For Mar and Lyndsay's Iconography Challenge.
Thank you to Andy for the cuddles and love, Celli for kicking my ass, and Bexless because she's still the meanest of the mean. Y'all are a formidable beta team.
And finally, for Shelley. Happy Belated birthday, baby!
Pre-Babysitting Verse (http://www.fanfic101.com/babysitting/) but can be read as a stand-alone.
This type of party was almost guaranteed to end in trouble. Ten miles outside of town, at the abandoned Warren homestead. No adult supervision, music so loud that you could hear it as you pulled off the road, and enough kegs to make sure that no one who wanted to get shit-faced had to do without. The heavy scent of pot and cigarette smoke laced the air, and couples in various states of undress occupied secret corners of the farmhouse.
Pete grinned, and sipped his beer. Clark would be bummed that he missed this but sometimes being the hero meant making sacrifices.
Luckily, Pete wasn't exactly hero material. He had no lives to save tonight so he didn't have to feel guilty about being at a party. Especially the same party that Michelle Carson had made a point of letting him know she would be attending.
As if on cue, the pretty redhead popped up next to him.
"Michelle, I was just thinking about you."
"Oh really?" she asked, her voice low and sultry.
Pete gulped. Michelle was hot. She was in his Biology class, and he'd been trying to get her attention for the longest time. He must have finally done something that impressed her, because she seemed to be responding to him. Pete was trying desperately not to blow his chance.
"Of course, when don't I think about you?"
She giggled. "You're so slick," she teased.
"I try," he joked, getting an even brighter smile out of her.
So far, so good.
"Are you enjoying the party?"
"It's insane. Tim's already passed out in the kitchen. Holly said he was drinking before they even got here. Karen's rolling and she finds everything funny, and Dave's trying to score with Allie." Pete blinked as he listened to her yammer on about the status of all her friends. It seemed like Michelle knew everyone at the party. And she insisted on telling him about all of them.
After about five minutes, Pete realized that she was never going to stop.
About ten minutes later, Pete started searching for a reason to escape.
"Beer!" he shouted triumphantly.
Michelle blinked at him. "Beer?"
"Um, your cup is empty. I need to get you more beer," Pete said lamely.
"Okay." Michelle still looked confused, but she thrust her empty cup at him. "Thanks."
"No prob." Pete flashed her a grin before escaping into the kitchen where the keg was being kept. He filled both cups and glanced back at her in the living room. She beamed him a smile. He felt guilty. She was nice. Maybe he'd been too tough on her?
But before he could make his way back into the living room, he heard a commotion outside.
"Todd, let go of me!"
Pete frowned. That voice sounded familiar. He set down his cups on the counter, brushing past some drunk freshmen, and opened the back door.
"If you don't let me go this very second---"
Pete was right. He did know that voice.
"Is there a problem?" he shouted, going down the back stairs.
Lana looked up at him and flashed him a grateful smile. Next to her, Todd Forrest, the starting quarterback of the Smallville Crows, looked annoyed.
"It's none of your business," Todd slurred. Even from this far away, Pete could tell that Todd was drunk.
Pete walked up to them. "Lana, are you okay?"
"She's fine," Todd replied, yanking Lana's wrist to pull her closer. She yelped in pain.
"Todd, why don't you let her go, man?" Pete tried to remain calm. He knew Todd from the team, and the one thing he'd learned was that Todd had a nasty temper.
"She doesn't want to go."
By now, people had heard the commotion and a small crowd was starting to form. Crap. Reasoning with Todd would be hard enough. Doing it in front of a crowd, well, that was pretty damned impossible. Todd would probably tie himself up in a cornfield before letting anyone think he could be ordered around by a third-string nobody
"I think she does," he said quietly. "Come on, you don't want to mess with the girl that controls the coffee privileges at the Talon, do ya? It'd probably be best if you let her go."
Todd snarled, and advanced on Pete. "You gonna make me, runt?"
It was obvious that Todd was spoiling for a fight. It was also obvious that it would be a mistake for Pete to take on a football player. Taking on a drunk football player who was nearly twice his size, well, that fell under the category of just plain stupid.
"Todd, let's not..."
Todd shoved him, causing Pete to stumble back. "I asked if you were gonna make me, wimp."
Then again, maybe it was a night for stupid moves.
If this were a movie, and Pete the hero, Todd would have been knocked out the minute Pete's fist connected with his jaw. Sadly, this was real life, and all the punch did, aside from assuring that Pete's fingers were going to be in an awful lot of pain the next morning, was make Todd mad.
