Summary: Clark's gone, so who will Lana lean on to ease the pain... his best friend. (Post Exodus)
notes: Seems like I'm on a one woman mission to write as much Pete focused fic as possible. Anyway, thought the ending of Exodus was the perfect excuse for some Lana/Pete bonding over the summer. It's the platform for this series.
The Kent farm was quiet now. Only the faint sounds of the farm animals rippled through the air occasionally. Lana was alone, listening to these sounds on the steps of the former location of the storm cellar. Pete found her there, all cried out and her face washed out.
"I couldn't stop him," she said. "What am I going to tell the Kents?"
"I didn't think he'd do it," Pete replied. "In the end I didn't think he'd do it.
Lana looked over the place where the storm cellar use to be.
"Why does he think he did it?" Lana asked. "How could he have done it?"
Pete looked away.
"Pete do you know?" Lana asked.
"I know he was trying to do the right thing when he did it," Pete said. "That's Clark, he always makes his biggest mistakes when he's trying to the right thing. He loves you Lana and his parents. He won't stay gone."
"I'd rather he not love me right now," Lana said. Pete looked confused. "I'm sick of people who love me that have to leave me."
Lana looked like she was about to cry again. Pete sat beside her and put an arm around her. She let her head fall on his shoulder and they sat together like that for a long time, saying nothing, both staring at the remains of the storm cellar. Lana was surprised that just sitting with him like that did make her feel better. He believed Clark would be back and he knew Clark better than anyone, even better than Chloe. She'd always wanted that connection with someone. She and Chloe seemed to be going good for awhile there, they were 'sisters'. But Chloe had been distant lately, making her feel even more alone and in need of a connection. Maybe that's why she chose to let Clark in again, give him another chance. It was so hard to figure out whatever this was with Clark and have a friendship with Chloe. At least with Pete, right now, she was free from all that.
"Can you drive me to the hospital?" Lana finally asked.
"I need to tell the Kents," Lana told him.
Night was falling as they got up from the steps and walked down to Pete's car. She missed the warmth of Pete's arms as soon as she was separated from it. She almost wanted to ask him to keep his arm around her, but that could be read the wrong way and she didn't want that. So they silently got in his car and drove away.
When Pete and Lana arrived at the hospital, Chloe was there with a bouquet in her arms. They both guessed it was for Mrs. Kent.
"Are you two here to see Clark's mother?" Chloe questioned.
"Yes," Pete replied.
"She's asking for Clark," Chloe told them. "You wouldn't happen to know where he is?" She shot a glace at Lana. "Lana maybe you know. I hear you two have been spending a lot of time together."
Lana didn't say anything.
"Chloe, don't," Pete said. "We got some bad news."
"Clark ran away," Lana burst out. "And Clark and I were kind of getting together or planning on it, but I think you already knew that. I guess my chance with Clark was screwed up again."
"I did catch you two kissing."
"It's only been a couple of days, he said he was going to tell you and I guess he just never got around to it."
"I expected you to tell me," Chloe said. "That's all I wanted. I don't care if you're together, you don't have to give me a schedule of events, but I just expect one of you to tell me so I know where we all stand... But I guess this isn't the time to talk about this. Mrs. Kent just lost her baby and her son is gone, so this conversation will have to wait."
"Thank you," Lana said.
The three teenagers then headed to Mrs. Kent's room together. When they got there they found Mr. Kent waiting outside the door looking like someone had ripped the heart from his chest.
"Chloe... you're back," he said looking up. "Have any of you kids seen Clark? I need to talk to him, but I don't want to leave Martha."
They looked back and forth at each other.
"How is she?" Lana finally asked.
"Torn apart," Mr. Kent said. "But some friendly faces would probably help."
"So we can see her?" Lana asked.
"Sure, but what about Clark?"
"You two go in," Pete said. "I'll talk to Mr. Kent."
Lana and Chloe entered Mrs. Kent's room.
"I'm sorry Mr. Kent," Pete said, beginning to talk so fast Mr. Kent was struggling to keep up. "I couldn't stop him. He was hurting and he was sorry, but no wanted to hear that right then. So he went and he got one of those red kryptonite rings from Chloe's office and he ran."
"Clark ran away... with Red Kryptonite controlling him."
"I'm sorry Mr. Kent."
"Stop apologizing Pete. We both know no one can make Clark do anything he doesn't want to do."
"That's the scary part. I'm worried about him Mr. Kent and I don't know what to do... should we call the police or would putting the cops on Clark just get them hurt?"
"I don't know Pete, Martha really can't handle this right now... this is my fault... the things I said to him before he left... he's my son, what was I thinking? I'm no better than Lionel Luthor."
"You are better than him. We all make mistakes, but Lionel Luthor is evil on purpose. We'll find him Mr. Kent, just like we did before."
"We will, thanks Pete," Jonathan said embracing Pete the same way he did his son.
The girls came out of the room.
"He knows," Pete said to the girls.
"We told her," Chloe said. "She cried."
"She feels like she's lost both her children," Jonathan said.
"I don't want to upset her anymore than she already is," Pete added.
