Head clearing in progress. Snippet. Courtesy of suggestions by theantimodel and svmadelyn.
Now and Then
"So I live here?"
Clark circles the room, coming to slow stop by the windows. The entirely of fall Metropolis is spread out in front of them, all bright lights and far below, golden-brown-red trees just losing their leaves. Lex isn't sure what to make of the way Clark stares down, eyes narrowing in thought--this isn't very Clark, but there's nothing he could do about that.
"You just moved in," Lex clarifies, glancing back in time to watch Mercy close the door, leaving them alone in the sprawling penthouse. Clark's never been here. A thousand to-do lists are being written in his head every second, but somehow, everything stops when Clark turns around, looking at him from under long bangs, green eyes muddy dark.
"I--I'm sorry." Biting his lip, Clark turns away, hands pushing into his pockets, staring into the floor like it might have some kind of answer. "I don't--don't remember."
No ID on an unknown boy, wandering downtown Metropolis. Just a picture from stupid county festival stuffed in one pocket, of all things, and Lex doesn't know why Clark had it in his jacket, what nurse recognized Lex from the photograph, or what happened that night. It just did, it just had, and standing in the ER of a Metropolitan hospital, Lex told his first lie.
No next of kin.
"It's okay." Lex's not sure what to do with a Clark who looks like that--all this time, in all these years, he's never seen Clark vulnerable. Tentatively, he reaches up, touching one strong shoulder, and Clark turns into it, so naturally that Lex's breath catches. It's all new to Clark, and it's almost new to Lex; it's been so long. "Sit down. I'll get you something to drink."
Clark nods numbly, letting Lex lead him to the couch, curling up in the corner, a tight ball of pretty, miserable boy, somehow small on the dark leather. Both bare arms wrapped around his legs, chin just resting on a jeans-clad knee. His eyes track Lex everywhere.
Clark's full attention has weight, and Lex can feel Clark looking for memories in his body. Pouring straight scotch, Lex ignores the fact Clark's still technically under the legal limit, and Clark takes it with a flick of the wrist, familiar, something he might have learned from Lex once upon a time.
"Can you--" Clark stops, staring at the bottom of the empty glass like he expects it to have answers. "Do you know--tell me--" Clark stops again, flushing. "I heard what the doctors said about telling me stuff, but--"
Five rooms away and fully conscious for the first time in weeks. Looking at Lex like he was the only thing in the world. "I just have to be careful, until we know how much you lost, Clark. We don't want to create false memories."
"I just--I don't recognize anything." The edge of desperation brings Lex back, and this time, it's easier to touch him. Clark seems to need it so much. "I just--I need to know something. Anything. I live here. I go to--college?"
"You go to MetU, yes." Lex waits, but Clark's mouth is a tight, thin line. "You're a good student." A private kid, who keeps to himself. "You live--lived in the dorms." No roommate. No real friends. You never trusted anyone after Pete and Lana. "You like stargazing." You watch the stars looking for your people. "There's nothing you need to worry about."
"And I moved in here this year?" Clark's eyes take in the apartment again, maybe looking for himself here.
"You said two years in the dorms were enough."
Clark nods slowly, and Lex can see him pulling it together in his head. Clark's eyes close, hand tightening in Lex's. "We're--are we--" Clark stops, and so much has changed, but not that blush, bright and sharp, chin going down, a fifteen year old in a Scottish manor house and a hundred thousand times between then and now.
He hadn't even been speaking English when they admitted him. He stared at Metropolis like he'd never seen it before. Tabula rasa, like seven years were nothing but a dream.
Lex breathes in and tells his second lie.