Winds of Change part 1

by Angie


Disclaimer: Smallville or its' characters do not belong to me. I'm just playing with them.

The sign said Welcome to Smallville: Meteor Shower Capital of the World and Starr couldn't help but roll her eyes. After all, a town had to be really lacking in assets when it lists a horrific tragedy as a claim to fame. "God," she snorted aloud as she looked out the window of the bus and saw nothing but a seemingly endless row of greenness in front of her. "What the hell was she doing in Kansas?"

Clark Kent woke up with a start and for a moment he couldn't remember where he was. It was dark. He opened his eyes completely now and sat up. He was in his room. The wind was blowing; or at least he thought it was. All he knew was that the sound of the trees bashing the glass in his window had awakened him from another dream about Lana. It was ridiculous. He couldn't even have alone time with her in his dreams. He went to the window and looked out onto the farm. The wind had blown away the clouds and Clark couldn't remember the last time he had seen the stars shining so bright. Every since his father told him that truth about how they found him he would often look up into the sky and wonder if one of those stars were his. Now he knew that wasn't the case. The sense of loss he felt ever since he returned from New York with the somber knowledge that he was alone began to creep back in his soul. He quickly put the thoughts out of his head. He remembered so clearly the day his dad told him that he wasn't from around these parts. It was the most ridiculous thing that he had ever heard, but at the same time it made perfect sense. All his life he had this feeling that he didn't belong. It wasn't just his abilities that made him feel like an outsider. It was more then that...it was a feeling that somewhere out in the void was a destiny just waiting for him to grab a hold onto. He had to stop thinking about this. His planet was gone and he had to deal with that. He had to concentrate on what he had. Whatever life he had before his spaceship landed in that field would never be his again. He was a human now and he was determined to live his life as an ordinary man...somehow.

Lex Luthor couldn't sleep. In fact, he found that he was having a lot of sleepless nights. Too many. Ever since his father decided to "put him in his place" and declare war on him, Lex had found himself in a role that he wasn't accustomed to...the loser. His father's ruthlessness didn't surprise him. He poured himself a drink and sat down behind his desk. He thought about all the underhanded things his father had down to try to bring him back into the fold since he started making a success of himself in Smallville. If he was honest with himself a part of him, a very small part of him, was a little flattered that his father would go through all this trouble to keep Lex by his side. But that didn't mean he was flattered enough to delude himself about his father's motives. Lionel Luthor had always lived by the creed "keep your friends close and your enemies closer," and as the heir to the Luthor throne, Lex knew that he was the biggest enemy that his father had. There had to be something that he could do to turn the tables. "Lex what are you doing up?"
He looked up from his desk and smiled.
"Helen."
"You know how much I hate to wake up to an empty bed." "I'm sorry," he said getting up and walking towards her. "You couldn't sleep?"
Lex shook his head.
"Lex," she started gently caressing her hand against his cheek. "Tell me what's wrong." "Nothing," he said taking he hand and kissing it. "You know you can tell me anything, if you're having problems I want to know." Lex felt that feeling well up inside of him. That warm, vulnerable feeling that Helen seemed to bring out in him. She made him vulnerable. His father had taught him that vulnerability was a weakness, but somehow Lex couldn't make himself believe that. Helen made him feel close to somebody. Like he wasn't alone and that was a feeling he wanted to hold onto, not steel himself from. "The only problem I have is how to keep my hands off my very sexy girlfriend and her itty bitty nightie."
"Did you just use the word itty bitty nightie?" laughed Helen. "What can I say you're turning me into one of these corny towns folk," running a hand through her dark, curly hair.
"God I hope not. I don't want a corny town folk. I want Lex Luthor in all his big, bad glory."
"So you don't want me to promise to change my "evil" Luthor ways and embrace the good ole values of Smallville?"
"No way," she said pulling Lex into another passionate kiss. "But if you promise to be bad, I'll let you take me back to the bedroom and ravage me." "Well," said Lex lifting Helen up in his arms. "I didn't get to be the business man that I am by turning down satisfying offers."

"Well I see the halls of Smallville High are once again covered with pictures and platitudes in it's yearly attempt to draw the youth of Smallville in its own type of electoral process," said Chloe Sullivan taking a look around and making mental notes of all the would be politicos vying for public office. "Well," said Pete looking around at the hallway. "You have to admit things do get more exciting around this place when people are running for office." "You know what Pete. I think that you're a closet politico." "What?"
"Admit it. You fall asleep to C-Span.," she said turning to open up her locker. "Well...once or twice."
Chloe turned to speak and found a cup cake shoved in her face. "Vote for Tami"
Chloe groaned. Tamara Griffin really bothered her. She couldn't exactly put her finger on it. Maybe it was that too sweet smile of hers, or those perfectly pressed dresses she always wore, or the way her long, silky blonde doo never had a hair out of place. "Nah, she's just an annoying little twit," "Thanks," said Chloe returning Tami's grin. "Running for sophomore class president?" asked Chloe noticing her button. "At first I wasn't going to run," she said handing Pete a pink-frosted cupcake, "but everybody kept telling me that I would be perfect so I decided to give the people what they want and run."
She was putting a "vote for Tami "button on Pete. "I will be happy to give the Torch an exclusive when it's convenient for you." "Gee thanks."
"Well I believe in the media and the government working together." "So president huh," said Chloe grabbing one of her flyers. "But how would you fit your cheerleading duties in?"
"I'm a multi-tasker," said Tami, Chloe's snarkiness wasn't not lost on her. God she couldn't stand her. "Well I have to go. More campaigning to do." "Well don't let me stop you."
Tami sniffed her nose up in a way that drove Chloe mad and walked over to her next victim.
"God she urkes me."
"What else is new?"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing. It's just you don't do competition very well." "I do competition very well. In fact, I welcome it." "Really? Is that why you and Tami have been going out of your way to out do each other since you moved here?"
"What?"
"That contest on famous women in history?" "That was 8th grade light years ago and my speech was obviously the best." "That science fair?"
"Who knew she was a closet science geek." "The eight grade graduation speech?"
"God she was furious when I got that," laughed Chloe. "The way she went to Principal Kwan and trashed you when he took the Torch away from you."
"A futile attempt at sabotage..."
"Last weeks history test."
"I still can't figure out how she scored a hundred on that. I mean it isn't like she's the sharpest knife in the drawer."
"Face it Chloe. She's is sort of your nemesis." "My what?"
"You heard me."
And they say I'm overdramatic.
"She is not," she protested as she and Pete walked into the Torch office. Pete opened his mouth to argue, but was stopped when Wade Ellis came up to them. "Hi guys," she said running her hand nervously through her brown, wavy hair. "Hey Wade," said Pete grinning at her.
"Hey," said Chloe sneaking glances at Tami. "So are things always this crazy at election time?" "Pretty much. Right Pete?"
Pete just kept grinning and shrugged.
"I saw Princess Tami over here."
"Yeah she's running for class president. As if she'd ever get our vote right Pete?" The shrugging and grinning continued.
"God she had the prettiest brown eyes," thought Pete. Chloe smiled. She had seen Pete like this before and it meant one thing...he was crushing badly.
"So I take it the two of you aren't exactly jazzed about this election." "Well elections make good copy for the Torch, but I mean let's face it voting is a lost art."
"Well I hope not," said Wade pulling out a "Vote for Wade" button or I'm screwed." "You're running for class president?"
"Yep."
"Sweet," said Chloe suddenly getting excited. "Although," said Wade looking at Tami's swelling crowd of supporters. "I have a rough road ahead of me."
"Well unfortunately elections at Smallville High are nothing more then popularity contest. "
"And Tami is very popular."
"Yeah," said Chloe. "But hey you have my vote." "Thanks."
Pete just shrugged and smiled.
"See ya."
Pete managed to wave and Chloe could no longer stifle her laugh. "Could you be anymore catatonic?"
"Huh?"
"Men," thought Chloe as she sat down behind her computer.

The last place that Clark wanted to be was at school. In fact, ever since he got back from seeing Dr. Swann in New York it took everything in him to just want to be in a room with another person for 5 minutes. All he wanted to do was tinker with his ship and try to figure out all its secrets. Unfortunately the only thing he could decipher was a chilling message from his biological father that seemed to indicate that Clark was destined to rule the world.
"God," said Clark slamming against a hall locker. "It can't be true. It had to be a mistake."
"What has to be a mistake?"
Clark looked to the side of him and was very pleased to see Lana Land smiling up at him."
"Nothing...it's..."
"A secret," said Lana shoving her stuff in her locker. "What else is new?" "I don't need this," said Clark getting ready to leave. "No Clark wait," said Lana suddenly sorry she had said that. "You look terrible," she said really turning to look at him.
"Gee thanks."
"No it's just..."
"I haven't been sleeping lately."
"Anything you want to talk about?"
More then I want to take my next breath . "No," he said.
"Of course not."
"I tried calling you last night to get the history homework but Chloe said you weren't there."
"I was out," she said turning back to fumble with the contents of her locker. God this was so not a conversation that she wanted to have. "Look Lana I know that I've been..."
"Blowing me off?"
"Never. I've just been..."
"Working on a project."
"Yeah."
"Whatever."
"So," said Clark attempting to lighten the mood. "Were you working late at the Talon?" She opened her mouth to lie. Normally she wasn't a liar but in this one instance she thought it might be for the best. After all, the last thing she wanted to do now or ever was to get into a fight with Clark...still it wasn't as if she owed him anything. I mean given his attitude...
""Actually I went out on a date."
Time froze. Well at least it did for Clark anyway. "Oh," said Clark trying to keep his knees steady. "Who is the lucky guy?" he asked praying that his voice wouldn't betray him. "Rob Dirk," said Lana suddenly unable to look at him. "Oh. Rob Dirk. Didn't he replace Whitney as the star forward this year." "Yes," said Lana beginning to fidget around nervously. "Well I guess everybody's got a type, since you can't date Whitney you might as well date his replacement."
Ouch Kent that was way below the belt.
All the blood drained out of Lana's face. Her mouth hung wide open. She wanted to talk, really she did, but at first she somehow had to wrap her mind around the fact that Clark Kent could say something so cruel.
"Lana I'm sorry," he said noticing her horrified reaction. "I didn't mean it." And he didn't. "God," he thought maybe he was capable of being cruel enough to conquer...maybe his alien heritage would take over his sense of right and wrong..." The two just kept starring at each other. "Lana. I don't mean to interrupt but I have some ideas for my campaign that can't wait. We need to go over them now."
Clark finally breathed. Thank God for Tami Griffin. Wow that's something he ever thought he'd hear himself say.
"I'm sure I can count on you to vote for me," she said handing Clark a cupcake and moving in front of Lana as if he wasn't even there. "So I don't want to brag too early La La, but I think we have this election thing sewn up." "Huh," said Lana unable to remove her gaze from Clark. "The only person running against me is Wade Ellis. I mean please. She's a nobody from nowhere that just appeared out of thin air last year. She is so not my equal." "Well Tami Wade is well liked," said Lana turning her attentions on Tami. "Yeah by the geek factor...Oh sorry," she said noticing Clark. Clark couldn't help but roll his eyes.
"You do have a point though." Said Tami. "I mean geeks do vote. Maybe we should do some strategizing I mean you do live with Chloe Sullivan so you can definitely give me an inside into their world."
"Sure," said Lana throwing a cold glare at Clark. "Why not." She closed her locker and put her backpack on her back.
Clark couldn't help but feel like she was doing more then just walking down the corridor. She was slipping away.
"But Lana..." he pleaded.
"Let's go Tami. Clark and I are done."
He watched her walk away and it took all of Clark's restraint not to slam his hand into the locker and bring the whole building down.

