By Laurelnola and Elly
These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to us.
Read Chapter 3 here.
She yanked back her hand, because it hurt like hell. Okay, so slapping a guy whose skin made steel look soft and fluffy by comparison wasn't the smartest thing she could do. But she'd been pissed.
"Hey." He caught her wrist in his gentle, unbreakable grip and looked at her hand carefully, narrowing his eyes, and she knew he was x-raying her. "You okay?"
"I'm fine," she said between her teeth. "I just broke every bone in my hand, but otherwise, I'm just peachy."
"No, you didn't. You're lucky. Nothing's broken." He lifted his head, looking at her with such bewilderment in those vivid eyes that she felt her heart melt. It had always been really hard to stay mad at Clark. "Why'd you do that, Chlo?"
"Because..." She sighed. "Because you're telling me all this, but none of it will stick. It's just... I don't know, Clark. It's... well, it's selfish. Just a way for you to bare your soul to me without really baring it. Sort of like me reading you a letter telling you how I feel about you when you're unconscious, and can't hear it."
He lifted his eyebrows. "You've never done that, have you?"
"Of course not." She tried to sound dismissive, but something flickered in his eyes, and she knew he didn't believe her. Well, he'd always been able to see right through her, and not just in the literal sense.
"Chlo..." He sighed, so hard her hair blew. "I know I'm being selfish, all right? I just can't take it any more. Seeing you crying, seeing you so angry with me you're ready to leave... it hurts. It hurts a lot."
"So here's a solution for you. Restart time and tell me how you feel in the real world, instead of in some fantasy bubble."
"I can't." His voice seethed with frustration. "I'm trying to keep you safe, Chlo. Lex is after you, ever since you wrote that article on LuthorCorp's 'crimes against humanity.' We both know he won't hesitate to kill you if he decides it's a good idea. And frankly, Lana's been taking a walk on the dark side, too. If I leave her for you... I'm afraid what she might do."
She looked at him steadily. "You think she might go back to Lex."
"Yeah. I do. I'm scared she'll try to get Lex to help her in some crazy scheme of vengeance. And the last thing I ever wanted to do was put more of Lex's focus on you, Chlo. That's what I've been trying to avoid. I have to keep you safe, Chlo. That's the most important thing in the world to me. And that means... I can't tell you, not in any way you'll remember. I'm sorry."
"Clark." She sighed, and dropped her face against the soft flannel of his shirt. "There has to be some way out of this."
"Eventually, maybe. But not now." She heard him swallow. "I want you, Chlo. I want you so much it hurts. But I can't have you."
She leaned against him, breathing in his scent. "You're telling me you'll just stand aside and let me go to Edge City?"
His voice was grim and dark with determination. "If it means keeping you safe, then yes. I will."
"You'll let me sacrifice what I've always wanted most? A career at the Daily Planet?"
"First of all," he said, "I don't think I'm the only reason you're leaving. A whole bunch of other crap has gone down at the Planet lately."
"True," she admitted. "But if I knew you loved me, and not Lana, I think I'd be more inclined to stick it out. It's always been my dream to work there, Clark."
"You can't dream if you're dead," he snapped.
She looked into his eyes and saw fear there, the fear of losing another person, the way he'd lost Jonathan Kent. Sympathy filled her. He was obviously genuinely afraid for her, and it was hard to be annoyed with him when he was just trying to keep her safe.
Even if he was going about it in a boneheaded, hamfisted, really stupid way.
"This must have all been terrible for you," she said gently. "You've been pushing me away on purpose, even though you love me. That had to be terribly painful."
"Yeah." His Adam's apple bobbed as he swallowed. "I've hated seeing you get closer to Jimmy, Chloe. Hated it. Knowing the two of you were together, knowing that you were falling in love with him... it hurt like hell."
She looked at him a moment longer, then drew his head down and kissed him again, a very gentle brush of her lips against his. She let him go before it could get any more intense, and looked up into his eyes.
"I was never in love with Jimmy," she told him, very softly. "You're the only one I've ever loved."
