understand. "All the joy has gone out of you these past couple of months, Clark. I wasn't sure what was going on in your head, but I could tell something was wrong. You can't go through life never taking any time for yourself. Even Superman needs a life."
He looked back at her steadily, his green eyes very solemn. "If it's a choice between my life and someone else's life," he answered, "I have to choose their life. I have to, Chlo."
She hadn't really expected him to answer any other way. That was why she loved him. He was Superman, with a love for humanity that couldn't be extinguished. No matter how many bad people he encountered, no matter how much villainy he had to stop, his underlying faith in humanity never wavered.
He'd made the decision to protect his adopted world on his twenty-first birthday, and he'd never faltered in his resolve. If anything, his determination to protect the people of Earth had only grown stronger with time.
"Okay," she said, gently stroking his hair again. "I understand that. But you're making yourself nuts, Clark. You have to be off-duty sometimes. You can't work from eight o'clock in the morning till eleven or twelve every night. You may be super, but even you can't focus that long."
"I can try."
She barely managed to resist rolling her eyes. Clark had superhuman strength, superhuman abilities... and superhuman stubbornness. When he'd set his mind on something, it was almost impossible to talk him out of it.
She leaned forward and brushed her lips over his throat. A shiver ran through him.
"Hush," she whispered against his throat. "Just for tonight, Clark. Forget about everything else and just make love to me."
"But what if..."
"Stop it. You need a break."
He hesitated, then lifted his hand and fisted it in her long blonde hair. "I remember when your hair was this color," he said thickly. "When we started dating. Things were simpler then."
Her hair had gone through a lot of permutations of blondeness when she was younger, but when she'd gone to the salon to get it bleached today, she'd picked the golden shade it had been when they'd first begun dating in college. It was a similar length, too. It seemed to have been a good choice, because he clearly liked it. She could feel the proof of how much he liked it pushing hard against her belly.
"Pretend we've gone back in time," she whispered. "Just for tonight."
He was still stiff under her hands, still trying to resist the notion of letting the world take care of itself for a while, but she kissed his throat again, then let her tongue trail over the tendons there, and suddenly he surrendered. She heard his low groan, felt him pick her up. The bowl of chili went flying as he cleared off the kitchen table with one hand, and he laid her carefully onto the wood surface of the table.
"Sorry," he muttered against her throat. "I'll clean that up later."
"Too bad we don't have Shelby any more. He'd have loved it." She wrapped her arms around his shoulders. "We need to get a dog."
"Forget it. I don't have time for you. I sure as hell don't have time for a new puppy."
She smiled. "I guess I don't really want to share you with a dog, anyway. I have to share you enough already."
His mouth was moving over her throat and her ear, his tongue sliding out to explore the whorls of her ear and the sensitive skin just beneath her jaw. She arched her head back.
He lifted his head and looked at her, and his hand stroked through all the long blonde hair that was spread out around her. "God, your hair," he said softly. "Your hair. I remember..."
She recognized that it wasn't the shade of her hair that was affecting him so much. She was quite certain he loved her for what she was, rather than for what she looked like, and she'd bleached her hair more as a way of calling attention to herself than anything else.
What he was reacting to so strongly were the memories of a simpler time, a time when he hadn't yet taken all the world's problems onto his broad shoulders.
She shoved the dark gray jacket off those shoulders, and he shrugged it off, tossing it onto the floor. She had a bad feeling it had landed in the chili, and wondered if the dry cleaners would be able to get the stain out. But she pushed that thought aside. If Clark wasn't allowed to think about anything but making love tonight, then she shouldn't, either.
She unknotted his tie, then began unbuttoning the shirt. He wore too many clothes at the office, she thought with amusement. Not too many men wore suits to the office every day any more, let alone fedoras, but Clark strove to look old-fashioned and dorky so no one would associate him with Metropolis' Man of Steel. And so far it seemed to have worked.
Despite all the buttons, she managed to get him stripped down to boxers in less than a minute. She was only wearing a sweatsuit, and his big hands yanked off her shirt and pants, leaving her wearing nothing except panties.
His hand closed over her bare breast, and she arched up against his palm.
Better, she thought. Much, much better.
His body moved against hers urgently. She could feel the bulge of his erection, barely contained by the cotton fabric of his boxers, pressing against her inner thigh. He rubbed against her, and she could feel the dampness of his precome wetting the fabric. She suspected her panties were even wetter. Clark tended to have that effect on her.
His mouth trailed down her throat, to her breast, and then he was kissing the soft flesh in concentric circles, moving closer and closer to her nipple, and she whimpered and caught at his hair eagerly, trying to drag him to where she needed him most.
