by rose_emily

"Come on up," Chloe tells the intercom, digging through the debris on the floor in an attempt to locate some change. She told herself that once she had her own place, she'd be inspired to neatness, but unfortunately, that theory has since gone the way of the dinosaur. Just as the knock sounds, she finds a pair of jeans jingling with the promise of a tip.

"You guys are way faster than -" she begins, opening the door with one hand and perusing her wealth in the other. But there is no pizza delivery guy in the doorway.

Clark. Wet from the rain outside, and decidedly miserable-looking. And in spite of his apparent desolation of spirit, Chloe can't help noticing that a wet Clark Kent is a Good Thing.

The boy is gay, she tells herself firmly, then proceeds to make the appropriate sympathetic friend face in lieu of the more instinctive leering once-over.

"Hey, what's up?" she asks gently. It must be something serious, because the last time Clark had this look, he'd just come out to his father. And that hadn't gone well.

"Can I ... come in?" he manages, and Chloe is startled to find that he sounds like he's been crying. He might even be currently crying, but it's difficult to tell between the raindrops on his face and the dim light of the hallway.

"Of course," Chloe answers, stepping aside to admit him. "Here, I'll grab a towel, you can dry off."

Clark doesn't seem to know what to do with the towel when she returns with it. He's still looming miserably in her tiny hallway, like a tangible cloud of doom. Chloe sighs and reaches up to rub Clark's hair dry, feeling like the mother of a giant five year old.

"All right, get your ass in the living room and tell me what the hell is going on," she snaps at last. Five minutes in, playing the part of the empathetic and patient best friend has officially lost its appeal. She is not, nor has she ever been, Lana Lang, and therefore is not of the stuff from which good fag hags are made.

Clark is startled enough by the sudden transition that he looks up from his contemplation of the carpet and almost smiles. "Sorry," he mutters, then makes his way into the living room, settling down on the couch.

"Out with it. What did you guys fight about this time?" Chloe demands, flopping down on the other end of the couch.

Clark lifts his head, not even pretending offense at her assumption, but before he can talk, the buzzer goes again.

"Pizza," she says, by way of explanation.

Feeding Clark is a certain way to cheer him up. Usually, pizza boosts him up about three degrees on the Kentian emotional gradient, but he's apparently so far down the scale right now, the change is barely noticeable.

"It's over with me and Lex," he says at last, wiping off his fingers on a piece of paper towel. Normal people couldn't possibly project this kind of distress while consuming greasy pepperoni and cheese, but then Clark is an alien, so that might explain his current success.

Chloe can't suppress an incredulous snort.

"It is!" Clark insists.

"Clark, the day it's over between you and Lex is the day you're both cold and in the ground. And considering that you might well be immortal, that's a long way off."

"Tell him that," Clark retorts, and yes, he's crying. "God, he keeps telling me that I'm too young to commit, that I don't know him like I think I do, that I haven't experienced enough of the world to know what I want to do with my life, that being with him is ... I don't know, it's like he thinks he's evil incarnate, and I'm some angel, sent here to balance some cosmic scale ..." He trails off, and sniffs, dashing his tears away with boyish resolve.

Chloe watches Clark with a puzzled expression. "Why does Lex feel the need to make everything into a mythic struggle? I mean, you'd think he crapped gold nuggets or something."

Clark is again startled, and this time a real smile results. Chloe smirks back, knowing that Clark doesn't really think that things are over with Lex, that her own casual attitude is making him see that.

"I guess it's a byproduct of his upbringing," Clark theorizes.

"Well, that, and he's sleeping with a real-life superhero," Chloe adds. "And he's read too many comic books."

Clark frowns. "God, it just pisses me off, you know? He says I've got him on a pedestal, but if anything, it's the other way around."

Chloe nods sympathetically, but she's busy wondering if she should offer Clark some dry clothes. Of course, she doesn't have anything that would fit him, and he doesn't seem bothered by the wet, but it's awfully distracting to be sitting across from those sculpted abs, so neatly outlined by his clinging t-shirt.

