The Road Not Taken

by a campbell

Feedback is always savored. I don't own these characters, though I wish I did. Thanks to fajrdrako for the beta.

Note: Clark does not have the giant "S" on his chest in this story. Too distracting.

AU, Lana/Red!Clark, implied Clark/Lex, NC-17. Spoilers for 2nd season, mainly "Exodus".

Thanks to fajrdrako for the beta.

I love you,* too. More than you'll ever know.* That's why I have to leave.

Come with me.

Smallville's my home.* It's your home,* too."

"Not any more."*

They sped toward Metropolis in the cold spring air, the raucous cycle engine preventing conversation. The black leather of Clark's jacket cold under her grip, Lana glanced to one side, then the other, across fields tinged with green mist of the spring planting. With an excitement not a little tinged with fear, she leaned her cheek against his back and tightened her grip on his waist, feeling grown up and on the brink of an adventure.

As she'd slipped into her seat behind him on the bike, she'd asked, "But, Clark, doesn't it bother you to be leaving your mom and dad?" Clark had such wonderful parents, after all, parents she couldn't imagine ever wanting to abandon.

A quick shake of his touseled head as a bleakness settled on his handsome face, "My parents will never love me again. I'd bet their love has worn out."

And then, "So, you gonna keep talking all damn afternoon? Get on." So she did.

Brushing away a stray strand of hair that the wind blew across her mouth, she swallowed, throat tight, let herself reflect on what she'd done. She'd left Smallville as hastily as Clark had, without a word to anyone, without a bag, without clothes, decision made in one lightning instant. No matter. She could go shopping with her debit card when she and Clark arrived. She could phone Chloe later when they got to Metropolis, let her know that she wouldn't be back tonight, or this week, or maybe ever. She turned her thoughts forcibly in a different direction, not wanting to ponder right now on what her friend's response might be when she learned that Clark and her best friend, "sister," Chloe had called her, just a few weeks before-- away together.

"Doin' okay back there?" Clark flung over his shoulder, loudly, because of the wind.

She smiled faintly, nodded uneasily.

She wasn't quite sure what was wrong with Clark. Yesterday she'd found him stumbling around in the blasted crater where his family's storm cellar had been, obviously in shock, babbling dazedly and on the verge of tears about his parents' accident, his mother losing a baby (what baby, she wondered?) and something portentous that had occurred.

Lana,* if you knew the truth...bring pain and suffering to everyone*'s lives...stay away from me,* before I hurt you*,* too*.

None of it made any sense. He was in shock, torn apart, and if he needed her, she had to be there.

But he was different this afternoon, almost the way he'd been last fall when Jessie had been in town. But, no, that couldn't be. Could it?

The Clark she knew was sweet, somber, caring. Never swore like this strange Clark, or made flip comments, or looked at her as though he knew what she looked like without her clothes. This Clark was eerie, different, dangerous. But exciting, too.

She'd been so confused all spring, herself, too, as she'd drawn steadily closer to Clark, despite knowing how Chloe still felt about him, despite her awareness of how often he'd let her down. Lovable, warm, sensitive and vulnerable, he'd mesmerized her, made her forget Whitney in a few short weeks. Then, this afternoon, he'd been so determined about leaving that it had scared her. She couldn't let yet another important person slip from her life. She'd lost too many already. Whatever she had to do to keep him, she would.

He turned sideways and she could barely hear his voice over the roar of the motorcycle."So, chick, how far do we go tonight?"

Don't call me that, she wanted to say. And would have, normally, had he been the Clark she knew, the Clark he usually was. Today, she held her tongue.

But today, too, she reminded herself, she'd finally decided not to worry so much about pleasing everyone else. And concentrate on pleasing herself.

"I don't know," she replied. "You decide."

He just gave a wicked sort of laugh, which left her wondering, as the spring sun dipped in the west, if she'd interpreted his question correctly after all.

She sat on the edge of the flimsy bed, all creaks and springs, as Clark showered, making a surprising amount of noise as he bumped doors and slammed cabinets. She could hear him now, singing some nameless, tuneless chant over the blast of water, and in spite of herself, she shivered.

