What You Sow: 3

Clark felt uncomfortable in the Talon, because it had been hers and it felt almost like her ghost still lingered. Drifting around the back counter, making the doors rattle on the display case, or idly ruffling napkins. But of course, it was only the footsteps across the loose board near the case that made the glass tremble and just the breeze finding its way in each time the door opened that disturbed the linens.

But he had friends who lived in the apartment above and ghosts or no, it wasn’t enough to keep him away from Chloe or even Lois, who in her calmer moments didn’t annoy him quite as much as she once had. He had few enough friends left, to avoid the one’s he did simply because they lived above a shop that reminded him of better days.

Which was him being morose. He knew this. He accepted this, because it was hard to be anything else after wallowing so long in the throes of disappointment and remorse. Chloe asked him, a few days after she’d come out of her coma, if he remembered the last time he’d been happy. Really happy. And he’d stood there for a while, thinking, trying to come up with an answer and failing to find an easy one. There were moments of course, brief bright spots, but overall, it was hard to pinpoint a long stretch of contentment.

“You need to do something about that,” she’d said, with the newfound wisdom of the nearly dead. “Life is too short to spend whiling away after something you can’t have.”

He honestly didn’t know whether it had been a dig at him, or some introspection on her own life choices. But it had been so nice to have her back, he hadn’t really cared.

She was back at work now – – two weeks after coming out of a coma the doctors hadn’t been able to explain. She couldn’t explain it, what she’d done or how and Chloe had done more research than anyone he knew on mutant phenomenon – – well aside from Lex, and asking Lex’s opinion wasn’t an option.

She was on her way back to Smallville from the Planet now and had called Clark from the road with no particularly new information to share, but a few ideas of new routes to take. She promised to run ideas past him over dinner, which sounded like a plan.

Clark was tired of his own cooking. He missed his mom’s home cooked suppers, the smells of her baking in the afternoon, the aroma of simmering pot roasts and perfectly fried chicken. He missed his mom. She’d come back for Lana’s services, but hadn’t stayed long enough.

Clark was good at sandwich making. He wasn’t half bad at simple breakfasts. He could grill with the best of them, but the majority of his other culinary efforts fell flat; under spiced, overcooked, watery, tough – – if there was a way to make food unappealing Clark could find it.

Chloe had told him to pick a place and they’d meet at the Talon so she could unload her desktop and deposit her work upstairs before they went and contemplating dinner was a heady distraction.

Dawson’s Home-style Buffet, two streets over on Apple, offered a plethora of options – – all you could eat, but McLean’s Steakhouse had a special running, buy one get the second half price. Red meat was always appealing, even though Chloe was restricting her meat intake these days to fish and chicken. McLean’s had chicken on the menu.

He loitered near the stairs inside the Talon, avoiding looking at the spot in front of the counter where he and Lana had shared an early kiss, or the booth in the back where they’d used to sit and talk &endash; or the table where they’d all gather to study during high school- and then there was the table by the window where Lex had always liked to sit, quietly observing the ebb and flow of people, talking to Clark about things that no body had ever considered Clark capable of understanding back when he’d been wide eyed and na├»ve.

He took a breath, turning his thoughts away from the past, and watched Janet, the girl who’d taken over management duties after Lana had entered the Luthor world and risen above mundane things like working for a living. And that was a mean thing to think, and he felt marginally guilty for it, but it was true nonetheless. Lana had retreated into that world and it couldn’t all have been Lex’s manipulation, no matter how nice it might be to consider her withdrawal a fault of his – – Lana had been too quietly stubborn in her own right to just meekly withdraw on the whim of someone else.

The staff of the Talon were on pins and needles now, expecting the ax to fall any day. Expecting word to come down the line through lawyers or realtors that Lex had decided to close the shop down, to sell it as he almost had time and again, save for Lana’s intervention.

It had been Janet’s statement to the police the day Lana had died, relating Lana’s fears of physical retaliation, her claims that Lex had threatened death on her before he’d let her leave him, that had set them on Lex to begin with. And maybe Janet had exaggerated in the throes of hysteria – – maybe even Lana had in her desperation, because as many things as Clark knew Lex was capable of, hurting Lana – – seriously contemplating hurting her – – seemed far down on the list.

“Hey, Smallville,” he glanced over his shoulder and saw Lois weaving her way past a group of customers by the door. He groaned a little, because Lois here meant three for dinner. She would worm her way into a situation whether she was invited or not, and dinner conversation would have to be stunted out of necessity because of her presence.

