"So you're cured?"
Lana simply smiled at Chloe, giving the blonde the answer she needed.
"So," Chloe said, almost haltingly, "what does that mean?"
"Well," Lana said, a glint that was all too familiar to the beleaguered best friend who'd borne witness to this train wreck for the past too many years in the petite brunette's eyes, "I'm here aren't I?"
They continued walking along the Metropolis street, busy with mid-afternoon pedestrian traffic.
"So, you didn't actually look for a cure? You just found one?"
"Was Clark looking?" Lana snapped back, then caught herself when she noticed Chloe's surprised look, a congenial smile forming once again on her face. "Look, I was busy, trying to help people. I looked into things when they came up, but none of them were what I was looking for."
A silence fell between the two friends as they continued walking.
"Chloe, what I can do is important," Lana answered, in the most non-answery way possible.
"So…you still have your powers?" Chloe asked, in a way that was much more a statement than a question.
Chloe nodded in response, the message all too clear. Lana had waited for a solution that didn't take away the powers she had gained from Lex's suit. And she pointedly didn't acknowledge Lana's accusation.
Clark hadn't looked for any solution.
It had surprised her at first, she'd figured Clark would search far and wide, or more specifically north, for a way to de-kryptonite Lana.
And yet, he'd seemed to accept it all rather quickly. Sure, he threw himself into his duties as the Blur as a form of therapy so to speak, but when he wasn't doing that? Well, the distinct lack of moping and brooding on his part had shocked his best friend.
In fact, it had downright flabbergasted her.
Not that there hadn't been after effects, the most glaring one being Clark's reticence to start something new, to take another chance at love and happiness. But it'd been Chloe's impression that that had more to do with the scars Lana had left, coloring Clark's views and fears of any potential relationship, and not any lingering feelings for the woman herself.
"And there were no side effects from the …infection?" Chloe asked, weighing her words carefully as she opened the door to the Coffee Spot. The two women walked into the empty shop, which was fairly typical for this time of day. In about another hour, it would pick up as the young professionals in Metropolis would need their late afternoon caffeine fix.
"Not really," Lana shrugged, gesturing toward a table in the back corner. As they settled in, Chloe tilted her head slightly in a questioning manner.
"Are you sure? I mean, it was a pretty significant amount."
"I'm sure, Chloe. I'm completely clean of any and all meteor rock, and I've never felt better," she said, smiling brightly.
"That's great, Lana. I'm glad everything worked out the way you wanted it to," Chloe said sincerely.
"Thanks, Chloe. I knew you'd understand. Though, I don't have everything I want, at least not yet anyway," she said cryptically, though she needn't have bothered since Chloe knew exactly to what, or more specifically whom she was referring.
A waiter came over to take their orders, giving Chloe a moment to get her thoughts together. She certainly hadn't expected to see Lana in Metropolis today, or really any day ever again. And she definitely was in no way prepared for the ensuing conversation.
"You're here for Clark," Chloe said quietly.
"I can't wait to see the look on his face. Finally, everything will be okay, Chloe. We can have the life we dreamed about, we can make it work this time."
"Look," Chloe began, pausing for a moment as the waiter set down their lattes in front of them, "Lana, you've been gone over a year."
"That's a long time."
"That's never mattered before," Lana said, waving her hand in the air nonchalantly as if to brush off Chloe's concern.
The blonde sighed, not wanting to hurt her friend, but knowing there were some serious truths that needed to be brought up in this little discussion.
"Sure it did," Chloe retorted, not unkindly. "When you came back for my wedding, you and Clark didn't get right back together. It was only after you got your," she paused, gesturing up and down Lana's body, "abilities that you tried to make things work."
Lana narrowed her eyes at that. "Which I did for him."
"You sure about that?"
"Chloe, you know what it's like, being around Clark, knowing what he can do. What I did, I did for us, so we could be together, work together. Having a girlfriend that can do what he can do is exactly what Clark needs."
"And I'm sure screwing Lex over in the process was only an added bonus," Chloe added knowingly, watching as Lana's eyes darted away in response. "Of course, I guess he got the last laugh in that situation. But Lana, maybe you're wrong about Clark. Maybe your assumption that he needs to be with someone like him is wrong."
"He didn't exactly argue the point," Lana shot back, feeling more than a bit defensive.
"That was then," Chloe said simply.
"What does that mean?"
"It means, Clark's always been scared of being alone. He was scared of hurting you because of his powers, you thought you were holding him back. When you presented him with what seemed the ideal solution, of course he grabbed onto it. But that doesn't mean his views haven't changed. Maybe he's realized that that so-called perfect solution wasn't perfect at all, and it wasn't really what he wanted or needed."
"Gee, thanks for the support, Chloe," Lana snarked, irritated at her friend's lack of cheerleading.
"Lana, I'm just saying, things change. You need to be prepared for that."
Lana crossed her arms, leaning back in her seat and staring daggers at Chloe. "You're being awfully vague. Something you wanna tell me, Chloe?"
Just then, the bell above the door chimed, and a familiar voice rang out through the almost empty café.
"Smallville, I told you, I'm just not sure it's a good idea!"
"Awww, come on Lo, I can do it, I swear."
Lana's face lit up at the sight of him, seemingly oblivious to the brunette at his side. Her heart pounded, as it always did in his presence, and she noticed Chloe turn slightly, seeing her cousin and best friend leaning against the counter, both unaware they were being watched by the two women in the shadowed corner.
