[Talonâ€”One Day After School, Late in Season 2]
Clark meandered through the converted theaterâ€™s front door. His mind struggled to doggie-paddle through Lifeâ€™s not so gentle maelstrom. Jonathanâ€™s seeming overzealous care of the Secret wore at him. Despite the willingness to keep the Secret, Pete struggled with the Secret. Dr. Swannâ€™s revelations about his origins stirred further questions. With them, Kyla and Chief Willowbrookâ€™s declaration tying him to the Cowache Numan legend pressed down further. His scholastic toils added to the frothing brew.
Even for a super powered teen, the whole situation could be burdensome.
Wish that theyâ€™d understand that I have a life too! He slumped into a careworn oak chair. A heavy sigh escaped his lips. His eyes considered his classmates and fellow townspeople all around.
The throng carried on with their affairs about him. Some sipped their coffee without a clue. A few fretted over the latest assignments. Several checked their phones for texts. A line of people waited patiently or not so patiently for service. Couples exchanged small talk and cute banter.
Others engaging in life. A normal life. A life without special abilities. A life without the burdens.
They donâ€™t know how easy they have it. Clark looked toward the counter. There he spied a certain brunette barista applying her craft. He admired how Lana kept Civilityâ€™s mask firmly applied. He watched as she dealt with the clientele enjoying their sunshine and easing the emotional tempests. He saw her smoothly turn to the espresso machine; her fingers gently urging the desired treats from it. I wish I could be as smooth. I have to be so careful. She can just do it. He bowed his head and allowed his thoughts free rein.
For what seemed like hours, he meditated on the deeper issues. He had meant to get up and order something. Yet his issues sucked him down into the murky depths of his own world. He brooded over the chipped oak table. His fingers tapped away Frustrationâ€™s Morse code across the worn surface. Everything seemed so distantâ€¦almost like he sat behind a glass wall. He could see and hear the other patrons. He could almost touch themâ€¦
Except he wasnâ€™t like themâ€¦not reallyâ€¦.
And so he sat thinking over his cares and concerns. Those tawdry companions smothered him with their overbearing attitudes.
Then everything changed with a small impact. A clink from porcelain touching wood tickled his ears. The exquisite caffeinated aroma stirred his nostrils. Something feather-soft laid itself delicately yet firmly across his hand.
He broke from his reverie. He took in two mugs of coffee steaming away. A gentle hand caressed his easing the burden. His eyes progressed from that gentle anchor up an arm and to the waiting face.
Lana quirked an eyebrow. â€śYou okay, Clark? Looked like you could use a cup.â€ť
â€śHmm? Oh yeah.â€ť He inhaled deeply washing away Depressionâ€™s lingering burdens. â€śSorry. Thanks for coming over. On your break?â€ť
â€śI just finished my shift.â€ť She glanced at her watch. â€śYouâ€™ve been there for three hours. Coming up with lifeâ€™s great plan, are we?â€ť She covered her concern with a smirk which wouldâ€™ve made everyone but Lex jealous. Then she sipped her coffee and motioned with her index finger toward his. â€śYou need that.â€ť
He slowly raised the mug to his lips. The hot drink flowed smoothly into his mouth and down his throat. He relaxed. He felt amazed by her insight. He admired how the cup could be so perfectly fixed for himâ€¦.
â€śContemplating the next great task or what?â€ť she queried. Again she tried to mask her concern with a bit of humor and insight. Despite the unusually busy afternoon, her eyes had gravitated toward him every chance they could get.
â€śNot hardly, Lana. A lot on my mind,â€ť he admitted albeit more candidly than heâ€™d initially planned.
â€śOh? Care to share?â€ť Despite her attempt not to lecture him (again) about opening up, her mouth curled into the slightest signs of a frown.
He sighed. â€śWish I could. You know how it is.â€ť
She coughed into her hand. â€śYeah I do. The balance between work and school is kind of overwhelming. I want Henry and the Sullivans to like me. I try to ride Buttercup twice a week so she doesnâ€™t feel lonely. I dread that Lex is going to march in here and close it all down. I try to contribute to the Torch. Really tiring. You know how it is.â€ť
He rolled his eyes at her deliberately echoing his words back to him. He placed his other hand on top of hers. â€śLana, Iâ€¦â€ť
She shrugged. â€śIt is okay to open up once in a while, Clark. I just did to you. You want to know why?â€ť
He sipped on his coffee while considering her point. â€śOkayâ€¦why?â€ť
She smiled. â€śBecause no matter what else is going on, Clark, youâ€™re always there for me. You find ways to help. You encourage everyone. I wish you didnâ€™t have so many secrets. Itâ€™s okay. Whatever it is, I can deal with it.â€ť She knew of course there was more to him than he let on. She had questions about the events surrounding the twisters and the fires.
But those inquiries would wait. She wouldnâ€™t be so selfish.
Not when her Plaid Knight needed herâ€¦.
She gently squeezed his hand. â€śItâ€™s all right, Clark. When youâ€™re ready, Iâ€™ll listen. Right now, you need someone.â€ť
His heart did a happy jig in his chest skipping about to its own light beating. His mouth formed the familiar grin for her benefit. â€śYou already have. Thanks, Lana.â€ť
â€śJust doing what I do.â€ť Her eyes sparkled into his. â€śYouâ€™re never alone, Clark.â€ť
He sighed. â€śI feel like I am. Everyone has their issues. Mine seem so different.â€ť
She drank from her mug. Her mind contemplated his words and mood. â€śWe all have burdens, Clark. Some are bigger than others. Point is, we all have to learn balance. We canâ€™t do it all alone.â€ť
Wonder what Dad would think of that? â€śIâ€™d like to, Lana.â€ť
â€śThen why donâ€™t you? Iâ€™m tough. I can deal with it,â€ť she insisted.
He rolled his eyes at her words. Wonder how sheâ€™d take the connection between the meteor shower and me? Sheâ€™d blame me for her parentsâ€™ death. Sheâ€™ll never talk to me again.
â€śWeâ€™ve come past our last date, Clark. I think whatever it is, we can deal with it together,â€ť she assured him. She checked her watch again. â€śBesides your Momâ€™s pot roast is waiting.â€ť
He ground his teeth not believing heâ€™d neglected to check in with the parents. â€śSheâ€™s probably worried.â€ť
â€śShe called here looking for you. I told her you were okay. Relax, Clark. I took care of it.â€ť The smirk returned to her face. â€śConsider the possibilities. Clark Kentâ€™s partner in crime. Whoâ€™d imagine that?â€ť she teased. â€śLet me give you a lift.â€ť
â€śOkay,â€ť he accepted eager for a few more minutes with his brunette muse. He started for his wallet.
â€śItâ€™s on the house, Clark. Iâ€™ve got it.â€ť She smiled at him. â€śCome on. Enough brooding. Maybeâ€¦.â€ť
He looked earnestly at her. â€śMaybe what?â€ť
She smiled hopefully at him. â€śMaybe we can watch the sunset from your loft? You still owe me one.â€ť
With surprising ease, he accepted, â€śOkay.â€ť He held his hand out. â€śLead the way?â€ť
She took his hand in hers. Her eyes met his purposefully. â€śAlways. Come on.â€ť
They collected their things quickly. Hand in hand, they headed toward her blazer and the shared sunset waiting ahead.
Never aloneâ€¦never againâ€¦..