May 15, 2002 - 4:03 pm
The truth is a dance partner with its own agenda on how to move. The truth can be dipped and spun and rolled and moved from side to side, but it always comes back to where it belongs. It always comes back to the first position.
Lex knows how to dance with the truth. He can do every ballroom dance from the tango to the Viennese Waltz right back to the Jitterbug. Lex can dance circles around the truth, but at the end of the night he can't evade it forever. He will drive it home.
Lex has spent enough time leading the truth around the dance floor to know that.
The truth will always have the last dance.
The truth is a sentient, enigmatic force that can't be controlled or contained. It has an agenda all its own that is not subject to bribery, threats, or Luthor charm.
The truth will come out.
It has a way of finding Lex in Clark's loft, long after Clark has gone to the dance. Long after Lex has supposedly left, and Clark has dashed off with his high school hopes and his excitable teenage hormones.
Lex has come back to the barn and the truth finds him there. Waiting.
Sitting on Clark's third-hand sofa of vinyl and plaid, with his hands folded and his face blank, Lex is a picture of sybaritic living trapped in farming country. Suits by Tom, shoes by Kenneth, facial expressions by Lionel and heartache by Clark.
Lex has it all, everything any man could want, except for the truth. But it's coming.
Lex can smell its perfume in the air and feel its arms surrounding him. Pulling him closer, correcting his posture and moving his hand higher on a golden shoulder.
So Lex waits and sits and is thankful for the sofa when the realizations start coming fast and hard.
The truth will have the first word.
The truth will always go all out with that special combination for the judges, just as Lex is being gifted with certain knowledge. Certain acknowledgements.
Lex knows that he doesn't want to be Clark's friend. Lex knows that he wants to be much more than Clark's friend.
Lex wants to be everything.
Lex wants the truth.
The truth that Lex knows he should never examine too closely. Not when the truth dresses up in a tuxedo for his Spring Formal and Lex fixes his tie. Not when the truth lusts after girl after girl and has never shown the slightest interest in Lex.
But the truth is Lex's eternal dance partner and sometimes he'd like to fling it across the room and watch it crash into the wall. Sometimes Lex would like to see the truth crumble against the wall, crying its eyes out, and apologizing for all that it's cost him: his mother, Julian, Pam, Clark.
Clark is Lex's truth; and Lex wants to get a handle on his feelings because there's no reason for him to be this emotional, but the truth has its own spotlight on the dance floor.
Lex wants to see Clark crying in the corner apologizing for what he's done to Lex. The way that he's chipped away at Lex's armor and seeped into his skin. Lex wants Clark contrite and profusely sorry for the way he acts. The way he deliberately avoids all the possibilities between them.
Lex wants Clark sorry for ever wanting someone as empty and lifeless as Lana Lang when he could be with Lex. Lex could give Clark everything. Lex would give Clark everything.
But Clark doesn't want everything, and Lex wants an apology for that. He wants an apology for Clark not being like everyone else.
Lex wants reparations for all the lies that Clark has tried to spin and the way that they've shredded Lex bit by bit. Lex is not stupid. Lex is not anybody's fool. Lex wants what rightfully belongs to him. What he's owed.
Clark owes Lex the truth for forcing Lex to lie to himself.
Clark is the truth. The truth with two left feet and a bad sense of rhythm, and every time Lex gets too close, he winds up with sweat marks on his shirt.
Lex wants a new shirt; and not for the first time, Lex wants a new life.
Lex wants to make peace with his past so that he can move forward, because Clark is Lex's future.
Clark is Lex's past eight months and his next eighty years. Lex wants to see Clark in every fragment of time between now and then. Lex would give his fortune to ensure their future together, but he knows that it would simply be returned with a rueful smile and flushed cheeks.
The truth is that Clark is the one thing that Lex can't buy.
On some level, Clark is the only thing that Lex wants to buy. But Lex understands that part of Clark's allure is that he can't be bought, that he is essentially priceless.
Clark has a loyalty that can't be bought. Clark has secrets he won't tell Lex. Secrets someone else probably knows, but that Lex isn't good enough to know.
The truth is fucking with Lex's self-esteem.