“Hey, Lois. I didn’t know you were in town.”

“I live in town, dufus.” She shouldered her way past him at the base of the stairs.

“Yeah, but you stay in the city a lot.” He countered lamely.

She shrugged, swinging around two steps up, her bag just missing his face. “The friend I usually crash with has a new boyfriend. Third wheel.” Lois rolled her eyes as if it were a great inconvenience to her, the initiation of other people’s romances.

“What was she thinking?” Clark muttered.

“Yeah. Sleeping over first week is taking things a little too quick if you ask me. Sleep shouldn’t be involved until at least the eight or ninth date. Until you know the guy isn’t going to strangle you in your sleep.”

Clark lifted a brow at her in mild amazement. “Jeeze, Lois what sort of guys have you dated?”

She waved a hand, dismissing the dismal state of her past relationships. “Jerks. A lot of jerks. Speaking of which, did you know Lex Luthor got called into the sheriff’s office again this afternoon?”

He caught his breath, attention suddenly very much focused on Lois. If Lex had been called in it meant something had come up in the investigation.

“Called in or brought in?”

“Called. I couldn’t find out why, even though I practically prostituted myself to that doughy desk sergeant, trying to get a hint. Lex was his usual pleasant self when I tried to get a comment on the way out.” She hesitated, frowning, then added. “There was a little trouble in the parking lot when he was leaving.”

“What kind of trouble?”

“Bunch of drunken rednecks, waiting for him by his car. Big, dumb, has-been types &endash; older than you and still sporting school colors. Looking for a fight right there in the sheriff’s parking lot.”

“Did they get one?” The palms of his hands itched a little, prelude to the bad feeling that curled in his gut.

“No. They backed down, but they weren’t happy about it and they sort of made beelines to their trucks. I don’t know if they were desperate to get to the bar and start bragging about how they backed down a Luthor or – – well, not that I have a problem with the devil getting his due – – but sometimes small town justice in the bible belt can get a little out of hand.”

“You think they went after him?”

She shrugged uncomfortably. “Maybe. I told Deputy Doright outside the station about what happened, but he seemed to think they were just good ol’ boys blowing off steam. There’s not a lot of love between Lex and the sheriff’s office right now.”

“How long ago?” The bad feeling uncoiled and expanded, because nothing that could turn bad in Smallville ever veered the other way.

“Not long. The time it took me to walk from the station back here. Maybe a half hour? I stopped for a donut on the way back.”

“He was heading home?”

“You know, he wasn’t in a sharing type of mood, Clark. How am I supposed to know? Is there a club for homicidal billionaires in Smallville? Maybe he was heading there.”

He gave her a tight look, annoyed at her flippancy – – at her casual acceptance of probable violence against – – against anyone – – it made no difference that it was Lex. It absolutely did not and hadn’t in a long time.

“Listen, I was meeting Chloe to get something to eat. If I’m not back in ten minutes tell her – – just tell her I’ll call her.”

“Clark – -” Lois called after him, but he couldn’t stand there and talk when his body needed to be doing something. To dispel that bad feeling as nothing more than the general pessimism he’d been experiencing all through this last dreadful month.

He got outside the Talon and far enough down the sidewalk so he was out of Lois’ line of sight through the front window, then took off.

He knew the route Lex would take heading from town to the mansion. Knew a few side routes if Lex were feeling the need for scenic views. It would take him seconds to trace those roads – – just to make sure. He’d stop by the mansion, scan it just to see if Lex were inside and that would be that. His moral obligation fulfilled.

He saw the wreck on route 17 halfway between town and the mansion and felt a pang of dread. Saw the two trucks on the road, flanking it, shielding what went on between them. He skidded to such an abrupt stop on asphalt that he burned rubber on the soles of his shoes – – heard them, before he saw them, covered in darkness.

The sound of labored breathing, the thud of flesh impacting flesh. Animal grunts of effort, involuntary sounds of pain.

He moved and was just there, catching a fist on its way to smashing down into an unprotected head. There was a curse of surprise and the two holding Lex on his knees let him crumple on pavement, and all Clark saw of him was spatters of dark blood on pale skin as he fell.

And he knew them. All of them had gone to school with him, seniors or juniors his freshman year. The one who’s meaty arm he held had been linebacker for the Crows five years running if you counted the year he’d repeated. Jake something or other and Tom and Clancy Briggs, and Chris Tucker who’d been back up quarter back to Whitney before Whitney had left Smallville to find a different fate.

