NOTES: Made up. Smallville and all the characters herein belong to Warner Brothers and Tollin/Robbins, plus DC Comics, too, I bet. Completely made up, no profit garnered or ever intended. Title & summary from Tanya Donnelly's Wrap-Around Skirt. Spoilers through the end of the second season only. Pretty much AU after that. Thanks to Younger for four paragraphs and also thanks to Mosca, Katie and Younger again.



THIS WORLD IS A WRAP-AROUND SKIRT




She didn't know any of them growing up. Clark and Pete and then Chloe; they stood on the other side of the playground, ate somewhere else for lunch, sat in a different part of the classroom. Lana thinks she only really met Chloe when the principal took away the Torch from her and gave it to Lana. It was like a real actual moment when they were looking at each other and seeing each other, not cheerleader and editor. Of course, Chloe was yelling at her, red and alive and beautiful angry but then everything worked out and now they live together.

Now, they aren't getting along at all except they always do. Even with Clark missing.

Clark's gone, she tells herself. She always knew he would be and the week where things seemed right was just another dream. He left her, even if he said he loved her as he drove off.

*

"We're going shopping." Chloe throws Lana's purse on her bed and then shoes, a pair of shorts.

"At nine in the morning?" Lana rubs her eyes and tugs up her blanket. "School's out and I'm sleeping in today." Lana grabs for the shorts anyway.

"We've just been," Chloe takes a deep breath like she might explode right there in their bedroom. She clenches her fists and takes another deep breath. Now she's grinning but it's all strains and cracks. She says, "Eight million things happening and Clark's run away and you're running yourself ragged with the Talon and the Kents and I'm --" She pauses again.

Lana presses her lips together and decides she'll do whatever Chloe wants, it's fine. She opens her mouth to say something and Chloe starts barreling along again.

"So, we're shopping. We're going to just, life goes on. Life happens. And we need swimsuits. The tough get going and the tough go shopping. I've decided." She finally sits on her bed and stops moving or twitching.

Lana nods. She gets dressed quickly and then says, "Do we have time to stop for some kind of breakfast, or are we starving before we shop?" She almost smiles and then doesn't. Things are weird and wrong just like always, she thinks. She doesn't want to do the wrong thing.

Chloe slaps the bed and says, "Yes. Coffee. We're getting coffee. We have to do that."

Chloe won't stop at the local McDonalds. She wrinkles up her nose and talks for nearly five minutes about recent health code violations she found there looking online for something else. Lana makes a joke about the coffee being too hot anyway and then they'd sue and that prompts another five-minute spurt from Chloe about how the facts of that lawsuit have been so distorted. "Did you know she had third degree burns?" Chloe hits her steering wheel for emphasis.

Lana pulls her seatbelt tighter. "Um, she? I just, you know, someone sued over the coffee being too hot."

"It was a grandmother and she had third degree burns, third degree burns, Lana, and when they wanted McDonalds to pay for them, they wouldn't. It was such corporate malfeasance. It's about greed and people just don't know."

So they don't get coffee or food before they get to the outlet mall. Lana's stomach is rumbling. She bites her lip and then rummages in her purse for her lip gloss. She walks and puts on the lip gloss and watches Chloe the whole time. Lana wants to know where they stand, what's going on. She presses her lips together and tastes strawberry.

She grabs Chloe's arm and says, "Wait." They're standing just outside the entrance and Chloe glances at Lana and then at the two kids smoking by the big fake plant. Lana says, "Chloe, look at me. What are we doing here?"

"We're shopping."

"Chloe, Clark ran off. You, you're upset with me for before, for me and Clark and you're upset with Clark and now we're just going shopping? I think, um, we should talk, not just buy swimsuits."

"No." Chloe shakes off Lana's hand.

"Just no? No. No talking. No, you're not upset with me. No, nothing's going on, just another day." Lana wants to throw something but she needs everything in her purse, so she just waves her hand.

