by Miss D
Fic title: Oleander
By: :the duchess:
Concept: Quirky, funny and eventually steamy ficlet. Initial pairing: Mr. Kent and Miss Lane Focus pairing: Mr. Kent and Miss Sullivan Rating: Eventually NC-17
Disclaimer: None of the fictional characters belong to me. I can only wish.
Chloe looked at the sample of flowers and frowned.
"Total Monet", she thought to herself as the lady approached her with the bouquet. As she got closer, Chloe felt the smell growing stronger and thought she was going to faint. Instantly, her left hand moved up to pinch her nose as the other one gestured for Mercedes, the flower lady, to stop right where she was.
Holding her nose she shook her head no and said "That's ok, we are acquainted..."
Seeing Chloe's discomfort, the lady stopped and looked at her in confusion. She saw her face turn red as she held the tip of her nose tightly, cutting all blood circulation from it as she avoided the horrible smell. Nodding, Mercedes took a couple of steps backwards and left.
Walking down the main hall, she made her way back to the shop's workroom as she quickly moved past the different flower arrangements. Looking down at the bouquet she couldn't help but wonder why the young lady would choose such flowers for her wedding if they made her sick.
"Loca" she whispered as she shrugged and headed to the front of the store.
"Excuse me" she heard a masculine voice say and she instantly turned to see who it was.
An awkwardly elegant man stood in front of her. He was wearing a dark grey suit with a crisp white shirt and a traditional English tie. As he made eye contact with the lady, he smiled and adjusted his glasses.
"Excuse me, madam, I am Clark Kent" he said as he extended his arm to shake Mercedes' hand. For a brief second they looked at each other as she fumbled with the flowers, trying to find a way to shake his hand without dropping them. Clumsily Clark reached out and pulled away his hand a few times before he laughed nervously and just waved a silly hello. "Nice to... meet you. I'm..a.. looking for...a..." he stuttered as Mercedes nodded and walked past him to where Chloe was.
As they approached the garden table, Mercedes realized she was still holding the flowers in her hands so she suddenly stopped, making Clark run into her and almost knocking her to the ground. With the impact, the bouquet went flying out of Mercedes' hands only to be caught mid air by Clark who had also grabbed her by the arm preventing the fall.
"I'm sorry" he begun to say as he handed the flowers back and adjusted his glasses smiling at her.
"Clark!" said Chloe jumping up from her seat and stopping a few healthy feet away from the offending plant.
"Chloe?..." asked Clark confused as he looked at her petit frame among the large and majestic flower arrangements.
But before he could continue Mercedes interrupted "I was just showing your fiance her bouquet, Mr. Kent"
Jumping up from her seat Chloe laughed and staying within safe distance from Mercedes she said "Well, well, well...Mr. Kent what a surprise"
Taken aback, Clark just stood there, staring at Chloe, not believing his eyes. His lips were slightly parted as if he were to speak at any time. His green eyes wide open in shock hidden behind his glasses. Chloe saw him take a deep breath, his chest swelling up as he gasped in surprise.
Silently they looked at each other, Mercedes' voice and figure blending completely into the background and disappearing. Chloe felt her heart race within her chest, the sight of Clark sending a shiver down her spine.
It had been two years since they had seen each other; two very long years of silence. Chloe had fled Metropolis soon after Clark and Lois had gotten together. She loved her cousin and didn't want to hurt her. Chloe knew that seeing them together would upset her too much.
Escaping had never been an option but the circumstances were different then. Witnessing their love would be too much to stand. Wanting to have Clark and not being able to, would ache more than any other pain she had had to endure.
Los Angeles had been really good to her. Everything there had been exciting and funs, helping her heal her wounds and survive the painful agony that was renouncing to Clark. Leaving Metropolis had been hard. Abandoning everything that she had worked for, one of the hardest things she had to do. But Chloe understood that the city was not going to be big enough for all three of them. She had to take time off and let her battered heart heal.
Meaningless relationships had occupied her days. She worked hard and obtained great professional success but in the end she came back to an empty home and her beloved cat Bagheera. Later, rather than sooner, she was left with her tiny little scarred heart, a suitcase full of memories and the courage to return to Metropolis.
Chloe had toyed with the idea of returning home for months when one day she received the call she had feared for the longest time. It was Lois telling her Clark had proposed to her. That night, for the first time in almost two years she had allowed herself to cry over the man she had loved. Crying herself to sleep, Chloe set her anguish free and ached for that life she had dreamt of that could never be. That perfect life she would never have.
Mourning over what could have been she made the decision to return to Metropolis for the wedding. She really didn't want to, but she loved Lois and she had asked for her to be there for her. With an amazing sense of duty and strength in her soul she packed her bags and headed for Metropolis.
The sight of Chloe made Clark's heart full with happiness. Her departure had shattered him, mainly because he didn't know the reason that had moved her to make such a decision.
His life had changed drastically when he had decided to open up to Lois and propose to her. The burden such a secret represented, was off of his shoulders and for the first time he felt very happy that he had been able to share it with someone else. But at the same time he feared for the burden never disappeared, it just transferred from him to the persons he loved. Clark had been very happy that he had managed to keep Chloe safe and sound from his dangerous secret. The thought of her being in danger haunted him.
Looking at her he saw the same petit Chloe he had held in his arms so many times. Her beautiful blonde hair had grown a few inches, giving her a more mature look. Her face was flawless, still adorned with the beautiful triumvirate of tiny moles. Her smile was still contagious and infectious with happiness but as he focused on her eyes he saw a glint of sadness he had never seen before. They were still beautiful but the sweet innocence had been distorted. He could sense the pain.
Still staring at each other they exchanged smiles and slowly moved in closer. Mercedes moved out of the way before they sandwiched her and smiled at the genuine love she sensed in the air between them.
Falling into each other's arms, they held on tightly.
"Bear hug" she muttered as he wrapped his arms around her and squeezed her frail body into the most intense and loving hug she had had in 2 years.
"Chloe" said Clark as he slowly rubbed his hands up and down her back. "I can't believe this" he exclaimed as he took a step back to look at her.
"Chloe Sullivan in the flesh" she said as she modestly vowed and turned to look at Mercedes. Pointing at the flowers she continued "Please tell me those were not your choice"
Clark laughed at the remark and quickly added "You know it was not me, I am innocent your honor"
Chloe got lost in his laughter. He had such a genuine smile that she couldn't help but surrender to his charm every time he laughed. Forcing herself back to reality, Chloe looked at the flowers and remembered the reason why Lois liked them so much. Oleanders reminded her of her mother and the best days of her young childhood. Still she wondered why choose a poisonous plant for her wedding.
Shaking off all other thoughts, Chloe reached out and held on to Clark's arm like she had done in school.
"Wanna go have some tea?" she asked with her beautiful smile.
Clark nodded and they took off, everything else around them left unnoticed and unattended.
Mercedes watched them laugh as they walked away and thought they made a cute couple. It was a pity that he was engaged to someone else. The thought of forbidden love made her realize it was time for her Telenovela, so she hurried to the back of the store. _
The "Japanese Gardens" was a secluded area within Metropolis' Main Park. Its bamboo fence respectfully disguised with delicate shapes and harmonizing minimalism, separated it from the neighboring wilderness and served as the necessary limit that any paradise requires.
Clark and Chloe made their way in through the Wisteria Arbor, designed as a frame for the antique 4-tiered pagoda lantern. Side by side, they made their way past the Upper Pond and the crane sculptures into a zigzag bridge that lead them through the famed iris beds and into the Koi ponds. _Chloe told him about how Lois had asked for her help with the flower arrangements and how hectic everything seemed to be. Clark told her about how he thought he might surprise Lois and how he ended up being the surprised one.
The main garden area was divided in two. The outer Garden contained the waiting station for the traditional tea ceremony while the Inner Garden surrounded the ceremonial Tea House. Everything looked serene, harmonious and precise.
Chloe chose a private setting in the Inner Garden area and left Clark sitting in the comfortable lounger while she approached what looked like a counter, she recognized the waitress from all her previous visits to the gardens. Smiling she was cordially greeted by the Japanese girl who recognized her even after all those years she had been gone.
"It's been a while since we've seen you" said Yuki as she grabbed a tray and covered it with a cloth napkin.
"Yeah...I moved to L.A. and I came back just a few days ago" said Chloe as she surveyed the pastry-lined wooden trays with Kurimanju, Mushimanju and green tea Daifuku.
"You look great!" added the girl as she looked up at Chloe and then gazed at where Clark was sitting. "You look very happy....happier than you've looked before...did you marry that guy?" she asked pointing in Clark's direction.
Chloe blushed and jokingly she said "Not yet..."
"Well...hurry up..." exclaimed Yuki as she offered a genuine smile. "What can I get for you?"
For Clark she ordered safely, a cup of Earl Grey; for herself she was a little bit more adventurous and asked for green tea. With her taste buds still accustomed to the western flavors, she decided to accompany her choice with a sweet bun. All of them looked very appealing but finally she settled for a Chinese Fruit.
Making her way back to where Clark was at, she set the little tray on the small table and sat next to him. As she passed him the cup of tea their arms and hands brushed against each other and they both looked up into each other's eyes for a brief second.
He had not really changed since the last time she saw him. His eyes were hiding behind the glasses but they still looked as alive as when he was young. Chloe loved the way he smiled with his eyes, how his laughter infected the rest of his features and made him radiate happiness.
"Always the contagious smile" said Chloe as she let go of the cup and looked back at the items on the tray.
"Yes...exactly like I remember it" added Clark as he rewarded her with his beautiful smile.
Relaxing against the back of the lounger she sipped from her tea and bit into the sweet treat. It was a complex and antagonistic mix of flavors in her mouth and she enjoyed it tremendously. It was such a unique combination, a delicious sensation of total opposites coming together to blend into the perfect concoction.
She had always thought of herself and Clark in that way. He had always been calm and reserved, while Chloe was adventurous and daring. She knew in her heart she would have been able to make him happy but they had never had the chance to really try.
"I am really happy to see you Chloe" said Clark right after he drank from the cup. "I missed you"
Chloe smiled and replied "I missed you too".
As a matter of fact, Clark would never know how much she had missed him. He would never know about the endless night she spent thinking about him. Nobody would ever know how important he was for her, how much she cherished him. Chloe realized that she needed Clark in any way possible and that she had to give him up as a lover. At least, that way, she could still enjoy him as a friend. She would never be able to have him completely out of her life. Besides, Chloe knew it was impossible. Everywhere she turned there was Superman. Everywhere she went, there was always something that reminded her of him; a magazine cover, a headline, a report on the local news channel. She learned the hard way that she could not escape Superman, she could not escape Clark.
"How long are you going to stay?" he asked as he set the empty cup of tea on the tray.
Clark had always been like that. He downed that tea as if it was water and he was lost in the desert. Chloe couldn't even tell if he had savored it at all but it didn't matter, she just enjoyed the fact of being with him.
"I am moving back to Metropolis...permanently" said Chloe as she bit into the last piece of the bun.
At first he looked shocked but almost instantly his whole face lit up like a Christmas tree and he said "Chlo, that would be so good...it would make me really happy"
As the words rolled out of his mouth Chloe's sarcasm kicked in and she asked herself how happy that would be. Her pessimism didn't allow her to believe that Clark could actually want her there and her little heart hurt with each thought that passed her mind.
She wanted to know how happy Clark would be if she were in Metropolis but instead she just uttered "Really?"
He had missed her dearly. He had missed spending time with her and having the possibility to confide in her. Clark had always wanted to share his secret with Chloe but the only thought of putting her in danger made him sick and therefore he had never told her. He didn't really know she already knew.
"So tell me" she interrupted trying to divert the conversation from getting too complicated. "What have you been up to?"
"Not much" said Clark as he adjusted his glasses for the tenth time that morning. "Lois has been busy with the wedding and I have been working a lot...nothing special."
"I see" said Chloe as she relaxed against the back of her seat. "So you have not been involved in the decision making process?" she asked and then she laughed.
"Not really" said Clark "you know Lois."
It was Chloe's turn to nod and laugh again. Clark just smiled sheepishly and blushed.
"So you have the church booked, the reception planned and the cake picked....what about the bachelor's party?" asked Chloe.
"No party for me...but I think some of the girls at work wanted to do something for Lois" he answered not amused by the idea.
"Oh no. Clark Kent! You need a bachelor's party! Everyone has to have one!" exclaimed Chloe as she sat up and scooted to the edge of the seat. "We need to set it up quick!"
"Chloe, you know those things make me uncomfortable" he begun to say but Chloe interrupted with her usual enthusiasm.
"I have an idea! I will throw a party for you! I know I am not a guy but I can bet I can put together a cool thing for you!"
"I don't know....I don't like those things"
"Clark! Please! You have to have one....you will regret it if you don't!" added Chloe as she reached inside her purse and took out her blackberry.
"I'll tell you what..." trailed off Clark as he looked at her take notes. "You and I can have a party...maybe have Pete come over...a party of 3...no strippers or donkeys or any other weird stuff....just a nice meal with my best friends to celebrate".
Chloe gasped and smiled. The idea of a huge party was very appealing. She wanted to take on the project. But at the same time, Clark's proposal was so sweet that she could not refuse.
"Ok..." she said "Let me shoot Pete an email".
Chloe typed on the mini keyboard like an expert. Clark watched her thumbs cruise over the tiny keys as she focused her attention on the device and he smiled at the scene unfolding in front of his eyes. His thoughts anticipated with magical precision Chloe's next move as if he already knew by hard each one of her reactions.
The Blackberry beeped and he saw her grin at what she was reading.
"What's the matter?" asked Clark getting anxious at her secrecy.
"Pete will come," she added as she typed away without looking at Clark.
A few seconds later the device beeped once again and the message made Chloe chuckled.
"What?" said Clark loudly and instantly he looked around and crouched forward, trying to shield his large frame from the people that were staring at him.
"Shh...Clark!" reprimanded Chloe as she reached for her purse. "Don't get excited," she said as she stood up and held her hand out to him invitingly. "Wanna walk?"
Chloe dragged Clark out of the tearoom and into the beautiful and bucolic gardens. Their attires clashed with the serene environment and she laughed at the way he awkwardly followed her down the path.
The sun was shinning up in the blue Metropolis sky, its rays coming down on and lighting up Chloe's hair like yellow fire. There seemed to be sparkles all around her as he looked at her. She was breathtakingly beautiful and he let his mind wander into realms he had not thought of in years. He thought of the warmth that always emanated from her, very human and yet different from everybody else. He remembered the way he loved to hold her in her arms, protecting her from the world and every threat that surrounded them. He had never felt such a need to protect someone as he had with her. She was pure life bottled up in the most perfect container and he felt the need to protect it. Protect it with his life.
He saw her lips move and her eyes twinkle but his mind remained trapped in the moment. Clark saw her move closer and smile up at him and he couldn't help but smile back at her. She stood in front of him, gazing up like a little girl standing by a huge tree and he was lost in her eyes. Like it had happened before, the surroundings disappeared and blurred around them and suddenly it was just them, alone in the world.
Clark sensed her breathing speed up and caught a familiar sparkle in her eye and he smiled down at her as he held her hand in his. He felt words stirring inside his gut and he felt the need to say something. He fought the anxiety, trying to figure out what was it that he wanted to say and then it happened. He felt his cell phone vibrate in his pocket and all of a sudden the world came back to life around them, in full force to drown them in reality.
"Hello Lois" he said as he brought up the phone to his ear. Blinking he shook the moment away and letting go of Chloe's hand he continued to talk to his fiance.
