Title: CAST THY BREAD UPON THE WATERS (Nourishment 2.1)
Author: Janet F. Caires-Lesgold
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Archive: Mailing list archives only--others please ask permission!
Category: Angst, romance, Clark POV, post-ep for "Vortex"
Spoilers: Everything through "Vortex", as well as "Power Lunch (N13)"
Rating: PG-13 for implications of a m/m relationship
Pairing: Clark/Lex established relationship
Summary: Reaching out after the storm
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 NOTES: The rest of "The Nourishment Series" can be found elsewhere on this archive - Enjoy!
DEDICATION: For Tiff, with whom I can disagree while still seeing eye-to-eye.
COPYRIGHT: (C) October 6, 2002, Janet F. Caires-Lesgold, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please don't redistribute or alter this story in any way without the express permission of the author. Thank you very much.
Lex was alone.
Instead of sitting out in the main room of the Talon, looking like he owned the place (which he does, of course), he was tucked in a corner booth, apparently hoping to disappear. It didn't work though. I'm sure I could find my lover buried under solid lead.
We'd had a rough couple of days. All of the mess with Luthorcorp had just been the beginning. Lex had sent me off to the dance with his blessings to have fun with Chloe. Then the twisters hit, and my dad was lost, and his dad was hurt, and I started wondering how much of what Lex said to me was the truth until he shot and killed the man that posed the biggest threat yet to the safety of myself and my family.
I'd gotten to thank Lex for his bravery, and apologize for doubting him, but I'd barely seen him since then--I had wanted to go with him to the hospital when he visited his dad, but he warned me away. After my unfortunate meeting with Lionel Luthor that morning at the castle, I couldn't say that I blamed him. If Lionel thought that he'd successfully broken us up, I didn't think that his sickbed was the place to prove him wrong. There was no love lost between the two poles of Lex's existence, I guess...
Leave it to my mother to intervene: after getting sick of me spending the better part of two days moping in the loft, waiting for Lex's daily brief phone call, Mom had sent me on a mission.
So there I was at the Talon, because Lex's e-mails had suggested that this might be a good place to find him in the late afternoon, and sure enough, there he was, too. He looked so tiny there against the wall--his eyes were shuttered, and his normal pale glow was faded to almost translucent. The table before him was littered with financial paperwork and napkins, his half-empty coffee cup abandoned off to the side.
Surreptitiously, I stepped up to the table, moved one of the paper napkins to a bare section of its surface, picked up a pen from the mess, and jotted down a note, which I then laid gently on the calculator in reach of Lex's left hand. It took every ounce of strength I had not to slide in beside him and hide my eyes in his warm shoulder.
Instead, I stood and watched while his hand drifted to the keys of his calculator, the sensation of paper under his fingers the only thing to make him raise his eyes from his columns of figures. I watched his face closely as he picked up the napkin and read my note: I LOVE YOU.
He smiled, though it looked like it hurt to do so, and grabbing up another pen, added his own words beneath mine: THE SAME, ALWAYS.
"Clark," he addressed me at last, his voice obviously tired, "I've missed you." As he looked up at me, his smile finally crept almost to his eyes, and he gestured to the bench opposite his. "Please--join me."
I wasted no time taking a seat across from him. "It's good to see you, Lex," I murmured, not sure how far our voices would carry, nor who might be listening, so I refrained from using any affectionate nicknames. "So," I continued, making conversation, "how's your dad? Any improvement?"
His face fell so quickly, I was immediately sorry for having mentioned him. "There's no change. He's still blind, and he still blames me."
Reaching across the table, I couldn't help myself: I took one of his hands carefully into my own. "I'm sorry, Lex. You told me that you did the best you could. Can't he accept that?"
He gave a resolute swallow, then replied, "It's very new for him. I hope he will someday, but I'm sure it will take some adjustment, on all of our parts." His eyes caught mine, and they nearly stung, so full of hurt were they. I squeezed the hand in mine, wishing I could lean over and kiss him instead, but not daring to do so in public.
The dark circles under his eyes looked like bruises. More softly, I asked, "So, how are you?"
"Fine," he sighed quickly, until I jerked slightly on his hand and made him look to see my stern expression. "Okay, I lied," he nearly whispered. "I haven't slept a wink in four days. I'm surviving on coffee and adrenaline."
