Epilogue
By: Jen

Disclaimer: Well, it’s obvious that the characters used don’t belong to me. If they did, things on Smallville would be a whole lot different. Oh, and that “welcome to the I-Know-An-Alien Club” line is from Roswell. One more thing: the song lyrics in italics are by Tonic, from their song “Head on Straight.”

Rating: PG

Note: Post-episodic for “Rush.” I was sort of venting out my frustrations with the show in this story. Oh, and I know I probably got Chloe’s character all wrong, but enjoy anyway. And thank you so much Annie for your beta-ing!!!!

***

Dr. Bryce has just left. She gave me the okay: the parasite’s been removed and I can go home now. Dad’s outside, placing the flowers people sent me in the car as I take off the ridiculous hospital gown and put on my clothes. A couple of minutes later, he’s still not back, and I sit on the bed, waiting, somewhat impatient to get out of here. I’ve been in way too many hospitals over the past year; I don’t intend to waste another moment in this room. I look at a stuffed animal, a purple bear that Dad forgot to bring to the car. I think it was from Lana. I walk over to it and pick it up. It was a nice of her to give it to me, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m angry with Lana. Lana – Ms. We Should All Be Honest With Each Other – lied to me, and even at the end, I’m sure she still got Clark.

Okay, so she didn’t straight out lie, but a lie by the omission of facts is still a lie. I should know from the countless times someone’s called me on that fault before. I’m positive that she knew it was me that made out with Clark in the Talon. I could see it in her eyes. The same sort of look I tried to hide after I found out Clark had asked her out. I’m she’s forgiven me, Lana wouldn’t have come visited if she hadn’t, and that makes me feel bad because my resentment towards her has once again reared it’s ugly head and refuses to go away.

You know, if I had been thinking straight under the influence of that parasite, I would’ve shouted to Clark: “You idiot! You’re wooing the wrong girl!” Okay, so maybe I wouldn’t have used the word wooing (blame that on Lana’s early twentieth century novels), but I certainly would’ve admitted that the friends card was a scam, a lie. Just like I lied about his adoption, just like I lied a couple of minutes ago when he asked me if I had remembered anything. It would have been better to get those words out in the open, not just my feelings about Clark’s definition of friendship. Still, didn’t someone once say that actions speak louder than words? However, I doubt that person knew Clark Kent when he said that.

“I’m glad to see you doing better.” Dad. He’s back for me…and the bear, of course. He comes over to where I stand and envelops me in a big bear hug. It’s nice, but a small part of me, the part that remembers what it was like to have Clark all over me, wants something else. Someone else. But of course, no luck there. Unless I die my hair a dark brown, and get colored contacts, there’s no way in hell he’s going to notice. Not now, not ever.

Then again, if it takes red meteor rock for him to notice me, then maybe he’s not worth all this pain. But still, how do you let go of a crush that you’ve had for so long?

“I don’t want to be the one who hurts you
I don’t want to be the one who fails
I’m keeping my head on straight
So you can trust me again.”


***

“Ross!” I shout, just as Pete was about to get into his new car. Yup, Clark managed to save that too, along with our lives. I owe him my thanks – and not just for yesterday, but for all those times he’s saved me, or Pete, or someone else I care about – but I can’t ever give it to him. At least not until he finally trusts me enough to share his secret.

“Chloe?”

He runs up to me and gives me a big hug. He smiles broadly and takes a step back, giving me the once over.

“You look good. Glad to see you out of the hospital so soon.”

“I can say the same about you, Pete.”

He smiles, and I smile, and soon, it’s just a whole bunch of standing around by the car smiling in a strange silence. There hasn’t been any awkwardness between us in a long time. I thought we outgrew it. But then again, maybe finding out your best friend’s an alien, and your other best friend has been hiding his secret gives you a new perspective on this whole friend/talking thing.

“So, how are you handling it?” I look up at him, somewhat startled. “I mean, Clark, the past couple of days, his not of this earth status?” He pauses, his eyes looking alarmed. Probably wondering if I might have forgotten everything and that he just spilled the beans. “You do remember, right?”

