Beyond Expectations
Author: DebC
E-mail: debchilson@yahoo.com
Rating: PG
Keywords: Lana pov, Pete pov, love, relationships, friendship
Pairing: Lana/Pete, Clark/Chloe strongly implied
Series: none
Spoilers: I'm going to say all Season 1, just incase, but mostly Tempest
Disclaimers: None of them are mine.
Summary: Sometimes what people expect isn't all there is.

Author's Notes: Lana got a bit literary on me in this one, comparing herself to Scarlett O'Hara and Hester. Scarlett is from Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind." Hester is Hester Prynne from Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter."

"Beyond Expectations"

Clark loves Chloe.

Every time I see them together, I am reminded of it. Reminded? No... hit over the head with it. He loves her, she loves him, and I'm left sitting on the sidelines watching their love blossom while mine fades and grows brittle like last year's roses. A bittersweet reminder of what once was and is not now.

A fitting metaphor for my life, really. I'm last year's beauty, retired and fading into the shadows, doomed to relive past glories while others forge new ones before my very eyes. Last year, it was me and Whitney--the Golden Couple, the perfect match. We were all everyone could talk about: how wonderful we were together, how perfect, how ideal. Now it is Chloe who glows under the praise of admiring on-lookers and Clark who struts like the knight who's finally won the hand of the fair maiden.

Clark, the hero who saved my life on Prom night, thereby solidifying his place in Smallville society, and Chloe... the lucky girl who won his heart. Yeah, they were still geeks in some respects, but for the first time people saw them as I always have: special, deserving.

And I'm happy for them. I truly am, mostly because I know Clark Kent and Chloe Sullivan well enough to know that they won't get sucked into the fame of being everyone's favorite couple and forget who they are. Not like I did. I was the Lana half of 'Lana-n-Whitney' for so long that it was all I knew how to be. By the time I realized there might be something else--someone else--out there for me, it was too late. Clark was in love with Chloe and Whitney already had my life mapped out. But I know things won't work out that way for my two friends.

They're both individuals, for one thing. Not sheep, like Whitney or me. Not one to blindly follow where the consensus of public opinion takes them.

The funny thing is, now that the spotlight is off me and Whitney, things have started to change. His letters come infrequently now, and sometimes seem so informal. He used to write such long letters, talking about our future plans, what would happen when he got out of the Marines--we'd marry and settle down somewhere. Have kids. Now he writes short things. One or two pages, instead of ten or twelve. He asks about Nell, the Talon, school, and never talks about love; I've started responding in kind. We're like distant pen pals who will probably never meet and are slowly realizing that we never had all that much in common at all. I suspect someday we'll both stop writing to each other.

***

Chloe loves Clark.

Not that it's some huge secret. I've always known it. Could see it in her eyes whenever she thought he wasn't looking and scammed on him. Looking at him like he was some fine treat she wanted to have all to herself. Well, she's got him now, cuz the big lug finally got a clue. They've been "together" since the Prom, even if they did have a rocky start. Real rocky; he ducked out on her at the end of the dance to save Lana Lang from the tornado. She accepted his apology--the fifth one, the one where he got down on his knees and begged her, though I suspect she'd been yanking his chain by that time. Just to see how far he'd actually go. Chlo's like that.

One of the reasons I always kinda liked her. Smart, brassy, not afraid of anything. What's not to love in a girl like that? Right?

That's what I thought, too, but you know, it took Clark forever to figure it out. Mooning over Lana Lang like she was the only girl on earth or something. Not that Lana's anything shabby but she's always been off limits to those of us who weren't Whitney Fordman. Chloe's always been within reach, and it took Clark until Whitney was gone to realize it. The minute Lana wasn't so unattainable.

Funny how it worked that way, too. I never saw it coming and I know Chloe didn't. She--both of us, actually--were half expecting Clark to ditch her the second he knew Whitney was happily on his way to becoming a Jarhead and leave her play third wheel to me and Erica.

He *did* ditch her, just not when we thought. Or for the reasons we thought, either. Yes, it was for Lana, but only because she was in trouble. Could have been anyone he left the Prom to go save. His father, Luthor, a total stranger even. Clark's that way. An all round good guy. Which is why Chloe loves him.

And why he's still my friend, even though I didn't join him in worshipping Lex Luthor last year. And as his friend, I'm happy for the man. Happy for both of them, I should say--both my friends. They finally got their acts together and even managed to keep it real. They're not trying to change each other to fit any mold people might try and fit them into. Just being themselves.

And man, what I wouldn't give for a love like that.

***

Why is it considered "romantic" to be asked to wait for a soldier going off to serve his country? Because from where I sit, it isn't very romantic at all. Not like it did the day Whitney held my hand, sitting on our picnic blanket, and confessed his love to me. He asked me to wait for him to come back from the Marines, wait for him and someday become his bride. A wife. A mother. To his children.

I said yes... well, I'm starting to wonder why I said I would wait for him. I'm sixteen years old, seventeen in couple months, and a sophomore high school. I should be hanging out with my friends, going to parties and dances, having fun. Instead, I feel like my life is on hold, like I've been placed on a shelf too high to climb down from. No one notices me on the shelf anymore. Expect to stop and stare and say "how pretty" like a china doll too precious to touch, lest it break.

