by Ni Ping
Standing behind the bar, towards the far end nearest the backroom, Lana carefully watched the Talons customers, unobserved by the majority because she was partially hidden by a large decorative pillar. From this point she could see the entire coffee shop and everyone in it without them knowing, it was perfect. It also gave her some privacy. It had been a good day, fairly busy and all but four of the tables were occupied. She smiled to herself. Before leaving for Paris Lana had resigned herself to the fact that Lex would sell the place and by the time she came back to Smallville (if ever) all her hard work and effort would belong to someone else. Her heart gave a little leap in protest even now and her smile widened. She could never let this place go. It was the Talon, her Talon, and it was the one achievement she felt she could be truly proud of. Of course, without Lex none of it would have happened. A lot of things wouldn't have happened without Lex...
Lana' attention was drawn away from her own musings to a table positioned near one of the windows. 45 minutes. 45 minutes since he had finished his cappuccino and he was still sitting there. Although reluctant at first, Lex had insisted that they set a limit for how long people could occupy a table without buying a drink and Lana had come to agree with him. It made sense, like most things Lex said. The upper most limit was 30 minutes, and that was being generous. Lana knew she should have gone over, but the mere sight of the guy had put her off. Dressed in a sleek, stylish designer suit with a smart black leather case propped against a perfectly tailored leg he screamed out "Successful Businessman. Do Not Disturb." Under further scrutiny Lana noticed he was actually, quite, no, really good looking. He had jet black hair that was slightly curly, dark brown eyes and what Chloe would call a "chiselled" face. He obviously spent a lot of time out of doors because he had a healthy tan that covered all the parts of his body she could see. Well. Maybe the sight of him wasn't that bad after all, but he still seemed so unapproachable. Maybe she could just leave him and he might go away on his own? She couldn't ask him to leave, she had no right to... Almost instantaneously Lana heard a familiar voice in her head.
"Never let anyone intimidate you, Lana. We are all born equals, and only through our actions do we achieve greatness. What has he done to make him better than you?"
"Nothing." Lana muttered to herself, then repeated it a little louder as she shook her head. This was stupid. She was 18, had been to Paris all summer (on her own) and this was her coffee shop! She resolutely headed towards the offending table but realised the guy was on the phone. Stopping just short of his seat with a click of her boots on the floor, Lana looked down at him and waited. "Yeah. Yeah-" snide laugh "- We're all over him. He'll be finished by the end of the week. Talking of being "all over him" I saw your catch last night. Nice, real nice. Great curves. Too good for you..." Lana's skin was crawling. Before the conversation had even taken its turn towards "last night" the guys voice had made her hairs stand up on end. It was so arrogant, so self important and vanity seemed to permeate from him. Lana was seriously considering walking away before Lex piped up again "You can do it." Raising her chin and crossing her arms across her chest, in what she hoped was an aggressive stance, Lana impatiently cleared her throat. The guy didn't stop talking and merely looked up at her with an expression of "What?" on his face. Lana inclined her head towards his cell phone and raised her brows. Inexplicably he grinned, and began slowly looking her up and down, not bothering to hide it from her. Abruptly cutting off his conversation he favoured Lana with his full attention and a perfect set of white teeth smile.
"What can I do for you?" Lana would have smiled at the similarity, but any comparison between Lex and this man would have been unfair to her friend. This guy was becoming repulsive and the leer that accompanied his question made her want to slap it off his face. Instead she smiled coldly at him. "I doubt you could do anything for me." She had added extra emphasis on the word you and although his smile stayed in place his eyes had narrowed slightly. "But I am going to have to ask you to either buy another drink, or leave. Its our policy." He had the grace to looked chagrined. "Oh. In that case I'll have another cappuccino. I'm sorry for sitting here for so long, I had no idea." His look was verging on apologetic and Lana felt herself soften slightly, reluctantly. Smiling with a little more warmth she reached forward to pick up him mug. His hand came to rest on her forearm but when she tried to pull it away his grip tightened just enough to hold her there. Bent at the middle, she was precariously balanced, unable to get away and her face was uncomfortably close to his. "Why don't you get yourself one and come and sit with me? You look like you need some good company." He was practically talking in her ear and Lana could feel his breath on her skin. She tried to keep her voice even. " I think I'll pass. I don't socialise with customers, especially ones I don't know." She could feel herself shaking with anger but he seemed to be oblivious. Leaning further forward his lips almost brushed her ear. "Oh, come on. It could be fun. We could get to know each other better......" He had exerted just enough force on her arm to make her lose her balance and she had fallen into his lap. Lana couldn't remember being this angry. Her mind was blank and all she could here was her blood pounding in her ears and Lex's voice in her head. He sounded as angry as she was. " Are you going to let him humiliate you like this!?" Quickly twisting up out of his lap so she could face him, she gripped him tightly around the wrist that was still holding her and twisted. In satisfaction she watched a succession of emotions parade across his face. First it was shock, turned into anger at her hold on him then pain as she continued to twist his arm. Bringing her face closer to his Lana looked him directly in the eye. "I suggest you leave now-" She twisted more her voice as cold as steel "-before I leave you something to remember me by." Releasing his wrist, she snatched up his mug and began walking away, throwing over her shoulder " It was nice getting to know you." She didn't bother to watch him leave and smiled smugly when she heard the scrape of his chair and the door of the Talon open and close.
Her smile faltered for a moment. What was that?! She couldn't believe she'd practically assaulted someone in the middle of the Talon. But, he did deserve it she told herself and if she was honest she had to admit she had enjoyed knocking him down a few pegs. Shaking her head, but smiling once more, she headed towards the coffee machine. Lana wasn't sure when it had happened, but she liked the change.
"Lex, you should be proud of me." She said to herself. "I am." His voice said back. Except this time it was the real thing.
Also, why not join
Level Three, the Smallville all-fic list?