Clark/Chloe futurefic angst
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Now you're expecting me to live without you,
But that's not something that I'm looking forward to.
I can't get used to living here,
While my heart is broke, my tears I cried for you.
I want you here to have and hold,
As the years go by and we grow old and gray.
Every time I see your face,
It reminds me of the places we used to go.
But all I got is a photograph
And I realize you're not coming back anymore.
-Ringo Starr, "Photograph"
He hadn't been able to face going through her things. But six months had passed since the accident, and he knew it was time to start sorting all her accumulated possessions into boxes. He didn't want to do it, but it was time.
His mother and Lois both offered to come by the house and help, or at least offer moral support, but he declined. He could do this himself.
Maybe in a way, he needed to do this himself.
He managed to sort through her clothes easily enough. It wasn't as if any of them would fit him, so they all went into a bag heading for Goodwill. Her books were a little more difficult. He didn't want to let go of any of any book she'd treasured, so he had to sort carefully. Eventually he wound up with a pile of twenty or so volumes to keep.
The five books she'd written, exposés that had shaken the world, he placed carefully in his desk in the living room, where he could see them every day. The rest he put onto a bookshelf in the office.
Her clippings were harder yet. All the many newspaper articles she'd written were in scrapbooks, which were kept on a shelf in the office. But in boxes in a closet, he found clippings going all the way back to the year she'd moved into Smallville, proof of how seriously she'd taken her investigation into the strange goings on in that "leafy little hamlet." He was tempted to throw them all out, since they were of no real use to anyone at this point, but eventually he decided to put them away in the attic. Those clippings were all too much a part of who she'd been, and who she'd become, for him to throw them out like so much garbage.
At last he came to a box of photos. Most of their pictures had been sorted and put into photo albums long since. But this was a box of high school photos that had somehow escaped being sorted. He flipped through them, smiling at her various short, flippy haircuts. There were shots of her with him-- a gangling, dorky, too-thin version of him-- and their best friend, Pete. There were pictures of the three of them at the gorge, at Crater Lake, in the Torch, at the Smallville Corn Festival.
He looked at the photos, and tried to smile at how young they'd once been.
At the very bottom of the box he found a picture of them together, standing outside the old farm house where he'd grown up, on their way to their freshman spring formal. His mom had shot the picture of him putting a pink corsage onto Chloe's wrist.
He lifted the old photo, very carefully, and stared at it for a long time. It had been their first date-- and, for a very long time, their last date. It had taken him years and years to realize how much he loved her.
And yet, in a way, their life together had all flowed from that night.
He looked at the photo, and remembered his own stammered words: You look... you look beautiful.
She'd smiled, and answered, You clean up nicely yourself.
He remembered that he'd felt ridiculous when he'd put the tux on, but that her words had reassured him, and made him feel a little less like a penguin. She had been beautiful in her dark pink dress, and with her golden hair piled artfully on top of her head.
His mind drifted to the few other occasions the two of them had dressed up. Their senior prom, when he'd still been so obsessed with Lana Lang that he hadn't even thought to ask Chloe for a dance. A society ball five years later, which they'd attended in order to chase a promising lead for the Daily Planet, the newspaper where they both worked, and wound up dancing together. Lana had been there, but by that point he'd been so obsessed with Chloe he hadn't thought to ask Lana for a dance.
And their wedding.
He looked back down at the photo, a tattered image of two kids smiling at each other, totally unaware of what they would one day mean to one another. The faded colors seemed to run and flow in front of his eyes. Hastily he turned his head, lest his tears drip onto the old photo and damage it. He blinked hard, trying to contain the tears.
She'd been everything to him, even then, but he hadn't even realized it. It had taken him long years to understand just what she meant to him.
He'd wasted so many years chasing after Lana, years that he could never get back. It had taken him a long, long time to realize that the woman he truly loved was Chloe Sullivan.
And now, after less than ten years, their life together had crumbled into ash.
She was ash.
He bowed his head, and let the tears roll down his cheeks for the first time since her funeral. Sorrow broke over him in waves, and he didn't try to fight it. He missed her. God, he missed her.
Six months ago, he'd had a happy life and a wife he loved. And now, all he had left was photographs, books, and an empty house.
All he had left was memories.