By the time Clark finished throwing up in the bathroom, he went downstairs to see that his parents had eaten, but kept his food in the microwave. It was easy enough for him to warm up and eat, even though he felt funny eating anything. He was hungry, but had no appetite and since he'd just thrown up in the bathroom he wasn't taking any chances. He must have woken him Mom for she came down to meet him.
"Are you okay, Clark?"
"Yeah, Mom, I'm fine."
"Because we tried waking you up from sleep when dinner was ready but you didn't even make a sound."
"Oh!" This was a surprise to him, because as far as he knew, and this was also from living on a farm, he wasn't a very deep sleeper and should have been able to hear his parents call him.
"Sorry, Mom, I guess I was just too tired." He told her and knowing that he was somewhat embarrassed, he didn't meet her eyes.
"That's okay, as long as you are fine." She was looking at him searchingly but he kept his eyes averted and continued eating.
They said their good nights and she went back upstairs. Clark finished his food and flicked through the television and seeing nothing interesting, went up to his room and tried to do some of his homework. Unfortunately, he couldn't do much because he fell right back to sleep.
The next morning was no better than the night before because Clark felt like he couldn't wake up and when he did, he felt really sluggish and it took him longer to complete his chores. Food also felt like a chore to him and he wouldn't have had his breakfast if his Mom hadn't been literally watching over his shoulders. He missed the bus of course, so he sped off to school and the first place he visited was the toilet to get rid of his breakfast. Classes took up the same pattern as his chores and he couldn't wait to go to the Beanery at the end of school, just for a cup of coffee.
That would have been helpful if he didn't throw up at the smell of the coffee. So he left the Beanery in a hurry and went home for his chores. The afternoon and late evening was easy enough for him, so he did his homework and spent some time with his parents.
He could see their worry for him, but as he couldn't explain to them what was going on with him, he didn't have anything to say to them, so he finished his chores and went to sleep.
Sleep, that seemed to be his present pattern. He didn't know if he'd ever slept this much, even as a baby. The next time he woke up, it was to his parents looking at him worriedly. Well maybe looking was not the right word, they were peering at him and he could deduce that they hadn't had a lot of sleep themselves.
"Mom, Dad? Are you alright?"
"Clark." His Mom shouted before falling on him with a big hug. He couldn't do anything but hug her back and hold on when he felt the shudders that came from her crying. He looked up at his Dad in question but he said nothing. He also had tears in his eyes, but looked at the both of them in relief.
"It's ...good to see you too Mom. What's going on?" He asked them both when she released him.
"You're awake." His Mom said, looking at him wonderingly.
"Yeah, Mom. I went to sleep last night and woke up in the morning." Looking at his bedside clock, he saw that it was 7.30am, later than usual but that wasn't any cause for concern surely.
"I know that it's later than usual but I'm sorry."
"No Son, you went to sleep day before yesterday." Jonathan said to him.
"What? That's not possible Dad." Clark responded.
"It's true Son. You slept through yesterday. We've been really worried."
"That's what we want to know." His dad told him.
"Has this happened before Dad?"
"No, Clark. Never. That's why we're worried." This time, Martha answered his question.
"I don't know what happened, Mom. I've been feeling really sleepy lately but I didn't think I'd sleep the day away." He was really worried about this. The more things changed in his life, the more he wanted them to remain the same and the powers alone were enough for him to handle. His parents must have seen the worry in his eyes because the backed away from him.
"It'll be alright, Clark, take your shower and come down for breakfast."
With that they left his room and he got up to do his morning ablutions. After he stepped into the shower and started having a wash, Clark felt the lump that was just above his stomach, below his heart. He'd first felt it the month before and was afraid to tell his parents about it. There were so many new things going on with him, and with the farm being in debt, he didn't want to worry them any more than he had to.
This morning, he noticed that the lump had grown more than it was and he knew it would soon be noticeable to his parents, if no one else. He was determined to hide it, so he laid out more clothes than usual. When he tried his first t-shirt, he also noticed that he had put on a little bit of weight. Why? His eating habit had changed, but he shouldn't have added on so much.
