Pinch Me, I'm Dreaming Author: DebC E-mail: debchilson@yahoo.com Rating: PG-13 Keywords: Chloe/Clark romance, Chloe pov Pairing: Clark/Chloe Series: None Spoilers: None Disclaimers: None of them are mine. Summary: Chloe's birthday is coming up and Clark's determined to make it special

Author's Notes: This story is dedicated to and lovingly for my dear friend, Medie. Happy birthday, hon.

"Pinch Me, I'm Dreaming"

Chloe walked into the Talon late on a Wednesday afternoon. The renovated theatre was only semi-crowded, as most the loyal customers had better things to do on a sunny summer day than sit inside and drink coffee. All except Chloe, and obviously Clark Kent and Lex Luthor... who were seated at a corner table looking very inconspicuous. Or trying to. It wasn't as if Lex Luthor *could* look inconspicuous. He stood out like a sore thumb in pretty much any setting.

Chloe walked over to their table, and automatically the conversation stopped. Not a good sign. They were up to something. Thankfully, Clark was a terrible liar, and even worse at keeping a secret. "Hey! What's up?"

"N-Nothing!" Clark said quickly. A little too quickly, Chloe noted as a blush crept up her friend's face. Yup, nothing.

"Ms. Sullivan," Lex greeted her in his cool, smooth fashion. He stood.

"It's Chloe and you don't have to get up on my account, Mr. Luthor. This isn't the Middle Ages."

"It's Lex, and I wasn't. I have a meeting in an hour and can't be late. But it was nice seeing you again," Lex added, giving Chloe one of his better smiles. One that wasn't quite as fake as the others he used on a daily basis. "Oh, and Clark? Stop by the castle on your way home today. I need to make a few changes to my produce order."

"Sure, Lex. No problem," answered Clark.

Chloe watched the exchanged in amusement. Judging from Clark's reaction to her arrival, there was no doubt in her mind that that anything they'd just said was that innocent. She'd have to grill the blushing farm boy for the goods.

"So... nothing's up, huh?" she asked, slipping into the seat Lex had just vacated. She reached across the table, stealing Clark's latte and taking a sip.

"Nothing... really. We were just hanging out." God, Clark Kent can't lie.

"Okay, fine. Don't tell me. I'll find out eventually." Chloe smiled up at him mischievously.

"Chloe! Just because Lex and I were sitting alone doesn't mean anything's-- " Chloe stuck her tongue out at him and Clark stopped abruptly in mid- defense. "You were just teasing, weren't you?"

"Yeah, Clark," she answered with a laugh. "You're so defensive today."

"Sorry," Clark offers as a waitress comes to take Chloe's order. "So..." Clark was blushing again, and Chloe was now doubly curious. "You, um... I was wondering..."

Oh come on, Clark. You have something to say, just say it! Of course, he *was* kind of cute like this. Blushing and fumbling over his words, like he used to do when Lana was near.

"Are you doing anything Friday night?" he asked at last, like it was any ordinary question. Which it should have been, Chloe reasoned. They were friends after all.

"Not really. I'll probably be cleaning house all day. Got family coming for my birthday on Saturday."

"Oh. Well... will you be free Friday night, though?"

"I suppose so. Why? You wanna do something?"

"Yeah... sort of."

Sort of, huh? What does that mean? "Well, Pete's been hounding us to go see Spiderman with him. Maybe we could--"

"No!" Clark said a little too sharply. Chloe's eyes narrowed. If she didn't know better she'd swear Clark looked like he was going to be sick.

"What? Does Pete have cooties or something?"

"Umm, no... I was thinking maybe... just us?"

"Us?" As in me and Clark. Clark and I. "You mean like a date?"

Chloe watched as Clark bit his lower lip and knew he was trying to decide what to say.

"Yeah, like a date," Clark said at last, hopefully. Chloe found herself staring into two huge puppy-dog eyes. Adorable and impossible to refuse. Not that she'd ever want to refuse them.

Me and Clark... on a date. "Sure," she said, a little stunned. It wasn't everyday her dreams came true before her very eyes. Clark Kent just asked her out. Well, kind of. She technically had to coax it out of him. But he'd still asked. "I'd love to, Clark."

***&***

Chloe sat in the back of the limousine--Lex Luthor's limousine--smiling like she'd had one too many cups of coffee. *This* was what Clark meant when he said "yeah, like a date"? It was so much more than a date. It was like her birthday, Halloween, Christmas and Easter all rolled into one big, caffeine-smile inducing...

"Wow," she said out loud in answer to Clark's question.

"That's a good thing, right?" Clark looked at her hopefully.

"Yeah. I had fun tonight." A lot of fun, in fact. The ride into Metropolis had been a little awkward. They were both dressed up and she, at least, was nervous. Clark must have been, too. He didn't stop blushing until the limo left the town limits. But dinner had been great. Lex had arranged for them to have his private table at a fancy restaurant that Chloe couldn't remember the name of now. All she remembered was sitting there in a dimly lit room, staring at Clark across the table, candlelight flickering in his eyes... and feeling like a princess trapped in a dream.

