All seasons (spoilers for "Fracture")
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Based on a prompt by all_you_wanted:Five things about Chloe only Clark knows... altered to Four things about Chloe only Clark knows, and one thing about Clark even Clark doesn't know.
Secret Number One
"I swear, I don't like the Backstreet Boys."
Chloe Sullivan spoke defensively, but Clark saw her reach out and grab a CD, sliding it under the papers on the white desk in her bedroom. They were freshmen at Smallville High, and best buds, and he'd come over to her house to help her with algebra.
He was seated on her bed, but he reached out a long arm and snagged the CD, looking at it.
"Millennium," he said. "So if you don't like the Backstreet Boys, what exactly is this doing in your bedroom?"
She bit her lip. "It belongs to my dad. I just kind of... borrowed it. For a moment."
"Yeah, right." Clark snorted, then flipped over the CD and started looking over the songs listed. "Hey, I've heard this one on the radio." He started singing in a falsetto voice. "Show me the meaning of beeeeing lonely..."
She clapped her hands over her ears. "Cease and desist, right now."
"Oh, come on. I'm better than they are. Cuter, too."
"In your dreams, farmboy. Give me back my CD."
She grabbed for it, but he held it up over his head, keeping it away from her easily. "For someone who doesn't like the Backstreet Boys," he said, amused by her frantic grabbing, "you sure are worried about this CD. What if I drop it out the window?"
"Give it back!"
She tackled him, and he went over backward on the bed, not because she could really push him, but because she could have easily been hurt otherwise. He lay there, sprawled on the mattress with her insignificant weight on top of him, laughing as she scrabbled frantically for her CD.
"Admit you love it," he said through his laughter, "and I'll let you have it back."
"Give it back!"
She smacked at his shoulders with both hands, and a little worried that she was going to hurt herself, he rolled her over, pinning her to the bed with his big body.
She felt warm and soft beneath him, and all of a sudden he felt something new, a response in his body that freaked him out at the same time it made his breathing quicken. It startled the hell out of him, because he'd always thought he had a thing for Lana Lang, not Chloe. But maybe not.
He stared down at her.
"Tell me how much you want it," he said softly.
She stared back at him, her eyes wide, and he wondered if she could feel a similar response in her own body. Or if maybe she felt his response. The idea made his cheeks flame, but he didn't roll off her. He couldn't.
"I want it," she whispered. "I want it an awful lot."
He looked into her eyes and couldn't look away. It felt like something had changed in their relationship, a huge seismic shift that he could barely understand. A physical need, more intense than anything he'd ever felt, throbbed inside him, and slowly, he lowered his head, until their lips were only an inch apart.
"Honey? How's the algebra going?"
At the sound of Mr. Sullivan's voice, Clark practically levitated off the bed. He'd floated in his sleep once or twice, and he thought maybe shock had helped him break free of gravity this time, too. His startled leap took him perilously close to the ceiling.
Fortunately, Chloe didn't notice. She was too busy scrambling to her own feet and straightening her own clothes.
"It's going fine, Dad!" she called.
Mr. Sullivan paused outside the open door and smiled at them, then headed on down the hall. Clark stood there, hyperventilating, feeling like he'd almost been caught in--
Well, nothing, really.
But it didn't feel like nothing.
"Um," he said, stammering awkwardly, as he was prone to do in uncomfortable situations. "Uh. Here's your, uh, CD."
She took the CD from him and looked up, into his eyes.
"Don't tell anyone," she said softly.
He blinked. "Huh?"
"Don't tell anyone I love the Backstreet Boys, okay? I would totally lose my geek cred."
"Oh," he said, because for some reason he'd thought she was talking about something totally different. "Uh, sure. Okay." He forced himself to relax, and smiled. "You can trust me, Chlo. I can keep a secret."
"Yeah," she said softly. "I know."
Secret Number Two
On a cloudy fall day in their sophomore year, he found her sitting in the grass outside of school, crying.
"Hey, Chlo," he said, worried. He dropped to the grass beside her and reached out a hand tentatively. "What's wrong?"
"I'm going to lose the Torch," she whispered.
