Title: An Unpredictable Journey
Spoilers: For season 1 through to season 3
The resident alien, the boy with the hero complex, a factor that underscores his inherent to help people even at the risk of exposing his secret. Introspection is a trait he's prone to, and he does this quite frequently, leading him to overanalyse why and how he came to earth, something that has made him develop a guilt complex. He feels deeply responsible for the suffering which the meteor shower brought to the people of Smallville, and the guilt escalated as the result of the shower became apparent with each passing season and each meteor mutant that plagues the town. He's also kind, loyal and tends to see the good in the people around him but he has his flaws, he’s quick to jump to conclusions, has a predilection for making decisions for those around him, and possesses a fierce temper.
A temper that he works extremely hard to keep under control because he knows just how dangerous he can be when he isn‘t in control. He isn’t easy to understand because he withholds so much of his feelings and retreats behind a mental barrier that shuts everyone out. It's a mechanism he uses to cope with being different from everyone else on the planet, with the feeling of being abandoned and not wanted as a baby, up until Memoria where he discovered that he was loved as a baby. As he has learnt more about his heritage, his life has only become more confusing and complicated, and he has become afraid of who he is and what he's capable of, and the fact that he has a biological father driving him towards a destiny which goes against everything the Kents' have taught him doesn't help matters. Every year he has to adapt to gaining new papers and become adept at using them, otherwise any inability on his part to fail to control his powers is a danger to others. So it's no wonder that with all of these issues that Clark is incredibly private, and doesn't react kindly to anyone prying into his life.
The outsider transported into the weird world that is Smallville, who notices and documents the strange events and accidents that occur regularly, which most of the residents are happy to forget about or pretend it never happens. She's determined, outspoken and extremely passionate about journalism - working for the Daily Planet in the future is her ultimate goal, and she works very hard at achieving it, becoming the editor of the school paper, and interning during the summer at the Metropolis newspapers. Chloe is also the girl who has been in love with Clark since the day she moved into the “leafy hamlet” of Kansas, the girl who gave him his first kiss and the girl who introduced him to journalism.
One of her most admirable traits is her ability to learn from her mistakes and the consequences of her actions. She may be obsessed with uncovering the truth but she knows when she's gone too far and is able to admit that she was wrong, for example when she realised that she had endangered Lex in Extinction by investigating him and storing the information in her database. As she said she hadn't pulled the trigger "but just loaded the gun and pointed it in the right direction". It took a certain amount of courage and self-awareness to make that admission, no one ever likes admitting that they've screwed up that badly, and it's a good evolution from the girl in earlier seasons so obsessed with her wall of weird that she didn't give much thought to the impact the investigation would have on the subjects.
Why I think they work as a pairing
Theirs is a friendship already in progress before the debut of the show, they have known each other for a few years and naturally gravitated towards each other despite the apparent contrast between them, or sometimes I think it’s because of it. The same difference in personalities has been responsible for a number of clashes between them, and the fights can be particularly painful as shown in Lineage with Clark’s angry response to Chloe researching into his adoption, but they are still able to withstand the anger and disappointments because they trust each other and are able to look beneath the flawed exteriors to the good underneath.
From the first we see them in Smallville, you are aware of Chloe's love for Clark, but he, as blind as ever to all matters of the opposite sex is unaware of it. They are friends, who work together in the school newspaper or rather Clark prints the school menu while Chloe investigates and he doesn’t take the reporting seriously as she does but he still works there because she does. It takes the little boy, Ryan, who can read minds to make Clark aware of Chloe’s feelings in Stray, and it becomes obvious that he’s attracted to her, it may not have been an immediate reciprocation of her love but he’s not unmoved by her.
