Author's Note: Thanks to roshane, The Fallen Sky, Madlenita, whatweareafreaidof, badboys8520, Twylyte, Jeremy Shane, dizzy78, badkidoh & aznblackhowling for your feedback and support. I'll do my best to make the next wait between chapters as short as possible. This story is fun to write and I want to see where it goes. The rating of this story goes up to M with this chapter because of sexual situations. I appreciate your patience and continued reading. I do wish the old review response existed, sorry to all I bothered with the PMs. - ES (08/19/2011)
Chapter Eight - Scarlet
It did not happen overnight, but eventually life returned to its relatively normal existence for Chloe Sullivan. Of course there was the new complication of her "break" from the relationship with Clark and the mutual - unspoken - decision between the two of them to keep it a secret from their friends.
Chloe was becoming a pro at putting on a fake smile and pretending everything was okay and Clark seemed grateful that she was not avoiding him like she had during the spaceship incident and did not press the matter.
Pete and Lana sent curious looks their way every now and then but for the most part the two friends respected Chloe and Clark enough to not pry into their visibly less affectionate relationship or the fact that group outings were suddenly the flavor of the week. It was like junior high all over again for Chloe but she was appreciative for Pete and Lana's supportive restraint.
By the time class ring day happened at Smallville High, Chloe was back to her old self, determined to investigate even the smallest news item to cross her path. Today, the expensive class ring was her obsession.
Chloe held up her hand to scrutinize the newly bought ring sitting on her finger. "Nothing like spending three hundred and fifty dollars on a ring that looks like it came out of a Cracker Jack box."
"I think it looks great on you, Chloe," said Clark as he stood in line with Pete to get their class ring.
"Sure, now it does," said Chloe. "But we'll be lucky if the ring lasts through our graduation. And is the ruby even real? It looks odd to me."
Pete groaned. "C'mon, Chloe, class rings are a high school tradition. Can't you just enjoy the experience of supporting the school?"
Chloe rolled her eyes. "Yay, school spirit. Rah rah, sis boom bah," she said snarkily, punching her ring-clad fist in the air in mocking fashion.
"And what about you, Clark?" asked Pete. "You sure you going to do this?"
"I'm here aren't I?" said Clark defensively.
Chloe and Pete shared a knowing look.
"I believe your dad had a pretty strong opinion about you buying a class ring or not," said Pete.
"I earned that money," said Clark firmly. "And besides, he said it was my decision to make."
"Which means you're really not supposed to buy it," said Pete, moving up to the front to buy his ring.
"Pete's right," agreed Chloe. "That was total parent doublespeak from your dad. They tell you that you have the power when in reality the decision was already made by them and they are just waiting for you to follow the breadcrumbs to their choice."
Clark stared at the check in his hand. "I'm getting it, Chloe."
"Okay, okay, don't say I didn't try to stop you," said Chloe with her hands up in defeat. "If you're willing to brave the stormy waters Pa Kent is sure to stir up, I say jump in with both feet."
Chloe watched Clark nod and waited until he was at the table getting his own ring before letting the smirk she had been feeling out for everyone to see. Clark's purchase was going to cause trouble, Chloe could taste it.
"Hey, is that the new girl?" asked Pete, interrupting Chloe's thoughts as he returned with ring in hand to where she stood waiting.
Looking down the hall Chloe saw Lana and a blonde girl talking to Smallville High's current temporary principal.
"I think so. I should probably head over there and find out what's going on. I promised Lana I would help with the welcome tour today."
"Let's just wait for Clark, we'll go with you," said Pete, looking back towards the ring table.
Less than a minute later Clark approached them with a strange look on his face.
"Are you feeling alright?" asked Chloe.
"Yeah, I feel fantastic," said Clark, looking at Chloe with an unfamiliar growing leer that made her stomach quiver uncomfortably.
"Riiight," said Chloe uneasily, turning away from Clark and creating distance from his stare by walking over towards where Lana and the new girl were standing and talking to Principal Gibbons. "How's the tour going?" she asked.
