The day had begun innocently enough, if you could call
nightmares innocent, when he had awakened that morning after
another bad one. Clark had been through enough traumatic events in
his relatively short life that he had ample fodder for lots of
them. Many things came back to haunt him in his dreams; foes
fought over again, strategies rehashed, decisions regretted and
consequences relived. Not infrequently, Clark dreamed of the
summer spent in Metropolis when he ran away from home. Staying
hidden from family and friends and skirting the law when he
thought it was the only way to protect those he loved had been a
bad time, too and it haunted him still, even in his waking hours.
But for some reason, the events of that disastrous spring in
his freshman year at Smallville High returned to him over and over
as he slept. His mind simply refused to let go of that time, as
though the raging winds of that spring still whirled through his
alien mind, creating havoc and bringing a new wave of remorse each
time they resurfaced. Clark’s dreams were often extremely vivid,
seeming so very real, he felt as though he was actually there,
living through it all again.
It began, as it so often did, with his race to Chandler’s
Field that night after Lana’s vision had revealed Chloe’s
deadly peril; when he’d arrived he’d climbed the tall windmill
for a better vantage point and seen Chloe buried alive in her
glass coffin. Instantly, Clark was across the field, plunging his
hand into the earth, grabbing the coffin’s handle and pulling it
up with one great heave. His heart had pounded as he ripped off
the lid and he was shaking and terrified as he called her name and
pulled her up into his arms, . She cried as he hugged her, saying,
"I knew it was you; it’s always you," and relief
washed over him like a welcome breeze. Watts must have truly hated
Chloe for having the gall to ruin his plans by trying to escape;
burying her alive was a thoroughly gruesome revenge. He’d only
wanted to shoot Lana outright, apparently not feeling the need to
torture her, as well. Thank God he’d managed to save them both.
Next he had dreamed of being in the barn when Chloe had come to
tell him she’d been picked for the internship at the Daily
Planet; she’d been so thrilled and he could still feel her small
form in his arms when they’d hugged, practically vibrating with
excitement before she’d pulled away and hesitantly asked if he’d
visit her in Metropolis, both of them suddenly feeling awkward and
shy. All that morning, he’d been trying to pluck up his courage
and ask her to the dance. As he fed the animals and repaired a
section of fence near the tool shed, he’d debated on whether he
should take a chance and ask her to be his date for the Spring
Formal, risking their friendship in the process. He’d had few
enough close friends and the risk seemed enormous; he’d felt as
though he were jumping off a cliff when he opened his mouth that
day and it took every ounce of courage he could muster to finally
stammer out his question.
All those feelings had come back in his dream; his abject
terror that she’d refuse or that she’d laugh because Chloe was
one of his best buddies and you didn’t ask your best buddy to a
dance… In that heartbeat after he’d asked her if she had
plans, his terror had overwhelmed him; Ryan had misread her, Pete
had been yanking his chain, someone else had already asked her
because he’d been such a wuss… When she came a step closer
and said, "Not at the moment." he started to breathe
again, managing to forge ahead and actually ask her to come with
him, nearly faltering once more when he got to the "as my
date…" part. When she said, "I’d love to,
Clark," he’d gotten positively light headed. At least, he’d
managed to mutter an apology for not asking her sooner and Chloe
had graciously told him it was worth the wait. After she left he’d
been absolutely giddy with relief; his grin had been plastered to
his face for the rest of the day.
Sometimes, the dream stopped there but this time it had
continued on through the entire Spring Formal debacle, allowing
all those feelings to boil to the surface once more. He
experienced everything again, in minute detail; his indecision
over what to wear; which suit, what color cummerbund then the
ensuing difficulties in locating a dress shirt to fit his broad
shoulders and long arms and where to find new dress shoes on such
short notice for his huge feet. And there was still the search for
the perfect corsage, finding out belatedly that Chloe had chosen a
strapless gown and having to come up with that wrist thingy at the
last minute. He’d felt like a naïve idiot through it all and
had profoundly thanked God, once again, for his mom when he’d
finally broken down, in desperation and asked for her help.
So many decisions; how did girls do it every day? And it was so
expensive; he’d never really given any thought to such things
and when he’d complained to Lana and she’d basically told him
his problems were minor compared to the tribulation and expense of
finding the right formal gown for such an occasion, he’d been
floored. His dream had allowed him to relive even that moment, as
well. Flannel and denim had never seemed so appealing.
Then his sleeping mind began to sift through the events
surrounding the Luthorcorp plant closing, the shock and anger that
rippled through Smallville at the news and Chloe’s revelation
that she might move away. Especially clear had been his words to
her in the Torch office that the night of the dance would be one
she’d never forget; oh, he’d kept that promise,
alright. Next, he got to relive building the new fence near the
windmill, hurrying through his work using his formidable strength
to pound fence posts into the ground with his bare hands while he
wondered at Whitney’s sudden decision to join the Marines and
worried that Chloe might leave forever. In his dream, time slowed
as he walked over to the old blue truck, getting in and turning
the key, instantly being engulfed in flame, struck by debris,
assaulted by the sound and smell of the explosion before he
stepped back out into the field, disgusted by this new disaster as
he flung off his burning jacket and shirt. His first thought was, there
goes the prom transportation, selfish, though it may have
been, followed immediately by gratitude that neither of his
parents had been in the truck when it exploded.
Then he’d been in the Talon where he’d first encountered
Nixon and realized he was in big trouble. His revelation to his
parents of Nixon’s knowledge and Lex’s possession of the
spaceship’s key had actually gone better than he’d expected;
he’d thought his father would go ballistic but his response had
been tempered with sympathy and concern. When he had to tell Chloe
he couldn’t pick her up, she’d taken it in stride, delighted,
it seemed, he was still taking her. He wondered if she really
thought he’d try to back out and moments later was surprised
when she revealed her fear that he’d desert her for Lana when
Whitney left town. Clark had leaned over and tenderly kissed her
cheek, reassuring her that he was not going with her by default.
At last, the moment came when Chloe arrived to pick him up. His
hand rested on the old picket fence out front, the weathered wood
rough under his palm as he watched the aging Falcon approach, its
engine puttering loudly. He stood, transfixed, as she got out of
the car, the wind fluttering her hair and dress. She came close,
asking if her dress was too pink. "No…you…you look
beautiful…" he’d offered, feeling lame because he’d
thought, in that moment, that she was more than beautiful. Clark
stared, a huge grin on his face until she had to ask if the
corsage he held was for her. He breathed a sigh of relief when she
seemed to like it; it had, after all, been one of the last minute
acquisitions and he’d run, literally, to Metropolis to get just
the right shade to match her gown after peeking into her closet
with his x-ray vision. Then she’d pulled out his boutonniere, a
white rose and he could feel the scrape of the pin on his skin as
she attached it and hear her gasp in alarm when she thought she’d
hurt him. He only mumbled, "Nuh uh," as he gazed into
her eyes, realizing he was falling for his best friend.
From that moment, things sped up, running into the gym as the
wind kicked up, having the talk with Whitney, guy code for
watch over Lana and don’t steal her away, telling Chloe again
how beautiful she looked but always just shy of saying everything
he really felt. Then the band and Chloe’s favorite song and Pete’s
surprise that he’d actually cared enough to request it for her.
And then Chloe telling him he’d surprised even her and his
words, "I’m still here." Holding her gently and
wanting to kiss her, looking down into her eyes and leaning in and
just as his lips brushed hers, the loudspeaker feedback that
heralded the ruin of everything.
If only he’d at least said something before he’d left
though he knew Chloe would have tried to keep him from going. He
should have gone back to the dance after taking Lana to the
hospital; Pete had told him Chloe had gone out looking for him,
searching for three hours before giving up. His concern for his
parents had overwhelmed him but he should have returned to make
sure Chloe was okay; she’d been his date and he’d ignored her,
not even a phone call until the next day. Yet she’d come to help
in the search for his dad without a word of rebuke.
Now came his apology for leaving her and her quick response
about remaining friends because, "anything else is just too
complicated." His brow furrowed and he stared at her in mild
confusion, his fears for their friendship still just below the
surface and he’d agreed, saying, in all earnestness, that
nothing was more important than that. She’d seemed okay with
that and he’d gone on, thinking that’s really what she wanted.
Then the dream ended and he woke abruptly, as he always did. He’d
crushed her hopes that day and never even realized it at the time,
eventually allowing himself to indulge in his fantasies about
Lana, once again, to the total exclusion of everything else. Had
he always been such an idiot? Yes. Yes, apparently, he had.
Clark threw back the tangle of his sheets and sat on the edge
of the bed, rubbing his face, trying to chase away the remnants of
his dreams. Today, the dream clung to him, refusing to dissipate,
smothering him with regret. Perhaps it was because he was meeting
Chloe at the Talon later that his mind was dredging up all those
old memories, not wanting him to forget how badly he’d screwed
up so many things in his life, from that one point forward. If
there were pivotal points in your life, moments in which the path
of your existence branched off in new directions, for good or for
ill, that had surely been one of them and many other things had
come to pass as a result. Chloe’s emotional distance and her
entanglement in the Luthor family’s bizarre web could certainly
be traced, in part, to that moment when he’d acquiesced to her
declaration that they remain good friends and nothing more.
Now that he was older, he could look back to that day and see
the hurt hiding behind her words but he’d been too wrapped up in
the search for his dad and his fear of Roger Nixon, not to mention
the disappearance of the spaceship, to see it then. Of all the
times for Chloe to decide not to speak her mind… She hadn’t
followed through on her threat to never speak to him again if he
deserted her for Lana and left her stranded at the dance. Maybe it
would have been better, if she had. So many other things might not
have happened if she’d only confessed her true feelings- but
there was really no need to follow the endless logic loop around
again; he knew where he’d failed, even if it hadn’t been
entirely his fault.
Clark had been thinking a lot about Chloe, lately; maybe that’s
why he wanted to pay special attention to her. It had taken him
some time to come to grips with the fact that her curiosity and
pressure from Lionel had led her to delve into his past again and
even longer to fully move past it. She was insanely curious about
mysteries and he had apparently been one she couldn’t ignore,
even when they’d been on the outs, all those years ago. A little
truth and misdirection would have gone a long way toward short
circuiting the whole mess in the first place when Chloe had
initially looked into his adoption but at the time, Clark hadn’t
yet mastered that particular art. Her anger and ambition had drawn
her into the alliance with Lionel, his offer of a Daily Planet
column in return for information about Clark, had been one she’d
found impossible to refuse. In the end, however, Chloe had never
given Lionel any information beyond that which he already
possessed. She’d played a dangerous game and her subsequent
refusal to continue the investigation beyond that had helped to
keep Lionel at bay but at great personal sacrifice for both Chloe
and her father. Apparently, Lionel had initially thought Clark
either suffered from some type of split personality, as a result
of exposure to the meteor rocks or just from an uncontrollable
temper, as a result of being raised by Jonathan Kent and any
additional conclusions Chloe may have drawn, she’d kept to
herself and for that, Clark would always be eternally grateful.
Clark stood and lumbered into the bathroom to wash his face. He
thought better of it and decided on a shower, instead. His parents
were already gone, off to Topeka until the following week and he
had the house to himself. Though he also had the farm chores, that
was no problem and he was actually looking forward to the relative
peace and quiet. As is so typical of a Kansas summer, the day was
already warming up and the heat and oppressive humidity hinted at
the possibility of foul weather later on. As he wandered back into
his bedroom, he glanced at the clock on his nightstand and saw he’d
taken longer than intended in the shower. Clark dressed hurriedly
and ran downstairs, grateful that his speed would allow him to
finish his chores in no time. Moments later, he was racing into
town, flying low through the woods and cornfields where he could,
a recent incident having made him afraid to chance anything higher
up at this hour. When Clark reached Smallville, he sped through
the back streets and alleys of the small town and came up behind
the Talon, threading his way up the small side alley between it
and the building next door. He was just slowing to normal speed as
he approached Main Street when Chloe stepped out in front of him
at the corner of the old theater. He came to an abrupt halt and
nearly took a header right in front of her.
"Where’s the fire, Clark?"
"Chloe! I’m sorry if I’m late; I…overslept. Didn’t
mean to keep you waiting."
"Actually, I’m running late, myself. Don’t…worry
about it. Let’s get some breakfast."
Clark opened the door and bowed, waving her inside. Business
was still brisk early in the day although by midmorning it would
slow considerably, the demand for hot drinks in the heat of the
summer slacking off as the day wore on. Even now, it would be easy
to get a secluded table in the back, if you wished, something Lex
still liked to do so he could watch others without being seen. If
you preferred, the Talon now boasted an outdoor patio where you
might sit and watch the comings and goings of the people of
Smallville. Clark enjoyed sitting outside and watching the town’s
inhabitants as they went about their daily routines; it comforted
him to think that there were normal people with normal lives,
unlike himself. People he someday hoped to help.
Chloe pointed to a pie on the top shelf of the display case.
"Look! Cherry pie! And lemon poppyseed muffins. Decisions,
Clark smiled, "We’ll have two of each of those, a tall
low fat almond mocha latte with an extra shot and extra whip and a
large cup of Kona, please." He turned to her and asked,
"Did I get that right?"
"Why, yes you did, Mr. Kent. Although the double pastry
order was totally excessive but very much appreciated." She
"Wanna eat out front?"
"Okay; I guess it’s not too hot yet."
Clark casually surveyed the back while they waited, the sounds
of the espresso machine punctuating his thoughts. Soon he was lost
in them, only returning to reality when Chloe’s voice penetrated
the woolgathering in his mind.
"Clark? We’re ready." Chloe picked up their drinks
as Clark shook his head.
"Sorry. Still not awake." He grabbed the pastries and
some napkins and held the door for Chloe as she went out. They
picked the table near the far corner of the building. Clark moved
the table, angling it so he could have a good view of the street.
"Curious, are we, Clark? Or are you watching for someone
"No, not really, I just like to see who’s passing
by," he stopped and cocked his head at her, "and no, I’m
not watching for Lana, if that’s what you’re implying. She
doesn’t usually come in this early in the summer, anyway."
Chloe shrugged and added, "Hey, it wouldn’t be the first
"Lana and I are not involved like that, Chloe; we’re
friends but that’s all we are…we’re best that way and I’m
okay with that."
"Sorry. That just popped out. I didn’t mean to open up
any old…wounds. I know you two have had a rocky time."
"Chloe, so have we. Look, I didn’t ask you here to
discuss my relationship with Lana. I asked you here because I want
to…to work on us. I know I’ve always had a bad habit of
getting involved in things and ignoring my friends, at times. I
feel like I’ve been doing that again lately and I want to
apologize." Clark looked up, hopefully.
She sighed, looking him in the eye. "There have been times
over the years when I really needed a friend to lean on and you
just weren’t there. And other times when you came through with
flying colors and I wouldn’t be here today if it hadn’t been
for you so I guess I have to take the bad with the good. I always
hoped we’d at least be friends no matter what; even when we
dated other people-" Chloe frowned and looked away. "So,
what was it this time? You’ve been away for awhile." She
stared down at her plate for a moment and stabbed a piece of pie,
her fork clinking on the china.
Clark reached out and placed his hand over hers. "Don’t
take it out on the pie." Chloe looked up, a tiny smile
beginning to quirk the corner of her mouth. "I’ve been
traveling again. The Mediterranean, Africa, the Middle East. But I’m
home for the rest of the summer, helping out around the farm. I’m
sorry; I should have kept in touch more since last year."
"Every time I don’t hear from you for a while, I think
there’ll always be a part of you that doesn’t completely trust
me and I don’t have any right to expect…" She turned away
for a moment, feeling the sudden sting of tears.
"When I was younger, I was oblivious to a lot. But I’m
older now and I like to think I’m not so oblivious anymore. Give
me a chance, Chloe, please? Because I want that; I want that a
Chloe stared into his eyes for a moment then looked away.
"In spite of the information I gave Lionel Luthor? Not that
there was really much of it and I never understood why he became
so interested in you. It had all the earmarks of an obsession. And
frankly, before you came to Smallville, there was nothing about
you anywhere that I could find. It was like you just fell out of
the sky. In the end I just couldn’t do it, no matter how much I
wanted that column. Small consolation, I know but it’s
something. I wanted to write for the Planet so badly and I was so
sure I could handle Lionel-"
Clark covered her hand with his and said softly, "I know,
Chloe; I know. You’ll…work for the Planet again, Chloe; wait
Her lip quivered and a tear made its way down her cheek which
she hastily wiped away. "Damnit! I’m sorry; I have to
go-" she jumped up and reached for her bag.
Clark stood and grabbed her arm before she could bolt.
"Wait. Chloe…" then he took a step and pulled her into
his arms, resting his chin on her on the top of her head and
holding her while she cried. He had forgotten how good it felt to
hold her. After she was calm again, he lifted her chin and smiled
down at her, brushing away her remaining tears with his fingers.
"How ‘bout it, Chloe? Can we be good again? Because I’ve
She hugged him tightly and sniffled out, "I missed you,
"Then let’s start over." Clark walked behind her,
making a show of pulling out her chair. "Have a seat and let’s
finish breakfast." He sat back in his own chair and began
toying with his coffee cup.
Chloe sat and looked around, checking to see who’d witnessed
her display. "The whole town probably saw that. Some tough
reporter I am."
Clark took her hand again. "Tough enough for me. Now…"
he leaned over the table, looking suddenly serious, "would
you like to do something later?"
"Oh…maybe…we could go hiking in Burnham woods. What
about it? Just the two of us. Catch up on old times. Whaddaya
Chloe cocked her head, intrigued by this turn of events.
"Okay. What time?
"How about around noon? We could picnic along the way. I’ll
bring sandwiches and…mmm...some kind of salad." Clark
leaned even closer and whispered, conspiratorially, "And I
just happen to have the last of these fresh baked pies stashed at
home. Mom made one with strawberries and I begged to keep
it." He sat back, waggling his eyebrows. So. How ‘bout
That brought a smile to Chloe’s face. "Okay; that’s an
offer I can’t refuse. I love strawberry pie!"
I know. "I’ll pick you up around noon then."
Chloe seemed genuinely excited and Clark suddenly had hopes that
they might really get back on track, at last.
"I’d better get going then; I have some things to do
before I can go." Chloe got up to go and Clark stood.
"Can I bring anything?"
"Nope. I’ll take care of everything. Where’re you
parked? I’ll walk you to your car."
It was a little after noon when they actually entered the
notorious haunted woods of Smallville. Many a strange thing had
happened there even before the meteor shower of 1989 and many
local denizens were afraid to enter them, especially after dark.
