Summary: There are worse things than Red.
Disclaimer: I wrote a fic, I wrote a fic for you, even if I'm not supposed to, and it was called Yellow ;)
Inspiration and Reference: Music - "Yellow" and "In My Place" by Coldplay, "Someday" by Nickelback, "Save Me" by Aimee Mann, and "White Flag" by Dido.
Thanks: To sandram for being my test audience, and to mlleelizabeth for being my beta, and to both of you for your wonderful feedback and encouragement!
Spoilers: Red, Rosetta, Rush, Exodus, Exile, Relic, Asylum, Resurrection, Legacy
"Look at the stars, look how they shine for you..."
His eyes opened and he turned his head to the side to see Lex lying at his side and staring at him. "You're not going to recite the whole song, are you?"
Lex smiled at Clark, and wordlessly turned his head to look back up at the sky.
The night was spattered with stars that twinkled brightly across the crystal clear horizon. The zenith moon glowed in the middle of space and shined soft light down on them. They were comfortably stretched out on a wool blanket Clark had brought, and it trapped the heat from their bodies to keep them warm while the crisp chill permeated the April air. The ground was still damp from rain showers that had passed through Smallville the day before, and a thin layer of fog hung low to the ground, not rising more than a foot above the soil. Silence flooded the field, deafening and hypnotic. The atmosphere was infused with the lull of peace and romance, and they were saturated in its core, resting in the very heart of perfection.
Feeling Lex's eyes settle on him again, Clark turned his head to meet Lex's stare. Happiness, bordering on joy, was written all over Lex's face.
"I love you."
Clark's smile wavered slightly. "No, you don't." As Clark paused, Lex's grin soured and his contentment was replaced by confusion. "But that's okay," Clark added, his tone both hauntingly serious and oddly satisfied. Lex's features hardened until they were practically stone, and Clark merely gave him a smile that was overshadowed by his sad eyes. "You don't have to say it because you're afraid we're going to drift apart. Just because I'm graduating in a couple months doesn't mean I won't still want to be with you... Nothing's going to change." Clark spoke as if this should have answered the puzzlement he saw staring back at him when he looked at Lex, but it only appeared to baffle Lex more and make the distance between them seem greater.
Lex's eyes roamed and left Clark feeling cold. He glanced away from Lex and his chest grew tight.
The spring thaw was beginning to freeze him, as if in the last few minutes the temperature had fallen and ice had cut into his skin, which was an absurd notion because Clark simply did not get cold. It was just another one of the wonderful invulnerabilities he enjoyed.
"It's getting chilly out here." Clark's voice resonated to skewer the tranquility that had taken on winter's frost rather abruptly.
A faint stir in Lex as he gave a curious look out of the corner of his eye, knowing all too well that Clark's alien biology made him impervious to climate conditions as well as a whole world of other things that couldn't touch him.
"And I'm getting tired." Clark took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly, as he waited to meet the inevitable resistance.
"Tomorrow's Sunday, Clark. You don't even have to be up early to do chores tomorrow." Subtle hurt interlaced with more liberal anger in Lex's voice.
"I know, but it's really late, and I should probably get home before my parents start to worry." Clark was implicitly pleading with Lex not to fight him on this.
As Lex's voice rose, the calm drained from the ambiance, driven away by the destruction of a beautiful moment. "You've been out later than this before..." Before he could even finish his sentence, Lex reigned in his frustration and surrendered to Clark's disappointing will. "Never mind." He sat up almost immediately, his flight defense mechanism having been triggered. "Let's go."
"We're a long way from the car. We walked for quite a while before we stopped here." Clark stood as Lex did and as soon as Lex stepped off the blanket, Clark folded it up and slung it over his arm. "There's a road right over there, not even a hundred feet behind you. Why don't I run to the car and I'll bring it there? It'll be much quicker." Clark made a very casual display of the fact that he was in a hurry to leave.
"Whatever you want, Clark." Lex's voice was flat, dry of all the emotion that usually wet his words when was with Clark. He dug his hand into his pants pocket and produced his keys, and then tossed them to Clark rather carelessly.
"Good. You wait over there," he said pointing in the direction the road he had mentioned, "and I'll be right back with the Porsche."
Immediately switching over to superspeed, Clark raced through three fields until he spotted the car with x-ray vision. It couldn't have taken him more than thirty seconds to find it thanks to the convenience and luxury afforded him by his abilities. He opened the car door and slipped into the driver's seat. Something strange caught his attention as he put the key in the ignition. He became distracted by the passenger door, realizing that it was unlocked even though Lex's always locked the car by the remote on his key ring. A visual examination of the inside of the car didn't show any signs of anything else unusual, so Clark assumed that the lock might have gotten jammed or not be working properly. They had been left it there for hours, and if someone had wanted to steal the vehicle, they could have done it, so Clark shrugged it off.
He turned the key and the engine started. There was no explosion or anything abnormal sounds, which Clark took as an indication that he was simply being paranoid. He relaxed, but it was difficult to let go of the tension in his muscles when he was still experiencing psychosomatic symptoms of freezing. With the flick of a switch, he turned the heat on, but there was nothing coming out of the vents. Clark adjusted the slats in the vent closest to him to open it all the way, but he could feel with his hand that there was still no air flowing out of it. Then, a low churning sound started to emanate from within the dashboard as if the vents were clogged and struggling to release the pressure inside.
Suddenly, a burst of dust shot out of the vent and Clark was directly in its path. The cloud hit Clark in the face and dispersed in the air, spreading throughout the interior of the car. Bombarded by it, the tiny particles got in his eyes and his mouth, and he knew he had unwittingly breathed a lot of it in. As he wiped some of the residual substance off his jacket, he noticed that it was more like a powder, yellow in color, silky like very fine sand to the touch. If Clark didn't know any better, he would have thought it was sulfur, but he knew it wasn't. Almost instantly, he started choking and his body was racked with spasms. Fiery pain swept through his veins and gradually paralyzed him in his agony. Something highly potent coursed through his system, and as it reached his head, he started to feel dizzy and nauseous. After a few minutes, the spell seemed to pass and he slowly regained control of his body.
Clark sat up in the driver's seat. A soft yellow radiance spread through the jade color of his eyes. His limbs that had been twitching were now completely at ease. Without further hesitation, he shifted into gear and got onto the road, driving down the long dark line of the dirt path, and then turning when he came to the road where he knew Lex was waiting.
When Clark pulled up, Lex approached the driver's side and went to open the door. "I'm driving," Clark practically snapped.
Lex threw his hands up with bitterness in his scowl. "Fine." He walked around to the passenger's side and climbed in. "What took you so long anyway?"
"Fuck you!" Clark retorted, overly agitated and coarse. Then, the marked spike of a threat pierced his inflection, "Do you wanna walk home?"
Shocked by Clark's radical change of behavior, Lex's brow furrowed as he gaped at Clark. "What the hell is wrong with you?"
