Trifles Light as Air and Otherwise

by slodwick

Author's Notes: Yeah, so, everyone bitches about my sad!fic. This is my muses attempt the non-sad variety. Serves as an answer to Ghini Tynant's Neil Gaiman Title Challenge.

"Green eyes, you're the one that I wanted to find And anyone who tried to deny you, must be out of their mind. Because I came here with a load,
And it feels so much lighter since I met you." - Coldplay, Green Eyes

He breathed a sigh of relief as he stepped onto the train, just as the doors expelled their breath and slid closed behind him with a thud and click of finality, one that he never noticed on this side. It was still chilly inside the car, and there was a strange, slightly disgusting smell, but the wind wasn't biting his cheeks and ears raw anymore, so he wasn't going to complain. And it appeared that the upcoming holiday had thinned the ranks of daily commuters, so he might actually have a chance at a seat.

Straining to peer over the rather large, roundish woman in front of him, who was wearing what could only be described as a criminally green jacket, and reeked of what he guessed to be whiskey, he thought he spotted a vacant seat. Hugging his shoulder-bag a little closer to his body, he edged around Big Green, dodged a couple children who chose that moment to run screaming from one end of the car to the other, nearly fell when he tripped over a pair of necking teens, and finally flopped unceremoniously into the hard, lime-green chair next the window. The MART trains were efficient, and they were almost always on time, but they certainly left something to be desired when it came to comfort. His very long day had come to rest rather harshly in his neck and back.

As he pulled his bag off his shoulder, placing it on the floor between his feet, he cast an apologetic glance to the man in the rumpled business suit and expensive Nikes that he'd just elbowed. Unzipping the bag, he quickly began digging around, looking for the newest copy of Warrior Angel, which he'd purchased this morning specifically for the trip home.

He was in the middle of a rather eloquent inner-monologue, alternately berating and defending himself with regard to the large number of fast food receipts that had somehow found themselves stuffed in his bag, when he heard it. He paused, mid-rifle. A small, metallic noise, he wouldn't have heard it if it hadn't happened so close to his lowered head. After a moment of mentally rewinding and replaying the tape, his mind's eye provided an image for the sound: a pen, falling on the floor.

Sure enough, shifting his bag a little away from the train-car wall, and he spotted it. He picked it up gingerly, heavy, silver, with a name engraved on the side. Chloe. Huh. It looked expensive. Glancing up at the seat across from him, facing him, as it was the most likely candidate for the owner, a little grin played at the corners of his mouth.

Then his smile froze.

It was her. Her.

Time was he saw her on the train at least once a week, though it had been nearly a month since the last time, and he had figured she'd changed her schedule. And in all that time, he'd never really gotten this close before. In the year since he moved to Metropolis, he'd worked hard to build a reputation as a confident, self-assured guy. And, for the most part, it had worked. But with this girl, he just couldn't seem to work up the courage to even look her in the eyes.

And now, here she was again, and he could feel a major case of dork coming on. It was the perfect opportunity. A chance to say something clever or amusing, impress her with something original or thoughtful... only, maybe not.

Because she was asleep.

Or, at least, he thought she was asleep. There was a chance he was wrong, since he couldn't see her eyes behind those dark sunglasses. She seemed to wear them all the time, even on those frigid mornings in the depths of winter, when the sun was nowhere to be seen during the early commute, and had long since set by the time the working day was over.

He had wondered more than once what color the eyes were under those glasses, and what she was hiding from. A small, snuffling murmur convinced him that she was, indeed, asleep. Sitting back in his seat, he took a moment to really look at her.

She had what appeared to be a thick, wool scarf serving as a makeshift pillow, cradling the gentle slope of her neck. The last of the evening sun was shining strong through the dirty window, lighting her mussed blonde hair like a halo, and lending a diffused glow to her smooth skin. Her lips were faintly pink, with a subtle gloss, and they looked incredibly soft. And, even though he had guessed her to be about his age, there were already little lines forming at the corners of her lips, evidence of an easy, frequent smile.

