Title: Last Meal (Nourishment: Second Helpings 26)
Author: Janet F. Caires-Lesgold
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Archive: Mailing list archives only--others please ask permission!
Category: Story, drama, Clark POV
Spoilers: None ever anymore
Rating: M (Mature audiences only due to scenes of m/m sexual behavior)
Pairing: Clark/Lex established relationship
Summary: The fissure deepens
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: All parts of "The Nourishment Series" and "Second Helpings", which precede this story, can be found elsewhere on this archive - Enjoy!
AUTHOR'S WARNING: The end is nigh.
DEDICATION: For all of my readers--thank you for your years of attention!
COPYRIGHT: (C) Janet F. Caires-Lesgold, July 22, 2006, email@example.com
Please don't redistribute or alter this story in any way without the express permission of the author. Thank you very much.
Lex blames me. I guess that's only fair, since I can't stop blaming myself.
As I drove him home from the city, after the press had finally left us alone, I was bombarded by second guesses, alternate scenarios, all of the big "what ifs" of Chloe's death. Would she still be alive had I just moved a little faster, or if I'd managed to subdue Victoria, or if I hadn't been so fucking afraid of Lionel Luthor? Would he have even wanted her dead had I not gotten her pregnant? I'd heard what he'd said about an "alien love child" there on the rooftop, and wondered what Lex had made of that description. Would it have been better for everyone had Lex not suggested that we invite Chloe to join us in bed? Would innocent people have died had I never become friends with Lex in the first place? Would Earth have been safer if I'd never come here at all?
Somehow, though, I couldn't wish that it all had been different. Had I never come to Earth, my parents would still be childless and alone, and I'd have never learned so much about life and people and love. If I'd never found Lex, no one would have loved either of us the way we have, besides.
Lex was so distraught when we got to the car, I looked the other way when he took a pill of some sort, then let him sleep in the passenger's seat as I guided the car back to the mansion at a much slower rate than we'd used to get to Metropolis. Once I had parked the car, I was able to rouse him a bit and carry him up to bed. It was late, so I called my mom to let her know we were all right and that I'd be staying where I was.
The bed looked big and empty when I crawled in next to my lover, and I tried to ignore the lingering scent of fruit shampoo from Chloe's favorite pillow. When I was sure that Lex wasn't waking up for awhile, I finally let myself cry for my sweet friend and her lost potential, and maybe a little for our child, too.
It was still dark out when I was awakened by Lex spooning up against my back. At first, I thought he was still asleep, but he was definitely hard and trying to get my attention. Wordlessly, I reached back and slid an arm under him, turning toward him and wrapping him in my legs. We kissed slowly and reverently, making love as if we were the only two people left on Earth. When he took me in his mouth, I stroked his head and let him take his time, not in any hurry to find my orgasm. Later, my thumbs brushed at his damp cheeks while he fucked me, and I cradled his body against mine when he came shaking in my arms.
"I love you, Clark," he said, drifting off to sleep again.
"And I love you always," I answered, though I don't know if he heard me.
Despite the intimacy of that night together, Lex and I barely spoke in the next week. Pete and Lana came into town for the funeral, and were very helpful in deflecting the press from us. My parents hosted a small gathering afterwards, at which my dad had to break up an altercation between Lex and Mr. Sullivan, who were both fairly intoxicated, before they came to blows.
My mom baked and hostessed and fussed, but I could tell that her heart wasn't in it. She may not have approved of my relationship with Chloe, but she'd gotten used to treating her like a daughter-in-law, and it hurt her deeply that she was gone. Even my dad was a little more distant than usual, and just glared at me if I happened to mention Lex's name.
I sort of sleepwalked through my last two weeks of high school, but still passed all of my finals with respectable grades. Finally, I couldn't stand it anymore, and called Lex to invite him to my graduation. He seemed distracted on the phone, so I eventually gave up and went over to see him in person.
The office was a liquor-scented mess of blueprints and diagrams when I arrived, and my beloved pored over them with a very unexpected assistant.
"Hello, Clark. You remember Lucas, don't you?"
His half-brother gave me a preoccupied wave.
"Of course I remember Lucas. I never forget a man who takes a shot past my head," I growled.
"Sorry about that," he apologized with a grin. "Just business, you understand..."
"Business!" I squawked furiously. "My friend is dead because of that business."
"Which is why I'm glad you're here," Lex interrupted. "Our father seems to have gotten off scot-free for the murder of my fiancee, and I'm assembling a team to make things right. Do you want in on this?"
"Make things right?" I questioned. "Well, he should be punished, but a 'team'? One that includes your father's former ally?"
Lucas piped up. "Hey, at least Lex can pay me!"
