Timeline: post-Exodus (from there follows timeline of the Summer Friends series)
"I don't know what you're talking about," Pete said to Chloe as they sat on his porch together.
He was surprised when Chloe stopped by the house. She'd seem rather busy lately securing the Torch as her base of operations before she headed to Metropolis for the summer.
"I'm talking about you and Lana sleeping together," Chloe told Pete.
"You're making to big a deal out of this. We fell asleep."
"And today?" Chloe questioned.
"We were both at the Kents, we talked some more, that's it."
"Do you really want to play Clark substitute for Lana?"
"I'm not trying to be Clark."
"Then why have you been waking up early to go over to Kent farm to help, everyday."
"Because, Clark's gone and Mrs. Kent isn't completely on her feet yet. They need the help."
"This isn't your fault Pete, Clark leaving, whatever he did to make him think he had to leave, it's not your fault. So don't punish yourself for it."
"Hanging out with Lana is not a self-inflicted punishment. As for the Kents, I'm not going to leave them hanging. They're my family too and if they need me, I'm there. Lana is there sometimes too and sometimes we talk. Besides, Lana's like one of us now, mostly because of you. Who hung out with Lana for most of the year? Who made her their new best friend AND roommate? Not me."
"Lana's not my best friend, I gave it a chance and she became a friend, but she was not my best friend. You and Clark were my best friends and now Clark's gone and you're running to Lana."
"I'm not running to Lana, but I'm not running the other way," Pete told her. "I know what this is really about. You know you're just like Clark, you complain about being his 'back up' girl, but I'm your 'back up' guy."
"You take for granted that I'm there. And you know how you said you disappear in Clark's eyes when Lana walks into a room?" Pete asked. He gave her space to answer, but she said nothing. "That's how it is with me and you when Clark's around and Lana isn't. You focus in on him and stay in the Clark zone."
"And with Lana it's somehow different?"
"Yeah, it's different. We're both seeing each other at the same time for the same reason."
"Great, I've lost another one to Lana Lang," Chloe replied.
"The reason is friendship. Lana's cool, but I am not Clark," Pete said to Chloe. "I love my boy, but he's like addicted to Lana. That's not happening to me."
Chloe turned toward him giving him a 'yeah right' glance.
"Besides," Pete continued. "You're my girl Chloe, you know that, I'm just waiting for you to wise up. You'll have to forgive me if I play my options until then though."
He shot that boyish grin at her and she knew he was half kidding and smiled back.
"You know I love you Chloe," Pete said.
"Yeah, I love you too Pete," Chloe replied as they gave each other a friendly hug. "I'll call you when I'm settled in up in Metropolis and I meant what I said about Clark," Chloe said stepping away. "It's not your fault. I know you want to help the Kents, but you don't have to play surrogate son. As for Lana, just watch yourself."
Chloe walked away and got in her car. As she left, his brother Sam came out of the house carrying his son, Hayden, who was drinking a bottle. Hayden was almost two, Sam had been married right out of High school (much to his mother's disappointment). They'd lived away from home a couple years (Sam worked odd jobs to support them) before Sam was forced to come home with his pregnant wife. Now he was living at home and spent most of his day watching the baby. Pete could hardly believe his brother, the football star, was now Mr. Mom.
"What's up player," Sam said.
"Nothing really," Pete replied.
"What is going on with you and these girls this summer?"
"You were up in the loft with Lana for like 2 hours when we were over at the Kents today. Now we home and you and Chloe are out here on the porch getting cozy."
"I wasn't getting cozy with Chloe. Besides, Lana and Chloe don't count. Chloe's to into Clark and Clark's to into Lana."
"And is Lana into Clark?"
"Yeah, she likes him," Pete said shrugging.
"But not as much as he likes her?" Sam asked.
"Clark's been obsessed with her so long, I don't think she could catch up. It finally happened so it's like 'thank god he finally got her'. I'm not getting in the middle of that."
"But if you wanted to, could you make a move?"
Pete smiled. "I wouldn't do that to Clark, but could I? Well, I plead the fifth." Pete didn't even know if he was serious, but this is just how he talked with his brother.
"That's my boy," Sam said with a laugh. "What happened with Chloe? I thought--"
"That's a just-friends shut down zone, besides she's going to be in Metropolis most of the summer, again."
"Too bad," Sam said. "But back on the subject of Lana."
"It's not happening Sam," Pete said. "Hear me clearly, Clark-would-kill-me."
"Clark would kill me," Pete repeated. "Unlike you, I'm not looking to have my best friend come beat my face in because I stole his girl."
"She didn't love David or she wouldn't have come to me."
"Dave kicked you from one end of the yard to the other. That was the worst beating I ever saw, I felt so sorry for you man."
"But mom got him thrown in jail for assault and I got the girl."
"And a baby and you're still living at home and you're not in school," Pete told him. "There are plenty of other girls in Smallville and I keep my options open." Pete checked his watch. "Speaking of that, I do have a date tonight, no Chloe, no Lana, no Kents, just me and Natalie Hunt."
