Pillar of Salt

By Denise (kdsch123)

Pairing: Clark/Chloe

Rating: Well, I do not know….(muahahaha)

Acknowledgements: CW, WB and Millar/Gough own all.

Spoilers: Up to Crimson, for sure, otherwise, general for Season 6

Summary: Chloe takes a step forward and away from Smallville. Lovingly dedicated to all of you who mentioned at some point in the last few months that you missed 'my' Chlark. Hope you aren't disappointed. First of three parts.

Chloe looked over her bags again, and checked her watch. "Lois, we're going to be late. You aren't even going to see Oliver, you know. He already told me he's not getting off the plane." The call from Oliver and his little group of heroes couldn't have possibly come at a better time. Between breaking up with Jimmy and the weirdness that was Clark Kent and his life lately, Oliver's job offer was not only welcome, it was a miracle. Begging to be excused from Lana's bridal party had been easy. Lana had been extremely understanding about everything, accepting Chloe's apologies with her own. They had parted friends, and Chloe had no regrets as far as that went. Now, all of Chloe's possessions in the world had been packed and shipped to Star City, and just these few suitcases were all that remained of her life and times in Smallville. The end of an era, Chloe thought to herself with a sigh and then shouted. "Lois!"

"I know, I know." Lois walked out of the bathroom, wincing as she walked. "Next time I get drunk and get myself tattooed, I'm leaving it, I don't care what I had them write back there." She picked up her keys and one of Chloe's suitcases. "Are you sure this is what you want, Chloe? Star City is so far away." Lois smiled, tears in her eyes. "You'd better come back and visit." She sobbed once. "I hate having my family so far away."

"I will." Chloe shook her head against the bite of tears as she watched Lois' eyes fill. "Don't start crying, Lois. This is hard enough."

"Yeah well." Lois laughed, wiping her eyes. "Let's go." She walked to the door and opened it to find Clark standing there. "It's you." The sneer of disgust was plain. "Haven't you caused enough trouble?"

"Lois, where's Chloe?" Clark asked, ignoring her tone and expression. Lois stood aside to let him pass, dropping Chloe's suitcase. "Chloe, you can't…." He stopped, face to face with her, and stared speechless at the bags at her feet. "You're really going."

"Yes." Chloe picked up one of the smaller carry on bags. "I'm really going, Clark." She sighed impatiently. "How did you even find out I was leaving?" Realization made her eyes open wide. "Lana."

"Well, yes, but no." Clark said. "Mom told me, too. Said you'd come out to the farm to say goodbye." Lois snorted behind him and Clark rolled his eyes. "Lois, can we have a minute, please?" He asked, without turning around, and Lois folded her arms and looked at Chloe.

"Chloe? It's your call. You want me to leave?" Lois shook her head, and Chloe sighed and nodded slowly. "Okay. I'll take these down to the car." She looked at her watch. "And get us some Talon lattes for the road. If you're not downstairs in five minutes, I'll come get you." Pushing past Clark, Lois picked up one of Chloe's larger suitcases and stopped to snarl at Clark. 'You really don't know how to keep away from people who want no part of you, do you?"

"Don't worry, Lois. You won't be bothered by me either in about fifteen minutes. You have my word on that." Clark replied sharply. "Leave the bags. I'll take them down for you when I go."

"I'll be fine." Lois glared at Clark. "You have less than fifteen minutes." She lugged the bag to the door, dragging the one she had just set aside out and then closed the door.

"Chloe, you have to listen." Clark began, and Chloe shook her head, folding her arms over her chest. Her eyes were deep and reflected a tangled mess of emotions that Clark realized he was responsible for putting there. "I'm sorry." He said weakly, and Chloe laughed bitterly.

"You know, that never really gets old, does it?" Chloe sighed, looking up at Clark. "I know you mean it, Clark. I know the RedK makes you lose control, I get that. It's not about you, for once." She reached out and smoothed the sleeve of his red jacket. Chloe smiled softly, rubbing a fold of the red poplin between her fingers. "I hate this jacket."

