Title: Five Flavors (Nourishment: Second Helpings 2)
Author: Janet F. Caires-Lesgold
Feedback to: jfc@freeshell.org
Archive: Mailing list archives only--others please ask permission!
Category: Angst, Lex POV
Spoilers: Moving beyond season 3 as it should have been done
Rating: PG for suggestions of m/m relationship
Pairing: Clark/Lex established relationship
Summary: The next logical step

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 Nourishment Series", which precedes this series, can be found elsewhere on this archive - Enjoy!

AUTHOR'S WARNING: I no longer accept the "canon" of Smallville Season 4 as the true history of our heroes. From here on in, my use of canon points from episodes after the end of "Covenant" will be entirely arbitrary and mostly non-existent. Thank you for continuing to read my stories anyway. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions.

DEDICATION: For Tiff, who is always there.

COPYRIGHT: (C) Janet F. Caires-Lesgold, January 10, 2005, 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.



Clark was there when I opened my eyes again.

His dark head rested about level with my knees on the bed where I lay, his face looking pained even as he slept. I could only assume that he'd somehow come to my rescue, as always, when the room had started to spin moments after I'd sipped at my celebratory scotch the night following my father's incarceration.

Before I could reconstruct what I remembered, I was overcome by the desire to cough, due to something in my nose and on my tongue. Immediately, I gasped and started scrabbling at the bedsheet near Clark's head, desperately trying to get his attention and wake him up.

Green eyes flew open, startled, at my activity, whereupon he lunged for an object out of my line of sight and began calling for a doctor's help. It wasn't until then that I even realized I was in a hospital.

Medical professionals fogged into the room then, shouldering my lover aside to perform whatever work they had to do for me. I felt groggy and nauseated, and it hurt to breathe, so I closed my eyes and concentrated on not throwing up as tubes were carefully withdrawn.

As hands prodded me, lights were shone into my eyes, and voices asked me stupid questions, I followed my instructions weakly, searching the room for the man who'd saved my life yet again. Logically, I understood that the staff had to ask him to leave the room, but it made me even more miserable to realize that he was gone.

Once the unpleasant tasks were complete, I received an injection of something with deliciously analgesic and narcotic properties. Clark floated back to my side as sleep started to pull me away. I lifted my hand to touch him, and croaked out a raw approximation of his name.

"Don't try to talk yet," he scolded, clutching my hand. "I called my folks, and they said it's okay for me to stay here if you want. Can I?"

In lieu of an answer, I pulled his hand to my lips and kissed it, then slipped under, the last thing in my vision his troubled half-smile.

I rested well, but when I found myself dreaming that I was being choked, I woke up coughing. Big, warm, familiar hands were there quickly, supporting my shoulders and wiping my mouth, and I luxuriated in his loving touch until I caught my breath.

As I lay back against my pillows, I looked up into Clark's anxious face and mouthed as clearly as I could, "I thought this friendship was over."

He couldn't have looked more chagrined had I slapped him. "Oh, God, Lex--I am so sorry..." he whispered, his gaze falling to the floor.

Chucking him under the chin with the hand that wasn't hooked up to an I.V., I raised his gaze to mine. "So am I," I replied soundlessly, stroking his hollow cheek with my thumb. "Go home, baby," I added. "You need sleep."

With a shake of his head, he refused. "I want to stay."

"I'm in good hands here," I reassured him, taking his hand for emphasis. "Come back tomorrow, and we can talk."

There followed a long dialogue consisting entirely of us staring into each other's eyes, him shaking his head no, and me insisting with a nod, until he finally relented and nodded as well. When he bent to kiss my cheek goodbye, I turned into it to receive his lips on my own, smiling kindly when he stood back up. "Tomorrow," he promised, then turned and left me to sleep some more.

I felt much more like myself the next morning when the staff paraded through my room for a couple of hours, bearing drugs and thermometers and sponge baths. Breakfast was a hearty cup of ice chips, which felt pretty good on my raw throat, though I longed for some orange juice, as was promised in a few days.

My personal hero came walking through the door the moment visiting hours began, looking a little better-rested and bearing a small box. He greeted me with a gentle hug and a warm brush of his cheek to my head.

"What's that?" I pointed to his burden with a hoarse rasp.

Pulling up a chair, he chuckled and handed me the gift. "Open it."

There, nestled in a bed of tissue paper, was something a little surprising, handcrafted in soft purple yarn. "Mittens?" I craned my neck to try to look out of a nearby window, but all I could see was a view of the tops of the trees, which were still bright green with spring leaves. "How long have I been out?"

Clark patted my knee with a sweet smile. "About two weeks. Don't worry--it's only June. Mom gets fidgety when she can't do anything to help, and she started knitting. Once you're up to solid food again, you'll have enough muffins to feed an army."

I tried on one and wiggled my fingers, finding it a perfect fit, then took it off and placed it next to its mate in the box. "Thank her for me."

"Oh, I will," he grinned, setting the box out of the way. "How are you feeling?"

"Like my lungs are lined with sandpaper, but I guess cyanide will do that to you."

Scooting his chair closer so he could take my hand, he regarded me somberly. "What happened, Lex?"

"I was going to ask you the same question," I replied seriously.

"What do you remember?"

I shrugged. "I was home after my dad's hearing, and had poured myself a drink. Guess the Luthorcorp toadies still have a key."