"Pete!" Lana screamed, as Todd charged at him. Pete was able to get out of the way quickly enough, causing Todd to fall over. Todd growled at him, and got back to his feet, drawing his fist back.
"Gonna make you pay, asshole," Todd shouted, before hitting Pete.
"Get off him!" he heard Lana yell as he dropped to the ground. He looked up, eyes watering from the pain, to see her hurl herself at Todd. He blinked as he saw Todd go down. From the sounds of it, he wasn't the only one surprised.
Lana rushed over to Pete. "You okay?" she asked, helping him up.
He stared at her. "What did you do to Todd?"
She blushed, and ducked her head. "I kneed him in the groin."
"Yeah. He went down rather quickly." Lana sounded smug. Pete once again openly stared at her. Lana Lang was the last person he ever expected to do something like that.
"Where did you even learn...?"
"Lex Luthor taught you to knee a guy in the groin?" Pete asked, incredulously.
"No." Lana shook her head. "Lex taught me to protect myself. Chloe taught me to knee a guy in the groin. She said it was an important move when defending yourself against assholes."
Pete was sure his eyes were bugging out of his head. He'd known Lana for years, and now he suddenly found himself staring at her like she was a stranger.
"Remind me to never get Chloe pissed."
"Always a smart move."
Pete looked around, watching the crowd dissipate now that the fight was over. Todd's friends had dragged him off. He probably didn't want to stick around after being humiliated by a girl. Pete didn't know what this would mean for practice on Monday, but for now, he put it out of his mind.
"Do you want to go home?"
"Yeah." She nodded. "But Todd was my ride."
"What the hell were you even doing with him?" Pete asked. The question came out harsher than he intended, and he saw Lana lift her eyebrows.
"The Talon was dead, and he was there. Said he was coming up here, and asked if I wanted a ride. I knew you and Clark were supposed to be here, so I thought why the heck not."
"Todd's a jerk."
"Well, I know that now." Lana scowled. "But it's not like I expected him to get all grabby, you know. He was nice to me when he came into the Talon."
"He's nice enough until he doesn't get what he wants. Seriously, Lana, he's not to be trusted at all. You could've--"
"Okay, okay," Lana interrupted him, obviously exasperated. "You know, I'm not completely incompetent."
Pete blinked. He'd insulted her. That hadn't been his intention.
"I'm sorry. I know you aren't. Like you said, you didn't know he was like that. I'm just pissed at him. I didn't mean to snap at you."
Lana smiled. "I'm sorry too. You're just concerned, and I'm getting all offended. I guess I'm just a little sensitive. Everyone always treats me like some kind of wilting flower who can't take care of herself. It's...frustrating."
Pete nodded. "Well, they haven't seen you kick football player ass."
She giggled. "I kicked butt, didn't I?"
"Oh yeah." Pete agreed. "I'm personally terrified of you."
They grinned at each other.
"Um, Pete?" A voice interrupted the both of them.
Pete started. "Michelle. Hi. You know Lana, right?" he asked, nodding his head towards her.
"Yeah. Hi Lana," Michelle said quickly. "Pete what's going on? Are you coming back to the party?"
Pete looked at Lana, and then Michelle again.
"Actually, Michelle, I have to go drop Lana at home."
"Oh." Michelle frowned. "Can't someone else do that?"
"I'd rather do it myself."
"Oh." Michelle did not look happy. Pete had a feeling he'd just blown his chance big time.
"Maybe I can call you?" he offered.
"Yeah. Maybe," she mumbled, and walked away.
Pete stared after her.
Lana shuffled uncomfortably next to him. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to cause any problems."
Pete shrugged. "You didn't."
"She's right. I mean, I could find someone else to take me home, if you..."
"No." Pete shook his head. "You're my friend, and I'm going to make sure you get home safe. If she doesn't understand that, it's really not my problem."
Lana reached out and squeezed his hand. "Thanks Pete. You're a really good friend."
For as long as Pete had known Lana, she'd been the girl his best friend got stupid over. Later, she'd been Chloe's roommate, and while they'd always been friendly, contrary to what he'd told Michelle, he and Lana had never just been friends themselves. She was a friend of the group of Clark, and Chloe, and Pete, but he wasn't sure they'd ever hung out or talked themselves. Tonight, in the car, he wondered why that was.
Lana was fun. She really was.
It was in the midst of another one of Lana's stories about the worst Talon customers ever that Pete realized that he wasn't even thinking about Michelle anymore. Instead, he was cracking up as Lana described the guy she referred to as the 'chai latte loser' and thinking that this was the best time he'd had all night.
"I can't believe your customers are for real."
"You can't believe them? How do you think I feel? I mean, what kind of guy thinks that putting extra cinnamon on his latte means I want to sleep with him?"
