It's been a long time since I've written Smallville fic; I was one of the first moderators of KryptonSite and I've recently returned. This story attempts to bridge the Smallville storyline to the new Superman & Lois series. Also I've only watched Smallville up to Season 5 so far, so I don't know what happens to Chloe after that point.

Feedback is appreciated...if anyone is even actually reading this forum anymore! :-)

"Bridge" by SullivanLane

***Fifteen Years Ago***

The scene looked straight out of a movie: She stood on the rooftop of the highest building in Metropolis, wearing a bright purple shiny raincoat and carrying a silver umbrella to shield her from the steady rain that fell. It was almost dusk, and the sky was gray and purple. He touched down lightly a few feet behind her, the red cape billowing behind him.

“This is a surprise. I haven’t heard from you in years,” Clark said.

“Come here and give me a hug,” Chloe said, grinning and pulling him close. “You didn’t think that after your debut as ‘Superman,’ I wouldn’t come and check in with you?”

Clark pulled away to look at her face. “What did you think of it? They’re calling me the Man of Steel.” He smiled shyly; it was an expression that Chloe knew well, but one he hid from the rest of the world. She knew him when he wasn’t confident yet, when he was just coming to know who he was as a person and coming to terms with what he could do.

“It was very...un-Clark Kent-like,” Chloe said carefully. “I’m impressed. No one is going to guess that Clark Kent from Smallville is really the superhero Superman.”

“Hope so.”

Chloe didn’t respond to that. “I just wanted to tell you… I’m moving.”

Clark’s face snapped up in surprise. “Moving? But...I just got started.”

“I know.” Chloe sighed. “The NSA is moving me to National City.” Another sigh, which she hoped would relay ambivalence and uncertainty. “It’s a promotion. A good one. I can’t say no.” Her job. She rarely talked about it, and Clark never pushed. It was something they finally learned about each other in these recent years: boundaries.

“I need you, Chloe.” There he went, overstepping that boundary. At least toeing it. No, it was firmly stepping over it.

Chloe laughed but it was tinged with sadness. She didn’t get offended by what he said. They were always shoving things way out of bounds. It was a hallmark of their relationship — their lack of boundaries. “Well. I’m glad you finally realized it, Clark.” Chloe wiped away tears from her eyes. “You can do this on your own.”

“No, I can’t.” But then he stopped. “Man, am I being selfish. Of course. Of course you can’t say no to this.” It was his turn to sigh. “I’m really happy for you, Chloe.”

“I’m always here for you. I promise.”

“It’s not the same,” Clark said. “You’re the main reason I came to Metropolis in the first place.”

Chloe let out a soft laugh. “Yeah, ironic, isn’t it?”

“And now you’re leaving me.”

Chloe wished she could tell him. This was for his own good. She was doing this for him. But she couldn’t. Not yet, not right now.

Abruptly, Chloe took a step back. “Anyway.” She turned so she was facing him again. “I wanted to say goodbye in person. And...I’ll see you around.” A slight pause before she said, “Be careful, Clark.” Spoken lightly, but with all the heaviness that that meant, to a person who was almost a god, invincible to almost all earthly elements. He wasn’t immune to life’s worries and setbacks. He was still a man who walked among other men.

Clark searched her face, trying to discern her meaning. But he knew it wasn’t worth it to ask her. There were so many things that were left unsaid with Chloe these days; he knew better. Instead of saying what he really wanted to say, he said, “I’m not going to see much of you after today, am I?”

Chloe couldn’t answer; she couldn’t bear to say it out loud. She shook her head almost imperceptibly. “No,” she finally croaked out.

“Okay.”

He put his arm around her and squeezed. “I love you, you know.”

“Yeah. I’m going to miss you.”

She didn’t say I love you back, Clark noticed. Clark opened his mouth to say something but then closed it. This was hard. And he couldn’t really put his finger on why. And he couldn’t ask her.