But Lex is good enough for everything, everyone. Even Clark Kent, and while part of Clark's appeal is what he's hiding, the appeal is wearing off rapidly. It's getting old, and Lex has all the money in the world, but he can't breathe in this wide-open loft where he's being crushed by the truth.
The truth is a bossy dance partner.
The truth doesn't care about greatness or fairness or wrongness. The truth doesn't care that it's stepping on Lex's feet and hurting him.
The truth doesn't care about promises and destinies. It doesn't care that Clark and Lex could be great together, because the truth says that they're going to be legendary anyway.
They just won't be legendary together.
Clark and Lex aren't going to be Alexander and Hephaestion or Achilles and Patroclus.
Clark Kent is going to be great all on his own. He's going to be a great father, a great husband, a great man. Clark is going be great in ways that Lex can't even conceive of; Clark is going to be great without Lex's help.
Clark Kent is going to go off, marry some small town girl, take over the family business, and forget all about his friend, Lex.
Or maybe he won't.
Maybe Lex really pissed someone off upstairs, and Clark won't forget him. Maybe Clark will remember Lex enough to call him when he gets engaged to whomever, so that Clark can wax rhapsodic over the future Mrs. Kent and fuck with Lex's mind even more.
Maybe Clark hates Lex enough to call him every time the future Mrs. Kent drops another fruit of the Kent loins. Maybe Clark isn't Lex's friend at all; maybe he wants to destroy him.
It wouldn't surprise Lex at all.
The truth fucking hurts, but Clark is going to carry on regardless. He'll always be able to find someone else to dance with. Clark's dance card will never be empty.
There will come a day, in the not too distant future, where they will part. Where their paths will separate, and Alexander of the Molossians will go towards the west and Alexander of Macedonia will go east, because Lex knows that Clark is a fighter.
Lex knows that Clark is a liar. Lex knows that Clark is his friend, but that doesn't seem to be enough.
Lex knows that friendship was never going to be enough.
The truth will always have the final word.
So, as Lex finally gets his legs under him and prepares to leave the loft, he can't help but grin and applaud. Lex has to give Clark credit. The loft isn't much, but it's a quasi-home and it has Clark's name written all over it.
The truth is a dance partner that will always have a home: it's not at all like Lex.
Lex has training grounds and apartments and mansions, but he doesn't have a home. He has a block of bricks with rooms that have never kissed the light of day. Lex has cars whose odometers will never reach the thousand mark.
Lex has a ballroom that no one has ever danced in.
It's a beautiful room, constructed of gold and silver and crystal, and made for fairytales and golden dreams. Lex remembers that Mrs. Palmer used to take down the chandeliers and polish them, a piece at a time, just because she could. Just because the chandeliers were there: twinkling and sparkling and waiting.
The ballroom is waiting for someone to dance with.
Lex could've let the high school hold their spring formal there, but that would've been a bit much. Even for him. He doesn't need to see Clark with someone else. It's more than enough to hear him fawning over Lana and Chloe every time Lex sees him.
If Lex really wants to endure that sort of pain he can pick up his Rolodex or call his father.
All the same, maybe it would've been worth it. To put on his Brioni tuxedo and stand next to Clark in his Smallville imitation. Maybe the Hawaiian Punch and inane Top 40 music would have been worth it to have another mental snapshot to add to the one from the museum gala.
Maybe all the pain and suffering would be tantamount to nothing if he could be with Clark on the dance floor. Maybe in another lifetime, Lex could ask Clark to dance with him; and perhaps in that other lifetime Clark would say yes.
The fact is that Lex loves Clark, but he'll never get to dance with him.
The reality is that the ballroom will never be used, and maybe Lex should just burn the whole thing down.
May 16, 2002 - 4:03pm
The truth is a tornado tearing through the Kansas countryside, ripping up re-financed farms and unpaid-for trucks. The truth is an alien racing through interstates and cornfields to save the person he thought he loved.
The reality is that Clark Kent has assumed he's in love with Lana Lang for so long that he's never really considered if he actually is. Now Clark wonders why he never stopped moving long enough to realize that what he felt was just the result of small town living and societal expectations.
Clark never thought to wonder if he might love Lana because everyone else loves Lana.