Her worn, brown overcoat was layered over something colorful and probably vintage, with a plunging neckline the man in him couldn't help but appreciate. A large, opaline pendant hung around her neck, shimmering in the sunlight.

Her hands were crossed in her lap, one hand gripping a small notebook loosely, a finger stuck in the middle marking her place. The other hand was wrapped around the strap of her metro bag, which hung between her knees. He could see the fingernails bore the remains of some purplish nail polish, but appeared to have been nibbled on quite a bit. There were streaks of blue ink smeared on the tips of several fingers, and he suspected the pen he was currently holding wrote in blue. One delicate wrist wore a large, silver men's watch, scuffed and a little tarnished where it rubbed her skin.

He was pulled out of his lingering observation of her with the train pulled away from a stop with jolt, shifting her bag in her grip, causing her to stir. Sitting up, she glanced at her watch, then, her brow furrowing slightly, she turned to the window. As he followed her gaze out the window, he realized he hadn't been paying attention to their location, either, and it was nearly his stop.

"Oh, son of a bitch..."

It was quiet, but he still heard it. Looking back, he realized the seat across from him was now empty. He turned, and saw the mystery blonde moving quickly towards the door, flinging her bag over her shoulder, and stuffing the notebook in her pocket. As the train decelerated for the next stop, where she was apparently exiting, he realized he still had her pen in his hand.

He hauled himself up from his seat, threw his bag over his shoulder, and nearly trampled the old man in the aisle who was moving too slowly towards the door. He just managed to get through the doors onto the platform before the train started to move again. Looking up and down the platform a little frantically, he managed to spot her, rapidly climbing the steps to the street.

Sidestepping the slow-moving old man, he managed to make it to the top of the stairs in time to see her, waiting at the corner for the light to change, tapping an impatient boot on the pavement. She had pushed her sunglasses on top of her head, and was digging through her bag with one hand while dialing a small cell phone with the other.

"Chloe?" he said, walking up behind her, taking a chance. She turned at once, closing her cell phone, her eyes rising to meet his for the first time.

Green. Beautiful, riveting, enthusiastic green.

"Chloe?" He asked again.

"Yes?" She said warily, narrowing her eyes a bit at him, one eyebrow lifted subtly.

"Uh... I think this is yours," he said, smiling a little, holding the pen out to her. "You dropped it back there on the train." Her (enchanting green) eyes widened in surprise, and she reached out and snatched the pen from his outstretched hand.

"Oh my god! Thank you so much!" She exclaimed, her face something like a beacon, shining bright on the dusky city street. He was pretty sure that smile was well worth the stitch in his side, and the fourteen-block walk home. Hell, that smile was well worth one of his kidneys. He had two, right?

He was so caught up that smile that it took him a moment to realize she was still talking.

"... and he gave it to me as a high school graduation present. That, and this watch are the only two things I have left of him. God, I never would have forgiven myself if I'd lost that pen. Really, thank you. So much." Her hand reached out to grasp his arm, and he found himself desperate for something to say, anything that would take his mind off her touching other parts.

"You're certainly welcome. I'm just glad I could catch you."

"Yeah, well, I dozed off on the ride home, and I totally missed my stop. Now, I either have to hoof it back, or wait down there for the next train. And frankly, I think I could use the exercise. Actually, I'd better get moving. Thanks, again!" With that, she turned and started across the street, catching the tail-end of the "walk" sign.

"Hey, maybe I should walk with you?" He asked, jogging a little to catch up to her. "I mean, this really isn't the best part of town, you know. It's not safe to be walking out here alone."

"I've lived in Metropolis for some time, pal. I'll have you know that I can take care of myself. I certainly don't need another hero." Her voice was sharp, suddenly; he feared he'd hit a nerve.

"Well, yeah, of course. That much is obvious. I actually meant it's not safe for me." He was relieved when her killer pace slowed a bit, and he might even have caught a grin.

