Moose and Squirrel.
The phone rang four times before someone picked it up. "Hello?" said Pete's mom.
"Hi, Mrs. Ross! It's Chloe. Is Pete there?"
"Chloe! How was the internship?"
Chloe grinned. "It was great! I was so busy, and I learned so much. It's going to be a whole new Torch this year."
"Well, that's just wonderful. Livvy, go tell Pete he has a call?" Judge Ross said to Pete's sister. Chloe heard bustle on the other end of the line--several male voices laughing.
Another line picked up. "I got it, Mom, thanks!" Pete said, and Judge Ross hung up her end.
"Pete! I'm back!"
"Chloe! Oh, man, you have no idea how happy I am to hear that!"
"Sounds kind of busy over there..."
"All my brothers came home from college! All of them! Tony's still in the dorm, right, and Kelley came home to work on his thesis, and Bill Jr's roommate went to Spain, so he couldn't afford the apartment! Kelley kicked me out of the attic! He said he needed to work on his thesis more than I needed to work on my chess game. Mom says it's just for the summer, but man, has this been one long summer," Pete said.
"Ouch. Yeah. Well, do you want to come over? Dad's at work right now, as always."
"Five minutes. Time me. Bye!" The phone clicked down.
Chloe hung up and got a couple of Cokes from the fridge. Sure enough, within five minutes, she could hear Pete's old convertible rattle up the drive.
She met him at the door. "Pete!"
"Chloe!" He hugged her. He was such a good hugger, just the right size and toned like Schwarzenegger from the football, and she somehow always forgot. "This summer's just been wrong without you here," Pete said. "They found a green rabbit the size of a Labrador over by Crater Lake, did you hear? And Rebecca Tochley turned up all funny. Clark and Lana caught her messing with the Talon's water. I saved the articles for the Wall of Weird."
"Thanks!" she said, feeling funny all of the sudden--because Clark had barely emailed at all, and he certainly hadn't mentioned adventures with Lana. But--they weren't dating, and she wasn't going to get jealous, and she was such a goof because they were still standing on the porch and it was a hundred degrees out. "Come on into the AC before you melt."
She led him inside and he immediately grabbed the can of Coke and held it to his forehead. "Whew. Is it this bad in Metropolis?" Pete asked.
"Sure is. And in traffic jams, with the sun radiating up from all that pavement? Ugh. Metropolis so needs a better public transport system." Chloe flopped down on the couch. "Did you know that a subsidiary of LuthorCorp is working on a subway? They've been trying to get permits to dig tunnels for something like five years, and they're almost there."
Pete gave her a look. "Um, no? How do you know?"
Chloe grinned. "I helped Perry with his story on that. It was actually kind of a big deal--a private subway is basically unheard of, and it's a weird project for LuthorCorp to be working on, and they've been keeping it quiet..."
"You think maybe LuthorCorp is trying to run secret spy tunnels under Metropolis?"
"Maybe." Chloe raised her eyebrows.
"Okay, Mulder, just let me know ahead of time if you want to go run around underground so I can bring the big flashlights and the mutant repellent." Pete popped open his Coke, grinning, and Chloe giggled.
Third episode of the X-Files in a row and Chloe could feel her nerves fizzing from all the Coke and then Pete said "Scully, what are you wearing?" in time with Mulder on the screen and Chloe threw popcorn at him and giggled until her chest hurt.
The popcorn bowl was empty and they were looking at a random nature show on mute and Chloe was talking about Clark, because apparently she had a few things to say. She hadn't realized.
"Because I was totally giving off signs. You know, the don't-dump-me signs?"
"You sure were," Pete agreed.
"Is Clark dumb or just clueless? Because I don't know."
"I vote clueless. Have you talked to him yet, since you got home?"
"Nah." Why bother? She pointed at Pete with both hands. "It's not a guy thing. You saw the signs."
"Big neon signs," Pete agreed.
"Maybe you can, like, give classes. How Not To Be A Dork Around Girls. Clark could really use some lessons."
"How not to chase the wrong girl and ignore the right girl 101," Pete said. "Maybe with a remedial section."
Chloe sighed and rested her head on the arm of the couch. "I don't know. Maybe I'm not the right girl. Maybe we are better off as friends. Maybe Lana and Clark are going to get married and have, like, a dozen astonishingly beautiful kids that will take Hollywood by storm in 2020."
"I think you'd be the right girl for anyone, Chloe," Pete said.
Chloe's head jerked up. Pete looked down at the popcorn bowl sitting between them, rattling his fingers through the unpopped kernels.
"Pete... am I really sitting here saying how Clark should be more like you?"
Chloe grabbed the popcorn bowl and set it on the floor. "Wow. How dumb am I?"
And Pete was wide-eyed as she slid over next to him and kissed him.
It was just a peck, the first time--she pulled back quickly. "You're not going out with anyone, are you? Or, like, crushing?"
Pete shook his head.
"Okay, good." And the second kiss was a real one. Slippery from popcorn butter, but real and pretty intense and long.
Chloe's hands were braced on Pete's thighs. Pete's hands ended up on her back, big and strong and boy, he'd grown up since she first met him. "Wow," Pete said.
"I'm kind of blind for a journalist."
"You're amazing for an anybody," Pete said with a huge grin.
Then they kissed some more.
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