"It's not. It's not another day and it never will be and it never was and we're buying swimsuits, just like two girlfriends would do, two girls, like we're in some stupid movie and we're going to do this."

"What if I won't?" Lana takes a step back.

"We came in my car." Chloe laughs, her eyes wet, and she sounds almost hysterical.

"I'll hitchhike."

Chloe starts laughing harder and she almost doubles over. "You won't hitchhike. Lana Lang doesn't hitchhike." She covers her mouth and the hysteria is gone, she's just laughing at Lana.

Somehow that makes it right. Somehow Lana suddenly thinks okay, this is the right thing to do. Of all the things she understands, she absolutely understands Chloe half-laughing at her. She nudges Chloe and they walk into the mall, laughing. They go to the Starbucks and she even convinces Chloe to get something along with her latte. They munch their muffins and try to figure out which store would have the best swimsuits.

It's a weird thing, a sudden peace in whatever issues they're having. But it feels good to just have Chloe as hers again. Her friend, her roommate, Chloe.

At the first store, Chloe shoves a white bikini at Lana and says, "You should get this one."

"I don't know."

"It's hot." Chloe blushes and looks down. "It would look awful on me, like, white on deathly pale is never a good look. But on you, it would be really nice." Chloe stumbles over the word nice like she wants to say something better, something that sounds pithier. Maybe Lana is just imagining it. She takes a deep breath and holds the bikini closer.

"Okay, I'll try it on."

She keeps her underwear on, but not her bra and turns and turns in the dressing room. The white looks nice but it seems like she's barely wearing anything. She wonders if Clark would like it. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath, pushes against the wall for strength or something. She wonders if Clark will ever come back. She hears him talking about how he causes everyone pain and suffering all over again in her head. She knows from pain. She leans against the wall and looks at the carpet. It's brown with a square pattern repeating and repeating. There's a ripped off tag on the floor and over in one corner, there's a stray pin.

There's space between the plastic wall on the other side and the floor. She can see Chloe's pale feet. She has two red marks on the top of her feet from her flip-flops. Chloe painted her toenails burgundy at some point, Lana recognizes the color and she can picture Chloe sitting on the bed, foot stretched out, tongue between her teeth in concentration. Lana bought the polish but she's never used it. It was too dark.

"How does the bikini look?" Chloe sounds happy, still in their place of peace.

"It's fine." Lana blinks and says, "Come see." She doesn't want to be alone in this tiny room.

Chloe opens the door and says, "Whoa, step back. Look at you." She grins. "That's not Seventeen cover girl hot, that's Maxim cover girl hot. You should so get that."

"Where will I ever wear it?" Lana blinks and her eyes are wet.

"You'll wear it, you'll wear it lots of places. We'll go to the beach every day." Chloe looks stern.

"What beach? What every day? Until you leave for your internship with the Planet again? Until it's just me and Pete here in Smallville, waiting at the Kents' house for Clark to come home if he ever does?" Lana hugs herself and feels cold. It's such a tiny bikini.

Chloe runs her hand through her hair and shakes her head. "We're not thinking about that today. We're going to the beach tomorrow, I'm going to find a beach and you can wear it then. So you're going to buy it. And I'm going to buy this," Chloe says, clutching a red bikini in her other hand. "And we're going tomorrow. So we're done here, you take that off and we'll go buy these and go home."

Lana should say something, make Chloe listen to logic but she just can't right now. She starts pulling down the strap. Chloe steps inside and closes the door, sinks to her heels and looks at the carpet. Lana turns around and gets dressed.

They don't talk on the drive home. Chloe turns up the radio loud and Lana doesn't object even though she sort of hates this CD, with all the sad guitars and the guy talking about pain and suffering and drinking too much.

When they get back to the house, Chloe doesn't get out of the car. "I have to do something. I was gonna, I have to do it since we're back. But tomorrow we're going to the beach. So I'll see you later."

Lana waves as Chloe drives away but Chloe doesn't look back.

