by edie

Thanks to tresca for the wonderful real-time beta! And thanks for smiting the evil pronouns.

Lana backed away from the thing advancing on her. Its face was scrunched and the teeth were incredibly long. She was too frightened to even scream.

She held her purse out in front of her and managed to say, "Here. Take it. Please just don't hurt me."

It only laughed. Lana wished randomly for Clark. He always saved her in Smallville. Why couldn't LA be the same? Her sob seemed to fill the alley as she felt the hard brick of the wall against her back. It - this thing that looked vaguely human -- grabbed her arms and she closed her eyes. Her fear overwhelmed her and the trembling wouldn't stop.

Panting, she tried to prepare herself for the inevitable. When the dust filled her hands, she opened her eyes in disbelief.

A man stood before her with a piece of wood in one hand. He wore glasses, his hair was short and he had a nasty looking scar across his neck. She opened her hands reflexively and wiped them on her thighs to rid herself of the dust.

She could feel herself still trembling. She had no idea what had just happened.

"Are you all right, Miss?" The voice seemed kind, much different than the hard set of his jaw. Maybe the English accent took the edge off the words. She nodded and then seemed to find her voice.

"What happened? Who are you? What was that thing?"

"I'm Wesley. That was..." He trailed off. Maybe he didn't know himself.

"Was it a mutant?" Lana questioned. She could handle that.

"A what?" He asked, confused.

"A mutant." She repeated. "Where I grew up, there were all kinds of weird things like mutants. One girl turned into me, one boy was like a werewolf or something. He looked kind of like - well, like whatever that was that just turned into dust. Was it a mutant?"

"Of a sort. I suppose, Miss...?" The man looked at her intently.

She felt the nervous giggle trying to escape, as she realized she hadn't introduced herself. Holding out a tentative hand, she supplied, "Lang. Lana Lang." A smile accompanied her lame introduction as she shook his hand.

His hand was rough and calloused. When he pulled it back he wiped it on his trousers and pulled a handkerchief from his pocket. He handed it to her, presumably to further clean her hands, so she did, and handed it back to him. After cleaning his own hands again, he tucked it, and the piece of wood he was carrying back into a pocket.

Lana shouldered her bag and realized she was still shaking. She sighed and decided to call a cab. There was no way she was walking the rest of the way home.

Wesley looked at her kindly. "Do you want to go and get a cup of coffee?"

Lana almost laughed. She hated coffee. She'd worked at the Talon all through high school and the summer before moving out here for college. She never drank it. The smell of it sometimes even turned her stomach. She didn't even own a coffee maker for guests.

Lana smiled instead. "Well, I don't drink the stuff myself. But I could go for a soda."

He smiled back. Lana wondered how old he was. He had to be at least Lex's age, probably older. He was good-looking and nice and Lana pushed the voice away in her head that sounded like a bizarre cross between Clark and her Aunt Nell telling her go be safe and just go home.

Lana slid her hands into her pockets as they walked along the sidewalk. Wesley wasn't offering any conversation and she felt the need to fill the silence.

"So, what was that thing? You said it was some kind of mutant?"

Wesley gave her a long sideways look before answering. "Don't think this is weird, but that was a vampire."

Lana just nodded. She'd seen a lot weirder things. She'd bet that she could at least give the man a run for his money in the weird department.

"How did it turn to dust? That's what happened, right? Did you shoot it with a silver bullet or something?" She hadn't heard a gun, but nothing was impossible.

Wesley shook his head. "I shoved a stake through its heart." He looked like he was waiting for her to bolt.

Lana just nodded again. "So, what do you do? Run around helping damsels in distress?" She smiled.

Wesley looked shocked. Maybe he had expected her to run. Or at least not believe him. "Actually, I kind of do. I work with like a private detective with some others, and we do this a lot."

She nodded knowingly. "There was a guy in high school who always ran around saving people, too. He saved me a bunch of times."

"Where was that?"


He nodded and stopped outside a well-lit diner. The bell tinkled lightly as he opened the door for her. She looked up at the sign and said, "The Whip? How cute."

"They have pretty good pie."

"In Smallville, Mrs. Kent's pies were the best. We always sold them at the Talon." She volunteered almost wistfully.