"Off to a less than auspicious start, Miss Sullivan," answered the frowning principal. "Now see, Jessie, like Miss Lang, Miss Sullivan also follows the school dress code quite easily while still keeping to her unique style. Layers are much better than small sheer tops that show off your underwear and bare unnecessary skin."
Clark's bark of laughter drew everyone's attention his way. "I think she looks hot like that. In fact," he said, connecting gazes with Chloe and Lana, "Maybe all the girls at Smallville High should adopt the look."
Jessie's appreciative face was bookended by a matching pair of surprised looks.
"Your hormonal preferences are best left for another conversation, Mr. Kent. Perhaps with the school nurse or your parents," said Principal Gibbons.
"I'm not changing," added Jessie, bringing the principal's focus back on her.
The older man waved towards the hallway behind him. "Then perhaps you would like to discuss your attitude in my office."
Seeing Clark ready to butt in again, Chloe sidestepped in front of him and spoke up first. "Mr. Gibbons, it is Jessie's first day after all. Surely there is some room for erring due to not knowing."
Towering over Chloe, Clark could not be held silent for long. "Yeah, cut her some slack. Your dress code sucks. Besides, I don't think you should be the one giving fashion tips."
Chloe turned and frantically reached up to cover Clark's mouth with her hands. "He meant that in the most respectful way possible," she said, awkwardly flashing a friendly smile over her shoulder at the principal.
The principal's eyes softened at Chloe's scrambling and let out a sigh before turning towards Jessie. "Tomorrow, young lady, proper attire or you are going straight home. Miss Sullivan, Miss Lang, do try to reign in Mr. Kent. It's not even nine a.m."
"Will do," said Chloe with fake cheer.
Lana nodded and turned towards Jessie. "I guess we can continue our welcome tour then. Are you coming, Chloe?"
"I'll be right there, just one second," said Chloe. She waited for Pete and the others to step away before turning around and stepping into Clark's personal space. "I don't know what is going on with you today, Clark, but I thought we agreed to keep things cool."
When Clark flashed a less than innocent smile, Chloe put her palm on his chest warningly. "Down boy. If a cute girl in barely there clothes that you just met is getting you this jumpy, maybe you need this time apart as much as I do. But do try to behave."
Chloe turned and left to join Lana and Jessie without waiting to hear Clark's response. She could feel his stare on her retreating back and she only felt comfortable after shifting her book bag behind her butt, blocking what she was sure was Clark's focus.
Chloe had won the battle, but the war of hormones had only just begun.
Chloe had spent the last hour reading about worker revolution and political radicalism but the 'Red Scare' could not keep her from looking up periodically from her history book and glancing between the Talon clock and the front entrance.
Chloe had thought she was being subtle about it, but the next time her eyes left the book Lana caught her gaze with a knowing look.
"He'll be here," said Lana reassuringly, reaching out to pat Chloe's hand.
"I'm not as sure," admitted Chloe, taking a sip of her now cold latte. "He wasn't acting like himself today. It was like he had 'OD'd on hormones. And the invitation to that bar, what was that?"
Pete cleared his throat uncomfortably from his spot across the table from them.
"Let's not forget there's a guy here who really doesn't want this study session devolve into a bout of girl talk about said guy's best friend who happens to be the 'eye candy' of both girls. A guy could develop an insecurity complex."
Chloe rolled her eyes and threw a piece of her muffin at Pete's head. "You, insecure? Next thing you will tell me is that ... "
Chloe trailed off and Lana's smile grew as they heard the Talon's door chimes make noise and into their view walked Clark Kent. "Speak of the devil," said Lana.
"I wasn't planning on showing up but then my ears started to burn," said Clark with a cocky smirk. "And I figured that one more attempt trying to convince two gorgeous girls on being my dates was worth the suffering I might experience coming to your study 'party'."
"Meanwhile, you are an hour late and I've been the one suffering here, pal," said Pete with a snort.
Clark shrugged. "Every man for himself, Pete."
"Where are your books?" asked Chloe, an eyebrow raised as she took in his appearance.