Pete is at the Kents' when Lana gets there. He has a map of Metropolis and he's making slashes and circling things. Lana says, "What's that?"

"We're trying to figure out where Clark is."

She nods. She knew that. She says, "He won't want to be found, Pete."

"I know, Lana. You think I don't know?" Pete sighs and rubs his head. "We've gotta do something. And he's not himself. He's," Pete stops. He narrows his eyes and looks at the map. "He's not acting like himself at all. And we're doing something so we can get him back to himself."

She nods again. That seems to be her something. She cleans the kitchen and straightens the living room, her other something she can do. She rubs a rag on the table and thinks about Pete narrowing his eyes. He knows, she thinks. He knows the mystery. She's suddenly angry. Maybe Pete doesn't know everything, maybe he's just as confused as she is, but that's not true and she knows it in her heart.

More mystery, she thinks and rubs harder at the table. Clark and his mysteries and his lies and he ran away. He ran away and he was hiding things like he always does and maybe saying he loved her wasn't even true.

Pete stares at his map and leaves with a quick bye. Lana doesn't say anything, but she waves. Always nice, she thinks. She throws the rag at the table. She leaves after an hour and falls asleep at her desk after dinner. She wakes up with a crick in her neck and gets into her bed.

She wakes up again when the moon shines in her eyes and she gets up to close the blinds. Chloe is outside, getting out of her car. She doesn't walk in but goes over to the black car that's parked on the street. A window rolls down and then Chloe is blocking Lana's view. Chloe is gesturing and her shoulders are tense. Lana clenches her jaw and wants to hit whoever is in the black car. She wonders at her sudden impulse to violence. She seems to be turning into Clark with Clark gone. Her vision blurs and she wipes her eyes.

The car pulls away and Chloe turns back to the house. Lana ducks and feels stupid. She gets into her bed and pulls the covers up.

Chloe comes in gasping for air and Lana just can't be quiet, she can't. She sits up. "Chloe, who was that?"

"Were you watching me?" Chloe almost shouts the first word and then whirls and whispers the rest. Her dad, of course, being quiet is important.

"I woke up when I heard your car come up. Who was making you mad?"

Chloe closes her eyes and sinks onto her bed. "Why do you care?"

Lana gets onto Chloe's bed and hugs her. "I care, I care. I care because it's you and they were making you upset."

Chloe pulls away and almost smiles. She rolls her eyes. "Because I force you to buy swimsuits?"

"Because." Lana nods and she's so close, she rests her forehead against Chloe's. Chloe's warm and sweating.

Chloe starts to talk, her mouth open and whatever lipstick she had on worn off, just a suggestion of a darker pink in the corners of her mouth and right then, Lana kisses her.

Surprise. Lana's surprised that Chloe kisses back, that Lana keeps kissing. Not like Clark or Whitney at all because she doesn't have to hold her head up and Chloe tastes like lipstick and smells like Secret deodorant.

Chloe sits backs suddenly and just stares. It's not like Lana imagined it. Lana ignores that she's admitted, just in her head, that she's imagined kissing Chloe, that she's watched Chloe for a year or more and maybe thought about it because right now, she wants to go back to kissing. To more. Right now.

Chloe says, "Lana," and blinks twice. Lana, like a question and a rebuke, maybe? Maybe. Lana leans forward and kisses her again. Chloe falls all the way back onto the bed and Lana's on top of her and it's just like that.

It's because of the swimsuits and Chloe nearly crying and the way Lana's lip gloss tasted at the mall and she thought about lips and it's because Clark is gone again and that's one more thing he's done and Chloe is really her best friend. And she's beautiful. She speaks in headlines. Her skin is smooth and like expensive vanilla scented lotion, soft and delicious. She's hiding things, Lana knows that, but she's still here. Chloe doesn't say she loves Lana, Lana likes that.