The deadly Nicodemus flowers had grown there near the original
settlement on the outskirts of the woods from which the town of
Smallville eventually grew. The early Kawatche Indians had made
their home deep in the heart of those same woods which had
stretched almost to Grandville at one time and their legends
described all manner of strange beasts and supernatural forces
said to inhabit the area. But the forest had retreated as
civilization slowly encroached until only the dense thickets and
ancient trees around Smallville remained. The Indian village which
had once flourished on the banks of the river had long since
disappeared, leaving only an ancient burial ground to mark its
Chloe Sullivan had been in the woods many times as she pursued
a hot lead or some pet theory and she’d really never been that
nervous about being in them. Once she’d walked all the way from
the eastern edge of the woods at Schuster’s Gorge to Crater Lake
in an attempt to track the exact path the infamous meteors had
taken on that fateful October day. She’d thought, with the aid
of topographic maps and news articles from that time, she could
follow the trail of meteor rocks and more fully envision their
trajectory as they had begun to rain down on the unsuspecting
town. She’d managed to drag Pete along but Clark had refused to
go. Her quest had been unsuccessful, anyway; either the rocks hadn’t
fallen as she’d thought or they’d been buried so deep that no
trace remained on the surface.
Now, as they made their way into the forest, Chloe kept her
eyes open just in case she ran across any meteor fragments,
unlikely as that might be. She had her digital camera along, too,
in case she had the sudden need to document some earth shattering
event such as the Monster of Crater Lake deciding to take an
afternoon stroll in the nearby woods. Beside her, Clark walked in
silence, wearing a heavily loaded backpack and carrying a jug of
Chloe jumped as something rustled in the underbrush and tripped
over an old boot that someone had abandoned in the middle of the
path, nearly dropping the pie she carried. Clark caught her before
she could fall.
"Hey, you okay? What’s the matter?"
"I just-there’s something in the bushes!" Warily
eyeing the still moving bush, she edged closer to Clark. She
watched him as he stared intently at the undergrowth for a moment.
"Aw, it’s probably just a squirrel or something."
As soon as he spoke, a squirrel shot out of the bush right in
front of them and scurried across the path into a thicket of wild
blackberries. They seemed to grow everywhere throughout the part
of the woods closest to the Kent farm and Clark often came here to
pick and snack on them, their brambles never more than a slight
annoyance even when he was young. When his skin had grown
impervious to even minor scratching, he came even more frequently;
it had bordered on an addiction and his parents never failed to
tease him about it. A few yards ahead, Clark turned onto a smaller
trail, following it for a few minutes until he came to a break in
the bushes that lined it. He led Chloe through the break and after
another, shorter hike, came to a wide but relatively shallow pond.
It was somewhat overgrown and largely surrounded by the ubiquitous
blackberry bushes except for the near side where a small sandy
area sloped down to the water’s edge. It was the perfect spot
for a picnic, quiet and remote.
Clark handed the pie to Chloe, placed the jug of tea on an old
log and shrugged off his pack. He unloaded it, producing, in turn,
an actual tablecloth which he placed on a broad flat rock that
overlooked the beach, real plates, glasses and silverware,
watermelon, fresh tossed salad complete with avocado and dressing
on the side, a loaf of bread, real butter, a casserole dish and
finally, a soft blanket which he spread out next to the rock.
"Ooh…what’s this? I thought we were just having
"Eggplant Parmigiana. I…thought you’d enjoy something
Chloe sat the pie down on the makeshift table and pulled out
her camera, taking a picture of Clark fussing over the table.
"Have you been cozying up to the cook at the Luthor
"I’ll have you know, I made this myself. I’ve been
practicing and Mom says I’m getting good." She reached for
the covered lid of the casserole but Clark shooed her away.
"Not yet. Uh…could you get the napkins? I forgot ‘em."
Chloe put her camera back in her bag and went over, digging the
napkins out from the very bottom of the pack.
"Real cloth. You went all out, didn’t you?" She
returned and placed them on the table, eyeing the casserole again.
This time, Clark lifted the lid and to her surprise, it was
steaming hot; the wonderful aroma wafted out into the little
"How’d you keep it so hot?" Chloe leaned over,
inhaling deeply, once more.
Clark smirked, saying only, "Trade secret." He placed
the lid aside and gestured to the blanket. "Have a seat,
Chloe." First, he poured tea then leaned over and cut several
slices of the fresh, warm bread before sitting down beside her.
Clark began to serve then waited, expectantly, as she took the
"Your mom’s right. This is great! Feel free to practice
your culinary skills on me anytime." She took a bite of
salad, relishing the perfectly ripe avocado and speared a piece of
watermelon. "Mmmm…this is really sweet. From your
"Actually, Fred Smith gave Dad a couple of his square
melons and I had to do something with them. I couldn’t stand to
see them sitting on the counter; they’re just too weird." Fred
and his melons, both, he thought.
"Why do I have the feeling there’s more to it than
that?" She narrowed her eyes and stared at Clark for a
moment, as if daring him to invent a more plausible explanation.
Clark stared back, giving her his most disingenuous look. The
melons had reminded him of the inadvertent destruction of Fred’s
garden shed back when Clark had first been learning to control his
speed and the memory still filled him with guilt but of that, he
gave no indication. He was all wide-eyed innocence as he looked up
at Chloe and not about to go into any further details. "I
just think melons should be round. Fred thinks they’re the
greatest thing since sliced bread. They are nice and sweet,
though; I’ll have to admit."
"Your dad thinking of growing some, himself?"
Clark shuddered at the thought. "I hope not. More
"Oh, Clark, I couldn’t. Everything’s wonderful but I
just can’t eat very much when it’s this hot." She fanned
herself and sighed. "It’s really getting warm; a lot worse
than yesterday; bet it’s ninety-five in the shade." Chloe
scooted away and lay back on the blanket, staring up at the tall
trees beyond the pool. Dust motes danced in the light that
filtered down through the leaves and nothing stirred in the
oppressive afternoon heat. Sighing, she turned on her side,
looking into the distance. "Wish there was just a little
breeze…" Instantly, a cool breeze wafted over her, actually
making her shiver. "Did you feel that?"
She sat up and Clark was suddenly very close behind her,
leaning over her shoulder, a mischievous smile spreading across
his face. "Feel what?"
His breath tickled her neck when she turned her head to look at
him. "That cool breeze just now…couldn’t you feel it…and
why, uh…why are you smiling like that?"
"Me? I’m just enjoying the view."
She closed her eyes, trying to ignore his closeness and the
long buried feelings that threatened to come flooding back; there
was no point. She sat, lost in thought until her reverie was
interrupted by another wonderfully cool breeze enveloping her
body. For a moment, it felt as though she was in an air
Her head jerked up, her eyes widening as Clark’s large hands
gently rubbed her arms. "You’ve got goosebumps." He
laughed, softly, in her ear. "How can you be cold? Weren’t
you just complaining about the heat?"
She turned, instantly suspicious. "Are you telling me you
didn’t feel a cold breeze just a moment ago?"
Clark shook his head, all innocence. "Well, maybe a little
one," he stopped, looking up at the trees before returning
his gaze to her, "but I’m not sure I’d call it
cold." He leaned in even closer, "This is the
haunted woods…maybe…" his voice dropped to a whisper,
"maybe there’s a ghost…" When he saw the look in her
eyes as she seriously considered the possibility, he tickled her
sides, eliciting a high pitched squeal. Clark jumped out of the
way as she went on the offensive.
"Clark Kent!" He rolled over, laughing while trying
to escape her questing fingers. "That was rotten!" But
she was laughing with him. First she aimed for his armpits, always
the perfect target when they were younger and Clark squeezed his
arms tight to his sides in defense. Before he could wiggle out of
reach, Chloe quickly straddled his stomach and went for his neck.
Clark tucked his chin down onto his chest as she tried to worm her
fingers underneath. He raised his arms to grab her wrists and she
went back for his armpits, giggling as he had to squeeze his arms
tight again to protect himself.
"Chloeeeeee…..Chloeeeeee…eee…ah…" he was
really squirming now, "please…"
"Say it, Clark." She wrapped her hands around his
wrists and slowly stretched his arms out above his head, leaning
over him until they were face to face. She smiled down at him,
"Say it or else I’ll…" Chloe scooted backward,
preparing for another assault, the stomach this time; belly
buttons had always been another favored target.
Clark’s eyes widened in alarm and he yelled, "No! Stop!
Uncle! Aunt! I give!" She rolled off, flopping onto the
blanket next to him and he abruptly flipped over onto his stomach.
They laid there for quite some time before their laughter finally
subsided, Clark ever watchful for a sneak attack. It had been like
old times when Chloe’s unerringly accurate ability to find her
victim’s most sensitive spots had helped to keep both Clark and
Pete in line. This time, however, it hadn’t been the threat of
further tickling so much as the effect of her proximity to another
sensitive area that had caused his rapid capitulation; times, it
seemed, had still irrevocably changed.
Eventually, her gaze fell on the pool and she got up, heading
down the sandy slope toward the water. "I wish I’d known; I’d
have brought a suit. Come on, let’s go wading."
"I thought you were cold."
"Well, now I’m warm." Chloe kicked off her sandals
and lifted up her calf length skirt as she ventured out into the
Clark got up and threw his flannel shirt onto the chair,
removed his socks and shoes and rolled up his pant legs before
walking out into the water. Had he been by himself, he would have
stripped and gone for a swim in the deeper end near the spring.
Chloe looked over at him, her eyes glinting with mischief then
turned her back toward him. She reached down and loosened the ties
that fastened her skirt then, it seemed to Clark, was
excruciatingly slow in unwrapping it before she threw it back onto
the little beach. His eyes were riveted to her shapely curves and
the abbreviated thong she was wearing as she moved deeper into the
water. "Come on in, Clark; the water’s nice and cool."
Clark took another step then stopped, suddenly made nervous by
the thoughts that were beginning to flit through his mind.
"I dare you." She looked into his eyes and proceeded
to pull her shirt over her head, flinging it, too, back onto shore
before she went farther out. Clark tried not to stare at the small
and very revealing undergarment which barely covered her breasts.
The tight, filmy fabric did little to conceal the effect the cold
water was having on her. Without conscious direction, his eyes
gave him an up close and personal view of that effect, in
exquisite color and high definition detail. Clark gasped,
squeezing his eyes tightly shut as he spun away from her. When he
opened his eyes, he tried to distract himself by focusing on
something else-anything else-there-an old stump that jutted up out
of the water on the far side of the beach. Instantly, with a small
explosive pop, the stump burst into flame.
Chloe jumped at the sound and shouted, "Clark!" in
surprise when she saw the flaming stump. Clark quickly moved
toward it, frantically splashing water over it to extinguish the
fire. "What the hell was that?" Chloe stared at the
smoking remains of the tree stump then at Clark who’d turned his
back on her again and was now staring intently up into the sky
overhead as though it was the most fascinating thing he’d ever
seen. "Clark! Are you listening to me?"
"Yeah, I hear you, Chloe. Um…I’m not sure what caused
it but maybe the decaying organic matter in the stump created a
methane build-up and the heat caused it to ignite. It is awfully
hot, today… Weird, though, huh?"
Chloe floated over to the charred, still smoking stump,
examining it more closely but there was very little left. She
poked it experimentally and half of it fell off into the water.
"Why are you staring up at the sky?" she asked as she
turned back in his direction.
"Um, I, um…thought I heard something overhead."
Chloe stared at him for a moment, waiting for any possible
further explanation that might be forthcoming. When none came, she
sighed and swam out across the pond, occasionally glancing back at
the stump in case it flared up again.
Clark was still trying his best not to think about the scantily
clad body swimming nearby. Afraid his eyes might again betray him
if he looked at Chloe, he looked instead into the bushes ringing
the pond and tried to locate those with the most berries. Chloe
swam close and splashed him from behind.
"Clark! What are you doing?"
"Um…thinking about blackberries…"
She came closer, swimming around so she could see his face but
he turned so his back was toward her.
Chloe rolled her eyes. "Are you coming or not?" She
waited then splashed him again.
"Okay, okay! Just give me a minute." He turned away
from her, hesitating for a moment before slowly pulling off his
t-shirt and dropping it at the water’s edge. Next he unfastened
his jeans, hopping first on one foot then the other as he stepped
out of them then throwing them over next to his shirt. Behind him,
Chloe giggled. When he turned around she had disappeared. Clark
waded further out into the water, thankful she wasn’t near and
floated out into the middle of the pond, trying to spot her.
Finally, he stood on a submerged tree trunk near the stump he’d
set on fire, x-raying the pond when she came up behind him and
snapped the elastic of his boxers before quickly diving under the
water again. "Hey! Okay, I will get even for
He turned in a circle, determined to capture her but she
managed to get behind him again, snapping his waistband a second
time before she jumped away, laughing and swam to the far side of
the pool. "Hey, is it deep enough to dive in over here?"
She climbed out onto a rock and looked around.
"Yeah, but be careful; there’s a big log under there.
Don’t-" Chloe dove in and disappeared from sight. A moment
later, her bra floated up to the surface. Clark started to dive
down after her just as she popped up right in front of him, giving
him a wonderful view before she sank back into the water.
"Clark! I lost my-"
He quickly turned away, his cheeks a fiery red and mumbled,
"I know!" The rogue garment slowly floated past, teasing
"Well, where is it?"
His voice went into a higher register when he said,
"Here," and he picked it up, very pointedly not looking
in her direction as he held it out behind him with thumb and
forefinger, as though he was afraid of it.
Chloe reached for it but he was waving it around so much she
couldn’t get hold of it. "Will you hold still!"
Finally, she snagged it and put it on. One of the straps was
hanging by a thread. "Rats! So much for Victoria’s
Secret." Clark abruptly dove under the water, coming up on
the other side of the log where he quickly sidled up close to the
submerged portion of the branch, attempting to appear casual.
"Clark, where…oh…" she laughed, seeing his blush
and dove under again, emerging opposite him next to the log,
smirking at his apparent shyness. Clark moved even closer to the
log. She reached over and made another grab for him but Clark
jumped back out of reach and quickly dove underwater. A submerged
limb that jutted out from the old log snagged his shorts, neatly
peeling them off as he went by. Clark shot across the pond at high
speed, oblivious to his loss, Chloe following in hot pursuit. She
stopped suddenly when she encountered the errant underwear wafting
on an underwater current; grabbing them, she headed to the
surface, bursting upward with her prize held high.
Clark’s smirk at eluding her turned to panic when he saw what
was in her hand.
"Didja lose something, Clark?" Chloe snickered with
delight at his predicament.
"Alright. Hand ‘em over." He moved toward her,
trying to appear intimidating but it wasn’t working and Chloe
kept just out of reach, waving his shorts around like a proud
banner. Clark made a grab for them when he got close, lunging up
out of the water momentarily to reach them.
"Nice view, Clark." A look of horror crossed his face
and he sank back in the water, his hands instinctively covering
his groin. "Too late for that, Clark. I’ve seen it all,
now: Clark Kent in all his glory." He dove underwater, once
again, giving Chloe a good look at his ass on the way. She tossed
his boxers aside and followed him under but Clark was quick and he
circled around behind her. When she surfaced, he grabbed her
around the waist, turned her upside down and dunked her, her
squeals echoing through the forest.
Clark laughed, holding her at arms length. Just as she reached
out to extract her revenge his sensitive ears picked up a
snuffling sound somewhere close. His head snapped up, his face
suddenly serious. "What’s that?"
Clark turned her right side up and pulled her close as he
listened, turning around in a circle, x-raying the dense bushes
that surrounded the pond. She giggled as she reached down to
tickle him but he clapped a hand over her mouth and whispered,
"Shh." As quietly as he could, he moved through the
water, holding her close and rose up on the far bank where their
clothes lay. He mouthed the words, "Get dressed," and
hastily slipped into his jeans.
She stared at him suspiciously as she started to dress.
Clark’s eyes widened and he yelled, "Run!" A moment
later something huge and black came tearing through the thicket on
the opposite side of the pond, roaring at the top of its lungs and
pounding toward them along the bank. Chloe took off at top speed
wearing only her shirt and panties although she snagged her camera
bag in passing. Glancing back, she saw that Clark had somehow
managed to get fully dressed. Now he was close behind her,
practically goosing her along. "Don’t look back!"
The bear gained on him and Clark turned to take a look just as
it leaped forward and took a vicious swipe with its monstrous
claws, raking his face and neck and ripping the front of his red
t-shirt. Not far off, he saw another rustling in the bushes; a
quick scan revealed a second bear coming in their direction. At
that point, he’d decided a tall tree would be the safest place
for Chloe so he sped up, grabbing Chloe as he passed by and hauled
alien ass up the tallest tree he could find. Everything was a
confused blur until Chloe found herself sitting against the main
trunk on a broad branch near the top of one of the largest fir
trees she’d ever seen. It was certainly the biggest tree she’d
ever been in.
She stared at Clark as he settled next to her. The tree limbs
were large and close together, forming a platform of sorts and
allowing him to hold her close as they waited. Far below, the bear
came to a halt, pacing around the trunk and snorting in disgust at
the loss of its prey. The bear stood and clawed at the rough bark,
sniffing the air as though contemplating climbing up to get them.
Clark watched intently, ready to discourage the creature if
Chloe was still breathing hard, eyes wide, her whole body
shaking, not sure whether she was more afraid of the bear or of
being so high up. She really didn’t like heights and she
definitely hated being up in trees. Chloe chanced a glance down at
the ground and immediately felt dizzy; a moment later she was
scared all over again when a second bear appeared and ambled over
toward their tree. She clutched at his shirt and he pulled her
over into his lap, wrapping his arms around her.
"Clark," she whimpered then started to cry.
"It’s okay, Chloe. Everything’s okay; we’re
fine." He rubbed her back, trying to comfort her. "We’ll
just wait here for a little while-"
Suddenly, she became aware that her fingers were grasping his
shredded shirt. "Clark! Clark, he clawed you! Oh, God!"
She started running her hands over his chest, frantic to see how
badly he was hurt. "How bad? Talk to me!" Now she was
beginning to sound really panicked.
Clark held her even tighter, making it impossible for her to
examine him any further. "Chloe! Listen to- Listen to me!
Calm down; I’m not hurt. My shirt’s ripped but that’s all. I’m
fine; honest." He smiled, wiping her tears away with his
fingers. She seemed calmer when she looked up at him. "Okay…better
now? Come on…"
She hugged him tightly. "I don’t like heights, Clark…"
"I know, Chlo. But we have to stay here until they leave.
I promise I won’t let you fall, okay?"
She relaxed against his chest, grasping his shredded t-shirt in
one fist. After a while, her breathing grew more regular.
"What’ll we do if they try to come up here?"
"I don’t think they’ll try it but if they do, I’ll…throw
things. We have the high ground after all." He tried to give
her a reassuring smile. Chloe looked down just as the larger bear
leaped up onto the trunk and went up several feet before sliding
"Clark!" She was shaking again.