“Kent? Is that you, Kent? Where the fuck did you come from?”

One of the Brigg’s brothers demanded, wild eyed and flushed.

“What are you doing? God, what have you done?” Clark loosened his hold on the linebacker’s arm with enough force to send the big man staggering back a few feet.

Lex was breathing. Labored, harsh inhalations. He wasn’t moving. Just lying there, sprawled on black pavement, blood on his face, blood trickling down behind his ear, bloody hand beneath the cuff of his coat.

“None of your goddamned business, Kent,” the linebacker snarled.

“Getting a little fucking justice,” Tucker said. “You ought to be grateful. She was your girl once, right?”

God. Their hands were smeared with Lex’s blood and they thought it was justice.

“What do you care if we pound this cocksucker into the ground?” One of the Briggs brothers, maybe Clancy, pulled back a foot to kick Lex. Clark felt the snarl surface before he realized he’d reacted and slammed the heel of his hand flat against Clancy’s chest with enough force to hurl the man backwards into the side of Lex’s car.

“You fucking – -” Tom Briggs screamed at him, hurling a fist at Clark in retaliation. Clark caught it, squeezed with enough pressure to send Tom to his knees and stared with absolute cold clarity at the linebacker as he advanced, giving the big guy reason to reevaluate his course of action.

“Get out of here, before you find out what it’s like to bleed on the pavement.” Clark said softly, the surge of anger like heat in his veins, that he had to actively strive to repress. He would hurt these men otherwise and he didn’t want to cross that line.

He stepped over Lex, a foot on either side and dared them to test him. Something inside maybe even wished they would. Give them a taste of what it felt like to go up against overwhelming odds.

Maybe they saw something in his face that was more dangerous than their drunken, misplaced retribution, because they backed off, casting glowers as they retreated, the Briggs brothers helping each other to the one truck, the linebacker and Tucker piling in the other.

He drew a breath. A deep swallow of cold night air that helped soothe the trembling anger – – that helped him think of things other than smashing his fists into malleable human flesh.

He waited until they’d pulled off, tires screeching on asphalt, before he crouched down, putting a hand on Lex’s shoulder. The wool of his coat was damp, and Clark pulled his hand back a little in surprise, then noticed the smell.

“God,” he muttered, and laid his hands back down, turning Lex onto his back to assess the damage. He tried to be gentle but Lex hissed at the motion, coming alive with a flailing attempt to land a blow. Clark just let it hit him, before catching Lex’s wrist and the back of his head and pulling him up against his knees, urine saturated clothing or not.

“Lex. Lex, calm down. It’s over. I got you.”

Which didn’t seem to help with the panic, because Lex jerked against him, heart thudding so fast and frantic that Clark could feel it through bone and flesh and layers of clothing. He was going to hurt him if he held on while Lex was fighting to be free. And at the moment, hurting Lex was not a high priority. So he let go cautiously and Lex pushed himself backwards and sprawled, staring at Clark with wide, bruised eyes. With bruised everything, blood leaking down over one eye and the curve of one cheek from multiple cuts. Bloody nose, lip wet and red from an obvious split on the outside and maybe less obvious ones within. And that was what Clark could see.


As if Lex doubted. And then Clark realized that he might. So he settled onto his knees on the road and gave Lex a very calm, very reassuring look, the sort you might give an animal you were trying to coax out of a corner.

“How many cars does this make that you’ve totaled? Are you still in single digits or are you into double now?”

Lex stared for a moment more, that look people got when they’d taken one too many hits to the head. Then he released a little sigh, his elbows gave out and he collapsed back onto the pavement. His head hit with a painful sounding, dull thump. Clark grimaced and scrambled over.

“I think – – I might be sick,” Lex murmured.

“I need to get you to the emergency room.”

“No.” Lex caught at Clark’s sleeve. Pale hand, bloody knuckles, voice sharp. “God, no. I’m – – okay.”

He latched hold of Clark’s shoulder, hauling himself upright, teeth clenched with the effort. Since Lex was determined to try, Clark rose and helped him up – – kept a hand on his elbow because he was wavering.

“Okay, then I should get you home and you can call your own doctor.”

“Fuck – – no. Not there. Just – – just get me to my car. I’m going to – – city.”

