"I thought you said Martha was coming," Chloe hissed in the kitchen of the old farmhouse.
Clark sighed. "She was coming, but there was a snow storm in DC, some freak thing that kicked up and she's delayed."
"You couldn't fly her here?"
"Senator. People notice when she gets to Kansas at rapid speeds when all flights out of DC are grounded. Believe me, I miss my mom but we work really hard to..."
"Keep up appearances. I know that, Clark. I'd never want you to do anything to put your secret at risk or Kara's. I just thought you'd be happier with her here."
A raucous shout calls out from the table and Clark flinched. He bet that Kara's hearing would be flaring up as badly as his own from all the noise. It felt like someone banging a kitchen pot right up next to his hear. It grated. Posture stiff, he turned back to Chloe, "I was mostly hoping mom could play referee. Everyone listens to her, you know?"
"Yeah, but it's not that bad. It's Thanksgiving. Everyone has a little rough spot."
Clark rolled his eyes as he grabbed the turkey platter. "That's a very Martha Stewart way to look at it. What happened to the Chloe who called it like she saw it?"
She held up her left hand and the two simple gold bands gleamed on it. "I got married. The calmer personality comes with the territory."
As she carefully balanced the green bean casserole in one over mitt covered hand, Clark held up his own hand, the ring on it a little nicer than hers. He'd made full reporter under the Tiffanies before he'd married Lois. "Huh, that whole settling down thing never happened to Lois."
"You complain too much," Chloe snarked. "Now are you going to get your butt out there or do I have to carve the turkey myself."
He snorted. "I was actually thinking of heat visioning it. It cuts better, like that."
"And burns faster too. Uh-huh, knife and fork. I like my bird not fricassed."
He laughed and felt more relaxed than he had in months. It was natural, just them, almost like Thanksgiving years ago, back when Lois had been with Ollie and Jimmy was just starting up with her. Even with the Zoners, things had been more simple, easier, almost like they were supposed to be. Now he felt like he barely saw Chloe. Nominally, she was still his best friend. But she was always working late at ISIS or sometimes, although not as often as she once had, working for Oliver on the side. Then she had Jimmy. He had leads to track with Lois and Superman duties. Sometimes he'd go weeks where he didn't even call Chloe.
It contrasted so sharply with those days after his father's death or even when Kara had first moved onto the farm, those days of breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner with her. Then meeting became an effort, a chore, then something they rarely did at all.
He missed her.
"Fine, but I'll ask Kara how she prefers her slice. She gets the culinary delights of using heat vision."
"Sure she does," Chloe replied, frowning when she heard a crash coming from the living room. "Oh no."
Clark blurred into superspeed, setting the plates back down on the island, before rushing into the living room, Chloe on his heels. When he came to a stop, he found the table shattered and Jimmy lying on top of it. Kara was standing over him and her eyes were blazing red.
Kara turned to him but didn't step back from Jimmy's prone form. "He totally goosed me!"
Lois, who was still sitting at the table, and, unfortunately, had started into some alcohol, rolled her eyes. "Smallville, it means he grabbed her."
"Today, my chest," Kara replied. "Lois snuck in some sherry and by some, I mean tons. Didn't you check her? I thought after she managed to set the kitchen on fire last Christmas we had a no booze rule."
"We did," Chloe replied, shaking her head and helping Jimmy up. Her hand was already glowing. "Are you okay? Do I need to?"
Jimmy eyed her hand nervously and Clark hated that apprehension. "No, I'm good. She, ah, didn't throw me very hard."
Kara tossed her hair back over her shoulder. "You're very lucky I didn't tear off your arm. I told you after last Christmas when you tried to kiss me that we aren't getting back together."
Clark clenched his hands and refrained from hitting Jimmy, himself. The look of hurt on Chloe's face was swift, but he'd watched her for years, known her forever. He could tell that fake plastered smile and wide eyes from a mile away. "He what?"
That weasel was already brushing the wood splinters off of him. "It wasn't any big deal. It's just like with Maxima. I guess aliens are just irresistible."
"Travelers," he corrected automatically. "And I guess so. Did Lois let you borrow some sherry too?"
"Maybe a spot of it, CK. Chloe won't let me have any at home."
"Probably because every time you have some, you drink too much and hit on me," Kara snapped.
"Kara, can you calm down for a second," Clark asked.
She planted her hands on her hips and glared at him. "So now you are taking his side?"