This all culminates to Clark taking Chloe to the Prom in Tempest, and his subsequent disappearance from the prom because Lana was in danger which ends the budding relationship. After the tornado (Vortex), Chloe runs scared of what she sees as Clark’s unwavering love for Lana and breaks off the relationship, a development that Clark accepts, deferring to her wishes. There are so many otherwise decisions that could have been taken, Chloe could have fought for Clark even though she has always been aware of Clark’s crush on Lana or Clark could have called Chloe’s bluff and maintained the relationship. But they both displayed their age and relevant inexperience with the opposite sex, Clark doesn’t read Chloe very well to see the insecurity she‘s showing regarding her ability to hold Clark’s interest in her, thereby both accepting the friendship was too important to risk. It was an easy way out, and they both took it.
It's a pairing that was cut short before it ever blossomed, before we could explore Clark’s feelings for Chloe or her love for him, we didn’t get to see if they could ever had worked or if they would have killed each other after the first few months. Instead they revert back to a platonic relationship but it’s underscored with love and attraction, and a sense of what might have been and you didn’t need a crystal ball to know that this willingness by both of them to ignore it would only end badly, which it did in Exodus, where Chloe’s faith in Clark was tested, and she found him wanting. For the first time since the show started Chloe lost her trust in Clark, the same one that she had in Obscura when she told him, "It's you, it's always you," after he saves her, where she never questions how but accepts that he came just like she knew he would, and he was there for her just like he had always been.
But it’s the durable nature of this pairing that they are able to withstand moments of conflict, loss of faith, to come back together and repair the friendship, which is always the stronger for it. If season two was a test of Chloe’s faith in Clark, then season three was the opposite, Clark’s trust in Chloe and what he taught was his understanding of her personality and her regard for their friendship was tested in Whisper when he found out about the Chloe and Lionel deal. A revelation that was a blow to Clark because he had always thought that despite everything they had been through, the one thing he could count on was his trust in Chloe. The relationship was visibly strained, neither not knowing how to progress, and where next for their friendship until in Delete where Clark finally gave Chloe the hint that, yes he had a secret but he wasn't ready to tell anyone, he asked her to wait until he was. Chloe finally getting a glimpse at the turmoil Clark was in understood that the reason he wasn't telling her wasn't because he didn't trust her but because he hadn't come to terms with the secret yet, something Clark has to do before his life can move on. That was really all Chloe needed to know and she took a step back from prying into his life, even though she had a lapse in Truth it just states how much she’s willing to curb her natural instinct to investigate and all because she values his friendship.
I love that they fight, are able to say hurtful things to each other in moments of anger but are still capable of making up and re-building the friendship. I have always thought that the reason why they are able to vacillate between conflict and trust so much is that at heart they trust each other. They trust each other enough to let the other see a side of them they rarely let anyone else get a glimpse of, the crying, anger, passion are different sides of Clark and Chloe that are hardly shown to other characters. In a way there’s an acceptance of each other’s flaws, a knowledge that there would be forgiveness for displaying those flaws, something that works extremely well for both of them because they give as good as they get.
Despite the frequency of their arguments Clark hates fighting with Chloe, he would avoid it if he could but sometimes she pushes his buttons unlike most people and his temper is ignited, but at the end of it he cannot stand any animosity between them, this is something he admits to Lana in Witness after another one of those memorable arguments between them. It makes me love this pairing even more because they drive each other crazy, and sometimes more than likely will feel killing the other, but yet they are unable to sever the ties that bind them together, they would not know what to do without the other, he wouldn't know what to do without her in his life, and vice versa.
Chloe touches Clark in ways that most times he’s unable to articulate, he understands her, cares deeply about her (sometimes I think if he thought about it, his feelings would be verging on a lot more than caring about someone), and is able to see past her mistakes and flaws to the young girl underneath, who means well, but sometimes goes about it the wrong way. This has always struck me as the reason why Clark forgives Chloe in Truth, he understood her motives, and how much he meant to her whether as a friend or as a romantic partner. He saw the girl who is unable to handle the thought of Clark not trusting her or keeping a secret from her that he’s seems to be perfectly willing to share with Pete, the girl that values his friendship to such an extent that sometime down the road she‘s afraid she will finally do the one thing he would never forgive her for. Clark understood, and he told her, “Not today”.
