It was a warm rain. The kind that Lana didn't mind walking in, though right now she had the feeling she'd be just fine walking in any sort of rain. Walking in the rain was therapeutic; at least that was the theory. Wasn't that what people who were upset did? Or maybe it wasn't therapeutic at all, maybe it was just stupid, and upset people didn't really care.
At this point, she didn't really care. As long as her two feet took her far away from the Kent farm, and the sunset, and Clark's kicked-puppy dog eyes. Why did Clark always insist on doing the right thing? Why, if it made him look like that? What good was doing the right thing if you felt crappy all the time, if it meant you never got what you wanted?
It had started raining soon after the sun dipped below the horizon. Lana had walked home, pressed play on her answering machine, then turned around and walked right back out onto the road. She felt the first few drops pelt the top of her head, but she didn't retrace her steps. She didn't want to go back home where the telephone would ring, or wouldn't ring. Where Whitney's voice was on the machine, apologizing. Or not apologizing. Where in her bedroom she would force herself to look at the pictures of them, or force herself not to look at them. Where Nell might ask her what was wrong...or might not.
There were too many uncertainties at home, between those walls painted cheery pink on the outside so that it looked like a humble farmhouse, until you got inside and it looked white and untouchable like, well, Nell's house. It was inconsistent like the rest of her life, like the rest of the people in her life, and she wanted none of that right now.
The lights of the Luthor Estate blazed up ahead, so bright that Lana didn't even have to squint to see them through the rain. They weren't like a beacon, exactly, but she moved toward them anyway.
The guard at the gate just nodded at her, as if she showed up after dark, all wet and slipshod on a regular basis. He pushed a button on the control panel he sat in front of and the pedestrian gate swung open. Which was a bummer, because Lana was expecting to hear the screech of metal on asphalt as the main gates opened, and she imagined herself standing there, right in the middle, waiting for them to gape wide enough for her to slip through.
But she went through the pedestrian gate and smiled at the guard as she passed. He looked too bored to smile back, and she wondered why he didn't bring a book. Or one of those portable TV's. Or both.
Lex was playing pool, the way he, apparently, spent all of his downtime since moving to Smallville. He put the cue down on the felt when he saw her, and she noticed his expression flick from mild irritation to concern.
Unlike the guard, Lex obviously realized she didn't pay visits to the castle on a regular basis, because he sounded as surprised as Lex Luthor ever sounds.
"Are you alright?"
Lana nodded. She wasn't even cold, but accepted the towel that was handed to her by a servant out of nowhere and dried the ends of her hair with it. She did it more out of respect for the expensive rugs than her own need for warmth. When she was done, she kind of held it out, not really wanting to put it down on any of the furniture that was worth more than her house, but not really wanting to hold onto it. The same invisible servant retrieved it, and handed her a warm, dry blanket. This too seemed unnecessary, but Lana wrapped it around her shoulders anyway, and Lex seemed pleased that he could help.
This was funny, because technically he'd only helped by signing the paychecks of the people that were bringing her stuff, but Lana didn't mention this out loud.
"Sit," Lex said, and Lana did. She felt the coldness of her jeans, knew that it'd leave a big wet spot when she stood up, but couldn't really worry about that now.
He poured two tumblers of something dark amber and strong smelling and held one out to her. She took it, honestly not having any intention of drinking it, until Lex told her it'd take the edge off, and she swallowed deeply.
It burned going down.
Lex sat across from her and finally Lana unwound. When Lex Luthor was standing, Lana found it impossible to relax. But when he was sitting, he suddenly didn't seem so big, and so important, and she was able to actually look at him, actually appreciate the smooth contours of his face. She could actually tell from his expression that he was not only concerned, but scared...like he might possibly have something serious on his hands and he wasn't sure he wanted that from a sixteen-year-old girl.
Lana took another sip (scotch, she thought Lex had said) and let it sear her insides.
"I'm so tired of this."
Lex shifted a little in his seat, rocked forward and made the liquid in his glass swirl.
Lana held out her hands. "This. Everything. My whole life." Wasn't it obvious? Did she have to tell him about Whitney's dad, about her and Clark's almost...thing? About guilt, and staying with a person so as to not swing to the side of Evil Unconscionable Bitch? Did she have to explain?
"Lana, it's not that bad."
Yes, apparently she had to explain. She sighed, realized she sounded tired. So tired.
"You don't know, Lex."
That was true. What would Lex know, anyway? Lex lived a different life, with different circumstances and entirely different situations he considered problems. Lana was sure he considered his problems real and hers trivial. But whatever. Hers sure as hell felt real, and if it was so trivial then she should be able to break up with Whitney and run into Clark's arms and to hell with anyone who said that it was WRONG.
