By Laurelnola and Elly
These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to us.
Read Chapter 6 here.
Chloe had expected to spend the day sitting at her desk in the dark basement of the Daily Planet, wrapping up a few stories. She certainly hadn't expected to find herself sitting on the wing of a plane, feet dangling, as she leaned against Clark and stared out over the sparkling crystal towers of Metropolis.
A V of gray-and-black Canada geese were frozen in formation not too far away, hanging impossibly in the air, and a few unchanging, puffy clouds dotted the blue sky. Nothing moved, on the streets of Metropolis or above. Everything was frozen in time... except for them.
"This is where I grew up, you know," she said softly.
"I know." His laughter rumbled in her ear, which was pressed against his chest. "Your natural habitat. I never felt like you totally acclimated to Smallville somehow."
"Smallville's nice. It's just different."
"Yeah." He nodded. "Small towns have a kind of friendly atmosphere that you don't get anywhere else. Everyone knows everyone else."
"Everyone spies on everyone else."
Another deep chuckle in her ear. "Yeah, that too. Metropolis is a lot bigger and more impersonal, but I like it, too. It's different, all right, but every time I come here, I have this weird feeling that maybe this is where I ought to be. Like I belong here too."
She remembered he'd said that earlier: This is where you belong. Where we belong.
"Well, you're here almost every day now, so it's not surprising you feel that way," she said. "You think you'll wind up living here?" The thought that he might live and work in the same city with her made a vivid warmth pulse through her veins.
He shrugged. "Maybe. I'll end up in some big city, I think. There's only so much good I can do in Smallville. A place like this-- it has so many more problems. Big cities need me more than Smallville does." He lifted his head and looked over the skyline. "And I really like this particular city. It's like it somehow dug its way into my heart while I wasn't looking." He looked down at her, a wry twist to his mouth. "Sort of like you."
She looked at him and quirked an eyebrow. "So one of these days you're going to come live in Metropolis?"
"Some day soon, I hope." He squeezed her. "Maybe we can move in together."
She let a trace of snark into her voice. Well, slightly more than a trace. "I think that would be a lot more likely if I actually remembered you were in love with me."
He pretended to frown, drawing down his heavy eyebrows in an exaggerated scowl. "No nagging, Chlo. We only have a few minutes left. Don't waste it on nagging."
"But nagging is one of my favorite activities."
"No kidding," he said with an expressive roll of his eyes. "Let's find another activity you like instead, okay?"
"Hmmm." She furrowed her brow, doing her best to look thoughtful. "Whatever could we do?"
He laughed again, and lowered his head to kiss her.
Only a few more minutes, she thought. Only a few more minutes outside of time. And then she'd forget everything, forget that Clark loved her, forget everything they'd said to one another, forget kissing Clark...
She pushed away the dark thoughts and let herself enjoy the moment. She didn't want to think about what would happen when time restarted. She didn't want to think about her world being reset to bleak loneliness and sorrowful longings that might never be satisfied. All she wanted to think about was now.
Right now, her life was wonderful. Right now, she was sitting on the wing of an airplane in the bright autumn sunshine, kissing Clark Kent in the skies of Metropolis while the Daily Planet globe gleamed far below.
Right now, for a brief moment in time, she had everything.
The trip back to the Fortress was over all too quickly.
Neither of them wanted to go back, but Clark knew that if time restarted with them standing anywhere except the icy interior of the Fortress, even Chloe wouldn’t buy any story he came up with.
“Home sweet home,” she sighed, when he landed easily inside, and gently released her from his arms.
“Yeah,” he breathed, not wanting to lose the warm closeness of her body next to his.
“I can’t believe this is almost over.”
Clark took a deep breath, knowing the moment had come, the reason he’d brought her here. “Not quite yet,” he said, moving over to the console.