"Wanna get bombed?" she blurts, interrupting another Clarkian diatribe inadvertently. God, she is a straight guy trapped in a heterosexual woman's body. How else can she explain her utter inability to cope with emotions for more than ten minutes consecutively?

Clark stops mid-sentence and stares. "Why not?" he sighs heavily.

Chloe goes to her bedroom to fetch her stash. On the way back, she spies a big sweatshirt on the floor, belonging to her on-again, off-again fuck buddy, Mike. Re-entering the living room, she tosses it in Clark's direction and distracts herself from the sight of his momentarily bare torso by rolling a joint.

One hour later, Clark is still bitching about Lex, but Chloe is distinctly less irritated by the subject.

"So I just ... I left. I told him, if he's so sure I need to be single, maybe I should be."

"Very dramatic, Clark," Chloe comments with a grin. "Did you slam the door too?"

Clark shakes his head seriously. "They've got this inlaid glass. It'd shatter."

"God forbid," Chloe adds fervently, but Clark is too self-absorbed to hear her.

"Pete wasn't home, that's why I came here," he continues. One moment, and he's shooting her a green glance. "Thanks for being so ..."

Chloe watches with amusement as Clark searches for the right word. She hasn't been sympathetic or really even interested, since those first few minutes had elapsed in the entryway. Clark is still valiantly trying to assign a flattering adjective, but the pot has messed him up enough that he mindlessly nods when Chloe suggests, "Lame? If I had a life like Pete, I wouldn't be home on a Friday night."

It takes him a moment to shift the nod into a head shake. "No, you're a good friend, Chloe."

Chloe rolls her eyes and stretches her feet out on the couch, towards Clark's lap. It's a broad hint, but he's just distracted enough to begin massaging her feet without commenting on her blatant strategy.

"So now you're a swinging single guy, what are you going to do?" she asks, curling her toes blissfully into the hot pressure of Clark's large palms.

Clark only sighs mournfully.

"No, seriously, shouldn't you go out and have some hardcore rebound sex?" she enthuses, more to see Clark's reaction than from any real conviction.

"Chloe," he admonishes lightly, with a slight smile. When he looks at her, he sees that she's teasing. "I'm no good at picking up one night stands, anyway."

"Have you looked in a mirror lately? All you have to do is make eye contact with a guy, and he'd be yours, I don't care what team he's batting for."

Clark laughs shortly, a firm believer in his own trollhood. Chloe has wondered, since finding out Clark's origins, if Kryptonian aesthetics are drastically different from those of humans. It might explain Clark's inability to see himself as an attractive man, not to mention his natural inclination towards plaid and flannel.

"Or maybe you should go get a girl," Chloe ponders aloud. "I mean, Lex is right - you've never had hetero sex. Maybe you'd like it."

Clark only raises an eyebrow, his gaze fixed on Chloe's toes. "You know, I did date Lana for a year."

Chloe snorts. "And the one time you tried to get your hands on the other side of her little pink sweater, she almost fainted away with terror. That's hardly sex, Clark."

Clark's eyebrow shoots farther up and he looks up from her foot. "She didn't almost faint," he begins, chagrined. "She just ..."

"Gasped with indignation? Told you she wasn't one of those fast girls? Slapped your cheek and tossed her water in your face?"

"Jesus, Chloe, you make her sound like a character from the fifties," Clark chuckles.

"Your point being ..."

He sighs with mock indignation. "I'll have you know I felt her up outside her sweater on a regular basis. There was some serious frottage a couple of times, too."

"Clark, you can have frottage with inanimate objects. It's not sex."

Clark is now watching her with visible amusement, distracted momentarily from the Problem of Lex. Chalk up a point for Chloe's distraction techniques. "So what are you saying? That if I go out and score with some girl, I'll discover my severely repressed heterosexuality and burst out of the closet singing country music?"

"Oh, God, I hope not," Chloe replies with feigned horror. "Though your dad would probably keep the girl in organic produce for the rest of her natural life, out of sheer gratitude."

There's a beat or two of silence as Clark reapplies himself to the foot massage.

