Clark frowned when he opened his door. It was a simple efficiency because he didn't need much space with the time he divided between The Daily Planet , patrolling and night time visits to Chloe's home. He stayed in the apartment overnight, used it for breakfast, but it wasn't anything more than that. George might have gotten Christopher for after school but he got to have dinner and help Chloe grade or plan out the next edition of The Granville High Anchor . Some days, as they discussed editorial or other ideas or helped copy edit the kids, it almost felt like The Torch over twenty years ago.
They'd even come to enough of an accord to agree for all four of them to go trick-or-treating in Clark's building. He'd scoped out the situation in both Granville and here and found out he had more than one neighbor who favored king-sized candy bars. Once that little fact had been disclosed to Christopher, it had been nothing but an insistence on Clark's apartment complex.
Still, Clark wasn't expecting what he saw standing at his door. Clark, himself, at Chloe's insistence and as a bit of an in joke was going as Superman (albeit with a cheap costume from Joe's down the street). He had assumed that his son might be wearing something similar. Instead, he just narrowed his eyes at George, Chloe, and Christopher, each one dressed as a member of the Bat Family. Of course, George was Batman, complete with utility belt, and Chloe was wearing something that was very close to what Barbara now wore. Despite his frustration, that at least amused Clark. Once, before she'd left Star City, Chloe had been training Barbara. She'd have been a new Watchtower of sorts before a Batgirl had Chloe not left and her dad not been relocated to Gotham.
Oh what could have been.
Clark was far less amused to see his son dressed as Robin, bright red outfit and elf-like shoes. His own mini utility belt was really just adding insult to injury.
His son spun around and shook his hands in his gauntlets. "Don't I look good?"
Clark forced himself to smile and pushed the cheap felt cape over his shoulder (God it had nothing on his mother's). "You look very nice, buddy."
George hesitated at the doorway, as if he needed an invitation. "Do you not like the look, Clark?"
Chloe rolled her eyes. "Oh boys, you're both pretty."
Christopher giggled. "Mommy, boys aren't pretty!"
"Then you're both fine," Chloe replied. "George suggested it and Christopher loves Robin and I had a little help from the costume, advice from a mutual friend."
"Naturally," Clark said. "Alright, then, let's get some Baby Ruths and Snickers ."
Christopher frowned. "Shouldn't we come in first?"
Clark and George looked each other over and answered in unison:
"Not at all."
"You know, Chlo," Clark said as he was standing next to her by the stage in the Granville High gym. "You could have warned me what was going to be happening. I wasn't exactly thrilled to see my son dressed as Bruce's protege."
Chloe smirked and slapped some orange streamers and a paper witch, complete with pointed hat and warts, out of her way. They were suckered (read she was suckered) into chaperoning the Granville High Halloween Dance, which, technically, was more like an All Saint's Day dance as it was Saturday the first. "You're jealous of Bruce now?"
"No," he huffed, tempted to kick at a Jack-O-Lantern. He thought better of it after imagining it going through a wall. That was not really the way to keep a low profile. "It's just a low blow."
"Truly it was my idea and I don't think that Christopher isn't a fan of Superman's. He's five and he loves all of them. He went through a huge Green Arrow phase-as if that wasn't awkward-when George gave him arrows two Christmases ago. I'm sure he thinks you're awesome. I mean, who else takes him for a flight at least once a week."
Clark blushed. "Offer still stands, Chlo."
"And my idea to take it slow, well, it still stands."
Clark nodded but held out his hand. "Then dance with me. I was an ass for not asking at Prom and I wish Jimmy hadn't interrupted us so fast at your wedding."
"Brainiac in my head, I don't remember it anyway. Considering everything Jimmy called me over Facebook after the annulment, I'm pretty glad."
"Then let me make it up to you. It's been a very, very long time since Spring Formal. I, uh, am aware I brushed off my old Zorro outfit."
"You and capes," she snarked, adjusting the mask over her face and, yes, she still looked a lot like Barbara in costume. "You look dashing, and I assume you're going to take out that foil and eventually challenge the P.E. teacher D'Artagnan to a duel."