Clark released the brake and pressed the gas pedal to the floor. "Absolutely nothing." A wicked smirk was born on his face. "I've never been better in my life."
"What if I told you that I think I love you?"
"Then I'd ask you not to tell me things like that."
"Because it would scare the hell out of me, Clark."
"Lex? I don't understand..."
"Something that great and powerful...How could something like that not be frightening?"
The alarm sounded and wrenched Lex from his daze. Reaching over to the clock on the nightstand, he turned off the buzzer. His sad reverie broken, he looked around him at the bed. It was time for him to wake up but he had not ever gone to sleep. The sheets were still neat and undisturbed, and they were barely ruffled on the edge of the mattress where he sat. He had been in that exact same spot ever since Clark had dropped him home and disappeared without saying a word.
Now he couldn't get the memory of that conversation he had with Clark last summer out of his head. Clark had approached him with the prospect of a relationship defined by love rather than infatuation and mutual interest. But Lex had met Clark's open heart with his usual jaded apathy and last night Lex was thwarted by the same cynicism from Clark.
The phone rang, shattering the eerie quiet. After several rings, the noise became grating enough that Lex could no longer ignore it. He answered blankly. "Yes?"
"Sorry to disturb you, Mr. Luthor," the voice on the other end of the line faltered nervously, "but your Ferrari is missing."
The sports car tore down the road, blazing along the asphalt at speeds well over a hundred miles per hour. Clark could have gone ten times faster than this on foot, but there was no flashy thrill or luxury in superspeed. The stereo was blasting a CD that Lex had left in the player. With nothing but straight road ahead, Clark haphazardly turned the wheel no more than a few degrees and the car swerved uncontrollably in and out of the other lane. He merely smiled with the glint of pleasure in his eyes as the car steadied again.
Out of a hidden spot in a field of tall growth, a police cruiser skidded out onto the road in pursuit. The siren began to wail, the lights flashing wildly, and the silhouette inside signaling repeatedly for Clark to pull over. The cop car struggled to catch up to the Ferrari, but fell further and further behind in the rearview mirror. This cop seemed persistent and determined, because he kept up the chase and even managed to gain a little on the distance between the two speeding vehicles.
Abruptly, Clark let up on the gas pedal and as the car began to fall back, Clark pulled into the opposing lane. He let the car slow until the speedometer read a hundred, until he was driving right along side the black and while car. The deputy inside rolled down his window and shouted with all the volume and authority he could muster, "Pull over now!"
A calculating smirk dawned on Clark's face, his eyes glaring with arrogance and malice. He jerked the wheel and the Ferrari slammed into the side of the other vehicle with such tremendous force that the speed and the collision threw the cruiser off balance. As Clark continued on ahead without so much as a glance back, the deputy's car capsized and flipped over twice before landing upside down in the middle of the rural highway.
Clark pressed the pedal to the floor again as he passed a sign that read, "Metropolis 24 miles".
The Porsche traveled down the road at a modest but determined sixty miles per hour. Lex's fingers tapped the steering wheel anxiously. His mind was flooded with thoughts that drowned one another out, and it was impossible to focus. His eyes darted back and forth between all the mirrors, and when he caught a glimpse of himself in the rearview mirror, he realized how restless and worried he looked.
He tried to avoid seeing his reflection again, as it was a troublesome distraction. His hand drifted absent-mindedly to his head and he rubbed at his temple as if he could block out the din that only made him panic when he knew he had to keep a level head.
"Something like that wouldn't scare me, Lex."
"Really? What would your reaction be if I told you I was in love you?"
"I don't know... but I wouldn't be afraid of it."
"Are you sure? How would you know that I really loved you? Do you think I'm even capable of love, Clark?"
The digital tones of Lex's cellular phone rose from inside his jacket. He reached into his pocket, pulling it out to check who was calling. It was the Kents' number and Lex answered immediately. "Hello?"
"Lex, it's Jonathan Kent. Is Clark with you?"
A lump caught in Lex's throat. "No, he's not. I was just on my way over. I thought it might have been him calling."
"Well, we don't know where he is, but he came and went early this morning without saying a thing to me or Martha. Do you have any idea where he might be?"
"No, I don't. He drove me home last night and I haven't heard from him since. It's possible he took the Ferrari, because it was gone this morning." Lex waited for a response, for a glimmer of hope, but there was only a faint whisper of static. "Mr. Kent?"
"Lex, was Clark acting... strangely at all?"
"Yes, he was acting very strange..." Lex hesitated. "I think I've seen him like that once before though."
"You'd better come to the farm."
Lex nodded to himself. "I'm almost there."
Lex closed the cell phone, tossed it aside, and pressed his foot down on the accelerator as far as it would go.
The doors ruptured as Clark flicked the glass with his finger, exploding in a shower of sparkling splinters. The last pieces of debris fell to the marble floor and Clark stepped over the pile of shards to enter the building. The LuthorCorp building had been locked up tight and when the glass was destroyed the security alarm had sounded instantly. X-ray vision led him straight to the source of the alarm behind the security desk, which was unattended at the time. He put his arm through the metal box and ripped out the main controls for the security system. A man in uniform came rushing toward Clark with a gun pointing at his head. Obviously, the security officer was unwittingly in over his head here, and Clark just smirked, as if to say he meant to show this man what he was up against.
Clark stared coolly as the large security officer barked orders at him. "Step away from the panel. Hands where I can see them!" In a second, Clark focused his gaze intensely, and a surge of heat vision set the man's clothes on fire. As the flames engulfed him, he flailed furiously trying to escape the consuming blaze. As he looked on mercilessly, Clark scanned the room for another good target. He took aim at the desk in front of him and a blast of fire sent sparks flying and melted the metal as the flames swelled.
The smoke triggered the fire alarm and sprinklers kicked on all over the lobby, raining water down on the growing inferno. The heavy flow washed over the security guard and extinguished the fire before it did any severe damage to him. As the falling drops soaked into his skin and dripped from his garments, Clark walked through the lapping flames with steel confidence, approaching the man who was now lying on the ground, teetering on the edge of consciousness. He towered over his victim, gleaming smugly down at the chaos and destruction he had created.
"Clark," a booming voice called through the tumult of hell breaking loose. Without having to turn his head, Clark recognized the voice that was shouting his name immediately. It was like a match ignited in his brain. Clark's eyes traveled over his shoulder to see Lionel Luthor getting drenched as he stood in the mouth of the grand hallway. "I've been expecting you."
"I can't believe you kept this from me all this time."
"I'm sorry, Lex, I just couldn't..."
"No! It's not that... I didn't want you to hate me."
"God, Clark. Why would you think that?"
"Well, what else am I supposed to think?"
"Clark... I could never hate you."
"Lex, what do you know about Red?" Jonathan Kent was sitting across the kitchen table from Lex, his tone steadier than his hand and his eyes fraught with concern. His stare appealed to Lex for help in all its worry. Martha stood by, literally behind her husband, looking on as Jonathan and Lex talked, her eyes straying to the window every time she heard anything that could have been Clark coming.