As soon as the motel-room door had closed behind them and he'd slipped the tarnished chain into the slot, he'd flashed her a wicked grin, then begun stripping off the jacket, then the white t-shirt, revealing toned muscles underneath, and she herself had made the decision to turn to the window with a rush of burning blood to her cheeks. Not till she heard the bathroom door click shut had she turned back to see the heap of clothes on the floor and hear the metal squeak of the faucet through wood as he started the water.

When he came out--

She tried to stem her apprehension. After all, the moment she'd agreed to go with him, she'd known that there would be a price. When they stopped for the night on the outskirts of Metropolis, when he exited the motel office and flashed one tarnished key under her nose, key to a room that, when they'd entered, had only one bed, it was even more clear that the price would be herself. So she'd refused Whitney repeatedly in what seemed a lifetime ago, only to say yes, to give in, tonight. And she was ready, she told herself. She loved him. It was time. Even if she felt almost as she felt when waiting at the doctor's office for an appointment: exposed, apprehensive, uncertain, vulnerable. And curious and just a little excited.

When the door flew open, she jumped. Clark emerged fresh and clean, damp hair framing his face. Chest still bare, cheap towel knotted at his hip. Shook his head like a puppy, or a wet dog, sending droplets of water flying, then straightened up, looked down at her, grinning that beautiful grin, but his eyes tonight were knowing rather than innocent, and she wondered again why he was suddenly so different as she tried to smile back.

Yesterday, and even this afternoon, he'd been wounded and vulnerable. But now...He took a big gulp of ice water from the plastic motel cup, then crushed the cup in his hand, and tossed it into the trash can, her gaze following his every move. He then came over to stand before her, reached down with a chuckle to take one small hand and pull her to her feet.

She looked up with a trembling smile, and he bent down, took her cheek between finger and thumb, let the other hand trail down her cheek with a smug, possessive smirk. He bent down for a kiss and she let her lips open under his. With surprising dexterity he unbuttoned her blouse one-handed, reached back to unhook her bra with deft fingers, then drew down the zipper on her jeans so she could slide out of them. Lana wondered dazedly why she didn't protest. His tongue probed, and his mouth was cold from the ice water, wet, and demanding. Big hands, warm on her small hips, pulled her in closer, and she could feel him through the damp towel, pressing into her stomach. Despite her unease, her body responded, though she tried to ignore the wetness that gathered between her legs at his touch. She glanced down, then back up, and he grinned again, green gaze darkening as their eyes locked. With one hand, he fingered the knot at his waist, then yanked it loose almost triumphantly, letting the towel fall, and she stared, backing up a little, involuntarily. He chuckled, reached for her wrist and drew her back, folding her small fingers around hard flesh that pulsed under her hand.

Oh,* my God*, she thought with a mixture of dismay and half-horrified excitement, as hot blood flooded up her neck and into her cheeks. The weight of his flesh in her hand was deeply exciting, rousing new and confusing feelings.

He moved in even closer, letting fingers play gently down her cheek to the hollow of her throat. "You want me," he said with a little, tender laugh, as if amused at some secret joke. A statement, not a question.

She swallowed hard, tried to smile just a little, to ignore the troubled signals her instincts were sending her. Don't do it, a voice said earnestly, desperately.

He didn't ask if she was okay with this, or if she had protection. Or whether she'd ever done this before. Or if she was really ready, or really sure, or if she was positive Whitney was forgotten and she loved him, now.

"Lie down," he said, sounding almost amused. She knew she shouldn't, but she obeyed. He climbed onto the mattress after her, kneeling between her legs, nudging them further apart with his thigh, then the knee of his other leg, and settling down in for another kiss, his mouth opening, broad tongue teasing hers. The weight of his body hampered her breathing, but she kissed back,

"Oh, Baby," he breathed when they broke apart. "You make me so hot." His open lips were on her neck, damp hair tickling her chin. He moved down, tongue lapping at a nipple, hot mouth fastened on a small breast. It was all moving too fast, but there was nothing she could do to stop it, or even slow it down. He was all over her, and she couldn't ignore the feel of his cock, head moist against her thigh. She looked down as he reached, positioned himself, then closed her eyes and waited.

