A/N : This was originally supposed to be part of a larger mpreg that has so far amounted to nothing. The idea is from a song of the same title, the summary is taken from the lyrics.
Disclaimer : I don't own anything even remotely resembling Clark or Lex or the universe they inhabit.
He'd carried the picture everywhere. He'd had copies made, discreetly, by the same photographer who had taken the original. It was the only picture he'd ever had of her and Lex considered it to be one of his most prized possessions. It was a tiny thing, black and white and grainy from the zoom that had been used to capture it, but even for all of that, you could still see the curve of the baby's lips. Gas, they always said when the child was so young, but as far as he was concerned, a smile was a smile and it was beautiful.
It had been careless of him to lose track of her, but her mother hadn't wanted to be found, and the investigator he'd hired at the time had handed over the files that proved that her family was a good one, stable and loving, so he hadn't been too concerned. He'd wanted her to have peace and to lead a normal life, so he'd called off the guy he'd had tailing her mother.
Looking back it had been one of the more stupid things he'd done, but it was over now, and he could only hope that she was still happy.
Clark hadn't been back in his life for very long when he'd found one of the pictures. He had been wandering the library in the penthouse, pulling random books from the shelves and leafing through them, returning one to select another when the photograph slipped from between some pages and fluttered to the ground. Lex had been on an overseas conference call, but he'd seen Clark stoop to pick it up, watched the frown form on his lips, saw the question in his eyes when he turned to meet Lex's. Lex had felt his heart speed up, pounding in his chest, and he'd had to ask Mr. Nakamura to repeat himself. Clark had returned to the sofa, the volume he'd finally chosen in one hand and the scrap of photo paper in the other. He stared at it intensely for the remainder of the phone call, glancing up finally when he heard the many voices signing off.
Lex ended his portion of the conversation, pressing the button on the phone that disconnected the line, and turned back towards his computer to get some of the details down before he was distracted. "Lex?" Clark asked, holding the paper between the first two fingers of his right hand. Lex glanced over at him, smiling just a bit at how gorgeous Clark looked in the firelight, the orange glow bringing out the warm browns in his dark hair.
"What do you have there, Clark?" He asked, aiming for mild curiosity.
"A baby." He said, shifting his hand to stare at the picture again. "A picture of a baby," he amended. "It's smiling," he said, smiling back at the photograph.
Clark raised his head, the inquiring look having returned to his face. "Who is she?"
"Her name is Amelia. She's mine." Clark waited silently while Lex finished what he was doing and shut down the computer. He stood slowly and came around the desk towards Clark.
"She looks like you," Clark said, grinning as he passed the image into Lex's outstretched hand. "There isn't a hair on her head."
A corner of Lex's mouth turned up as he studied the picture, trying to see it from a fresh point of view. "Yeah," he finally said, running his thumb across the baby's face. "She's as bald as a ping pong ball."
He could hear all of Clark's unasked questions: What happened? How long ago? Where is she now? and decided to start from the beginning. He sat down sideways next to Clark, one leg bent on the cushion in front of him and began.
Clark listened to the story quietly, his hand resting on Lex's knee, rubbing supportive circles into the wool when he felt it was appropriate, and when it was over he asked, "Have you ever tried to find her?"
Lex brushed his hand across his chin and shrugged. "I've definitely thought about it, Clark. She'd be in school now, first grade or maybe second, if she inherited my genius." He grinned to show he was only mostly kidding.
Clark smiled back, removing the picture from Lex's hand. "You know, I'm not really an investigative journalist--I mean, yet. I pretty much cover the stories I'm assigned to--but I bet Lois would be interested in looking into it for you."
"No," Lex said, a little more sharply than he intended. "I don't want anyone else to get wind of this. I want her to lead a normal life without having me and my business affairs hanging over her head."
Clark nodded solemnly. "Okay, Lex. Would you like me to do some research on my own? I mean, I don't know what kind of information I'd be able to find, but..." He'd like to try. He'd like to give Lex this.
Lex lifted himself smoothly off the couch and walked over to the bar. Clark watched as he deliberately removed the stopper from one of the decanters and slowly poured the amber liquor into a glass. He took a sip and stood there silently for a moment, his back still turned towards the room.
Clark lifted the picture so that the image shined in the flickering firelight, smiling softly again at the little girl captured within. He could begin by checking the archives at the Planet, of course. Hopefully with the birth announcements out of Metropolis General, and then going from there, maybe searching school records in the state--
"I wouldn't want to interfere." Lex turned back to face the room, and Clark thought his eyes were more shiny than normal. "I wouldn't try to take over. It might be nice to know..."
Clark waited for Lex to continue, his nod a silent encouragement to go on. "I mean, she has a father already. He's probably adopted her, and I wouldn't want to get in the way of that. Maybe when she's a little older..." Lex trailed off again, his eyes shifting up to the ceiling and blinking several times before coming back to meet Clark's.
