by Sara N.
Chloe waited at the bus station for half an hour before Clark called to tell
her he'd be late picking her up. It was too hot to wait outside in the
thick Kansas heat, but she had anyway, thirty minutes sitting on the hard
concrete steps as her clothes seemed to melt against her skin and her
shoulders flared with the beginnings of a sunburn.
He was sorry, he'd said over the wind and static of her cell phone. He'd
been at the Talon helping out Lana and lost track of time, but she'd finally
called in a few people to help and they were on their way.
Their way. Chloe kicked a few pebbles viciously, sending them skittering
over the hot pavement. Of course he was bringing Lana. Then maybe they
could all stand in a triangle and role-play a Betty and Veronica comic. Of
course, Clark was much better looking than Archie, Chloe thought. But that
was hardly the point.
She was on the verge of going back inside the station to get a Coke from the
machine when a dusty blue truck pulled into the drive and stopped a few feet
away from her. Her black capris, which had seemed so cute and functional
back in Metropolis, were instantly covered with a fine layer of dust.
Dammit, she thought, pasting a smile on her face while trying to brush off
her legs as casually as possible. The truck's gears ground loudly into park
and an instant later Clark was by her side, pulling her into an enthusiastic
hug. Chloe giggled, she couldn't help it. He smiled and said he missed her
and when they finally separated, there was Lana. Still small and pretty and
sweeter than an N'Sync ballad as she pulled Chloe into a hug and started
talking about how much fun they would have with her there.
They didn't talk much on the drive back, though what they lacked in
stimulating conversation they made up in pure enthusiasm. Lana demanded
that Chloe detail what she had been doing in Metropolis for the whole two
and half weeks since she'd last seen her, and Chloe told them about her new
job and the apartment she and her dad had found, a cute little two bedroom
place downtown. Clark kept giving Chloe quick glances like he couldn't
believe she was there, and Chloe had to fight the urge to hug him right
She had decided to stay with Lana for the week, since her father insisted
she stay with a female, and Lana was pretty much her only close female
friend. The proximity to Clark was just an added bonus.
"So what do you want to do?" Lana asked as they pulled into her driveway.
"I figured you'd want to go out since you've been sitting around all day."
"Actually, I was kind of hoping we could just sit around for awhile. The
bus ride was exhausting. Can we just sit on the porch and talk?" Chloe
smiled sheepishly, then groaned as she stepped out into the heat. "And
drink something with a lot of ice in it?"
Lana grinned. "Sure. I'll show you to the guest room. Clark, get us some
"Okay," Clark said, and headed to the kitchen.
Chloe's smile widened as she watched him walk away.
"Good to be home, isn't it?" Lana asked, leading her upstairs.
"Yeah. I really missed you guys. And Smallville, believe it or not.
Everything in Metropolis is so normal." She laughed. "And I kind of miss
the Wall of Weird."
Laughing, Lana helped Chloe with her bags. "Well, we can go visit it, if
you want. Anyway, I'm sure in a few days you'll be ready to be back in the
"Doubtful," Chloe responded. "I can't wait ‘til tomorrow. Lex Luthor can
put on a better party than anything Metropolis could come up with, I'm
"Ah, the big Luthor Independence Day celebration. I'm looking forward to
it, too. I love fireworks."
"Me too!" They walked out to the porch, where Clark was waiting on the
front steps, along with three tall glasses of pink lemonade on the railing.
Chloe couldn't decide which she wanted more.
The lemonade won out as she stepped into the hot sunlight and sat next to
He smiled. Their knees touched.
Chloe stared at the grass and tried not to grin too widely.
By, nine o'clock that night they had discussed what seemed like every single
event that had passed in Chloe's absence; their voices were worn and quiet
as they watched the sun setting. They sat pressed closely together on the
front porch bench, slowly sipping the last of their drinks. Chloe leaned
her head against Clark's shoulder, then winced as she sat up straight.
"You okay?" Clark asked.
Chloe looked at her shoulders. They were deep pink with sunburn, and she
swore that those freckles hadn't been there this morning. "I got a little
burned," she said.
"Let's go in," Lana said, looking concerned. "I think Nell has some lotion
somewhere that'll make it feel better."
"Okay," Chloe said, following her in, Clark trailing behind.
She walked into the living room and sat on the floor to wait. The last
remains of sunlight filtered through the curtains, tinting the room the same
dusty pink color as the clouds outside. It was warm still, pleasantly so.