"Yeah and we should get home," Chloe said.
The three teens left the hospital together. Lana went home with Chloe and Pete went his own way.
When Pete got home, his mother was preparing to go see Mrs. Kent. She'd heard about the accident. Pete tried to convince her to wait till tomorrow by telling her about Clark and how the news he had run away had been hard on her. But that just made his mother want to call out the national guard to hunt for Clark. Before he could discourage her, she was making calls to the police station, the newspapers, the Kents (at the hospital). There was no stopping his mother in this mode. The morning edition of the Ledger had the story by the time his mother finished.
Pete went to see Mrs. Kent the next day. She didn't blame him for Clark leaving either, but he still felt a little guilty about it, like he could have done more. Found the ring first, thrown it out. He went back to the farm with Mr. Kent to tend to some necessary chores. He was surprised when two of his brothers came by to help also (he guessed his mother had suggested it).
Pete stuck around the Kent farm even after Mr. Kent returned to the hospital and his brothers left. He sat in Clark's loft for awhile, remembering all the things they had turned the place into as kids. A pirate ship, a space ship, a fort, a secret spy liar. Once Clark had saved him from falling on a saw after he stumbled, he always thought Clark was lucky not to cut his own arm in the process, but he now knew better.
"Pete?" a familiar voice questioned, calling up to the loft.
"Lana," Pete said looking down at her. "What are you doing here?"
"Came to check on my horse... and..."
"You just wanted to come back here and think about him."
"A little." Lana replied.
"It's okay, that's what I was doing. Want to come up here?"
Lana came up the stairs and they sat down together.
"You probably played here a lot when you were little."
"Yeah, my house is crazy, I guess crazy in a good way, but crazy just the same. This was a dream by comparison. Clark was like a brother, but cooler. He didn't have a brother, so he didn't let the little things get to him. I love my real brothers, but if you don't put the cap on the toothpaste Sam will be ready to murder you. And Mike use to threaten to squash me about twenty times a day."
Lana grinned. "He was lucky, I never had a sister or anything like it until Chloe. It's weird between us right now, it's like we deal with each other, but we're sort of... disconnected."
"Don't let it get too messed up," Pete said. "I mean how long have any of us dated anyone? Okay, you and Whitney went pretty long."
Lana smiled a little.
"But the point is, the falling in love or in my case in lust, it comes, it goes, but we got to hold on to the friendships, because they last and get us through the bad times." Pete sighed. "I hope Clark remembers that."
Lana was staring at him like she was seeing someone new, someone different.
"What?" Pete asked.
"I don't know, is this the first real conversation we've had?"
"We've talked before."
"No, we haven't," Lana said.
"Well usually the two of us speaking consist of a few words related to some Clark or Chloe thing."
"We should... talk that is... more often."
"That'd be cool," Pete replied. "I should get to know my best friend's girl right?" Pete said with a smile as he playfully bumped her shoulder.
Lana looked away.
"What?" Pete questioned.
"I don't know, even if he comes back... I'll be happy of course... but I don't know. Every time I give it a chance... it's like Whitney all over again... I guess have abandonment issues and this is too much."
"You may be the reason he comes back, don't count him out yet."
Lana said nothing for awhile.
"Did you hear, Lex has disappeared too?" Lana asked.
"Yeah, I read it in the Ledger," Pete said. "Forgive me if I don't cry for him."
"Pete, Lex isn't a bad guy, he's not his father."
"Easy for you to say, your aunt likes the Luthors. My family remembers being cheated by them."
"That was Lionel, not Lex."
"A Luthor is a Luthor," Pete said. "I'm sorry. Clark was my best friend for all these years and then rich boy shows up and..."
"You're still his best friend," Lana interrupted. "I know Clark has told you things he won't tell me and things he'd never tell Lex. Your friendship still matters to Clark. It's like you told me, we'll fall in and out of love, but the friendships will last."
Pete seemed perplexed by this for a moment. "Are you saying... Clark is in love... with Lex? Cause that would kind of ruin what you and Clark have going."
Lana laughed again. This time she seemed unable to stop.
"You're not saying that are you?"
"No," Lana finally said through the laughter. "He's fascinated by Lex. In love with his lifestyle and the fact Lex can do so much without worrying because he has money, he knows Lex pays a price for being a Luthor, but he doesn't feel it really. So he's in love with the idea of Lex, of being that guy."
"I'm still getting some weird images in my head that I want gone."
"Stop it Pete," Lana said playfully hitting him on the shoulder.
"Oh my god, it's all a set up, they ran away to be together," he said in mock shock. "I feel so sorry for you Lana."
Lana was trying not to laugh, but couldn't help it.
"You're crazy Pete," Lana said still trying to control the laughter.
"Hey, if you don't joke about it and lift your spirits up, you just keep going down. That's what my dad says."
"Well thanks for taking his advice and making me laugh."
"No problem," Pete said.
They embraced and held each other in a tight hug for a long time. Then they sat back and talked about Clark and Chloe and the year that had just past them by for the rest of the night. For years they considered this there longest conversation ever.
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