This story is inspired by and based on 'Room for One More', a short story by Kevin Crossley-Holland.
When Lex was six, he had a new bed and he couldn't sleep. There was a spring, or a lump or something digging into his back, and he rolled over to face the window.
The curtains were drawn closed, keeping the cold out and the warmth in. Heavy velvet sweeping from ceiling to floor, and the room all in darkness except for a tiny gap at the top of the drapes. Silver light from the moon fell in a stripe across Lex's floor, and it was keeping him awake. He sat up and slid down onto the floor, wriggling his toes in the rug before padding over to the window.
As he reached up to tug the curtain across, he heard the grandfather clock in the hallway strike midnight. On the third chime, he heard gravel crunching down in the courtyard, which was weird because Mommy and Daddy hadn't gone out that night. They were both there when Lex had his bath. Lex remembered because Daddy wasn't usually there for bath time.
There was more crunching, and Lex slipped in behind the curtains and climbed up onto the wide, white windowsill.
What he could see was a long black carriage, gleaming softly in the low light. It had four horses in front, and they wore purple plumes on their heads. It was called a hearse - Lex knew because he'd ridden behind one once in a shiny black car, wearing a tie that itched while Mommy cried into Daddy's shoulder. But hearses were for dead people, and the people in the hearse in the courtyard were alive. A whole crush of live people, laughing and talking and living. Lex pressed his nose against the window, and banged on the glass. He needed to warn the people, tell them that hearses were only for dead people.
There was a man standing by the horses, and he looked straight up at Lex.
"There's room for one more," he said.
Lex scrambled backwards off the ledge and ran back across the room, climbing into bed and tugging the covers up over his head.
The next morning when Lex woke up, he didn't know if it was all a dream or not.
That day, Lex went to the big toy store in town. There were train sets on the fifth floor, and comic books on the sixth floor. There were toy cars on the seventh floor and teddy bears on the eighth, which Lex couldn't have because they made him wheeze, but he liked to look anyway. Pamela held three bags in each hand by the time Lex had picked out everything he wanted, and he held tight to his mommy's hand as they made their way over to the elevator.
When the bell pinged and the doors slid open, Lex saw that the elevator was already jammed full with people, laughing with toys in their arms.
The elevator attendant, wearing a red vest and black pants, looked straight at Lex.
"There's room for one more," he said, and his face was the face of the man with the hearse.
"No," said Lex quickly, reaching out for Pamela's hand in case she tried to walk through the doors. "We can walk."
The doors closed with a clang, and there was a horrible screeching noise. Then there was a terrible rattling, and Lex hid his face in Mommy's skirt at the huge double thud that shook the floor.
The lift in the big toy store dropped from top to bottom, and everyone in it was killed.
When Lex was nine, he went with Daddy on a business trip. The night before, Daddy sat with Lex and told him a bedtime story. It was kind of a boring story, all about some dead guy with the same name as Lex (Daddy talked about him a lot) - but Mommy stood listening in the doorway, smiling, so Lex listened too.
When Lex woke up, it was dark. He pulled one hand from under the covers and waved it in front of his face, but it was so dark he couldn't even see that. He turned towards the window, but the drapes were drawn tight and no light trickled in from the moon. He rolled over again, and now he could see light flooding in through the gap under his door - golden light from the hallway. He could hear noise, too - noise like people talking, and he thought maybe Mommy and Daddy were still up.
Lex got out of bed and walked over to the door, and as he grasped the handle he heard the grandfather clock in the hallway strike midnight. On the third chime, he turned the handle and stepped out into the hall.
He was blinded by bright yellow light, and when he shut his eyes against it he saw red. He held one hand up to shade his face and cracked an eye open.
There was a man standing in the hall, wearing a long black coat. He had his back to Lex.
"You're not supposed to be here," said Lex, and it came out braver than he felt.
The man turned around. He was juggling rocks, but they were burning, and the man's eyes were burning too.
"Help me," he said as Lex stumbled back into his room and shut the door. "Help me. Please."
When Lex told his daddy about the dream the next morning, Daddy said it was because of the plane crash they'd seen on TV news the night before.
That day, Lex went to Smallville in a helicopter. His daddy was going to make an acquisition for his empire. Lex wasn't entirely sure what that meant, and he was sort of glad he couldn't hear his dad's explanation over the loud banging whir of the helicopter. He was scared, because they were up so high and the helicopter had no sides. He was afraid they might fall and die, like the people in the elevator. Daddy said Lex was being silly, and he supposed he was, because they landed safely.
Lex went off to explore the cornfields while Daddy made his acquisition. He'd never been in a cornfield before, and he imagined he was an explorer in a far off land of tall, tall blades of grass.
He'd been walking for what felt like a long time when he heard,
Lex looked around, but he couldn't see where the voice was coming from.
"Help me. Please."
Lex got scared, then, and he started to run. He ran as fast as he could, but his chest felt tight and he was starting to wheeze. He knew he couldn't run if he was wheezing, so he dug in his pocket as he went, searching for his inhaler. Just as he found it, he tripped over a stone and banged down hard onto the bumpy ground.