"I thought I had made it clear what I thought about studying tonight," said Clark, squeezing a chair in between Chloe and Lana and sitting down. "I must admit the scenery is quite tempting, now I can't believe that I wasn't going to come."
A blush appeared on Lana's cheeks and she averted her eyes with Clark's gaze on her, but Chloe was less appreciative of Clark's leers and sent a not too gentle elbow into his side. She leaned towards him.
"I thought I told you this morning to behave," she said in a louder voice than she intended, making it easy for Pete and Lana to hear.
Clark turned in his seat and mirrored Chloe's posture, leaning in until there was less than an inch between their faces and smiling. "And all this time I thought you wanted a bad boy."
"Poorly thought up fantasies told in confidence are not something a girl wants to share with her friends," whispered Chloe harshly, clearly flustered.
Something in her face seemed to get through to Clark and he backed off looking apologetic. "My mistake, Chlo Bear..." His arms on the other hand made their way around the backs of both Chloe and Lana's chairs. His fingers danced along the girls shoulders. "What about other fantasies? Like mine? I can think of one that can become a reality tonight."
Chloe gasped and Lana stiffened in her seat, while Pete nearly fell out of his in shock.
"Clark, its extremely rude to make such assumptions of girls ... especially ones that are supposed to be your friends," said Lana, scooting her chair away from Clark.
Pete looked ready to call out Clark, but Chloe jumped in just as he opened his mouth.
"I don't know what is going on in that head of yours, Clark, but you are making it really hard to be polite right now. A, several crude things have come out of your mouth today, Clark and it is not attractive at all. B, in your dreams. C, you can barely handle one girl let alone two. Talk about reaching for the sky." said Chloe, counting off the reasons on her hand.
Clark smiled and answered right back. "Your reactions these last few months made me think you liked my mouth. And it is in my dreams, as this is my fantasy we're talking about. And I'm a lot stronger than you think, I could handle you didn't I?"
Chloe slammed her book shut, the urge to get away from Clark had grown too great to ignore. "I think I need to get a refill on my decaf. I'll get a cup for you too, because you need to chill out. I swear to god Clark, your mood swings are worse than a girl's."
"I'll join you," offered Lana quickly, eager to escape Clark's clutches as well so she followed Chloe back to the espresso bar.
As they walked away from the table they could hear Pete start to scold Clark, "Dude! What the hell was that?"
Knowing that Pete had not taken the same trip down jerk lane that Clark was currently on helped relieve the room of some tension, but not much. The excuse to get fresh coffee seemed to take Lana's mind off Clark's attitude but Chloe was just about ready to get to the bottom of this opposite Clark.
She was restraining herself from reaching for the phone on the other side of the espresso bar counter and dialing up the Kent Farm to interrogate the Kents on what happened to their son and find out who was this impostor trying to get them to ditch their American History cram session for a night of bar-hopping.
"I would rather close my eyes and hope that this is just some strange night exception like full moon weirdness and not worry the Kents," said Lana, revealing she was on a similar train of thought as Chloe.
Chloe frowned while fingering the lip of the flower vase on the counter. "Unfortunately, in Smallville ignoring strange happenings almost always leads to worse situations."
"We'll just have to make sure Clark stays with us then. Grin and bear his less than admirable personality tonight for the greater good," said Lana nodding grimly.
Chloe grasped her friend's hand. "I know you still have feelings for Clark, I can't tell you how much it kills me he's acting like this."
"Hey, we both know something is wrong and that this is more important than our teen drama lives," said Lana. "Clark is my friend and has been since he came into everyone's lives after the meteor shower. The one good thing to happen from that terrible event. He would do this for either of us in a heartbeat if the situation was reversed."
Lana squeezed Chloe's hand but hesitated briefly before asking a question she seemed to have had on her mind. "I don't want to pry but I was wondering ... first with his comments to Jessie this morning and then everything during school and now tonight, Clark isn't acting like he's part of a monogamous relationship, is he?"
Chloe sighed but met Lana's curious gaze. "Last week, we sort of went on a 'break'." Lana's hand squeezed again but Chloe continued on before Lana could respond. "You were right, you know, Clark wasn't treating me like an equal partner and he kept making decisions about me without talking to me. Our friendship wasn't going to last long if that kept on so I made sure we took a step back to reassess our approach to a relationship before we try to be in one."