He frowned, and put his hand cautiously onto her shoulder. "No, you're not. You're an awesome editor, Chlo."
"I might be an awesome editor," she answered, her voice shaking, "but I'm not doing so great in history, Clark. I got a D on the midterm."
He stared at her, shocked. Chloe was one of the smartest people in school, and for her to get a D was outright startling. "You're kidding me, right?"
"Oh, come on, Chlo. There is no possible way..."
"You're right." Her lips quivered. "I didn't get a D."
"I kind of figured..."
"I failed!" she burst out, and actually broke out sobbing.
Clark stared at her in masculine dismay. Chloe was his best friend, but she was also a girl, and crying girls scared the hell out of him. Caught between friendship and cowardice, he debated putting an arm around her, or just getting up and running away.
Friendship won out, and he very carefully slid an arm around her shoulders.
She turned her head against his chest and wailed. "The Torch... is all... I've got left," she choked out between sobs. "I can't lose it, Clark. I can't."
His other hand rose of its own accord, and he started to stroke her golden hair in a comforting gesture. "You won't lose it," he told her. "And the Torch isn't all you have, Chlo. You have me and Pete."
She cried harder, and he pulled her against him harder. "It's okay," he whispered. "They aren't going to make you drop extracurriculars just for one bad grade. You just have to study harder."
"I'm already working all the time," she moaned against his chest. "I never get to sleep till three in the morning."
"You work too hard," he agreed. "You need to cut back a little at the Torch. I'll tell you what. Pete and I will put in extra hours for the next month or so, just so you can get some hardcore studying done."
Her sobs quieted, and she rubbed her face against his chest as if wiping her tears away. He felt a little flicker of warmth deep inside, and tried really hard to ignore it.
"You'd do that for me?" she whispered.
"Of course." He hugged her. "You have no idea how much you mean to me, Chlo."
"Yeah," she whispered, and lifted her head. "You too."
He looked into her eyes, and suddenly his mind flashed back a year, to the time he'd pinned her on her bed, her body soft and warm and yielding beneath his, and suddenly his body reacted in a huge way. All of a sudden he wanted to lower his head and kiss her hard. But they were in public, right outside the school, and he didn't quite have the nerve.
Anyway, he didn't feel that way about her. He had a crush on Lana Lang. This, he figured, was just a normal reaction to being too close to a pretty girl. It didn't mean anything.
But it felt like it meant something. It really did.
She stared at him with big hazel eyes. "Don't tell anyone," she said, very softly.
He blinked. "What?"
"Don't tell anyone that I got an F," she said.
"Oh. Right. You know, Chlo, getting an F isn't that big a deal. People get Fs all the time."
"Not me," she said grimly.
He smiled, touched and amused by the standards she held herself to. It was, he thought, just like Chloe to think she had to be the best at everything she did.
"Okay," he said. "Your secret is safe with me."
Secret Number Three
"Well, well. I bet Daddy doesn't know you're hanging out in nightclubs, dressed like a tramp."
Chloe gave a visible start and swung around. Clark-- Kal, as he was currently styling himself-- gave her his nastiest grin. Her mouth fell open, apparently more due to shock at his appearance than his words.
"Clark!" Her eyes went round, and she took a step toward him. "Oh, my God. Clark."
She moved toward him through the crowd, looking as if she might just fling her arms around him and hug him. The little black dress she was wearing clung to her curves and displayed a whole hell of a lot of cleavage, and his body responded in the normal masculine way.
But his response was deeper than mere lust. The thought of her arms around his neck filled him with a terrible longing, a longing for friendship and love and affection.
All the things he'd left behind him in Smallville.
On the heels of his longing came a dark anger. Damn it. He'd run away to Metropolis to start over again, and forget everything that had gone wrong in his life. To forget everything, period.
But here she was, reminding him of everything he wanted so badly to forget.
His mouth kept trying to curve into a happy smile at the sight of her, but he forced the smile back and fixed a sneer onto his face instead. "So," he drawled. "Is Miss Perfect Student raising a little hell?"
She hesitated, then drew back.
"I'm writing a column on the nightlife in Metropolis," she said, looking as dignified as a girl could get when wearing a tiny black dress and four-inch fuck-me heels.