Chloe smiled, concealing the pain the closeness brought and turning she walked away.
Pete Ross, reputable politician in the making, sat on the couch nursing a cold beer. In the last few years his face had toughened up at the same time it maintained the classic and true freshness he always had. "Charming and promising" had read the newspaper's headline when he entered the political world, and since then, his life had changed forever.
Smiling, he looked around the room. Time had taught him to observe things closely, a gift he had embraced. His eyes focused on the Minimalistic dcor Chloe had chosen for her new home in Metropolis. Earth tones combined perfectly with the dark woods and upholstery she had picked, making the place look clean and warm, clutter free and inviting.
Relaxing, he allowed his body to sink into the comfortable couch as he watched Clark and Chloe talk. Both of them were sitting on the large colorful rug that peeked from under the spacious coffee table. Side by side, like it had happened many times before, they were together laughing and sharing memories. Pete could hear their voices in the background but his eyes and mind were concentrated on everything that was not said. He was focusing on the gestures, on their unspoken words, the way they looked at each other as they spoke, the way they shared a smile. Even though he was still young, he had learned to read gestures, he knew how to recognize what lay beneath it all, and at that moment Pete realized something that made him uncomfortable. Clark was going to marry Lois Lane but he was in love with Chloe.
It had been a while since the three of them had shared a relaxed moment like this and seeing Clark and Chloe together revealed a whole different world that had been locked up for many years. He saw Chloe blush when she caught Clark glancing at her. He noticed how Clark would, when unnoticed, stare at her as she sipped from her Cosmopolitan or played with her hair. "Fools," thought Pete as he brought himself back to reality. "They have always been in love and they are too blind to realize it."
Scooting closer to the table, he sat the beer bottle on a napkin and said, "Do you two realize that this is the lousiest bachelor's party ever?"
Clark looked at him as he alternated between him and Chloe. She giggled like a little girl keeping a secret and standing up she took her empty glass to the counter to get another drink. From there she said, "Considering he was not going to have one at all, I think that we are pretty decent hot shot!"
Pete laughed and replied "Touch, but still...we can do better than this...I mean..."
Lifting his hand up in the air Clark interrupted Pete's exposition. "I said nothing crazy, no strippers or anything like that.... besides, Lois wouldn't approve."
Chloe chuckled and almost chocked on the little pickled onion she was chewing. Obviously, she thought, Clark didn't know his bride at all since Lois was a party girl and she loved to have a good time. Maybe she wouldn't approve of a stripper for Clark but she would welcome one gladly to her own party.
Pete and Clark looked at her and she smiled, pointing to her throat as if they would understand that the noises were the tiny onions fault. Of course, like usual, they understood. They knew her ironic chuckle from a mile away.
Going back to the discussion, Pete stood up and walked around the room. By the window he spotted a cute girl in the building across the street and he smiled when she glanced up and caught him staring at her.
"We need more drinks and something fun to do...we need more company" he finished saying as he turned around and walked back to where Clark was. Standing behind him he looked at Chloe and without any notice poured the rest of the beer o Clark's head.
"PETE!" yelled Clark as he felt the cool and foamy liquid trail splash his head and trail down the valley of his back. Chloe laughed her tipsy laughter and added "We should get him in is underwear, cover him in flour and strap him to the back of my car...then we parade Clark Kent, reporter for the Daily Planet, all over Metropolis!"
Clark looked at her disapprovingly but couldn't help smile at her enthusiasm. "C'mon Clark, you only get married once...or at least once for the first time...let us take you somewhere" she pleaded.
Standing up he shook his head like a golden retriever and splashed cold beer all over Pete and said, "Give me something dry to change into and I'll think about it."
Clark sat on Chloe's fluffy bed while she buried herself in the closet. She mumbled something about it not being enough space as she fished through her stuff. " I don't know if I have anything that will fit but I think I have some oversized sleeping shirts somewhere," she said as she looked through one of the bottom drawers. He got up and walked to where she was "Can I help?" he asked politely.
Chloe nodded and scooted over to the side to allow him some room. As he opened the top drawer he heard Chloe protest but it was already too late. Her lingerie was a myriad of colors, purples, reds, pinks and plumbs, lace and satin and he couldn't help blush at the though of Chloe wearing them. "Sorry" he said as she slammed the drawer shut and said it was ok. Turning he started digging into an unopened box and found some old t-shirts. Some looked worn and comfy, others were too small and finally, at the very bottom he saw it. Picking it up he looked at the oversized navy blue tee. It looked old and it smelled of her perfume. It had a tiny hole on the side and was torn at the bottom. In the middle of the chest it had the red and yellow Superman logo.
Chloe turned around holding a bright orange shirt when she noticed Clark holding her most precious item in his hands. She blinked, like she usually did when she was nervous and she waited silently for him to say something.
Clark's fingers moved over the worn out logo and cleared his throat, then he added, "I didn't know you were such a big fan."
Chloe turned red and Clark heard her heart's rhythm speed up.
"Oh...I didn't even know I had that" she added as she turned around and set the shirt on the bed. "I think someone left it at my apartment when I was in LA" she said quickly trying to dismiss the subject.
Clark nodded and regretted mentioning it. He felt unfamiliar warmth in his chest as he thought of her having the shirt and instantly his mind pictured her wearing it.
"Can I?" he asked shyly.
Chloe nodded and thought of all the times she had worn it to sleep, holding on to it as if it were the real thing, the man she had loved for so long.
In the quietness of the room she watched Clark unbutton his stripped shirt, revealing his beautiful body to her and then slip the shirt on.
"How can this world be so blind?" she thought before they headed back into the living room.
Late that day Pete watched Chloe nurse her 6th drink and thought it would probably be the last one. He laughed at the silly remarks she would make and marvel at the sweetness Clark treated her with. Still from the comfort of the couch he watched her walk towards Clark and trip on a tossed pillow. Completely sober Chloe would have managed to overcome it but after all six drinks she stumbled and fell on Clark. She giggled as he held her and asked if she was ok. Looking into each other's eyes the world seemed to disappear once again and it was then when Pete chose to get up and leave.
None of them realized he had left. As he closed the door behind his back he smiled and hoped that there would be no Kent-Lane wedding to attend.
Inside, Clark held Chloe in his arms, their faces very close. He could smell the liquor in her breath mixed with the raspberry chapstick she was wearing. He noticed that her giggles subsided slowly as her heart began to beat faster and faster. She was so warm, and she smelled so good. His past came back to haunt him, bringing along old memories of when he wanted to share his life with her, times when life seemed easier and the ghost of Lana Lang had disappeared, a world where there was no Lois Lane, a world where they were the reporters and he could love her freely.
Chloe's world spun out of control until she felt Clark's arms steady her. Suddenly everything was calm and there was quiet. There was no pain in her heart; just the feeling of pure joy and excitement, like when they were younger and the world belonged to them. She started to feel warm, her heart was racing out control, her hands became sweaty and she felt lightheaded. Looking up she saw Clark staring down at her and she narrowed the miles that separated them by quickly moving closer and kissing him.
She closed her eyes and let herself get lost in the wonder that was Clark Kent. A long time ago she had fallen in love with the most handsome and noble farm boy she had ever met. Against all odds, Chloe Sullivan, city girl, had surrendered to the charm of American's heartland and she had fallen for its son. Back then she didn't know he was meant to be a superhero, she was not aware of that other supernatural part that made him unique. She could have settled for the human nature that already made him extraordinary, still, she embraced the blessing that was his superhuman nature.
Clark loved the feeling of holding Chloe in his arms. She was so frail and yet so strong. For the longest time he had suffered for the chance that they never had at sharing a life together. In his heart he knew that he had always loved her. He had always known that he would always love her. His mouth felt cool against hers and as he inhaled her scent he parted them slightly to kiss her deeply.
His hands roamed over her back, the thin fabric of her blouse separating their flesh from direct contact. Slowly, he tasted her, his tongue gently entering her mouth and dancing along with hers. She gasped and moaned feeling his hands move up and down her back, bringing her closer to his, making her breasts press against his chest.
Clark and Chloe began to breath hard, sharing their passionate embrace. His kiss became more demanding, and she thought of the times they had kissed before. Back then he had kissed her like a boy and now he was kissing her like a man.
Clark loved the way Chloe smelled and he continued to kiss her beautiful mouth as he held her close. His eyes were closed, keeping the world away, locking himself in this dream world that he had longed for, for such a long time. He brought her closer to him and held her tight until the kiss was over.
Gently, their lips parted and they were left there, facing each other, with their arms wrapped around one another.
Clark wondered what was going to happen next while Chloe thought of a woman dressed in white, standing at the altar waiting for him.
Clark stared into Chloe's eyes and saw her pupils expand until her eyes became almost completely black. He watched her skin turn red, the crimson shade creeping up her chest and neck until it tinted her beautiful cheeks. He felt her emanating a radical and passionate heat that he had never sensed before. She was smiling up at him as her chest moved with every breath she took. Clark heard bells in the background, faint noises that at first seemed to blend into oblivion and then they just became stronger and stronger.
With his eyes still on her he shook his head and realized the phone was ringing insistently.
Without breaking eye contact, he reached out for the phone and answered it.
Chloe watched him say something into it and then hand her the device. Confused, she took it from him, an electric current running through her veins as their hands touched.
"Hello?" she said, concealing her drunken state real well.
Clark watched her frown and then smile and it was then when her eyes broke away from his. He felt the moment break as she stood up and steadied herself against the wall giggling as she spoke to the man on the other side of the line.
"Oh my God Jack!" Chloe yelled as she walked to the window. Clark saw her wave and then ran through the living room towards the door. Taking an unopened letter from the mail holder on the wall, she fanned herself as she stood by the railing still talking into the phone. It was then when Clark saw the figure approach, swiftly climbing the stairs.
From the spot on the carpet, Clark watched the man pick up Chloe in his arms and spin her around as he hugged her. Jealousy took over him, making Clark stand up, his chest swollen with pride.
Surprised he saw her take the guy by the hand and lead him into the apartment and casually ad "Clark, I want you to meet Jack, my..."
"Fianc" Jack interrupted as he shook Clark's hand.
Chloe watched the confusion in Clark's eyes, the beautiful green dyed with betrayal, focus on Jackson as they continued to shake hands and felt the pain that irradiated from him. She watched as the color drained instantly from Clark's face and she slightly kicked Jackson.
"Ouch!" said Jack as he felt the heel of the shoe dig slightly into the flesh.
Quickly out to remedy the damage she playfully slapped Jackson's arm, and getting in between him and Clark and said, "Jack is joking, we are not engaged..."
Frowning, Clark looked at Jackson and then back at Chloe. He heard her mumble something about warped sense of humor and punch her friend again. Still confused he allowed the information to register and then felt the corners of his mouth shape up in a perfect smile. He laughed nervously as he watched Chloe's face redden and then felt every muscle in his body relax.
Jackson laughed as he rubbed the side of his arm as he let his backpack fall on the couch. An uncomfortable silence took over the room, the sound of an ambulance fading in the background as it sped up down the Avenue.
Finally Jackson asked "Nervous?"
Clark looked up at him and shook his head no. He still felt as if kryptonite were draining out of his system. His legs felt weak and his arms ached as if all his force had been used up. He had grown accustomed to deal with human weaknesses, even though his physiology was alien. The yellow sun gave him extraordinary powers but it didn't make his body immune to feelings. Embarrassment took over as he looked at Chloe. He knew that she had read his reaction to Jack's joke and he felt uncomfortable that she knew he was jealous.
Chloe tried to escape to the kitchen with Jackson following her closely. As she reached the counter she sighed and felt the sides of her face. She was hot, her skin felt like burning coals in an open fire. Her head was spinning around and she felt her legs weaken. Inside her chest her heart had not calmed down yet. She could still feel it racing as if Clark were still touching her, She felt a soft hand caress the side of her arm and then take her by the hand. Turning she looked up and saw Jack's deep blue eyes looking down at hers.
Jackson smiled and caught Chloe before she allowed her body to fully collapse in his arms. Holding her tightly and out of the corner of his eye he saw Clark pacing in the living room, his eyes focused on them. Smiling, he picked Chloe up and sat her on the counter. With a wet towel he refreshed her face as he carefully arranged a loose strand of her long and golden hair. Looking up he saw Clark's reflection on the glass cabinet door and smiled triumphantly, once again, as he caught him looking at what him and Chloe were doing.
Leaning closer to Chloe he whispered "just pretend".
Chloe's half dazed eyes looked up at jack and then hugged him back as he put his arms around her. Then, very quietly she said "Shh...don't speak...I will explain later." And with that she let him hold her tightly.
His cell phone rang and he answered it rapidly.
"Hello Lois," he said into the tiny phone as he looked away from where Chloe was at. He heard his fiance babbled something into the phone and he just replied with monosyllables. He felt anxious and enraged. He felt jealous and annoyed. He heard Lois upset on other end and he just snapped. With a swift "I will talk to you later" he let the phone close up and the conversation was over.
Shaking off the words, Chloe got down from the counter and weakly landed on her feet. The jack spoke again. "He is jealous Chloe...couldn't you see his reaction?"
Chloe dismissed his commentaries as if he were speaking nonsense but Jack wouldn't give up that easy. Taking her hand he brought her close and said "Don't give up on him Chloe, he really loves you...even a blind man could see that..."
Jack's decision to come to visit Chloe had been more of an impulse. He missed his dear friend and when she mentioned the upcoming wedding and the lack of a date he thought it would be a perfect excuse to travel.
As he sipped from a glass of chilled Chardonnay, he remembered when him and Chloe had just met, the circumstances and how he wondered if she had the same fresh and exhilarating effect on everybody like she had had on him.
Before Chloe his life had been a chaotic bunch of events put together by chance. After she came into his life, everything had taken shape and form, moments were not random happenings but events carefully threaded together. She had brought hope along with her, even though she seemed to have lost hers along the way. Chloe had straightened Jackson up, she had talked to him about the importance of being driven towards something, the necessity of having a goal and how much he needed to focus on himself.
Prior to Chloe, Jackson had been on a string of meaningful flings, relationships that lasted just a few months, sometimes merely weeks. There was no commitment to himself or anyone else and she sensed how alone he felt. He painted, and even though he was a great artist he had never found anyone that would encourage him to pursue his art full time.
As they spoke and got to know each other, there had been wisdom in Chloe's speech that didn't match her age. She seemed very mature and yet she had managed not to loose her inner child. Unlike Jackson, she seemed to have a purpose in life, a goal. She had talked about her professional ambitions and the need to work to achieve those things. From the moment they met, Jack had embraced her guidance and had become her best friend.
However, he remembered perfectly how he had detected that she felt alone just like he did. She refused to date and buried herself in furthering her studies and working. Puzzled one afternoon he had asked about old boyfriends and Chloe didn't respond. With time he had discovered that the man that had broken her heart wad named Clark.
Walking from the window to the couch he saw her resting on the couch. Clark, the object of her affection, had already returned to his bride leaving Chloe alone in her apartment to deal with her own private issues. Her eyes were closed and he watched how her breathing begun to relax as sleep took over. On the side table he saw the wedding invitation and remembered the day she had received it.
They say that it never rains in California, but that afternoon heaven was falling on earth in the shape of tiny droplets of water. As is the environment wanted to accompany her in her pain, the atmosphere felt heavy and the skies were dark with clouds. He had found her in her apartment, sitting by the window, holding the open envelope. Her face was streaked with black lines of mascara. For all her knew she could have been crying blood for her eyes looked as red as they could be. Without asking he held her and just listened to her sobs.
