Season 7, MHE for "Kara"
Rating: Adult. If you're under eighteen, please go elsewhere now.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Read the story from the beginning here.
"Maybe it's selfish of me," Chloe said softly, her hand still on his shoulder, "but I'm glad you're not going anywhere."
He reached up and patted her hand gently. "Yeah, I can understand that. I shouldn't have even thought about going. I know you need me right now."
"I wouldn't say I need you, exactly." He heard the teasing smile in her voice. "But there are definitely times when I like having you around. This is one of those times. After all, you've been through something like this before, more than once."
He nodded. Every time he developed a new power, he freaked out for a while, so he could understand what Chloe was going through, to a certain degree. Although it was worse for her, because his powers were normal-- well, for a Kryptonian, at least-- and hers were due to a mutation induced by the green meteor rocks he called kryptonite.
Both of them knew that kryptomutants often went psychotic.
But that wasn't going to happen to Chloe. At least he was pretty sure it wasn't. It had been a week since her power manifested, and as far as he could tell, she was exactly the same as she'd ever been.
Well, except for the ability to rise from the dead.
"The truth is," she said, "I don't quite know how I'd get through this if you weren't here." She sounded sincere, and her hand stroked his shoulder in a gentle, platonic gesture of affection. "I'm honestly not sure how I'd get on without you, Clark."
He smiled wryly. "Lois said pretty much the same thing. Although her big concern was she wouldn't have anyone left to pick on."
"Lois?" Her hand abruptly stilled on his shoulder. "Are you saying you told Lois you were leaving... before you told me?"
Oh, crap. He heard the knife-sharp anger in her voice again, and realized too late that he was in big trouble. He really needed to learn to keep his mouth shut.
"Uh," he said, turning around and looking down at her. "Well, I might have sort of hinted..."
He and Lois weren't particularly close, so he could understand the shrill annoyance in her voice. He and Lois were more like casual friends, friends who talked when they happened to run into each other, but who rarely sought each other out. Whereas he and Chloe spent a whole lot of time together, both in person and on the phone.
Chloe was his best friend in the world, bar none, and now that he thought about it, admitting he'd told Lois first might not have been the absolute smartest thing he could do.
"Well," he said, trying really hard to put a spin on it that wouldn't piss Chloe off further. "You know, we were out there in the woods together, and we never have a lot to say to each other, so I figured..."
"You figured you'd confide in her?"
The technical term for the situation in which he currently found himself, he thought grimly, was deep shit.
"It wasn't exactly like that, Chlo. I just..."
"Bastard." Her voice was well beyond sharp now, and right on into deadly. She'd never, in all the years of their friendship, called him that, and he deduced that he was in very big trouble. "How could you tell her first? How could you? I thought I was your best friend!"
"You are." He pleaded for mercy with the biggest, saddest puppydog eyes he could manage, because he wasn't above using puppydog eyes to get out of trouble with her. "I just thought--"
She clearly had no intention of granting mercy. "You." She moved forward, stalking him like a lioness intent on tearing a gazelle to pieces, and he took a cautious step backward. "Told." Another step forward on her part, another stealthy retreat on his part. "Lois." Step, retreat. "First."
He realized he'd backed right up against the wall, and she had him more or less pinned there, glaring up at him with eyes so angry they were practically emitting sparks. It was a good thing she wasn't Kryptonian, because he had a feeling he'd have been on fire by now if she were.
"It was easier to tell Lois," he said, trying earnestly to explain.
"Easier?" Her voice rose, so shrill it hurt his sensitive ears. "You son of a-- We've always told each other everything! Always! And now you're telling Lois important stuff before you tell me?"
This, he thought unhappily, was really not going well. Deep shit was something of an understatement.
"Sometimes it's easier to talk to Lois about stuff like that," he said. "Because, you know, she just--"
"Easier! To talk! To Lois!" Short though she was, she was right up in his face, but there was nowhere to retreat, unless he went straight through the wall. Which honestly didn't seem like a bad option at this point. Chloe was so furious he could barely keep from cringing.
He was a giant wuss. Because she was only half his size, but she was seriously scaring the hell out of him.
"Bastard," she hissed again, but this time he heard a quaver in his voice, and he knew she wasn't just mad. He'd upset her. And he honestly hadn't had the slightest intention of doing that.
Desperate to fix the error he'd made, he reached out and grabbed her by the shoulders, hauling her against his chest.
"Hey," he said, wrapping his arms around her. "I'm sorry, Chlo. Really."
"You should be!" She didn't melt into a nice little cuddly armful against his shoulder, the way she usually did when he hugged her. She struggled, and he thought with dismay that she was about as cuddly as a cactus right now. "How could you talk to Lois first?"
"I guess it was kind of stupid..."
"You guess!" She managed to pry an arm loose, and aimed an angry fist at his shoulder. He dodged back, not for fear of being hurt, but for fear of hurting her. His skin could break human bones, and she knew that better than anyone, when she wasn't pissed off.