“Yeah. So, an alien, huh?” Pete nods. “I always knew there was something strange about him. Didn’t figure it was Wall-of-Weird strange though.” Pete raises his eyebrows and I laugh. “Okay, so maybe at times I did. The amazing oblivious boy! Come watch as he wrestles with his oh-so-Dawson life!”

“Here for a limited time only!” Pete chimes in, and we both laugh, the deep sort of life that tends to require support of some sort so you don’t collapse on the floor.

“That felt good, huh?” Pete asks after we both recovered.

“Yeah,” I agree. Then, I switch back to the matter at hand. “You know, it explains a lot. How he’s always managed to save us in just the nick of time. How he’s always disappeared on me right when something’s come up.”

Just as I was about to reprise the “personal superhero” line, the memory of him catching me in the Fortress comes rushing back. He held me in his arms like I weighed nothing at all, and looked at me so full of desire. I’ve never seen Clark look at me in that way. It made me feel like more than just his news source, like I actually stood a chance in the competition for his heart. What shit. I come back from the bitter trip down memory lane, shaking off my growing resentment and find Pete looking at me awkwardly. The minute he sees me looking at him, Pete’s eyes look away.

“Chloe, you’re not going to put him on the Wall, are you?” Pete’s quiet and staring at the ground. And I feel my eyes grow wide in outrage, and I quickly sober in pain. How could he suggest that? Does he really think…? I look at him again. His eyes are still somewhat downcast, but I can tell he wants an answer.

“Never.”

Pete nods, and finally looks me in the eye. “Well, welcome to the I-Know-an-Alien Club.” He flashes a sarcastic smile at me, then glances down at his watch, and back up at me. “Look, Chloe, I have to go. I need to talk things over with the Kents. I wouldn’t be surprised if they never let me on their farm again. I screwed up, big time.”

He walks to the other side of the car and opens the door to the driver’s seat. “Need a lift somewhere?”

“No.” Pete’s eyes meet mine, and I know what I have to do. Clark’s never going to trust me enough with his secret, so he can’t know that I know. “Pete? Can you do me a favor though?”

“Anything, Chloe,” he responds, more sincerely than usual for Pete Ross.

“Can you pretend you don’t remember? I told Clark that my memory’s a blank between going to the cave and waking in the hospital room. I’d like to keep it that way. I don’t want him to know that I know. He doesn’t --”

“--need to know?” Pete interrupts. I flinch. It’ll be another lie between Pete, Lana, Clark, and I. Another secret that’s going to eventually rip our friendship apart. But I don’t care. Not anymore.

“I struggled all my life with empty moments
The shadow of a hole I’d never fill
Any happiness I had was empty
It wasn’t good enough, I wanted love.”


***

“Don’t tell me. Somewhere, one of Lana Lang’s many fans is crying in heartbreak,” I say, rather loudly, as I walk towards the counter in the Talon. She looks at me in confusion and I gesture to the rose in the trash bin. Her eyes glitter with tears, but she wipes them away as if I wouldn’t notice.

“No, it’s nothing, Chloe. Just a misplaced delivery,” she says. “Coffee?” she offers, a welcoming smile on her face.

“Clark?” I counter, gesturing towards the basket again.

Lana turns around without answering me, quickly grabbing two mugs off the shelf and filling them with the hot brown liquid. Placing them on a tray, she walks over to an empty table. I follow.

“It seems like the sort of thing he’d do…for you anyway. Break a date, make it up with flowers and another promise, right?” I can hear something yelling inside my head to stop this scenario before my heart suffers another cataclysmic earthquake, but I can’t. “So, you forgive him?”

Lana shakes her head. “Do you think the rose would be in the trash if I did?”

I smile. It’s horrible. She’s my friend and my roommate, but I’m so relieved that she refused to forgive Clark. More relieved than I thought I’d be. “Isn’t this the second time he’s broken a date only to make out with another girl?”

