by Ni Ping
Why was good advise so hard to follow? Sitting in the Talon, Lana asked herself the question she'd asked herself dozens of times over the last few days. She had listened to Lex, always knowing what to say and what to do, and had understood what she had to do. Then. Now it was proving much harder to follow through. Well, she told herself, at least I've made a start. She was waiting for Chloe, who was running uncharacteristically late. With nothing else to do, Lana's thought drifted back to a conversation 3 nights ago. After he had made their coffees, eventually (thinking of it made Lana smile even now) , Lex had regarded her in silence for awhile then simply asked "What's wrong?" She had initially tried to avoid the subject but had given up at Lex' persistence. What was wrong? Everything, seemed a little dramatic but it was depressingly close to the truth. Coming back from Paris at the end of the summer, Lana had been looking forward to seeing her friends and finishing her last year of high school. Then why had she wanted to turn back round and fly back to Paris again? Or was that what she wanted? Did she just want to turn back the clock, not go to Paris and carry on like before? All this had been revealed to Lex, along with all the problems she was having with school, Clark, Chloe and Nell. Lex had often surprised Lana in the past with his ability to not only listen to her problems, but to understand them as well. He had helped her with the Talon, finding Henry, stopping Perry, getting Adam to leave her alone, going to Paris and most frequently, Clark. He was always there for her, never needing anything in return except her friendship and Lana admitted to herself that she had come to rely on him. That night she had needed someone to talk to and he had been there, even offering his shoulder for her to cry on. "I feel so lonely, Lex. It's like I left my life behind in Smallville when I went to Paris, and now I'm back again I can't find it. Everyone has moved on without me." Wrapping both his arms around her, Lex had pulled her in close and let her cheek rest against his shirt. " I know what it's like to be lonely Lana, but I want you to know that you're not alone." She had looked up at him and had attempted a small smile. "That's a little cliched, Lex, even for you." He had smiled to hear her teasing him. "Good point. Look, I just want you to know, that I'll always be here when you need me " Lana had smiled at him again, tentatively laying a small hand against his face, her voice soft. "I know, Lex. You always have been."
Lana sighed heavily. Something had flickered in his eyes as she'd said that. He had let go of her and pulled away, his expression blank as usual. She had scared him away, she thought wryly for a moment then remembered that this was Lex. He didn't get "scared", at least definitely not by her. He was almost always confident and assured. It must have been something else, although Lana wasn't sure what.... Chloe was walking towards her which put an effective end to her Lex musings.
"Hey, Chloe." Lana smiled warmly at her not-so-good-friend. "Hey Lana, I'm sorry I'm late. I had some stuff at the Torch to finish up and I over ran." "Don't worry, it's fine. Here, I got you a coffee. You still like cafe latte, right?" Chloe smiled. "Oh yeah, something's never change. Thanks."
They both picked up their drinks and Lana took the time to ready herself. What had Lex said? "If you want anything done, you need to make the first move, Lana. If your friendship is worth saving Chloe will make the next one." Right. Lana hoped her voice didn't sound as unsure as she felt.
"Chloe, I've been thinking, and I realised that we haven't been out, just the two of us, since before the summer. Now I know that things haven't been great between us for a while now, but I really want to change that. I thought I'd lost my chance when you, well , when you..."
"Died?" Chloe provided helpfully.
"Yeah. Anyway, I thought we'd missed out on a great friendship, and now your back I want to make sure we don't." Chloe had looked reluctant throughout most of Lana's "speech" but her face had softened towards the end. After a few tense moments on Lana' part, Chloe looked her straight in the eye. "Your right, Lana. We used to be such good friends, and I'm sorry we lost that. I just hope we can get it back."
YES! Thank you Lex! Maybe things weren't that bad after all. He had said as much. Lana smiled brightly at Chloe who in turn smiled back. "I was thinking we could go out tonight. Maybe catch a movie then get something to eat?" Chloe nodded her head "Alright, but on one condition." Lana looked at her in question. "All guys are off limits."
They had managed to get through the majority of their night out without uttering a word about men (well, apart from fantasizing about Clive Owen, but according to Chloe that didn't count because they were having a discussion about the film that just happened to include him) when they bumped into Clark just as they were entering the pizzeria. He had been surprised but happy to see them and they had all stood chatting aimlessly for a while before Clark had to shoot off-his pizza's would get cold.
"Mmmmm. I guess. We don't have to talk about him...." Lana trailed off at Chloe's expression. "Oh, please. When have we ever been able to resist talking about Clark?"
Lana knew she was right but was determined not to ruin their night. They had been getting on so well, like the old times, and she didn't want to lose it all over Clark. Chloe read her mind.
"Look, Lana, shall we just get this out of the way? It's just gonna hang over our heads if we don't."
Lana sighed resignedly. "Alright. I'll go first. Before I left for Paris I honestly wanted me and Clark to be together. I gave him a chance, laid myself open for him, again, but he didn't take it. He just told me to have a good time. It hurt Chloe. I knew that he wanted to say something more, but he held himself back, again. And I'm tired of it. I went to Paris and had one of the best summers of my life and realised that I'm the one who's got to live my life. I can't wait around for Clark because my life won't wait for me. I've changed over the years, Chloe, we both have, but Clark? He seems to want me to be the same old Lana he fell for in the fifth grade and I can't do that for anyone, not even him. I want someone to love me for who I am now, and who I could be and if Clark can't do that, then it's best we stay friends." She had told Lex basically the same thing, but had left out the part about wanting someone to love her for who she was now. She didn't know why, but it felt more comfortable telling Chloe about loving someone other than Clark than Lex. Chloe looked at Lana sadly for a while before reaching over and laying her hand on hers.
"He's an idiot. He's had more chances with you than I can remember and if he still hasn't gone for it, then it's his loss. Your right about him. He loves the part of you that's been gone for a while now. He still sees you as Lana, the girl who lost her parents but still manages to be happy and kind to everyone. The girl who he needs to look after. Your not that girl anymore, Lana, he just hasn't realised it yet. And, honestly, I don't think he'll ever get used to the new you." Chloe added with a smile.
Lana smiled back then frowned slightly. "But what about you, Chloe?"
Chloe chuckled slightly but her eyes showed the hurt she felt. " Me? What hope have I got? If Clark can't notice that your not a 16yr old cheerleader, how exactly is he going to notice that his best friend has been in love with him for years? No, seriously, it doesn't matter anymore. You can't have everything in life. I'd rather have Clark as my friend instead of throwing it all away because he doesn't love me. Clark has never meant to hurt me, Lana, and I know he'll always be there for me, as a friend if nothing else. And I'm not going to let him come between us Lana. If he chooses to like you, then that's his fault, not yours."
Just then the waiter appeared with their order and the conversation was temporarily forgotten. Chloe was quickly back on track though.
"Well, since we've started with this subject, we might as well carry on. So, if you don't like Clark any more, who do you like? Found anyone to love you for who you are now? Or who you could be?"
Lana suppressed a laugh at her friends eagerness, journalist Chloe kicking in. With the exception of that night with Lex, Lana hadn't felt this good in ages.
"Chloe. I'm glad your not dead." Their laughter rang out through the restaurant.
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