Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Sequel to The End of Dreams
Freak Out, Part 2
Lex Luthor couldn't stop watching the security recording.
Over and over and over again, he watched as Clark Kent charged into the metal-walled facility like an avenging angel, visible as nothing more than a red and blue blur. He watched avidly as Clark slowed suddenly, staggered, and then went to his knees.
He stared at the monitor as Clark's face contorted with pain. Over and over, he watched Clark's mouth drop open and his eyes clench, watched his fists double up, watched him begin to tremble and gasp for breath.
After fifteen viewings, he finally let himself acknowledge the thought that had kept him glued so breathlessly to the screen.
That's probably exactly how Clark looks when he comes.
The thought instantly prodded him onto his feet. He pressed the "pause" button and began stalking angrily back and forth across the room he used as his office in this facility. He didn't want Clark, damn it. He didn't.
He couldn't deny that there had been a time when he'd loved Clark, although perhaps it was more accurate to say he'd loved what Clark had represented. Clark had radiated an innocence and purity and kindness that Lex had never possessed, and that somewhere, deep down, he longed for. He'd wanted Clark very badly, almost since the moment he met him.
But he'd never tried to seduce the kid, because Clark deserved someone better than him. Even at twenty-one, Lex had been fully aware of the darkness deep in his soul, and he hadn't wanted to corrupt all that apparent sweetness and innocence.
The irony was that the sweet innocent Kansas farmboy had turned out to be something that was neither sweet nor innocent. He was a danger to the world, one of the greatest dangers Lex's team had yet uncovered. Clark Kent, Kansas farmboy, possessed powers that would make Jesus Christ himself sit up and take notice. And if he, and people like him, were allowed to use those powers, ordinary humans would slowly give up their ambition and their drive and their hope, and surrender the world to the freaks.
Lex had tried to move on from his love for Clark long before he'd realized what Clark was. He'd slowly grown angry with Clark, who'd become aware of Lex's darkness, and who hadn't hesitated to express his disappointment in Lex.
Smarting from Clark's rejection, Lex had retaliated by seducing and marrying Lana Lang, the girl Clark supposedly loved. Lex had struggled to convince himself he loved her, but staring at Clark's face on the monitor, he admitted to himself he'd never really cared all that much for her. He'd only truly loved one person in his lifetime, and it wasn't Lana.
And Lex had slowly come to realize that Clark had never really loved Lana, either. But the person he loved wasn't Lex. Clark was in love with Chloe Sullivan, even though Lex was pretty sure he wasn't yet aware of it. It was the reason he'd come running so recklessly when he'd realized she was in danger.
Chloe Sullivan was the one person in the world that Clark truly loved.
And that was perfectly fine with Lex, because he didn't love Clark any more. He didn't, damn it. Clark Kent represented everything he was working to eradicate. Clark wasn't even human any more, but a mutant. He was a creature, a thing that wasn't worth Lex's affection, or even his lust.
Now that they'd captured Clark, Lex's job was to catalog his powers, try to figure out how to reproduce them... and then remove Clark from society. Permanently.
Clark was just another freak, a freak who was a terrible danger to society. The fact that he happened to be the boy Lex had once loved was irrelevant.
Lex had once ached for him, yearned for him, but he didn't want him any longer. Because even though the sweetness and innocence still shone from Clark's eyes, Lex now knew that it was all a sham.
Clark Kent wasn't the boy Lex had loved at all. He was something different. Something terrifying.
He looked back at the monitor, seeing Clark's face frozen in a twist of pain that looked very like ecstasy. He stared at the still image of Clark kneeling on the metal floor, his spine arched and his muscles taut, and imagined Clark kneeling at his feet the very same way.
Need and desire and hunger crawled up his spine. For the first time he wondered if his motives in rounding up Clark were as pure as he had thought they were. Because suddenly he ached with a craving that was far too strong to ignore or deny.