"Hey," Clark said quietly as he settled next to her, leaning against the
Chloe smiled. "Hey."
"I missed you, you know," Clark said seriously. "It's been kind of lame
around here with you gone."
"Hasn't Lana been keeping you busy? And what about that millionaire best
friend of yours?" Chloe asked, trying not to look too pleased.
"They're not you." Clark looked at the floor. He was blushing a bit,
tanned skin tinted slightly pink.
"Clark-" Chloe started.
"Hey, I found some lotion," Lana said as she entered the room.
Chloe, to her credit, did not swear out loud. Instead, she pulled herself
back from the edge of revelation and smiled at Lana. "Great," she said, in
a convincingly cheerful voice.
"I should get back," Clark said. "I'll come by tomorrow and we'll do
something, okay Chloe?"
"Right," Chloe said. "See ya, Clark."
He waved goodbye to her and Lana and left.
"You still like him, don't you?" Lana asked in a quiet voice.
"Yeah," Chloe said honestly. "Do you?"
"Okay," Chloe said. "Who do you think Clark likes?"
"You. And me."
Chloe laughed wryly. "That's fun."
"Boys." Lana shook her head.
"I know." Chloe grinned. "You wanna go watch TV or something?"
They stayed up for a few hours, watching television on Lana's bed. When
Chloe awoke, she was on top of the blankets, and an episode of Happy Days
was on the TV that hadn't been turned off. Chloe rolled her eyes. It was a
sad, sad thing when two teenage girls couldn't stay awake past midnight,
even during the summer. She squinted at the clock. It was not yet five
o'clock in the morning, and the guest room was too far away. With a sigh,
she crawled under the covers next to Lana.
When she fell back asleep, she dreamed of Clark and cotton candy.
Clark showed up at half past eleven the next day, carrying a checkered
blanket and a picnic basket and grinning widely. There was a great little
place he'd found by Perkins Creek that was perfect for a picnic, he claimed,
and there was certainly no better day for one. It was a breezy seventy-five
degrees out, the sky a brilliant blue dotted with fluffy white clouds.
The drive out took barely twenty minutes. Once there, Chloe leaped out of
the truck and started running, feeling freakishly exuberant due to the day,
the weather, the situation and definitely the company. Clark chased her
until they reached a terribly charming spot right by the creek in the shade
of an old willow tree, where Chloe fell giggling to the ground. Laughing,
Clark set the basket and blanket on the grass and landed next to her, then
proceeded to tickle her mercilessly until she was gasping and begging him to
Eventually, Chloe composed herself, sending Clark to get out the food while
she dusted herself off and gave into a few more chuckles.
Clark set up the picnic quickly. "How does it look?" he asked, gesturing
the impressive display of good home cooking.
"Fabulous," Chloe said, eyeing an impressively large sandwich and
particularly shiny apple. "Tell your Mom I said thanks."
"Hey," Clark said, vaguely offended. "This wasn't all Mom."
Chloe raised an eyebrow.
"I made the sandwiches," Clark said self-importantly.
Chloe grinned and grabbed a sandwich that was easily three inches thick.
"That doesn't surprise me, for some reason."
"Just eat the sandwich, Chloe," Clark said in a mock-annoyed tone.
"Yes, Mr. Kent," Chloe answered, and took a bite.
They ate in relative silence, lulled by the gently rushing water and
occasional chirping of birds. A warm breeze occasionally meandered by,
ruffling Chloe's hair. The food disappeared fairly quickly, until all that
remained were empty plastic bags, apple cores, and empty soda cans, toppled
over by the wind.
Chloe took small bites of peach pie and wondered if there was ever a more
idyllic summer day.
Clark sat with his back against the tree, smiling at Chloe as she scraped
her fork against the plate to get the last few crumbs. When she finished,
finally setting the plate down, he gestured for her to come closer.
She chuckled and crawled over to him, turning to settle between his legs,
her back to him. Smiling lazily, she turned her head to look up at him.
"Hi," she said.
Clark chuckled. "Hi." He wrapped his arms around her waist and she settled
her hands over his almost possessively.
Minutes passed as they sat comfortably, watching the clouds drift by through
Finally, Chloe spoke. "I understand," she said softly.
Clark frowned slightly. "Understand what?"
"The dance. You had to save Lana. I'm not mad or anything. I mean, that
you left me there. You had to help her." Chloe paused. "I know she's
important to you, Clark. I know that she always will be. I get that." She
shifted to look up at him. "I just thought you should know."
"Thank you," Clark said.
