Clark thought he was used to Chloe's ways. They had, after all, been friends since the eighth grade. He thought he was used to her facetiousness, her shoot-from-the-hiptitude, and her occasional lapse into over-caffeinated "woo hoo."
He should have been, he thought he was, but when she bounced (and when Chloe bounced, she bounced) into the loft, pointed at him, and said brightly:
He nearly fell off the couch.
"E.T.," she repeated.
Clark hastily got to his feet, sending the stack of Astronomy magazines he'd been reading sliding across the floor. "Who told you?"
"The radio station."
His voice skipped up the scale to "squeak" level. "The radio station?"
"Yeah, they called me this morning. Isn't it cool?"
"No!" Clark said fearfully. "Don't you know what this means?"
"Yeah, it means we're going to the movies Saturday. Why are you freaking out, and how come you're stuck in 'every response has to be a question' mode?" She tipped her head at him and pulled two bright pink tickets out of her pocket. "Hello, movie tickets? I won them from WSML radio."
He blinked at her. "Movie?"
"Yes. E.T. The re-release has finally come to this backwater burg and I have free tickets to the preview. Wow, if I'd known free movie tickets would give you a stroke, Clark, I'd have asked Pete to go with."
Clark's knees buckled, and he sat back down on the couch with a plop, concentrating on getting his heart to stop doing the funky chicken in his chest. "Oh."
"What did you think I meant?" Chloe asked, putting the tickets back in her pocket and kneeling to scoop up the spilled magazines.
Think fast Kent.
"That maybe you'd found one."
"No such luck. Wouldn't that just make my career though! Can you imagine?" Pausing in the act of stacking the magazines on the steamer trunk, Chloe's blue eyes widened.
"I'd rather not." Clark murmured.
"First Contact! Story by Chloe Sullivan." She spread her hands. "One on one with alien intelligence."
Clark wondered absently what she would think of alien intelligence that got a C in English last quarter because he fell asleep attempting to read all of James Michener's Chesapeake the night before the essay on it was due.
How many chapters on the mating habits of bay oysters had that been anyway?
Chloe finished stacking the magazines and stood up. "Hopefully they will be benign, like E.T. and not like the bugs in Independence Day because that would totally suck."
He raised an eyebrow at her as he leaned back on the couch. "Will?" He asked. "Expecting an alien invasion are we?"
"Uh-huh, there you go. Typical human arrogance."
Clark rolled his eyes.
"It is irrational for us to assume that we are the only intelligent life in the universe. It's unrealistic. The universe is huge, beyond our scope. I for one truly believe that there is life besides ours out there, and I want to meet it."
She also really wanted to date it, but because of a few simple misunderstandings regarding the differences between "rescuing" and "trying to smooch" Lana, they weren't getting much closer to that scenario any more than the interview of intelligent alien life scenario.
"I never said I didn't believe in aliens. In fact I think they might already be here and we just don't know it."
"Yeah right," Chloe sat down on the steamer trunk, and picked up a magazine. "Men In Black?"
Red plaid actually.
"If it's illogical to assume there isn't other life in the universe isn't it also illogical to assume that they're acid spewing lizard creatures who don't want to converse with Earthlings, but eat them instead?" Playfully he grabbed Chloe and pretended to bite her.
She swatted him with a magazine. "Get off, dork."
Clark laughed, and let her go. "You never know, Chloe. I could be from outer space."
"Hrmph. You are from outer space, Clark, waaaay outer space."
"You know, I never told you this, but I do know who my real father is."
She froze, and her eyes widened. "You do?"
"Uh-huh," he grinned. "Elvis."
He got smacked again.
"E.T. is my mom."
Clark fell back on the couch laughing at the contortions of her face as she tried not to laugh herself. She finally gave up, and the giggles burst out as she limply continued to smack him with the rolled up magazine.
It died down after a minute.
"So, are you going to the movies with me or not?" She asked, wiping at her eyes with one finger.
"Sure, I'll go. I've never seen E.T."
"I'll have to have a talk with your parents about Spielberg deprivation. Okay, so what kind of candy do you want? I refuse to pay three bucks for a box of stale Raisinettes at the theater. We're smuggling in contraband."