They make out on Chloe's bed until they're both nearly naked and Chloe's hand is up and down tugging at the side of Lana's underwear. There's a sound from outside, just a car going by and then Chloe sits up and pushes Lana off. She swallows and reaches for her shirt. She looks down and says, "We should get some sleep."

Lana just nods and gets into her own bed. She doesn't look for her shirt, she just pulls up the covers. She feels alive and ashamed and exhausted and confused and she falls asleep two seconds after she closes her eyes.

*

When Lana wakes up, it all comes back to her. She did that last night. She and Chloe. How many days ago had she told Clark she loved him? How many days, she thinks, since Clark left and drove off and did mysterious things he wouldn't tell her about and missed Lex's wedding? She thinks about Chloe instead.

So she'd thought about it, maybe. Closed her eyes and thought. Opened her eyes and looked sometimes, but. Here she'd gone and done it. Her boyfriend has run off and is missing and she just made out with her best friend who happens to be a girl. Her best friend. Lana presses her lips together and thinks, best friend. Chloe is really her best friend. And lover, she thinks, giggling and finally opening her eyes to the light. She's gone insane.

Chloe is gone, her bed made and neat. Chloe's bed's never made and it's never neat and this morning it is. Lana blinks.

Lana showers quickly and gets dressed. For work. She doesn't think Chloe meant it, about the beach today. She thinks it was just Chloe going crazy and probably last night was the same thing.

She went crazy. Lana thinks, I am crazy. Even in Kansas there are probably women who love women or even lesbians, but Lana hasn't ever met one, besides maybe Tina. That's not who Lana is. Maybe.

She opens the Talon and nearly spills cappuccino on her first three customers. Her hands are shaking and she feels she's like buzzing. She's almost under control two hours later when Pete comes in. He stands by the counter and says, "I'm driving to Metropolis later. I just want to find him."

Lana nods. She wants to hate Pete for knowing more than she does. She thinks about last night and Clark and she drops a cup on the floor. Pete says her name, concerned, she thinks, and comes around the counter to help her clean it up. "I know it's driving you crazy, Lana." He has kind eyes. She feels like a slut. She remembers Pete stumbling over his words and she feels angry again.

"It really is. Have you, uh, have you seen Chloe today? She left really early in the morning." Liar, liar, Lana thinks. Now she's asking Clark's best friend about where the girl she was making out with last night is. But Pete might know. He seems to know everything.

They've swept up the cup now and thrown it away. Pete stands up and idly rubs at the counter. "No, not today. She's really stressed out, like crazy, lately. Even before Clark left, I think."

Something flits across Pete's face and Lana just speaks, no thinking. "You had a crush on Chloe, didn't you?"

Pete rolls his eyes and walks back to the other side of the counter. He looks away and then he says, "A long time ago. But she only wanted Clark and Clark only wanted you. So it all worked out, huh?"

Lana looks down at her hands, still shaking a little. She says, "I'm sorry."

"Nothing for you to be sorry about." Except there is, of course. That's a lot to be sorry about. Pete makes a face. She does feel sorry about it. She never had Clark.

She gives him a free coffee and another two to take to the Kents. It's completely inadequate.

When they were in fifth grade, Pete's mom came to their class and talked about being a judge and about the law. Lana thought she was the most amazing woman in the whole world. She talked about her for days and days until one morning Nell said, "Stop it, Lana, god, you sound like you have a crush on the woman." So Lana never mentioned her again.

Maybe it was a crush. Pete's mom is really beautiful, tall and curvy, and then Lana spills the tenth drink of the day.

Four hours into being the worst barista in the world, Lana is pouring a refill for a senior girl from school and she finds herself glancing down the girl's shirt. She does this all the time, she realizes. She quickly finishes pouring and goes into the backroom. She falls against the wall and starts laughing. She can't think of anything else to do. She looks down girls' shirts and used to tell herself it was just looking or because she wanted to see someone's bra. Someone's bra, like she was comparison shopping. She's so stupid.

