The Innocent and the Guilty
A fat drop of cold rain struck Lana's face and her eyes fluttered open. The sky was turbulent and black, like the day of the twister. How on Earth had she ended up outside in a storm? Groggily, she sat up and stretched. Lord, she was tired, like she'd been running a marathon. The rain began to fall more steadily and Lana squinted against it.
"Damn you, breathe."
Lana turned to her right, and there was Lex. His white shirt was stained pink along the arms and the rain was beginning to soak through it, running the colors. He was pumping, doing CPR, then he was breathing for the person on the ground. Those pink stains were probably blood, and the person on the ground had to be hurt. Clark? There was a gun sitting next to Lex's leg, next to Clark. Lana shook her head against the line of reasoning her brain was following: Lex, blood, Clark, gun. Had Lex shot Clark? "How did I get here? Why would you?" Lana whispered. "What happened? What did you do?"
Lex turned her way, a hard determined expression on his face. "What did I do? I'm trying to fix this. What did you do? You were there, and your hand did this."
Lana shook her head and tried to rise, but her feet shot daggers up her legs and she could bear weight on them. "I wouldn't shoot Clark. I don't even own a gun."
The rain just kept getting harder, running over Lex's face in clear rivers, but he didn't blink or look away. "You kissed him, Lana. Do you remember what you did?"
"I..." Clark was standing over her. The sun was shining behind him and he leaned close. There was blood already on him, his face and hands. They kissed, but there was something in her mouth, oblong and hard, it clattered against her teeth and she sent in sailing into Clark's mouth. "We kissed and I had a bullet in my mouth," Lana whispered.
Lex snatched up his gun and ejected the clip. "My missing bullet, we have to get it out of him. He's allergic."
Lana crawled to Clark's side and shook her head. Whatever was going on, and however she'd gotten involved, Clark looked dead. "I don't think he's breathing, Lex. We have to get an ambulance out here, now."
Lex had pulled Clark's head into his lap and he was peering into his mouth. "I don't see it. He must have swallowed it. Help me roll him over."
Between Lana and Lex they managed to get nearly two hundred pounds of dead weight, Clark Kent rolled onto his stomach. Lex beat at Clark's back trying to stimulate some type of gag reflex or vomiting response. Calling an ambulance wasn't a good idea with someone as unique as Clark, unless you were ready to let the world in on all his secrets, and Clark obviously wasn't ready for that. He might never be ready for anything if they didn't get help though. "Lana, go inside and call Helen, Dr. Bryce. Tell her it's an emergency and she has to come. She's on at the ER tonight, but you have to get her to come. Go!"
Forget the pain, Lana commanded herself as she pulled herself up. It hurt like walking on jagged broken glass, but she tried to run for the door to the mansion.
"I have a key," Martha said with a little reluctance. She and Jonathan had been standing on Lex's stoop for nearly twenty minutes without a response to the bell, and now it was raining straight down. Lex didn't have any live-in staff at the moment. The cleaners came around nine and the company men only came when summoned. If Lex was of a mind to ignore the bell, there wasn't anyone to fend off the visitors after the security people at the gate let you through. That had been a little off this morning too though. The guard house had been deserted, and Martha had had to slip through the bars to buzz them in.
"I don't think that's a good idea," Jonathan said. "We'll just head on down to the police station and go forward from there."
"Help, please! Can you hear me?"
Martha and Jonathan exchanged puzzled looks and started around the side of the house, for the desperate voice. Lana was crawling through the mud on hands and knees, her pajamas soaked through and brown. "Are you okay?" Martha and Jonathan dropped down beside her, and tried to support the trembling girl. "They need help. I was supposed to call Dr. Bryce. Lex and Clark..." Lana pointed back toward the gardens and choked back a sob. "Clark, he, isn't breathing."