"Everyone hates this jacket." Clark smiled, and Chloe nodded. "I like it." He took her hand in his and held it tight. "Don't go, Chloe." Clark's voice was small and pleading. "Don't."

"I have to go. Don't you see? This move is about me, Clark. I've been thinking, and with Jimmy at the Daily Planet and you superspeeding around Kansas, there really is no way I can get myself pulled together enough to know what I want. Working with Oliver and the others is a worthwhile cause."

"Worthwhile enough to give up the Planet? Everything you worked for? If you need space, I'll give it to you." Clark took a step closer and then stepped back when Chloe raised her eyebrows. "Starting now."

"You really don't get it." Chloe sighed, her voice taking on the tone one would use on a stubborn child. "I'm going to be writing for the Daily Planet still. Pauline Kahn agreed to let me write about my experiences as a young, single girl in Star City. Like "Sex in the City", only without the three other girls to dish with. So, I'm not giving the Daily Planet up. Plus, I sent some articles to the Star City Sentinel and I have an interview there with the freelance editor. I need to leave Kansas, Clark. If I'm in Star City, you are able to run there in 10 seconds, but you won't."

"So it is about me." Clark held her hand as she tried to turn away. "Chloe, look at me." She turned up to meet his eyes, and Clark shook his head, amazed at the anger that flared there. "How many ways can I say I'm sorry?"

"Right now?" Chloe set her jaw and looked past his shoulder at the door. "There's only one way. By carrying the rest of my suitcases down to the car, saying goodbye and not trying to stop me from leaving. That's all you can do, Clark, to let me know you are truly sorry. Let me go." Chloe blinked back tears at his stricken expression. "I hope someday you'll understand."

Clark nodded, breaking eye contact to pick up Chloe's bags. "If that's what you want, Chloe."

"It's what I want." Chloe replied, walking to the door to open it for him. "It's what's best for both of us." Clark went through the door, carrying her bags, and he paused for just a minute to look at her again. Chloe's face was set in resolute lines, and Clark wanted to kiss her, to hold her in his arms and keep her in Smallville. They hadn't talked about the whole travesty with Lana at her engagement party, even the cruel things he'd said while under the influence of the RedK had slipped by them. It was a first in their long friendship, and Clark hated himself for letting it get this way. He'd made so many mistakes when it came to Chloe that finding the way out from under them was hard. Attempting to stop her from going would only make the breach that had formed between them larger, and that was something Clark was not willing to risk. Somehow she'd moved past the place in his life that was designated for his best friend and become more. Telling Chloe that now, as she was leaving for Star City would not be received well, and Clark knew, deep down, that if he told her those words at this exact minute, Chloe would cut him out of her life for good.

"It's what you want." Clark said finally, and Chloe looked away. "It's not what's best. And, you know it, Chloe."

"That's enough, Clark." Chloe replied, closing her eyes. "I mean it. No more. Not until I've had some time to get past all of this. It's been too much. You may be more than human, but I'm not. There's only so much one person can take before they fall apart." She shuddered, holding back tears. "Please."

"I understand." Clark nodded slowly, and picked up the suitcase Lois had left in the hall, making his way down the stairs while Chloe locked the apartment door, pretending to not hear the muffled sob that escaped her when she thought she was alone.

Lois waited for them by the car, trunk open and music, mercifully not Whitesnake blaring on the stereo. "Thank god!" She groaned. "His majesty called me to make sure you were on the way. He said your phone just went to voice mail, Chloe."

Chloe frowned and took out her phone. "Crap. Battery is dead. Sorry, Lois."

"No, it's good." Lois nodded. "I'm fine. It was all perfectly pleasant." She watched as Clark loaded the rest of Chloe's bags in the trunk. "That's everything, right?"

"Yes." Clark nodded, pushing the trunk closed when he was finished. He turned to Chloe and smiled. "Keep in touch. Even if it's just to let me know you haven't forgiven me yet."

