Author Note 1: This was a present I wrote for Adelebug406 for secret-Chlark 2008. It is reposted here with permission by the "owner".

Author Note 2: This one is sort of on the sweet side.

Author Note 3: Feedback is wonderful, as always. Enjoy.

The Abacus


Christmas 2000

The school bell rang, signaling the start of winter holidays for the eighth graders. Lockers banged in the hallway as kids threw their books into the metal cupboards and slammed the doors. Clark hung back a little from the exodus. Tucked in his school bag was a present he made for Chloe.

She hadn't specifically told him, but he knew that she was dreading the interruption in classes. Chloe mentioned the other night how she never has had a Christmas tree. The most she hoped for is that gifts came wrapped.

Clark Kent couldn't imagine what it would be like not to have a homey Christmas. He enjoyed everything about it, from frosting Christmas cookies with his mom to picking out a tree with his father, Clark loved the atmosphere of giving. He never thought there might be someone out there that didn't like the holidays.

Chloe loitered down the hallway, her arms hugging a huge book.

"Chloe?"

"Hi Clark," Chloe smiled. "What are you doing over break?"

"I'll be trying to figure out what to give my folks when all I have is fifteen dollars," Clark answered. "How about you?"

"Productive study," Chloe said. She tapped the textbook. "Computer languages. I think it will be useful."

The halls were empty except for a few teachers making way to their faculty lounge. Seeing that the coast was clear, Clark pulled a Christmas present from his bag.

"I made you something," Clark said. He handed over the poorly wrapped gift.

It was a thin gift and looked a lot like a box of chocolates. Chloe set her text on the floor and shook it. It rattled.

"What is it?"

"You've gotta open it to find out," Clark said. "I swear, the concept of gift giving is lost on you."

Chloe ripped open the green paper. It was an abacus. The frame was white pine, and the top was engraved, 'You can count on me'. She fingered the strange beads. They were grayish, translucent rocks.

"You like computers," Clark said, "I thought you might like to have one of the earliest models."

Chloe looked up at Clark. Her bright green eyes were positively golden. A smile broke out over her face. Clark was happy she liked the gift.

"My dad did help me with the engraving. I kept breaking the wood."

Clark grimaced. That was too much information, but Chloe didn't have a clue.

"It's the most thoughtful gift I've ever received."

Clark was embarrassed because he knew what she said was probably true.

Chloe looked around the hallway. Satisfied that it was just them, she hugged him. Clark's hand slipped around her to squeeze her back.

"Merry Christmas, Chloe."

"Merry Christmas, Clark."

Christmas 2006

"There you are," Chloe said, as she skipped up the stairs of the loft.

Clark lounged on his back looking at the barn rafters. He was in his blue t-shirt and no coat. Anyone else would have found this odd because it was so very cold outside. Chloe was wrapped up in her best winter coat and woolen mittens. She sat down next to him, and poked his ribs to stir him.

"Let's go over to Mackie's and see if they got any good trees left," Chloe said. "I'm going to put one up in the Talon, and I'll need your help to carry it home."

"Is this what I am to you, your personal super machine?" Clark asked indigently.

Chloe wasn't offended, because she knew his tone wasn't about her, it was about missing his dad.

"Your dad would have helped me. Actually Clark, lots of guys carry trees home. You being super really doesn't have anything to do with this."

She was right. It was a perfectly normal thing for a guy to help a girl carry a Christmas tree.

"You also need to go get a tree with for your mom," Chloe said. "It's December 18th and no tree up at the Kent's seems strange to me.'

"Chloe, I'm really not in the holiday mood," Clark told her. "I barely survived Thanksgiving."

"I know you're not in the mood Clark," Chloe said. "Buying the Christmas tree was something you did with your dad, but you can't dwell on it. Am I not good company?"

Clark looked uncertain, but took his red jacket off its peg and stuffed his arms into the sleeves.

"You can do this Clark. You can count on me to cheer you up."

Christmas 2009

At the Christmas party, Clark kissed Chloe for the first time. There had been this unspoken something between them for a while now. He was always in the background, biding his time as her divorce came through. Now Jimmy was out of her life, and he was still in hers. The moment to change was finally right, and he didn't see any reason to wait.

Chloe was leaning against the wall, sipping a glass of red wine. Clark took the goblet from her hand and set it aside. He didn't give her any hints, he just leaned in, and kissed her. Desire warmed his entire body. Their noses stayed close as they tried to talk.

Chloe giggled.

"What's funny?" Clark whispered. "Did I tickle you?"

Clark kissed her again, and this time, her arms went up to embrace him. Clark managed to keep his mouth closed, and just enjoyed their proximity.

Chloe giggled again.

"Stop laughing," Clark said.

"It's just nervous energy. You're nervous too. You're holding back."

"Is this holding back?" Clark asked.

His mouth once again connected with hers. He felt Chloe's hand come up to stroke his cheek. Clark pulled her lip into his mouth, and Chloe parted hers. Clark's tongue accepted her offer, and his arms encircled her body.

It was the most beautiful Christmas ever.

"I knew I could count on you," Chloe said.

Christmas 2010

It was a warm December, three weeks before Christmas, and Chloe removed her coat as she met Clark in the barn. Clark greeted Chloe with a kiss as he wiped black smudges from his hands.

"I have something to ask you," Clark said.

Clark and Chloe were trying to figure out how to be physically intimate with each other. Clark was still concerned that sex would hurt Chloe, so their love went unconsummated. But they also talked about getting married, and he insisted, one day he would propose when he was ready to take things to the next level.

"What do you want to ask me Clark?"

"Did you bring it?"

Clark winked at her and she lovely slapped his arm.

"I wish you wouldn't tease me like that," Chloe said. "But, yeah, I've got it."

Chloe didn't know why Clark wanted the old abacus he gave her eleven years ago. The pine frame was grayer now. The wires were slightly warped and the beads would stick, making it functionally useless. Chloe loved the thing because of the inscription, and the sentiment of the gift never failed her. She always could count on Clark.

"I'm so glad you still have this," Clark said. "I used to worry that you'd sell it or it would fall into the wrong hands."

"Clark, I'd never get rid of something I treasured."

"I made it just to cheer you up," Clark said. "But I couldn't tell you its secret."

Clark broke the frame of the abacus to Chloe's horror.

"What are you doing? Stop!"

"I can't make them anymore. My hands are too big."

He pulled off a grayish bead and held it before his eyes. Chloe stood back as Clark used laser vision to cut the rock, exposing its brilliance. He squirted water over it to clean off the dust and then showed it to Chloe.

It was a diamond, a large, brilliant white diamond.

"Oh my God," Chloe said. "You mean, all this time..."

"I gave you seventy diamonds for Christmas back when we were thirteen," Clark said. "We had just learned in Earth Science how diamonds were made from carbon, coal and pressure. I got curious one afternoon. I found some coal in the barn and tried."

"Clark, you gave me diamonds?"

"I gave you uncut diamonds. I didn't get laser vision until this year," Clark said. "I've been trying for a while to make a new one, but…."

"Your hands are too big," Chloe finished with a laugh.

Chloe opened his right hand and let her fingernail trace the lines inside of it. He gently squeezed her hand, and then knelt before her.

"Will you marry me?" Clark whispered.

A smile broke over her face as Clark proposed.

"Chloe, I love you so much. Marry me. Help me. Count on me."

Clark and Chloe exchange vows at the Kent's Christmas party, as a light snow fell over Smallville Kansas.

~fin~

Final Notes - If you still love Chlark, now's a great time to say so with feedback. Did I represent Chlark well? Did you like the story?