"Hey, Clark ... All I mean is, don't knock it 'til you've tried it," Chloe says at last, and Clark's hands still suddenly, because the note of humour has left her voice.

"I love Lex," he says softly, his thumb stroking her instep.

"And I love Ewan McGregor," Chloe states. "But the lack of Ewan isn't making me swear off all other sex for all eternity."

"That's not the same," Clark half-laughs.

"Hey, I'll have you know that Ewan and I are very close," Chloe warns. "But we prefer to express our love by pretending that we don't actually know each other."

Clark throws her a disbelieving look, then grudgingly laughs.

"So, how about it?" Chloe's heart is being very disobedient. It's suddenly trip-hammering, even though she's only joking.

Only joking.

"How about what?" Clark asks absently.

"Well, I was your first kiss. I could be your first in other things, too," Chloe elaborates, her tone light.

Clark laughs louder than he has all night, and it's a sound that should make Chloe smile. Instead, she's still fighting her racing pulse.

"Seriously, Clark," she persists, still with a note of amusement. "Just think, you could go to Lex tomorrow and say, 'Okay, I've tried it, and I still like you best.'"

Clark is still laughing. The thought seems to amuse him immensely, and that has nothing to do with the lump in Chloe's throat.

"Plus, I hate to brag, but I've been told I'm a pretty good lay," she says, playing the game to its logical end in spite of Clark's hilarity.

Clark shoots her a mock horrified glance. "Too much information," he protests, breaking into fresh giggles.

"Come on, Clark, baby," Chloe leers, doing her best impression of the cheesy television high-pressure teenage boyfriend. "I promise I'll be really gentle. It will only hurt for a second. A woman has needs, you know."

"Where have I heard that before?" he hiccups as Chloe extricates her feet and begins to crawl towards his end of the couch.

"But you get me so hot, babe, I can't control myself," she groans with an Elvis voice as she arrives at Clark's lap. He's only a breath away, and Chloe is feeling almost hysterical herself, which must explain it.

It's supposed to be a joke, but the instant before she's going to land a dramatic wet kiss on his lips ... she hesitates, just for a blink of an eye. It's enough to give her away, yet it's too late to stop. She presses her lips to Clark's, and he's unresponsive like a doll. There's a serious flashback moment to their first one-sided kiss in the loft back in eighth grade, then Chloe's backing away. She can feel her cheeks flushing with shame.

Clark's eyes are startled, wide. Then his hand is in her hair, and he's pulling her close again. This time is different - Clark is hungry, desperate, and Chloe doesn't need three years of undergraduate psychology to recognize an escapist act when it hits her on the mouth. That doesn't make her any more capable of stopping it, however. Clark is a primal force.

The kiss deepens, broadens, and Chloe can feel Clark, who's always warm, ratcheting up the thermal output by a few degrees. His hands splay on her back, then he's lifting her, pulling her onto his lap like she's tiny and insubstantial as a kitten.

Promptly, Chloe begins to lecture herself. Right. This is very nice, and frankly, it's your dirtiest high school fantasy come true. But the man is gay and horny and under the influence, as are you, barring the gay part. So it's wrong. Therefore, when we pause to breathe, you will look him in the eye and you'll both be horribly embarrassed, but this will stop. You'll pretend it's the pot, and he'll make some joke about coming on strong, and tomorrow it'll just be this thing you never discuss or think about. Any second now, we'll take a breather. Any second - oh God, is that what I think it is?

Chloe shifts a little, moving her thigh to be sure, but it hasn't been that long, and yes, that's Clark's erection pushing up from his lap. His awareness of it seems to coincide with hers, because the anticipated breather is sudden and mutually initiated. The problem is, looking Clark in the eye doesn't make Chloe feel like coming to her senses. Clark's eyes are vivid, bright, so transluscent and beautiful, and just under them, his high cheekbones are suffused with colour. He's panting a little, and Chloe doesn't remember seeing Clark short of breath ever, which makes this just about the hottest moment ...

