By Shakespeare's Girl
Lex held the blade very still above the pale flesh of his inner arm. It wouldn't do to make a mistake now, to cut too deeply, or too shallow. He wanted just the right amount of blood, just enough to make him light headed at the sight, but not enough to actually harm, or kill.
Despite his inner torments, he didn't really want to die. That wasn't the point of the cutting anyway.
His ritual was almost complete. In ten seconds, it would be midnight. Five. Four. Three. Two. One.
The knife dropped, slid along the pale, delacate flesh, opened a frightenly bright stripe of red along his arm, running alongside a vein, but not touching it. The blood that spilled across his skin was from smaller, less important vessels.
He hissed as the pain kicked in. Dropping the knife he fumbled for the rubbing alcohol, but his pain was clouding his vision, and he missed, knocking the bottle over.
"Damn," he muttered, fishing for the bottle on the floor, but not finding it.
Lex stiffened at the familiar voice. "Clark?" Of all the people to find him Clark was the last person he'd expected.
"What's going on? Is that blood?"
"Clark, don't," Lex warned. "It's not serious. I know how much pressure to use. I just need the alcohol--"
"Lex, you've done this before? You do this to yourself... Oh god. Is this because of me?"
"No!" Lex protested. "Not you."
Clark closed his large, warm hand over the cut on Lex's arm. "Why?"
"Because..." Lex fought the warm, encompassing haze of pain and tried to think. "Because it makes me feel. I feel real, whole. Alive. Not empty, and alone."
"Lex, you are not alone." Clark's voice was serious and shaking as he spoke. "I will always be there to rescue you."
Lex smiled, but the smile never reached his eyes. "Can you save me from myself?"
Clark stared at Lex, trying to read his soul. Carefully he let go of Lex's arm, ignoring the blood that oozed over his fingers, and wrapped Lex in his arms.
"I don't know, but I'll always try."
Lex let himself be hugged, feeling the war within him. His arm pulsed, calling him toward pain. But he could also feel Clark's heartbeat, calling him towards the light.
"Lex," Clark whispered, "let me try?"
Pain swelled, shouting for attention, but even as he felt it rise, he saw the hope and light of Clark Kent, and he knew that pain would only hurt, and that it was hope and light that would heal.
"Yes," Lex breathed. "Please, Clark, try."
As the young man wrapped him in his strong arms, Lex felt the pain slide away.
A/N: I have struggled with cutting. The way Lex explains why he cuts is the way I explain(ed) it. No one should fall into the trap of thinking that the only way left to feel normal is to cut. If you know someone who struggles with this, please, tell them that you care. Knowing that there is one person, even if it's only one, is a foothold in the path to recovery. While my cutting was never as bloody or as ritualized as Lex's is, it was just as painful, both emotionally and probably physically too. Help stop the cycle.