Okay, noting that this part eight, and this isn't my diary, where it's slightly easier to get pieces, all earlier parts can be found here. I wasn't going to HTMLize it until I finished it and got it beta'ed, as putting something up in HTML is actually a commitment to finishing it at some point, but...oh well. Fifty pages is ridiculous to try and read in LJ.
Anyway. Latest section. I'm happily in denial about length again.
On seeing Dr. Cassius for the first time, Clark remembers the interview Lois did for some LexCorp story involving radiation. It was a long time ago--a *really* long time ago, around the time of the infamous Lane/Luthor break-up--but he can still recall snatches of the interview.
Nothing useful. Lex is right--alone among LexCorp employees, he's so completely squeaky-clean that he makes Clark's teeth itch. Not even a rumor of misbehavior for a man who heads up LexCorp's medical and who, under his own name, has published multiple papers in the field of genetic engineering.
Right, *that's* why Clark feels nervous around him.
"Lex." Cassius comes out before the secretary even has time to call him--tall and slim, blond and blue eyes that remind Clark of Lex, impeccable in suit and the typical immaculate white lab coat, glancing briefly over his glasses at Clark before extending a hand to Lex, who shakes it with every sign of pleasure.
"Benny, this is Clark Kent." Lex's grin is bright and real--not what Clark expected between employer and employee. The blue eyes fix on Clark briefly, no expression at all, but the handshake's firm and friendly. "I need a full work up and results by tonight."
"And you'd like me to discover the cure for all cancer as well?" Rolling his eyes, Cassius shakes his head. "Come on. I set up everything so neither of you will have to wait. Do you want him present, Mr. Kent?" Not even looking at Lex, like this is totally Clark's choice.
Oh. Does he want Lex around while he's poked and prodded?
"Can I use your office?" Lex says, saving Clark the trouble of overthinking. Cassius rolls his eyes.
"Sure. Don't break my computer again and try not to fuck up my records while you try to conquer the eastern United States today?" With a grin, Benny looks back at his secretary. "Hold all calls or forward to Mitchell. He'll be in to take over the rest of my appointments." Waving at the door, Cassius looks at Clark. "Ready?"
Wow, good question. There's a queasy feeling in the pit of his stomach, reaching outward and sending every alarm in his head off in various degrees of loudness. Dad's *really* loud, saying 'Luthor' and 'experiment' and 'dangerous', because he never--never--
Breathe, Clark. Human. Nothing else.
He's been with his mother to the doctor's before. And in ER's. The exam room is cheerful in butter yellow, kind of like being trapped in the yolk of an egg. Shiny metal equipment, but also big leather armchairs and the utilitarian cabinets aren't quite as intimidating as he expected. Cassius closes the door, motioning him up on the bed. Peeling his coat off, Clark perches uncomfortably on the edge, watching Cassius move restlessly around the room. A man who can't sit still. A lot like Lex, come to think.
"Arrhythmia, I think, but well within normal," Cassius says, startling him, and Clark almost jumps off the bed. The blue eyes hold his, like there's a secret message that's being passed between them that Clark has to figure out. "I was born in Smallville."
For a second, nothing. Then Clark blinks, watching the doctor watch him.
"I was eight when the meteor shower hit." Another pause, and then Cassius picks up a palm pilot, looking at it carefully. "My mother took me out of town a year later. I had some unusual reactions to the radiation."
Jesus. Clark flushes as the doctor makes some notes. "I'll be running the basic physical work-up. I'll need your permission for DNA testing for genetic abnormalities and a full blood work-up." Cassius looks at him over his glasses. "Did the mix work to clear the radiation reaction?"
Every hair on his body stands straight up, and the only thing keeping Clark in the room is utter terror. "How much do you know?"
Cassius shrugs lightly. "Lex did the chemistry, I provided the genetic and biological information." Making another note, Cassius turns away, pulling out a drawer. Right. Blood. Great. With a man who knows--who knows *something*, but--
Radiation effects. Clark lets out a slow breath. "A lot of people were affected by the meteorites."
"In varying degrees of severity," Cassius agrees, coming over with the needle and a set of vials. Settling them down, Cassius moves a wheeled table under Clark's arm. Frowning, Clark looks down.
"Aren't you going to--"
"Don't need to." The smile is slightly mocking, but only of himself. "Light arrhythmia, normal lung function, normal liver function, normal kidney function, etcetera. You're about as baseline human as they come." The smile smoothes out. "If someone were to say, make me a normal human, this is what they would get." Looking into Clark's eyes, Cassius' smile fades a little. "Like when you're a kid and you think, make it so I find out if people are sick before it's fatal like Mom…."
Clark sucks in a breath. Jesus.
"It must be hell to be out in the city." Clark remembers hearing their pain, night after night. But--but feeling, *knowing* that this man is dying of cancer, that one has this disease, all around you, all the *time*….
Cassius glances at the door, then makes a wide motion encompassing the room. "The entire building is lead-lined so I can't feel anything outside it. When Lex found out it blocks--that--he built this for me." Cassius shrugs, making a simple tourniquet around Clark's arm. "I couldn't practice at all otherwise. I barely made it through medical school."
