The Whole Picture
Clark is a good guy.
She should love him, she thinks. It should be magic, perfection, and pure fire.
It should be what she wants.
So, when he says, "You want to hear the truth? The truth is, I've wanted you for years," she just kisses him.
She's Clark Kent's girlfriend now. It defines her to the masses like so many of her previous titles.
Sometimes she loses sight of who she really is. It has to be more complicated than a few words. More layered than 'Clark's girlfriend.'
Their coupling is a surprise to no one. But the sadness in Chloe's eyes shocks Lana to the core - she doesn't want to make her friend miserable.
She just wants her to be happy. Really, she wants everyone to be happy, which has always been her problem. She has no clue how to please herself - and, if she did, she'd probably dismiss it for the greater good.
All she knows is, she's making Chloe miserable.
She can't handle that.
Now that she's with Clark, she's acutely aware of all the time he spends with Lex. Of the way Lex's eyes travel Clark's body like he's looking for something.
Lex is nothing but cordial whenever he's around her, of course, but she can't shake the feeling that he'd rather be alone with Clark.
That's the feeling she has tonight on this friendly dinner between the three of them.
"Maybe I should go," she says, pushing away a half-eaten piece of cake.
"Stay," Clark replies, fingers lightly touching hers.
Lex makes the same suggestion, but it doesn't seem quite as genuine. And Clark's comment isn't really that heartfelt to begin with.
"No, I really should. Nell's probably waiting for me."
Their protests cease. She volunteers to pay for her share of the bill, but Lex waves his hand and makes her feel foolish for even offering.
When she makes her way into the night, her steps become languid. She doesn't want to go home; she can't be with her boyfriend. Maybe she doesn't want to.
'Chloe,' a voice inside her declares, but she knows that Chloe wouldn't want to see her tonight. Or maybe any other night.
She wonders what it means that Chloe is her first and only option for solace.
She tries to stop wondering.
Clark splits his time between her and Lex. Well, 'split' is a generous word, considering he spends one day with her for every two days with Lex.
She tries not to think about what they're doing together.
Instead, she thinks about Chloe. How much she misses their blossoming friendship.
Talking to her.
Being near her.
Everything about her.
She wants them to be close again. Maybe closer than they were before.
But she'd just settle for being someone Chloe wants to talk to.
"So, what are you doing tonight?" Lana drops lightly.
"I'm going over to Lex's. It's tough, everything that's going on with his father," he adds before she even thinks of asking for an explanation.
"I understand," Lana responds. "You should be there for your friends."
Clark smiles at her. She thinks she notices traces of guilt. She tries to ignore it.
'Tell me the truth,' she thinks, but she says nothing. Given her current state of affairs, maybe demanding more truth isn't the best idea.
She wants to see Chloe.
The thoughts invade her brain no matter how much she wants to repress them. Because she's alone and Chloe hasn't talked to her since she and Clark became Lana-n-Clark, power couple of Smallville High.
She wants to see Chloe, so she decides she should. The invitation to spend the night at her place is still open, for all intents and purposes.
"Lana?" Chloe asks with confusion. "What are you doing here?"
She's more tense than Lana's ever seen her - maybe Chloe does hate her.
"You said I could stay here if the Nell and Dean thing became too much to handle," Lana says. "I understand if you want me to go--"
"No. It's fine," Chloe answers quickly.
Lana doesn't really believe her.
"You can sleep on the couch if you want," Chloe says as she eyes Lana on the floor.
"No, this is fine," Lana replies. She wants to talk to Chloe, be with her - that can't be accomplished from down the stairs.
"You want another pillow? We have extra in the closet."
"One is fine."
Chloe shuts off the light and climbs into bed. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight." There's silence for several minutes while Lana tries to figure out what to say. All she can come up with is "Are you awake?"
"Yeah," Chloe replies. "I just got into bed two minutes ago. I'm not that swift a sleeper."
"Would you mind if I ask you something?" Lana mutters.
"Are you angry at me? I mean, about what's going on between me and Clark--"
"Hey, we said we'd never let Clark come between us. I stand by that."
"But you've barely spoken to me for weeks," Lana points out. "You can admit you're upset with me. I know you still care about Clark."
"It's not about Clark anymore," Chloe blurts out. Before Lana can question what that means, Chloe exhales and continues to speak. "I just didn't want to be a third wheel. Or, when Pete's around, a forth wheel. And when Lex is around, I almost feel like one of many spare tires," she adds with a laugh.
"So you've noticed how they act together, too?"
Chloe hesitates. "Uh...It was just a joke, Lana. I mean, they do seem rather close, but I hardly think--"
"He's never around. And when we're together and Lex enters, all the attention goes right to him."
"It doesn't mean anything, probably," Chloe answers weakly. "Why would he want someone else when he has you?" she continues, voice stronger. Her voice is tiny again when she adds, "I mean, you know, Clark's been infatuated with you for years."
"Maybe wanting me was just easier than being honest with everyone." Chloe says nothing to this. "I just...I have a feeling that something's happening between them. I can't explain it, even. It's just there."
"Doesn't it bother you?"
"A little. But, really, I spend most of my time thinking about you," she says without thinking. All she does is tell others to be honest, but her own candor is creating a pit in the bottom of her stomach. Chloe's never going to talk to her now. "Forget I said that. I didn't mean anything."
Chloe sits up in bed. "I think you did."
Lana mirrors her stance, but she all she can see as she looks up at Chloe is a silhouette. "I just meant that I was worried about our friendship."
"No, I don't think that's what you meant."
"Stop taking this the wrong way," Lana says, although she's pretty certain Chloe is taking it just the way it was intended.
Chloe slides off the bed and sits in front of Lana. Now, she can make out Chloe's features - she's not sure what to think about her lack of shock. Maybe Chloe is taking this the wrong way. "I know what you mean. And you can't back out of it," Chloe whispers.
It's the most authoritative whisper Lana's ever heard, so she promptly freezes in response. "Chloe--"
Before she can get out the next words, she feels Chloe's lips on hers. They're as soft as Lana had imagined.
Chloe pulls away slightly. "That is what you meant, right?"
"Yeah," Lana mutters.
Chloe's mouth meets hers again. Lana idly wonders if her betrayal of Clark is coinciding with Clark's betrayal of her.
But, really, all she wants to consider is Chloe.
The next day, Clark disappears with Lex. But now, Lana has Chloe to disappear with.
Eventually they'll all have to be honest with each other. But, for now, selective truth is better than entirely living a lie.
Not much. But enough.
As Chloe's fingers brush against her cheek, Lana wonders how this could be used to define her.
'Chloe Sullivan's girlfriend?'
It's not the whole picture, but it makes more sense than all the labels that came before.
Much more than enough.