“Have you seen your car?” Clark looked over Lex’s head at the dark, crumpled front end of the Mercedes. Lex followed his gaze, staring as if he didn’t quite comprehend.

“Fucking town – -” Lex swore softly, before his legs gave out and he crumpled.

Clark caught him on the way down, swearing a little himself. If Lex was set against the hospital and didn’t want to go home, it didn’t leave a lot of other options. He ought to call Lionel to deal with his son – – and to hell with what Lex thought of that solution. Lionel would probably love it- – one more thing to have over Lex. And Lex wasn’t in a position to bargain. Lex was bleeding all over Clark’s jacket – – the second time in a month and this time there was the added stench of urine.

“Damnit,” Clark ground his teeth, swung Lex up in his arms while he was unconscious enough not to notice the lack of vehicular transportation, and headed home.

If it hadn’t of taken him all of five seconds to make the trip, he might have had time to talk himself out of the insanity of bringing Lex into his own house. Lex had been on the property in the last year and half, but he hadn’t been in the house. Hadn’t stepped over that invisible line of welcome or lack of. You invite a man into your house, a certain degree of trust was implied and he hadn’t trusted Lex in a long time. He didn’t trust him now.

He got the door open with the hand under Lex’s knees. It wasn’t locked. It was never locked. People out here didn’t need to bar their doors against mundane things like burglaries or home invasion – – the sorts of things that haunted Smallville generally couldn’t be stopped by simple precautions like locks anyway.

Clark was halfway up the stairs heading for the bathroom and the medicine kit in the cabinet when Lex came to, tensing in his arms, grabbing the back of Clark’s jacket with one hand like he feared Clark was going to drop him. But then, most people didn’t trust the sensation of being off their own feet. Most people didn’t trust anything out of their own physical control. With Lex that distrust was probably doubled.

“God – – put me down.” Lex twisted a little, and superior strength or no it was hard to hold on to somebody that was eeling around in your arms, unless you clutched tight. And there were maybe some fractured ribs to consider that he didn’t want to crack further.

“Just – – wait a second.” There was no room to maneuver on the stairs and Clark clomped up the rest of the way and dropped Lex’s feet to the floor. The rest of Lex’s body wanted to follow, so Clark kept an arm under his shoulder, and got no complaints.

Maybe Lex couldn’t, breathing hard, fist still tight in Clark’s jacket like he was feeling enough pain to knock further argument right out of him.

“Where – -?” Lex gasped.

Clark pressed his lips, almost not wanting to admit it. “My house.”

He got Lex into the bathroom while that was being digested. Got him sitting on the toilet lid and went into the medicine cabinet for the first aid kit.

“God – -” Lex complained, wrinkling his nose. In the confined space of the bathroom, the smell was worse.

“Yeah, you smell like a urinal.” Clark agreed, wondering why he was dealing with this instead of one of the army of people Lex employed.

Lex gave him a distressed look, like that was more of a trauma for him than the beating and tried to shrug out of his coat. Got desperate about it, like the cold damp was acid instead of pee, and almost toppled himself off the toilet lid. Clark grabbed his shoulder and held him steady, and helped him pull it off.

He tossed it in the corner by the wicker hamper. Lex was looking down at his shirt, which was stained with blood and patches of less savory liquid, as were his slacks, and something close to a sob escaped him. A desperate, hysterical sound that Clark had only ever heard from Lex when he was drugged and half out of his mind. It struck a chord of sympathy – – maybe even guilt, and Clark crouched down.

“It’s okay. We’ll get you cleaned up.” He caught Lex’s jaw while Lex was struggling, single-mindedly with the buttons of his ruined shirt.

“Look at me, Lex,” he said firmly, wanting to assess the damage. Lex flinched, the grip on his jaw probably hurt. There were bruises on the side of his face, bruising around his eyes. Split lip, swollen but clotting already. Cuts that had to have been made from a fist with a ring, on his face. He marked easily to start with and they’d had a real go at him. He was having a hard time focusing on Clark, which meant concussion maybe – – and made Clark regret not taking him straight to the ER.

He understood the reluctance though. He understood Lex’s ego and it was considerably more fragile than Lex let on. This humiliation made public would be unendurable.

He helped Lex with the shirt and underneath there was more abuse. The thick wool of his jacket might have buffered some of the impacts, but Lex was still dotted with bruises. The impact points of boot toes to body.

Clark clenched his jaw, anger rising again. The mentality it took to kick a man while he was down escaped him.