He didn't let her take control. He bit into her breast, very gently, and she moaned. Her hands dropped to his shoulders, sliding as far down his back as she could reach, as she tried to convey wordlessly how much she loved him. His skin felt smooth under her palms, damp with sweat, stretched tautly over rolling, powerful muscles that flexed as he moved.
And then his tongue was sliding over her nipple, stroking it very lightly, teasing it, and she felt a rush of warm moisture between her legs. She arched harder, totally oblivious to the hard surface beneath her. All she was aware of was him.
"Chlo," he whispered. "It's been so long since we..."
"I know." She thought it had been two weeks since they made love, and even then he'd been distracted and unfocused. Now she better understood why he'd been that way, but that didn't erase the burning need she felt to have her husband all to herself, if only for a little while. "I've missed you, Clark."
"I'm sorry." He bit her nipple, very gently, and she twisted beneath him, gasping. "I just..."
His voice trailed off, and she lifted a hand, stroking his hair again.
"I get it," she said softly. "Really. I understand."
"I don't want anyone to die," he whispered, his lips brushing lightly over her skin. "But I don't want to lose you, either."
"You aren't going to lose me, Clark."
He lowered his head, pressing it between her breasts, and closed his eyes. "I will eventually," he answered, his voice muffled. "If I keep this pace up, I mean. Marriages don't maintain themselves, Chlo. You have to work at them. I can't ignore you forever and expect you to stick around."
"I'm not ever going to leave you," she said, very softly. "You're my soulmate."
He lifted his head and looked right into her eyes.
"Even soulmates need to know they're loved," he said.
She wanted to argue further, but she had to admit he had a point. He'd only been maintaining this hectic pace for two months, and already she was angry and frustrated and unhappy. Now that she knew why he was acting this way, and exactly what his concerns were, she thought she could cope a little better-- but could she really deal with rarely making love to her husband, rarely talking to him? Could she cope with him dividing his attention, listening to the outside world, while he made love to her?
Reluctantly, she had to admit she couldn't. Not forever. It would drive her crazy. She wasn't a prima donna, and she didn't need Clark's attention every minute of the day... but every so often, a woman needed her husband to focus on her, and only on her.
And tonight, he seemed willing to do that. But what if someone died while they were making love? He'd feel worse than ever, and she'd be lucky if he ever walked back into the apartment again. He'd probably start sleeping on the job, taking catnaps while he flew over the city all night long. And that wouldn't be good for either of them.
"Okay," she agreed. She wanted to make love to him, and she could feel that he wanted to make love to her, but she was beginning to realize this issue couldn't be solved with hot sex. "We have a problem. So what are we going to do about it?"
"I don't know." He shifted position a bit, his face against her shoulder, and she thought she felt a little dampness where his closed eyes pressed against her skin. "I told you earlier, if it's a choice between my life and someone else's, I have to choose theirs. I have to. Even if it hurts."
She stroked his hair gently. A thought occurred to her, and she went ahead and uttered it. "You know," she said softly, "we're not at the Planet 24/7, but it still gets printed every morning."
"It's not the same thing," he said, sounding a little impatient, as if he thought she wasn't understanding the issue. "We don't save lives at the Planet. Not directly."
"Yeah, I get that. But someone's at the Planet at night, right? It used to be me, a long time ago. I manned the tip line for months, remember?"
"So did I," he answered, sounding amused by the memory. "I think it's a Planet rite of passage."
"The new employees work at night because the more established employees can't work around the clock," she said, emphasizing every word carefully.
He was very still for a moment, considering that. At last he raised his head and looked at her, frowning.
"Are you suggesting I need a sidekick? Because I work alone, Chlo. I always have."
"Not a sidekick, no. Just someone you can trust to be there when you can't be. There are other heroes in this city, Clark. How about you pick a couple you trust, and you can all coordinate your schedules so someone's always on duty?"
His eyes narrowed. "Metropolis is my city, Chlo. That makes it my responsibility."
"And the Daily Planet is Perry's paper, and Perry's responsibility," she answered, a little impatiently. "That doesn't mean he writes all the stories himself, does it? He can't be everywhere at once, so he delegates the responsibility."
He frowned. "But I can't let someone else--"
"Yes, you can." She stared into his eyes and spoke with careful intensity. "You have to, Clark. You may be a superman, but you're only one man, and you're going to drive yourself crazy if you don't learn to let other people help you."
He stared at her, and the faintest hint of a wry smile curved his mouth. "You told me that years ago. You said, There are other people out there who want to help you fight the good fight, and you need to let them in." He thought about it a long moment, then sighed. "I guess maybe you were right."
"And it only took eight years for you to recognize the wisdom of my words," she said perkily. "You should listen to me more often, you know that?"
