Clark/Chloe, full cast
Season 5, "Reckoning"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
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The air in the loft was cold, but the chill of a Kansas winter felt almost warm after the Arctic. Clark steadied himself and looked down at Lana. His arm was still around her, and she stared up at him, her eyes huge.
"Did it work?"
He looked around. Midday light streamed in through the open window of the loft. He opened his left hand and discovered the crystal had disappeared, replaced with the lump of coal he'd been clutching when Chloe arrived for their date earlier this afternoon. A familiar song played on the radio, the exact same James Blunt song that had been playing when Chloe arrived.
Relief swirled in his chest, and suddenly he could draw a breath again. Thank God, he thought. He'd been given the opportunity to fix things, to save the people he loved most. He'd been given a second chance.
"I think so," he answered. "I think we made it, Lana."
She smiled up at him, and then, to his immense shock, she stood on tiptoe, wrapped her arms around his neck, and kissed him, full on the mouth.
Lana had never kissed him before, and he was so shocked and startled that he didn't move. He just stood there, unresponsive, his arm still tightly around her, her mouth pressed against his very firmly.
And then he heard a little gasp.
He pulled his head away from Lana's and saw Chloe standing there on the loft steps, staring at the two of them, her eyes as big as saucers.
"Chlo," he said, very softly.
Her lower lip trembled, and he thought he saw tears shining in her eyes, but she tried valiantly for snark. "Wow," she said. "When you said this would be an afternoon to remember, I didn't think this was what you had in mind."
"Chloe..." He couldn't blame Chloe for her expression of hurt anger. He figured he'd feel pretty much exactly the same in her shoes. After all, he'd had his arm around Lana, so he'd most likely looked like an active participant to her.
He let go of Lana, because continuing to hold her against him probably made him look more culpable in Chloe's eyes. He wanted to fling his arms around Chloe and sob with relief that she was alive, but her angry, hurt, confused expression said clearly that she didn't want to be within fifteen feet of him, let alone in his arms.
She lowered her head, her lip quivering more than before, and he held out an imploring hand.
"Chlo," he said desperately. "Listen to me. This is not what it looks like."
She rolled her eyes, bit her lip to stop the quivering, and spun around. "Any more stupid cliches you'd like to offer?" she snapped over her shoulder.
His own words flashed through his mind: I can tell by the way you look at me that I'm losing you. He'd decided to tell her everything and propose because he'd known his secrets were driving her crazy. He'd known that she was drifting away from him. And catching him and Lana in a liplock clearly hadn't helped improve the situation any.
He took three huge steps across the loft and caught her by the shoulder, spinning her around. "Please," he said, looking down into her eyes. "Please, Chloe. You have to trust me. You're the one I love."
"You have a funny way of showing it."
She raised a hand, cutting off his attempt to explain, and stared up into his eyes as if trying to see into his soul. At last she shook her head slightly, and looked away.
"I've known for a long time that you were hiding something from me, Clark." She spoke slowly and painfully. "I guess I finally know what it was."
"No... Chloe, it's not..."
She steamrollered on, right over his stammered words. "I knew something wasn't right-- I've known for a while now-- but I never thought that you'd..."
"I didn't! We didn't!"
She shook her head, looking resolute, and he knew she didn't believe him. All the lies he'd told her over the years had finally come back to bite him in the ass. His lies had been eroding away the trust between them for a long time, and the shock of seeing him and Lana in a liplock had clearly been the last straw as far as Chloe was concerned.
"I think..." Her voice was sorrowful, but steady. "I think maybe we need a break, Clark."
"A break?" He heard his own voice rising, but couldn't do anything to stop it. He'd been through a hell of a lot today. Two of the people he loved most had died. He'd found Chloe's broken body in the snow. He'd gone to the ends of the goddamned Earth to reverse time, for Christ's sake. And now his girlfriend-- the girl he wanted to marry, the girl he'd actually proposed to in another timeline-- was breaking up with him. "A break? Chloe, I didn't kiss her, I swear. She kissed me, damn it!"
Her lip quivered again. He'd never thought Chloe had any doubts about his relationship with Lana, but for the first time he realized how his very close, intense friendship with another girl might make Chloe feel less than secure, especially given what she'd witnessed just now.
He curled his fingers around the coal he'd found there, and suddenly he was tempted to compress it into a diamond, thrust it toward her, and go down on his knees, begging her to marry him, right here and right now.