"I suppose I could look out for you... just for a little while, anyway."

"Thanks. So, uh, how long have you worked for The Journal?"

Now her pace really did slow, nearly to a stop. "How did you know that?"

He pointed to her chest, where, under the heavy brown coat, there hung a Metropolis Journal press badge.

"Oh. Heh." She smiled and quirked her head, pulled the badge off her shirt, and stuffed it carelessly in her pocket. "Sorry. Just... haven't been myself the past couple days, and I guess my powers of observation are waning."

"Hey, it's ok. I've had those days, too." He grinned, hoping it was more "charming" or "endearing" than "smarmy"; that skill had taken a lot of practice, and more than one slap in public places, to master. "So... The Journal?"

"Actually, they recruited me right out of college. I'd been doing some interning at The Planet, but The Journal just made a better offer. I couldn't resist. And I've never regretted it. The Journal has been good to me, and allows me to run with my hunches most of the time."

"That sounds pretty sweet. Have you written anything I might know about?"

She seemed to pause for a moment, thinking, chewing a little on her bottom lip. It was nearly enough to make him forget what he'd asked her. "Well, I was responsible for The Journal's coverage of the Covington Housing Development disaster. And I was behind the expose on Congresswoman Henry's illicit campaign financing. Did you see either of those?"

"Wait... Chloe? Chloe Sullivan? That Chloe?" He turned to look at her, and was so surprised, he nearly ran into a park bench. Would have, too, if she hadn't grabbed his jacket and given him a little tug.

She grinned. "I'll take that as a 'yes'. Yup, I'm that Chloe."

"Wow, I'm impressed! Man, Lois would flip if she knew I was talking to you! That campaign finance business really got her steamed. I guess her and Henry went way back, or something. She still whines about that!"

"Lois... Lane? You work with Lois? At The Planet?"

"Yep. Been working there almost a year now. I'd have to say it's a pretty great place to work, too. Plus, you know, it got me out of Detroit, which can never be a bad thing."

"Small world. So, have you written anything I might know?"

"Oh, no. I doubt that. Unless you happened to read the flyer I put up when my dog went missing for few days last Spring, I'm not really a writer. I'm afraid my job is much more important than that."

Her eyebrows went up at that, and a smirk teased at her lips, and she was just gorgeous. How did he expect to ever have a normal conversation with her when every new expression was more amazing, said so much more than the last? Was it possible to have a relationship with a woman without looking at her?

"So, then tell me, what do you do?"

"I'm a photographer." Her laugh was a gift, sweet and rich, and it echoed off the tall brick buildings as they passed. He thought briefly that he should be offended, but he was too busy wondering what he would have to say to get her to laugh like that all the time. He found himself smiling back at her.

"A-ha! Then I know who you are!" She pointed a finger at him, a charming, devious glint in her (spectacular green) eyes.

"Really? Your powers of observation coming back to you, then?"

"Well, it's not like I'd have to think hard. All the best reporters at The Planet seem to use one specific photographer. You're name is just about everywhere. And you've already told me you work with Lois, and I know for a fact she only allows one photographer on her stories these days."

"What can I say? The Planet knows talent when they see it, I guess." He wouldn't have believed it this morning, but he thought he might actually be... blushing. That hadn't happened since he stepped on Missy Weatherford's skirt at Prom, and everyone had seen her underwear. Perhaps the most embarrassing part? His mint green tux. It still made him shudder just thinking about it.

But, suddenly, here he was, blushing and stumbling over his words, like life since high school had been a dream. This girl was either affecting him way too much, or he was on the road to losing his mind. Though, it could be argued that it was a short journey.

"Of course. Like I said, I've seen your work. You are fantastic, Mr. Olsen."

"Thank you." Now he knew he was blushing. He thought he might actually be glowing. And he was surprised to realize that it was fine by him, as long as she kept looking at him like that.

"But, please, call me Jimmy."

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