Last night, Chloe wasn't wearing a bra at all. She has perfect breasts and Lana stops laughing and bites her knuckle.

Chloe's one of the smartest people Lana knows. Chloe and Lex, they're both just brilliant. Chloe knows everything and what she doesn't know, she finds out with just a few minutes at the computer. She's smart and creative. Lana blinks and stands up straight. She wipes at her face and goes back out to pour coffee. She can do that, really.

Lana finishes her shift and thinks about staying later. But she's broken three cups and it's only three in the afternoon. She shakes her head and tries to find her calm center. It's long gone missing. She grabs her purse and walks out.

Chloe is parked right in front of the Talon, sitting in her car and staring straight ahead. Lana almost walks back in but Chloe sees her and smiles. Another broken smile, hysterical eyes. Lana goes to the car but doesn't get in. "Chloe. We --"

"We're going to the beach. I finished all my stuff today and we're going to the beach. I said so, ergo, we are." Chloe reaches over and pushes the door open. "Get in."

"Chloe, we need to talk."

"No, we don't. Get in. I went home and got your suit. We're going to the beach."

"Where? We're in Kansas." Lana sighs and gets in the car before anyone sees them fighting. She closes the door and puts on her seatbelt.

"Waconda Lake. We're going to the beach and we're going to wear our bikinis and we're going to have fun --"

"Did you get sunscreen?" Chloe's skin is pale and almost translucent on her stomach and breasts and thighs. She probably burns easily.

"I did."

"We need to talk. Chloe, last night --"

Chloe makes a cutting gesture with her hand and says, "We don't."

"We do." Lana's eyes are wet, she blinks and just looks at the street whizzing by. Chloe can't be driving the speed limit.

"We don't. And we won't."

"Then take me home." Lana hugs herself. She doesn't know for sure but she wants to talk. They have to.

"Okay, okay, okay." Chloe reaches over and touches Lana's knee, then shies away again, fast, both hands on the steering wheel tight. "This is what we'll do. We'll drive to the beach, we'll sit on the sand in our bikinis and then we'll talk about this on the way home. How's that?"

Lana just nods. She's grateful, like she's dodged a bullet.

They just listen to music on the drive out, Chloe's pick again. Someday Lana will actually remember to bring a CD and force Chloe to listen to it because she's already tired of every bit of music Chloe owns. It all sounds sad or angry.

They park in a near empty parking lot, just a short walk to the edge of the lake. Almost a beach. Chloe says, "Let's change now. Quick quick."

Lana gets into the back seat and wishes she'd thought to wear a skirt this morning. It's all vaguely awkward, especially when she looks up and meets Chloe's eyes in the rearview mirror. It's not like Chloe didn't touch her nearly everywhere but somehow, the back of a car, Lana tries to dress without being seen.

Chloe finishes first and slams the door as she gets out. Lana puts her hair up in a bun and checks that the doors are locked before she runs after Chloe. "Are we on a schedule, Chloe, because --"

"We are. In fact, we have only two hours. So lie down and have fun right now." Chloe laughs as she throws down her towel. But it's all askew so Lana bends down and straightens it before putting down her own.

And then they're lying there in their new swimsuits and somehow nothing's awkward at all. Lana wishes she could bottle it and have it all the time, this weird sense of peace she and Chloe have sometimes. Talking about it would spoil it so instead they talk about movies and music and never even mention Kansas, much less Clark or what they did last night or Pete.

So there's school and they stick to old classes, teachers they both had when they sat on opposite sides of the room. Next year is too touchy. In the eighth grade, Chloe says, she got her period suddenly and it stained the seat. She was so embarrassed, she lied about throwing up so she could just go home and not have to say anything to Clark or Pete. She didn't tell her dad either, and Chloe blushes as she says that. Lana knows she tells her dad nearly everything.

When Lana was eleven and Nell explained about menstruating, she pictured the egg as something big that came down, pushing down everything and the blood came out of a woman's hips. Chloe doesn't stop laughing for five minutes.