The trust and faith in each other that runs between them is backbone of this friendship, and the reason why they keep coming back to each other after each fight. Chloe can see the good in Clark, she challenges him, and she doesn’t let him get away with any bullshit or weak excuses. She stands up to him and gets into his face even when he’s angry, Clark can be a scary person when he’s truly annoyed and Chloe has a particular knack for pushing his buttons, which usually leads to him saying things he immediately regrets and he apologizes. This is a Clark who has let his guard down enough to not be in control emotionally, and it’s a very telling loss of control as it's something he always tries to make sure never happens, which underscores the extent of the emotional impact Chloe has on him.
I don’t know whether that day will ever arrive when they will finally have that last conflict that they will not be able to recover from, or make that wrong decision that the other will not be able to forgive so easily, and this excites me more than ever, because on a show where we know the outcome for the majority of the relationships, theirs is a friendship that I cannot predict what will happen in the future. But one thing I will always be sure of is that Chloe Sullivan will be instrumental in shaping Clark’s life, her friendship, journalistic drive, forthrightness, has helped to shape him, and Clark’s relative innocence, inherent need to help others, goodness of heart, will continue to be qualities that stand out to Chloe.
Researching for this essay has made me extremely grateful to all the wonderful authors who saw and continue to see the potential in this pairing, there have been some amazing stories.
Nookie by rose_emily: A first time Chlark story with implied Clex.
Crimson by andariell - Established Chlark relationship. A PWP story.
A Summer Alone - Spoilers for Covenant. Clark and Chloe spending the summer alone and dealing with what happened.
Just Friends Huh - Clark and Chloe dealing with his superpowers and sexual nature
Snowflakes by debc - Clark picks Chloe's name in a gift exchange.
Teresa Kay aka paperbkryter
Flying Lessons - Chloe learns Clark's secret, and they bond over Clark's flying lessons.
Oblivion - Future fic in which Chloe has fallen with bad influences.
Rockets Red and Superable Blues
Kiss - Chloe gets a kiss from Clark.
Elvis loves E.T. - Incredibly funny interactions between Clark and Chloe as she talks him into going to the movies with her.
Walking the Tightrope - What happens on the night Chloe finds Clark in Metropolis. Spoilers for Exile and Phoenix.
Walk A Mile - Clark and Chloe switch bodies, and chaos ensues.
In Brightest Day by happyminion - Estabilished relationship, set in the DC universe, and Chloe has a secret.
Arrangement Between Friends by terileigh - beware, it's an abandoned fic but still an excellent read.
Inhale by thete1 - Hot and then some more.
Lost Souls by medie - AU, Futurefic, Angst. Clark and Chloe finding different ways to deal with tragedy. Her archive of other stories can be found at An Unexpected Snow.
I blame the coffee by maveness. The rest of her fics are located at Maveness Delight.
No Such Thing by sullivanlane - Clark and Chloe's first meeting and why he asks her to the Prom. She has a collection of other Clark/Chloe stories found here.
More by taraljc - Set after events of Tempest, and explores what could have been.
Chlarkzine for The Cat's Out if the Bag challenge.
Summer Lovin' - a Chloe and Clark fanzine
Winter Wonderland - a Chloe and Clark fanzine
Level Three Records Room
Wild Coyote: The Smallville Het Archive
Eighth World Wonder by mkitty3 - dedicated to the beauty that is Clark Kent but there are some Chlark scenes, with Chloe looking very pretty.
mmac80 has two Chlark vids here. The titles are, I turn to you and Dante's Prayer (I love this vid).
chiri_chan's Chlark vids are located here.
Clark and Chloe vid - Time and Time Again
Special thanks to medie for the quick read through, and to tigress35, maveness, chiri_chan, amandajane5, and medie, I wouldn't have had so many good fics to rec without their help.