And they kiss again, like plunging back underwater, and she knows that she just passed up her chance to stop this. The sight of his eyes has dissolved her ability to think rationally. Any remaining threads of logic are brushed away by the unexpected touch of Clark's fingers on her breast.

Talking is strictly forbidden, as far as Chloe can discern. Talking would be an intrusion of reality, and the only reality which interests her is the way Clark is touching her, the feel of his silky black curls between her fingers. She's only wearing flannel pyjama pants and an old t-shirt, and it's scarcely a minute before Clark is skimming the t-shirt off, pressing his lips to her newly bared skin.

'You, too,' say her fingers, slipping up Clark's back and tugging at his shirt. Clark's skin is impossibly smooth; Kryptonians don't seem to be very hairy people, and Chloe can get behind that kind of evolution. He's shivering into her mouth, then breaking away so he can watch his fingers gliding over her skin. Chloe wishes that he would say something, give some sort of reaction to the sight of her bared breasts, but she'll settle for the way his fingertips are trembling, for the way he seems to resent it when she insistently interrupts him by pulling his shirt over his head.

Now they're skin to skin, which feels good in a way that Chloe hasn't anticipated. The shock of contact is another injection of reality, but Clark isn't showing any signs of slowing, and that's enough for Chloe. She shifts until she's straddling him, kissing a path down his neck towards his nipple. Clark smells different, not like the ubiquitous sports deodorant reek that surrounds most guys, which makes Chloe wonder if Clark sweats. He used to, way back in middle school, but so much has changed since then ...

Not the least of which is his kissing style. Lana admitted a few years back that Chloe had made out with Clark while under the influence of that thing from the caves and Chloe had since deduced that Clark himself had been under the influence of something else. Up to this moment, she thought she retained no memory of the incident, but the feel of Clark's lips on hers is making her skin sing with body memory.

Chloe sits back on her heels, then slips down off the couch, inspired to boldness by the ever-increasing insistent presence of Clark's cock. He grunts with surprise when she opens his fly and reaches in to touch. God, he's burning hot to the touch, so silky-smooth. She's never really liked going down on guys, but like so many things Chloe has mastered, it's a useful skill to have. It shocks her, now, to realize that she wants to do this for Clark.

It takes her a minute to understand why Clark isn't touching her hair like every other man would do ... she notices him gripping his thighs and shivers at the strength he must be exerting to turn his knuckles white like that.

"Oh, God, Chloe," he chokes out. "Stop, I don't want to come yet."

Chloe pulls off and straddles Clark again, his hands planting themselves under her thighs. Chloe is about to ask why when he stands up, taking her with him. Chloe's never been a fan of feeling small and helpless, nor of being hauled around like a possession, but she can't deny that it's turning her on to feel Clark carry her towards the bedroom with no visible effort. Once there, he lays her on the bed and proceeds to divest her of her pyjama pants.

He steps back and peruses her. Chloe has to fight the urge to scramble under the covers, even seeing the bare hunger in his eyes, because this is almost the beginning of a recurring nightmare from way back in Smallville. Chloe, naked; Clark, watching. Then a searing knowledge of rejection.

"God, you're so beautiful. So perfect," he breathes at last, and Chloe feels her body just melt into the mattress. Her mind is suggesting all sorts of reasons why Clark is wrong about the perfection - her unshaven legs, the birthmark on her butt that's always embarrassed her, the way the elastic of her pants has left a line of red pressure marks around her waist - but he's taking off his jeans, and that sight quickly banishes thought again.

"You too," she answers, her voice unexpectedly deep and rough. "God, you too."

Clark is. Some part of Chloe that's never quite made it past twelve years old has always wanted to giggle whenever she sees a guy naked for the first time. There's something about the sight of a blunt, bobbing penis that instantly makes a man ridiculous, strips away all his pretenses. For the first time, now, she doesn't feel like giggling. Clark naked, Clark bare, is just ... beautiful. He's hard for her. The thought makes Chloe's knees fall open.

"Can I touch you?" he whispers, and he's trembling again, like this is something he's wanted his whole life.