"Chloe, we’re really high up; I don’t think these
branches would hold those bears. They’ll give up eventually and
we’ll go home. Odd; I didn’t know there were any bears in the
Clark felt her shiver. "Are you scared or cold?"
"Both. And this wood’s rough."
"Well, your, your, uh, uh, underwear is practically non
existent. No wonder."
Chloe glared at him, not sure if she should be surprised he’d
even noticed or angry at his remark. "Well, Mr. Kent! I didn’t
anticipate having to sit on hard wood, thank you very much! And
you can just leave my underwear alone!" She crossed her arms
and stared off in the other direction, adding an emphatic "Hmph!"
to underscore her displeasure.
"Chloe…come on…Chloe…here-" Clark took off his
flannel shirt and handed it to her. "Wrap this around your
legs. I’ll hold onto you…" She looked back at the
proffered shirt, still frowning. "Come on; this will make it
better." He smiled before tentatively placing his hands on
her sides. She immediately began to squirm.
"Hold still!" Clark closed his large hands around her
again, his long fingers brushing her stomach and she wiggled again
in protest. "I’m not trying to tickle you-"
"Well, you are!"
"You’re gonna fall if you don’t stop-"
"Okay, okay…just…just…go slow…" She was
panting, trying not to laugh but she shivered again when he
touched her. The sensation of his hands on her sensitive stomach
was one she couldn’t ignore and not just because it tickled.
Eventually she got her giggles under control, allowing him to
steady her while she wrapped his shirt around her bare legs. She
tied the arms around her waist and leaned over, buttoning the
shirt for good measure. She added another "Hmph!" and
frowned again. "I suppose you’d like me better in Daffy
Clark stared at her for a moment and added, "No, I…wouldn’t.
I mean…what you’re wearing or not wearing is fine; I mean, um…it’s
just not suitable for tree-climbing…" He stared down at his
shoes with sudden intensity. I like what you’re wearing...
"Now…" He reached down and began untying his shoes.
Chloe immediately lost her balance, tipped sideways and had to
grab an overhanging branch to keep from falling.
"Whoa! Uh…Clark, what are you doing? I don’t think
those shoes will fit me…"
"No, but I was thinking…" he pulled off one shoe
and then a sock, "this might." He reached into his pants
pocket and pulled out a roll of duct tape. "And we’ll give
you a custom fit. Duct tape- don’t leave home without it."
"And all this time, I thought you were just glad to see
Reddening slightly, he raised one eyebrow at her as he handed
her the sock. "You’ve really been in fine form today, you
"I know...it’s just so easy to tease you." Chloe
punched him lightly on the arm and sighed, somewhat wistfully.
"Like old times…"
Clark removed the other shoe and handed over his other sock
before putting his shoes back on and tying them. He held her again
while she pulled on his huge socks; they hung like bags on her
small feet. "Here, scoot back and I’ll fix your
footwear." He pulled her feet onto his lap and snugged the
socks with duct tape around each ankle then pinched up the excess
on top, wrapping it with strips of tape. As an afterthought, he
taped the bottom of the socks. "There. Long lasting treads.
Eat your heart out, L.L.Bean." A sudden wind rustled the
leaves making her shiver again. When she glanced away, looking for
the bears, he warmed her with a mild sweep of heat vision.
She looked back at him and wiggled her feet in approval.
"I feel warmer, already. And I like the little elvish
tips." She eyed his tattered t-shirt. "Aren’t you
chilly at all?"
"Nope. Not really. It is kinda breezy up here,
Chloe was quiet for a moment. "Will your parents miss
"They’re in Topeka until at least next Thursday or
Friday. Your dad?"
"Fertilizer convention in Omaha. Back next Wednesday, at
the earliest. Maybe Pete’ll miss us."
"Last I heard, Pete’s gonna help Lana reorganize the
stock room at the Talon this afternoon." Clark chuckled.
"I wouldn’t count on him noticing we’re missing anytime
"Okay, so…we’re on our own," she sighed. They sat
in companionable silence for a time; Chloe wondering if the bears
really would leave without trying to climb up to get at them. She
relaxed a bit when they moved off a ways. She stared at Clark’s
rugged profile, wondering how he’d managed to get them both up
into their high perch.
Clark felt her eyes on him and turned toward her.
"Just wondering how you got us up here so quickly."
Mercifully, for Clark, another thought preempted the first.
"My mouth’s dry. You got any gum?"
He dug into his front pocket, past the duct tape and down to
the pocket lint level. "Nope." Then he checked the other
pockets and came up with a few pennies and a piece of chalk which
he held up. "Sorry; unless you want to suck on a piece of
chalk or some duct tape, you’re out of luck."
Chloe pulled up her camera case and looked in a side pocket.
"Eureka! She held up a couple of candy pops. "I forgot
about my emergency stash. Here; supersize cherry blowpops."
"I don’t think I’ve ever had cherry." He tore off
the wrapper and took an experimental lick. "Mmmm…"
Popping it in his mouth, he pronounced it, "Werry wood."
Chloe giggled and went to work on her own, running her tongue
over the outside before sucking the entire pop into her mouth. A
trickle of cherry juice dripped down her chin and she laughed,
pulling the pop out and trying to catch the drip with her tongue.
Clark’s eyes widened, riveted to her mouth as an old memory of
Chloe saying, "What can I do for you, Clark?" while very
suggestively licking one of those pops, came rushing back. She’d
been infected by the parasitic worm, at the time, though he hadn’t
known it then.
Clark could still remember his discomfort as he’d left the
Torch office in a hurry that day, castigating himself for his
attraction to her, especially since he’d just asked Lana on a
date. To his further embarrassment, he’d later acted on that
attraction quite publicly when he’d been affected by the Red
Kryptonite, not to mention their more private interaction in the
backseat of Pete’s car where they’d been all over each other.
Clark had thanked God many times that he’d come to his senses
when he did. Not that his body hadn’t regretted it. He’d been
doubly thankful Chloe hadn’t remembered the incident but he’d
never been able to forget how much he’d wanted her.
Chloe had her camera out, staring through her viewfinder at one
of the bears when she yelped, "Hey! He’s got my-" she
"What?" Clark grabbed the camera, looking through it
once for the sake of appearances. Then he lowered it, allowing his
telescopic vision to kick in, revealing a small pink package in
the bear’s mouth. Now bringing the microscopic component into
play, he could easily see the numerous holes where pills had been
punched out. Clark turned to Chloe, one eyebrow raised in a
Spock-like arch. "Is that a package of-"
"Birth control pills! He’s got my birth control pills!
Ooohhh!" She broke a little twig off a nearby branch and
threw it down in the bear’s general direction. "I hope I
have another package at home." She crossed her arms, adding a
"Rats!" in disgust.
"Um…well…guess maybe you’re seeing someone,
huh?" He found the thought rather depressing, though Chloe
had never given him reason to think she wanted to be more than
friends now. And who could blame her? Having ignored her on so
many occasions, he was lucky to have even that. A small voice, his
own little devil’s advocate, pointed out she had performed that
little impromptu strip tease for him at the pond. No, that was
nothing. "Someone in Metropolis, I bet. So…who is
Chloe glared at him and grabbed her camera away, stuffing it
back into its pouch. "Just because I’m taking the pill
doesn’t mean I’m having sex with someone! Men! Everything
revolves around you! Of course a girl would only be taking the
pill because she’s getting horizontal with some hunky stud! The
fact that there are other reasons for using oral contraceptives
would never cross your mind- You…you…"
"Chloeeee! Did I say that? I only thought-"
"You’re just as oblivious as any other human male."
Clark’s mouth hung open for an instant at that improbable
slander before he said, "Hey! I didn’t mean it that way-
Clark cringed away in mock fear as Chloe reached out to smack
him on the arm but before she could land the blow, she lost her
balance and slid from her perch. Clark dropped, quickly grabbing
her around the waist with one arm while catching hold of the main
trunk with the other. "You okay?" he asked as he
climbed, effortlessly lifting Chloe back up into their little
sanctuary. She nodded and Clark hugged her close.
"I’m sorry, Clark. I-"
"Look, I didn’t mean to offend you. You’re right and I’m
sorry. It’s none of my business, anyway. Truce?"
She leaned against him. "Yeah, truce."
Eventually, as the afternoon drew on toward evening, the sky
darkened and the wind began to pick up. A strong gust shook the
little platform of boughs on which they sat and Clark gently
pulled Chloe into his lap, wrapping his arms around her for added
Chloe surveyed the dark thunderheads building in the distance.
"Looks like a storm’s coming…" She watched Clark who
was also looking anxiously at the foreboding sky. "What’ll
we do if-"
"Well, we can’t stay up in this tree if it storms."
The first deep roll of thunder could be heard in the distance.
"Great." Clark surveyed the woods below and decided he
couldn’t wait any longer for the bears to leave. Trying to sound
casual, he said, "Hey, I think the bears are gone; I’ll go
down and take a look. Just stay put."
"Ah…maybe we should wait a while longer…" Thunder
rumbled again and Chloe shifted nervously.
"I’ll be right back; don’t move." Clark lifted
her off his lap and scooted out from under her. Stepping onto a
smaller side limb a couple of feet below, he started down the main
trunk. One of his sleeves caught on a twig and ripped, completing
the ruin of the shirt so he shrugged out of it and left it behind.
Chloe could hear the rustling of the branches as he moved down
through the tree.
"It’s okay," he called up. "I’m down; I’ll
just look around a bit." He scanned the immediate area and
saw the bears moving back in the direction of the pond.
"Don’t go very far! I don’t want to be up here by
myself…" Chloe leaned over, peering down through the tree,
trying to spot him on the ground. The dense foliage made it hard
to see and the light was failing as the sky grew more dark and
ominous. She thought she’d caught a brief glimpse of Clark a few
feet away; cautiously, she moved over to get a better view,
holding onto a small branch for support. "Clark?" Chloe
craned her neck, leaning out as far as she could. With a sharp
crack, the little branch abruptly gave way and she tumbled
forward, plummeting straight to the ground.
Clark caught her easily; she barely had time to scream.
"Whoa! Didn’t I tell you to stay put? What were you trying
to do?" She was shaking and he held her close; finally, she
laid her head on his shoulder. "You okay?"
She stared up into the tree, then back at him and after a
moment, shook her head. "Yeah…I guess…" She ran her
hand over his bare chest. "What happened to your shirt?"
"It caught on a limb as I came down so I got rid of it.
Wanna sit down?"
"No…um…can I just stay right here for a minute?"
Clark laughed softly. "Yeah, sure."
Something rustled in a nearby bush and she whimpered,
He glanced behind her and smiled. "Just an old possum. I’ll
wrestle him if I have to. Now, why don’t we head home before the
"Okay. Well, wait a minute. I’ve been up that tree a long
A twig snapped behind Clark and he whipped around in alarm. A
second later he was practically throwing her up the tree trunk.
"Get up there, now, Chlo!"
She scrambled up a ways into the tree before she realized Clark
wasn’t behind her. Stopping, she called out, "Clark? Where
are you? Come on!" She felt the tree trunk shake as though
something had slammed into it. Now terrified, she eased back down
a few feet until she could see the small clearing near the base of
the tree. A tall figure stood in the fading light that filtered
down through an opening high up in the forest canopy.
"Clark!" She sobbed as two huge shapes leaped out from
the bushes at the edge of the clearing, charging the man who stood
in the middle.
Clark yelled once, in a voice that demanded obedience,
"Chloe! Do NOT come down out of that tree! Get back up there
Chloe screamed out, "No! Clark!" and took another
step down, pausing when she thought she saw one of the bears
beneath the tree. Clark said nothing and she yelled again,
"Clark, where are you?" The bear’s angry growls filled
the clearing; Clark was being badly mauled by the sound of it.
Next to her, she spotted a tree limb, broken off by some violent
wind and tangled in the branches above; a weapon, if she could
only get it down. She pulled on it, trying to yank it free without
success. Stepping onto a lower limb for better leverage, she put
her full weight into it and finally pulled it loose but her
victory was short lived as she lost her footing and slid down
through the tree. Chloe was still holding tight to the branch when
it finally caught in a dense tangle of ivy, leaving her hanging
some ten feet off the ground. She was certain she could hear a
bear right below her.
The clearing was briefly illuminated by a flash of lightning
and for a moment, it looked like one of the bears had grabbed
Clark by the throat. When the light faded, she heard only their
vicious snarling. It had grown almost completely dark now, the
only light coming from the strobe flashes of lightning overhead.
The first patter of heavy raindrops began to fall around her.
Terrified, she yelled for him again; her hands slipping slightly
when she turned her head. "Clark!" Directly beneath her,
one of the bears stood up against the trunk, reaching for her with
one huge paw. Chloe heard its low growl and knew it was probably
climbing up to get her. There was a loud thump below her, another
fork of lightning streaked across the sky and she saw the bear
pinning Clark to the ground. "No!"
Then she began to lose her grip and with agonizing slowness,
her hands slid off the branch. She cried out once as she fell and
suddenly, she was in Clark’s waiting arms, once more. She threw
her arms around his neck, crying with relief. "Clark! Oh,
Clark! I saw that bear on top of you! How did you-"
"Chloe, can we play twenty questions later?" He put
her down. Rain was falling more heavily and muddy rivulets of
water ran through the little clearing, over the bank and into the
stream that flowed beyond it. Clark turned away, staring into the
distance for a moment. His tone was urgent when he turned back to
her. "We need to find shelter. There’s a small cave not far
from here but we’ve really gotta go." Behind them, a
brilliant fork of lightning struck a tall tree not far beyond the
clearing, splitting it in two and showering them with sparks and
splinters. Clark grabbed her, shielding her from the wave of
debris. Picking her up again, he said, "I’ll carry you;
close your eyes."
"Why do I have to close my eyes?"
"There’s a lot of debris in the air."
"Chloe. Now. Do as I say. Don’t open your eyes until I
tell you to." He turned her head into his chest, covering her
face with one large hand as best he could. "No more
questions." Reluctantly, she obeyed, closing her eyes as
Clark took off. She felt the rush of the wind and what she
imagined was dirt, leaves and other debris whipped up by the storm
as Clark ran toward the cave. In a moment she was out of the rain.
Clark put her down just as another bolt of lightning struck a tree
close by the entrance, part of which toppled over onto the mouth
of the cave. Chloe shrieked, burying her head against his chest as
Clark pulled her to him.
"Can I open my eyes now?"
"Yeah, you can open ‘em." She gazed up at him for a
long moment, somewhat dazed then turned to look at the downed
tree. "Stay back away from the entrance. That was too
close." Clark, however, went to the mouth of the cave and
stared into the distance.
The wind quickly became so strong that large trees were
beginning to bend over and she could hear the sharp crack of
breaking limbs outside even from where she stood. "Clark,
maybe you’d better come back here-"
Clark turned, his jaw set and yelled over the violent wind,
"Get to the back of the cave!" She turned but before she
could take two steps he grabbed her and carried her to very back
wall of the cave where he pushed her to the ground, covering her
body with his own. He yelled one word: "Twister!" before
the world was reduced to a freight train roar as rocks and tree
limbs swirled around them, beating against Clark’s body. Chloe
peeked up, whimpering when she saw a crack form in the limestone
overhead. Clark followed her gaze, watching as the crack spread
and widened until an entire section of the ceiling threatened to
come loose. He yelled, "Close your eyes!" and she did,
thinking it was the last thing she’d ever see. Clark moved to
make sure her face was shielded just as the slab crashed down,
shattering across his back. The air was thick with dust and debris
for a moment then everything grew quiet; the only sound the steady
fall of rain outside.
Chloe opened her eyes, surprised to be alive. Lightning still
flashed outside and Clark’s big eyes stared down at her, filled
with concern. She remained silent for a moment, pleasantly aware
of his body on top of her own, especially his bare skin. Years
ago, her dreams had often been filled with such things;
occasionally, they still were.
"Are you okay?" Slowly, Clark rose up on his elbows.
"You look a little flushed."
Clark was covered with stone dust, some of it turned to mud
where water had splattered across it. Chloe looked overhead at the
spot where the slab had come loose and around them on the cave
floor where chunks of stone lay scattered about. She looked back
into Clark’s eyes and whispered, "I’m…okay…are you
okay? What happened? How can we be okay?"
"Just be glad we are, Chloe." Clark sat back on his
knees then stood, offering her a hand and helped her to her feet.
He steadied her when she swayed a little then just pulled her to
him, holding her tightly. "Better?" he asked, waiting
for her nod before letting go. "Why don’t you sit down? The
storm’s still pretty bad and we’re gonna have to wait here for
a while." Clark guided Chloe over to a suitable rock. "I’ll
build a fire." He picked up some twigs and small branches and
began piling them up in a shallow depression at the rear of the
"How you gonna start a fire? All this wood’s
"You let me worry ‘bout that." Clark walked to the
cave entrance again and picked up a couple of bigger logs. Looking
back at her, he said, "If you’re up to it, you can gather
some more kindling. Looks like most of the little stuff blew back
there." He pointed to the side of the cave a few feet away.
Chloe slowly stood, still a bit unsteady. "You still look
wiggly; maybe you’d better let me-"
"Oh, Clark, I’m fine. Good grief!" She stomped over
and began collecting twigs. Behind her, Clark quickly dried the
pile of wood with his heat vision and started a small fire in the
center. He grabbed up a couple of nearby stones and smacked them
together, making Chloe jump. "What the hell?"
"Sorry. Just making a spark to start the fire." Clark
made a show of poking at the fire and blowing on it. "That’s
probably enough; you can bring those over and put them right
Chloe walked to the fire and got down on her knees beside it.
She began adding her twigs to the fire, occasionally glancing at
Clark who sat, tailor fashion, quiet and distant, his face lit
only by the flickering flames. The fire grew, warming the cave and
Chloe began to relax. She sat, leaning over against Clark who
stretched out his long legs to accommodate her. Her eyes kept
returning to the ceiling of the cave. Finally, she got up on her
knees and leaned around behind him. Clark shifted uncomfortably
under her gaze.
"What are you doing?"
"As far as I can see, there’s not a mark on you; how is
that possible?" Hesitantly, she touched his mud encrusted
skin, running her fingers over his back. "That slab should
have crushed us. Why didn’t it?"
Clark closed his eyes; sighing, he ran his fingers through his
hair, creating a small dust cloud around his head. "Chloe…can’t
you just let it go? Be glad we’re okay."
"I am glad we’re okay but I can’t help
wondering why we’re not pancakes. How did we…or is this
another math mystery?"
Smiling, he said, "Look. It’s really not such a
mystery." He pointed to the cave ceiling. "See that
Chloe looked upward. "Not very well. It’s too dark in
here to see much of anything. But what about it?"
"Water’s been seeping in here for so long it rotted the
stone; made it soft so it lost cohesion. Eventually, it was bound
to give way and the suction of the wind pulled it loose. Luckily,
it fell at an angle and hit the ground right next to us. Then it
disintegrated and we were mostly hit with small stones and dust.