Shrugging it off, not in unconcern, but putting it off for a later time, he dressed himself in more layers than usual, knowing that with his lack of dressing style; no one would question his choice of clothes.
When he got down, the first thing his Mom asked upon seeing him, and after taking a double look was, "Are you cold, honey?"
"No, Mom, I'm fine."
"Oh. But you're okay, right?" She asked him after a pause.
He took a deep breath before answering her, "It's just different, Mom, and I can't believe I lost the whole day."
"I know, Clark."
"Will you be able to handle school today?" She asked him worriedly, and while he wasn't sure, he knew that he had to go to school and try.
"I don't know, Mom, but I have to try."
"Alright, Clark. Just eat your breakfast and go to school okay. Well deal with it, like we do everything else."
"Thanks, Mom." And at the first whiff of his Mom's coffee he ran back up the stairs to throw up the little milk that he'd already had. While hung up over the toilet seat, he felt his Mom rubbing circles round his back, soothingly.
"There is nothing wrong with the milk, Clark. How long had this been going on?"
"Just the past few days, Mom, but I don't understand, I'm never sick."
"That's true, do you still think you can make it to school today?" She asked him while giving him a glass of water to rinse off. He nodded his head in answer and they went downstairs, where he proceeded to finish what was left of his breakfast and then some. He would have thought that with his stomach rejecting the first thing that he'd had, he wouldn't be able to eat anything else, but he found himself unreasonably hungry.
"Mom, can you give me a note for yesterday?"
"Yes, I called them yesterday but another note will probably be good." She drew out as she watched him eat. "I don't understand you, Clark, you've just thrown up and then you're eating everything in my kitchen."
"I don't know, Mom, I was just hungry I guess."
"I can see that. Here is your note and we'll see you after school. Be careful okay."
"Don't worry, Mom, you know me, I'll be alright."
She laughed as she answered him, "Yes, that's why I'm worried."
"Ha ha, very funny." He said to her as he sped off to school. It was a good thing that even with all that was happening with him, the illnesses and the excess sleep, he still had his speed and his strength.
School was no different than the days before, he had a bit of a hard time trying to explain to Chloe and Pete that he hadn't deliberately goofed off from school. But how could he explain to them that he had slept the day away, and while living on the farm at that. The only good thing he had on his side was the note from his Mom. Luckily for him, he wasn't as tired as usual and he got through the all his classes.
The only problem he had was during his lunch hour; the wide-ranging aroma's coming from there, sent him straight to the park. It got so bad, that he could barely wait for the end of the school day, so that he could go back home. Luck was not really on his side, because his friends stuck to him like glue.
"C'mon Clark, were going to be Beanery and you, my dear friend are joining us."
"Sorry Chloe, I have to go home, chores you know."
"No way hose, you've been avoiding us and we didn't see you all day yesterday so you owe us buddy."
"Owe you? What have you been drinking Pete?"
"Drinking, what drinking? Lets go my friend."
How could he get out of this? "I'm sorry, I really can't. Let me call you when I finish my chores, okay."
"If you're sure, you don't know what you're missing."
"I've gotta go, I'll see you guys later alright."
"Sure, Clark." They said as they got to the gate and before he could make his escape, he had both good news and bad news. Bad news, Lana turned up to ask him if he was okay, and he would have been if the piece of meteorite hanging on her neck hadn't rendered him weak with a very sharp pain to his stomach, especially centred at the lump below his heart.
This of course, made him stumble and he heard his friends snicker behind him while Whitney was glowering from in front of him. The latter, he tried to ignore as much as possible, but for the past month, that strategy didn't seem to be working very well because almost every time he came across the jock, Whitney seemed to be having some problem and Clark couldn't help assisting him.
The good news was that Lex had also just turned up and he couldn't help but smile. Maybe luck was on his side after all.
"Clark. How have you been?"
"Hi, Lex; I'm fine thank you? What are you doing here?"
"Had to get out of the crap shop for a while. You want a lift?"