Struggling to stay focused and follow Mr. Kent's words, Lex reached into his mind, but in his own worry, he found his mind blank. "Red?"
"Yes. When Clark told you about his abilities, did he tell you about Red Kryptonite?" Desperation leaked into Jonathan's intensive questioning.
His brow knitted as a chord of familiarity was struck within him. "Yeah, I think he mentioned it, but he didn't really go into too many specifics."
"Alright. Basically, it alters his behavior and impairs his judgment. What Green does to his body, Red does to his mind. It makes him act on his impulses, and he loses his inhibitions. Everything negative he emotionally stores up comes out and he doesn't listen to reason." Jonathan was on the brink of losing his controlled facade. His obvious distress over Clark's unexplained absence began to crumble his exterior.
"Mr. Kent, are you sure this is what's happened? How do you know that this is the problem?" Lex's inflection carried a note of cautious optimism, concealing the fact that he was trying to assuage his own fears as well as Jonathan's.
"I don't." Jonathan's eyes were dull, worn with the ravages of some distraught age. "But this has every mark of all the other times he's come in contact with Red Kryptonite. The car, the attitude you said he had last night, the distance he kept from us... taking off like this." He nearly choked on that last clue in the list.
There was silence as Lex processed everything Jonathan was explaining, and then he looked to the man across the table again. "Exactly how many times has this happened before?"
"Three." Reluctance shrank and Jonathan began to elaborate. "All in his sophomore year. The first time was when he borrowed the Ferrari and he planned on leaving Smallville, but we were able to stop him before he could, before things got worse. Then again a few months later, and another few months after that when you were lost at sea. He ran away from home that time, and he didn't come back for three months." Jonathan peered over his shoulder at Martha and she glanced away, her eyes glazing over as she stifled a sob.
Lex's stare lingered on Mrs. Kent. A pang of sympathy paralyzed him for a moment, and that only served to fuel his determination. "You said you stopped him. How did you do that? With Green Kryptonite?"
Jonathan nodded. "That was how we got him back the first time, but the others? The second time, we were lucky because it was just in his pocket. It fell out and he was fine... The last time, though, it was a little more complicated than that. A lot more complicated, I'm afraid, and it's not a tactic we can use twice." Martha approached her husband and placed a hand on his shoulder, smiling sadly down at him. "I would give my life to save my son."
Though the words showed no indication of being a challenge, Lex rose to it as if it were one. Leaning forward, Lex met Jonathan Kent's eyes with great resolve and then spoke with the same amount of loving conviction. "I would do anything for Clark, Mr. Kent. Anything."
Agreeable silence passed between them. Then, Jonathan took a breath and took his wife's hand in his. "Lex, Clark has always stuck by you, even when it's meant going against our wishes. Clark loves you." His voice struggled, but he had swallowed his pride a long time ago. This was much more difficult going down. It was the feeling of utter helplessness pooling in his gut. "If it is Red Kryptonite, he won't let us anywhere near him, but maybe if it's you, that'll make a difference. Martha and I trust you, Lex, and we need your help." The anxiety swimming inside him could not be hidden from the surface. "Bring our son home."
"Yellow?" Clark's eyebrow raised, half in confusion, half in skepticism.
"Yes, Clark. Yellow." Lionel poured himself a glass of brandy as Clark stood on the other side of the desk. They had gone up to Lionel's office to talk while emergency medical services had been called to tend to the security guard who was in need of their attention, while maintenance had been alerted about a severe electrical fire that had been dealt with before help had arrived. Lionel took a sip, cupping the glass in his hand eloquently. His eyes roamed back to Clark and he walked away from the bar and moved around the desk, closing most of the distance between himself and the young man with the devious gleam in his eyes. "You see, in all my study of the meteor rocks, I've found three kinds. Green, which is the most common. Red, which has only ever been found in one large deposit. And Yellow, an infinitesimal amount of which has ever been uncovered. In fact, it's so rare that I appear to be the only one who has ever found any and I've been very lucky in that respect." His pride infused his very presence and he brazenly exhibited his confidence like a predator after a kill.
Clark looked quite unimpressed and rather unintimidated. "So you did this to me?"
"Alone Yellow doesn't seem to have any effects on a person the way Green does. I've even found in all my experiments and research that Red had at least some effect, however small. But when I refined Yellow and used it to create samples of various chemical compounds, I discovered that it has a most interesting ionic reaction when mixed with Red. Thus, I used my very limited reserve to engineer the hybrid of Yellow."
"You mean, what you planted in the air vents of Lex's car." The statement was spoken like the most obvious of facts, and Clark's expression became overtaken with boredom as soon as the words left his mouth.
"That's correct." Lionel's smug grin of self-satisfaction burrowed into Clark as it morphed into something much darker and more demanding. His voice grew sharp with his own self-worth and authority. "Now what I want to know is what happened to my son. Where is Lex?"
"What the fuck are you talking about?" Disinterested attitude and blase superiority stared back at Lionel as Clark carried on without a care in the world, his unique brand of volatile apathy grating against Lionel like sandpaper.
The paternal Luthor's tone took on an agitated edge and his timbre swelled with his increasing impatience and disappointment. "Lex was supposed to be with you, Clark. The both of you should have been exposed! That was the plan! So I ask you again; where is Lex?"
"He wasn't in the car with me at the time," Clark replied, very matter-of-factly.
"You were in Lex's Porsche, and he was not there with you at the time..." Lionel was struggling to maintain his composure, but finally, anger overtook his aging features and marred them with the stain of defeat. The feeling of partial success was countered by being partially thwarted, and it rose from his core until the ripple surfaced and caused him to turn and capsize his desk. "I wasted my rarest, finite supplies forging this plan and carrying it out, and my son, who was to be a privileged beneficiary of this powerful gift, escaped exposure by chance!" His incredulity echoed, and as the sound of his own frustration bounced back to him, he began to calm himself again. "You were to be at his side while he reigned in the empire I would have handed him."
"I'll take it." Clark's nonchalance seemed simple and eerie compared to Lionel's disconcerting tantrum.
Lionel glared up at the naive and arrogant young man standing before him. "Pardon me?"
"I'll take that empire. I'll take Lex too." A cocky smile broadened upon Clark's lips as he looked down at Lionel like he was an old king, too old to continue wearing his crown, and Clark had his eye on it for himself. "Lex doesn't need to be infected with your Yellow Kryptonite cocktail. He already has a weak spot for darkness. I've seen it, and I can exploit it. He'll do it because it's me." The idea intoxicated him, spread through his veins like the Yellow dust had as it dissolved into his bloodstream. "I'll rule and he'll be at my side." His eyes met Lionel's with a heady delirium whetting the appetite caged inside them. "And you'll be dead."
At that, Lionel produced a small lead box from his pocket and waved it in front of Clark's face as a warning. "Is that supposed to be a threat, Clark?"
