by Nifra Idril
The yard is filled with bones and wildflowers. Red petals scatter with the wind, trailing across the bleached white of the skeletons, curled in on themselves, napping on the soft, short grass. Clark squints against the summer afternoon, so bright it hurts his eyes. A skull sits alone, with buttercups growing all around it - and it's so fragile a thing, so small and curved. Delicate - so, so delicate to hold in all that it once did. Too easy to hold and break, to snap it with his fingers until it's nothing but chalky ash floating on the breeze.
He doesn't touch it. He doesn't touch anything.
The yellow paint on the house is peeling, pulling away from the wood in curls that litter the ground, and stand out against the dark rich dirt.
Lex touches the inside of his wrist, staring over his shoulder. "Did I do this?" he asks, with a small voice, and a lost expression. Lex looks little, dwarfed by the hugeness of the yard and what's in it. "Did you let me do this?"
"No," Clark tells him, eyes tracing the white curve of Lex's forehead. "I did this."
Lex crouches and picks a daisy and Clark can hear the crunch of Lex breaking the blossom off. The stem is so green between his pale fingers.
"I forgive you," Lex whispers.
Chloe and Lana speak only French and they're drinking what looks like ketchup from martini glasses. They glare at Clark angrily from beneath lowered lashes and whisper urgently back and forth.
"It's only natural," Pete tells Clark. His eyes are big, reproachful buttons in the middle of his earnest face. "After all, you were never a good friend to either of them."
"There were mitigating factors," Clark protests as Pete sits down beside them. "I wasn't trying to hurt anyone..."
"You had plenty of time to explain, Clark, but all you did was leave `em in the cold. Besides, you're just not meant for people, not to be around `em anyway," Pete says, putting an arm around Chloe. "After all, you're from outer space, man."
"Freak," Lana says in English, voice savage and low, wiping ketchup off her upper lip.
Snow swirls around Clark's ankles, bitter and cold. It seems to be coming from inside of him, and he can't move at all.
"I'm sorry," he tries to whisper, but all that comes out is a few white flakes. They flutter past him and melt on the table in front of Pete. And when he tries to cry, ice coats his cheeks and Lana turns her back as Pete closes his eyes. Chloe takes notes, and Clark slowly freezes, icing over inch by inch.
Lex has been fucking Clark for years, it feels like. He's fucking Clark so hard that Clark knows it'll bruise - it has to bruise. He has to be able to feel this tomorrow because God, Lex is inside of him sliding in and sliding out and so fast and so good and so much that Clark isn't sure he'll be able to survive this. Or survive a second without it ever again.
Lex's eyes are hard and dark like two stones, and his lips are so red against his white face. "Clark," he moans. "I always knew Clark, I always knew. I know everything about you." His breath comes in short puffs against the back of Clark's neck, like abbreviated kisses. "You don't have to tell me anything. I know and I'm here."
Clark comes, and his skin becomes radiant, glowing more and more as he incandesces and turns to pure light in Lex's arms.
Jonathan's in the biology lab showing Chloe an album of family photos.
"It was his fifth birthday of course, and he didn't mean to hurt the llama at all," Clark's dad explains. "It just stepped on his foot and scared him. That's why Martha and I never let him have any pets."
"Dad, what are you doing here?" Clark asks, panicked.
His father shows him a sad half smile, and shrugs one shoulder. "Oh, just showing Chloe the pictures, son. You know it was time for her to see them."
"Don't worry, Clark, you're only naked in some of them," Chloe teases. "You know, the ones with Jesse? Although, you're not really naked in those, either. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am never really seemed like your style before."
"It wasn't polite, she's right," his father agrees, placing the leather bound book down on the black countertop. It makes a dull thud as he lets go of it; it's an awfully big book. Clark can hardly breathe he's so afraid. "But then, you weren't yourself at the time."
"You never are," Chloe adds, crossing her arms. "Are you?"