Chloe reaches for his hand and tugs him down on the bed, and then Clark is everywhere. She's never felt so surrounded, covered, as she does when he's suspended over her, his body like a shield. They tangle tongues for a while longer, then Clark is kissing his way down her body. "God, so beautiful," he murmurs into her breast.

Why has she never had surveillance cameras installed in her bedroom? Because this moment should be preserved for all time - the sight of Clark's dark curly head bowed in supplication, his red lips flush against her nipple, his deep eyelids lowered. She feels a powerful surge of affection that's tinged with maternal tenderness, seeing him at her breast like he's her child.

It's everything she scarcely dared to imagine, and yet nothing like she expected. In her fantasies, she had always taken the lead, and Clark was always somehow startled, entrapped, skittish. That was hot in its own way, but Chloe was beginning to understand that this man was no longer the innocent farmboy of Smallville fame.

God, that was his cock, trailing wetness over the curve of her hip. Clark.

"What can I do?" he asks, but it's not a helpless question. It's a teasing play of power. What did Lex do to this farmboy?

"Oh God, anything," she moans, and feels him smile against her stomach because that's what he wanted to hear.

He pushes her legs up and spreads them, then his breath - oh God, it's Clark -- is breathing on her wetness, impossibly hot. "Mmm, Chloe," he sighs, and hesitantly plants a kiss. "God, it's so slippery," he muses, his big fingers trailing. "I didn't know it got so wet."

Chloe's answer is completely incomprehensible, but her thrusting hips aren't subtle in asking for more.

Clark bows his head and obeys, and goddamn this boy is a natural. Lex must be insane to let him leave the penthouse unsupervised, and there's going to be an awkward moment in the hall with her downstairs neighbours tomorrow, but Chloe doesn't care. Ever since her freshman year, when Wade told her that guys liked to feel a girl's hands in their hair when they went down on her, Chloe has been careful to provide this stimulation, but now, it's just mad instinct that traps her fingers on Clark's scalp. God, anything to keep him there, as if she could pinion a superstrong alien between her thighs. Clark chuckles against her, either at the noise she's making or the way her fingers are clutching, but it doesn't matter because - "Oh God, Clark, I'm coming," she cries, and then she is.

The next thing Chloe consciously perceives is that Clark is pressed up beside her on the bed, cradling her in his arms. She can taste herself on his lips.

"I want to be inside you," he says.

Chloe has just three brain cells still firing, but thank god one of them is screaming 'condom'! She gestures in the direction of her bedside table, and Clark is gone for an instant, then back. His hands are shaking as he tears open the foil package.

"Can you ..." he says helplessly. Chloe cuts a disbelieving glance his way. "I never needed ..."

Even that oblique reference brings Lex's ghost between them, so Chloe hurriedly helps Clark roll the condom on, then lies back again.

"Fuck me," she orders breathlessly as Clark settles between her thighs again. It can't really be happening, she thinks, but then he is pushing inside her, and it's real.

"Oh, god," he pants. "This is ... incredible. God, so ..." Clark seems to lose his train of thought for a moment. "You're so ..."

"You're a babbler," Chloe laughs, kissing his flushed cheek as it comes to nestle beside her. "God, you're adorable."

Clark grunts his answer, then begins to thrust, obliterating all pretenses of cuteness. Chloe has never been with a man who's so powerful - after all, there is no one close to this powerful on the entire planet - but the overwhelming sensation is not of being dominated, but of being the object of incomprehensible tenderness. It was like having a wildcat lunge for your throat, only to find yourself on the receiving end of a feline lick.

"Clark, you're amazing," she gasps, and she's not even talking about his technique. It's that he called her perfect. It's the fact that it's him, Clark bloody Kent, who she's loved since she was fifteen years old.

It can't be the pot, or the horniness, or even the fight with Lex. This isn't some escapist revenge for Clark, some rebound comfort. Chloe runs her palms down to cup Clark's buttocks, feeling them flex and urging more. This is something that's just between them, and it's powerful and amazing and real.