"Is that thing in your hand supposed to be a threat?" Clark's expression dared Lionel to open the box. Stepping forward until he was toe to toe with Lionel, Clark towered over Lionel and asserted himself with complete fearlessness as he challenged Lionel's audacity and dominance. When Lionel did nothing and his feral sneer drained of no more than a glimmer of its ferocity, Clark narrowed his gaze suspiciously. Somehow, he caught the scent of a bad bluff on Lionel's part. "Did you honestly think you could make anyone this powerful and ambitious who wouldn't turn on you?"
Through gritted teeth, Lionel spat his words at Clark in defiance of the boy's menacing countenance. "You will show some me appreciation. I made you what you've become now. I'm the one who set you free, Clark, and you will not forget that. You owe me a great debt of gratitude."
"You did set me free, and I should thank you for it." Something distinctly sinister flashed across Clark's eyes. He barely blinked and in an instant his fist connected with Lionel's jaw with brute force at superstrength, sending the corporate tyrant flying across the room to land in a crumpled heap on the floor. Clark's eyes narrowed and he approached the broken body with all the triumph and grace of a jungle cat coming to finish its prey. An ominous air swathed about him, Clark lifted Lionel up by the throat and glared into the searing pain behind Lionel's eyes. "Thank you."
"Are you afraid of me?"
"Of course not, Clark."
"You should be."
The doors were locked and even though it was a Sunday, business hours were not over yet. Being the investor and a partner in ownership, he had a key to the Talon and he used it. He stepped inside and glanced around confounded, his concern and curiosity overriding his senses through instinct, and he left the door unlocked as he treaded softly further inside. There was no sign of anyone, no sign of trouble, and yet there was something amiss, something strange and unsettling about the place and the situation. Lex called out, and the volume of his voice skewered the silence. "Lana?"
The nothingness answered him. It was as if he were standing in the center of a great void. For a moment, it seemed that the empty space would remain mute, but then it filled with a cry emanating from upstairs. "Lex?" It was wholly recognizable as Lana's voice, but there was a tremor that made it quake with something fearful or upset that Lex couldn't quite identify, but it alarmed him.
"Lana? Could you come down here? I need to talk to you." He walked to the edge of the staircase and waited, on the verge of rushing up to the second floor but uncertainty held him back. A minute passed, and then two minutes. His impatience finally wore through, and his worry made him start to ascend the stairs. No sooner did he begin to move than Lana appeared on the balcony, emerging from the apartment that had been Adam Knight's a long time back. Upon sight of her, Lex halted, allowing her to come down to him.
As Lana came down the steps, Lex noticed how disturbingly distraught she seemed. Her eyes were stained red with tears, and her face was devoid of some of its color, her cheeks oddly pale, and her lips swollen, bleeding a bit from the bottom one. What shook Lex even more was realizing that her clothes were slightly disheveled, and she had dust and dirt on her arms covering shades of blue that resembled bruises on her delicate skin.
"My God! Lana, are you alright?" She kept a distance, stopping several steps up from him, holding herself, looking as if she'd collapse in a fit of sobs if she didn't use all her strength to restrain herself. Lex could only gaze at her sympathetically and then trepidation flooded his veins with a chilling thought. "Lana... Clark, didn't do this, did he?" Her eyes were fixed on the floor, her stare focused on that one spot as if it were the only thing in existence, and she did not make a noise. "I came by to ask if you'd seen him, and to warn you that he might show up here..." He trailed off as her gaze slowly lifted and met his. Something terrible and tragic there sliced into his every hope.
Finally, she opened her mouth, and quickly descended the rest of the steps, leaning in towards him to whisper with the utmost caution. "There's something very wrong with him, isn't there?" Her words were fragile, breaking between syllables, reflecting the damage inside her.
"Yes, I believe there is." His tone was heavy, desperately trying to communicate to her the gravity of the situation, though he was convinced she already knew first hand. "Are you okay?" She nodded tensely, her hands trembling nervously, but her eyes were still connected with Lex's. "You're sure? You're really alright?" She nodded again, taking a deep breath this time. "Do you want to go to the hospital? I can call my private doctor."
She shook her head emphatically, tension rising in her again, and she was quick to respond now. "No, he didn't do anything that... No."
"Good." Lex cupped her cheek with his hand, and she steadied somewhat at his touch.
"Lex, I'm sorry. I asked him to stop, because I just didn't understand what he was doing... Clark loves you. He would never do anything that would hurt you... This isn't him. I mean, it's really not him this time. It can't be. I don't know why he would do this..." She broke into sobs and her petite frame started to convulse.
He wrapped his arms around the girl and held her gently. "I know, Lana." Cradling her head with his hand, he breathed a labored sigh into her hair. "He would never do anything to hurt you either. This isn't your fault." He pulled back from her to see into her eyes and make it known that he meant it. She nodded with more ease and comfort, a newfound sense of safety and security building within her, and then Lex's need to press the issue felt more appropriate to pursue. "Lana, I know this is hard, but do you have any idea where he is now or where he went? I've been looking all over town for him, and it's very important that I find him."
"You can call off the search. I'm right here." And when Lex glanced up to see Clark leaning over the balcony staring down at them with a sadistic grin spread wide across his face, Lex knew Clark had never left.
Shuddering, Lana cringed and huddled closer to Lex, as he backed up, and urged her to move with him. He kept his eyes trained on Clark, and spoke to the frightened young woman at his side. "Lana, get out of here." He sensed her hesitation and then commanded her, "Go now!"
She ran for the door. Lex heard it open and he turned his head for no more than a split second to make sure she was gone, and when he turned around again, Clark was standing directly in front of him with his arms folded, looking disgustingly content.
Lex couldn't contain his loathing for being faced with this artificial veneer, and the river of his spite and hurt streamed into his words. "Did I interrupt your sick idea of fun?"
"Yeah..." Clark spoke, a tentative consideration shadowing his tone. "But I know I can have a lot more fun with you."
Unsure whether or not that was a threat, promise, or offer, Lex squinted and took a step back away from this stranger before him. He couldn't reconcile what he knew of his heroic young love with whatever abomination of humanity was wearing his face. "Clark, this isn't you."
"No, it's not me. It's much better." There was an excessive and deliberately proud amount of pleasure in Clark's retort.
Lex blanched, trying to wade through this with logic and faith, believing in a Clark he was no longer certain existed. "Once this runs its course..."
"It's not going to wear off, Lex. It's part of me now. It's in my DNA." That was the most damning declaration Clark could make to dislodge Lex's last ounce of hope, and Clark grinned as the light in Lex's expression dimmed.
But Lex was stubborn, and continued to believe that Clark was not beyond being saved from this. He refused to accept that he was running out of options. The rebellion and resistance were thicker and more hostile than he had recalled meeting before in Clark when Red had previously taken him, and Lex could not explain the severe difference he saw in Clark this time. To hear Clark boast of this change being irreversible was unfathomable to him. "How do you know that?"