"No illegal stimulants?" I asked sincerely, trying to keep every accusing tone out of my voice.
"No," he chuckled ruefully, surveying the mess of ledger paper before him. "I'd need illegal barbiturates to come down from those, and I'm not sure I wouldn't mix up the dosage by accident, or not..."
If being Lex Luthor's boyfriend didn't give me occasion to have my heart broken enough, his casual suggestion of suicide struck my chest a crushing blow that literally hurt. "God, Lex," I pleaded, "Isn't there anything I can do to help?"
"I wish there were, beautiful," he said, looking straight at me once again. "Insomnia and I go waaaay back. When I was very young, I can remember finding my mother in her boudoir so I could lay my head on her lap and let her coax me into sleep. Sometimes it took hours." He must have noticed the stricken look in my eyes, for his gaze softened, and he smiled as he squeezed my hand on the table. "When some of the madness has died down, and the repairs are complete, I'll have to invite you over to the mansion to spend the night again so you can wear me out in bed."
Embarrassed, I glanced hurriedly at the people around our table to see if anyone other than I had overheard his offer, but I found myself blushing for him alone. His words, however, reminded me of my original purpose in meeting him here. "Hey, Lex, what are you doing for dinner tonight?"
He glanced at his watch, apparently startled at the late hour, then picked up his coffee cup and wrinkled his nose a little as he stared down into the dregs that were left. "Ordering another cup, I guess, unless you had something else in mind."
"Come back to the house with me. Mom wanted me to invite you, to say thank you for saving dad's life."
Equal parts of astonishment and amusement played across his face, which brightened suddenly at my invitation. "She did," he marveled, apparently weighing his options in his head. "Sure--why not?" he asked no one in particular before picking up his cellphone, hitting speed dial code #1, and handing it to me. "Tell her we're on our way."
When she answered, I did exactly as he asked, then passed the phone back to him. "She says dinner will be ready in an hour."
"Then I guess we'd better get going." With a befuddled shake of his head, my lover stood up from the booth and began to gather his papers. "I can't imagine your father agreeing to this idea."
"Don't tell him I told you," I whispered, leaning toward him conspiratorially, "but it was his idea."
Stopping at the counter to pay his check, he turned to me with a raised eyebrow. "Just so he didn't make a special request for your mom to make an almond tarte."
"Why would he do that?"
"To mask the cyanide, of course," he chuckled, leading the way out to his car.
Soon we were on the road out to the farm, and I was practically giddy from the thought of having Lex come over for dinner. "Hey, maybe my mom will let you sleep over!" I gushed, partly in jest.
"Well, I do have a change of clothes in the trunk," he offered.
"Yeah--in case I got stuck at the hospital and couldn't go home."
I considered this situation a little more seriously. "Wow. You mean you'd be interested?"
He glanced away from the road for a second and met my eyes with a small grin. "Of course. Even if we have to obey house rules and stay in separate rooms."
"Well, y-- Oh!" I hadn't really thought about doing anything else, but his easy acceptance of the idea made my brain work overtime.
Lex reacted to my flustered state by pulling the car off the road and turning off the engine, then reaching over the console to take me in his arms as best he could. It had been the longest three days of my life since the night he'd last kissed me to reassure me as we left the barn, flashlights in hand to go searching for my dad. Now, I kissed him back like I'd never doubted his intentions, like he'd never taken a life before my very eyes, although his tongue tasted all the sweeter for our recent crises.
"I promise we'll make love again as soon as possible. Just not tonight, under your parents' roof, all right?"
Laughing a little, I kissed him again. "But the loft is okay?" I teased, giving him a warm squeeze.
His chuckle faded as he clutched me tightly, his voice becoming a strained whisper. "I thought I'd never get to do this again, baby. I thought you were dead."
"What--when you saw Nixon in the clearing the other day?"
"Yeah," he sighed, not letting go so I couldn't see his face, but dropping his usually-cool facade to allow his fear to creep audibly into his words. "He was standing there over your dad with the rebar when I pulled up in the car, and you were just lying still on the ground. I was so scared..."
"Oh, God, Lex... That's why you brought that gun with you?"