Pete had had it. Chloe kept singing about him and Wade sitting in a tree k-i-s-s-i-n-g and it was driving him mad.
"Can you stop it already."
"Oh come on. Wade is cool as hell and she's awfully cute. You could do worse." "There is nothing going on between me and Wade. We're barely even friends." "Oh come on. The two of you were practically joined at the hip in the History of American Politics."
"That's because she always wanted to study with me. She has this silly idea that I'm some type of political genius."
"That or maybe she just thinks you're hot." Pete can only smile at that.
"Hey Clark," said Chloe as soon as Clark sat down in the nearest chair. "Do you think Pete's hot?"
"What?" asked Clark. His mind was still on Lana and what just happened in the hallway. "I'm trying to convince Pete to go for it with Wade Ellis." "We're only friends."
"That's not what it looks like to me.Come on Clark tell him he's a stud." Clark got up.
"Where are you going?"
"I have somewhere to go."
"But you just got here."
" I can't deal with this right now?"
"Deal with what?"
"This childish nonsense."
"Pardon me? Oh so you get to go on and on at naseum about your crush on Lana but the moment one of us have relationship news it's childish nonsense." Clark just stared at Chloe.
"What's up with the grumpiness?" she asked trying really hard to keep her temper in check. She and Clark had been on very tentative ground lately. They were definitely headed for a blow up, but now was definitely not the time. "Never mind," said Chloe becoming increasingly frustrated. "I'm use to this." "What does that mean?" asked Clark watching her return to her desk. "It means Clark that lately you haven't been the funnest person to be around." "Really?"
"I mean for the last two weeks you've been pulling a Greta Garbo and when you are talking to me its to pump me for information about those caves or it has something to do with Lana..."
"Oh that's what this is about. Lana?"
"No," said Chloe her anger rising. "This is about you and the callous way you treat your friends. And speaking of Lana she has been very hurt by the way you have been shutting her out."
"And that bothers you? We both know that's not true Chloe." "Go to hell Clark."
Clark couldn't believe he had just said those things to Chloe. First Lana, now Chloe...I guess this was just piss of the people you love day. "I'm sorry Chloe," he said heading for the door. "I'm just...I'm sorry."

Lex couldn't believe his ears.
"Are you telling me that somebody beat me out on acquiring the warehouse?" The voice on the other end just kept making excuses, but Lex was tired of excuses. "I don't want excuses I want to know how this could happened." he slammed the phone down and swirled the chair around. He was very pleasantly surprised when a pair of soft hands started kneading his shoulder blades. "Rough day?"
Lex smiled.
"You have no idea Miss Parker."
Miss Parker smiled.
"I lost out on a deal."
"Another one?"
Lex closed his eyes and tried to enjoy the message. There was something very soothing about Miss Parker. She looked like the head mistress of one of the private schools an old girlfriend's of his attended, with the way she always wore her hair in a bun and the dreary suits she always wore, she could defiantly pass for a harmless older lady. Still Lex knew that was all a facade. She was a ruthless woman. A woman who had proven to him that she would do anything to help him further his causes. A woman who he could talk to about his troubles. He didn't have to hide the truth from Miss Parker the way he had to hide it from Helen. Helen was too sweet. She would never understand that in business sometimes you had to do things you weren't proud of to get the results you deserve. "I lost the warehouse in Coast City. I was going to tear that place down and build my own version of Cadmus labs there."
"There's a lot of money to be made in pharmaceuticals," she slurred and Lex found himself not for the first time amused by her thick German accent. "If I didn't know better I think somebody was out to sabotage me." "Well you are a powerful man Mr. Luthor and powerful men have enemies." "I just know that my father is behind all this." "He's desperate to try to keep you under his thump." "But he's got to be getting his information from somewhere. Who could possible hate me enough to conspire with my father to bankrupt me?" "Am I interrupting something?" asked Helen putting her purse down on the coach. "Helen," said Lex moving Miss Parker's hands away and walking over to her. "Miss Parker and I were just..."
"Discussing business?" threw out Helen shooting Miss Parker a severe look. "Well if you don't need me anymore I'll be off Mr. Luthor." "Thank you Miss Parker."
"I don't think she likes me," said Helen as she watched Miss Parker exit the office. "Well that's just to bad, because I do so she's just going to have to get use to you." "That woman gives me the creeps."
"She's just not a people person."
"What does she do for you again. I mean besides the backrubs." At that Lex smiled.
"If I didn't know better I'd say you were jealous." "Of Big Bertha? Please. Like I said she makes me very uneasy. Her eyes are just so cold. What is a person like that doing working for you?" Lex was now running his fingers up her arm and she was quickly starting to forget just what they were talking about.
"Miss Parker is just an acquired taste. I promise that you'll get use to her." She opened her mouth to protest, but before she good she felt Lex's soft lips on hers. Everything was forgotten as she surrendered to Lex's kisses.

Starr was having a bad day. It was easy being invisible in the city, but in Smallville it was nearly impossible. She had lost count of how many of these hicks had come up to her and said that they didn't remember seeing her around and wanted to know who she was with and if she needed anything...yada, yada, yada. So much for getting out of this hick town unnoticed. It didn't matter. She'd be long gone before anybody would ever figure out what she was up to and when the truth behind her little visit to Smallville was revealed they'd have the privilege of saying that they met the girl who helped bring an empire to its knees. She looked up and noticed that she was in front of someplace called the Talon. She walked in and looked around.
"I bet this is THE hotspot in this town," said Starr taking a seat on the coach. She surveyed the area and noticed a paper sitting on the table in front of her. She picked it up and smiled as soon as she read the headline:

LEX LUTHOR TO EXPAND SMALLVILLE PLANT:

"Well," she said. "Now this interests me. This interests me a lot."

Clark was having a really hard time concentrating on his homework. How was he suppose to give his all to studying the Civil War when his life was such a mess? Lana hated him. Chloe hated him and to make matters worse he couldn't stop thinking about that ship in the storm cellar. He looked at the pictures of the long dead soldiers and wondered if a similar fate had befallen Krypton. Krypton. His mouth could say the word with ease, but his mind still had a hard time grasping the fact that he had at long last been given a name for his place of his origins He was Kal-El of Krypton. Kal-El. What would his life had been like if he was raised on his own planet? Who would he be? Would he be anything like Clark Kent mild mannered 16-year-old or would he be something else entirely...something much more sinister? His father had sent him to this planet to be a conqueror...a ruler. Was Krypton a violent world? Maybe they fell prey to a civil war of their own. What if their war-like ways had destroyed them? What if their war-like ways were destined to destroy him? He slammed the book close. This was useless. He needed answers. He needed to know for certain why he was sent to earth and what his true destiny was. He needed answers and unfortunately for him the answers he needed were locked away in a ship that he couldn't understand. Not that it stopped him from trying. In fact, he had spent so much time down there that his parents had forbidden him from going into the storm cellar until they felt he was "emotionally strong enough." Whatever that meant. He promised them that he would stop obsessing about that ship and the message from his parents. That he would try to get his life back to "normal" whatever that meant. But still how could he do that when he had so many unanswered questions. Maybe there was a piece of the puzzle he wasn't seeing. Maybe if he went back to the storm cellar he could figure out more about his past... "Can I come in?" asked Pete
He looked up and saw Pete.
So much for his storm cellar trip.
"Sure."
They just starred at each other for awhile and Pete could never remember feeling so uncomfortable in his best friend's home. "You know you were really mean to Chloe earlier." "Did she send you here to rake me over the coals? Well you can save the lecture Pete. I know I'm scum."
"You know how Chloe feels about you."
"And that's my fault?"
"Chloe cares about you and she's gone out of her way to be a good friend ...a better friend then you have been at times."
"Look Pete, if you're so into Chloe and her feelings why aren't you over there putting the moves on her now instead of encouraging me to treat her better." "What?"
"Come on. You've had your eye on Chloe ever since she moved to town." Pete shot Clark an expression he couldn't make out then started looking him up and down and checking his pockets.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm just checking you for traces of that red meteor rock." "What?"
"I can't come up with any reason why you would be acting like such a jerk. I mean ignoring Chloe and me. Being mean to LANA??!!! That's just not like you." "Maybe it is me Pete. Maybe it's the real me finally coming out. The me I'm destined to be."
"What does that mean?"
"Nothing. Look I don't want to talk about this." "Well I do. Ever since you came back from New York you've been distant. What's the deal? I mean it's like you're intentionally trying to drive everybody away." "Maybe I am. Maybe it's not safe for you or anybody to be around me. Have you thought about that?"
Pete could see the pain in his eyes and put his hand on his shoulder to comfort him. "What happened in New York? What did you find out?" "It wasn't New York Pete. It was what happened afterwards. I'm freaked Pete. More freaked then I've ver been in my life and to top it all off I've been having this feeling." "What type of feeling?"
"I don't know. It's hard to explain. I just can't shake this feeling that something is coming that is going to change my entire life. Something is coming Pete. I'm just not sure if it's something that I'm going to welcome.

Starr couldn't believe that she had been reduced this. Hanging out in dark alleys, in strange towns haggling for crumbs of information. Why didn't she just hang a sign on her back that yelled "Victim Here?" Still she was in Smallville so how much danger could she really be in?
"Where the hell was this guy?"
She looked around but saw nobody.
She started to think that maybe this was a bad idea. What if this was a big mistake. Well it wouldn't be her first. It seemed like she spent her entire life trying to get herself out of messes of her own creation. Not that all those messes were her fault, despite what her father may have thought.
She felt a sudden chill run up her spine. Maybe it was the uncertainty of the situation, or maybe it was thinking about her dad. That was definitely enough to creep her out every time. Still there was a kernel of truth in her father's constant criticisms. She had a history of looking before she leapt. It was a family trait. All the women in her family had A smart, driven overachievers streak that sometimes lead to trouble. They were just built that way.
Where was this guy? This was a mistake. She was leaving. She turned to go and caught a glimpse of a hooded figure heading towards her. "Are you Starr?"
"Great," she thought." A face I can't see and a disguised voice. Perfect. I'm playing playing spy games."
"I didn't realize we were playing dress up." "The Luthor's are very powerful. If you fail I don't want it traced back to me." "Fail? I won't."
Fail? How absurd. This was the most important task that she was about to ever undertake with nothing but her whole future at stake. She would not fail. "I admire your confidence. I hope you are everything they said you were." "Don't you mean everything I say I am?" "You need to get going."
"Wait a minute I'm not going anywhere until I am sure I can trust you. I mean I'm so not feeling this Phantom of the Opera stick. You're going to have to show yourself." "No."
"Then we have a problem because I'm not going anywhere until I'm sure you're not jerking me around."
"The other information that I sent you proved correct." "True, but that could have just been a ploy to lure me into a false sense of security. I mean how do I know that you're not working with the Luthors to set me up." At that Starr's informer laughed.
"You are stubborn."
"Why do you keep saying stuff like that." "Like what?"
"Like you know me."
"Oh no. I don't know you. Not the way you're referring to." Starr's look became even more skepticle. "Why would The Luthors set you up? At this stage in your life you're inconsequential to Luthor... he doesn't even know you exist...yet. Believe me what I'm doing is solely for your benefit."
Starr's spy moved further into the darkness of the alley. "Do you want the goods on Lex Luthor or not?" "It's just I am accustomed to seeing the faces of people I talk to." "Sources don't always come in the way you want. You'll get use to it." "What does that mean?"
"Here. This is all the information you need to get the goods on Luthor." Starr looked at through the envelope and suddenly felt uneasy. "You're just going to have to trust me," said her informant. "I don't do trust."
"To bad, cause I'm all you got."

