On graduation day, Clark watched the setting sun from his loft
for what would be the last time in a very long time. A trunk
filled with his high school memories was pushed up against the
window, and this was where he sat. He placed his mortar board on
his knee and stared at it thoughtfully. He twirled the tassel with
his finger, and reflected on the past four years. It was the end
of an era. Pete was going east. Lana was staying in Smallville.
Chloe was going west. And Clark was going way, way south to South
America, armed with nothing but a backpack of belongings. Thanks
to his new gift of flight, he would need no passport.
This past year had been a turning point for all of them. Pete
was more involved in student council, and Lana was always busy at
the Talon. It was only he and Chloe who kept on at the Torch all
four years. It was Chloe who was constant, and it surprised him.
A lot of things about life surprised him. He had a lot to
learn, which was why he was spending his summer break before
college exploring the opposite end of the world. He was going to
learn about life outside of Kansas. He hoped he could help people.
Maybe there was something waiting for him at the other end of the
world, something that would help him figure out what he was
supposed to do with his life, his abilities. All he knew was that
he could feel it out there, waiting to be discovered.
There was a car going up the way from the main road. He could
usually hear them before anyone else. He thought it might be Lanaís;
although she had moved away over two years ago, she came by quite
often. But it wasnít her carís motor.
It was Chloeís.
Clark sat up as she came out of her car. The top was down. She
was still wearing her red and black graduation dress, but she was
wearing her knee-high Doc Martens military boots instead of the
dress shoes she had on earlier. Her red graduation gown was flung
carelessly over the backseat. She was smiling.
Clark would always remember her that way, despite all that they
had gone through.
She waved up to him and headed for the door. Clark met her at
the top of the stairs. "What are you doing here?"
She gave him a playful but firm tap on the chest. "Nice to
see you, too, Clark."
But Chloe was still smiling as she dropped herself onto the
couch. "I know what you mean. Itís a busy day, et cetera.
But hey, arenít you leaving tomorrow?" Clark nodded, and
Chloe in response began to dig around in her bag. "I had some
pictures from the graduation ceremony to give you."
"You could have e-mailed them to me Ė"
"You sure know how to make a guest feel welcome in your
"Sorry," Clark repeated.
Chloe waved away his apology. "I wanted to give this to
you personally. Something that you might want to bring with you on
your South American adventure." She took out a small,
rectangular package wrapped in black paper and tied with red and
yellow curly ribbon. It was about the size of a postcard, but
"You didnít have to Ė"
Chloe nodded slowly. "Yes, I did." She shifted
uncomfortably as Clark took the package from her outstretched
hand. "Donít start feeling special or anything, because I
got them for Pete and Lana, too."
He grinned back at her expectant face as he opened it. It was a
plain black wooden frame containing a photo of the four of them,
Clark, Chloe, Pete and Lana, in front of the Smallville High sign,
wearing their crimson caps and gowns in the Kansas sunshine right
"This is perfect," Clark breathed. He looked at
Chloe. "Thank you."
Chloe stood up. "I Ö I should go."
She turned toward the stairs, but something told Clark that he
wanted her to stay. "Wait."
She turned back to look at him, the expectant look back on her
face. "Can you Ö Can you stay a little longer and just Ö
hang out with me?" he asked.
"Sure." Chloe sank back down into the couch. She
picked at the blanket covering it absently, avoiding Clarkís
There was a silence before Clark said, "Sometimes I wonder
why youíre friends with me."
Chloeís head snapped up in surprise. "Why do you say
Clark shrugged and avoided her gaze by looking out the window
again. "Iím not that great a writer. Iím never around
when you need me. And I only come around when I need help with
Chloeís face relaxed as she stood up again. She sat down next
to Clark and put a hand over his. "First of all, your writing
has improved greatly over the past four years. How do you think
you rose to the rank of assistant editor?"
"Because no one else wanted it?"
Chloe gave Clark a discerning look and continued. "Iím
going to ignore that self-deprecating comment, Clark Kent, because
you should be above that. Secondly, youíre always around when I
need you. Otherwise Iíd be dead by now. And third, you come
around so that you can help save other peopleís lives. If thereís
anything you and I have done right, itís team up with each
"Do you really think thatís true?"
"Of course I do."
More silence as the sun disappeared completely over the
horizon. "Iím really going to miss you," Chloe
whispered. Her hand gently tightened its grip on Clarkís.
"Do you need a ride to the airport tomorrow?" Chloe
asked. "This might be the last time weíd see each other in
a long time, you know."
Clark fidgeted. "No. Well, uh Ö"
Chloe withdrew her hand. "Itís OK, you donít have to
explain. Iím used to the mysterious ways of Clark Kent."
She opened her mouth to say more, but then she quickly closed it.
"What?" Clark prompted.
She shook her head, her blonde hair swirling around her face.
"Just say it, Chloe."
She lowered her head, and when she raised it again, there were
tears in her eyes. "Itís just that Ö we probably wonít
see each other for a long time after tonight."
"Yeah, I know. Iím really going to miss this place Ö
miss you. Whatís wrong?"