But she couldn't.
"Tell me," Lex said, and Lana realized that the man was bored. He had to be; it would be the only reason he'd be interested in hearing how her life was absolutely over. Hence, all the pool. She should have come here weeks ago.
Lana blinked and finished off her drink. She felt pleasantly fuzzy around the edges. She gave her glass to Lex who put it on the edge of the bar, making no move to fill it up again.
"It's Whitney. And Clark," Lana said. "Whitney's dad is sick, so he was pushing me away, and things with Clark...and then Whitney talked to me, and now it's Whitney again, not Clark...I have no idea what I want, Lex."
Not only did things look a little fuzzy, but they sounded a little fuzzy too. What she said made absolute sense to her, but there was no way Lex could have followed. He was smiling, and Lana was so glad to be able to entertain him with her little maudlin show. He stood up and refilled his own drink, but left hers alone.
"Well you don't have to figure it all out right now."
"Don't I?" Lana asked, shaking her head to make things just a little bit sharper. "Isn't that what everyone's waiting for?"
Lex thought about this for a moment, or at least paused to make it seem as if he was thinking. "If by everyone you mean Whitney and Clark, maybe," he said. "But they're two people. The world has billions. I think you can relax a little, at least for tonight."
He hadn't returned to his chair, and Lana started feeling uncomfortably claustrophobic, even in a room bigger than the entire cafeteria at school. She stood up and wiped her palms on her jeans. "If I relax tonight, the problems are still there in the morning, Lex."
"If you don't relax tonight, the problems are still there in the morning, Lana." Lex stepped closer until only the length of the tumbler he held was between them. He spoke softly, earnestly, like he was imparting some information she really, really didn't want to take the chance of missing. "I can't solve them for you. You have to tell yourself what you really want."
"But I don't know!"
She hadn't meant to burst out, punctuate the fact that she was sixteen and her problems were of the sixteen-year-old garden variety, but it couldn't be helped. All the warm fuzziness was gone and now she just heard the patter of rain against the stained glass windows, and felt the cold draftiness of the old stone castle. She drew the blanket tighter about her shoulders and stepped away from Lex.
The soft clink of his glass being set on the bar sounded impossibly loud in Lana's ears. She felt, rather than saw Lex move behind her, and wasn't surprised to become aware of his hands on her shoulders, slowly turning her around to face him.
"Listen. Here's how I do it," he said, bending slightly to look directly into her eyes. "What do you want right now. Ask yourself that, truly. And go for it. Don't worry about what you might want tomorrow, or next week, or next year. Focus on right now."
He sounded like a self-help guru. Maybe, secretly, that was how he'd made billions.
Lana bit her lip. She tried to move away from him again but Lex held her, still bent, still staring straight at her. When she realized she wasn't going anywhere, she studied him; noticed his eyes were gray-blue, not just the ice blue that she'd always assumed they were. They looked more like a storm, darker toward the inside and lined dark on the outside, but perfectly cerulean in the middle. His eyelashes and eyebrows were light, so much as to seem invisible sometimes, but very obvious now, very defined against his smooth alabaster skin. What fascinated her most though, was the scar that split his upper lip almost perfectly in half; a scar so pronounced against the otherwise flawlessness of his face that she wondered why she'd never noticed it before, and more importantly how the heck he'd gotten it.
Suddenly, her mouth seemed full and it was difficult to swallow. When she spoke, she was sure it wasn't her voice -- it sounded gruff and hollow and it bounced off the walls of the room. "What if...right now I want..."
Lex shook his head, hard, as she trailed off.
Lana supposed the tone was supposed to leave no room for argument, but he'd squeezed her shoulders just a little too tight, brought her just a little further back into reality and she had to question herself.
"Are you sure?"
"Don't ask me, Lana." He was frustrated. "Take it."
He momentarily loosened his grip, and Lana used it to flinch slightly away. "I can't. It's gonna make everything worse."
Lex pulled her back to him. "Don't. Lana, don't think about anything but right now. You have no way of knowing how it's going to affect anything, if it's going to affect anything at all. Just -- "
The eyes and the face and the scar-broken lip, Lana just had to have it. Just one time. She put her own hands against him and slanted her mouth over his, clutching him so tightly she dimly wondered if it was because she wanted him close to her or she was afraid he'd push her away.
He didn't, and a vibration hummed low in his throat as she pushed her tongue into his mouth and stroked his. His hands had traveled from her shoulders to her back, and he held her the way Lana always figured Lex held a girl: gently enough to let her think she was treasured, firmly enough to remind her somewhere in the subconscious that he was (and always would be) in complete control of the situation.
