small town girls




by Hito

Lana looks over Clark's shoulder sometimes, when he joins her at her table. Tunes out what he's saying, smiles vaguely, looking abstracted but present. Looks at the table he's just left.

She thinks about joining him sometimes, when she walks through the door. Clark's crush on her is common knowledge. It would be a kindness, one more generous gesture from the sweetest girl in Smallville, taking pity on a poor, lovesick boy. No one would ever guess.

Chloe is bent over her notepad, tapping her pen in frustration. She hasn't written anything in a long time, but she doesn't look up. Lana watches Pete lean forward eagerly, soaking up the scraps of attention Chloe tosses way. She doesn't notice him and Lana's glad of that, secretly pleased that Chloe isn't looking for a sign, waiting for a word, the way she used to with Clark. Lana tells herself that she should feel guilty about that, because she has no intention of offering herself as an alternative to Pete. None.

She does feel guilty about ignoring Clark. He asks so little and offers so much that she thinks the least he deserves is her attention. She believes that would be enough to satisfy him, though she's not quite sure why. She tries to keep her eyes on his but her gaze always drifts, imagination captured by a laugh, the scrape of a shifting chair.

Lana served Chloe once, when she was working as a waitress. Lingered taking the order, listening to her voice. Chloe rarely speaks directly to her. They smile at each other in the hallways. Sometimes she thinks Chloe is aware of her, looks back, but mostly she thinks Chloe sees right through her. Sees Whitney and Clark, and dresses and tiaras.

The cup had lipstick marks all over one side. Overlapping each other, blurring into one another, no one clear imprint of Chloe's lips. The hardened gloss was rough against her finger, and she told herself that it would feel like that on Chloe's mouth. It wouldn't be soft and wet and sticky, smearing over Lana's skin like hers does on Whitney's. She knew it wasn't true as she thought it, but she didn't care. The colour was darkened and dull, nothing like it was on Chloe. It was such a bright pink, brighter than anything Lana owns.

She can't remember now how it started. One day she was wrapped in Whitney's letter jacket, searching out the scent of his aftershave, the next she was tracing the line of Chloe's neck in class, thinking up excuses to swing by the Torch offices after school. She's never used any of them.

She thinks it must have begun the day Chloe found her mother's speech. Knowing, somehow, how much it meant to her. No pitying smiles, sympathetic glances, just understanding, helping, and leaving her alone. That was the first time Lana ever really noticed Chloe.

Now she can't stop looking, sliding her eyes around the room, only focusing on that blonde head. Nobody knows, but everyone wonders. Clark works to hold her attention, and she tries, she does. Whitney thinks she's angry with him, and Nell--

Is all she's ever known, really, despite how hard she tries to persuade herself otherwise. She should think of Nell as her mother, she supposes. As much as Clark thinks of Martha Kent as his. She wishes she could, and that makes it worse that she's lying to Nell along with everyone else. Clark, Whitney, Chloe. Chloe most of all. She wishes she could curl up in Nell's lap, hide herself inside Nell's arms, have that comfort, protection. Nell would offer it, or would want to. Lana wants to tell, but she won't. She lies, and people wonder.

Clark hasn't been joining her as often lately. Lana sits alone.