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Bad Dreams

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Bad Dreams
By LastScorpion

Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters. "Smallville" is the property of DC Comics, the WB, Gough & Millar, Tollin & Robbins, and possibly some other people I'm missing -- not me. This is all just for fun; please don't sue.

This is another of those weird domestic Clexis fics I keep doing, sequelish to "Whoops", "Unexpected Miracle", "Aftermath", and "A Man's Got to Know his Limitations." Spoiler for "Shattered."

The stars were gone, blocked from sight by the smoke of a thousand fires. The world was a nightmare of black and flame, and the screams of the frightened, the wounded, the dying, and the dead set up a reverberation through his skull that nothing could block or ease. He could hear them crying. He could feel them dying, all around him, but he couldn't help. The Extra-Terror, armed with the green glowing stone that would be the death of him (that had been the death of his whole world, his whole people) wouldn't let him help. They were fighting 'til Doomsday, 'til the end of the world. This world too would suffer and die, and he couldn't help - the faces of the people, burnt to char, haunted him and wouldn't let him breathe....

Clark woke with a gasp. He was sweating. His vision ratcheted far and near and x-ray for a moment, as he blinked and tried to get his bearings. It was dark here, too, but there was no fire, no scent of burning flesh. He took a deep breath to calm his racing heart. He was home, well, in the castle, in bed. Lois stretched out at his right side, solid and real and alive and asleep. Lex was on his left.

Lex was whimpering in his sleep. He lay on his back, with his arms crossed at his waist. His heart was beating a mile a minute, and he was breathing hard and whimpering. Apparently it was the night for bad dreams.

"Lex," Clark said softly. He stroked his lover's chest. Lex was as rigid as a statue, every muscle tensed. "Lex," Clark whispered again, "come on. Wake up. It's just a dream."

Lex's eyes snapped open. Despite the dark, Clark could see them darting furiously in all directions, wild and desperate. Clark continued petting him and reassuring him, and in a couple of minutes Lex finally sighed and let the tension in his muscles go. He uncrossed his arms and cricked his neck, then rested his smooth head against Clark's chest and asked, "What time is it?"

Clark focused on the clock on the other side of the room. "Four-thirty," he answered.

"Hell," Lex breathed.

"What the hell?" Lois asked, from Clark's other side. "Where's the fire?"

"Bad dreams," Clark explained.

"There, there," Lois said offhand, reaching over Clark to pat Lex on the shoulder. "We gotta get up in a couple hours. Some of us have jobs."

"Hell," Lex whispered again, even more quietly.

Lois was silent and still for a moment. Clark could almost feel her weighing the evidence - he knew how observant she could be. She was sure to notice that his heart was still pounding and that he was damp with sweat. Lex's cowering against his chest was even more obvious. He hoped desperately that she wouldn't say, "You guys want to talk about it?"

Lois didn't ask that. Instead she ran her warm little hands soothingly over both men's arms and shoulders and necks for a few moments, and then finally said, "I'm gonna go down and make breakfast."

That startled a laugh out of Lex, and Clark was glad to hear it. Lex kept his head buried against Clark's chest, but he said, "You can cook?"

Lois made an indignant noise and rolled out of bed. Clark anticipated her next line. As she pulled on her robe, he squeezed Lex gently and said, "She's an army brat, Lex. She can do anything."

"And don't you forget it, Smallville," Lois snapped with fake ill-humor. "Plus, if I'm making breakfast, you two have to get the kids up and dressed, and change those babies. Almost five? Betcha they're already awake."

Clark felt Lex snicker, a quick little exhale of breath against his chest, and the corner of Lex's mouth turned up. That was better. "Watch out for the cook," Lex warned Lois, in a more normal tone of voice.

"Let the cook watch out for me," Lois declared, and swept out of the room.

Lex lay in Clark's arms for a while after she was gone, but it was obvious that neither of them was getting any more sleep tonight. Clark would be getting up about now anyway, but Lex generally slept until seven or so. Clark was just starting to wonder whether he should try to tire Lex out a little, so he'd get back to sleep for a couple hours, when Lex asked, "Do you suppose they really are awake already?"

"Huh?" Clark asked.

Clark heard Lex swallow. "The kids. The babies. Do you suppose they're awake? Could we...."

