Smallville, spoilers through “Freak”, Chloe (Chlark, Chimmy)
Glorious as she is, Chloe Sullivan does not belong to me. Pretty as he is, Clark Kent doesn’t either. Characters property of the CW, Miles Millar and Al Gough.
A day in the life… Trying to swim against the current, Chloe might be doomed to drown.
The styrofoam cup seemed to taunt her from the trash can, half-full and still steaming, and she almost felt guilty.
Then she caught a whiff of the gourmet goodness wafting from the paper and plastic in her palm, and it passed.
Jimmy had bopped by this morning, propping a hip on her desk and bearing coffee from the temperamental newsroom machine. He’d presented it with the same enthusiasm he threw at everything – wide smile, eager eyes, nervous energy – ever the dutiful boyfriend.
But contrary to popular belief – and despite journalistic predisposition – it wasn’t the burning need for a constant caffeine fix that kept towering cups of caramel-coated house blend perpetually glued to her hand. It was the taste she craved, deep, dark, delicious. Jimmy, however, was cheerfully clueless when it came to her true mocha motives, like so many other tidbits of information swimming around her brain. Too many.
She’d accepted the offering with a steady hand and a smile she hoped was genuine – Coffee is coffee, she told herself, take one for the team, Chloe – one that didn’t even falter when he did, sending a hot rush sloshing over the back of her wrist. And she’d tried, she really had – singed her throat on the weak, watery, slightly-stale liquid with nary a grimace at the grit, and his answering grin was almost worth it. Even as he’d skipped away, seemingly secure in his grand gesture, she’d gulped through the first few sips and wished his gesture wasn’t quite so grandly grainy.
Her willpower had faded the second he rounded the corner. He’d slipped out of sight, and she’d slipped the styrofoam into the garbage. Two blocks, nearly half an hour’s pay, and one insanely long line later, the rich aroma of real coffee (double-shot, extra syrup, hold the foam) was snuffing out her lingering guilt.
Swearing a silent apology to her well-intentioned boyfriend, she tipped the cup to her lips and took a long sip.
It burned going down, but she liked it that way.
Clark popped up just as the warmth was wearing off, which didn’t surprise her at all. Whatever else could be said about him, the man had impeccable timing.
It was just past noon, but his lunch offering was liquid, and her grin was twofold. The mere sight brought a smile – It’s the coffee, her brain berated, focus on the fix, Chloe – but coffee from Clark meant there was nothing for her to hack, no one for him to save, no supervillain for them to escape.
It meant the world wasn’t ending, and that at least deserved a toast.
Except he hadn’t brought any for himself, never did. He just sat on her side of the desk, swallowing more space than Jimmy ever did on the other, and watched her. Sometimes she worked, sometimes they talked, but he always watched – quick cuts of his eyes when he knew she was aware, long, lingering glances when he thought she wasn’t.
She imagined that he was counting down the seconds, preparing himself for the moment she would fly into a meteor freak frenzy, because anything else was too ridiculous to contemplate. Her fingers would tap at the keyboard just to release restless energy, and she’d learned to angle the monitor away from his line of vision, lest he spy the gibberish that often emerged onscreen.
Today, the cup slid easily from his hand to hers, and he settled in – arms crossed, thighs spread wide, calf pressing into her leg. She started to set it down, but one dark eyebrow quirked the tiniest fraction of an inch, even as his head angled away.
She smirked a bit and reconsidered, taking a generous pull from the plastic lid, and it was slow-roasted perfection – hot as she could stand it, a swirl of sharp and sweet and bitter on her tongue, definitely not the vending variety. Better even than the morning’s first dose. Her favorite superhero never forgot the second shot.
The sweet receded, leaving the bitter to bathe her taste buds and the sharp to prick her senses, and as Clark tipped his chin toward her again, she slid the coffee to the far corner of the desk and tried to pretend he wasn’t watching.
Twenty tense seconds after Jimmy made an encore appearance, Clark squinted at a watch he wasn’t wearing and declared that there was pressing work to be done at the farm. Might have been plausible, had he not just spent close to an hour at her desk doing exactly nothing.
He stood, mumbled something that could have been either hello or goodbye that, knowing Clark, was probably both. The side of her thigh tingled, still hollowed with the heavy imprint of solid flesh, and his eyes followed her fingertips as they massaged the sudden ache away.
His feet stuttered as he stepped back, and Jimmy slid smoothly into the space, a foreign body on her side of the great desk divide.
A sweet, open face filled her vision – It’s ignorance, her own voice whispered between her ears, let’s call a spade a spade, Chloe – and after cool lips brushed her own and quick hands shoved a stack of scrap paper into the trash can to conceal the evidence, it didn’t take a glance over his shoulder to know that Clark was gone. She looked anyway. Never could help herself.
She smiled as they separated, quick and hurried and a little tight, her surefire ‘I’m swamped’ smile. But Jimmy couldn’t read it yet – her quirks could fill a novel, and he was still skimming the Cliff’s Notes – and moved to get comfortable, scattering a small skyscraper of files to the floor in the process.
On his knees in the middle of madness, he plucked a candy bar wrapper from the floor and shoved it hard into the overfilled bin, compacting the cup and the camouflage and her conscience. His hands shuffled things back into folders while he grinned sheepishly, then set it all down next to her keyboard looking like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. And she had to laugh, through the nerves and the fear and the guilt – he tried so hard. Never was an ‘E’ for effort more deserved.
He moved to familiar territory, rounding her desk to the relative safety of the other side, to space that was clear and the spot that was his. Perched on the edge and adjusting his camera, his heel beat a drum roll on the weathered wood, and she trapped her lip between her teeth and went back to work, wishing their silence didn’t say so much.
When he asked how her coffee was, polite and offhand and not specific at all, she didn’t even have to lie.
Kudos to ladygloria for her interpretive skills, and to kalenodonnell for telling me to shut the hell up.