We were just very, very lucky. See? No mystery. Nothing for the
Wall." Chloe was silent. "Chlo?" He started to turn
around, stopping when he felt her hands on his back again.
"Hold still." She examined him further, still not
believing he was unhurt. "Alright…I…guess that might make
sense…but what about the bears?"
"What about them?"
"Their claws are like razors and I thought I saw one of
them grab you-"
"It tripped on a tree root or something and fell. Must’ve
been knocked out ‘cause it didn’t get up." She was silent
for a moment as she ran her fingers under his chin and around his
neck. Clark bit back a little moan when her fingernail scraped the
sensitive skin under his jaw.
"One of ‘em had you down; how’d you get away from
"Smacked it in the head with a rock and it just took
"Um…did I happen to mention the seat of your pants got
Clark’s hands flew behind him to assess the damage. A flap of
denim hung down exposing him as though he was wearing a pair of
old fashioned long johns; only the waistband held his jeans
together in the back. He tried, unsuccessfully, to tuck the flap
back in place.
"Better be careful. They look like they could go at any
minute." She giggled and after a moment she sat down next to
him, again. "You’re a mess, you know it?"
Clark looked down and brushed at his bare chest. "Yeah, I
guess I am." He smiled over at her and Chloe tried to wipe
away some of the grime on his face. She succeeded only in making
stripes across his cheeks.
"Hmm. Not sure that’s an improvement." Leaning over
against him, Chloe sighed and stared into the fire which was now
burning quite merrily. Outside, lightning flashed, followed by the
low rumble of thunder and rain was still coming down heavily. They
sat quietly for a while as the fire burned down.
Her thoughts drifted back to earlier days when Clark and Pete
were her best friends and together they spent many hours searching
for answers to mysteries linked, in one way or another, to the
meteors that fell on that fateful October day. Mutation in the
local population had seemed pretty common, especially in children
who were very young at exposure. Lana, who had no doubt tired of
being stalked by the various meteor freaks who’d resulted and
who had never completely gotten over the death of her parents when
the first meteors hit, had railed about them on many occasions.
Oddly, Clark who claimed he hadn’t been affected by the meteor
rocks, had often seemed haunted and saddened when she went on one
of her rants. After the Gillboy incident, and subsequent sniper
attacks, Lana had been angry with Clark for pointing out that
those people hadn’t asked to be altered. She’d banged around
the house for a while complaining about Clark’s sympathies for
"those freaks," and when Chloe had tried to be
sympathetic to her while agreeing with Clark on the matter, she’d
stomped upstairs and refused to come down for quite some time.
Well, that was just Lana; she had a quite a temper at times when
she got her mind set on something and refused to compromise until
she worked through it. Chloe, having lived with Lana, had seen
that first hand on several occasions and thought of it as Lana’s
Pink Pissy Mood.
As she sat watching shadows dance on the cave walls, she
wondered what the glyphs in the Kawatche cave had meant and why
Clark was so fascinated by them, almost to the point of obsession.
In fact, everyone had been fascinated by them; the Kawatches
certainly were because the drawings and symbols were supposed to
tell their history and they’d taken to Clark as though he were
one of them. Had he been a long lost member of their tribe,
perhaps and sensing that, they’d taken him into their
confidence? Both Lex and Lionel had been extremely interested in
what had been discovered there. Lionel had hinted that Clark might
have some secret knowledge of the cave language. Bet it really
pissed him off to think a Kansas farmboy knew something he didn’t.
Lionel had claimed the cave symbols were rearranged the day of
the explosion on the Kent farm, implying that Clark was somehow
responsible, although how he thought Clark could have done so was
unclear. She certainly hadn’t seen any evidence of tampering on
the wall itself but photos taken of the symbols there before that
day did appear to be different. Lionel had also mentioned a metal
disc of some sort that he said would have fit into an octagonal
depression in the wall, also no longer evident after that day. She
had been truthful when she’d told him she hadn’t been in the
cave all that much. Her last visit with Clark during that
tumultuous spring had resulted in her being infected with the
parasitic worm and the cave had given her the creeps, ever since.
The early settlers had reported hearing voices in the area and
except for Ezra Small, had refused to go there. The Kawatches had
always considered it sacred ground, never entering the caves
without the guidance of a medicine man so she wasn’t alone in
her reluctance. As recently as the spring when Clark had
discovered the newer chambers, locals had occasionally claimed to
see and hear odd things in the vicinity of the caves.
The Kawatche caves and the meteors were somehow linked, she was
certain, but how was the mystery she had never solved. Ezra Small’s
Diary had mentioned at least one earlier meteor shower in the
Smallville area, implying there’d been others, if she’d
understood him correctly; he spoke of the shapeshifters among the
Kawatche tribe appearing after one of them. Perhaps they were the
first meteor mutations and the meteors were actually a periodic
phenomenon. That was a cheery thought.
Chloe was getting drowsy when Clark jostled her. "Sorry,
Chloe; I need to get more wood. Chloe…"
She sat up, yawning. "Okay; I was nodding off." She
watched as he walked to the cave mouth and paused to watch the
storm. At one side of the cave, a torrent of water poured down
from the hillside above and out over the entrance below. Clark
stepped under it, throwing his head back, arms outstretched,
letting the water hit him full force in the face and chest, in an
effort to remove some of the dust and mud. Lightning flashed and
Chloe caught a glimpse of Clark as the water cascaded over his
body. The image of Naked Clark rising up out of the pond kept
trying to intrude into her thoughts; it had been an incredible
sight… Anyone could see that Clark Kent was an amazing physical
specimen and events over the years had made it obvious that he
possessed physical strength beyond that of an average man. Maybe
it was just the rigors of farm chores that had given him such
impressive strength but having watched Clark toss heavy feed bags
and hay bails around like they were weightless while his dad
strained to do the same made it seem unlikely. His dad’s well
known objection to Clark’s playing football was also impossible
to understand. Claims that he was needed on the farm didn’t ring
true; his dad, after all, had helped out on the family farm and he’d
played football… No, there was something more but it was part of
the Clark mystique that he refused to reveal and she had never
uncovered an explanation for it. Perhaps Clark’s sudden bursts
of temper were the reason...
Clark turned to let the water wash over his back and
practically moaned, "Aaahhh…much better…" Finally,
he stooped to grab two more large pieces of wood and came back.
"God, that felt good-" he realized Chloe was staring at
She tore her eyes away from him to stare at the waterfall.
"You…that…looked great! Think I’ll try it." She
jumped up and headed to the front of the cave where she stuck her
whole head into the stream of water and came away shivering and
Clark laughed out loud. "Hey! You’re gonna drown that
way. Hang on-" he stopped to add the wood to the fire and
went to her side. "Go easy. Wait…" He reached up above
her head and put one hand under the water, letting it splash first
on his palm before hitting her.
"Oooh…f-feels g-good but it’s so c-cold…"
"Close your eyes and try not to think about it. Mind over
matter." He tried to follow his own advice and ignore the
revealing contours of her wet shirt.
"R-r-right. Th-that’ll work." But Chloe did as he
suggested and surprisingly, the water began to seem warmer. In a
minute or two it was actually quite pleasant; eventually it felt
almost hot, in fact.
"Uh…yeah…wow, that did feel good." When she
stepped out from under the water and opened her eyes, the whole
cave seemed warm and steamy. "It looks like-"
"Steam; I know. The fire’s warming the cave enough that
the cold moisture is starting to precipitate out into fog."
"Well, aren’t you Mister Science Wizard, today? You’re
just full of explanations."
"Now, stand over there by the fire and dry off."
Clark positioned her in front of the fire, drying her off with
gentle bursts of his heat vision when she wasn’t looking. She
was fairly dry in no time and Clark sat down, holding out his hand
and inviting Chloe to sit close. He put his arm around her
shoulders and she snuggled against him, sighing as she watched the
flames catch on the wood he’d added. A noise startled Clark from
behind and he turned to see a small trickle of dust and pebbles
falling from a crack beneath the section of collapsed ceiling. He
stood, eyeing the wall and ceiling.
"I heard something…just…making sure the rest of the
ceiling isn’t coming down on us…" Suddenly, his eyes
widened and he ran to the crack he’d been studying. Chloe rose,
grabbing up a burning twig from the fire and more cautiously
picked her way over the debris to see what ever it was that Clark
had suddenly found so fascinating. "Careful…"
Chloe shoved her torch up to the crack and gasped. "Is
that what I think it is, Clark? That looks like the glyphs in the
"Yeah, it is! We’re actually not that far from the other
cave…maybe this one’s connected..." Clark stared at the
crack intently then started to stick his hand in.
Chloe grabbed his arm. "Wait! Remember those parasites in
the cave walls? What if there are more here? Maybe you shouldn’t
just stick your hand in there."
"Nah, there’s nothing in there." He started to
reach in again.
"You don’t know that! Don’t-"
"It’ll be okay." He put his hand inside and moved
it upward along the crack, his eyes widening as he felt past the
revealed glyph. "Chloe! It’s-" he stopped, excited as
he felt the familiar octagonal depression meant for the Kryptonian
key. He pressed his face into the narrow opening, feeling farther
along the rock face inside. "I see more drawings! And…some
of them are carved into the wall instead of painted on…"
Chloe angled her head around beneath him, trying to get a look
for herself. "Is that the two headed figure?"
"Naman and Seget. Yes but…the one beyond it is just
Naman and there’s a symbol…I don’t understand…it looks
"How can you see anything? Wait-" She hurried back to
the fire to get another torch. "Here! This one’s bigger!
Can you see any better?"
"Oh, yeah…yeah…I think there might have been a
passageway here but it’s been filled in over the years."
Clark turned to Chloe, sighing. "There’s no way we can get
in there now; we’ll have to come back later."
"Did Joseph Willowbrook ever say anything more about his
theories on extraterrestrials observing us? The Ledger reporter
didn’t really take him seriously and except for mentioning
whenever further research was being conducted in the caves, that
was pretty much the extent of coverage in the local media."
Chloe stared at the figure then asked, "Does the whole tribe
believe the legends about Naman being "The One" who’ll
be a force for good and help all mankind?"
"Joseph and Kyla came from a family of shamen, so their
viewpoint was probably a bit more…traditional than some.
"But, yeah…they believed the promise made by the first
visitor that another like him would return one day. Naman is the
one who’ll the prophecy."
"You sound like you believe it, too."
"A lot of Indian legends involve beings from the sky who
interact with humans. It’s not an uncommon belief among
"What exactly does the legend say about Naman and Seget?"
"They were close, like brothers then they became
"Well, that’s depressing."
"Did Joseph Willowbrook ever say anything about the sprits
in the caves? Ezra Small talked about hearing disembodied voices
there; the settlers were afraid to go near them because of
"Not specifically, no." Looking at her thoughtfully,
he added, "I’d appreciate
it if you didn’t mention this to anyone, Chloe. I’d like to
do this myself. Okay?"
"If you say so." Smiling, she added, "I could
help…if you want a second pair of hands…"
"Alright. We’ll come back and see if we can find a way
in. Maybe there’s another entrance somewhere." Clark
narrowed his eyes, staring hard at the wall for a moment before
turning away. "Come on. Right now we just need to sit tight
and wait out the storm." They settled by the fire again,
Clark occasionally glancing back at the crack and Chloe snuggled
up against him, once more. Gradually, she became aware of Clark’s
warm hand gently rubbing her arm.
"I meant what I said, earlier. We used to be so close; I
miss that." He chuckled as he stared down at her.
"What are you laughing at, Kent?"
"Just thinking it’s never boring when you’re around,
Chlo; you’re always in the middle of things even when you don’t
cause them. I…never appreciated that like I should have when we
Chloe pulled away and moved closer to the fire, putting some
small sticks into it. Without looking at him, she said, "Well..yeah…"
sighing, she added, "I know there were times when I pushed
too far and I should have backed off. I…I just have this problem
with curiosity and I have a hard time letting go of anything that
"I hadn’t noticed." She glanced back at Clark and
he could see a tear making its way down her cheek. "Hey…Chloe…"
"It just seemed like sometimes, well, our entire sophomore
year, really, I never knew what would set you off; like…that
symbol that was burned on your barn; I was sorry that people
harassed you over it but…correct me if I’m wrong…did you
ever ask me not to print the picture I took of it?"
"No, you’re right, I didn’t and I was wrong to yell at
you over it; I had no right to interfere between you and
"It just really ticked me off; it was personal and I was
angry that she invaded my privacy…and then you came to get me to
forgive her- well, you were just riding to her rescue. That’s
what knights in shining armor do, right?"
"Chloe…if it’s any consolation, she never told me what
"It was just some pictures; I should have gotten rid of
them a long time ago." They didn’t really mean
anything." She turned away again, busying herself by adding
more sticks to the fire.
"They must’ve meant something if you’d saved them…Chloe…I
didn’t mean to
dredge up a lot of bad memories…" Clark sat up and took
her hand, pulling her back to sit beside him. "Come
here." He put his arm around her shoulders and hugged her.
"That’s okay, Clark. We’ve both had our share. Like
the time you ran away and went wiggy; that was a bad time for all
"I know…I’m sorry. At the time…I thought I had no
"Why were you…so different in Metropolis? It’s like
you were your own evil twin." Clark turned away, ashamed.
Chloe stared at him, waiting but he remained silent. "It was
the ring, wasn’t it? The first time you acted so strangely, I
thought you had some sort of bi-polar disorder. But that wasn’t
it at all; the red meteor rocks affect you, somehow, almost like a
"I just don’t understand why everyone who’s affected
by the green rocks is changed for the worse except you but the red
rocks make you go all Jekyll and Hyde."
Sighing, Clark got up and started to pace.
"When I…followed you back to your apartment, I didn’t
know what to expect but it was like you were your own evil twin.
And you got so…angry the last time I came back …you…you
really scared me; I was afraid you might-"
Suddenly, he turned, yelling, "Hurt you? You’re right!
You should have been afraid! You have no idea what a
chance you took! I was out of my mind- I always knew you’d
come looking for me and I didn’t want to be found! The
longer I’m around the red rocks, the more they affect me and
when you came that last time I…it was like I was overdosing or
something; if it makes you feel any better, I threw you out
because I didn’t want you to see me like that."
"Why didn’t you take it off?"
"Oh, I took it off but every time I thought of my mom and
all the pain I caused, I put it on again."
Chloe stood and walked toward him. "Lana was so sure she’d
get you to come back. She said you were just waiting for the right
person to find you. I only came because, well, I thought I owed it
to you to try again, to tell you everything was falling apart at
home; I knew, deep down, you’d never listen to me. A woman’s
got to know her limitations; the Spring Formal should have taught
me that, if nothing else."
"Don’t say that! I never meant to hurt you…"
Sighing, she looked away. "I know you didn’t, Clark but
it was inevitable. I was shocked when you asked me; I couldn’t
believe it, it was just too good to be true…"
Clark spun around and was in front of Chloe in two long
strides. "I meant it when I said I wanted to take you to the
dance, Chloe! And I thought you meant it when you said you just
wanted to be friends. Why’d you tell me that if you didn’t
"I figured I’d just cut my losses and go back to being a
best friend. I mean, you’d already left me behind at the dance.
And I know you had to look for your dad but I was so worried and I
searched for you and you never even tried to get in touch! It
really hurt when I had to hear it from Lana that you were okay
because you’d brought her to the hospital! But it would have
been okay…and I tried to deal with it even though it was hard
except then-" she stopped, wiping away another tear before it
could get very far. "it seemed like, that whole year, I felt
like I was barely a friend at all. At least, it got better after
you came back from Metropolis and the whole Lionel fiasco was
finally out in the open. I was actually relieved-"
"Forget it, Clark; water under the bridge at this point.
It was a mistake to ever think we could be more than friends; I
should never have tried to cross that line."
Clark reached out, touching her cheek. "You’re wrong,
Chlo; there was nothing wrong with thinking that." He drew
her into his arms and held her close, slowly rubbing his hand over
"It’s okay, Clark. Anyway," she sighed, "it’s
not like you ever really noticed I was a girl-"
"Chloe…I’m so sorry…but that’s not true."
Clark held her for a moment, resting his cheek against her hair,
memories of the Spring Formal suddenly flooding his mind. Gently
nuzzling her cheek, he whispered softly, "Not true at all. I’m
very much aware that you’re a girl." He lifted her chin,
looking deep into her bright green eyes and saw they were brimming
with tears. One lone tear made its way down her cheek as she
started to turn away and Clark gently brushed it away with his
fingers. Then slowly, he leaned down and kissed her. His touch was
soft and tender and the smallest of sighs escaped her as he kissed
her once more. When he pulled away, he said softly, "Chloe…can
we try this again? Maybe I can get it right this time…"
Before she could utter a word, his lips moved on to brush the
sensitive skin behind her ear then Clark teased her earlobe with
his lower lip and all she could do was moan. She arched backward,
shivering as he touched her and sighing as he began to nibble his
way down her neck. Then he was back, delicately tracing her inner
lips with the tip of his tongue before plunging deep inside.
"Mmmm…oh, God…Clark…" she gasped when he broke
the kiss. After a moment, he slid his hands down over her ass and
pulled her close. "What…are you doing…" she moaned
"Proving my point."
Lex Luthor walked cautiously along an old trail that led
through the heart of Burnham Woods. He had come searching for
Chloe and possibly Clark, at Lana’s request. He’d returned
from Metropolis just in time for the late afternoon thunderstorms
which had driven the Talon’s customers inside and Lex and Lana
had both been at the coffeeshop when what appeared to have been a
twister touched down, mangling the Talon marquee. It had also
turned Lex’s newest Porsche upside down and deposited it right
outside, blocking the front doors; he wondered if he’d get
Lana, even though terrified, had managed to herd everyone into
the storeroom at the rear of the building and no one had been
injured except for Lana who’d been struck on the head by a jar
of maraschino cherries. The whole incident had badly frightened
Lex, at first, when he’d whirled around to see her apparently
covered with blood, then totally grossed him out when Lana started
giggling and licking the blood from her hand, saying it was
delicious. By the time he’d figured out it was cherry juice, she’d
consumed quite a bit of it, as well as the cherries and when he
finally tried one, at her insistence, he discovered they were
fermented. Lex couldn’t decide if it was the blow to the head or
the fermented fruit that had caused her to begin her
prognostications but she’d immediately started saying Chloe and
Clark were missing and in trouble, insisting Lex go to find them.
He called for his staff to bring the fully equipped Hummer,
assist with the clean-up and tend to his fallen Porsche, so he
could search for Chloe and Clark. Fortunately, Pete Ross had been
helping Lana rearrange the stock room when the twister hit and was
quite capably managing the aftermath. Pete seemed adept at
juggling situations as they arose; Lex thought he might have a
future in politics ahead of him. Pete’s only serious problem, at
the moment, was keeping Lana, who was now fairly well flown, out
of the fermented cherries.