Later she had told him the story of a guy named Clark Kent and how she would love him forever.
Sitting by her he nursed the wine out of the cup as he watched her sleep. Jack thought of Clark's reaction and was convinced that there was still hope for his friend. He couldn't allow for Chloe to loose her last chance. He loved her dearly and if he would have been straight, he would have married her, but none of that mattered, he had come here to support her and after witnessing the afternoon's events he knew he was on a mission. He had to get those two together.
Drowning the rest of his drink he got up and taking a blanket covered Chloe up. Then he headed out the door and into the jungle that was Metropolis. At the corner he bought the last of the Daily Planet's issues and headed to the coffee store.
The afternoon sky was decorated with stripes of purple as the sun began to set. With every step he took, Jack could feel the smell of coffee grow stronger as he approached the little shop. The windows had shades half way drawn to keep out the strong afternoon sun. The glass panes were decorated with delicate lettering and drawings of hot and steamy coffee mugs. As he opened the door the bells chimed and the faint murmur of the clientele replaced the loud noises coming in from the streets. The atmosphere was both cool and humid with the AC's conditioned air blasting in and the coffee machines exuding steam like old trains.
Approaching the counter, Jack took out a 20-dollar bill and ordered a mocha frappucino. The Asian girl behind the register smiled shyly at him and he smiled back at her. Her face was smooth as silk and her demeanor reminded him of that one of a geisha. Her lips were a perfect heart and her eyelashes elongated to the sides, accentuating the shape of her eyes.
He bowed slightly, as if acknowledging her before taking the cup in his hand and walking towards the back of the store. He held the cup in his right hand, the lid moving dangerously as he walked slowly and tried not to drop his change. Small droplets of water formed on the outside of the container making it slippery and he sighed relieved as he reached the table. Setting the cup along with the paper and the spare change on the smooth surface he took off his jacket and sat down.
On the cover of the afternoon edition of the Daily Planet there was a picture of Lex Luthor cutting the ribbon in front a brand new super hotel complex he had just inaugurated in Las Vegas. He was smiling successfully, like always, standing by a beautiful young lady that looked young and yet sophisticated. Right next to the picture there was another one of Superman as he saved a plane full of passengers from a deathly crash. Superman's headline was bigger and bolder, always standing out and being the protagonist of everything that happened in this world.
Scanning the rest of the edition was customary. He found the usual news, world, economy, stock market and local sections. There was nothing unusual until he reached the last page. In a small and lost square inch there was a tiny headline referring to the powerful Morgan Edge. It caught Jack's attention since he remembered Chloe's stories about him and Lionel Luther from when she was back in High School. He remembered how he doubted her saying at the beginning, thinking that she was delusional. However time proved her right. The few lines read something about an old article, more like a myth than a reality in the journalistic world, that some people knew of and that had revealed a lot of information about a very specific doing of these two. Folding the paper, Jack stood up and after throwing the empty cup in the trash, walked out the door.
The next morning Chloe woke up with a splitting headache. The sun was streaming in through the open blinds and she cursed herself for not being more careful. The alarm clock read 6:15 am and she hated her internal clock for being so damn on the dot. Slowly, she got out of bed and headed for the kitchen. Like usual, she made her stop at the door to pick up the paper and headed back in to get her morning coffee.
The steam bothered her and she took a couple of aspirins with some orange juice before eating anything else. In the living room Jack was dead asleep on the couch, one of long legs hanging from the side as if the piece of furniture were too small for him.
Sitting down, Chloe felt the cool wood of the chair on her butt and flinched. Her coffee was bitter but she needed to wake up and that was the best way she knew of. As she unfolded the paper, the little plastic band holding it together snapped and she cursed under her breath. Finally, as she spread the Daily Planet out on the table her eyes grew big in shock.
There, on the front page, was part of her article on Morgan Edge, the long lost article that never made it anywhere. Under the headline, she read L. Lane.
With her legs propped up on the edge of the coffee table, Lois Lane smoked a cigarette. Around her the world seemed to awaken with dawn and she welcomed the darkness that still enveloped her. She hated mornings, especially those after she had had insomnia. Inside, the flickering of the TV images danced in the shadows of the unlit rooms of her apartment. She heard the meteorologist read the forecast for the day and thought it didn't seem like it was going to rain. Somewhere she heard the faint crying of a baby and she turned left and right trying to see where it was coming from. It bothered her. Angrily she slapped the cushion she had on her lap and took another long drag of her cigarette before she relaxed again, letting her torso fall and rest against the back of the aluminum chair.
From her spot she contemplated the way the cars sped down the street, racing steadily to reach the red light, where their engines died. At one point in her life she would have laughed at the irony. Today, her lips would barely curl up for a second in what seemed to be the faded imitation of a smile. She felt tired. She was just 25 but her life had always been different from everybody else.
Her mother's death handicapped her family, leaving her dad to be alone and bitter. Lois had grown up over night, mothering her little sister and trying to give her all the love she didn't seem to get. Scarred and independent she moved on with her life and went to law school. Passionate and strong she succeeded throughout her college years but soon the stamina died and she settled for a quiet job as an assistant. The pay was consistent and work was interesting and it left her enough free time.
The sharp ringing of the cell phone made her reach out and get it out of her pocket. On the screen she read CK and she smiled. Clark Kent. Her fianc.
She was about to answer when she decided against it. They had fought the day before and she wanted him to suffer just a little bit more before she spoke to him again. Setting the phone back where it was she felt it vibrate against her leg once before it stood still.
Clark and Lois had begun dating in college during her junior year. Before that time she would have laughed at the outrageous idea of dating Smallville but time had made her heart grow fond of him and she fell in love. The Kent's universe offered her everything she had longed for and could never have. They had had those special moments with the sweet and loving mother preparing muffins and the strong and caring dad who was a hard worker and an honorable man. Lois had seen those moments only in movies and in fake TV commercials. Skeptic, she thought that didn't exist until she met Clark.
For a while she had waited for that special event to happen, that life turning moment we all experience. For a long time she thought that was marrying Clark.
The sun had begun to rise and the warm rays bathed the side of the building. The phone beeped and Lois frowned when she read her cousin's name on the screen.
"This better be good" she said as she took another cigarette from the package. "I didn't sleep at all last night".
Clark held the cell phone to his ear as he stood at the corner of Fifth Street and Concord Lane. Lois was not picking up and he grunted as he closed the phone and stuffed it in his pocket. In the very beginning he had found her stubbornness annoying and later on it had become very appealing and almost sweet. Sighing, he realized that recently he had found her determination to be a little irritating. Every time they had a fight she would give him the silent treatment for days until he went back to her, crawling on his hands and knees, apologizing and professing his undying love for her. His patience was fading and he fought his anger with all his supernatural might.
Reaching the front door he looked up to the giant, turning globe that adorned the Daily Planet building. The sun was shinning in the horizon, the rays reflecting off of the golden trim of the icon as he walked in the cool, marble lobby.
Nodding once, he acknowledged Maxine sitting at the front desk and continued to the elevators. The sun had begun to infiltrate the building through its windows, creating patterns of light on the marble floor. Following the golden lines, Clark entered the crowded elevator and watched the doors shut in front of his very nose.
Standing at the very front he moved to the side and allowed the rest of the people to exit the elevator as it reached each floor. One by one they exited, leaving him and a few others to reach the higher levels. His nose caught the sweet scent of lilies and he smiled. Lilies always reminded him of Chloe.
The elevator beeped as it reached another floor and he walked out into the huge room. Dozens of desks were carefully lined up one after the other, with large piles of papers adorning them. Men and women rushed down the halls with pencils in their hands, some of them making notes, other mumbling things to themselves or into their cell phones.
Unnoticed, he moved past senior reporters and secretaries as he made his way to his desk. Looking down Clark watched his feet drag slightly as he balanced his backpack on his shoulder. Lois had said it was not the most mature thing to use but he liked it. It reminded him of school and the young years in Smallville. Again the faint scent of lilies startled him and he found himself wanting to see Chloe again. Thing seemed so much easier when she was around.
Dropping the backpack on the chair he begun to take off his jacket as he scanned the Daily Planet's front page. A mayor headline caught his eye and he started to read the article. Surprised he didn't recall seeing it in their last night's draft and he wondered what had produced the change. With his eyes fixed on the name underneath the headline, he picked up the phone and dialed an extension.
"Hello Marcy" he said into the receiver "Can I go up to see Pauline for a minute, please?
Pauline furiously fought with a stain as the intercom buzzed. With a small tissue she struggled with the offending coffee that had spilled over her jacket. She had tried to dry it and then use water to remove it, but she was loosing the battle and she was not pleased. She rubbed the tissue hard against the fabric until the item fell apart into tiny little threads. The buzzing was persistent and she threw away the remains of the tissue and pushed the button.
"What?" she snapped.
"Mr. Kent wants to see you..." begun to say Marcy but Pauline cut her off almost instantly.
"Tell him to come in" she said as she turned the device off and grabbed another tissue.
With her eyes focused on the stain she heard the door open and then the familiar and timid steps of Clark. She didn't have time to waste so as soon as she caught sight of his shoes approaching she said, "I want to know who wrote the article we published this morning. I suspect you know who wrote it. Find the person and bring her ...or him...to me. Everything we have on this matter was just forwarded to your email."
Clark's eyes grew big as he was caught off guard. For a second Pauline looked up at him and saw the surprise in his eyes. She smiled triumphantly and focused back on the stain.
Hesitating Clark asked "How am I to do that?...And how do you know I will bring the correct person?"
Still smiling Pauline said "I have information only the writer can confirm...you do your part and let me do mine."
She didn't wait for Clark to leave. In an instant she had thrown the second tissue away and was on the phone. She gestured for Clark to snap out of his state and waved for him to leave. Like a small puppy, Clark lowered his head and acknowledged her command, closing the door behind his back. As he walked away, Clark heard a faint trail of Pauline's conversation.
"I trust Kent. If it's not his article then he will bring her to me."
There was a pause and then she continued.
"Lois Lane, yes...and there is also another one..."
As she said that, Clark rushed out of the office and into the maintenance closet in the hall. In a second, he was out the window and cruising the skies towards Lois' apartment.
Chloe was crying as she walked down the street. Her backpack felt heavy on her shoulder as she bumped against the people rushing back and towards the metro. As she reached the corner she looked at her reflection on the window of a store. Her hair was up in a ponytail and she had a baseball cap on. Her jeans were baggy and a she had chosen a white t-shirt. The contours of her mouth were slightly curved down as she wiped the tears off of her face. Focusing her eyes, on the inside of the shop, she saw the huge flat screen TVs tuned in the Planet News Broadcasting channel. The news on the article and the national search for the writer were everywhere. Politicians and reporters were commenting on the issue and almost overnight she had become a celebrity. Chloe tried to absorb the images of the headlines and what the anchors were saying about her. At one point it all became too much, and she ran down the street, her figure getting lost in the crowd.
From the side of the building, as he held on to the gargoyle that decorated the Metropolis Museum of Modern Art, Clark watched Lois' figure move between the crowd as she headed for the subway. He wanted to talk to her but was afraid she would still be upset at him. Carefully he glided between the building's, keeping an eye on her at all times. Then, in a split second he rushed downwards and entered the subway as he watched the world around him freeze for a brief instant. His clothes changed as fast as he moved and as the world came back to life, he appeared behind a column, disguised as the common man, the one that blended in with the crowd, the one that seemed like one of us. People walked by him but none of them distracted him from the target he had been following. In her black pants and sweater, Lois descended into the chamber and shook her head as the heat that emanated from underneath enveloped her. The train stopped and he watched Lois walk in the car and sit. Slowly, he made his way in. With Superman's smoothness he moved among the people, Clark would have tripped and knocked somebody's paper on his way, but this time he needed to blend in and disappear. Something in the back of his mind told him there was danger among them. Carefully he positioned himself behind Lois and waited until they reached her stop. Following his fiance, Clark waited until they reached the entrance that led to the restrooms and swiftly he grabbed her arm and dragged her into the small area. With his hand on her mouth he watched her eyes grow big in fear before she realized it was him. Anger flashed through her hazel eyes, surprise and anger. He could tell by them.
"Lois" he said without moving his hand. "Listen, it is very important. I think you are in danger."
She nodded and reaching out removed his hand from her mouth. Lois had never seen Clark this way, he seemed in command of the situation. There was a very unfamiliar strength to him that was very weird to her.
"Can you explain?" she asked, as her eyes scanned the features of the man she was going to marry. She had touched his face so many times, kissed his cheeks when he wished her good night, she had bitten his lips when he made love to her, traced the soft eyebrows with the tip of her fingers. All of it was familiar to her and yet, now, she didn't recognize him as Clark. His demeanor was not what she was used to. The tone of his voice was so different and yet the same. It seemed deeper and yet smooth.
"Lois? Are you with me?" he asked as he touched the side of her arm.
"All of Metropolis is searching for a ghost writer. All they have is an old article, that contains very sensitive information, and the name L. Lane...somehow they think its you..." he begun to say before Lois cut him off. "I know Clark" she started to say. "I talked to Chloe this morning, the article is hers."
Clark took a step back. Memories started to flood his senses. He remembered his prior days in Metropolis, the robberies, and his exile, Chloe, Pete and Lana. Insightfully, he begun to tie loose ends and along with Lois information, he started to see the big picture. And instantly he realized that it was not going to be hard to trace the article back to Chloe. Desperately he asked "Where is Chloe?"
Lois shook her head and said "Hell if I know! She called me this morning, after I couldn't sleep all night, and told me about this deal. I was furious! She used MY name? Why? I...I told her she needed to fix it...I don't want to be a reporter, I don't want to be on the news...I..."
"Where is she" demanded Clark as he took Lois by her arms and shook her slightly.
"I don't know. And I don't care...she got me in this mess and..."
"Lois! Chloe is in danger! How could you do this?" said Clark, trying very hard not to raise his voice.
He watched the people walk by, oblivious to their presence and the problems they were discussing. Clark felt angry and disappointed. From everyone he knew, he didn't expect Lois to deny her help to her cousin, like she had. He loved Lois but couldn't understand how careless and insensitive she was.
"Where did she go?" asked Clark as he looked at Lois in the eye. "Tell me...I need to find her!"
There it was. The strength and determination she had never seen in him before. Lois wondered what had triggered it and as she watched him pronounce the name, she knew. Chloe.
"Why do you care so much?" she asked angrily as she pushed his away, feeling the strong flesh underneath the fabric of his suit as he took a step back. "You should be interested in me and not in her! I am your fiance Clark!"
"Lois, please. Don't start this. It has nothing to do with us...it is your cousin who is in danger for god's sake!"
"She will be ok Clark! She has been ok without you for a while, remember? I am the one who should be offended. She took my name and now I am this big ass mess. It is her fault and all you want to know is where she is? Clark...please...leave...go find her...and leave me alone." Turning, she joined the crowd moving up the stairs, towards the morning light, leaving Clark in the darkness of the small, underground chamber.
Furious, Clark punched the wall and opened up a crack on the cool, gray tile. He couldn't believe Lois had been so self-centered. He was amazed at the apathy she showed for Chloe and he felt his heart ache with confusion. Pushing all thought away, he concentrated on the most important task. He needed to find Chloe and make sure she was ok. Everything else had to wait.