“I don’t remember getting here,” Lex said dazedly, slumped back against the wall next to the toilet.

Clark wet a rag and started cleaning the blood off his face. “You were out.” Which was entirely true. He just didn’t need to mention that he hadn’t driven Lex here. The truck was outside and there was no way in hell Lex had noticed how he’d arrived on the scene.

The gash above Lex’s right eye was long and deep, but it had already started clotting.

“This might need stitches,” Clark remarked anyway, thinking that the butterfly band-aids in the kit would do for now.

“It’ll heal,” Lex murmured, eyes shut. He sounded tired. Very, very tired. “Everything does.”

And he was right. The wounds he’d taken in his shoulder barely a month ago – – terrible finger sized punctures in his flesh by something less than human – – were gone. No trace at all on the smooth skin of his shoulder. Wounds like that ought to leave traces. Scarring for maybe years to come. He knew Lex healed fast, but he hadn’t guessed this fast and this well.

“Lex?” he asked, because Lex was wounded and not thinking straight, and his defenses were low enough maybe, to answer a prying question. “Did you heal this quickly before the ship took you?”

Lex rolled his head against the wall to look down at Clark. Foggy eyed, drowsy and with as many blows as he’d taken about the head tonight, it probably wasn’t a good idea to let him fall asleep for more than a little while for a few hours.

“No,” Lex said after a bit, and it was too simple an answer to be a lie. He shut his eyes again, maybe out again, because he didn’t protest when Clark ran his fingers lightly across his ribs, following the trail with his x-ray vision, searching out internal damage. A few hairline fractures, but nothing that caused bone to misalign. Deep breathing and exaggerated movements would hurt, but lungs weren’t in danger of being punctured.

Lex had disturbingly smooth skin. Clark’s fingers lingered, almost of their own accord, fascinated maybe by the texture of flesh completely devoid of hair. He’d never touched – – really touched Lex before. He’d never seen this much of Lex’s skin bare. Lex never wore clothes that revealed too much of his flesh, as if he were self-conscious of the utter smoothness – -maybe he was. Maybe you just didn’t grow out of some insecurities. Foolish to be embarrassed by it though when it was really kind of – – nice.

Clark pulled his hand back, fingers tingling, embarrassed himself of a sudden. He grabbed for the rag, wrung it out compulsively until the water ran clear instead of pink, and he could focus again on what he had to do. Which was clean Lex up and get him out of the corner of the bathroom and someplace more conducive to a battered body.

Which meant pulling off his shoes and his urine spattered slacks, which he managed easy enough, without rousing Lex from the drowse he’d fallen into. Run the rag down his body, to erase the stench from his skin. Clean the scrapes on his knees where the pavement had damaged skin through the thin material of fine trousers. Peroxide on the worst of the cuts, which didn’t disturb Lex until he dabbed at the torn flesh of his knuckles, and then he hissed into wakefulness and tried to jerk the hand away.

Clark held on to his wrist and commented wryly. “I hope you knocked a few teeth loose to compensate for this much damage.”

“It’s cold,” Lex mumbled, not all there. But it probably was. Clark didn’t feel it and when he was by himself in the house, he never bothered turning the heat up. One of the penny-pinching traits he’d picked up from his dad.

It didn’t help that Lex was mostly naked.

Okay. Take a breath. Lex was as clean as he was going to get without a shower and he wasn’t up to that tonight. Clark wasn’t sure he was, so he got an arm under his shoulder, got him to his feet. Lex’s legs sagged, even though he tried and Clark ended up taking most of the weight. Which was fine. The weight was nothing, it was the skin under his hands that made him uneasy.

Where to put him? The guest room was crammed with junk, and it didn’t seem right to put Lex in his mother’s bed – – not with the pictures of his father staring critically down from the chest of drawers. So Clark’s room it was. With furniture he’d had since grade school, because they’d just never had the money to upgrade over the years. And walls that still held various posters and banners from his high school days that he’d never gotten around to taking down. There always seemed to be things that took priority over redecorating.

He dropped Lex into bed, glad to have his hands off him, and Lex eased back into the pillow with a grimace that hinted at just how much discomfort he was in.

“I’m going to come back up with some aspirin,” Clark promised, distracted momentarily by the bruise peeping up from under the waist band of Lex’s boxers, just brushing the edge of one sharp hipbone. The belly next to it was flat, hard – – no hint of the usual treasure trail leading lower – –

He took a breath, and pulled the covers up, because Lex sprawled mostly naked in his bed was vaguely alarming.

