Author's Notes: Rated NC-17 (not this part, but later chapters). Another little Lana/Clark ditty - a Christmas themed story. I had to involve Lex (my personal fav) - just 'cause I like his little machinations to bring Clark and Lana together. Favorite plot: You know he took care of Whitney's tryout the day of Lana's party! Let's see - Cupid's bald and Lex is ... coincidence? I think not. Should he go for something as heavy handed as mistletoe or being trapped in the same room together?

Check out my other stories:

Mercy Date

by Angelina

**************************************************************************** ******

I've been walkin' through life with a bullet proof vest,

Shielding emotions, acting like I couldn't care less

I kept love at a distance, my defenses were locked and alert

Then you say hello, and the next thing I know

I'm ready to risk being hurt

~Jamie O'Neal, "No More Protecting My Heart"~

**************************************************************************** ******

He almost thought he would have a heart attack as she drew nearer to him. It wasn't the same queasy, faint feeling he got whenever there were meteor fragments in the area. This was love-sick puppiness at its best. One glimpse of her long dark hair and shining face, and he was lost once again. Even Chloe and Pete had given up taking bets upon his adolescent malady. Luckily this time he was sitting down, so he didn't have to worry about falling or tripping over someone or thing.

"Clark," Her soft feminine voice carried across the courtyard to where he was sitting, crystal clear to his unusually powerful hearing. He was just starting to notice that he had the capability of hearing things that others couldn't, but like his x-ray vision, it had to be practiced and perfected before he could control it at will. Clark shook his head to focus his attention, his dark hair ruffled by the crisp late autumn wind. Lana was breathless by the time she reached his table, shivering even with the heavy wool coat wrapped about her. She rubbed her arms to warm herself, her chest heaving slightly as her breath came in short puffs of steam. It was said chest to which Clark's hazel eyes seemed to be affixed, the rise and fall having a hypnotic effect upon his teenage hormones. Snap out of it, Kent. "Clark?"

"Hi, Lana." Suddenly the courage he had developed in his fantasies evaporated into the frigid air. Of course, one of the benefits of being impervious to most dangers was that he also wasn't adversely affected by dramatic changes in temperatures. While she was freezing, he barely even noticed a chill. He fumbled with his books as he attempted to gather his scattered thoughts into some semblance of order that wouldn't embarrass him if it tumbled unexpectedly out of his mouth. She shifted her bag to her other hand and pushed her hair out of her face with the free one. Clark wondered absently if all women were born with the seductive hair-flipping trait, or if they had to go to some secret school for it. He was able to muster enough

courage to gaze up at her beautiful face, fighting the reaction that a gut- punch would have had on a regular person. "How's it going?" How lame was that? Couldn't you come up with anything better?

"Fine, Clark. Really looking forward to Christmas break," she said, studying him with a confused expression upon her face. "Aren't you cold sitting out here? I'm freezing."

"No, it's not that bad, guess I'm just used to it by now." He looked around at the few students who happen to be outside, most getting on buses or to their cars to go home . "Were you specifically looking for me?"

"Well, I'm not out here for my health," she quipped back, smiling sweetly. "I have a favor to ask of you, but I wasn't sure if you'd do it or not. I feel kinda stupid for asking anyway."

"What is it?"

"You know Lex's party next week?"

"Yeah, he invited me but I wasn't sure if I was going to go or not."


"No date," Clark shrugged, a bit ashamed he had to admit it to her.

"That's great." Her voice rose with excitement, Clark wasn't quite certain how to take her enthusiasm. Could it possibly mean....that Whitney's not going to be here and she needs a date? And somewhere back in his consciousness, What does that matter? Do you think you could stop saving the world long enough to be a proper escort? "Oh, I didn't mean that how it sounded. Sorry."

"It's okay...I think. What do you have in mind?"

"I need someone to escort my cousin to the party. She's going to be in town and Nell says that I have to take her with me and Whitney. So I need someone to..."

"Be a mercy date, huh?"

"I'd really owe you one, Clark. And she's actually pretty." Lana added the last bit to reassure him that he wouldn't be saddled with a bruised fruit from the ugly tree.

Clark couldn't resist smiling at her attempt to insure his cooperation. His hazel eyes sparkled in the waning daylight. "I'd say you'd have to say that anyway since she's family, but if she related to you...and Nell...I won't doubt that's she quite attractive."

Lana blushed at the compliment. "Uh, thanks...I knew I count count on you." She shivered again as a cold blast whipped her hair and coat about her. "I don't know about you, but I'm heading back inside where it's warm." Waving goodbye to him over her shoulder, she jogged back to the side door of the school. Leaving Clark to sit there and ponder the usual....

How did I get myself into this?

**************************************************************************** ******

"So why did you change your mind and decide to come to the party after all?" Lex raised a faint eyebrow as he regarded his friend over a not-so- friendly game of pool. Clark was quickly surpassing Lex's billiards capabilities, and it was difficult for the older man not to resort to cheating in order to gain the upper hand in the game they were currently playing. Clark just smiled the usually brilliant Kent smile and took an extraordinarily difficult shot with a finesse that Lex found hard to credit. Lex muttered to himself, "I think I've created a monster."

Clark shrugged as he set down the pool cue for a moment. "I don't know..."

"Yes, you do. When I asked you to come, you were adamant about not attending. Even when I said that Lana was going to be there." Lex crossed his arms across his chest, an impatient look forming upon his face. "Did something happen I don't know about? Like Whitney falling in a hole or something?"

"No, but Lana asked me to escort her cousin, so that she and Whitney could attend. How was I supposed to tell her no?"

"She must have been very persuasive," Lex quipped sarcastically. He reached for a bottle of water and twisted the lid off, then downed a large swallow before continuing. "Don't tell me you agreed to a mercy date."

"That's what I called it, but Lana assured me she was quite pretty."

"If she's related to Lana, I would place good money on it. But still, it's a mercy date. The goal, I thought, was to hook up with Lana."

"Kinda hard with Whitney there."

"You should have taken my advice and left him in the damn truck." Lex smiled one of those ruthless little half-smirks that caught Clark off- guard. The younger man was never quite certain when Lex was jesting about doing something so horrible. "However, this little favor will definitely make you look good in Lana's eyes. That is, if you can actually show up for the party. Your track record isn't exactly great."

Clark frowned slightly at Lex's comment, but let it slide because he knew that it was the truth. He hadn't been very good at keeping his so-called non-dates with Lana. "Maybe I'll just stay here the night before. Then I'm sure to be on time and in the right place?"

Lex laughed softly and moved around the side of the table to slap Clark on the back in a friendly gesture. "It'd be my luck you'd get lost somewhere in this monstrosity and we couldn't find you for a week. Can you imagine what I'd have to say to your dad? 'Sorry, Mr. Kent, but it seems that we've misplaced your son.' Your dad would kill me."

"Nah, he'd just chalk it up to one more strange thing caused by LuthorCorp."

Both men doubled over laughing at the ludicrous idea. But Lex's mind was working overtime, hatching the next plan to get Lana and Clark together after all. And the party was an ideal place to start.