Okay, so the beta fairy is taking this off my hands probably tonight, the better to destroy at their leisure, with much in the way of cackling and slashing with red, so God knows what this will look like when it's been cleaned up. I wince every time I see a typo in the draft at my page. I've been debating taking it down until I get the final version complete, but that sort of feels like cheating, so it'll stay up until I have the final ready for posting.
There's a chance I may add an epilogue after final revisions are complete, but right now, I'm not even thinking of it.
So. Let's see.
First posted on December 23, 2002, completed January 17, 2003, twenty six days, only one skipped. More comments than I can count that need to be answered, pronto. Which I shall do. Oh yes.
Um. Someone wanted to know about my writing process on this. Okay, weird thing. Specific questions if there's something you'd like to know, or I can try and wing it. Normally, I'd probably be brighter than this and actually understand, but--shock. *g* You know.
I just--finished it. I can't BELIEVE this.
You know, I'm pretty sure I'll be ecstatic. Soon.
*hugs* Thank you all VERY much for the encouragement. There's no way in HELL this would have been done otherwise. I'd be a lot more sentimental, but I'm--still staring at the completed story. I'll have all sections posted to my webpage by tonight at http://seperis.illuminatedtext.com/smallville/somewhere.html, and wow. It's done.
*grinning* It's really DONE.
Clark wakes up alone in almost perfect darkness.
Sitting up, one hand goes out, finding cold blankets in the space beside him, as if Lex had never been there at all. There's a completely pleasant lethargy that seems vaguely natural and not drug induced, so Clark tentatively rolls on his back, blinking to adjust his vision.
Pushing back the blankets, Clark swings a foot onto the floor and checks strength. Better. There's an empty glass on the nightstand, and Clark gingerly picks it up, surveying the shadows of the room with a little frown. Bathroom, to the right. Where there's water.
It's a really long walk. Is he that thirsty?
"If you need something, you call the kitchen." Clark looks up, trying to find the source of the voice, but his vision's still bad, and he's really going to have to invest in contacts or laser eye surgery soon. "You should know that by now."
"Lex?" He's a vague blob of grey and white, appearing almost magically and taking the glass from Clark's nerveless fingers. Lex--does stuff like that. Very annoying. If Clark were the kind that got jitters being alone in a dark, silent room, it just might scare him. Which of course, he's not. "What time is it?"
"Nine," Lex says, and Clark decides he means in the pm. "Lay back down. I'll be right back."
Mouth dry, Clark scoots back under the covers, cold feet sliding into the warm space they'd left behind. It's--awkward. There are so many things he wants to ask and so little he can figure out how to actually say. Clark wonders if Lois got her interview yet. Burying his hands between his knees, Clark looks around the room, beginning to make out the vague outline of shapes. Chair, over there. Bureau, by the door. The darker shapes of paintings on the light walls, and the faintest trace of moonlight emanating from beneath the curtains, nothing more than a faint white glow.
He's--worried. It's not a comfortable feeling.
"Here." Like that, a glass appears in front of him, and he doesn't jump only because the dark doesn't get him jitters and Lex moving as quiet as a cat isn't creepy at all. Taking the glass, Clark takes a tentative drink, but it tastes just like water. Lex must guess why he hesitates. "Not a sedative, Clark. Being tired is just your body recovering. It's a human thing." There's an edge of amused tolerance before the bed shifts and Lex sits down, close enough to touch. A hand brushes his forehead, more caressing than checking his temperature, and Clark tries not to lean into it. "You'll be fine in a few days."
"That's good." Taking another drink, Clark holds the water in his mouth, making conversation unnecessary for the moment. He has to swallow eventually, though. Dammit. "How are you?"
Clark can't really see Lex shrug, but that doesn't mean he doesn't. "Cassius changed the bandages before he left. Lois didn't want to disturb you, so she said she'll be by in the morning to check on you before work. She said to tell you she hopes you'll be somewhat conscious."
Work. Oh damn. "I need to call--" Right. At nine at night. Clark can't prove Perry has a life outside the office, but if there is one, he's pretty sure he doesn't want to interrupt it.
Lex chuckles softly. "Clark, with what she just turned in to Perry, you'll get all the sick leave you want. Drink all of it. You need to hydrate."
There's really nothing else to do. Clark finishes off the glass slowly, almost grateful that he doesn't have to talk. Setting the glass aside, Clark gropes for conversation as the silence stretches. "Um. She got the interview?"
Clark thinks he sees Lex smile. "It was that or live with her wandering around looking determined. She was annoying Doris. I gave her the interview. It only cost me two bottles of brandy and some pride." Another pause. "Are you hungry?"
