When she opens the screen door and sees him there, she feels a twinge under her right eye. The eye that still hasn't completely healed from her fall from that third story window. The bruising is gone, and it doesn't look like she was on the wrong end of a broken bottle anymore, but she's still scarred.
Even if no one can see it, them.
Her doctor says that if she uses the cocoa butter every night the marks will fade until no one will know they're there. But Chloe will know. Chloe will always know. So, right now, while they're fresh in her memory, and in his memory, she'll use it to her advantage for as long as possible.
Not that she's manipulative. Not that Chloe wants to be manipulative, but he's gone and brought her dessert again. And so, in a way, she feels sort of obligated.
Obligated to make him work for whatever he wants this time.
Because Clark always brings Chloe sweets when he feels guilty.
It's been this way ever since they met in fifth grade. That day he ran into her on the playground and he nearly burst into tears when she fell over into the dirt. Not that she was hurt or anything, but by his reaction someone would've thought that she had fallen into a hole in the ground like Baby Jessica. It took her ten whole minutes to explain to him that `yes, she had fallen, but no, she wasn't broken'. That `yes, she wasn't lying and the skinned knee didn't hurt half as bad as it looked;' and `no, she didn't hate him for making her fall'.
Fall down. Fall for him. No, she definitely didn't hate him. Still doesn't, but it's all been twisted and warped now.
Funny how some things change.
That day, as an apology, he gave her both of the Twinkies that his mother had packed in his lunch. She was touched and shared them with him. It was also the first time that Chloe realized that she was in love with Clark. Or as much in love as a ten year-old can be.
And while she's gotten older, some things haven't changed. She still shares with Clark, and he still brings her dessert when he thinks he's done her wrong.
He still brings her desserts for the wrong hurts.
When he beat her at the Easter egg hunt in sixth grade, he brought her a whole tray of Pepto-Bismol pink marshmallow chicks. They ate them together under the maple tree in her front yard and that night she ingested half a bottle of Pepto-Bismol itself. Even now, just the thought of those marshmallow treats is enough to make her feel queasy. Queasy at the thought of what this has come to. What she's come to. It doesn't have to be like this.
And for a second, as she moves from the doorway, to let him into the house, she feels sick. Knots in her stomach, butterflies in her throat, and knives on her tongue, sick, because Clark can be so sweet. So amazing. And other times... Other times she wants to string him up by his genitals and scream at him until her tongue swells up and her voice is gone. Until her throat bleeds, and her eyes can't see for the tears.
She has every right to be angry. He owes her.
For all those slights that he should apologize for and never will. All those things that that she deserves to be compensated for. All her unrequited emotions. All her time wasted.
When they went to the seventh-grade dance together, he spent the entire night staring at Lana and never even danced with Chloe. Never even noticed the beautiful red dress that she had driven all over Metropolis with her mother picking out.
It `upset' her.
That night was the only time she has ever given him a serious hint of her true feelings for him. Although it was less of a hint and more of a sledgehammer, and Clark just couldn't quite put all the pieces together. Couldn't or wouldn't. Just refused to get it.
The next day at school, he brought her Rice Krispie Treats and a Hershey Bar as a peace offering. Too little, too late. In retaliation, she gave the treats to Pete and threw the Hershey Bar in the trashcan, right in front of him. But then he looked so hurt and forlorn, that she ended up fishing the candy bar out and sharing it with him while Pete gorged himself on marshmallows and cereal.
If nothing else, Clark's certainly keeping her dentist well paid.
Since her latest trip to the hospital, though, he's even out done himself: brownies, chocolate chip cookies, Pixie Sticks, Starburst, Twix, her all-time favorite - a tree of Blo-Pops, and now chocolate cake.
One part of Chloe thinks that she should fall out of Luthor castles more often if this is the sort of response it brings. Another part thinks that Mrs. Kent must really be working overtime in the kitchen these days, unless Clark has kidnapped the Keebler Elves or hired outside contracting in the form of Martha Stewart.
But there's yet another part inside of her. Another voice inside her mind. The part that says she's only getting what she deserves. Only getting what Clark owes her. A payment for a debt that he's been silently accruing for four years, seven months and sixteen days.
Payback for all the guilt that he doesn't feel when he's supposed to.
For all the times he's ignored her. Lied to her. Chosen someone else before her.
Chloe knows she should feel guilty about this. About playing on Clark's desire to try and make up for her getting hurt when he was there. When he couldn't help her. When for once he couldn't be in a million places at one time like a self-cloning mutant. Not that finding something like that out would surprise her, but it's not where her mind is at today. She's not going to cave in to him. To this. Not this time.
In all honesty, she's only getting even. Not for the imaginary hurts and the broken bones, but for the broken hearts and the invisible scars. For his blissful ignorance of the way that every time she's in the room and someone else enters, he ignores her. For the way that he looks at Lana and not at her. For the way he looks at Lex... and not at her.
It makes her... angry. Hurt. All the scars that he can't see. Won't see. Refuses to acknowledge.
Even now, when they're standing in her kitchen and he brings her chocolate cake, she cuts it with a carving knife. Excessive force. She pushes down extra hard on the blade and receives a small nick for her trouble. Just a few drops of blood. The only visible scar tissue for all the times that he's hurt her.
She listens intently as he asks for her help. Asks her to lie. Lying about his whereabouts. To his parents, to her, to Pete. Lying to everyone and she's not quite sure who for. Not quite sure what hurts more. That he's using her to lie, that he won't tell her why, or that she knows she will always cover for him. Whether it's to sneak off to the Luthor Castle of Dubious Ethics or to see Lana Limp, she's always on his side.
When she offers him a slice of the cake, she holds the plate just a fraction too long. Gives it a tug when he takes hold. A simple motion to get his attention, make him look at her. Make him see how she feels. How she hurts. But he never gets it. Never even sees her.
She gives him a glass of cold milk, and they talk briefly before she knows he'll leave. Just a few seconds, enough time to give him a scar of his own.
As she offers assurances that she'll be his blind, that she'll be his foil, she sharpens the invisible knife she wields and takes aim. Talks about the twinges in her arm that just won't go away, and she can see the pain. See the guilt. See that fraction of a millisecond where he feels what she feels. Where the knife slips in and it makes her feel better. Makes her cake that much sweeter before she knows it will taste sour.
It'll happen soon enough.
When she walks him to the door, he places a little kiss on her forehead before he leaves. A consolation prize. She smiles dutifully, and waves him off before slamming the door with her hand. With her perfectly good arm.
Six weeks in the sling and two weeks out, and in truth, her arm stopped hurting ages ago. But Clark doesn't need to know that. She thinks the guilt does him good. Something to make him hurt the way he makes her hurt. Something in the guilt that makes her feel better.
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