Lex couldn't tell what changed, but Clark went from lifeless and without breath, to a struggling, retching, trembling but very alive young man. Lex saw the bullet when it came up, but it didn't stop the vomiting. Clark seemed to throw up harder, like he was going to expel his guts onto the grass. It was probably a good thing, the poison needed to come up.
Out of the storm, someone came barreling up to Lex and jerked him to his feet. "You son of a bitch, what did you do to him?"
Jonathan Kent, the man had perfect timing. Lex pushed the raging farmer back and glared daggers at him. "Back off, and shut your mouth, before you say something you're going to regret, Mr. Kent. I didn't do anything, but help."
Martha had pulled Clark's head onto her lap and she was stroking his back while he purged his guts. Lex wasn't sure but he seemed to be slowing down. God knew there couldn't be much left inside him to throw up. "What happened?" Martha asked. "Has Clark been here all this time?"
Lex looked between the Kents and shook his head slowly. "You want to know what went on here. I suggest you ask your son. I'd consider taking him to a doctor. If you don't have one you can trust, I can help with that."
"I don't know what you mean," Jonathan snapped. What did Lex think he knew? Why would he make that comment about a doctor they could trust? "Martha, help me. We're getting Clark out of here."
Lex didn't argue or offer any more help. He'd done all he could for Clark, and his friend was breathing. That hadn't seemed possible a few hours ago. Jonathan and Martha managed to get Clark to his feet between them, and Lex caught Clark's eye briefly before they started across the lawn. That look was more thanks than Lex would ever need. That look was simple, a message that didn't have to be said, my friend, thank you.
Exhaustion seemed to hit like a wall after the Kents were gone with Clark and Lana. Lex wasn't sure what it was time to feel. There was relief that everyone was alive and sane. There was anger at being lied to and not trusted. Coating it all was a lingering fear. This situation had spiraled out of control so quickly, and it all could have gone so very differently. He might have begun this day with a boy's blood on his hands, or worse if he had needed to pull the trigger and hadn't been able to, there might be hundred or a thousand people's blood on his hands.
Then it hit him. Lex didn't have time to feel anything, not yet. There was a dead security guard sprawled across from his ballroom. That kind of mess required special cleaners, and a liberal amount of money to sweep under the rug. Lex plopped down on his front steps and let the rain beat down on his head. It felt good, cold and pure, a nice prelude to getting his hands dirty fixing this mess.
Outside the hospital, Jonathan jumped out of the back of the truck and scooped Lana into his arms. "You're going to be fine," he whispered. The emergency room was next to deserted and Jonathan didn't wait for an orderly or a nurse to offer him help. He settled Lana on a nearby gurney and stepped back. "Some help over here," he called. "I have to go take care of Clark, Lana. You're going to be fine."
Lana nodded. She turned to the nurse who had started barking history questions at her and poking and prodding. Mr. Kent would be back with Clark in a second, and she needed to see him breathing and fine before this nurse carted her off. Where was he?
Jonathan squeezed himself into the cab of the truck and wrapped an arm around Clark, sharing warmth. "How is he?" Jonathan asked. "Has he been said anything about what happened?"
Martha shook her head and restarted the truck. "He's been shivering and I know he's cold, but he hasn't said a word."
Jonathan turned Clark's head so he could look him in the eyes. He was awake and his eyes were clear. "Clark, I need you to talk to me. What happened to you? Did you go after the thing that hurt the cows? How did it hurt you? Did Lex do this?"
Clark squeezed his eyes shut at the mention of the cows. He shook his head and jerked his head free of his father's hand. "It wasn't Lex," he whispered. "If Lex hadn't helped, I'd be dead."
"You have to tell us what happened, honey. We won't be able to help you if we don't know what's wrong," Martha said. She made the last turn for home and tried to smile reassuringly. "Just talk to us."
"I can't talk about it," Clark said. "I won't talk about it. It's over and I don't ever want to think about it again. As for what's wrong with me, meteor rock went down the wrong way." Martha and Jonathan turned to him with similar shocked expressions. "Long story," Clark added. "I don't think there's any of it left in me, but I still feel kind of rotten."
