Set in Season Four of Smallville directly after Episode 12 "Pariah". In this Universe Clark is so upset over losing Alicia that he has quit the football team before being recruited by Met U and has adopted a more solitary existence. There will be obvious changes to cannon

The characters of Smallville are not owned by me because if they were Clark would have had more backbone!

Bold Italics = character thoughts

XXXX = scene/character shifts

-The Kent Farm-

Chloe knew exactly what she needed to do; it was just a matter of execution.

It had been a little over a month since Alicia was killed and since then two things had become painfully clear to her. The first was that ever since she'd known Clark he'd been hiding the secret of his abilities, however clumsily, from everyone in Smallville. The second was that none of his "friends" seemed to care that Clark was being consumed by his grief.

Sure, Clark Kent was still attending all of his classes in school, still getting decent grades, but he was a shell of himself. He'd quit the football team and though his team mates were upset, they understood why. It's difficult to concentrate on football when your girlfriend has just been murdered. Yet despite all that has happened to him, his friends just seemed to carry on like nothing had changed. Not even bothering to attend Alicia's funeral.

Lana; possibly caught up in her own personal problems along with her feelings of bitterness towards Clark, was MIA. Lex has never been interested in anything that didn't immediately benefit him and was emotionally ill-equipped to help. Pete had been gone over a year now, so Chloe was the only one left.

"I'm glad you're here Chloe," Martha Kent admits while mixing the ingredients to a cobbler in a bowl. "I have no idea what more Jonathan and I can do…"

"Clark is used to saving everyone else," Chloe responds with understanding. "So he has no idea how to let someone help him." For the hundredth time today Chloe wonders whether she's dressed properly. Is her black skirt is a little too tight? Is her cream blouse showing a little too much cleavage? The last thing she wanted to do was send the wrong signals; to herself or to Clark.

"Well he never had a problem turning to you when he needed help…" Martha adds turning to face the petite blonde with a smile. She's always liked Chloe, maybe a little more than Lana. Both girls were sweet enough, yet Martha always thought of Chloe as being the one person who might truly be able to support Clark in the burden he has to carry. Of course her son has only ever had eyes for Lana.

Chloe blushes slightly before covering up the compliment with her trademark wit. "That's only because I demanded to be the Robin to his Batman. But if anything I'm more "girl hostage" than "girl wonder" Mrs. Kent."

"Don't sell yourself so short Chloe, Clark's told me about all the times you've come to his rescue." Martha replies genuinely. If her son was looking for someone to confide in about his secret, Chloe got her vote.

Rather than continue to deny, Chloe simply shrugs. "So where is our Superhero now? Locked away in his Fortress of Solitude?"

Martha chuckles nodding. "Where else would he be?"

XXXX

Chloe enters the barn nervously. She remembers the last time she was here she was wearing Clark's jersey and nothing else. The memory of the rejection embarrassed her more than being nearly naked. Lately she's found herself wondering what would have happened if Clark had accepted her invitation.

Some nights she did indulge in the fantasy of writhing in ecstasy under the skillful touch of Clark Kent. Being a writer she managed to create some extremely elaborate scenarios, usually resulting in her having an explosive orgasm.

Enough of that Sullivan! You are here as a friend only!

"Clark?" She calls out as she ascends the stairs, her boots echoing throughout the barn.

"I'm not the best of company right now, Chloe." Clark warns, his back coming into Chloe's view as he gazes through the open window, the fading light of the day framing him in a warm orange glow. Chloe finds herself overwhelmed with beauty of the sight.

"Must be the repressed poet in me…" She murmurs to herself.

"Huh?" Clark asks turning to face Chloe for the first time. Chloe can't help but notice that Clark manages to make melancholy look breathtakingly handsome.

"Nothing," She answers shaking her mind clear. "You better get ready though, the movie starts in an hour and I hate missing the previews." Chloe returns nonchalantly picking up an old notebook Clark left on the floor, placing it back on a table. She manages to only frown a little at seeing the name "Lana" scribbled all over it, before turning back to Clark.

"I appreciate what you're trying to do Chloe, but I don't really feel like-"

"Who said anything about what you feel like, Mr. Kent?" Chloe interrupts earning a look of bewilderment from Clark. "I am not about to suffer the embarrassment of buying a large popcorn and sitting in a theater by myself just because you feel like doing your best Quasimodo impersonation."

Clark cracks into a smile, Chloe, sensing an opening grabs his arm and begins tugging. Knowing full well that if he didn't want to be moved nothing she could do would change that. To her delight he allows himself to be pulled forward.

"Now get changed because unlike you, I hate being late." As Chloe takes a shot at Clark's reputation for tardiness, she can't help but wonder how someone with super speed manages to never arrive on time.

XXXX

All things considered the evening went well.

The movie Chloe chose was a hit judging by Clark's excited chatter afterwards. A comfortable silence wafts between them now as Clark maneuvers his truck back to the farm. Chloe had offered to drive, but in typical Clark Kent fashion he would have none of it; even going as far as paying for the movie too. Despite her best efforts, this night had taken the look and feel of an actual date.

In the theater, Chloe had a hard time concentrating on the movie. Clark's thigh kept bumping hers, his hands often met hers in the popcorn tub and whenever he commented on the movie his lips were a heartbeat away from her ear. Of course Clark was completely oblivious to the state he was putting her in.