"Yeah. I didn't know what Nixon might do next, but I had to keep him from killing your dad, and ask questions later. I'm really sorry that I kept things from you about him--I had no idea how unstable he was, and what kind of a danger he posed. Can you forgive me?"
Pulling back, I kissed him quickly and thoroughly in response. "If it weren't for you, my dad might be dead. Heck, I might be dead. You did the right thing, Lex."
"Thank you, Clark. I think I needed to hear that. We'd better get going," he added, kissing me quickly and pulling away to start the car again. "Your mother will be waiting for us."
After a short lull, I thought of something else I'd wanted to ask. "Lex? How did you know to come out to the clearing that afternoon? I thought you were at the hospital with your dad..."
"I was," he replied, glancing at me, then back to the road. "I had stepped out into the hall and heard a radio request at the nurses' station for an emergency team out there. It occurred to me that it was near where we'd been looking for your dad, so I wanted to come help, if I could."
My eyes fell away from his face immediately, and a shy grin crept across my own. "Wow, Lex. I can't thank you enough..."
"That's what friends are for, Clark. Let's just let your mom feed me. I think that will be more than adequate recompense."
Soon we were bustling into the back door to a kitchen full of savory aromas. Mom greeted us warmly, and when Lex took her offered hand, she yanked him in for a hug. I watched them to see if his typical hands-off stance bristled into stiff-spined resistance, but I was tickled to notice him soften into it just a little. Still a little breathless from surprise, he excused himself to the living room to make a few calls before dinner.
"So he came. And you thought he wouldn't!" Mom crowed.
"I wasn't sure. He looked so tired when I found him."
She looked past me and over the pass-through into the living room. "He seems okay now..."
I recognized the set of his shoulders, so explained, "He's putting up a good front. He's really exhausted--says he hasn't slept for a couple of days."
"Poor thing," she clucked, stirring something on the stove. "He needs to eat something."
Grinning at her tone, I ventured a wild speculation. "We were wondering... Could Lex sleep over tonight?"
Her eye caught me like a tied fly hooks a trout. "You're willing to give up your bed and sleep on the couch?"
"Don't 'Mo-ooom' me! I don't care what you do when you're alone, but when you're in our house..."
I cut her off gently. "What I meant was, we'd already discussed it, and of course I assumed I was going to sleep on the couch!"
"Oh," she answered, a little sheepishly. "Well, good. Stir that," she pointed to another pot on the stove, effectively changing the subject.
"So it's okay, then?" I verified, not letting it drop that easily.
"Yeah," she smiled back at me. "It's been a long time since you've had a sleepover..." Before the wistful vibes got too thick in the kitchen, I finished stirring and wandered off to give Lex the good news.
He was just pocketing his phone when I came into the room.
"Everything okay?" I asked, noting the cast of his eyebrows.
Shaking off his frown at the sound of my voice, he turned to me as brightly as he could manage. "Just checking in with the plant and the hospital. I guess everything will continue functioning without me for a couple of hours."
"How 'bout till morning?" This earned me a puzzled gaze until I explained, "Mom said you could sleep over. You can have my room."
"I wouldn't hear of it. I'll take the sofa."
"You're my guest," I scolded, grabbing him in a quick hug. "You're taking my room. End of discussion."
His shoulders sank a little in acquiescence. "Okay, Clark. If you insist."
Giving him one last squeeze, I pulled away to kiss him softly. "I do," I grinned. "I love you."
It was almost a relief to see his genuine smile back. "I love you, too, Clark. Your mother is a saint, you know," he began, running his fingers idly over the piano keyboard.
"She's okay," I agreed, teasingly.
"Does she have a nice, soft lap?" This made me frown at him, confused, whereupon he chuckled and added, "In case I can't sleep, you know?"
I shrugged amusedly and replied, "You'll have to ask her that yourself..."
Just then Mom called us to wash up for dinner, so I nudged him playfully with my elbow and raced him to the bathroom.
Mom had laid out a fairly ordinary repast of beef stew and home-baked bread, but Lex admired it like it was a five-course banquet in an elegant ballroom. "Everything looks delicious, Mrs. Kent."
"Thank you, Lex, and call me Martha, please! What can I get you to drink? We've got juice, milk, iced tea..."
"Just some coffee, please, Martha," he answered, her name falling from his mouth like it didn't quite feel comfortable there yet.