Even though they both knew she couldn't possibly do him any damage, the fact that she'd actually aimed a blow in his direction hurt his feelings, and annoyance started to burn somewhere deep inside him.
"I told Lois because I knew she couldn't talk me out of it!" he snapped, his voice louder than he meant it to be.
"I wouldn't have tried to talk you out of it either!" She glared up at him, still struggling. "I've never tried to keep you from your destiny, Clark! Never!"
"I thought you might." He glared right back, so aggravated he felt a little spark of heat vision in his irises. "What with everything that's happened to you, I figured you might. And if you did..."
"I get it," she snapped. "You didn't want to have to stick around, and you were afraid I might try to hold onto you. Not that I would have, but still. God forbid I should ask my best friend to give me support while I turn into a kryptofreak!"
"You're not a freak!" His voice got louder. "You're still you, Chlo! You're just a little more... talented."
"I rose from the dead, Clark! How am I not a freak?"
"But you're... okay. I mean, you haven't, you know..."
He trailed off, and she fired a dangerous glare at him.
"Oh, go ahead and finish that sentence, Clark. I'd love to hear what you think my future options are. I haven't what? Turned into a psychotic mass murderer? Become a Satanist? Started eating babies for breakfast?"
"You won't ever--"
"You don't know what I might do!" Her voice was filled with anger, and he wasn't sure if it was aimed at him, or just at life in general. "We both know kryptomutants turn unstable and dangerous about eighty percent of the time. For all we know, you might be the only thing standing between me and a mass killing spree!"
The idea of her going out of control that way ripped into his guts, and a sudden fury overtook him. He didn't like thinking of her that way, and he wanted to believe he could fix it somehow, but the problem was, he didn't have a clue how to help her.
He'd promised to be her bomb squad... but he didn't know how.
And besides, in the final analysis, he wasn't the guy she most relied on, and they both knew it.
"You don't need me!" he yelled. "You've got Jimmy, damn it!"
"So the fact that I've got a boyfriend absolves you of any need to involve yourself in my life? Is that it? Jimmy isn't even in town!"
"You told me he was coming back in a few days. And when he does--"
When he did, Clark didn't want to be around to see them making googoo eyes at each other. That, he realized with dawning self-understanding, was the heart of the problem, right there.
He'd lost everyone else in his life, and when Jimmy came back, he was going to lose Chloe, too. Not that she'd stop being his friend, exactly, but when Jimmy was around, he got to spend a whole hell of a lot less time with her. When Jimmy was around, Clark got pushed to the side, and that bugged him in a big way.
Somewhere deep down... he'd wanted to get the hell out of Dodge before Jimmy came back.
Not that he was jealous, exactly. It was just that seeing Chloe and Jimmy together, all snuggly and warm and close, was a reminder that he was on the outside, looking in. He and Chloe were just about as close as it was possible for two people to be... and yet she wasn't dating him. She was dating Jimmy. Kissing Jimmy. Sleeping with Jimmy.
And that made his fists clench and his teeth grind together.
Chloe was oblivious to his mental aside. "Jimmy doesn't even know I'm a freak," she snapped. "He's not a lot of help to me in this situation."
"You're still not going to tell him?"
"Of course I'm not going to tell him! I don't want him looking at me like he's scared of me. Or even worse, like he pities me. I don't want him always looking at me and wondering what I might turn into."
"Why do you think he'd do that? I don't look at you like you're a freak, do I?"
"No." Her voice dropped. "But you're you, Clark. You're different."
The idea that she trusted him, in a way she didn't trust Jimmy, soothed his anger a little. He tightened his arms around her and lowered his head, pressing his face into her hair.
"I guess I'm the only person you have to help you deal with all this right now," he said in a calmer tone. "I shouldn't have planned on leaving, even before Kara showed up. I'm sorry. And I'm even sorrier I didn't tell you first."
She hesitated, just a moment, then he felt her turn her head, pressing her face against his neck.
"It's okay," she answered, sounding much less annoyed. "I guess I can understand how hard it is to tell people important stuff. Especially people you care about."
"Yeah. It's just that, well, if you did ask me to stay for you... I knew I wouldn't be able to say no." His voice dropped, to a near-whisper. "I can never say no to you, Chloe."
Her arms tightened around his shoulders. "Oh," she said softly. "I see."
"I just... I wasn't sure I'd have the strength to leave if I told you very far in advance," he mumbled against her hair. "So I figured I'd tell you, and then I'd go, before I had the chance to think about it. Before I had the chance to think about leaving you. Because I... I don't want to leave you, Chlo. I really don't."
"Someday," she said gently, "you'll have to."
"Yeah," he said, his voice harsh. "And I honestly don't know how I'll be able to."
He didn't know how he could ever have planned on leaving her in the first place. She felt warm and soft in his arms, and her hair smelled like roses, and all of a sudden he realized he was having a seriously inappropriate reaction.
He liked holding Chloe a whole lot more than he ought to, and he didn't want to let her go.
Not now, and not ever.
Read Chapter 3 here.