Author's Note: A drabble-y piece that has practically no humor in it, for a change. Just pure romance, methinks. Yeah, I know "Chlois" is no longer a valid theory, but I love the concept so much that it keeps me writing. I'm stuck in the past, what do you want? Anyway, some Chlark over here. This has not been revised or beta'd, so I'm sorry if it's rough in patches. Hope you enjoy!

--

It took a person like her to make the word "secrets" okay again.

So many times when he was young, that word was hurled like a dagger straight at his heart—and though he didn't bleed on the outside, it felt like death on the inside. Sometimes he can still see those stunning hazel eyes narrowed, see those lips that he thought were perfection itself spitting that word at him. Secrets. For him, then, it embodied all of the things he couldn't—or wouldn't—tell that other young woman. Secrets became a filthy word; it felt like a battlecry against him.

It took a while to realize that there was another girl for him. It took a while, and by then she'd changed. Different name, different look. But she was the same underneath. She was the first one to introduce him to the new secrets, the kind that he has come to live for.

The first secret happened on the second date of their new, adult relationship. He picked her up, smiled, and said, "Those earrings look really nice on you." Her eyes got very strange for a minute, then she stood on her toes and kissed him right in the middle of the street. He was shocked, but his heart nearly burst from sheer happiness.

But that was just the first secret. There have been many, many others since then. Little things that he says, little things that he does, little things that he remembers. Innocuous as they may seem at first, some of these things are secrets. He delights in ferreting them out.

Sometimes the secret is as basic as a tender smile and a "You are beautiful today." Sometimes the secret is holding a door open for her as she struggles to balance purse, coffee cup, newspaper, and various files and miscellanea. Occasionally it's showing up with a classic movie and a pizza when she's had a bad day. Rarely, and he often wishes it were more rarely still, it's saving her life.

Then there are the secrets he never would've guessed existed. His favorite right now is when, two weeks ago, he fingered her brown hair and sighed, saying "I miss when you were blonde." If anything, he thought that might have made her upset. But instead, her eyes blazed and she kissed him so hard even he was lightheaded afterwards.

Sometimes he'll slip up and call her by her real name, the name he called her in high school. Sometimes, when that happens, her face will become terribly pale for a minute, then her mouth will meet his and he knows that she likes the spontaneous reminder that he is in love with her, finally, at last.

There are secrets that don't need to be said aloud, too. He has come to recognize some of these. She loves her chin cradled in his hands and his thumbs hooked behind her jaw. She loves the feel of the material of his suit; she would run her fingers up and down it all day if she could. She loves the noise he makes in his throat when she rewards him for figuring out what makes her happy, which can turn into a wonderful and long-lasting cycle that leaves both of them breathless and grinning.

Very rarely does she ever talk about the secrets. He imagines they're her loving way of revenge for making her figure out his on her own. So he's left to stumble on day to day, occasionally saying or doing just the right thing. It's funny—he never knew all of these things about her. They are secrets, yes, but not dark and not damning and not destructive enough to be hidden. In his most egotistical moments, he likes to believe she has been saving these little pieces of herself just for him.

He doesn't keep many things from her, not now. He's so open for her it almost feels like he's bleeding. Anything she wants to know, he'll tell her. It hurt to hide his true self from everyone—including her—for so long; now he revels in telling her about the mundane occurrences that define his otherwise heroic life. And she laughs so hard when he grins ruefully about flying too low in the summer because he can never tell when he's going to get a junebug in the face if he doesn't pay attention.

There is, however, one thing he's keeping from her. One secret that he still has on his side. That secret is a question that he has asked so many times in his mind that the words have almost lost meaning, and that secret is the contents of a little velvet box that he's had for a month already because he just can't seem to find the right moment. He doesn't think she knows about this one, but he realizes he has to work fast, because she's astute and will have it figured out in no time.

There is one thing that will never be hushed again, though, and he makes sure to remind her of it every day. Sometimes he whispers it in a staff meeting; sometimes he writes it on a Post-It and sticks it on her monitor. Sometimes he growls it out as he kisses her neck, and sometimes he murmurs it softly as they hover hundreds of feet above the city. Sometimes he uses her real name, sometimes her cousin's, but always it holds the same honesty and adoration in the words.

And she always, always kisses him afterwards, because hearing him say "I love you, Chloe Sullivan," is the easiest way to her heart there is.