Clark loves Lex, is in love with Lex. Chloe hasn't doubted that since the day she realized they were involved. But now she knows, with equal certainty, that Clark loves her too. When he draws up, slowing for a moment, and stares right into her eyes, Chloe knows. God, he loves her.

"I'm sorry," he pants a moment later. "I can't ... I'm gonna ..."

Chloe hurriedly lifts her legs and hooks them over his shoulders, and Clark looks startled, as if he hadn't known about this position. Then he moves forward again, so deep, and Chloe begins to climax almost right away. He looks startled again, probably by the noises he's drawing out of her, but he keeps rocking into her, one large hot hand reaching up to cup a breast.

His motions suddenly grow erratic. Chloe knows he's close, and that knowledge drives her to the edge. She throws her head back and lets the freedom wash through her, then finds herself laughing crazily, giddy, when she hears Clark cry out right after. He sounds broken, joyous, startled, all at once, and Chloe will never forget that noise, or the way his face goes slack and his eyes squeeze shut.

The next moment, she can hardly breathe, her legs slipping off his shoulders, and Clark suddenly landing on her chest, but she doesn't care because it's Clark and he loves her and that noise he made was like having God put His seal of approval on her whole life thus far. She could lie here forever, feeling him inside, around, over.

At last, Clark seems to regain awareness of his environment and he raises himself up on his elbows. The smile that appears thereafter is blinding at this close range. "Jesus, you are a good lay," he says in a voice that's an octave lower than normal, sounding rough as though he'd been shouting.

"You're not too shabby yourself," Chloe returns, and yes, she really has been shouting, because ouch. Her voice literally hurts. "Especially for a rookie."

Suddenly his lashes dip, and Clark is fourteen again, taken aback by their kiss in his loft. "It was my first time," he says, "... not just with a girl, but, you know, topping." He shifts infinitesimally, reminding her that he's still inside.

It's a bit of a shock, but Chloe just lifts her head up and captures Clark's lips. "I haven't come that hard in a long time," she murmurs against his mouth, and that makes him shiver. "But you should really get rid of that condom," she adds reluctantly.

Clark obediently withdraws, but not without a last kiss. He's back in a second - Chloe's still not used to how fast he can move - and then he's wrapped around her. Chloe's never been a cuddler, but Clark's so large, it's more like having a heated pliant mattress under her. She's asleep within minutes.

They wake once more sometime in the night, and this time Chloe straddles Clark and watches him watch her. His eyes are dark pools that take her in and make her feel accepted, trusted, sheltered. He holds her hips steady when she comes, then flips her over and moves in her until he climaxes with a hissing intake of breath. This time, before they fall asleep again, he kisses the shell of her ear and murmurs, "I'm glad it's you."

Chloe wakes when sunlight streams over her bed. This alone is enough to remind her of the previous night, since part of her usual routine is to close the curtains before going to sleep.

If she needs further reinforcement, there's Clark Kent lying on her pillow, flat on his back, snoring softly.

Chloe gingerly shifts her weight, propping herself up on her elbow to watch him for a moment. The little changes in him since the far-off Smallville days are not so apparent when he's sleeping. She can almost see Clark as he was before he began to comprehend the enormity of protecting several million lives.

When he wakes up, he's going to smile that big brilliant smile and kiss me. Then we'll make love again. While I try to find some food that isn't moldy in my fridge, he'll take a minute to call Lex. He's honorable like that, he'll want Lex to know right away, even when they've practically broken up. There can't be any room for error, so Clark will just say it: he is in love with me. Lex was right, Clark was clinging to their relationship out of familiarity and habit. Lex will be really pissed off, but Clark will be resolute, because he'll be using his x-ray vision to watch me swearing at the toaster, which is a cheap piece of crap. He'll get that little smile he gets when he thinks I'm being cute in an obnoxious way, and then he'll tell Lex goodbye*.

Clark will be a little quiet when he comes into the kitchen, but by the time we've each had a cup of coffee, we'll be looking at each other, just suddenly, quietly, across the room, and it'll feel right.

