The papers were served two days later. Lex's lawyers took them and went to work, leaving Lex to the important task of watching Clark's daily examinations.
Lois was with him tonight. He wasn't sure if there was a rotation schedule in place, but Lois, Lana, and Chloe all took turns with the Kents, sometimes quiet and sometimes not. He found he didn't resent it as much as he would have thought he would.
"They have leads," Lois said into the empty air. Lex lifted his head, blinking slowly, as Lois looked at her nails. "But no suspects."
"Have they called you--"
"When they find him, they will for identification." Lois ran her nails slowly over the arm of the chair. "They've been having trouble. He was with a certain--set in the Metropolis drug world. Might have friends. Wealthy friends, I think."
The world narrowed abruptly--the sound of the heart monitor, Clark's slow, steady breathing, and Lois' eyes, fixed on the bed above Clark's head. "Who?"
"I don't know yet." Lois looked at him for a few long seconds. "But I will."
LexCorp's interim CEO while Lex was indisposed was taking some unusual initiative in ways that would have, in another time, led to his swift and early demise. One of the drawbacks of the (relatively) straight and narrow was the way it whittled down the options.
But even the straight and narrow allowed for litigation. Lex thought the man would be lucky to be able to hustle back alleys after it was done. The deposition regarding the Kents' suit was scheduled for the next day. They were nothing if not stubborn.
Lex grinned as he leaned against Clark's bed, reading stock reports the next day. "Oddly, the stock went up. A little corporate bloodbath seems to be good for morale. Who knew?"
The Kents were using the lack of a formalized union as their basis of contention, but Lex figured that they'd go to the gay couple thing if they had to. Kansas could be so conservative. His lawyer had briefed him exhaustively. He couldn't remember anything that she'd said.
"Do they have a chance?" Lois asked him. She looked exhausted, ink stained fingers and black circles under her eyes.
"A very good one, if they got an honest judge." Lex thumbed through a copy of The Daily Planet, seeing his ex-wife at a charity dinner on page one of the Lifestyle section. "They won't."
"You're sure about that?"
"One and three quarter million sure, yes." Page two had a section on summer trends. "I was thinking about taking Clark to Greece."
"He'll probably have fun," Lois said, leaning her elbows on the bed. "I'd wait until later in the summer, though. Do a tour of the Mediterranean while you're at it."
"He doesn't like being away from home that long." Two weeks was Clark's limit. Something left over from Superman, maybe, or just Clark's love of his work. "But we could go to Rome."
Lois grinned, chin on her hands. "Jimmy sends his regards. He's on location in Springfield and won't be back for a few weeks."
"The tornado? Why aren't you covering that?" There were few massive natural disasters that Lois didn't stand witness to.
Lois shrugged, checking her nail polish. "Anyone can cover it. Yadda yadda yadda big storm, took out buildings, survivors, grief, plans for future exploration into the phenomenon of tornados, some statistics."
Lex nodded. Lois didn't want to leave the city.
The silence was comfortable, stretching between them as Lois tapped on her laptop and Lex read reports that Mercy brought to him daily. The Kents came every day, and Lex found it strangely easy to forget they were in the room. Martha had tried to talk to him, once. He didn't listen.
He just doesn't give a shit.
"Lex." The tone of Lois' voice was familiar. Pete had sounded like that, grey faced and hands shaking, when he'd pulled Lex aside one afternoon, when the coffee machine had refused to work no matter how many quarters Lex put in it. It may be time to think about it, Pete had said. Lana had sounded like that, her voice scratchy from crying, when she said, he wouldn't want it to go on like this. Chloe hadn't yet, but he figured she would in the next couple of days. Lex closed his eyes. No, he'd said every time. No.
"I think I know who he is And where."
Lex straightened, paper falling from numb fingers. Lois' eyes were fixed blankly on her laptop screen. Remembering, maybe. "Did you tell the police?"
Lois slowly shook her head.
"Are you going to?"
The cool gaze met his. "No."
One night, Clark had woken him up from a sex-sated sleep, the kind that made Lex stupid and Clark snuggly, the kind where Lex couldn't imagine how life ever got any better than this.
Clark had been cross-legged on that hideous twin bed in his apartment, wrapped in an old quilt and looking painfully like jailbait. Just sitting there, watching Lex like he might disappear if he looked away.
Clark had tilted his head, like he was thinking. "Corporate espionage. Fine. Murder the competition? Not so much."
Lex remembered trying to form words. "I didn't--I haven't--"
"I know. You didn't. You haven't. You haven't in a long time. But you've wanted to. And we aren't going there, not again." Clark had looked so determined, so damned sure. "It's not that I don't trust you. I do. I just don't trust your instincts."
Fair enough. Lex wasn't sure he trusted them either. "I said I wouldn't do that. Anymore."
Clark had grinned then, and Lex had wondered if he was dreaming this entire thing. "I know. And I know you believe it. I'm just--giving you a little incentive."
"Incentive?" He should have been angry, but Clark had been warm and rumpled, soft from sleep, and for some irrational reason, still let Lex into his bed every night.
"I love you." Clark watched him for a few seconds. "I'll believe what you tell me. That's my choice. Here's yours. You tell me the truth. Promise me that."
Lex stared at him. "That's it?"
"That's it." Clark lay back down, moving the covers over enough to curl up beside Lex, one arm thrown over Lex's chest, nosing gently at his throat. "You tell me. And I'll believe you. Every time."
And at the time, it had seemed like the most ridiculous thing Lex had ever heard. Truth was so flexible, and so relative, and Clark had to know that Lex could lie without lying at all.
But truth, like so many things, became habit, and it was months before Lex understood exactly what Clark had really asked. The first flash of alarm, or disappointment, or hurt, when Lex told him something questionable--incentive, Clark had called it.
