The Day That Superman Died
Disclaimer: Again, not mine.
Summary: Prequel to 'In Memory of Superman'.
Lex knows that he will never forget that day. August 27, 2007. He will forever flinch when someone mentions that date, and he will never regret it once, despite his usual hatred of outward signs of weakness. The most life-changing event of his twenty-six years happened on that day, and he thinks he's entitled to a simple wince.
Superman had only been invented the year before, but Clark had been saving people's butts for as long as Lex had known him. It had all started with his own, ironically enough. Eventually, as he wheedled the truth out of Clark bit by bit, he'd learned that it was after that when he'd started to save people. First from more ordinary disasters, like pickup trucks exploding, and later Smallville-created mutants. He had superspeed, x-ray vision, and was impervious to harm. Except in the form of the dull green rocks that littered Smallville like dirt.
Clark had told Lex about his susceptibility to the meteor fragments last. Everything that Lex knew about Clark by his senior year in high school was guess-work, and the occasional thing the teenager had let slip, though Lex was never sure if he did that on purpose or by accident. But when Lex had finally sat him down and told him he needed to know, had to not be in the dark anymore for the sake of their relationship, Clark had, haltingly, he remembers, but willingly, told him.
Clark refused to go to Metropolis University on Lex's money, and the scholarship he'd been awarded was hard-earned. However, as the year went by and Superman's services called Clark away from his classwork more and more, his grades slipped. He had quickly halted the turn of events and picked them back up, but it had been enough for his scholarship to be recanted. Clark hadn't had to ask, because Lex had known what he was thinking, and Luthor money had put him through the rest of the year. Lex had only been more proud of him then, being willing to let his lover help him when he needed it, and he'd been sure to tell Clark that.
Lex remembered his freshman year in college, and recalls only hell on earth. He'd done his royal best to make sure that Clark did much better than he, though, he reflects, it had to have been better, since Clark had never once visited Club Zero.
Despite all the problems new relationships go through, even without the hassle of Superman and the daily media attention, Clark and Lex had made it work. They had reconciled after every argument, had worked on the design for the Superman suit together, and had laughed with each other, even after the worst and harder days of Clark's life. Lex had never been happier, and even Jonathan Kent eventually conceded that his son was enthusiastic about life, really, honestly thrilled to be alive, for the first time since he'd learned of his true origins.
Clark had been out, helping people again, on the night of August 24, 2007. They had another month to go before school started again, and Lex had wanted to go on vacation, but Clark insisted that 'his' city needed him. Lex had only laughed, and asked him when the deed for Metropolis had been signed over to his teenage lover. He'd taken a few weeks off from work, they'd stayed mostly in Lex's flat, and that was vacation enough. Still, Clark had patrolled every night, looking for people he could pull from situations in which no ordinary human being could help them.
It wasn't unusual for Clark to be gone all night, though it usually resulted in a less than happy demeanor the next day, so when Lex had awoken to an empty bed and a cold pillow, he'd simply put on the coffee and arranged for them not to be disturbed. Clark would be back, he figured, and he'd be mopey, and Lex would need to be around to cheer him up, but altogether, not the end of the world.
When Clark was still gone that night, Lex was wondering where he was. He called his cell phone, but often in the course of Superman-related work the phone was damaged. Lex didn't mind buying endless cell phones for his lover, but Clark hated putting more of a 'burden' on his lover, and often left it at home. Sure enough, when the rings sounded, it was from both the earpiece of Lex's telephone, and the bedside table in the penthouse.
A little panicked, Lex had called Chloe and Pete, who were in the city, and Lana, who was in Smallville. Realizing that none of them knew about Clark's true origins, he'd called Clark's parents, in the hopes that Clark had gone to discuss something with them, and forgotten about the time.
The Kents had, indeed, seen him. However, it had been the night before, and Clark had been on his way to make several more sweeps over Smallville before returning to Lex, or so he'd told them. They promised to go and look for him immediately, and Lex hopped on his personal helicopter and flew into Smallville before he even put down the phone. After all, what was the point of having a cell phone if one couldn't walk around while talking on it? At least, as Clark would tell anyone who would listen, he'd learned his lesson about cell phones and Porsches.
When he arrived at the Kent farm, things were in an uproar. The horses were nervous, picking up on vibes from the people and the fact that they had been largely ignored all day long, to the point of missing meals, and the barn was in a disarray from where Jonathan had been interrupted while doing chores. Neither Kent was on the premises, but they'd left Lex a note in the kitchen, and he immediately headed to Brenner's field to meet them.
Striding from his car with a confidence in his movement that he wished he felt, he joined Martha at the fence. "Lex," she greeted him, not unkindly, but hurriedly and without any real emotion in it at all.
He just nodded his head in response. "Any sign of him?"
Martha's face grew even more creased with worry. "No. Jonathan's in the far field, checking to make sure. But Clark never comes out here, it's full of meteor rocks."
Lex's cheeks went white with worry. The rocks. He hadn't thought about them. As far as he knew, nobody knew of the effects of the rocks on Clark besides himself and his parents, but that didn't stop an accident from occurring. "Where are other large meteor deposits?" He asked tersely.
