Kudos to Azar for the excellent beta read and the push I needed to write this after weeks of watching the plot bunny hop around in my brain.
The apartment over the Talon had been empty for several weeks before Lana screwed up the courage to go back inside. She hadn't been back there since the day that Lex had promised to keep Adam away from her. She didn't like it much; it brought back memories.
Memories of taking coffee and warm muffins up the stairs and sharing them at the counter in the apartment's tiny kitchenette.
Memories of the night he helped her close up the Talon after a really busy night... and how he'd swung the chairs upside down to the tune of "Whistle While You Work." Just to make her laugh.
Adam always had a smile that she swore was just for her--quiet and thoughtful, yet warm. And sometimes a little sad. He'd listened to her babble on about school or the Talon... Clark or Chloe. They'd never talked about her parents or Nell or his parents. Adam hadn't been the type who liked to dwell on the past. But he'd always acted like he'd cared.
She'd believed it, too, because she wanted to so badly. She liked the idea of having someone around who looked at her and didn't see her past. Didn't see the little girl on the cover of Time magazine, or the quarterback's girlfriend, or the Homecoming queen. Or even the ever elusive Girl Next Door. She liked that he didn't care about the image of who she was, but really cared for her.
Or at least, she thought he had, and up until that day she confronted him with the results of her amateur background check, she'd truly believed it. But when he saw the folder... when he knew that she knew about his secret past life... his eyes had turned cold and he'd warned her away.
Oh, they'd tried to go back to the way things were, and he'd remained friendly towards her, but some of the warmth was gone from his eyes. The friendly sparkle, the challenging tease. They didn't spend hours talking anymore.
Then she saw him with the needle.
And then she found his notebook.
When he disappeared one day, leaving all things behind, she honestly believed that Lex had done it... had taken care of them problem. But Lex hadn't and she'd lived in fear that he would come back someday and finish whatever it was he'd started there in Smallville.
She honestly hadn't expected that he would come back to hurt her. Although, sometimes she wondered why that hadn't been her first assumption. Every other freak in Smallville had come for her... and she hadn't been anything to them. Still, somewhere deep inside her, Lana had hoped that Adam wasn't like the rest. He wouldn't come for her...
... but he had.
Squinting, she attempted to push away the memory of Adam's first night in the apartment. She'd helped him unpack everything he had in the world, then sat next to him in the middle of floor with a plain cheese pizza and two 20 oz bottles of Coke. They'd sat just close enough together that their knees touched whenever one of them leaned in to take another slice of pizza. Lana'd pretended not to notice because they'd decided to try for friendship.
When one of the waitresses came to her with the sealed envelope bearing her name in Adam's careful handwriting, Lana threw it away. She didn't want to acknowledge it, but all day long she found her mind wandering back to it. What did it mean? What could the guy who came so close to killing her possibly have to say to her?
It was these thoughts and her own curiosity that found Lana sitting alone in the Talon with the letter in her hand. It was stained with coffee grounds from the trash and her hands were sticky from fishing it out. She tapped the envelope on the counter, trying to decide what she was going to do with it now. Open it? Or throw it back? But if she was going to throw it back, why had she bothered to get it from the trash?
Because she was curious. Because something about Adam had sparked her imagination and her curiosity in the first place and she couldn't seem to get over it just because he was dead.
She opened the letter. Her fingers moved in slow motion, peeling the flap of the envelope open at a painful, suspense-filled rated. Inside was a single sheet of notebook paper, folded twice to fit the envelope which housed it. Her fingers were trembling as she undid the folds and flattened the page on the counter. She closed her eyes, afraid, and willed herself to look at it. But what would it say? She looked down, and her breath caught in her chest.
I hope that by the time you read this, I am far away from here. If not, then I am probably dead.
I am sorry for what I did to you. Lying, keeping secrets, and spying on you for him. He made me do it or else he would refuse me the medication which keeps me alive. I tried to live without it, but I cannot. Even now, I feel the need for the serum growing greater. I shake uncontrollably. And the blood...*
There was a bloody thumb print on the paper and the writing was less stable than that in the notebook she'd found in the apartment.
*I'm losing my mind, Lana, and I'm scared. All I know is that I have to find a way to get more of the serum so that I can leave and get away from him. He is evil.
I want you to know that I never meant to hurt you. I don't know what he wanted from you and I hope I never do. I have to get away from him so I am leaving. It is the only way to keep you safe.
I think I love you. I know you don't want to hear that, but it is how I feel. I wish we had met in my other life, the one you how it ended. Think of me as the boy you read about and not the one I have become. Try and forget that desperate person, Lana. Don't think of him. What is past, is in the past and needs to stay there.
I hope your future is everything your heart desires.
There was no way knowing when this letter was written, but Lana's heart told her it had been before.
Before he had come after her, attacked her... wild and violent. He said it here in this letter. Without the drug... serum, whatever it was... without it he had lost control. And it bothered her that he wouldn't tell her who this elusive "he" was. Who it was whom he had been spying for. Who was evil.
Forget that desperate person... She didn't know if she could. But she wanted to. She'd liked Adam. He'd treated her like everybody else...not like a fragile doll about to break. Sometimes his straight forward manner had been hard to get used to, but she had gotten used to it. And despite what he'd done to her, she did miss it, because it felt right.
More so than her entire relationship with Clark had ever been. She felt she could trust Adam's advice, even now.
Wiping a small gathering of moisture away from her eyes, she stood up and refolded the letter. Tucking it into her blue jeans pocket, she picked up the stool and turned it upside down on top of the counter.
Whistling softly, she finished locking up the shop and reached for her new pink coat. Tomorrow, she would tell Clark that it was time they both stopped living in their past.
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