Pete stepped out of his car and looked up at the beautiful, Tudor building where Chloe's apartment was. Letting the car door fall shut behind him, he nodded and ordered for his bodyguard to stay outside. Walking towards the front door he found himself hoping that things had gone all right for Clark and Chloe after he left. He had always sensed the true love they had for each other and was not willing let them ignore their feelings much longer. In his opinion, Lois had always been a nice girl, a little demanding and too aggressive for Clark. She seemed to like the comfortable environment of the Kent farm but she always seemed out of place, as if the quietness and peacefulness of the countryside made her uneasy. He thought of Chloe, when she arrived to Smallville, with her 'big city girl' attitude that soon mellowed and adapted. She had never changed her way of thinking but her demeanor had tailored to the small town and giving her the complexity of a million pieces puzzle.
The main door to the building was open and an old man was sweeping the floor. With the mop in hand and wearing a faded blue overall, he moved to the side and allowed Pete to make his way towards the stairs. He nodded and resumed his task. Taking two steps at a time, Pete moved up the marble stairs. The banister was adorned with figures of roaring lions and other intricate engravings. As he reached the last steps he saw that the door to Chloe's apartment was open. Casually he reached the entrance and found the living room trashed. All of the furniture had been turned upside down, all of the pottery and decorative vases lay broken on the floor. Pete felt the cracking of glass underneath his shoes as he walked in. He was about to call Chloe's name out, fearful that she was going to be hurt, but he knew it was not a good idea. Reaching into his pocket, he took his cell phone and pushed the panic button.
"Clark!" yelled Pete. "Clark! Where is Chloe?" The sound of her name felt sweet and comforting. He was confused and looking at Pete he asked "What? Who is that?" finished Clark as he pointed to the body underneath the blanket.
"Jackson Plummer, according to the wallet..." answered Pete as he waited for Clark to explain.
Clark smiled. His most genuine and relieved smile. Chloe was not dead. He watched Pete frown as Clark chuckled and took a deep breath and then said "Chloe is not dead, I have to find her...are you ok?
Pete nodded and pointed at the police. Then he got closer to Clark and asked "What is going on Clark? What has Chloe gotten herself into?"
Chloe walked in the room and turned on the lights. Letting the backpack fall on the old carpet she walked towards the bed listening to the door creak and shut.
Reaching the king size bed, she looked around for the TV remote and turned it on. Surfing the channels she looked for the Planet News Broadcasting station. The familiar spinning globe turned incessantly on the upper right corner as the images flickered on the screen. The news bar at the bottom anticipated the latest updates, the words scrolling fast, from right to left. She concentrated on listening to the anchor as her eyes scanned the news bar. She read about Japan's new export policies and of the Greenpeace protests in the Atlantic. Before, she would have paid close attention to everything that happened in the world. However, today, she was only interested in the latest and hottest news in Metropolis. The news about her.
She felt tired and wanted to take a nap but the adrenaline in her body told her it was not a good time to give in and be weak. She was sad that she had made Lois upset and debated whether she was going to give her another call later in the day to try to apologize. Chloe knew that since she left things had been tough between them. She had wanted to tell Lois the reasons behind her move but she couldn't make herself confess her love for Clark. Chloe had figured that since it had never happened, there was no reason to share that with anyone. Including Lois. Especially Lois. Ties had been broken between them, leaving a caring but minimal relationship between them. Both cousins knew there was something going on but neither of them had the courage to address the issues. It was time to remain silent.
On the news bar Chloe read about Superman's rescue and wished that Clark were there by her side. The letters seemed to merge together, fading into the maroon colored bar until her eyes caught a familiar name. In what seemed an eternity the screen turned blue announcing a special report and then a young, Asian woman holding a microphone begun to speak. In her confusion Chloe recognized her neighborhood, the building where her apartment was and the name of her dear friend. The girl was saying something about Jackson being dead and Chloe felt a sharp and agonizing pain in her head. Her eyes begun to water and her lips quivered as if the environment had just turned ice cold. All the color drained from her beautiful face, leaving her with a ghostly appearance. Chloe's hands came up to cover her mouth as the salty tears rolled down her cheeks. She blinked as if trying to hold them back but she failed. It was pointless, it was as if the dam had broken and she couldn't control the tears. As if they symbolized the unrestrained flow of emotions, the tears flowed freely, making her eyes hurt as if they were made out of acid. In her head the word 'why' echoed incessantly and as she let herself fall on the bed she closed her eyes and cried.
Her tiny hands held on to the cheap fabric of the bedspread as she tried to breathe. Chloe felt as if a huge hand were clawing at her throat, holding it tightly, preventing the air from flowing. She gasped and allowed her body to shake and shiver with fear and sadness. In the quiet of the room she cried, surrendering to the pain with heroic abandon. She needed Clark more than anything and suddenly, the sun came out in the middle of the storm and she realized that she was in danger. They had been after her. Whoever they were, they were looking for her. As if possessed, she stood up and taking the bag with her left the hotel. She had to find a safe place. She had to find Clark.
Clark exited the elevator and walked towards his desk. He needed to find Chloe and didn't know where to start. Usually, it was Chloe who did the investigative part of it all, but Clark was no detective and Metropolis was an enormous city. He smiled when he remembered the time a friend of Chloe had said she should become a PI and she giggled and blushed as she held on to Clark's arm. She had taken it as a joke but Dick had meant every word of the compliment. Chloe had been so beautiful that night, wearing a soft green dress that clung to all her curves and accentuated her beautiful figure. That had been a time when they were together, enjoying life, loving each other as friends and hoping the other would have the courage to take it to the next level. Clark had given up on the possibility of a romantic relationship soon after, when Chloe had decided to date a friend of hers from school. Clark never knew that Chloe had chosen to move on because she felt too much pain when they were together but not quite. It had hurt her to see the pain in Clark's eyes but most of all it had confused her terribly to see him react that way.
Reaching his desk he sat down and sighed as if he tried to concentrate and figure out a way to find her. She had only been in town for a little while so there were no familiar places where to look for her. Clark contemplated the idea of the Japanese Gardens as an option along with every other coffee shop in town. Everywhere he went there seemed to be a dead end and even before starting the quest, he had become frustrated.
Taking off, he decided to start at the gardens when he heard a commotion coming in from one of the offices. Looking in, he saw his co-workers standing in front of the TV watching the news. On the screen he saw the figure of a young woman standing on the roof of a building, about to jump. She was holding on to the wall as the police and firemen tried to talk her out of it. In his heart he just needed to find Chloe but he also knew he had to save this girl first. No one had noticed Clark walking in and no one notice him rushing out of the office and into the deep blue sky.
Swiftly, he made his way to the girl, hurrying towards her. He needed to get there fast and from there to Chloe. Feeling the city unfold beneath him as he cruised the sky, he felt his chest ache with anxiety, wanting to find Chloe and feeling desperate at the notion he had no clue where to look for her. Lois was a dead end and a subject he didn't want to address. Pete had all the contacts but he knew Chloe had taken off to disappear and he knew she could do that easily. He had to find a way to get to her, a way to communicate with her so he could find her. Even better, he needed to tell her to come to him. "But how?" he thought.
Descending on the roof, he walked towards the young girl and waved at the policemen that stood in the street. They waved back at him and sighed, relieved that he had made it in on time to save the day. Reaching out Superman grabbed the girl by the shoulder and watched her turn around and stare at him, with tears in her eyes.
"I thought you would never come Clark" said Chloe as she held on to his hand.
Clark watched the tears trail down her cheeks, leaving new streaks over the old ones. His eyes recognized Chloe and his heart begun to pound faster with surprise. The excitement was strong but it soon faded when he realized the danger and the pain she had gone through. Beneath them, he saw the crowd staring up, their necks twisted at an awkward angle as they witnessed the rescue. However, nothing of that mattered to him. She was his priority and he needed to take her to a safe place before anything else happened.
The way he took her hand felt surreal to Chloe. She saw the look in his eye as he embraced her tightly. He held her closely, as if afraid to let go, unaware of the camera's zooming in on them. He smiled relieved and in an instant held her with one arm and took off into the sky. He heard Chloe squeal and hold on to him as he moved up, up and away from Metropolis.
Chloe felt the atmosphere become lighter, the air not weighing heavy on her frail body. The clouds lay beneath them, like a white blanket that hid them from the rest of the world. The air became cooler and she could see the sun in the horizon, stretching out its rays into the sky. Chloe felt Clark's arms bring her close and she begun to shiver when the winds became cold. Turning, she looked forward and saw the Artic ice rise ahead as he begun his descent towards the hidden fortress.
"You are safe with me" he told her as he landed on the sparkly ice.
She heard the tiny crystal crack beneath his boots as he walked down a narrow path. Protecting her head with one of his hands, he carefully moved down the slope, the once narrow walls, broadening up and leading into the main chamber. She recalled being there before. It had been freezing cold like it was now, with the ice crystals dangling over their heads, making the light sparkle in the vast space.
Gently, he set her down, making sure she was steady before he let go of her. They smiled at each other, not a single word spoken.
Clark looked down at her swollen face and he felt anger at the ones who had done this to her. He felt such tenderness for her that he just wanted to hold her close and never let go. Before his body betrayed him, he took off and walked towards the control panel. He arranged crystals expertly, speaking some words unknown to humans as he did this. From her frozen spot Chloe watched him and was marveled at the changes her farm boy had gone through. She felt her heart swell with pride and love for him.
"All set" he said as he replaced a crystal and watched the panel disappear.
Looking around, Chloe watched the empty space as walked towards her.
"What do you mean?" she asked looking up at him.
Smiling he took her by the hand and holding her by the waist, took off into the air. Flying expertly through the dangerous dangling crystals he made his way up into a hidden chamber.
She didn't know when the tears had surfaced but she felt them trail down her face. Looking up she heard the anchor comment on the news and ask "Is this Superman's love interest?" with a frozen image of Clark and Chloe before he flew away.
The bartender had to duck behind the counter before the glass hit the screen.
Pete paced in front of the fireplace as he held his cell phone to his ear. He moved slowly but yet he looked impatient. He had come to Metropolis hoping to have a good time with his best friends and instead he had almost witnessed a murder, Chloe was the most sought after person in the city and Clark's wedding was at risk.
Waiting, Pete tried incessantly to reach Chloe's cell, to no avail. He sat down and looked at the empty fireplace, the decorations on the mantle looking beautiful under the light that came in from the street. On the little table that was next to the Regency chair, Pete saw the TV remote and he surrendered to the temptation. There was not much he could do but wait. Tuning it on he looked for the news channel and saw Clark. He was holding Chloe, carrying her into the sky as he took off and left Metropolis.
Pete smiled. He had tried not to. Especially knowing that the situation was very delicate for everyone involved. But secretly, he smiled. Because he knew that what Clark and Chloe shared was the most pure and genuine love he had ever seen. Flipping the channels he searched for another show to watch as he relaxed in the comfortable chair. He had booked a beautiful suite at the Plaza Hotel and he didn't like the idea that he had not gotten the chance to enjoy it.
He felt relieved now that he knew that Clark had Chloe. However, something deep inside made him uneasy. Pete wanted to be sure that she was going to be all right but he had no idea what the extent of the conspiracy was. He hoped that Clark would take good care of Chloe.
Taking a deep breath he shook his head and realized the room was filled with an infectious, sweet smell. Looking around he saw a large vase with a bouquet of oleanders in it and he shivered at the headache the perfume gave him.
Positioned in Clark's arm Chloe watched the ice crystals pass by as he took off towards the ceiling of the fortress. He held her close as he moved towards a secret passage that led to a chamber he had designed himself not long ago. Slowing down, Clark reached the highest point in the building and took a passage that turned to the right and then to the left to finally guide them into a large room that overlooked the rest of the fortress. Setting Chloe down, he allowed her to walk freely among the ice beams. To her left she saw the railing of the balcony that overlooked the main chamber where they had been just a second ago. The crystals around them made it easy for her to look down into that room concealing her from the view of others. To the right she saw a thin glass layer, as transparent as the clearest glass that provided her with the most beautiful view she had ever seen. Everything around them looked white and towards the horizon she could see the way the earth curved naturally. Pointing in that direction, Clark showed her the colors the sky took up north, with a supernatural glimmer that seemed to fit perfectly with his alien nature. Just above a whisper he said "The sun looks beautiful when it sets."
Looking out, Chloe watched the vast amounts of ice surrounding her and as Clark moved closer she felt uneasy. Unlike before, the place seemed warm and she wondered if it was their closeness that made her feel this way.
Aware of her heart beating faster, Clark took a step back and continued "I wanted it to be like the fortress in Kansas, so I needed to see the sun from here. Do you like it?"
Before he could finish he saw Chloe lower her head and begin to cry. She felt so frail in his arms as he comforted her. Suddenly he was aware of the pain that irradiated from her, the way her shoulders hunched a little forward as if the burden were a little too heavy for her to carry. She sobbed and clung to Clark's body.
"I'm afraid" she said looking up into his eyes.
"Don't be" he replied staring back at her.
Without hesitation, he lowered his head and kissed her softly.
There were times when Clark allowed the holograms to surround him and recreate the comforts of the farm for him within the ice fortress. The trees, the birds, the yellow house and the barn, all of these things appeared miraculously around him. His eyes believed the appearances as if they were mirages in the desert and he was delusional. Everything was replicated to perfection except the smell; the smell of fresh cut grass and the perfumes of the harvest, the scent of baked muffins and piled up hay. He had recreated that world for his own sanity, but he was constantly reminded of the true nature of the images when he tried to embrace that fake reality.
He took a deep breath and Chloe's scent invaded his senses. Opening his eyes he realized that she was there and that this was not a dream or an illusion. She was real, she was next to him and they were holding each other. Clark smiled even though he heard her cry. He couldn't push aside the selfish feeling of happiness that knowing she was there brought him. He heard her sob quietly as he held he tight to his chest.
Slowly, he pushed her slightly backwards and looking into her eyes said "you will be fine Chloe...please don't cry."
Chloe nodded and tried to smile. He had seen her bloodshot and teary eyes paired up with a soft smile too many times. There had always been a mixture of happiness and sadness within her that he couldn't understand.
It had been the antagonistic feeling that came from being able to share his life with Clark and yet not having the part she wanted to have. Chloe had always been there for him but she had never been his girlfriend, his lover. He had confided in her with all his secrets even though his confidence and trust were painful to her. She had suffered more than he could ever imagine.
Clark caressed her face and dried her tears with his fingers. Smiling he bent forward and kissed her cheeks as he held her face with both hands. Their eyes met again and he saw the confusion, the turmoil in them. He wanted to kiss her but he was not sure she wanted him to. They had already shared a kiss but he was not certain of the nature. He was not certain of anything except he really wanted to kiss her again.
"Chloe" he said as he took a deep breath. "I want to kiss you"
Chloe nodded silently. She wanted him to kiss her too but couldn't make her mouth utter the words. She felt her heart pounding within her chest as if it were to burst out of it any minute. She wanted to ask about what they were going to do and about the article, she wanted to tell him about what had happened with Lois. She wanted to ask about Lois.
Her eyes filled up with tears and she took the risk. "What about Lois, Clark?" she asked with her voice barely above a whisper.
Clark looked away and then fixed his eyes on hers. "I care deeply for Lois" he said and watched Chloe close her eyes and brace herself for rejection. "But I don't think I can marry Lois...because I am not in love with her....it is you I love, Chloe."