"Too bad. You need to eat." Clark listens to the sounds of Lex picking up the phone, entering some combination of numbers that leads to the staff. Listening to Lex giving orders about soup, Clark pulls his knees up, wrapping lethargic arms around the blankets covering them. When he hears the phone go down, he listens to Lex breathe and words seem to just pop out.
"There's no way you can lose the Senate race now." Okay, what does that have to do with anything?
If he could see Lex, he's almost sure Lex's eyebrows would be raised in amused surprise. Lex looks at him like that a lot. "I told you that I wouldn't. They could put up Lincoln and Washington against me and I'd win."
Of course. If there's one thing Lex really doesn't lack, it's confidence.
"How are Mercy and Hope?"
"Pissed." There's a wealth of things underneath that statement. "Recovering. Back on duty."
"Already?" Clark still hasn't been that inspired to really try such intensive activity as moving around all that much.
The sigh's almost funny. "Apparently, being their employer only gives me so much leeway in deciding their work schedule." Another soft sound, like Lex is thinking. "Clark. If you have something to say, it would be a lot easier to say it and not make me guess."
Oh. Right. Even in the dark, apparently, he's as readable as a chalk board. Picking at the covers, Clark tries to think about how to ask.
"You thought you were going to die."
"I estimated my chances of survival being extremely low, yes."
It'd be a lot easier if Lex wouldn't translate English into Lexese once in awhile. Gritting his teeth, Clark rubs his jaw where the muscles tighten painfully. That's really getting to be a bad habit.
"I just--" There's something to be said for sedatives. If he was blissfully unconscious, he wouldn't be having this awkward conversation. "Everything you've done has been under the impression that you won't live to see the consequences."
"I always anticipate consequences."
Okay, damn. Shifting his balance, Clark stretches out his legs. "And you're deliberately misunderstanding what I'm asking. You used to be better at that. What are you going to do now, Lex?"
Lex's silence is thoughtful. "Get ready for the Senate race. Find someone sufficiently intelligent and sufficiently obedient to succeed me at LexCorp in seven years. Get permission to study that space ship that's still orbiting the planet. Sift through the remains of the Fortress before the government starts looking around and finds something interesting before I do. Restock on Kryptonite if possible, or find a way to synthesize if I can't locate any more pieces of significant size."
Clark blinks. "What?"
"They came. There could be more. And I'd like to be ready."
Clark's mind shies away from the implications, even though he knows Lex is right. Filing it away for later brooding, Clark pulls his feet in under more flaps of blanket. His toes are cold.
"Maybe involving a less suicidal plan?"
This time, Clark thinks he sees the pale shape of Lex's face grin. "Maybe."
Which answers--a lot of questions and none at all. Time to be direct. "How much of the last two weeks has been you and how much has been your imminent demise?"
"All of both." Clark feels himself pull back, the rush of frustration dizzying. God, he hates being sick. He's feeling everything too sharply. "Clark, nothing's changed."
"Everything's changed, Lex. You thought you were going to die. You were--" Doesn't this just put so much in perspective? "You were--living like you wanted to make up for what you couldn't do. Before."
Lex is quiet. "You don't trust me."
"And this is new?" He knows he sounds angry, because--he is. Angry and tired and Lex is being Lex, which isn't usually this level of annoying, because Clark's gotten pretty good at translating Lexese into human terms, but he's just not up for that now. "Nothing mattered before. You thought you could do anything you wanted because you--"
"I *can* do anything I want." There's an edge to Lex's voice that Clark hasn't heard in a long time. "I've been able to do anything I want. It's--" Lex stops short, then the bed shifts again, Lex's restlessness taking over. "It's difficult to explain."
"It's not that easy. It's not a light switch, Clark. I--don't know. I'm still working things out."
"I need something better than that."
"I--" And Lex stands up, like he might walk out, perfectly Lex, but instead he flips the light on with an impatient hand, flooding the space with soft yellow light. Clark blinks away the glare, for a second thinking he sees edges of brilliant green in a cold arctic night, but the illusion fades as Lex sits back down. "I was expecting to have this conversation later." Years later, his attitude seems to suggest.
"I was expecting a lot of things before I woke up to find out you were playing suicidal superhero," Clark says sharply, blinking away the last of the glare. Lex looks--tired. Long sleeve t-shirt and sweat pants, very not-Lex. Combat gear, Clark's always thought. For when Lex needs to fight himself more than anyone else. "None of them included wondering who I'm with. I thought I knew and now I don't."
