(Disclaimer: "Smallville" and all its characters belong to DC Comics and/or Millar & Gough and/or The WB and/or Tollin & Robbins. "Superman" was invented by Shuster & Siegel. I don't own any of the rights, and this story is purely just for fun.)

Flying first class was really nice. Even though the trip from Kansas to France was terribly long, and Lana had to change planes twice, she still arrived in Paris cheerful and refreshed. She'd never been so alone as she was in the airport on the other end; there were thousands of people all around, but she didn't know any of them, and they didn't know her. She could feel her shoulders relaxing, from the release of a burden she'd carried all her life. No one here had any expectations of her.

Lana had always paid attention in French class, and read French novels from the library on her own, because the language struck her as romantic. The airport signs were easy enough to follow, and she claimed her luggage with a minimum of difficulty. She'd never hailed a cab before (after Clark flaked out on her, she'd ended up calling Airport Shuttle, from the Yellow Pages.) It turned out to be easier than she'd thought it would be, and the driver grinned flirtatiously at her smiling, earnest French. She giggled and rolled her eyes at herself as she flopped into the back seat, and he turned around and winked at her! It didn't matter at all. She'd probably never see him again.

It was all so different from Smallville.

Checking in at the art school was easier than she expected, too. Lana realized they might not have been as friendly if Lex's benevolence hadn't allowed her to pay all her fees up-front, but the knowledge didn't crush her with gratitude, like it might have at home. Her room was tiny and charming, with a picturesque view of the steep roofs of the city. She loved it immediately, but the streets called to her, and she didn't even bother to unpack before venturing out.

Springtime in Paris, Lana thought, with a thrill. It's just as lovely as the movies make it seem. A light rain started falling, and she laughed aloud for sheer joy. No one stared. There weren't a dozen neighbors she'd seen every day of her life to wonder what she was laughing about, standing around in the rain like a crazy person. Lana felt brand new, delirious with freedom and anonymity in the City of Lights.

When she returned to the school, there was a message for her from her Aunt Nell.

Chloe and Mr. Sullivan were dead; Lex had been poisoned and wasn't expected to survive; Clark had vanished without a word to anyone, once more.

The delirium was over. She was Lana Lang again.