Martha pointed to the west, and then nodded towards the south. "McCull's and the Jacobson's fields. They're big, though, Lex." Her face showed her concern as clearly as Lex knew his was written on his own brow.
"I'll go to McCull's. Finish here, and head to the Jacobson's. But make sure you check everywhere." Martha nodded, ignoring his taking control of the situation for the moment. Lex fished in his pocket and grabbed two cell phones. "Here. These are for you and Jonathan, so we can keep in touch. Here's my number" he pressed a piece of paper into Martha's hand, "but you won't need it, it's speed dial 1 on the phones."
Mrs. Kent took the phones without the usual complaint, her worry about her son supplanting all of her usual reluctance to use Luthor money.
Without another word, Lex stalked off, intent on covering the next field over, and hoping beyond hope that Clark was still in Smallville. He'd realized a long time ago that this was a big assumption they were making. Clark could be in Guatemala, for all he knew. He just prayed that he wasn't.
On the night of the 26th, both McCull's and Brenner's fields had been covered, leaving as Lex's last hope for Clark's recovery in the area, the Jacobson's. Both Kents and the younger Luthor dived into the field, yelling for Clark and listening, spreading out so as to be far enough away from each other that they could cover the ground.
"Clark!" Lex's voice was going hoarse, he'd been shouting for nearly twenty-four hours now. He'd insisted that both Jonathan and Martha, on off-shifts, get at least four hours of rest in the last day, but he'd heeded no such warning himself. Clark was more important than sleep, he rationalized. Besides, he was a strong and healthy twenty-five year old, he could withstand it much better than the forty-something Kents.
At first, the whispered reply seemed to Lex like a hallucination. But then, it came again, and Lex ran full out towards the hissing brush of noise on the windless plains. "Clark!" He shouted again, and this time he was sure he'd heard it.
Pulling the phone from his pocket as he ran, he pressed the speed dial and instantly got Mrs. Kent. "I found him," were his only words, terse and to the point. "Jacobson's field, by the north scarecrow."
Mrs. Kent didn't question, she just hung up on him, and Lex knew she would grab her husband and come as quickly as possible.
The green glints from the ground caused Lex more worry than he'd ever known himself capable of. The stuff was thick, if Clark was lying in it, he'd be weaker than a kitten.
Finally, a body on the ground up ahead triggered another desperate burst of speed from Lex. He dashed towards Clark's side, and fell to his knees as he surveyed the situation.
Clark was barely conscious, his eyelids fluttering, but he managed to acknowledge Lex's presence. "Le-"
Lex pressed a finger to Clark's mouth. "Hush. Your mom and dad are coming, we'll get you out of here." He clung to his lover fiercely, pangs going through his chest at the fact that blood dripped from Clark's chest and limbs, something he'd never seen before.
"Don't... think... it'll matter," Clark gasped out. "Cuts... full of meteorite..."
Dreading what he knew he'd see, Lex leaned down to take a closer look. Sure enough, the thin cuts were packed with what looked like meteorite dust and slivers. "Shit," Lex whispered, as his heart jumped into his throat. "Oh, shit..."
The sound of footsteps tore him from his dread, and Lex lifted his gaze to see Jonathan and Martha coming towards them at a dead run. Without asking any questions, they helped Lex lift their nearly unconscious son, and half-carry, half-drag him to the edge of the field, where they'd left the pickup truck.
Jonathan drove, traveling at break-neck speed back to the farm, while Martha and Lex sat and tended Clark in the bed of the truck. The teenage alien was feverish and shaking, his skin a sickly greenish color and clammy. He faded in and out of consciousness, and when they reached the farm, they were on an 'out' phase.
Dragging him from the bed of the truck, Jonathan brought around a garden hose. "He needs to get that stuff out of his wounds!" He shouted. "Get his clothes off him, help me wash him down!"
Obeying instantly, Lex and Martha stripped Clark, and Lex waded into the heavy stream of water, fully dressed, to tug gently on the cuts and move Clark's limp form so that the water washed away as much of the green near-powder as possible.
As Jonathan finally turned off the hose and threw it aside, Lex took another good look at his lover. Since the rocks glowed when they were around Clark, when Lex had first found him, he'd been surrounded by an eerie emerald glimmer. Now, it was gone, but strangely enough, Clark's reaction wasn't subsiding. He still shook, his veins prominent and skin clammy. Before, when Lex had seen Clark around the meteor fragments for brief periods of time, the effects had vanished as quickly as the rocks were moved away from him.
The three of them, without speaking, picked Clark up again, and moved him into the house. The yard was dark, the only light from the pickup's still-glowing headlights, but it was enough so that they could see where they were going. Heaving themselves and their heavy burden into the house, they got Clark to the living room couch and collapsed. The alien teenager stirred and moaned, but didn't awake.
Reluctantly, Jonathan left to turn off the pickup's idling engine, and Martha dashed up the stairs for blankets. Lex knelt down next to the couch and stroked Clark's brow, talking to him softly.
"Clark... it's okay... we got you away from the meteors... wake up, please?"
There was no response.
