Timeline: Post-Exodus (from there follows the events of the Summer Friends series)
The day of the fourth of July Ross cookout was there before Lana knew it. Music was blasting at the Ross house when Lana arrived. Kids were running all over the lawn and there were people everywhere. She almost wondered if she belonged here. She had gone over to the Kents that morning and visited. They said they might come by the Ross house which made her feel more comfortable about going there. Lana looked for Pete in the crowd of Ross family and friends.
"Anna," a little voice said. She saw Hayden sitting in his mother's lap on the porch.
"Hello Jen," Lana said.
"Hey Lana," Jen replied. "You looking for Pete?"
"Yes," she replied.
"He and Sam are out back playing basketball with a couple of his cousins."
"Thanks," Lana said heading in that direction.
"I pay ball mama?" Hayden asked as Lana slipped him away.
Lana walked around the back of the house. Pete saw Lana before he saw her and it was an unexpected accident. It happened so fast, Lana only realized what happened when it was over. As she appeared, Sam was tossing Pete the ball, Pete saw Lana coming and missed the pass. He got hit in the nose. When Lana reached him he was crumpled over grabbing his bleeding nose.
"Pete," Lana said running to him. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah," he said waving her away.
Sam helped him get into a standing position and with Lana's help, walked him in the house. They ran into his mother as soon as they got through the door.
"Pete!" she shrieked "What happened Sam?"
"It was an accident mom," Pete said. I don't think it's broken."
"Hold this to his nose," Mrs. Ross said handing her a paper towel. Lana complied. "I have to go upstairs and get the First Aid kit."
Mrs. Ross ran out of the kitchen.
"Sam," Jen called from outside.
Sam ran out to his wife. They were now alone now. Pete was now looking directly up at Lana. He never looked directly at Lana if he could help it. He might have respected Clark (and even Whitney way back when) but he wasn't dead and he couldn't help being a little mesmerized by her beauty. She was standing too close for him to mentally distance it and he couldn't exactly look away in his current position. And it didn't help she smelled really good, too good.
"I can hold this myself," he said needing her to back up before the situation became to uncomfortable.
He took control of the paper towel. She sat down beside him.
"Sorry," she said.
"What are you sorry for?" Pete said. "I'm the one who looked like an idiot."
"You don't look like an idiot."
"I can't believe I got distracted."
"How did you... get distracted?"
Pete didn't say anything because his mother came back in the room.
"Lana, why don't you go get something to eat?" Mrs. Ross said. "Pete will be out in a minute."
Lana nodded and went outside.
"Did you really have to say it like that?" Pete asked his mother.
"Like I'm some little kid who's going to meet his little friend outside as soon as mommy fixes him up."
"I thought she was your friend," Mrs. Ross said.
"She is," Pete replied now able to put down the paper towel.
"But--" His mother began.
"I just... don't like looking silly in front of her."
"Because you like her," his mother said.
"Well, of course I like her, but--"
"Yes, you've told us a thousand times."
Outside Lana had run into Jen again. The two of them sat together watching Hayden splash around a kids pool with some other youngsters.
"He's a cute kid," Lana said.
"Yeah," Jen said. "I didn't plan on having him, you know. Pete's mother thinks I did. She blames me for the fight between David and Sam too."
"Yeah, I heard about that... from Pete."
"No one believes that I never meant for that to happen. And they're sure I tied Sam down with a baby on purpose."
"What did happen... with David and Sam?"
"I started dating David, I fell in love with Sam. I wasn't looking for it, I mean they were best friends. But why do we fall in love with anyone? We wanted to tell him, but it never seemed--"
"Like the right time," Lana finished.
"I have this friend, we sort of liked the same guy. And me and this guy sort of got together. I didn't know how to tell her without ruining the friendship, so I left it up to him. And then he never found the right time."
"I don't think there is a way... to do it without having hurt feelings. I mean I learned the hard way all you can do is put the truth out there and hope for the best, deception just makes it worse."
Pete walked up to Lana. She was relieved to see his nose didn't look to bad.
"You okay?" Lana asked.
"Yeah," Pete replied.
"Mama," Hayden said coming over rubbing his eyes. "Is in my eyes."
"Come on Hayden," Jen said picking him up and walking over to her bag, where she reached in to get him a towel.
Pete took the chair that Jen left beside Lana.
"Sorry I left you with Jen," Pete said.
"She's okay Pete," Lana said.
"If you say so," Pete replied. "My mom said she'll come by the Talon during her lunch hour on Monday."
"And don't worry about looking silly, I know I complain, but my mom's cool."
"I know that--"
Lana never finished. Suddenly a shot of water hit the two of them.