"Reeses Pieces." Clark said promptly.
She looked at him fiercely. "I thought you said you haven't seen E.T.?"
"Then why do you want Reeses Pieces?"
He scowled. "I like Reeses Pieces."
Chloe laughed. "Must be an alien thing."
Clark figured out why his parents never let him watch E.T.
They thought it might scare him.
It did scare him. The creeps in the bio-suits were going to give him nightmares. Even if he hadn't known until recently he wasn't human, just having weird "gifts" had always raised the concern of being hauled off and dissected. Even though he knew it likely they wouldn't be able to actually catch him, there was a remote possibility.
He had seen Independence Day, but that hadn't been nearly as frightening. Those were bad aliens. If they got dissected, that was okay. They were trying to eat people. E.T. was just sort of hanging out, waiting for a lift home, and he got nabbed anyway.
Clark and Chloe got out of her car sipping the last of their sodas from the Cineplex. They'd driven back into town in relative silence. Clark had been brooding.
"Well?" Chloe asked. "Did you like it."
"No." Clark said gruffly.
"No?" She exclaimed. "Clark, it's a movie classic! How can you not like E.T.? Phone home? I'll be right here - it's sweet! It's inspirational..."
"I find it hard to accept that even a supposedly higher intelligence can make a communication device of that scale with tinfoil and a Speak N' Spell. "
"I find it hard to accept that a supposedly higher intelligence doesn't like E.T." Chloe growled, and tossed her empty cup into a trash can. "It's a classic."
He gave her a hard stare. "Are you mad at me because I don't like this movie?"
She didn't respond.
"I don't believe this." Clark flicked his cup back over his shoulder and into the trashcan as they passed. "You're mad at me because I didn't like E.T."
"Not mad, exactly."
"Chloe, you're radiating 'Clark screwed up again' vibes."
Shrugging, she slipped her hands into her pockets as they walked. "I'm not mad. Disappointed is a better description. E.T. is one of my favorite childhood movies. I'm just disappointed that you didn't like it too."
She stalled a little with her response. "Because you're one of my favorite people," she said finally. "And it's sort of natural to want your favorite people to like your favorite things."
Clark wasn't sure what to say to that, and in the end, didn't say anything at all.
"I always wanted to have a special friend like E.T., have that bond, you know?"
*You do Chloe, you just don't know it.*
"So, if you found an alien you'd dress him up in drag and take him trick or treating?" Cocking his head, Clark gave her his best charming grin.
"Oh, absolutely." Chloe said in mock seriousness. "And he'd better make sure to keep my geraniums looking their very best or I'll cut off his supply of Reeses Pieces."
"That would suck. Reeses Pieces are the food of the gods."
"Yeah, I noticed you inhaled yours in the first ten minutes of the film." Chloe laughed, and gave him a playful shove. He pretended to be knocked off balance. "Pig."
They continued walking down the sidewalk towards the Talon. Chloe had suggested they enjoy a post movie latte and Clark had agreed. Lana, he noticed, as he held open the door for Chloe, wasn't working. He didn't think it was a coincidence.
"Would you stage a daring rescue," he asked as they stood at the counter waiting for their drinks. "If he were captured by scientists bent on dissection?"
"What if it were me?" Clark leaned over the counter, resting on his elbows, as he toyed with the steaming cup the waitress set in front of him. "Going back to the aliens looking like us scenario." His eyes found hers as she blew on her hot latte. His voice was soft. "Would you be my Elliot?"
"No," she said bluntly.
"No!" Clark was indignant. "What do you mean, no?"
"You wouldn't fit in my bicycle basket." She put her drink down and fanned her tongue. "Ow, hot. Oh, look at the melodramatic eye rolling. Did I hurt your feelings, Clark?" Laughing brightly, she pinched his bicep. "Big baby, what a stupid question, of course I'd rescue you."
Clark made himself feel better by taking a large swallow of his hot latte just to spite her. "I would hope so," he pouted.
"I'd rescue you even if you left me at the altar to run off with another woman." Chloe said magnanimously.
"Which leads me to express shocked bemusement that you would be at the altar with a space alien in the first place."