Martha reappeared on the stairs, arms full of blankets, just as Jonathan slammed the front door shut. Lex and Jonathan alternately rolled and held Clark as his mother wrapped the blankets around his naked form, and they all cringed every time he shivered or moaned.
"Clark... come on... it's not that hard!" Lex tried to joke, knowing how much Clark hated waking up in the morning, now that he didn't have to. Years of farm life could do that to a person, he supposed. "I even promise it's not anytime before nine!"
There was still no response, and Lex sunk to his knees in front of the couch. Martha crossed to stand behind it with her husband, and he wrapped his arms tightly around her. Lex kissed Clark's forehead softly, and sat back on his heels, his eyes shimmering with unshed tears, and fear coursing through his veins.
None of them moved far that night. Lex fell asleep around midnight on the floor by the side of the couch, and Martha and Jonathan curled up in each other's arms in the love seat, and dozed. It was around dawn when the sun woke the elder Kents, and Clark as well.
"Uhhh..." He groaned, and Martha leapt off her husband in her haste to get to him. "Where... where am I?"
Martha smiled at his first words after such an ordeal, but as she reached the couch, her expression faded rapidly. Jonathan, right behind her, stopped and looked down to see what she was frowning at, and immediately mirrored the look. Clark was clearly still shivering and curled up under the blankets, his skin a clammy and pale greenish color, the same as the day before. "Clark?"
Martha reached down to touch Lex softly on the shoulder, and the bald billionaire woke with a start. "Huh?"
"Lex?" Clark asked weakly, and Lex sat up as quickly as was humanly possible, ignoring all of the aches that sleeping on a hardwood floor bring.
"Clark!" Relief crossed his face, and he leaned down to kiss his boyfriend, then felt the cold skin and pulled back. "What's wrong?" He looked from face to face, seeking an answer.
"I think the meteors are still affecting him," Martha said, sounding a little bewildered and a lot scared. "But I don't know how. We got all of it off of him last night, didn't we?"
Clark coughed a little, bringing up blood, and motioned towards the table where a pitcher and a glass had been left in case he'd woken up in the night. "Water?" He queried.
Lex quickly poured him a glass, and Jonathan put his arms behind his son to prop him up enough to drink. Clark only managed to get half the glass down, though, before he didn't have enough strength to swallow anymore.
Lying back down on the couch, he looked around, his expression pained. "I think... I think the dust got in my bloodstream," he explained. "I can still feel it..."
Martha sucked in a breath at that, and Lex's face grew more determined. "We'll have to find some way to filter it," he decided. "I'll get a dialysis machine sent here, and we'll hook you up to that."
Clark shook his head. "No. I'll be dead by the time it does any good." He spoke so matter-of-factly, it was almost possible to ignore the painful weakness in his voice.
Lex's eyes filled with tears at being confronted with the one thing he had been absolutely refusing to think about. "No! I won't lose you, not now!"
"Clark, please! Tell us we can do something," Martha begged.
Clark shook his head and closed his eyes. "I love you all... but there's nothing you can do," He gasped out. "Just... just make sure... that the girl in the field... that she's okay."
He locked his gaze on Lex. "Look... look in my desk," he told him. "Love you." And with what seemed like great effort, Clark closed his eyes, took one last deep breath, and stopped moving.
Lex remembers the screaming Martha did after that, and the comforting Jonathan tried to do. He also remembers himself, sitting numbly on the floor, just sitting with Clark's body for hours, unable to process in any way what had just happened.
The Kents claimed religious exemption to the county policy of autopsying every accidental death, and Clark was buried the next day. The tombstone was simple, and for once, Lex hadn't fought to be allowed to buy a more elaborate item in place of the original. It suited Clark.
It had read only five lines, clear and heart-wrenching:
You were one of the angels
May you be happy
among your own kind
Clark Jerome Kent
Lex had checked up on the girl, whom apparently Clark had been rescuing from yet another Smallville mutant, and found she was fine, if bewildered about what had happened. She'd stared strangely after him, the tall, bald man with grief in every aspect of his presence, who'd checked to make sure she'd gotten out of the Jacobson's field safely two nights before. Apparently, she'd dismissed him as a threat and wasn't all that curious to see why he was asking, since she didn't follow him. Just another weirdo, Lex figured she must have decided. They had enough of those in Smallville, after all.
Lex remembers all of this, and as he lets himself do so, for the first time since Clark's death, seven months ago, he weeps softly. It's evening, and the weather is typically May-cool, but not cold enough for heavy jackets. He stands in front of the eagle cage, not quite sure why he's here, but glad that he is. Because, for too long, he's locked Clark up in a cage in his mind, and he's ready to be set free.
Lex can almost hear Clark whispering to him, inside of his head, with him always just like he promised he would be. If you don't remember the good times that we had, then why did we bother having them? And, indeed, Lex can't answer that one any other way than the way Clark wants him to.
Okay,he promises himself. I'll mourn Clark forever, but it's time to get on with my life. The voice in his head that sounds so eerily like his dead lover, agrees.
On the way out the gate, Lex picks up a flyer.
It's asking Metropolis citizens to donate a bench and plaque to the zoo.
A/N: Want to know what was in Clark's desk? Well, that's another story!