Lois walked down the busy street towards her apartment when her phone begun to beep. She looked at the screen and watched her boss' name blink repeatedly until it died. She didn't want to talk to anybody. She just needed time to think what the next step would be. Things had clearly changed for her and Clark. Things had already been changing for them for a while but it was comforting to be in denial and pretend that all of it was going to disappear the day they tied the knot.
She had never really been picket fence material and she doubted she wanted to go down that path. To her Clark had been the safe choice among men. In the beginning she had been thrilled but soon the excitement begun to fade and so did she. Clark brought out the best in her and then she realized that she didn't need him to continue. He had been an excuse not to be alone when she was truly comfortable by herself more than anything.
Looking up into the sky she remembered the time he had taken her flying for the first time and she cried. The Metropolis air was thick around her, thick with smoke and humidity. Staring into the sky Lois realized she had been standing still for a while and as soon as it begun to rain she took off feeling the tiny droplets soak her hair and her clothes. She needed to talk to Clark. She needed to set him free. And more than anything she needed to set herself free.
Lois found shelter at the entrance of a building and with her cell in hand she dialed the secret code and waited.
Clark's hands held Chloe's tear streaked face up into the light for him to see. There was so much pent up pain in her features he wondered if he had been responsible for it all. Guilt took over and before she could utter a single word he let go of her. Taking a step back he left Chloe standing in the middle of the room, shocked.
"What's wrong?" she asked with her hands coming up to cross in front of her chest.
"I've caused you pain Chloe. I can see that now. And I don't want you to suffer for me anymore. I just bring danger and pain to everyone I touch and I couldn't stand the possibility of hurting you" he said as he paced around the room.
"Clark, you have hurt me repeatedly" she said as he looked up at her with shock in his eyes but before he could say anything she continued. "But sometimes we have to accept pain and suffering in order to achieve greater things. I have loved you secretly and from afar for many years. I left Metropolis because I couldn't stand the idea of you and Lois together but I couldn't get in the way. My chances were gone by then and I knew I had to step down. For the longest time I have been your best friend and trust me, I have cherished the opportunity. For a while I wanted more but I knew I couldn't have you so I chose to be by your side like this other than not be with you at all. However, there was a time when my heart couldn't stand it and that's when I left. Because I couldn't stand the pain."
"Chloe...I...I...am sorry..." said Clark as he walked towards her.
"It's ok...I'm a big girl...I can take care of myself...but let me finish" she said as she took his hands in hers. "I know the risks and I can't say it will be easy but life has not been easy without you. Life is more painful without you. I love you...I have loved you for a long time Clark."
Clark took her in his arms and kissed her. His lips parted hungrily over hers as she clung to his body, her hands gripping the fabric of his outfit, bringing him closer to her. Her flesh was warm with impatience and her breathing became hard when his hands held her tightly. Clark's tongue touched hers and they shivered at the feeling and suddenly, a screen popped up in the main room. Still holding her Clark looked up and saw Lois' signal on the screen. She was calling him.
Clark put down his cell phone.
"Lois wants to meet us" he said as he walked to the corner where Chloe was at. "She said she wants to talk to me and she wants to talk to you too."
Chloe's eyes flooded with panic and she begun to worry.
"Don't worry" said Clark as he held her close. "You will be ok."
"Clark, last time I talked to her there was yelling involved. I have to be worried." Said Chloe as she pushed him away and moved towards the window. Summer was getting close and the soon the days would be endless up in the North Pole. She would have loved to see the sunset with Clark but that wouldn't happen for the next few months. Chloe hated the idea of waiting. All she had done in her life was wait and even though most things had been worth the wait she was getting impatient. There was nothing wrong with wanting immediate results in a world where instant gratification is our ethos.
"Clark, I want to reveal I am the ghost-writer" said Chloe as she turned around and faced him. She was ready to finally take the chance.
Clark was deeply concerned and shaking his head he said "Chloe, it is dangerous...I don't think that will be a smart move."
"Why not?" she demanded.
"Because it can get you killed!" Clark spat back.
"Not if I reveal it all...I need to come out clean and once I am in the public eye I will be safe. No one will dare kill me under those circumstances." Said Chloe as her eyes searched for Clark's.
He continued to shake his head from side to side with his arms folded in front of his chest.
"C'mon Clark! I have to do this!"
"And what? Then what? I loose you? AGAIN?!" he yelled as he punched a hole through the ice wall.
Chloe rushed to his side and put her hands on his arms. She searched for his eyes with her own and when they met she said "Clark please...you won't loose me...I will be ok...you will always be there to save me..."
"And what if I'm not? What if I can't make it? What if I DO loose you?" he asked angrily. His eyes were fired up. There were no red or green flashes. Instead, she saw them turn dark and black with concern and pain.
"Clark, trust me...I will be fine...there will be a safe way to do this, I just need to find it."
Clark was furious and worried. His heart ached and he couldn't stand the pain that fired up his body. Looking up he saw Chloe looking up at him, her eyes big and green and full of hope. Her mouth was slightly open, expectant and inviting. Clark thought of loosing her, of the pain it brought to him and how much he wanted to hold her, feel her. Without hesitation he took Chloe in his arms and kissed her.
Pushing her against the wall he encircled her waist with his arms as hers came up to snake around his neck, bringing him closer to her. His mouth met hers and they parted open to allow the kiss to deepen. Their tongues battled, tasting each other, feeling the warmth that fueled up within them. Hungrily he kissed her, his teeth biting on the sweet flesh of her lips.
Clark's hands begun to tear at her clothes. Impatiently, he tugged at her shirt trying not to rip it open, trying not to hurt her. He wanted to feel her around him, beneath and above him. He had waited for so long to have her that he couldn't wait a minute more.
Surprised at first, Chloe let out a faint scream before his mouth covered hers and then she gave in. Her hands moved up and down his back, urging him to get closer to her. She moaned as she pressed her body against his and felt the muscles that rippled beneath his alien skin.
He whispered words of adoration as he kissed her neck, phrases that were meant just for her. He felt like crying. The moment was sublime and passionate and Clark couldn't help but be overwhelmed.
Chloe noticed his sorrow and anxiety and as the passion begun to lower, she held him in her arms.
"I want it to be special" said Clark as he allowed Chloe to kiss his forehead.
"I know...it will be..." reassured Chloe as she kissed his face. "But now we need to go."
Lois was on the phone when she watched Clark set Chloe up on the roof of the building across the street and glide back down into the alley before he emerged dressed as a civilian. As he walked across the street their eyes met and Lois looked up at her cousin as to acknowledge that she was there. She wanted to say something sarcastic but she bit her tongue.
"Clark" she said as he came to her side and gave her an awkward hug. She didn't hug him back.
"Lois" acknowledged Clark as he let go of her.
Lois looked up and watched as Chloe stood on the terrace of the building across the street.
"We need to talk...but first, take me to her.
Clark nodded and walked back into the alley. In the darkness he put his arm around Lois and elevated towards Chloe. The proximity to Lois was awkward and the feeling of her breathing close to his face was distracting. As he moved up with her, Clark thought of how their lives had changed in just 48 hours. He marveled at the twists and turns fate had and how ironic it was that life would work in such mysterious ways. He was sad because he had cherished the idea of marrying and settling down. He had longed to have a normally extraordinary life and he thought that would happen with Lois. But fate had proved him wrong and he had to accept that they should have moved on with their lives a long time ago.
Slowly Clark set Lois on the roof and took a step back as Chloe walked towards them. He watched the two cousins come together in silence at first to finally fall into each other's arms with tears in their eyes. Lois held Chloe close and caressed her hair as they cried.
"I'm sorry" said Lois as she looked down at Chloe.
"I'm sorry too" said Chloe as she wiped the tears from her face. "I never meant to get you in trouble Lois...I mean it...I never thought this would get out of proportion....certainly not this way and after all this time!"
"It will be ok Chloe. I'm sorry I was so rude earlier but I was caught off guard and didn't really think. I guess I was upset because I was never told and now I find I might be in a huge mess and without any blame..." said Lois as she fidgeted with the sleeve of her shirt.
"Lois, I know...and I should have said something but I never thought this would happen..."
"It's fine. The only thing you need to do now is get out of this mess before you get hurt. What do you want to do?" asked Lois.
"I wanted to go to the Planet and fess up" said Chloe as she got closer to Lois. "But Clark thinks it is not such a good idea."
"He might be right Chloe...but I think you should go for it, if that is what you want" finished Lois as she stole a glance at Clark. There she saw the new determination she had seen in him before and she sighed at the thought of loosing him. But Lois knew that they had lost each other a long time ago and now it was time to move on.
"Look Chloe, you have to do it, with or without Clark. Do you know who to go to? Asked Lois.
Chloe nodded and looked at Clark. She hoped he was not listening to what they were saying. "Pauline Kahn"
"Then go to her. Find a way to stay safe and go to her. I will keep Clark busy until you get there." Offered Lois as she took Chloe by the arm and led her a little farther from Clark.
"Oh Lois, I wouldn't ask for you to do that. I can't ask for anything from you now. I don't want you to get in trouble with Clark and..."
"Chloe, don't worry about me. I am offering you help and I want you to accept it. I wont offer it twice" said Lois with a faint smile on her lips.
"Chloe, I want you to do another thing for me" asked Lois.
Chloe nodded again and took a deep breath.
"I want you to take Lois Lane as you pseudonym from now on"
Chloe looked at Lois in shock. She shook her head no as she searched for the right words to say. "I...I...couldn't....Lois....I...."
"Be quiet" said Lois as she smiled. "I want you to take it. I want you to write and be famous and I want you to be happy" said Lois looking in Clark's direction. "I want you two to be happy...because I want to be happy."
They both remained in silence for what seemed an eternity. The Lois said "Now go...I still have to break up with him..." They hugged and she approached Clark as Chloe snuck out.
Chloe went down the fire escape as quietly as she could. Her legs were shaky and she felt weak. The latest events, her friend's death, the resurrection of her teenage fears, the sudden danger and fame and Clark, had drained all the energy from her body and soul, leaving her frail and feeble.
As she jumped from the last step, she took off running and stopped the first cab that drove by. She was glad that the Planet was close by otherwise, traffic would have made it impossible for her to get there before 8pm.
Rush hours should have been over by then but cars packed the streets and the crowd had taken over the city. From the backseat she watched all the suit-clad men and women walk in the wind on the way home, carrying their laptops and paperwork as if carrying the burden of the world. The expression on their faces was almost identical. There was stress in the fine expression lines and concern in their eyes. The world around her seemed dark and gloomy and yet she loved the way this place would be reborn every morning with those people coming back to work with excitement and thrill. Metropolis was the phoenix that always rose from its ashes and Chloe loved her city for it.
When the car didn't move any further she looked out the window and saw she was already on Concord. Handing the driver a ten-dollar bill, she opened the door and stepped out of the car. Looking up she watched the giant globe turn and she smiled as she remembered her times at one of her favorite places in the world. Avoiding the people walking by her, Chloe walked towards the alley that separated the Planet from the building next to it. As she walked further into the alley, she sensed the smell of Gauloises and smiled; looking closer into the darkness she found the person she was looking for.
"I see you haven't given up on the habit yet, Pauline" said Chloe as she came closer to the woman hiding in the darkness.
Pauline was startled and she smiled when she realized who the stranger lurking in the darkness was. Taking a step forward and standing underneath the only light in the alley said "Well, Miss Sullivan, you know my secret now...I guess we are even"
Chloe laughed and pretended not to give any importance to her comment. However, deep down inside, she felt her stomach tie up in a knot. Nonchalantly she added "Fair enough, although I doubt people would be interested in knowing I have a secret addiction to Twinkies. On the other hand I know your husband would love to know you have not quit smoking at all."
Pauline's husband had demanded that she quit smoking. For a while she had fought the urge but finally, in the last few years she would sneak out into the alley and smoke, hiding away from everyone that would comment on the issue.
Chloe's former boss smiled and shook her head as she took one last drag of the cigarette and discarded the rest of it.
"I doubt the Twinkie addiction will sell but the ghost writer might" added Pauline as she came closer to Chloe. "So...that is why you are here, correct?"
Chloe was startled at the certainty that coated Pauline's words. She knew Chloe was the writer, but how? That question uncorked the bottle of curiosity and Chloe's mind was flooded with the need to ask all sorts of questions. However, she had to show she was strong and knowledge meant power in this game. Straightening up she smiled and asked "If I were the ghost-writer, and that is 'if', why would I let you in on the secret Pauline?
"Because you need to come clean to avoid getting killed and I am the most powerful person in the business and I can provide all the exposure you need to achieve this...not to mention a full time job with The Planet...isn't that what you wish for?"
Lois walked towards Clark and joined him in watching the empty sky. His head was tilted backwards, like those of the mere mortals that watch him from down below when he cruises over the city. She noticed the way his teeth clenched and she wondered what was going through his mind. He was flawless. The sharp bone of his jaw was complimented and smoothed by the roundness of his lips and the sweet look in his eyes. Looking down at her, she saw them flash and sparkle in the twilight and she recognized that strength she had been thinking about for the last few hours. There was so much to be said and yet she wanted to cut to the chase and make it as painless as possible.
"Clark, I wanted to talk to you about something" she said as she took him by the arm and led him towards the wall where they could sit.
"I know Lois, I have something to say too...I don't...think...."
"Yes, I know you don't think...that's why you need women...." Added Lois as she chuckled and tried to break the ice that seemed to cover everything around them.
Clark tried not to laugh and he succeeded for a split second. In his head Chloe came to mind and his concern instantly took over.
"Can I go first?" interrupted Lois as she turned on the step she was sitting on and looked at Clark straight in the eye. "I don't think we should marry...I have thought about it and I am not ready for it. I don't want to be married and I don't know when that will be. I love you and your family and we have been very happy together but this is not what I was made for. I need something else...something that brings me closer to being happy with myself before I want to make someone else happy. Besides, in the past few hours we have seen more of our true selves than we have showed to each other ever before. I showed my ugly side and you, well you showed me what you need to be happy."
Clark nodded and felt the weight of the world lift off of his shoulders. He had just been dumped and yet there was a strange delight in being the one that didn't have to break the news. However, he had to be honest with her. He began to stutter.
"Listen...I can see it your eyes, when you look at her. I was jealous for an instant but I can't be angry because it makes you happy. It makes her happy. And I am standing in the way being unhappy. Clark, there is no reason for us not to call the wedding off and move on with our lives..." added Lois.
Clark was speechless and he wanted to say so many things but he thought that it was wise to leave things unsaid.
He sighed and tried to smile.
"So what do we do now?" he asked.
"I think I'm enlisting" said Lois nonchalantly.
"What? Lois Lane enlisted in the army? What is this, the premise for a bad Goldie Hawn movie remake?" asked Clark as he tried to suppress the laughter.
"You, my friend, have been spending too much time around my cousin. That snark is rubbing on you. But, since you ask...I wanted to do that for a while but never thought it would work out. Now, I have the perfect way to achieve my goal. I can't go in being General Lane's daughter so I will become somebody else."
"You are crazy" said Clark still half believing Lois.
"Tell me something I didn't know..." she said and elbowed him in the ribs.
Out of custom Clark brought his hand up and to his side and said "Ouch!"
"Oh please...don't play wuss with me Clark..."
"Right...I'm just trying to stay believably human here...sorry"
"Oh Clark...one last thing" said Lois as she looked down at her watch. "Promise you wont kill me?"
Clark laughed and nodded. "Sure Lois, what have you done?"