"Just goes to show how much I like you."
There was an immediate, and extraordinarily uncomfortable silence. Clark became extremely interested in a tiny chip on the handle of his coffee mug. Chloe turned her attention to trying to cool down her latte so she could drink it.
"If I were an alien, and I asked you to marry me, you'd say yes. But since I'm not an alien," Clark winced slightly at the lie. "And I'm only wanting to date you, you can only say no."
"Is that, 'yes I'll date you' or 'yes, I'm saying no', because I really want to get this straight, Chloe."
"Are you picking a fight with me, Clark?"
"No, I'm not picking a fight, Chloe. I just want to clarify things, okay."
She stared at her cup. "I'm not ready to date you officially."
Silence fell again.
"If I brought you a geranium and got you drunk via alien symbiosis, then would you date me?"
Chloe laughed. "Maybe, but since you aren't an alien how would you manage the symbiotic inebriation?"
"I'll figure something out."
Chloe was sick. Two days after the movie she came down with the flu, spent almost a week stuck in bed drugged up on "nitetime" cold medicine, and made a box of tissues her new best friend. Her old best friend fretted and fussed until he was finally allowed in to see her.
"I look horrible," she griped, sitting up in bed.
"You look fine." Clark said.
In truth she did look rather rough. Bundled up in rumpled, pink flannel pajamas, her hair sticking out in an interesting manner like a blond Buckwheat-wannabe, Chloe was the picture of abject misery. Her nose was red, her eyes were weepy, and she sounded somewhat growly but congested, like Tigger with his head in a bucket.
She picked up a stuffed dog and hugged it to her chest, making room for him to sit down on the edge of the bed next to her. "I look horrible," she repeated.
"Not as horrible as you looked when you fell out of Lex's window and got a big purple frog eye, all bulgy and gross and..."
"All right, Clark, you can shut up about my goobery eye, I get the point."
She grinned back at him. "What did you bring me?" Her hand reached out, gesturing at his back, behind which he had hidden his hands.
Clark shook his head. "First tell me if you're feeling better?"
"Yes." She made a "gimmee" gesture. "Present."
"Truly. A visit from you is the best medicine a girl could get."
He turned coy, and looked down at his feet. "Well, I would have come sooner but your mom chased me off."
Chloe chuckled, coughed, and wiped her nose. "I was contagious," she said.
"I was willing to take the risk." Raising his head, Clark put on his best jaw-jutting, 'adventure man' look.
"My hero. Gimmee my present."
He brought his hands out from behind his back with a broad smile on his face.
She looked, and then burst out laughing so hard he thought he would have to call the emergency squad for the coughing fit that followed. She shook her head, however, at his concerned expression.
"I'm fine - Clark, you are such an idiot!" Her laughter was subdued due to the coughing, but her eyes and her smile were bright.
In his left hand, Clark held a pot full of bright red geranium blooms. In his right hand, he held a bottle of root beer.
He looked at the root beer and frowned. "Okay, so it won't get you drunk. It will make your nose fizzy."
Chloe fell back against her pillows laughing and snorting as she tried to breathe. "Fizzy!"
Setting the flowers and the bottle of soda on the bedside table, Clark watched her as she sat smiling at him. After a moment she leaned forward and favored him with a kiss, and a hug around the neck. The stuffed dog was squished between them like a fluffy toy chaperone.
"Thanks, Clark. You are the best medicine."
He hugged her back gingerly. "You're welcome."
She sat back, glancing at the gifts. "I guess I have to say yes now, huh?"
Clark said nothing, but he bit back a goofy grin.
Chloe brought her gaze back to his. "Trial basis?"
He nodded. "Okay."
"No pouting if we blow up, right? Deal? Always friends?" She reached out a hand.
Clark took it. "Always, no matter what. Even if you leave me at the altar for another alien."
Laughing again, she shook her head. "It's too bad you aren't really an alien, Clark."
He cocked his head. "Why is that?"
"Because even if you won't fit in a bicycle basket, it might have been fun to go flying."
His brows shot up in alarm. "Oh no! Uh-huh!"
He turned scarlet with embarrassment.
"I have this thing about heights...."
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