One of the waitresses who’d been at the Talon that morning
said she’d overheard Clark ask Chloe to go hiking in Burnham
Woods and no one had seen them since. Pete had offered to help
with the search but Lex insisted he stay with Lana. He’d added
that Clark and Chloe were probably fine, anyway and that Lana
really needed him more. As soon as his Hummer arrived, Lex had
fled, leaving Pete in charge.
He’d stopped by the Sullivan house and the Kent farm, first,
but found nobody home and had decided to take a little jaunt into
the woods, just in case. Not far in, he’d spotted Chloe’s car
near a hedge of blackberries in an area of the woods known to be a
lover’s lane, of sorts. That started a new train of thought in
his mind regarding Clark and Chloe and what exactly they were
doing out in the woods but her car was vacant so Lex drove on,
following the path as far as he could in his gigantic SUV. Soon,
however, he came to a point where he couldn’t navigate the trail
any further and had to decide whether to go back and look around
near Chloe’s car, wait for help or proceed on foot. In the end,
Lex had decided to go on his own, without even a bodyguard. No one
had threatened him for a long time now and he figured a short walk
in the woods was surely safe.
Lex parked the Hummer next to a copse of poplar and took out a
small backpack stocked with water, a first aid kit, flashlights,
an emergency blanket and a flare. He also retrieved a handgun from
under the front seat. Earlier, he’d thought about mounting a
full scale search party but since he’d first thought most of the
storm’s damage had been in the downtown area, he’d decided
Clark and Chloe had probably just taken shelter when the storm
first blew up and were undoubtedly fine. Clark knew how to survive
in storms; they were, as he’d once told Lex, a way of life here.
In fact, it seemed Clark managed to survive almost anything.
Once in a while, Lex had the feeling he had known something
about Clark that would explain his often incredible luck,
knowledge that still lurked in the recesses of his mind, just out
of reach, like a word on the tip of your tongue that refuses to be
uttered. He wondered if it was somehow linked to the bad time when
his father had locked him away in Belle Reve, turning his life
upside down, causing his memories to be altered or lost, some
forever. Many of his memories had gradually returned but if he’d
ever possessed any explanation for some of the things Clark did,
it was inaccessible now.
Lex took off down the foot path at a fairly good clip. The
night sky had been clear and the full moon had made for a fairly
bright night when he left town but here in the heart of the
haunted woods very little light reached the forest floor, even
though the storm hd taken out some of the trees. When he’d been
walking for a few minutes, he began to wonder why, exactly, they’d
started calling them the haunted woods, anyway. The hoot of an owl
added to the eerie feeling and Lex quickly began to doubt his
wisdom in heading off alone; he really thought he’d have found
them by now. He was ready to turn back when he abruptly stumbled
over something; shining the light from his lantern around he saw a
lump in the path and closer examination revealed it to be a large
muddy boot. Perhaps Clark had been here, after all. Lex dropped
the abandoned footwear, determined now to continue on.
He came to a fork in the trail where a smaller path led off in
another direction, and halted, uncertain which way to go. He’d
been trying to look for footprints but the rains had left the
ground largely turned to mud. Here, however, a rock wall ran
beside the trail for a ways and next to it, where the other trail
branched off, were some suspicious depressions that had been
shielded from the heavy rain by the overhang. Suddenly, the owl
hooted close by and Lex trained his flashlight in its direction.
The owl flew off in a panic but he spotted a swatch of plaid
caught on a thorn bush growing out of the stone. Taking it as a
sign, Lex headed off on the side path. A few minutes later he came
to what had once been a thick hedge, now flattened by the storm.
He aimed his light past it and saw a pond with a little beach and
what looked like a blanket near some rocks.
Stepping through, Lex played his lantern around as he walked.
He had indeed seen a blanket, as well as the scattered remains of
a picnic. It had been a fancy meal with real china dishes, now
shattered in the dirt and a casserole dish that had been smashed
on a large flat rock. An actual table cloth and real napkins were
strewn about the clearing, ripped and now muddied and an antique
jar that had once held sun tea lay shattered nearby. Lex
recognized it at once because he’d enjoyed Martha Kent’s
deliciously sweet sun tea from it many times. Now he was really
He shined his lantern around the little beach and out across
the surface of the pond. At the water’s edge, he spotted the
charred remains of an old tree stump, burnt recently, too, because
he could still smell it. Lex wondered if it was the result of a
lightning strike but since the damage seemed confined to the stump
itself, he doubted it. Halfway down the slope, something caught
his eye; a piece of fabric that matched a skirt he’d seen Chloe
wear on many occasions, presumably, one of her favorites. Another
look around the sandy beach revealed something floating at the
water’s edge; carefully, he made his way down to it and speared
it with a long stick. It turned out to be a pair of Daffy Duck
boxer shorts. Whatever Clark and Chloe had been doing, even if it
had been a lovers’ tryst, something else had happened and Lex
was getting a very bad feeling about it.
Deciding it was time to call for reinforcements, Lex whipped
out his cell phone and dialed 911. The message he got was: out of
service. Another attempt failed, as well and on the third try he
got: low battery, even though he’d installed a fresh battery
just before heading to the Talon earlier. He had another battery
in his back pack and he quickly changed it, trying again only to
get: out of area. Lex doubted that local emergency services, which
were, along with Smallville itself, only a few miles away had
moved and were no longer in his service area. The cell tower was
on the road he’d taken tonight; he’d driven by it on his way
out and had even checked in with Enrique before turning into the
woods so he knew it was undamaged by the storm. Lex began to try
other numbers: the mansion, the Talon, even people he knew were
just outside the woods but it was useless; he even tried some long
distance numbers, just for the hell of it but to no avail. He
might as well have been in a black hole because it seemed he could
not reach beyond Burnham Woods, at the moment.
Jamming the cell phone back into his pocket, he decided to push
on. The far edge of the clearing was littered with debris from an
obvious lightning strike which had shattered a huge oak tree. Lex
searched around the trunk and through the bushes nearby, thankful
neither Clark nor Chloe had been there. The entire area looked as
though the storm had been quite bad here and there seemed to be a
definite path of destruction leading away from the pond. He began
calling out for Clark and Chloe again and headed west, along
another narrow path that followed the bottom of a rocky
outcropping. This was the very heart of the woods and many of
oldest and tallest trees could be found here. Well, formerly
tallest because many of them had been broken or toppled by the
storm and Lex now wondered if a twister had hit here, as well. The
more he thought about it, the more certain he was that something
was very wrong beyond the fact that severe weather had hit the
area and Clark and Chloe were in the middle of it. Before he got
very far, he pulled out his gun.
Lex had walked only a few more yards when he found another
shred of flannel cloth hanging on the bark of a tall tree. He
stopped, shining his light up into the tree branches, thinking
perhaps his friends had taken refuge there. Suddenly, something
wet plopped down onto his head, covering his face; startled, he
stumbled over a tree root and fell, sliding downhill backward and
losing both his flashlight and his gun in the process.
Over the years, erosion had taken its toll on the old tree;
some of its large roots had become exposed where the soil had
washed away, forming a covered pit on one side and it was here
that Lex now found himself. Somewhat dazed, he felt around in the
dark; all around him were tree roots and mud. Reaching out through
an opening between two roots, he encountered something…it felt
like wet fur. His nose wrinkled in disgust at the pungent smell.
Pulling his hand back, Lex wrested the wet cloth from his face and
saw, illuminated by the beam of his flashlight, now wedged under
one of the roots, an enormous bear. The bear glared down at Lex,
its fetid breath filling his nostrils. He rolled away from it just
as it bent down and reached under the roots to get at him.
Frantically, he looked around for his gun…and there it was,
right in front of him; the bear was standing on it, one
scimitar-like toenail curled around the trigger.
Inside the cave, Chloe sat in Clark’s lap, straddling him,
her hands exploring the bare expanse of his chest; he groaned
loudly when her fingernail raked over his nipple. He felt the
smooth slide of her hands caressing his stomach then slipping
lower, tentatively stroking the front of his jeans. Clark
unbuttoned the flannel shirt that had covered her legs and tossed
it aside then grabbed her hips, sliding his big hands down over
her ass, now covered only by the thin strap of her thong. Holding
her tightly, he lifted his hips, thrusting up to meet her as she
rocked against his hardness. He nipped at her throat, smiling
against her skin when he felt her racing pulse beneath his lips;
then he moved back, devouring her mouth, his tongue sliding deep
inside, hot and wet against her own. Clark fell back on the hard
cave floor, pulling Chloe down on top of him. For a moment, he
stared up at her, running his hands along her stomach and raking
his fingers beneath the curve of her breasts. He teased her
nipples, already so very stiff then he turned, flipping Chloe over
onto her back and quickly moving on top of her, grinding his cock
against her until she was whimpering and wrapping her legs around
him. They were both panting when he pulled back and reached down
to unfasten his jeans. Before he could, a gunshot rang out.
Clark rose up, staring into the distance then he sat back and
stood. "Crap! I’m sorry! That was a gunshot. Stay here,
Chloe; you’ll be safe and I swear I’ll be back!"
"No! Wait! Don’t-" but he was gone and out of sight
before she could stop him. This time, however, she wasn’t going
to be left behind; hastily, she tied the flannel shirt around her
legs again and grabbed a couple of flaming sticks from the fire,
running after him as fast as her makeshift footwear would allow.
Startled by the gunshot, the bear had retreated, circling wide
around the tree before renewing its attack. Now it was shoving its
long arm into the wide opening between two gnarled roots through
which Lex had fallen. He’d scrambled back as far as he could and
only the bear’s huge girth had kept it from coming in after him.
Clark arrived at the clearing just as the bear made another
grab for Lex; he fired off a tiny burst of heat vision at its
outstretched paw and the bear pulled back, howling in outrage.
Turning, it pounded across the clearing, heading straight for
Clark. He aimed
another blast of heat vision at the muddy ground in front of
the bear, slid in the thick mud and fell into it, face first. The
ground beneath him was instantly superheated and a fountain of hot
mud shot upward into the air like an erupting volcano. The bear
howled and turned tail, heading away at top speed.
Lex stared out into the clearing from beneath the tree, at a
complete loss to explain what had just happened. Just when he’d
been sure the bear was going to get him, it had run off; he’d
heard a sort of giant squelching sound out in the clearing,
followed by a loud bubbling noise, like that of a kettle boiling
over onto a hot stove and then he’d watched as globs of what
appeared to be mud splattered down onto the ground next to the
tree which was still illuminated by his flashlight. When
everything got quiet, Lex tentatively reached out and was
surprised to find the mud was hot.
Some of the mud had been vaporized into dust and hung in the
air of the moonlit clearing. Fog had rolled in from the direction
of the pond, adding to the surreal tableau that greeted Lex as he
cautiously emerged from the tree pit. The mist hung so thickly in
the clearing in front of him that he could easily imagine himself
to be looking out on an ancient Scottish moor. The dust made his
eyes water and his nose itch and clumps of the awful smelling fur
were everywhere; he could barely see. Lex sneezed violently
several times, in rapid succession. He walked around and picked up
his flashlight and gun, both of which were covered with mud. Soon,
his nose began to tickle and another round of sneezing and
coughing overtook him.
Clark rose up on his elbows from the muddy pit in which he
found himself and surveyed the clearing. The first had taken off
and Clark stood, trying to locate the second one. Suddenly the
other bear jumped him from behind, knocking him over through the
bushes at the edge of the clearing. The bear took Clark’s head
into its mouth, attempting to crush his skull. God, the smell!
The smell of moldy leaves and the horrible bear breath were too
much, even for Clark. Eeewww! He pushed the bear away and
then he felt it: a tickle in his nose. He was going to sneeze-
"Ah…ah…ah…" but the urge left him and he slowly
exhaled. Then suddenly the urge was back, just as the bear came at
him again and a sneeze erupted, violent and powerful. The startled
bear flew backward, propelled by Clark’s sneeze, rolling him end
over end across the clearing. Lex watched as the creature flew
past him like a giant furry beach ball. When it finally came to a
halt it lay stunned for a moment then leaping up, it dove into the
underbrush in search of easier prey.
Clark appeared out of the mist in the middle of the clearing,
illuminated by a sliver of moonlight shining down through the
trees. Lex aimed his flashlight at him as he got closer and he
could see that Clark’s hair was wet and plastered to his head
and he was covered with mud, leaves and patches of what looked
like fur. His face was caked with a layer of dried mud and he
smelled incredibly foul. "What happened to you?"
"I fell in a hole-"
Chloe burst into the clearing, holding a flaming branch in each
hand. "Wow," she panted, "I didn’t think we were
that far away!" She dropped them both and ran to Clark,
throwing herself into his arms.
He groaned, "Chloeee...I told you to stay in the
"No way I was staying back there by myself. Anyway, what
if you needed help?"
Clark sighed and hugged her tightly. "What if you’d
"No danger of that! I just followed the noise." Chloe
stared around at the clearing, now illuminated by the fiery
branches she’d dropped. "What happened here? There’s mud
everywhere…even the trees are covered with mud…" She
pointed over to a sizable depression in the middle of the clearing
and asked, "What caused that?"
Lex walked over to the edge of the pit and leaned down to touch
the side. "It’s hard, like mud that’s been baked in the
hot sun. See the cracks? What could possibly have caused that?"
Clark shrugged. "I dunno…but I think that’s what I
fell into when I got here."
Chloe looked up, tenderly brushing Clark’s mud-encrusted
cheek. "Hey, the mud on your cheek is hard as a rock! Why
is-" she stopped when she caught a whiff of something rank,
her thought mercifully interrupted. "What is that
smell?" She started to run her hands through his hair but
stopped when she encountered something gooey. "And what’s
in your hair?" She pulled her hand away, trying to see what
"Um…I think it’s bear slobber…I really need a
"Eeewww!" She shook her hand then wiped it on the
shirt tied around her legs.
Lex looked nervously in the direction of the bears retreat.
"We should really go before they decide to come back. Come
on." Lex looked over at Clark. "What happened back
there, Clark? I thought that bear had me for sure then it just
Clark looked uncomfortable. "Maybe you scared ‘em away
when you started sneezing…"
"Where did the hot mud come from?"
Chloe’s ears perked up at that. "Hot mud?"
"Hot mud rained down all over the clearing. I could see it
steaming in the beam of the flashlight; it was hot to the
"Wow! There have been several documented cases of frogs
and fish falling out of the sky associated with tornadic activity.
The winds lift them high up into the atmosphere then deposit them
miles away from the site of the storm."
"Yeah…but…why would it be hot?"
Chloe bit her lip, deep in thought for a moment. "Maybe…"
Clark interjected, "Lightning strike?" Then, anxious
to change the subject, he asked, "I thought you weren’t due
back from Metropolis ‘til tonight. What brought you back so
"My pilot thought we should try to get in ahead of the
weather front. And the weirdest thing…we were almost home, over
these woods, in fact, when we ran into some kind of turbulence. I
thought it was just the storms blowing in but when we landed, the
side of the helicopter was scorched; the paint was actually
blistered in streaks all up and down one side. Freaky thing. You
see anything odd here earlier?"
"Not really…strange things happened out here long before
the meteor shower. It was the Indians that first called it the
Chloe added, "Apparently, there was another meteor shower
here before the first white people settled the area. Ezra Small
mentioned it in his diaries. I thought he was saying spirits fell
with the meteors and the Indians thought they inhabited the woods
near the caves…"
"Right… Okay, I’m in the hummer out by the main path.
I followed your trail to the pond; what happened? Were you there
when the storm hit?"
"We were picnicking when the bears showed up. We-"
"Clark carried me all the way up into the top of this tree…"
Lex shined his flashlight up into the tree as high as he could.
"That’s a long way up…"
"We took shelter in a cave when the storm got bad. A
tornado went right through here. Was there any damage in
"Actually, there was a touchdown in front of the Talon.
Some damage to the marquee and my Porsche got flipped but no one
was hurt very badly. Lana got everyone into the store room before
it struck and the only actual injury was Lana getting hit by a jar
of maraschino cherries."
"Is she okay?"
"Yeah, except for getting drunk."
"She started eating the cherries and drinking the juice
while we waited out the storm; she’d had quite a bit when I
discovered they’d fermented. I wasn’t sure she knew what she
was saying, at first; she was talking crazy but she insisted I had
to come find you. Pete offered to come along but I thought he
should stay and watch Lana." Lex chuckled. "When I left,
Pete was trying to talk her out of the projection booth upstairs;
I think she’d found another jar of cherries. You know, Pete’s
really good in a crisis." Lex aimed his flashlight under the
tree roots that had trapped him and saw a muddy lump. "What
is that? Something fell onto my face; I fell into this pit and hit
my head. I couldn’t figure out what was happening, at
Clark looked down. "I…think that’s my t-shirt. What’s
left of it, anyway. I took it off when we were up in the
tree." He winced when he realized how that sounded.
"It was all ripped anyway and it caught on a branch when I
came down so I just left it!"
"Well, that clears that up." Lex looked back at Chloe
and saw her smirk. "Something you wanna add, Chloe?"
"Nope. I’d say that about sums it up."
"Uh, thanks for coming to get us, Lex; …um…we’d
better go, just in case the bears do decide to come back."
Lex picked up his pack and dug out a second flashlight, handing
it to Chloe. "Here, you might need this."
"Thanks, Lex." They made their way back to the pond
where Clark stopped to survey the damage.
"I got really worried when I saw your mom’s antique tea
Clark sighed as he picked up one of the pieces. "This has
been in my family for generations. Mom’ll be really
disappointed." He dropped it and glanced around.
Lex picked up a muddy lump of cloth and handed it to her.
"Found this over there; yours?"
She took it from him and held it up in the flashlight’s beam,
trying to shake it
out without much success. "This was my favorite
Clark looked around, disgustedly and sighed. "Come on, let’s
go. He looked at Chloe’s feet and scooped her up.
"Those aren’t the best hiking shoes, Chlo. Better let me
carry you." They walked back to the Humvee, Clark
occasionally pretending he was going to drop her and Chloe
laughing and squealing, pretending to believe him.
Lex could hardly keep from smiling; there was definitely
something going on between them. When they arrived at his car, he
thought to mention the cell phone mystery. "That’s another
thing. My cell wouldn’t work when I got in the woods. It worked
just fine right before I got here."
"Mine fell out when we ran from the bears. I don’t know
why a cell wouldn’t work out here but all kinds of bizarre
things have always happened in these woods, Lex. Maybe the spirits
don’t like cell phones interrupting their peace and quiet."
She shrugged, smiling and climbed in.
