Here you go, people, the Kent Dinner and Clark FINALLY appears...and the reality of the present hits him like a truckload of glowing green Kryptonite.
Spoiler for VORTEX.
“We’re going to be late.” Chloe complained as they drove down the dirt road they were almost sure was the one that would take them to the Kent farm.
“I’m sorry if I wanted to make sure you were okay.” Lex fixed his rearview mirror.
“But the family doctor had already seen me.” Chloe pouted, knowing that she was whining yet not stopping. “And why did I have to have my blood taken?”
“You were cut and scraped, we had to make sure that no filth got into you.” Lex announced, not taking his eyes from the road. “And the doctor wanted you to have some x-rays done to your shoulder to make sure that you don’t need to put it in a cast—or at least a sling.”
“It’s not the first time I’ve dislocated my shoulders, Lex, I think my body is used to it by now.” Chloe rolled her eyes, arms folded over her chest childishly. “I’m sore, will be for days, that’s all. You’ve got to stop being so paranoid.”
A smile curved his lips. “When it comes to your safety I’ll be as paranoid as I want to be, thank-you-very-much.”
She smiled. “Bully.”
He glanced at her and flashed her a grin before returning his attention to the road. “You look gorgeous, by the way.”
“Liar.” She grumbled grumpily. “None of my shirts fit me with these bandaged around my shoulder, and so I had to wear a spaghetti strap shirt…with a huge bandage on my shoulder!” She pouted again. “I look retarded.”
“Well, I did say we should just not go.” Lex reminded her in a sing-song voice.
She glared at him for finding this amusing. “I said we were going to go, I always keep my word.”
“Yes, of course you do.” Lex nodded, smirk in place.
“You be glad that I don’t want to get into another accident or I’d hurt you right about now.” Yet Chloe was grinning at him, unable to stay annoyed with Lex for long.
“Hey, look, we found it.”
Chloe looked up at saw the large, red farm house ahead. A dizzying sense of deja vu rocked her body, and she placed a hand on her head.
“You okay baby?”
“Yeah.” She nodded, eyes closed. “It’s just the pain relievers, you know how they affect me at first.”
“You sure you want to do this?” Lex asked once more as they parked where the other cars were parked. “We can just go in for a couple of minutes, leave the wine we brought, and leave.”
“No--I really want to do this. With our hectic schedules we haven’t had much time to go out and mingle together.” Chloe opened her eyes and smiled at him. “Let’s go inside and enjoy this, okay?”
His eyes searched her face before he nodded and smiled softly. “Come on then, let’s go do this.”
The get-together was actually more entertaining than Lex would have thought, and he found himself deep in conversation with Jonathan Kent. Something about the older man had made him feel slightly wary, on edge, but when the criticism and harshness he’d for some reason expected hadn’t arrived, and instead he’d found an interesting debate on the politics in Metropolis--well--for some reason Lex had felt at peace.
Not surprising, everyone had discovered that he was Lex Luthor--it was a small town after all--and they’d heard about Chloe’s attack as well. Lana Lang and her fiancée, a more wary African American, had heard about it when they’d gone to pick up medicine at the Smallville Hospital for Lana’s aunt, Nell.
Martha had only discovered the happening when Lana mentioned it after seeing Chloe’s bandaged shoulder, and the woman had looked horrified when Lana retold the story.
She’d endeared herself to Lex for her genuine concern for Chloe.
And despite Chloe’s comment on looking ‘retarded’, Lex couldn’t help but think she looked gorgeous. Sure, the bandages clashed with the whole ensemble, but that was just Chloe. She got into scrapes, she got bruises, and then she got into more scrapes.
He was okay with it as long as she was alive, safe, and by his side. He really didn’t care how she looked anyway, he’d fallen in love with her snark and their verbal judo--not just because she was beautiful.
“You know, I actually read your work faithfully.” Lana was saying to Chloe, smiling at her with genuine admiration. “That article you did on Wayne Enterprises, linking them to Batman? That was amazing.” She grinned at Chloe’s embarrassed smile. “I actually didn’t realize who were you until Sheriff Watson told Pete that the girl who’d kicked those two goons’ butts was Lex Luthor’s girlfriend—Lois Lane.”
Chloe’s eyes sought his and she smiled at Lex before returning her attention to Lana.
“I feel partly responsible for what happened to you.” Lana winced. “I mean, those men apparently overheard our conversation at the Talon and that was how they knew that you were going to be at the caves.”
“Hey, it is so not your fault!” Chloe exclaimed. “Those men would have come to the castle if they hadn’t known I was going to the caves. They really wanted to make someone hurt, and they wouldn’t stop just because of some inconveniences.”