"Clark." Chloe gasped on his name, throwing her arms around him. He could feel her tears wetting his shirt. "I always forgive you. Okay? You're forgiven." She stood on tiptoe and kissed him on the cheek. "I'll email you when I'm settled." Not looking up at him again, Chloe shook her head as she let go and walked away, sliding into Lois' car and slamming the door closed.

"Way to go, Smallville." Lois rolled her eyes. "get out from behind my car before I run you down."

Clark laughed a little and stepped to the left enough for Lois to back out of her parking spot and drive away. Over the music, Clark could hear Chloe crying, and Lois gentle words, so softly spoken, Clark could barely believe she'd said them.

"It's all going to be okay, Chloe. You'll see. Just don't look back."

Chloe said goodbye to Lois at Lowell County Municipal Airport, while the crew of Oliver's jet refueled and loaded her bags on to the aircraft.

"Okay, Lucy says she'll be in California for some surfing thing next month. I'm going to go, because that's the only way I'll see my sister this year. If your boss will let you get away, meet us." Lois said, hugging Chloe tight. "I have a whole slew of bikinis I bought for…well, I have a really amazing blue one that should be yours." She smiled down at Chloe. "Okay? The Sullivan-Lane cousins, beach and plenty of cute surfer guys? Doesn't get better than that, right?"

"I don't think my boss will have a hard time letting me have that time off, especially if I'm seeing you." Chloe said, glancing over to where Oliver was standing in the open hatch, his eyes on Lois. "Why don't you talk to him, Lois?"

"No." Lois shook her head. "It's better this way, it really is. I'm swearing off billionaires. No matter how sexy they are. I'm focusing on my career." Resolution was plain in her words, and Chloe noticed that Lois didn't even turn her head a little to look at Oliver. She kissed Chloe on the cheek and hugged her again. "Go, before I don't let you. You're not just leaving Clark behind, you know that?" Lois sniffled and wiped her eyes on her sleeve.

"I'll never leave you behind, Lois." Chloe smiled, tears flowing freely as a car horn beeped. Chloe looked up. "It's Lana." The burgundy Jeep screeched to a halt, and Lana jumped out, still sleek, despite her fourth month of pregnancy. She waved and walked to Chloe and Lois, sparing a quick, curt nod in Oliver's direction.

"I'm glad I caught you, Chloe." Lana smiled, hugging Chloe tightly. "I didn't want you to go without being here to see you off." Lana handed Chloe a wrapped package. "It's not much, but it's for your new place, when you get settled. I had one made for all of us." She said, and then sobbed. 'First Pete, now you. Smallville is getting smaller and smaller." Lana shook her head. "Keep in touch and I expect you back for the wedding. Don't think you're getting out of coming." She held Chloe's hand. "I'm going to miss you so much."

"I'll be there, Lana." Chloe took the package and hugged it. "I'm going to miss you too." She nodded. "I'd better go." She turned and waved to Oliver. "I'll be right there."

"Take your time, Chloe." Oliver called back, "We're leaving in twenty minutes."

He let his eyes fall on Lois, who was still not looking at him. "Star City isn't going anywhere." When Lois didn't meet his eyes, Oliver nodded, and Chloe recognized the resigned smile as a mirror of her own. "I'm going to go run through the preflight stuff with the pilot, Chloe. Just come on board when you're ready." He nodded in Lana and Lois' direction. "No rush."

"Thanks, Oliver." Chloe nodded, and hugged Lois again. "Are you sure you won't speak to him, Lois?"

"I'm sure. I could talk to him until the world comes to an end. Things aren't going to change." Lois said into Chloe's ear. "Be careful, cousin. I'm not going to be out there to keep an eye on you."

"I will." Chloe smiled and hugged Lana. "Take care of yourself, Lana. Be careful."

"Of course." Lana said, squeezing Chloe tightly. "I know you're going to love Star City."