Lex gave them a ride to Chloe’s red Beetle, watching as they
drove away and laughing at Clark’s tall frame scrunched into the
little car. He sobered and wondered what had really happened out
in the woods tonight. As he cleared the woods, he tried his cell
phone again. It worked just fine.
Chloe headed toward the Kent farm in silence, stealing furtive
glances at Clark. He really was filthy. She’d probably never get
the seat covers clean. He turned toward her and gave her an
embarrassed smile, as if he could read her thoughts. She slowed
for the turn onto Hickory Lane and eventually came to a halt
behind the dark farmhouse. She looked over at him. Can he read
my thoughts, now? Because I’m thinking he looks really great
even when he’s revoltingly dirty and half naked. Especially when
he’s half naked…
Clark stared back at her for a moment. "Look, I really
need to take a shower."
That sounded like a dismissal. Was Clark going to pretend
they hadn’t gotten all hot and bothered in the cave, despite his
earlier words, expecting her to ignore what had almost happened?
Stung, she mumbled, "Oh." and turned back to the wheel,
staring straight ahead. "Well, right, I’ll just-"
He leaned close, cupping her chin in his hand and turning her
face toward him. "Chloe…no…come in…" then he
"Oh." Chloe stared back at him, wide-eyed. "Come
in." Butterflies were suddenly flitting about in her stomach
as she smiled back. "Sure." She turned the key, the
little car’s engine puttered to a halt and for a moment, the
crickets were the only thing she heard.
As they walked up to the kitchen door, he stopped and turned to
her. "Sorry about, well, everything. I never thought-"
and now, he was so close…those big eyes…mesmerizing… She was
just staring at him. "Chloe…are you with me?"
"What? Oh, yeah, I’m with you…Clark…" She was
still just smiling up at him. All naked would be even better...
The image of Clark emerging from the pond, naked and wet was one
that would be indelibly etched in her mind for all time. He was
just as impressive as she’d imagined. So very beautiful…and
after touching him in the cave…oh…God…
Clark leaned down and kissed her tenderly; bits of dried mud
cracked and fell off as he drew away. He stood back, opening the
door and gesturing for her to enter. "Listen…if you’d
like to take a shower first, I’ll wait…"
She touched his filthy face and smiled. "That’s very gallant
of you but I think we’ve established your need to wash off all
that mud and bear drool. Go right ahead."
"Um…" Clark hesitated, staring down at her.
"Are…we okay? I mean…in the cave…I…we…"
Chloe ran one hand down his muddy chest then looked him in the
eye. Her eyebrow quirked upward as she said, "Yeah…I…when
we were sitting in the car, I thought you’d changed your mind
and you were gonna say it was a mistake-"
"No, Chloe…" Clark gently kissed her again, the tip
of his tongue lingering on hers before he pulled away, "there
was no mistake."
"Then…" she stared up at him, feeling strangely
light headed. "I’ll, um, I’ll just wash my face off and
go see if I’ve got some extra sweats in the car; now go on…and
don’t be a water hog because I really need a shower, too…"
Smiling, he said, "I’ll hurry."
"Sure." She continued to stare at him as he headed up
He called down to her as he rounded the corner at the landing.
"Make yourself at home. You can get a t-shirt from my room,
if you want…"
After a few moments, Chloe headed outside to grab her duffle
bag. Just as she came back in and locked the door behind her, she
heard Clark start the shower. Chloe went down the hall to the half
bath where she stripped off her duct tape slippers before brushing
her teeth and washing her face. Padding back into the kitchen, she
was suddenly nervous; her mouth was dry as dust. She got a glass
of ice water and sat at the kitchen table for a moment, trying to
calm her racing heart. Finally, she turned out the kitchen light
and tiptoed up the stairs, hesitating for a moment when she
reached the landing before going on.
Chloe stopped just outside the bathroom door. The old farmhouse
was filled with squeaky, ill-fitting doors and this one was no
exception. Conveniently, it had fallen open, allowing the steamy
moisture from the shower to waft into the hallway and Chloe peeked
inside. His huge, mud covered boots sat on the far side of the
room, the remains of his jeans piled next to them. Inside the
shower, Clark turned around, eyes closed, his face covered with
soap and brushed up against the curtain, accidentally pushing it
aside at one end and giving her an even better look; she couldn’t
tear her eyes away. Nice assets, Kent… Chloe watched
quietly while he finished lathering, imagining her own hands
running over his slippery skin, her fingers teasing his inner
thigh, touching him, making him hard… A sudden liquid heat
spread between her own thighs, at the thought. Clark tilted his
head backward under the shower nozzle to rinse his dark hair.
Rivulets of soapy water ran over his face and down the front of
his body, further accentuating his muscular physique; without
realizing it, she licked her lips, wondering how it would feel to
run her tongue over his swollen cock…
Clark turned around and spread his hands against the shower
wall, leaning over to allow the spray to hit his shoulders and
back. He lifted his head once more, letting the water hit him full
in the face. As he stood, enjoying the sensation of the hot water
cascading over his body, the memory of touching Chloe in the cave
flooded his mind; her gasp as he’d pulled her down on top of
him, her breathy moans as he held her tight, and the feel of her
hand on the front of his jeans…if they hadn’t been interrupted
by the gunshot- Clark banged his head on the shower wall, groaning
at the image of Chloe open and eager before him, his cock
hardening at the thought of slipping inside her.
"Clark?" Chloe’s voice came from the hallway,
interrupting his thoughts. "Are you using up all the hot
"No, I…" he was quiet for a moment; when he spoke
again his voice was low and seductive. "Join me…before it’s
"Are you propositioning me?"
Clark stood unmoving, his arms outstretched, still leaning
against the shower wall. "Yeah, I am." Out of the corner
of his eye, he saw his flannel shirt drop to the floor. He heard
the rustle of fabric as Chloe pulled her shirt over her head and
flung it onto a nearby chair, her bra quickly following the same
trajectory. The shower curtain moved and Chloe was behind him, her
hands running over his hips then moving slowly upward, exploring
his broad chest.
"Chlo…" then all he could do was moan when her
hands made their way back down over his sculpted abs and bumped
his erection. Suddenly, he moved, turning to face her and pulling
her against him in one quick motion, his hard shaft now pressed
firmly against her stomach. Reaching down, she touched him,
circling his swollen head with her forefinger before leaning over
and repeating the path with her tongue. Clark groaned, thrusting
upward when she took his head into her mouth. Wrapping her hand
around his shaft, she stroked downward until she reached his
balls, cupping and caressing them in the palm of her hand. She
gripped him more tightly then, rubbing his shaft until he was
thrusting into her fist.
"How am I doing, Clark?" she whispered.
Clark groaned again and pulled her hand away. Lifting it to his
mouth, he ran his tongue slowly up the center of her palm until he
reached her fingertips and sucked them into his mouth, one by one.
Leaning down, he kissed her, slipping his tongue deep into her
mouth as he rubbed his cock against her, drops of pre-cum mixing
with the spray of the water on her skin.
Clark pulled back slightly, nipping the underside of her jaw
and whispering, "Why are you still wearing your panties, Chlo?"
Before she could answer, he licked at her ear and down the side
of her neck; she could barely speak. Breathlessly, she answered,
"In my fantasies…I always imagined…mmmmm…you taking
them off…you wanted to, in the cave…"
"Really?" he whispered, arching one brow. Clark
slipped his fingers beneath the scrap of fabric, dipping into her
wetness, making her gasp before easing the thong down over her
hips; it fell in a puddle at her feet and she was bare before him.
Clark watched droplets of water trace the full contours of her
breasts then he lifted her up, repeatedly suctioning one rosy
nipple until Chloe whimpered, pressing her breast into his mouth.
Then he moved to the other one, licking and sucking until it was
stiff as well; she gripped his shoulders, spreading her legs and
wrapping them around his hips. Slowly, he rubbed his length back
and forth along her slippery entrance, spreading her wetness until
she moaned out loud.
When he could wait no longer, Clark cupped her ass and slid
deep inside her, stretching her with his thick shaft until she
cried out. She was wonderfully tight around him. A few sharp
thrusts had her moaning again before he withdrew. Scraping her
neck with his teeth, he plunged inside her again, harder this time
and held her there, impaled on his rigid cock. Then he pulled out
and with maddening slowness, began to tease her, barely entering
her several times, until she arched against him, breathlessly
moaning his name. Clark felt her nails scratching his back, raking
rough and hard across his skin. She nipped at his neck, lifting
her hips and urging him on. Moaning loudly, he pushed in harder,
increasing his pace as the feel of her nails on his neck and chest
spurred him on. Suddenly, it was too much; overwhelmed, he thrust
deep inside her, over and over, harder and faster until she
tightened around him, biting his shoulder when she came. Clark
pushed deep once more and cried out, pinning her against the wall
and filling her with his hot cum.
Clark held her there for a long time, panting and savoring
their connection then slowly, he withdrew, setting her down and
kissing her tenderly. He nuzzled her cheek and softly whispered,
"Chloe…Chloe…I…didn’t hurt you…did I…"
"No…no, Clark…you were fantastic, incredible-"
"Showers will never be the same."
"Amazing," she continued, "let’s do it again…"
"Shower?" he teased.
"No," she poked her finger into his belly button,
"and I didn’t get a shower, I got this-" she smiled,
running her hand over his stomach and down between his legs,
teasing his cock and provoking an instant response. "Ooohhh…"
"Chloe," reluctantly, he pulled her hand away,
"Close your eyes."
"Aw, Clark, I’ve already seen it," she reached for
him again, "and I don’t mind telling you, I think it’s
"Chloe. You said you wanted a shower; now close your
"Do I have to?"
"Yes. Unless you want to get soap in them." Clark
leaned down to her ear and whispered, "Chlo. Just relax; I’ll
do all the work." First, he washed and rinsed her hair,
massaging her head and neck while he was at it then he lathered
his hands and carefully washed her face. "Now rinse."
Chloe put her face under the spray. "Turn around…" his
soapy hands rubbed over her shoulders then down her back; she
smiled when he made a sudden foray over the cheeks of her ass and
commented, "Interesting birthmark," before moving down
her legs to her ankles. "Feet," and she obligingly
lifted first one foot then the other. Clark moved and said,
Standing behind her, he soaped his hands again while he watched
her rinse then put his hands on her hips, guiding her away from
the spray and pulling her back against him, his hard cock gliding
over her slippery skin. Clark looked down as he raised her hands
over her head, admiring the firm swell of her breasts as he ran
his soapy hands over them, rubbing her nipples until they were
stiff. Slowly, his hands caressed her stomach and slipped down
along her inner thighs, moving back up to tease the thatch between
them before pulling away and pushing her into the spray. After a
few moments, he nibbled one earlobe before leaning over her again
and gently sliding his long fingers into her slick opening. She
pushed upward, inviting him deeper.
After a few moments, Clark whispered, "Wait," and
slipped out of her, running his hands back up over her breasts and
teasing one ear with the very tip of his tongue.
He whispered, "Tell you what..." he reached over and
turned off the water, "let’s take this to the
bedroom." Clark picked her up, kissed her thoroughly once
more and carried her off to his room.
When he rounded the doorway of his room, he practically threw
her onto his bed, spreading her thighs and leaning down between
them, his tongue lapping at her slick entrance like a cat with a
bowl of cream. Chloe squirmed beneath him as he licked the hard
button of her clit, groaning in protest when he unexpectedly
pulled back. Clark got to his knees and lifted her legs up over
his shoulders before leaning close again and sliding his tongue
into her wet heat. She could feel his cock rubbing against her
back, smearing his milky wetness on her skin. Chloe threaded her
fingers through his hair, suddenly yanking hard when she came
against his tongue, clenching her thighs tight around his head and
yelling his name.
Clark stared down at her for a moment before easing her legs
down off his shoulders, a smile playing at the corner of his
mouth. "You okay?" She nodded.
"Oh, yeah. Just…wow…double wow…" Chloe lay
panting, unable to move for a moment. Clark moved aside and she
reached out to caress him before he could even lie back. She
leaned in, licking her way up his engorged shaft as though it was
an especially sweet lollipop then sucking until he was thrusting
into her mouth. Abruptly, she pulled her mouth off him with a
smack and turned, rubbing her ass against his erection. "Mmmm…care
to go for a triple wow, Clark?"
"Anything you say, Chloe…" Clark lifted her up as
he rolled over onto his back, Chloe ending up sitting across his
hips, his long legs stretched out before her. She scooted forward
and began rubbing herself along his shaft. Then she leaned over
and sucked the head into her mouth, making Clark buck up off the
bed in his excitement.
"Does this mean you’re ready for me?"
"Ohhh, yeah… I need you right now, Chlo, right
She licked him once more for good measure then sat back,
parting her thighs in anticipation. He positioned himself at her
slippery opening then pulled her down hard onto his cock, moaning
out loud when he was buried deep. Clark was so close, he had to
still himself to keep from coming right away; he held Chloe tight,
stilling her, as well then slowly, he began to move, sliding in
and out in a gentle, steady rhythm. But he quickly abandoned all
effort at holding back, groaning louder with every hard thrust,
sliding his fingers over her clit and in moments she was screaming
out as she road him, her orgasm sweeping over her.
"God, Chlo! God!" Another loud groan and Clark was
coming hard inside her, his hips frantically jerking up off the
bed as he spilled every last drop.
"Oh, yeah, that was a definite triple wow!" She
leaned forward, panting, then reluctantly slipped off him and
moved to lie next to him and Clark pulled her close, nuzzling her
cheek then kissing her softly. She lay still for a long time,
listening to the sound of Clark’s breathing as it slowed,
thinking he’d fallen asleep.
Clark leaned over and kissed her again. "Chloe…" he
whispered, "Chloe…you awake?"
She turned onto her back, looking up into his eyes. "Yeah,
I’m awake. I thought you’d fallen asleep…what?" She
brushed his cheek with her fingers then ran her hand over his
shoulder, wondering if she’d hurt him earlier. "Did I hurt
you when I …I think I bit you…I’m sorry…"
"No…I’m fine…" Clark nuzzled the top of her
head and whispered, "I can’t believe you’re here with me…"
"This…was the last thing I ever expected. I never
thought I’d end up in your bed."
Clark was silent for a moment before confessing, "I’d be
lying if I said I’d never thought about this. I just never had
the wit or the courage to act on it." He waited, wondering
what her reaction would be to that revelation.
Chloe stared up at him, astonished.
Clark leaned down and kissed her again. "I’m serious,
Chloe. I’m sorry everything’s been so…rough between us, at
times and when we got over the really bad patches, I was too
afraid to cross that line again." He held her quietly for a
while then said, "I still dream about the Spring Formal when
we were freshmen."
"Ah, yes," she said, wryly.
"When you came to pick me up, I mean. I dream about that
time a lot; dreamed about it last night. It was so clear; like I
was living it again…you driving up in that old Falcon and
watching you get out of the car…you were so excited…and so
beautiful…" he stopped and looked down into her eyes.
"And I screwed everything up that night."
"Clark…look…it was a crazy time but…it was just that
you never told me what happened or let me know you were
"When I got-found Lana and started searching for Dad I…but
that’s no excuse; I should have come back for you or gotten in
"Three hours, Clark. I searched for you for three hours; I
was terrified I’d find you injured or worse-" Her lip
trembled as the old fear from that terrible night came back. Chloe
buried her face in Clark’s warm chest. "I don’t know what
I would have done if something had happened to you!"
"Chloeee…don’t…it’s all in the past and I’m fine
and…I’m here with you now. Shhh…come on…" Clark
ruffled her hair and kissed her tenderly.
Chloe snuffled, adding, "And what’s got-found? A new
verb?" She looked up at him. "I know you saved Lana from
the storm, somehow. You didn’t just find her. She once
confessed, she’d been in the truck and felt it being lifted off
the ground; later, when I saw there was nothing but the bare frame
left, I don’t think there was any way she could have survived.
But you were there and she did, somehow."
Clark sighed and stared up at the ceiling for a moment then he
stared into Chloe’s eyes, sighing once more. He opened his mouth
then closed it. Finally, he said, "I was lucky. I almost lost
"Is that an admission or a denial?"
"Neither. But I almost lost you, too and I won’t make
that mistake again. Just…come here." Clark snuggled closer,
wrapping his arm around her and pulling the blanket up. Raising up
on one elbow so he could see her face, he traced the shape of her
mouth with one finger. "You won’t let this go, will
Smiling, she said, "No, but I promised I’d wait ‘til
you felt you could explain; I’m just hoping it’ll be before I’m
gray-haired and have grandchildren."
Clark grinned. "I’ll try to make it sooner than that…I’m
just afraid the truth would
freak you out."
"After living in Smallville? I doubt it. I hope you
realize, after all this time, that I can’t just turn off my
curiosity like a light switch but I care about you, no matter
Clark laughed and kissed her. Then he rested his chin on her
shoulder, giving her his most disarming smile. "So…does
this mean I get to call you my girlfriend?"
"Yeah, I guess it does."
Clark pulled her close again, nuzzling her hair. "I think
I’m gonna like this."
The crowing of a rooster awakened Chloe and she quickly covered
her head with a pillow. After a few seconds, her eyes flew open as
the memory of where she was and what had happened came flooding
back. Lifting the pillow up, Chloe saw Clark still sound asleep
next to her, his handsome face relaxed and untroubled. He was
certainly an incredible sight. She leaned over and examined his
shoulder where she was almost certain she’d bitten him earlier,
in her enthusiasm. His skin was absolutely unblemished there or
anywhere else, for that matter. She’d thought there would surely
be some injury revealed come morning; at least a few scratches or
some bruising she’d missed, having been otherwise occupied the
night before. But there was absolutely nothing to indicate Clark
had been attacked by bears, pelted with debris in a tornado and
pounded by falling rocks from the cave-in. Or marked by his
lover, Chloe thought smugly, as she sat back.
In fact, now that she thought about it, you’d expect a
lifetime of farm labor would result in some pretty rough skin but
his hands were uncalloused, his skin velvety soft. Everywhere,
she could now attest. Many of the farmers around Smallville had
skin like leather, darkened in the warmer months from long hours
under the summer sun but Clark’s skin was always the same soft
golden hue; she’d never seen him burn even after being out in
the hot sun all day, come to think of it.
The blankets had fallen aside allowing her an unobstructed view
of Clark as he lay sleeping. Chloe leaned over on one elbow, her
eyes following the tantalizing line of his obliques down to the
dark curls below them. She was quickly becoming obsessed with his
body; well, okay, she’d always watched him, sneaking admiring
glances when he was unaware but now that she could touch him
whenever she wanted…she couldn’t help it.
Clark opened his eyes and smiled. Leaning over, he kissed her
before adding, "Good morning," as he caressed her cheek.
