CLOSE QUARTERS VI: THE PLAN
Genre: Smallville; Lana/Lex; Lana POV
Summary: Lana moves into the Luthor guest house when Nell decides to move to Metropolis.
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 light of day is supposed to make everything look different. Better. That's the theory anyway. Today, it didn't. Today, I got up out of bed, got in the shower, and felt Lex kissing me. I ate a pop tart and tasted him, I got dressed and tingled where he'd touched me.
Nothing looks better. The birds aren't singing, the sun isn't shining. I wait until the last possible minute to leave for school. I'm hoping to hear the spray of gravel as the Porsche tears down the drive. I'm hoping for a Lex-free day. I hate that I have a closing shift at the Talon. I'd call in, except I desperately need the money.
I don't hear the Porsche and it's 7:49 and I've gotta leave. I run to my car, as if I'm avoiding the rain but the rain is the last thing I'm avoiding. I manage to make it down the drive and off the property, sans Lex.
So far, so good. I've been up for an hour and a half and stuck to The Plan. The Plan is to avoid Lex as much as possible until these unwelcome and completely inappropriate feelings go away.
They've got to, eventually.
It's still raining and the Talon is pretty packed. For once, I'm glad for the heavy workload. Plus, it's almost closing and it doesn't look like Lex is going to make a cameo tonight. It crosses my mind that he's avoiding me too, and I try asking myself how do I feel about that? Right now, relieved is the only thing that comes to mind.
I glance at the clock as I hear Sandy make the announcement that it's fifteen minutes until closing. Clark has been sitting unobtrusively in a corner, nose in his English book since 8:30. I've made plans with him to work on our homework in order to avoid going home at a decent hour.
When the last customer is out and most of the staff has gone too, I sit across from Clark. "We really don't have to do this right now," I say, and I mean it. Maybe it's the ease at which I've gotten through a Lex-free day but I feel fairly confident that I'm safe to go home.
I almost drop my cup of coffee on the floor when Clark says, "are you avoiding Lex for some reason?"
Huh? Wha? And huh? Clark is many things, but especially intuitive is not one of them.
"Why would you say that?" I ask. I hear the tremble in my voice and it's raised just an octave higher than usual, but I pray Clark doesn't notice. He just shrugs. The English book is now closed and his fingers are tracing random patterns on top.
"I saw Lex outside when I got here. He was just standing there, like he was trying to figure out whether or not he should come inside. I asked him what was up and he said he was heading out east for a few days on business and to tell you if you needed anything he'd be reachable on his cell."
Process. My brain is about to flat line. Heading out east? For a few days? He didn't mention this last night? What's out east? Who's out east? I seriously need to find a grip. I don't give a crap about The Plan, I can't believe Lex didn't tell me himself!
Right. Clark. "I wonder why he didn't tell me himself?"
Yes. That sounds normal, sane, reasonable. Detached. I'm a girl with nothing going on, Clark. Not with Lex and certainly not in the back of a limo.
"He said he didn't know if he should come inside to see you. That's why I ask if you're avoiding him."
Does Lex know the meaning of the word discreet? Sheesh. Why not come right out and tell Clark everything?
"He probably saw how busy it was."
Lame. Clark's clueless sometimes but he's not stupid. When he puts his mind to it, he's all Magnum P.I. so I don't know what I'm expecting him to think about this charade.
"Lana, is there something going on with you and Lex?"
He chooses now to be a straight-to-the-point kind of guy? I've got to play this out. I have to. What other choice do I have? Tell him? Ask his advice? Not likely.
"What do you mean?" I blink my eyes, all big and innocent. Clark sighs. He's not quite believing my act but I've also got to believe he's not quite ready to process something like 'Lex and Lana sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g' as a likely possibility. I've got complete skepticism working in my favor.
"Ever since you moved into the guest house, things seem different between you two. You seem closer but more...nervous around each other."
"Nothing's changed," I say, trying to sound breezy. I even smile, for effect. "I've spent more time with him, yeah, but nothing's changed as far as our friendship goes."