“I was so shocked when Sheriff Watson said that you’d left them in the hospital.” Amusement and glee caused Lana’s hazel eyes to turn a little more green. “That’s what they get though. How did you learn to fight like that?”
“Two years ago my cousin Dinah and I were mugged by two huge brutes and we got knocked around a bit because we didn’t want to give up our purses.” Chloe winced at the memory. “Lex wanted to put a full security team on me twenty-four/seven, but I told him I wasn’t having it. He gave me the option of either having body-guards, or getting taught to defend myself.”
“And you chose the self-defense.” Lana smiled, obviously approving of this option.
“Yeah, my cousin and I have been taking regular classes ever since.”
“And it paid off.” Martha interjected. “Although it was horrible that the situation arose in which you had to defend yourself.”
Lex couldn’t agree more.
The sound of Jonathan Kent clearing his throat caused Lex to turn back to the elder man with a somewhat sheepish expression on his face for having been caught staring at his girlfriend and ignoring his host.
“You know,” Jonathan took a sip from the goblet of wine he was enjoying. “I used to look at Martha the same way when I first met her.” He grinned, lost in the memory. “I remember feeling like such naïve hick, and she was all gorgeous and sophisticated and somewhat insane to actually like me.”
Lex smirked at the description. “Yes, well, my father thinks Lois is insane for liking me, so I guess I can understand the feeling.”
Jonathan was silent for a moment. “You love her, son?”
For some reason, Jonathan Kent calling him ‘son’ made Lex’s chest swell with pride. “Yes sir.”
“How long have you two been together?”
“Since she was sixteen.”
“That’s a long time.” Jonathan paused. “You planning on making an honest woman of her?”
“I actually proposed to her when I was eleven, at that age we’d already realized that the other was the only one of the opposite sex that we could stand.” Lex smiled. “She around six at the time, and she promised to marry me when the time was right…and I’m hoping that it’ll be soon.”
Jonathan was silent, weighing his words, before smiling. “This is good wine.”
Lex nodded in acknowledgement of the compliment. “I’m glad that you like it.”
“That’s it.” Pete Ross announced, coming to join them. “If I have to hear them talking more about female things I’ll go insane! What are you two talking about?”
“Engagements.” Jonathan smiled, clapping the man on the back. “It should be right up your alley.”
“Alright everyone, let’s go to the table to eat!” Martha Kent announced, leading the way to the table that was beautifully decorated, Chloe and Lana giggling together as they followed like a pair of high school friends.
Lex smiled as he saw Chloe smiling like she only did when around him and Dinah. He then exchanged smiles with Pete and Jonathan, and passed Martha, who squeezed his arm with motherly affection before showing him to the seat next to Chloe’s.
The billionaire felt Chloe’s hand seek his beneath the table, and he squeezed it lovingly as Jonathan Kent led the table in prayer before they continued laughing and talking all at once, as if they’d known each other all of their lives.
He had never felt something so familiar, so nice, as this.
Maybe coming to Smallville hadn’t been such a bad idea after all.
Clark hesitated outside of the door to his home. He’d noticed the cars outside and could hear the faint sound of laughter coming from the dinning room--obviously his parents were entertaining guests--and were having a great time at that.
He wondered if he should knock and wait for someone to answer or just stride in as if he’d never left…or maybe he should wait outside in the barn until the people left? It might put his parents on a spot if he arrived and everyone started asking where he was and what he’d been doing, and he didn’t want to put any strain on his parents.
Clark turned and took a step towards the barn…
“I don’t believe that!” Lana Lang giggled from inside. “Did you really do that?”
“Yep.” It was her. She was inside. “Dinah and I got into a LOT of trouble--but we got our story for the school newspaper, so it was all worth it.”
Clark’s heart skipped a beat as he turned back, and flung the door open, stalking towards the dinning room. The Kryptonian stopped in the doorway, frozen in place, as he finally saw her in flesh…and she was more beautiful than he remembered her.
Chloe sat across from Lana, long brown hair falling down her shoulders in loose curls, and her eyes greener than he remembered. A full smile curved her dark red lips as she threw her head back and laughed as hard as Lana and the rest of them were at the story she’d just finished telling--a story he hadn’t really heard because he was too intent on soaking her up.
Like a man dying of thirst, Clark drank her up, feeling the desperation that’d existed within him from the moment he’d discovered Jor-EL’s betrayal begin to disappear.
Everything was fine.
Chloe was here.
He was here.
Everything would be fine once more.
“Baby, remember when Dinah and I got mistaken for under-aged prostitutes and spent the New Year’s in jail?” Chloe turned to the man to her right that Clark had missed in his desperation to just look at her.
“Yeah, though I don’t find that memory half as funny as you two do.” The man announced…in a very familiar voice.