"Good to see you still have your price," I said sarcastically. "I'm not sure I'm the man you want for this job, Lex."
"Why not?" shrugged Lex, approaching me with a spooky smile. "I believe you can bring some unique skills to the table. We'd be lucky to have you."
I searched their eager expressions for any crumb of sobriety or sanity, and found none. "I said he should be punished, like have him arrested, that kind of thing. What the hell are you talking about?"
"Punishment!" crowed Lucas, twirling a shiny handgun on his upright index finger.
"I think you're planning a murder, Lex!"
"Exactly," he agreed, far too calmly to suit me. "Glad to see we're on the same page here."
"No--no, we're not!" I argued, resisting the temptation to back toward the door. "I thought you always felt you were better than he was, Lex!"
"I am, Clark. I will see to it that he's brought to justice."
Coming closer to him, I tried lowering my voice to attempt to make him see reason. "This isn't about justice--it's about cold-blooded killing! Don't you understand? If you do that, you're lowering yourself to his level!"
"I prefer to think of it as fighting fire with fire."
"Or taking an eye for an eye. It's wrong, Lex, and I can't let you do it!"
He batted at the sleeve of my blue t-shirt, sneering. "What are you: some kind of big blue boy scout, doing good deeds all over this shithole of a town? Do you think you can stop me? Come on. This will be your chance to redeem yourself after you fell down on the job on a certain rooftop I'm sure you remember..."
"Stop blaming me for that! It wasn't my fault!"
Fixing me with a cold stare, he challenged me. "Maybe not, but it was my father's fault. Look--he has it in for you, too. Don't you want to get him back for all of the things he's done wrong?"
Lex's grief had clearly removed the last of his conscience, and it was frightening to see him like that. However, I didn't trust what I might do next, so I said simply, "No. I refuse to be part of this. I have to go." With that, I made for the door.
"Too bad," he laughed, completely free of humor. "I love you, baby!" he sang after me, stopping me in my tracks.
Glancing over my shoulder, I answered quietly, "I love you, too," but he snorted derisively and returned to his blueprints. I left without another word.
On the way back home, I made a side trip to the caves to think. The warmth of early June hadn't yet seeped underground, so I let the cool dampness calm my anger.
As usual, I was drawn to the paintings of Naman and Segeeth high on the wall. The heads of the figures had always looked to me like they belonged together, reminding me somehow of myself and Lex, but this time, I noticed how it seemed that the two were attacking each other, despite being part of the same creature lower down. I wondered if the analogy still held.
That fateful afternoon I'd spent in these hollows with Chloe came back to me with a vengeance, too, though parts of the event were still murky in my memory. She had said that she'd seen Lex's room of artifacts about me, which I'd thought he had destroyed. For some reason, I found myself associating it with the creepy lab Lex and I had run through at LuthorCorp tower the day she was killed. His explanation at the time that it was just some forgotten project of his father's had rung hollow to me. I realized that Lex had control of all of Lionel's wealth and properties, and he had seemed awfully familiar with the rows of tables that all held experiments on Kryptonite samples. There was no way that he could have known about that floor and allowed it to remain in operation if he weren't interested in researching the mineral, possibly for financial gain or some other reason. I couldn't help taking his interest in the place while knowing some of the stone's effect on me as a personal affront.
The sound of Lex and Lucas' drunken laughter driving me from the mansion echoed in my mind. Maybe Lex would sober up and change his mind about seeking revenge against his father, but what if he didn't? I felt afraid for him, and very alone without the sensible, caring man I'd grown to love so deeply.
While I leaned on the cold limestone wall of the cave, my eye was distracted by some lettering I hadn't noticed before. At first, I didn't even see that it wasn't English. In the language of my home planet, a circle of text translated itself in my head to read, "Your answers are within." I'd previously assumed that it was a piece of deep philosophical Native American advice, but then I realized that the words surrounded the outline of a handprint painted on the rock. Just to try it on for size, I held my hand against the painted circle. The hand on the wall fit mine exactly.
Suddenly, but not surprisingly, lights started zipping around in my head, and the place that I touched moved inwards, like I was pressing a large button. I tried to push it again, hoping to stop whatever was happening, but noises like giant gears roared in my ears and refused to stop. As I watched, the wall began to slide away like a huge stone door.
When everything stopped moving, I took a good look at the transformed space. I had brought in my flashlight, but my vision was so clear that I really didn't need it. Behind the door was another cavern, which was filled with more paintings and messages. However, rather than an open room, this structure more closely resembled a narrow corridor, and, sure enough, the words essentially read "Come this way."