"You have to go pick up Chloe at the Daily Planet in about five minutes...she snuck out about twenty minutes ago"
"I actually liked the way you managed Sophia...it was a very smart and interesting take for a regional magazine", said Pauline as she searched for another cigarette in her pocket. Lighting it she added, "Not to mention that I was very surprised to know the extent of your dedication...I always knew you were talented but I never thought you had such...balls"
Chloe laughed as she watched Pauline exhale the sweet and strong smoke.
Pauline looked over Chloe's shoulder and saw a black sedan park right outside the alley. Under the streetlight, the car just stayed there, parked quietly, as if it were spying on them. Chloe perceived the look on Pauline's face and turned to look at what had caught her former boss' attention.
She knew cars like that never meant good news. Especially when she was aware of the situation she was in. Switching spots with Pauline she kept an eye on the car as they continued to talk.
"We better go inside" said Pauline discarding the cigarette.
"I think I better go, Pauline. I have a few things to do before I go ahead and do this. I just needed to know what your offer was. We have a deal?"
Shaking hands with her Pauline said "Most definitely"
Looking over Pauline's shoulder Chloe saw the car still parked outside and she wondered which way to take to get back on the road and from there to Clark. She needed to talk to Clark and explain what she wanted and what the terms were. Chloe had to let him in what her decision was, she wanted him to be a part of it. To Pauline's surprise, Chloe hugged her and as she leaned closer she whispered "I will be in touch tomorrow, first thing in the morning" Then she let go and hurried down the narrow alley. She watched the people rush down Concord and she knew it was very good for her welfare that the streets were crowded. No one would dare to do anything with so many witnesses around. Turning to the right and merging into the crowd, she lowered her head and tried to walk unnoticed. Suddenly, two men in dark suits began to walk to each side of Chloe and before she could utter a word they had led her back into a deserted alley. She was about to scream when one of the men covered her mouth and forced her into another black car. Chloe fought against the hands that held her down and pushed her into the car. She wanted to yell but the hand covering her face was too strong, too powerful. She tried to bite it but the thick leather glove prevented her teeth from making any contact with the skin. Her eyes were full of tears of desperation as she slid down the back seat. All doors were locked and outside the world turned, oblivious to her pain. She wanted to cry. She knew she was going to die. With the men sitting to each side of her, Chloe cried as she thought of what she could have had with Clark and now wouldn't happen. Her world was crumbling down once again and she was alone. Always alone.
Clark wanted to argue and find someone he could point his mighty finger at and blame for Chloe's disappearance. But he knew that Chloe had to seize this chance even though it was dangerous. He just wished she would have done it differently.
Leaping into the sky he watched Lois' figure shrink as he took off and began to fly. He needed to get to Chloe fast, before anyone else would.
Underneath, he felt Metropolis vibrate and pulsate with the engines roaring down the streets. He felt the warm air rise like a cloud of perspiration from the city. With the speed the lights became like beams, continuous rays that decorated the streets and created patterns around the buildings. From his perspective, in Metropolis it was always like Christmas time.
Looking down, he approached the corner where the Planet was at and he began to descend. People remained like tiny ants below as he landed on the rooftop. Above his head the globe turned and sparkled under the silver moonlight. From his privileged spot he watched the world unfold and become alive with sound. He didn't know where Chloe would be or where to look first but he knew Pauline would be the one to go to.
Sneaking back inside, and changing his clothes, Clark took the elevator that led him all the way to her office.
Pauline was not there and neither was her secretary and Clark wondered if Chloe had something to do with this.
Looking around he tried to pick up on hints that would lead his to Chloe but there was nothing related to her. Someone walked by and said hello to him and all he could do was nod. He was concentrated on something far more important. He needed to find Chloe before something happened.
Down he went all the way to the lobby trying to find a clue of where to start. Out in the street he walked among the crowd watching his surroundings. Standing, he took a deep breath and walked on Concord towards the right. His foot caught something on the sidewalk and he tripped, falling clumsily to his knees. With both hands on the pavement he watched the crowd walk by him in a hurry and reaching out he picked up the item he had stepped on. It was an earring. It was Chloe's earring.
As Clark stood up he felt a hand on his shoulder and a man say "Mr. Kent, please come with us."
"Hello Chloe" he said with a smile on his face. "How was your day?"
Clark walked down the street towards the black car. He watched the men escorting him conceal their weapons with their jackets as they moved through the crowd and he thought of how frail and primitive humans were. One of the men was tall and well built, the other one a little chubbier, both of them sporting clean-shaven faces and very short hair.
The tall man moved ahead of Clark and opened the back door for him. Clark nodded and entered the car. He was never going to get used to such fancy treatments. Once everyone had jumped in the car, the driver took off, speeding down Concord.
"Where are we going?" asked Clark leaning forward and closer to the driver.
"I can't disclose that information Sir. You will know when we get there."
Chloe's distress showed on her face. Her features had distorted and her cheeks were wet from the tears. Her head ached from the anxiety and stress and her eyes were swollen and irritated. She was shaking slightly, shivering in the cool air that came in through the open window.
Shaking her head she tried to chase away her fears as she recognized the man sitting across from her and suddenly and unexpectedly she began to laugh. She giggled like a little girl, her hands coming up to cover her mouth as he shoulders shook and quivered. Nervous giggles turned to laughter and soon she was laughing out loud at her luck.
Somewhere along her hysterical display, the car had taken off. They drove for a little while before she felt the vehicle pull over and she saw the dim lights that adorned a door to her right. Stepping out of the car, she walked up the few steps and then through the almost hidden and secret entrance. Just the group of men followed her in, not leaving her side at all.
They walked down narrow halls beautifully carpeted in burgundy and cream colors. The walls had intricate and delicate decorations that enhanced the expensive paintings displayed.
Led by two men and followed by other two she moved down the corridors with unknown destination. It seemed they walked forever before they got in an elevator. One of the men pushed the Penthouse button and Chloe watched the doors close in front of her face.
Smiling he remembered his father's words and how emotionally charged with wisdom they were. His passing had been earth shattering to them and Clark's life had changed forever. Just like it changed when Chloe came into the picture. Like a tornado making her way through the cornfields, Chloe had forced her way in his life turning everything upside down and transforming what Clark Kent was. Challenging and smart, she had always been there for him, with the unconditional love of a mother. Chloe had been along his side like the friend and confidant he had always dreamed of. Back then he had never realized the extent of his love for Chloe until he lost her. Now, he was determined to hold on to her and never let go. Because Clark knew that if he lost her one more time, no superpowers would be able to stop the pain.
Clark heard the creaking of the doors as they opened up. Two men walked in, holding the doors wide open. Pete walked in, smiling like the devil, and approaching Clark he hugged him. Out of the corner of his eye, Clark saw a figure standing in the doorway and looking up he saw Chloe.
Outside the room, the doors were guarded closely by the US Secret Service; inside, Pete, Clark and Chloe sat in the beautiful living room to the Penthouse suite of the Plaza Hotel.
"The place is secure. It was double checked for bugs and nobody knows you are here. We need to talk," explained Pete as he allowed his body to lean forward and rest his elbows on his knees. Clad in an expensive, dark suit, Pete was far from the Kansas kid he used to be. There was a certain maturity to his usual excitement and he spoke calmly.
"If you choose to, you can stay here tonight or you can go and freeze up in the ice castle my friend here has for a bachelor apartment," said Pete as he exchanged glances wit Clark and laughed. Then he continued. "I will get in touch with Pauline and arrange a secure meeting point for you to work together until this story comes out."
Chloe nodded and listened attentively. Clark stole glances at her every time he could. His mind was focused on what Pete was saying but his eyes couldn't help but wander to Chloe. She was sitting in the chair right next to his. One of her legs was resting on the armrest and she was swinging it playfully back and forth. Her head was tilted to the right and her fingers where playing with a loose strand of her golden hair. Clark couldn't help but feel entranced by the vision. She was beautiful in the most simple and uncomplicated. The serene look of the picture, the casual posture she had and how she listened attentively to Pete made her look younger than she was. Almost childlike.
Clark heard Pete in the background as he explained the plan for the next couple of days. He was telling Chloe something about the information she had and why Congress was after it. He was giving her names and elaborating on secret plots and other things but Clark was too busy lost in his own private world.
"Planet Earth to Clark...are you there?" said Pete when he realized Clark was not paying attention. He waved his hand and repeated the phrase once again. "Hello Clark...Can you hear me?"
Chloe laughed and Clark shook his thoughts away when he saw Pete stand up and walk to him. Reaching out, Pete touched Clark's forehead and laughed. "You got the fever bro" he said returning to his couch. "Chloe fever"
Chloe blushed and Clark felt the tip of his ears in flames. How was it possible that after all those years, his best friend could still manage to put him in the spotlight and make fun of him?
"Very funny" said Clark as he leaned back and rested his back against the wall.
"Ok...we are all set!" exclaimed Pete as he stood up and clapped his hands. "Well, I know you two would love to have me stay here tonight to catch up but I have dinner plans that do not involve you. As a matter of fact I have spent all day tracking and solving your problems so I will see you tomorrow. 0900 Everyone!" And with that, he walked to the door and left.
Clark looked at Chloe awkwardly. He felt the palm of his hands sweating and he cleared his throat before he spoke.
"I guess we are stuck here...but we can go if you want to...I mean...I know you are tired and I want you to rest and do whatever it is you want and need...If there is anything I can do for you, anything you want..."
Chloe smiled as she stood up from her chair and listened to Clark, full fledge reporter, babble like a teenager during an oral exam. He was blushing and he had his hands in his pockets. His arms were glued to the sides of his torso and he was looking everywhere but Chloe.
"Clark..." said Chloe as she approached the main door and locked it. "Do you really want to know what I want?"
Chloe held the double meat, double cheese, no pickles, with extra mayo burger in front of her and took a huge bite.
On the other side of the table, Clark watched her amazed. There had to be at least 3/4 pounds worth of beef in it, not to mention the added cheese and buns. In the hotel suite, after Pete left, they had felt uncomfortable at the sudden emptiness and silence that surrounded them. Clark, based on the leading events, had anticipated a closer encounter, the culmination of what had started in Chloe's apartment and continued at the fortress later on that same day. However, even though it had seemed that Chloe was on the same path as he was, things had turned out a little different than what he had anticipated. There were no expectations, at least no great expectations, especially considering the events of the past 24 hours. But Clark couldn't deny or shut down his feelings and the pent up emotions for her. It was not lust or mere desire, there was something else to it, a secret magic to the much-anticipated union. Years had led them down this path and Clark couldn't help but feel overwhelmed at the significance and the meaning being with her had.
He was not sure if it was genuine hunger or perhaps the shared fear of having to face each other's emotions, but Chloe had claimed to be starving and when deciding where to go she pointed out this tiny diner she loved. A little relieved and concerned at her choice, he had gladly brought her all the way to Smallville. The "Corn Field" was a landmark in Smallville's history, being the only business standing in town since the original foundation. When they were younger and before Chloe developed a habit for caffeine, they would come here, for milk shakes and pie. Today, and after all the time they spent away, their return meant much more than just a decent, home style meal. For them it was a reunion, the coming together in that place that meant so much to them, the place that saw them grow into adults, the place they played at.
Chloe watched Clark draw lines on the mashed potatoes with his fork. He seemed absent and yet he was there. His eyes were focused on her as she battled the burger. She smiled at him and they silently enjoyed their meal, occasionally looking out the window into the vast darkness that enveloped the little building.
Chloe was tempted to ask if the food was not good but she knew that was not the issue. They had gone through so much in such short time that they had yet to assimilate everything that had happened. Slowly and together they were managing to do it, relying and confiding in each other. It was hard and complicated but she knew that everything would be easy compared to the decisions that they would have to make regarding their relationship. Chloe had suffered a lot throughout her life and she knew in heart that she wouldn't be able to stand more rejection. Clark knew he loved Chloe but he was not sure he wanted to hurt her any further. She had already suffered too much. Both of them were aware of their deep and profound love for each other, but they also knew that they had to talk about it and decide how their lives were going to be like.
"Pauline offered me a job at the Planet as part of the deal" said Chloe before she bit the end of the burger.
Clark looked up at her and smiled.
"And what did you say?"
"I told her I needed to think about it..."
Clark felt anxious. A job at the planet meant that Chloe would move back and settle in Metropolis, it meant that she would work with him. Excited at the news he smiled at her and reached out to hold her hand. Timidly, like he had done once when they were younger, he let his hand move over the vinyl that cover the table and took her hand in his.
"Say yes..." said Clark.
Chloe smiled at him and giggled. "Why?"
"Because that would make me very happy..."
"And what about my happiness?" she asked playfully.
"Well...if you let me...I want to take care of that...I want to make you the happiest woman on earth..."
Clark's eyes focused on hers. He was expectant. He was ashamed too. Clichs and love declarations were not something he was fond of, but what he said was exactly what he felt. He wanted to make her happy. He watched Chloe smile and blush and then a tiny tear fell down her cheek.
Chloe's eyes welled up with tears and she felt as if there were no words to express what she felt. Speechless, she just took Clark's hand in hers and kissed it.
Taking Chloe by the hand, Clark left some change on the table and said "Lets go...there is somewhere I want to take you to"
Out the corner of her eye Chloe saw the vast cornfields stretch underneath her. The green patches looked dark under the night sky as Clark flew them over to the farm. The roads seemed to extend infinitely in long winding ways, separating the fields one from the other. Looking over Clark's shoulder, in the distance, she saw the treetops that surrounded the farmhouse and protected it from the heavy winds of the heartland. As they approached the clearing, she glanced at Clark and found him smiling at her, his eyes bright green with emotion. In the pit of her stomach she felt the descent and he held her close when she hugged him tighter.
Clark landed by the oak tree, facing the yellow house that looked quiet and peaceful in the Kansas night. Gently he set Chloe on the ground, her feet feeling the fresh, dewy grass crack beneath her shoes. Taking her hand, Clark led Chloe up the path and into the house. The warmth of Martha's kitchen enveloped them and Clark felt the sweet scent of home welcoming him. The stress seemed to instantly disappear from his mind, carrying every thought of concern along with it. To him, every return home was almost mystical, an unbelievable experience he could not match to anything he had ever gone through. Still holding Chloe's hand, he walked into the living room and found his mom sleeping on the couch. She seemed tired as she slept, her hand clutching a catalogue she was probably reading when she fell asleep. After Jonathan died, Martha had taken the insurance money and, after canceling all their debts, she had purchased a store in downtown Smallville. There she would sell all her organic produce, her jellies and jams, cookies and muffins and all sorts of wonderful treats that were the staple of the store. At the time Clark had been reluctant at the fact that she was going to take up on such a duty on her own, but then he realized that his mother could manage the place perfectly.
Success came soon after the opening and Clark had been thrilled at the achievements of his mom. She was such a strong woman that he felt inspired and compelled by her strength and stoicism. Clark watched her sleep and was afraid to wake her up, but he knew he had to, even though he didn't want to.
Slowly, he circled the couch and knelt by her. Gently, he placed his hand on hers and whispered "Mom...it's me..."
Martha's eyelids fluttered open and she smiled when she saw her son by her side. Jumping up, she hugged him and held on to him.
"Oh Clark...I'm so happy to see you!" she exclaimed as she brushed a strand of hair from his forehead.
"Hi mom...I didn't mean to wake you up" he added rubbing the side of her shoulders. "I brought someone with me, someone who wants to say hello..."
Seeing Clark point to her side, Martha turned right and found Chloe standing behind the couch.