"Well, you know, extra cinnamon is the universal 'you'll get lucky' code," Pete deadpanned. Lana rolled her eyes. He burst into laughter and immediately regretted it as his lip started throbbing again. "Ow." He winced.
Lana frowned. She brought a finger up to his lip, tracing the cut lightly.
"It's swollen. We need to put some ice on it."
Pete glanced at her. His skin felt warm where her hand rested.
"I'll do that when I get home."
"Thank you again," she said, pulling her hand back and dropping it in her lap. Pete resisted the urge to pull it back. Instead, he fiddled with the radio knob, flipping through radio stations.
"Oh, I like this song," Lana said, when he finally settled on one station.
"Me too. Forgot the guy who does it though. Ethan someone."
"So," Lana began. She was picking at her skirt. "Do you think you're going to call Michelle again?"
Pete looked at her. "I'm not sure. She's nice."
"Oh yes," Lana agreed quickly. "She seems very nice. And very pretty."
"Yeah," Pete agreed. He wondered why he felt so uncomfortable all of a sudden. He almost felt guilty, but that made no sense. He and Lana were barely friends; it wasn't like he had any reason to feel bad about being attracted to another girl.
He felt confused, and didn't know what to attribute it to. Luckily, his cell phone rang just then, giving him a distraction from his thoughts. He pulled it out of his jacket pocket and looked at the Caller ID.
"It's Clark," he told Lana, and then answered the phone. "Yo, Clark."
"Hey Pete. I'm at Lex's. How's the party?"
"Dunno, not there anymore."
"What happened? It didn't get busted already, did it?"
"Nah. There was some trouble. Lana..." he glanced over to the passenger seat. "Lana had some trouble with Todd Forrest. I'm taking her home."
"What?! Is she okay? Do you want me to come out there?"
"No, no. She's fine. Here, why don't you talk to her yourself?" He handed her the phone.
"Hey, Clark," he heard her greet him. "No, no. I'm fine. Yeah, he just got a little grabby. I'm fine now though. Pete took good care of me." She smiled up at him as she said this. It was a little weird for Pete to listen to the conversation one sided, but he figured, knowing Clark, he was probably just freaking out and worried about Lana. "No...really, I promise, you don't need to come over. He's taking me home. I'll talk to you tomorrow? Okay? Great." She flipped the phone shut. "He was worried," she said to Pete.
"Why wasn't he there, anyway?" she asked.
"Um..." Pete hedged. Clark had taken off last minute because of some problem in the town over. There was no way to explain that to Lana. "Something came up."
Lana wrinkled her nose. "Something always comes up, doesn't it?"
Pete grimaced. "Well, I'm sure he wanted to be there."
"Nevermind, Pete. You don't have to say anything."
"I'm sorry things never worked out between you guys. I know he cares a lot about you."
"I know he does." Lana sighed. "Honestly, it's probably better this way. We probably make better friends than we do boyfriend and girlfriend. And Clark's got too much of his own thing going to really have time for a relationship, I think." Pete didn't say a word. "Besides, it would have never worked."
"Clark. Have you looked at him? He's prettier than I am. Seriously, that's a lot of pressure on a girl."
"It's best this way."
Pete looked over at her. "Really?"
"Yeah." She nodded. "Clark and I are happy just being friends."
For some reason, that news really made Pete happy. He didn't try to figure it out, preferring instead to just enjoy the feeling. Despite the throbbing pain in his face and the sore hand, he was really glad the way the night had turned out. Things were working out.
Which is why he wasn't at all surprised when his tire blew out.
"Fuck," he shouted, as the car squealed to a stop.
He hopped out of the car and went to assess the damage. Sure enough, his front wheel was flat. And it was still a good five miles to town.
"Is it bad?" Lana asked, coming up beside him.
"It's fixable. Just annoying. I have a spare in my trunk."
He popped open the trunk, and walked to the back of the car to get what he needed. Lana walked beside him.
"Is that hard to do?"
"Not terribly." Pete fished around for his lug wrench and jack. He handed those to Lana. "Here, can you hold these while I get the spare out?"
Taking off the hubcap was easy enough, but loosening the lug nuts proved to be more difficult when his hand was still sore from the earlier punch.
Lana bent down next to him. "Are you having trouble?"
"Just a bit."
"Can I help?"
Pete looked up at her. "Depends. Have you ever changed a tire before?"
"It's fine. I can do it myself. You're probably cold out here, aren't you?" He said, noticing for the first time that she wasn't exactly dressed for a cool November night outside. She was wearing a cute red shirt and a black skirt that barely skimmed the top of her knees. Really cute knees too. Whoa. Had he just been checking out Lana's knees?