"Sure." She turned back to watch the creek.
A few more minutes passed as Clark wondered what else to say. "Chloe?" he
"Mmm?" she murmured, opening her eyes to look at him, having been lulled
into drowsy contemplation.
"I really like you, you know," he started.
She smiled. "I know," she said, and closed the few inches between them, her
lips meeting his.
After a few startled seconds, Clark registered what was happening and had
the presence of mind to kiss her back. He slid his hand up to the back of
her neck as she shifted in his arms, tangling her own hand in his hair. The
kiss was long, slow, lazy, and tasted rather like peaches.
When Chloe pulled away, it was only to complain of a twinge in her neck, a
problem easily solved as she settled back against the blanket. Clark
hovered carefully over her and she pulled him closer, kissing him again,
lightly. Chloe felt drugged almost, like she was drowning, only she could
breathe underwater. Clark's kisses were soft and sweet, never straying
anywhere that she hadn't already touched on him. He held her like he feared
breaking her, and she felt his touch from her lips to her toes, every nerve
ending suddenly awake and alive, wonderfully warm. The afternoon sun cast
down heat like a blanket, combining with the sounds around them - the water,
the birds, the wind, her own heavy breathing, Clark's occasional sighs - to
form a dreamy reality where it felt like only they existed. Hours passed
like minutes, and when Chloe finally awoke from the seeming spell that
they'd been under, it was because she literally awoke.
Chloe lifted her head from Clark's chest, blinking at the now violet-blue
sky. She stretched, wondering what time it was and how on earth they'd
managed to fall asleep. "Hey," she said, pushing lightly at Clark's
shoulder. "Wake up."
"Wha?" Clark said, squinting at her. He sat up. "Did we fall asleep?"
"That was the conclusion I'd reached," Chloe said dryly. "What time is it?"
Clark looked at his watch. "It's seven thirty," he said, then frowned.
"Is now," Chloe said helpfully.
"Right." He stood and started gathering up their things.
In the distance, a few early fireworks were going off.
Chloe pretended not to notice Clark breaking the speed limit on the way to
Lex's. They got there in record time, arriving just short of eight o'clock.
About a third of the Smallville residents were there, it looked like,
along with a good deal of people Chloe assumed were from Metropolis. The
party was in full swing, people scattered about in lawn chairs, gathered
around tables, or simply standing around talking. Clark and Chloe saw
several school friends sitting on blankets on the grass, presumably waiting
for the fireworks to start.
They had barely been there five minutes when Lex spotted them and walked
over. "Hey, glad to see you made it, Clark. And you, Chloe."
Chloe smiled. "Hey, Lex."
Lex looked Clark over. "You didn't have to dress up, Clark. Strictly a
casual affair, you know."
Clark blushed, looking at his slightly wrinkled khakis and white shirt.
"Just dressing for the weather," he said.
"Right," Lex said, glancing at Chloe. "So where have you guys been? Lana
was looking for you earlier."
"We had a picnic over by Perkins Creek," Chloe said. "It lasted a bit
longer than expected."
Lex looked interested.
Chloe blushed and straightened her shirt.
Thankfully, Lana came along before Chloe could start thinking of an
explanation that didn't involve naughtiness of some kind.
"Hey, I was looking for you guys," Lana said.
"So we heard," Chloe said. "And here we are."
Lana smiled. "Come on, I have a great spot for us to watch the fireworks
from." She took Clark's hand in hers and then did the same with Chloe's.
Lex waved, smiling sardonically as Lana dragged them away.
"They're supposed to start in a few minutes," Lana said, settling down onto
a large blanket, pulling Clark and Chloe with her. "Apparently Lex has some
really impressive ones."
"Lex? No," Chloe said, smiling.
Clark grinned at her.
"Do you guys want sodas? I'll get sodas," Lana said.
"Sure, thanks," Chloe said. As soon as Lana was out of sight, she leaned
over and gave Clark a quick kiss.
"What was that for?" he asked.
"My own personal enjoyment," Chloe answered, grinning hugely.
Clark kissed her. "That was for mine," he said. "In case you were
In a brilliant flash of red and gold, the fireworks started.
A minute later, Lana came rushing back, carrying two Cokes. She sat next to
Chloe and smiled. "Did I miss anything?"
"Nah. The fireworks aren't over yet," Chloe said.
Clark looked at her and smiled, then looped a hand around her waist and
pulled her against him.
Chloe watched the fireworks shatter in the sky and thought, there's nowhere
else I'd rather be.