Martha threw the truck into park and killed the engine. "You swallowed a meteor rock? How could that happen?" She was so scared at the thought of one of those rocks inside her baby that she was trembling. "It's a miracle you're alive."
Jonathan just shook his head. "I'll take the miracle. We don't have to talk about what happened, yet. Getting you warm and feeling less rotten is goal number one."
Once outside, Jonathan tried to support Clark on the walk to the house, but he wouldn't let him. "I can walk, Dad. I just have to get to the bathroom and take a hot bath. I'll be better if I can get warm."
It was strange, the way Clark was pushing them away, but Jonathan didn't want to force the matter with him weak and sick. "Be careful, son. We're here." Neither Jonathan or Martha breathed until Clark had finished his relatively slow shuffle up the porch steps. Martha rushed forward to hold the door, but Clark didn't even meet her eyes. His arms were wrapped tight around himself and he just seemed to be focused inward.
Once they were separated by the bathroom door, Martha spun on Jonathan. "What in God's Earth could have happened?"
Leaning against the closed bathroom door, Clark stared at himself in the mirror across the room. Patches of dried blood clung to his skin where the rain hadn't washed it away, and mud caked up his hair. He look like a refugee from a war, and he felt like he'd just survived the plague. A new batch of shivers raised goose flesh along his arms and Clark turned on the hot water. This was what it was like to really feel cold. The jock with the frostbite touch gave him his first taste of cold, but this was somehow worse, bone deep, and it wouldn't go away.
It was hard to manage the buttons on his shirt with trembling fingers, but after he got it off, he was reluctant to put it on his mother's floor. There was too much mud and blood and nastiness. Instead Clark dropped the garment into the wastebasket. Clark stripped everything away depositing it in the waste can. He would burn it all with his heat vision when it stopped raining, burn it until the wind carried it all away.
"It wasn't you," Clark told himself. He scrubbed methodically at the blood and muck clinging to his skin. "It wasn't you and you're free now. That thing won't ever touch you again. It can't hurt anyone or anything." Sure it wasn't you, just your hands, just your teeth. God, how was he ever going to explain this to his parents? What if they didn't understand? What if they were afraid of him? Clark covered his face and fought to hold in his sobs, but he couldn't contain the tears leaking from his eyes into the darkly stained water. I should have been stronger... I'm so sorry.
A cooling off period seemed like a good idea to Lex. He didn't want to walk in on Clark trying to clear the water with his parents. So it was nearly a week before he came to the farm for a visit. No one seemed to be around at the house, so Lex made his way out to the barn. There was Clark, sitting with his telescope, silent and still as a statue. "Hey, I thought you might still be in bed. Lana said you'd missed a lot of school lately and you weren't taking visitors. She's doing fine, in case you were wondering."
"No thanks to me. Are you here to tell me what happened during that last possession? Because I'm not sure I want to know," Clark said. His gaze never left the horizon as he spoke.
"Nothing too terrible happened. I thought you might want some details about what that voice was and some assurance that it wouldn't be back," Lex said. "You didn't get all the lovely explanations that came my way."
Clark shook his head. "I don't want to think about it. When that thing was really gone, I knew. I just want to forget."
"Understandable, can I come up?" Lex waited for Clark's nod before heading up. He seemed distant, detached, like he wasn't completely awake. Sane and breathing, Lex reminded himself. Things could always be worse. Joining Clark at the edge of the window, Lex took a seat on a bail of hay.
Clark almost smiled and glanced Lex's way. "I don't think that's good for Armani."
"I can afford it." Lex chuckled and tried to catch Clark's eye but he was already looking back outside. "Why are you hiding out here, Clark? You're not sick. It's over. You said you knew when that thing was gone, well you were right. I'm surprised your parents are putting up with this."