Carefully, I started walking in the direction that the symbols pointed. With a terrified glance back at the door through which I'd just passed, I followed the markings on the stone, breaking into a jog, and then into a run once I became aware of the length of the path before me.
The words on the high walls still read clearly to me, though, even as I sped along the smoothed floor. Given the lack of other landmarks and the strange slowing of time I felt, I could not tell how far I'd traveled.
At last, I found the end of the tunnel, which was closed with another stone door. Once again, it bore comforting language and the image of a splayed hand. Around its rim, the words read, "This is your place," and somehow I understood that it meant that it belonged to me personally. With only a passing second thought, I fitted my palm to the outline.
The door slid aside again, but I was startled by the brightness that came through the inch-wide crack in the wall--daylight. Not only that, but the air that streamed in through the space it left was ice cold. Everything I could see outside of the doorway was white--covered in thick snow. Startled, I yanked my hand away, and the door immediately reversed and drew closed, allowing in a last burst of frigid air and a few loose ice crystals.
I stood with the door at my back for several stunned moments. How far had I come? Exactly what was on the other side of the door, and how could it be "my place"?
No matter how complex my fears, I felt strangely content to be there, as if the tunnel had just been waiting for me to discover it. Maybe it was my genetic code, or some instinctual drive, but I knew that just past that door lay something that had come from my native land, some source of wisdom or energy that would tell me everything I wanted to know. And that in itself scared the shit out of me.
I wasn't ready. I wasn't done being me, being Clark Kent, just a high school kid whose adopted parents depended on him, whose lover was determined to fuck up his entire life just for a moment of retribution. I couldn't leave my world just yet, so I started on the journey back.
The labels on the walls changed before my eyes. They asked me if I was going in the wrong direction. They begged me to turn around and fulfill the wishes of my parents--not Jonathan and Martha Kent, but my real parents, who had sent me away from a dying sun to save another world.
I found myself running, the messages on the walls yelling in my brain, scolding me for being a coward, for failing my adopted planet. But I didn't care. Maybe someday I would be able to walk out into that frozen plain and accept what was to come, but that day hadn't yet arrived.
Soon, the old familiar cave paintings were visible through the opening I had found earlier, but I could tell that the door was starting to shut. I used every ounce of speed I could muster and leaped the last few yards to slip through the diminishing gap in the wall before I got sealed inside.
I sprawled on the floor of the cave, gasping as if I really needed the extra air, though I knew it was just from fear. The paintings of Naman and Segeeth seemed to mock me from their spot near the ceiling. Ashamed and coated in dust, I picked myself up and headed for home.
Two days later, I stood with my class, which no longer included Lana, Pete, or Chloe, and marched across a stage to shake the principal's hand and take a leatherbound sheet of paper saying that I'd done the same thing as a couple of million other teenagers across the country. It didn't say that I had saved lives, or stopped crimes, or helped people. Nowhere on that diploma was it written that I had loved the most complicated, most beautiful man in the world, and that he'd changed my life.
Mom and Dad were proud and happy, taking snapshots all over, and hugging me like I was leaving home forever. To celebrate, we drove as a family into the city to have dinner at one of the nicer places we could afford.
The waitress had just brought our salads to our table when Dad asked, "So, Clark, what would you like to do this summer?"
I looked around the restaurant at the few scattered customers who'd come in for the early bird special (we'd arrived ridiculously early so we could get back home for a reasonable bedtime), and dropped my bombshell. "I want to explore the Kawatche caves."
Dad chuckled and speared a forkful of iceberg. "Haven't you done that enough already?"
Hushing my voice, I spoke so that only they could hear me. "The other day, I found a room I didn't know about before. I think it's meant for me."
My mother looked intrigued but open to discussion. "Meant for you how?"
"I could read the lettering on the door, telling me to come in."
"There's a door in the cave?" my dad asked, still ready to assume I was teasing.
"The cave is full of messages from my home planet. I was meant to find it, and to do what it asks."
"What is it asking you to do?" my mom continued.
I took a deep breath and tried to explain. "There's a passage down there to someplace very far away. I think it's in the Arctic or somewhere cold. I only discovered it by accident, but the signs suggested that I am supposed to go there and learn what I can really do here on Earth to help people."
"How long would you be gone?" she wondered, her knife poised motionless over her roll.
"I don't know. I knew when I saw the place that I couldn't leave yet, not without telling you."
"Are you sure that this is what the signs said? Could it be some kind of a trap?" Dad let his paranoia shine through as he added sugar to his iced tea.
Looking them both in the eyes as honestly as I could, I went on. "I think I'm the only person on Earth who could read these words, and that whoever left them there wanted me to stay and take what it was saving for me. Would you forgive me if I left you and the farm to make something better of myself?"