"Sure you are," Kal answered, his tone sardonic. "And I'm just here because I'm working for the health department and making sure the beer's safe to drink."
She drew back a little further, and stared at him in dismay, as if on second glance she hardly recognized him. He guessed that with his hair hanging in unruly long waves around his face, and his hick flannel wardrobe a thing of the past, he looked pretty different.
"You aren't going to tell my father about this, are you?" she said at last.
He uttered a short, harsh laugh. "Sweetheart," he said, "as long as you don't tell anyone I'm here, I sure as hell won't bother going to back to the sticks just to tell Gabe you were here tonight."
She swallowed. "Thank you. I think."
He looked at her and firmly shut away the part of him that wanted to pick her up, take her back to his apartment, and lose himself in her. He wanted her, very badly, but he knew if he let one thing from his old life into his new life, the floodgates would be open, and he'd never have peace from his memories again.
Anyway, he wasn't supposed to want Chloe. Just before he'd left Smallville, he'd told Lana Lang how much she meant to him. She was the one he'd always wanted, not Chloe.
But right now, all he could see was Chloe. Even on red K, which made him feel invulnerable most of the time, the strength of his desire scared him.
He turned his back on her and walked away, into the crowd.
"If you keep my secret," he said over his shoulder, "I'll keep yours."
Secret Number Four
"I never really loved him, y'know."
Clark looked sympathetically at Chloe. High school was well behind them now, but despite the years that had passed, she was still his best friend. If anything, they were closer than they'd ever been.
He didn't like to see her unhappy. He'd known she was still reeling from her breakup with Jimmy Olsen, so he'd come over to her apartment over the Talon to find her uncharacteristically drowning her sorrows in a bottle of wine she'd swiped from her older cousin.
Half the bottle was gone, and she looked bleary-eyed. He suspected if she stood up, she'd sway, and maybe fall right over. Half a bottle of wine was a lot for such a small person, especially one who didn't drink much normally.
"Yes, you did," he said, very gently, removing the glass from her hand. "But I'm sorry he turned out to be a jerk, Chlo."
She reached for the glass, but he carefully removed it out of reach, grabbed the bottle, and headed for the small kitchen area. He put the items on top of the refrigerator, where she couldn't reach them without a chair, and turned around to find her standing just behind him, glaring at him. And yeah, she was definitely swaying.
"No," she said, wearing her most pugnacious expression. "I never loved him. I swear."
"Uh-huh, sure. That's why I found you sitting here alone, getting drunk."
"Yeah, actually. It is."
He looked at her for a long moment, trying to figure out exactly what she meant by that. "Chlo. You dated him for a year."
"Yeah, but I never... I never..." She gave a long, heartfelt sigh. "I guess he was just a substitute for what I can't have."
Because she was less than sober, the word came out as sub-see-toot, but he got the point. He stared at her, his heart beginning to pound heavily in his chest. Why, he had no idea. He was dating Lana Lang, living with Lana Lang. Yeah, he loved Chloe, and always had, but only as a friend.
And she felt the same way about him. They were close friends, even intimate friends, but only in the platonic sense. Their relationship had always been a friends-only zone.
So obviously she wasn't talking about him. She couldn't be.
"Come on downstairs," he said, gently catching her by the arm and steering her toward the door. "Some coffee will fix you right up."
"No." She dug in her heels and looked stubborn. "I need some more wine."
"No, you don't, Chlo. You really need to--"
"Yes, I do." Her eyes started to brim with tears. "I never get what I really want, Clark. Never. And I'm tired of it."
He looked down at her, dismayed at the sight of her tears. Chloe didn't cry much, but as her best friend, he'd helped her through rocky patches more than once. But that didn't mean that the sight of female tears made him any more comfortable than it had when he was a sophomore in high school.
He hesitated, just as he had years ago, then wrapped his arms around her and hauled her against his chest. She snuffled, rubbing her face against his t-shirt. He sort of hoped she wasn't wiping her nose on his t-shirt, but he dismissed the thought as unworthy almost as soon as it crossed his mind. If Chloe wanted to get snot on his blue t-shirt, he could cope with it. Best friends put up with snot, just like they put up with everything else.
