And there's nothing Clark can say - it's like he can't speak at all, like he's been paralyzed. He can feel his eyes getting wider and wider, feel his head shaking, but Lex doesn't see him, and he just keeps talking.
"We didn't fall out of touch. We stopped talking because I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't hear you lie to me one more time, or I would have lost it. I mean, really lost it. I would have hurt you, Clark. I would have hurt you badly. Don't think I can't do it - even back then I knew about Kryptonite, what it does to you. I could've put my hands on some in under two hours and if I had to watch you hand me one more fucking lie, I would hahave.”
Lex smiles again, this time more sad than angry, but he’s that too – Clark can tell by how bright his eyes are, how much they glitter, and how his nails still scratch at Clark’s chest. “I thought maybe if I gave you some time, you’d figure it out. You’d come to me, and confess everything. You’d apologize. I was an idiot.”
“I’m…I’m here now," Clark whispers, his voice ragged. And Lex laughs again, laughs so hard he falls off Clark, back onto the carpet.
"You’re here now. Right. You’re here *now* and that's all that counts, isn’t it? Now that I’m everything your father ever suspected I’d be. You’re here now, but you still haven’t said a goddamned thing, have you? Other than ‘I love you’, of course.” Lex wipes the back of his hand over his eyes, still chuckling that hard, angry chuckle. “Are you really still young enough to think that’s all that matters?”
And that's the difference six years and being raised by Lionel Luthor can make in a person's psyche. And he's *right* -- Clark hasn't said a damned thing, other than 'I love you' and maybe with anyone else, that would have been enough. But not with Lex,and Clark should *know* that, right? Right -- but Lex is right, too; Clark's still very young (she said, laughing). But he is -- even if that young is chronologically older than I am -- and he does, and it just doesn't *work*
And Clark starts to shake, because he’s breaking apart. Lex just watches him, an almost regretful expression on his face.
“You are, aren’t you?”
Clark doesn’t nod, he doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t have to; he knows its plain on his face.
And this is how Clark Kent was forced to put away childish things. */end pretension*
“I waited, you know. I never waited for anyone else. It didn’t seem so far fetched that you’d come to me, someday. Especially not when you started flying around in that ridiculous outfit.” Lex stands, buttons his shirt. “I stopped waiting a year ago.”
He picks the whiskey tumblers up, off the table, and finishes Clark’s the way he finished his – in one quick shot – and brings them back to the bar, setting them down beside the bottle, and turns to look at Clark. His eyes trace over Clark’s body, and Clark feels naked, more naked than he’s ever felt in his life, and he’s still wearing his jeans, but it’s suddenly important to be wearing all of his clothes again. He’s still shaking, shaking so hard that it’s hard to button his jeans, and pull his shirt over his head, but he manages.
“I want you to go,” Lex tells him. “And I don't want you to come back.”
Clark nods, and doesn’t say anything, just walks over to the balcony. Lex catches his wrist, and Clark’s reluctant to look up, but Lex waits until he does. “I won’t tell anyone who you are, and I won’t let anyone else hurt you.”
“Anyone else?” Clark manages, voice quavering too much to be sarcastic. “What about you?”
Lex smiles again, dangerous, impressed. Beautiful. Too beautiful for Clark to look at without feeling sick.
He lets go of Clark’s wrist, and steps back. “I make no promises about that.”
And that’s honest, and Clark’s numb enough to appreciate it, so he gives Lex another short, quick nod, and jumps off the balcony.
I sort of think of this scene as a way more fucked up version of the interaction that goes on between Rhett and Scarlett at the end of Gone With the Wind -- Lex just doesn't give a damn any more. I mean, he'll always kind of love Clark, but he doesn't give a damn. Beyond the whole 'I may or may not kill you' issue. Yeah, like I said -- more fucked up by a lot.
The water’s hot. So hot that if his skin could break, it would blister. As it is, Clark just stands there, feeling it pound down over him, washing away the past two hours, washing away ten years of dreams.
He’s not sure how he ends up curled on the bottom of the tub. All he knows is that he’s crying, and his skin is starting to turn pink. The steam’s so thick in the bathroom that Clark has to suck in deep, shuddering breaths to get any oxygen at all. Tears streak down his cheeks, and he feels so damned small. So damned alone, holding himself as he falls apart.
Time passes. Clark’s not sure if it’s hours or minutes, but when he stands his joints pop, and the water’s gotten cool. He doesn’t look in the mirror; he isn’t ready for that yet. Instead he slings a towel around his hips, and rubs his hair with another one.
It strikes him as almost strange to be doing these small, normal things when he feels like Lex has pulled everything that made him *Clark* apart. He was stupid, so stupid, and God, he knows that now.
