Disclaimer: fingers crossed My letter to Santa is in the mail, but until then, none of this is mine.
Feedback: If the Santa thing doesn't work out, this might be all I'm getting this Christmas. sniff
Chloe bounds up the stairs to Clark's loft, her bag slapping against her thigh with each bounce. She stops short at the sight of Clark sitting on the floor, smiling up at her. Her grin widens. Clark's smile could make you forget to breathe. Which reminds her, 'breathe, Chloe!'
"Hey yourself." She glances tentatively at the ground before plopping down beside Clark, dumping her bag beside her as she crosses her legs under her body. "I came by earlier, but you weren't here."
There's an immediate flash of worry on Clark's face. "Everything okay?"
"Yeah. Yeah." She waves away his concern, chuckling at what a worry-wart Clark could be sometimes. Then it occurs to her that Clark is -- wrapping Christmas presents. She scans the boxes, grinning excitedly. "Which one's mine?!"
"None." Clark slaps away her hand as she reaches out for one of the boxes. "I bought yours a while ago. You're going to love it!"
She laughs at that, giving him a dubious look. "This from the guy who bought me a pen last Christmas."
There's a pained expression of contrite on Clark's face. "You said that your pens were always running out of ink."
"Riiight. I also mentioned recently that my printer keeps running out of ink. You wouldn't by any chance have bought me a colour laser jet printer, would ya?" She can't help ribbing him especially since he's turning a charming shade of beet red.
He's glancing up at her from beneath eyelashes, a tease of a smile on his face. "Better be careful there. I might decide to keep the present for myself."
She raises her hands in mock repent. "Oooh. I'd better be good. Wouldn't want to miss out on a present from Clark Kent!!"
They're both laughing as he continues to wrap another box. "So, Clark. What shady dealings were you out about?"
"Shopping in Metropolis. With Lex."
"With Lex?! Doesn't he have professional shoppers or something?"
Clark chuckles. "I would have thought so. In any case, I'm not shopping with him ever again."
"Yeah. I can see Lex Luthor getting just a little cranky at the Christmas crowd."
"Actually, he was pretty good about that. It's just that it's a little disheartening when the guy you're shopping with spends more money on a gift for his gardener's son than you did on a present for your mom."
"Yikes. Yeah. That can be a little rough."
"Yeah. No kidding." Clark's concentrating hard on creasing perfect little edges as he tapes down festive green and red wrapping paper. "So, why did you come by earlier?"
"Ahh. No reason. Just needed to get out of the house."
Clark turns to give her a knowing look. "Lana?"
She ducks her head sheepishly, fingering a green ribbon as Clark moves on to another box. "It's just difficult to be around someone that chipper twenty-four seven."
"It can be difficult to live with someone."
"Wiser words have never been uttered. Where were you when I could have used that darling gem of advice?" It kills her to not reach out and brush the lock of hair that's fallen onto Clark's face.
Clark gives her another blinding smile before expertly shifting topics. A classic Clark Kent specialty - made to order, given the moment. "You and your dad are coming over on Christmas, right?"
"Yeah. Wouldn't miss it for the world." Ever since she and Clark had become friends, his mom always insisted that she and her father go over for Christmas dinner. It was kind of nice, felt like a family. That and her father's cooking left a lot to be desire. Besides, nothing beats Mrs. Kent's killer pumpkin pie.
"Let's see... how exactly can I ditch her? Hmmmm..." She gives him a impishly thoughtful look.
"You can't, you meanie!" Clark laughs, throwing a red and green bow at her half-heartedly.
She gives him a lopsided smile. "Actually, she's going to Metropolis to spend Christmas day with Nell and Dean."
"Ah. Why isn't she going earli-"
"Talon." The single word that explains everything pertaining to Lana Lang.
Clark nods, then tilts his head up to give her a half-smirk. "Tell your dad not to bother bringing anything."
Chloe leans back on a palm, laughing loudly. Her father decided last year that he was going to contribute the sweet potatoes. Suffice to say, there was a lot of polite smiling and nodding. She loves her father, but he really needs to stay away from the kitchen.
"Don't worry. I'll sabotage the stove if that's what it comes to."
Clark is laughing with her as he reaches for the last unwrapped box. "You done Christmas shopping?"
She gives him a self-satisfied grin. "It's called 'online shopping'."
Clark shakes his head, but she can see the grin he's trying to hide. "So, you in any rush to get home?"
"Uh, that would be 'no'."
"Why don't you stick around? I'll get us some hot cocoa and I can name you all the constellations again."
Chloe chuckles softly. When will Clark finally figure out that she never listens whenever he goes on and on about the stars? She has no desire to know their names or how far out they are. They're high up in the sky, they're pretty and they're nice to look at. She nods anyway, watching Clark as he carefully stacks the wrapped gifts on the table, cleaning up after himself.
She eyes the gifts mischievously. "Wow, Clark. You're pretty trusting leaving those presents out in the open."
"The only presents I need to hide are yours and Pete's." Clark raises one eyebrow at her. Walking towards her, he dips down as he nears her. "Your present isn't in the barn. Don't bother looking for it."
He flashes a huge grin at her then trots down the stairs out of view. She grins to herself for several moments before walking over to the window. Throwing the bottom half open as well, she plops onto the ground, letting her legs swing over the ledge.
She sees Clark entering the kitchen, walking as slow as molasses -- as per usual. She tilts her head up to cool air. It's a beautiful night. The sky is absolutely clear and she is able make out each individual sparkling light. There is a light breeze against her face, colder now that it's getting late.
It's her favourite time of the year. Something about the holiday season just makes people nicer. Everyone has an extra smile to share, an extra dollar or two to help someone in need, an extra moment to lend a helping hand. It's nice. She gets warm, fuzzy feelings just thinking about it.
Wow. She must have been daydreaming longer than she thought because Clark is already making his way back to the barn. Twisting around, she waits for Clark's big frame to amble up the stairs, balancing two steaming mugs - probably filled too high in requisite Clark Kent style.
He hands her one before slowly lowering himself next to her, a huge smile on his face. "I gave you four marshmallows this time."
"Heyyy. Did you want hot chocolate with marshmallows or marshmallows with a dash of hot chocolate?"
She frowns at him. "I'm sorry. I'm just trying to figure out - how is that even a question?"
"Just drink your hot chocolate." He's trying hard to fight a grin, covering it up with a sip of his drink.
She turns back to her own drink, taking an experimental sip. Just the way she liked it - way too much cocoa, way too much sugar, and cream not milk. She sneaks a peek at him. It warms her insides to realize how well he knows her.
Slowly, she phases out into her own little world as he starts rambling about some star formation. Alternating between required nodding and tilting her head in the general direction of where he's pointing, she takes surreptitious glances at him. God. He's so beautiful when he gets all serious. Wide-eyed sincerity and infectious eagerness. She isn't able to resist a smile.
He's still talking about some constellation that she couldn't care less about. Their hot chocolate is long gone, the mugs set somewhere behind them. The cold is starting to get to her and she shivers involuntarily. Immediately, concerned eyes are on her.
She tries to smile reassuringly at him. "Yeah."
"No, you're not. You're cold." He's too perceptive for his own good. Or maybe she's an open book.
She completely freezes when an arm slips around her waist, pulling her close against Clark's chest. There are questions streaking through her mind - What are you doing? Is this a good idea? Does this mean something? I thought you're in love with Lana? Does this mean something?!
But instead she leans into Clark's warmth. Tomorrow. She'll ask tomorrow. Because right then, she's just feeling too good to care.
Is Clark still rambling on about the Perseus constellation?
Also, why not join
Level Three, the Smallville all-fic list?