Summary: Chloe asks Pete for a favor.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters portrayed here, they remain the property of their respective owners/creators.

Rating: PG-13, for themes.

Time Frame: Near the end of "Rush" (spoilers!)

Archiving: Be my guest, but e-mail me ( eilandesq@charter.net ) to let me know. . .I like to know where stuff I write ends up and I might want to see what else you've got.

SEALED

Lana smiles tightly at me, then closes the door behind her as she leaves. I close my eyes, squeezing them together, and I feel a tear slither free and hear it drop onto the pillow. I frown, sigh, then open my eyes and look over at the doorway. Pete's there, looking at me sadly. I force a grin and ask, "How are you feeling?"

"A little sore, but OK." Pete pulls up a chair next to my bed and looks at me with concern as he asks, "Did you get hurt somehow? The docs didn't have to do much to get that thing out of--"

I hold my hand up, stopping him--I really don't want to dwell on the details. He stops and waits for me to speak. I shake my head in annoyance and elaborate, "Mine was a little more stubborn, I guess. They had to open me up all the way, and I'm looking at at least a few days before they kick me loose. My bad luck." I grin--this time genuinely in reaction to the concern on his face--and add, "I feel all right, though. You gotta love those painkillers."

Pete nods slowly, and he turns away from me, his face twisting with guilt. I wait, and he turns back after a few seconds: I can see him trying to stay composed, and failing. He shakes his head in disgust, then begins, "Chloe, you can't imagine how--"

"Don't, Pete." I'm not going to let him beat himself up over this. "We weren't in our right minds, and not because of anything we did on purpose." I feel my own gut twist a bit from guilt, and am again grateful for the painkillers. Pete looks grateful, which helps a lot for what I'm going to ask him: "Pete. . .have you talked to anyone about what happened yet?"

Pete shakes his head. "No. . .I need to talk to Clark first, get our stories straight. I told the shrink who was there when I woke up that I needed some time before I talked about the whole thing." He buries his face in his hands and moans, "I can't believe I screwed him over like that. He trusted me with his secret, Chloe--the one he and the Kents have been keeping since he was a baby, and I used it to turn him into a crazy person. If that rock hadn't fallen out of his pocket--"

"I know--I was there." I don't have a hangover, but somehow it sure feels like it. "I made a pretty good mess out of Clark's life too, remember? Not only did Lana catch me performing an amateur tonsilectomy on him, I gave her an earful about what we'd been doing together, and failed to mention that Clark had been trying to get away from me when she saw us. That must have been when the meteor rock fell out."

Pete nods, then asks: "I saw Lana leaving: was she pissed?"

"Not at me." More guilt. "She lied to my face, Pete--told me that Clark had been kissing some other girl. She's about ready to kill him, and I don't care how invulnerable he is--she might be able to do it out of sheer rage."

Pete laughs involuntarily, then shakes his head ruefully, "Between the three of us, we sure dug a deep hole for Clark, didn't we? Maybe we can talk to her, give her some phony story about slipping Clark a mickey--" I frown, and Pete stops in mid-sentence: "What?"

"Pete, we both know Clark's secret now. . .can't we just tell Lana? There's a lot of built-up anger she's got about Clark that would kind of go away if she undersood why he did what he did." I see the look on Pete's face, but press on anyway: "Pete, it makes sense--"

"Chloe, we can't." Pete looks sad, but his tone is more serious than I can ever remember hearing it. "The Kents were freaked out about me knowing, but they accepted it because they had to--I'm sure they'll feel the same way when they realize that you know, but telling anyone else? They're terrified that someone's going to grab Clark and use him for experiments, and just from the time I've known the secret, I think they're right. Hell, I blurted it out in front of twenty people last night--they just thought I was nuts." He shakes his head again, then adds, "Maybe if we talk to Clark--figure out a way to convince his folks--"

"One little monkey wrench in that plan, Pete." My interruption stops Pete short, and he looks at me, his expression puzzled, as I elaborate: "Clark and Lana both think I don't remember anything."

Pete blinks. "Well, that explains why Lana thought you'd buy the story about another girl kissing Clark, but why did you tell them that?" Pete sounds baffled, and I can't blame him.

"I just couldn't face Clark after what I did, and I couldn't exactly hide from him, could I? Convenient amnesia seemed to be a pretty good plan- -I thought I could maybe take him aside later when I felt up to a good groveling apology. Then Lana showed up, and it kind of snowballed." I hesitate, then whisper, "I can't tell them the truth now."

"Chloe, they're going to wonder why I remember everything and you don't. Clark is bound to be suspicious, and Lana is having real trust issues right--" Pete stops in mid-sentence as he sees the expression on my face, and he starts shaking his head emphatically, "No, Chloe. No way."

"Come on, Pete--I need you to back me up here. Do you really want to have to tell Clark and the Kents you remember doing all of that stuff to Clark?" OK, I'm a ruthless bitch. Sue me.

Pete snorts, then is silent for a moment. I hold my breath, and am rewarded when Pete smiles ruefully and comments, "Damn good point." He looks down and adds, "I hate to lie to Clark, after all of the crap I just put him through. If he figures it out, he'll kick my ass into next week, and that *isn't* just a humorous exaggeration, Chloe."

I giggle at the image, and after a moment he laughs with me and relents: "OK, I'll do it. My lips are sealed." He sits on the bed next to me and brushes the hair from my forehead before asking, "So. . .you've got the story behind most of the stuff on the Wall of Weird for the past year and a half--what are you going to do with it?"

Bastard. He's *loving* rubbing it in. "Well, knowing the truth is a big part of the fun--I'll just have to live with not attaining fame and fortune by selling out one of my best friends. Life's a bitch." I start thinking about the things I said and did, and realize other apologies are in order, even if they will be generic ones. One in particular. . ."Pete, does Lex know about Clark?"

Pete flinches, and I remember that he's not a big booster of Clark's friendship with Lex. He takes a deep breath before saying, "Clark says he doesn't know, so I'd say no unless he figured it out from what happened while Clark was whacked out from the red meteor rock, and I don't think he did." He shakes his head in disgust. "I still don't trust that guy, but Clark doesn't want to hear it, and I'm not going to push it. Lex doesn't miss much, but Clark knows to be careful around him."

I nod, and perk up as a thought occurs to me: "I can cover for you guys, now that I know what's going on. If Clark wonders about it, you can tell him that you told me the cover story. It might even help smooth things over between Lana and Clark."

Pete gives me a sad look, and comments, "And you're OK with that?"

Damn. I was hoping he hadn't noticed the whole triangle thing starting up again. Maybe amnesia wouldn't have been so bad after all. "OK, so I was pissed off at him for not telling me about his date with Lana- -it doesn't mean I want to get on that merry-go-round again. Hormones and red meteor rocks aside, Lana comes first with him. I'm just going to have to live with that." I look away from Pete and mutter, "It kind of sucks being in second place."

I hear a sigh, then a laconic reply, "Yeah, it does." I know what he's saying--I'm not oblivious to the looks that Pete has thrown my way recently. If he wants me, he's going to have to say something. I'm not being a hypocrite--I'd just like to be pursued for once without it being a meteor rock mutant, damn it! I look back at him and smile softly. "Thanks for the visit, Pete, but I'm about to pass out. Let me know if the cover story works--we'll figure out the rest of it after that."

Pete nods, brushes the hair off my forehead again, then slips quietly out of the room. I look at the door for a moment, then yawn loudly. Having some of the major mysteries in my life clarified is nice, but right now sleep seems a lot more urgent. I close my eyes, and dream of wonders to come.







As before, comments are welcome and desired.