"Hey," he said, very softly. He lowered his head until his chin rested on top of her head. "I know he meant a lot to you, Chlo. I'm sorry."
"That's just it." She snorked against his t-shirt, an unladylike noise that sounded like a combination sob and nose blow. He tried not to imagine what his favorite t-shirt was going to look like when Chloe and her nose were through with it. "He didn't mean a lot to me. I tried to love him. I tried. But I couldn't."
He thought about the last few weeks he'd spent with Lana, weeks that should have been the happiest period of his life, but that somehow had been filled with awkward, stilted silences and chilly, distant conversations. Chloe's slurred words brought a truth to the forefront that he hadn't let himself look at before, forcing him to recognize his own secrets.
"Yeah," he answered, very softly. "I know what you mean, believe me."
He'd held Lana like this a few times since they'd moved in together, had hugged her more than once, but she'd never felt like this against him, never felt so soft and enticing that something inside him started to melt and glow.
He'd only felt this way with Chloe in his arms.
He wanted to tighten his grip on Chloe, wanted to slide his hands down to her hips and pull her against him, wanted to move against her.
It slowly dawned on him that snot or no snot, Chloe Sullivan was the sexiest woman he'd ever known.
She made that snorking sound again. Not sexy, but decidedly cute, he thought. Even the unsexy snorking wasn't doing anything to cool the glow inside him. He managed to tamp down the primal impulses burning in his body, however, because she very definitely wasn't sober, and he wasn't taking advantage of her in this state, no matter how much heat she was generating inside him.
"Don't tell anyone," she mumbled against his chest.
His brain wasn't firing on all cylinders-- hell, his brain wasn't firing at all right now-- and he frowned in confusion. "Tell anyone what?"
"That I didn't love him."
"Oh. Okay. Don't worry." He pressed his face into her hair and inhaled her scent, as surreptitiously as possible, and spoke in a gentle whisper. "No one will ever hear it from me."
She blew her nose on his shirt again, and he grinned into her hair.
And despite himself, he held her a little more tightly.
Secret Number Five
"You can't be dead, Chloe."
He sat next to her body, listening for a heartbeat. He'd been sitting there for over seventeen hours, and his certainty that she'd come back to him was rapidly sinking into bleak despair.
Even so, he couldn't bring himself to call the coroner. Chloe had been declared dead once before, and placed into a drawer in a morgue, and she'd come back to life, trapped in a small, airless space. If he hadn't heard her, she would have died, trapped in the darkness.
He couldn't let that happen to her. He had to have faith that she'd come back.
But the problem was that her "death" had only lasted a few hours that first time. This time, she'd been dead for most of a day.
It felt like an eternity.
He'd sat next to her all that time, trying to keep himself from crying-- because if she revived, he'd be embarrassed as hell for her to find him sitting beside her, crying like a baby-- and struggling to keep his mind off the terrifying idea that she was dead dead.
But about an hour ago, he'd finally begun to accept that she wasn't coming back.
And despite himself, he'd started thinking about what he'd say at her funeral.
He honestly doubted he could successfully make a speech at her funeral. He imagined himself standing in front of a crowded church, and he couldn't envision himself saying words that would make people smile, or that would evoke Chloe's unique personality. All he could see himself doing was crying.
But he'd have to give a speech. Because she'd been his best friend.
No. She was still his best friend. He refused to give up hope, damn it. She'd lost her life once before, and come back. She would come back to him again.
She had to.
He thought back over the years, thinking of all the moments when he'd had a brief flash of how much she meant to him. Moments when he'd realized she was far, far more to him than merely a friend. He remembered sprawling on a bed and battling over a CD with her, clear back in their freshman year of high school. He remembered almost kissing her that year at the spring formal. He remembered holding her in their sophomore year, comforting her, wanting to do a lot more than comfort her. He remembered making out with her while under the influence of red K that year, too.
He remembered far too many incidents when he'd gotten a glimmer of the truth-- that she wasn't just his friend, but something more.
Eventually, when he admitted there would be no miraculous resuscitation, he'd have to go home to the farm, and to Lana. And suddenly he realized that was the first time he'd thought of Lana since leaving Detroit.