Lana’s eyes flash with hurt, and I see a tear trickle down her face. Damn. Big mistake. “Oh, god, Lana. I’m sorry. Really sorry.” She looks at me, questioning my intent. Serves me right though. “I didn’t mean it to be cruel. It’s just…me being bitter,” I finish lamely.

We sit there in silence, sipping our drinks for a couple of minutes, until I decide that the silence is too much for me right now. “How come you and Clark always seem to run back to each other, even after all the pain he puts you through?”

There I said it. And I’m sure anyone with a brain can read the jealousy scribbled across my face. No matter what I do, say, or try, Clark’s never going to look at me the way he does Lana. Never. And once again, I find myself moping when I should put it behind me.

“Why?” she says, suspiciously, her eyes narrowing in concern and question.

“Cause…I just figured, maybe if I knew what magnetic force pulled you two back to each other,” I laugh, a small, dry laugh, “I could finally let go for good.”

And with that, the tears start to fall and Lana rushes towards my side. I came so close…

“I’m keeping my head on straight
So you can trust me again
I’m keeping my head on straight
So you can trust me again.”


***

“Lana told me I could find you here.”

It’s been a couple of days since my outburst at the Talon and a whole week since the parasitic worm incident. I’ve been hiding in the Torch office, burying myself in my paper while investigating the possibly unearthly or meteor related origins of those parasites. It’s helped, always better to keep busy with worthwhile journalism than face Clark…or Lana for that matter.

“Speak of the devil,” I say, turning around from the filing cabinet to look at him.

Clark gives me one his oblivious, what are you talking about looks, as I brush past him, file in hand.

“Huh?”

“I was going to send Pete for you. Turns out that Luthor won’t allow anyone on the cave grounds except his crew. And you of course.”

I whirl around to face him, almost smacking right into Clark’s strong body, clad in another blue flannel shirt. “So what is it? You and Lex sleeping together or something?”

I know my words and tone were harsh, but I’m angry. Angry at him, angry at Lana, angry at the two of them cause their damn hormones leave me out in the cold.

“What?” he asks, wounded and confused.

“You. Lex. What’s the deal? Why can you get on the property when no one else can?”

“Chloe, you’re not thinking of going back there, are you?”

Is that a hint of concern I hear? I dismiss it.

“And what if I am? Not like you’d care anyway.”

I walk away from him, flipping through my file as I head for my desk. Damn, wrong one. I’m about to open the cabinet draw when I feel a strong hand on my shoulder. I turn around. Slowly. I don’t want to face him. I can’t. Not after that crazy game of strip poker, not after my cheesy super hero line, not after admitting to Lana that I still love him.

“Chloe,” he whines, the way he does when he’s exasperated with me. “Of course I care.”

“Yeah, well, sometimes you have a funny way of showing it,” I snap, trying to walk away. But Clark’s arms have me stuck in place by the cabinet.

“What?”

My eyes shift around, avoiding his gaze. I can feel his glare bearing down on me. He better not be using x-ray vision.

“Chloe, why do you think I don’t care?”

I feel something bubbling in me. Clark’s struck a chord. I’m never going to be rid of this damn farmboy.

“If you care so much, why not tell me about that date you had with Lana? Why not tell me things like you used to? Why not spend time with me aside from dealing with Wall-of-Weird material?”

“Chloe--”

I interrupt him before he can utter anything more than my name. “Clark, if this is what friendship is going to be with you, then I don’t think I want it anymore.”

I shove him away and storm towards the exit. I guess he wasn’t using his super strength on me. I turn around and see Clark, now sitting by my desk, looking rather dejected. No better time than now. I take a deep breath and-

“Clark, I promise that I will never tell anyone your secret.”

He looks at me in surprise, his shock written all over his face. “You know?” he says slowly and quietly. I nod.

