Rating: G.

Spoilers: "Hug."

Summary: As usual, tying up the loose ends that comes with Chloe being a secondary character. She deals with the knowledge that *gasp* she kissed Clark! An additional Pete scene, too. The phrase "lip-locking sensation" in reference to Chloe is TM Sapphire525.

"Minty?" by Sullivan Lane

So I stuck out my hand, which in hindsight was probably an error in judgment. I mean, who was I kidding? "Living on the edge"? My idea of living on the edge is paying twenty bucks to some shady freak so I can take a picture of his two-headed cow for my wall.

Besides, what was this scruffy guy going to do to me? At worst, I figured Clark would tease me about singing "I'm a Little Teapot" complete with hand gestures and all, or maybe I'd hop around his decrepit yard like Little Bunny Foo Foo. A week of teasing, tops. I could handle that. Maybe even two weeks.

But no, this hermit guy was slicker than I thought. One moment I was holding out my hand, and he was reaching for it. Next thing I knew my lips tasted like peppermint and they're tingling like crazy.

What stinks is that this is the most embarrassing moment in my life and all I have to go on is minty breath, tingly lips and Clark looking ... horrified? Oh, God. For once in my life I can't read his usually-plain-as-day expressions.

No, scratch that. What truly stinks is that I have no discernible recollection of what may be the greatest moment in my albeit short and disappointing romantic career: kissing Clark Kent.

***

"That can't be next week's editorial, is it?" Pete stood over Chloe's shoulder looking at her screen, his voice just loud enough to resonate over the music blasting in the Torch office. Chloe jumped in her seat and hastily closed the word-processing program and the file that was her journal.

"You scared me," Chloe said lamely, turning down the volume on the radio.

"What is that?" Pete asked, taking off his jacket and slinging it over the chair next to her and sitting down.

"Nothing important."

But Pete wasn't fooled. "What's going on?" he asked, looking at her sideways.

Chloe didn't back down. "Nothing, I said." She tried to keep her voice even, but she knew she was still trembling a little from the non-memory of what happened only two hours before.

"Chloe, we can go through this twenty more times, or you can admit that I'm your intuitive, smart, yet good-looking friend who can tell when you-"

"I kissed Clark." There, she said it. She let out a huge breath. And it felt kind of good to say it out loud.

Pete's eyes widened and his face broke out in his trademark grin. "Well, all right! Chloe, you are the man!" He held up his hand as if to receive a high-five. But the worried expression on Chloe's face didn't change. She turned to the computer screen again. "I mean, woman," Pete added, putting his hand down awkwardly. "What? I don't get it. I assumed that was what you wanted."

Chloe didn't deny it. This was huge, and she couldn't act nonchalant about it any longer. "Yes, but you don't know the circumstances."

"Tell me then," Pete said, rubbing his hands together as if he were about to delve into a large ham sandwich.

Chloe recounted in a monotone the events that transpired earlier that afternoon, beginning with Kyle Tippett's admission of his powers to Chloe's not remembering the kiss ... to Clark's admission that it was "fine."

"'Fine,'" Chloe repeated. "'Fine could mean anything. When you're in a car wreck and you're not hurt, you say, `I'm fine.' When a family member dies and someone asks you how you are, you still say `fine.' What's `fine' supposed to mean anyway? Whoever invented that word-"

"Whoa," Pete said, knowing that it was time to break Chloe's momentum before she went into full-out rant mode over something that wasn't the issue.

Chloe looked at him and stopped. "Sorry. It's just ... you know."

Pete nodded. "So where is he?"

"Went with Kyle to Metropolis," Chloe said. "I was going to come along, but I freaked out and made an excuse that I had to finish the Torch. I don't think he wanted me around anyway. He dropped me off and the ride was like, complete silence. It was a tomb."

"Hey," Pete said seriously, looking Chloe in the eye, "maybe you just gave him something to think about."

"That's just it," Chloe said, standing up. "I didn't want him to be thinking about anything! Now it's like out there in the cosmos - Chloe Sullivan kissed Clark Kent."

Pete laughed. "Here, think about it this way: If he enjoyed it, good. And if he didn't, he's a good enough friend not to let it get between you. I mean, come on. It's Clark."

Chloe wasn't sure if she should be offended by the comment, but in any case it made sense. She smiled. She would just go over there and clear the air with him in the morning. Just to make sure it was no big deal. Then she can go back to pining for him in private again.

"All right," Chloe said, sitting back down and booting up Quark Xpress on the computer in front of her. "You owe me a column, don't you?"

Pete pulled a disk from the front pocket of his hooded sweatshirt. "Affirmative, Chief."