The sun's setting and Chloe stares at the lake. "Okay," she says quietly. "Let's go home."

Lana swallows and feels suddenly cold again. "Okay." She nods and takes her hair down from the bun. They gather their things and go back to the car. Lana just pulls on her shorts, and doesn't bother with her shirt. She just looks straight ahead as she pulls her seatbelt on. They've been driving for twenty minutes before Lana finally clears her throat and says, "Okay."

Chloe says, "Look, I get it, you miss Clark, you're --"

"That wasn't it at all," Lana says loudly. "It wasn't. He ran away, Chloe. He did. And something's going on again, and Pete knows and I don't and that's just, that's pretty much Clark, isn't it? And even before, I ..." she bites her lip and can't think of what comes next. She knows, it's this full feeling right between her breasts but it's not words.

"Lana, you've never kissed a girl before. You've never even thought about it."

"Have you?" Lana pulls at her seatbelt and then wrings her hands.

Chloe is quiet for two whole minutes. Lana watches them tick off on the clock on the radio. Chloe finally says, "Yes. Last summer, when I was in Metropolis. I lied about a boyfriend, you know, but there was this girl. It was, um, just fooling around. Experimentation." She enunciates every syllable like she's trying out the word.

"I've thought about it. I have." Lana almost whispers it. "I wanted to."

"No, you didn't. Lana, don't be silly. You're just, you're all insane from Clark running off. He'll come back, he always does and you'll be happy and right and back with him." Chloe sounds hysterical again, and bitter by the end of it.

"You can read my mind now? You don't know every thought I've ever had, you can't just say that."

"I can't? I know you." Chloe laughs. Lana would give anything to hear Chloe laugh for real and not like the last few weeks, high and hysterical.

"Maybe you don't. Look, you know what? I'm tired of, tired of everyone thinking they know me. I've had crushes on girls and I've thought about doing things and I didn't. I wanted to kiss you, Clark broke up with me when he ran off and I want, I want to kiss you again." Lana is panting like she's run a marathon. She means it. She absolutely does.

Chloe laughs again, still not a real one and she stops abruptly. She says, "You really have gone insane. It's cute, I swear. It really is." She's grinning.

Lana takes a deep breath. "I'm not joking. I'm not."

"I know you're not but that doesn't mean you mean it. Lana Lang, ex-cheerleader turned Smallville lesbian. It really doesn't read like something that makes sense." Everything's a headline with Chloe. Lana grits her teeth.

"It makes sense to me." She sighs. She's not getting anywhere with this. It's weird and stupid and Chloe's right. She says, "You make sense to me."

Chloe says, "I'm not, so Clark chose you and then Clark will come home and you'll choose him and I don't think I'm up for being rejected that many times in a year."

"I wouldn't. Clark didn't choose me, Chloe, he left. He ran away. I have enough of that in my life. He's not, if he came back tomorrow and apologized and brought flowers and explained everything, it wouldn't matter."

"You don't mean that." Chloe almost sounds like she doesn't mean it and Lana sits up in her seat.

"I do. I really do." Lana laughs. "I'm almost positive. But we both know he won't be back tomorrow and he won't explain anything and I, I'll still want you." Lana smiles. "I do want you. It feels really good to say."

Chloe says, "It's nice to hear." Chloe touches Lana's knee for a moment. Then they stop talking for the rest of the drive home. After ten minutes, Chloe turns on the radio. The pop station Lana likes. It's a really sweet gesture.

Chloe doesn't get out of the car when they get home. She turns the car off, but the radio still plays, that Kelly Rowland song Lana likes. Lana looks over at Chloe and Chloe kisses her.

Lana leans forward in her seat, cupping Chloe's face in her hands. She leans into the kiss, feeling the whole day in the way Chloe's touching her and not feeling sad or angry about Clark for the first time in almost as long as she can remember.