I want down from this height. I want to do all the things I did last year. Parties, concerts, limo rides. I don't want to be shunned anymore.

Shunned, yeah, Lana Lang is being shunned by her peers. Bet you never thought that would happen. People avoid me. No one asks me out, even as a friend. It's as though Whitney and I were already married, instead of just dating. We're not even dating, really, not anymore. We're "waiting." But it's hard to say what we're waiting for--him to finish his four-year hitch? Me to graduate? Both feel like a long time to me, like neither will ever come to pass and I'll be stuck in this limbo forever.

Stuck. Trapped. Bored. Not things anyone expects from me. Not me, the fairy princess of Smallville, Kansas. I'm supposed to live the fairy tale life, complete with handsome prince and a "happily ever after."

Instead, I'm Scarlett O'Hara, newly widowed and dressed in black from head to toe--and just itching to dance every dance with joyous abandon. Yes, I do understand Scarlett. People though that by dancing with Rhett--or any man--she was betraying her late husband's memory. And being improper. Maybe she was, but she only married Charles Hamilton to spite Ashley, not because she really loved him. She wasn't in mourning for him any more than I am pining away for Whitney. I miss him, yes, but I'm not dying of longing for him.

And tomorrow is Homecoming; I just want to dance.

***

There is something wrong with a world in which Lana Lang is dateless for Homecoming. Therefore something is truly wrong with Smallville, as there she is, standing next to the punch bowl in a brand new dress, hair piled on top of her head in something Chloe called "antebellum style." Heck if I know what that means, but it sure is lovely on her. Same goes for the dress--jade satin and tight in all the right places if you know what I mean.

A couple of the guys on the football team walk past, and I hear them talking about Lana. These were Whitney's best buds, and they're wondering why she's here when he isn't. One of them sniggers and suggests maybe she's looking for some action. He's punched in the arm and warned not to let Fordman hear he'd said that. I wonder how many of them have actually kept in touch with Whitney or if it isn't residual fear and awe of him that keeps people away from his girl.

Lana *does* look like she's looking for some action, though. Maybe just not the kind my teammate lewdly suggested. She looks like she's ready to step out, tired of being ignored and I can't say as I blame her. People've avoiding her like she had the Plague or AIDS or something. Like they were afraid to touch her or talk to her.

It's not like she's going to break or anything.

A year ago, I wouldn't have been standing here contemplating asking Lana Lang to dance. She was untouchable--Whitney's and his alone. But Whitney's not here and it looks like she could use a friend. Or at least someone who won't ignore her. Clark and Chloe are already on the dance floor and I'm dateless, just like Lana is tonight. It sucks to be in between girls when a dance comes around. Especially Homecoming.

I see her watching the "happy couple" twirling about the dance floor like they're not really aware of the music. It could be slow or fast and they'd never know it, because they're making their own music. She looks a little jealous... or wistful... maybe remembering when that was her out there in dreamland. I feel for her. No one deserves to be this lonely.

Oh, heck! I'm gonna do it--just walk over and talk to her. No one else seems to want to; might as well be me. Maybe I'll even see if I can incur the wrath of Whitney Forman Big Bad Bullet Sponge by asking her to dance. Could be fun.

***

Well, it looks like I'm back in the spotlight, at least for now. Pete asked me to dance at Homecoming. Walked right up to me and said he thought I could use a friend. We danced every dance except that first one, when I was so caught up in watching Clark dance with Chloe and feeling like a huge dummy for even showing up.

We danced, laughed, and had way too much fun. I barely noticed the people staring us like we were alien or something. Although I'm noticing the attention today. I keep checking my shirt, expecting to see a huge scarlet A pinned to my chest. And, like Hester, I don't intend to explain myself to anyone. It was just a dance, after all. It was fun.

Whitney called while I was out. Three times. Nell finally told him where'd I'd gone and suggested he try again on Sunday. He didn't call back, though, and I'm left wondering what that means. I hope he's not jealous. I mean. It's just Pete, after all.

Sweet, funny, always there when you need him Pete. I was feeling kinda low when he came over and asked me to dance... cheered me up with a thousand jokes and a goofy smile.

Even if it is just "just Pete" I can't help but compare him to Whitney. And maybe even Clark, too. They were the only two guys in this school I could see myself with. But there are too many expectations with them. Clark always seemed to idolize me--like something to treasure and not to really touch. He came close a few times, but never, ever did. Whitney just assumed that whatever he wanted I would also want.

Pete doesn't assume anything when it comes to me. Or at least, not that I can tell. We've had lunch together a couple of times this week, and he's always at the Talon with Clark & Chloe. He makes me feel... like I belong somewhere again. Like it doesn't matter that I'm supposed to be waiting for Whitney... that we can be friends--I can have friends--without Whitney being here to regulate what I do with those friends.

I like that. I like the feeling that when I'm with Pete, there are no rules I have to follow... no expectations I need to live up to.

Nell asked me what I was gong to tell Whitney when he calls back. I think I'll tell him the truth--that, well, just maybe doing what's expected of you isn't all there is to life.

Pete taught me that, and I'm hoping there's more to learn from each other.