"Shut up, Sullivan." He sat up, pulling her into his lap. She suddenly realized how hard the table was, and how uncomfortable she'd been, squished between the Man of Steel and a slab of oak. She cuddled against his chest, much more comfortable, and his hand tangled possessively in her newly golden hair as he continued speaking. "Okay, so you're right. I guess I need to pick out a couple of sidekicks."
"Don't call other heroes sidekicks," she advised him. "They don't like it. You ought to know. After all, you've gotten a little grumpy a few times when certain people referred to you a sidekick."
He scowled. "I am not Diana's sidekick, damn it. She really needs to stop calling me that."
Chloe held back her giggle. "You're not looking for sidekicks," she said, managing to keep her voice steady. "You're looking to form a sort of loose alliance. Choose a couple of people you really trust, who are here in the city, and the three of you can get together and talk about schedules. And remember--" She was all too aware of Clark's alpha male tendencies, the way he tended to casually assume he was in charge of any situation, and any group of people. "You're asking them, not telling them."
"Yeah." He was frowning in thought. "There's Nightwing. He's been living here ever since Bludhaven was destroyed, and I think he'd probably be glad to have an excuse to put his costume back on. And..."
"Not tonight," she said, speaking right over him. "You can get started on this tomorrow."
"Yeah, but Chlo..."
"Not tonight." She spoke more firmly than before. "Tonight you're spending some quality time with your wife. You can keep one ear tuned to the outside world... but we're going to make love."
He opened his mouth to demur, but at her dangerous look, he obviously thought better of it.
"Yes, ma'am," he said instead, meekly.
She laughed, then started running her hands over his chest and back again. Through his boxers, she could feel his burgeoning interest. He'd stayed pretty much hard while they were talking-- not surprising, since her bare thigh was pressed right up against him-- but she could feel him swelling more. A little sound of pleasure rumbled in his chest, and his hands began to explore her again, too.
His hands slid down her back, then along her thighs, making her squirm. His fingers stroked along the inner skin of her thighs, brushing lightly over the sensitive skin, and she parted her legs eagerly, aching for him to touch her more intimately. But he didn't seem to be in any hurry.
His other hand stroked through her hair. "You look beautiful blonde," he whispered, his voice rough. "I remember when..."
The words trailed off, but he didn't need to complete the sentence for her to have a general idea what he was thinking. Things had been less complicated back when she was blonde, for sure. If she'd realized it would turn him on this much to be reminded of simpler times, she would have bleached her hair a long time ago.
His big hand brushed over her panties, and she sobbed and shuddered as he caressed her aching flesh. He stroked her, slowly and relentlessly, and heat swirled through her veins and scorched her skin. She squirmed on his lap, rubbing her thigh against his erection, and he gave a soft moan.
Suddenly he was lifting her, stripping off her panties, and moving her in his lap, so her knees rested on either side of his thighs. Unfortunately, that meant they were resting on the hard oaken surface of the table. Despite the desperate hunger that racked her, the awareness of how near his body was, this just wasn't comfortable. Her kneecaps hurt.
She winced and shifted, trying without success to get more comfortable. "Clark," she complained. "The table..."
"Can't stop now." His face was buried in the waves of her hair, and his voice was rather indistinct as a result. "Don't make me stop, Chlo."
"But..." Her hands reached down, pushing his boxers out of the way, and suddenly the head of his cock was pressing up right against her moisture. It was hard and hot, and she wanted it inside her so badly she thought she might swoon like a Victorian virgin. "Clark, the table hurts my knees. Let's go to the bedroom, okay?"
"Can't." His hands gripped her ass possessively, and his voice sounded hoarse, like he had a cold. "I can't wait that long."
She sighed, feeling her knees bruising. Even as turned on as she was, it was distracting. "Can you give us a little air mattress, then?"
He didn't answer, but they rose into the air, about a foot off the table, and suddenly there was nothing against her body but warm, hot male. No distractions, nothing keeping her from reveling in the sensations of his body against hers.
Clark lifted her by the hips, since it wasn't easy for her to move with her legs dangling, and she grasped his erection and positioned it. Slowly, she sank down onto him.
He gave a long, strangled noise of pleasure and threw his head back, and she clutched at his shoulders nervously. "Don't drop me."
"I won't... ah, yes, Chlo, yes..."
He was all the way inside her now, and she could feel him pulsing in the depths of her body. He leaned back, so that he was stretched out in midair, turning slightly to avoid the chandelier that hung over the table. She hooked her toes over his shins so her legs didn't dangle awkwardly. She still couldn't get enough purchase to really move, though, so he held her hips steady and began to thrust into her.
His smooth, hard body felt good inside hers. She sobbed and moaned, digging her hands into his shoulders and holding on tightly. She knew he wouldn't drop her, but it was instinctive to cling to something.
So she clung to him.
