Season 8, rewrite of "Hex"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me. Unfortunately.
Screencap from Home of the Nutty.
So take this feeling and make it grow
Never let it, never let it go
(Dont let go of the things you believe in)
You give me something that I can believe in
(Don't let go of this moment in time)
Go of this moment in time
(Don't let go of things that you're feeling)
I can't explain the things that I'm feeling
(Dont' let go)
No, I won't let go
-"Don't Let Go," Bryan Adams and Sarah McLachlin
"Cake for breakfast?"
Chloe Sullivan blinked in surprise as her best friend carried an enormous sheet cake into her apartment. He grinned at her over the unlit candles.
"There's no better time for cake, Chlo."
"Um..." She shut the door behind him. She was still dressed in her nightclothes, a revealing camisole and shorts, but he didn't seem to notice. Of course he didn't notice. "Okay. Maybe you missed the memo, but my birthday was actually two days ago."
He placed the red and blue cake on the coffee table, then turned around and looked at her more seriously.
"Yeah," he said. "And I missed it. I know. I'm sorry."
She felt the sudden sting of tears, and blinked hard. Pretty much everyone had missed her birthday, one way or the other. "It's okay," she said, trying hard for casual indifference. "I know you were busy with Justice..."
"I should have at least called." Clark sighed. "Look, Chlo, you know my family didn't do birthdays when I was growing up, because of my... issues. I tend to forget that they matter to other people. I really am sorry."
"I already told you, it's okay." She brushed toward him, heading for the cake, but he caught her gently by the wrist. She looked up into intent green eyes.
"No," he said gently. "It's not okay. If you were so unhappy you were wishing for someone else's life... then it is definitely not okay."
"I didn't really..." She sighed. "You know what Zatanna's wishes were like, Clark. You didn't really want to be an ordinary guy, either. It wasn't your deepest desire or anything. It's like the magic just grabbed onto a fleeting thought."
"Yeah, I get that. Still." He frowned down at her. "What was it you said about your dream life?"
She tried to work her arm free, but despite the gentleness of his grasp, his fingers were like iron shackles. "It was nothing," she muttered. "Can we have cake now?"
"Let's talk first, and then we can have cake."
"Who are you, and what have you done with Clark Kent?"
A grin flashed over his face at her reference to his legendary love for cake, but he sobered quickly. His gaze moved to her hand, and his eyes widened.
"Hey," he said. "What happened to your wedding ring?"
She tried for an even, cool tone. "Jimmy called this morning. He's having our marriage annulled."
He stared at her for a long moment. "I'm sorry," he said at last.
She shrugged. On one level she was sorry that her marriage to Jimmy had ended so quickly, but on another level she was oddly relieved. A lot of the past six months were missing from her memories, thanks to the fact that she'd been taken over by an evil AI, and she wasn't quite sure her feelings for Jimmy were all that intense.
No. If she was going to be honest with herself, she knew they weren't all that intense. She couldn't even remember the night she'd agreed to marry Jimmy, for heaven's sake. She couldn't even remember her own wedding.
"I just hope you don't feel put in the middle," she said. "After what you said to me, when you thought I was Lois..."
"Yeah. About that. Look, Chlo, I know that probably sounded kind of bad..."
"It's all right. I guess you and Jimmy have become better friends than I realize."
"Not really. It's not that, exactly. I was just trying to tell Lois that... well, she doesn't know all the issues between you guys. She doesn't realize how many secrets you've kept from Jimmy. She can't, because most of them are mine. I can't tell her any of that, but I don't want her to think it's totally Jimmy's fault, either, because the two of them work together, and you know how Lois can hold a grudge." He sighed. "The truth is that... well, I feel kind of guilty about you two breaking up."
She looked up at him in surprise. "Clark. It's not your fault."
"Actually," he said softly, "I think it is. You and Jimmy had trust issues long before this, and it's all because of me."
She sighed. "Maybe," she admitted. "Maybe that's why on some level I wanted Lois' life. Because it was... uncomplicated."