Even though it was exactly what he wanted to hear, Clark wasn't sure he believed her. For someone who hadn't been in love, she sure had gone to a lot of trouble towards the end to keep assuring Jimmy that she was his.
He took a deep breath and asked her, "Are you sure it's not because you broke up with him?" Even now, when he finally had Chloe in his arms, he didn’t want to pressure her. He’d meant it when he said he would go on loving her even if she loved someone else. It would kill him, but he couldn’t blame her for preferring someone whose biggest worry was what kind of film to buy, rather than battling evil on a regular basis.
"Can you honestly tell me,” he asked, bracing himself, “that if you had the choice you wouldn't rather be with him?"
Her eyes grew wide and suddenly her face was lit by a brilliant smile, “Am I on candid camera?”
“What? No," he chastised her, while she grinned up at him.
"Just checking,” she laughed, and then shook her head, “Clark, for someone from an advanced species, you are an idiot."
Now his lips pursed. "Gee, I knew this was going to be the most romantic day of my life."
Chloe rolled her eyes, "Why do you think I tried so hard with Jimmy?" she asked, raising her brows, "It couldn't have been because I had to convince myself as well as him, could it?"
Clark shifted a bit, as she sighed, eyes smiling, "You never left my heart, Clark. Not once. Not ever.”
He saw the truth on her open, honest, beautiful face, and let out the breath he hadn’t even known he was holding. She was right. He was an idiot. He’d so often wondered why Chloe, who thrived on the strange and unusual, would want a boyfriend who, although seemingly devoted to her, was still just too normal. But then he’d tell himself that he was just looking for ways to soothe himself that they’d never last, and that he needed to let go because look how happy she seemed with Jimmy.
Apparently, he thought with wonder, he wasn’t the only one who could put on a show.
He managed a self-deprecating smile, and his memory flashed with all the years that Chloe had hidden her love for him so that she could always be there for him as a friend. He suddenly saw every hurt look when he’d carelessly talked about Lana, every insensitive thing he’d ever said to her, and they weighed on him relentlessly. The small amount of time he’d spent agonizing over her and Jimmy seemed so paltry in comparison, and he felt like he’d done so little to earn the kind of love she had for him. He had never deserved her, but by God, he was going to make himself worthy of her, even if it took his whole, long life.
He nodded and whispered, "You’ll never leave my heart, either, Chlo. I swear it,” he paused, “No matter what happens, I’m glad you know the truth today.”
Chloe sighed and shook her head slightly, “Clark, do you really think Lex is that dangerous?”
He nodded solemnly, “I do. And not just Lex.”
“You mean Lana,” she said, and he could see she still didn’t want to believe it.
“Chloe, you have no idea,” he intoned, “She’s not the same person she was in high school. Lana’s not just content to make sure everyone is in love with her, anymore. She’s willing to torture and steal to get what she wants. Considering that she’s even killed before… Chlo, between Lana’s thirst for vengeance and Lex’s unlimited resources, it scares the hell out of me to think what would happen if she and Lex teamed up against the two of us.”
“So you’re keeping them apart,” she grimaced, ‘by any means necessary, is that it?”
He saw her eyes lower and for a moment he thought she was going to look up and tell him that he was an idiot again. It was, after all, a dangerous game, and he knew it. But instead, she raised her eyes, full of understanding.
“I’m sorry you’ve had to go through this alone, Clark, and that I’ve been pushing you away because of it.”
Instantly, he gathered her in his arms, “Don’t be sorry, Chlo. You’re worth this and more to me. And you might not believe it, but you’re the one who taught me what patience and strength really are.”
She smiled, “You think I’m patient?” her eyes rolled. “You really must be blinded by love.”
His fingers stroked through her hair, because he knew that years of using sarcasm to cover her fears was going to be a tough habit to break. And right now, he didn’t want her to have a single doubt about what he felt for her.
“I’m not blind. My eyes have been open for a long time,” he assured her, and this time a sense of peace washed over him as he gazed at the face of his best friend. “I love you, Chloe.”
