*growls at LJ*
Maybe they'd never really woke up this morning.
That was Clark's opinion, unsure and shaky on his feet, feeling vaguely dizzy in a way that had nothing to do with glowing rocks or illness. Lex, kneeling in the dirt beside him, hadn't moved, barely breathed, staring up with the rapt attention of someone seeing God for the first time.
Enslavement of the kind that made Clark's blood run cold, and he was already leaning over, grabbing one slim shoulder and jerking Lex's attention back to him. Maybe not the smartest move--this was the moment that some might call 'revelatory'--this was the fucking opening of the secret life of Clark Kent in one easy step, and when Lex's eyes met his, he saw the knowledge written there like script on white paper. Every question both spoken and not, answered by one ship and one look at Clark's face.
"Not now," Clark said hoarsely. Somewhere were hoards of scared people wearing meteor rock and running away from ships with Clark's genetic family's insignia, and add a little Jor-El pep talk into the mix, this wasn't rocket science. His parents weren't as dead as thought and came for a long-term visit, that or he was in his own worst nightmare, and either way, he wanted time to think before facing anyone and anything else. "Come on."
But they'd said--they'd said *Kal*....
"Clark." Wide-eyed, and Lex had never sounded like that before. This was going badly, and that ship was close. Right above, even. Were they like him? Were they looking for him? Did he want to be found?
Answers to all questions were pending. Leaning down, Clark scooped up Lex and glanced around. Bodies of dead cars--they should get back to the house, to the car. No, wait. They didn't need the car. They could fucking *run* back to--where? Oh, lead them home?
Oh God, he wasn't meant to think about things like this.
"Clark?" Lex was feather-light in his arms, eyes huge. Swallowed blue iris in solid black, mouth almost slack, and Clark swallowed hard, turning toward the thickest brush, heading into the forest that once-upon-a-time held Kyle's lonely cabin and a mystery.
Lex's arms went around him only belatedly, and Clark remembered enough to pull Lex closer, block his face from the speed of his passage in fear of windburn, clutching the body close, his mind a maze of confusion and fear and this powerful desire to sink right back into denial and never come out again. The forest was a blur and Clark kept running, dodging trees and shrubbery, wondering if he would leave a trail, but it was too much to think about. Enough to run, blank-mind and shocked, and it felt good to give up thinking and just start doing.
It was hours or seconds later when they were surrounded with greenery even Clark didn't recognize--and they should have been out of the forest but they weren't. Kansas wasn't exactly known for them, after all, and he came to a sharp stop, glancing down to see Lex, ice-pale and utterly still, windburned cheeks and limp hands.
Oh fuck. He'd never run with someone so long.
Kneeling, Clark lowered Lex to the ground on a pile of dried leaves, breathing out as Lex simply let himself go limp. Processing, maybe, but the slim arms pressed into the dirt before his head touched the soil. Lex, who recovered from shock the old fashioned way, through sheer determination, though Clark could see the edges of panic in the jerky movements of his body, revelation coating him like his clothes. Knowing.
"You." Lex took a breath, letting it out, trying to clear the high, scratchy sound of his voice. "What the fuck--"
"I thought they were dead." It's a short, breathless rush of words that trailed off when his mind helpfully reminded him, hey, but you didn't know *that* until recently. And what was your excuse for not-telling before? Because Lex really might not buy the entire 'worry for safety of me' thing when right now, the human race was in jeopardy. Could be in jeopardy. Maybe they were here just to see how Clark was doing. Visiting. How was life here, son? No, really, just passing through.
Clark heard himself stutter out a laugh, fingers digging into soft, damp dirt. Clark, Kal, and those people with the rocks, they'd *known* on a look. *How*?
Sitting fully upright, Lex rested both elbows on upraised, spread knees, head hanging between, and Clark could hear the strong sound of his breathing. Pulling himself together piece by piece, maybe, and leaves were sticking to his clothes like the dust and sweat, but the part that bothered him was the smear of mud on Lex's face, arrowing from cheekbone to beneath his jaw. Something wrong with that, that Lex didn't try to brush himself off or clean himself up, but merely sat there, that mind moving faster than Clark could ever run, and then the blue eyes came up sharply. Like being stabbed with a bamboo shoot or something--too quick to even register pain above the surprise that it had happened at all.
"You're an alien." It didn't even pretend to be a question.
Denial wanted to rear up, and a thousand different stories were making their way through his head, offering all kinds of possibilities, and one might even work, except they, his people, were *here*. And lies would only work if you weren't pretty sure you just saw your family's spaceship up above your head.
Oh Jesus. His *family*.
Lex's head slipped back down--more thinking, and Clark wished, insanely and hopelessly, that he'd just stayed at home drowning in boredom and adolescent angst.
"You were--what, a scouting party or something? To find out about us?"
He might have been hurt by that, except truth's an unbelievable thing when you have to use it after logical conclusions have been drawn on half the data. Yes, that was a ship, and yes, that was humans running away, and Lex had seen both and was doing the math. The very, very reasonable math.
