All seasons and futurefic
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Based on a prompt by amcnh: Four times Clark broke Chloe's heart and the time he healed it.
This was perfect.
She was in his arms, her head pressed against his shoulder, his face against her hair, and everything was perfect. Even before they'd walked onto the balloon-covered dance floor together, everything had been perfect.
She worn a dark pink satin gown that had cost so much her dad had pretended to cry when he'd paid for it. But it had totally been worth making her dad cry, because when Clark had seen her in it, well, he'd stared at her like he'd never seen her before.
He looked gorgeous too, so beautiful her eyes had almost popped out of her head when she'd first seen him emerge from the farmhouse. He was only fifteen, and a bit on the gangling side, but the tux he wore made him look a lot more mature.
Looking at him tonight, she saw a glimpse of what he'd be in a few years. And she hoped very much that she'd still be by his side when they were older.
She didn't want to be anywhere else.
Clark lifted his head. Quizzically, she lifted her head and looked into his eyes. He was staring at her with the same expression he'd worn when he'd seen her in her new gown, an expression that said simply, Wow.
He lowered his head, his eyelids slowly drifting shut, and she tilted her head up and waited for his kiss.
Just before his lips brushed hers, a sudden screech of feedback made her jump. He jumped too, looking guilty, and the two of them smiled at each other, almost apologetically, and turned toward the stage.
"Excuse me for a second," one of the teachers chaperoning the event said into the microphone. "Can I have everyone's attention, please? The National Weather Service has just issued a tornado warning. Apparently three funnels have been spotted heading toward Smallville."
Clark glanced down at her, and she saw creases appear on his forehead. Alarm swept through the crowded gym, and a buzz of noise broke out.
"Everyone, please stay calm," the teacher went on. "The twisters are going to set down south of here. For your own safety, no one will be allowed to leave the gym."
The lines on Clark's forehead deepened. "Lana," he said softly. "The bus station's south of town. Lana's there."
Lana again, Chloe thought, not without resentment. Clark had always had a thing for Lana Lang, and despite herself, she was racked with jealousy every time he looked at the other girl, or mentioned her name. No matter how hard she tried, she didn't think she'd ever quite measure up to Lana in Clark's eyes.
She tried to push the resentment away, because after all, it was entirely natural for Clark to worry about his friends. It was what he did. She reached out and patted his arm in reassurance.
"Don't worry about it," she said gently. "I'm sure she's home by now. Listen, I'll go call her on my cell and check on her. You wait here, okay?"
It was too noisy in the gym to talk on the phone, so she headed for the girls' room. She hadn't taken two steps before she heard an odd sound. She looked back over her shoulder and saw that Clark had disappeared.
He'd gone out into the storm to look for Lana, she realized bleakly.
Concern for him twisted her stomach. But another sensation twisted in her chest, squeezing the breath right out of her.
It took her a moment to realize it was heartbreak.
"Sorry I've been so confused about us. It's just that I'm... scared."
"So am I," Clark answered.
His voice was deeper than it had been in freshman year. He was growing up, Chloe thought. The promise of maturity she'd seen in him at the spring formal was being realized. He'd gained a lot of muscle mass this year, along with a new solemnity, an air of grave dignity and somber poise that seemed a little too serious for his sixteen years.
Despite his words, he didn't sound scared. He sounded steady and confident.
He sounded grown up.
"You have so many secrets in your life."
"I know," he answered. "I just don't want my feelings for you to be one of them."
"Neither do I."
Chloe paused at the bottom of the staircase and looked up. Above her, far out of her reach, Clark stood, speaking to Lana. At her words, he placed his hands on either side of Lana's face and kissed her passionately. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back.
Chloe stared at them for a long moment, barely aware of the tears streaming down her face. She'd wanted Clark so much, for so long.
But he didn't want her.
She turned away and walked blindly out of the barn, feeling her heart breaking into pieces inside her.
"Look, Clark, as much as I'd like to blame the pom-pom juice for this, I obviously still have those feelings in me somewhere."
Chloe looked up at Clark, her cheeks flushing slightly. Yesterday, under the influence of drugged Gatorade, she'd made a pass at Clark. Well, more than a pass, really. She'd stripped naked in his loft and approached him wearing nothing more than his football jersey. And then she'd climbed right into his lap and kissed him.
Seen from her currently sober perspective, the whole incident was embarrassing as hell, and she'd really rather forget it ever happened. She wanted to sweep it under the rug.
But she couldn't quite forget the way he'd responded to her.
She'd felt an unmistakable physical response on his part. But she recognized that had probably been just a normal male response to having a mostly naked girl in his lap. Any guy would respond to that, she was pretty sure.
The reason she was bringing the incident up, though, was that she'd been certain she'd felt an emotional response, too. He'd tried to fend her off, but then he'd surrendered to her, wrapping his arms around her and kissing her back.
