Incredible Lightness of Being: Perception

by Fen

"Incredible Lightness of Being: that feeling that is a part of the human spirit, that ingrained nature within us that knows when something is right and just."

She was perceptive.

She knew what Clark thought of her in times of crisis; a liability who saw too much and always asked the questions he didn't want answered. She was the forgotten one, the one for whom chivalry was dead. He saw Lana as a little lost creature, someone he could wrap up and defend in moments of absolute chivalry. He saw Lois as an equal, someone who could get herself out of the situations she inevitably found herself in.

He must have seen Alicia as his savior, a confidante unlike any of the other women in his life; a partner. Knowing explained a lot, the hastily planned marriage, his staunch defense of her innocence, his guilt over her death.

The difficulty inherent in keeping his secret weighed on her. She found herself feeling alone and isolated in her own life and couldn't begin to imagine what it must be like to have to hide yourself from the people you were closest to. She realized that her time spent in hiding from Lionel had at the most been only a taste of what he'd lived with for years. It was to be expected that he would need time, need to find a way to accept that she knew his secret.

She had known in her heart that he would eventually trust her but she hadn't expected to find him standing on her porch in the rain later that evening. She hadn't been prepared for him appearing like a supplicant come looking for an altar to lay his guilt on. She wasn't the one who saved people, she never had been and likely never would be, but the depth of loneliness in his eyes pulled her up short and she shivered with the force of it wishing desperately for the words he needed to hear.

The sun had been setting behind him, the colors wrenched from the palette by a night that didn't so much fall as collapse, so instead of gold and ebony she only saw the fading light brushing the horizon, and his dark head contrasted against it. "I thought you'd be with Lana," she tried but couldn't stop the flicker of pain that crushed the light in her eyes.

"I was but, I needed..." His eyes were soft, vulnerable, with rain darkening his eyelashes and highlighting the planes of his face.

"What, Clark?" It was beyond crazy, watching the rapid rise and fall of his chest as he struggled for words. She had the power to stop this, to make it all better with a quip, but she didn't want to. For once she didn't want to be the one who made it better, who forgave him without hearing the words. She needed him to tell her as much as he needed to say it, to free himself. Instead he turned and ran, his speed blurring in the rain; she gasped terrified he would disappear into the storm; but he didn't shuddering to a halt in the middle of the street seconds later.

He stood silently clutching a rain drench cluster of violets from her yard unable or unwilling to meet her gaze so she followed him into the setting dusk without noticing the rain saturating her hair and clothes. She approached and put out a hand to touch him and he flinched either from the comfort she offered or her touch she wasn't sure.

"How long have you known?" she could see him trying to think back to pinpoint the moment she had figured it out hating himself for unwittingly giving away his secret. She felt the fear clench in her chest that he would run away again before she had a chance to explain that it hadn't been he who had betrayed his secret.

"Alicia showed me. That night her car lost control and she called you for help she had me in the car with her." He closed his eyes and turned away slightly the flowers forgotten as they dropped from his fingers. "She thought I would write a story and then everyone would know," he interrupted.

"And I would be free," he sighed and turned back to Chloe as she stooped to pick up the forgotten flowers. "Why didn't you tell anyone?" He seemed wary, and a part of her was hurt that he assumed, as Alicia had, that she would sell his secret for the enhancement of her career.

"It wasn't my secret to tell and after the last few days I have a new appreciation for what you must live with." She closed her eyes, shivering as a gust of unseasonably cool air brushed her skin and put out her hand. "My dad won't be home till morning, come inside where we can talk."

She led him silently back to the porch and Clark lurched past her into her living room looking as if death would've been preferable to whatever state of mind he was in. Chloe had opened her mouth to tell him everything, about the night Alicia had show her his secret, the ensuing maelstrom of emotion she had lived with waiting endlessly for him to realize that he wasn't alone. To tell him about pulling the door off his house and all the other things he'd forgotten when his memory returned. But before she'd had the chance to say any of it, he had just stumbled over to her and thrown himself into her arms. She had let him hold her because it was something he needed, something that could give him stability and a sense of control in a world spinning on an insane axis.

She let him engulf her in his misery because whatever words she had would never be enough and she knew it.

She'd patted his back, tentatively at first, then rubbing in circles like she would if he were an infant needing to be soothed. That image didn't last long, especially when he'd begun kissing the base of her throat, working his way upwards to her mouth. "Clark," she'd tried to say, but it came out as a moan as she found herself inspecting his impossibly even teeth with her tongue.

"Chloe," he'd whispered, kissing each eyelid with lips almost too soft to be entirely masculine. "This is stupid. I should go."

His hair had been blue-black with rain, drops still clinging to his finely-boned face, and the pads of his fingers were slightly shriveled against the firm, soft skin of her cheeks.

"Don't go, Clark." she had said, her voice catching on his name; questions about what he was, what it meant tightening like a vice around her throat. Thoughts of her own betrayal of the secrets she had worked to reveal being known to Lionel, she would have nightmares about what the elder Luthor would do to Clark if he knew.

He slid downward, ending up on his knees with his face pressed against her stomach, and when she cupped his face it was so, so cold. His face had been lovely, she remembered, when he had pulled her down with him and given her a soft kiss. Each kiss had been different, moving from tentative to comforting to frantic, and she had felt grateful that rain fell from their hair onto her face to cover her tears; grateful that he couldn't see the destruction he was wreaking within her.

A quiet sob broke from her throat and he'd leapt backwards, one hand tracing an unknown, tremulous pattern in the air while with the other he had touched his fingertips to his mouth.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. God, Chloe, I didn't...I can't begin to..."

"Clark." She had needed to stop the flood of words before they both drowned. Never taking her eyes from his, she had opened her arms and given herself eagerly to their mutual downfall.

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