Chloe laughed and rolled her eyes. "I hope so." She turned toward the plane and sighed. "Well, this is it. I love you guys. I'll call when I get in, okay?" They all walked to the private jet and and Chloe walked up the steps and turned around. Part of her had expected to see Clark standing there, hoping for one more chance at making her stay. But, he wasn't there. Laughing a little, Chloe blew a kiss to her cousin and her friend and got on the plane, setting her purse down on the leather seat.

"All in?" A pretty attendant asked, and Chloe nodded. "Can I get you anything to drink? Mr. Queen keeps us pretty well stocked. I believe he said you like coffee. Lattes with cinnamon, right?"

"I do. And yes, please." Chloe smiled. "Funny he would know that."

""I know a lot." Oliver said, closing the cockpit door behind him as the attendant moved off to make Chloe's latte. The crew was getting the plane ready to take off, and Oliver sat down in the wide leather chair across from the one Chloe had claimed. "What I don't know, Chloe, is why you decided to take me up on my offer. I thought that 'no' was chiseled in diamond." Oliver's eyes, deep and mossy green studied Chloe intently and she smiled shyly. "Ah. Of course." Oliver grinned. "Everybody's favorite big dumb farmer." He winked at her and Chloe shook her head.

"Hey." Chloe laughed, unable to stop herself. "Don't you call him that. That's my pet name for Clark."

"Actually, it was Lois', and it fits." Oliver nodded. "Because Clark's shown me how bright he is up until now, right? Has he even tried to stop you? Does he know how you feel about him?"

"This is my decision, Oliver. It's the right thing." Chloe informed him as she sat down and buckled her seatbelt resolutely, and Oliver raised an eyebrow in debate. "It is." Chloe felt herself wanting to argue the point more, but Oliver shrugged casually and looked out the window.

"Well, I'm not going to lie. I'm glad. The team needs a strong person at the com and you think fast on your feet." The plane started to taxi down the runway. "Besides, you might actually manage to make Clark jealous, hanging around with me and the guys."

"Ha, Clark jealous? Over me?" Chloe laughed again. "My name isn't Lana Lang."

Oliver sat back and smiled, a charming cat-that-ate-the-canary grin. "But Lana Lang isn't going to be 2,000 miles away." He tapped his chin twice and pointed at her. "And you are."

Clark got to the airfield as Oliver's plane took off, and he stopped beside Lana's Jeep, getting out to watch the small silver plane turn into a shining speck in the afternoon sky.

"Well, Smallville, you blew it." Lois said, shaking her head. "It wasn't enough that you made her cry earlier, you missed being here to see her take off, too. Can you do anything right?"

"She didn't want to see me." Clark replied, and Lana sighed, turning her face up to his, frowning. "Lana, please, don't…"

"I'm not, Clark." Lana said gently. "You're doing such a good job of torturing yourself, I don't have to help you." She smiled at Lois and waved. "See you tomorrow for lunch, Lois?"

"Yeah." Lois smiled back. "Sounds good. You can bore me with stories of sweet heart roses and lavender taffeta."

"Be glad Lex has nine cousins, otherwise you'd be wearing lavender taffeta." Lana teased and Lois laughed. "See you tomorrow." She looked up at Clark. "Bye, Clark."

"Bye, Lana." Lana got in her Jeep and Clark closed the door for her. "Take care of yourself." She nodded, and drove off, leaving Clark and Lois alone on the tarmac.

"Well, I have things to do." Lois clapped her hands, walking toward her car. "See ya, Smallville."

"Lois." Clark said, making Lois stop in her tracks. "Did you see Oliver just now?"

"Not technically." Lois admitted. "He was there, but I didn't look at him. Why?"

"Why? Why didn't you look at him?" Clark asked the question in a small voice, and Lois sighed.

"Because I thought I was in love with the guy, Clark. Obviously, it was a mistake, but I did think I loved him. It's embarrassing." Lois answered, her usual impatience with Clark softened somewhat with sympathy.