How could he answer that? Was he going to run or enjoy the comfort of a ride and his best friend's company? There was no question about it; "Yes please, I've got chores this afternoon."
"Alright, Let's go." Lex said to Clark, giving him his usual smile/smirk. Clark turned round and said his farewell to his friends, leaving with Lex.
As they got to the car, Lex asked him, "So what is really going on, Clark?"
"I haven't seen you around. I tried calling you yesterday, but you were sleeping really early so, what's up?"
"Yes, about that, I'm sorry, I slept really early day before yesterday, and I even missed school."
"Oh! For a moment there, I thought your parents were lying to me."
"No, Lex, they wouldn't, not about that." They smiled at each other when he said this, acknowledging that there were some things that his parents would lie about. Being tired, he leaned back on the headrest and closed his eyes. Little did he know that he would fall asleep on the way home. The next thing he knew was Lex shaking him rather vigorously,
"Clark, we're here."
"Oh, sorry Lex. I didn't mean to fall asleep on you."
"Well at the risk of blowing my own horn, my company is not usually that boring, so tired huh."
"Yes, I've been sleeping so much recently." He complained to his friend.
"So I'm hearing. Are you okay?"
Rubbing his stomach ephemerally, he answered Lex's question. "I'm fine. What about you? How is Victoria?" He didn't think he'd been able to hide his distaste at the name and the person, because Lex gave him a sharp look at his question before answering him,
"I'm fine and Victoria is Victoria, nothing changes there so I'm handling it."
Clark had nothing to say to that so he just opened the door to let himself out "Oh, well, I have to get on with my chores. Will I see you when I come in to drop the produce at the castle?"
"I'll be there." Lex answered him.
"Alright, see you later, hunh." He closed the door and stepped away from the car, letting the other man start the car and start reversing away. He barely heard the greeting, "Yeah, See ya" that Lex uttered as he left.
His parents were waiting for him as he went into the kitchen.
"Clark, I saw Lex bring you in, are you alright Son?" Jonathan asked him.
"Yes, he just gave me a lift and I slept on the way, but I'm alright." He answered him unconcernedly, taking his bag to his room. He washed his face and came down to the kitchen where he made himself some large sandwiches as his first port of call.
"Clark!" his Mom exclaimed, "Didn't you have lunch at school?" she then asked him,
"Couldn't." He answered her still eating. "Don't talk with your mouth full, please." She corrected him while his father snickered from his seat at the table.
"And why couldn't you eat lunch?"
He wasn't sure whether to answer her but as she had already seen him throw up that morning, there would be no harm in letting her know. Also, he'd hardly kept any secrets from his parents and would need their help to reason out his changes, so he answered her as simply as he could,
"The smells made me want to throw up."
"Oh!" She said, and his father asked, "Throw up? What is this all about?" So, he thought to himself, his Mom hadn't told his dad about the morning episode.
"Clark threw up this morning before going to school, that's all." Martha answered her husband.
"Since when have you been throwing up Son? And why haven't you said anything"
"It hasn't been up to a week, Dad, honest. And I figured that you had enough to worry about. Also, you know I don't fall ill so thought it would pass."
"It looks like it hasn't passed though doesn't it?"
"It'll pass Dad." He answered them resolutely.
"Clark, is there something else about your powers that you are not telling us?" His Mom asked him. She was always the one who caught his fibs.
"No, Mom. Nothing." Well there was the lump, but until he knew more about it, he wasn't going to make any announcements till he absolutely had to.
He finished his lunch and stocked up his truck with the produce for delivery.
"I've got to make my deliveries, so I'll see you in three hours."
"Yeah, I'll be delivering to the castle last so that I can spend some time with Lex."
"Son," His father started, "Dad, I told him I would, and I haven't seen him in a while so I thought I'd spend some time with him, and you didn't tell me he called yesterday." He told them accusingly.
"Oh! I completely forgot to tell you this morning." His Mom told him, then continued sarcastically, "But forgive us for being more worried about you this morning than remembering the list of people that called you. Add Chloe and Pete to your list while you're at it will you?"