"Chloe Sullivan you're pathetic," she sighed to herself as she found herself once again unable to delete the photos of her and Clark at the spring dance. She was never going to get Clark. That was never more clear in the in the last few weeks. Clark had been rude, hurtful and insensitive to her all in the name of Lana. No that wasn't fair. It wasn't Lana's fault that Clark was madly obsessed with her. It's just the way things were. In her head she knew that and was at peace with it, but in her heart...She had loved Clark for so long and had managed to keep it under wraps. It wasn't until recently that she found herself unable to swallow those feelings. She didn't want to pretend that's for sure, but at the same time she didn't want to jeopardize her friendship with Clark by making him deal with her feelings...feelings that he didn't share. She's was wondering how this happened to her. How she became one of those girls who were so consumed with the boy she liked that it colored everything about her life. How did that song go? Something like this only happened to dumb girls...now granted living with Lana, the object of Clark's affections, made the healing process harder, but still she couldn't say that her life was ever easy. She loved Lana and she loved Clark and she didn't want to ruin her friendship with either one of them. She could handle it. She'd get over it starting now. Except she still couldn't delete those pictures.
"God," what is wrong with me? She swirled around and saw to her astonishment that a white flag was waving in the doorway.
"Hey," said Clark peeping his head in.
"Great."
"So you're not happy to see me?"
"What's with the white flag?"
"Call it a corny attempt to make peace." Clark smiled. Chloe didn't.
"I actually didn't just come here to make peace. I think I have another story for your wall of weird."
"Oh really?" asked Chloe tersely. "I thought you didn't take much stock in my wall." "Well I didn't, until it happened to me." Chloe couldn't help but be intrigued.
"Well go ahead tell me about the event that turned Clark Kent from a Mulder to a Scully."
"Well there is this guy that I know, a nice guy, an upright, honest farmer who loves to wear plaid shirts," said Clark planting himself on Chloe's desk. "Go on," said Chloe sitting next to Clark. "Well lately this nice guy has been saying the meanest things and treating the people that mean more to him then anything in the world pretty shabbily. It's like he's as far away from himself as he can possibly get."
"Sounds serious."
"It is. See he was going threw some things...some things he can't talk about but have been sort of messing with his head and he's been taking out all of his frustrations on his friends."
"Sounds mean."
"It was, but he realized what was happening and managed to exorcise the asshole that was occupying his body and now he's back to his old sweet self." "So the story has a happy ending."
"I hope so."
"Well that's definitely an interesting story, but I'm not sure that it's wall of weird material."
"Oh."
Chloe and Clark sat there for in silence. It was driving Clark nuts. "Chloe I'm sorry."
"I know."
"I've been a jerk."
"Tell me about it."
"I promise to be better."
"Where have I heard that before."
" I promise it won't happen again."
"Yes it will."
Clark shot Chloe a confused look.
"That's what friends do. They play. They fight and when all is said and done they hug," said Chloe throwing her arms around Clark. Clark breathed a sigh of relief. Chloe was the greatest. He should have known that making up with her would be this easy. This natural. "I don't deserve you."
"You're right. You don't."
"Does this huggage mean that you guys have made up?" asked Pete skipping in the office.
"Pete you're skipping," she said Clark leaving Chloe's embrace. "No I'm not."
"Yes you are," said an amused Chloe.
"What's going on?"
"Wade Ellis," said Chloe pronouncing every syllable of Wade's name. "What?" asked Clark noticing the pleased look on Chloe's face. "Pete is in love."
"No I'm not."
"So you're saying that that big smile on your face has nothing to do with Wade." "Well..."
"Wait a minute, "interjected Clark. "Didn't you leave my place early so that you could meet Wade at the Talon."
"Wow the plot thickens."
"Guys..." said Pete still smiling.
Just then Wade walked in looking very frazzled an out of breath. "Just in time," said Chloe winking at Pete. "Pete I thought I might find you here." "What's wrong?" asked Pete noticing that she was upset. "It's a disaster..." she stopped mid-sentence when she noticed Clark whispering in Chloe's ear.
"Oh Wade I don't think that I've ever introduced you to my best friend in the world." "Hey," said Chloe hitting Pete in the arm. "My bad my co-best friend."
"That's better."
"Clark Kent," said Wade breaking into a smile. "It's an honor." The three looked at her a little amused. "I've seen you around and...I mean I've heard about all the good deeds you do around here. You're a regular hero."
"I'm no hero. I just happen to be at the right place at the right time." Wade just kept staring.
"So Wade," said Pete pulling Wade towards him protectively "Why were you looking for me."
"Yeah," said Wade reluctantly turning her attentions away from Clark. "Joni dropped out as my running mate."
"What?" asked Chloe. "Why I mean you and she made the perfect anti-Barbie ticket?" "Well it seems that she finally managed to get a spot on the cheerleading squad." "Tami," spat Chloe.
"Yep."
"She must really be threatened by you to do something like that. You know the last time I took a straw poll you were gaining momentum." "Maybe but with Joni now siding with Tami and Lana Lang and all her popularity as her campaign manager ...well I can kiss that goodbye." "Lana is Tami's campaign manager?" asked Clark. He wasn't surprised that he didn't know that. He had Lana haven't exactly been speaking to each other lately." And the two of you are still talking to each other?" He asked playfully pulling Chloe's sleeve. "Hey I'm journalist I'm trained to be impartial." Everybody just stared at Chloe in disbelief. "We don't talk about it."
The three smiled and nodded their head. "Well this sucks. You'd make a better president then Tami Griffin any day." "Thanks," said Wade smiling brightly.
"Do you have a replacement in mind?"
"Well," said Wade giving Pete "the puppy dog eyes." "Oh no," said Pete. He could see where this was going and he wanted no parts of it. He REALLY liked Wade but joining her ticket..." "Come on Pete you're a natural."
"Says who?"
"Says me I mean you are loyal and hardworking." "And?"
"And you'd make a wonderful vice president." "She may have a point there," said Clark chiming in. "Pete you should do it. I mean together we can rip Tamara Griffin to shreds." "Easy Chloe. That nemesis thing is showing," said Pete. Chloe rolled her eyes.
"Come on Pete," said Wade. "You'll never know if this is for you until you try." Pete opened his mouth to say no, after all he was all lot of things, but a vice president was not one of them, but somehow when he opened up his mouth the word yes came out instead.
Wade squealed with delight and threw her arms around Pete. Clark and Chloe smiled at each other and also offered their congratulations. For the first time in weeks Clark realized he felt happy and...normal again.

"So how did you like the movie?" asked Rob reaching for Lana's hand as they walked towards Stewart's Coffee Shop.
"Yeah. It was very funny."
"Can Martin Lawrence be any funnier?"
Lana just smirked and squeezed Rob's hand. He had been a perfect gentlemen all night: opening up her door, paying for the movies, buying her whatever snacks she wanted and to top it all off the hand holding was the only display of affection that he had shown her all night much to Lana's relief. She hated it when a guy didn't respect her personal space. Unfortunately for all his positive attributes Rob wasn't much of a conversationalist. In fact, she and Rob had very little in common which kept the conversation to a minimum. This didn't seem to bother Rob though. He genuinely seemed happy just to be with her. It had been a long, long time since Lana's life had been so uncomplicated, Lana looked up and realized where they were. "I thought we were going to the Talon." "I know that this is a conflict of interest, but I thought we'd meet the gang." Lana suddenly felt nervous. Ever since she quit cheerleading and opened the Talon she hadn't really had time to hang out with "the gang." She couldn't help but wondering how it would feel to be back in the mix again. She didn't have to wonder long. "Oh my Gawd." Said Susan Miller unable to believe her eyes. "It's Lana Lang. What are you doing here?"
"I brought her," said Rob taking offense to the question. Lana suddenly felt very uncomfortable.
"Maybe this is a bad idea."
"No," said Tami shooting Susan a dirty look. "Susie didn't mean anything by that." "No," she said truly sincere. "It's just we haven't seen you here in ages..." "That's because she's got her own coffee house to run." Said Rob putting his arm around Lana protectively.
"A coffee shop that none of you visit by the way." "Sorry," said Jack taking a sip of his soda. "We don't really have a lot of time to hang." Lana smiled and held her tongue. Bull shit. She knew when she was being avoided. Rob pulled two chairs to the groups table and he and Lana took a seat. "So," said Lana noticing that everybody was in their cheerleading and football uniforms. "Did you guys just finish practice?"
They all just stared at her like she had grown another eye or something. "Don't you remember what day this is?" asked Laura brushing a renegade strand out of her red braids out of her face. "It's the battle for Oz. Lincoln High vs. Smallville for the right to say who is the best in Kansas." Everybody started applauding and stopping their feet. "God Lana," said Susie. "You use to live for these things." "Cut Lana some slack. Running the Talon is very time consuming." "Lana Lang Entrepreneur," said Jack.
The whole table started giggling.
"So who won?"
"We kicked Lincoln's ass," said Kevin giving Jack a high five. "That's great," said Lana trying to muster up some enthusiasm. "I'm surprised he didn't tell you," said Susie putting a french fry in her mouth. He scored the winning touchdown."
"That's great," said Lana genuinely impressed. "We were wondering where he ran off to," said Laura ignoring the gestures Rob was making to end the conversation. "I guess now we know." "Rob was brilliant," said Jack.
"God I wish I had been there I can't believe I forgot. Why didn't you remind me?" Rob just shrugged guiltily.
"I remember the last "Battle for Oz" Whitney..." Lana found herself choking on the words. Whitney. She suddenly found herself fighting back tears. The whole table turned noticeably somber. "Remember last year when Whitney scored the winning touchdown. The game on the line, practically tied and Whitney went in for the kill," said Rob finishing Lana's sentence.
"That game was epic," agreed Jack.
"Whitney was the greatest," said Susie
"Yeah, he was." said Lana wiping a tear from her eye. "So," said Tami in an attempt to change the subject. "Have you come up with any ideas to wipe the floor with that Wade Ellis person." Lana's eyes darted to Joni who until now was doing her best to be invisible. Joni shifted around uncomfortably.
"Don't worry about her La La. She's rejected geekdom and decided to side with us. The whole table laughed, except for Lana.
"Do you know that Wade Ellis put Pete Ross on her ticket?" "No," said Lana smiling. "Pete's great guy." Tami sighed with disgust and Lana found herself sinking in her chair. "You're not the only one that thinks so. That little dweeb is more popular then I thought. Wade is actually gaining on me thanks to him. I guess its true what they say. Never underestimate the power of the Dork Side." The table laughed again.
"Don't tell me you're nervous about losing?" asked Lana. Tami was the most confident person she knew. She always envied that confidence even if she didn't always like the way she expressed it.
"Lose to Wade Ellis? Come on."
"I'm just worried that Chloe Sullivan will use The Trash to champion Wade's cause since she and Ross are such special friends. I mean you know how susceptible people are to what the media tells them."
"Chloe would never do that," said Lana. "How do you know? Have you been doing a little digging for our side?" "No," said Lana defensively.
"Will you?"
"You want me to spy on my roommate?" asked Lana in disbelief. "Well what are campaign managers for? " "Living with that Chloe Sullivan must be a real nightmare," said Susie "Jack hummed the theme to the Twilight Zone." "Tell me has she ever woken you up in the middle of the night complaining of little green men in her room? Asked Rob.
"Like aliens would really sink to abducting her," said Tami. The table erupted in laughter again and Lana found herself wondering what she was doing here. "Remember that time Whitney swore up and down that he saw a spaceship?" asked Jack "Yeah I was there," said Rob. "And just as drunk as he was." "Yeah those parties just aren't the same without him," said Jack feeling a sting in his eye. "Nothing is," said Susie wiping away a tear. "I guess it's easier for you, huh Lana?" said Laura. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Well weren't you and Whitney on the out when he left?" "Yeah," said Susie. "I heard that you dumped him on a video tape right before he died." Lana felt as if she had just been hit by a Mack truck. All the old feelings of guilt, love, pain washed over her. She felt the tears welling up in her eyes. Everybody was staring at her. What did they want? For her to cry? Or maybe they thought she wouldn't cry. Maybe they thought she didn't care. Maybe they thought she deserted him. Maybe she did. She couldn't take it anymore and jumped up out of her seat. She found herself in the bathroom. She was staring at herself in the bathroom mirror. Crying. She thought she was done with the crying. She turned around when she heard somebody call her voice. "Lana?"
Lana turned around.
Susie saw that she was crying and a waved of guilt washed over her. "Lana I'm sorry," she said putting her arm around her. "No," said Lana pulling out of her embrace. "You just said what everybody was thinking. What I've thought. Whitney loved me. And I abandoned me. He died thinking that I didn't even care."
"Nobody's thinking that Lana," said Susie offering her a tissue. "Aren't they? Then why is everybody ignoring me? You guys barely talk to me at school and you never come to the Talon."
"You're right. We've been ignoring you, but it's not because we blame you for Whitney's death. We know you loved him. We all did, that's the problem. It's just ever since Whitney died nobody's known how to talk to you. For so long it was Lana and Whitney, Whitney and Lana, Smallville High's perfect pair and the you quit the cheerleading squad and Whitney went off the Marines and...all we were left with were memories of the way things used to be. I mean every time we see you..." "You see him," suddenly getting it.
"Yeah."
"I mean I know we haven't been overly friendly, but you have to admit that you've been avoiding us too. I mean if you're not working at the Talon you're hanging out with Chloe Sullivan or that Kent guy. I guess we all felt you were trying to forget." "I don't know what I've been trying to do." "Come back to the table La La.".
Lana nodded her head and Susie linked her arms in hers. "I know we've all sort of drifted apart, but that doesn't mean we have to stay apart. I mean things can be the way they were again La La. You can be back on top." Maybe Susie was right. She had spent so much time an energy trying to find herself and she felt more lost then ever. Maybe she did belong here. Maybe she was "Miss Popularity." Maybe the very thing that she was running from was exactly what she should be embracing. Maybe if she hadn't dropped her "pretty girl facade" and worked harder to hold onto this world then maybe Whitney would still be alive and she wouldn't have been so susceptible to Clark...
"I don't know,"
"Well you don't to decide now."
Lana smiled and the two girls headed back to the table. "Is everything all right?" asked Rob.
"Just a little girl talk."
"So," said Lana returning to her seat. "We were talking about wiping the floor with Wade Ellis."
The table broke into applause.
"Welcome back," said Tami smiling.
"Yeah we missed you." Said Jack.
"I missed you to."
And she really did. Maybe reconnecting with her old friends was just what she needed to get her life back on track.