"I don't think that's it, exactly," he answered, very gently. "I think it had to do with what you've always wanted. Look, Chlo, if you want to go back to reporting so much, then why haven't you?"
"I don't know." She waved a vague hand. "The Planet-- well, I'm not really happy with the management there these days."
"There are other newspapers."
"None of which are the Planet." She tried to pull away, but he caught her chin in his hands, forcing her to look at him.
"Wait a minute," he said, watching her intently. "So if you still want to work at the Planet... why aren't you?"
"Maybe you forgot," she snapped out tartly, "but I was fired."
"By Lex. Tess hates Lex now. She'd hire you back in a minute."
She closed her eyes, feeling the sting of tears again. Damn it. "Maybe I just realized I can't go back," she whispered. "It's the past, Clark. It's yours and Lois' future... but it's my past."
"Maybe." His hand squeezed her wrist, very gently. "But the way you talked about your dream life... you almost sounded jealous, Chlo."
"I'm not jealous." She knew she sounded shrill, but she couldn't help it. "But you and Lois are all buddy-buddy now, and the last thing I want is to go back to the Planet and be a third wheel."
He blinked at her. "A third wheel?"
"Yes." She managed to wrench her arm free, and turned away so he couldn't see her face. "I've been on the Lana-go-round for years, Clark. It was no fun, believe me. And now that you're watching Lois with puppydog eyes, I just don't want to get back on that ride, okay?"
There was a silence behind her. At last he said blankly, "Puppydog eyes?"
"Yes," she snapped. "Puppydog eyes. I saw how you looked at me when I tripped, and you still thought I was Lois."
"Um..." She heard the thud of his workboots as he stepped cautiously toward her. "I was trying to figure you out, Chlo. You weren't acting like Lois. I mean, I actually liked you for a change. I was just trying to puzzle out what was going on."
"Please. You look at her with the big eyes all the time."
"I do not."
"You do." Her voice fell to a whisper. "You've never looked at me that way."
"Hey." His hand dropped onto her shoulder. "You said that when I was holding you, when I thought you were Lois. But it's not true, Chlo. If you mean I've never looked at you like a girl, you know that's not true. Remember the spring formal?"
"That was eons ago, Clark."
"Okay. So how about that time in the elevator?"
"Or that time you kissed me, when I had to go off and face Zod? Remember that?"
"Well, that was just for a minute..."
"A minute nothing. When I came back, I was all ready to go for it. If you hadn't shoved Jimmy in my face..."
A strange warmth curled in the depths of her stomach. "I didn't mean to," she said softly.
"Well, you did. But if you hadn't, it might have been you and me this year, getting..."
His voice trailed off, but the unspoken word married echoed between them, silent and yet very, very loud. She could plainly hear the longing and the hurt in his voice. Shocked, she turned around and stared up into his face.
He looked back at her for a long moment. Their eyes locked and held. And then, with a sudden jerk, he looked away.
"Anyway," he said, the wistfulness gone from his voice. "That was then, and this is now. I'm just saying that I have definitely looked at you that way."
"In the past, maybe," she answered. "But nowadays, it's Lois you're looking at."
"Lois?" He looked back at her and shook his head, so that his dark bangs fell into his face. "Where did you get this crazy idea I have a thing for Lois, of all people?"
"Well, you know, you keep her rules in your desk..."
"They're hilarious, Chlo. I mean, don't screw up with the boss? You know about her and Grant, right?"
"Um, okay. But you know, instead of calling me for my birthday you called her like six times..."
"I did not. I was working, Chlo. But she wouldn't quit leaving messages on my voice mail. She kept calling me to rub in the fact that she was being sent on assigment, and I wasn't. I was trying to keep my phone line open for Ollie, but she just would... not... quit... calling." He made a face of annoyance. "Sometimes working with Lois is like working with a stalker. Eventually I called her back and talked to her for a few minutes, just so she'd leave me the hell alone and I could get my work done."
"Oh," she said softly.
"If there's anything in my eyes when I look at Lois-- well, it isn't love, Chloe. It might be murder."
