Timeline: Post-Exodus (from there follows timeline of the Summer Friends series)
They'd set out to drive nowhere in silence, but Pete said he should probably check in with his father, since he'd been gone all night. Pete and Lana entered the Ross house together. It was quiet when they got inside the house, except for a faint banging upstairs.
"Dad!" Pete called.
"Where's you mom?" Lana asked.
"Probably working at the courthouse. Dad has an office downstairs."
The banging in the other room stopped suddenly. Then there was a slight pitter patter upstairs and a little figure came climbing down the stairs.
"Unchie Pea," the little one said finally completing the last step. He ran to Pete and grabbed Pete's legs.
"This is my nephew," Pete said picking him up.
"I didn't know you had a nephew," Lana said smiling at the little one. "What's his name?"
"Hayden," Pete said.
"I be two," Hayden said putting up two fingers and nodding. "I be one-two."
"Wanpay paystation Pea," Hayden said to his uncle.
"Where's your dad Hayden?" he asked.
"Wanpay paystation Pea," Hayden said.
"Alright, Alright," Pete said. "Sam must be sleep, he's got to stop doing this. You mind hanging around a few minutes?"
"No," Lana replied.
Pete walked upstairs holding his nephew with Lana close behind. He turned on the Playstation in his room and sat Hayden in front of it. Then he gave him an old Nintendo controller that was thrown across the room (possibly the source of the banging they'd heard). Lana wasn't big on video games, but she knew that controller didn't go to that game.
"Pete, I don't think--"
"Shh," he said putting a finger to his lips.
Pete put the controller hook up near the Playstation.
"You wanpay paystation?" Hayden asked handing her his controller.
"I have one for her," Pete said to his nephew. "You want to play?" He asked Lana.
"I've never played."
"It doesn't matter as long as he sees something flashing across the screen and can hit buttons, he's okay."
Pete hooked up a controller for himself and a second controller and handed it to her. Hayden got excited as the game began. They were playing some kind of racing game and Lana went through the first game with little to no enthusiasm. She smiled occasionally when Hayden turned around to say he was beating her. Pete was actually the one beating her, not that she was trying to win. It didn't matter who won, it just felt nice to do something simple for a little while and forget everything else. Push a button, fast, slow, turn, avoid obstacle. About twenty minutes later a man Lana didn't recognize appeared in the doorway.
"Pete, you're home." the man said.
"Yeah, I would have come down and told you but Hayden got to me first," Pete said. "You know Lana right dad?"
"Yeah, Lewis' little girl," Mr. Ross replied. "How are you Lana?"
"Find," Lana replied.
"Where's your brother?" Mr. Ross asked Pete.
"Sam? Sleep I guess. I got home and Hayden was running around, so I bought him in here."
"This is not your responsibility," Mr. Ross said taking Hayden. He dropped the controller. He began to cry and fight to get back to it.
"He can stay in here until Sam wakes up," Pete said.
"No, he can't," Mr. Ross said. "If he's going to do this, he's doing it right." Mr. Ross carried the crying Hayden out of the room.
"What's wrong with Hayden staying in here?" Lana asked out of curiosity.
"Dad's kind of frustrated with Sam right now. He's suppose to take care of his son during the day while his wife is in school, but you know, sometimes he slips up. He's trying."
"I thought your family was perfect."
"I don't think there's a perfect family out there," Pete replied. "But I think mine is okay."
"At least your brother married the girl. He didn't get her pregnant and leave her."
"Yeah, but he didn't marry her because she was pregnant. They said they weren't going to have any babies until he got a good job. Honestly, I don't like the girl. All his life, Sam wanted to play for the Metropolis Sharks, then Jen comes along and he wants to get married and forget all his plans. Now she has him staying at home while she goes to College."
"What's so bad about that?"
"She wanted the baby, she had a baby. If anything Sam should be getting his education while she stays home with the baby."
"Pete, that's a horrible thing to say," Lana said putting down the controller and looking disgusted. "I didn't think you would ever say something like that."
"It's not because she's a woman, if that's what you think. After all, my dad was the one who stayed home with us when we were little."
"If your dad did it, why is it so different for your brother?"
"Her! I don't trust her, she broke up my brother and his best friend. David and Sam were tight as kids. And Jen was David's girlfriend and she started seeing my brother behind David's back."
"Doesn't that make your brother as guilty as Jen?"
"You just don't get...wait."
