Title: Bitter Almond (Nourishment 3.14)
Author: Janet F. Caires-Lesgold
Feedback to: jfc@freeshell.org
Archive: Mailing list archives only--others please ask permission!
Category: Angst, Clark POV
Spoilers: How "Covenant" should have ended (includes "Talisman" and "Forsaken")
Rating: PG-13 for suggestions of m/m sexual behavior
Pairing: Clark/Lex established relationship
Summary: Clark reflects

DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me. Smallville is the property of Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, Tollin-Robbins Productions, and Warner Bros. Television, and based upon characters originally created by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster. This story is just for the entertainment of my online friends and myself, not for any profit.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: The rest of "The Nourishment Series" can be found elsewhere in this archive -- Enjoy!

AUTHOR'S WARNING: With the advent of season 4, changes have been made to the Smallville universe that do not mesh with the themes of previous episodes. From this point on, my working completely inside of canon will end. If it suits what I wish to write, I will use plot points from broadcast episodes in my stories, but this series will diverge from what is shown when necessary. Thank you for continuing to read my stories. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions.

DEDICATION: For Tiff, who wonders what the hell I'm doing.

COPYRIGHT: (C) Janet F. Caires-Lesgold, November 6, 2004, jfc@freeshell.org

Please don't redistribute or alter this story in any way without the express permission of the author. Thank you very much.



Lex remembered my birthday. Despite everything else, this keeps coming back to me.

It was no secret to me, at least after the fact, that he had been plotting with Lana to throw me a big party right about the time when Jeremiah got hold of the Starblade and tried to kill me. Then the event got canceled, and I turned eighteen with the same lack of fanfare as all of my birthdays up until the sixteenth, when Lex made me his lover.

The two years since that sweet celebration have been full of both crisis and happiness. I've done some things that I'll never want to forget, and others that I'll regret until the day I die. Occasionally I wonder if falling in love with Lex is someday going to fit under both of these categories.

Looking back over our relationship, I can't help but feel a little bitter at the ways it has all gone wrong. I mean, the gift Lex gave me, even for this birthday, shows just how much I mean to him.

The night that he came up to my loft and we talked about Naman and Zigeeth, I almost thought that we might patch things up. I didn't argue with his theory that Zigeeth might be the hero of the story, because I didn't want to let on that I'd even thought about it, so I mostly smiled and nodded at him.

He didn't leave right away, though he never sat down. Standing there and owning the space, instead of uncomfortable as I would have seemed in the same position, he looked like he wanted something and was willing to wait for it. It was almost a game of chicken, a contest to see which one of us would flinch first, until he put down the anthropology book and reached into his pocket.

"I have something for you," he said unassumingly, handing me a small flat square wrapped in shimmery blue paper. "Happy birthday."

"Thank you, Lex," I answered sincerely, loosening the tape instead of ripping the thick gift wrap. When the paper fell open in my lap, I held a jewelbox with a laser-printed label reading "Music for Clark". "A mix CD?" I asked, weighing the small package in my hand.

A sly smile crossed his face. "Turn it over."

There on the back label was a list of songs and bands, the same as on any CD. "Okay..."

"Recognize any of the names?" he prompted almost deviously.

Running my finger down the list, I saw some very familiar musical groups. "I like a lot of these guys... Wait a minute," I interrupted myself, upon further review. "I don't know any of these songs."

"There's a reason for that," he answered, swallowing a grin and visibly trying not to blush. "They're new."

I studied the playlist again, trying to guess the solution to his riddle. "You mean you got advance copies of singles from all of these bands?"

"No. I, uh, commissioned them."

Popping open the box and glancing at the printing on the disc itself distracted me from what he had just said. His pause made me rethink his words and look up into his eyes. "What?"

"Money can get you many things. I had them all write original songs for you..."

My mouth fell open in shock, as my eyes flew back and forth between the unfamiliar titles listed on the object in my hand and the hopeful expression on his face. "Oh, my God, Lex... You did that for me?"

