Author's note: If you've never read William Goldman's The Princess Bride, I suggest you do so. It's such a fantastic book. Plus, you'd probably get a whole lot more out of this fic. (laughs) Okay, and this is such a Chlark pairing. I don't know why. It just popped into my head and I ran with the idea. really needs a "fluff" category, too...Time undisclosed, possibly AU. Well, of course the pairing is. Unfortunately. Feedback is wonderful!
As You Wish
Clark Kent was utterly perplexed. Here he was in his loft, staring at Chloe Sullivan, who was reclined on his couch, staring back at him expectantly.
"Just say it once, Clark. Just once. Fulfill my fantasy for a change."
"I'm afraid I don't understand, Chloe. I don't even know what you're talking about," Clark said, leaning back against the wall.
The blonde girl sat up. "You've never read The Princess Bride? Come on, Clark, I thought everybody knew about that!"
"The Princess Bride? I think my mom was watching that on television a while ago. Doesn't it have that bad guy from Twister in it? Like as some masked hero?" Clark asked, forehead wrinkled as he tried to remember.
"Cary Elwes, yes. But that's not the point! The movie was good, but I'm talking about the book," Chloe sighed. "It's so hard to get what I want out of you, Clark. All I ask for is the fulfillment of one little fantasy, and you won't even say those three words for me."
"But I don't see what it has to do with anything," Clark muttered petulantly. In truth he was afraid that he might be duped into saying something he might regret if he had all the facts. He hated being in the dark about things, and Chloe had simply come up to his loft and demanded he repeat for her a line from a book he'd never ever read. How much more in the dark could you be?
"Come on, Farm Boy. Humor me. Be my Westley."
Clark remained obstinately silent, arms folded across his broad chest. He hated to disappoint Chloe, but he just didn't get why saying a line from a book was so important to her. And since it obviously was important to her, he was a bit nervous as to the connotation he would have to deal with. Thus, no saying it.
Chloe sighed again, bitterly. "Fine. Fine. I don't care. Let's talk about something else. How'd you do on your biology exam?"
Later, after Chloe had left, Clark cornered Martha in the kitchen. "Mom, do you know anything about a book called The Princess Bride?"
Martha, who was crimping the edges of the pie she was making, smiled. "Yes. It was one of my favorite books as a young woman. Such a great blend of romance, adventure, and humor. In fact, after I met your father, I took to calling him Farm Boy for a while as a joke. Why?" she asked, dusting off her flour-covered hands.
Clark frowned slightly. "No reason. Do we happen to have a copy anywhere?"
Martha pursed her lips. "Hmm. No, I don't think so. I might have my old copy in the attic, but I'm not sure."
Clark thanked her and headed up to the attic. He went through as many boxes as he could, using X-ray vision on the ones that were too deeply buried to get at without causing a mess. He found a lot of Martha's old college textbooks, but no Princess Bride. Frowning again, he resolved to go the library the next day.
"We do have a copy, sir, but it's been overdue for three months and we're not sure when we're going to get it back, if at all. Now, I can order you a copy from the library network. It'll be here in about a week if you'd like to do that."
It seemed to Clark that the frown on his face was going to become permanent if he didn't do something quickly. He thanked the librarian and left. A quick walk down to the bookshop and he was browsing the shelves, looking for a copy of a thirty-year-old book that apparently held some secret to Chloe's odd fantasies.
"Can I help you, sir?"
Clark nearly jumped out of his skin when a clerk appeared out of seemingly nowhere beside him. "Ah...yes. Maybe. Do you have a copy of The Princess Bride?" he asked, feeling a little foolish.
The clerk beamed. "You mean 'S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure'?"
Clark shifted uncomfortably. "Um, no. My friend said this one was by William Goldman?"
Patting Clark on the shoulder and shaking her head, the clerk directed him over to a different shelf and plucked a paperback out from among the other books. She handed it to Clark and smiled.
"The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure—The 'Good Parts' Version by William Goldman," Clark read. The cover was green, with a man in black pulling a beautiful girl along behind him through what appeared to be a swamp.
Seven dollars and ninety-five cents later, Clark was back in his loft, cracking the cover for the first time. He missed dinner that evening. He missed the sunset and the moonrise and the moonset. He barely saw the sunrise. He was so absorbed in the story that when Jonathan and Martha came to the loft around midnight to see what had become of their son he merely grunted a hello and went back to reading.
He finished the book at six thirty the next morning. He promptly fell asleep, having been up for twenty-five and a half consecutive hours. And while he slept, he dreamed about Westley and Buttercup and Fezzik and Inigo. When he woke up around four in the afternoon, the world seemed different. And he had a plan.