"What the hell kind of photo album is that?" Clark demands, and his father just frowns more deeply.
"Watch your language," Jonathan snaps, tapping the red leather cover. "You know what these are. You know what's in here, Clark. You practically keep the thing in your room at night."
"It's your mistakes," Chloe says, rolling her eyes. "You know, the big ones? Everything you've done wrong. I've got to say, there's more here to work with than I ever knew."
"Give me the book," Clark says, sticking his hand out. "Please, Dad, give me the book."
Jonathan's brow crinkles and he frowns. "What for? Chloe needs it so she can write her article."
"It's going to be in the New York Times and the Enquirer," Chloe preens. "And it's all about you."
Panicked, Clark reaches out, and swipes his hand at the album, catching its corner and sending it flying across the room. It falls to the ground, open, and the pictures are moving. In one small vivid frame, Lex's body jerks in its white coat and his eyes roll back in his head.
Clark feels sick, presses a hand to his stomach.
"Now see what you've done?" Chloe whispers.
The frog is soft in his hands, and still. It croaks once, and the sound echoes off of Clark's cupped fingers.
"Ryan," he whispers to the boy beside him, "look what I caught."
When Clark looks over his shoulder, Ryan is hovering at his elbow. "Wow," Ryan whispers. "Can I hold it?"
"Sure," Clark says, and the frog jumps from his hands to Ryan's.
They're by the pond behind the old Miller farm, where the grass grows tall and brown and there are round lily pads floating in the water. Clark can see them because there are hundreds of fireflies, zooming and skipping through the dark. Their buzzing sounds like a quiet hum, something lulling.
"I've never seen a frog before," Ryan tells Clark quietly. "We don't have many in the city."
Clark smiles, ruffles Ryan's hair. "I'll teach you how to catch them."
"Do you promise?" Ryan asks, looking up. "For real?"
"Yes, I do," Clark tells him.
Ryan lets the bullfrog go on the grass, and wipes his palms over the fabric of his jeans. He looks up at Clark. "You're the best big brother ever," he says, and takes Clark's hand.
There are two purple moons in the red sky, and people walk slowly on the gleaming white sidewalks. Clark stands alone in the middle of what seems to be a street, and he feels so small.
He can't understand a word that the people are saying to one another, and he doesn't know which way to go. He wants to move, to go somewhere, but he doesn't, because he knows how hopelessly lost he is. All around him, ruined buildings stand like broken teeth, white and jagged against the crimson back drop.
"Kal-El," a voice whispers. "You've finally come home."
Clark turns, and behind him there is a man and a woman. The man's eyes are green, like Clark's, and the woman's hair swirls around her shoulders in dark, dark curls. "Who are you?" he asks, and when he speaks his voice is like a child's.
"We are your parents," the man says, with a stern voice, and the woman crouches down, puts her big white hand on Clark's shoulder.
"And we've been waiting for you for a very long time," she says, and tears fall from her eyes and shine like gems before they hit the ground.
The man clears his throat and straightens Clark's shirt, making it fall evenly on his shoulders. "We didn't want to give you up, but now you're here," he says, gruff.
His mother's hand engulfs his, and she tugs him behind her. "We have so very much to show you, Kal-El."
"Do you love me?" Clark asks, trailing along after them down the long, straight street, underneath the strange light of the dual moons. "Did you really love me?"
"Of course," the woman tells him, stopping to brush a kiss against his cheek. "Of course we did."
"I didn't do anything wrong? To make you send me away?" His voice trembles and he can't look up, but the big hand on his face is gentle and he hears the man who is his father clear his throat again.
"No, Kal-El," his father says, "you were perfect."
Clark is swimming and the water is warm. He's been swimming for a while, and he loves the way the ocean feels against his skin. He loves being moved in the waves, and the thick salt smell that fills his nostrils as he dives down to touch the sandy bottom of the sea.
