Cassius drives like Lex, and it scares him that Lex might have found his car soulmate right here. There shouldn't be two people in the world who act like this behind the steering wheel. Lex at least has his healing thing to explain his belief in his own immortality, but Cassius--
They hairpin turn onto the freeway, and Lex's little airstrip in just ahead. Maybe he could see it. If he's stupid enough to open his eyes, that is.
"I should have asked for a helicopter," Clark mutters, eyes closed. He lost whatever remained in his stomach just outside his apartment, with Ms Shanley observing that at his age, he should party a little less.
"So do you have an actual plan yet?" asks Cassius as he practices the fine art of dodging. This is like a huge game of pinball or something. How do these people get licenses? "Or did you bring some anti-Kryptonian weapons in your little backpack there?"
Clark can't drive right now. But it's growing more tempting by the second.
"Yes, I have a plan. You know, I've been saving the world for over a decade. I just might actually know what I'm doing when it comes to this sort of thing." At least, he thinks so.
"You had powers, then."
Clark grins through the headache. He's having it amputated later. "I have powers now. You're just looking for the wrong ones."
Traffic had slowed them down a *lot*. Clark wishes he had the courage to look at the clock on the console, but can't quite face that yet. That will lead to panic, and panic leads to a reminder of how his body just isn't cut out for this right now. Keep his stomach quiet, work through the headache, and later, much later, in a much fairer future, Cassius the oh so great doctor and geneticist is going to design a virus that Lex can catch. Or something. Because in that fair future, he's going to do something incredibly stupid and make Lex come rescue him when he feels like absolute shit.
"Why are you doing this?" Cassius asks, and Clark wonders what he means. Who else *can*? It's not like Clark's been given a lot of options here. "You know, you and Lex--I don't understand. You fought each other for years. I won't even tell you the things he called you when he got drunk--"
"Don't worry. He's just as likely to say them sober at the top of his lungs when he's pissed," Clark answers. Ah, the good old days. When Clark wasn't sick and Lex wasn't suicidal, just egotistical and somewhat on the edge of megalomaniacal. Clark's almost nostalgic. "It's--hard to explain." More like impossible. "Haven't you ever been in love?"
"No." But he can hear the shock in Cassius voice. "You're doing it for *that*?"
Clark shrugs and regrets it. "Everyone does it for that in the end. They just don't like to call it that. Too pat an answer." The jerks of the car aren't exactly comforting, but Clark imagines Cassius is getting better at controlling the car. There seem to be fewer of them. "Why do you think I was Superman? Because I really liked those tights?"
The silence is too--something. Like Cassius is thinking. They're out of populated areas, so maybe he's getting his composure back. This might or might not be a good thing.
"You loved the world that much?" Biting sarcasm. Clark doesn’t even wince.
"Enough to stop doing it when I knew I'd hurt it more than I could help," Clark answers. "You want absolutes, talk to Lex. He likes them better. He's always liked impossible standards and being able to hate himself when he fails to live up to them. It makes it easier."
"Easier to what?"
"To give up having any." Lexian psychology. Clark thinks he's learning it. Maybe. "How much longer?"
"Five minutes. The roads are atrocious."
"Can you see if Bruce has landed yet?"
The little pause almost tempts Clark to open his eyes, but it's really better if he doesn't. His sight sucks anyway. "If by Bruce, you mean a bizarre black plane sitting the middle of Lex's airfield, probably." There's a pause that stretches, and Clark wonders why Bruce--
"Clark, why is Batman in Metropolis?"
Clark wishes he'd kept his mouth shut. He'd asked for this one.
"Never mind." The Justice League at this rate wouldn't have a secret identity left between them. It's almost funny. Clark wonders what kind of sanctions are put on former superheroes who out other superheroes. He might as well write a tell-all book. The dirty secrets of the Justice League; he'd sell millions, maybe billions. He can see this. "How much--"
"Shut up, Clark. I'm trying to figure out why Lex would let the roads get this bad. Jesus." They bounce--pothole, Clark surmises, and he puts his head on his knees and swallows hard. Not getting sick. Not in this car. Clark's killed Lex's shoe collection. A Porsche being destroyed would just be icing on the cake.