"Your father explained it to me." A glimmer of the darkest sort moved through Clark's eyes, wicked and jarring.
"My father?" His anger became rage, fury that churned in his gut and made him almost nauseous. "He had something do with this?"
"He had everything to do with this. Of course!" And now that Clark said it like that, Lex knew he should have known as much. "He called it Yellow. It's proved to be his greatest accomplishment." The delight Clark took in the revelation flaunted that Clark felt it was a magnificent achievement for him as well since he was the one reaping the benefits.
Lex gulped down his revulsion, nearly choking on it. He winced, and he saw Clark's smile broaden to see Lex suffer the truth so heartbreakingly. "God, what did he do to you, Clark?"
Clark mocked Lex's appall. "He set me free. Stripped away all of those annoying things that stand between what we are at the very core and what we try to pretend we can be if we're really good. But instead we can finally realize our true destiny, Lex. We can watch the world destroy itself, and we would be the gods of that destruction, Lex. We conquer and burn it all until there's nothing left, and we will rule."
"We?" Lex's skepticism had a keen edge of his most adamant dissent, which he usually reserved solely for his father.
"He meant this for you too, Lex." Clark casually stepped toward Lex, until he was close enough to reach out and stroke the side of Lex's face. "You can still have it," he said breathily with a lilt of desire and false innocence.
Lex glared at Clark, despising this grotesque exhibition, and quickly, he jerked away from the contact and withdrew from Clark's presence until he was on the opposite side of the open room. The hollow space that separated them acted like a blackhole, a vacuous divide without any way of bridging the chasm. Lex felt a million miles away from his own heart, and felt that much colder that his heart was lost to such a monstrous abyss of inhumanity, both against his own will and, more unbearable still, against Clark's. "I can have what, Clark? A life without a soul, without love or compassion? Without conscience or mercy? Without the only things that have ever really mattered to me? I will never want it, and the real you doesn't want it either."
"The real me already has it! So you're a little late for that." His insistence waned and the fake softness returned for an encore. "But there is one thing you'll have that you neglected to mention, Lex."
Desolation stared up at Clark. "And what would that be?"
"Me." Clark's lips parted and it seemed like the ghost of a smile as worn by the Devil in thinly veiled disguise.
Silence stretched between them. Then, Lex's posture straightened, and something tentatively seductive burgeoned in him. "There is something I want... Because now you're the one who's forgotten something." Lex gazed at Clark meaningfully, the dawn of a smile peaking at the corner of his lips. He spoke with all the sensuality and evocative skill that sang to Clark's libido. "Something you could do that would please me a great deal."
Clark seemed infinitely pleased by the suggestive indecency he heard enticing him in Lex's words. "I'll do anything you want. Anything."
Lex nodded, and his grin broadened. "Catch!" Swiftly, Lex pulled his hand out of his pants pocket and tossed a fragment of meteor rock at Clark.
The piece of glowing Green Kryptonite spun through the air, flying across the room at its target, and almost as if by reflex, Clark reached out to grab it just as Lex had wanted him to, but the confident sneer on his face did not falter, almost suggesting that he knew something Lex did not. The instant it landed in Clark's grip, his fingers closed around it, and it began to crumble as he tightened his fist. He reduced it to dust and pebbles, pulverized by his own hand as Lex witnessed this most unexpected and most discouraging display. Clark had not so much as flinched and the radiant neon rock was a pile of rubble on the floor. All of a sudden, Clark appeared to be lacking for any hint of weakness. He beamed gloriously at his would-be assailant.
Amazement overwhelmed Lex, the stun of utter defeat and defenselessness rendering him that much more at a loss. "Shit."
Suddenly a loud ring rose from inside Lex's jacket, and as it rang again, it wrenched Lex from his shock and he realized it was his cell.
"You should probably get that. Might be something important." The smirk that danced upon his lips set off warning signals in Lex's head, and he watched carefully as Clark walked towards the exit, then paused to turn and address him. "I'll find you. Meanwhile, think about it, Lex."
Reaching into his pocket, Lex hastily answered the phone, "Yes?"
"Mr. Luthor... Your father was just admitted to Metropolis General Hospital. He's in critical condition, sir."
Lex lifted his ear from the phone to glance up at the door and then all around him. "Clark?" His beloved was nowhere to be found, vanished, and Lex was alone.
His footfalls ricocheted off the cold stone walls as Clark prowled through the caves, a sleek cunning about his every movement. When he came to the central brain of the underground tunnels where the most important paintings were, he slowed, having arrived at his destination. He sauntered up to the spot in the wall where the octagonal keyhole had once been. The indentation was long covered over, and the mystery of what had happened to the key the last time it had joined with the lock had never been solved. Clark regarded the cave wall with contempt. He had x-rayed several times, so he knew the key was not inside the wall. But something else was there. Something that was invisible to the human eye and went undetected by any visual ability he had, but he felt at his very core that it was there nonetheless.
"Well, Jor-El..." His eyes scanned the paintings all over the area where he stood. He had spent countless hours staring at all of them, and he was more than familiar with every one. He recognized the one where his biological father's otherworldly journal was hidden away, storing his memories from Smallville in 1961 on the medallion for all of time. "Joe... Whoever the fuck you are. Or think you are." His stare fell upon the symbol that had been emblazoned upon his flesh, mystically branded into the skin of his chest for months two summers ago. Focusing all of his attention there, he directed his words to that Kryptonian character as if it was his father. "You always told me I had a destiny. I tried to fight it, tried to fight you, but damned if you're not the most stubborn fuck in the universe." He spat his hatred at the symbol, but the edge of his mouth curled upward, almost mockingly. "Lucky for you there's a bigger bastard on this planet who shares your ambition, your dreams for me." Extending his hand, he stroked the emblem with his thumb, an unwholesome intimacy about the gesture. "So I just came to say..." Clark leaned in closer to whisper his words against the wall. "You win." His breath broke against the rough surface. "This is how you want me? Well, guess what?" He closed his eyes and leaned his lips grazed the dusty outer crust of clay in an obscene manner. "I accept."
Swiftly, Clark stepped back, retracted his arm and then thrust it forward into the clay, penetrating deep into the rock. He yanked his arm loose, ripping out a large portion of the wall in the process. He plunged his fist into it again, destroying a much larger section this time. Half of that side began to give under the damage. Repeatedly, he bashed the wall until there wasn't a single Kryptonian symbol left. He was effectively laying waste to all of it, and he continued to tear through the system of tunnels that documented the prophecy as well as his heritage. His wrath extracted such a weighty toll that the rubble finally began to collapse. Clark did not stop until the ruin started to mount, filling the hollow depths below ground and burying a majority of the caves.
"If you didn't have any of your abilities, would you still have saved me that day on the bridge?"
"Lex, if I didn't have my abilities, we would both have been killed that day on the bridge. Neither of us would have survived that accident."
"But what if I hadn't hit you? What if you were only human?"
"Then yeah, I still would have done everything I could to save you. Of course! If I were the one drowning, wouldn't you save me?"
