Genre: Smallville; Lana/Lex; Lana POV
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Lana moves into the Luthor guest house when Nell decides to move to Metropolis.
Spoilers: None
Notes: Canon through most of "Ryan", AU for anything after. This story assumes Lana is not living with Chloe.
Disclaimer: Alfred Gough and Miles Millar created Smallville; TRP and other corporate entities own the rights. No profit made.


The guest house was already furnished when I got there, and considering Lex's guest furniture is much nicer than my own furniture, the only thing I kept from my old room was my bed. Nell took everything else with her to Metropolis -- I guess I can't avoid Dean forever and will probably be expected to spend holidays there. And, oh yeah, the wedding. Shudder.

I thought it would be weird to be living in the Luthor's guest house, but it's totally cool. Clark just left and I'm surrounded by my boxes and I have the distinct feeling I've just moved into my own apartment. My own, very reasonable apartment, since I was able to wrangle out of Nell how much she's forking over for Lex to harbor me. Even by Smallville standards, $300 a month for a tiny one-bedroom house is cheap. I thought about cutting some of my own pay at the Talon to make up for it, but I'm sort of convinced I could find $300 in change in Lex's couch cushions so I guess I won't worry about it.

The place is only one bedroom, one bath and a living room slash kitchen, but it's mine. And for the first time in a long time, I feel free. Completely unencumbered. Sure, I've still got rules. The long-distance kind but rules nonetheless, meaning if I start going out clubbing (where?!) every night and letting my schoolwork slip, I'll be in Metropolis so fast my head will spin. Nell's words.

We signed the paperwork yesterday before Nell and Dean left. She's still my primary legal guardian, and -- get this -- Lex has temporary guardianship. He's my boss and he has to sign permission slips for school.

Could this be any more humiliating?

My little house has a microwave in it (gift from Lex) and I think it's worth it. Now if I could just find the box Nell marked NON-PERISHABLES KITCHEN, I'd have something to pop in the microwave and we'd be in business.

I'm knee deep in the third box Clark has placed in the kitchen filled with stuff that doesn't go anywhere near the kitchen when someone knocks. I can't get out of the box quick enough so I just yell for whoever it is to come in. I'm trusting Lex's armed guards at the gate that it won't be a murderer with an axe.

It's Lex, and he's holding an orchid and trying to gain entrance despite the large box clearly marked BEDROOM Clark has so helpfully placed right behind the door.

I manage to get out of my jam and sidestep boxes to get to the other side of the room to help him. "Sorry," I mutter, pushing the offending box out of the way.

Lex only grunts and shoves the door all the way open with his foot. I can't help but notice the orchid is beautiful, the kind that costs $30 at the Home Depot and already comes in a gorgeous ceramic pot. I feel bad that it'll probably be dead in a week.

"Just a tip, don't ever ask Clark to help you move," I offer. "He's unusually strong but can't follow directions to save his life."

Lex chuckles at this and looks around in that appraising way he does. There isn't much change, it's his guest house littered with my boxes and I wish I'd asked Clark to stay and help me unpack.

Not that he'd be any good at it.

Lex looks unusually large in the small house. He's not all that big a guy, smaller than Clark and Clark hadn't looked huge in here or anything. I figure it's because I'm used to seeing Lex in big, imposing rooms, or he projects an aura of magnitude that defies his actual stature...or something. Either way, he looks out of place and I can tell he feels out of place.

"I brought you this orchid," he says redundantly. "Housewarming gift."

My eyes automatically trail to the yet unused microwave. "I thought the microwave was your housewarming gift." The red bow and card attached that read, 'Lana, welcome to the neighborhood' in Lex's all-caps scrawl tipped me off.

Lex waves his hand as if to dismiss dual gift giving. "That was a hand-me-down. Julie told me we were getting rid of a microwave and asked if you'd want it. I simply said yes, so really it's from Julie."

"I'll have to thank Julie then," I say laughing. Now he doesn't look so big. He looks relaxed. "Thanks for the orchid. It's gorgeous."

Lex nods. "You might not want to know this but the name orchid is from the Greek root orkhis, which means testicle."

Uh huh. Right, I didn't really want to know that. He's smiling this weird smile, like it's fun to say the word 'testicle' and embarrass me.

"You are a wealth of useless information, Lex," I tell him.

Oh crap, that came out sounding a lot more bitchy than I'd meant it. Thankfully, his eyes sparkle a little and he nods. "I've been told."

Well, at least I'm not the only one.

Awkward silence ensues and I'm about to tell him I trained Sandy to close. You know, the girl who's obnoxiously perky that you don't like? When in doubt, we've always got business to talk about. But he beats me to it.

"Need some help unpacking?"

Yeah, I really want Lex Luthor unpacking my Winter Ball tiaras and pink diary with the little lock that you could pick with a bobby pin. Throw in my pom poms and my jewelry box adorned with a twirling ballerina and the tinkling of the ballerina waltz and the humiliation would be complete.

"No, thanks. Chloe's gonna come over after school tomorrow and we're gonna write our World History papers and unpack during the breaks."

Lex nods thoughtfully and I panic. Am I supposed to ask him if someone can come over?! How am I supposed to know these things? The temporary legal guardian papers weren't exactly specific. Sure, they were long and the lawyer explained the parameters, but he didn't talk about sleepovers or lunch money.

My panic slowly abates when Lex doesn't seem to have given what I said another thought. He looks at his watch. "Have you eaten?"

I'm thinking the box marked NON-PERISHABLES KITCHEN is probably in the bathroom. Thanks, Clark. "I was going to make some popcorn and get some studying done..." I glance at my backpack on the floor. "If I can find a place to do it."

Lex nods. "Well, Julie made a roast so if you get hungry, just wander into the kitchen. And I'll be around if you need more space to spread out and study."

Uh huh. Does Lex feel obligated to entertain me? Feed me? Make me comfortable? I should have read that contract more carefully. He's probably just being nice, but with Lex it's hard to tell.

All I do is nod and smile and he leaves. I release my breath and wonder if I'd been holding it the entire time he was standing in my living room.

14 Nov 2002
Continued in Close Quarters III: The All-Nighter.