Author's Note: Written for the Chlark Secret Santa gift exchange for the_chlarkette last year. Unfortunately, I didn't get it done in a timely manner, so I'm posting it this Christmas instead:-). Based on a prompt by the_chlarkette.
Clark Kent couldn't hit the broad side of a barn.
An hour later, Chloe stood in the deep snow, gleefully pelting him with snowballs. Clark ducked away from her onslaught, laughing, and occasionally lobbed a snowball in her direction, but he had the most amazingly bad aim ever. Maybe it was because he was growing almost hourly, and didn't have a clue where his huge hands were in relation to his skinny body right now. Or maybe he was just a natural-born klutz. Regardless, he rarely got a snowball within three feet of her.
She whacked him with another one, right in the middle of his chest, and he groaned.
"I surrender," he said cheerfully. "How about we go in and sit in front of the fire? I could use some cocoa."
He grinned more brightly than before. "My mom doesn't know how to make it any other way."
He loped past her, and went up the steps. She looked at him as he passed, and noticed his cheeks weren't red with cold, the way hers were. And even though he hadn't bothered to put on gloves, his hands weren't red, either. He looked just as warm and happy and comfortable as he'd been inside.
Weird, she thought again. But of course, when it came to Clark Kent, weirdness was nothing new. For all his apparent normality, his gosh-shucks manner and his flannel shirts and his big sweet grins, there were always some odd things about Clark, some stuff that just didn't add up. She'd noticed that from almost the moment she met him, when a copy of her favorite book had far too coincidentally been sitting there in his loft.
She shrugged off the slightly worrisome thought. Today of all days, she wasn't going to pay the slightest attention to pings on her weirdar. Today wasn't weird, but blissfully ordinary. In fact, it was by far the most normal day she'd had in a long, long time. And it was all due to Clark.
Smiling happily, she followed him back inside.
"A skateboard! Cool!"
Clark held aloft the present he'd just unwrapped, looking as happy as if Chloe had given him a puppy. She shifted uncomfortably, remembering how uncoordinated he'd been in their snowball fight. She was a little worried that he might actually kill himself learning to skateboard.
"I thought you might like it," she said. "I mean, once the snow melts."
"I can't wait." He grinned widely.
"Maybe you should, you know, buy a helmet..."
"Chlo." His green eyes danced. "Don't worry about it. I have a really hard head."
You'll need one, she thought, but refrained from saying so. Odds were he'd never get up enough speed on the thing to hurt himself anyway. No one moved slower than Clark Kent.
"Here's mine," he said, reaching a long arm over-- she honestly wondered if he'd grown since breakfast-- and snagging a badly wrapped present from beneath the tree. He handed it to her, looking expectant.
"Oh," she said in dismay. "But you already got me the mug..."
"That was just a stocking stuffer. Go on, open it."
She tore open the package and opened the little box to find a pair of green enameled earrings in the shape of Christmas trees. She'd seen them downtown at Fordman's Store, and admired them. But because her dad shunned all things Christmas, she hadn't quite dared buy them.
"Oh," she said softly. "They're beautiful, Clark."
"They're just..." He cleared his throat, like he was worried she might get the wrong idea from a gift of jewelry. "Well, I know you just got your ears pierced a couple of months ago, and I thought... well, I thought maybe you'd like them. They kind of go with the necklace my mom got you, too. And besides, you can wear them every winter. Just because your dad doesn't do Christmas doesn't mean you can't."
She recognized that was true. Now that she knew what a real Christmas was like, she wanted to celebrate it every year. Cocoa and snowballs and rustling wrapping paper and the scent of a fresh-cut Christmas tree...
And Clark. She wasn't sure she'd ever be happy celebrating Christmas without Clark again.
Which was silly, because Clark was just a friend, a big, gangling, puppyish doofus who could hardly take three steps without falling over his own feet. It wasn't like he was gorgeous or anything-- not like the guys she usually crushed on-- and she'd only known him for a few months. And yet...
She sighed, and put the earrings into her ears. Even though she hadn't known him that long, she nevertheless had the feeling Clark was going to be very important to her. And somehow she felt a warm certainty that she'd spend the next Christmas with Clark and his family, too. She tossed her head, feeling the earrings swing in her ears like a promise of happy Christmases to come.
"They look great," Clark said, grinning.
"They're beautiful. Thank you." She wanted to thank him for more than the earrings, but couldn't find the words. Thank you for the warmth. Thank you for the first happy Christmas since my mom died. Thank you for letting me be part of your family, just for the day.
"C'mon." He unfolded himself and got to his feet. "I'm still cold. Let's go sit in front of the big fire in the parlor and have some more cocoa."
She followed him through an open doorway. There was a bunch of mistletoe hanging there, and she thought briefly about kissing him, the way she'd kissed him the day they met. But no. Clark was like a big brother to her now. Just because he was sweet and thoughtful and nice didn't mean she ought to keep planting kisses on him. He might get the wrong idea or something.
But Clark hesitated beneath the mistletoe, and his cheeks turned red. Then he bent, and dropped a brotherly kiss on her forehead. She smiled up at him, delighted, and followed him across the room. The two of them sat on the floor in front of the fireplace, warm and comfortable and happy, drinking hot chocolate and eating gingerbread cookies and talking a mile a minute.
When her dad came to pick her up, hours later, she smiled all the way home.