"The Green meteor rock had no effect on him at all?" Jonathan was taken aback, and his voice was almost shaking with impotent fury.
"Nothing. I might as well have thrown a handful of gravel at him; it would have been just as effective." Lex drew closer to Jonathan, crossing the width of the barn to where Jonathan was hovering over an open toolbox, seeming saddened as he stared down into it as though it were bottomless. Lex proceeded with a timid sobriety, very much disliking the acidic taste of all the words trapped in his own mouth. Then, finally he spoke, even as it pained him doubly to do so. "It's worse than that."
Jonathan turned, his eyes meeting Lex's in distress and disbelief. "How could it possibly be any worse?"
"I remember the two times I encountered Clark when he was under the influence of the Red meteor rocks, and as scary as it is to say, this was very different!"
"What do you mean by different?" The confusion and anxiety mixed in his voice to create the distinct sound of fear.
"This was like Red Kryptonite to the extreme. It was as if it tapped into the absolute worst parts of the human psyche and eliminated everything else until that was all that remained."
The Kent patriarch interrupted in frustration. "But Clark isn't human, Lex."
"But his mind works like a human's. And meanwhile the fact that he isn't human only serves to make this all the more unpredictable and dangerous." He paused as his own logic bit into his mind. After mulling it over mutely, Lex began to think aloud. "It didn't even seem like Clark. I was able to reach him somehow before, but now I just can't. It's almost as though he's not even there. Like this has a mind of its own."
"Like what has a mind of its own? We don't even know what it is we're up against now. We don't even know why this happened. We could be dealing with anything!" His frustration peaked, and he turned to the toolbox again, eyeing it with disgust, seeming like he meant to hurl it across the room to relieve a small amount of the pressure that was visibly overtaking him.
"I know why and I know something about what it is." Lex closed his eyes and gulped down the bitter sting of his father's transgressions against humanity and beyond. "My father... Clark told me this was his doing. Whatever he did, he did it specifically with Clark as a target." He had to control his illness at that thought as he nearly choked on the admission. Jonathan's expression was not as surprised as Lex had anticipated. With the need to purge himself of this damnable knowledge, he continued. "After Clark left me at the Talon, I didn't stop digging until I had something that would be useful. It didn't take long to turn up relevant information. I hacked into my father's personal files and found out he's been experimenting with a new project using a previously unknown substance. Yellow Kryptonite." Jonathan's eyes widened, and Lex's gaze fell to the floor, the melancholy messenger of bad news. "When chemically mixed with Red, it slightly alters its properties. Which I believe is where Clark gained his immunity to the Green Kryptonite. Yellow stabilizes the long-term effects of Red but it also makes them more severe and magnifies its effects exponentially."
As Lex fell silent, Jonathan felt himself slam into the dead end, and he banged his fist down upon the metal of the toolbox. "I don't have the key anymore. We don't even know where it is. We can't go to Jor-El. I..." He fumbled his thoughts, still reeling from the impact of all Lex had just revealed. "I... I don't know what to do."
The tension spoke lost volumes of defeat. Wrestling with the despair that was spreading through him like a disease, Lex had more grim information to impart. "The most obvious thing to do would be to confront my father, but unfortunately that's not possible..." He hated to think of the subject much less speak of it, but it was some consolation to him that there were very unique and strange extenuating circumstances in this case. "Clark attacked him. He's in the ICU at Metropolis General, and from what the doctors told me on the phone, he's conscious but he's incapable of communicating in his condition."
"Damn it!" His rage was succumbing to crippling anguish. "There has to be a solution... Kryptonite doesn't faze him, he's invincible, and he can't be reasoned with... What can we do?"
Lex glanced toward roof of the barn, looking to the afternoon sunshine pouring through the loft's large window, as if looking to the light of heaven for assistance. Then, Lex's eyes widened as Clark's laptop caught his eye. It was perched on the edge of the table up there, and suddenly, it dawned on him. "There is someone who may have the answer to that question."
With one solid push, Clark sent the back door shooting across the kitchen. His unceremonious entrance had wrenched a scream from Martha and she backed into the farthest corner of the room as Clark stepped inside. He smirked at her. "Hi, Mom. Sorry I'm late for dinner. But there were a few things I just had to do." Laughter was underlying his words, and it gave his voice a maniacal quality that he could see terrified her.
"Martha!" Jonathan's voice arrived before he did, calling out to his wife in a panic after hearing her cry. When he ran into the kitchen from the other room, he skidded to a halt seeing Clark standing before donning an eerily foreboding expression and dressed entirely a black t-shirt, black jeans, and black leather jacket. "Clark... Your mother and I are very worried about you."
"No, you're not." Clark's voice was cool and commanding, every inch of calculation. "The only things you're worried about right now are yourselves. And with good fucking reason too."
"Clark, that's not true!" He was attempting to sound as calm and controlled as Clark, but Jonathan's emotions were ever-present in his tone while Clark showed no trace of sentiment. "We love you. You're our son."
"I'm not anyone's son!" Clark's voice boomed authoritatively.
Martha bit back sobs as she tried pleading with a boy she seemed certain was still in there somewhere. "Clark, please, we only want to help you!"
Clark's scornful glare turned to his adoptive mother, and softened wholly in ridicule. "But I don't want your help. I don't need you anymore."
"Like hell you don't," Jonathan retorted.
His eyes darted back to his adoptive father, and Clark was overcome with revulsion. "Who the fuck do you think I am? Who is it that you think you're talking to? Do you think this is the strong of body, weak of mind farmboy you raised standing in front of you?" Clark advanced a few steps in Jonathan's direction, a distance, a soulnessness in his eyes. "Look very carefully. Do you see anyone who fits that description?"
Jonathan gazed deeply, like he could peer straight inside Clark. "I see my son suffering the influence of something that is hurting him."
"Then you're fucking blind." Clark did not hide how Jonathan's audacity angered him. "You think I'm a prisoner? That's because you see Bad Clark, and you know that's still Clark underneath it all. Well, Clark isn't underneath this. This is all I am now." A perverse grin warped his innocent features, and though there was something very pure in him, it was not angelic light. "There's bad. And there's evil." And Clark spoke knowing that there was a line somewhere between the two that he had crossed well beyond any shade of gray.
Jonathan glared stubbornly. "I don't care what you say. Our son is in there, and we will never give up on him."
"Do you think when I'm very slowly and painfully killing both of you that you'll give up on him then?" Clark advanced two more steps on Jonathan, drawing nearer with his fists clenched at his side.
"Is that what you came here to do?" Jonathan lifted his head up high, not showing the slightest hint of intimidation.
"Actually, I came here to conquer." Clark stretched his arms out, gesturing to all that surrounded him in a grandiose exhibition.
Martha called out to him again from the corner, her voice ragged with desperation. "So you're just going to set out on the war path to claim some unspeakable destiny just because you think that's what was meant for you?"
