by Pearl-o

Dear Clark,

So here I am in bright and shiny Metropolis again! I'm starting the internship tomorrow -- I'm really excited...


Clark read the email over again and frowned.

He'd gotten Chloe's email a week ago. He still hadn't managed to reply.

It was -- well, what was he supposed to say?

The last couple of days before Chloe had left had been weird. He wasn't sure exactly why it was weird, but something had definitely been off. Un-Chloelike. So even if the email seemed like Chloe again, his friend, all funny and snarky and reliable -- there was still weirdness. And not the kind of weirdness that Clark was used to, the kind that was caused by shiny green objects and could be solved with the judicious application of his powers. This was different.

Slowly, key by key, Clark typed "Dear Chloe."

He stared at it for a few moments, and groaned.


Dear Chloe,

How's your summer? Mine's okay. Lots of chores, but the super speed and strength really help there, I can tell you.


Dear Chloe,

It's really boring here. Pete's busy with his job, and Lex is busy with the plant, and I can only visit Lana at the Talon so many times before I think it might be a little creepy. Besides, she gives me all these looks now, ever since the tornado.


Dear Chloe,

Remember that thing you said about not being able to hide behind the cloak of friendship anymore? Do you really think that's true? And if I asked you for advice on something, do you think you would a) call me a freak, b) put me in the paper, c) stop talking to me, d) manage to help me figure out what to do?


Dear Chloe,

You don't really like me that way that much, right? Pete was probably exaggerating. I mean, you were right. We're definitely better off as friends.


Dear Chloe,

I miss you. I hope you're having fun in Metropolis! Things are pretty boring here. Nothing exciting at all.

Pete thought maybe that Al's Diner might have something to do with the meteor rocks after they started serving these weird green sandwiches, but it turned out it was just food poisoning.

Anyway, I have to go and do the produce deliveries now. Bye!



Clark stretched out along the couch and yawned loudly.

His mother called from the kitchen. "If you're that bored, Clark, we can find more things for you to do."

"Um, no. That's okay, Mom," Clark said. He reached for the bag on the floor and took a handful of chips.

"Actually," his mother continued, "now that you mention it, I think your father could use your help outside with the tractor."

Clark glared at the television as he turned off the soap opera and headed out.


Pete had off on Saturdays. They played basketball at Clark's house.

"Why didn't you get a job this summer, anyway?" Pete said. "It's not like you're doing anything but sitting around the farm all day."

Clark concentrated on setting up his shot. "I've been helping out my parents," he said.

"Yeah. Okay." Pete made a scoffing noise. "You could be earning cash, man. Not to mention the hot girls you could be meeting. You should see some of them down at the office."

The shot bounced off the backboard. Clark turned around toward Pete. "Not everything's about girls, Pete."

Pete snorted. "Sure. If you say so." Clark watched him as he jogged after the ball.


Lex's secretary answered when Clark called.

"Mr. Kent. Mr. Luthor is in a meeting -- just a moment, I'll connect you."

"No, wait, you don't--"


"Lex. Hi."

"What can I do for you?" Lex sounded amused, his voice low and casual.

Clark leaned against the kitchen counter. "I didn't know you were in a meeting. I didn't mean to interrupt."

"Don't worry about it. I can always make time."

The corner of Clark's mouth turned up. "I just thought -- I don't know. Maybe if you weren't busy tonight, we could do something."

"That's a great idea," Lex said easily, and Clark felt the smile spread on his face.

"Are you sure? Because I know you have so much to do all the time with the plant, and if you really are busy, I don't want--"

"Not at all. Hmm. Why don't you come around about seven? We can watch a movie, play pool, whatever you want."

"Sounds good," Clark said. "I'll see you then."

"Great. I'll be looking forward to it."

After he hung up the phone, Clark whistled as he went out to do his chores.


They went out driving instead.

They had taken one of the convertibles. Summer evening all around them, still bright and warm and pleasant.

Lex drove with an expression that Clark couldn't quite describe, but he thought was maybe close to happy, or satisfied. Which was good, because Clark was feeling kind of the same way, now that he had managed to stop trying to covertly check the speedometer, which just made Lex laugh at him, and speed up. Now he just leaned back and let it go, and it was good. Not close to running at full speed, but maybe a little like it.

He watched Lex out of the corner of his eye. "I'm -- I guess I should apologize," he shouted over the wind.

Lex glanced over at him. "What for?"

"For the other day. When I--" He trailed off.

Lex pulled over abruptly to the side of the road and killed the engine. He turned to Clark. "I know what you were apologizing for. I don't know why."

Clark could feel himself blushing slightly as he ran his hand through his hair, trying to smooth it down. "I shouldn't have kissed you like that. It was... I shouldn't have done that. I'm sorry."

"You're sorry," Lex repeated.


"Clark, did you want to kiss me?"

Clark looked away from Lex's face. The dashboard was really interesting, when you gave it a chance. "Yes."

"And did I seem upset when you saw me again today? Have I slapped your face for taking liberties? Have I avoided you?"


"Maybe I'm being slow," Lex said, "but I'm not sure what the problem is."

Clark ventured a glance back toward Lex, who was smiling a little.

"Clark, I've told you. Our friendship is going to be great. Important. Nothing's going to change that."

Lex's eyes were impossible to look away from, and Clark didn't try. "Even if ... I did it again?"

"I don't think there's any rule that says legendary friendships can't include kissing," Lex said, and this time he kissed Clark.

When he started the car again, Clark urged him on faster, and laughed.


The next email from Chloe was shorter than the first one, and more ... something. Vague. Or distant.

Clark didn't answer this one at all, because he couldn't think of anything to say.


Dear Chloe,

Still nothing exciting going on here.

Although I'm starting to think that -- you know, along with the whole weirdo from another planet thing -- I might be gay, too. I'm not sure or anything, but I think the making out and sex and falling for Lex might be a clue.

It's really hot here. Is it hot there? It looks like the crop's going to be good this year.


Lex was in Metropolis, again, for a couple days on business. And Pete was on another of one of his dates with some girl that Clark didn't even know the name of. And Lana was working again, even if Clark had been able to think of something for them to do, which was hard.

Even his parents were out, gone into town for dinner.

There were only four and a half weeks left till school started. Maybe he should be making the most of it right now, instead of sitting in his loft in his hammock, doing ... nothing.

But it was comfortable, anyway. And it was nice to be doing nothing, sometimes. Responsibility free.

Besides, Lex would be home on Friday. And Saturday Clark would play basketball with Pete again, and maybe tomorrow he would go visit Lana at the Talon, and even his parents would be home in an hour or two. And it'd be school again before he knew it, and Chloe would be home, back where Clark could talk to her in real life instead of avoiding her on a computer screen. Back to safety.

Clark yawned, and stood up to go back inside and look for junk food and bad TV.


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