"Imagine what that would feel like if you'd only realized just this minute that you did love him." Clark said, and Lois reached out and took his hand in hers for a second. "Then you'd know why I was late."

"I'm sorry, Smallville. I really am. I know I get on your case, but I hate seeing you upset, just the way I hate seeing my cousin broken hearted. But you bring this on yourself." Lois dropped his hand and shook her head. "If you really love her, you're doing the right thing letting her go now."

"How do you figure?" Clark asked, and Lois smiled.

"You don't get it, Smallville." It was the second time that day one of the Sullivan-Lane cousins had said that to him, and Clark smiled. Apparently, he hadn't been seeing the forest for the trees for quite some time. "If you love something, set it free, if it comes back, it's yours…."

"Oliver was right there, Lois." Clark reminded her, and Lois folded her arms over her chest and frowned. "Sorry."

"You should be." Lois nodded. "This isn't about Ollie and me. We're over. He made it about noble things, giving up what he loves, blah, blah. But it wasn't about that. What can you do? You live, you learn. He's not the settling down type."

"And you are?" Clark asked and Lois punched him smartly on the arm. He rubbed at it to make her feel she'd hurt him a little, and Lois frowned. "Sorry." I've been saying that to the women in my life a lot lately, Clark thought to himself. It's getting to be a habit.

"I don't know if I am or not." Lois sighed. "But, I'm willing to find out if I am. Oliver's not. My cousin, on the other hand…she's a settle down type. And so are you." She opened her car door and got in. "All you can do now is wait, Smallville. You're a farmer. Go home and grow something." She started her car and drove off, the sound of Boston blaring across the airport from her open car window. The lyrics seemed to speak to the situation Clark found himself in.

"I can see
It took so long just to realize
I'm much too strong not to compromise
Now I see what I am is holding me down

I'll turn it around
Yeah, yes I will…"

Staring out the window for awhile, silently biting on her thumbnail, Chloe watched the clouds pass by. They'd been in the air about an hour, and Chloe "Oliver?" She turned her seat to see Oliver fast asleep. "He's got more than one speed." Chloe observed under her breath, grinning as she tore open the package Lana had given her. "I had one made for everyone…" Lana had said, and when Chloe looked down at the picture, she understood why. Clark, Lana, Pete and Chloe all smiled out from the frame, all together in happier days in the Talon. "Oh, Lana." Chloe smiled, running her fingers gently over the glass that covered the picture. Only you would think of this. Chloe hadn't been to church much as a child, Gabe stopped taking her when they moved to Smallville. But, she did recall the story of Lot's wife, warned not to look back as they fled from their city. Chloe shivered a little, remembering that the foolish woman had looked back and was turned into salt. Thinking about Clark made Chloe feel heavy all over, and she wondered if the whole turning to salt process started from the inside out.

"Good present?" Oliver asked, eyes still closed. "Wrapping paper being ripped open has a very distinct sound." He sat up and blinked awake, leaning forward. "May I?"

Chloe smiled and then handed the frame to Oliver. "That picture was taken so long ago. The guy next to Lana is our friend Pete. He moved to Wichita, but he's at Stamford right now, pre-law." She took the picture back. "I'm feeling a little like I'm going to turn to salt if I keep looking back, Oliver. What Clark said to me at Lana's party, and then Jimmy…I feel like I've missed something someplace. Whatever Clark and I have been to each other over the years, I never thought I was pining. I love him, but…" She trailed off. "I chalked it off as a lost cause a long time ago, because after awhile I was sure it was never going to happen between Clark and I. So, to see him now, "

Oliver nodded. "Looking like he's in love."

"Yes." Chloe said, "And, I know it's because I'm leaving, and because Lana now is unavailable. I don't want what Clark said about me to be true."