“I have something for you,” he told her, and was alarmed at how fast his heart was hammering. But then again, what he was about to give her was pretty monumental. It meant that he truly was hers, for all eternity. It was more permanent, more meaningful, than any diamond he could form between the pressure of his palms.
“Are you shaking?” she looked up at him, alarmed. “You can’t be cold.”
“Not cold,” he tried to smile, “Just nervous,” he said.
“Really?” she grinned, clapping her hands, “What did you get me? A unicorn?”
He rolled his eyes, “Could you possibly be serious for two seconds?”
“Alright, alright,” she muttered, “Killjoy.”
“What I have for you is actually really important in Kryptonian culture,” he explained, and reached behind the console for the bracelet that he’d put in the Fortress not long after the place had sprung up from the icy Earth. It had seemed fitting somehow, like it belonged there. Until now.
Now the bracelet, the one that the Kawatche had told him was meant for the woman in the painting, the one that he had kept for so many years, belonged on Chloe.
“Wow,” she said, as he held it up, “Is that Kryptonian?”
He nodded, smiling at the way she seemed to have an intuitive grasp of anything that had to do with his heritage, the way she accepted it all, because she had always accepted him.
“The Kawatche gave it to me years ago,” he explained, “They said it came from my world, and that it was part of the legend on the cave walls.”
“Really?” she said, all inquisitive-reporter. “How so?”
Clark felt himself take a deep breath, “On my world, one of these bracelets is what you give to your mate.”
He saw her do a double-take, her eyes boring into his, and her breath seemed to stop.
“Your soulmate,” he added.
She seemed to be breathing very fast, and she gave a nervous laugh, “Gee, and I didn’t get you anything…” she started to turn away, and he grasped her hand.
“Chloe, please,” he said hurriedly, “I’ve wanted to give you this for such a long time.”
“Please!” he was begging her now, “We only have minutes left.”
“No, no,” she stopped him, and he suddenly realized there were tears in her eyes again. “Clark, don’t do it. Not if I won’t remember it. I couldn’t bear it.”
He lifted his hand to her face and wiped the tears from her cheek, “That’s why I want you to have it. I didn’t just bring you up here to tell you I love you, Chlo. I brought you here to give you this,” he held up the bracelet, “You, my true soulmate. Because in time or out of it, whether you go off to Edge City or not, I belong to you."
He took another deep breath and prayed she could see how much it meant to him, "Chlo, please take it. No matter what happens once time starts up, and no matter where you go..” he said, taking her hand and placing the bracelet gently in her open palm, “..this is the proof that I’m yours.”
She stared at the bracelet for what seemed like an eternity, and finally he saw hot, salty tears falling onto the metal. She was crying.
“I never thought...” she breathed, “I wanted to stop hoping...” her eyes lifted to his, and she looked like someone who was afraid to believe what was happenng. “I should have known that in the end it would be you,” she gasped, half-crying, half-laughing, “It’s always you.”
“Chlo,” he whispered, and pulled her into a tight embrace.
“Oh, Clark,” she cried into his chest, “I love you so much. I’ve loved you almost half my life, and I always will,” she looked up at him once more, “You’re my soulmate, too.”
He pressed her closer, “Chloe, we’ll find a way. We will.”
“It’s almost over, isn’t it? I can feel it. I feel like I’m about to wake up from a dream,” she wailed, and he soothed her.
“No, no,” he whispered, “This is what’s real. Everything else… at least until we can be together.. that’s the dream, Chlo. And it won’t last forever.”
“Do you think some part of me will remember?”
He sighed, but tried to grin for her sake, “I hope so.”
She squeezed him even tighter, like she never wanted to let go of him, “I will. I just have to.”
He pulled back and smiled gently down at her, “Does this mean you want the bracelet?”
She laughed and kissed him, “Yes! Yes, of course I do.”
He was grinning too, when he took the bracelet from her palm and they were both smiling and wiping their eyes as he held it out towards her delicate wrist...
And the world went white around them...
Read Chapter 8 here.