Comfort Between Friends

By Viv

Description: "Encapsulated in this moment between them was the essence of their friendship, the connection that had subsisted between them for so long." (Lexana friendship)

Spoilers: None. Takes place between the end of Season 3 and beginning of Season 4.

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: All characters on 'Smallville' that appear in this story are owned solely and exclusively by the WB, Al Gough, Miles Millar etc. I am not intending to profit from anything, okay?

Archive: Just let me know first.

Author's notes: This story was inspired by "Everybody Hurts", by REM.

Also, Season 4 has only just begun to screen in Australia, so if there are any contradictions to canon, please let me know – or ignore!

Her best friend Chloe was dead. Clark, someone who she deeply cared about, despite everything was missing, last seen in the vicinity of the caves. Jonathan Kent lay hopelessly brain dead in Smallville General, his grip on life as tenuous as his family's hope for his survival. Lex, her sometime business partner and trusted friend had almost died at the hands of his relentlessly evil father, who now was deservedly bars serving several concurrent life sentences. Only a highly dangerous and experimental treatment put forward by a German specialist and adapted by a brash young American doctor at Metropolis General had snatched him from the jaws of death.

And she? What was Lana Lang doing in the midst of this crisis? She was in Paris, the most romantic city in the world.

Shivers coursed down her spine; her breath came in short, sharp gasps. Hands that had already begun trembling at the sound of his obviously weak voice now shook too harshly to grasp anything, let alone a cordless telephone too impossibly sleek to be really useful to begin with.

After the first incident (murder? death? Even now she couldn't bring herself to face the reality of the situation), she had felt the numbness setting in. Sadly, it was an all too familiar feeling. She had cried, wept, sobbed uncontrollably even, at the news of Chloe and Gabe Sullivan's deaths, but she could feel a part of herself already hardening to ward out the inevitability of the pain and torment that would follow in the aftermath of the tragedies. Not just Chloe's death, but the cruel and decisive way in which she had so unwittingly given her life and her father's. The remnants of the Sullivan family had been brushed aside by Lionel Luthor as easily as he would have batted away a fly, and with just as little effort.

Lana knew that if she didn't let go quickly, she'd come to be consumed by it. Obsessed, with no possibility of satiating her desire to wade in Lionel Luthor's blood, to see him blazing in a fire of eternal torment like he had plunged so many other lives.

And then had come news of Clark Kent. she still thought of him as her Clark even though things between them had disintegrated with such rapid ease in the last few months. She found it hard to believe that her Clark had gone missing, doubly inexplicable given his father's seemingly hopeless condition. The Clark she knew would never have left his mother shouldering the burden alone; the Clark she knew would have given anything in the world to be by her side. The fact that he was missing meant only one thing – that the Clark she knew was gone from this world.

And then Lex. Lex whom she had openly despised from the first time she had accidentally walked in on one of his nocturnal outings with his girl du jour – Lex whom she had actually come to care about almost as much as her other, closer companions of childhood – Lex had been poisoned. The doctors at Metropolis General had told her that his chances of survival were less than 1 - and that was hopeful at best.

She had prepared herself then. What else was a girl in Paris to do?

"Lex." She grasped, her fumbling mind only just now overcoming the shock at hearing his voice. She could hear the slightly uneven breathing down the line; the connection was too crystal clear for him to hide anything.

"Lana." His voice came out in a curious half gasp, half wheeze. He sounded – and she couldn't emphasise this enough – terrible. "How are you?"

"How am I? How are you? In case you've forgotten, you're the one that was nearly poisoned to death, remember?"

Weak laughter, then a slight cough. "I concede the poison might have tampered with my memory a little, but as far as I know you're still in Paris, starting a new life for yourself. Couldn't have been easy …" Some more wheezing from Lex, then the sounds of a some kind of breathing apparatus whirling into life. Lana grimaced at the thought of the pain Lex was going through. "It couldn't have been easy, being alone in the middle of … all this."

'All this' was a typically Lexian way of saying her entire world had effectively fallen down around her, decimated by events that were entirely beyond her control. It had happened once before with her parents. That event had scarred her for life, and she really only had one life to scar irreparably.

Lana tried to throw his concern off. "It's been rough, I can't lie to you. But … I'm coping. Considering everything, I think I'm getting off easy." It was a somewhat insensitive joke to Lex, but what else could she say? Sorry that you got poisoned by your bastard of a father, but hey, so glad he's in prison permanently now. By the way, you wouldn't believe the types of cheeses they have in Paris? "I'm sorry." She added quietly.

"Don't be." Lex replied simply.

Lana found herself blinking furiously. She couldn't cry. Not now. "I'm glad you're alive Lex."

He chuckled; the most robust sound he had made so far. "So am I. It would have been inconvenient to manage LuthorCorp from the grave." Despite the gravity ofhis condition, she laughed. "Take care, Lana. I'll be in touch soon."

By the time Lana had swallowed down the emotion that was uncontrollably rearing up inside her, he was gone.

© April 2006