Title: Autumn

Author: Jayne Leitch

Fandom: Smallville

Rating: G for gen.

Spoilers: Through 'Vessel'.

Disclaimer: AlMiles and DC own these vaguely disturbing toys.

Summary: One perfect, golden summer.




They went for ice cream the day she was released from the hospital.  Clark bought her a cone stacked high with chocolate and strawberry; she ate it quickly, trying to keep the generous scoops from melting all over her hands.  In the bright warmth of the day, with Clark beside her--devouring his own cone like an enthusiastic five year old--even the ice cream headache made her smile.

She stopped having nightmares--Genevieve, Isabelle, fire and vertigo and the sleek menace of that ship--when she began keeping a meteor fragment under her pillow.

They lay together in her bed after making love for the first time, sated and drowsy, the night breeze from the wide-open windows sweet and gentle on their skin.  Clark fell asleep first; she watched him for a long time before closing her own eyes and drifting off.

She searched out reports on the meteor strike from papers, magazines, radio transcripts, news clips, official websites, personal blogs, everything, everywhere.

They picnicked on an old flannel blanket spread under a tree.  The blanket tickled her bare arms--a herd of cows stared, stolidly bucolic, from the other side of a nearby fence--and, drunk on afternoon sunshine, she laughed.

She spent entire days in the library, scrolling through microfiche and flipping through science and astronomy journals, researching the meteors that killed her parents.

They sprawled on towels beside Crater Lake, chatting with Chloe and Lois until the sun threatened to roast them dry.  The water was shockingly cold at first, but Clark wrapped her up in his arms and held her close, floating while they got used to it; then, with a mischievous grin, she slipped away, and they splashed and teased and dunked each other until they were both breathless.

She went to Lander's Field, stood where the impact crater should have been, and tried not to be sick.

They climbed the windmill in Chandler's Field to watch the Perseids.  At the first streak of light across the sky--too bright, too clear, were they always that close?--she felt suddenly, horribly afraid, and had to look away.  All at once she realized how exposed she was, trapped up high on the rickety old platform of the windmill, and her hands began to shake.  And then Clark's fingers laced with hers, and when she turned to look at him he wasn't watching the stars at all.  He was smiling, the way he always did now they were together; on the ground that smile made her feel loved and safe, but in that moment it took far too much effort to return it.  But she did.

***

When she finally learns the truth, she doesn't recoil; it's not a shock.  There are no theatrics, no guns, no black powder-bursts on his palm.  No tests of trust.  He is still Clark Kent, and if Lana feels anything, it's resignation.

***

She visited her parents one evening near the end of summer, when the weather was just starting to turn and dusk lent the air a crisp edge.  "I know it's been a while since the last time I was here," she said, her fingers cooling where they rested on the headstone.  "I'm sorry.  I've missed you.  But so much has happened, and I've been so caught up...Clark and I are finally together.  And it's--he's--"  She ducked her head, smiling.  Blushing a little at saying this to her parents.  "He loves me.  I know it, and I feel it, and it's exactly what I've always wanted.  And now that I have it..."  A loon's coo echoed through the quiet evening.  Lana's smile faded.  "College starts soon.  I know that won't change anything, but..."  She shook her head, slow and rueful.  "I've spent so many years wanting to get out of Smallville, but now all I want is more time here, with Clark, the way we've been all summer.  The way we should've been, all along."

Sighing, she turned and sat down; with her back against the headstone, its chill seeped through her thin jacket and into her skin.  She remembered that when she was little, she'd thought that chill was her parents' touch, letting her know they were there with her.  Letting her know she wasn't alone.  "I know so much now, and I can't ignore any of it.  After everything that's happened this year--"  She shook her head again, this time with more vehemence--then, deliberately, she took a deep breath and tried to relax against the polished marble.  "I know now, for sure, that these months with Clark have been the best of my life," she whispered, her eyes shining.  "One perfect, golden summer.

"I wish it didn't have to end."

***

The End.


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