His surrender had only lasted for a moment, but thinking back on that brief moment, she'd been certain his reaction had indicated he felt something for her. Something beyond lust.
But he was shaking his head, looking sorrowful.
"Chloe..." He sighed. "I wish I felt the same way, but I don't. At least not right now."
She looked into his eyes, trying to gauge his honesty. Maybe she'd been totally wrong about his reaction. Maybe it had been merely lust.
Or maybe he was still carrying a torch for Lana, and the thought of wanting another girl scared him a little.
Lana. She bit her lip. No matter what she did, she knew she would never measure up to Lana in Clark's eyes. As far as Clark was concerned, Lana was the center of the universe, and she always would be.
She tried to smile, as if his rejection didn't matter, as if he hadn't just ripped her heart apart again. "I know that," she answered. "And I accept it. I just hope that we can keep our friendship."
He bent and kissed her cheek, then straightened up and looked at her, very seriously.
"We'll always be friends, Chlo."
She somehow managed to keep her smile in place. Clark's friendship meant the world to her. And yet being friends with him wasn't all she wanted, not by a long shot.
But it would have to be enough.
Clark and Lana looked good together, Chloe thought as she sat at a table, watching them.
Her cousin Lois had tried to cheer her up with a few encouraging words, but nothing could really make her feel better. Not now.
She'd been so sure that Clark was going to ask her to dance. The way he'd looked at her when she'd entered the gym reminded her strongly of the freshman spring formal. He'd stared at her as if he'd just truly seen her for the first time.
And then Lana had walked in, and he'd completely forgotten Chloe's existence.
That was how it always was, she thought grimly. That was how it always would be. In Clark's eyes, Lana was all that was good and beautiful, and no other woman could ever hope to compete with her. To him, Chloe was just a friend, and that was all she could ever be as far as he was concerned.
She sat at the table, a glittering crown on her head, watching the man she loved dance with another girl, and wondered how many times a heart could break before it shattered entirely.
She hadn't heard that name in years. She hadn't heard that voice in years. She spun around, seeing a tall, familiar figure.
The glittering ballroom of the newly opened Queen Hotel was filled with the cream of Metropolis society, including some of the most handsome, eligible men in the world, but in this moment, the only man she saw was Clark Kent.
She wanted to fling her arms around his neck, but she was still kind of annoyed that he'd taken off for a ramble around the world without ever coming back to see her, or even calling her. He had superspeed, after all, so stopping through Metropolis every now and again should have been easy enough. And yet he hadn't been back in four years.
She understood intellectually that it was part of his training, that Jor-El had wanted him to cut his ties with the people he loved for a while, and focus on the world, rather than his own small circle of friends and family.
But deep down, she thought he should have told Jor-El to fuck off.
She'd received the occasional email from Clark, just enough to know he was alive and okay, but he hadn't called her. After four Clarkless years, the sound of his deep, rich voice was enough to make tears spring to her eyes. She blinked them back.
"I go by Lois now, actually," she answered.
"Yeah," he answered, frowning a bit. "I heard that. Why?"
"I know you were never a big fan of Lois," she said, shrugging. "But she died trying to expose Lex. She asked me to use her name as she was dying, and I didn't have the heart to refuse."
"But after everything you've done, all the stories you've written... to become known as Lois Lane instead of Chloe Sullivan..."
"I don't mind. It's enough that I'm becoming known, I think. I only meant to use it as a pen name, but people around the office started calling me Lois, so..."
She shrugged again and looked him over, studying him. There was something odd about his posture. His almost regal presence seemed muted somehow. His shoulders were hunched so that he seemed shorter and smaller, his chin was held low, and he wore a pair of ugly, black-rimmed glasses.
Even in a tuxedo, he looked... unremarkable.
It took some effort for such a big, striking guy to look that bland, so she guessed this was his attempt at a disguise. Which suggested he was doing hero work, and didn't want anyone to notice him in his civilian guise.
She decided not to comment on it, or to ask about it, right now, lest someone overhear. A crowded ballroom probably wasn't the best place to discuss his abilities.
He looked her over, just as carefully as she'd studied him. She wore a long, formal gown of emerald green, which she knew clung to all her curves and accentuated her cleavage. She didn't fail to notice the glint of masculine approval behind the glasses.
"I've missed you, Chlo," he said at last.
"Chlo," he repeated, softly but firmly. "I missed you."
The deep rumble of his voice saying her name slid over her nerves like a physical caress, and she barely managed to restrain a shiver. She looked back at him, and somehow choked back the words I missed you too.
There was a long silence between them, filled with the sound of the swing band playing "Unforgettable." At last he spoke again.
"Would you..." He hesitated. "Would you like to dance?"
She wanted to dance with him, so badly she hurt inside. But too many memories of other dances hung over her like a cloud, and she sighed.
"Lana's here, you know."
He cocked his head. "So?"