Chloe breaks the kiss. She whispers, "I want --" She dips her fingers under the band of Lana's shorts. Her fingers are steady and cool. "I want you, too."

Lana raises her hips and Chloe slides her shorts down so they're pooled at her feet. She spreads her legs, searching for Chloe's mouth. She trusts Chloe. She trusts this.

The song changes but the car still smells like water and sunscreen. Chloe sits on Lana's lap, one leg on either side of Lana and her hand in between. It hurts a little and Lana feels silly for biting her lip. Chloe's fingers are warm now, and smooth. Lana stops feeling silly when it starts to feel good.

She rocks against Chloe's body. She sees the outline of Chloe's nipples through her swimsuit and reaches for the ties. When the suit falls down, draped over their arms, Lana thinks it's the most beautiful thing she's ever seen.

*

Lana wakes up to sun on her face. It's been a crazy few weeks, she thinks. But this feels right. Absolutely right. She wants to stay in bed and keep everything exactly right, but she has to get up. She opens her eyes and sees Chloe, dressed and sitting cross-legged at the end of her already made bed. Chloe is staring at Lana.

Lana says, "Good morning."

Chloe smiles and then looks serious. "There's something I need to tell you." Lana clutches her comforter closer. "I've been, okay, there was this thing I agreed to do, for Lionel Luthor. And the column, for the Daily Planet, that's his side. But I'm not doing what he wants."

"Oh." Lana thought it would be something much worse. "Okay."

"I just wanted you to know. I won't do anything, it'll all work out. Trust me. But I wanted you to know." Chloe is still staring.

"Thank you." Lana sits up and holds the comforter against her chest. "So that's what you're doing during the day?"

Chloe leans back and grins. "Now you're feeling modest?" Lana blushes and drops the comforter. "That's a view to wake up to." Chloe stretches out her leg and taps Lana's bed with her toe. "And yeah, that's what I'm doing today. But don't worry about it. It's just, it's difficult. But it will all work out." Chloe frowns for a moment and then says, "And really, I have to go."

"Are we, um, we should probably talk. Right?" Lana gets out of bed and puts on her robe. She needs to shower and she has work today. She ties the robe tight.

"Do we have to?" Chloe laughs. It's a real laugh and Lana feels ten feet tall. She did that, at least a little.

"I think it would be a good idea. I mean, if we were going to do that again."

"I can talk for hours, any subject you choose if we do that again." Chloe's still laughing as she gets up and she kisses Lana's cheek before she leaves.

*

She makes lists in her head at work. She's not the worst barista ever today, she's just pretty damn bad. Because in her head, she's thinking, who should she tell, what should she tell and what there is to tell? She wonders if she has a girlfriend.

She probably has an almost girlfriend like Clark was almost her boyfriend. She nearly spills the latte she's carrying but doesn't.

It's pretty weird, though. Weird for Lana Lang, that after thinking and not thinking, now she's this thing. She has another label, maybe just in her head. But in Chloe's head, too. She pauses and makes another mochaccino.

After three hours, she thinks that maybe she's only one of two in Smallville, but in Smallville, that doesn't even qualify as weird. Girls in love, that's doesn't even make the Wall of Weird. It's oddly comforting.

She feels like she's regained her balance until Pete comes in. She can tell at a glance he's furious and she puts down her tray and moves behind the counter. He walks up and leans over to hiss, "I can't believe you."

"What?" She wants to step back, but she just won't.

"Chloe. Clark's been gone, what? Three days? And you've already replaced him." Pete looks the angriest she's ever seen him.

All she can think is, Chloe told. But they're friends, Pete and Chloe, and maybe Chloe just told him. She says, "He dumped me." It sounds wimpy. "He left me, Pete. We went out for a week and he was lying to me, don't you dare say he wasn't, so you don't --"

"I don't get to be mad? I don't get to be mad. You're betraying him. He's not himself, he's not --"

"Not himself? He seemed exactly like Clark when he was talking about causing everyone pain and driving away. Away, Pete."