“I’ll...catch up with you later?” she said with a big, forced smile.

“Yes.”

With that, she folded up her umbrella, turned on her heel, and disappeared down the stairwell.

***Present Day***

Clark sat in the truck bed, picking at the hay bale next to him now that he had brought the cows back in from pasture. The setting sun cast an orange glow on everything around him, except for the shadow of the barn in front of him. Coming back to Smallville was the last thing he expected to do at this point in his life. It was just so...quiet. Even though it had been home from the time he could remember until he was almost 18 years old, he knew it would take a while to get used to it again.

His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a car coming around the bend; he heard it far sooner than anyone else would. His brow furrowed and his eyes narrowed as he focused on the otherwise empty road. His face relaxed as he recognized the red convertible with the top down. The driver had some classic rock playing on the stereo, and her blonde hair whipped about her face as she hummed along with the music. Clark ambled to the entrance to the farm and leaned against the fence post.

The car came to a stop alongside and the driver hopped out of the car and threw her arms around Clark.


“Clark!”

“Chloe!”

He held her tightly, swung her around in a circle, and placed her gently down on the ground. Her high-heeled boots crunched on the gravel. He held her at arm’s length to get a good look at her.

“You haven’t changed.” She was the one who said it, but he was thinking it of her, too.

“You know there is such a thing as cell phones, and you could have told me you were coming,” he said, as they made their way to the house.

“I knew you’d be here,” she said off-handedly, wrapping her arm around his and giving it a squeeze before trotting ahead of him.

“But…” He hesitated, trying to find the right way to say it.

“Yeah,” she said, nodding. “It’s a long way from National City. But I need to talk to you. In person.”

“Lois and the kids are in town for back-to-school shopping and hamburgers. They won’t be back till late.”

Chloe placed her hand on Clark’s arm and looked him in the eye. “I need to talk to you.”


***

The farmhouse had not changed much in the years since she had last visited. Was it ten years? Maybe twelve. At least twelve. There were still ceramic magnets on the front of the fridge, from all of Clark’s travels around the world, and the old gas stove was the same one that Chloe had seen as a kid. And Clark, taking off his jacket and throwing it over his chair, was the same. He still wore the same worn flannel shirt, the same faded jeans. He was Smallville Clark again, a far cry from Metropolis Clark, who would have thrown a tweed blazer over his chair instead, and wearing crisp button-down shirts with a super-secret superhero costume underneath it.

“Start talking,” Clark said as he placed a large mug of coffee in front of Chloe.

Chloe took a small silver box the size of a cell phone from her bag. She placed it on the table between them and pressed a button, which briefly glowed green. “It’s an electronic signal scrambler. If anyone’s eavesdropping, they won’t hear anything but ambient noise.”

Clark’s eyes narrowed as he examined the device and then he looked back at Chloe. “Okay, you’ve officially piqued my interest.”

Chloe sighed. “Clark, what do you know about my job?”

“Oh. Hmm. I didn’t expect that question.”

“Just humor me.”

“Well…you work for the NSA. And...that’s about it.”

“My job at the NSA specifically is to track superheroes and vigilantes.”

Clark’s eyes widened and he stood up abruptly, knocking his chair askew. With his fast reflexes he righted it before it toppled down.

“Chloe...why?”

“My job is to track superheroes and vigilantes,” she repeated. “And to make sure their identities are kept secret from enemies, foreign and domestic, and the general public. My job is to protect you and people like you, Clark. And your families.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Clark, it’s not like how it was when we were teenagers. There’s a security camera on every storefront. There’s a GPS in every cell phone. Haven’t you ever thought about how easy it would be for anyone with halfway decent hacking knowledge to figure out Superman’s flight patterns?”

Clark took his phone out of his pocket and held it up. “This was given to me by the DEO.”

“And I helped develop it,” Chloe responded. “So that you can’t be tracked by the wrong people.”