"Call me Chief again and die in Peach Pit hell, Brandon." Chloe snatched the disk from Pete's hand and pushed it into the disk drive.

***

Lana Lang walked through the dark halls at school. Whitney was working for his father's department store; she had stuck around to help Ellen and her committee with the preparations for the upcoming school dance. She sighed as she twirled the combination dial on her locker. She dropped her backpack on the floor and pulled out her jacket, shrugging into it, then contemplated what books she would need for the weekend.

She walked slowly down the hall. Her watch read five o'clock. The activity bus wouldn't be leaving for another half-hour. Maybe she would drop by the library and pick up a novel. She had just exhausted "Les Miserables," in French, no less.

She passed by the Torch office on the way. The door was curiously ajar. Then she remembered that Chloe was probably inside, putting the paper to bed. But there were voices within. Was Clark in there with her? She listened closely.

No, it was Pete's voice. Lana contemplated rushing past, but she was curious. A niggling voice inside her told her she was eavesdropping, and that was bad, but they couldn't be talking about her anyway. And she was on the Torch staff now too. She listened.

"Chloe, we can go through this twenty more times, or you can admit that I'm your intuitive, smart, yet good-looking friend who can tell when you-"

"I kissed Clark!" Chloe's voice rang loud and true, interrupting Pete. Lana's heart jumped in her throat. She should run now, her head told her. No, she wanted to keep listening. She stood rooted to her spot, careful not to breathe too loudly so they wouldn't hear her.

"Well, all right! Chloe, you are the man!" Pete, predictably, was congratulating her.

Lana changed her mind. She couldn't take this anymore. Chloe and Clark? No, it couldn't be. Either way, Chloe was telling Pete, and that was as good as true. Lana grasped the strap on her backpack firmly and ran quickly and quietly out of the building.

***

Chloe's plan was to go to Clark's first thing the next morning, as it was Saturday, and he would probably be at the farmer's market. Unfortunately, she slept in and her alarm wasn't on. So after doing her chores, it was well past noon before she ventured toward the Kent Farm.

Before leaving her house, she looked at herself in the hall mirror. She wasn't bad, she concluded. She was no Lana Lang, but she wasn't ugly. Was she a bad kisser? She hadn't kissed enough guys to be able to take a survey. Did it really matter? All she had to say was that it wasn't her anyway. She was under a spell. She was going to keep telling herself that anyway, until she believed it.

With a determined attitude, Chloe walked out the door and headed in the general direction of Clark's barn.

There were voices coming from the loft. Chloe could hear them as she approached. She looked up at the window and saw Lex sitting there. Great. Maybe she should just turn tail and go home. She leaned on her back foot.

"Chloe!" Lex had spotted her. Too late. He turned and said, "Clark, you've got more company."

Chloe half-heartedly waved. She went inside, her stomach twisting into an infinite number of knots.

"I'm sorry to bother you guys," Chloe said, stopping at the foot of the stairs. "I just stopped by to say hi."

"No, it's OK," Lex said, walking down. "I was just about to leave." He patted Chloe's shoulder as he passed her, a smile hinting at his lips. Chloe wondered if Clark had told him. "I'll see you around."

"Come on up," Clark said with a grin, gesturing to Chloe.

Chloe smiled meekly and headed up the stairs. She plopped herself down on the couch as Clark fiddled with the telescope.

"You want to talk about it, don't you?" Clark said.

Chloe was glad she was facing away from him and that the back of the couch was a barrier between them. Her cheeks were feeling warm despite the chilly air outside. She slouched so the couch was hiding her. "Yeah."

Clark left his telescope to sit down next to Chloe. "I figured. Chloe, it's OK. Like Kyle said, it was just a dumb party trick."

"Well, I just didn't want you to feel weird about it," Chloe said quickly. She turned so she didn't have to look at him, but she couldn't help but sneak a peek at the expression on his face from the corner of her eye.

Clark shrugged and gave his trademark smile. "I knew you were under some kind of spell."

Chloe didn't know what to say next. She did, but she wasn't sure that she should say it. She decided to give it a shot. "How was it?" Ooh, bad move. Take that back, Chloe. "Wait, never mind. I don't think I want to know. Forget it. I know I don't want to know."

"It was OK, Chloe," Clark said, putting his hand on her shoulder. "You were Chloe Sullivan, the lip-locking sensation. The lucky guy who gets to call you his girlfriend is going to be in for a treat."

Chloe sat back and held back the smile that was trying to force its way out of her mouth. It wasn't an admission of undying love, but he did say it wasn't bad.

Maybe she was getting through to him after all.

-Fin- 02.07.2002