"Was it true?" Oliver shrugged. "What if it was, Chloe? Way back when?" He leaned forward and tapped the picture in her lap. "You're not a high school kid anymore. How do you feel now? The million dollar question is: Do you love Clark? Are you in love with him – enough to possibly accept that you might have been waiting for your chance after Lana was out of the picture? If you are, then who cares what people think? If you aren't, then why stop yourself from moving forward with your life? You owe yourself a fresh start."

Chloe opened her mouth to protest, and she looked down at the picture again. That Chloe in the picture was waiting. But, she wasn't that girl anymore, right? Chloe let her mind wander over the past year. When had she stopped waiting for Clark to fly back to her? She still made excuses for him, still defended Clark, which was what had finally turned Jimmy away. Chloe looked up at Oliver again and shook her head. "I don't know?"

"Then let yourself find out." Oliver's eyes met hers and Chloe felt a tingling warmth flush her cheeks. "Not all of us have reality come crashing down on us in color." He smiled, a humorless, tight-lipped smile that Chloe identified with completely. "On Red kryptonite or not, seeing Lois and Clark making out on the security footage from my apartment was the best thing for getting over any feelings I might have been having for your cousin. Take your time, Chloe. Figure it out. It's not a race."

She reached out impulsively and took his hand. "I'm sorry you had to see that. It must have been hard, even if you realize that she wasn't herself." Oliver, surprised, looked down at her hand on his and then back up at Chloe. The small smile warmed a bit, reaching to his eyes. Oliver put his other hand over hers and nodded.

"Not as hard as it might have been, I guess. It's not the first time I've seen them kiss, don't forget. Which was my own fault, so I can't blame either of them for it." Oliver said softly, and then let go of Chloe's hands, clearing his throat as he made a show of looking at his watch. "Well, Watchtower, your new life in Star City is about to begin. We land in an hour or so."

Chloe smiled and put the picture in her purse. "I have to admit, I'm nervous."

"Don't be." Oliver assured her. "You'll like Star City, Chloe. I know you're used to Metropolis, but we have our own style on the West Coast. The people are really friendly and there's a lot to do. Unlike this flight…" He sat back in his chair and pressed a button on a remote control. Panels opened, and Chloe smiled to see a flat screen tv and a game console. "So, Sullivan, ready to kick butt and take names?" Oliver stood and chose a game, putting it into the console. He picked up a wireless controller and handed it to Chloe. "Nothing kills plane time like video games." She took the controller and smiled wickedly. "Best thing for what ails you."

"Kick butt and take names, huh?" Chloe's words were a challenge, and Oliver sat, grinning. "Sounds good." She began to set her player preferences and Oliver chuckled, nodding. "You're going down, Archer."

"Bring it, Watchtower. This is the Green Arrow you're messing with." Oliver cast a sidelong look at Chloe. She met his eye defiantly, and Oliver nodded. "It's like that, huh? Just remember you asked for it." They both laughed and started their game.

Clark was in the barn, fixing a broken harness when he heard Lana's Jeep pull into the driveway. He didn't look up, in case Lana had come to see his mother for some reason. The broken harness was his own fault, he'd snapped it cleanly in half when he'd come home from missing Chloe take off. Lana's footsteps were clearly coming toward him, so Clark looked up. She was standing in the doorway, smiling in the peculiar way she seemed to have learned since being with Lex.

"Clark Kent, alone in the barn." Lana's smile softened, and Clark laughed quietly, shaking his head. "It's the first place any of us think to look for you." She walked the rest of the way in, examining her surroundings with an air of reverie. "Of all the places you could have taken me to when you took me from the party that night, Clark, why here?"

"I wish I knew." Clark stood and set the harness down on the stool he'd just vacated. "I don't think you came over to ask me that though. What can I do for you?"

"I have something for you." Lana held out a flat, silver wrapped package. "I guess it's kind of silly, given everything that has happened, but you've always been a big part of my life, Clark. I'd really like to get past all of this and still be friends." Clark nodded, and took the gift from her. "Open it."