“Yet you were the one keeping tabs on me all this time,” Clark shot back. Chloe could tell he was doing his best to keep his cool. She didn’t blame him. She had let this lie of omission go on for far too long. “Chloe, why couldn’t you tell me this earlier?”

She didn’t have a good answer. “Actually, my first job was technically to track your cousin Kara. And then in the past couple of years, I was moved to your case. But at that point, it was just easier for me to keep you at an arm’s distance, I think. I didn’t want you to think I was prying again. But I can’t keep it to myself anymore. I need you to know because...Because at least one of your children is being surveilled, too.”

Clark was flabbergasted. He and Lois thought they had been so careful, but as usual, he couldn’t put anything past Chloe. It was starting to make sense. It was so easy for them to find a doctor who was willing to falsify vaccination records and annual physical exams for the kids. Paperwork seemed to disappear or conveniently have already been filled in when they needed it the most. And now one of his kids…

“Which one?”

“You know which one.” Chloe looked at him pointedly. “Actually, I want you to know we’re keeping a close eye on both of them. They’re teenagers, so that also means they’re going to be reckless sometimes. No matter how much you tell them to be careful, they won’t be.” Chloe traced the wood grain on the table in front of her.

“Yeah, I remember.” They exchanged a look that recalled all the many times they had gotten into hot water, all the close calls, all the fibs and excuses they made so Clark wouldn’t be outed. In spite of themselves, they smiled.

“And...I wanted you to know that I’m moving back to Smallville.” Clark’s face lit up even further, but Chloe held her hand up. “But you can’t tell anyone. I’m going to be here just to be close. The world might be technologically connected, but in many ways, Smallville is still at the turn of the century — last century. I’ll be here in the background, tying up loose ends and cleaning up any messes that can’t be done electronically.”

“You’re still looking out for me,” Clark said softly. “That’s what you’ve been doing all along. I’m grateful.”

Chloe’s watch beeped, and she glanced down at it. She stood up. “Lois and your boys are on their way back, which means I better run.”

“Your life is so weird.”

“So’s yours.”

“Touche. You don’t want to say hi?”

Chloe half-smiled. She wanted to see her cousin, but on the other hand, she didn’t. It would be better if Clark would explain it to her. “I think I should go. You can tell Lois as much as you want.” She slid the silver device toward him. “You can keep this; it’ll probably come in handy when you need to talk especially with kids who might develop super hearing. There’s only one button to turn it on and off.”

Clark stood up too, and put his hands in his pocket. “It’s going to take me a while to digest this.”

“I know, and I’m sorry to dump this all on you at once. Do you hate me?”

Clark immediately shook his head no. “I shouldn’t have been surprised. You are the smartest, most resourceful person I know. And I’m so glad you’re on my side.”

“I love you, you know,” Chloe said looking up at him.

“Me too. Always.”

***

Chloe’s phone rang and the display indicated a familiar number. She activated her electronic sound dampener and answered the call.

“Hey.” The familiar female voice on the other end was tentative. She knew what was going down today at the Kent Farm.

“Hey.”

“How’d it go?” the caller asked.

“About as well as I expected.”

“Did he take it okay?”


“Did Bruce take it well when you told him about where you work, Barbara?”

A slight pause and then laughter. “Good point. All right, Chloe. You have a place to stay out there?”

“Yeah, I’m set. I’m on a small farm just up the road from the Kents.”

“The old Lang Farm?” Barbara was incredulous.

“Omigod, no, I can’t live there. It’s the other direction and it’s out of eyeshot, thank goodness. I don’t need a Kent boy getting too familiar with his telescope. But I keep forgetting how much I missed this place.”

“No, you don’t.”

“No, I don’t,” Chloe affirmed with a chuckle. They knew each other well, working side by side for so many years. “I guess I just miss the people. One person in particular.”

“I get it.”

“You do.”

-Fin- 05.19.2020