We won't tell anyone else for a couple of weeks, not because we're worried about the reaction, but because we want to keep it to ourselves. We'll want this time, this togetherness, before we admit that the real world has bearing on us, on our lives. Still, when Pete finds out, and Lana, and all our friends, everyone's just going to smile and say 'They're so right together', like they say about the Kents. Next time Clark goes back to Smallville for the weekend, I'll come along, and that'll be our way of telling our families. Dad will chuck me under the chin and say, 'Guess he finally grew into you, hey pumpkin?' and I'll roll my eyes but I won't be able to withhold a goofy smile.

Then, one day, Clark will ask me to marry him, and I'll look him in the eye and say --

"No fucking way." Chloe breathes it out, and Clark doesn't even stir.

She slips out of bed. That was a nice interlude into fantasy land, but God, it's daytime again and within the next little while, Clark is going to wake up. She wants to have her strategy set before that happens.

She locates Clark's cell phone and finds that the battery's dead, which is a good thing. Less chance that Lex will intrude on this morning's events. The message light is blinking on her own phone, but she'd turned off the ringer the previous night. She was expecting her father to call and ask why she wasn't out with some nice boy on a Friday.

"Chloe, if you see Clark, can you get him to call me?" Lex. No sign of his distress. Certainly no hint of worry that his boyfriend might be boning her at that very moment. Chloe permits herself one small smirk, then puts the coffee on.

The leading story in the Planet is by Lois Lane today. It's about a drug ring and dirty cops and the possible involvement of LuthorCorp, because what good scandal is complete without them, and Chloe is totally avoiding the issue here.

Clark. And sex. Focus, Sullivan.

Right. First, that little delusion, the one that Clark loves her? The one that only appeared for the first time when Clark was fucking her? It's gotta go. Whatever she saw in his eyes last night, she knows damn well that most guys can make you believe anything when they're about to get off. And with Clark, it's probably some new power he hasn't noticed yet - super-charisma: the power to make people think he gives a shit.

Delusion gone. Decimated. Obliterated. That's good. Chloe quickly moves on.

Second. Lex and Clark. No one talks about them like they talk about the Kents, but make no mistake. If one of them was lucky enough to have a vagina and a pair of breasts, their paired names would be synonymous with the term 'soul mates'. And where does Chloe fit in that? Quirky sidekick. Bitchy gal pal. Smarts in a skirt. Fag hag you can occasionally bag. And, apparently, she's done a shit job of 'sympathetic confidante', so that's off the list.

Third. Clark and Chloe. The way things go when Clark wakes up will determine the future of their friendship. It's really extremely important. A wrong move, and everything could come crashing down - not just her and Clark, but Clark and Lex.

Chloe pours another cup of coffee. She is about to tackle this issue, right after she reads the comics page. Really.

Then it's too late. The pat of Clark's freakishly large bare feet sounds in the hallway.

His hair is sticking out in all directions - it was still damp from the rain when he fell asleep - and his cheeks are still flushed with sleepy warmth, and he might as well be wearing footie pyjamas and dragging a teddy bear behind him, he looks so huggable.

The expression on his face is less juvenile. It's morning after face.

"Hey," he says. He's wearing his jeans again, and he gathers up his t-shirt awkwardly, like he wants to put it on, but is worried about Chloe's reaction.

"Coffee," Chloe answers. Fuck. She needed more time. There is still another item on her list. "Um, you can shower too, if you want."

Clark just stands there, not taking advantage of either offer.

Think fast, Sullivan. You're a reporter, you can do this. "Lex called," she manages, just as Clark says, "We need to talk."

Spare me the Talk, Chloe pleads silently, and is happy to see that her pronouncement has dampened his enthusiasm for talking.

"He left a message on my phone. Wants you to call."

Clark is watching her steadily, something faintly bruised in the shift of his gaze. Oh God, don't be guilty, Clark. I can't handle the fucking guilt.

"Um. I think my phone's dead. Can I -"

Chloe tosses him the portable phone and turns back to the funnies in the Planet. He pats back down the hall towards her bedroom, almost closing the door.