"Got Anna," Hayden said laughing.
"You little brat," Pete said turning on the little boy.
He laughed as Pete picked him up and turned the water gun on him. Jen apologized to Lana giving her a towel.
"It's okay," Lana said laughing at herself and the youngster.
"No Pea," Hayden said laughing as his uncle grabbed his water gun and gave it to Lana.
"Get him back," Pete said.
Lana gave him a little squirt and he giggled. But a group of children came over and joined in spraying Pete with water guns from behind.
"Oh, you midgets want to play," Pete said turning on them. He grabbed a container and dipped it in the kidding pool and began soaking kids, one dropped his water gun and Pete took it and started spraying kids. He was soaked within seconds, even though he had soaked a few already wet kids in the process.
"Help Pea Anna," Hayden said shoving a water gun at her. .
"Alright, alright," Lana said taking the water gun and helping Pete spray the children with water.
The next thing Lana knew she and Pete were chasing a bunch of kids around the yard and spraying them with water guns. She and Pete were a two person team against ten or so kids and she was soaked before long. But the game had been enough to break and nervousness she had about coming.
After about twenty minutes a few adults said it was time to give the water fight a rest (especially since most of the pool water was now on the ground) and all the water weapons were put away.
"I don't suppose you have any dry clothes," Pete said trying not to pay to much attention to the way the clothes were clinging to her wet body. He was a guy, any hetero guy with a pulse would stare he told himself. "I never meant for you to get soaked.
"It's okay, it was fun," Lana said. "But I guess I should go home and find something dry."
"Between my sister, mom, and Jen we can find you something dry that you can fit," Pete said leading her in the house.
Pete led Lana inside. Pete talked to his mother and she gave Lana some dry clothes. Pete's sister's clothes fit her perfectly, so after they both were dry again they went outside to eat. That was when the Kents showed up. They didn't stay long, but it was good to see them. The rest of the evening went by in a blur. As it got dark outside and family and friends left, it began to sink in that she had spent the whole day laughing and having fun and that old feeling that she shouldn't be having fun came back. Pete seem to have that same feeling as they sat shoulder to shoulder under the night sky on Pete's front steps.
"It sucks you know," Pete said. "He left and we get to be the ones left feeling guilty."
"Yeah," Lana said. "It almost like if I'm happy, I've given up hope. I can't even laugh anymore without eventually feeling bad about it."
Pete put a comforting arm around her and she leaned into him. She didn't really care how it looked anymore, Pete was here and right this minute that was all she cared about.
"Thank you," Lana said.
"Just being a friend," Lana said.
"Hey, Pete, Lana," a voice said. It was Sam.
"Hey Sam," Pete replied.
Lana suddenly sat up and put distance between them. Sam was holding Hayden who was rubbing his eyes and fighting sleep. Jen was by his side.
"You two want to come see the fireworks?" Sam questioned. "Jackson has the perfect place picked out."
"Sure, if you want to go?" he said to Lana.
"I'll come," Lana said.
Less than a half-hour later, Pete and Lana were gathered in the crowd watching the familiar Smallville light show. Sam and Jen had to leave as soon as they got there, because Hayden had fallen asleep. They left Pete and Lana alone with the other spectators. Not feeling very social at the moment they found the best spot where they could stay in the car. Neither of them were as cheery as they had earlier that day, they weren't as giddy as others when the lights finally filled the sky.
"Why isn't this making me happy?" Lana asked.
Pete shrugged even though he knew the reason as well as he knew his own.
"Do you really think he'll come back?" Lana asked
"A couple weeks ago I would have said... but I don't know."
"Me either, at least I know you're feeling the same way."
Pete put his arm back around her shoulder. She looked at him with those sad eyes and Pete did something he had never done before, he leaned forward and kissed her on the forehead. Lana was shocked, but not in a bad way. It was kind of sweet. And she was flushed with a warmth that made her feel a little better.
"Sorry," Pete said quickly. "I crossed the line, I don't know what came over--."
"It's fine," Lana said resting against him.
"Yeah?" Pete questioned.
They sat there watching the fireworks and holding each other and together fell into this kind of comfortable haze. There was a certain warmth just in being together. And Lana realized it had grown stronger each day. It wasn't just about missing Clark together, just being with Pete was starting to take on a whole new meaning. She looked forward to seeing him, just the thought of his boyish smile made her grin. But she didn't know what that would mean when Clark came back and that scared her. However, right now Clark wasn't here and Pete was, sharing his warmth, making her laugh when she needed it, just being someone to talk to. If it wasn't for Pete, she'd be left with only her own thoughts and the worry. But Pete had made, at least this summer, have a little joy.
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