Dad gave an indulgent grin. "It sounds like you're going into the army."
I smiled back at him. "Maybe I am."
Mom still looked worried. "What are you going to tell Lex? I know you boys have been a little distant since..." She still couldn't bring herself to mention Chloe's death in so many words.
Strangely, the moment she mentioned Lex's name, I thought I could hear his voice. I looked around the restaurant to see if I could spot him, but he was nowhere to be seen.
Just then, I recognized Lionel's voice, too, far away, but distinct. "Lex? What are you doing with that gun?"
In an instant, I knew what was happening, and I knew I had to try to stop it. "I'm sorry, Mom... Dad... There's something I have to do." I bolted out of the restaurant and out into the lobby of the building where it was located.
Focusing my hearing, I realized that the voices were coming from high in the very building where we'd been eating dinner. Not bothering to speculate on the odds of such a coincidence, I scanned around and found an unlocked stairwell door. So quickly that I doubted I could be seen, I slipped through the door and zoomed up the stairs, though I couldn't quite feel my feet touching the steps.
The voices drew me high up into the structure, until I could tell that I'd reached the right floor. I burst into a hallway and x-rayed the offices that surrounded me, searching for any warm bodies I could locate. Luckily, it was Saturday, and there were only three figures in the far corner of the level, so I hurried in that direction.
My luck ran out as I turned the corner and saw the unlabeled glassed-in vestibule that blocked my path. Sure enough, there was Lionel, holding off a gun-wielding Lex behind a desk, and Lucas, standing near the door. Unfortunately, the glass that separated me from them was protected by a heavy green metal security cage. The kryptonite waves hit me at once, making my head swim and my stomach churn.
I tried to move toward the door anyway, hoping that Lex would see me and hesitate or think better of his plan. Lucas saw me first, however, and laughed as he pointed me out to the man I loved and thought I knew.
All I could do was watch, sick and horrified, as Lionel pleaded with Lex to spare his life, but Lex just sneered, "No, Dad. Too late." He took deadly aim and fired once, saying, "This is for Chloe," then again as he said, "and her baby." A third shot rang out as he continued listing, "And for Clark," followed by a final one, punctuated with, "and for me." It all happened so fast Lionel did not fall from the first shot, but sort of hung in the air as Lex pumped a total of four bullets into his body.
When it was over, the old man just crumpled and collapsed onto the floor, and Lex pocketed his weapon and came toward Lucas, the door, and me. He looked proud and victorious, and the sheer hate in his eyes cut me deeply, whether it was really meant for me or not. Before I puked on the neutral carpeting, I ducked at full speed back around the corner, pulled the first fire alarm I could see, and took off down the stairwell.
The building had begun evacuating by the time I made it to ground level. Except for the patrons and employees of the restaurant and the cleaning staff, there weren't too many people waiting in the street when I found my parents there. My mom looked very worried, but my dad just fumed that he wasn't going to pay for his dinner if it had been ruined.
Out of earshot of the emergency workers, I explained to them what had happened, and suggested we pay for what we'd eaten and find a different restaurant before the police discovered Lionel's body. We chose somewhere else to eat quickly, though I'd lost my appetite, then headed back to the farm.
Watching Lex kill his father broke me more than seeing Chloe die. I couldn't cry, couldn't write stupid emo poetry in a blank book, couldn't tell anyone except my parents. No matter how I felt about anyone, I decided then and there that I couldn't just shoot and kill him, for any reason, and that made me a completely different person from Lex. Every connection I'd ever felt to him shattered in my heart, and while I knew I would still love him and remember the good times we'd shared for the rest of my life, my hate for what he had done overshadowed any forgiveness I could ever try to muster.
Not long after that, Mom came out to the loft with a backpack full of warm clothes and a cooler loaded with sports drinks, sandwiches, and baked goods. With tears in her eyes, she hugged me for a long time, then kissed my cheek and said, "You should go."
I knew she meant that it was time for me to explore whatever the cave and the corridor were saving for me, and I could think of no reason I needed to wait any longer to face it. "I love you," I said, squeezing her tight, then picked up my gear and left one fortress of solitude for another.
The handprint in the cave worked just as it had before, but I stood and looked back at the painting of Naman and Segeeth through the opening until the door eventually swung shut behind me. Adjusting the load I carried, I turned down the long corridor that welcomed me with supportive words and positive images. Maybe someday those pictures will erase the painful one I keep of the last time I ever saw Lex.
Lex blamed me for Chloe's death, for which I took a little bit of responsibility, whether it was really mine or not. But for the murder of his father? Lex had no one to blame but himself.
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