Author's Notes: This takes place during the summer after first season. Continuity follows up to "Nicodemus" (so far). It is a sequel to "Chloe," a fanfic I wrote earlier this year (geocities.com/katpicson/chloefic.html). Chloe and Clark had gone to Metropolis to visit her grandparents. Clark found out that Chloe used to be a popular cheerleader in her Metropolis school, not unlike Lana Lang. Chloe tells Clark that she knows that he is special and that he was affected by the meteors. Clark tells her about his invulnerability, his super-speed and his X-ray vision. (But not about the part about his being an alien.) This story picks up right after they return to Smallville, but it doesn't really follow any storyline from it so it's pretty much a stand-alone. Have fun and enjoy. Please read and review. I'm not too sure of my characterization of Lana, so if she is out of character, please let me know.

Thanks to my beta readers, Tresca and Impulse49.

"Platonic" by Sullivan Lane

pla.ton.ic noun. 1 : relating to or based on platonic love; also : experiencing or professing platonic love; 2 : of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex

Chapter 1: "Independence"

"Triple-letter score equals thirty, and triple-word score equals … one-hundred fourteen points!" Chloe exclaimed, scribbling on the score sheet with a flourish.

"I give up," Pete said, leaning back in his chair in defeat. "Chloe, you win, all right?" He dumped his rack of tiles in the bag.

"No way," Clark objected. "The game's barely started." His eyes darted quickly from the Scrabble board to his rack of tiles.

"Clark, I've got close to two hundred points," Chloe pointed out. "You and Pete put together barely racked up a hundred. You're the math genius. Now give it up."

"I hate you," Clark said dejectedly as he dumped his tiles into the bag.

"I'm your biggest fan, too, Clark," Chloe retorted as she cleaned up the board.

"I swear you've got X-ray vision," Pete said, helping her. "That's the only explanation for your whooping our butts so bad."

Clark and Chloe's eyes met for a moment, a brief smile that Pete didn't detect. "You forgot my freakishly extensive vocabulary," Chloe reminded him. She picked up her half-eaten hot dog and bit into it.

"I can't believe you put Grey Poupon on your hot dog," Pete remarked. "Do you think it makes it any classier? It's still a hot dog, Chloe."

"Stop being such a sore loser," Chloe mumbled, a huge chunk of food impairing her ability to speak clearly. A large piece of hot dog bun fell out of her mouth and stained her red shirt with mustard. Pete and Clark laughed. She picked the piece off her shirt and threw it in Clark's general direction. He ducked, and it hit the wall behind him.

It was the Fourth of July, and the three had spent the day in town. They watched the sun set from the Kent barn loft and awaited the fireworks with board games. So far they had played Boggle, Sorry, Scrabble and Scattergories, and Chloe had won at all but Sorry.

"Caramel corn, anyone?" Mrs. Kent called from the door.

"Yeah!" Pete was the first to bound down the stairs and grab the large Tupperware bowl she was holding. "Thanks, Mrs. Kent."

"You're welcome. So who won Scrabble?" she asked.

"I did," Chloe said, grinning down at her from the railing. Clark walked to the railing to stand behind her.

"Word to the wise, boys," Martha told Pete and Clark. "Don't challenge an aspiring journalist to word games." She winked at Chloe, who winked back. Mrs. Kent waved goodbye and went back to the house.

"I think we should play Monopoly next," Pete suggested as he walked up the stairs. "I got a pretty good grade in economics."

"Actually, the fireworks are starting in a few minutes," Clark said, glancing at his watch.

"The true test of your economic prowess will have to wait a half-hour," Chloe told Pete. She positioned her lawn chair in front of the large window. Clark handed her a large paper cup filled with caramel corn, and she grinned at him. Clark sat down next to her. He picked a kernel of corn out of her cup and playfully threw it in her face. She giggled and threw it back at him. They continued for awhile until the sound of Pete's chair solidly hitting the wooden floor next to Chloe brought them back to reality.

"Hey, who's that?" Pete said, pointing. There seemed to be a figure coming up the way in the darkness.

Clark squinted. "I think it's Lana."

As the figure got closer, they could see that Clark was right. Lana Lang, wearing cut-off jeans, a white T-shirt with a faded American flag printed on it, and pink flip-flops, was striding toward the barn, a smile on her face and a bulky plastic grocery bag dangling from her hand.

"Hi, Lana!" Pete yelled, waving as she neared the barn.

Lana waved back and hurried inside. "I called your house and your parents said you guys were watching the fireworks from here," she told Clark. "Is it all right if I join you?" Her smile was tentative, almost forced.

"Of course," Clark said, a little too quickly. Pete snorted softly as he caught Chloe rolling her eyes. Clark and Lana didn't notice.

