Comfort Between Friends
It was to be a month before she next heard from Lex. Or more accurately, saw him.
Jason had just left her at the banks of the Seine to join his mother for an early lunch in the Latin Quarter, leaving Lana happily strolling along the river, drinking in the atmosphere of the awakening vibrancy around her. Stopping at a cute little café forcoffee, she had just taken out her portfolio to evaluate the shots of the Louvre she had taken the night before when out of the corner of her eye, she spied the confident figure of Lex. He was striding toward her with suchintensity it was as if he had walked like that all the way from Smallville.
He smiled then – his wonderful, haunting lilt of a smile. "Surprised to see me?" He asked, playful eyes twinkling in the late morning sunshine.
"Oh my god, Lex." Heedless of the small obstacles in her way – on coming traffic, cars and so on – she flew into his arms, forgetting to erect her customary defences.
She had rumpled his beautifully cut and obviously very expensive jacket, and after the initial onrush of excitement had coursed through her, embarrassment set in. She blushed, feeling the heat rise up in her cheeks. "Sorry."
"Not at all." Lex straightened his jacket. His smile had turned roguish, but was still warm and friendly. "I'm not going to complain about a welcome like that." He led her back to her table, taking her arm familiarly in his.
She couldn't explain the churning sensations his touch elicited from her. With that small, comforting gesture, she felt like she had found a piece of home again. It had been a lonely month for Lana, waiting on news from Lex that never came.Excruciatingly, desperately lonely knowing that her whole life had most likely been incinerated by events beyond her control in Smallville.If Jason hadn't been there for her, she didn't know what she would have done.
But try as he might – and he was sweet, in his charmingly roguish way – he couldn't understand her grief over the loss of her friends. Couldn't understand it, because he had never known Chloe and Clark like she had.
But Lex had. And now he was here in Paris. With her.
Staring unblinkingly at Lex as the waiter took his order, she couldn't help but wonder at his miraculous recovery, or of his being alive at all. Lana was sure she hadn't heard the doctors wrong – 1 was an excruciatingly small chance of survival, though obviously not as insignificant to a Luthor than to normal human beings.
He began talking again, pearly white teeth set in a winsome smile, clear blue eyes glistening like the colour of the sky. "Enjoying Paris?"
"Lex, I've missed you." She blurted. Which was not what she had planned to say, at least not right away. There were the customary pleasantries that should have come before, but her mind had obviously decided that those were unnecessary obstacles in their conversation right now.
His eyes darkened like a gathering summer storm in a clear blue sky. "I'm so sorry about Chloe, Lana. It must have been … difficult for you, being so isolated from everything. I'm sorry I wasn't there."
Lana shook her head. He had misunderstood her. "No, it's not that. I mean, I cried over Chloe. I wanted to use the open ended ticket you got me, but I just couldn't come back for another funeral. I … I just couldn't face seeing another person I cared about put in the ground like that, not after Whitney and my parents. And with Clark gone …" Her voice trailed away.
Lana had always found Lex's touch comforting. He must have instinctively known it too, because he gently placed his hand over hers. She found strength in his touch as well as comfort and warmth. It seemed that so much was conveyed between them without any perceptible effort. "I was so worried about you." She confessed, unable to meet his steady gaze. "I'd already lost Chloe ... I'veprobably lost Clark as well. I didn't know what I would have done if I'd lost another friend."
It was heart wrenching the way he smiled at her. She couldn't quite grasp the entirety of the thought that lay behind Lex's enigmatic smile, but it seemed to hint at a myriad of possibilities. The offer of friendship, comfort, solace, and yet something else that simmered constantly between them. Lana would have been lying to herself if she did not admit that something did seem to exist between them that she could not quite bring herself to name. A connection of sorts. Gut wrenchingly real, basic and indefinable. Constant.
"Anyway, I'm glad you're okay." She gave his hand a tight squeeze, falling back into her chair in order to break the intensity of the moment. Brightening a little, she quizzed. "Now tell me what you're doing in Paris? How come you didn't call?"
Taking his cue from her, he bantered. "I was on a business trip to South America, thought I should stop by Paris to pay a friend a visit. See how it was reacting to the wholesome charms of Lana Lang."
They talked of more mundane things after that, the kind of repartee that she used to have with Chloe, and with Clark, before things descended into awkward melodrama between them. She found herself telling him of her first days at school, finding suitable accommodation for herself after the one that the school had arranged was less than satisfactory, the loneliness of the first few weeks living in a city that was not quite her own, not to mention being alienated by her incomprehension of the language. But her life in Paris had turned for the better on the day she met Jason.
"So, does this Jason have a last name?" Lex asked lightly.
"Jason Teague. We met about a month ago, and …" She shrugged somewhat bashfully, not knowing whether Lex really needed to know every little detail of her life. But he seemed genuinely interested, and the keenness of his expression prompted her to continue. "And, it's been going pretty well. Jason was there for me; I don't know what I would have done without him."
Lex nodded in approval. "Then I'm disposed to like him already. Although …" He grinned suddenly then, making his face a lot less serious and more lively than usual. "He better not hurt you in any way, otherwise he'd have to answer to me. You can tell him that for me."
Although she laughed, Lana knew Lex well enough to know that it was entirely likely that he'd have someone check on Jason's background. She was surprised when she found that she didn't actually mind at all. She admitted that it was more comforting knowing there was somebody else besides Nell that was looking out for her in this world.
Glancing at her watch, she was surprised by how quickly the hour had flown by. "Lex, I'm so sorry but I have to get to class. We're doing perspective this afternoon and assignments are going to be handed out, I can't miss it."
He flashed that haunted, crooked smile again. "I wouldn't dream of depriving you of even a second of your education Lana. But I'm not doing to let you go without exacting a dinner with you tonight. I'm sure you'll be the first to admit that not many things could come between dinner with a friend who has just flown 4,000 miles to see them."
Lana found herself flushing with pleasure. Lex had always been capable of outrageous flattery; Lana had always found herself unaccustomed to such urbane sophistry. "It's a date." She replied impishly, before giving him a friendly wave goodbye.
© April 2006