Starr didn't like to think of herself as a snoop. She preferred to think of herself as a truth finder. But here she was sifting through trash cans like some common shiester or worse, some reporter for the Inquisitor.
She looked at one of the pieces of paper that that weirdo in the alley gave her. She had to admit these plans of the plant looked pretty authentic and all the information that she had been fed by her mysterious source in the past had been 100% reliable, but still something just didn't feel right about this...
"God," she said looking at the banana peel in her hand with disgust. Why did she wear her DKNY gear to go garbage scouring? How did she get reduced to this? "Who's there?"
Starr jumped when she heard a noise. She quickly scanned for a weapon. She found a stick pretty close to the trash can and wrapped her hand around it. "Show yourself," she demanded. "Now!!!" The rustling continued and a hunched figure came out. Starr smelled him before she saw him. He was a middle age man, dressed in tattered clothes and worn down shoes. He was clearly a bum.
"Get away from my stuff."
"What?"
"I said get a way from my stuff," the man came closer to Starr and she pulled the stick in front of her. "Stay back."
"I don't believe this. You're trying to rob me and you're swinging a stick at me?" "I'm not trying to rob you."
"Well you could have fooled me. What are you doing snooping through my trash can?" "Your trash can? Last time I checked this trash can and everything that surrounds it belongs to Lex Luthor."
"Well it may be Lex Luthor's name on the deed, but this section and everything around it belongs to Ole Charlie.
"Good grief," said Starr feeling less threatened by the moment. "Look Charlie I'm not trying to steal your spot or your stuff. I'm just trying to get inside." "Do you work here?"
"Uh...well..."
"Cause you don't look like a factory worker." "Well thank you I'm not. I'm a reporter." "What's your name?"
"Why?"
"I want to know if I have ever read any of your stuff." "Starr."
"Starr? What kind of name is that?"
"It's my name."
"Never heard of you. Starr. What's your last name?" "I don't have a last name. I'm a one name wonder like Cher, Aaliyah and Lassie." "That still doesn't explain why you're snooping threw the trash." "I'm not snooping. I was merely making sure that nothing important actually got thrown away."
"Trying to get the goods on Luthor."
"I'm not trying to get the goods on anybody. I'm merely doing my job." "Funny. You look a little young to be a reporter." "I have great genes."
That made Charlie laugh.
"Ole Charlie likes you. You got spunk." Starr rolled her eyes.
"Well that's what you're looking for," said Charlie pointing to a hole in the gate. "It's really here."
"Yep. I didn't do it if you want to know. Some strange wacko came here last night and cut it open. It was the weirdest thing. Whoever made that hole didn't use anything I've ever seen before to make it."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," said Starr. "And how drunk were you when you made this observation?"
"I'm not a drunk," said Charlie stumbling a little. "Yeah right. I tell you what. I'll give you five dollars to watch this gate and make sure that nobody comes in."
"You're about to break into Lex Luthor's plant and you want me to help. No way lady. Do you know what would happen to us if we get caught?" "Well I don't intend to get caught," said Starr defiantly. "Famous last words"
"Come on. You sleep here anyway. What could be better then to get paid for something that you're going to do anyway?"
"50 bucks."
"What?" asked Starr in disbelief.
"Don't tell me you can't afford it. I see how you're dressed." Starr looked at the hole and back at Charlie. This was a tricky endeavor and she did need somebody to watch her back in case this was a horrible mistake. "Ok, " said Starr begrudgingly shoving the bill in his hand. "I thought all you country folk were supposed to be all helpful just for the sake of being helpful." "Where do you think this," said Charlie taking the $50 bill "Walton's Mountain?" "Apparently not," said Starr heading for the hole. She through the stick in front of her and went through and held her breathe. The alarm was cut off. "This just might work," she said.
"Good luck," said Charlie. The idiot was gonna need it.

Gabe Sullivan hung up the phone with his daughter and smiled. He had quite the spitfire for a daughter.
"How's Chloe?" asked Roger Milligan grabbing a piece of the snack cake that Gabe had in his hand.
"She's fine and you're welcome," Gabe smirked. "Damn this is good," said Roger tasteing it. "This is delicious. Man you've been packing the best dinners lately what gives? Chloe finally gone domestic?" "Like that would ever happen. Lana's been packing me dinners. I keep telling the kid not too, but I think she thinks that she has to earn her keep." "I don't know how you do it man. Two teenage daughters. That would drive me insane." "Well it's not easy; but I lucked out they are both great girls." "It's more then luck. You're a great dad. Those girls are lucky to have you." "I hope so."
Roger noticed the since of uncertainty in his friend's voice. "What's up?"
"Nothing?"
Roger shot Gabe a disbelieving glare.
"Come on Gabe it's me."
"I just wonder sometimes. I mean lately Chloe has seemed a little down." "Well she's a teenager what do you expect." "I don't know. I mean Chloe isn't the typical teenager. She's an old soul in a lot of ways. It takes a lot to rattle her."
"Maybe it's a boy."
"Oh god. You think?"
"Well Chloe is very pretty and she is at the age." "You might be right. She and I did have a talk the other day about boys and why they go after the girls they go after."
Gabe grabbed his head.
"Oh God. I'm not ready for this." The truth be told Gabe wasn't sure if he'd ever be ready for this. Ever since his wife left he found himself dreading more moments then looking forward to them. Her first bra, her first date, her first boyfriend, her first ...Gabe sure didn't want to go down this train of thought. Chloe needed a woman in her life not a Mr. Mom. It was times like this when he wondered if he would really be enough. "You'll do fine. I mean look at the job you've done already. How many knuckleheads do you know around here who have daughters that intern at the Daily Planet?" Gabe couldn't help but smile at that.
"How did that internship go by the way?" "It went well. Chloe had the time of her life." "Where did she stay when she was up there?" asked Roger sneaking another piece of Gabe's dinner.
"She stayed with my sister Ella."
"How'd that work?"
"Don't ask. My sister Ella isn't exactly going to win any mother of the year awards. She's got one kid in boarding school; the other one in college and she couldn't be happier."
"See proof positive that you don't have to be a woman to be a good parent." "Noted," said Gabe making a check sign in the air. "Now that that's settled let's talk about you and Margie Hendrix." "Who? Said Gabe playfully.
Gabe turned around to reach in the fridge when he noticed that there was some movement on the security camera.
"Hey Roger look at this. Somebody's in here." Gabe looked at the image again. "It can't be."

Clark plopped on the sofa in the Luthor living room and the dour mood of the young man was not lost on Lex.
."So what brings you here Clark?"
"Nothing. I just wanted to say hi."
"That's a first," said Lex plopping down in the chair across from Clark with a drink in his hand.
Clark shot Lex an inquisitive look.
"Well you have to admit you haven't exactly been around much." "I'm sorry. I've just been going through some things." "These things wouldn't have anything to do with a beautiful, raven-haired girl with the initials L.L."
"Sort of."
Lex sighed. It must nice to be young and carefree with only a love life to keep you up at night.
"So what is going on now in the never ending story of Clark and Lana." "Well..." Clark began to unload his Lana problems on Lex when he noticed some pictures from the cave peeking out an envelope on the table. "What's going on?" "Oh," said Lex taking another sip of his drink "That is the last act of a defeated man." "What?"
"I've lost the caves Clark."
Clark couldn't believe his ears.
"The Native American Preservation Society now own the caves. They've demanded that I give them everything I have so that they can further the research in an appropriate manner."
"How did that happen?"
"Apparently they were able to come up with some obscure law that nobody had heard of for a hundred years. I mean the law wasn't even in the books. I don't know how they found it, but they did."
"Not that the caves were any use to me. I mean I haven't had any luck deciphering the icons since Professor Walden was injured." Clark felt a surge of guilt.
"How is professor
"The same."
Lex noticed Clark's discomfort.
"The doctors said that they had never seen a case like his. It's like he was accosted by a some type of powerful voice...in fact," said Lex leaning towards Clark. "One doctor told me that if he didn't know better he'd almost say it was a force not of this world." Clark shifted around and laughed uncomfortably. :"A force not of this world? Now you sound like Chloe." Lex smiled.
"I read her article about that symbol on your barn. How do you think that it got on your barn Clark?"
"I don't know. Like I told Chloe it was some type of prank." Lex searched Clark's face and took another sip of his drink as he sank back in his seat. "But why your barn Clark? I mean considering your interest in the caves..." "I know, it's a really weird coincidence huh?" "You know Professor Walden told me that he thought the writing on the wall might be extraterrestrial."
Clark laughed.
"Come on Lex. I find it hard to believe that somebody like you would give into rumors and stories about little green men."
This whole conversation was making him very uncomfortable. He liked Lex, hell he was like a brother to him, but ever since Clark first met him, ever since that day Clark rescued Lex for the lake, Lex had an interest in Clark that made Clark very uncomfortable... "You know what they say Clark. There is truth to every rumor." "Don't tell me that you're basing your beliefs in aliens on a canceled television show." "What you're telling me that Roswell never happened?" laughed Lex. Clark laughed too. It had been so long since he and Lex were just easy with each other. " I'm still trying to figure out how they even knew about the caves," said Lex getting dark again.
"Your father?"
"No. He wouldn't tip them off. He wanted the caves for himself. There is no way he'd turn them over to a preservation society that was going to declare them off limits. Not even to spite me."
"Then who?"
"I don't know. I have to tell you Clark. Its like somebody is out to get me." "What do you mean?"
"Business deals that were a sure thing have fallen through, businesses that I own have been vandalized and looted from, business associated who I have attempted to make alliances with have backed away from me. I have been so close to breaking free of my father. Closer then you can ever imagine and I've been hit with nothing but roadblocks. It's like there is somebody out there who knows my moves before I do and is determined to destroy me."
"Don't you think you're being a little overdramatic Lex?" "No."
"Do you think somebody is spying on you?" Lex just shrugged. Lex knew that that was the only possibility that made sense. Somebody was getting access to all of Lex's business deals and sabotaging him, somebody had betrayed his trust. To Lex's horror there was only one person he could think of. Only one person that was close enough to him and had enough of his confidence to be so effective at destroying him. He wanted to talk to Clark about it. To tell him how it felt to have everyone that he has ever opened up to betray him, but he couldn't; not now especially until he was sure...
"I was fascinated by the caves, I won't lie, but I'm sorry that this means that you won't be able to have access to the caves anymore." The thought of never being able to go to he caves was like a knife in his chest. It was the closest that he had ever gotten to his heritage and now...he was just happy that he had managed to decipher the icons before this happened. "Well don't worry about me. I don't think I would be visiting the caves anymore anyway."
That caused Lex to sit up.
"That surprises me. I know how much those caves mean to you." "Well Kyla gave her life for those caves. I felt I owed it to her to try to study them and preserve whatever was in them."
"That's it."
"Isn't that enough?"
"Why are you looking at me like that?"
"Like what?"
"Like you don't believe me."
"Why wouldn't I believe you. I mean you would never lie to me right Clark?" An uncomfortable silence settled into the room. "At least my father didn't get a hold to them. That's something," said Lex breaking the silence.
"Yeah," just thinking about somebody as unscrupulous as Lionel Luthor having complete access to those caves made Clark nervous. "At least that's a victory, if a small one." "I'm sorry Lex."
"For what?"
"I know I haven't been much of a friend lately." "You've been preoccupied."
"That's no excuse. I've been snipping at you, ignoring you, it's just..." "It's ok Clark. I was a teenage to once." Clark smiled.
"Speaking of that you were telling me about you and Lana." "This may not be the best time for this." "No I asked you what was going on with you and Lana and I want to know." "I don't know I mean we've barely talked in the last few weeks and when we do talk it's awkward and now she dating some guy."
"Oh really?"
"Yeah Rob Dirk, he's on the football team." "Oh, so the lady returns to type."
"What does that mean?" said Clark perhaps more harshly then he intended too. Hearing Lex utter that sentence reminded him that he had also made that claim earlier...and had nearly broken Lana's heart. If Lex was offended by Clark's tone he definitely didn't show it.
"It means that maybe it's time you give up your crush on Lana and move on with your life."
Clark couldn't believe his ears.
"You use to be a big fan of me and Lana's." "Not really. It was just that I knew you wanted her and I wanted to see you happy. I mean you have to admit that the two of you haven't exactly found love. I mean the two of you seem to be on some sort of twisted never ending merry go ride. You can't force a relationship Clark. If you and Lana were meant to be together then you'd be working towards a relationship instead of coming up with excuses to stay apart. I mean aren't you tired of getting nowhere with Lana? Aren't you tired of the games and the frustration? You're a young, attractive man."
"But I love Lana."
Lex laughed.
"Ohh. High School "love." Well Clark as a person long out of high school let me tell you that just because you love somebody doesn't mean that the two of you are meant to be together.You have your whole life ahead of you. Women are a dime a dozen Clark. Maybe it's time that you start to realize that Lana Lang isn't the only woman in the world."
Clark opened his mouth to protest, but was interrupted when the phone rang. Lex got up to answer it and Clark was left with his thoughts. Maybe Lex did have a point. It felt that he had been chasing Lana his entire life with little or no results. It seemed that every time they got close to hooking up something always happened to tear them apart. And now she was dating this Rob guy. Had he been trying to make something work that didn't and never would? Was it time for him to let Lana go? Clark's thoughts were interrupted when he saw Lex frantically scurrying around the room looking for his jacket. "Lex what's wrong?"
"It's the pant. It's on fire."`

