by victoria p.
Dazed, Clark stood before the doors to Lex's study. He couldn't quite recall how he'd gotten to the castle from the hospital.
The doors opened and Lex stood there, eyes dark with concern.
"You all right, Clark?"
"I, he--" Clark held out the 'Warrior Angel' comics Ryan had left behind, and choked back a sob.
Lex took the comics from him, and led him into the room.
"Have a seat, Clark." Clark sat. He watched without really seeing as Lex poured two tumblers of amber liquid and sat down next to him. "This should help." Lex handed him a glass, and he took it, raising it to his lips immediately.
He knew the smell from his mother's Christmas baking. It burned going down, which was unexpected.
"Hey, hey, take it easy," Lex said, sipping his own drink. "That's twenty-five-year-old cognac."
But it didn't work. Not the alcohol, or the soothing tone, or even Lex's warm, solid presence next to him on the sofa.
He swallowed the rest of the cognac and tried to force the tears down as well, but they came flooding over, in great, wracking sobs. He leaned over into Lex's chest and cried in a way he hadn't since he was six and they'd taken away Arnold, his favorite pig, to the slaughterhouse, and no Charlotte had shown up to save him.
When he came back to himself, his head hurt from crying and Lex's silk shirt was soaked. He swallowed again, and wiped his nose on his sleeve.
"I should go," he said, attempting to regain his dignity. He made as if to rise, and Lex put a hand on his arm.
"It's okay, Clark."
He settled back down, and allowed Lex to put an arm around him, but said, "No. It's not."
"Clark, you did everything you could--"
"No." His voice was urgent, almost frantic. "You don't understand. I couldn't save him. I couldn't--"
"You helped him. You--"
"No. He wasn't supposed to die. I was supposed to save him. I had to save him."
Lex's voice was low, his lips close to Clark's ear. "You can't save everyone, no matter how much you want to."
Clark's voice cracked. "I should be able to. I saved you."
Lex inhaled sharply; his hand stilled on the back of Clark's neck for a moment. "You're only human."
Clark sucked a deep breath and willed himself to stop crying. "That's just it, Lex. I'm not."
Lex pulled Clark into a tight embrace. "I know," he whispered. "I know."
"It doesn't matter. I'm just glad you told me."
"I wish I could have saved him, Lex."
Lex rubbed his back. "I know. But some things not even you can fix."
Clark closed his eyes and snuffled against the smooth skin of Lex's throat. "That Dr. Burton-- do you fund his research?"
"No," Lex said slowly, "but I could."
"I think you should. I mean, you could help. I couldn't save Ryan, but maybe someday--" He couldn't wrap his mind around the enormity of it. "We could beat cancer, Lex."
"Together, we can beat anything."
And Clark took comfort in that. He let Lex hold him a while longer and he cried again for the little brother he'd lost.
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