"Yeah, we're--security's gone." Cassius sounds surprised.
Clark snickers. "Batman probably took care of it. Just drive through. Hurry." Something like relief's already thickening in him, making everything clear and less utterly terrifying. Lois is here. Bruce is here. He can do this.
Cassius drives through the parking lot, circling some overgrown building where Clark's pretty sure Lex houses slightly illegal aviation items of interest, and then makes a break for the chain that separates the parking lot from the air strip. Oh. Well, that's a good idea. And he can throw up in Lex's Porsche with impunity, because no way in hell Lex will ever use this car again.
When Cassius comes to a stop, Clark lets his eyes open completely. Yes, that's Batman's plane. And that's Lois, so calm, collected, and utterly herself Clark's tempted to simply fall into her arms and let her take over. She's already moving toward them even before Cassius skids to a highly unprofessional stop.
His door is opened with no ceremony at all and the smell of smoke, leather, and expensive perfume overwhelm him. "You look like shit, Smallville."
Clark grins up at her. Perfect make-up, flawless coordination of all accessories, and also unnaturally strong, since she undoes his seatbelt and hauls him out. If there'd been anything left in his stomach, he would have ruined her pantsuit.
"I've missed you," Clark says into her hair, trying not to put too much weight on her. Gently, she braces him against the car, looking him over with a quick, clever eye.
"How do you feel?"
"Remember that time with the Kryptonite and the guy who liked to use it as lotion and he put it on me? Worse."
Lois grins, bright and fast. "Welcome to humanity. What--"
"Bag. Get my bag. We've got to--" Clark shudders, half turning to see Lois' eyes fixed inside. "Cassius. Come on."
There's a moment where the man doesn't move.
"Stop smoking, Miss Lane," Cassius says, and Clark almost knocks his own head into the car. Beside him, he feels Lois stiffen, then the name clicks.
"Tomorrow," she says slowly. "I don't believe we've been introduced. We can do that on the plane."
Clark leans inside the car, looking at Cassius. Dark, glittering eyes and the man's on the very edge. Lex must have kept him under a lot of pressure these last two years. "If he gets hurt, he'll be hurt pretty badly. You're the one who treats him. Come on. We don't have time." Clark hears something like a hysterical giggle erupt. He's getting lightheaded. Fluids would be good here. Surely Bruce has some in his little toy. "Come on. Haven't you ever wanted to save the world?"
The pause lasts forever or maybe no time at all, then Cassius turns the key, eyes fixed on Clark.
"The best ever at what I do," Clark answers, holding Cassius' eyes. "Remember, I'm the only one who ever beat Lex Luthor at anything. Or even came close."
It's a little triumph when the car door opens, and Clark lets Lois' arm go around him, holding him up. She really *is* strong--a second of bracing, then she kicks off her heels, dropping her height a little but getting her balance easily, ruining one hundred percent silk stockings. He supposes his credit card can stand the hit this will cost him. Taking as much of his weight as Cassius did, she starts them moving smoothly, his bag over one shoulder. "You want to explain now?"
"Three Kryptonians, one Lex, one martyr complex. I think I know a better way."
"Fair enough. Bruce isn't happy about being outed, but we had a lovely chat." Clark wishes he could see Lois' mouth, because he knows she's smiling. "Watch your step, Smallville."
Clark nods, mouth dry. "What I want to know is how he's getting into the Fortress. It shouldn't have let him in."
Lois laughs softly. "Two years, right? He probably just annoyed the AI until it gave in to get him to shut up. How are you?"
"Well. If I'd eaten recently, it'd be worse. Jesus, I'm going to kill him for this." It's taking forever, and Clark has the uncomfortable suspicion if he slows down, Lois might try carrying him. And might even succeed. He's still a guy. His pride's not up for that. Forcing his feet to move, Clark looks up to see the plane very close. "How unhappy is Bruce?"
Lois snickers softly and the arm around him tighten. "You'll see for yourself."