"I’m glad you’re here. I…" Looking over at the
clock, he groaned. "I had something else in mind but it’s
getting late and I gotta go…" He kissed her again,
"the animals…" and again, nibbling her lower lip,
"it’s a farm…" and again, this time brushing her
neck which she arched to give him better access. Her eyes were
closed now and she was moaning as his lips found their way along
her collar bone. His large hands cupped her breasts as he ran his
tongue down between them, moving to taste each hard nipple while
his thumb teased the other. Chloe felt his hard cock slide across
her inner thigh as he moved on top of her. Clark whispered,
"Maybe the animals can wait a little longer," as he
spread her thighs and slid between them.
Milking took awhile and he had to take some extra time to tend
the sheep his father had recently acquired. A ewe and two lambs
were now residents of the Kent farm, given in trade for some work
his father had done for a neighbor. Clark hated sheep, owing to an
incident when he had first learned to fly but he had to admit, the
lambs were pretty cute. He smiled as he watched them gamboling
about in a small area out behind the barn. As a result, he’d
have to hurry through mucking out the horse stalls before Chloe
woke up. He glanced back at the house and saw that Chloe was still
in bed. A little superspeed and he’d be finished in no time.
Normally, the horses were kept in the newer part of the barn,
built against one of the low side walls by Clark and his dad one
year when they’d boarded some horses for an old friend of his
mom’s. An encounter between Clark and a meteor freak who’d
tried to use the combine as a weapon had severely damaged some of
the stalls, however and until Clark repaired them, the stalls in
the older part of the barn were once again in use.
Clark moved some bails of hay, stacking them for use near the
entrance between the barn and the addition. Then he moved some
miscellaneous items back into the tack room where they belonged,
made note of the fact that he needed to make a run to the feed
store later and began to move the horses from the barn into the
back pasture so he could begin mucking out the stalls.
Chloe yawned again, stretching as she sat on the side of the
bed; she hadn’t gotten much sleep last night. Smiling at the
memory, she went over to the open window and leaned out, looking
blearily across the barnyard where she could see Clark leading
some horses out to pasture. It was a beautiful morning and there
was little evidence that a tornado had swept through the area, at
least on the Kent farm itself. That was Kansas for you, especially
Smallville. Things seemed to change in a heartbeat here, for
better or for ill. Well, this time things had certainly taken a
surprising turn and in a very interesting direction. Chloe threw
herself onto the bed hitting the clock radio in passing as she
hung over the edge, looking down inside her open bag for a spare
pair of shoes. Might as well head out to the barn and see what
Clark is up to. Instead of music, a news report mentioned a
couple of bears had escaped from the Metropolis zoo earlier in the
week when high winds had damaged their enclosure; last seen in the
Grandville area, they were still being sought. Aha! Wait ‘til
Clark hears that!
Clark turned the last of the horses out to pasture and returned
to the barn. Before he began, he glanced back toward the house. A
quick x-ray revealed Chloe was still sprawled on the bed. Perfect.
He picked up his tools and headed to the newer stalls first,
making quick work of what would be a rather arduous task for
anyone else. Clark finished cleaning and spread fresh straw around
before moving back to the older part of the barn.
Standing next to the barn door, Chloe peeked inside. It was
somewhat dim compared to the bright light of midmorning and rays
of sunshine shone in through cracks between the aging boards. She
spotted Clark, standing with his back to her, holding a shovel in
his hands. The sight of him in that tight white t-shirt still made
her almost giddy; he had the most amazing arms; correction: he had
the most amazing everything. She smirked at the remarks she’d
often heard other women make, complaining about their boyfriends
various shortcomings; that they were under-endowed or lacking in
stamina or simply in imagination…well, she’d never be able to
contribute anything to those conversations. Well-endowed
would be an understatement; as for stamina…the memory of bracing
herself against the headboard of Clark’s bed while he mounted
her not once but three times in a row before she had finally
fallen asleep, pleased but exhausted, with the evidence that he
could have easily continued, hard against her thigh, was still
fresh in her mind. As far as imagination…well, perhaps his world
travels had given him a broader education that she’d realized.
Or maybe…that wild summer in Metropolis had been an eye
opener for one innocent farmboy. Considering how he’d looked
when she’d discovered him at the nightclub…his hair long and
tousled, clothes clinging to his well muscled body as he moved
with a new confidence and grace that belied his years; he’d
absolutely radiated sex and power. Later, when he’d returned to
Smallville, having reassumed the mild mannered mantle of Clark
Kent, some vestige of the man he’d been in Metropolis had still
remained. Looking back, she could easily imagine Clark indulging
his sexuality along with his newfound freedom during that strange
summer; surely, he had. She felt a pang of regret that it hadn’t
been with her…but she had him now and that was what mattered…
She shook her head, breaking out of her reverie, smiling again
at the sight before her. Suddenly, right before her eyes, Clark
became a blur and disappeared. Her mouth hung open in astonishment
while she watched, as the horse stalls were shoveled out, one
after the other. Occasionally, Clark would slow enough that she
could see his form then he’d blur as he sped up again and she
couldn’t see him at all. Chloe clapped a hand over her mouth to
keep from gasping out loud and stepped back around the doorway
before peering in again. The invisible being was still at work and
in only a few moments, the stalls were clean and he appeared
again, smiling, a look of satisfaction on his face as he rested
both hands on the handle of the shovel in front of him. Suddenly,
he looked up, his smile disappearing when he saw her. His eyes
widened with apprehension.
"Chloe…I thought you were still asleep…"
"I…I was just coming out to watch you work…so…are
you all done?" She smiled nonchalantly and Clark relaxed.
"Uh, yeah, all done here. Want something to eat?"
"Yeah! What’s on the menu?"
"Mmm…how ‘bout…pancakes! Strawberry roll-ups!
Strawberries right from the garden and fresh whipped cream! How’s
"Absolutely wonderful. Come on, I’ll race you!" She
took off running but stopped abruptly when Clark didn’t follow.
Looking back, she saw he was standing still, arms crossed and
grinning broadly. Laughing, she yelled, "What’s with you,
"I was just enjoying the view." He ran to catch up
and easily lifted her off the ground, whirling her around in a
circle ‘til she was giggling. Then he pulled her close and she
wrapped her legs around him as he kissed her. Judging by what she
felt pressed against her, breakfast would be delayed.
After a very late breakfast and yet another delay, Chloe had
gone home to pick up some clothes and, most importantly, another
package of pills; she could ill afford to miss one now. She
smiled, remembering what had made her so late in leaving the Kent
farm, wondering if she’d ever be able to eat at the old
farmhouse table again with a straight face. But those weren’t
the only thoughts swirling through her mind; what she’d
witnessed in the barn kept intruding into her more erotic
thoughts. Wow. Clark was able to move faster than the eye
could see… Well, it actually made sense of a lot of things that
had happened over the years. His perennial ability to come out of
nowhere and save the day had always puzzled her; now she
understood. Clark appeared when he slowed to the relative snail’s
pace of normal human beings; she wondered if it was tedious for
him when he had to match the rest of us. Chloe couldn’t help
smirking as she thought there were, thankfully, some things he
seemed to enjoy doing at normal speed.
Had she not seen him moving things around in the barn while he
worked she would have suspected he could teleport like Alicia. All
those times he’d missed the school bus…and she’d always
wondered how Clark had gotten to her in time to save her from any
number of crazies, like Coach Walt or Justin Gaines or that
bastard, Deputy Watts, who’d buried her alive and now she knew.
Clark might well be the fastest man on the planet.
Chloe had always guessed he possessed unusual strength; things
like somehow pulling her coffin from the earth by himself or
breaking through six inches of ice with his bare fist had clued
her in but it had become something she’d accepted as part of
Clark and never thought much of it after awhile. But for some
reason, Clark was one of the few people whose apparent brush with
the meteor rocks hadn’t left him psychotic and homicidal. He was
still sweet and caring, determined to help whenever he could and
unlike Eric Summers, who’d relished the limelight, Clark was
reticent and unassuming, wanting no recognition at all for his
numerous good deeds. Despite his denials, it had to have something
to do with the meteors, she just didn’t know what.
Chloe had decided to take a shortcut back to the farm by
following an old cow path that wound its way past the old
Luthorcorp site and the entrance to the original Kawatche caves.
From there, the dirt road cut across a remote corner of the Luthor
property and then ran on toward Burnham Woods where it joined the
road that ran past the cell tower near the forest entrance. Had it
really been only yesterday she’d come here with Clark? It seemed
like a lifetime ago.
As she approached the trail that led into the forest, she
slowed, looking at a huge oak tree that had been uprooted by the
storm. The damage caused by the tornado had been pretty bad on
this side of town, especially along the county highway after it
had cut its swath through the Haunted Woods. The main path they’d
taken into the woods had been widened by the storm’s passage;
with most of the fallen limbs and downed trees tossed off to one
side, Lex had been able to drive his huge vehicle far into the
woods. Thoughts of her lost billfold and cell phone prompted her
to turn in; she thought she could probably drive almost to the
trail that branched off toward the pond and from there it was not
really that far to the beach. It wouldn’t take that long to see
if she could recover anything else.
She wasn’t able to get as far as Lex had in his Humvee but
she got pretty close and made it to the pond in good time. In the
daylight, the amount of damage from the twister was much more
obvious, especially here; the hedge near the beach was mostly
flattened and a lot of the huge, old growth trees here in the
center of the woods were no longer standing. It was lucky Clark
had known there was a cave nearby. Chloe smiled as she remembered
Clark carrying her to the cave; now she realized why it had taken
her so much longer to run back to the clearing. Chloe got
goosebumps thinking he had carried her to shelter using his
She walked down the sandy slope to search the beach and located
a few of the missing items from her bag, including her wallet and
a couple of CD’s; unfortunately, her cell phone was still
missing and probably ruined, anyway, even if she could find it.
Beside the flat rock where they’d eaten, lay the remains of the
casserole dish and Martha Kent’s antique tea crock…which had
been gathered into a neat pile. Chloe bent down to pick up one of
the pieces and spotted some large footprints that appeared to be
fresh. Thinking Clark had come back to look at the cave glyphs,
she headed off to find him.
An odd noise caught her attention as she got closer. She walked
quietly up to the cave’s entrance and peered in. Clark was
staring into the crack at the rear of the cave, oblivious to her
presence. The air was heavy with dust and piles of debris lay at
his feet. What on Earth has he been doing? The answer came
abruptly as he reached deep into the crack and pried the sides
apart with his bare hands as though he was opening a curtain. The
sound of rock grating on rock echoed through the cave as rocks and
dust poured down and out onto the floor. The earth shook and the
crevice widened, spreading up into the ceiling above his head and
out across the cave floor, behind him. He stopped, withdrawing his
arms and stood motionless for a few seconds, staring once more
into the widened crack. Chloe’s mouth hung open in shock.
Chloe backed away from the cave mouth, for a moment, stunned by
what she’d seen. Peeking inside once more, she hesitated then
slowly crept inside. Small rocks trickled down from the ceiling,
masking the sound of her footsteps as she inched her way into the
cave. She made her way over to a row of stalagmites nearer the
back wall and crouched down behind them.
The crevice was now big enough that Clark could squeeze his
body into it; stepping inside, he raised his arms and pushed,
spreading the sides of the crack much wider. Another cascade of
rock tumbled down around him and the overhead fissure widened and
spread; the ceiling sagged ominously. Clark wiped his hands on his
jeans and pulled out a small shiny object from one pocket. Chloe
could now see another wall beyond the short tunnel he’d just
opened and as she watched, Clark held the disc up against it. The
wall around it began to glow and Chloe edged forward from her
hiding place to get a better look. A bright light enveloped Clark,
he said something in a language that was definitely not English
and another voice from somewhere in the cave replied. She could
see more clearly now that some of the dust had settled and what
looked like a shiny triangular doorway had opened up in the far
wall. Clark stepped through it and disappeared.
What exactly had just happened and where did that doorway
lead? A low rumble outside caused her to turn; she watched,
horrified to see dirt and rocks pouring down from the hillside
over the cave mouth. A huge slab of rock came loose and crashed to
the ground, blocking the entrance. Above her, the crack widened
and pebbles and dirt began to rain down around her. Chloe sought
shelter under a low rock ledge, coughing in the thick dust; it was
all she could do to choke out, "Clark!"
Clark shot out into the cave to see Chloe crouching beneath the
ledge; in a heartbeat, he raced to her, scooping her up in his
arms, carrying her into the passageway and through the portal just
as the entire ceiling gave way. He called out over his shoulder
and the little disk sailed through behind him just as the door
The doorway was actually transparent and Chloe watched as tons
of rock and dirt rapidly covered it until she could see nothing
more of the cave outside. She looked into Clark’s eyes then laid
her head on his shoulder and hugged him. "Thanks."
"Are you okay?" She nodded, her head still nestled
against him. He looked her over, checking for injuries but saw
nothing major. Sighing, he turned and walked down a hallway.
"Clark…where are we? What is this place? Where are you
taking me?" She pointed at the disc which was still hovering
in the air behind them, following along like an obedient dog.
"And what’s that?" Clark carried her through another
triangular doorway into a small room and placed her on a soft bed
set into one wall. He kissed her forehead, gently caressing her
cheek as he drew away. Holding out his hand, Clark spoke again and
the disc fell into his palm. After slipping it into his pocket, he
sat on the edge of the bed, sighing again as he leaned forward and
put his head in his hands. "I’m sorry, Chloe."
She laid a hand on his arm. "For what?"
"For…not having the courage to admit the truth before we…I
should have told you… It’s just that…knowing is so
dangerous; I always thought I should keep it to myself to spare
whomever I could."
"Clark-ow!" She put her hand to her head. "Ow! I
have a bump." Clark leaned over and felt for himself. "Ow!
Yes, that’s it! Ow, ow, ow!"
Clark stared intently at her head for a moment. "Yeah, you
do. But no fractures."
"What are you, a human x-ray machine?" she asked,
wincing and putting her hand to her head. Clark got a rather
55-63pained look on his face and looked away.
"I’ll go see if I can find something for that. Why don’t
you just lie back and rest for a little while." Gently, he
caressed her cheek. "Do you trust me, Chloe? You’re safe
here, I promise. Will you wait here for me?" She nodded and
he rose but Chloe grasped his hand before he could get away.
"Clark, what is this place? Can you at least tell me that?
And who were you talking to, before?"
"That’s what I’m going to find out. Wait for me…and
remember that I meant it when I said I loved you." Turning
away, he said something in the other language and the walls began
to sparkle. "Stay put. I’ll try to be quick." He spoke
again, quickly stepping through the doorway and it closed behind
him, leaving no trace that it had ever existed.
Chloe yelled out, "Hey!" The doorway became
transparent, though there was no seam visible; she ran to it and
she could see Clark walking away down the hallway outside. When
she touched it, her fingers tingled mildly but it felt as smooth
as it looked. She huffed and stomped back to the bed, throwing
herself onto it and stared up at the ceiling. "Okay, waiting
here. Where does he think I could go?"
After a few minutes, Chloe got up and paced around the room,
running her hands along the wall. A few feet away from the bed she
felt a cluster of small bumps along one wall; when she touched
them, they became visible…damned if they didn’t resemble
the cave glyphs… and a doorway opened up revealing a smaller
room with what looked like bathroom fixtures. Sort of. She reached
into the room with one arm and it was instantly illuminated;
withdrawing her arm caused it to grow dark once more. Close to the
door was a basin; reaching over to a certain spot above it caused
water to pour into it. For a time, she amused herself by
activating the lights and making the water turn on but she was
afraid to enter and examine anything else, fearing the wall would
close and she’d be trapped inside.
In about fifteen minutes, a small man or boy, she wasn’t sure
which, appeared outside the doorway. He was a bit over four feet
tall and his features were smooth, almost childlike in quality and
he had rather large eyes and long dark hair. He reminded her
vaguely of Clark although she wasn’t quite sure why. The door
opened and he stepped inside, carrying a tray. She sat up and
waited nervously, as he approached the bed and began to speak in
the strange tongue she’d heard before. It was unlike any
language she’d ever heard and she’d heard plenty in
Metropolis. Chloe had a friend whose mother was originally from
Czechoslovakia and whose father was Chinese and she spoke both
Czech and Mandarin flawlessly. She imagined someone trying to
speak them both at once, mixing vocabulary and syntax at will,
would sound a lot like this. "I’m sorry…I don’t
"I am sorry," he began again in English, speaking
with a very proper British accent. "Greetings, Chloe
Sullivan. I am the avatar of Kelex, servant of the house of El.
Lord Kal El has asked me to bring you ice water and an ice pack
for your head." He held out a tray and Chloe took a container
from it, eyeing it dubiously. "I assure you it is only water
and will not harm you."
What the hell…Clark said I’d be safe. She took a sip
and found it was quite refreshing. Mmm…just as good as Tynant.
"Is it to your satisfaction? Do you wish anything else?
Lord Kal El said you would no doubt have questions."
"Yes, the water’s fine. So…who is this ‘Lord Kal El’
and where is Clark? He said he’d be back soon." She eyed
the little fellow curiously. "Avatar?"
"Who are you? Where are you from and why do you live in a
"I am an avatar, a construct made in the image of the
faithful servant Kelex who once served the great House of El
hundreds of years ago; I do not live here because technically, I
am not alive." Chloe Sullivan was rarely at a loss for words
but at the moment, she could only stare. The little man stared
back, patiently awaiting another question. Finally, he got a
faraway look in his eyes and asked, "Is there anything
"Oh, yeah. What’s this ‘House of El,’ you
"The greatest of all the houses of Krypton. The
illustrious Family of El has a history ten thousand years old and
more, from the first who was marked by God and freed the people
from a great tyranny to the last who lives among you."
"Lives among…what do mean, ‘lives among you?’ Us?
He was quiet for a moment then said, "I must go; Lord Kal
El requests my presence. Please wait here." He turned to
"Hey, could ya leave the door open? It’s kinda stuffy in
here." She smiled hopefully.
Kelex frowned. "Stuffy? The air is continuously refreshed
and should be well within-"
"I’d just like it open, okay? I’m claustrophobic. Do
Tilting his head at her, he said, "Claustrophobic? You
fear being enclosed? Lord Kal El commanded me to make you
comfortable but he didn’t really say to leave the portal open…"
"Well, if he didn’t really say one way or the other then
it’s okay, right? If he said to make me comfortable, that’s
what I need. I mean, we wouldn’t want to disobey Lord Kal-El,
would we? Why don’t you just go ask him and I’ll wait right
here. Come back soon and tell Clark to hurry if you see him,
After a moment’s pause, he nodded. "Very well; but you
must remain here until I return." He turned, eyeing her
suspiciously as he passed through the door but he continued on and
she sat back casually on the bed, waving a cheerful goodbye as he
walked away. She took another sip of water and held the ice pack
to her head, watching as the little man disappeared from view.