He sometimes wondered if any one of his enemies knew they lived and breathed because Lex couldn't lie to his boyfriend; the idea of coming home to Clark with blood on his hands, metaphorical or not, was unthinkable. He knew he couldn't do it. Clark might not walk out on him--and that alone was enough of a mindbending concept for Lex to have trouble absorbing--but that didn't change the fact that Lex would have to tell Clark, and that Clark would know.
Clark would *know*, even if he never mentioned it again.
"This is different," Lex told his bedroom while he dressed. He hadn't slept in their bed in three weeks. The help kept the room clean of dust, but that didn't change the silence or the emptiness. Lex would go crazy if he tried to sleep here, so he didn't. The recliner in Clark's hospital room was becoming more comfortable by the day. "I know you don't want it. But this is different, Clark."
This was different, and the same. Lex closed his eyes and thought of Clark, peaceful and silent and still, the way he'd never been still before. The slow beep of the heart monitor, the respirator, the doctors and their answers that he didn't want to hear.
Getting his overcoat, Lex gave the room one last look before leaving. He wouldn't be back here until Clark was.
"Because Kansas doesn't recognize federal law doesn't mean that Mr. Luthor's rights to his partner are dissolved." She was good, but then, he only hired good. Legal terms had flown over his head all morning, and Lex was in the hospital with Clark, no matter where his body was. He had no idea what he'd said in the disposition, but it was looking increasingly likely this would go to court.
Cassius sat in the room with him, staring at the charts. "I don't know."
Lex nodded, eyes on Clark's face. A physical therapist came in every day to help keep Clark's muscles fluid.
"I need something better."
Cassius looked at him over the clipboard, PDA clutched in one hand. "Baseline humans aren't my specialty, Lex. For what it's worth, if he comes out--"
Cassius didn't lose a beat. "I don't think there will be brain damage."
"They want to pull the plug." Lex breathed out, reaching for Clark's hand again. His fingers were getting thinner, wrapped limply through Lex's. Lex could remember when they could bend steel.
Cassius' voice was gentle. "I know."
"I'll kill anyone who tries."
"There's no point otherwise. It's just a fucking waste of time, all of it." Lex closed his eyes, wondering if Cassius could ever understand.
Lex could feel the cool blue eyes fix on him, weighing and measuring. He wondered if the Kents had become desperate yet, had thought of using Lex's carefully private mental instabilities to declare unfitness. The lawyer had mentioned it. Lex hadn't cared. "I want to find him and kill him," Lex said to the fingers, feeling his breath hitch. "That's my choice. Here's yours, Clark. Come out of this, and I won't. He lives and breathes in a federal penitentiary, but he gets to live. But only if you wake up."
"It's not healthy," Cassius had said once, a long time ago, when Clark still lived in that rat's ass of an apartment and Lex was trying to find subtle ways to burn it down. "Obsession isn't a way of life, Lex."
Lex had grinned at him. "I don't know any other way."
Cassius now just read papers and nodded, like nothing Lex could say would ever surprise him again.
A few hours from now, Lex had a LexCorp board to terrify into submission. A few days from now, Lex had to go before a judge that would decide whether Clark lived or died. A few weeks from now, the weather would change and summer would start, and Clark always, always loved summer.
"Wake up, Clark," Lex told the fingers, chest tight. "That's all you have to do. Just wake up."
"We want what's best for him."
They did, they had, they always would, and Lex would never be it. Martha watched him from reddened eyes, hand clasped in Jonathan's. "This is a family matter. We don't want this to go to court."
"He's my family," Lex answered, staring at the paper cup of coffee. It tasted better today.
"Lex, I--understand." And it must have taken her a lot of effort to get that out. "But you have to be realistic. We know our son. And he never would have wanted this."
"I know your son. And he never gives up. On anything." Lex twisted his fingers into the cool cotton sheets. He'd had the hospital ones replaced with sheets from home.
"You're being selfish." Lex bit down, closing his eyes. "This isn't about what Clark wanted. This is about you, not letting go. Not being able to." Somewhere far away, Lex can hear Clark tell him that, on the roof of a building or the floor of a lab, or any of a million times when Clark was Superman and Lex didn't care about anything. Martha's voice broke "He gave up everything for you. His powers, his family, his friends, his professional integrity, the possibility of a family--. You--he's not a *possession*, Lex. He trusted you with this responsibility. So earn it."
Lex looked up. It was so much easier to hate Martha right now. "Is it easier to let your son die than know he's in love with someone you hate?"
The slap doesn't penetrate any farther than the skin, but Lex thought he might feel it forever.
Lex heard Cassius' voice, but he didn't know what happened afterward. The sound of Clark's heart monitor drowned it out.
Lex was still sitting there hours later when Clark opened his eyes on the world for the first time in almost two months. Slow and lethargic, like Clark after a three day insomnia streak and five hours of sleep. Lex watched his hand move sluggishly on the sheet before he realized what Clark was searching for.
Lex laced his fingers through Clark's and watched Clark's mouth soften, eyes feathering shut. Time stretched out like taffy as all around him, people came and went, talked and made notes, and someone was crying, and Lex listened, because they were saying things he could stand to hear.
"He's awake," Lois said softly, and Lex thought of the gun in his coat, the promise he hadn't broken, and the incentive that made him keep it. Reaching over, Lex stroked back the messy dark hair, watching Clark's slow smile, the mouth that slowly formed words he didn't need to hear, before Clark drifted back into sleep.
"The police called me in for the line-up to identify the suspect," Lois said softly, and he felt the hand on his shoulder tighten. "They got an anonymous tip."
Lex watched the slow rise and fall of Clark's chest, feeling like he was taking his first clear breath in months. Maybe years. "I knew he'd wake up."