"Oh my god! Chloe!" she said as she got up and walked to her. Martha hugged Chloe, enveloping the petit blonde in her arms.
"Hello Mrs. Kent...it is so good to see you!"
"Chloe, I've missed you so much...I am sorry we haven't been in touch lately..."
"Oh please, don't worry, I know you have been busy being a very successful business woman..." said Chloe as they held hand and followed Martha into the kitchen.
Martha offered them some tea and homemade brownies and they sat around the table to talk and tell her about the latest happenings.
Later that evening, Clark walked with Chloe to the barn. The place was clean like usual, but it lacked the warmth it had when Jonathan was still alive. Walking up the stairs, Clark took a blanket and offered it to Chloe. They sat on the couch, facing the window and watching the starts.
Chloe felt Clark's arm around her waist, bringing her closer to him and she smiled. There was nothing like the comfort his touch brought to her. Tilting her head, she rested it in his chest and snuggled closer. Chloe felt him kiss the top of her head and she looked up at him. Her eyes were pleading, full of love and devotion. Clark looked down at her and moving in closer kissed her lips. It was not a passionate kiss. It was sweet and tender, a quiet and sincere exchange of love between two people that had waited very long to reach this point. Clark's lips moved over hers, their mouths parting open just to allow them to breathe each other in. Shivering, Chloe held on to his shirt, feeling her legs quiver and melt with all the pent up emotions. She opened her eyes when Clark broke the kiss and she found tears in his eyes when she looked up at him. Cradling his face in her hands she kissed his forehead and said "I love you Clark Kent...more than you will ever know..."
Clark kissed her again and said "I'll be right back Chloe...it will just take a minute" and he took off into the house.
Martha was sitting by the fireplace reading when Clark walked in. She looked up at him and beckoned for him to join her.
"Mom.. I wanted to talk to you about something"
"What is it my dear?" she asked as Clark walked to the couch.
"Lois and I broke up" he said as he felt his mother's hand brush the side of his face.
"I'm sorry Clark"
"It's ok...I guess I can say it was mutual...Lois said she was not ready and I...I don't..."
"You were not ready to marry...to marry Lois" finished Martha.
Clark looked up and realized his mother knew already. Probably, Martha had known for a long time but she had chosen to respect Clark's feelings.
"Clark, up on my dresser, inside the silver box is something I have kept for many years, waiting until this moment came..."
Clark nodded and hugged his mom. Martha held him tight, thrilled as she cried.
"I love you son...I love you very much..."
"a quiet town, nestled in the hills just inland from the eastern seaboard.
There were 42 steps from the house to the barn. Clark had counted them when he was a little kid and the number had stuck in his brain since then. For some awkward reason he could remember numbers easily and now, as he faced the barn, standing out on the porch, the distance seemed larger.
Turning, he saw Martha standing in the doorway. She smiled and waving her hand she encouraged him to go. Clark looked up into the sky and saying a little prayer, took the first step.
Forty-one to go. He thought of the first time he saw Chloe, and how intimidating she had been. Her verbal incontinence surprised Clark and overwhelmed him but soon he had gotten used to it. Chloe had been like a little firecracker. Noisy, impatient and reckless in her own way,
Two, three and four. Four were the days they had spent camping in the Kent's backyard that first summer. It had been hot as hell and mosquitoes had attacked Chloe and Pete, luckily Clark had avoided being bitten.
Five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten. Ten were the amount of county fairs they had attended as friends. At the time Clark's infatuation with Lana had prevented him to see Chloe's interest in him and for the longest time he had not noticed that she was a girl.
Fourteen, Fifteen. That's how old they were when he had recognized that there was more to their relationship than what he had thought. Back then, he had decided to do something about it and he had invited Chloe to the Spring Formal.
Twenty-one, twenty-two and twenty three. Clark kept on walking down the gravel path towards the barn. His hands were shaky and his palms were sweaty as he approached the building. To the east, the sky was turning purple, announcing the coming of dawn.
Thirty-nine, forty-one, forty-two.
Clark stood at the entrance of the barn and turned to look at his mom. Martha waved at him and turned to go back inside.
Slowly, Clark walked in and up the stairs. Chloe was right where he had left her. Curled up in a ball, she lay beneath the blanket, her head propped up on her arm. She was completely and profoundly asleep.
Marveled at the peaceful image, Clark bent over and watched her sleep. Her chest rose up and down rhythmically. Quietly, Clark moved closer and sat by her side, careful not to wake her up. The sky was turning pink bathing the loft in the most beautiful and surreal glow. Chloe's eyelids fluttered in her sleep as she moved and Clark couldn't help but desire her. He wanted to hold her, cradle her in his arms, kiss her, make her his.
Gently, he caressed her cheek and said "Chloe...wake up"
Chloe opened her eyes and squinted as the morning light filtered through the open window.
"What time is it?" she asked as she sat up.
"It's probably 5 in the morning, don't worry, we will go back on time...but there is something I need to do before we go..."
Chloe nodded and said "Sure...go ahead...we have plenty of time...I mean you can do the flying thingy and you'll get us to Metropolis in like no time..."
Clark laughed at the way her voice went high pitched when she gestured with her hands as if Clark were flying. She was too cute and peculiar in her own way.
"Ok, I'll do the flying thingy, like you say but first I need you to listen to me for a minute. Ok?"
Chloe nodded and opened her eyes wide like she used to do when she was in class. Bringing her legs up to rest on the couch next to her, she watched Clark as he stood up in front of her as if he were about to give her a lecture.
"Before I start, promise me you will let me finish before you say anything..."
Chloe laughed but soon straightened up and nodded.
Clark stood in front of the window with the bright red sky behind him. His hair was curling at the ends and from her spot Chloe could only see the contours of his face. The contrasts of the light made his eyelashes highlighted in a reddish hue and his skin glow as if covered in gold.
"Chloe, I have thought about how to address this and what was the best way to handle the situation and I arrived to the conclusion that this is the best way to do it. I don't think I should elaborate on what happened in the past because there is no use to waste time doing that. I am going to be as straight-forward as I can and I hope you don't think it's improper." When he finished his introduction, Clark noticed that his hands were sweating and shaking. Casually, he concealed his nervousness by putting them in his pockets as he paced back and forth in front of the window.
From her spot Chloe listened attentively as if she were going to be cross-examined on the subject.
"Chloe, I have known you for many years and even though I failed to see it in the past I recognize now that I loved you since the first day I met you." The words came out of his mouth as if he were doing an imitation of her. But Clark was relieved when he managed to make it through the first part of what he had to say all in one piece and alive. His heart was racing so fast that he thought he was going to see it go through the flesh and burst in front of his face.
Taking a deep breath he looked at Chloe and saw the shock in her face. "Ok, I'm not done yet but listen just one more second...I don't think time will make things better between us, I don't think time will be good for us..."
Chloe felt a tear roll down her cheek and suddenly, with each word he said, she felt her world crumbling down at his feet. She bit her lip and kept her gaze up, her eyes fixed on his.
Clark came closer to her and saw the tears that had already begun to roll down her face. He couldn't stand the pain the image caused in his heart so he took her hands in his and hurried to finish.
"Chloe, I can't wait, I don't want to wait any more..." said Clark as he stuck his hand in his pocket and took out a beautiful vintage diamond ring. "Chloe, will you marry me?"
Martha had been saving her grandmother's ring for a moment like this. For decades, she had protected the most precious item her dear granny had left her when she was just a little girl. Martha was only 10 but she remembered their conversation clearly. She was told to keep it until her wedding and then pass it on to the daughter she would have. Since that day, Martha had held on to the item, keeping it hidden and away to protect it and to make sure she would keep her promise. Years later, she had met Jonathan Kent, the proud, hard working, honest man she fell in love with. One afternoon, while out on a picnic trip, he had asked her to marry him, offering her as a token of his love and devotion, a ring he had spent many months saving for. The engagement ring was austere, plain and simple but to Martha it was the most beautiful gift he could have ever given her. On the day of her wedding, Martha had decided to wear both rings, for one of them represented the love of the past and the other one her future commitment to the man she loved.
When Clark arrived, Martha decided she would still pass the ring on to him for when he decided to propose. For many years, she watched Clark grow into the good and honest man he was but when he decided to propose to Lois there had been something that stopped Martha from giving the ring to Clark. Lois was a nice girl but she didn't think their union would last. Clark had been infatuated with Lana and he had cared for her deeply, but Martha knew that there was only one woman Clark had truly loved. Hoping that her son would realize what his true feelings were, she had decided to keep the ring until this very moment. The moment when Clark would ask Chloe to marry him.
Chloe had been a wonderful confidant, a true friend to Clark's mom soon after the passing of Jonathan. Martha had found in her the connection she had always desired for, the connection mother and daughter share. On her end, Chloe had found in Martha the mother figure she lacked and the love and support she needed. They nurtured each other mutually, creating a very strong bond that neither had had before and both had craved for all their lives.
Sitting by the window, she remembered when Clark and Chloe first met. Martha had been suspicious about her son befriending a girl from the city. Even though she was one, Martha was concerned that she wouldn't be a good influence. But soon after she met her, the concern evaporated and Martha embraced Chloe as if she were her own daughter. Finally, after she learned Clark's secret, Martha had encountered that the bond between them had solidified and that she could trust and confide in Chloe more than she could with Clark. To Martha, her son carried the weight of the world on his shoulders and she couldn't allow herself to add to that her own problems.
In the background, she heard the news channel anchor announce and exclusive interview with the famous 'ghost writer'. Rushing to the TV, Martha turned up the volume and heard the latest update on the issue. Before the news flash was over, and leaving the front door open, she took off running towards the barn.
Clark was looking at Chloe, expecting her answer, trying to decipher the look on her face when he heard his mom calling out to him.'
Chloe looked confused and Clark hesitated for a moment before he went to the window and asked his mom what was wrong. Urging them to go in the house quickly Martha said "Chloe is all over the news!"
Metropolis - A Metropolis court has issued an arrest warrant for 3 wealthy and powerful businessmen of Metropolis on kidnap charges, Prosecutor Andrew Powell said on Friday.
Metropolis magistrates suspect the involvement of Peter Caine, Paul O'Reilly and Lionel Luthor in the disappearance of 2 women, one of which was pregnant at the time, back in 1968.
There had been a series of investigations since 1968 but the case had gone cold until the government was advised of the possibility of new evidence submitted by an independent source.
All three men were not immediately available for comment.
Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters.
The Planet's channel was broadcasting the news as Clark and Chloe ran in the house. All three of them stood in front of the TV absorbing the latest updates. Pete had been right, the news had exploded in the media and everyone knew that the "independent source" was the ghostwriter The Planet had been promoting. Suddenly, there was a Special Report on the matter and Pauline Kahn appeared on screen. She stood at the press conference, facing hundreds of photographers and reporters that were yelling hundreds of questions at her. Gesturing for them to remain silent, she said she had an announcement to make.
"The Staff of The Planet is proud to announce that this afternoon, at 2 o'clock, we will present you the famous and talented Lois Lane, the "ghost-writer" everyone is talking about. We are very honored to have her as a new member of our prestigious staff. Please expect a special and exclusive report on how the government got access to the secret information, provided by Miss Lane, that will put Luthor, O'Reilly and Caine on trial for kidnapping and possibly murder." There was a murmur in the room but Pauline continued, "We will see you back here at 2. Thanks you." And with that she turned around and left leaving the hungry crowd screaming for more.
Clark looked at Chloe puzzled and then asked "Is this what you agreed to?"
Chloe nodded and said "Yes, although this was blown a little out of proportion...too show-businessy for me"
Martha walked their side and hugged them.
"Please be careful, both of you..."
Chloe gave Martha a reassuring smile and held on to her closely.
"We will...I promise" said Chloe as she let go of Martha and took Clark's hand in hers.
"I think we better go now" said Clark.
"One second young man" said Martha. "You old mother has a question for you before you go"
Before Martha could continue, Clark smiled and said "Yes mom, she said yes"
Clark flew Chloe to Metropolis and rushed her to her apartment to change clothes. Pete had offered an entourage of bodyguards but he knew that with Clark there, she wouldn't need anybody else.
They walked down Concord and watched the entrance to The Planet packed with reporters from all channels and agencies. Unaware of who they were, they paid no attention to the couple that strolled hand in hand down the sidewalk.
Chloe guided Clark to the alley and there she waited. He looked at her puzzled but Chloe reassured him that everything was going to be fine.
A few minutes later Pauline emerged from the tiny door on the side of the building and waved at Clark and Chloe for them to join her. Complimenting Chloe on her outfit, she led them down the narrow halls to the elevator.
"Conference Room, please" said Pauline as she entered the elevator.
Clark and Chloe followed closely, both of them quiet and expectant to see what the whole plan was going to be like. Chloe had several questions but wasn't sure where and when it would be a good time to ask. Patiently she waited until they had reached the floor and as they walked into the hall said "Pauline, there are a few things I wanted to talk to you about and I think we better do it before the conference starts"
Pauline looked at Chloe and nodded and almost immediately turned to her right, stuck her head in an office and said "Gentlemen, we need this office for a few minutes. Why don't you go get some coffee"
Chloe smiled at the energy that exuded from the woman. She was not very tall but her demeanor made her appear as if she were a 7 feet tall giant. Throughout her career Pauline had been very successful and determined, not really befriending people at work. She was kind, sometimes a little too forward, but in this business there was no time to waste. In her younger years, when she had taken on major positions at the newspaper, people had began to call her just by her last name, reinforcing the distant way she was perceived as. Pauline had laughed at the triviality of the matter and soon she surprised everyone by becoming editor in chief at a very young age. She was indeed a powerful and talented woman and Chloe admired her for her strength and her achievements.
Entering the room Pauline attempted to shut the door and hit Clark in the face.
"Kent...we need to talk...why don't we meet out there..." she said as she pushed him out of the room.
Clark looked at Chloe and frowned. Chloe smiled at him and winked as if everything was going to be ok and then she watched Pauline slam the door shut behind her back.
"Well...what is it that you wanted to talk about?" asked Pauline a she looked at her watch and took a seat. "You have two minutes."
Clark walked down to the Conference Room and took a seat in the front row, to the left. He scanned the room, trying to find potential snipers or anyone who would want to harm Chloe. The place was clean.
Glancing towards the back he saw Pete walk in and he gestured for him to join him up front. Pete walked over to him with one of his bodyguards following him closely and as he took a seat said "So...is Chloe up there?"
"Yes, well...she is talking to Pauline now but they should make the announcement in a few minutes..."
The crowd was getting anxious and reporters from around the country were there for the big reveal. Clark heard reporters speak in Spanish and English and occasionally he caught someone speaking with a heavy British accent. Noting seemed out of the ordinary so he relaxed and waited for Chloe to come on stage.
Suddenly a door opened and Pauline came out. The room went quiet and a screen was lowered at the back of the stage. It showed footage of the special reports done on the ghostwriter and the latest updates on the arrests.
"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming by today. I know everyone is anxious to know who this person is so I will cut to the chase and say that I am proud to present to you, Miss Lois Lane"
The spotlight was directed to the right side of the stage and the cameras began to shoot. Flashes lighted up the room as if a storm were about to explode inside. There was silence filled with the clicking of camera buttons as they waited for Chloe to come out on stage. A few seconds went by and Pauline laughed nervously. Then she added "I am proud to welcome such a courageous and talented writer to our staff...Miss Lois Lane!"
Clark stood up and approached the stage as someone came out from behind the curtains and said, "She is gone! She has disappeared!"