His body moved inside hers steadily. She could sense him trying to hold back, but it had been a couple of weeks since the last time they'd made love, and he was obviously a little on the needy side. The fine film of sweat on his skin and the rough sound of his breathing told her clearly how aroused he was.
His body moved faster, and it felt so good she felt her body throbbing, almost at the point of orgasm already. Maybe she was a little needy, too.
Her inner muscles rippled around him with every thrust, and he gave a long, low groan of pleasure and gasped out her name.
"Chloe. Oh, Chlo."
He sounded reverent, almost awestruck, and suddenly she couldn't hold back any more. She threw back her head as a climax rushed over her, heating her blood and electrifying all her nerves. She felt his frantic movements, felt his violent thrusts. His body arched hard, and then a warmth bloomed deep inside her as he came, sobbing and crying out with rapture.
Afterward, she dropped her head onto his shoulder. He wrapped his arms around her waist and held her. She expected him to drift back down to the table, but he didn't move, and eventually she lifted her head and looked at him curiously.
"Are you going to float all night?"
He opened one eye and regarded her lazily. "Might as well," he answered. "It's more comfortable."
"Yeah, until you pass out and drop me. Come on, farmboy. Time to get your feet back on solid ground."
He sighed, as if he wasn't eager to return to the real world, but they moved slowly downward. He sprawled on the table, and she struggled off him and sat next to him. His hand reached out, and his fingers wrapped around hers.
"I think you ought to know I was listening," he said softly. "To the city, I mean. I have to, Chlo."
"I know." She squeezed his hand. "I get it, Clark. For now, you're right. You have to." She looked down at him with mock sternness. "But once you get a few people lined up to help you, I expect you to quit listening to the outside world all the time, and to pay total and complete attention to me when we make love."
He looked at her solemnly for a moment, then a small, sexy smile curled the corners of his mouth.
"I'm looking forward to it," he said.
A week later he walked in through the apartment door at six. Chloe lifted her head from the magazine she was reading, glanced at the old mahogany mantel clock, and blinked at him in shock.
"To what do I owe this pleasure?"
He grinned his wide, white grin, waving a bag that gave off a heavenly odor. "I brought takeout."
She put the magazine down, stood up, and frowned at him suspiciously.
"Who are you, and what have you done with my husband?"
He laughed outright, a happy, carefree sound she hadn't heard from him in quite some time. "It took a while, but I finally got everything set up, Chlo. J'onn is taking the night shift tonight. So I'm off duty."
"Really off duty?" She lifted her eyebrows. "Not as in, off duty but listening?"
"Really off duty." He nodded firmly. "If there's a huge emergency, J'onn will call my name, and I'll hear him. But J'onn's as powerful as I am, maybe more so. He won't call for anything short of an earthquake. So you have me all to yourself. Want to have dinner?"
She was suddenly sorry she'd changed out of her work clothes. She was aware she wasn't at her most gorgeous, dressed as she was in a Superman t-shirt and a pair of old ratty shorts, her hair pulled back into a straggly ponytail. She didn't exactly look like a femme fatale. But she was pretty sure Clark didn't care all that much.
"Forget the dinner," she said. "Let's have sex."
He paused, looking longingly at the bag in his hand. "But it's Chinese."
"We'll eat it later, okay? Sex first, then food."
Still he hesitated, looking torn. She reached behind her, pulled out the ponytail elastic, and shook her long blonde hair, so that it cascaded loose around her shoulders. His green eyes lit with sudden masculine interest, and suddenly she found herself sprawled on the bed in the bedroom, a large and very interested Kryptonian on top of her. He'd apparently left the bag of takeout in the living room, because his empty hands were playing with her nipples, teasing them through the t-shirt she wore.
"You drive a hard bargain," he said into her hair. "But okay. If you insist."
"Glad we managed to negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement." She sighed with pleasure at the feel of his big hands brushing over her breasts. "So you're going to focus on me? Totally?"
"I'm already totally focused on you." His body moved against hers, and he nuzzled her blonde locks. "God, Chlo, your hair..."
She couldn't repress her smile at how much he was still turned on by her blondeness. "I guess it's true what they say," she said. "Blondes really do have more fun."
She heard his soft huff of amusement, and then his hands were moving all over her. She could feel the intensity of his complete focus on her, and she sighed in contentment, thinking this felt just like making love had when they were younger, before he'd taken on the responsibility of being a superhero, before he'd donned the cape.
She understood that things weren't that simple anymore. She was married to Superman, after all, and she'd always encouraged him to use his gifts to save people, so she couldn't complain when he did.
She knew better than anyone that the cape he wore rested very heavily on his shoulders. She had to share her husband with the world now, and for the most part, she was okay with that.
But every once in a while... it was nice to have him totally and completely to herself.