Disclaimer: I don't own Smallville or any of its characters. I wish I owned Chloe and Clark, 'cause if I did I'd make them straighten their relationship out and get together . . . Chlark forever!

Her heart twists as she makes the pledge once again. It's a pledge she's made many times before, face scrunching up in self-questioning, frustrated, stretched.

She pledges to forget him. To sit in a room without searching for a hint of curly dark hair, or endless blue dots that swallow her. To be contained in her body without reaching, agonizing for a brush of fiery cool skin. To walk the streets without her breath halting abruptly each time she catches a glimpse of his face.

She squelches those thoughts swiftly, turning to her desk. Newspapers, clippings, hand-scrawled notes waiting for transcription. She picks up a note, and it is his, loopy writing trailing off. She shoves it deep, sending notes drifting lazily through the air, gliding to new positions on the floor as her chin slumps into a hand-formed crevasse.

Her eyes drift to the computer screen and gaze at a familiar photo before they stop seeing. But the image is long-seared in the eye within her mind. Two teenagers, gazing into each other's eyes, smiles so wide her muscles hurt to think of it now. Her face hasn't had a lot of practice smiling like that lately. Days are full of masks, smiles just wide enough to evade suspicion. And nights are smileless, full of wet eyes and haunted dreams.

She shakes her head to clear it of the torturing image. It only reminds her of missed chances, lost dreams. She'd risked a lot, but not all. So she still has something to hold onto, to clutch tightly. She wrenches her mind away to protect herself. The subject of him is leechful, nibbling on the edges of her sanity, threatening to devour. So she turns to safer things, closing the offending picture and beginning an article.


She doesn't need to turn around. His voice is more familiar than her own, weaving in and out of her sleep, her daydreams . . . But she must create her mask, so she slips her face into a familiar mold, and spins slowly to flash a lightning-swift grin at him.

"Hey, Clark."

The visage nearly suffocates her. The pledge snaps. She cannot surrender him yet. In a few hours there will be enough time to stop remembering the one she can never forget. For now, she is yet ensnared.