He just nodded, nibbling his bottom lip a little. I couldn't let him do that alone, so, after carefully setting the gift aside nestled in its shiny gift wrap, I jumped to my feet and grabbed his shoulders in my hands. Suddenly, the weight of the weeks we'd spent at arm's length hit me, and I stopped in mid-lunge, staring at his mouth hungrily but too frozen to taste it.

"Clark?" he asked, ever amused and just a little scared-sounding, too.

My momentary paralysis passed, and I tore my gaze away from the scar on his lip and focused again on his shining eyes. "Thank you, Lex. It's the most amazing present anybody ever got me."

His eyes slipped shut as did mine as he drew close to me and graced my mouth with a slow, warm kiss. My heart was pounding, partly in passion and partly in terror, as he pulled away at last and regarded me fondly. "You're welcome, baby. I wanted something that would always remind you of how much I love you."

Sliding his arms around me, he held me tight, and I hugged him back, mouthing "I love you, too" into his closest ear with all the voice I could muster, which wasn't much.

We stood nestled in each other's arms for a few moments until he needed to get back home, and all the while it felt like nothing had separated us. The second he let go, though, all of the awkwardness returned, and we said goodnight cautiously with no further physical contact.

A few days later, Lana disappeared, and I briefly suspected him of colluding with her to make sure I couldn't see her off on her adventure. The fact that he seemed to have a casual friendship with her like I could never manage made me envious and jealous of both of them at the same time. Soon, though, she was safe and jetting off to Europe and another life, and I realized at last that my boyhood obsession with her was completely gone.

Lex, however, was a much more complicated matter, as always. When I finally admitted what I knew about his father's crimes, and he forgave me for keeping secrets to protect him, I wondered how many more confessions I could make and still remain in his good graces. We kissed again that night, more than once, silently promising more intimate contact soon.

But then, not long afterwards, I was given the key to his museum about me, and all of my illusions fell away. Oh, sure--he claimed that the artifacts there were meant to explain the mysteries of his own life, but I couldn't see past the fact that every one of them involved me in some way.

I was devastated to behold Lionel's long-ago predictions about Lex's interest in me illustrated so vividly before me, so I ran before my former lover could show me over to the dissection table that I assumed was hidden behind one of those panels bearing my photograph. Self-preservation and fear of the man whose love I had taken for granted swallowed me, and I couldn't think about him or anything else rationally for the next several days except for fulfilling my promise to testify against his father. That is the only way I can explain believing that poor deluded girl who thought she was Kara.

I'm not sure what made me feel more sick--thinking of Lex's collection of evidence of what I might really be, or breaking off our friendship. It is true that he looked about as heartbroken as I felt before I walked away from him in the courthouse. Nothing else registered from my trip back home from the hearing to the shards of my old life except for the memory of his eyes wanting, needing, longing for me as I once had for him. Bereft, I was a ripe target for the lies and magic tricks of Lindsay, or whatever her real name was.

My mother knew how upset I was about losing everything I'd thought was mine before I followed the impostor down into the caves, but I was beyond her comfort or reason by then. Pictures of my former friends circled around my mind, mocking me and rejecting me one after another: my best childhood buddy--moved away because my secrets were too heavy for him to help me carry. My girl-next-door--flown across the ocean to get away from me and my lies once and for all. My heart, my soul, my one and only love--betrayer and liar even greater than myself.

I was running on pure adrenaline when I stood before the painting on the wall with Kara, as I hadn't slept or eaten in a couple of days. Dad (who will always be "Dad" to me, because Jor-El will never be anything but "my father", if that), had come to try and stop me, but was held back by a bolt of energy that shot out at him like a bullwhip.

In my exhausted state, I heard something familiar in the unearthly noises in the echoing cavern that I couldn't place at first. It was small, and not really clear, but there was a chime that sounded just like part of my favorite song from Lex's CD. "The truth of our love will withstand all else" went a line in the chorus, and I focused on it in the midst of the rushing of air and the roaring of Jor-El's voice.