The nudge of hard flesh against her clit, and she caught her breath. He chuckled, whether at her or at his poor aim, she wasn't sure, and repositioned as she let her arms wind hesitantly around his strong body. He pushed, pressed, mouth open, breathing heavy and warm on her neck and shoulder. And there was pain, searing pain, as he entered her. A whimper escaped her, so smothered by his hot chest, body, flesh that she could barely breath. She tried to push him back.

"Clark, wait, please," she begged.

He didn't stop or slow down. He kept pressing, pumped and gasped, panting so hard it alarmed her, and she bit her lip, telling herself she would NOT cry out. Not let him know how he was hurting her. It couldn't last that long, after all. But it seemed to go on forever. Until he tensed and shuddered, and gasped, open-mouthed, against her hair.

She lay still,

"You're beautiful," he murmured, when he could speak again.

Lana stroked his hair with trembling hands. Shivered, teeth chattering.

But he did bend down and kiss one of the tears trailing down her cheek, run a warm hand down her arm before he turned over on his other side and switched off the lamp on the bedside table. The bed jolted and joggled as he got comfortable and sighed with what she hoped was contentment.

She lay still for awhile, thinking. Her first time. And he hadn't held her afterward, hadn't said he loved her, or asked if she were okay.

Was this what it was all about?

She touched herself between her thighs, then pulled her hand out, stained red.

It didn't matter. He loved her. She knew he did.

It would get better.

Far on into the night, she awoke shivering, the thin blanket insufficient to keep her warm. She was facing the wall, and shifted a little on the hard mattress, feeling only the coldness of vacant space, vacant sheet, beside her. Her mind focused and remembered, and she tensed, her aloneness settling on her like a pall. Could he have left her?

She heard soft choking sounds, caught her breath and turned over, careful not to make a sound.

Clark stood leaning against the windowsill, half hidden by the cheap burlap curtains. He was crying, hoarse moans that he tried to muffle with the open palm of his hand.

Should she go to him? She wrestled with herself for a long moment, then poked one leg out from under the blanket. But before it touched the floor, he spoke.

"Damn it. Damn it, and damn you."

Lana drew her leg back under the blanket and lay still, not moving, not even daring even to breathe.

"It's no good, Lex. No good."

Lana exhaled slowly. Lex? Why was Clark talking about him, and now, of all times? Lex and Helen had left for their honeymoon two days ago and were probably basking on a Caribbean beach with eyes for no one but each other.

And what was "No good?"

"Damn it! I love you, damn it. I only wanted you. And now you're gone. Damn you, damn her, damn Helen, damn everyone." His voice broke off in a sob.

She looked over. He was stroking himself. She heard panting, gasping that gradually increased to a frantic speed. She couldn't move to put her hands over her ears, so she just bit her lip, trembling. And then he cried out, and the palms of her hands hurt from the tight clench of her hands.

Damn her.

She lay there awake for a long time before falling into a fitful doze.

Just before dawn, Lana opened her eyes again, resolute and determined. Could she slip out of bed without waking him? And how long it would take her to walk to Nell's apartment from here, the scrubby outskirts of the city? She'd better get started now.

Holding her breath, she edged herself from under the cover and out of bed, and stood up, weak with relief that Clark lay still and didn't stir. She picked up her blouse from where it lay on the carpet, and soundlessly slipped on her jeans, wincing a little, zipped and buttoned them, then grabbed her purse from the chair by the door.

Lana looked back for a mere instant. He still slept, breathing quietly like a child, dark hair mussed and tangled. She squared her shoulders, not letting herself think about how handsome, how beautiful he was. How he might need her, how bereft he might feel when he woke and found her gone.

There was only a faint line of light on the horizon as she slipped out the door.

If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to a campbell

Also, why not join Level Three, the Smallville all-fic list?


Level Three Records Room