No, Cassius would have gone crazy in a hospital or normal clinic. Knowing. Always *knowing*, and Clark sucks in a breath.
"I should have asked, let me *cure* disease, but God knows what would have come of that." The lightness is betrayed by an edge that makes Clark shudder, then the needle slides cleaning through the skin. Fascinated, Clark watches blood fill the reservoir. He's getting nauseated. Oh God, he's got needle issues. "I'll analyze this and have results by tonight. I need a few other samples…." Cassius trails off meaningfully, glancing up once before removing the first vial and snapping the second onto the needle. "The usual culture."
Forcing his eyes straight ahead, Clark takes long, deep breaths, trying to think.
"How--how did you meet--" Stupid question. Does it matter? Lex has always been fascinated by mutants of all kinds.
"I diagnosed his cancer from radiation exposure." Clark looks up, surprised. "We met at a hotel in Lisbon when I was--escaping my problems." A strange, dreamy look covers the doctor's face. "He--told me he could make it better. That I could still be a doctor and help people." A little shrug. "LexCorp employees are the healthiest in the world. They come in every six months like clockwork to be checked out. I also oversee the facility where less successful Smallville mutations are kept."
"Kept." Clark's mouth tightens. "Yeah."
"Better than the alternative," Cassius says shortly, and the last vial is filled. Pressing down with a cotton ball, Cassius pulls the needle out. "Psychosis is standard for those whose DNA couldn't handle the changes." A little shrug before he straightens. "It was me or mental institutions and prisons. I decided I could do better treating them than the government."
Clark has no idea *what* to say to that, but he nods stiffly as Cassius walks away.
"Do you experiment on them?"
The fast turn is startling--but then, most meteor mutants seem to have picked up some seriously good motor control. Pulling his lab jacket sleeve up, Cassius unbuttons his shirt, deliberately rolling up the sleeve. Clark sucks in a breath at the line of needle scars. Old, fresh, some have to be from as recently as yesterday.
"On all of us." A long second passes, then Cassius rolls his sleeve back down, once again the mild, quiet doctor in a perfectly average examining room. Picking up the vials, Cassius turns to Clark. "I'll be back in a moment to ask you a few more questions."
He's no more than out the door than Lex appears, leaning casually into the doorway. Clark slides off the table, taking a breath.
"You didn't tell me."
Lex shrugs. "You didn't ask. I told you he has impeccable credentials. He's also the only man alive who has access to almost every record of mutation in Smallville." The tight grin makes Clark wince. "The government, for obvious reasons, has no idea about any of that." Lex runs a finger absently over the edge of his sleeve, picking away nonexistent lint. "What do you want me to say, Clark? You've known about my research for years."
"I--" Clark stops. In theory, yes. "What are you doing to them?"
"Studying them. Treating them when possible. Trying to fix what the kryptonite fucked up. Keeping them out of the public eye and government records." Raising a hand, Lex peels off the glove. It looks human--it even feels human, so human that Clark's forgotten Lex has been without his hand for over two years. "Meteorite mutations--Cassius can't feel them as well as a baseline human, but he can still feel it. He wants to cure them. He oversaw every aspect of my treatment for kryptonite poisoning and he's the only one in the world with all the records. He knows wild mutation is perfectly possible and even likely. Most people who were exposed don't get the option to mutate and go straight to cancer. I was lucky enough to go both ways." Lex shrugs, putting the glove back on. "You don't have to trust me, Clark. But I'll ask you this--who would you trust with this? It's the biggest thing to hit human evolution since we crawled out of the sludge. Cassius has personal reason to want to help. And if I use his results--what's the harm?"
Staring at Lex, Clark tries to think. He's known--God, he's known for years Lex experiments with the Kryptonite. Human subjects, though? Somewhere in the back of his head has always been the vague idea that there are some lines even Lex can't cross. Won't cross, no matter what.
Cassius comes back in, reading something on a clipboard. The blue eyes flicker up, capturing the moment, and Clark looks away.
"I'll schedule several round of immunizations," he says mildly. "Adults normally don't react as predictably as kids, but--" Cassius shrugs. "Also normally, the side effects are minimal. I'll start you off on the MMR and we'll monitor from there. Do you live alone?"
"Yes." Clark watches as Cassius keys open a cabinet. He keeps vaccinations here? How--weird. Or did Lex talk to him before making that call this afternoon? If Cassius was involved in the original stuff that Lois was shoving down his throat for two days, probably.
"I'd like you checking in with someone every four hours for the next twenty-four hours. Just in case of--"
"I'll take care of it." Clark glances at Lex, impassive face and veiled eyes. "I know the symptoms."
Clark fixes his gaze on the far wall while Cassius administers. He knows he's not up to watching shots yet--right, once a superhero, now freaking out about needles. This is just great.