He saw the smile light up her eyes, and it was just like the one that she’d given him years ago, on a dance floor when he’d been about to kiss her.
This time, there was no tornado warning to stop them.
He leaned in slowly, and brushed his lips against hers with a reverence that filled him, body and soul. When he pulled back, the smile was still on her face, and he wished so much that he had the power to turn back time, not just stop it for a few brief moments.
“I’m just sorry it took us this long to get here," he told her.
He felt her head drop onto his shoulder and she squeezed him tighter, "It doesn't matter now," she said, and sighed again, “And we have all the time in the world to make it right, don’t we?”
Clark’s eyes closed in pain, as reality closed in around him, and he held her tighter, “I wish that was true,” he groaned.
She pulled away from him, brows crinkled in confusion, “What do you mean? I thought you stopped time.”
He sighed again, “I told you, I can’t do it. The crystal did. And..” he paused, “it only lasts for one hour.”
She pulled further back, and he could almost see the wheels of her brain spinning furiously.
“Are you saying we only get one hour for this?”
Her creamy white skin was rapidly turning an angry scarlet. “And we’ve already spent half of it talking?”
Clark had never seen Chloe really, undeniably, murderously livid. He was suddenly more afraid of her than an entire phantom zone of wraiths. They, at least, would have looked less likely to eat him alive.
“I just…” he began feebly.
“Shut up and take it, Clark,” she pounced on him, flinging her arms around his neck, “You’ve had this coming for a long time.”
Clark was hers. If only for an hour, he was hers.
Well, okay, half an hour, because the silly boy hadn’t thought to stop talking and start moving on to the important stuff. Which was pretty much how their relationship worked, really. They talked so much that other things tended to fall by the wayside.
But this… this was too important to let fall by the wayside.
Her mouth was against his throat, kissing and licking and exploring, and her body pressed into his intimately, and he moaned.
“Chlo,” he whispered. “Maybe we shouldn’t… I mean, maybe this isn’t the time…”
“What did I just finish telling you? Stop talking.”
Her tongue found the sensitive spot just below his ear, and he gave a muffled noise of ecstasy.
And stopped talking.
His large, powerful hands started moving all over her body, shoving off the too-big jacket she wore, then sliding up under her shirt and exploring her back. She figured it was only right that she touch him the same way, so she let her hands move up under his blue t-shirt. His skin felt slightly damp to the touch despite the very cold air, and his muscles flowed and rippled under his skin as he moved.
Her hand traced upward, along his spine, and he gave a long groan of pleasure.
“Ahhhhh. Chlo. God, I’ve wanted to touch you this way for so long…”
“Me too.” Her mouth was moving down across his t-shirt now. “I never wanted anyone else like this, Clark. I wish things were different. I wish we’d never gotten involved with Jimmy and Lana.”
“Yeah.” His head arched back, and he spoke through clenched teeth. “But my dad always said if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”
She couldn’t repress a smile at the memory of Jonathan Kent and his aphorisms. “I know. It’s too late to change the past.” She pushed up his t-shirt and brushed a soft kiss right against the skin of his bare chest, and he cried out with shocked pleasure. “But we can change the future.”
“I’m trying to change the future,” he whispered, his hands moving frantically on her back. She knew he was so strong he could break her bones with a touch, but despite his obvious hunger, his hands were very careful and gentle against her skin. “I’m trying. But I won’t do anything to endanger you, Chlo. I don’t care how much I need you, or how desperate I am for you, or how unhappy it makes me to live without you. I have to keep you safe. I have to.”
She leaned into him and closed her eyes, feeling anguish and frustration and stark sorrow. “This isn’t going to change anything, is it?”
He wrapped his arms around her waist and held her, very tightly.
“It can’t,” he whispered. “I wish it could, but it can’t. It’s not forever, Chlo. It’s just an hour outside of time.”
“Okay,” she said, very softly. “Let’s make it count.”
Read Chapter 5 here.