Wesley only nodded, even though he probably didn't have any clue as to what she was talking about.

They were seated immediately and laminated menus were slapped down in front of them. Lana glanced at hers before ordering, "A diet coke and a piece of that pie in the display case."

Wesley chimed in with, "Yes. I'll have a cup of coffee and a piece of the pie, as well."

The waitress nodded and tucked her notepad and pen into a pocket of her apron as she left the table.

"So, you said 'Kansas.' Is Smallville in Kansas?"

Lana nodded. "I spent my whole life there. Just out here for college."

"I've been here for years."

"Doing the same thing?"

Wesley nodded. "All my life, really."

"That's amazing." Lana smiled again.

The waitress stopped at their table with Lana's glass of soda in one hand and a pot of coffee in the other. She slid the glass across the table to Lana, pulled a wrapped straw from an apron pocket and laid it next to the soda.

She looked at Wesley pointedly until he turned the cup on the table over so she could fill it. "I'll be right back with your pie."

"She's not very nice, is she?" Lana whispered when they were alone again.

Wesley chuckled. "It's late. It's a diner. What do you expect?"

Lana shrugged. She didn't think she would have gotten away with the surly behavior in the Talon.

"What were you doing in that alley, anyway?"

Lana felt herself blush. How could she explain?

She picked up the paper wrapper her straw had come in and nervously started twisting it around her fingers. "He was nice. He reminded me of someone I used to know." It wasn't like she could explain that the blond hair and athletic build had reminded her of Whitney. Wesley probably wouldn't understand.

Surprisingly, he apparently did. He reached across the table and squeezed her hand. She looked from the grasped hands to his kind eyes and couldn't help but smile.

"You're going to be okay." He reassured, his crisp precise words comforting.

Two plates, each with a piece of pie atop them were unceremoniously dropped in front of them and the waitress filled Wesley's half-empty coffee cup.

The moment broken, Lana pulled her hand back and picked up the fork that was lying on her napkin. She examined it closely for a second, inspecting it for cleanliness, before deciding it was fine.

She dipped her fork into pie and brought the bite to her lips, tasting it lightly. When she felt eyes on her, she looked up.

The amused smile on Wesley's face made her blush and let out a slight stuttering giggle. "What?" She demanded lightly.

"You're just so cute. Dainty."

"Is that bad?"

"No. Just different. Fred would have eaten her entire piece of pie and half of mine by now." He picked up his own fork and dug into his pie without preamble.

"Um. Did you say Fred was a her?"

"Yeah. Someone I work with. I think it's short for Winnefred."

Lana nodded as she forked another bite of pie into her mouth. The pastry was nowhere near the caliber of Mrs. Kent's, but it was better than the time she and Chloe had tried to bake. She scraped the plate for her last bite and pulled the fork from her mouth.

Wesley smiled. He was still watching her. His dessert was already gone. She watched him pick up the bill that she hadn't noticed being delivered, and tried to protest.

"A gentleman never lets a lady pay."

Lana didn't know what to say to that. No one had called her a lady before. Princess, Ice Queen, bitch. But never lady. The smile didn't leave her face as she gathered her bag and sweater.

They left the diner together, walking next to each other on the sidewalk again. "Can I walk you home?" Wesley suggested with half a smile.

Lana nodded and shoved her hands back into her pockets.

Noises from the city filled the companionable silence. Horns and road noises and other distant, undecipherable things she couldn't identify comforted her.

They reached her building after only a few blocks and Lana stopped to rummage through her purse for her keys. Climbing the steps, she stopped to look at Wesley.

"Can I have your phone number? Just to make sure you're still okay tomorrow."

She pulled a pen from her already open purse and grabbed his hand. It was such a high-school thing to do, but she didn't have anything else to write it on. Tiny, neat numbers - home phone and cell - just in case.

Her hand was squeezed in his and he leaned down to brush his lips across her cheek. She turned quickly so she could kiss him properly.

Pulling back, he smiled again and whispered. "Good night, Lana."

"Night, Wesley. Thanks. For saving me, the pie...for everything."

He nodded and waited until she was inside before turning to walk down the steps. Lana wondered if he really would call. She hugged her arms around herself and hoped so.

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