Lana was wiping down the counter when she saw Pete come in the Talon with the red-head. She immediately recognized her as one of the girls from the cheerleading squad. Actually she'd been kicked off the squad last year after getting into a bit of trouble and flunking all her classes. Once Natalie Hunt had tried to seduce Whitney at a party, the next day she apologized to Lana claiming she was drunk. But everyone knew the truth about Natalie and though Lana had always acted kind to the girl, she preferred to avoid her. She thought Pete could do better.
Pete found them a seat. Lana stood there watching them wondering what he could be talking about with Natalie. She wasn't exactly a bright girl. Then Lana wondered why she was watching and wondering at all, this wasn't the first date Pete brought into the Talon, but try as she might she couldn't recall who the others were. A waitress went over and got the couple's order then went on to fill it.
"I'll take this one," Lana said to the waitress.
She filled the order and took the tray back to the table. Pete looked up as she came over.
"Hey Lana," he said.
"How are you Pete?" Lana said putting down the drinks.
"Alright," Pete replied. "Chloe gone?"
"Yeah, she left right after she came back from your house."
Natalie cleared her throat on the other side of the table.
"Hello Natalie," Lana said
"Lana," she replied simply.
"I'll see you later," Lana said to Pete.
"Later," Pete said watching Lana walk away.
"Your date's over here," Natalie said.
"I know," Pete said turning back.
"Lana's been watching us since we came in."
"No she hasn't," Pete replied.
"I'm telling you she has."
"We're just friends. She's sort of dating Clark now anyway."
"Didn't I hear about Clark stealing his dad's car and running away?"
"It was a motorcycle and yeah. I need to forget about that for awhile, so can we not talk about it."
"Sure," Natalie replied.
Natalie and Pete didn't hang around the Talon long after that, in fact after about 15 minutes they left. Lana could only imagine where they were going and what they were going to do (and why would she care). But an hour later, Pete was back alone. He came in and sat at the front counter. Lana came over to him.
"What happened to your date?" Lana asked.
Pete shrugged. "I guess I'm just not in the mood to be good company."
"You've been good company to me."
"Yeah, but we talk about your favorite subject," Pete said. "Clark Kent."
"You can do better than Natalie Hunt anyway Pete," Lana said.
"Yeah? You have someone in mind."
"Yeah," Lana said with a smile. "Chloe Sullivan."
"She doesn't see me like that."
"Maybe she will one day. I mean you're a great guy."
"I'm not Clark Kent. And I'm just trying to get back to normal, but I can't. I'm worried about him," Pete said. "Clark's just in a bad state of mind and the longer he is, the harder it will be to get him out of it. He could do anything."
"Maybe soon his head will be clear again and he'll come home, he's only been gone a few days."
"The longer you stay away, the harder it is to come home," Pete sighed. "If he didn't have that ring..."
"What ring?" Lana questioned.
"Nothing," Pete replied.
"Pete, come on, talk to me," she said reaching out and touching his arm.
Pete looked at her. She looked desperate to know what he knew, but he couldn't betray Clark's trust, he'd made enough mistakes when he first found out.
"It's just a guy thing," Pete replied.
Lana didn't look like she believed him. Why should she? After all what he said didn't make any sense. But she didn't question him any further. Suddenly Pete's cell phone rang, he pulled it out and saw the number belonged to the Kent house.
"Hello," Pete said answering the phone.
"Pete," Jonathan's voice said on the other end. "We got a call about Clark."
"You did?" Pete questioned standing up.
"Bring the green meteor rocks. We have a long drive."
Pete hung up.
"Lana I got to go, that was Mr. Kent. Clark might be home sooner than you think."
"What do you mean?" Lana asked.
"Just, think positive," Pete said.
"Let me come with you," Lana said.
"No, it's okay, we can handle it," Pete said running out of the Talon.
The second the Talon was locked down, Lana headed out. She got to the Kent house as soon as she could. Mrs. Kent welcomed her inside. Mr. Sullivian had gone with Chloe to get her settled in and visit some family in Metropolis, so the Sullivan house was empty tonight anyway. She preferred being with Mrs. Kent at the Kent farm anyway. They sat together talking to fill the hours as they waited.
"Have they called at all?" Lana asked.
"Yes, Jonathan called to check in. But we probably won't see them till morning."
"Why did he call Pete though?"
"He thought maybe Pete could talk some sense into Clark," Mrs. Kent told her. "If this lead works out that is."
Lana didn't feel like she was hearing the whole truth, but she'd gotten use to it. She thought maybe if she didn't push too much they would see she could handle the truth, whatever that truth was. Right now all that mattered was Clark coming back home. They checked the clock often that evening, but no call came. They sat in the living room and watched TV, but hardly concentrated on whatever was on. They jumped at every sound, but it was never the sound of a car.
The next morning, the sound of Jonathan's truck woke them both up. Lana ran outside to see if Clark had come back with Jonathan and Pete. First out of the truck was Mr. Kent and then Pete and then... the doors were shut.
"Where's Martha?" Mr. Kent asked Lana.
"Inside," Lana said.
Mr. Kent went inside. She turned to go back in the house behind Mr. Kent.
"Lana," Pete said grabbing her arm. "Let him talk to her alone."
"Where's Clark?" Lana asked.
"We got there too late," Pete said. "He wasn't there. You want me to drive you home?"
"No, but can we just drive, drive anywhere, drive nowhere, just drive."
"Sure," Pete said leading her to his car.
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