Despite all of that she managed to calm herself down enough to get back into friend mode for the ride home. She had accomplished what she wanted tonight in comforting a friend and she could be content with that. Little by little she saw signs of the old Clark coming back to the surface.

"You're amazing, you know that Sullivan?" Clark states, interrupting the silence.

"Yes, but it's nice to know that my incredibleness, is finally being appreciated." She jokes trying to keep her heart from pounding too loudly at his compliment. This is what he did to her, reduced her to a giggling school girl. It was something that both excited and irritated her to no end. She'd love to know how Lana was so impervious to his charms.

"Seriously," Clark continues, glancing over at her until she meets his gaze, which seems to scan her entire body. When she does, he turns back to the road, leaving Chloe feeling a familiar heat rise to her cheeks. Had he just been checking her out? She was shapelier than the precious Lana Lang, but she by no means thought of herself as fat. In fact, she'd put a lot of work into toning up after her Metropolis trip.

The formerly comfortable silence they once enjoyed becomes too thick for Chloe.

"It was just a movie, Clark…" she whispers finding herself at loss of words. "You would've done the same for me if I was holding myself hostage." Clark glances over at Chloe smiling.

Unable to hold his gaze she pretends to clean something from her nails.

Ugh! Get a grip Sullivan!

"Huhn, guess my parents decided to go out too…" Clark remarks as he cuts off the engine, noticing his mom's car is gone.

"Clark, it is a Friday night after all." Chloe reminds him chuckling. "You're the only one is this town that'd rather spend your nights in a dusty old barn."

Clark feigns a hurt look. "The loft is not dusty."

"Anyway…" Chloe rolls her eyes dramatically, making Clark snicker. "I'm glad you enjoyed yourself-"

"You wanna come in for a minute?" Clark asks abruptly. Noticing Chloe's quizzically raised eyebrow he sputters a bit. "I- I just figured that if you weren't too full on movie popcorn, you might want some real food…"

She knew that spending too much time with Clark Kent tended to be dangerous for her, but he was not easy to resist. Besides given that he had cut himself off from nearly everyone these past few weeks, if he was feeling lonely she had no problem filling the void.

"Sure, Clark sounds good."

XXXX

The two settle on a simple meal of leftovers, which they polish off with a slice of peach cobbler Clark's mom had been preparing earlier. Once they finish, Clark washes the dishes and Chloe dries.

Chloe watches Clark rinse off the last plate and as he hands it to her their hands touch briefly.

For Chloe this small intimacy is more arousing than any kiss she's ever had. Of course as she thinks this her eyes go to his lips, wondering if they are as soft as they look.

"So…" Clark begins, breaking the spell his mouth had on her. "It's still pretty early…" Chloe glances at her watch, seeing it's only quarter to ten.

"Yeah," Chloe agrees. "If we were in Metropolis, we'd still be too early for the club scene." Chloe laughs until she notices the sadness that comes across Clark's face. "Sorry, forgot about your time in the big city. Guess you probably have had fill of that scene huh?" No one really knew what Clark did the few months he ran away to Metropolis and since he never mentioned it, she assumed it must have been pretty bad. When she found him he was nothing like the boy who'd left and she often wondered what caused the change.

"It wasn't all bad," Clark admits, picking up on her implication. "Just wasn't me at my best. As I'm sure you would agree…" Chloe places a reassuring hand on his chest, marveling at how solid he feels.

"Hey we've all had our Mr. Hyde moments; in fact I think most of this town is trapped in a Robert Louis Stevenson novella." Chloe jokes, lightening the mood. Clark grabs a hold of Chloe's wrist tenderly.

"Some of us more than others huh?" Clark adds ruefully. "Honestly I have no idea why you continue to put up with me…" Clark's fingers, seemingly of their own accord, tickle the sensitive flesh of her wrist.

"I – I mean it's no-" Chloe is saved by the ringing of the house phone. Released from Clark's grip, Chloe leaves the kitchen for the living room, aiming to put as much distance between her and him as possible. If Chloe didn't know better, she'd swear Clark was purposely teasing her.

"Hey mom," Clark answers leaning against the sink watching Chloe sit down on the couch reaching for the photo album on the coffee table. "Yeah Chloe and I are just hanging out. No that's okay we ate already. Yes. Yes. Okay, see you guys later then."

"At the risk of sounding like stereotypical white girl trying to sound hip, I would have liked to see Clark Kent drop it like it's hot." Chloe jokes, she expects Clark to laugh at this, but he simply raises an eyebrow and looks at her.

"You think I can't dance?" He asks looking at her.

Chloe tries to read his face to see if he's joking or not, but somehow he manages a poker face that she would have previously believed him incapable of. "Well it's not like I have any basis for comparison." Chloe answers. "The only time I've seen you on a dance floor a twister hit before I could see your moves." Thinking back on that dance and what almost happened, she can't help but wonder what might have happened if she wasn't such a coward.

Clark stands in front of Chloe regarding her with a contemplative look on his face. The fact he doesn't responds causes her to fidget under his gaze before he breaks the silence.

"Want to find out?" he challenges with uncharacteristic boldness.

"And just how do I go about doing that?" She's curious to see just what he has in mind.

Without answering he walks over to the stereo in the corner of the living room and hits the power button.