"Do you know his name?"
"Frederickson. James Frederickson."
Clark would start there.
Several weeks and thousands of public records later Clark had found nothing. There were thirty-two Fredericksons in the Metropolis phone book but only four of them had the first name of James. A quick check proved that none of them were the one he was looking for; Two were of retirement age and of the remainder, one had just graduated from Kansas State and the other had three boys. Researching the mother hadn't turned up any leads either, at least not in Kansas, so Clark decided to turn the search nationwide.
Lex wasn't pressing him for information, and Clark tried to pretend that the look he saw in Lex's eyes when he came through the front door every night wasn't hope. It was always fleeting, clamped down on in the next second, but Clark knew that was what it was.
He wasn't sure why Lex hadn't taken over the search himself; surely his contacts would have been able to pull some strings, and his money could probably open doors that Clark's inherent charm couldn't. But Lex was leaving it up to him.
Clark began to carry a copy of Amelia's picture with him. He trimmed away the arms that were holding her and the metal bars of the new mother's hospital bed so that he could keep it in his wallet.
Sometimes in the middle of a particularly tedious records search he would find himself fantasizing about having her, being able to give her back to Lex and what their lives together would be like. He imagined that growing up with Jonathan's guidance had prepared him to be a pretty good father, and Lex...Well, Lex certainly knew what not to do, plus he could afford to give her the best of everything. She would be happy. He wondered whether her eyes had stayed blue and whether she'd inherited Lex's carrot-y red hair or if it had ended up a lighter strawberry or a darker auburn. He wondered if Lex entertained similar thoughts. Then his mind would snap into focus again and he would renew the search with vigor. Even though Lex had said he hadn't wanted to interfere, Clark knew he'd want to be involved, and he intended to find Lex his daughter in time for him to help shape her life.
The internet had turned up nothing. He'd gotten a listing of all the local phone companies from Spokane to Sarasota, one region at a time, and had searched all their online phone records. He'd personally placed calls to every James Frederickson in the book, and had his assorted press contacts get him the numbers for the very few that had been unlisted.
It had been four months since the subject of Amelia had first come up. Clark had never brought up the matter of the investigation to Lex, and Lex had never pressed him for information. If there had been anything to report, he would have offered it. But the glimmer of hope seemed to fade a little every day now, and Clark didn't have the heart to tell him he'd so far found nothing.
At the six month mark, Clark gave up on school records. It didn't mean anything that there weren't any Amelia Fredericksons, or Amelia Marshalls (her mother's last name) enrolled across the country. He'd even tried Amelia Luthor and Amelia Kent during a bout of sentimentality. She was probably being taught at home, or possibly overseas in some fancy boarding school. After all, geniuses were hard for the public school system to keep up with.
Clark was just about to leave the Planet offices on Wednesday when the phone rang. He dropped his coat onto the desk and scooped up the receiver. "Clark Kent."
"Clark? It's Ginny Lewis, from the Dallas Star? "
"Ginny, how's everything going?"
"Things are okay, Clark. I was just wondering if you've had a chance to look over the information that I sent you."
Clark foundered a minute, trying to remember whether anything had been delivered recently. "Uhm," he shuffled through the stack of papers lying on his desk and then double checked his inbox, but, "I don't think I've received it. There's nothing on my desk here."
"Actually I had it delivered to your home address. The courier service should have dropped it off a few days ago. "
Clark nodded to himself and picked up his jacket again. "Well, we have had a pretty persistent patch of bad weather, so maybe they just haven't been able to get through yet. I'll be sure to keep an eye out for it and let you know when it gets here." There was a prolonged silence on the other end. "Ginny?"
"No, that's great, Clark. Keep in touch."
"I will, and thanks for all your help." He slowly replaced the handset and made sure everything was shut down for the night before heading towards the elevator.
Things had been hectic at the Planet lately, and Clark made a vow to start coming in earlier in the mornings. Since beginning the search for the baby, he felt like his work for the paper had started to slip. No one had said anything, and certainly Perry would have called him on the carpet if it had, but Lois had been giving him funny looks lately and he didn't want to acquire for himself a slacker image. Not if he ever wanted his own beat, anyway.
Clark stepped out onto the street and climbed aboard the bus that would take him across town and home. He hadn't seen Lex for a few days now, though he'd tried to visit at lunch yesterday and was turned away by Laura, Lex's assistant. There had been vague messages on his voice mail about work and meetings and big deals about to go through, but Clark was starting to worry that Lex was overdoing it. He was going to run himself ragged if he didn't get some rest, and Clark hoped that it was just his imagination that the bar in the library had been restocked twice in the last week. He could almost believe that it was just work that had Lex preoccupied, but something in him wasn't quite accepting that excuse.