Clark turned to acknowledge her. "No. I'm going to claim that destiny because I want it." He transferred his stare back to the man who was trying to act and look every bit the strong father figure. "And I figured what better place to start on the war path than right here. They say revolutions begin at home."
He was growing more and more incensed at every word. "So that's your plan. You're going to do what you did to Lionel Luthor to me and your mother?"
As if incredibly proud and basking in a twisted false modesty, Clark smiled. "You heard about that? I take it you've talked to Lex then."
"Yes, I did," Jonathan answered with confidence building in him. "He's just as worried about you as we have been. Are you going to kill him too?"
The smile on his face spread wider. "Don't worry about Lex. I have special plans for him. I'd be much more worried about myself if I were you right now." A vile glint in his eye, Clark pointedly glanced over at Martha.
"Well, you're not me, son." He adjusted his position, insinuating himself between Clark and his line of sight to Martha. Jonathan saw the sparks of fire in Clark's eyes, waiting to be activated by heat vision, to ignite full blast. "And you're not going to hurt anybody else."
The fiery glow in Clark's eyes cooled as his gaze settled on Jonathan again. "You sound awfully sure of yourself." Clark closed the last foot of the gap between them, and his complacent expression melted into undiluted animosity. "But somehow I doubt you have any surprises left up your sleeve. After all, there's only so much you can sacrifice to try and keep me under your control." He was speaking directly down into his Dad's face, his voice full of venom and bloodlust. "Last time we faced off like this, you had my strength and my speed." Clark was mere inches away from Jonathan, staring him down with malice and vicious intent. "How's your health now?"
Before Clark could act on his threat, the phone rang. It persisted, ringing and ringing, while Clark and Jonathan were motionless in the deep freeze of their imminent confrontation. The loud ringing continued until finally the machine answered. The message played, and the two remained stagnant in the perpetual tension of Clark's challenge. The beep sounded, and then Lex's voice came on. "Mr. Kent, Mrs. Kent? Is anyone there?"
Clark broke his offensive stance to pick up the extension on the kitchen wall. He spoke into the receiver, still watching Jonathan with blatant hostility and distrust. "Someone's here alright."
Mild hesitation on the other end of the line for a moment, and then Lex's spoke again. "I'm ready to talk."
Lex sat by the fireplace. He gazed into the flames, hypnotized by the inferno, consumed by the dread of facing it yet he could not look away. Even as Clark entered the office, Lex remained fixated on it. The whole world seemed to lie burning in that hearth.
He heard Clark stop next to the couch, and he could see black jeans out of the corner of his eye, but Lex still did not turn to look. "How are the Kents?" His tone somewhat chastising, Lex's voice hung low like his head, concern fused with defeat.
"Let's just say that you have impeccable timing." Clark spoke with subtle wit and subdued triumph, and without emotion. "Does that make you happy? That I spared those two weaklings because of your surrender?" The substance dissolved in his system had taken hold of him less than twenty-four hours ago, and already Clark's words sounded alien, his true self, his immortal soul charred beyond recognition by the blaze of a man-made alien-born Yellow fever.
"Honestly? I don't think you care what would make me happy." Lex's eyes wandered from the fire, drifting up for the first time to catch a sorrowful glimpse of the abomination his beautiful boy had become.
Clark narrowed his eyes slightly. He kneeled down before Lex, grabbed his shoulders, hoisted him to the edge of the couch, and then leaned into graze his lips. The glare was stern and reproving, but the touch was pornographic as was Clark's tone. "I don't think you know what makes you happy. You've never let go enough to find out." His hands snaked up Lex's thighs until Clark made his way to his hips and squeezed to the point where he knew it was painful, but Lex showed no sign of how much it hurt. "If the real you were to come out and play..." One of Clark's hands lifted to caress Lex's face, his fingertips skating along the cheekbone. "The entire world would worship Lex Luthor."
"Just like they'll worship Kal-El," Lex added grimly. To this, Clark nodded once and grinned, and then began brushing his lips against Lex's jaw and down his neck as if seduced by the utterance of those words. Lex had to suffocate the sobs before they could start or he would lose his courage. "And what about Clark Kent?"
He drew back to stare into Lex's eyes. "What about him?" His tone was almost insulted, but his offense was contained to a soft lull. "He's never really existed anyway. All people will know is Kal-El, and that's all they'll need to know. No one will miss Clark Kent. In time, no one will even remember him." The distinct insistence of persuasion could be measured in Clark's voice.
However, Lex was not the type to fall victim to the power of coercive suggestion. "But I'll remember him. And I already miss him a great deal."
Bitterness flared in Clark to hear such insubordination. "I'm beginning to think your father had a point all these years. What was it he always said about you? That you were a sentimental fool?" Clark gripped Lex by the back of his head, and held him firmly in place to remind him who was the victor in this battle of wills. "The past is useless, so I advise you to forget everything before this minute, because I won't be haunted by the memory of this pathetic human wanna-be who isn't even fucking here anymore."
"Well, it's decidedly inconvenient that all I have is the memory of that boy you hate so much." Lex's pitiful scowl melted into something more docile as he looked to Clark as if for help. "But you have the power to change that, don't you? It's been done to me before. The past wiped from my recollection so I could go on blissfully ignorant, and I have ever since..." His tone became saturated with desperation. "You have the ability to erase it, right?"
The smile on Clark's face resembled a darkly illustrious glory, and he was bathing himself in it. "Yes, I do."
"He's done it once before. When his friend Chloe found out. Her life was in immediate danger because she knew, and that was when he discovered that he had that capability."
"Then this will be the solution you seek. Be forewarned, however, young Mr. Luthor, that while this will produce the desired effect, the result and the repercussions will be most unfavorable. There's a great price for what you want."
"I'm willing to pay it, Dr. Swann."
"You understand that if I tell you what you need to know and you follow this course of action, everything is permanent. Kal-El can do this because of who he is. But once it's done, you won't be able to undo it. The damage done will be irreparable."
"I know. But I don't care. I've already made up my mind."
"I see that, Lex, and I find your dedication the most admirable trait."
"Then take it! Take everything about us! Because I don't want to remember you like this." Lex begged of Clark, begging with pride and stubbornness rooted deep in him still, even as he stifled every conviction he had ever tried so constantly to embrace.
Clark's breathing hitched, lusting for the final surrender that Lex was offering to him, the ultimate sacrifice to him. "This won't hurt, I promise."
Lex's voice was barely a tortured whisper, strangled by tears. "Oh yes, it will."
Clark's lips closed on his and he deepened the kiss quickly. The mist streamed into Lex's mouth and as he inhaled the alien hormone, it ran through him like cold steel. He whimpered into Clark's mouth and started to go limp in the possessive and domineering curl of Clark's arms. As he started to lose consciousness, he felt Clark begin to fade from that threshold too, and Clark's weight pulled them both to the floor. Lex sighed one last breath before his lids closed, and he saw a puff rise from his open mouth. He thought to himself how it normally would have been a green smoky light, as he had witnessed when Clark had done this to Chloe. But as he slipped beneath the fold of reality, he felt assured by the knowledge that this time it was yellow.