"Lex deserves the truth," said my own voice inside my head over the remembered notes from the song, the song *he'd had written for me* for my birthday. At once, I wondered what his crime against me had really been--that he was just too curious? That he wanted to know more about the man he loved? I couldn't imagine telling him everything, not just yet, but the realization hit me like a ton of meteor rocks that I should try to answer at least some of his questions before I sacrificed myself to some native legend. Of course he still loved me--he'd remembered my birthday, and in a spectacular way, at that. In the split second that Kara disintegrated into crumbs of light, I knew that I had to talk to him one last time.

Somehow I stretched up to grab that bolt of light that threatened my dad--I'm not quite sure how I reached it, as it was far above my head. Maybe I was floating just like Kara had... Whatever I'd done to get to it, I grasped it tight with all of my strength and, ignoring the powerful electrical charge that pulsed through my body when I did so, yanked it from the brightly-painted wall, whereupon it exploded into silvery sparks that sifted through my fingers like sugar crystals.

Dad stumbled backwards, but shook off the effects of the light whip before my eyes. "Dad!" I hollered, though the cavern was suddenly filled with eerie silence. I ran to him, still afraid that he would collapse like a house of cards. "Are you all right?"

With a groggy shake of his head, he smiled at me. "I'm fine, son. Bit of a headache, but it's nothing. What did you do?"

"I don't know," I answered honestly, x-raying him quickly to check for damage, of which I found none. "I couldn't leave everyone here and go with her right now. There's something I have to do first. Are you going to be okay? Can you get home all right?"

He hugged me like he'd narrowly saved me from being stolen away forever, which I'm not completely sure that he hadn't. "Your mother is going to be worried."

"Tell her that it's important--I'll call if I can't come home soon."

With a twist of his lips that showed me he knew when it was useless to argue, he clapped me on the back and let me go.

"Thank you for coming after me," I added with a guilty grin.

"It was important," he parroted back at me lovingly. "Go. Do what you need to do. We'll leave the light on."

Before the echoes of his words had bounced through the whole cave system, I was zooming along the road to the Luthor mansion. I scanned the whole house as I approached and spotted Lex taking a drink in his study. When I slipped inside the closest entryway, the crash of plate glass shattering from his direction startled me and made me increase my speed to get to him more quickly.

Bursting through the French doors, I found him sprawled among the wreckage of his pretty Japanese coffee table, clutching his throat and gasping for breath. In the blink of an eye, I sniffed the spilled liquid from his glass, recognizing the scent of bitter almonds that always meant cyanide, at least in the murder mysteries my mother read all the time and that I picked up when I got bored.

I didn't hesitate to wonder how he'd come to be poisoned right then--just grabbed the open decanter, brushed the pebbles of safety glass from his skin, flung him over my shoulder, and ran to the hospital. Dodging dangerous questions from the emergency room staff, I tried not to panic as doctors worked over him behind a striped curtain through which I stared helplessly.

Lex has been in a coma for a week now--he "ingested a massive concentration" of cyanide, according to the doctors' report, and they're not sure how soon, or in what condition, he will wake up, provided he wakes up at all. I spend as much of visiting hours as I can in his room, watching him for any reaction at all, reading him the paper, just being near him.

My parents have pulled a few strings to make themselves his guardians due to his dad's incarceration (something about his ownership of the farm), so nobody minds if I visit him a lot. Some nights I have even snuck in after hours and laid my head next to him on the bed to sleep on the side away from his I.V.s. I don't cry, or try not to, anyway, just in case he happens to wake up and catch me at it.

I'm not sure I've completely forgiven him for keeping his continued investigations of me secret, but I've promised myself that when he can hear me again, I'm going to tell him everything. Once I've confessed what I can to my boyfriend, it will be out of my hands whether he still trusts me or not. All of the lies between us could crush us both, leaving us both alone and unloved. But in spite of how much it frightens me to think of him gathering information about me without my knowledge, I still love him enough to want him to know. In the meantime, I just have to wait.

Lex remembered my birthday, I keep reminding myself. He loved me that much once. I only pray that he'll be able to do it again someday...



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