“I remembered everything,” I admit, “But lied. I mean, honestly Clark, do you think I wanted to remember? You kissed me. Me, not Lana. Made out with me in public! And if deep down, all you really love is Lana Lang, then why kiss me? Why nearly kiss me at the dance, and then make out with me last week while you when you had that red meteor rock? That feeling had to come from somewhere, right? It couldn’t have just been nothing? Cause, if so, that hurts Clark. A lot.”

I can feel tears build up in my eyes from my sadness and anger. I blink them away and glare at Clark.

“I’m sorry,” he finally says. “For everything. I’m sorry that you feel this way. I’m sorry that I’ve used you in the past just for information. I’m sorry that I kissed you—“

“Evidently,” I interrupt.

“No, wait, Chloe. Not like that. I’m sorry that I kissed you when I still wanted Lana. I shouldn’t have. It wasn’t fair to her, or you.” Clark’s eyes are so earnest. They seem to be begging me for an apology. But his words and actions still sting.

“That doesn’t change the fact that you did so, Clark,” I say quietly.

“I know,” comes an equally soft response.

“It hurt, Clark. And it still hurts.”

I look away. What I’ve said is enough. My sleeve is wet from wiping spilled tears as I spoke. Why does it figure that every time I’ve cried in public, it’s because of him? I back at him, but Clark’s pulled his famous disappearing act again. I guess he couldn’t handle the truth. Then, I feel a hand grasp tightly on my shoulder, as it turns me around to face…Clark.

A Clark Kent who’s watching me with a familiar expression, one that I usually only seen when he’s around Lana. Accompanied by that million watt – Leo Wyatt – all my fantasies have just come true – grin. I feel my heart skip a beat and a faint grin that breaks through my anger and bitterness, despite my protests against being on good terms with Clark Kent, ever again.

“Super speed?” I mumble.

“Yeah,” he whispers. He stares down at my face, like he wants to kiss me, and I can’t help but wonder if, suddenly, some mad, meteor-rock induced villain managed to cause me to switch bodies with Lana Lang.

“Clark?”

“I’m sorry. Honestly, completely.”

“What?” Another ‘apology’ from Clark?

“I should have told you about the date. But I didn’t want to, because…” he trails off and I raise my eyebrows, expecting him to finish his explanation. “I didn’t want to because I figured that if I told you I was going out with Lana, that meant that any chance of us ever being more than friends would be gone. Forever. And that’s something I didn’t want.” He spoke heartfelt, and actually looked sad when he said that too.

I open my mouth to speak, but nothing comes out. Clark continues. “You’re right. I shouldn’t have done anything I’ve done. But…I have superpowers Chloe, but I can’t change the past. Just like I can’t fly. Life isn’t a cartoon, or some prime-time drama show.”

“I know, Clark,” I interrupt again.

“I’ll be honest with you, right now. I’m not over Lana, yet. I’ve had a…a crush on her for so long, but that doesn’t change the way I’ve been feeling about you.” Clark pauses, searching for the right words. “I have this feeling that we could be something incredible Chloe, and I’m afraid to take that chance. But I’m willing, and I want to do everything all over again. I want to do it all right this time,” he pauses, “Give me that chance. Please?”

Wait- did my ears deceive me? Was that Clark Kent who spoke those words? My best friend Clark Kent? I’m in complete and total shock, wondering if I’m dreaming. Wondering if by some chance, I’ve stumbled on some alternate universe where Clark cares for me.

“Do you really mean this Clark? This isn’t just some, some trick to get me to continue being research gal for you, is it? Cause, I swear Clark, if it is—“

Before I have a chance to continue, he lowers his heads and his lips close on mine. And this time, it’s for real. No meteor rocks or parasites – or even a man with the power of persuasion – to get us into this position. Just me and just Clark. I’ve finally gotten the epilogue I’ve wanted to one of our crazy misadventures.

“I don’t want to think of life without you
I don’t want to take a step alone
It scares me to think I almost lost you
Just let me know you’re fine, I’m on the line.”

“I’m keeping my head on straight
So you can trust me again
I’m keeping my head on straight
So you can trust me again.”


-Fin-


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 8-Feb-2003 4:49:57 PM ]