"So you're telling me I'm seeing something that isn't there?" She frowned at him. "I used to be an investigative reporter, you know."
"You still are an investigative reporter, you know. Once a reporter, always a reporter." His mouth curved wryly. "But even an investigative reporter can have her impartial judgment affected by her feelings. I think maybe when you see me and Lois together, with Lois in your dream life, you get a little jealous, and maybe... well, maybe you're seeing something that isn't really there."
"Okay, the words dream life? So totally not what I really meant."
"Sure," he said, the single word an eloquent statement of disbelief. "Look, Chlo, you and I worked together for years at the Torch. And then you worked at the Planet for like three years. So it's not surprising if you feel like you belong there. You do."
"No. I don't. That's Lois' life, not mine."
She tried to keep the bitterness out of her tone, but didn't quite succeed. Clark looked down at her, his eyes sympathetic. "Don't be stupid, Chlo. There's plenty of room at the Planet for all of us. If you want that life back... all you have to do is take it."
She blinked hard. "The truth is," she said, very softly, "I can't stand to watch the two of you together."
"Chlo. I already told you, any puppydog looks you think you've seen are in your head."
"It's not that. I mean, not so much. It's watching you work together."
"Yeah," he said. "Well, about that. It turns out Lois is moving to foreign affairs. She has a lot of contacts in the military, so she knows about stuff practically before it happens, and she did pretty well with the Mexico story. She won't be covering the city beat any more. So I kind of need a partner, actually."
She stared at him. Her heart pounded in her chest with a strange anticipation, and an excitement she hadn't felt in a long time pulsed through her veins. "But even if I come back," she said softly, "I don't know that we'd be working together..."
"Actually," he said, looking down at the floor, "I already kind of mentioned the possibility to Tess, and she agreed to let you be my partner. I mean, if by some wild, crazy chance you wanted to come back."
"Clark." She flung her arms around his neck and threw herself against him. He wrapped his arms around her, and his happy, deep laugh rang in her ears.
"I knew you wanted to come back," he said into her hair. "Somehow, I knew it."
"I guess the wish kind of gave me away," she mumbled into his shoulder.
"I knew before that." He squeezed her tightly. "Chloe Sullivan belongs at the Daily Planet. I've known that almost since the day we met."
"I want that life back," she whispered. "I want my life back."
"I know." He felt very solid against her. "Take it back, Chlo. And this time... don't let go."
She clung to him for a moment longer, then pulled away and looked up at him. She knew her eyes were shining with tears-- happy tears-- but she didn't much care. He stared into her eyes, and the moment slowly became charged with electricity.
But then his gaze flickered away, and she remembered that she was still married to Jimmy Olsen. Right now, she was a married woman, and she and Clark couldn't start anything. Not yet.
She spoke to break the spell that seemed to have settled onto them both. "I'm going to be fighting Tess all the time," she said. "You know that, don't you?"
He looked back at her, and smiled a little. "Yeah," he admitted. "I know that."
"I'll probably just get myself fired again."
"No, you won't. You're smart enough to fight her within the system. The Planet needs someone to fight for it, Chlo. And I figure the best way to change things is from the inside."
"And with a partner."
"Yeah," he said softly. "And with a partner."
Another silence fell. They stood there in each other's arms, staring at each other. She remembered his words: It might have been you and me this year, getting...
The idea that Clark had ever wanted her that much, that he might ever have been jealous of her and Jimmy, that he'd secretly imagined marrying her, of all people... well, it boggled her mind. It knocked apart everything she'd ever known about her relationship with Clark, and rearranged it into new patterns in her head.
But this wasn't the right time to be thinking about all that. Not right now.
But perhaps... soon.
"Uh," Clark said, sounding awkward. "How about some cake now?"
Her stomach growled, and she suddenly remembered that she was starved. "Sure," she agreed. "Let's have some cake."
They walked across the room together, and Clark squinted at the cake, activating his heat vision. Twenty-two candles lit up.
And so did her future.