Entering the kitchen in the farm house, Clark rummaged through the refrigerator for something to eat. After locating and devouring a few slices of leftover meatloaf, he set off to find Martha. She was in the garden out back, and Clark leaned over the fence to speak with her.
"Mom, is it possible that reading something can completely change the way you feel about someone?"
"Yes, sometimes," Martha replied, digging up a particularly resistant carrot. "But if you're referring to The Princess Bride, then I don't think that's the case. I think that finally having the proper context can allow you to realize just how someone else feels about you, and allow you to develop your feelings for that person right back. Know what I mean?"
Clark mulled this over. He plucked a sprig of mint from the garden and chewed it sullenly. He had the feeling that Martha knew more about this situation than she'd ever tell, but he couldn't see anything wrong with the logic. He skulked back to the loft to think over what he'd come to realize.
The problem was, he wasn't sure if he was Buttercup or Westley in that first chapter. He had a hunch he was displaying traits of both. It would have been nice to be the strong, intelligent farm boy, but he kinda got the feeling he'd been playing the clueless and condescending Buttercup instead. He was lost in his musing when he heard a familiar footfall on the stairs.
"Knock knock, can I come in?" Chloe's head appeared as she climbed up into the loft. "I dropped by earlier, but you were totally passed out. Your dad said you were up all night—reading, of all things."
"Yeah. Got a real page-turner." Suddenly Clark was nervous. What if he had misinterpreted things? But he'd have to take that chance, just to see if he was right.
Chloe sat down on the couch; Clark stood and leaned back against the wall in a recreation of the scene two days before. He cleared his throat and began, "Do you love me, Chloe? Is that it?"
Chloe started then went rigid. "What, Clark?"
Determined, the boy repeated, "Do you love me, Chloe? Is that it?"
Suddenly, Chloe's eyes lit up. "That's a line! That's a line from The Princess Bride! Was that what you were reading? Ha, that's one of my favorite passages!" She wiped the smile from her face and replaced it with an earnest look. "Do I love you? My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches! If your love were –"
Clark smiled widely and promptly resonded, "Images confuse me so - is this universal business of yours bigger than my sand? Help me, Chloe. I have the feeling we're on the verge of something just terribly important."
The two just grinned stupidly at each other for a moment. Then Clark coughed. "Okay, seriously, Chloe. No more quoting for a minute. How long have I been your Westley?"
The girl's smile faded. "Oh, I'd say ever since the first time I saw you. I noticed you in your denim and your work boots and it was like instantly, 'There's Westley!' And I'd watch you work around here sometimes, carrying hay or feeding the cows, and it just struck the image home for me. And at first I didn't think I liked you, and then there was Lana, just like the Countess, and it suddenly awoke in me: I did like you. More than liked you. Loved you. You know, it's actually kinda embarrassing now that you know what I'm talking about."
Clark raised an eyebrow. "So why did you wait this long to ask me about it?"
Chloe turned her head, and Clark could see the tears beginning to form. She was ashamed, he realized. "I don't know. I've been dying to hear you say that one line, just to make the image complete. It just kinda slipped out the day before yesterday. I so wanted you to be my Westley, Clark. You always seemed to fit so well...strong, devoted, always nearby when I needed you. And I could always hope that one day you'd come to my door, and we'd be a bit awkward at first, then we'd admit how absolutely right we were for each other, and we'd live happily ever after...well, as close to happily ever after as we could." She laughed self-deprecatingly, rubbing at her eyes. "So much for that little private fantasy."
Before he could think, before he even knew what he was doing, Clark had crossed the short space between the wall and the couch and was crouching before her, cupping her face in his hands. It wasn't a very good kiss. It was quick and rougher than he had intended, and when he pulled away she was crying harder than ever.
"Hey...oh, Chloe—oh, Chloe, don't!" he whispered, pressing his forehead against hers and unsure of what was happening. Whatever it was, though, she was crying, and that wasn't supposed to be part of the happy scene. Feeling guilty, he got up and sat next to her on the couch, playing with his hands.
Slowly she stopped sniffling. "That kiss...were you...being serious? If you're teasing me, Clark, I'm just going to kill you."
He turned to look at her, and said softly, "Ooh, that was another line. Nice. And no. No joke. No teasing."
They sat in silence a moment. Finally, Chloe grinned around her tears and said, "As far as kisses go, that was pretty terrible, Clark. I don't care what ranking system you use, that wasn't in the top thousand, let alone the top five."
They both chuckled, a little embarrassed. Then Chloe twined her fingers into Clark's and whispered, "Can we try again, Farm Boy?"
Clark grinned right back. "As you wish."