His love for Clark was a thing of the past, but apparently his lust wasn't. He recognized grimly that his lust had taken a slightly different turn. Just like Clark... it had mutated.
He envisioned having this impossibly powerful man on his knees in front of him, compelled to do anything he wanted, and the thought drove the breath right out of his lungs.
Because power had always held a very strong attraction for Lex.
But leashing that power, forcing it to serve him in any way he wanted, would be so much better.
Stretched out on a narrow, uncomfortable cot, Chloe Sullivan lifted her head listlessly and glanced at the man standing on the other side of the iron bars. She'd seen the small, meek-looking man before, she knew. Without any conscious effort, her reporter's memory helpfully pulled up the name Dr. Raston. One of Lex's scientists, and probably one of the most important, judging from the way other scientists deferred to him.
"Go to hell," she said tiredly, and dropped her head back onto the pillow. She'd tried to escape again this morning, and run into the guards before she'd gotten very far. She was bruised and sore, and she was pretty sure one of her ribs was cracked.
It was ironic she just had to lie here and suffer, considering her meteor power was the ability to heal others. But unfortunately, she didn't possess the ability to heal herself.
"I need to talk to you while Luthor is occupied." Raston glanced around nervously. His gaze fell on the security camera in the corner of her cell, and she wondered how he'd disabled the system. Because disable it he certainly had, or he wouldn't dare talk to her behind Lex's back. "I need your help, Miss Sullivan."
"My help?" She rolled over on her back, crossed her arms behind her head, and grinned, as nastily as she could manage. "But Dr. Raston, I'm just a meteor freak. A creature. Surely I couldn't help someone as pure and human as you."
Raston leaned forward, his fingers curling around the iron bars as he stared at her intently. "I must have your help, Miss Sullivan. I've let myself become involved in this project because I needed to find a meteor-affected person who could help me. You're the one I've been searching for."
Her grin slipped, and she felt her eyes narrow into angry slits. "Once you let yourself become involved in this project, Doctor, you lost any hope of getting help from any of us. Maybe you don't realize it, but you're the enemy."
"You don't understand." His voice, always soft, was softer than ever, but edged with desperation.
"Then explain it to me."
"My wife..." His voice trembled. "My wife is dying. I need someone who can heal her."
She stared at him a moment longer, then got to her feet, slowly and painfully, and walked toward the bars. "Are you telling me," she said, staring into his eyes and spitting out the words, "that you got involved with this project, that you've been involved in abducting and torturing human beings for months... all so you could find a cure for your wife?"
He looked down at the floor, then back up at her. "I had to. There was no other way to save her." He sounded as if he were pleading for understanding. "I had no choice."
She shook her head slowly, disgusted and appalled by his rationalizations. "You had a choice, Dr. Raston. You made it. You chose to align yourself with the bad guy. To torture innocent people. To experiment on them." She glared at him. "I won't do a damn thing for you, no matter what sob story you give me."
"Please." He sounded almost frantic. "She's dying. They say it won't be much longer now. I know I've made mistakes, but you can't let my wife die, just because of me. Please. You have to save her."
She thought about all the voices she'd heard crying out in agony since she'd been imprisoned here. She thought about the woman two cells over, the one who could make fires with her hands. They'd done something to her yesterday afternoon, so that it was impossible for her to put the fire out once it was created, and her own fire had burned her hands terribly, so badly that the place still reeked of burnt flesh. Her own ability had been turned against her, just to see what the outcome might be.
The woman had screamed and cried for hours, and Chloe had been helpless to do anything but listen, biting her lip and blinking back her own tears of sympathy.
For all Chloe knew, this was just another test, a test that might result in pain and agony for her. She didn't trust Raston. She no longer trusted anyone, except Clark. Clark was her best friend-- more than her best friend, really. They'd always been friends, but once she'd discovered she was a meteor freak, their relationship had deepened into something she didn't even have words for. They both had secrets and powers now, and they stood shoulder to shoulder against the world, protecting and defending each other.