Clark's eyes opened with a shock. He picked his head up off the carpet and glanced around frantically. His heart began to pound in his chest, and he knew by the sickness twisting in his gut that something was terribly wrong. "Lex?" Clark sat up and then jumped to his feet. That was when he realized that his pulse was rabid and his eyes were stinging with salt. That was when he realized that he was different, and that this different was the same as he had been before. He was himself again, but he could not find the company he knew had been here. "Lex?!" Then, it pierced him like a hot blade as he understood Lex had made the ultimate sacrifice for him. "Oh, God." Clark's mind flashed to the moment before he passed out, searching, and what he found devastated him. Lex had convinced him to use the Kiss, his ability to take away memories. He suddenly wondered why Lex had taken advantage of that particular power. Fruition struck Clark, and as it undid him, he cried out in vain. "God, no... Lex!"
"One day, son, you'll come around to my way of seeing things. You'll come back from this foray into love, Lex, and you'll be ready to follow in my path. You'll want what I want for you, because deep down you know you have more of me inside you than you would ever care to admit."
"I'll never be like you, Dad. Not if I can help it."
Lex's silhouette blocked out the light from the hallway. It was well past visiting hours, but Lex had walked right in without incident. He entered the hospital room, and as he closed the door behind him, the sound caused the broken man began to stir. Lionel was involuntarily silent as his visitor strolled up to the side of the bed. Lex eyed the life support system that was working to keep Lionel alive. Tubes wound into his father's nose and IV's dripped into other tubes that were stuck in his veins. Something eerily calm possessed Lex and his countenance radiated superiority and control.
"Dad." His nonchalance was laced almost imperceptibly with disgust. "I just came so you could see how your little experiment turned out." Lex watched Lionel's eyes as they strained to see him, or as Lionel strained to see his meaning. "Unfortunately, Clark Kent won't be taking over the world." His fingers stretched out to touch his father's face, reminiscent of a touch he recalled receiving by his father's hand at one time a few years ago. "You see, I learned how to manipulate Clark's powers so that I could take the extra power that you endowed him with into me. You would have loved to have seen it. The moment he transferred your gift to me without even being aware that that's what he was doing. I know you would have been particularly proud of that play. It was sort of a bloodless coup. Kind of like how your downfall is going to be. Only more excruciating and less covert." His father flinched at Lex's continued strokes, but he was incapacitated by his physical weakness and could not even muster the strength to squirm. Lex continued to speak with his voice sinking to a chillingly deliberate level of malevolence. "So in damning myself, I was able to save Clark... Funny how selfless that was of me. How much I wanted to spare him that fate... Don't worry, though. Now that I have my priorities straight, he won't be safe for very long."
Lex leaned over the railing that ran the length of the bed, and he stared into Lionel's eyes, finding nothing there that moved him. "You know, it's an amazing concoction you created. Harnessing Yellow Kryptonite was definitely your greatest feat. After all, it's given you me as I am before you now. Something I didn't expect, though, was for it to give me everything I've always been... Apparently, Yellow has incredible effects, and one of them seems to be miraculous healing. The healing of damaged brain cells for example." Something fearful bled into Lionel's eyes, replacing any sense of security he had before this moment. Lex curled his hand around the oxygen tube and pinched it between his fingers. "Like the kind of damage electro-shock therapy can cause." Lionel began to wheeze almost as if on cue. "I thought that what Clark did would take away some of my memories so I wouldn't have to deal with them, but now it looks like I have to live with just about every memory I've ever had. That's the kind of thing that could drive a person insane." Lex reached over and casually flicked a switch on the electronic equipment that was monitoring his father's vital signs. The digital readings stopped and the machine shut down. "Now that I remember you standing over me while I begged you not to purposely fry my brain to the point of nearly killing me just to protect yourself from your own criminal transgressions... And that after the first round, you demanded a second... Nothing is going to be more gratifying than to watch you die." Contentment and loathing seeped into Lex's voice and the callous absence in his eyes heralded horrors to come. "Do you remember a conversation we had when you first exiled me to Smallville? I told you that the emperors who sent their sons off to rule parts of their empire only feared that their sons would return with armies to overthrow them. Guess what, Dad." Lex closed the gap mere inches as he sneered in Lionel's face. "I'm home." Lex wrapped his hand around the thick cord, and yanked the plug out of its socket in the wall.
The air was crisp and a thin blanket of clouds covered the horizon. Clark sat on the stairs, staring blankly into the empty space in front of him. He had not left that spot and had barely budged all night. He heard his parents step out onto the front porch and the boards creaked as they stopped right behind him.
"Clark?" Martha's voice was gentle and soothing, full of compassion, but lacking for what to say.
"It should have been me." He steadied his voice so that his parents wouldn't hear how fragile he was, but he got the impression that they already knew.
"It shouldn't have been anyone, son." Jonathan's voice resonated with the same compassion as Martha's. "The tragedy is that it happened at all."
"I went to see Dr. Swann and he told me exactly what he told Lex. And he told me what Lex told him... why Lex went to him." Clark winced, and Martha sat down next to him on the top step. "He said that the only reason Lex was able to take it from me was because he used my ability to draw it out of me. Like my body knew the foreign particles weren't supposed to be there, and they used my physiology to expel them with the hormone that causes memory loss." Clark inhaled an unsteady breath. "He said there's no cure. There's no way to draw it out of Lex the same way he did with me."
"There's always a way, Clark." He spoke with conviction as Clark turned to peer up at Jonathan. "If I've learned one thing in my lifetime, it's that nothing is impossible, son."
Martha put her arm around Clark. "Your father's right. There has to be something that can be done. You should never let go of that hope. We were right that you were still inside when you were infected with the Yellow Kryptonite. That means Lex isn't gone either." She gave Clark a simple smile in the warmth of her good faith, but Clark could only give her a half-hearted smile in return.
"Lex cares a lot about you, Clark, and he's proved it time and time again." Jonathan leaned down and placed his hand on Clark's shoulder. "Don't give up, son. He never gave up on you."
Clark's smile suddenly broadened, bright and sincere. But rivers began pouring from his eyes. "God..." Clark faltered.
"Sweetheart?" It obviously broke Martha's heart to see her son such a wreck.
"I was just thinking..." Clark stared out into the empty space again, a smile still on his lips, and the tears seemed to cease for just a second. "No matter what happens now, I know that Lex loves me." His eyes met his mother's and his voice became racked with sobs as the tears started running heavily again. "He really loved me." Martha pulled Clark into her arms, and he cried into her sleeve. After a short while, the tears began to subside, but Martha never loosened her hold on the boy. She rocked him slightly back and forth. And soon, his eyes were dry and just a faint echo of his smile remained.
Someday, he thought... But until then, it would all be Yellow.
Also, why not join
Level Three, the Smallville all-fic list?