"And he responds by acting out like this?" said Lana doubtfully. "Not exactly what I imagined our boy next door to be doing. Why would he lash out against two people he cares about like this?"
Chloe bit on her lip, wondering how much she should share with Lana. Her friend had been nothing but loyal since Chloe had returned to Smallville for the new year and Chloe knew Lana cared for Clark more than she showed publicly. That made it an easy decision for Chloe.
"Well, that's why I'm thinking there might be a little more to this than simple repressed hormones finally emerging because of puberty. After having some weird freak outs Clark told me about this allergy he has that can sometimes affect him."
Lana seemed surprised but perked up at this showing of Chloe's implicit trust. "So you think this allergy might be affecting him now?"
"I don't know to be honest," said Chloe. "It never made him act like this at least from what I've seen, but then if this little break has him as emotional as I've been maybe it made him susceptible to changes. I mean, before he would avoid me like a plague and be secretive, not throw himself at me and my best friend at the same time like he has tonight or check out our butts like he's been doing for at least the last five minutes."
Lana glanced back towards the study session table and without a doubt
there was Clark looking towards them with a mischievous smile while Pete talked in hushed histrionics next to him. A blush reddened her cheeks, causing Chloe to look as well and she felt it immediately. There was something about Clark's stare. It was if Clark was undressing them with his eyes and it had taken a near physical form as her butt felt strangely warm.
A heat was developing in her belly but Chloe squashed those feelings that badly wanted to emerge and steeled herself. She locked eyes with Lana while she grabbed their new cups of coffee. "So we're in this together right? We keep Clark busy, try to fit in some studying in between his leers and make sure he gets back to the Kents where hopefully he sleeps it off and wakes up tomorrow back to his old, gentle, polite, dark, tall and handsome farm boy we know all too well."
Lana nodded but her face fell when she glanced past Chloe. "There might be a problem with that plan, Chloe."
Chloe spun around but it was already too late, their man of the night was nowhere in sight, the seat he had been occupying was empty and only a troubled Pete was left at the table.
"Clark is gone. He couldn't have known what we were up to, could he?" asked Lana.
Chloe leaned back against the bar, shaking her head. "He'd have to have super human hearing to know what we were talking about. And with the way he was staring at our butts, I doubt even that would have been possible for him to pay attention long enough to do. No, I think we were just not the party group Clark was looking for."
Lana sipped on her coffee. "How are we supposed to study after that? I almost want to go find Clark."
"He's a big boy Lana and we're speaking mostly from worry, not danger. I can't help but have a bad feeling about this though," said Chloe frowning. She nodded her head towards the study table. "If tonight showed us something it's that we can't control what Clark does, but I know something I can control. That American History test grade."
She sighed before heading towards Pete and the study table with her coffee, Lana right behind her. Clark would be on her mind, but she had learned long ago how to put him to the side and get on with her life. Tonight would be the first step back into that method.
It was at a young age that Chloe discovered how much the pages of a good book could go towards calming her and letting her escape to another world. And that was why since then there was always a novel of some kind on her nightstand ready to be opened and used to take her away from the troubles of real life.
Right now it was the thick volume of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that Chloe had in her hands for a bit of light reading. After the events of the day, she had wanted nothing more to curl up with a good book and think about broomsticks and wizards instead of worrying about what was wrong with Clark, a reflex that was becoming something of a broken record of late when it came to the guy in her life.
It was past midnight, and her father had been long asleep for hours but Chloe had just reached the Yule Ball part of the book where the boys had to ask the girls to the dance and the lure of reading teenage romance angst seemed much more appealing than the act of living through it which she had done lately.
Her enjoyment was short-lived however, when the cordless phone in her room started ringing. Chloe quickly scrambled across the bed and answered it before the ringing would wake up her father. "Hello?"
"Chlo Bear, I was hoping it would be you."
"Clark?" said Chloe confused.