She is the girl next door.
Lana is what every red-blooded American male is told to want. She's even what every non-human, American male is told to want: an aesthetically pleasing, popular cheerleader-type, who will go over well with the parents.
Lana is everything that Clark is supposed to want. Lana is everything that Clark doesn't need.
Want and need are not the same thing.
It's true that Lana is popular and charming, but she's also shallow, selfish and a bit dense.
Even Clark can see that.
The truth is that Clark went to save Lana because he wanted to believe that he could beat Mother Nature. He went because it was the right thing to do. Clark's responsibility is to use his gifts to help people, and he hasn't been steadfastly caught by any other force: why would nature be any different?
But he can see now that he got cocky.
The fact is that nature doesn't have to play by anybody rules but her own.
The reality is that nature caught Clark long before he left Chloe in the school gymnasium, and the truth is that Clark doesn't love Lana. Not in the way that he always thought he did.
Clark likes Lana, but he doesn't love her.
He's not in love with her. If anything, Clark is in love with the idea of being in love, of being with someone who needs him. Clark is in love with making people proud of him, of people needing him.
His parents need him. The farm needs him.
The truth is that Clark needs to be needed.
Chloe needs Clark. Chloe might even be in love with Clark, but Clark isn't in love with Chloe. He does, however, love her.
Clark loves Chloe as a sister, as a friend. Clark loves Chloe in a purely platonic way, but it's not the way she needs to be loved. Clark can't give Chloe everything she needs. He can't give her the truth. Not any part of it because it would only come back to the same thing.
Clark lied to Chloe, repeatedly, and he didn't even do it because he was in love with her. He just did it because it was easier. Easier than being honest. But the truth doesn't wait for people to take cover. It doesn't wait for them to be honest.
The truth doesn't wait for anything.
And the reality is that, in the end, Clark would only hurt Chloe. He would never be able to protect her from the person who did the most damage. Him.
Clark worries enough as it is, he can't deal with any more grief. He can't hurt any more people. Clark can't keep up with the lies, with the deception and the cover-ups. He can't keep withholding the truth.
The truth is even stronger than Clark Kent. It can't be contained.
It will come out.
Clark won't always be lucky. His parents won't always be around to protect him. There won't always be a convenient natural disaster to blind prying eyes and wipe out nosey reporters.
All of this means that Clark needs to stop running. He can't evade the tornado forever.
Clark needs to find a storm cellar. He needs to find someone he can trust. Someone he can show himself to, the real Clark Kent, pods and all. Clark needs someone who will offer him shelter because they know what it's like out in the storm.
Clark's already been to the castle. He's seen what the tornado did.
He's seen the damage and experienced the effects first hand.
The truth is Clark's stark realization that he wasn't with the person he loves when he should have been. The person who he should have been protecting.
The truth swept through Smallville the day before. It blew in all of Lex's stained glass windows, trashed his thousand dollar flat screen monitors, nearly killed Lex in the process, and as a neat hat-trick, happened to show Clark that Lex is the one that he loves.
That's all it took: a natural disaster of biblical proportions.
The truth can be expensive.
Clark is in love with the crazy, arrogant, man who barricades himself away in a castle with books and epees and cars and destinies that rain down on his head. Clark is in love with the pale, listless form that's pillowed in between silk bed linens and cotton pajamas that look almost as soft as Lex.
Always the best for Lex. Clark would never expect anything less.
The truth is that Lex snores quietly.
Mother Nature has shown Clark the truth. She's told him that he better pay attention and show some damn respect before he loses everything that he cares about. Everything that he's done his damndest to protect. His mother, his father, and all their secrets were all exposed to the birds and the earthworms for miles, and Clark couldn't do a damn thing about it.
All of Clark's gifts and powers couldn't protect anyone from the tornado. There are some things that even Clark isn't impervious to.
The truth doesn't care about aliens and poor little rich boys.
All the money in the world couldn't save Lex from a concussion, three cracked ribs, and a hospital stay that Clark is sure Lex is not happy about. Especially considering that Lex never goes to the hospital. Especially considering that Lex seems to defy all the logics of the human body with his phenomenal healing rate. With the way that he never seems to be injured for very long. Lex gets pushed from moving cars, pistol whipped on a regular basis, and yet, Clark can't remember Lex ever have a bruise to show for it.