Pete narrows his eyes and steps back. It almost feels like victory. Then she feels hollow and like an ass. She likes Pete. He's such a good friend. Not to her, but to Chloe and Clark. She sighs. "Look, I'll tell him everything if he ever comes back, but I just. He left. He left me. And I really care about Chlo-"

"Don't even say that." Pete shoves his hands in his pockets. "I just can't believe-" He pauses. "Okay, fine, you got your excuses. But I think it's low. And wrong. Not because, because of the -" He pauses again. "But because Clark loves you. And I thought you really loved him." He stalks off.

She says, "I did. Do." But she maybe loves Chloe, too, and Chloe isn't leaving. Chloe doesn't lie and Chloe is Chloe.

Lana's mom probably loved two people at the same time and she would understand. She would get it. Lana thinks about her mother saying she hoped her daughter would change Smallville. It seems like walking down the hall holding her girlfriend's hand wouldn't be quite the change her mother had in mind, but maybe it would be.

She works her full shift and stop thinking altogether two hours after Pete leaves. When she gets home she almost picks up the phone to call Nell. Advice. And getting advice would mean telling, too, so that would be decided. But she can't bring herself to do it. So she turns on the TV and watches Jennifer Anniston in tight capris. She thinks she'd like those pants. She thinks she'd like to get in those pants and blushes.

Chloe comes in and sits down next to her. "Did you have dinner?"

"Nope." Lana looks over at Chloe and tentatively rubs Chloe's thigh. "Have you?"

"Just an espresso."

"That's not dinner."

"It's pretty close." Chloe grins and covers Lana's hand. She kisses Lana's cheek. "I think, um, I told Pete."

"I know." Lana sighs. "He yelled at me, said I was low. Like, I just replaced Clark. And I didn't." She stares at the TV. "He broke up with me and I, I realized there was someone I liked as much as him who would be a much better, uh, date." Lana smiles.

"He asked me how I could do it, wasn't I in love with Clark?" Chloe frowns. "I should have used your better date thing. It's just, what was I supposed to say? I just sort of sprang it on him. 'Oh, by the way, Pete, I've slept with girls before and now I'm doing it with Lana Lang. You've met her, right?' I understand why he was angry. But I wanted to tell him. You know? For the first time, I just, I wasn't so angry at Clark."

"I didn't say I found a better date, I was mostly apologizing." Lana thinks about changing the channel now that it's the Simpsons. "Do you like the Simpsons?"

"It's the best show ever." Chloe tilts her head and says, casually, "Are you regretting all this? Two day jump into the Sapphic love?"

Lana blinks. She likes Lisa Simpson. She says, "No. It's crazy, isn't it? Like, what are we doing? But." Lana moves her hand so she and Chloe are holding hands. "This feels right. I mean, weird, too, and strange and I don't know, what are we going to tell Clark?"

"Tell 'em we found a better kisser." Chloe smirks. She wavers a little and says, "I don't know. It is weird. I didn't think, um, you know, you."

"But it's right, too, right?" Lana goes back to staring at the Simpsons. Lisa is playing the saxophone and Homer is ignoring her.

"Yeah." Chloe bites her lip. "Yes. We're using declarative sentences now. Yes, this is right. It feels right. It's weird, but this is Smallville and this isn't weird enough to even qualify for the Wall of Weird." Chloe laughs. "And I'm not using the word weird anymore."

"What are some synonyms?" Lana licks her lips.

"Strange. Unusual. Eccentric. Bizarre. Freaky." Chloe smiles wider. "Kinky."

Lana turns off the TV. She says, "This is going to be hard, isn't it?"

Chloe stops smiling. "Yeah."

Lana takes a deep breath. She knows Chloe now. They're friends and other things. This feels right. She says, "Declarative sentence now: we can do it." She kisses Chloe and crosses her fingers. She hopes she's right.

THE END.

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