"You so will," she said, taking his hand and he was grateful she let him lead her out to the center of the floor. "Gracias, masked bandit."
"No problem, Babs," he whispered in her ear, setting his hands on her hips. As chaperons, they couldn't get nearly as close as he wanted, but, before the cliched yet expected "Monster Mash" started up for nostalgia's sake, he leaned in and gave her the kiss he'd been owing her since they were fifteen.
"It must be hard," Clark said, draping a blanket over Chloe as they sat by the fire warming her place. "I mean it was fun to have Christopher last night but it was weird to do the whole Christmas thing without him on actual Christmas day."
"It was also weird for him to get half a toy store from you."
"He did not."
"He got too much."
"I'm sorry. I just...I missed the first four Christmases. I wanted to do something special for the first one I actually was a part of."
She stiffened and sighed. It had always been her call and, as easy a rhythm as they were falling into, she was always going to be responsible for depriving him of those things. It hurt that she'd done that to him, that she'd still caused him so deep a pain when she'd been trying so hard to spare both him and her cousin.
(Incidentally, Lois hadn't sent either of them so much as a Christmas card from Kenya. Chloe wasn't shocked.)
"If I could take that back, I would, a hundred times over."
Clark smiled and kissed her forehead. "I know. Well then I get to spoil him."
"As if his 'cousin' Conner and his Grandma Martha didn't do as much. The Kent family...I swear, you all are all alike."
"Maybe a little," Clark said, sighing. "I really haven't spent that much time with Conner. I mean, I helped him if he had powers problems. I saw him if we did joint missions with The Titans. I did all of that, but I wasn't really there for him. I let mom handle it, just shoved him off on her."
"To focus on Lois?"
"No, you one-track mind, you. I did it to focus on Superman. I didn't...I wasn't ready to have a younger brother, for lack of a better term to describe Conner. I didn't want the entanglements."
"You seemed better at Thanksgiving and on Christmas Eve."
"I think Christopher's gotten me back in touch with my nurturing side, you know?"
Chloe nodded. "Not a bad thing. Clark, on the note of 'thanks for the gifts,' the diamond pendant was a little much."
He shrugged. "Heart necklaces are good luck and I made the diamonds."
"That takes the gleam off," she replied.
"Well, the gold I paid for," he riposted. "Oh and all the plaid and flannel were nice."
"That's just to get you out of your monochrome and gray depressing phase. I mean, some of it's green and not all primary colors. I don't want you blowing your cover or anything. I had something else, but you have to take me to your old farm."
Clark frowned. "The one on Hickory Lane?"
"Yes," she said, feeling her heart speed up. "I hope you like it and it's your farm."
"Hasn't been in almost nine years."
"Just take me away on the Smallville Shuttle, please." And with that, he grabbed her and sped her off to the place everything with them had started.
When they got there, Chloe got down from his arms and walked up the front steps, pointing to the large red bow on it. "Surprise!" Clark didn't move, didn't breathe and for a minute, Chloe thought she'd messed up. "Clark?"
"I don't understand," he said, passing up the stairs and touching the front door, almost as if he didn't believe he was standing there. "Someone else bought this. I mean, you can't just put a bow on someone's house!"
"I didn't. I put a bow on your door. Oliver still had some residual guilt about hiding Christopher from you too. We offered the owners four times the market value for them to sell it back to us. Well just sell it so you could have it. Oliver is going to sign the deed over to you tomorrow."
She wanted to thunk him in the back of his head. "Because it's your home, because it was your family's home for four generations and I want it to be Christopher's too. I...you haven't been yourself since you sold it. I don't care what Brainiac Five saw. I don't care what the helmet saw. I...Dr. Fate knew how to use it and he said he couldn't see yours end and he said we had the same Fate. Well Dr. Fate couldn't see how he was supposed to be either. Maybe all that crap that was supposed to happen was bullshit. The biggest bunch of bullshit is that you gave up the farm. As long as I've known you, not fucking Superman, not the Blur but you , this has been the place you love the most." Stepping up on tip toe, she cupped his chin. "Was I wrong?"