The thought of Lana didn't bring him comfort. He didn't want to go home to Lana for comfort, or affection, or anything else.
He didn't want Lana. He wanted Chloe.
He reached out and took her hand. It was cold and stiff. Dead, he thought, and despite himself, a tear overflowed and trickled down his cheek.
He bent his head, wishing his tears had the same properties hers did. He'd give anything for the ability to cry tears that could bring her back. God, he'd trade every power he possessed in order to bring her back.
He could do so many amazing things. He could set fires with his eyes and run at the speed of sound and see through solid objects. But he couldn't do what he wanted most.
He couldn't bring the woman he loved back.
The woman he loved. For the first time, he fully acknowledged the bittersweet truth of that phrase. He loved Chloe Sullivan.
And she was gone.
Stricken by grief, he bent his head and let the tears fall.
Long moments ticked by, solitary moments of darkness and grief and pain. Eventually, through his haze of sorrow, he became aware of a sound, a thudding in his ears.
Incredulous, he opened his eyes and stared at her.
Her eyes were open, and she was looking back at him.
His mouth hung open for a long moment, and then he forced it shut. "Chloe," he said gruffly, and because he couldn't think of a single other thing to say, he added, less than brilliantly, "Chloe."
She stared at him, looking worried. "Are you all right?"
He was a lot better than she was-- well, better than she'd been, anyway. She looked okay now. The chalky pallor of her skin was rapidly being replaced by rosy color, and her eyes were as bright as ever.
"I--I--" He couldn't seem to spit out the words. His voice was still hoarse, and he knew there were still tears on his cheeks. He swallowed, and forced out the words. "You died."
"Oh." She thought about that for a moment. "I guess I got better, huh?"
She waved a hand at him, apologizing for her snark. "Sorry. I can see you were upset. I'm sorry I scared you." She licked her lips. "Listen... could I have a drink of water?"
"Sure," he said. He started to get up, but she reached out and wiped at his cheek with her fingers, and he froze.
"You were crying," she said, very softly.
He couldn't deny it. His cheeks were wet, and he had a bad feeling his nose was a little leaky, too. He suddenly remembered a drunken Chloe blowing her nose on his t-shirt a few months earlier, and he could barely restrain his laughter.
It occurred to him that he was teetering on the edge of hysterics. He'd gone from terrible despair to giddy relief, and it was just a little too much emotion for him to cope with.
"You were dead," he repeated, fighting to keep his voice steady.
"Yeah," she agreed. "I guess that would be kind of upsetting."
It had been kind of upsetting the same way exposure to kryptonite was kind of painful, but he decided not to say so. He looked at her wordlessly, and gratitude swelled in him. He'd been so terribly afraid he'd lost her.
But through a miracle, he'd gotten her back, and this time, he wasn't ever going to let her go again.
He'd been stupid, over and over again, but he was through being stupid. He was going to go home and break up with Lana-- and then he was coming right back here to tell Chloe how he felt.
How he'd always felt, somewhere deep inside.
He wasn't absolutely certain how she felt about him, but thinking over the long years of their relationship, he suspected he had a pretty good idea. He wondered if she'd been lying to herself all these years, too, and once he thought about it, he was fairly certain the answer was yes. He remembered her voice: I tried to love him. I tried. But I couldn't.
He'd tried to love Lana, too. But it had been a dismal failure. And now he realized that was because he'd already been in love with someone else.
"Let me get you that water," he said, getting up. "And Chlo..."
She looked up at him. "Yes?"
"Don't tell anyone I was crying, okay?"
"Sure." She smiled at him. "That's how it works, Clark. That's how it's always worked. We keep each other's secrets."
"Thanks," he said, and headed for the kitchen area, wiping at his cheeks.
To himself, he thought wryly that what he needed was to stop keeping secrets from himself. He'd been in love with Chloe for God only knew how long, and he'd never let himself admit it.
But he'd finally acknowledged it, and this time, he wasn't going to let himself push the knowledge away, or pretend his feelings for her were just friendship. He couldn't keep doing that. It was time for him to be honest, with himself, and with her.
The time for secrets was over.