He had been stood up.
Wally didn't really know what to make of it. Maybe it was some karmic sense of justice. Being a superhero, he had left enough girls sitting at a bar, wondering why he never showed, and with the whole cover blowing issue it wasn't like he could ever offer an explanation. Then again, people who were stood up usually didn't want explanations. Usually.
No one had ever accused Wally West of being normal--not even before the lightning strike that had left him perpetually charged and ready to run. Run. Get the hell out of here, because she's not showing and you're growing exponentially lamer by the second. He hadn't stepped on her toes during their dances. He didn't think there had been spinach dip stuck between his teeth, because Clark would've told him that. Wouldn't he? Probably not, that panicky bastard. Wally relived the night, the conversation, the dances. He had brought her champagne. He had answered all of her superhero questions. He had shown her the scar beneath his chin where he fell out of a tree when he was eight. Witty, fairly intelligent, charming, attentive. What the hell had he done wrong? His leg bouncing under the table, Wally plucked up another sugar packet, tearing off the corner and dumping the contents into his cup before he proceeded to shred the paper into tiny, symbolic pieces. Oh yes, Wally as a sugar packet. All full of energy and little sweet particles and dumped out into the kind of liquid heat that dissolved poor schmucks like him
"Sorry I'm late! Wow. Vendetta against that particular brand, or just sweetners in general?" Chloe slid into the chair across from him, the bag that was slung over her shoulder slipping to the floor at her feet as she fixed him with the full on force of her grin.
Yeah, he thought with an answering smile. Liquid heat. What a schmuck.
Clicking. There was definite clicking whenever Chloe was around, he'd noted. Wait, no. Clicking was reserved for keyboards, bad choice of words. Fitting, maybe? Better word, he thought as he tried to keep up with the emotions that flickered over her face while she negotiated a layout over the phone with her editor. Chloe fit and Wally had never really stood still long enough to feel that comfortable with someone else. Or maybe no one had ever kept up with him, before now. She talked fast, she laughed suddenly, she lost her temper and settled back down all at a completely reasonable speed for the world's fastest man. When everyone had told you all of your life to slow down, it was a strange feeling to find someone who kept up without being asked.
"So sorry, god I hate layouts. I mean, I'm a journalist. I seek the truth. The ins and outs of where they put the truth is another guy's problem." She flashed him another squinty eyed grin over the top of her cup. "As long as my headline's the biggest."
"So size definitely matters to you."
"That's such a loaded statement, and since I'm not Rachel and you're not Ross, we're going to just pretend you never said it."
Several mental kicks later, and Wally was trying again. "So you're a truth seeker? Lois said the same thing when Clark introduced us a couple of years ago."
Chloe looked briefly annoyed, flipping a hand as if to wave off the small, annoying gnat of comparison between the two of them. "Yeah, truth seekers, that's us." She leaned forward, elbows resting on the table and head tilted in an earnest attempt to explain. "Only there's this huge world of difference in what we do with that truth." Rolling her eyes, she elaborated with an amused smirk. "Lois and Clark are two of a kind. They want to save the world." Chloe shrugged, fingers flicking through the shreds of the sugar packet massacre from earlier. "We know how Clark saves it, but Lois thinks she can uncover this corruption and scandal and injustice and punish the guilty, defend the weak. She really should have tights and an enhanced laptop."
"Ouch." Wally made a note to never compare the women again. "And you're different, how?"
"I seek out the truth on its own merit. Not to do anything, just to reveal it. I mean, it's completely different, if you think about it." Chloe sighed, breaking it down into simple terms for him. "Lois wants to save the world. I just want to shake it up."
"So you chose to work at the Inquisitor?"
"What, you thought it was something I settled for? Oh, please." Another flip of the hand, and a soothing drink of coffee before she even dignified that with a response. "Okay, news flash for The Flash."
"Whatever, not the point." She closed her eyes and shook it off with a flippant grin, a brief reprieve before she fixed him in the whammy of her gaze again. "I don't settle. When Clark was pining over Lex and Lana Lang, I moved on. When everyone said high schoolers don't get internships at the Planet, I got one. When my dad said I'd regret not taking the position at the Smallville Ledger, I landed my job at the Inquisitor. I don't settle."
"So if you're out on a date with me?"
"This is coffee."
"Whatever, not the point" he shot back, mocking her own words with a wry grin. "When you go out on a date with me?"
"It'll be because you could keep up."
There it was again. Fitting.
Ah, god, Wally, you poor schmuck.
"So what does a guy have to do to get that cellphone number," Wally asked as he walked her down the street to her car.
"Okay, you don't get the cellphone number until you've proven you're not a stalker. Been there, done that."
"Hey, I'm a mutant, not a freak."
"That's just. . .too weird. We're not going to deal with that yet."
Yet? As in, we can deal with it down the road? Wally glanced over, then stuffed his hands into his jacket pockets to keep from doing something absurd like reaching for her hand. "Sorry, no talk about genetic alterations of any sort. Including the third nipple" A quick glance and he caught the surprised blink, answering it with a smile. "Just a joke. Probably."
"I'm from Smallville, I never assume it's a joke."
Stopping by a quirky little clunker from a bygone era, Wally leaned a hip against the car, careful to keep his hands tucked safely in his pockets. "I want to see you again."
"Good. I was planning on asking you to dinner, sometime."
"Asia Kitchen. You know the place?"
"I've been poisoned there once or twice." Wally grinned a little more, kicking himself into action when he realized he was holding his breath. Pushing off the car, he held open the door while she climbed in. "So I'll see you Thursday."
Closing the door, he braced an arm against the top of the car while she cranked up, leaning in when she rolled the window down to smile up at him. "I had a good time."
"Yeah?" Don't smile like an idiot. Too late.
"You could kiss me to prove it."
"You could get a really cute nose rolled up in my car window for asking," she shot back, grinning then leaning up to kiss him, quick, startling, already pulling back and rolling up the glass before he could react.
Before he could react.
He could see the headlines, now. World's fastest man left gaping on the sidewalk. Stunned to stillness after intrepid girl reporter stuns him with a kiss.
"Oh yeah, there's your truth, Chloe Sullivan," he murmured as the car puttered away down the street.
Scuffing a shoe along the curb, he grinned and started back down the sidewalk.
Return to Wild Coyote: The Smallville Het Archive