Chloe's naked body stirred in bed, the satin sheets brushing against her creamy skin as her legs stretched and her arms snuggled the pillow closer to her chest. She felt the smoothness of the fabric rival the softness of her breasts as the sheet fell from the bed and she moaned. Her head ached and yet there was a strange sense of pleasure that flowed through her veins. She wanted to open her eyes but couldn't. Behind closed eyelids she recognized the bright glow of the sun shinning on her. The warmth was unbelievable and then she thought of getting up but her body protested shooting daggers of pain throughout her legs and arms as she tried to move. Defeated, she surrendered to exhaustion and fell asleep.
Clark ran backstage, making his way through the crowd that had flooded the place behind the heavy, blue curtains. He looked around frantically, searching for Chloe, for a clue that would tell him where to go.
All around him the reporters were speaking into their microphones, telling the story of hat occurred, broadcasting live the latest happenings in the story. Again he heard people talking in different languages, all of them with different accents and cadences.
Suddenly he felt someone approaching his side and turning he saw Pauline. Their eyes met and Clark could sense the tension in the air. Her eyes were fixed on his, her mouth never uttering a single word. Clark waited, although he had many questions to ask. Pauline stayed in silence even though she had a lot to confess to.
Clark's heart began to pound faster. The sense of defeat and utter despair came back claiming him as its property, making his stomach ache as if it were one of a mere mortal, making him feel more human and helpless than anyone else. His body was alien but he was no stranger to human kind's emotions.
"What did she say?" asked Clark, searching within Pauline's eyes for the answer he desperately ached for.
"I am not at liberty to reveal anything, Mr. Kent. Whatever we discussed with Miss Sullivan, is our business"
"Who took he?" demanded to know Clark as he took a step closer, his body towering dangerously over Pauline's.
His height and anger were no threat to her. She laughed at the way his eyes filled with fury and she dismissed him with a wave of hi hand.
"All I can tell you is that we all have our secrets...and sometimes we keep them from those who we love the most"
Clark watched Pauline walk away and into the crowd of reporters that engulfed her instantly, devouring whatever she had to offer like a pack of wolves. Pete touched his shoulder but Clark didn't acknowledge the gesture.
"Why would Chloe do this?" asked Clark.
Pete looked at him and shrugged, unable to provide him with an answer.
"Tell me Pete, why would she leave like this...leave everything she wanted behind...why would she go without telling me where?"
Clark opened the door to Chloe's apartment and found it trashed. The crime scene yellow ribbons had been torn and the place had been turned upside down by the police when they had found Jackson. The carpet was stained and the place reeked of abandon. The remains of Chloe's belongings still screamed out her name but the violence showed everywhere and Clark couldn't stand the feeling of despair. He walked among the pieces of glass and wood, carefully examining the place, looking for a hint, and trying to find something that would lead him back to Chloe.
Slowly, surveying the room, he found old pictures of himself and Chloe when they were younger. There was another portrait that had been smashed of her and Martha during Chloe's graduation. Picking up the item, he brushed the pieces of glass off as if it were sugar and remembered the day. He was supposed to be there but duty called that morning and he had been late. As he rushed through the sky, he had hoped that he would make it but when he arrived he found the place empty, the trees that adorned the lawn, the only thing standing.
Clark put the picture in his pocket and walked in Chloe's room. The bed was unrecognizable, with all the clothes pilled up on top of it. The drawers to the dresser were open and some of them lay on the floor, broken and splintered. As he sorted through the mess, Clark had been hopeful of finding the tee with the S on it, but after a while he gave up. It occurred to him that it would be good to pick everything up and put it in boxes for when Chloe returned. However, he didn't know if and when she was going to be back.
Shaking the feeling of doom he went to the closet to get a few bags and pack some of Chloe's belongings. Sorting through some boxes he found nothing at the bottom. Looking under the bed he found none. It was very strange for he remembered he had seen some suitcases a few days ago when they had first gotten together. Puzzled, he searched the apartment and found nothing. There were no suitcases, no documents, no laptop and no papers of any kind.
Sitting on the bed Clark examined the bedroom once again and gave Pete a call.
"Hey Pete, its me" said Clark as he fidgeted with a small flyer that lay crumpled on the floor.
"Have you found her?"
"No. I am the apartment but she is not here. Her suitcases are gone though along with her passport and other personal documents"
"Are you sure?"
"Yes...there is nothing here..."
"So what do you think? Reluctantly asked Pete.
"I don't know what to think. According to what Pauline said, I can only think that Chloe left because she wanted to...but why not tell me? I don't understand"
"Clark, listen, we will find her. If someone took her we will find her. If she left, we will find her too. Nobody can just evaporate off the face of the planet just like that..."
"They can if they want to, Pete. They can if they don't want to be found," Said Clark as he felt the familiar pang of pain in his stomach.
"Or if its you..." added Pete jokingly. "Don't think like that, maybe she said something and you don't remember...have you thought of that?"
Walking through the apartment Clark looked at the things scattered on the floor and made a little ball with the paper he had in his hand as he said "She never said anything about leaving. She wanted this recognition more than anything; she even argued with me that this was her chance!"
"So why do you think she left?"
"Pauline said that we all keep secrets...that makes me think that Chloe was keeping a secret from me...perhaps...I don't know...I...I am no detective...remember?"
"Relax...I have contacted everyone I know and we will find her...I promise you"
Clark looked out the window as he whispered thank you into the phone and hung up. Outside, the city was alive and full of energy. Traffic moved slowly in the usual monotonous pattern every car moved in during the day in Metropolis. People flooded the streets, coming in and out of the buildings, crowding the offices and stores. He watched as a young man with his son walked in the building across the street. The little boy had a couple of balloons in his hands and was smiling cheerfully. From the outside the building looked old. The brick faade looked worn and deteriorated, the material in different color shades depending on where the sun hit. The windows were large, taking most of the front of the building except for a long patch at street level where there were some posters advertising a showing at the Japanese Garden's museum. Something caught Clark's eye and he took a step back. Taking the tiny piece of paper in his hand, he opened it up and read it. There was still hope to find Chloe.
The huge banner that adorned the entrance to the museum read "Hidden Secrets". Inside, the place was cool and shadowy. All the windows had been covered in heavy and silky fabrics that protected the objects on display from the damaging light of the sun. Through the open doors, some sunrays streamed in, giving the dust particles a golden glow as they flew in the air.
Clark heard his footsteps on the wooden floor as he walked in and looked around. The place was very quiet, to the point where he could hear his own breathing. Looking up, he saw the ceiling elevating up high, with wooden beams criss-crossing on top of his head. Slowly, he followed the red ribbons that adorned the walls and led to all the items on display.
Carefully crafted art were set on wooden pillars, decorated with more ribbons and candles. The show was about old Japanese figures, with a strong British influence, that opened up and revealed smaller and hidden items. Some were smaller figurines, others had been used during the wars to send and conceal secret messages.
Each item was beautiful in its own way. Some were rounded and softly shaped; others were more austere and less elaborate. Slowly Clark moved from item to item, trying to find a way to Chloe. He didn't know if this was the place he should be at but something told him he had to give it a shot. There were no such things as coincidences.
Carefully he examined the items, as he walked down the obscure halls. Outside, the sun was setting and the place seemed to become darker with every minute. Out the corner of his eye he saw an old Japanese couple behind him. They were also admiring the works of art. They seemed happy and Clark was envious at their luck.
Suddenly he felt a cold chill and turning he realized he was alone. Standing in the middle of the chamber, he looked around and saw no one, the emptiness engulfing him, the darkness enveloping his soul. He had made it to the museum but there was no Chloe. Defeated, he began to walk back towards the entrance when he heard footsteps behind him. He stopped and the noise faded into the silence along with the sound his shoes made.
Slowly he began to walk again and he heard someone following him. All of a sudden, he turned and took off into the shadows of a small room in the center of the building. The world froze around him as he pinned the person following against the wall.
When the world resumed its life she smiled up at him and said, "Took you long enough Superman...."
Chloe opened her eyes and saw the sunlight streaming in through the window. The heavy, white curtains, trimmed in gold, draped languidly on the side allowing the blast of light to shine in through the heavy and spotless glass pane. The room was quiet as her eyes moved over the expensive furniture and exquisite paintings adorning the place. Turning on her back she felt the muscles ache beneath the skin, tightly pulling and stretching, sending electric shocks of delicious pain up and down her legs. Chloe smiled as she found a comfortable position and relaxed under the soft covers. The bed sheet swathed her frail body, wrapping around it and accentuating the natural and beautiful curves of her hips, cascading down the sides of her breasts to finally cling from the edge of the bed.
Chloe sighed and looked up at the ceiling decorated with replicas of the Sistine Chapel. The paintings stretched all the way from above the bed to the door that led to lavish living room of the suite.
She could barely remember when and how she had gotten there. Moving she felt the fabric rub against her hard nipples and all her worries seemed to disappear. The sensation mimicked Clark's fingers and she moaned, but the feeling lacked the passionate touch of her lover. Slowly her hands slid under the satin sheets and her fingers traced the contours of her nipples. Softly, with the tip of her fingers she felt the outline of her breasts and she closed her eyes as she remembered how Clark's touch had felt.
His hands had moved over the fabric of her dress, feeling the warmth that emanated from Chloe's body as he touched her. Clark had felt the soft silk under his fingers as he divested Chloe, leaving her perfect body naked in front of him. Taking a step back he had watched her, admired the beautiful smooth lines of her body, the way they bent smoothly and regularly around the hips and breasts. His eyes had been clear and tearful as he watched her stand in front of him, in the midst of such a beautiful place, with the garments pooling at her feet, her hands gently clasped at the front as if she were to cover herself from his inquiring eye.
Looking up Clark had noticed a soft and pink blush creep up her neck and invade her cheeks, giving Chloe a sinful girlie appearance. To him her natural beauty had been breathtaking and for a moment he stood there, just watching her, afraid that if he moved the vision would go away and he would be left alone in the suite. But it didn't. Chloe had walked to him, breeching the gap between them, and one step a time, feeling his gaze on her, feeling her body ache for his touch.
She had reached out to him, holding his hand in hers and bringing it to rest on her chest. Closing his eyes Clark felt her heart pounding underneath the flesh and he thought it was the most enthralling rhythm he had ever heard. The sound became stronger with every breath she took and soon he was lost in the music that was Chloe.
In bed, Chloe moved her hand over her stomach, feeling the taut muscles underneath the skin. Gently, her fingers moved lower as she parted her legs and she moaned deeply like she had done with Clark.
Clark had laid her on the bed, his body rising high as he stood at the feet of the bed looking down at her. Sprawled on the bed, she was even more beautiful than he had ever imagined. With her eyes half open and her full mouth slightly parted, she was a vision of lust and ecstasy. Chloe was the image of desire. Looking at her, he recognized his own feelings in her eyes and slowly he climbed on the bed.
They had looked at each other before he bent forward and softly kissed her lips. The contact was sweet and loving, unlike any other experience either of them had had. Carefully, Clark had continued to kiss her face, trailing kisses down her neck, letting his hand feel the swell of her breasts, the smoothness of her stomach and the valley between her legs. Cautiously, he had pushed her legs up and apart as he continued to kiss the inside of her thighs with extreme care.
Chloe's fingers traced the folds of her sex, feeling the swelling beneath her fingertips begin to throb in anticipation. Pushing herself up, she opened her eyes and looked down at her body, trying to see what Clark had seen before. She wanted to experience what he had experienced; she wanted to know how she looked when she was feeling extreme pleasure.
She rubbed her clit faster, feeling the blood rushing through her veins as she played with herself. Taking the tiny nub between her fingers she pressed harder on it, thinking of Clark's mouth and how delicious it had felt on her.
Clark's lips had kissed Chloe between the legs and she shivered at the sensations. She had felt his breathing on her skin, cool and yet making her fiery. Clark had kissed her and then, parting his lips he found the little nub and began to suck on it. His tongue had moved expertly over it, feeling it soft and round and hot. With his hand on her stomach, he had held her down and continued to taste her, to savor his bride. Chloe moaned loudly as he continued to stimulate her, trying to make her come. Feeling her breathing hard, Clark had looked up and saw Chloe's hands clutching the covers. Her eyes were shut and her face was flushed in the most erotic way he had every seen. There had been a certain tension in her features and yet there was a peaceful glow of ecstasy in her he could not resist. Climbing on the bed once again, he found himself hard for her, his erection painful to stand. He had looked at Chloe as she opened her eyes and beckoned for him to join her.
Chloe rubbed her clit faster with one had as she inserted two fingers inside her juicy and achy cunt. Pushing in deeper and faster she moved her fingers in and out trying to draw out her orgasm.
Positioned on top of her Clark had entered her slowly, feeling the heat engulf him. He had seen a small tear roll down Chloe's cheek and he worried for a second that she was feeling pain. But almost instantly, she looked up and smiled and he knew everything was fine. He had been joyous and yet he couldn't stop or wait to enjoy the moment. He wanted to be in her, fuck her, love her, make her his, finally, once and for all. Slowly Clark had begun to move in and out. Picking up the pace he had put his arms to the sides of Chloe's head and he fucked her faster, plunging inside of her, rocking along with her, becoming one with her. All the anxiety had faded away the moment he entered her. All their worries had disappeared the moment she had told him that L. Lane would be he pseudonym but she would not be the public face. Each and every concern had vanished when she had joked that now both of them had secret identities. Their life had become different the moment he flew her straight to Vegas from the museum and married her. Faster, Clark had moved in and out feeling her muscles contract around him as she came one time, two times, three times. He felt his muscles tighten and he knew he was getting close. His blood was rushing through his veins, her hot skin blazing him, making him want to crash and burn along with her, within her. Finally, he had looked down at Chloe and he had let himself go, feeling himself explode inside of her, filling her up completely, making her his own.
Chloe let out a small cry as she came, her legs pressed together and holding her hand buried deep within herself. She smiled and sighed contently as she basked in the sunlight.
"Did you like it?" she purred.
"Yes Mrs. Kent. You were wonderful," he said as he exited the bathroom suite.
Clark took a deep breath before he reached out and held the doorknob in his hand for a good minute as he made up his mind and chased his fears away. He swallowed and sighed before he decided to open the door. With his hand behind his back, he walked in the apartment and carefully shut the door.
"Chloe?" he said rather loudly as if to make sure she was home.
Clark knew she should have been there but her schedule was always too demanding, just like his, and there were times when they never made it home until very late.
"I'm here!" yelled Chloe from the dressing room as she struggled with the clasp of her dress.
Running up the stairs Clark stuck his head in the room and watched her turn in front of the mirror. Just like he had requested, she was wearing a beautiful, red, taffeta dress. It was strapless and it clung to her figure wonderfully. Turning, Chloe looked up at him and from where she was she asked "What do you think?"
Like usual, she was stunning, breathtaking and beautiful. Clark walked towards her and handed her a beautiful bouquet of red assorted flowers.
Chloe smiled and taking the flowers in her hand, reached out and held on to him. Clark hugged her, keeping her very close to him, slightly bending backwards and lifting her off her feet.
Setting her back down and said, "You look beautiful...thanks for getting ready on such short notice, the Planet has been hectic lately...both planets..."
Chloe giggled and Clark kissed her nose, cleared his throat. "I've been meaning to do something for a while and I don't think I can wait any longer," he said as he took a step back, away from her.
"It has been almost a year since our trip to Vegas," he said as he got down on one knee "but I want you to have the wedding you deserve...so Chloe...would you marry me, again?
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