She can hear the rumblings of a rather lively conversation, but she's trying really damn hard to focus on the newsprint, rather than on what Clark might be saying. A stray phrase escapes. "-needed time to think about this ... Look, you know this isn't the only problem we've been having lately, I hardly needed you shitting on my head about dumb stuff like this."

Chloe knows why he left the door slightly ajar. It would have seemed rude to block her out of her own bedroom, and Martha Kent's son is polite to a fault. Would it have killed him to be rude for once? Right. Garfield. She loves Garfield.

"Chloe's." A long pause. "Don't tell me you actually worried about me." A tiny chuckle. "You sound like Mom ... Heh. I knew you'd hate hearing that." His voice is suddenly tinged with sex and tenderness.

Chloe very calmly rises from the table and goes into the bathroom. By the time her shower's over, the phone call should be finished. And any redness in her eyes can be blamed on errant soap suds.

When she comes back into her bedroom, Clark is sitting on the edge of the bed, fully dressed. He's even made the bed and disposed of the condom wrappers. Erased evidence. He must have gotten good at that, back in Smallville.

He's not so good at hiding his reaction to Chloe in a towel. His eyes skid everywhere but avoid looking at her directly, like she's a solar eclipse. No, it's more like she's someone's fly that has been left hanging open.

Chloe puts on her toughest voice. "Oh, for Christ's sake, Kent. Get a grip." To prove she's not bluffing, she drops the towel and strides over to her dresser.

"Um. I talked to him." He's addressing his socks.

"Going home for some make-up sex?" The words are less teasing and more sharp than Chloe intended.

Clark exhales slowly. "More like, going back for another argument."

Chloe pulls on a pair of underwear and retrieves some relatively clean cords from the floor.

"There's so much ... stuff. In the way. Sometimes I just wish I could grab him and shake him, like an Etch-a-Sketch, you know? Make him forget all our issues." The frustration is evident in his voice.

Chloe puts on a purple bra, just because she's feeling vindictive. "It's like that with everyone, Clark. The longer you know someone, the more shit piles up."

He risks a glance in her direction now that she's mostly clothed. "I guess so." There's an edge of wistfulness in his voice, and Chloe understands that last night was partly about erasure.

"So, when you go to Pete's after you fight with Lex, do you guys do the same thing as we did?" she asks, faking a wicked grin.

Clark flushes deeply and suddenly his socks are fascinating again.

"Because I sure as hell had to shut you up somehow," she continues, still smiling. "It was either break out the duct tape or kiss you. And duct tape probably doesn't stick to your invulnerable face, does it?"

Clark is watching her now, but she's digging in her dresser to find a shirt, and she doesn't want to know what he's thinking anyway.

"Chloe ..."

"Clark," she returns, pulling on a tank top. Purple.

"It was ... special."

"Is this your way of telling me that you don't put out for Pete?" she asks, raising an eyebrow suggestively.

Clark almost laughs, then catches himself. "I mean it." A quick, jellying glimpse of green eyes, then Chloe remembers that she still isn't wearing socks.

"Well, I am a good lay," she drawls, turning back to the dresser. Clark opens his mouth, about to make another attempt at seriousness, but she waylays him. "Clark. Don't. Just let it be what it is. Was."

She dares to look up at him, and he nods once. "Okay."

"Now go and fight with your boyfriend."

He smiles softly. Chloe is almost triumphant. The friendship has somehow remained intact. It's just ... kind of hollow inside right now.

She walks him to the door. As soon as he leaves, she's going to go completely to pieces, but it's only another two seconds, and she can last that long.

He's almost gone, hand on the doorknob, when he stops again. "It's just as well," he says unexpectedly, and the million dollar grin makes its first appearance of the day. "At least Lex lets me win an argument once in a while."

Chloe's still gaping in astonishment when he dives in and kisses her, deep and soft and fast.

"Bye." An inrush of air from the hallway beyond, then he's gone.

Well. Going to pieces might not appear on the agenda until later in the day, after all.

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