"I'm fine. Let me help. I bet if you show me what to do, I can do it."
She nudged him with her shoulder. "I thought we gave up on that helpless Lana thing."
Pete grinned. "You're right, we did. So get in here, woman. My hand hurts," he said, moving out of the way.
She grabbed a hold of the lug wrench too. "What am I doing?"
"We're just loosening the lug nuts. We're going to turn the wrench counterclockwise, just like one turn. And it should be good."
"Yeah." They turned together, and it was easy enough.
"Okay, now, we jack up the car." He placed it under the car, and jacked up the car a few inches. "Okay, want to help me remove the lug nuts?"
"Sure!" Lana replied, eagerly.
She was actually surprisingly helpful, not complaining once about the heavy tire, or the dirty road. Within minutes, the spare was on and they were ready to roll.
"Look at you! You changed a tire."
Lana beamed. "Look at me! I did!"
They both burst out laughing.
"Thanks, Pete," she said, when they finally calmed down.
Pete was puzzled. "Why are you thanking me? I should be thanking you."
She shook her head. "No, really, thank you for believing that I could help."
"Lana, you can change my tire anytime. And protect me from bullies too, I guess." He smirked. "You know, you're really handy to have around."
"I try," she said with a smile, and then shivered as the wind picked up again.
Pete frowned. "You're cold." He immediately took off his jacket and wrapped it around her.
"Thanks. I must have left my jacket at the Talon."
"No prob. Now, what do you say to finally getting you home?" he asked, sliding into the driver's seat.
"I say it sounds like a plan."
Pete started the car and put it into drive.
"Maybe you should come in and put ice on your lip?" Lana asked, her hand on the car handle.
Pete thought about it. It was late and he should go home. But, the prospect of ending the night didn't appeal to him either.
"Okay," he said finally, getting out of the car.
They entered the Sullivan house quietly. Lana flipped on the lights as they headed towards the kitchen.
"Here," she said, wrapping some ice in a towel. She stepped forward and pressed it to his lip, moving close into his personal space as she did so.
"Thanks," Pete whispered, bring his hand up to cover Lana's.
"Thanks for everything tonight, Pete."
"You've thanked me already. Several times," Pete pointed out.
"I know, I..."
"Hey guys." A voice in the doorway made them spring apart.
"Chloe, hi," Pete said quickly.
"Whoa Pete. What happened to you?" Chloe asked, entering the kitchen. From the pajamas, and hair--well, not that he could really tell with her hair--Pete guessed she'd just woken up when they came in.
Chloe's eyes widened. "You got in a fight with Todd Forrest? Pete, he's twice your size! What made you do something that stupid?"
"Me," Lana offered. "Todd wouldn't take no for an answer."
"Ick." Chloe wrinkled her nose. "Such an asshole. Seriously, what's wrong with guys today? Don't they understand that no means no? You're okay, right?"
"Yeah. Pete took care of him."
"Hardly." Pete scoffed. "You should've seen her, Chloe. She kicked him so hard, he collapsed."
Chloe looked surprised. "Go Lana!" Pete and Lana shared a smile. Chloe watched them suspiciously. "Anyway, I just came to grab a water bottle." She quickly opened the fridge. "And now that I've done just that, I'm going upstairs. To my bedroom. Where I'll mostly likely fall asleep. Right away." She tossed a grin over her shoulder as she left the room.
Pete felt his cheeks grow warm as the implications of Chloe's sudden departure hit him. He looked at Lana; she looked rather pink herself. He tucked his hands into his pockets.
"I should probably leave."
Lana blushed. "I guess it is getting late."
"Yeah." Pete said. He opened the back door reluctantly. "I guess I'll see you tomorrow?"
Pete walked out. He was down the porch steps when he heard her call out.
He turned quickly. "Yeah?"
Lana walked out and took off his jacket. "For you," she said, offering it to him.
"Oh thanks." Pete said dejectedly. He reached out to take it and their fingers brushed.
"Hey Pete," Lana whispered, not letting go.
"Do you think you're going to call Michelle tomorrow?"
Pete blinked. Michelle? "Um, not sure. I don't think so anyway." He eyed her suspiciously. "Why?"
Lana leaned forward and placed a kiss on his cheek. "I was just thinking," she said, "that maybe if you could call me instead?"
"I-I," Pete stammered. "Yeah. I can do that."
"Great." She smiled widely before heading back into the house. Pete watched the door close behind her before he walked back to the car.
The night hadn't gone quite as he'd expected.
He couldn't be happier about it.
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