"Okay." Clark smiled. "I didn't expect to get a present from anyone for a long, long time after…" He took a deep breath in. "Lana…"

"I sent one to Pete, and I gave Chloe hers before she left. I have one too." Lana said, as Clark looked at the picture of the four of them in the Talon, their faces wreathed in smiles that were wide, happy and innocent. "Back then, if anyone had told me that I'd be marrying Lex, and that Chloe and Pete gone from Smallville, I'd have thought they were crazy." She laughed. "I guess I'm the crazy one."

"No." Clark shook his head, and put the picture down on the work bench. "Chloe and Pete were never really meant to stay in Smallville, Lana. Neither are you. Thank you for the picture, Lana. It means a lot to me."

"Well there's more to this gift than just the picture." Lana said, waving away his works of gratitude gently. "Do you remember when you were sick, sophmore year of high school?"

"I don't remember what happened, exactly, but yeah. Mom said I was out for days." Clark nodded, and folded his arms. "Why?"

Lana took a deep breath and blinked back tears, swallowing past the lump in her throat. "We were all worried, Chloe and I were frantic." Lana reached into her purse and pulled out a folded sheet of pink paper. "She wrote this for you. I don't know if you ever saw it, but I kept it. At first, it was because I was jealous and I didn't want you to have it, just in case…" Lana sighed. "Later, I didn't because it seemed like you both had moved on and I didn't want to open up old wounds. But Chloe's face today made me think of it, and then seeing you at the airfield….I realized that maybe if I had given this to you when I found it, maybe things would have been different. Better." Lana held it out to Clark. "Here."

Clark took it, and opened it up. The paper had been crumpled into a ball at one time and later carefully smoothed out. Lines of type, in what Clark immediately recognized as Chloe's style, spelled out the feelings of 15 year old Chloe Sullivan, feelings for Clark that he'd never really known she'd had. He turned away from Lana as he read, wanting to hide his reaction, but Lana was there, at his side, being what Lana had always been, what she had really been. His friend.

"She loved you, Clark. Love like I can't even believe possible." Lana smiled gently, nodding. "That just doesn't die."

"If someone slowly and systematically poisons it…" Clark trailed off, wiping his eyes on his wrist. "Lana…" The hand holding the letter fell to his side. "What have I done? I've lost her."

"Clark, look…look at the last line. It's not too late, it can't be. Look…" Lana said hopefully. "You can still grow into her, Clark."

"It's too late." Clark sighed again, and Lana frowned impatiently, groaning a little.

"It's never too late, Clark. Don't give up on her. Chloe never gave up on you. Not even now." Lana snapped at him, shouldering her bag. "I can't stay and help you feel sorry for yourself, Clark. You can do that alone. Just remember what I said. Take this chance to grow into her, Clark. Be worthy. And when you're ready, go after Chloe and don't let her go." Lana smiled and placed a small hand on his arm. "I want to throw rice at your wedding, and I want Chloe to be the bride."

"Well, I've always had a hard time saying no to you." Clark laughed, folding the pink paper and putting it in his pocket. Lana laughed too, and she hugged him briefly.

"Let yourself really be happy, Clark." Lana said, patting his arm before she walked away. Lana walked to the barn door and turned around. "Chloe's new address and phone number are on the back of the picture I just gave you." She waved. "Bye, Clark. I have to get to the post office before it closes. I have invitations to send out."

"Bye, Lana. Thanks." Clark nodded. "Really."

"You're welcome, really." Lana's smile was moonlight. "See you around, Clark."
She walked away, and Clark could hear her get into her jeep and drive off. He looked at the picture again and nodded. Being worthy of Chloe meant getting his life in order, once and for all, Clark realized, and he stopped himself from taking the picture from the frame to read the address there. Chloe had asked him to let her go, and Clark could not go against that. But when she returned to Smallville for Lana's wedding, things would be different. The mission to prove to Chloe that he'd grown into her had begun and Clark smiled, the realization that it was probably the most important job he'd ever had. He could wait for Chloe to see he loved her. Because Chloe was worth the wait.