But he couldn't. It was clear from the distant expression on her face that this time, she wouldn't say yes. He wasn't sure how he could get her to trust him again, but he was pretty sure it would take some time. He couldn't fix this in a few minutes. It was the culmination of years of his own stupid lies.
Besides, the last time he'd asked her to marry him, she'd wound up dead in the snow. He wasn't entirely sure how that chain of events had gotten started, but the last thing he wanted was to push events in the wrong direction.
He and Chloe were destined to be together. He was certain of that. But it was possible they weren't destined to be married just yet. For all he knew, his proposal had somehow led to her death. He wasn't sure, and he didn't want to do the wrong thing.
What mattered right now was keeping Chloe alive. All other considerations were secondary.
Even so, he couldn't stop himself from trying one more time. "Chlo," he said, very softly. "I love you."
"I think," she said coolly, "that you need some time by yourself, so you can think about your feelings just a bit more."
She shook off his restraining hand, turned, and stalked down the stairs. Clark took a step after her, then hesitated, irresolute. A few minutes of discussion, he thought again, wasn't going to fix this. It had been building between them for a long time. Anyway, his first task had to be figuring out how the hell to keep her and his father safe.
For now, he let her go.
She stalked down the stairs, her shoulders held very stiffly, and he felt his heart breaking. But he assured himself they could sort this out. Sooner or later, they would sort it out. A breakup wasn't the end of the world.
Her death-- that would be the end of the world, as far as he was concerned.
He stood, silent and stiff, letting her go. When her footsteps faded, he turned very slowly and glared down at Lana, letting a bit of his angry bafflement into his voice.
"Care to tell me why you did that?"
"I'm sorry." Her voice wobbled. "I didn't mean to-- I was just so happy that we made it back. I didn't know-- I didn't know she was there, Clark. I swear."
He stared at her, frowning. Lana had never kissed him before, and he couldn't imagine why she'd done it now.
"Your timing sucks," he said angrily, taking out his temper on her because if he didn't let a little of the rage out, steam would start coming out of his ears.
"I'm said I'm sorry." She sounded like she was about to cry. "I would never try to come between you and Chloe, Clark. You know that. But you also know... I mean, you must know that I... I love..."
Her voice trailed off, and he gaped at her, startled. He and Lana had always been friends, but he'd never before realized how much he meant to her. She'd gone to the ends of the earth with him, had begged Jor-El to send her back with him. Obviously she was far more devoted to him than he'd ever realized.
She loved him, and he'd never realized it.
He suddenly felt like his life had become much more complicated. He didn't love Lana, at least not that way. But they'd always been close, and he hated to think that she'd been pining for him all this time. She deserved a lot better.
"It's okay," he said gently, because really, there was nothing to be done about what had happened now. He was all out of time-changing crystals. "It's too bad that Chloe was there, but she and I-- well, we'll work it out. We always do."
She nodded. Her lip trembled, but she looked relieved that he wasn't angry with her any longer. "So what do we do now?"
He knew he needed her help. She was the only person in the world who'd gone through the time loop with him, after all. She was the only person in the world who'd seen Chloe and Jonathan's dead bodies besides him. And as fast as he was, he couldn't be in two places at once.
He decided he'd guard Chloe, and Lana could watch over his dad.
"We keep an eye on my dad and Chloe," he answered. "We make sure nothing happens to them. And..." He squared his shoulders and spoke in a resolute tone. "We save them."
She'd kissed one of them.
Lana scrubbed at her mouth with distaste. There had been a time when she'd dreamed of kissing Clark. But now that realized exactly what he was, just touching him gave her the creeps.
And yet, to her dismay, pressing her lips to his had given her goosebumps. The good kind of goosebumps.
She shrugged off that thought. Clark was a thing, nothing more. Kissing Clark had been necessary, because things didn't deserve happy endings, but she certainly hadn't enjoyed it. She'd heard Chloe's step on the staircase, and she'd done what she had to do in order to prevent Clark and Chloe from becoming engaged again.
But she'd found it entirely disgusting. Really.
Clark had asked her to keep an eye on his father, who'd just arrived back at the farm. Accordingly, she was seated in the Kent's sunny kitchen, sipping a cup of cocoa that Martha Kent had made her. She'd been chatting with Martha about the election, but both the Kents had stepped out of the kitchen for a moment.
Alone for the first time since time had been reversed, she reached into her jeans pocket, pulled out her cell phone, and dialed a number.
"Hello?" a familiar voice answered.
"Hello, Lex," she said softly. "We really need to talk."
More to come...