Lex isn't like everyone else. Clark can see that for himself.
But Lex is alive, and Clark knows that it's not due to him. Clark knows that he almost lost Lex because he wasn't there. Because he didn't appreciate what he had. Lex needs Clark almost as much as Clark needs him.
For the first time, Clark has stopped trying to outrun and out maneuver the truth. He's trying to stand his ground and listen to what's happening around him. To what he's being offered.
Lex who has never asked for anything from Clark, even his time. Lex who has never done anything but help Clark in any way he can. Clark has done nothing but take from Lex, and Lex has never stopped him. Never said no.
Clark has been taking for so long, sometimes he's not sure if he's ever said thank you properly. If he's ever told Lex how much it means to him that Lex wants to be his friend. That Lex wants to be with him at all.
But maybe Lex doesn't want to be with him. Maybe Lex is just looking for a way to tell him to get lost.
Maybe Clark is too late.
Even if that is the case, though, Clark can't let it go. He has to at least have his say. He has to let Lex know that everything he's done hasn't gone unappreciated. Lex has to know that Clark doesn't want him for what he does, but for who he is.
Not Lex Luthor, just Lex. Broken pieces, broken homes, broken bones and all.
Clark may love Lex, but Lex needs Clark. Lex needs Clark to protect him, to keep him safe.
He always will.
Even if Lex doesn't love Clark in return, it will be enough if Clark can protect him. Be near him.
If the only thing in Clark's future is the knowledge that Lex needs him, it will have to be enough. Sad but true.
It's a truth that's as hard and steadfast as the plastic hospital chair that Clark's been camped out in for the last two hours.
Clark knows that there are things that need to be said, truths that need to be addressed. There are things that Clark needs to say to Lex because losing Lex might have been the end. The first life that Clark saved might have been the one that cost him the most.
The truth of the matter is that if anything had happened to Lex, Clark might have died as well.
"You look like someone died." This might wind up being the best greeting Clark has ever had in his life.
Only Lex could go from sleeping to sarcastic in under five seconds. Only Lex could make sarcasm soothing; and only Clark could look that stern when inside he's shaking with relief. His mother would be proud.
"Someone almost did die."
"Well, I hope it wasn't me, because I've got a buyout to take care of before Monday."
"Lex." Clark really can't help the pouting thing. Really he can't. That's why he works on controlling it so much. So that he can whip it out on demand.
"Why are you looking at me like that?"
"Because you almost died."
"Almost doesn't count, Clark." But Clark would beg to differ because he 'almost' lost Lex; he was 'almost' too late.
Too late to tell Lex the truth.
"Well, it does to me." It's a statement that involves much wiggling on Clark's part because hospital chairs are really uncomfortable, and it's not what he's about to say that has him jumpy. "You could've really been hurt; the castle is a complete wreck."
"Clark, I very much doubt that a Scottish castle that's hundreds of years old, and has already survived God only knows what, can in any way be declared more of a 'wreck' than it already is. My luck isn't that good."
"Well, it's got to be better than you think if you're still alive after that tornado."
"That's debatable, I assure you. Enough about me, you look... all right, so I'll assume you weren't caught someplace you shouldn't have been. Is everything okay at the farm?"
"Things are...okay, but don't change the subject. Lex, I was really worried. You've got that gash over your eye and the doctors said that your ribs are cracked."
"My ribs are cracked; I'm cracked. Clark, no one worries as much as you do. You could get paid for it. I see vast sums of money in your future based to your ability to worry."
That response is the sort of Lex wit that Clark needs to hear, and he can't help but smile in the face of Lex's smirk. It's the sort of proof that Clark has been hoping for.
Clark 'scanned' Lex while he was sleeping to make sure the doctors didn't miss anything, but there's no way to x-ray someone's personality. There was no way to make sure that Lex was still Lex.
There was no way to make sure that Lex was still *Clark's* Lex.
"Anyway, I'm fine now. So, how was the dance?"