“Don’t bother,” Lex slurred. “They don’t work for me. Vicodin might be nice?”

“Sorry. None of that lying around.” Clark backed away. Listened to the sound of Lex’s breathing slowing, the measured thud of his heart. He retreated to the hall and stood there, thinking about banging his head against the wall to pound some semblance of reason back into his skull – – but then he’d only have to fix the plaster tomorrow.

He could go downstairs and still listen out for Lex at the same time. And he’d promised to call Chloe, after bailing on her – – for Lex of all people – – but she’d understand. She might not entirely believe Lex was innocent of killing Lana, but she believed that Clark believed it and was working to help find a clue to the real culprit.

He realized he should have asked Lex about the meeting at the station while he’d had him off balance and teetering on honest. He’d do it later, when he went to rouse him in a half hour or so, just to make sure he hadn’t fallen into brain swelling induced coma or worse.

“Hey, Chloe.”

“Clark? What happened?” She’d picked up on the first ring.

He told her, basically and she gave him a predictable response. A perfectly reasonable response.

“You really should have taken him to the ER, no matter what he wanted. You recognized the guys?”

“Yeah. The Briggs brothers and Chris Tucker and that Jake guy who was linebacker for the Crows for forever.”

“Did you do anything that they’re going to question later?” She asked very softly, so he gathered Lois was in the room.

“No. Maybe. They were drunk enough that they probably won’t remember the details. I guarantee you, none of them have the bruises Lex does.”

“Do you want me to come over?” she asked, after a long pause, as if she doubted he could deal with Lex on his own. Or if she thought they weren’t safe to be around each other. Probably they weren’t, but he was pretty sure he could take Lex.

“I’m fine. Go eat dinner with Lois. Don’t even think about letting her come over here, because he’s out and I can’t deal with her and him.”

He changed his clothes downstairs, and considered throwing Lex’s in the washer as he was making yet another dinner sandwich. But then, Lex probably wore dry clean only and a cycle through the washer and dryer would finish the job of ruining them.

He wolfed down the sandwich and a soda, then went back upstairs to check on Lex.

“Hey. Wake up.” He nudged Lex’s shoulder. Again and Lex murmured something under his breath that didn’t quite sound like a word. Not an English word.

Esh-ra. Was what it sounded like, slurred as it was. And Clark’s brain made an unexpected connection, an instinctual connection between English and a language that had been learned via implant instead of practical application. Esh-ra meant ‘stop’ or ‘leave’ or some variation of those sentiments in Kryptonian.

It could have been simple coincidence, a muttered incoherency that happened to resemble an alien word. He felt an involuntary chill regardless, remembering what Lex had said a week ago, drunk off a fortune’s worth of fine scotch. That something was left inside him – – some segment broke off from the whole of a persona that Clark had been so sure he’d banished completely.

He shook Lex’s shoulder, hard enough to make Lex gasp, and start awake, nothing but pale disorientation in his eyes. Certainly no hint of a genocidal dictator.

“What did you say?” Clark demanded. “Lex, what did you just say?”

Lex stared up at him in confusion. Irritated confusion. “What?”

Lex kept staring, not getting it. Not getting much past the need to drift back to sleep and Clark balled his fists, alarmed for a whole new reason. He sat down hard in the chair by his desk, running that word over in his mind, wondering if he was mistaken. Wondering what if?

A year’s worth of nightmares, Lex had claimed, in a moment of drink induced honesty. A year’s worth of – – something maybe a little different in Lex. Something maybe a little more driven and ruthless than had been there before Zod had taken him as his vessel.

Clark just hadn’t been close enough this past year to really see first hand. He hadn’t wanted to be close and Lex had ceased all efforts at reconciliation – – at coming up with believable lies. Because of Lana, Clark figured – – an insurmountable bone of contention between them, more so even than the research and the labs. But what if there was something else? Some other driving motivation?

Clark looked back at the bed, at the still shape under a quilt his mother had made a decade or more ago and wondered what he’d brought into his house.

Nothing he hadn’t been dancing around for the past fourteen months. Certainly nothing that was going to prove a threat he couldn’t handle. Probably nothing more than ridiculous speculation on his part. It had been a bad month and he was looking for new fronts to vent his frustration.

Still it would be nice if J’onn carried a cell phone, because Clark had a few questions and with Lex at issue, Lionel was an uncomfortable option for answers.