Apples (The Good Girls Don't Remix)
by Match

Remix of Apples by dafnap.

The first time Clark kisses her Chloe tastes sweet rum on his breath. He lurches into the kiss, awkward and sudden as if he's trying to get through it before his brain notices what's happening. His hand fumbles for her shoulder, trying to pull closer without detaching his lips from hers. Chloe freezes. (Clark is kissing me.) In the still place beneath Clark's palm, Clark's tongue, she picks out layers of taste in his mouth. Malibu Rum, barbecue potato chips, warm and muggy teenaged boy.

Clark refuses to feel ashamed of his girly-drink tendencies; Chloe bets he also likes green apple Pucker and hard lemonade. In her current state of not being able to pronounce inebriation, she hardly cares. Maybe it isn't just Clark who should feel ashamed, because she's pressing against him, searching for the taste of coconut on his tongue.

She promised herself she'd never do this; she always knew it would happen this way. Clark would stumble into her arms with liquor on his breath, and she'd find any excuse to break that promise and kiss him back.


Chloe knows all the good reasons to not pay attention to the magazines. They foster unrealistic expectations, they're bad for her self-image, they're filled with everything a strong, 21st-century woman isn't supposed to need. But she wants. YM, Seventeen, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, each one a lipstick pout-shaped hole that she can never, ever fill.

The magazines warn against letting men use her, and Chloe tells herself she agrees. There's a line, and beyond that Clark is just going to have to come to her. But he crossed that line a long time ago, and he shows no signs of turning back.

Point: he doesn't call. Point: he hardly ever talks to her outside of class anymore. Point: he spends more time stressing over how Lana feels about him than he's ever spent thinking about Chloe. That should be it, right? That should be the final sign she's got no chance. She doubts Clark will ever realize how thoroughly he's rejected her.

It's so clueless, so typical-boy, that she only feels a little petty imagining scenes in which she rejects Clark right back. She's got them lined up like an article on Five Ways to Let Him Down Gently.

For example: say they were over at her house one evening, studying for tomorrow's big chem test, and just say Chloe was bent over a textbook, the fall of her hair perfectly accentuating her lips. Clark would be overcome by the mood and the opportunity and, well, her, and would cup her cheek and lean in to kiss her. And that's when Chloe would pull away. She'd smile, scrunch up her nose and say "Oh, Clark, you're cute and all, but I just want to be friends."

How d'ya like them apples, Clark Kent?

Or say Clark thought Chloe was upset, maybe mad at him even, and just say he felt guilty and wanted to comfort her. Naturally he'd try to kiss her to make her feel better. And Chloe would let him, for a moment. Then she'd push him away and say, in that firm-but-tender voice she's practiced, "Oh, Clark, that's sweet and all but we're just friends."

Maybe if she'd spent her money on Ms. instead of Seventeen she wouldn't need that kind of stupid fantasy.


Chloe has to admit that if she were gay she'd be crushing on Lana too. She's not surprised, not really, that Clark went for Lana instead of her.

She remembers finding Lana in the bathroom one sleepover night, with her lavendar puffy-cloud pajama shorts and tank top with Japanese writing that probably meant shoe polish or something (and not fair, not fair that she can look like a Delia's-catalogue girl even with smeared mascara and night cream on her forehead). Lana pinched her thighs and pouted at the mirror.

"I hate these things, these little pockets of fat!" She turned to Chloe, poked the bit of flesh for emphasis. "I do these exercises from YM every day, but a whole year and it's still there."

Before Chloe could say anything, she smiled and said "I guess I'm doomed to have them forever, lifetime companions until the end!" With that, Lana scampered back into the bedroom, brushing Chloe's body as she passed as if she were accepting the sympathy Chloe forgot to offer.

Chloe stared at herself in the mirror for a long time. Objectivity is a journalist's most crucial trait, and so she considered her body: too soft, bumpy, awkward, big and small in the wrong places. She felt like something off the Wall of Weird, an alien Thing taking up space that Lana seemed to float through. Why would Clark want her when the only things wrong with Lana were in her head?


Clark finds Chloe by her car; he looks drunk enough that she wonders how long he's had to look for her. She's leaning against the driver's-side door, knees pulled to her chest, staring up the gravel drive and toward the woods out back. Clark doesn't seem to be carrying a bottle, but she's willing to bet he was a moment ago.

"Chloe?" he calls, looming over her. His voice is just a little too loud for the distance, but she doesn't react when he plops down beside her.

"Not enjoying the party?" he asks, trying not to giggle.

She tucks her hands under her knees to keep them warm. "No, not my scene." She makes a face, hoping she can still pull off the nose-wrinkle-smirk thing. It seems to've worked; Clark goes into a giggling fit and half-collapses across her lap. Chloe's not paying attention. She's spotted Lana walking out of the house, trailing a boy Chloe only half-recognizes. They pass in front of the garage and head into the woods. Clark shifts in her lap, which involves turning his head just in time to watch them pass into the trees. For a moment they sit quiet like that, eyes on the place where Lana used to be.


This is what the magazines don't talk about: for every girl who struts off into the woods with her boy all Sex and the City style, there's another girl who slumps against a car door shit-faced drunk while a boy clambers up her body to whisper in her ear: "If I kissed you now, we can pretend to forget it in the morning."

Chloe thinks there must be something wrong with her, because she shouldn't be able to correct Clark's grammar, not now. Maybe she'll never be drunk enough to forget the conditional tense. Once a proofreader always a, seldom girls who wear glasses, and while those thoughts tumble blearily into her throat Clark's mouth gets. A lot. Closer. It hovers a few inches from her left cheek like something barely attached to him, something that is about to ask her a question without words.

The answer Chloe meant to give balances ready on her parted lips. But she must not be attached to her body either, because she just nods stupidly, turns her head to meet his, and releases the answer into his mouth.

This is how it's going to be: Lana in the woods, Clark with sweet rum on his breath, Chloe breaking every promise he will never know she made. She told herself she couldn't be this easy, wouldn't be his shoulder. It's that much harder when his hands are on her shoulders and he's mumbling "Chloe, Chloe, Chloooweee," into the crook of her neck like she's the only one he wants.

She could still get out of this. She's got her contingency plan all set: gently push Clark away, one hand on each shoulder. Then she'll scrunch up her nose as cute as can be and deliver the line she's practiced in her head for weeks:

"Clark, you're cute and all, but -- "

Chloe should've known that's not the way it works. Girls like her have to take what they can get. It was stupid of her to think she could be the girl in the magazines. She knows girls like her can't afford to turn down boys like Clark, flushed and reckless with alcohol.

Maybe tomorrow she can be that girl. Maybe tomorrow she can flash a apologetic sweetheart smile, and not look away this time when she says

"Clark, you're cute and all -- "


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