Clark’s blue gaze jerked towards the man and he froze in horror as an auburn-haired Lex Luthor brought Chloe’s hand to his mouth and kissed it as she smiled adoringly at him.
No…No! He forgot to breathe, horror building in his chest as suddenly the enormity of what Jor-EL had done hit him full-force. No, please, anything but this!
Chloe frowned slightly when Lex turned to Jonathan and smiled, answering something Clark’s father had said. The brunette girl blinked, looking at the table, at her utensils, as if confused.
Chloe…please…tell me this isn’t true…that you…that Lex…Chloe….please!
And then she did it, she looked up and her confused green eyes met his pleading baby blues, before widening in surprise.
Clark felt lost in her green orbs, sensing the woman he loved deep within those misty irises, trying to draw her out.
Chloe’s utensils slipped from her hands and clattered loudly on the plate of food in front of her, drawing the attention of everyone at the table to her, and then to him as they turned to see what’d captured her attention.
Suddenly everyone was silent.
Clark couldn’t care, he didn’t dare break the eye-contact he maintained with Chloe, who looked nervous, confused, completely conflicted, as if deep inside she remembered him.
His heart soared at the possibility.
He didn’t notice Lex narrowing his eyes at him and stiffening in his seat.
“Clark!” In a blink of an eye his mother was out of her seat and in his arms, crying against his chest. His father, Lana and Pete were quick to their feet and crowded around him, calling his name, asking a million questions…and yet his eyes never left Chloe’s.
Remember me. He pleaded silently with her. Please, remember me.
She suddenly flinched and broke eye-contact with him, turning to look at Lex, who’d placed a hand on her shoulder.
Clark growled deep within his chest at the battle lost.
“I’m so glad that you’re fine.” His mother pulled away and looked into his face, frowning slightly when she followed his intense gaze and noticed Chloe looking down nervously at her plate, and Lex Luthor glaring at Clark, his arm possessively around Chloe’s shoulders.
“It’s been too long!” Pete announced, not noticing the tension in the room.
“My son is back!” Jonathan also didn’t notice the tension.
Lana, on the other hand, exchanged a nervous expression with Mrs. Kent as Clark’s and Lex’s gazes collided violently.
“Darling,” Martha pulled of Clark’s hand, causing him to look down at her. “I want you to meet some new friends.” She smiled brightly, trying to pretend that nothing is wrong. “This is Lex Luthor--his family owns the large castle on the hill, remember?”
A muscle in Clark’s cheek jumped, yet he nodded, knowing that he had to keep up the semblance of ignorance. Neither Lex nor Chloe remembered him, so they wouldn’t understand his desire to throw Lex out of the house, to grab Chloe and kiss her until she couldn’t breathe.
“And this is his girlfriend, Lois Lane.”
Clark blinked in surprise. LOIS LANE? Why was Chloe named Lois, and what had happened to the real Lois? Sure, she’d been a pain in his neck, but he hadn’t wanted her to be erased from the face of the earth!
“Nice to meet you.” He was surprised that his voice was so neutral.
Chloe quickly stood. “Nice to meet you too, Clark.” And yet she wasn’t looking at him. “Martha, Jonathan, thank you for the invitation, the food has been great, but my shoulder is killing me and I think Lex and I should be going back to his house now.”
Lex stood up as well, a look of relief quickly crossing his features before they returned to their normal smug expression. “Thank you again, Jonathan, for that interesting debate.”
Jonathan smiled at the young man. “Anytime, I enjoyed it as well! You come by again son, and we’ll continue with what we were talking about earlier.”
Lex’s smile was softer, more genuine. “I’d like that.”
Clark felt betrayal stab at his heart at this exchange.
“You come by the Talon tomorrow with that cousin of yours and you two can have coffee on the house in exchange for more stories!” Lana hugged Chloe--Lois--goodbye, being careful with her injured shoulder.
“It’s a date.” Chloe--Clark couldn’t think of her by any other name--smiled at Lana and Pete before her gaze quickly rested on his face and she looked away immediately. “Have a good night everyone.”
And with that, she was gone, Lex following behind.
Clark turned and watched her through the window until she entered Lex’ silver jaguar and they sped away.
Lex held Chloe close to him as she slept on the bed next to him. When they’d gotten to the castle they’d both been perturbed and silent, and like two needy, confused people they’d fallen together, making love as if frightened that they would die tomorrow. Chloe’d met his desperation and urgency, and once they’d finally collapsed in bed she’d fallen right to sleep.
Lex, on the other hand, couldn’t sleep.
The name of the Kent’s son just had to be Clark. Of all the names that existed in the world, the name of the son of the two people he’d grown to care for in one night was Clark--just like the faceless person in his hallucinations--the faceless person whom the blonde Chloe loved desperately.