Lex was usually the one who had the least hands-on, day-to-day care of the children. It wasn't surprising. After all, Lex was the oldest of them, and being the Mayor of Metropolis was a very demanding job, and his own father had been absolutely terrible. Sometimes Clark was surprised Lex was as good a dad as he was, all things considered. He was loving and attentive when he was around, but he didn't do much of the gruntwork.

"Sure, absolutely. Let's go see if they're awake."

Lex sniffed once that Clark heard while they were getting dressed, and Clark put a hand on his shoulder. Lex froze, then relaxed. "They're your kids, too, you know, Lex," Clark told him. "You don't need me or Lois to say you can look at them, or be with them, or whatever."

Lex didn't answer. The sun was starting to shine in through the stained glass windows as they went down the hall to the nursery.

Louie and Larry had graduated to big-kid beds when Lois was expecting Laura. Larry had a tendency to take all the covers off his bed and make them into a nest on the floor, but Clark had persuaded Lois and Lex to not make a problem of it, so it was fine. Louie seemed to think the bed was better. Laura could be trusted with a crib, but Jon had to have the old cradle, just like Larry had had to. The boys were all awake when Lex and Clark came in. Larry and Louie were tipping over toy boxes (Larry did the work, and Louie told him which box to do next), and Jon was kicking to make his cradle rock. Laura was still asleep, with her thumb in her mouth.

Larry sped over to grab Clark's knees when they came in, and Louie followed at a more normal speed.

"Good morning!" Clark told them, stooping for the good morning hugs.

The boys said, "Gmoning."

Lex was hanging back uncharacteristically in the doorway. "Give Daddy his good morning hugs," Clark said, and the toddlers obediently hugged Lex's knees and repeated their greeting. "Diapers?" Clark asked them.

"No! Potty!" Louie declared, and Larry nodded emphatically.

Clark checked their pants and beds, and told them, "Good job!"

"Did you wash your hands?" Lex asked.

The boys looked like they had to think about that one, so Clark said, "Go wash your hands, then go downstairs and find Mama. She's in the kitchen."

"Okay!" The two scurried into the adjoining bathroom.

Clark could hear the stepstool clunking, and the water running, and giggling. If they weren't out of there and on their way downstairs in five minutes, he'd have to go in. He picked Jon up, and the baby gurgled at him. "Good morning!" he said, bumping his son's nose. "Diaper time!"

While Clark was changing Jon, he noticed Lex staring into the crib at Laura. He looked haunted. "Why don't you pick her up and change her?" he asked. "Then we can head down for breakfast."

Lex still looked hesitant. It was weird; he'd picked the babies up plenty of times. It must be the dream. "She's still asleep," was Lex's excuse.

"It won't hurt her any." Larry and Louie tore out of the bathroom and out the door. "Be careful on the steps!" Clark called after them. He could hear them bumping down the stairs on their butts, which was their version of 'careful.' It made him grin, but Lex still looked pretty bad. Clark suddenly remembered something.

"You dreamed of Julian, didn't you?"

Lex nodded, distant eyes still fixed on Clark and Lois's daughter.

"You know it wasn't your fault."

Lex shook his head slightly at that. His eyes looked so lost! "I don't know anything." He snorted, but it sounded almost like a sob. "I was so - I don't know when I was or wasn't drugged, not to mention all the shit I took voluntarily. I just don't know whether I killed Julian, or Dad did, or he just plain died. I'll never know."

Fresh guilt washed over Clark, but he knew that "I'm sorry," wouldn't help. Instead, using the Superman voice, he commanded, "Pick her up."

Lex flicked a startled glance his way, but obeyed. Clark held his wiggling son still with one hand while he studied Lex and the awakening girl. He put as much certainty into his voice as possible, and said, "When I look at you holding a baby, I know you didn't kill Julian."

Lex looked a little comforted but not convinced. "You can't know...."

Superman cut him off. "I do know. You didn't kill your brother, Lex."

Lex ducked his head. Laura bopped him on the nose.

Clark put the clean Jonathan back in the cradle and said, "I gotta go wash my hands. Change Laura and then we'll go downstairs, okay?"

"Okay," Lex said, and smiled at him.