"My parents don't know what to do because I haven't told them what happened. I can't tell them. They would never understand. The words don't exist to explain it to them. The only reason you're even here, is because you don't understand like they would. If they knew what I did under that thing's influence, they'd be afraid. I'm afraid."
"I don't understand that I should be afraid," Lex said. "What if I did understand? Those things that possessed you and then Lana, had no power in this world, except what they gained from those they possessed. I saw you do some very impossible things, and I know what happened to that herd of cattle." Lex rose and turned Clark so he would have to look him in the eyes. "I'm not afraid, because it wasn't you."
Clark squeezed his eyes shut and fought the tears leaking down his face. "It wasn't me," Clark repeated. "I know it wasn't me." He wasn't afraid? Lex wasn't afraid of him, and he knew enough that he ought to be.
"If you want a ride, I'll take you to see Lana," Lex offered. "It will do you some good to get off the farm."
Coming to a decision in that instant, Clark shook his head. "No, I'll see her tomorrow if she's back in school. I should really talk to my parents today. They're worried."
"Good." Lex headed for the exit. "We have a lot of talking to do too, but it can wait. Talk to your parents, and come see me when you're ready."
Chloe took out the hack saw she'd borrowed from the garage and glanced over her diagram for a miniature golf hole. "This is never going to work. I'm going to fail geometry. What was I thinking taking that class under Mr. Carter?" She couldn't even get mad at Clark for deserting her. According to Lana, whatever the freakish thing that happened to her was, it had happened to Clark too. No one had seen Clark since it went down, and he hadn't called. Chloe had tried the direct approach, but Martha and Jonathan turned her away.
Chloe tried to drag the saw across her sheet of plywood, but it didn't budge. "I can do this."
"Can I help?"
"Clark? Oh my God, you're alive. Where have you been?" Chloe stood and threw her arms around her reclusive buddy. He looked the same, maybe a little different around the eyes, older. "Tell me I get an exclusive. Lana was incoherent about what happened." Seeing Clark's face fall stopped Chloe cold. "You don't have to tell me, I'm stopping. Friend first, reporter later, if you're up to it."
"If it's okay, can we go with reporter never on this one. I'm pretty incoherent about it all. I don't want to think about what happened either." Clark picked up Chloe's diagram. He turned it, trying to decipher it from every angle, but he cringed. "It's a good thing I came along when I did. Do you have your protractor?"
Jonathan folded the newspaper and tossed it across the dinner table to Martha. "Check out the bottom article, first page. That was right around when everything happened with Clark, isn't it?"
Martha glanced down at the article.
Head of Security Still Missing
Andre Peterson, former head of residential security, for Smallville's own Lex Luthor was reported missing just over a week ago. While the police have found no sign of foul play, the file is still open and our Sheriff's department has opened the crime hotline if you have any leads...
Martha stopped reading and looked up. When Clark told them about the demon that possessed him, about the dreams, and how Lex had helped him, she'd been afraid but relieved too. It was over before she ever knew how bad things had become. No one had actually been hurt, just some livestock. This couldn't be related. What had happened shut Clark down, and nearly broke him. If this was related, it might just shatter him. "I don't see any reason to think this has anything to do with what happened to Clark."
Jonathan could read Martha like a book and he nodded. "I think we ought to burn that, and maybe he won't run across it anywhere else. If he does, hopefully he won't connect any dots he shouldn't."
Okay, I'm officially wrung out. Hopefully, me closing my eyes and sobbing over my keyboard translates well into fiction.
The consensus seems to be 'keep Demon voice freaky-font', (I was hoping you guys would feel that way).
Never regret the long reviews becs, **grin** they're always fun for everyone.
Finally, for a change I'm not in the middle of posting anything, though I do have quite a few stories started. Nothing is really shining through as a project I want to make a weekly endeavor. If something hasn't come to the forefront by Friday, you won't be hearing from me until something does.
Good luck making it through the reruns until the new episodes and peace!