The 251 Express turned onto his street, and Clark pulled the cord for the next stop. The wind blew the rain down in torrents and Clark clutched his briefcase to his chest as he dashed through the sheets of water to hurriedly duck under the awning at LexCorp Towers.
"Thanks, Harry," Clark beamed as the door was opened for him. He stopped on the inside carpet and wiped his feet as well as he could before crossing the lobby to the security desk.
"Evening Mr. Kent."
"Good-evening, John. I was wondering if you could tell me whether a package had arrived for me? "
He waited while John consulted a clipboard on the desk. "Nothing today sir."
Clark nodded. "Okay. Would you let me know if something comes?"
Clark smiled again. "Thanks. Hey, can you tell me if Lex is in the building?" He waited while John checked with one of the men monitoring the video screens.
"He's still in his office."
Great. "Great! Well, I'll see you guys tomorrow." Clark started towards the penthouse elevator before changing his mind and turning in the direction of the regular business elevators. The building was pretty much empty at this time of day, so no one was in the car with him as he rode to the fiftieth floor.
The only rooms on this level were Lex's personal office and washroom and the board room; an impressive reception area took up most of the space, and Clark felt the familiar sensation of being somewhat out of his element as he walked out onto the lush carpet. The area was as deserted as it had been when he'd come yesterday, save for the current absence of Laura. Clark wondered if there shouldn't be better security measures in place, but then he supposed that the guys at the desk wouldn't have allowed just anyone to have access to these parts of the building.
The doors to Lex's office were closed, and Clark knocked softly before going inside. Lex was seated behind his unusually tidy desk, scowling at his computer monitor. "Am I interrupting anything?" Clark asked, shutting the door behind himself. Lex barely spared him a glance as he closed his laptop.
"Just a little e-mail tag." Lex said, stretching his arms out to his sides before pushing back from the desk. "You've caught me at the rare somewhat unoccupied moment. What can I do for you?"
"What can you do for me?" Clark shook his head. "I was wondering if I was going to see you at all tonight. We haven't had any time together in a few days..." Clark trailed off as he watched Lex fill one of the glass tumblers at the bar and down it in a single gulp. "Lex..."
"I've been busy, Clark. I trust that you understand, at least fundamentally, the responsibility that goes into running a business and that I don't have to explain it in detail for you." He turned to raise his eyebrows at Clark as he deftly poured another drink.
Clark swallowed in unison with Lex and his eyes followed the newly empty glass back down to the countertop. "I know, Lex. I know you're busy, it's just...Are you sure that's all that's going on? I mean, you usually never hesitate to talk about work with me, and I know you told me, or at least my voicemail, that you're working on a deal, but..."
Lex grinned. "'Usually never'?"
Clark closed his eyes. "If something's bothering you, we should talk about it. Maybe I can help."
"You've been trying, haven't you? To 'help'? Have you been able to so far?"
Clark shook his head, finally seeing where this was going. "You know if I found anything that I would tell you. You would be the first to know."
"The first? I should be the only one you're telling." Lex had filled the glass again, but instead of drinking it, he carried it with him back to the desk. "Look, I'm sorry I don't have time right now to...chat. Why don't you go on upstairs and see what Mabel's left for dinner. I'll be up when I can." With that, he flipped open the laptop again and focused his attention on the screen.
Knowing a dismissal when he felt one, Clark nodded silently and backed out of the room, almost managing not to trip on the threshold.
The rain still hadn't let up two days later, and Clark had nearly forgotten about the mailer he was supposed to have received when John waved him over that evening. "Mr. Kent, did you ever get any more information about that package you were waiting on?"
Clark shook his head, sending droplets of water across the clipboard John was holding. "Sorry. No, I haven't. Nothing's come for me since the other day?"
"No," John tapped his pen against the top sheet as he frowned. "But I did take a look back on the log just to be sure, and we did receive something addressed to you last Friday."
Taking the proffered chart, Clark flipped it around to read the information. The log sheet showed the date the package was delivered, and on the line next to his name, partially blurred out from being spattered a moment ago, was Lex's signature. "Huh. He must have forgotten to tell me about it. Thanks for checking on that for me."
"It was no problem, Mr. Kent. I hope it didn't cause any trouble."
"I'm sure it's fine," he tried to smile, but for some reason he was starting to get a less-than-good feeling in the pit of his stomach. "Is Lex still in the office?"
John nodded. "He's been pulling a lot of overtime lately."
Clark made a non-committal noise and murmured a good-night before stepping into the penthouse elevator and pushing the button for the top floor. Exiting into the vestibule twenty seconds later, he keyed open the front door and dropped his briefcase on the hall table. "Lex?" He called out even as he scanned the apartment, just to be sure. Satisfied that no one was around, he shut the door solidly behind himself and headed for the library.
