Story: Snow, Surprises and Shelby
Disclaimer: don’t own anything
Summary: Christmas time makes Clark feel a bit lonely but a surprise visitor cheers him up.
The table is here.
Winter in Kansas was beautiful. The ground was covered in blankets of snow. Children played outside, creating snow angels and building snowmen. With Christmas quickly approaching, people were picking out their tree and decorating their houses.
Clark wasn’t much for the winter season and he was always particular to the summer. He loved the sun but even he took the time to appreciate the simple beauty of his surroundings. Though he didn’t care for the cold weather, he did love the holidays.
He used to at least. His heart ached as he remembered that he would be spending Christmas without his father. No more going out and spending hours picking the perfect tree. Never again would he be able to put up ornaments on the tree with his dad and lights on the farm while his mother brought in warm apple cider on breaks. He recalled all those Christmas mornings where he had gotten up early and dragged his parents up to open presents.
Tears stung his eyes. Thanksgiving had been hard enough but everything that had been going on with Oliver had distracted him. In fact, Oliver’s taking drugs had been a blessing in disguise and had helped him appreciate his own abilities more. He couldn’t deny that he had enjoyed the day, surrounded by all the people he cared about. But the ghost of his father lingered as he carved the turkey.
His thoughts drifted temporarily as he wondered if Oliver would be there for Christmas dinner. He had had fun with the other man at Thanksgiving. When the girls talked, Oliver and he had played football in the backyard. Though in the beginning he had disliked the blonde, he had to admit that Oliver Queen was becoming one of his closest friends.
Lois had invited him for Thanksgiving but she usually spent Christmas with the General and Lucy. Clark made a mental note to invite him to dinner anyway. He hated the idea of Oliver spending Christmas alone, in that penthouse. It was a lot warmer than Lex’s castle but it still had an air of loneliness. He preferred the comfort of the farm any day.
At that moment, the farm was quiet. His mom was in Topeka on business. Lois and Chloe were having a girls’ day. According to Chloe, that consisted of shopping and more shopping. Either way, it left him alone for the day.
He got his chores done fairly quickly and was just fixing a broken chair in the barn when a noise caught his attention. It was Shelby and he was barking. Following the sound, he stepped outside and saw Shelby barking. But he glanced around and there was nobody there.
“Hey boy,” he said, squatting down. “What’s wrong?” He stroked Shelby’s fur, wondering why the dog was so flustered.
That’s when the first snowball hit his back. He froze for a moment and turned, just in time for another snowball to hit his face.
Wiping the snow off, he was shocked at the sight before him. Because standing there, brown eyes dancing with delight, was none other than Oliver. Who promptly hit him with another snowball.
“How childish can you get?” Clark teased. He bent down for a second as if he was tying his shoelace but in flash, made a dozen snowballs and started throwing them at Oliver.
“HEY!” Oliver protested, “That’s cheating.” He shook the snow off. “Using the powers for snowball fights . . . never though you’d sink so low, Kent.”
“And the sneak attack was fair?” Clark shot back.
“That was funny,” Oliver said, with a self-satisfied smile. “You didn’t even see me coming. Besides, I grew up in California remember? No snow there. I am making up for my childhood.”
Clark laughed. “At least I know why Shelby was barking.”
“Shelby?” Oliver repeated, with a confused expression. Before Clark could explain, Shelby made his presence known. He trotted up to Oliver and glanced at the man suspiciously.
“It’s okay,” Clark assured him. Shelby sniffed him and realizing that he was not a threat, barked playfully.
“You can pet him,” Clark said. Oliver nodded, and went on his knees. He saw the other man hesitate for a second and then gently petted Shelby.
Shelby was pleased at the attention and immediately nuzzled Oliver’s face with his nose. This brought a smile to Oliver’s face and he saw him relax completely.
He looks beautiful when he smiles, was the first thought that ran through Clark’s mind. Then he froze. Where had that come from?
Shelby’s bark snapped him back to reality and Clark looked in time to see Shelby running off in the opposite direction.
“Is he going to be okay?” Oliver asked.
“Shelby?” Clark said, “Oh yeah, he’ll be fine. He’s always running around but he never fails to find his way home.”
“I can’t believe I didn’t realize you had a dog before,” Oliver commented, making his way towards him. “Have you had him long?”
“Almost two years now,” Clark replied. “Come on, let’s go inside. I’ll make us some hot chocolate.”
“Don’t go to too much trouble on my account,” Oliver told him, as he followed him into the house.
“It’s no trouble at all,” Clark responded. “I’m making it for myself.”
“Then sure, sounds good,” Oliver said, taking a seat at the table. “Can I help?”
