Author's Notes: As per the AU notation in the Keywords, this is set in an alternate version of reality where the events of Calling and Exodus, and all of Season 3 never happened. Also it might be good to note that I wrote it before Season 3. However, circumstances have kept me from posting it sooner. Thanks to LaCasta for the beta read, as usual.

"Walking the Fence"

Barbed wire fence stretched as far as the eye--human or alien--could see. It went on for several more acres after that, too. Clark knew this for a fact, as he had helped his father set the posts and string the wires a few years earlier. It had been an easy enough task, what with his unique alien constitution, which made lift thing heavy posts and pounding them into the ground a cinch.

This part, however--checking for downed lines and other places where time, Mother Nature, and insistent cows had conspired against the fence--was never easy. He couldn't use his powers, for one thing. Heat vision or ice breath would only cause problems and super speed would prevent him from seeing the entire fence, and he might miss most of the damaged areas, which liked to hide in tall brush ad weeds.

All in all, it was a tedious yearly ritual: walk slowly along the fence line, examining weak spots and marking the posts with red tape so they knew where to start once his father purchased the necessary materials from the farm equipment dealer. Then they'd fix the problem spots, ensuring that when they turned the cows into the pasture, they wouldn't have to worry about them getting out.

But it was also a lonely job, especially with his dad off at a livestock sale in the next county. They usually did this together--part common farm chore, part father-son bonding. Usually, his mom would come find them around midday--when the sun was hot and high in the sky--with a basket lunch and a jug of iced tea.

This year, that wouldn't be happening. Even if his dad wasn't at the sale, his mom was too busy with baby Hannah to fix their traditional lunch. For the first time in Clark's memory, he'd been left to walk the fence alone.

Which was apparently affecting him in weird ways, as he swore he heard someone calling his name. The sound was getting louder, too.

Humoring the hallucination, he turned only to discover that it wasn't a hallucination at all. Chloe was coming across the pasture with a picnic basket in one hand and a tree-branch walking stick in the other. She looked out of breath even from this distance, so he stopped to watch her struggle towards him.

She was wearing an off ensemble for Chloe--simple cut-off denim shorts, an impractical white shirt with a low neckline and sneakers which he tried to focus on as she grew closer. It was either that, or get caught noticing that the shirt did wonders for her cleavage. Girlfriend or no, Chloe was always quick to point out that she wasn't a side of beef to be ogled and drooled over. Or so she seemed fond of reminding him every other day since they'd started going out back in December. Although sometimes, Clark wondered if she didn't protest too much.

"Well?" The sneakers--or rather, their owner--demanded once she got close to him. "What's so fascinating about my shoes?"

"Huh? Uh oh" He looked up, and she was staring at him with a smug look that clearly said she knew something that he didn't.

"You brought lunch, huh?" There. A safer topic than her shoes.

Chloe glared at him, but dismissed his evasion without comment and let him kiss her cheek. "Yeah. I stopped by to remind you there was a world outside the farm and your mom suggested I bring it out to you." She set the basket down at his feet and leaned, resting, on her walking stick. "She was feeding Hannah when I arrived."

Clark nodded. "Yeah, Hannah keeps her pretty busy," he said with the tolerance of a proud older brother. This was the truth, although his mom was not so busy, apparently, to find a way to keep up the tradition of the lunch. His mom was the best mom in the world, he thought with a grin. Or maybe even the universe. "You want to go find someplace nice to sit and eat this?"

"That was sort of the point of lugging it all the way out here, Clark," Chloe snarked back at him, and he blushed despite his best efforts not to.

Still red in the face, he picked up the basket, and then offered her his free hand. She took it, their fingers entwining comfortably, and they set out down the dirt lane. Chloe chattered the whole way, asking questions about what exactly he was doing, why it was important, and then moving on to more important things once he'd answered, such as the latest movie being shown at the Talon.

Clark just let her talk, smiling as he listened to her. He loved the sound of her voice. It was warm and full of energy, just like Chloe herself. So he let her go on and on, chiming in whenever she wanted his opinion. Chloe loved other people's opinions. She loved to debate them. Clark was never sure whether she loved them best when she could dispute them or when they confirmed her own. He had, however, learned early on in his friendship with her that sometimes it was just best to agree with anything she said.

Right now, though, the thought of double-dating with Pete and Lana--which she'd just informed him they were doing Saturday night--was the furthest thing from his mind.

"There." Clark stopped walking, pointing to a tree in the meadow ahead of them.

They had to cross the fence to get to the tree, which Clark insisted, over Chloe's protests that the barbs would ruin her clothes, was the perfect place to picnic. The tree was shady and the grass softer in the meadow than on the lane or in the pasture on the side of them. Clark went first, slipping between the strands of wire like there was noting to it. Then he held the top wire up and placed this foot on the one beneath it, allowing Chloe to step through without snagging her shirt on the barbs.

Taking her hand again, they walked side by side to the tree, where he set the basket down in the grass. Chloe took the blanket from the basket and spread it out on the ground. They both sat, cross-legged side by side, while Clark peeked into the basket to see what his mom had packed.

Sandwiches, apples, and freshly baked cookies--Clark could smell the "just out of the oven" goodness--made up their feast. They shared sandwiches and bottled water, laughing over something Pete had done earlier that week. When Clark automatically reached for the last cookie, Chloe pouted, sticking out her lower lip and letting it quiver.

Clark laughed. "Someone's been hanging with Lana too much," he teased, holding the cookie just beyond her immediate reach.

"Have not!" Chloe protested, doing the pout thing again and leaning across his body to reach it. "Whatever gave you that ide--?" Her indignant question was cut off by his lips pressing into hers.

She kissed him back, wrapping her arms around his neck with a boldness that never ceased to amaze him, no matter how long they'd been going out. She wasn't timid about it, as he always assumed a girl would be. If anything, she seemed to know exactly what she wanted in their kiss. They were both smiling when it ended. Clark leaned back against the trunk of the tree, cuddling Chloe in the crook of his arm.

The last cookie lay forgotten on the blanket beside them, and he picked it up. Breaking it in half, he held a piece out to her. "Wanna share?"

"Only with you." She took his offering and snuggled closer to him as she munched on it. "So, the middle of nowhere is romantic. Who knew?"