Lana pulled back long enough to slip her hands between them and begin to unfasten the buttons on his shirt. Somewhere in the middle of pulling that top lip between her teeth and tracing the enigmatic scar with her tongue, she'd shut her brain down for the night and decided to go purely on instinct. Lex paused long enough in his quest to rid her of her own shirt to bite at the pulse thrumming in her neck and elicit a long, delighted gasp.
"Is this what you want?" she heard him say as his hands found their way under her shirt and palms pressed against the underside of her breasts. No wonder Lex was such a good business man. Always, always ask at a time when they can't say no.
She barely nodded as she divested him of his shirt, and heard him murmur into her ear, "good girl."
The rain had stopped but left a wind behind. Lana heard it rustling the leaves on the trees that surrounded the Estate grounds and managed to sit up enough to stare completely at the body sprawled next to her.
He didn't move. "Hmmm?"
"How do you feel?"
"Tired. I'm asleep."
He was half-covered, the pale skin of his back looking almost translucent against the deep blue of the sheet and the darkness enveloping the room. If Lana had to guess, she'd figure it to be past nine, not that she would know since Lex apparently shunned clocks in his bedroom.
She strained her ears to hear something -- a grandfather clock chiming, or even a watch ticking that she could take a quick peek at, but the castle was deathly silent. Only the wind outside to keep her company, and the barely perceptible sound of Lex's steady breathing.
"Asleep." His voice did sound fuzzy and far-away, but he'd answered almost immediately.
"I can't stay here all night." She gathered the sheet around her entire body, pulling it from Lex completely. She thought about her clothes. Her jeans were on the floor, she could see them from her vantage point atop a bed she'd practically needed a ladder to climb into. Her bra and panties were with them, but her shirt had definitely remained in the other room.
"Dominic will drive you home," Lex said after a while. He didn't seem to notice he was no longer covered.
Lana sighed and climbed from the bed, set about gathering her clothes. She grimaced as she realized they were still a little wet, and wished she'd laid them out by the fire so they'd at least by toasty-wet rather than freezing-cold-wet.
"Lana, I didn't mean it like that."
Lex's voice surprised her, and she looked up to see him sitting, genuine concern clouding his eyes.
"It's fine, Lex." Other than the damp clothes, she meant it.
"No...Jesus." He ran his hand over his head, from crown to neck and back again. "I want to talk to you. Are you okay?"
Lex was possibly wigging. Lana never would have guessed Lex for the wigging type. Maybe it was because she was sixteen, or because she was Clark's...whatever. But for the first time in what seemed like a long time, she didn't care. She didn't want Lex to care. She wanted what had just happened between them to be...theirs. Not some big drama for everyone to see, but just theirs.
"Yeah. I'm -- I feel good."
She smiled, and he returned it tentatively.
"Yes. Really. Really, really good." She finished picking up her clothes and snagged a white collared shirt that was hanging on the back of the door. He'd probably just had it dry cleaned, but what the hell. "I don't know what I'm going to do about Whitney and Clark but I think I'm okay with crossing that bridge when I come to it."
"Good." Lex paused, and Lana could practically see his uncertainty hanging in the air. "Guess I taught you a few useful things tonight."
"Yeah." She walked around the bed to be closer to him. "I feel -- does 'free' sound too corny?"
Lex smiled and reached out to push a lock of her hair behind her ear. "It'll do."
The gesture was sweet, and Lana grinned at him, touching his hand gently where it still lingered near her face. "I gotta go."
She felt his eyes on her as she rounded the bed once more and made her way to a door she hoped was the bathroom. If she was walking into a closet, he didn't stop her. Instead he said, "Hey, listen. Anytime you need a little perspective, just give me a call."
Lana turned, hand on the doorknob. "I will, Lex. Thanks." She wondered briefly -- he would tell her if this was a closet, wouldn't he? "You won't -- you won't tell Clark about this, will you?"
"No. Will you?" The question was so earnest, Lana had a hard time believing it had come out of Lex's mouth.
"No. It's our secret."
Then he smiled at her. Not a Luthor smile, but a Lex smile, and Lana wasn't even sure she'd known those had existed. It was wide and sweet and, dare she think it, happy. She couldn't resist the immediate temptation and dropped her clothes in a heap at the bathroom-or-closet door and climbed back into the bed. She used the sheet to cover them both and pulled the entire length of his body flush with hers before devouring his lips in a kiss.
When they parted minutes (hours?) later, Lex's eyes were glassy and his entire body felt warm and hard against hers.
"Lana..." he warned as her hand snaked down and wandered across the taut muscles in his stomach.
She looked up at him with her best don't-forget-I'm-sixteen look. "Sorry. Someone just taught me to take what I want, right now."
12 Dec 2002
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