I caught Mom's eye with a concerned glance, hoping she'd remember our earlier conversation. Sure enough, she admonished him, "I don't think you need any more coffee at the moment. I'll pour you some iced tea..."
Lex turned to me with a gaze that said he'd caught me conspiring behind his back, but I maintained my innocent exterior until he looked away, then limited the celebration of my victory to a small grin for myself.
Dad held himself a little stiffly in his chair, but otherwise did not give any indication that he didn't want Lex Luthor eating at his table. Mom chatted animatedly about some deer she'd spotted at the edge of the property, and chided Lex gently to sample some of the turnips he'd fished out of the stew and pushed to the side of his plate. By the time we dug into the still-warm peach cobbler, an outsider wouldn't have been able to tell this landmark occasion from any other family dinner in the United States.
After we finished eating, we carried our plates to the sink and grabbed up linen towels to dry the clean dishes after Dad stacked them in the strainer. "Thank you very much for the wonderful meal," Lex sighed warmly as the last pot was put away.
"You're very welcome, Lex. It was no trouble at all, and it was nice to have you join us," she said, squeezing his shoulder and mine. "I hope we can do this again soon," she added, sauntering off into the living room.
Before long, Mom was singing and playing a few hymns on the piano while, to my utter amazement, Lex sat beside her on the bench turning the pages in her hymnal. Shaking my head in disbelief, I borrowed Lex's keys and went out to grab his bag from the car.
As I came back up the path, I spotted Dad sitting in his favorite chair on the darkened porch, sipping on a bottle of beer. I could feel his eyes on me as I approached the house.
"So, Clark--is he good to you?"
Swallowing most of the smile I knew might burst out at any second, I replied, "Yeah, Dad, he is."
"You care about him a lot, don't you?"
"Yeah." I wasn't quite sure where this was going, or how long it would take, so I set Lex's bag on the rug by the door and perched on the porch railing across from my father.
"What happened to Lana? I thought you liked her..."
"I--I do," I stammered. "It's just... I don't know..."
He shifted forward in his chair and tapped the side of my knee with his beer bottle. "I'm sorry. I'm not trying to put you on the spot. It's just an awful lot for a father to have to deal with, you know?" His crooked smile conveyed everything I knew he found it difficult to say.
The music had died down from inside the house, but I could hear chunks of Mom's and Lex's conversation drifting through the open door.
"Now, I don't know if I really approve of what you're doing," Dad admitted quietly, "but I trust your judgement not to get into trouble. You promise me you'll be careful?"
"I'll try," I assured him, a shy grin creeping across my face in the dim light.
"And you tell that boy that if he does anything to hurt you, he'll have me to answer to--you understand me?"
"Yes, sir," I answered, smiling broadly and standing to go back inside. "Thanks, Dad. I love you."
He made a little scoffing noise, which I knew translated into him saying the same back to me, and shooed me away with a flick of his hand.
Once inside the house, I trotted upstairs to put Lex's bag away. I looked at my room, comparing it to Lex's sumptuous bedroom at the mansion for a second. Somehow bringing a lover home to sleep in my bed made me feel like I was looking at my childhood through the wrong end of a telescope. It was like I didn't recognize that little kid anymore, and I sort of wondered whatever happened to him. But then I looked down at the bag in my hand, and thought of the man to whom it belonged. I might be almost grown up now, but I reflected that the journey I'd made so far had been pretty good, and that, if nothing else, I could assert that I was happy at this point in my life, happy and in love with a man who loved me back completely.
Smiling to myself, I came scooting down the stairs and headed for the living room, which was strangely quiet. From behind, I could see my mom sitting on one end of the sofa, but she seemed to be alone. I rounded the corner, ready to ask what was going on, when she spotted me and shushed me with a finger to her warmly-smiling lips.
I regarded the scene before me with awe, catching my breath and covering my open mouth with a fist to keep silent as possible. There, curled up on the sofa cushions, with his head in my mother's lap, was Lex, sound asleep.
Crouching on the living room carpet and biting my lip to stop it from quivering, all I could do was watch them: my boyfriend, at rest at last, and my mom, beaming with pride and love at me and at him.
Lex may have been left feeling alone by a lifetime of his father's rejection and his other, more recent difficulties, but with me and my family around him, I knew he'd never have to be alone again.
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