“No, I’m good,” Clark said, taking the necessary ingredients out of the fridge and the cabinet.
“So Shelby huh?” Oliver said, “Interesting name for a dog.”
“My mom had a dog named Shelby when she was younger,” Clark explained, “Who apparently looked a lot like this dog. So we named him Shelby too. Lois wanted to name him Clarkie so this was a much better alternative.”
“Clarkie?” Oliver repeated, looked amused.
“She said that the dog was annoying and she couldn’t come without ten feet of him without getting sick so Clarkie was an appropriate name,” Clark remembered.
“Ouch,” Oliver said. “That’s cold.”
“That’s Lois,” Clark laughed.
“I always wanted a pet,” Oliver admitted, “But I never got one.”
“How come?” Clark asked. “If you don’t mind telling me, that is.”
“Oh I don’t,” Oliver said, “When I was younger, my parents didn’t want a pet around. They were always traveling and said a pet was too much of a hassle. They died when I was 10 years old and then I was in boarding school. No pets allowed there either.”
Clark nodded, not knowing what to say. He knew that Ollie had become an orphan at a young age but he had never known it was that young.
“Oh well,” Oliver added, with a smile, clearly trying to lighten the mood. “Sometimes, I can barely take care of myself. I doubt I would be able to handle a pet.”
“My dad wasn’t too fond of keeping Shelby,” Clark said.
“Then how did you end with up a dog?” Oliver questioned. Clark gave him a small grin and then told him the story of how they ended up with Shelby, from Lois almost hitting him with her car to Shelby saving Clark’s life. He kept one eye on the milk and had to pause briefly when it was finished.
“Wow,” Oliver said, after he was finished. “Clark, even your dog is a hero?” Oliver shook his head. “That’s funny.”
“I guess it is,” Clark said, “But he’s good company. I like having him around.”
“If I got a pet,” Oliver said, “I don’t think it’d be a dog. I love dogs but I’m more of a cat person.”
“Interesting,” Clark replied, “Didn’t imagine you to be a cat person.”
“Why do you say that?” Oliver quizzed, tilting his head.
“I don’t know,” Clark replied, shrugging. He finished the hot chocolate. “Hey, you like marshmallows right?”
“Of course,” Oliver said, with a grin. “Who doesn’t?”
“I knew you were a smart man Queen,” Clark said, pulling out a bag of marshmallows. He set the two cups of the hot chocolate on the table, placing one in front of Oliver. Then he opened the marshmallow bag and put in the middle.
“Help yourself,” Clark said.
“Thanks,” Oliver replied. “So liking marshmallows determines my intelligence?”
“And pie,” Clark added, “Don’t forget pie.”
“Pie is good,” Oliver agreed.
“Then you pass!” Clark said, adding marshmallows to the hot chocolate.
“I pass?” Oliver echoed.
“The good taste test,” Clark told him, trying to keep his expression serious.
Oliver laughed and then he took a sip of the hot chocolate. “This is good, Clark. Just what I needed. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Clark replied, “It’s one of the things I love about winter. Hot chocolate. And warm apple cider, when my mom makes it.”
“And pie?” Oliver joked.
“Of course!” Clark exclaimed, “But pie is good in any season. But only my mom’s pie. If Lois ever tries to make you pie, don’t take it.” He cringed, remembering the Thanksgiving horror she called pie. Every person who had eaten it had gotten sick. Except him but he had a strong stomach and Oliver, who had somehow managed to duck the pie.
“In fact,” Clark added, “If Lois tries to make you ANYTHING, don’t take it. Her culinary skills leave much to be desired.” He met Oliver’s gaze, and saw the other man looked amused. “Sorry, I know she’s your girlfriend but I had to warn you.”
“Yeah, I saw that pie,” Oliver said, “Consider me warned. You seem to have a lot of experience with her cooking though.”
“She baked me a birthday cake last year,” Clark said. “Don’t get me wrong, it was a really nice gesture. But . . . no.”
Oliver laughed again. He has a nice laugh, Clark thought and then stopped, a little frightened where his thoughts were going. What was wrong with him today?
Fortunately, Oliver didn’t notice anything. “When is your birthday Clark?” Oliver asked suddenly.
“It’s in May,” Clark said, “Actually, I’m not even sure if that was the real date. I’m adopted and my parents just set my birthday to the date they adopted me.” Oliver nodded and Clark was relieved that he didn’t ask any questions.
That was something he really liked about Oliver. The man didn’t pressure people into giving him any information that they didn’t want to share. However, somehow, Clark ended up telling Oliver more, trusting him with more information in a shorter amount of time than he’s ever trusted anyone.
Focus, Clark, focus. Now was not the time to muse on Oliver’s good qualities.