The flames had consumed the building a lot quicker then Starr thought. She had expected to be out of the building way before this but to her horror realized that she was lost. All the corridors were starting to look the same and Starr was starting to get scared. She was running around frantically when she bumped into Charlie. "Charlie what are you doing here?"
"I saw the fire and I got worried when you didn't come out." "So you came in here to see about me?" asked Starr truly surprised. "Don't be too surprised. Chalk it up to small town hospitality." Starr smiled. She looked around and could feel the flames getting closer. "We got to get out of here before we both become crispy critters." Starr started running and Charlie took her hand and started leading her in the opposite direction.
"This way," he said.

Clark looked around and was horrified at the sight. The plant was in danger of being engulfed in flames. Clark used his x-ray vision to scan the place. He saw two figures in the building and knew what he had to do. He rushed into the building. The heat didn't bother him, Thank God, so he knew it wouldn't hinder him from what he had to do. He ran from room to room and finally found Mr. Sullivan and a man he didn't recognize lying on the ground. He saw fire extinguishers at their feet and realized that they must have passed out from the smoke. He picked up the extinguishers and started to the put the fires out. He then went back and grabbed Gabe and his friends and laid them on the grass outside of the plant.
Just then Gabe started to come around.
"Mr. Sullivan are you ok?" asked Clark leaning over him. "What happened?"
"You were caught in a fire."
Everything started coming back to Gabe and he darted up. "Roger?" he asked.
"Is that him?" asked Clark pointing to the other man he brought out. "Yeah," he let out a relief sigh.
"Mr. Sullivan was there anybody else in the plant?" "No. Roger and I were the only ones there. We were working on a special project. Oh wait," said Gabe suddenly remembering. "There was a girl." "A girl?"
Clark jumped up scanned the building. He saw nobody. He looked around and saw a girl and a man running behind him.
"Hey, wait up."
Starr saw Clark and kept on running. There was no way that she was going to get caught. Not here and not now.
Clark knew he could catch her, but he also knew that it would be stupid to use his powers in front of so many witnesses. He scanned around and noticed that there was a tree branch near the girl's feet. He used his heat vision and the branch broke and the girl tripped on it.

Starr fell flat on the ground.
"Owe." She cried.
"Come on," yelled Charlie.
"I'm trying."

Clark was about to go after the girl when he was bombarded with sights and sounds. It was the fire department. The firemen swooped down and the paramedics rushed to Gabe and Roger's aid. Clark looked back to where the girl was and to his frustration she was gone. Clark turned around and saw Lex approaching. "What's the damage?" he asked the fireman closest to him. Fireman Fred Durst turned to respond.
"We're not sure yet Mr. Luthor."
"Well at least you stopped the fire."
"To tell you the truth the fire was already out when we got here. My men are just checking to make sure that there are no more people inside." "More people?"
Lex turned around and saw Gabe and Roger on the floor. He immediately went over to them.
"Mr. Sullivan are you alright?" asked Lex bending down next to him. "I'm fine...but the project..."
"Don't you worry about that," said Lex. "The most important thing is that you're ok." "Yeah," he said looking over Lex's shoulder. "Thanks to Clark. He pulled me and Rog out of the fire."
Lex nodded and looked up.
"Now why am I not surprised to see you here?" Clark just shrugged.
"How did you beat me here?"
"I was just motivated I guess. Chloe told me that Mr. Sullivan was working tonight." "And you thought that single handedly you could save him from a fire? You could have been killed."
"I guess I wasn't thinking to clearly. I just wanted to help. Besides Chloe would never forgive me if I didn't do whatever I could to help her dad." "Well I'm glad you did," said Gabe.
"Me too," waved Roger weakly.
"Well Clark you are a regular super hero." Said Lex. "Can somebody tell me what happened here?" asked Fred coming over to the men. "Clark?"
Clark looked down at Gabe.
"Well I was over Lex's house when he got a call that the plant was on fire..." "And you rushed over her and decided to play hero? Clark you could have been killed." "Don't worry about Clark. He's got more lives then a cat." Said Lex putting his hand on Clark's shoulder.
"Well the fire was basically out when I here," Clark lied. "I guess Mr. Sullivan and his friend were able to put it out before I got here." Roger and Gabe looked at each other.
"We started to put it out, but the smoke got to much. I guess we didn't realize how much of the fire we actually put out." Said Gabe. "See," said Clark. "They are the real heroes." "So you don't have any information for us Clark?" "Actually. I did see a girl."
"A girl?" asked Lex.
"Yeah," said Roger. "Gabe and I spotted a girl on the surveillance camera. Right Gabe." "I don't know," said Gabe. "I might have been mistaken." "No I saw her myself. She was running from the plant." "She was probably just a homeless girl. They some how find their way on the property. I bet she has nothing to do with this," offered Gabe. "Maybe," said Clark. But he wasn't as convinced as Mr. Sullivan was that she didn't. know exactly what happened.

Martha Kent put down the paper and bit another piece of her toast. The plant was the heart and soul of this community and its loss could very well bring Smallville to it's knees.
"This is bad," said Jonathan Kent pacing up and down. "Calm down Jonathan."
"Calm down. Well that's pretty hard when we have about a half of dozen witnesses who can say that Clark ran into a fire and came out without a scratch." "Hey mom," said Clark bouncing down the kitchen. "Dad." The looks on his parents' faces darkened his mood. "Well you're in a good mood this morning," said Martha handing her son a glass of juice. "I actually got a good nights sleep last night." "Clark how could you have gone into that plant." Said Jonathan trying to reason with his son. "You can't do stuff like this. It endangers you and it endangers your secret." "I know that Dad, but I had to go. Chloe dad I was there." "I know son and I know how much Chloe means to you..." "No you don't Dad. Chloe is one of my best friends. She's always been there for me when I needed her. I couldn't just sit back and do nothing when I knew her father was in danger."
"Of course you couldn't," said Martha. "That wouldn't be you." "Thanks Mom."
"Did anybody see you put out that fire?" "No, I told you last night that Mr. Sullivan and his friend were unconscious when I pulled them out. "
"What about the mystery girl that you spotted at the plant?" "I'm certain that she didn't see anything." This seemed to placate Jonathan.
"Look I don't want to jump all over you for what you did. You saved Gabe and Roger's lives and by saving the plant you probably saved this whole damn town. I'm proud of you."
Clark smiled. It felt good to hear his dad say that. Ever since the two of them had deciphered that message from his biological father in the storm cellar that day Clark could feel the tension. His dad denied it and did everything he could to assure him that nothing had changed, but things just felt different. It was nice to really be able to believe for once that his father deep, down inside didn't fear him or his abilities. "Join the club."
The family turned around and saw Chloe walking in. "I'm not interrupting am I?"
"Never," said Clark smiling.
Chloe walked over to Clark and gave him a big hug. "You saved my dad's life. I don't know how to thank you." "You don't have to thank me," said Clark pulling Chloe closer to him," What are friends for?"
Chloe let go of Clark.
"I still can't believe what happened," she said. "How is your father?" asked Martha offering Chloe a seat. "A little shaken up but otherwise fine. Can you believe that he and Uncle Roger put that fire out? I guess Clark isn't the only hero in town." The Kents just looked at each other.
"Guess not."
Chloe noticed that Smallville Ledger and turned her nose up. "Did you read Luthor Corp's latest bit of P.R." "What do you mean?" asked Clark.
"Oh come on this fire was clearly an arson." "Why do you say that?" asked Jonathan.
"Well they checked the plant and they didn't find any type of wiring problems or any reason how that fire could have started as a result of something wrong with the plant. That leaves only one theory...well at least in my mind." "Arson." Said Clark.
"Didn't you say that you saw a girl running from the plant." "Yeah."
"I swear to God if somebody tried to kill my dad..." "Well I don't think it was your dad they were after, it was probably somebody with a grudge against the Luthors," said Martha. "They probably wanted to get at the plant to get at Lex."
"In other words it could be anybody," said Jonathan. " I don't know. I mean the fire was located at a specific place. Where my dad was. The fire department thinks that `if it was arson,'" she said mimicking the quote sign, "Then the person was just targeting the area where my dad worked and things just got out of control."
This peaked Jonathan's interest.
"What was your father doing at the plant so late?" asked Jonathan. "I don't know. He has been working on some top secret project." "So the plant wasn't damaged that much?" asked Martha. "No. In fact in a few weeks it should be as good as new." "Well that's good news for the town," said Jonathan. "It will probably cost Lex a fortune to fix the place."
"Not really Lex put out an insurance policy on the plant a few months ago," said Chloe. Jonathan snorted at the news.
"How much did Lex get if the plant burned down?" "Dad," said Clark not liking where this was going." You don't really believe that Lex set that fire himself?"
"Lex is a Luthor son they are capable of anything." "Not this, Lex put his neck on the line to save the plant and this town. Why would he try to destroy what he built?"
"I agree Jonathan," Lex would never do anything like that." Jonathan decided that it was best to just let the matter drop. He knew that when it came to Lex he seemed irrational or even mean, but he just couldn't shake the feeling that that boy was not to be trusted. He hoped he was wrong, he really did. He wanted to believe in him like Clark did, but deep down inside he knew he wasn't somebody to be trusted and it scared him to think of what could happen to this family if he was right.