Clark shook his head. "I...Being upset about Jon...my dad. I was able to fly when I embraced Jor-El. That vision of my dad said so!"
"Maybe it was just because you stopped fighting being two people at once, I don't know, but you haven't done yourself a damn bit of good in almost a decade being Kal-El or The Blur or Superman 24/7. You're finally embracing your mom and Conner again, and you have a life with me and Christopher, a human life. You deserve a real home."
"I have an apartment," he countered.
"You have a bed and you spend most of your time with me at my place when you're not saving the world or making a salary. Clark, please, what do you really want?" Clark stepped back and turned around so that he could see the expanse of the fields in front of him and Chloe's heart sank. "You can't possibly hate your surprise, can you?"
He shook his head and took her hand in his. "No, I...I'm overwhelmed. I want this but I didn't think I could have it, that I should have it. The farm, this life with you and Christopher. I don't even know how I denied myself all of this for almost a decade."
Chloe nodded and pulled him by the arm to the barn, up the stairs to the loft. She smirked up at him, before kissing his lips. "I thought that we could get that out of the way so we could be lovers."
She spun around, arms outstretched, and made her way to the open windows of the loft, as she had so many years ago when she'd unveiled her new job at The Star City Registerto Clark. It was different, so dusty, and actually had hay instead of furniture, but it was where every moment-good or bad-of import in their life had happened, almost.
"We're home. This is your home, and our son's real home. Please say yes and forgive yourself for real, for Jonathan and for everything."
"It's my fault he died. If I'd never been to Metropolis, if he hadn't had my powers-"
"If you hadn't been there the day of the first shower to help get them out of the car, do you think they'd have lived? If you hadn't saved your dad from Greg Arkin's attack or a lot of people from Sean Kelvin or everyone during the Nicodemus flower, do you think he'd be around then? What about when you proved he hadn't killed anyone? Clark, his life probably wouldn't have gone anywhere after Homecoming of '89 without you. You can't hate yourself forever over it." She stood up as tall as she could, which, granted, wasn't very tall, and looked up at him. "I won't let you."
He stepped toward her and wrapped his arms around her waist as he had at the Halloween dance but this time they were so much closer than they'd been then, closer than was probably polite.
"So you won't let me? Won't let Superman do something?" he asked and she could tell his tone was light. This was the boy who'd never outgrow her, except vertically.
She shook her head and kissed him again. "I won't like Clark give his life up, his real, human life. It wasn't your fault. Jor-El set you up."
Clark nodded and kissed her and, for a long time, he didn't move from that position, his head cradled on her shoulder as he let out large sobs. "I know." Was all he was able to get out.
Eventually, she stopped stroking his hair and pushed up his head (or he let her, same difference). "I forgive you. Your mom forgives you. Hell, your dad would if he were actually around and not whatever weird thing you saw the day you didn't get married. Clark, will you take the house, please?"
"Yes," he replied, running his hand over the windowsill and she wondered if he was remembering all those years ago, back when he was still a kid and his dad had unveiled the loft to him.
"I...well I had one last thing and this one I actually could pay for myself," Chloe said, moving to a dark corner and pulling off a sheet. The telescope underneath was an antique she'd found in Edge City, something larger and made of brass, maybe turn of the century. "I know Lana's not next door anymore-"
"I know that, but I wanted you and Christopher to share this, when the time comes. I know the star's gone; I'm not stupid, but for both of you. You can just take him on stupid fishing trips til it's time."
"Fishing isn't stupid," Clark replied, bringing a hand to his chest in feigned shock.
"Uh-huh and you fall asleep every time. Clark, so what do you say?"
He nodded and blurred over to her. She didn't startle, that had been worked out of her by sophomore year of college. Leaning down, he kissed her again and she suddenly found her feet no longer touching the floor. "Fly with me, Chloe, and then I'll give you something else for Christmas. I don't think I can top 'humanity,' but I have something I should have given you more considerately before."
She shuddered as he pushed his hips into hers a little. "Clark-"
As he slid out the window with her and out to the stars, he grinned and kissed her cheek. "Chloe, I love you and I just hope that I'm worth the wait."
With that, they slipped out into the night, their home behind them.