"Never mind about the dance, you shouldn't be moving around like that." For more reasons than the medical ones, and even Lex's pajamas are sexy.
"I'll do what I want, when I want."
"You sound like your father."
"Don't say things like that Clark, it's rude. Thank God they took him to Metropolis General to look at his legs. I knew that hospital wing had to be good for something."
It was only a matter of time before money somehow seeped into the conversation, but Clark is prepared because he knows what he's working against. He knows about the stacks of bills that Lex can hide behind.
"Lex, stop it. I was worried."
"You don't have to worry about me, Clark." It's said in a tone that belies the way that Lex's eyes are a bit bright. However, if Lex is happy to see Clark he hasn't quite shown it.
"I always worry about you."
"You shouldn't, I've gotten this far just fine." He's gotten this far without Clark.
"Apart from the broken ribs and crazy stalkers and kidnappings of course."
"Sarcasm, Clark? Aren't you supposed to take pity on the sick and infirmed?"
"That's right, you can't forget the concussion. I think there's a buy-one-get-one-free promotional happening."
"Lex, I'm serious. I was worried, please stop moving around like that." Lex has to be the only hospital patient in the world who doesn't get a kick out of the automatic bed adjuster.
"I'm not five." A statement that sounds like the truth, but doesn't take into account everything.
Physically Lex is not five, mentally he never was, but emotionally he's not that far off.
"I know you're not, but that doesn't mean I don't worry."
"I told you, you don't have to worry about me."
"I know I don't have to, but when you love someone, you can't help but worry."
The truth is the look on Lex's face when he realizes what Clark has just said.
The truth is suspicion and disbelief and relief, which is why Clark knows he had to say it. Because all Lex has ever wanted from him is honesty. All Lex has ever asked for from Clark is his friendship.
All Lex has ever done is try to give Clark everything, and all Clark has done is say no.
Obviously the truth has never tried to contend with Lex being caught off guard. "Jesus, Clark, I'm not dead."
"Which is a good thing, because if you had died, I'd be really upset that I hadn't told you first."
Which is true.
"Clark." Lex has a way of saying Clark's name that makes Clark's insides twist and turn and this instance is no different. Between the admissions and the looks, Clark is weathering a metaphorical hurricane in this hospital room.
Clark can't help but look Lex square in the eye, and if he didn't know better he'd swear that Lex was fidgeting. "Did you hit your head yesterday or anything? Do you need a CAT scan?"
"No, I just -- I needed to tell you that."
"But why?" 'Why not' is the only thing that Clark can think of, why wait? "Why would you need to tell me that you..."
"That I love you, Lex? Because it's the truth."
"But you don't have to say it. I never asked -- you don't have to say it." No, Clark doesn't have to say it, but he needs to say it.
Clark wants to say it because they can't have a foundation built on lies and deceit. Because Clark wants to be more than Lex's friend. Now he just needs Lex to believe it, believe him.
All the good in the world won't mean a thing if Lex doesn't believe him.
"But I need to say it. I need you to hear it. I need you to believe it."
"Clark." For the first time that Clark can remember, Lex looks his age. Only twenty-one. "I don't - I don't understand why you're saying this now. Here. Is this about the tornado? Did something happen with Lana and Chloe?" A pause that Clark has been expecting.
"I don't know what's going on, but I'm not seeing any humor here."
"I'm not trying to be funny, Lex. It's not about them. It's about you and me." It's about the truth. "I almost lost you and you didn't know how I felt, how I feel. I need you to know. I need you to believe it."
Because sometimes the truth wins out.
Dedication: To Wendi for all her remarkable, unrelenting enthusiasm, and to Kassie for being a trooper, a friggin storm trooper. 'Thank you' seems sorely lacking.
Notes: The story of the two Alexanders comes from 'Alexander: Child of a Dream' by Valerio Manfredi
Soundtrack: Whiskeytown covering Gram Parsons' 'A Song For You,' Jimmy Eat World's 'Bleed American,' Smashing Pumpkins covering Thin Lizzy's 'Dancing in the Moonlight,' Queen's 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love.'
Title nicked from Embrace's album 'The Good Will Out'
Also, why not join Level Three, the Smallville all-fic list?