by Caro

A/N: To Ranaeros, who helped me come up with an idea when I was pulling my hair out. Much love to Shelley and Celli for the beta. All remaining mistakes are mine. And finally, to Bexless, just cause I love her.

Written for Slod's mom's challenge. The ending I got was: She turned away, unable to look Clark in the eye, and picked up her suitcase. High above in the clear Kansas, the sun was shining, but it was raining her heart. Maybe someday, she would be able to tell him, but now it was better if he never knew.

Set between Witness and Calling.

Disclaimer: None of these characters are mine. I just play with them occasionally. No harm or profit intended.

Her eyes fluttered open and she looked at her hero. The raven-haired boy held her in his arms, and for one moment, she thought, maybe, at last, he could love her. Alas, even now his attention was focused on the dark-haired beauty in the coffee shop.

"Argh," Chloe groaned, burying her face in her hands and cringing at the computer screen. This was going badly. Very badly. Obviously, she'd done something horrible in a past life and today was her day of karmic repayment.

The entire day had started off on the wrong foot. The power had flickered last night, which wouldn't be a big deal, except her alarm hadn't gone off when it was supposed to. She'd barely had time to shower this morning before she was running out the door. Blowing her hair dry was completely out of the question. And thanks to the ride in the convertible, her hair had dried weirdly.

Since then, things had only gotten worse. The latest issue of the Torch had been ruined due to a flood at the printers. Her locker had jammed so she couldn't get her book out in time to make it to Chem class, and the teacher had reprimanded her. And then there'd been English. Which today, had been a double dose of hell.

As if it hadn't been bad enough that she had to sit behind Clark and Lana, who made cow eyes at each other through the whole period, the terminally boring Ms. Rosenfeltz had handed out the worst possible assignment in the world.

"She hates me," Chloe moaned out loud.

"Who hates you?" A voice made her jump. She turned around quickly.

"Hey, Pete."

"Hey, Chlo, didn't see you in the cafeteria." He walked into the office and pulled up a chair next to hers. "What's up?"

"Nothing, only the assignment from hell. Ms. Rosenfeltz..." She waved her hands toward the computer screen.

"Ah, yeah, Lana told me about that. Short story, right?"

"Yes. One thousand words of torture."

"What's the problem?" Pete looked puzzled. "You're a writer, Chloe. I thought if anyone would be excited about the assignment, it would be you."

She rolled her eyes at Pete. "I'm a reporter, Pete. I deal in facts. Not fiction."

Pete gave her a look. "Chloe. You know I love you. But have you read the Torch lately?"

"Hey!" She scowled. "The stories are all true, no matter how bizarre they are."

"Still, I bet there's tons of inspirational material in there," Pete countered. He stood up and walked over to the desk, leaning over Chloe. "What have you written, anyway?"

"Noooo!" she squealed, but it was too late. Pete was already reading over her shoulder. She banged her head against the desk. "I'm so mortified."

Next to her, Pete snickered. "It's not that...I can't even say that with a straight face."

"Shut. Up."

"Raven-haired hero?" He kept laughing. "Chloe, you scare me."

"Fine. Mock my pain." She pouted. "I told you, I can't do this."

"Sure you can. You're creative." He glanced over at the computer. "Where the hell did you get raven-haired from, anyway?"

Chloe blushed. "Um...well, see...Lana has these romance novels," she mumbled quickly.

Pete laughed again. "Oh, God. My mom has those. All the heroines always have heaving bosoms and go around swooning every two pages."

Chloe raised an eyebrow at him. "You've read them?"

Now it was Pete's turn to look embarrassed. He shrugged. "When I was younger, I thought it'd help me with the ladies." Chloe burst into laughter. "I swear, Chloe Sullivan, if you tell anyone..."

"Don't worry," she choked out. "I promise, I won't."

"No. One." He looked at her sternly. "Not even Lana. Or Clark."

She sobered immediately. "I don't think you need to worry about me telling Clark anything."

Pete grimaced. "You guys still fighting?"

"We're not fighting, Pete. We're just...I don't know what we are."

"You guys are best friends."

"Were best friends."

"Look Chlo, I know Clark can be a bit of space cadet when he gets around Lana Lang--"

"--It's not just Lana," Chloe interrupted. "It's just-- I'm always second best, Pete. I never feel like I know what's going on in his life anymore." Was it just her imagination or did Pete look a little guilty? She looked at him in askance. "What?"

"Nothing," he mumbled. "Look, you know that Clark loves you."

She shrugged. "I suppose."

"He does," Pete insisted. "And no matter what, you know you can count on him to be there when you really need him. How many times has he saved all of us?"

"There's so much about him I feel like I don't know, Pete."

"He's your friend."

Chloe looked at him sadly. "I don't know if that's enough anymore."

Pete looked back at the computer screen. "Sometimes, the hero's got some other things going. But he's still the hero." He squeezed her hand. "Just think about it."

Chloe nodded. "I'll try."

"Ok, I gotta get back to the cafeteria. I need to see if I can borrow the History homework from someone before class today." He gave her a quick hug and then headed out the door, pausing to say over his shoulder, "Don't keep hiding in here through lunch, all right? Just cause Clark and Lana are in the cafeteria is no reason for you to play the avoidance game. I miss you."

"Thanks." Chloe smiled and watched him leave before turning back to her screen. Pete was right, she knew. Despite the current situation between Clark and her, the fact remained that a part of her would always love him. And maybe one day, they could get back to having the friendship they once shared, when her heart wasn't feeling so bruised.

She sighed, looked at her story, and began typing. Maybe it was time to end it.

She turned away, unable to look Clark in the eye, and picked up her suitcase. High above in the clear Kansas sky, the sun was shining, but it was raining in her heart. Maybe someday, she would be able to tell him, but now it was better if he never knew.

If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to Caro

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