MYSTERY GIRL SOUGHT FOR QUESTIONING IN PLANT FIRE

Every time Starr read it it made her sick to her stomach. "Damn how could this happen?"
"Can I get you something?"
Starr looked up and saw the waitress in front of her. She had ducked into The Talon for refuge. It was a bad idea. The place was full of a bunch of annoying high schoolers who said the dumbest things. Besides just being in this town now made her nervous. What if she ran into that Clark Kent guy who saw her at the plant. It was a small town and it was only a matter of time. Why couldn't this have happened at home? There nobody would have even noticed she was there and if they did they had the wherefore all to keep their mouths shut. She couldn't leave though. She was here to do a job and she wasn't leaving until she was done and God help Clark Kent if he and his blabber mouth got in her way. "I'll have a low-fat, low foam, sugar free cappuccino with soy milk and a little hint of sweet milk."
"Sorry Ma'am we don't use soy milk in our drinks?" "What? This is Kansas isn't it? Land of milk and honey or whatever. You should be stocked with all kinds of milks and cheeses." The waitress just started at her.
"Ok but please use fat free milk. Vitamin D milk is a definite no no for me." "Sure. Oh no sweet milk either."
"God lord was this America?"
The waitress just looked at Starr befuddled. " Look don't strain yourself. I'll take a hot chocolate." The waitress walked away and Starr picked up the paper again. That bad feeling she had ever since she rolled into town returned stronger then ever.

Clark felt nervous as soon as he got to Chloe's door. He knew Lana was going to be there and he just wasn't sure if he was prepared to see her. What Lex had said to him the day before was weighing on him and he just wasn't sure how he should act around her. "Are you coming in or are you going to set up residence outside?" Clark smiled uncomfortably and followed Chloe in. He saw Lana as soon as he came in.

Lana was stunned. She didn't expect to see Clark. She looked horrible. She was in sweats and her hair wasn't combed. She suddenly felt very uncomfortable. "Clark and I are on our way to Lex to talk to him about the fire," said Chloe. Lana nodded and it didn't take long before Chloe realized that they were both staring at each other. That's when she decided to make her exit. She just couldn't take it when Clark and Lana started their mating dance. "I'll be right back."
Rob's voice on the other end asking her if she was still there reminded Lana that she was still on the phone.
"Rob. Can you hold on a minute?"
Rob. Clark's stomach dropped. Lex was right. He was wasting his time with Lana. After all she had already moved on while he was still trapped in unrequited love hell. "I heard what you did for Gabe."
"It was nothing."
"Maybe for you because that's who you are. You put yourself in danger without a second thought to save others. You're a hero." "I wish that everybody would stop saying that." "Why its true."
"Well I'm surprised to hear you say that." "Why?"
"Well the last time we spoke I wasn't that heroic." "Yeah. But it's ok. Things between us have been bad for a while." "I know and I hate it."
"Me too," he said reaching for her hand. "I guess we are both just frustrated with our situation." "What exactly is our situation Clark?"
"You tell me."
Just then Chloe reappeared.
"Ok Kent let's get going..."
She knew immediately that she had interrupted something. "I better get going."
"Clark," said Lana
"I have to go."
"Of course you do."
Lana watched Chloe and Clark leave and noticed that someone at the end of the receiver was breathing.
"Rob...no that was nothing."

Lex was less then happy to see Clark and Chloe coming through his door. He hadn't figured out what happened at the plant himself and the last thing he felt like was dealing with a barrage of question he couldn't answer. "Before you ask no I don't know what caused the fire." "I do," said Chloe. "It was arson.
Lex winced inwardly. Of course it was arson. He didn't need to see the report to confirm this. Considering everything that had been going on it was the only explanation that made sense; but he wasn't ready to reveal his suspicions yet. "What makes you say that?" he asked.
"I saw somebody at the scene," interjected Clark. "I know the mysterious brunette."
"If you find her you might find your answers." "You may be right, but that's easier said then done." "Why?" asked Chloe. "Don't you have surveillance cameras at the plant?' "Damn," thought Clark. "What if they caught him rescuing Mr. Sullivan and putting the fire out."
"The cameras were destroyed in the fire." Clark let out an audible sigh of relief and Lex shot him a queer look. "I don't know. I talked to Chloe's father and he doesn't think the girl has anything to do with it."
"You were going to expand the plant..." started Chloe. "And now I can't," said Lex.
"Do you think that's why somebody set the fire?" "Why the expansion was going to open up more jobs for the people of this town?" "And make you a very wealthy young man," said Chloe. "You're not suggesting jealousy for a motive are you," asked Lex intrigued by how Chloe's mind worked.
"So what you're saying is that you don't think this was a personal attack?" asked Clark echoing Lex's earliest sentiments.
"Chloe. Clark is remembering a conversation that we had earlier." His voice let Clark know that he was none to happy with his inquiry. "I'm just concerned about you Lex. I mean you could be in real danger." "Why would somebody be targeting you Lex?" "I'm a Luthor that's enough to make me a target. My family has made a lot of enemies. "But that's your father," said Clark. "Everybody knows that you're nothing like him." "I guess somebody didn't get the message," he laughed.

Pete couldn't remember the last time he was this happy. Being with Wade was like being in a dream. He never thought of himself as a corny guy, but Wade made him feel things he never felt before.
"What do you think?"
Wade held the "Vote for Ellis/Ross" sign that she has been working on. "It's perfect," he said. "You're perfect." Wade's mouth dropped and Pete was blushing. Did he just say that? "I mean..."
"No," said Wade interrupting. "I know exactly what you mean. I like spending time with you too."
Wade looked at the clock in Pete's living room. "Man I've been here for a long time. Do you think your parents mind?" "Are you kidding. You could move in for all my parents care. They love you." "Really?"
"My mom told me that she was glad that I finally found a friend that would pull me up." "What about Clark?"
"Clark? My mom loves Clark and Chloe. She admires Chloe's drive, but as much as she loves Clark she sort of sees him as an underachiever." "Clark Kent an underachiever?" Wade couldn't believe what she was hearing. "Yeah, you have to admit he doesn't do much at school, why do you know some secret activities that Clark is involved in?"
"You mean besides the occasional heroics." Pete laughed uncomfortably. Talking about Clark's heroics only served to remind Pete that he was carrying the burden of his friend's secret. "Well Clark is always at the right place at the right time." "Come on Pete you and I both know its more then that." "Huh?"
"I mean it's obvious that Clark cares about people. Doesn't that earn him any brownie points with your mom?"
"Naah," laughed Pete. "To my parents altruism is a duty. They feel that service is the price you pay for being free. I know it's corny." "There's nothing wrong with being raised to do good." "Do you have any idea what me running as your vice president means to my mom? She told me that I'm finally taking on the Ross traditions. She already has me as the future president of the United States."
"Smart woman."
"You really have a lot of faith in me don't you." "I guess I kinda do."
Pete slide closer to Wade and kissed her. He was surprised when Wade pulled away. "What."
"Nothing. It's just being with you is so wonderful. I just wish it could last forever." "Who says it can't?"
Wade surprised Pete by pulling him into a hug. "You're so wonderful Pete. I knew you would be this wonderful." Pete closed his eyes and enjoyed the hug. Sometimes the things that Wade said really confused him, but the didn't want to think about that now.

Chloe was tired. The whole fire business at the plant and the investigation had wore her out.
"Lana," she yelled out playfully as soon as she came in. "If you're in the bathroom get out I want to take a nice, long shower and then take a nap." "Well you do need your beauty sleep."
Chloe would know that voice anywhere.
"Tami," she said walking into the living room. "What brings you to my humble abode." "Well we're definitely not here to see you. We're here to see La La." "La La?"
"What are you doing here?"
"Well I do live here."
"I know but La La said we wouldn't have to endure you today. Aren't their some freaks or monsters you can be chasing."
All the girls around the table laughed. "Chloe could you give us some privacy?" Chloe just stared at Lana feeling betrayed. Was that all she had to say? "Sure," said Chloe angrily.
"Don't bother. We're done hear. Right girls." The girls chimed in agreement.
"Good," said Chloe watching them get up to leave. "I noticed that The Trash endorsed Wade and your little friend Pete. Conflict of interest much."
"You know Tami there are some people who still believe in substance over style." The girls giggled.
"As if you know anything about style."
The girls giggle again.
Chloe rolled her eyes.
You might have thought that rooming with Lana was going to up your status on the high school hierarchy. But I'm here to tell you that you failed miserably. You will always be a nobody. Nobody takes you or anything that you have to say seriously," said Tami heading out the door.
Chloe was livid.
"That's ok Lana. Don't try to stick up for me or anything." "Sorry."
"When did you start hanging out with the pomp pomp crows again?" "It's a recent development. We all just sort of reconnected." "Does this mean that you're trying to regain your crown as queen of the school? I mean ever since you quit cheerleading you've lost some of your luster, miss the attention?"
"No."
"I hope not because Tami is the new queen bee now and you just may find out that she likes the queen to much to give it back." "I know that you and Tami don't get along. I would never have invited her here if I thought you would run into her."
"That's ok. I wish you would have told me that you were holding a convention of the young and the brainless I would have made it my business to stay away." "Tami can be a real bitch sometimes." "Well I've always known that."
"She doesn't mean it she's just..."
"Spoiled, rotten and self-centered...yeah I agree. God she has been a thorn in my side for as long as I can remember and who the heck spells Tammy T-A-M-I. Pretentious bitch." "Chloe I'm sorry."
"Whatever."
If she was really sorry she would have told Tami to go to hell. God she hoped Lana wasn't turning back into cheerleading Lana. She didn't think she could bare it. "I want to talk about this some more. Will you be up when I get back?" " Another date with Rob Dirk?" asked Chloe looking at the caller ID. "Yeah."
"That's five dates in a row are the two of you..." "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," said Chloe turning her attention back on Lana. "My Aunt Ella called." "That's nice."
"I'm not so sure. She never calls. One of my cousins must be in trouble." Lana's look turned severe.
"Oh it's ok. My cousins are always getting into trouble. It's what they live for. Especially my older cousin. She's Big Trouble Walking."

Helen could feel the tension in Lex's shoulders as she continued her message. "It's going to be ok Lex."
"I don't see how."
"You said it yourself. The damage to the plant in negligible. It will be up and running before you know it."
Lex grabbed Helen's arm and pulled her into his lap. "There is something that I haven't told you." "What?"
"Somebody is trying to sabotage me?"
"What?"
"I don't want to get into all the details but he or she is doing a damn good drive of trying to bankrupt me."
"Your father?"
"No. My father would never do something as heavy handed as setting fire to the plant." "What about Lucas. I mean I know he's your brother but you said it yourself he does have psychotic tendencies. What if he changed his mind about being allies and has decided to come after you?"
"It is the Luthor way."
Helen looked uneasy at Lex. She had heard about the "Luthor Evil" and she had to admit that she never put much stock in it. After all, rich people were always the object of scorn and ridicule, but after meeting Lionel Luthor in the flesh and listening to Lex tell her about how horrible a father he was she knew that everything she ever heard about Lionel Luthor was true. From what she could ascertain Lex's younger brother wasn't too much better. She was just happy that the "Luthor Evil" hadn't tainted Lex. "I thought it might be Lucas at first too," said Lex kissing her hand. "But it's not. I have him on 24 hours surveillance. There's no way it's him." "Then who?"
"If I knew that then all my problems will be solved. God. This is the worse possible time for this to happen."
"Why?"
"I'm going to tell you something Helen. Something that I wouldn't tell you if I didn't trust you."
"Ok"
"I'm working on a top secret project. Something that I can't talk about but could change science, medicine, etc as we know it."
The mention of medicine peeked Helen's interest. "Lex what are you talking about?"
"I can't really get into it now but I have two of my men at the plant working on this. If I'm right and I have what I think I do I plan to take my find to Cadmus labs. This could make me Helen."
"I'm glad you trust me enough to tell me about your business." "Me too," he said placing his lips on hers. "Lex?"
"Huh?" he asked enraptured by the feel of her lips and the beating of his own heart. "What's the window doing open?"