"Of course it's me. Do you have other guys calling you in the middle of the night?" asked Clark, a hint of sarcasm in his voice. "Maybe Pete? He seemed eager to stay behind with you and Lana at the Talon today."
Chloe sat back against her headboard and let out a sigh. "Don't be stupid, Clark. It's more that I'm wondering why you would choose the middle of the night to check in after bailing on us without even a goodbye."
"Well, I'm sorry if while I was shopping I came upon some jewelry that reminded me of you, and then I started picturing you wearing them and well I just had to talk to you after that."
Chloe sat up. "There's nothing in Smallville open this late. Where are you, Clark? Are you drunk?"
"I skipped out on the Wild Coyote," said Clark laughing. "I thought there was much better ways to spend my evening and Metropolis was just calling out to me."
"Metropolis?" said Chloe. "That's a good two hour drive from here. Your parents are going to kill you by the time you get home."
"Oh, I wouldn't worry about that-" Clark's voice cut off on the phone and a sudden whoosh enveloped Chloe's bedroom from the open window where suddenly Clark was sitting. "-I know a shortcut."
Chloe gasped, dropping the phone. "How?"
"A family secret," said Clark with a smirk that quickly turned into a leer. "Nice pjs, Chloe. I was hoping for something a bit more babydoll but I can work with this."
Crinkling her eyes in confusion, Chloe glanced down and realized her bed sheet had fallen to reveal her pastel blue flannel pajamas that had tiny unicorns printed all over it. With reddened cheeks Chloe snatched up the sheets and covered herself in vain.
Chloe watched uneasily as Clark surveyed her room, taking the time to look at the framed awards on the wall, the pictures of them, her family, Pete and Lana all over the vanity mirror above her bureau, the small bookshelf under her window filled with classics and modern fiction, the inconspicuous Backstreet Boys poster in the corner and the stacks of files and notebooks that cluttered up the room in several places.
He made his way to the foot of Chloe's bed and sat down calmly, not saying a word and only stared at her. After what felt like an uncomfortably long time but was more likely only a minute or two of silence Chloe cleared her throat.
"You need to go," she said simply.
Clark tilted his head while continuing to stare. "But I haven't given you your present yet," he said.
"I don't know what's going on with you, Clark, but the last thing I want right now is something from you." said Chloe, waving her hands.
She blinked and Clark was gone from the bed. Another blink and there was a light weight on her neck as she felt something cool against it and there was soft breathing against her ear.
"I think this will change your mind," said Clark from his new spot next to her. His lips brushed against her ear as he spoke, sending a shiver down her spine.
Chloe reached up and found herself lightly touching a string of pearls that were now around her neck. She turned sharply towards Clark, ignoring the way his nose brushing her cheek felt like. "You didn't?" she said in disbelief.
Clark just shrugged and Chloe, ignoring her own earlier attempts at propriety dropped the sheets she had been clutching and left the safety of the bed, walking over to the floor mirror in the corner of her bedroom.
She had stood in front of the mirror for less than a minute looking at the pearl necklace she was wearing when Clark stepped behind her and joined in at admiring how it looked on her.
"See," said Clark. "It belongs on you." He reached around and put his hand over the one Chloe was using to touch the necklace.
Chloe's eyes darted between the necklace and Clark's intense face, biting her bottom lip with indecision. The sexual tension in the room was palpable and quickly becoming too much for her comfort. Chloe reached up with her free hand to undo the necklace but was stopped by Clark's other hand.
"Fine," said Clark, seeming to relent. "I'll return the necklace if that's what you want." His hand stroked her raised arm, creating goose bumps. "But not tonight. Tonight, pretend it is yours forever like I am." And then his lips found her bare neck, where he began to lay kisses.
Surprised, Chloe closed her eyes at the sensations Clark was creating and she leaned back into him, moving her raised hand to clutch his head against her. Clark nibbled and sucked on her neck, moving back and forth between Chloe's jawline and her collar bone.