Chloe counted to twenty then tiptoed to the doorway and
listened for any sounds at all. She heard nothing and stepped out
into the hall, quietly making her way back in the direction Clark
had gone. Rabbit hole, rabbit hole; I’ve fallen down the
rabbit hole, here. Clark, Clark, Clark, where are you? We gotta
get out of here.
A few yards down the passageway, she thought she heard
something and shrank back around a corner. Kelex walked by,
heading back in the direction of her room. As soon as she though
it was safe, she took off, faster now. She ducked down a side
corridor when she thought she heard the little man’s footsteps
again, this time running down the hallway. He ran past and
disappeared around a bend in what was apparently, the main
corridor of whatever this place was. She went farther along the
side corridor into which she’d turned and came to another door.
Frantically, she felt along the side for the control symbols and
after several tries, the door opened up and she cautiously crept
The room grew light as she entered stood in the doorway and
leaned in. Still fearful of being trapped, Chloe took only a
couple of steps into the room but when she thought she heard
footsteps outside she jumped back and the door slammed shut.
"Rats!" she muttered. Moving away from the door, she
surveyed the room; it appeared more like a large storage closet
than a room as there were a number of containers and boxes stacked
up in rows. Resting up against the innermost wall, were several
tall metallic objects, the front surfaces of which were smooth but
irregular; instead of being cold as she’d expected, they were
warm to the touch and she felt the tiniest of vibrations beneath
her hand. For some reason, they reminded her of coffins. She
pulled away, uneasy and nearly lost her balance. Her finger tips
slid over another set of the control symbols as she steadied
herself against the side of one crate and the front of it
instantly became clear.
Leaning closer, she saw what was stored inside and backed away.
It was large and silver with a humanoid body and face except for a
single visor covering the area where eyes would normally be and
suddenly she was getting a very bad feeling about all this. A loud
hum was now coming from the container and the interior seemed
brighter; suddenly, a deep red glow spread across the visor. Uh-oh…
Images of Cylon robots from the early and oh so cheesy Battlestar
Galactica series flashed through her mind and Chloe was beginning
to think maybe it hadn’t been such a good idea to leave the
relative safety of her room, after all. She made a dash for the
door, frantically running her hands over the controls but nothing
happened. Chloe spun around to see the front of the container
disappear completely and the thing inside lumbered to life. She
ducked down behind some plastic barrels next to the door as it
rose up out of the crate and stood, turning its head from side to
side as if it knew she was here. Suddenly, a scene from The Day
the Earth Stood Still appeared in Chloe’s mind: Gort’s
inexorable advance as the robot cornered Patricia Neal against a
wall, its visor sliding back to reveal a terrible beam glowing
brighter as it prepared to disintegrate her, in living black and
white. Klaatu, barada nicto? Oh shit! In one corner, she
spotted a large pile of metallic cubes, piled high and Chloe
crawled behind them, sinking quietly to the floor and tried to
make herself very, very small.
Clark’s head turned at the sound of running footsteps. He had
a mild headache
from the intense download he’d just received, the second in a
very short time. The cave’s keeper, little Kelex, came racing
up, stopping abruptly and bowing to his master, returned after so
very long. "My Lord Kal El! Chloe Sullivan is gone from her
room! I can’t find her!"
"What? How’d she get out? And stop calling me that! I’m
no lord of anything."
"She…she…said she was claustrophobic and asked me to
leave the portal open."
Groaning, he said, "She said…you left the door
"But my Lord Kal El, she promised to stay inside! She told
me to come ask for your permission but she left before I
"Kelex…never mind. She’s probably exploring and I
doubt she can get into too much trouble if we find her right
away." Running his hand through his still dusty hair, he
asked, "What’s the worst that can happen?"
A light flashed on the console in front of him and Kelex said,
his voice filled with alarm, "One of the intruder defense
robots has been activated."
Clark closed his eyes for a few seconds, rubbing his forehead
as the jumble of information and images began to make sense. He
looked back at the board and asked, "Which one is it, Kel?"
"Oh, it’s the big one, My Lord! The Eradicator model;
charged with protecting Kryptonian life and eliminating any threat
to us here. I’ve never had to call it up; they’re difficult to
"Where? Quick! Where is it?"
"It’s kept in the forward armory!"
Clark ran from the room, Kelex following as quickly as he
could. One second later, Clark burst through the door of the
forward armory. He shouted at the robot just as it fired its
laser, launching himself into the air to put himself to between
Chloe, who was now huddled in the very corner of the room and her
attacker. Behind him, Chloe covered her head, whimpering in fear.
The blast slammed Clark into the wall next to her. Before he even
hit the floor, he twisted and landed on his feet, returning fire
with a blast of heat vision as he advanced toward the robot. Chloe
peeked out from under her arm to see Clark’s eyes glowing
faintly as he glared at the thing; its head was melting into slag
as it slumped to the ground, the smell of burnt metal and plastic
filling the air.
Chloe sobbed out, "Clark!" and stood, wobbling
slightly before she threw herself into his arms; she was trembling
as her fingers traced the hole in his shirt where the laser had
struck and the unmarred skin beneath. "Are you alright? What
happened? What was that thing?"
He whispered, "It’s okay, Chloe…" nuzzling his
face into her hair. "As long as you’re okay, that’s all
that matters." She looked up at him with tears in her eyes.
"Okay…it’s time, Chloe."
Behind him, Kelex cleared his throat. "My-"
"Kel, what did I say?"
"But…surely My Lord Kal El…would…"
"Want you to listen to him." Sighing, Clark turned to
his apparent servant. "Kelex,
I’m going to take Chloe back to her room and I don’t want
to be disturbed. I’ll let you know if I need you and…and,"
he waved his hand dismissively at the robot, "why don’t you
clean up this mess. Make sure that thing is completely out of
commission; destroy what’s left. Come on, Chloe. We really need
to talk." Clark picked her up and carried her away.
She smiled, hugging Clark’s neck as he walked down the hall,
his big boots echoing down the corridor. "I could get used to
"Used to what?"
"Being carried everywhere by a big strong guy like
you." Clark looked away, his cheeks reddening. "Oh,
good; I can still make you blush."
As they approached the doorway of her former room, Clark spoke
once more in that strange language then he said, "Open,"
and the door slid aside.
"What’d you say?" she asked, as he placed her on
the bed, once more.
He stood in front of her, shuffling his feet, seemingly unable
to meet her eye. "I told the cave to speak English and to
respond to you." Clark rubbed his hands together, nervously.
"Figured maybe…you’ll be less likely to go running off
and getting into trouble if I made you a part of this. I didn’t
mean to make you feel like a prisoner, Chlo, I just thought you’d
be safer in here." He raised one eyebrow, "Obviously, I
"What am I a part of, exactly? And who is this ‘Lord Kal
El’ that little guy keeps talking about? Is he like the big high
mucky muck in charge here? "Cause I gotta tell ya, that
little fellow seems to worship the ground he walks on. He started
telling me about the Great House of El and how they’re marked by
God and…by the way, how is it you get Kelex to listen to you,
anyway? He tried to tell me he wasn’t alive…how nuts is that;
he’s obviously delusional… That’s when I decided I should
find you and get the hell out. You were gone a long time… And
what was that language he was speaking and why does that little
man live here and what is this place and what was that thing that
attacked me and how did you stop it and were your eyes glowing
He raised his hands to stem the tide of questions. "Chloe…the
language is Kryptonian."
"Where’s it spoken? I’ve never heard of it."
"No one has, as far as I know. Well, Dr. Swann heard it;
he received it in a message from…from…outer space although it
was encoded, at the time. It’s an alien language, Chloe."
Clark sat down beside her, pausing to gather his thoughts.
"This is, well, was, an outpost; it’s been here for
hundreds of years. People came here to study…the culture, Earth
"Earth culture?" Chloe stared into the distance, her
eyes unfocused and for a moment, Clark thought she’d lost it.
Then she exclaimed, "Oh, my God! Willowbrook was right! There
were aliens here and this was their outpost and you found it! They
really were watching us. Okay, okay, I still have a lot of
questions about these abilities of yours; I mean, come on, Clark,
the meteors must have affected you…but this, this is huge,
Clark! Huge!" Clark held up his hand and tried to speak but
Chloe wouldn’t let him. "Did you know there was another
cave all along? Come on, give, Clark! I’ll keep the secret,
cross my heart. Who were they? Where did they come from? How did
you learn to talk to the cave’s…computer?" She was
practically bouncing with excitement; smiling, Clark put his hands
on her shoulders to calm her.
"Chloe…it’s an AI, actually and I…it downloaded the
information into my mind years ago at the first site but I didn’t
know about this set of rooms. Apparently, this site predates the
first and it contains different files. I got another download just
"Can I do that?"
"No! Don’t ever try that! It’s too dangerous! Walden
used the disc and got a direct download; it nearly killed him. My
dad talked to the AI after I ran away and it weakened his heart;
that’s why he had to have surgery."
"Then how did you survive it? Why weren’t you injured
like Walden or your dad?"
"I…because…" he sighed and got up, nervously
running a hand through his hair. "The first time it happened,
it was really intense; kind of information overload, there was so
much and I wasn’t expecting it. Lex found me unconscious on the
cave floor but I woke up right away…"
"Clark…was it because…the meteors gave you some kind
of psychic power and it allowed you to communicate with the AI? Is
that how you know when people are in trouble? Wow…" She
caressed his cheek and repeated, "Wow…"
"No…I survived because…" he stopped, looking down
at her; reaching out, gently placing his fingertips on her lips,
he whispered, "it was meant for me. I’m…one of them,
Chloe. I’m an alien." His eyes were wide and scared.
"The cave held the knowledge then it sort of…called to me
until I came with the key. It gives me more from time to time; my
parents, well, my biological parents, sent programs with my ship
that prompt the cave when the time comes to tell me things but the
key was lost until freshman year so the ship never did anything.
Nixon discovered my secret and stole the key from Lex. He snuck in
during the tornado and activated it and the ship took off. Maybe
it was searching for me, I don’t know. But the key fell out and
the ship went down in a field where Pete found it the following
fall when he rescued that guy whose truck crashed and that’s how
he found out; he was pretty upset but he got over it. Then when I
found the key again I started having dreams about going to the
caves and I started sleep…walking. Lex found me out in the
middle of Route 8 one morning; he nearly hit me again. Finally, I
went there one night and put the key in the slot and got fourteen
years worth of updates in about thirty seconds; it took me years
to comprehend what it had told me. Then-Chloe? Are you alright? I
mean…I know this is a lot to take all at once…"
"You’re serious? You’re saying you’re an alien and
not the kind who has a green card?" He nodded and she
mumbled, "Wow…just…wow…Clark math finally adds up…"
she touched his face where one lone tear was making its way down
"Oh, Clark…I promise, I’ll never tell a soul."
Searching his beautiful green eyes, she added, "Please don’t
be angry with me…I wasn’t following you; I stopped by the pond
to look for my cell and billfold. I didn’t come with the
intention to spy on you."
"I’m not angry…just…sorry. I didn’t want you to
know the truth about me but now that you do…"
"And what was that about a ship?"
"My…my…spaceship. We kept it in the storm
cellar." Forlornly, he added, "I blew it up."
"Why’d you…aaahhh…that’s what happened to the
"Yeah. I’m sorry…I should have told you before we…were
intimate. I just thought I could finally make things right and I
was falling for you again and I wanted you so much…" he
stood and walked away, nervously running his hand through his
hair. "Kind of a shock to find out the guy you’re sleeping
with isn’t human, huh?"
"Clark?" He turned and she placed one hand on his
chest. "So you’re really strong and you can do chores in a
heartbeat because you’re an alien? The meteors have nothing to
do with it?"
"I…yeah…well, that’s not completely true…the
meteors…wait-what about my chores?"
"I saw you in the barn this morning cleaning out the
stalls. It was amazing!"
"You…saw me? You didn’t say a word and you let me, I
mean, you…you acted like nothing had happened."
"Well, I’ve always known you were different and I
figured it was just something else you’d explain when you were
ready. But…are there others here like you?"
"Well, that’s the thing…my planet was destroyed. Some
Kryptonians came to believe they were so superior to other races
and cultures that eventually they cut themselves off from most of
the galactic culture. They stopped venturing out into the galaxy
and Kelex was left to maintain this outpost. Eventually, their
arrogance caused their destruction. It’s complicated."
"Tell me later. And this Lord Kal El…is that the AI that
oversees all this?"
His voice fell to a whisper, "No…that’s…me. Kal El,
son of JorEl…the last son of Krypton. My parents were scientists
but apparently we were related to the ruling family somehow. I
think, from what I just gleaned that my mother’s family was
directly descended from the ruling clan; my father was a member of
the high council but more distantly related. No matter. My people…are
all gone; as far as I know, I’m the last. Kinda funny, huh?
Dorky farmer from Smallville, Kansas turns out to be alien
nobility. Lord of nothing, now." Clark hung his head, quiet
and distant. "No fairy tale ending there, I’m afraid."
Chloe was quiet for a moment, her heart aching for him.
"Your entire planet…everyone?" When he nodded, she
slipped her arms around him and held him close. "Oh, Clark…
I’m so sorry…what a terrible burden…"
"I think the meteors are what’s left of Krypton. I get
sick when I’m around them, the green ones, anyway. The red ones
just make me crazy. I don’t really understand it, Chlo but the
red rocks take away all my inhibitions. Not a pretty picture. You
took an enormous risk when you confronted me in Metropolis. I
could so easily have hurt you; I could have killed you-"
"But you didn’t, even then. You scared me and you
freaked us all out but you came back to us."
"I know this must be overwhelming, Chlo; I should take you
home. I’ll leave you alone, if that’s what you want. I always
wanted to tell you but when someone finds out, it usually doesn’t
go well. I never meant to…to…if you...this is probably really
creeping you out I know you probably wanted a boyfriend who was
human and I completely understand if you don’t ever want me to
touch you again."
"So…leave it to Chloe Sullivan to fall for a guy from
another planet." She frowned and poked her finger at his
chest. "Clark Kent, you are more human than a lot of people I’ve
met. I love you and I’m not going anywhere."
"Well, Chloe, I only thought-"
"Kal El of Krypton," she kissed him, "you need
to think again." She took his arm and said, "Now…I’d
like the five dollar tour, for starters. Then we can discuss our
plans at length and whether we’ll go back to your farm tonight
or stay here in your secret lair."
Laughing, he said, "My secret lair? This is my secret
She bounced over to the door, looking down the hallway outside.
"Cool, huh? My boyfriend has a secret lair. Yeah…I think I
wanna stay here, tonight." Clark wrapped his arms around her,
kissing the top of her head.
"You’re really not freaked out? I never thought…I
could just tell someone and they’d be okay with it, just like
"No, not really. It’s a lot to take in but…this is
Smallville, after all. Actually, it seems rather fitting that
aliens would come here, don’t you think? There’s always been
weird here, long before the meteors." She turned to face him.
"And anyway…are you saying you always blurt out you’re an
alien before you have sex with someone? I can’t believe the
inquisitor didn’t spread that all over the front page.
‘Rash of women claim alien encounters in the summer of ’03…"
Clark backed up and sat down on the edge of the bed, blushing
"Oh, come on, Clark. I’m not blind. Or…oh…you didn’t
bother because you were under the influence."
"Clark, it’s alright. I have to admit, if you’d come
on to me, I’d have had a hard time saying no."
"Chloeeee…what exactly do you think I was doing that
She walked over to the bed and sat in his lap.
"Experimenting." She pushed him back on the bed.
"On your own and looking really…really hot."
"I won’t deny I thought about it; a lot. But I decided I
didn’t want the entanglement. I became involved in other things…"
"The Daily Planet Globe, the ATMs-"
He turned his head, staring at the wall. "I gave most of
it back and I worked for a long time to pay off the rest. The
banks found anonymous bags of cash for years."
Chloe smiled, "Ah…the break-ins where there was extra
cash in the vault instead of money missing. Good one, Clark."
He looked back at her. "I…have another confession…even
though I thought about it and came really close, I’ve…I’ve…I’ve
never had sex with anyone before."
She stared at him, her mouth open. "Oh, Clark, come on!
You are lying now. Last night was so not your first
time! Nobody does it like that their first time!"
"Chloe…I swear…it was. I mean, I’m an alien. I was
always afraid I’d hurt someone or…or maybe I’d do something
to reveal myself and…and…"
"Well, you certainly revealed yourself, alright," she
smirked. "And there was, if I may say so, a lot to
reveal." Chloe reached down to stroke the front of his jeans
and asked, "So…you wanna reveal it again?"
A while later, Chloe looked down, smiling at her lover. He was
staring at her, curiously. "What?" She laid down along
his body and kissed him.
"There’s something else I haven’t told you."
"Oh…and what would that be?"
"You remember when I mentioned sleepwalking to the first
cave when it called to me?"
"Yeah, and Lex almost hit you again and I’m thinking we’ll
have to discuss that."
"Well, yeah, there’s that but it’s more about the
"What about it. I guess even aliens can sleepwalk,"
She smiled again.
"I wasn’t…exactly sleep…walking. I was sorta
sleep…flying…" Clark winced at this final
For a moment, her expression was blank then another smile
appeared and she playfully swatted his chest. "Clark, now you
Looking ever so serious, he said, "Mmm…no, I’m not,
Chlo." Clark glanced down at the bed and Chloe looked, too.
She gasped out loud when she saw they were floating a couple of
feet above the bed. "Oh, my God! You can fly! You can defy
gravity?" She looked back, excited, eyes wide with wonder.
"You can just do it whenever you feel like it?" She felt
him thrust up between her legs.
"You said I could…"
"Alien smart ass! You can fly whenever you want? That must
have been hard to cover up."
"Oh, I couldn’t always do it. All these abilities seemed
to come with age; the older I got, the more things I could do.
This was the last thing I learned to do, at least, learned to
control it. Sometimes, I used to float when I dreamed but I’d
crash when I woke up. Lost a lot of bed frames that way."
Chloe giggled at that. "Then I got to where I could float and
fly a little but sometimes I’d float up in public when I didn’t
want to then I couldn’t count on being able to do it when I
needed to. When I got close to eighteen, it got easier."
"I think you can land now." He dropped a bit fast and
made her squeal.
"Are you okay with that? I was afraid this would be the
last straw…I mean, it still freaks me out a little."
"After everything else? Piece of cake. Had to get over your
fear of heights, didn’t ya." He nodded, smiling broadly.
"Even though I’m not fond of heights, I have to see this
for myself. Will you take me on a little test flight in the great
outdoors? We could stay in the woods so no one could see…how ‘bout
"Okay, Chloe…I promise I’ll go slow and be
She ran a fingernail down the middle of his sculpted chest.
"Truth is, I always wondered what it would be like to join
the Mile High Club. I just never envisioned I’d have a chance to
do it without a plane."
Clark raised one brow in a Spock-like arch; his smile was as
broad as it could be.