“When’s your birthday?” Clark asked.
“December 9th,” Oliver replied.
“Wait, that’s a week from now!” Clark exclaimed, “How come you never mentioned your birthday is coming up?”
“It’s not that big of a deal, Clark,” Oliver said. “I never make a big fuss over my birthday.”
“That’s not good,” Clark said.
“Well, if I don’t have anything major scheduled,” Oliver continued, “I take the day off and relax.” He shrugged. “No need to make a fuss. I actually like the peace and quiet.”
“If you say so,” Clark said doubtfully. “I’m just surprised Lois didn’t mention it.”
“She doesn’t know,” Oliver said.
“Don’t you think, as your girlfriend, she would like to know when your birthday is?” Clark questioned, confused.
Oliver leaned back in his chair and gave Clark a wry smile. “Well, if she was my girlfriend, she’d care.”
“She’s not?” Clark asked.
“We broke up,” Oliver confessed. “A few days ago. It was mutual.”
“But you guys looked so happy at Thanksgiving,” Clark protested. “What happened?”
“She said I wasn’t with her completely,” Oliver said. “And the relationship was getting serious and she was not ready for it. Something like that.”
“You don’t seem to upset,” Clark observed.
“What can I say?” Oliver said, “She was right. I was not with her completely. Don’t get me wrong, Clark, Lois is a great woman. Beautiful, witty, and a lot of fun . . . but there was something missing. I’m just glad we’re still friends.”
“That’s good then,” Clark said. “Personally, I think you guys were a great couple but if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. I’m sure you’ll find someone better suited for you one day.”
“Yeah, I guess I will,” Oliver said, staring at him. Clark felt a shiver run through his back at the intensity of his gaze.
Oliver smiled. “So I wasn’t interrupting anything when I showed up, was I?”
“I was just hanging around,” Clark said, “Mom’s in Topeka. Chloe and Lois are doing some bonding.”
“There seems to be a lot of activity going around,” Oliver stated.
“Holiday season,” Clark explained. His eyes lit up. “Oh, speaking of which, I wanted to know . . . do you have any plans?”
“I’ll be here,” Oliver said. “Why?”
“Good,” Clark said, “You have to come over for Christmas Eve dinner then.”
“Oh, no,” Oliver argued, “I couldn’t.”
“Why not?” Clark asked.
“It’s a family thing, Clark,” Oliver said quietly, “I don’t want to intrude.”
“You wouldn’t be intruding,” Clark insisted. “You came here for Thanksgiving. Why is Christmas so different?”
“Well, I was here on Thanksgiving as Lois’ boyfriend,” Oliver pointed out.
“And you’ll be here on Christmas as my friend,” Clark replied. “I really want you to come. It would mean a lot to me.” He gave Oliver a look that he knew was bordering on pouting.
But it worked. Oliver immediately softened. “Then I’d be delighted to join you.”
Clark couldn’t help the grin from overtaking his face. “Great.”
Oliver glanced at his watch. “Okay, I should get going. I have a conference call in a couple of hours.”
He stood up and Clark stood up with him. “This was fun though. Thanks for the hot chocolate.”
Clark smiled. “You’re welcome.” He walked with Oliver outside. “You’re going to be okay driving back?”
“I’ll be fine,” Oliver assured him. Just as he was about to leave, he stopped. “Hey, Clark, one question. You never told me why you thought I wasn’t a cat person.”
Clark tilted his head and then remembered the comment he had made. “Yeah, I don’t know . . . it’s just that cats always seemed so standoffish. Dogs are more warm and friendlier.”
“You think I’m warm and friendly?” Oliver asked, biting his lip.
“Yeah, you are,” Clark said. “Why, you don’t think so?”
“I think you’re warm and friendly,” Oliver said. “I’ve always been more like a cat, standoffish with my emotions.”
“You don’t act that way around me,” Clark said slowly.
“Maybe it’s you, Clark,” Oliver said. “You make it hard for a person to stay closed up.” He looked at him. “It’s easy to be open around you, Clark.”
Clark blushed but couldn’t say anything. Shelby decided to pick that moment to show up again. Seeing Oliver, he ran up to him.
“Now I should really get going. See you Shelby,” Oliver said, patting his head. “Bye Clark.”
“Bye Oliver,” Clark replied, still dazed at his compliments, and watched him drive off.
He was standing there, as the car disappeared in the distance. Only Shelby’s nudging his leg brought him back to reality.
“Hey,” Clark said, taking his face into his hands, “You like Oliver don’t you?” Shelby barked in response and Clark took it as agreement. He glanced at the spot where Oliver had been.
Not realizing what he was saying, he whispered, “So do I, Shelby. So do I.”