A dream that had lasted all through dinner and the eight o'clock showing of "Phantom of the Opera." They had the best seats in the house, too. Fourth row, center. Not too close and not too far away. Of course, Chloe's mind had only half been on the actual show. The rest of her had been all too acutely aware of the gorgeous farm boy sitting next to her. Somewhere between the beginning of the first act and intermission, she'd looked down to find her hand in Clark's and had no idea how it'd gotten there.

But it felt right somehow. Just like this feels right, Chloe thought as she leaned her head against Clark's shoulder. His jacket was off and shirt unbuttoned, and from this angle, Chloe could see a hint of his chest.

"Good," Clark told her. "I... I wanted us to have a good time."

He sounded pleased; Chloe couldn't keep herself from smiling. Clark slid an arm around her, and she snuggled closer to him, not wanting it to end. There was always a chance that this really was a dream and she'd wake up soon, alone in her bedroom never having gotten this close to him at all.

"Chloe--" Clark began, then stopped as they both realized the limo had also stopped. Chloe could hear the driver's door open and close.

"What's going on, Clark?" she asked.

"Not sure; I'll go see." Clark straightened up, releasing her, and slipped out of the expensive car. Chloe heard him ask the chauffeur what was wrong, and heard the reply--they were out of gas. Out of gas? Yeah right, like limousines really ran of gas.

Chloe pressed a button, causing the privacy window between them and the driver to slide down. Not caring about her dress, she leaned over the partition and peered at the gauges above the steering column. Oddly enough, the gas gauge was pointed ominously at the big orange E.

Great, she thought, sliding back into her seat. Out of gas. In a limo. With Clark. And why was she thinking in abrupt phrases? Oh yeah, because she was stuck God knows where in a limousine with Clark Kent. Clark... who had stammered his way through asking her out, used all the wrong utensils at the fancy restaurant, and had whispered through all the good parts of the show... who had cared enough to worry whether or not she'd had a good time... whose smile made her usually prolific tongue tie itself in knots. Clark... who always had to be the hero. Oh, God!

"Clark?" she called out, stepping out of the limo. She found him a few steps away, still talking with the limo driver.

"Chloe, hey..." she could see him blushing furiously in the moonlight. "We ran out of gas," he told her.

"Yeah, I know."

"Lawrence is going to walk back to the last gas station we passed and get some." Clark pointed to the red container in the chauffeur's hand.

Chloe just nodded, drinking in their surroundings. How was it possible that the limo had run out of gas here... conveniently right next to a very fairy-tale like little clearing in the woods? One with moonlight streaming into it and--was that?--she swore she heard the babbling of a stream nearby.

"This is pretty, huh?" Clark asked awkwardly, also looking around. He'd taken a few steps into the moonlit clearing.

"Yeah..." Chloe sighed in response, following him. That cynical part of her brain was screaming at her that there was more to this than met the eye. She didn't even remember passing these woods on their way to Metropolis. Her romantic side, however, wanted nothing more than to enjoy it. "Very peaceful. Lovely."

"Yeah... lovely." Clark's voice sounded dreamy. Dreamy? Chloe looked up and found him staring at her. Looking at her like she knew he'd never done before. "Beautiful, really," he whispered, and Chloe was no longer sure if they were talking about the clearing.

"Yeah..." she whispered back, feeling giddy and breathless. What was happening here? Had she stepped out of the limo and into some Twilight Zone alternate dimension where Clark Kent *always* looked at her like he wanted to kiss her? And would that really be so bad?

No, it wouldn't, she decided as Clark continued to stare at her. He was blushing now. Furiously.

"Chloe, I..." he began, reaching up to brush a strand of hair out of his eyes.

"Yeah, Clark?"

"I-I... just wanted to wish you a Happy Birthday," he told her at last.

"My birthday's not until tomorrow." She felt dumb saying it though. He'd obviously gone to a lot of trouble... or rather, Lex had.

"Yeah, it is. It's midnight." Clark motioned to his watch. Sure enough, it was midnight, and Chloe was officially a year older.

Chloe closed her eyes, trying to decide if she felt any different. Suddenly, a strong arm slipped around her waist and one large, firm-yet- gentle hand touched her cheek. Steadying her. Clark's arm... Clark's hands. She really should have opened her eyes by now. A second later, she felt his lips touching hers softly, and she was afraid to open them. This might all be a part of the dream.

Eyes still closed, Chloe threaded her arms around him, pressing herself closer. Her lips parted in a soft sigh, and Clark continued to kiss her. It was a bit awkward at first. They fumbled over nose placement and just how turn their heads... but then it got better, like their bodies instinctively knew what their adolescent minds could not yet perceive of. And Chloe kissed Clark back, reaching up to run her fingers through his hair, pulling him closer... and enjoying the soft tickle of his lips against her own.

The idyllic scene was broken swiftly, however, by the sound of a throat clearing. The teens broke apart, both of them turning in the direction of the sound. The chauffeur had returned and was smirking at them as he turned away from them and began filling the empty gas tank. Chloe felt herself flush and knew Clark was blushing again without having to look at him. She could feel the heat on his cheeks as he leaned down to whisper in her ear.

"Happy Birthday, Chloe."