"No. I don't know." Even to himself, he sounded unbelievable. "I thought they--that they were all dead." Head still down, Lex only nodded, unnaturally still everywhere except maybe behind his eyes. Breathing out, Clark sank down in front of him. Worst timing of a telling in history. Clark felt himself begin to shake and clenched his hands into fists. It had to be Lex here. Pete, God, even Chloe might have been better for this, but on the other hand, he wasn't sure it was even possible to hide something like this. "You--Lex, you have to believe me."
And that, right now, was just damned funny. Clark choked back another hysterical laugh, trying to ground himself. Just--calm. Ships and sails and sealing wax and what was the rest of that quote? And yes, that was definitely a priority to know right now.
"If I ask for a timeline, would I get an honest answer?" There was a note in Lex's voice that made Clark ache--resignation beneath everything, slow and dull. Too much to process, but right now, they had zero time to process anything. Clark's instincts were screaming uncomfortable things about running out of time and bringing up helpful memories of sci-fi shows involving sensors and tracking.
He was going to be sick any minute now.
"Meteor shower." Looking up, he watched Lex's slow nod. "Then. You know--the rest." He could hope, anyway, and wasn't that just a reversal of almost two years of behavior? But Lex only nodded again, and to think, he was taking comfort from Lex's obsessions. "I--the ship. It told me--a month ago. Why I was sent. My planet exploded and killed everyone."
Clark squeezed his eyes shut. "Yeah, they may have underestimated the survival rate or something." His birth father's voice echoed in his head, and he bit back the next words, but like Dad's attitude about Helen, this was well after the horses had escaped the barn. "They--sent me here to keep me safe. To save me. And to--" Conquer. Destroy. Follow my biological destiny. "Um. Change things."
Lex was better at reading subtext than Clark would ever be. Body language, too. "Conquer the world?"
His head moved involuntarily in a sharp nod, and Lex drew in an audible breath.
The silence was a bizarre amalgamation of terrifying and comforting. Silence meant Lex was thinking, but it also meant that there was no one close, no ship coming, *time*.
"They called you Kal," Lex said slowly, and Clark looked up. Knees down, cross-legged in dry leaves, Lex was coming back with his usual bounce of energy, which probably had a lot more to do with necessity than anything like acceptance.
"That's the--the name my parents gave me," Clark answered. Blinked a little at the strangeness of that, on top of everything else. "How--how would they know that?"
"Maybe they found something from when you crashed," Lex offered unsteadily. Too much information. Far too much information. "We need to--God, we have to warn people."
Mom. Dad. Clark was on his feet, trying to mark where they were, how to get to the Kent farm from here, but he wasn't even sure where they *were*. Find a road. Something. Already taking a general step toward the opposite of the way they'd come when Lex's hand on his arm stopped him short.
"You're not leaving me here."
Right. Leaning over, Clark scooped Lex up and waited just long enough for Lex to cover his face before he began to run.
Clark came to a stop so sudden that he almost fell, Lex bumping into him hard enough to leave bruises, but this time, at least, Lex was a little prepared and both hands braced himself on Clark's shoulders.
Barely felt. Shivering edges of maybe insanity, but Clark was staring at dead fields and he couldn't have anticipated this.
"Clark?" No hysteria, but only because Lex was as much on auto as Clark had been, and numbly, Clark let Lex down, feet finding the ground unsteadily, two stumbling steps before righting himself. Beneath their feet, dust still clouded, slowly settling in a grey-brown haze of dead earth.
Oh God. God, God, God.
His eyes fixed on Lex--somehow the only color left in the entire world, red and white and black, who turned in a slow, confused circle, studying the bare land, unmarked by anything made by human hands. Anything. Even life. "Clark. Where--" His voice stopped short, mouth a tight line, and he crouched, picking up a handful of soil that trickled through his fingers in a dull grey-brown cloud. "This is the farm, isn't it?"
Clark knew it in his bones--no visual cues were possible, there was nothing *here*. Except them, and dirt, and endless fields of scraggly weeds and a sun brilliant and hot above them, lighting the word in a dead yellow stare that made cold sweat slide down Clark's back.
"I--" Clark stopped, trying a single stumbling step, but this time, he didn't even try to break his fall, hitting the ground on his knees, unable to comprehend what he was seeing. "This is the farm, Lex. It's--we left *twenty minutes ago*. They destroyed it. They--vaporized it or something. They--"
"My mom was doing bills." He can see her--red hair like fire, grinning at him with clear eyes and sending him off to play while she kept working. The table had been *here*, and she'd sat *there*, and that freakish memory was a bitch, because he didn't need structures to mark the mental map--he had only to think and it was superimposed over bare earth almost as vividly as life. His mother--his dad--*Smallville*--
He didn't know why--didn't even really think, because instinct was taking over and he was running, Lex somehow in his arms, and come hell or high water, he wasn't letting him out of sight. Smallville, and it was close, even if he wasn't running on asphalt at all, the dust left clouds behind him to mark his path for anyone in the sky to see and he didn't even care.
