Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Inspired by the manip above, by christina_kat.
"I miss this."
Clark's voice is low, rumbling almost in her ear. She turns her head, startled, because she's been so engrossed in the words she's been editing onscreen she'd almost forgotten his solid presence at her elbow. She's surprised to realize how close he is, his face only inches away from hers.
The basement of the Daily Planet is empty, because it's one in the morning, and being so near to him feels strangely intimate. She tries to put things back on an ordinary footing by flashing a snarky smile. "What's to miss? You're here every day."
"Yeah," he says softly. "But you're not. And you should be. I miss working with you, Chlo."
Earlier she'd gotten a call from Clark, who asked her to come over to the Planet and help him with an article that wasn't flowing well. She was happy to help, even though she doesn't write any more, and even though it's a little weird to be sitting in a chair that used to be hers.
It's strange how familiar this environment seems to her, she thinks, looking around at the Art Deco building and its stained glass windows. She hasn't worked here in over a year, and yet it feels so right to be here. She worked this late so many times, the only person left writing under the dimmed lights, struggling to make her mark in the journalism world.
"We never really worked here together, Clark. Not as colleagues."
"We worked here all the time solving problems. And before that, we worked at the Torch together. We always made a good team."
"We did," she agrees, nodding. "But now you and Lois are a team."
He snorts. "Yeah, except for the part where I lie to her all the time and she tries to steal all my stories. Except for that, we're totally a team."
She blinks at him, a little taken aback by the aggravation in his voice. "I thought you guys liked working together."
"Lois is a pain," he says, rolling his eyes. "She's always been a pain. And anyway... she's not you, Chloe. You and I were meant to be partners."
His words touch her deep inside, but she sighs and turns away. "I'm not a journalist any more."
"You are." His voice is soft, but filled with certainty. "You don't ever stop being a journalist, Chlo. You're the one who told me that. You always told me I'd get back into journalism eventually, and you were right. Once a journalist, always a journalist."
"No." She stares glumly at the screen in front of her. "I lost my instincts, Clark. I lost my ability to write a good story. I lost my drive."
"No, you didn't." His voice gets a little louder. "You lost your confidence. And that isn't surprising, since you had an alien computer in your brain, messing you up. But Brainiac's been gone for a while, and it's way past time for you to get back in the game."
She's silent a long moment, staring at the monitor.
"I can't," she whispers at last. "I just can't."
"Yes, you can." One big, blunt fingertip taps on the screen in front of her. "Look how much better my writing is after you've edited it. You're a better writer than I am. You're better at investigation than I am. You were meant to be a journalist, Chloe."
Her eyes sting with tears at the quiet assurance in his voice. He really believes what he's saying. But that shouldn't surprise her, because Clark's known her a long time. He saw her staying up late night after night to get the Torch out, working late at the Planet, risking her life for stories.
The truth is, she'd never intended to quietly accept her unjust firing from the Daily Planet. She'd meant to go on and find a job somewhere else, to keep fighting to get the truth to the people. But the alien AI had moved into her brain around the time she was fired, and by the time it had been forced out, months had passed, and she'd lost her self-assurance. After long months of not really being herself, she'd been afraid to go back to what she loved. She'd been paralyzed by self-doubts.
But now she glances around at the Daily Planet's basement, and at the man leaning over the desk beside her.
It all feels so familiar. So comfortable.
"You could be right," she says softly.
He flashes his happy grin, looking pleased that she's at least considering his words. "Of course I'm right. Come back, Chlo. I miss working with you."
She turns her head and smiles back at him, just a little.
"Maybe I will," she says.
He bends his head a little more, still smiling into her eyes, and suddenly their lips are only an inch or so apart. There's a long, long pause, weighted with uncertainty and awkwardness and the heavy awareness that this could be a life-changing moment.
And then her fingers are twining in his hair and his arms are around her, and their mouths meet as if drawn together by gravity. But it isn't gravity pulling them together, just the long history of affection and loyalty and love between them.
And love is the right word, she admits to herself as he lifts her in his arms and places her down on the desk, shoving papers out of the way first. She's always resisted using that word with regards to Clark, preferring to cloak their relationship in more mundane terms. Friends. Buddies. BFFs.
But the deep-down truth is that she's always loved him. Whether as a friend or a lover doesn't really matter. She loves him more than she loves anyone else in her life. Always has, always will.
And his big body on top of hers feels exactly right.
Clark's right, she thinks as she kisses him deeply.
They were meant to be partners.