She trusted Clark. She was certain Clark would find her and try to save her eventually, and she was terrified about what might happen to him if he did.
"No," she said flatly. Turning, she stalked back to her cot, with as much dignity as she could muster, given her bruises. She sat on the edge of the cot and tried to ignore him.
Raston stared down at her through the bars. Something in his eyes shifted, and the alteration was chilling. He no longer looked like a shy, harmless geek. His eyes showed white all the way around the irises, making him appear slightly less than sane. He looked dangerous, almost savage, like a rat backed into a corner.
"Luthor has your friend, you know."
Chloe gave a startled jolt. She tried to conceal the reaction, but it too late, and she knew it. Even so, she turned her head and looked at him, her eyes wide in feigned innocence.
"I don't know who you mean."
"Of course you do. Your pseudo-boyfriend, the one you spend all your time with. Clark Kent."
Oh, Clark, she thought, pain running through her in a wave. Please, please let him be lying.
"Luthor captured him with the meteor rocks," Raston said, and the pain twisted inside her chest, choking her. "And now we're holding him in a cell that's lined with the rocks. He can't get out. They've made him so sick he can't even stand up." He smiled, and it was a vicious, cruel smile that didn't belong on his nerdy, doughy features. "Luthor can do anything he wants to him. And I think he has a whole lot of plans for him."
She thought of Clark, trapped and helpless, suffering from the horrible agony that the meteor rocks inflicted on him, and a terrible panic descended on her. She could face her own pain and probable death without too much fear.
But she couldn't face Clark's pain. And she certainly couldn't face his death. Somehow, she had to get him out of here.
Suddenly she understood Raston, a great deal more than she wanted to. She understood the desperation that had driven him to do terrible things in order to try to save his wife. Because all at once, she knew she'd do just about anything to save Clark.
She'd even align herself with the bad guys if she had to.
Clark sat crumpled against the back wall of his cell, but he lifted his head as Lex opened the door and walked inside. The small movement was obviously agonizing for him, and Lex could see the muscles in his jaw move as he clenched his teeth against a sob of pain. He stared up at Lex through dull eyes.
"Lex," he said softly, pleadingly. "Let Chloe out of here. Please."
Despite himself, Lex was impressed that Clark's first plea had been for Chloe, rather than himself. He was obviously suffering, and yet his first thoughts were for Chloe's wellbeing. It was touching, or would be, if he still thought of Clark and Chloe as human beings.
"I can't do that, Clark." Lex looked down at his erstwhile best friend. Clark had been a very pretty boy when they'd first met, and he'd grown into a startlingly beautiful man. Dark, wavy hair framed high cheekbones and a square jaw, and the thick tumble of too-long bangs called attention to pale green eyes, fringed with incredibly long lashes. His full, lush lips were slightly parted as he struggled to breathe.
It was really a pity all that beauty had to be extinguished, Lex thought. But of all the freaks whose existence endangered humanity, Clark was certainly one of the most dangerous. He simply couldn't be allowed to live. Lex's duty was to protect the world by removing him.
But while he was still alive, there was no reason Lex couldn't use him for anything he wanted. Clark was his now, and Clark was powerless. Lex had all the power here, and Clark had none. And that thought was impossibly stimulating.
Lust and desire swelled inside him, and once again, he wondered if his motives were as pure as he'd always wanted to believe. He wondered if he'd rounded Clark up because he wanted to protect society, or for more personal reasons.
But he shoved his concerns aside. He'd captured a dangerous freak, and thus benefited the world. His motives really weren't all that important. What mattered was that he was helping to save humanity.
"Please, Lex." Clark leaned his head back against the wall, his long eyelashes fluttering as if he could barely keep his eyes open. "Let her go."
Lex looked down at the strong, powerful, and utterly helpless man at his feet, and a rush of power ran through him like electrical current, so intense it almost hurt.
He smiled and spoke very softly.
"What would you do to save her, Clark?"
Read the sequel, The End of Innocence.