Pitted earth and he wasn't letting go of Lex even when he stopped. Turning slowly, and this must be what insanity felt like when it started, like the world had shifted and left him behind, nothing but cratered ground and burned-out rubble the color of old stone, and Lex was saying something, a lot of something, hitting his shoulder, but Clark couldn't bring himself to care.
"They--everything's gone." He was holding too tight, leaving bruises, but Lex was pushing himself up, blocking his vision, grabbing for his face. "They--in a few minutes, they--"
"No. No, Clark. Not for years."
What? Nothing was penetrating the hot, dusty haze, reaching inside and freezing things in place, and he wanted to throw up, but aliens didn't do that, or he didn't, and oh God, aliens, them, *him*. Us.
"We don't know that."
Clark blinked--something in Lex's voice brought him back. Lex wasn't trying to get away--the hands on his face were hard and sure, and Lex's straight, unwavering gaze was anchoring.
"We don't know because they may not have been here in the first place."
Clark sat down. Careless of the fact he held Lex and not caring about dirt and dust or anything else, he just dropped, kneeling in clouds of brown-grey, but Lex didn't let go.
"I did this."
"That we don't know either." The voice was cool, sharp, impersonal. "We don't know anything because this isn't Smallville anymore."
He couldn't follow Lex's logic, but then, few could. A gentle touch to his face this time, thumbs stroking over his cheekbones, and Clark realized he was crying.
"Whatever happened here happened years ago." Still sharp, to break through, maybe, and Clark forced himself to focus. "Look at the land." One foot found the ground, kicking a cloud of dust into the air. "This hasn't been used for anything for years. The farm. The roads. There's nothing left of it. Whatever happened--Clark, whatever happened, it was a long time ago. Not today. Not in the last twenty minutes."
Reorienting himself was difficult, but Clark tried, staring around to take in the world again. Brilliant spring afternoon, like the one that he'd left, but no greenery here, nothing but dead land and the scattered rubble of a long-dead town. Only his memory could mark out where roads had been, because even the foundations were gone.
"We aren't home."
No, they weren't home. This perversion couldn't be home.
"I--" Taking a breath, Clark realized how tight he was holding on. Slowly, he peeled his fingers back, reluctant to leave Lex, the only sane thing left in the world. And certainly the only thing that made any kind of sense, if this could ever make sense at all. "I don't--"
"This could be the future. An alternate world. Hell, it could be some kind of Smallville meteor rock induced dream, and for that one, I sure as hell better remember this when I wake up." Lex wasn't pulling away, even when Clark's hands fell limply to the ground beside him, and it seemed the strangest and most surreal part of it all--Lex Luthor, multimillionaire and CEO, sitting in his lap and trying to keep him calm when--when, well, of the two of them? Clark should have been more ready for this.
Instead, Lex was being his usual self, albeit shocky and dirty and scared in a way that Clark could understand, but the fear tamped down and replaced with action. Slowly, Lex let go of his face and stood up, wincing and tripping when he found his feet, but the man was a scientist, no matter how rarely he chose to exercise that part of himself. Turning in a slow, thoughtful circle, eyes tracking the world like he could pry up the mysteries by will alone, and maybe he was clinging to the dream-idea as much as Clark was.
Wasn't, though. Somewhere in his bones, Clark already knew it.
Lex nodded, pacing a few inches, hissing softly when he pulled the muscles Clark had bruised with his tight grip. Vaguely, Clark hoped he hadn't broken anything. "Maybe. Or something. Stupid fucking--that car. No wonder I didn't recognize the make."
He shouldn't want to laugh, but he did anyway. Clark heard his own snicker start, startlingly loud in the quiet, and Lex spun around to look at him, eyebrows raised.
"Leave it to you to notice--a car. At a time like this."
"It was made before I was born. I wouldn't ever have driven it, just seen it." Limping a little, Lex began to move, pacing the length of dirt like he could find an answer through simple energy. "We have to find out where we are. When we are. Something--"
Insanity was maybe a good thing. It made impossible things like this seem commonplace. Or maybe it was Smallville, whose flexible borders on what and what was not possible kept them all ready for just such a moment. Or hell, maybe it was just that they didn't have any better options right now. Spaceship and scary people with rocks and this.
"Lex--" It was surprisingly difficult to find his balance--a part of him was just ready to move, run, and keep running until something moved back into sense again. "Lex, I don't--this doesn't make sense."
"Feel free to share with the class when something comes to you. We need--to find someone. And not whoever was running that ship." Slim hands were clasped behind him, and Clark could see them shake. All the calm was superficial, like Clark's own. Lex was as shaken as he was. Somehow, that was comforting. Even if Lex didn't happen to have alien family visiting, there was the memory of Lionel Luthor who, it had to be said, wasn't any better, really.
"Find people." Yeah. That was a plan. Provided that they didn't have meteor rock jewelry he would need to worry about.