He pulled her closer to him in an subconscious way of reassuring himself that Chloe was there with him, in his bed, tired from making passionate love with him.
Chloe’s not blonde--I’m not bald--Clark Kent is NOT the love of her life.
And yet he felt more insecure and threatened than he ever had.
He looked at her as if he…as if…as if he hungered for her.
And she hadn’t been unaffected by the tall stranger.
But she left with me…she came home with me…shechose me.
He calmed, realizing that Chloe might be attracted to this stranger, but she loved him, and it would take more than just a pretty face to change that.
Relaxing, he breathed in the scent of her hair and fell asleep.
They’d been searching for Mr. Kent for a while now, and yet Chloe was glad for the distraction because it kept her from remembering how Clark Kent had left her at the Spring Formal to go to Lana Lang,again. She felt like such an idiot to have believed, for one minute, that Clark would really like her and forget all about the one girl he’d been obsessing over for years.
“Uh, Chloe?” Clark turned to her while Pete went on ahead, trying to find where Mr. Kent could be. The tornados had really screwed up Smallville, and nothing looked like it should. “I’ve been wanting to apologize for leaving you at the Spring--.”
Chloe closed her eyes, unable to let him finish that sentence, to break her heart and ruin their friendship. She didn’t want to hear him stammer through a ‘it’s not you—I just love Lana’. “Oh, didn’t I tell you that leaving in the middle of a tornado to save a friend totally gets you off the hook?” She inflicted cheerfulness that she didn’t feel, covering up her breaking heart. “Besides, I mean, you’d do the same thing for me.”
Clark gave her one of his breathtaking smiles. “Oh, in a heartbeat.” His smile grew. “So, how can I make it up to you?”
“Actually, you know, I’ve been thinking.” It was time to save what was left of her broken heart and shattered dignity. “It’s funny how a natural disaster puts your life in perspective, but I think it might be better if we just stayed really good friends. Anything other than that just gets really complicated.”
There was a second’s silence before--. “Uh…yeah.” Clark gave her a half-smile. “Yeah, I think that’s a good idea.”
“You do?” Stupid her for hoping that he would fight for her. No one fought for her.
“Yeah.” Clark nodded after another second’s silence. “Yeah, uh, our friendship is so important to me. The last thing I want to do is screw it up.”
“Good. Great. Perfect.” The little remains of her heart had just been stomped under his working boots. “I’m really glad we got that straightened out.”
He wouldn’t look at her. “I’m going to check over there.”
“Okay, I’ll catch up in a second. My feet are throbbing.” And my heart is bleeding. She felt him hesitate before sighing and walking away.
Chloe looked up and noticed Pete had come up next to her. “Hey.”
“What’s with the fake smile?” Pete asked, seeing through her façade unlike Clark.
“Nothing.” She hated the hitch in her voice as she tried to get control over her emotions. “Clark and I just reaffirmed that we’re really good friends.” She paused. “And nothing else.”
Sympathy lit his dark eyes. “Pulled the friendship card on you, huh?”
“No, I did.” She gave a self-hating scoff. “Defense mechanism.”
His arm went around her shoulders in a comforting gesture. “Listen, Chloe, its okay to feel bummed out. Last night was supposed to be special and it got ruined.”
“It was just so close to being perfect.” Her voice hitched once more as she remembered feeling so right in Clark’s arms as they danced and looked into each other’s faces. “Oh…listen to me.” She wiped at a tear that’d escaped down her cheek. “I sound so pathetic. A tornado hit. People are in real trouble and I’m upset because Clark didn’t fulfill my wishful fantasy.” She shook her head at herself. “You must think I’m an awful person.”
“Yeah. You’re a real monster.” Tenderness and something else tinted Pete’s voice as he squeezed her shoulder. “Come on.”
Gasping for breath, Chloe jolted into a sitting position in the bed, looking around her at the darkness. She’d been having yet another dream that’d affected her enough to wake up with tears streaming down her cheeks--but she couldn’t remember it.
All she remembered was heartache.
Getting out from the bed, Chloe wiped at her eyes furiously and went to the window, throwing it open and looking up at the moon.
“What’s happening to me?”
Clark stood in the loft, looking up at the moon. He’d had a dream of when Chloe had first pulled the ‘we’re better as friends’ card on him, and not for the first time he wished he’d been brave enough to fight for her.
Now that he looked back on it, on her reaction to his accepting what she said, Clark realized that she’d wanted him to fight for her, but he’d been young and insecure and hadn’t wanted to lose her so he’d readily accepted the terms.
But Clark had grown up, and now he knew what he wanted…who he wanted.
This time he was going to fight for Chloe…and this time he wouldn’t content himself with just being her friend.
He was going to right Jor-EL’s wrongs, he’d finally be with Chloe, if it took him the rest of his life.