Chloe looked around. The vast room was packed with Metropolis' movers and shakers, but through the crowd, she could see Lana, dressed in a glittering, sequined gown that had probably cost ten times as much as her own. Lana had plenty of money, thanks to several nice divorce settlements, whereas she herself had to scrape by on a reporters' salary.
Clark followed her gaze, barely glancing in Lana's direction, then turned back.
"I don't want to dance with Lana," he said. "I want to dance with you."
She frowned. "Did I fall through a wormhole into an alternate universe, or did someone just slip hallucinogens into the punch?"
"I'm serious," he said, sounding impatient. "Yeah, when I was younger I was crazy about her. But that was a long time ago."
Chloe frowned again, wondering if maybe he thought Lana was still married. "She's on the market again, you know. Her last marriage broke up about a year ago."
"I don't... want... Lana," he said, enunciating very clearly, as if she might be failing to hear him over the noise. "She's not my type. Not any more. Maybe she never was."
She stared at him. She'd thought her heart had broken for the final time when he left, but suddenly she felt it pounding, whole and intact despite its scars, in her chest.
And she wanted nothing more than to give it to him.
No, she thought fiercely. Not again. He'd had her heart for years, and all he'd ever done was stomp all over it. Not willfully or maliciously, of course. Just because he couldn't look away from Lana.
She wasn't delivering her heart into his keeping again. It just wasn't going to happen.
He seemed to understand her long silence. "Chlo..." He spoke slowly and painfully. "I think maybe one reason Jor-El made me go away and leave everyone behind was so I could sort out... things... in my head. I'd already broken up with Lana, but I guess I was still having a hard time really accepting what kind of person she was, deep down. But when I left Smallville, I started to realize who I really missed." His voice sank to a whisper. "And it wasn't Lana."
She looked at him, seeing the same earnest green eyes she'd always known gazing at her from behind the glasses. He was watching her as if she was the only person in the room, as if the place weren't filled to overflowing with beautiful, rich queens of society.
As if Lana Lang weren't twenty feet away, dressed in a glamorous gown, and as stunningly beautiful as ever.
He'd barely looked at Lana. Instead... he was staring at her.
"Chlo," he said, very softly. "I missed you. I missed you so much."
I missed you too, she almost answered, but managed to choke it back again. She wasn't going to make it that easy for him.
If he really wanted her, he was going to have to prove it to her.
"If you missed me all that much," she answered lightly, "maybe you'll stick around this time."
He nodded. "I will, definitely. In fact, I have a job here."
"Really? Doing what?"
He flashed a shy smile. "I'm going to be writing for the Planet, actually."
She blinked. Even his shy smiles were so radiant they hurt her eyes. "Really?"
"Yeah. So maybe we'll see each other around."
"Maybe. Except I'll be in the bullpen, and you'll be in the basement."
"Well... no." He gave a self-deprecating little shrug. "Perry's starting me in the bullpen, actually."
"What?" She was outraged, and let it show. "But I had to work in the basement for almost three years!"
"Well..." He smiled, and a glimmer of the old, confident Clark broke through. "I'm good."
"Better than me? I don't think so."
He seemed to realize he'd made a misstep, because the confident glimmer vanished. "Chlo," he said, very softly. "Never mind about all that right now, okay? Dance with me."
She lifted her chin and glared at him. Damn him. After four years, he thought he could just come walking back into her life and ask her to dance with him. He thought she'd just throw herself into his arms.
And he was right.
At least, he was mostly right. That was what she wanted to do, no doubt about it. But the memory of other dances, other moments, hung over her, making her hesitate.
"I don't think so, farmboy," she said, turning her back on him and moving away. "If you want to dance with me... you'll need to work for it."
"Chlo." His big hand captured her forearm, bringing her to a halt. He stepped behind her, so close she could feel the heat of his big body. She closed her eyes, struggling not to sway back against him. "Chlo, please. Just one dance."
His voice was filled with so much longing it made her eyes sting. She sighed, and quit fighting so hard.
"All right," she agreed. "Just one."
She turned back to him, and he put his arms around her, and together, they began to sway to the music.
She closed her eyes, letting the familiar scent of him fill her head. He'd changed. She'd changed. Everything had changed. They weren't the same two people they'd been years ago, when he'd left her on a balloon-covered dance floor for Lana. He wasn't the same boy who'd chosen Lana over her, over and over again.
But he felt just the same, big and solid and warm, and looking up into his pale green eyes, she saw the same affection he'd always gazed at her with.
But she saw something new in his eyes, too. Something far beyond mere affection.
Lana danced by in the arms of another man, her dress glittering, her dark hair gleaming, but Clark didn't seem to notice. His attention was riveted on Chloe. And the way he looked at her healed the remaining cracks in her heart.
For just a moment, she dropped her head onto his shoulder, and he pressed his face into her hair, and she felt like she was back in high school, with the boy she loved holding her in his arms.
And it was perfect.