"Thanks, Mom." He told her softly and looked at her in apology. They understood, and after a shared glance, his Mom nodded at him/
He left before they could give him any more restrictions on his movement and drove into town. Being Friday, he knew that his curfew was slightly later than usual but with his sleeping habit, he felt like spending more time at home anyway. It didn't take him long to make his rounds and he quickly ended up at the castle. The cook directed him to Lex's office where he stood watching his friend go through his reports for the first 2-3 minutes.
"Hi, Lex." He called out in greeting. His friend dropped his report and granted him one of his half smiles.
"Clark, it's good to see you. Here I was thinking I had been relegated to the pits of your social calendar."
"Oh, sorry about that, I've just been running around lately and sleeping too much as you saw this afternoon."
"And yet you say that there is no problem."
"Clark." Lex breathed deeply at him, and he knew the other man hadn't believed him
"Honestly, there isn't."
"Okay, I believe you. But you know that if there was a problem, I'd like to help."
"Thanks." He smiled at the other man so as not to offend him by his refusal. "So, what are you doing?"
"Nothing much, since I took off early, I just have to finish up some reports and then have them ready to be sent off to my Father tomorrow."
He didn't want to get in Lex's way so he asked him, "Then I'm disturbing you?"
"Not exactly. I can get them done later in the evening. What about you, have you finished your deliveries?"
"Yeah, I've finished my deliveries, I just have some chores to finish up later when I get home."
"And when would that be?" Lex asked as though he had something in mind.
"I've got some time, why?"
"I'm on my own and I thought we could go to the Beanery for a coffee or something."
While the coffee wasn't a good idea, Clark was hungry again and going to the Beanery would give him the chance to feed his hunger, see his friends and spend some time with Lex. He knew that ever since Victoria had come into town he had kept his distance from Lex, partly because he didn't like her and to give his friend some space but he missed his friend.
Speaking of, "On your own, what happened to Victoria?"
"She's gone back to Metropolis."
"Oh, for good?" He asked somewhat hopefully.
"No, she'll be back." Then under his breath, Lex concluded, "She hasn't got what she came for." Clark, seeing the frown that was beginning to show on his friends face, told him cheekily,
"In that case, if you feed me, I'll follow you anywhere.'"
At Lex's snort of laughter and raised brow, he amended, "As far as the Beanery anyway."
"I thought so. But I had the impression that normally, you would have eaten at school and when you were at home."
: Why was he so hungry? : Clark wondered to himself. He could feel the flush of embarrassment on his face as he looked at his shoes and answered les, "It's not my fault, I'm a teenager you know."
"Well no one can blame you for that." Lex said as he quirked his lips and stood away from his desk "Let's go"
They left in Lex's car with the understanding that he would be returning to the castle before he made his final journey home; and in the midst of his discussion and enjoyment of his friends company, he completely forgot about his recently developed aversion to the excess aroma of the different foods that would be found in the café.
No sooner had he opened the door to gain entrance into the coffee shop, he was bombarded with a variety of smells. He stumbled and would have fallen if it weren't for his friend's hand at his elbow.
"Clark, is something wrong?" Lex asked him worriedly,
"No, I'm okay. Thanks Lex." He told the other man as they made their way to the corner table they usually occupied. He knew that he was paler than usual because he was desperately trying to hold back the nausea that had hit him. They weren't there long before their waitress came for their order. Lex ordered a cappuccino as usual and he ordered some water and something to eat.
Looking round the cafe, he saw that his other friends weren't there and wondered briefly if they were going to make an appearance. Somehow, he knew that they wouldn't be happy with him for being there with Lex when he had turned down their invitation earlier. He turned round to see Lex watching him surreptitiously.
"What?" He asked his friend "Nothing. So how is it going with the lovely Miss Lang?"
Lana. What else. Sometimes, he thought that his friend had made it his solemn duty to match-make him with Lana and while he appreciated it, sometimes he didn't need the reminder.
"It's not going anywhere, Lex. She likes him. I don't understand why, but it is her choice."
"Have you let her know categorically that she has an option in you?"
