Season 3, sometime after "Phoenix"
Rating: Adult. If you're under eighteen, please go elsewhere now.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Read Chapter 2 here.
Read the story from the beginning here.
Lex's penthouse was amazing.
Clark knew he was gaping, but he couldn't help himself. The place was huge, lavishly appointed with art and leather-upholstered furniture, with floor to ceiling windows all around. Clark wandered over to one of the windows and stared out. The autumnal blue sky spread out over a glorious view of Metropolis. A block away, the dark gray LuthorCorp building loomed ominously over the golden globe of the Daily Planet. A little further away, the bay glinted in the late afternoon sunlight.
"Wow," he said, very softly.
"Glad you like it," Lex said. He'd settled himself down on the couch, sinking deeply into the overstuffed black cushions, and picked up a remote, flipping on a TV that was the size of a movie screen. "Want to watch a movie?"
Clark turned around and grinned ruefully. He made his way across the enormous room and flopped down onto the couch, a few feet away from Lex. "The last time we tried to watch a movie together," he said, "I suggested Spiderman and you wanted to watch some Russian thing with subtitles."
Lex shrugged, tossing him the remote. "We'll watch whatever you want."
"No." Clark pressed the off button, then placed the remote back on the coffee table. "We don't have the same taste in movies, Lex. Never have, never will. Let's do something else."
"Clark..." Lex sighed. "I just want to hang out with you."
"Yeah, me too. So let's talk. It's been a while since we really talked."
"All right. How's school going for you this year, Clark?"
Clark turned his head and glared. "You sound like my parents, Lex."
"That's not talk, Lex. That's the kind of question parents ask. It's like you're asking me stuff from a script or something."
Lex looked annoyed. "Well, pardon me for expressing an interest."
"It's just..." Clark sighed, trying to explain. "We're friends. We used to just... talk."
"Yeah." Some of the irritation faded from Lex's face, and he sighed. "I know what you mean. What happened to those days?"
Clark thought about himself wandering alone in Metropolis. He thought about the day he'd picked up a paper with an enormous headline: R.I.P LEX. And he remembered the stark, terrible anguish that had settled inside him, despite the numbing effect of the red kryptonite.
He'd been so damn glad to see Lex again, alive and well. So what was with the distance between them?
"I guess maybe everything changed in the summer," he said, very softly.
Lex studied him for a long moment. At last he said, "Clark, what happened to you?"
Clark turned his head with a jerk. As far as he knew, no one had connected him to the string of crimes that had occurred in Metropolis last summer. But if anyone could connect the dots, it would be Lex. "What do you mean?" he said cautiously.
"I mean... everything seemed to be going your way. And then you just... ran away. That's not like you, especially not when your parents needed you. Obviously something happened, something really bad. And based on what I've been told, it was before anyone knew that my plane had gone down, so don't tell me it was due to grief over me. I know better."
Clark bent his head. The absolute last thing he wanted to talk about was the events that had led up to him putting on the red ring and running away. In fact, he couldn't talk about most of them. There was no possible way he was going to confess to Lex that his alien father had branded him and tried to force him to accept his supposed destiny of taking over the world as a conquering overlord. He and Lex had been friends a long time, but Lex was likely to try to have him put into Belle Reve if he said anything along those lines.
"It was my mom," he said at last, very softly.
"Your mom?" Lex straightened a little, his concern obvious. Clark's dad had always had a stick up his ass when it came to Lex, but his mom had always treated him like family, and he was pretty sure Lex liked his mom an awful lot, that maybe he even kind of saw her as the mom he didn't have. "Is she all right?"
"Yeah, she is now. It's just that..." He hesitated for a long moment, because protecting family secrets had been drilled into him for years and years, and it wasn't easy for him to talk about that sort of thing. But at last he managed to blurt it out. "She was pregnant. She lost the baby."
"Oh, God." Lex knew enough about the Kent family history to know that Martha had never been able to have children except by adoption. He clearly understood the magnitude of the tragedy. "I'm so sorry, Clark."
"It's not just that. It..." His voice quavered, despite his best efforts. "It was my fault."
"Oh, Clark." Lex moved closer to him on the couch and put a hand on his shoulder. "Of course it wasn't. Don't blame yourself."
"No, it really was. I didn't mean to... but I accidentally caused this explosion... and my mom got caught in it... she was injured...."
His voice was shaking now. Suddenly he was back in a hospital corridor, and Jonathan Kent was staring at him with cold eyes, then turning his back on him. He remembered seeing his dad go into the hospital room where his mom was, shutting the door behind him, shutting him out. He'd stood there in the corridor, all alone. Not just a lonely teenager, but a lonely alien, rejected by the man he'd always loved and respected most. Rejected by someone he'd thought loved him without reservation.
"Clark." Lex put an arm around his shoulders. "I'm so sorry."
"Dad blamed me." His voice trembled harder, and he realized he was shaking all over. "I couldn't-- I couldn't stay. I couldn't. I just... I just ran. I had to."
"Shhh. I understand." Lex gave him an understanding squeeze. "I didn't know, Clark. I'm sorry."
Clark clamped his eyes shut and clenched his fists. He didn't want to cry in front of Lex, not when Lex had been through his own personal hell. The last thing Lex needed was someone else's baggage loaded onto his shoulders.
But oh God, he'd been so crushed by his father's rejection and Jor-El's pressure. Learning that Lex's plane had gone down had been the final, devastating blow. After that, he just hadn't wanted to care any more. Even when he'd taken the ring off, he'd been afraid to let himself care about anything or anyone. When he'd come back to Smallville, he hadn't been certain he could bear to live there any more. His hometown had seemed dark and bleak and unfriendly.
But the discovery that Lex was alive... well, it had cast a sudden and unexpected light into his life, banishing the shadows. The moment he saw Lex again, everything had seemed much brighter. But the shadows still remained, lurking in the dark corners of his mind, haunting him.
Lex put both arms around Clark, and Clark gave up trying to control himself. He didn't have to deal with everything on his own any more. He didn't have to be strong and self-contained. He had his best friend back.
He wrapped his arms around Lex's waist and buried his face in his shoulder.
Read Chapter 4 here.