Chloe came out of the shower and was surprised to find Lana home. She was lying in on her bed in her bedroom.
"Date over already?" she asked continuing to dry her hair. Lana looked up and Chloe could tell that she was crying. "That bad huh?"
"Oh," she said wiping her tears. "Rob was a sweetheart as usual, it's just..." "There wasn't a lot of sparkage?"
Lana shook her head no.
"Well that's no reason to cry at least you got a free dinner and a movie out of it. I mean you could have been home washing your hair." Chloe walked closer to Lana and noticed that there were pictures of Whitney all over the bed.
"What's going on?"
"Nothing I was just thinking about Whitney and I felt like looking at some old pictures." Chloe looked at the bed again and sat down in an open spot. "I've been thinking a lot about Mrs. Fordman lately but I haven't been able to bring myself to go visit her. Do you think that's evil?"
"Cowardly," said Chloe picking up a picture, "But not evil." "Thanks."
"You wanted the truth right?"
"That's me and Whitney at last year's homecoming dance," said Lana noticing the picture in Chloe's hand. "We were elected Homecoming King and Queen." "I know," said Chloe.
"I just keep thinking about the last time I saw Whitney. We were at the Greyhound bus station and he told me that he would always love me." She could no longer fight back the tears. Chloe soothingly rubbed her hand against her arm. "Ever since Whitney died I've just been overwhelmed with guilt." "Lana you have nothing to feel guilty about. Whitney was killed in battle. You had nothing to do with it."
"Didn't I?"
"You did not send Whitney off to the Marines Lana. Whitney made that choice on his own."
"I just wish that I hadn't broken up with him on that stupid tape." "You can't beat yourself up for that Lana. You can't change the past." "I just wish I could have told him how much I really did love him." "He knew," said Chloe making eye contact with Lana. "He knew. Look I didn't know Whitney very well, but I do know that he loved you. He would want you to go on with your life and be happy."
"I thought I was coping." Said Lana wiping away the tears, "But instead I was avoiding, what else is new huh? It's just not fair." "But death is a part of life. You know that better then anybody." Lana closed her eyes. Her parents, Whitney...she had so much death in her life, too much death.
"I thought your sessions with Dr. Mayers were helping." "They were...they are...it's just...I don't know. "So Rob and the super girlie squad isn't making things easier?" "I think in a way I was using them to feel closer to Whitney. I think a part of me thought that I could make things up to Whitney by reconnecting to my old life." "Definitely not good."
"I know where's Dr. Phil when you need him?" "The problem was though that every time I went out with Rob I couldn't stop thinking about Clark."
"Oh," said Chloe surprised. She so did not want to talk about this. "Chloe I'm sorry," said Lana realizing what she just said. She knew that Chloe had feelings for him, In fact, she knew just how deep her feelings ran and the last thing she wanted to do was make her feel bad.
"No, it's ok."
"But your feelings for Clark..."
"Lana you and I can survive my feelings for Clark. What we can't survive is you pretending that you don't want Clark. I mean this limbo that we are all in is worse then you being with Clark. You can't deny your feelings because you don't want to hurt me. All that's going to do is make me mad because I hate liars." Lana laughed.
"If you like Clark as much as Clark likes you then maybe you need to be together." "Are you sure you can handle that?"
"This isn't about me Lana. We both know it never was. I'm a big girl. I'll survive. Besides it's just high school. I'm saving myself for a college stud." The two girls laughed and hugged.
"I love you Chloe."
"Right back at ya kid."

Pete could tell that Clark wasn't listening to a word he said. Not that he blamed him. He had listened to Clark go on and on about Lana enough times to know that listening to your buddy talk about the wonderfulness of his girlfriend wasn't exactly exciting stuff. "Then we went in my room and....you know..." That seemed to get his attention.
"What?" asked Clark realizing that he was still holding the cup of hot chocolate the waitress just handed to him.
"Just seeing if you're paying attention." "What's with you?"
"I was just thinking about..."
"Lana?"
"No. Actually I was thinking about that girl from the plant." "Again? "
"What do you mean again?"
"Well you have to admit that she's been on your mind a lot." "She set fire to the plant and nearly killed Mr. Sullivan. So yeah the thought of her being out there weighs on my mind."
"You know what your problem is?"
"No, but I'm sure that you're going to tell me." "You have a savior complex."
"A what?"
"You think that you should save everybody. You can't you know. You're not a superhero, you're just Clark Kent, farm boy." Clark opened her mouth when she noticed Lana coming in. "Go and talk to her."
"I can't."
"Why not?"
"In case you hadn't noticed Lana and I aren't exactly on the best terms." "That's because you've been acting like a jerk." "Thanks."
"Just telling it like it is. Clark," said Pete suddenly getting serious. "You're not a monster."
"You don't know that."
"I know you. I mean you have done nothing but use your abilities to do good and help people. You'll never convince me that that won't always be the case." "I want to believe you. Really I do it's just I'm afraid that one day I might snap and hurt her."
"Clark. You could never hurt Lana. Or anybody for that matter." "Hey what about being afraid of hurting me?" "Pete. You've already proved that you know how to bring me down," said Clark, Pete turned away. The last thing that Pete wanted to think about was how he used the red and green meteor rocks against his friend when he was under the influence of that parasite. "Did I apologize for that?"
"Too many times. And we both know Chloe would kick my ass if I ever got out of line." They both laughed.
"Talk to her."
"I guess you're right, If nothing else I owe her an apology for being such a jerk." Clark started to walk over to Lana when caught a glimpse of Starr outside the window. "Hey wait," he yelled, going outside.

Starr turned around and was horrified to see Clark "Damn it," she yelled as she started running.

"Not this time," said Clark as he watched her run. Clark was already to go after her when he heard somebody calling his name.
"Clark!!"
"Lana," He turned back around and could still see Starr running. "Lana I can't talk right now.
"It's important Clark."
"But..."
She was getting away.
"Whose that?" asked Lana noticing where Clark's gaze was going. She was suddenly overwhelmed with an irrational sense of jealousy. "Nobody."
"Well nobody is very pretty."
"Yeah for a pyromaniac."
"What?"
"I think that she is the girl that set the plant on fire." "Oh my God. Clark we have to go after her." "It's to late," said Clark scanning the area with his x-ray vision. "She's gone." "I'm sorry I stopped you from going after her." "Don't apologize. I'd rather talk to you anyway." Lana smiled.
"Clark.."
"Lana.."
They both started at the same time and laughed. Clark looked down at Lana and his heart melted. All the feelings that he wasn't even sure he wanted to feel came flooding back. "Lana I'm sorry I've been such a jerk lately." "It's ok Clark. You don't owe me any apologize. In fact, I should be apologizing to you." "Why?"
"Clark I know our situation has been...frustrating to say the least. I mean one minute I'm hot and the next I'm cold."
"That's my fault I keep screwing up and keeping things from you." "It's not about you or your secrets Clark." "Then what's it about?"
"Whitney."
"Whitney?"
That was definitely not the answer he was expecting. "You and I don't know each other very well Clark. I mean we've lived next door to each other our entire lives and we barely even spoke until last year." "I know," said Clark miserably.
"When we did start talking and we became friends I was shocked." "Why?"
"It usually takes me forever to warm up to people. I mean Whitney and I had been dating for months before I actually started to let him in. But you, you got in Clark. Before I was ready to let you in, before I even really knew you and that scared me...and it made me feel guilty. I mean Whitney and I had been together for a long time and I just couldn't dump him because I started liking somebody else. I was tempted to, but then all that stuff started happening with Whitney and his family and I couldn't leave, I know what's it like to be abandoned and I couldn't do that to him. So I made a conscious decision to ignore what I felt for you and try to devote myself to Whitney." Clark nodded.
"Whitney really loved me Clark and I loved him and I couldn't bear the thought of hurting him and then he was gone and I just couldn't deal with the guilt of moving on to the one person I couldn't stop thinking about when he was alive." "Lana..."
"Whitney died Clark. He died too young. He should have had a career, gone to college, dated more, gotten married, had kids, had grand kids, he should died a very old man who lived a very rich life. Instead he died," she was crying again. "And he died knowing that I didn't want a future together; that I didn't love him the way he loved me; that when I thought about the man I wanted to be with it wasn't Whitney Fordman. It was Clark Kent."
"Lana it's ok," he said wiping the tears from her face. "I didn't want it to seem as if I didn't care that Whitney was dead. It just seemed to me that if I followed my heart to you that it would be like I was glad he died or that I didn't care."
"Nobody who knows you would ever think that," he said cupping her check. "Then I moved in with Chloe."
"Lana. Chloe and I are just friends..." Lana raised her hand up to quiet him.
"Chloe told me that I should follow my heart straight to you." "She said that?"
"That's quiet and amazing friend we have there." Clark smiled.
"I know."
"So I've decided to take the advice of the smartest person I know and just go for it for once."
Lana took a deep breath.
"Clark Kent would you like to go out with me?" Clark could hardly believe his ears.
"Lana I've waited my whole life to hear those words."

Starr couldn't believe that she was in this predicament once again. She was about to do the whole breaking and entering thing again, but instead of breaking into the plant she was breaking into the guy's place of residence. She had to keep reminding herself that she had to keep an eye on the prize. Starr was surprised how easy it was to get in. Once again her source had come through, but considering the fact that her last tip ended up with her barely escaping a fire with her life she didn't know if that was a good or bad thing. She was in the house and her jaw dropped. The place was magnificent. Starr had seen a lot of castles in her time during the years she spent in Europe, but this place actually rivaled anything that she had ever seen. "Must be nice," she said picking up one of the vases on Lex's desk. The key that her informant gave her fit perfectly into the drawer lock. "Well hello pay dirt," smiled Starr as she began to sift through the files. She had visualized this moment since this nightmare trip started, but now that she was here she wasn't sure where to start.
She picked up some files and saw a silver disk drop along with the file it was inside of. She bent down to pick up the files and was surprised by the label:

CLARK KENT

What in the world was Lex Luthor doing with a file on the Teenage Avenger? She reached to grab it and was stopped cold by a husky, German voice. . "What do you think you're doing?" asked Miss Parker.

Lex hadn't said a word all evening and Helen was starting to get worried. Everything was going so well between them...until Lex looked at the latest edition of the Daily Planet and read that his father had bought Cadmus labs. Since then Lex had been trying all day to get him with no results. Helen brought Lex to the Talon in hopes that they would run into Clark Kent. The kid was always able to get through to Lex and calm him and he needed that right now.
"I tell you Helen the only reason he bought Cadmus was to foil my plans. First he is going to buy the lab I need and then he is going to try to steal my project right from under me. Mark my words."
"Do you really think he bought the labs to undermine you?" "Why the hell else would he so it? My father has no interest in research. Science has never been his forte and he's never been able to appreciate its power." Just then his phone vibrated. Lex looked at it. His text message had one sentence: "Better luck next time son."
"Damn it!!!" yelled Lex kicking the wall. "Lex calm down."
"Lex calm down? Lex calm down. Do you have any idea what's just happened? I'm fighting for my financial life here. How do you expect me to calm down? "I'm sorry. Look let's just get out of this alley." "I just don't understand how my father found out about my plans to use and acquire Cadmus labs. I mean the only person I told was you," said Lex casting a suspicious glare on Helen.
"I'm going to let that slide because I know you're under a lot of stress," said Helen trying to fight back the pain of his accusation. "You know I wondered before I told you if the information would some how make it back to my father."
"Where you testing me?"
Lex couldn't even look at her.
"Answer me Lex. Are you accusing me of spying for your father?" "Well it wouldn't be the first time that a girlfriend of mine betrayed me." "I don't believe this."
"You can't believe it," said Lex his voice getting louder. "How do you think I feel? I trusted you Helen, Despite my reservations I trusted you." "And I never did anything to betray that trust," said Helen now raising her voice to match Lex's.

Clark and Lana walked to the Talon holding hands. They hadn't said much since they left the theater. They just sort of looked at each other and smiled a lot, but somehow it seemed right.
"Can you believe it?," asked Lana when they finally got to their destination. "What?"
"We actually made it through our first date." "It was nice."
"Wasn't it?"
Clark grinned and shook his head.
"I just can't believe that this is finally happening." "You can't believe it? I'm the one that's spent my entire life mooning from afar." "Well," said Lana so close now that their lips were practically touching. "I'm glad you decided to be nearer."
Clark's heart started beating fast. He and Lana were finally about to kiss and there wasn't a parasite, spore, shape-shifter or meteor rock in sight. He leaned in to touch her lips when he heard a loud boom.