"You know that there is only so far that I can go and to be honest, Lex, the less I have to do with Whitney, the better for the three of us."
"Ouch. Why is that? I thought you'd 'forgiven' him for the scarecrow incident. At least that's the impression you gave me." Lex asked him with a quizzical look on his face.
"I have." : Pause: "But sometimes, I don't think that she has forgiven me. Do you understand?"
"I'm not certain; care to explain?"
"I think I'm in a no win situation." At this he was interrupted by the waitress who brought their orders and at the first whiff of Lex's coffee, his nausea returned with a vengeance, and he could barely excuse himself from Lex's presence as he dashed for the men's room.
When he got to the lavatory, he found he had nothing to throw up but couldn't stop heaving. Standing was a problem so he leaned over for the better part of 5mins dry heaving what amounted to nothing in his stomach. When he felt slightly better, he looked up to the mirror and saw a haggard reflection of himself in the mirror. At the corner of his eyes, he saw Lex standing there with a bottle of water waiting for him to finish. When their eyes met, the other man approached him slowly and offered him the water in silence. He took it, rinsed off his mouth and turned to face his older friend. He didn't know what to say and started to offer an apology, which the other man promptly brushed off.
They returned to their table and completed their meal in silence with Lex watching him more openly this time, with thinly veiled concern in his eyes. This was so different from the looks he usually received from his friend that it threw him for a while but he accepted it as part of Lex's worry over him. He knew that if the situation were reversed, he would also worry about Lex, probably driving him to distraction. It was the nature of the bond and friendship between them.
When they got to the castle, he was surprised when Lex didn't immediately get out of his car. Looking at him in question, he read the look on Lex's face as one where his friend had something to say but didn't quite know how to say it.
"What is it Lex?"
"I've never seen you ill, and I know that people don't just go around throwing up for no reason, especially the way you were this evening. I also know that you say that you are fine, but I want you to know that you can tell me anything."
"I know that, Lex. Thanks." Clark told his friend, with his voice soft with emotion.
"You're not sick are you, Clark?" Lex asked him suddenly.
"No, Lex, I'm not sick."
"And you'd tell me if you were, right?"
"You're my best friend, Lex." Clark told his friend, looking at him. He saw Lex's eyes widen at this admission, conveying the level of seriousness in which the words were offered and accepted. "I'd tell you if there was something wrong."
"Thank you. I'll hold you to it."
When he got into his truck he turned to Lex asking, "Can I come and use your library sometime next week?"
Lex raised his eyebrows and answered, "Mi casa e su casa." And he cheekily called out to him, "So is that a yes?"
"I'll see you around, Clark."
"Bye, Lex." He took off for home after this. When he got there, he decided against telling his parents about his episode at The Beanery, but went straight for his homework. Fortunately for him, he didn't have a lot of it, and he had the weekend to complete it. He called his friends and apologised for leaving them on a lurch but explained about his missed day. Well, explained as much as he was able to anyway.
The routine of farm work, working on the fence, rolling hay and feeding the stock kept his mind away from his immediate troubles but he couldn't help thinking about Lex. He knew that his friend suspected that there was something wrong, and felt like he was lying to him. Like his mom, he had the feeling that Lex knew when he wasn't being completely honest with him. His eyes would go slightly hard and then blank, allowing him his secrets and he hated seeing that look in Lex's eyes.
It wasn't often that he saw Lex happy or smiling. On the contrary, those around him often amused the young billionaire and he watched them from a distance. He saw that Lex was often happier with him, but not joyful and he wondered if he could help lighten the load his friend carried. He also hardly ever saw Lex worried. Rather than let you know that his world was not in synch; Lex would give the blank face that he probably learnt in dealing with Lionel Luthor. So, for Lex to let him see the worry in his eyes, Clark knew that Lex hadn't believed him. To rectify things, before he went to sleep, Clark called his friend,
"Lex." The smooth voice answered, and this made Clark smile. How like his friend, straight to the point.
"Hi, Lex, it's Clark."