That gets Lex's full attention. Blue eyes as clear as a winter lake and just about as welcoming fix on him. "Let me get this straight. I do the *right* thing and you suspect my motives? Clark, come the fuck *on*."
Clark hadn't thought this would be easy, but Lex is making it even harder. "You thought you didn't have a future. Everything you've done--"
"What I've always wanted to do." The interruption's sharp and deliberate.
"You're telling me that if you hadn't thought you were under threat of execution, you would have done any of this?" Me, he doesn't say, but Lex gets the implication. The way the blue eyes darken, flicking away then coming back, like Lex does when he's getting ready to lie.
"No, I wouldn't have." Truth, then. It hits--harder than Clark had thought. Like being sick that first night, with a wave of nausea, but beneath it, the hurt. Anger. The beginnings of a pounding headache start in Clark's temples, wiping out everything except what shouldn't have been surprise, except it is. Maybe he hadn't wanted this conversation yet, not before he could walk out. "Stop. Hear me out first, okay?"
Clark takes a breath, nodding, not yet ready to trust his voice. Lex is on his feet, stressors getting the better of him, walking out the excess energy with graceful motions that almost hide the uncertainty.
"You lied to me," Clark says slowly, and Lex turns on a heel. Searching his face for something, though God knows what.
"I did lie. But sex isn't the only time someone's completely honest, Clark."
Lex lets that settle just enough to penetrate, before he's moving again. Lex hates to explain, hates to have to give reasoning, like it's enough that he understands what he's doing and everyone should already *know*.
Taking a careful breath, Clark pushes everything from his mind but *now*. "Can you tell me what changed?" He doesn't mention sheep and Tibet, but only because Lex might ask for an explanation.
Lex hesitates, eyes fixing on the curtained window like he's seeing something Clark doesn't. The prosthetic hand picks uncharacteristically at the edge of his shirt, and Clark wonders what that means. "Not--not yet." It's so short it doesn't even qualify as a pause. "When I can, you'll be the first person to know."
Fair enough. "Okay. What now?"
Lex stops short, eyebrows raised inquiringly. "I'm running for the Senate. I'm going to get the government out of my labs as quickly as possible before they find out something they shouldn't. You're never, ever doing anything as stupid as running after aliens while sick again. And at some point, I'm going to demolish your building, because it's a death trap."
"I'm not moving in here."
Lex smiles. This is one of those battles he's sure he'll win, apparently. "We'll negotiate."
Staring down at the comforter, Clark tries to think. Put things in perspective. "I--"
Almost immediately, Lex is sitting beside him, and Clark looks up. That never changes, never has changed-- the focus, the intensity, like when Lex looks at him, he never sees anyone else.
"Nothing changes," Lex says carefully, and he's measuring out the words, because direct isn't Lex's style, but he's trying very hard. "I never lied about the important things."
Clark can't help the choked laugh, because alien invasions aren't important and burgeoning martyr-complexes aren't important in the grand Lexian priority list, but--this is. Taking a breath, Clark lets it out, and Lex's fingers brush his on the comforter. Turning his hand over, Clark laces their fingers together and smiles.
"Okay." Glancing down at the elegant fingers, Clark thinks. "So how did it feel to be a superhero, Lex?"
When he looks up, he's surprised by the thoughtful look on Lex's face, like this isn't something he's considered before. Anticipating all consequences Clark's very tired ass. Considering what Lois is going to have in that article, Clark wonders how Lex will deal with public adulation.
The fingers tighten on Clark's, and Lex looks at him, curious and wondering, surprised and distrustful. He's never liked not being unsure of anything. "Addictive."
Laughing, Clark pulls sharply and Lex settles down beside him, kicking the blankets back impatiently, a brief blast of too-cool air, before resettling them around them. Clark wonders what Doris will say when she wanders in with dinner, then grins into smooth cotton.
Pushing himself up on one elbow, Clark regards the man beside him--tired and wired on too much coffee and probably a lot of alcohol, warm and gentle when his fingers trail over Clark's cheek.
"You're going to be president, you know," Clark says, and Lex is right. He could get the entire gamut of presidents Washington down and he'd still win. Lex nods sleepily, eyes falling closed, and Clark wonders when he last slept.
"I know." A low murmur before Lex pulls him down. "Hopefully---" Lex's voice is cut off on a smothered yawn. "Hopefully, you'll like the White House better than here. It'll be hell to commute to your apartment every day, you know."
"I'll think about it." There's a great place on seventh. Very close to the Planet. Lex would probably buy the building.
"You do that."
Clark waits for Doris, curled against a sleeping Lex Luthor, pleasantly lethargic, and for the first time in longer than he's had a memory, perfectly content.