Chloeís face flashed a quick smile before turning serious
again. "Clark, giving you that picture was an excuse. It was
an excuse to get my cowardly butt over here to confront you with
something Ė with a secret that Iíve been keeping for a long
time." Chloeís face was so earnest, even in the shadow of
the dimming natural light. Clark thought, for a split second, of
how beautiful she was and how he would miss seeing that face every
day. But what she said threw all other thoughts out the window.
"I think maybe itís time I told you something. Clark, I
know about you."
Clark got a sinking feeling in his stomach. He hoped his face
didnít show the panic he felt whenever someone said something
like that; it never got easier, despite the fact that most people
were not talking about the fact that he was an alien and that he
had super powers. But there was something different about this;
Clark could sense it, though he couldnít explain why. "Know
about what?" he asked lightly.
"I know about your Ö powers. I know everything. Well, I
know a lot. The enhanced hearing, the X-ray vision, the little
spurts of energy that you can emit with your eyes Ö" Chloe
waved her hands in front of her face.
"Heat vision," Clark answered automatically. There
was no sense in hiding what she already knew. There was no sense
in ever lying outright to Chloe Sullivan.
"Heat vision," Chloe repeated. "And I know that
you get sick around meteor rocks."
"Did Pete tell you?" Clark asked, his voice rising to a
"Pete knows?" Chloe was incredulous.
"Oh, my God. How long have you known?"
Chloe took a deep breath. "Are you mad?"
Clark stared at Chloe. She looked him in the eye, and it was
like he was seeing her for the first time, all over again. He
remembered the first day they met, when the expression on her face
when she had kissed him. He thought of all the times he had been
so careful to hide things from her, because out of all his
friends, she would have been the first to scream his secret from
Perhaps he didnít know her as well as he thought he did. And
the realization made him disappointed in himself, not angry with
"Iím not mad," he said. "In fact, Iím Ö
"Surprised that I figured it out? Or surprised that I
havenít said anything for three years?"
"Three years? Thatís Ö" Pause. "Iím
surprised that I didnít notice that you had figured it
out." Another pause. "You donít have any pressing
business right now, do you? Because we need to Ė"
"I know." Chloe played with her fingers nervously.
"Start from the beginning."
"Well, you know how curious Iíve always been."
"We can fast-forward that part. Get to the part where you
found out about me."
"It started with Sean Kelvin, and when you saved me from
the swimming pool. It escalated when you single-handedly pulled me
out of a shallow grave and busted open a coffin that was welded
shut." Chloe took a deep breath. "Clark, thereís a
difference between my investigating you, and logic. I want you to
know that I didnít actively seek out information about your Ö
uniqueness. In fact, I tried to ignore it."
Clark nodded. And this time, he understood. Usually, whenever
Chloe would go on about her bizarre theories and speculations, he
nodded to appease her. Today, perhaps for the first time, he was
really understanding how her mind worked; she couldnít help
knowing. It was an intrinsic part of what made Chloe Sullivan
"What really put it over the top, though," Chloe
said, eyeing Clark carefully, "was the image burned into your
barn. And what happened after I published the picture."
Chloe nodded. "He didnít contact your parents; he
contacted you. The rest of the pieces fell into place." Chloe
pulled her hand away from Clarkís and turned so that he was
staring at the back of her head.
"Lionel Luthor told me that it wasnít any use to do
favors for someone who wouldnít do the same for me. And for a
second I believed him. It almost cost me the best friend I ever
had." She looked at Clark again, and by now her cheeks and
nose were red, and the tears flowed freely down her cheeks.
Clark took Chloeís arm and pulled her close to him. He
cradled her head so that she was crying into his flannel shirt, so
that his head was buried in her hair. He held her as tightly as he
"Why are you telling me this, Chloe? Why now? Why
There was a choked chuckle as Chloe pulled away. She wiped her
tears on her sleeve. "Clark, for every person youíve saved,
for every disaster youíve averted, thereís been someone
hacking into computers, poking around the Ledger offices and the
police station, making sure certain details are left out or
remained vague. I made lots of friends in the sheriffís office
and in the Smallville medical center Ė just to help you."
Clark was taken aback. He literally moved away from Chloe.
"I donít know what to say."
Chloe shrugged slightly. "So I came out here tonight to
let you know, and not because I want credit or anything like that.
I just want you to know that I did it because Ö well, because
when you go out into the world by yourself, I wonít be able to
be there for you. Not all the time."
Clark smiled. "Thank you for the warning." He said it
dryly, but his eyes were sincere.
"Are you mocking me?"
"No, Iím really grateful."
"I mean, maybe you should wear a mask or a costume or
something when you go out. Iím sure that speed comes in
handy." Chloe was back to smiling again, and she stood up and
sat back down on the couch. She placed her elbows on her knees,
her chin in her hands. "I feel like such a weight is off my
Clark joined her on the couch, and surprisingly put both arms
around her. He kissed her shoulder and whispered, "Thank you
so much. I would never have enough gratitude to repay all that you
have done for me."
Chloe kissed his forehead and whispered back, "Youíre
very welcome. And you know, anytime you need someone to watch over
you, drop me a line."
"Right back at you, Chloe. Right back at you."