"Clark, this is a surprise, to what do I owe the honour?"
"Oh I just finished my chores and my Friday assignment quota, so I just thought I'd call you and see how you are doing?"
"I'm doing fine, it's you I should be asking that question."
"I had a feeling you didn't really believe me this afternoon, I'm fine Lex."
"Is that why you called?"
"Yes. I wanted to tell you not to worry, things are okay."
"If you say so, Clark." They both went quiet and Clark couldn't think of anything to say.
"Lex?" He questioned into the silence
"Mmm. What did you mean this afternoon when you said that you were in a no win situation with Whitney?" Clark could have slapped himself, he'd forgotten all about telling Lex that. While he thought of the right way to phrase his answer, Lex asked him again,
"Clark, Talk to me."
"I'm not sure how to explain, Lex."
"Just try, Clark. This is your friend asking, and I thought you knew that you could tell me anything."
"I know that, Lex. It's just difficult."
"Then, use small words." He could hear the wryness in Lex's voice and they both laughed at that.
Clark took a deep breath, and then asked his friend, "Can I talk about it when I come to the castle?"
"Of course you can, Clark. You can talk to me anytime, but ... you know, they say that the relative anonymity that can be found in a phone call helps you say things that you would otherwise find difficult."
"Who are they?" He asked to distract his friend.
"I can't tell you that. Lex told him, and then continued solemnly, not allowing him the change of subject, "But what I can tell you is that I will listen."
"Thank you, Lex."
"Friends, Clark. So why do you think that Lana won't forgive you? And what is the no win situation."
"She likes him, I know that, and everyone knows, that I like her, even her."
That is true." Lex inserted into he minute silence.
She keeps telling me that she has a boyfriend, and she probably genuinely likes him, or he is a good reason to keep us apart, so what happens when I turn up and show her that he isn't this perfect man she is extolling?"
"But that is the quarterback's actions and not your fault."
"I know, and she knows too, but why did I have to be the one to see his shortcomings? If I don't forgive him, then its because I'm trying to find a way to come between them in her eyes, and if I forgive him, then I'm doing it to worm my way into her affections, in his eyes. Ergo, the no win situation. I don't think either of them will accept that I could genuinely for my own sake forgive him for what he did to me during homecoming."
"Can you?" : Good Question. : Clark wondered for a moment how to answer, and then he told the truth, as he knew it.
"I hope so."
"Do you want to talk about what happened that day?"
: Why was Lex asking him that? What did Lex know? :
Clark wasn't ready to talk about it, or Lex's suspicions.
"Erm, I don't want to talk about it, Lex." And not to sound rude, "But thank you."
"You're welcome, Clark. I'll talk to you tomorrow, okay."
"Sure, Lex. Take care."
He felt a lethargy come over him at the end of their phone call so he left the house for his barn, where he spent some time studying the stars and wondering which of them could possibly be his home. He looked over at Lana's home for a moment and wondered at the accuracy of what he'd told Lex. Now, he knew that there wouldn't ever be more between Lana and himself. He would always link her with Whitney, and he didn't want the jock forever thrown in his face. As he got more tired, he leaned back on his couch and fell asleep. He barely heard his parents calling him for dinner and couldn't get himself to wake up.
The next time he woke, the sun was just about making itself known and he finished his chores in due time, getting the things ready for the Saturday market. For some reason, he was unable to motivate himself to go with his parents so he excused himself and went to sleep as soon as his parents took their leave of him.
The exhaustion continued all through the weekend but was intermittent. Due to his sleepiness, he didn't leave the farm but concentrated on his assignments and chores. The only two he didn't finish were his history and literature assignments, as he wanted to use Lex's library for his research. That didn't mean that he didn't call his friends. Chloe came for a visit on Saturday evening and tried to get him to talk about what was wrong, but as he couldn't answer, he knew she was somewhat hurt and accused him of not confiding in her. Pete and Lana called him on Sunday and he tried to reassure them of his good health. Lex called every evening, continuously asking if he was okay, to which he answered positively.
End Chapter 2.
Repost 18th August 2004