Thanks to Elizabeth and s.a. I pried and prodded this fic, but this was as far as I could get.
Clark remembered his mother saying `maybe someday' in a wistful tone that spoke of love as much as it did of lies. Becoming a liar was easy, especially when his parents set the bar as high as they did. He almost felt proud. Lex said it too, but he said it honestly, at a brief time during their friendship when they were honest, a few sparkling moments that shone like promise in Clark's memory.
"Maybe someday," Lex had said. He'd looked at Clark with resignation and it had scared Clark profoundly.
A loaded silence, dust motes in the air. The smell of hay and fear and regret, the decay of possibility. The gleam of the telescope at twilight, and the retreat of something that Clark had thought was both in his future and firmly in his grasp.
"That's a lie," Clark remembered saying. There was little he forgot. "And you of all people can't hold that against me."
"You'd know better than anyone."
Clark had reached out to Lex then, his arm heavy and slow. "Lex, don't-"
Lex had cut him off swiftly. He had already retreated somewhere where Clark couldn't follow, and Clark had hated this moment and hated it still when he remembered, the moment possibilities closed in on some destructive loop. Lex had chuckled bitterly.
"I don't want the only honest thing you say to be that you're sorry."
There had been nothing to say after.
There was little Clark forgot, but there was much he could do to escape. His favourite method by far was running. He ran fast around Smallville. Sometimes, he jumped as far and as high as he could but he couldn't control himself in the air. Many mailboxes were destroyed, along with fences, cars and once, Mr. Tillson's old horse. It happened so quickly, seconds after he launched himself into the air, leaving the sound of his shout behind him, his eyes closed to enjoy the sheer sensation. He felt her bones break as he slammed against her. There was so much blood, and that awful sound of her wheezing as she died.
His hands were shovels and he dug fast into the hard earth. The horse's body was almost broken in two. Guilt like tremors he couldn't contain, and even worse, a confirmation of his fears that he can never share this with anyone, that feeling of slicing through air itself with the wind a deafening rush.
She was called Nelly, he thought.
Sunlight was harsh against the brown earth, the dried stalks of dead grass and the crimson splash of blood.
She turned around smiling. "Hey Clark. Usual?"
"Coming right up." She went behind the counter to pour him a cup. Clark's gaze turned to her hands. They were small with the nails cut short. There was a small burn scar on her left index finger. When he looked up, Lana was watching him, somewhere between flattered and unavailable.
"Did you hear about Nelly?"
"Yeah, I did." Clark sipped his coffee.
Lana smiled. "I remember riding her. I learned how to ride on her, you know." She sighed wistfully, lost in memories.
Clark added cream and sugar to his coffee. He didn't want to hear whatever Lana had to say. He remembered a picture of her and Nelly. Lana's eyes were closed in the picture as she hugged Nelly around the neck, Nelly's dark brown fur glowing, glaring gold with the sunlight.
Lana leaned towards Clark. She spoke in muted tones. "You know those times when you hate parents, aunts, whatever a whole lot? I used to think that my aunt was named after Nelly because they looked the same from behind." She giggled sweetly.
"Kids," Clark said. His coffee was ruined, but he raised the cup to drink it anyway.
His father always said `you can't.' Clark can't remember the precise moment when he made a liar out of his father when he found out all the applications of the things he could do. He broke physical laws everyday. When Clark felt really angry, he felt tempted to say it in his father's face that yes, he damn well can. Temptations that he never succumbed to, because despite everything, his parents had taught him better than that.
Lex had said it too.
"Clark, you can't."
"You're too young." Lex's face had taken a hardness, an angularity to it. Clark had discovered then how good Lex was at telling truths loaded with implications, truths that served as lies.
"Doesn't mean I don't know what I want."
"Doesn't mean I don't know what I don't want." Lex had looked down, and that tingle of fear ran up Clark's spine again. Secrets like humid, sticky warmth had made it hard to breathe.
There had been nothing to say.
He looked through everyone. Chloe, Lana, Pete, even Whitney and some of the younger teachers. He knew the fractures of their bones and the moles on their skin.
Clark looked through the lockers everyday when he passed them, in bags and purses whenever it occurred to him. He left messages at on top of the principal's desk, who didn't believe in locking his doors. He always typed it carefully. Pot in locker 1723. Gun in locker 2134. Nazi stuff in Mr. Parish's desk. It felt really good.
There was a time when it felt off to him in ways he couldn't define precisely, but time passed like it did everyday. It felt like human instinct, and that was more than enough on bad days.
Chloe was in full rant mode the minute she entered the room, startling Clark who was studying the Wall of Weird.
"I can't believe this vigilante. What right does this person have, snooping through everyone's stuff? I mean, I guess it's all bad stuff, but still, what gives him the right?"
"We do the same thing, Chloe."
"It's different when we do it. We think there's something wrong. This...person," she paused, distaste clear in her expression, "seems random, you know? No rhythm, just busts whoever's there, without any suspicion. And it's everyone!" She went beside Clark to look at the wall. "How does he know? I've checked out all the people who were busted. They all hang out with different people, different cliques. I mean, Mr. Parish is a teacher. This person can't be inside all those groups, which makes me think there's some sort of surveillance equipment somewhere, you know?"
"We get videotaped everyday in banks. It's not a big deal."
"Yeah, I guess. But this is a school, Clark. There shouldn't be surveillance cameras."
"Greater good?" Clark looked at Chloe.
She looked appalled. "Shut up," she said, and stormed out of the room as quickly as she had entered it.
Clark believed fervently in some moments, weakly in others, that honesty was best. There had been times when he almost convinced himself that there were justifiable things he had to lie about, and times when nothing could be excused. Somewhere in the middle of that was what Lex believed.
"Be honest," Lex had said.
"I want you." Clark had remembered his voice breaking somewhere in between.
Lex's face had softened, turned affectionate.
"Be more honest."
Clark had felt it then, an urge, a surge of something brutal rising in him, something he had to suppress mercilessly. Lex had smiled and told him a few things. He had never broken eye contact as he'd said things that were like short, brutal shots.
"I've been watching you," he had whispered, his mouth a few inches away from Clark's.
"I had something to do with the flowers." He had pulled away, ready for Clark's anger. His voice had turned raspy, and in the next breath, Lex said, "I don't think I'm a good man."
Clark had seen and heard everything, from the unflinching way Lex had met his eyes to the plaintive note behind his words.
And all Clark could say was,
"I can't." His voice had broken again. Years of self-preservation had made its mark, Clark had thought distantly, with a dull sense of horror of what had been said. Another all too human part of him that he maybe cherished more.
Lex had looked bitterly disappointed, furiously rejected.
"Maybe someday," Clark had said lamely, trying to make things better and failing desperately. He opened his mouth again to try to speak, but nothing coherent came out.
But there had been worlds of things to say.
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