Without knocking over the chair, he was on his feet at once. "You think your dad tried to murder you?"

"He thinks I know too much. Obviously, erasing my memory wasn't enough. Damned shame that the cleanup crew has probably gotten rid of all of the evidence by now."

Crestfallen, he retook his seat and my hand. "I wish there were some way we could pin it on him."

"Don't touch this one, Clark--it would put you and your family in danger, and that's the last thing I want on my conscience."

We sat quietly for a few moments, his thumbs petting the back of my good hand and me squeezing his palm almost to reassure myself that he was real. "So you weren't trying to commit suicide?" he murmured almost too softly for me to hear.

I froze. "What? No! Whatever would give you that idea?"

"Well, with your dad and all..." he started, then trailed off. Pale eyes sought mine. "I never should have broken up with you. I over-reacted to finding that room full of stuff without letting you explain. It was painful to walk away from you at the courthouse that day. When I found you collapsed with the glass spilled beside you, I suddenly realized that maybe my stupid pride had hurt you more than it hurt me."

He was very close to tears, but wouldn't let himself cry. The moment was right for a little damage control. "I have a very strong sense of self-preservation, baby--I can't imagine anything over which I would destroy myself, though knowing that I'd lost you forever would come close."

"I know what you mean," he said and lunged for me, wrapping his arms around me as carefully as he could. "I love you, Lex. I would never have forgiven myself had I been responsible for your death."

I nuzzled his silky hair affectionately. "This wasn't your fault in the least, beautiful. In fact, you saved my life for the umpteenth time that night." We held each other as tightly as possible. "I love you, too, Clark. You're my favorite lifesaver."

His shoulders shook a little, but I soon realized he was chuckling instead of sobbing. "What flavor am I, then?"

Momentarily taken aback, I found myself snickering at his joke. "Gee, I don't know. Definitely not cherry, though."

He pulled back and looked me in the eye for a moment. "Why not? I love those... Oh!" he interrupted himself when he caught what I meant. His cheeks almost as red as the candy, he snuggled back in, tucking his chin firmly over my shoulder. "I guess not. Orange, maybe. Anything but lime."

"Why is that?"

"Bad associations with green," he shuddered, squeezing me a little closer.

Just then a nurse came in to disconnect me from the I.V., followed by an aide with a tray bearing apple juice, chicken broth, gelatin (fortunately not green), and more ice chips, so Clark broke away quickly and moved to the window to give them room to maneuver. Soon we were alone again, Clark perched in the windowsill, and me sipping cautiously at the container of juice.

"So, you say I came here about two weeks ago," I began again. "What have I missed? Any word from our art student in France?"

This startled him a little. "Oh, Lana? Well, she's back, actually..."

"Already? Why?"

He stood and strode over to the table of flowers. "She came back for the funeral..."

"Funeral?" Memories of plans that Clark knew nothing about came back to me suddenly. To maintain the illusion, I gave a concerned frown. "Who died?"

He answered in a small voice, seemingly fascinated with a wilted freesia. "Chloe... She was supposed to go to a safe house after she testified against your dad, but they got her, Lex."

"What?" I asked indignantly. "'They', who, Clark? What happened to her?"

"I guess it was some more toadies--they blew up the house, with her and her dad in it. I've seen the pictures... She's dead..." Turning to me, he wore the most fragile, stricken expression I ever saw on him.

"Oh, my God," I exclaimed, my hoarseness adding to the impression I was trying to make. Of course, my reaction to seeing my beloved boy so hurt increased the verisimilitude of my performance. "I'm so sorry. Are you all right?"

"Yeah," he sighed, unable to meet my eye, "but I wish I could have done something..."

I pushed aside my tray and reached out a hand, hoping he'd come back to me and accept the comfort I wanted to give him. "You can't blame yourself, baby. You can't be everywhere--you can't save everyone."

Reluctantly, he gave me a crooked half-smile and crossed the room to my side. "I seem to do all right with you..."

Tugging on his hand to bring him closer, I leaned up and kissed him slowly and softly. "Thank you, Clark," I said when he broke away at last. "I wouldn't have survived this long if it weren't for you."

"I try. Thanks for trying to cheer me up."

His arm crept around me, and we sat in quiet communion for a moment. Finally, I thought of something I wanted to ask him. "Tell me, Clark: how did you happen to find me the night I was poisoned? What were you doing there?"

"I heard the crash when I'd come in the door, then ran and found you on the floor of your study. Lucky that I was able to get you to the hospital in time..." Instead of his usual dodge and half-assed lie, he seemed to decide to tell me the truth. "I'd come to your house that night because I needed to see you. I wanted to apologize for how distant we'd gotten, for treating you so badly, and for breaking up with you. I wanted to ask you if you'd ever consider taking me back."

Pausing as if I had to think about it, I answered bluntly. "No, Clark. I can't take you back." He stiffened in shock, so I finished my tease quickly. "I can't, because I would never let you go. You can't get rid of me that easily."

"Oh, God, Lex..." he sighed in response. As much as I wanted to see his expression, I wasn't really able to do so, given that he was kissing me deeply, and I had my eyes shut tight to enjoy every moment of it.

Clark was there when I woke up in the hospital, because, to my great fortune, he'd been there to save me when I almost died by my father's hand. How could I possibly give him up?



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