He can see perfectly under the water; it doesn't sting his eyes at all. The colors here are so vivid, too, as he swims through the schools of fish. Yellow, green, red, purple, blue, and pink - so many pink fish that flit in and out of the bright red coral rock below Clark. Small, shy, pink fish that Clark wants to scoop up and take home with him for his aquarium, but he never can catch them. They move too fast, or maybe Clark moves too slow, on purpose.
"You can't use a net," Whitney tells Clark when his head breaks the surface of the water again. "They'll sense the net coming, dude. You have to catch them with your hands, see?" Whitney pantomimes throwing a football, and raises his eyebrows expectantly. "C'mon, I've seen you do it."
"I don't want to do that," Clark whispers, and Whitney shrugs, and floats on his back in the water.
"Your loss man," he tells Clark. "So what do you want to do out here?"
"I just want to swim," Clark confesses, treading water. "Just swim for a while."
Whitney says nothing, just paddles backward. "Hey, Kent," he calls after a while. There is no other sound but the breaking of waves.
"Yeah?" Clark answers.
"I don't blame you for anything," Whitney says, and Clark closes his eyes, grateful.
Mercy isn't something that Clark's prepared to give, because he likes the look of fear on Lionel's face more than he could possibly have imagined. Clark knows that he's probably smiling, and that there's blood spattered across his shirt, and his skin, too.
It feels so damned good.
"Let me go and I'll find a way to make it worth your while, I swear it," Lionel is begging from the corner, where he's huddled against the wall. "Please, I'll pay you anything, I'll do anything."
"Anything I want?" Clark asks, cracking his knuckles slowly - one by one. "You swear it."
Lionel nods quickly, his thin face pale as Clark walks toward him. "Anything at all. I'm a very powerful man."
And Clark grins wider, showing his teeth as he reaches down with hand and holds Lionel up, so that his feet in their expensive shoes dangle a few feet above the ground.
"All I want is to see you die," he says, and punches his hand through Lionel's torso.
Lana's lips drag over Clark's collarbone, and her eyes glitter up at him in the dark. Chloe whispers in Clark's ear, tells him, "She's so pretty, so pretty for you," and kisses Clark when he turns his head.
They're both in his bed, and their hands are small and fast as they move over his body. Lana's dark hair spills across Clark's chest, and tangles with Chloe's fingers. "Do you want both of us here?" Lana asks, slipping the pink straps of her bra off her shoulder. "Or should one of us go?"
Clark shakes his head, mute, and Chloe laughs. "Of course not," she says, voice throaty and amused. Her hand reaches across Clark and bends over Lana's hip. "You never can make up your mind about who you want, can you, Clark? Not really, anyway."
"I know who I want to want," Clark says against Lana's lips, and she shakes her head, smiling.
"That's not the same thing at all," she says.
The light in the institution is blue and harsh, and the patients in the hallway move slowly, deliberately. Their eyes are empty, and Clark is afraid that Lex will be a shell like they are. He finds Lex standing in front of the easel in the art room.
Lex's fingertips whisper over Clark's skin. "Get me out of here," he pleads in a soft undertone, and Clark nods once, folds his arms around Lex, and picks him up. Lex's body is warm against Clark's and Clark is flying, soaring out of Belle Reve, high above the rolls of barbed wire and long lines of chain link fence.
The air is cold, and Lex is shivering. Clark holds him tighter until they land, in a field filled with bright tulips - a riot of orange that spreads across the field. "You're free," Clark tells Lex breathless. "I saved you."
Lex starts to laugh, and leans his head against Clark's chest. "You do that so well," he says, and tilts his head up. His eyes sparkle and shine, and his hand is so strong as it pulls Clark down for a kiss.
"What do we do now?" Clark murmurs, and Lex gives him a smile that's bright, and so easy to believe in. He links his fingers with Clark's and tugs Clark closer.
"We live happily ever after," he says, and pulls Clark to lie down, below the bright, bright blossoms that grow all around them.
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