Lana held up the package in her hand. "I brought some sarsaparilla for everyone." Lana reached into the bag and handed Chloe and Pete bottles of sarsaparilla.

Clark grinned. "Thanks," he said as he accepted a bottle.

Clark set up another lawn chair, and she sat down just as the first rocket soared into the air and exploded into a thousand falling red stars. The four teenagers sat, from left to right, Clark, Lana, Chloe and Pete. The caramel corn and the sarsaparilla made for two distinct tastes on the palate, both almost too sweet, but too tasty to decline nonetheless. The caramel corn was popped to a light perfection, glazed lightly with a caramel concoction that the Kent women passed down from mother to daughter or daughter-in-law. The sarsaparilla was famous in Lowell County, made on the Corrigan Farm three towns east, and probably accounted for the overstock in root beer at the supermarkets and convenience stores all over the county. And Lana had apparently put the bottles in the freezer for a little while, making the cool dark liquid more refreshing to the throat and belly in the humid summer air, which seemed to get warmer with the bursting clouds of silver, gold and blue stars in the sky above.

They watched the fireworks show in relative silence, except for the sound of crunching caramel corn and gulping sarsaparilla, and Clark's radio faintly playing patriotic marches. Smallville's fireworks committee members had really outdone themselves. Rocket after rocket went up and exploded in the night sky, sometimes to the sigh of contentment or squeal of excitement by one of the four. As the last of the fireworks faded into the smoky sky, Clark stood up.

"Happy birthday, America," he said.

"Here, here," Pete said, raising his bottle.

"How about that game of Monopoly?" Clark suggested.

But Chloe moaned. "Oh," she said, clutching her stomach and leaning back. "I have a bellyache. Don't mix hot dogs, caramel corn and sarsaparilla. File that for future reference."

"We'll walk you home," Lana said, looking concerned.

"Nah, you guys hang out," Chloe said, standing up but slightly hunched over. "I'll be all right."

"I'm walking you home," Pete said.

"Or better yet, I'll borrow the truck and drive you," Clark offered.

"Oh, please. I'm not an invalid," Chloe said with as much disgust as she could through her apparent discomfort.

"I'm still walking you home," Pete insisted.

"Fine," Chloe relented. "Bye, Clark. Bye, Lana."

As soon as Pete and Chloe had disappeared into the night, Clark turned to Lana. She was sitting at the card table, fingering one of the Scrabble tiles. Clark noticed now that Lana seemed nervous and sad that Pete and Chloe had gone.

"Where's Whitney?" Clark asked, walking around the loft and picking up the remnants of the caramel corn fight he and Chloe had had earlier. He wiped at the mustard stain on the wall with a napkin, and then looked over at Lana.

Lana looked up at him with a half-smile. "At his grandparents' house in Florida," she said. "At least, that's what I heard. He broke up with me before I went to summer camp."

Clark was surprised as he sat down next to her. "I'm sorry, Lana."

Lana shook her head. "No, I knew he was getting impatient with me. It was getting too hard to be in a relationship for him, and I don't think I was making it any easier."

Clark nodded, but he said, "Don't blame yourself." His mouth felt dry, and he couldn't think of anything else to say.

Lana nodded uncertainly. There was an uncomfortable silence before she took a deep breath and spoke, looking him squarely in the eye.  "I don't think it's any secret that there's an attraction between you and me, but I just want to let you know that I'd like to just be friends with you. At least for right now. Whitney and I have been broken up for two weeks, and I just want to be single for awhile."

Clark nodded. "I'll be here as your friend, Lana" was the only thing he could think of to say. They held a gaze for an uncomfortable moment, and it was broken when Lana stood up abruptly, knocking the bag of Scrabble tiles to the floor.

"Oh!" she exclaimed. They both kneeled to recover the tiles. As soon as they were gathered, Lana said, "I'd better get home. I told Nell I would only come out here to watch the fireworks."

"I'll walk you," Clark said. Lana opened her mouth to protest, but quickly closed it. She walked with Clark out of the barn.

They took their time and walked in silence. When they were almost to Lana's porch she turned to him and asked, "Do you like old movies?"

Clark shrugged. "How old? Like 'Lethal Weapon' old, or Buster Keaton?"

Lana giggled. "Kinda in between. The multiplex is showing 'Casablanca' tomorrow night. Normally I wouldn't patronize the competition, but the Talon's movie this week reeks, I can assure you. What do you say?"

"OK," Clark said, a smile turning at his lips slowly. "I'm not big on romantic movies, but I'll give it a shot."

"Can you pick me up at six-thirty?"

"Sure."

***

To be continued ...