"Okay. The lab will have full results by tomorrow." Cassius grins a little as he peels off his gloves, tossing them aside. "Has there been anything unusual--never mind. Everything's going to be unusual."
"He's lost about ten pounds," Lex says from the door, and Cassius gaze jerks around, fixing on him. "I'd guess also anemic. Appetite--"
"Jesus, Lex!" Flushing, Clark stands up, grabbing his coat. "I'm fine!"
Cassius makes a sound a lot like a laugh. "Right. Mr. Kent, try to keep track of what you eat over the next four days and come in on, say, Tuesday at four?" Clark nods, stuffing his arms in his coat. "Just to double check anything. How do you want the results--"
"Clark, give him your cellphone number," Lex says shortly. "You can pick them up from the secretary."
Frowning, Clark finishes straightening his jacket. Cassius is smiling now, like there's a huge joke that no one but him gets.
"Thanks," Clark says, and he thinks he means it, reaching out to shake the firm hand, then walking by Lex into the waiting room. The secretary's on the phone, chatting lightly with someone, turned away from him. Leaning into the wall, Clark considers the office. From the exam room, Clark can hear the low murmur of voices, but human normal doesn't allow for much in the way of hearing what they're saying.
After a few seconds, Lex comes out, a little line between his brows and a tight set to his mouth. Without a word, Lex walks by him to the door, going outside.
Oh the bastard. Like he'll follow. And like he has a better idea. With an impatient sigh, Clark catches the door and steps into the cool Metropolis afternoon.
Lex is looking around with an abstracted air, like he's not entirely aware of what he's doing.
"You're pissed that I'm suspicious?" Clark asks. He's tempted to ask about Rhinestadt, but Lois is right. Whatever Lex is doing, he'll start covering things up *fast* if he thinks someone's looking for something they shouldn't see. It plays in his mind, though--Cassius, a meteor mutant and doctor, and Rhinestadt, astrophysicist. Just too nice a segue there.
Lex swings around, coat flying. Lex has an impeccable sense of drama. "Surprised? No. Pissed? A little. If I wanted to use you, I would have picked you up that first night. No one could have stopped me. No one would even have known."
Clark--hadn't thought of that.
"You didn't tell anyone what you were doing or where you were going, except Lois apparently." Lex shrugs lightly. "And I could have gotten her out of the way easily."
"Could you?" Maybe not a great time to remind Lex that Lois isn't just anyone but is Lex's ex and a pretty damn prominent reporter. "You wouldn't have a problem doing that to her?"
"I'd have a problem." There's only three steps between them, and only Lex would cover them, face to face, so close Clark can feel the warmth of his body through their clothes. "Do you think that's ever stopped me before?"
For a second, there isn't even air, and Clark flashes on too many looks just like this--hostile Lex, enemy Lex, enraged Lex, the Lex that Clark's fought for more years than they were ever friends. Something tightens in his chest, a burn following in his throat, and then Lex steps away, the mask falling into place.
"Don't do that." Lex looks at him in surprise. "Don't pretend that you don't care."
"Who says I care?"
Nothing. Everything. Superman didn't have this luxury, but hell, Superman's dead, Clark's here, and there's all kinds of luxury involved in it. Taking the step separating them, Clark reaches out, catching his elbow. Lex doesn't even flinch--some habits, Clark thinks, are harder to break than others.
Defiant, definitely, but Lex is like that. He's never gotten over being a rebel, even in his mind. Some part of him misses Lionel to fight again, compare himself to. Superman had been good for that, Clark thinks. He has to wonder how Lex is going to function without a decent archenemy in sight.
Grinning, Clark slides his hand down the strong arm, lingering on soft wool over hard muscle, ending with long fingers, twining his between and pressing his thumb into the palm, circling slowly. He can feel Lex tense in an entirely different way.
"So you said something about dinner," Clark murmurs, taking another step, and they might be in the middle of downtown Metropolis but Clark doesn’t really care. Lex meets his eyes with something a lot like anticipation.
"It's only two now. A little early, don't you think?"
Clark laughs. "Since when has convention stopped you?" Leaning closer, he brushes a fast kiss over parted lips, moving back too quickly for Lex to do anything but gasp softly. "I--I want to see you naked. Now."
The slow, sucked in breath is reward enough, even though he's blushing again, God, he's got to stop doing that. Stepping back, he snickers at the dazed blue eyes that blink before focusing sharply, looking into him like Lex is mapping everything he's going to touch and how he's going to do it. Dear God. Clark's cock pushes uncomfortably into his boxers, making him shudder.
Instantly, Lex as a cellphone in hand.
"Car. Now." He shuts it off and drops it in his pocket, cutting off Clark's protest. "Hope will take Lois' car back to the Planet." The fingers in his tighten, almost to the point of pain. Wow. Dark eyes fix on Clark's mouth, heavy, full of things that make Clark shiver again. "I'm going to enjoy you, Clark."
All medical stuff is hearsay and memories of doctor's visits. Feel absolutely free to correct me.
Okay. Now going to face down the coming people. *breathes* I can be social. I can BE social. I CAN.