Lost in the moment, Chloe didn't object to Clark pushing away her hand that had been gripping the pearls, letting it fall to her side. Nor did she notice that while Clark kissed away at her neck that his hands had moved to the front of her pajama top and had begun to unbutton it. One by one each button was undone, and inch by inch of pale, ivory skin was being revealed in the mirror.
"Clark?" said Chloe faintly, but his mouth quickly covered hers as he tilted her chin back towards him.
There were no buttons left to undo and the lapels of her top were just parted, leaving an expanse of smooth skin bare from her neck to her waist. Chloe paid no mind, only focused on the stinging passion in the kiss she was sharing with Clark.
The cold air from the open window was beginning to affect Chloe's bare skin but the heat building inside her was more of a priority at the moment. It was only Clark's voice that broke the momentum of the moment, but even that was brief.
"Hm?" murmured Chloe, eyes still closed trying to recapture Clark's mouth blindly.
"Look at me."
Chloe squinted as her eyes tried to focus on Clark in the moonlit lighting of her bedroom. "What?" she said with a hint of impatience.
"Told you that you wanted a bad boy," said Clark smirking.
Chloe spluttered indignantly. "That's not - I don't - look this is just-"
"Don't worry, babe," said Clark putting a finger to her lips. "I'm not done with you yet. Just watch." He smirked again - a seemingly permanent fixture on his face that day - and turned her head back to the mirror they were facing.
Chloe took in her appearance and only now realized how undressed she had become. She moved her hands to redo the buttons of her top but Clark caught them and pulled them to her side again in a gentle rebuke, clearly with other plans on his mind.
Clark said it simply and the tone of his voice increased the fluttering in her stomach. Chloe watched nervously as he brought his hands to the lapels of her top and slowly pulled them apart. Inch by inch of her skin was bared to Clark's eyes, parts of her that no male had seen before came into view as her top was pushed right off her shoulders, revealing her soft heaving breasts.
Chloe glanced at Clark's eyes to catch his reaction, and the intensity of the lust in his eyes scared and thrilled her at the same time. She was excited but they had already blown way past any type of sexual contact she had expected to reach with Clark anytime soon, let alone now that they were on a 'break' and Chloe was about to say just as much but then Clark acted.
Clark's hands moved faster than her eyes could follow and the next thing Chloe knew he had palmed her breasts, pushing her against his chest as he caressed hers.
Instead of words coming out of her mouth, it was light moans from the sensations his warm palms against her cold breasts were creating. Clark's fingers were becoming familiar with the contours of her breasts, and seemed especially fond of her pert pink nipples that were quite sensitive.
Chloe tilted her head back and captured Clark's lips in a fierce kiss, standing on her tiptoes and pouring the heat she was feeling into it. So passionate was the kiss, that Chloe did not notice one of Clark's hands begin to drift away from breasts, down her tummy, past the drawstring waistband of her pajama bottoms and into her boy shorts where her glistening sex awaited.
When his fingers touched her there, Chloe shuddered against Clark, quivering in his arms. She could feel his stimulating fingers spreading her wetness and her hips began to rock with the motions of his hand.
Chloe felt Clark shifting against her and then felt herself get lifted up so that her hips were now against Clark's as he ground his against her butt. Seeming weightless in Clark's arms, Chloe lost herself in the feelings being stirred in her loins and when Clark found her clitoris, she threw her head back and let herself go, only just remembering to use her hand to stifle her moans as she orgasmed.
Chloe said it softly after she peaked. It was one word, yet at that moment it meant so many things to her. She had collapsed against Clark, suddenly exhausted like she had just run a marathon. A very pleasant marathon but tiring nonetheless. She fought to keep he eyes opened as Clark shifted her into his arms and carried her over to the bed, her pajamas forgotten on the floor.
Her mind was cloudy with lustful thoughts and emotions she wasn't entirely ready for but Chloe was surprised when instead of joining her in bed, Clark merely kissed her on the forehead and tucked her in snuggly. She had a questioning look on her face as he walked towards her open window. He turned back when he reached it.
"Next time it's my turn," said Clark with a smirk.
Chloe's breath caught and then she blinked and he was gone. Somewhere in the back of her mind she knew nothing was going to be the same again.