"Do you realize we just had a whole conversation that had nothing to do with Clark?"
There was a knock on Pete's open door. The knocking stopped Lana from answering. They turned and saw Sam standing there holding his son.
"Thanks for watching Hayden Pete," Sam said.
"No problem," Pete said. "Do you know Lana?"
"Hello," he said
"Hi," she replied
"Pay paystation?" Hayden asked.
"No, bath time," Sam said carrying the youngster away.
"Well, now that I've offended you, are you ready to go?" Pete asked.
"I know you probably love your brother Pete, you certainly seem to care about your nephew, but maybe you haven't given Jen a fair chance because of that."
"You just don't know Jen," Pete said.
"Pete has home-life drama," Lana said. "You'd never know it the way you act around us."
"The three of you create enough drama," Pete said turning off the video game. "What do you need mine for? Besides my mom says in-house issues stay in-house."
The two of them left his room and went back downstairs. As they came downstairs Pete's father walked up to them carrying a large manila folder.
"Can you take this down to the courthouse?" Mr. Ross asked.
"Dad," Pete said pointing to Lana.
"Oh, of course you have to take your date home."
"She's not my date," Pete said before Lana got a chance to say the same. "Do I look like Sam Ross to you dad?"
"What's that suppose to mean?" His father asked.
"Nothing," Pete replied.
"I don't mind," Lana interjected. "If you need to take that to your mother."
"It's fine," Lana said.
"Alright, but don't blame me if my Mom makes you work when we get there," Pete said taking the folder from his dad.
Within an hour Pete and Lana arrived at the county courthouse. Everyone seemed to know Pete as soon as he walked in. They directed him to his mother's office saying hello as he passed them. Lana was surprised at how well some of them seemed to know him.
"Mom loves to make me her errand boy," Pete said to Lana as they knocked on a door labeled 'Judge Ross'. "Hopefully we can get in and out."
Lana had meet Judge Ross before. She came to the school as a guess speaker. She was the type of woman who took no back talk or non-sense. She was a serious woman, straight-forward and to the point. She dressed to kill, even when she wasn't working. She almost seemed out of place in Smallville.
"Come in," said Judge Ross from the other side of the door. The two teenagers walked in. The woman smiled at her son and waved the two into a seat. Judge Ross was on the phone for about twenty minutes while they sat there trying to be quiet and not interrupt. When she hung up, she turned to them.
"Dad wanted me to give these to you," Pete said laying the files on her desk.
"Thank you. And how are you Miss Lang?"
"What are your plans this summer?"
"Running the Talon," Lana replied.
"Is that what you plan to do with the rest of your life, run the Talon?"
"Uh... I don't know," Lana replied.
"Well I'm not saying there is anything wrong with it." Mrs. Ross said. "Your father is Henry Small right?"
"I remember Henry bringing it up. He's a brilliant attorney. You think you got some of those genes?"
"I don't know."
"Have you ever thought about a career in Law?"
"Mom!" Pete interrupted.
"I'm just asking. I like to know what the young people I know are up to."
"She's kind of focused on Clark right now," Pete pointed out.
"Yes, and I feel for the Kents but you cannot put your life on hold for a boy Miss Lang."
"That's why I make sure this boy works every summer, if not with me then somewhere else." Lana saw Pete roll his eyes and hide his face. "Now I've given you time because of the Clark situation, but you will not be idle all summer. We all care for Clark, but we have to take care of you too."
"I know mom. Can we go?"
"Yes, but we need to talk when I get home," Judge Ross said.
Pete rushed out of the office and Lana followed behind him. As they stepped back outside Pete took a breath of fresh air and sat on the courthouse steps. He looked really relived to have escaped his mother's office.
"Sorry about that," Pete said.
"It's okay," Lana replied. "No one ever ask me those questions. I suppose I should think about it."
"My mom acts like I should know the rest of my life today."
"She just wants you to make some plans," Lana said as she sat beside him on the steps. "No one cares if I do or not."
"I guess I sound a little ungrateful to you."
"No, it's okay to complain about your family as long as you're proud of having a family to complain about."
"Yeah, well, I do love them, even when they drive me crazy."
"Even Jen, she's married to your brother so she's family."
"You don't know Jen."
"Wouldn't you want your brother to respect whoever you decided to marry?"
"He doesn't have to worry about that. I'm not getting married."
"I thought you were going to propose to me as soon as you got the money for the ring."
They looked at each other and laughed.
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