His inhaler was knocked out of his hand and it bounced away from him. Lex scrabbled for it, closing his fingers around the plastic and sitting up. His chest felt really tight, and he tried to take deep breaths as he lifted the inhaler to his mouth.
Lex felt cold prickling all over his neck. He turned his head slowly, and cried out when he looked up, falling onto his back.
There was a man there, tied to a cross. He was wearing shorts and he had a red 'S' painted on his chest.
"Help me," he said, and his face was the face of the man from the hallway. "Help me. Please."
Lex yelled again, and the ground he was lying on started to shake. He got to his feet and looked up into the sky. There were rocks there, rocks that were burning as they fell to earth. One slammed into the ground near Lex and he screamed, and fell again as a huge cloud of dust came hurtling towards him. He curled up, pressing his face into the ground as the cloud whirled around him and everything was dirt and noise and dark.
When Lex was twenty-one, he slept in his childhood room. It wasn't his room though, not really, it hadn't been for a long time. But it was only one night and he didn't have his own place in Metropolis, and why the fuck should he pay for a hotel anyway? He wouldn't even have been there if dear old dad hadn't been shipping him off to Buttfuck, Kansas the next morning.
Lex went to bed with his illegal-dosage sleeping pills, which were the only things to guarantee him a dreamless night, and was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.
When he woke, it was still dark and he realized he'd forgotten to close the drapes. He knew he was too far up for anyone to see in, and it wasn't like there was anyone there anyway, but still. There was a weird blue light spilling in from the window and it was making him uncomfortable. Everything looked...cold, or something, so he pushed back the covers and swung his legs over the side of the bed, wriggling his toes in the rug.
As he reached the window, he heard the grandfather clock in the hallway strike midnight. On the third chime, Lex reached up to pull the drapes across, and movement down in the courtyard caught his eye.
He looked down, only there was no courtyard there anymore, just water. Lex knelt up on the windowsill, looking out over the grounds. Except the grounds weren't there either, just water, water everywhere, inky black and bright blue and Lex cried out when he looked down into the brightest blue patch of all. There was a face swimming into view. There was someone in the water, a man, a boy, and he wore a long black coat that fanned out around him as Lex watched.
"If you did," he said, and his mouth was filled with barbed wire, "I'd be dead."
Somewhere, a phone was ringing.
Lex fell backwards off the ledge, dragging the curtains shut. He raced across the room and jumped into bed, pulling the covers over his head and burrowing under a pillow for good measure.
The next morning, Lex woke with a headache and the sinking, sweet relief that came with knowing the horrors of the previous night had been a dream. And it was a dream, because, for a start, there was gravel in the courtyard just like always and furthermore, if anything like that did ever happen there was no way Lex would hide under the covers like some god damned baby.
Fucking tranquilizers. He'd have to get Toby to find him something stronger. Vicodin, or maybe a nice shot of that stuff they used on elephants.
After a bracing drive to Smallville at ninety-five miles per hour, and a brief tour of his dad's precious crap factory (during which he heard himself denounced, defamed and otherwise insulted a total of fourteen times), Lex decided to go for a drive. Maybe see what else there was to do in Smallville other than undergo massive trauma and lose your hair.
He was driving over the bridge when it happened. First the ringing phone, then the barbed wire that came out of nowhere, and as Lex's hands slipped on the wheel and the car spun wildly out of control, he looked up through the windshield and saw a man, a boy, disappearing under the bonnet of the Porsche.
There was something on his face. Something...
Lex's brain whirred and fuzzed until there was a 'click' and it gave him a word - wet. There was something wet on his face. Cold, too. Not on his face all the time, though. In bits, in. Dripping.
Something cold and wet was dripping onto his face.
Lex wrapped his mind around that thought and held on, riding it through the sea of black noise that rolled around and under. Every so often it would pull back with a rush, and consciousness would abandon him. The tide going out.
There was sand in his eyes.
Then a wave crashed over him and his mind was flooded. His nose and mouth were full, he was drowning and it was too bright, too loud, too much too much. Lex struggled and spat, fought to get back to shore, to the dark place, where it was quiet and soft.
"Come on, come on."
There was a voice. Then there were lips on Lex's mouth, and they were soft and warm.
"Don't die on me."
Yes, yes. His lips wouldn't move. He tasted salt water.
When Lex opened his eyes, there was a boy looking down at him.
"I could have sworn I hit you."
"If you did," said the boy, and his face was the face of the boy outside Lex's window, "I'd be dead."
When Lex was twenty-five, his father died, and the night before the funeral, Lex and Clark stayed in the Metropolis house.
Lex dreamt of lakes that burned, of rocks that fell from the sky and people getting buried alive. He dreamt of a boy in a long black coat, who held Lex in his arms and talked to him in Clark's voice.
"It's okay, Lex. You can trust me."
Lex looked up into the boy's face, but there were green rocks where his eyes should have been. He touched them. "Don't they hurt you?" he said.
"You know they do," said the boy. "You put them there."
After the funeral, Lex stood at his window, looking out. Clark came up behind him and slid warm arms around his waist.
"Right." Clark kissed Lex's ear. "And I'd be such a great boyfriend if I bought that."
Lex sighed, and turned around in Clark's arms.
"It's okay, Lex," said Clark. "You can trust me."
Lex didn't look up.
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