Fifth gear and coasting into the mindless flow of traffic, wet tarmac and white line, Lex wants a drink so badly he already feels the ice from the bottom of the glass clicking against his teeth. Ten hours in a pin-stripped suit, two screaming matches on the telephone, a chair hurled out of the window and his nerves are as tight as the thrumming of wheels on the road. The monotony of the engine throb seeps into his ears, becomes one with the beatings of his heart.
The night has descended, blanketing Metropolis. The city is a cluster of noise and metal, gasoline rain drizzles on the sidewalk. The faces of passers-by, illuminated by the harsh light of the neon signs, seem almost inhuman, alien. Nests of newspapers are burning in trash cans, the fumes stream continuously up to the heavens. On the black canvas of the sky the house windows float like tiny, luminous squares.
As the entrance door shuts behind him with an almost inaudible 'click,' the empty house seems strange at first, as if it has been taken by surprise by his presence and needs time to accommodate him. Lex flings his jacket on the floor and slumps on to the sofa with a glass in his hands.
Six shots of whisky later he stumbles to the bathtub. The water is hot, steam rises, clouding the mirror, and his skin slowly turns scarlet. Taking a deep breath he lets go and slips down, dipping his head under the surface. The water slowly swallows up his face.
A ringing sound fills his ears, coming and going like waves, as his thoughts begin to pool into one another, dissolving, losing their distinctiveness. The water is thick with memories, layers of decayed life and as he sinks deeper they cling to him like dead leaves, until his body becomes so heavy he can no longer move his arms or legs.
He is now covered in leaves and being pulled down to the river floor, softly, so softly. He can feel his body grow cold and rigid and remembers the arms, the two arms that must come and circle around his waist now, dragging him up to the surface. But nobody can be saved tonight, and nobody can be left to drown.
Lex emerges, choking and splashing water on the bathroom tiles. He pulls the tap and watches foam, murky water and little pieces of himself disappear, washed down in a dirty whirlpool.
The bed is unmade but he doesn't have the energy to search for the covers and sheets. He will fire the cleaning lady tomorrow. He flings himself face down on the pillows and falls asleep, flushed but with chilled, prickled skin.
In his dream Clark watches him from the other end of the room. He is barefoot, tender, willowy. His clothes are soaked, the wet T-shirt clings to his body like second skin, the muddy jeans hang heavily around his hipbones.
Lex tries to sit up but Clark is suddenly on top of him, straddling him, pushing his shoulders back into the mattress. His hair is wet and plastered on his forehead, water is trickling from his eyelashes, rolling down his face, cutting muddy paths across his cheeks. Cold drops of water fall on Lex's face and into his parted lips.
'I'm not crying' Clark whispers. 'It's raining outside.'
In his dream water spills on his eyes, blinding him, until Clark's face dissolves into a haze of black and white. Moist hands fly to his neck, almost choking him, then they link around his wrists, pinning his arms to his sides.
Clark bends down to kiss him, licks the pulsepoint on his neck, runs his fingernails along Lex's sides, sketching long red trails that will later fade to white. Lex hears the sound of cloth ripping and feels two sharp teeth grazing his wrist, then the spot right under his ribs, where the skin is soft and vulnerable, then his hipbone, his inner thigh.
Arching his back he reaches out, but his outstretched arms find nothing, void, cold air.
In his dream Clark watches him from the other end of the room. He holds something in his hand, something that looks like a lump of flesh, raw and red and hurting.
'I'm alone' Clark says. 'Why did you go? Why did you leave me?'
Lex looks at him, unable to remember the answer.
Clark squeezes the thing in his hand until it begins to bleed. Wet red seeps through his fingers, splashing and coiling in clots on the marble floor. A numb pain surges through his limbs and suddenly Lex is afraid to look down on his body, afraid he will find his ribcage crashed open and his skin torn and blood stained.
Rapid eye movement and Lex wakes to a different dawn. Outside the sky is wet-blue, pooling over Metropolis like a watercolor sea. Tomorrow is already leaking into the corners of the room. He sits up, rubbing the sleep from the corner of his eye and tries to push away the covers that have tangled around his legs.
He stops and looks down, twisting the coarse wool of the blanket between his fingers. He remembers he couldn't find anything to cover himself up the night before.
So who had come? Who had come and spread the blankets over him?
He runs his hand over his ribs in sudden fear.
There's water on the windowsill.
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