He broke Lex, and Lex has broken him. It makes sense, and it’s fair in a sick kind of way, and it hurts like Clark never imagined anything could hurt. Not even his father’s death, and Clark can’t do this. He can’t feel this – it’s too much. It hurts too badly. He needs…something. He needs anything, anyone to hold him, and tell him it’s all right.
And here it comes, Clark turning his totally healthy relationship with Lois into something *unhealthy* and based on total condependence...because while I feel that it will become the way it was to begin with again eventually right now? His relationship with Lois is going to be more predicated on his intense desire to *not be alone* ever again rather than his sincere love for her. It sucks for her -- or would if she knew.
He needs someone to love him. And Lois does, and Clark’s learned plenty from this afternoon. He’s learned that it’s not worth a damned thing to lie to her about who he is, and he’s learned she’s all he’s got.
The jeans he wore to Lex’s are on the floor of the bathroom, and Clark can barely make himself look at them. They’re stained, and rumpled, and they smell like the two of them together. He throws them away, takes the trash out, gets them as far away as he can.
The flight to Lois’ is a short one and in the dark he doesn’t have to worry about being seen. She’s pacing in the kitchen, smoking, when he climbs in through her window.
“Clark? What?” she asks, cigarette dangling, unnoticed between her fingers. “How’d you get in here? The fire-escape’s on the other side of the building.”
“I flew,” he tells her baldly.
Her eyebrows arch up in surprise, and she crosses her arms. “You did, hunh?”
“Yeah, I did. Lois, I’ve got to tell you something – ” he starts, because he needs to say it now, needs to make up for lost time. She just laughs, and reaches out, tugs on his hand.
“What, that you’re Superman? I knew that already. Figured it out. It’s not that hard, not when I practically live with you,” Lois says, kissing him lightly on the lips. “You okay?”
Becuase Lois *isn't* Lex, and she *doesn't* have his crazy fucked up paranoia issues -- and she hasn't been kept waiting as long --- she's able to accept this, and accept Clark. Had she been asked to wait longer, then maybe she wouldn't have. But she isn't, due to circumstance -- due to Lex -- because Clark might be dense sometimes but when he gets hit in the face by a two by four, he learns to duck.
“You knew?” Clark asks, trying hard not to panic. “You’re not mad?”
She shakes her head, smiles. “No, not really. Not anymore, anyway.”
He breathes out slowly, and leans into the warmth of her touch, basks in the warmth of her dark eyes. Tries to forget Lex’s cold blue gaze. “Because I told you.”
Lois nods, brow furrowing. “You sure you’re okay, babe?”
“I love you, Lois,” he whispers, hugging her tightly. “I really, really love you.”
“Love you too, Smallville, but you’re kinda crushing me here,” she responds.
He loosens his grip on her, but keeps holding on, his face buried in her hair. He feels safe, he feels warm. Her hands make soothing circles on his back, and she just holds him, and Clark never wants to feel alone again.
“Marry me?” he asks.
“Hey! I asked first!” she protests, pulling back long enough to grin up into his face. Her big brown eyes dance, delighted. He forces a smile, but it isn’t that hard, despite the roaring emptiness inside him. Lois is in his arms, and happy, and as she kisses him again, Clark knows she’ll always be there, and at least he has this.
He’ll make it all he needs. He’ll have to.
So here's the thing. I'm always torn between thinking of Lois as the *most* tragic character, or the *least* because a) she's blameless in this situation and she still gets screwed over and b) she doesn't neccesarily *know* that she's getting screwed over, meanwhile Clark and Lex practically have emotional Ebola enacted upon themselves by one another. Okay, that was a terribly metaphor, but it's like, four thirty in the morning, so go with me. I mean, I see the relationship between Lois and Clark stabilizing, but it'll never be the same. They'll be happy, definitely, because I feel like they definitely *can* make one another legitimately happy -- but Clark will never be quite the same. He'll always have this scar on his pysche from Lex, ergo title. It'll just be a very different kind of happy than one would think of when one says happily ever after, you know? And there will, of course, always be that trace of "What if..." in Clark's thinking. So, yeah. It's a complicated dynamic and *nobody* wins here -- not Lex, who gets his revenge on Clark, not Clark, who gets the girl he loves, and not Lois, who gets her man.
Also, to go with the icon -- What you should all do right this very second is go over here, and read pearl_o's due South fic, Ready Set Go. You already know that the girl can write -- and Christ, can she -- but what you don't know is that she can really write *Ray* and *Fraser* and make you happy happy happy with all the Mountie/Cop goodness. So go, and love on her, dammit.