Both Lana and Clark jumped apart and was surprised to see Lex and Helen arguing violently.
"Wow they seem to be having quite the fight." "Yeah."

"Don't you walk away from me Lex Luthor," yelled Helen grabbing at his arm. "I've said everything that I'm going to say Helen." "Well good for you, but I'm not done."

Lana looked back to Clark.
"Did you know that they were having problems?" "No. I had no idea."
"I'm going to go inside and check on things and then I'll let you walk me home." Clark smiled. He watched Lana go inside then he turned his attention back to the alley and the fight. He wondered if he should go over and break things up. It wasn't any of his business, but at the same time things seemed to be getting uglier by the minute; he didn't want Lex to say or do something he would regret. Before Clark could decide on what the best course of action was he heard somebody cranking up a car. He turned around and saw a car heading straight for Lex. He ran to the alley as fast as he could.

Lex saw the car coming and the only thing he could think about was pushing Helen out the way. He managed to do that and was prepared to meet his fate when he felt himself being shoved down to the ground. Clark jumped up immediately after he had pushed Lex down to the ground and tried to scan the car. But to his surprise he couldn't see through it.
Clark looked down at a very shaken Lex and Helen and offered them help up. Helen could barely talk and was holding on to Lex tightly. "Clark..." she managed. "How... I don't believe..." "Are you guys ok?" he asked.
"Yeah," said Lex checking Helen for injuries. "I can't believe it. Lex somebody really is after you." "Maybe the two of you should see a doctor," offered Clark. "I am a doctor." Smiled Helen.
"We're fine," repeated Lex.
"Clark if you hadn't come around when you did Lex and I would be dead." "Clark is always around when you need him," said Lex still holding Helen close to him. "I'm going to take Helen to the hospital." "Lex I'm fine."
"No arguments."
"Ok," I'm going to do some poking around. Lex started leading Helen towards the car and then suddenly turned back. "Clark?"
"Yeah?"
"Thanks again."

Charlie couldn't believe what he just saw. "This alley use to be so safe," said Charlie. "What's the world coming to?" Clark was still looking around when he saw Charlie digging through the trash. Of course I should have known he was here and wherever he was maybe the girl was. Charlie turned around and was startled to see Clark behind him. "What??...How??"
"Why are you stalking Lex Luthor?"
"What are you talking about? Ole Charlie ain't stalking nobody." "Don't lie to me. Where is she?"
"She who?"
"The girl you're working with?"
"You're crazy," said Charlie unsuccessfully trying to move past Clark. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"I saw you at the Smallville Plant with a girl before the fire." "Oh."
"And that same girl was here right before Lex Luthor was attacked." Charlie just looked at Clark blankly.
"Don't play games with me. Dark hair. Very pretty." Clark was lifting him up now.
"Tell me what you know."
Damn he knew that pretty young thing was gonna get him into trouble. "Look whatever you are accusing her of she didn't do it. Believe you me. I am a very good judge of character and that girl is a lot of things, but a homicidal psychopath is not one of them."
Clark stared at him unmoved.
"Who is she?" asked Clark pulling Charlie's shirt tighter. "Ok, ok her name is Starr and she is a snoopy reporter that's all I know." Charlie looked down and was surprised to see how far off the ground he was. "You're a mighty strong fellow. Maybe you might want to look into bodybuilding. I mean work what you got right?"
Clark turned when he heard Lana's voice coming towards him. "Clark what are you doing to Charlie?"
"You know him?"
"Yes."
Clark put Charlie down.
"Apology accepted," he said smoothing his shirt. "What is going on?"
"Hercules over here is looking for a girl. What happened she you're dream girl or something?"
"No," said Clark looking at Lana. "I think she's trying to kill Lex." "I told you that girl ain't gonna hurt nobody." "How do I find this Starr?"
"I don't know. It's not like me and her or buddies or anything, but I do know this, she sure can get into trouble, you might want to look for her at the next town disaster." "Here you go." Said Lana handing Charlie a bag. Charlie looked inside of it and smiled. "MMM this looks good. Thanks Lana."
"See you next week."
Charlie headed out of the alley, but made sure to keep one eye on Clark. Lana watched Clark and could only smile. Some things never changed. "Well another exciting evening courtesy of Clark Kent." "Lana. You don't know the half of it."

Lex had never been so happy to be at home in his life. At least here he knew he was safe. He wanted to bring Helen back home with him but she refused . Not that he was that surprised given the argument they had. Perhaps it was for the best. They needed some time apart. At least until he could figured out whether he could trust her. Lex came into his office and was surprised to see Miss Parker and her associate Miss Gail interrogating a young girl.
"I'm only going to ask you this one more time," said Miss Parker grabbing Starr's chin. "Who sent you here little girl?"
"What the hell is going on here?"
"Mr. Luthor." Said Miss Parker turning around shocked. "We caught this girl going through your files."
"What?" asked Lex moving towards Starr. "How the hell did she get into the mansion?" "We've been trying to get her to tell us that, but she is a very stubborn young girl," she responded looking Starr up and down.
"Did she find anything?"
"We don't know."
"You don't know? Who sent you here?" asked Lex now facing the girl. My father?" Starr said nothing.
"I don't have time for this...take her in the other room and strip search her." "What?" said Starr.
"I don't want her leaving here with a thing." "Hey," said Starr trying futilely to break out of her captures grip "You can't do this". "Watch me."

Charlie sat down in the park and started eating the pastries that Lana girl had given him. He spilt some jelly on his shirt and groaned. Well at least he still had a shirt which was a miracle considering the way that overgrown boy was pulling at it. He seemed really determined to find that snoopy reporter. Not that it mattered to him, but he sure hated to see a young girl get herself in deep trouble. He sure hoped she was ok.

Starr had never been so humiliated in her life. Harassed. Stripped searched. Could the night get any worse?
She walked back into the office and saw Lex Luthor sitting in a chair sipping bourbon. "I hear you were clean."
"Are you going to call the police?"
Lex looked at Starr and walked over to her. He started circling around her. He was so close that Starr could feel his breath on her neck " No," he whispered in her ear.
Starr breathed out a sigh of relief.
"So tell me," said Lex moving to face her. " What are you doing here?" "I didn't come here to steal from you if that's what you're thinking. And I'm not a spy for your father."
Lex had already figured that out himself. His father would never send anybody so easily caught.
"What are you doing here?"
"I'm just looking for truths."
"How did you get into my mansion?"
"It was surprisingly easy. You know you really need to check into your security. I mean you're too powerful man and to be left so vulnerable." Lex grabbed the back of Starr's head and pulled her face to him.. "I'm never vulnerable," he said pulling her face so close to his that their lips were almost touching.
Starr found that she was breathing harder. Lex smiled and let her go. He had to admit that at this point he was more intrigued then angry or threatened. It took guts to break into this place for whatever reason she did it and Lex was a great admire of people with guts. "What's your name?"
"You don't really expect me to tell you that do you?" Lex shook his head.
"You can go."
Starr looked at him disbelieving for a while and then started for the door as soon as she believed he was serious.
"After all if I tell you my name what would we talk about next time?" "What makes you think that they'll be a next time?" "Don't you want it to be."
Lex didn't answer. Instead he returned to his seat. "By the way. All the rooms in this mansion have security cameras, even the room where Miss Parker conducted what I'm sure was a very delicate strip search." Starr's mouth dropped.
"So if you even think of spreading any of the truths you might have found here or breaking back in here to spy on me again that tape that very embarrassing tape of you in the nude just might find it's way on the Internet. Well believe you me who you are and why you were here won't matter one bit. Lex watched the shaken girl leave and smiled. It wasn't long before Miss Parker arrived in the room.
"Mr. Luthor is everything alright ?"
"Everything is fine,"
"Who was that girl? What did she want?" "I don't know, but I intend to find out."

"Well we're here." Said Lana as they reached the Sullivan homestead. "I know," said Clark a little disappointed. "I still can't believe that somebody tried to kill Lex." Clark told Lana all about what happened in the alley, well most of it, and they pretty much talked about it the whole way back to her house. "And you really think that that girl Charlie was with can tell you who is out to get Lex?" Clark shook his head yes.
"The girl's the key I can feel it."
"You can feel it huh? Well I'm not sure I like you having feelings about another girl." Clark smiled and took Lana in his arms. "You know I only have eyes for you."
Then he did what he's been dying to do for as long as he could remember he pulled Lana into a kiss.
"God," said Lana when the two of them came up for air. "I wish that this moment could last forever."
"It can," he said stroking her hair.
"Let's just pretend that we're the only two people in the world." "Who is pretending?" smiled Clark.
They kissed again
"Come in?" asked Lana after their lips finally parted. "Yeah," said Clark kissing Lana again. "In a minute." The kissing continued even deeper and more passionate then the last.

The last thing Chloe expected to see when she drove up to her house was Lana and Clark tonguing it up at the side of her house. In fact she could have gone her whole life without seeing that sight. Still no matter how painful a sight it was at least all the games were over and she finally knew without a doubt that she and Clark would never be anything but friends. Chloe wasn't too surprised by the turn of events. She knew that once she gave Lana her blessing she'd make a beeline to Clark faster then she could say second place. Hell she would have done the same thing. And it wasn't as if she couldn't deal with Clark and Lana as a couple, she could. It's just she wasn't sure if she could deal with them Romeo and Julietting in front of her house. One things for sure she sure didn't want to stay out here and torture herself with the sight. Lana would be coming in soon and she had to get a hold of herself and be ready to put on a happy face. Nobody likes a sour loser.
She headed into her room and was stopped cold at the sight. "What are you doing here?" said Chloe. She couldn't have been more surprised if she walked into her room and found King Kong reading the paper in her room. This was the last thing that she needed.
"I'm reading your stuff," said Starr. Her feet was plopped up on Chloe's desk and her face was half buried in the latest issue of the Torch. "Really Chlo are you putting out a news paper or a tabloid?"
Chloe went to Starr and grabbed the paper out of her hand. "Hey."
"Don't hey me answer my question," she said pulling Starr's legs off her desk. "Wow Chlo what's with the hostility? I thought the country was supposed to mellow people out."
Chloe opened her mouth to speak when she saw Clark barreling into her room. Lana was close behind him with a very confused look on her face. "It's you," said Clark pointing his finger at Starr, "You're the girl stalking Lex ." "Stalking? Oh puhleaze."
"Don't lie to me Starr. I talked to your accomplice and he confessed." Starr just rolled her eyes.
"I don't have accomplices deary. I work alone. All the work, All the glory." "What is he talking about?" asked Chloe turning towards Starr with a look of utter befuddlement.
"Who knows?" said Starr.
"Chloe call the police."
"For what?" asked Starr unable to believe the nerve of this boy. "Setting the plant on fire..."
"Are you crazy I was almost killed there myself." "Trying to run Lex down..."
"What?"
"Breaking and entering I mean what are you doing in Chloe's room?" "I belong here. How about you?" said Starr her anger rising. Chloe's head was spinning. She was trying to keep up. But she wasn't sure just what the heck was going on.
What is he talking about?" she asked turning her attentions back on Starr. "Beats me. And when you figure it out let me know." "Lex is my friend Starr and I'll never let you hurt him." "Well it's a good thing I'm not trying to hurt Lex then." "What does Lex have to do with anything and who the hell is Starr?" asked Chloe turning her attentions back to Clark.
Starr raised her hand. "Well every good reporter needs a convincing alias from time to time." She said in response to Chloe's bewildered look. "What are you up to now?" asked Chloe turning to face the girl. "Just another uncompromising search for the truth." "I bet. If I know you your latest search for the truth has landed you in a whole heap of trouble."
"A whole heap of trouble,.That's good. That's really good Chlo. The only thing missing from that sentence is a nice country twang. " Chloe just rolled her eyes.
Chlo can you please tell Plaid Shirt Smallville Ranger over there that he's got it all wrong."
"Chlo?" asked Clark surprised by Chloe's familiarity with the girl. "You know this girl?"
"You could say that", said Chloe now exasperated. "Clark, Lana. This is my cousin." "Your cousin?" asked Clark starting to feel very confused. The girl smiled brightly.
"Lois Lane," she said extending out her hand. "Nice to meet ya."


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