Season 7, during "Action"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Things get damaged
Things get broken
I thought we'd manage
But words left unspoken
Left us so brittle...
-Depeche Mode, "Precious"
He's an ass.
Chloe has been chattering for several minutes about the joys of being single. Clark knows her well enough to realize that when she talks too fast, and smiles too brightly, she's trying to cover her up her real feelings... and doing a lousy job of it.
She's obviously still reeling from losing her boyfriend Jimmy, and wants a little friendly sympathy. He can relate to that. God knows he's talked her ear off enough about his problems with Lana Lang over the years. How many times has she listened to him whine about Lana, and offered advice and sympathy? The least he can do is offer her some sympathy in return.
The problem is, he isn't sure what to say, and that makes him feel like an ass, because Chloe so obviously needs comforting. But he doesn't want to talk about relationships right now. He finally has everything he ever wanted. He's living with Lana Lang.
And yet, to his dismay, he's discovering that everything he ever wanted isn't what he wanted at all. He's coming to the realization that what he really wanted was something, and someone, very different.
Someone who happens to be standing in front of him, talking a mile a minute. Someone who's wearing adorably cute little pigtails, a sexy, skimpy green tank top, and a too-wide smile.
What is he going to say to comfort her? I'm actually glad you broke up with Jimmy, Chloe, because I'm beginning to realize I want you.
No. Not a cool thing to say, not when he's still living with Lana. A generic I'm sorry would be better, but the problem is he's not sorry. Not at all.
He's been jealous of Chloe and Jimmy for a while now, and never realized how intense his jealousy was until the two of them split up. Over the past week he's slowly come to realize that his most recent tumble into "love" with Lana happened simply because he was angry and jealous and couldn't have Chloe.
But now she's available.
And he's not.
He can break up with Lana, of course. In fact, he intends to break up with her. He's been thinking about it, more and more, over the course of this week. He feels like the biggest jerk alive not to have realized exactly how he feels until Chloe and Jimmy actually split up, but what is he supposed to do? Stay with Lana when he doesn't love her? He can't do that, and he knows it. It isn't fair to either Lana or him.
He has to do the right thing, and that means coming clean with Lana and letting her go.
The problem is that if he makes a play for Chloe right after he and Lana split up, she's going to figure he's just on the rebound. She's going to think she doesn't matter that much to him. She's going to think he's not serious.
But he is. The truth is, he's beginning to realize he's really serious about her, far more serious about her than he's ever been about anything in his life.
Chloe Sullivan means everything to him.
But he doesn't know how to make her believe that, especially when he's just beginning to come to terms with it himself. He knows his first step is to say goodbye to Lana and to find her another place to live. And after that-- well, the truth is, he has no idea what his next step should be.
He knows he wants Chloe, but he doesn't have a clue how to win her. He isn't even sure he deserves her.
He looks down into her sweet, smiling, vulnerable eyes, and too many words well up that he can't say right now: I love you, Chlo. I think I've always loved you. And I'm never going to stop loving you. Never.
He opens his mouth to speak, and then closes it again. Because right now, he has nothing to say to her. He can't offer genuine sympathy when all he has in his mind is gratitude she and Jimmy aren't an item any more, or how much he loves her. And she wouldn't believe he loves her, so he can't say that, either.
Uncertain what he should do, and feeling awkward and unsure of himself, he turns his back on her, pretending to be interested in the movie production that's going on around them. Pretending to be intrigued by the controlled chaos, when in fact he's totally absorbed in the small, pigtailed blonde next to him.
He's aware of her in a way he's never been aware of anyone in his life. He's aware of her scent, aware of the steady rhythm of her heart, aware of the way her skin glows and her hair gleams in the sunlight.
Even when he's not looking at her, she's all he sees.
He carefully doesn't look at her, because he doesn't dare, for fear of giving away too much of what he feels. And because he's afraid of saying too much, he doesn't say anything at all.
At least not now.