"No, I'm not, but I just think this would all be easier if you went to the loft or DC to see mom or just took a breather."
"She wants you out of the way, Superbrat, so that my little cuz isn't extra humiliated!" Lois called, weaving a little in her chair and letting out a large belch.
Kara blushed and looked back at Chloe. "Chloe, I'm sorry. I didn't encourage it."
The fake smile was beginning to crack a little. "It's fine, Kara, but if you could just take a break for a few. I just need some time."
"Of course, I thought Aunt Martha might be lonely," she replied and then she was gone. Clark was thankful that Kara had gotten a clue for once.
"Jimmy, I don't appreciate you coming into my home and doing things my cousin doesn't want."
"I know, CK, and I just had a little too much sherry."
"No such thing!" Lois called out and she was now just chugging out of the flask she'd snuck in wholesale.
"...I just couldn't help myself."
Clark let his eyes flare hotter than Kara's had. "Don't even. I'm with Kara, if you value your arms, just shut up, Jimmy."
"So now it's not okay? What about 'you weren't yourself' with Maxima."
Clark looked back at Chloe, who was trying very hard not to crumble. He wish he'd never covered for Jimmy the first time, because he'd done it more than once in the years since, especially after any fights he'd had with Chloe. Jimmy's default setting, unfortunately like Lois's, was to reach for the bottle first and ask questions later. "Free ride's over. You're not welcome in my house if you keep grabbing at my cousin. This is <i> not </i> The Windgate."
"I think it's a good idea for you to call a cab and go back to Metropolis. I'll even cover the fare if you won't. I don't think we'll be having dinner."
"That's great because I think...blargh," Lois called, leaning over and throwing up beside the kitchen table. "Ugh, next time I swipe the sherry from Perry's office. Next time, the hard stuff."
Clark eyed Chloe and sighed. "I can get the mop. I'm sorry---"
"It's fine, I'll help you."
Lois was conked out on their bed upstairs, although she'd thrown up a second time, right on him, as he'd carried her up the stairs. He was sitting on the sofa then, in an old hole-ridden red t-shirt and jeans, and looking at Chloe. She had helped him clean up the floor and he'd loaned her an old flannel shirt too, which pooled over her skirt. Everything else was in the washing machine. Jimmy was well on his way via a cab to Metropolis and the house was blessfully quiet.
Chloe's eyes were suspiciously red and he'd heard her crying softly as he'd slid Lois into bed. She had to know that he'd heard that.
"Hey, so this is better than Christmas."
"Only because Lois didn't give a speech about how much she quote 'fucking hated' Cat Grant and how she was going to get her fired in front of your mom and my dad."
"Well, this time there was some vomit."
"And I knew Jimmy had groped Kara because she let something slip to Bart and he has a huge mouth. So, some family traditions are intact."
Clark turned to her and quirked his head. "Chlo, how often does he do that?"
"How often does Lois get tanked?" she bit back. "What happens with me and Jimmy is my business."
"I was just saying that if it happens all the time, then maybe, you might think of, kind of, well, you know..."
"Divorce?" She snapped, her eyes narrowed at him. "I'm not doing that. I don't tell you to leave Lois."
"Lois is your cousin. Aren't you supposed to side with her?"
"Sometimes," she conceded, letting out a breath. "I'm just really tired. Thanksgiving is supposed to be chaotic. He'll sleep it off and we'll reconcile and it'll be fine. And next time you'll remember to X-ray Lois for hidden bottles. Status quo."
He wanted to say that the status quo was draining, even to Superman, that it sucked, but he and Chloe both worked so hard to maintain the fiction they lived in, that they were happy. If either of them said out loud what was obvious, then everything they'd constructed would fall apart. And he didn't know to go from that wasteland.
"Yeah, status quo. You can spend the night here, if you want."
"Thanks. I don't think I could deal with all that tonight. And your couch is unusually comfy."
"It's that year it got softened up with me sleeping on it," he replied, standing up and heading to the linen closet. "Chlo?"
<i> Do you ever feel like your life was supposed to be something different? </i>
"Fleece blanket or flannel?"
She grinned the first genuine one of the night. "On this farm? Flannel, of course."
"Of course. And you can stay over tomorrow if you need to."
"Nah, I have meetings for ISIS and a support group initiation. Lots of stuff. But tonight's enough for sheltering me. Thanks."
He sighed and handed her a blanket, a smile pasted on his face. "Always, Chlo. Always."
Written for the Chlark 24/7 challenge of Turkey Day.