Clark clearly has his doubts but what's he going to say? I feel like I've dodged a bullet for now and I'm really going to take these next few days to sort out (and bury) my feelings for Lex. It's the only way to keep my life from exploding into a billion tiny little pieces.
When Lex said he was going out east for a few days, he meant for the week. It's Friday afternoon when I hear Julie outside the kitchen telling someone Lex had arrived back that morning.
I feel a tremor run through me and my math homework is forgotten. The Plan, so far, is a bomb. I did nothing all week but work, eat, study, sleep and think about Lex in between. I'd dialed his cell phone at least once (a day) but just listened to the second of dead air before it rang. I wouldn't have known what to say. Hi, I miss you?
What did I want to hear back? 'This isn't going to happen' or 'I miss you, too'? I mean, who am I kidding, really? This can't work, I don't even know if Lex wants it to work, and anyway, reason number one, it wouldn't work.
If I had scheduled myself to work tonight, I wouldn't be sitting around wondering if I should just go over to the house, just to say hi. Part of me (the stupid part) thinks if I just get it over with, I'll feel much better. Since when does rejection make someone feel better?
I spend an hour getting ready. I'm getting ready to decide if I'm going over there. I'm wearing my cute low-rise jeans and a blue sweater I know Lex likes to decide if I'm going over there. I'm wearing my hair up and a touch more makeup than usual to decide if I'm going over there.
My whole brain is controlled by the stupid part of me. This isn't part of The Plan. This directly contradicts The Plan. This is The Anti-Plan.
My boots clunk on the cobblestone of the path to the kitchen and I think everyone can hear me and they're all snickering. I ring the service bell, and this time I hope it's anyone but Julie that answers. A stranger would be nice. Someone new, who doesn't know me and, for all intents and purposes, barely knows Lex.
I know Marcus, though. He smiles pleasantly, not snickering at all. He knows nothing. He calls me Miss Lang. He tells me Lex is in his study. He does not tell me Lex has a guest.
I wish I'd worn silent shoes. Tennis shoes. Ballet shoes. No shoes. Then I could have fled, unnoticed as soon as I saw Lex and his...guest. Read: female. Read: beautiful. Read: date. Lover. Whatever. But my boots clunk and Lex turns and actually looks flustered.
Marcus, you're fired.
I manage to apologize for the intrusion and turn to go. Stupid sweater. Stupid hair. Stupid makeup running down my face with the tears. Stupid, stupid teenage girl. I'm in the foyer when I hear Lex excuse himself and come after me.
Don't come after me, Lex. Don't come after me unless you're going to scoop me in your arms and say you're sorry and you'll be happy to make my life explode into a billion tiny little pieces.
Because isn't that what every girl wants, really?
"Did you need something, Lana?"
Bastard. You shouldn't have come after me, Lex. I stop; don't turn because I will not let him see me crying.
"I'll talk to you later," I say. My voice sounds hollow in the huge, mostly empty room. It echoes off the marble and bounces back to my ears.
"I do want to talk," he says, emphasis on the 'do'. He steps closer. He's at my back. I want to turn around and raise my knee in one swift kick to the groin. That way, when he and his girlfriend want to get married and live happily ever after, maybe babies won't be so easy to come by.
Instead, I concentrate on standing stalk still and pray he doesn't touch me. He puts a hand on my shoulder. I hate you, Lex.
"Are you alright, Lana?"
Heavy on the peachy, light on the keen. For someone so smart, Lex Luthor is dumb as a box of rocks. No, I'm not all right! Did I imagine what happened in the limo? It was a big deal, wasn't it? You don't just kiss random women like that on a regular basis, do you? For all I know, Lex Luthor does.
"What's her name?" I ask.
Funny how in a split second you can ask a question without even thinking. A question you really, really don't want to know the answer to.
He doesn't tell me.
16 Nov 2002
Continued in Close Quarters VII: The Fallout.