"The usual?" the young man behind the counter asked with a grin. Clark simply nodded before turning back to Lois.
"Just this once, Lois. Let me try."
"Clark, you just don't have the face of a 'bad cop'. It won't work! I think it's better that we stay in our natural roles. You're the good cop, I'm the bad cop. Every interview we've conducted that way has been a success. Why mess with it?"
"Because you don't think I can do it."
Lois sighed loudly. "Clark, it's just that…Louisa Rogers is a well-known hardass. I don't think this is the time for you to be trying out your bad cop routine. Your other talents would be much more useful."
"My other talents? Care to elaborate Miss Lane?" he asked, a grin on his face as their coffees were set on the counter. Clark took a few bills from his jacket and handed them to the barista.
"Well, that charming smile of yours for starters. You flash that at Rogers and she'll be putty in our hands. And there's that thing you do, when you look at a woman like she's the only person in the room. Combine that with the killer questions we came up with last night, and she doesn't have a chance," she finished, her voice lowering slightly as she moved a bit closer to Clark.
Which didn't go unnoticed by the raven-haired woman watching intently from the back of the shop. The same woman who was beginning to feel the first flutter of nausea swimming in her stomach.
"So, wait, you want me to flirt with another woman, Lois?" he asked, his voice taking on a light teasing quality.
"Who said anything about wanting that? However, we do whatever it takes to get the story."
"Rule number 3," Clark responded, nodding slightly as he brought the coffee cup to his lips and took a long sip.
"Exactly. I'm willing to put up with it, since there's no way even someone with Louisa Rogers' reputation would be able to resist that smile of yours, Smallville. It could melt the heart of just about any woman."
A soft gasp escaped Lana's lips as, in the blink of an eye, Clark was in front of Lois, trapping her between his body and the counter.
"I don't care if it could melt any woman's heart. I only care if it melts yours, Lane."
Even from the distance she was sitting away from them, Lana could see Lois bite the side of her lip, noticing the almost dreamy look that flashed across her features.
Then, in the instant, her lips ticked up into a smirk.
"Eh…I gotta be in the mood for you," she said, shrugging nonchalantly, a sparkle in her hazel eyes. Clark leaned forward, bumping his nose gently into hers.
"Hmmm….well, your heartbeat says you are definitely in the mood for me, Lois," he said, his voice low, apparently mindful of their public surroundings.
Lana's breath caught, feeling Chloe's eyes on her, watching her in an almost pitiable way, as Lois brought her hand up and gently traced the shell of Clark's ear.
"No fair, Smallville," she said, her head nodding slightly to the place her fingers were tenderly caressing.
"She knows," Lana whispered, the gesture and its meaning, as well as the implication behind his seemingly innocent heartbeat remark, not lost on the shell-shocked woman unable to stop watching the scene playing out in front of her.
"Bad cops don't play fair," he said with a teasing grin, having pulled back slightly, his strong arms still imprisoning her against the counter.
Lois chuckled lightly at that, shaking her head slightly. "You really wanna do this, don't you?"
With a look Lana could only describe as one of steely determination, he took his hands from the counter, quickly grabbing her waist and turning her around, pushing her gently down into the stool near the counter. Clark's back now to her, Lana looked at Lois, who was now gazing up at Clark with wide eyes.
Leaning down, his large hands still grasping her waist, he spoke, his voice taking on a slightly dangerous edge.
"I am gonna do it, Lane. And there's nothing you can do to stop me, either."
Even from where she was sitting, Lana could see the excited shiver that ran through Lois' body, her teeth once again tugging at her bottom lip.
After a moment, her face broke out into a wide grin. "Not bad, Smallville."
One of his hands left her waist, moving to her hand and tugging it gently, helping her up like the gentleman he was. His body on an angle now, Lana could see that all too familiar toothy smile as his other arm wrapped around her, his hand resting on her back.
"Told you I could do it," he said, a note of arrogance in his voice.
"Don't get cocky, it's one thing to impress your girlfriend, it's quite another to impress the toughest nut to crack in Metropolis."
"Lana," Chloe whispered, seeing the look of abject disbelief on her friend's face.
"This isn't happening," Lana mumbled softly, the flutter she'd felt before now full-blown waves of nausea.
"Funny, I thought I just did that," Clark quipped, the hand that had helped pull her up now intertwined with Lois'.
"Cute. Alright…you get to be the bad cop today, but if it's not working…"
"You jump in and play the role you've perfected, and I flash my, what did you call it? Oh that's right, my charming smile," he said, leaning down and gently brushing her lips with his. "And, how did you put it? Melt her heart into answering our brilliant questions."
"I'm never gonna hear the end of that, am I?"
Clark pulled back, turning and grabbing her coffee and handing it to her before picking up his own.
"Probably not. Ready?"
"Yeah. Later Jack," she called to the barista behind the counter, who smiled in response. "Oh wait," she said, stopping mid-turn toward the door and grabbing her bag. "Jimmy texted me before about some shots he took of Councilman Myers' press conference, let me just text him back quick," she muttered, putting her purse down on the chair and rifling through it for her phone. Finding it, her head snapped back up and…
She stopped cold.
Lana inhaled sharply as hazel eyes met hers.
She watched as the tall brunette stood frozen, her hand clutching her cell. She swallowed roughly as she saw Clark reach out, his hand brushing her arm.
"Lois, you okay?"
She blinked quickly, as if shaking herself out of her stupor, before looking up at him and saying one, simple word.