He flipped the ornate switch just inside which lit the twin lamps on Lex's desk, as well as the dim bulbs above each bookcase. Seeing nothing obviously out of place at first glance, he switched again to x-ray but quickly scrapped that method of searching. Unless Ginny had shipped the information in lead, he wouldn't be able to distinguish one document from another in the organized chaos of Lex's drawers. He pulled open the top one first, followed by the two on the sides. "If I were a couriered package addressed to someone else, where would I be?"
Of course that wasn't being fair. Lex wouldn't have deliberately hidden the package; he couldn't have known what it contained--
And then Clark's eye fell on the sofa across from the dormant fireplace. Tucked none-too-discreetly between one of the cushions and the arm of the seat, contrasting neatly against the brown leather, was the mustard-colored envelope he'd been seeking. Picking it up, he could see that it had obviously been opened; the papers inside were ruffled through, and there was a dark, warped semi-circle across one corner where Clark was sure a cut crystal tumbler had rested. Frowning, he shook the contents out into his opposite hand, noting the Dallas Star logo across the top page, and he was just about to read the letter when he realized he was being watched.
Lex was leaning against the doorframe, one hand wrapped around a half-empty glass in the typical fashion of late, the other idly fingering the smooth wood of the entryway. His eyes were focused somewhere on the other side of the room, and Clark silenced the part of his brain that was glad Lex was still sober enough to focus on something.
"Lex," he said, raising the sheaf of papers. "Anything you want to tell me?"
Lex took a swallow from his glass and pushed himself slowly upright. "Some papers came for you."
Clark watched in shocked silence as Lex walked past him, soundless in his stocking feet, and aimed for the bar. "I see that--"
"I shouldn't have opened it," Lex said without turning around. "It wasn't addressed to me. I should apologize."
But you're not, that part of his Clark's brain chimed in again.
Lex shrugged one elegant shoulder, as if in response to Clark's unspoken comment. "It's done," he muttered. He went about setting up another glass next to the one he'd just brought in, and stared at the selection of hard liquor in front of him for several long minutes before finally choosing a single malt Scotch. "You should read the reports yourself. You're not a scientist, though, or a doctor, so they probably won't make much sense to you." He replaced the bottle after pouring three fingers of the stuff, and picked up his own glass again. After meeting Clark's gaze for a solid second, he tossed back the rest of the contents in a single gulp, a tiny stream of the liquid escaping the glass to run down Lex's chin.
Clark's eyes darted down to the papers in his hand before shifting back to Lex, concerned. He started to come around the side of the couch, intent on stopping the alcohol poisoning already in progress.
"Read it." And that was Lex's no-objections tone. Any other time, he might have known to heed, but instead Clark only glared, reaching to take the empty glass from Lex's hand.
"Read it!" Lex's eyes had quickly become a glazed red, his mouth twisted in a fury Clark had never witnessed before. He stopped in his tracks and looked down once more at the papers. Raising his trembling hand, he shuffled through the disorganized pages, ignoring for the moment Ginny's cover letter. He paused when he noticed the stylized form and his mouth went completely dry as he scanned the information. Somewhere near the center of the sheet he was pretty sure his heart ceased beating.
"I'm sure you get the gist."
"Lex," Clark scraped out, dropping his arm down to his side and allowing the tens of reports to fall to the floor.
Lex was still huddled by the bar, shoulders hunched around the glass he was pressing against his sternum. "I killed her." He inhaled shakily as his free hand rose up to rub furiously at his eyes. "She's dead because of me, Clark. My stupid...Oh god." His breathing was shallow now, coming only in sharp gasps through clenched teeth.
Clark took a tentative step towards him, restraining himself from reaching out. "Lex..."
But he spun quickly then, too fast for the level of inebriation he was operating at. He'd raised the glass, and Clark anticipated the next move but it never came. Lex stumbled and as Clark rushed in to catch him, it slipped from his hand and rolled across the polished floor, cracking against the opposite wall. "Dammit, Clark," he muttered, staring blearily towards the fireplace. "Don't."
"Don't what, Lex?" Clark whispered a kiss against his temple.
"Don't try to fucking save me."
"You didn't kill her."
Lex shoved against the bulk of Clark's chest, managing to knock him off balance enough to escape the embrace. "What the fuck would you call it, Clark? It was the me in her that killed her."
"It was just cancer, Lex. It happens. It's shitty, yeah, but it happens."
"It's all over the reports, Clark. Her whole body was ravaged. The medical examiner's report says that every last one of her organs was affected. All of them, Clark! Whoever heard of a baby with colon cancer?"
Clark had no idea what to say to that. Lex was probably right: The articles Ginny had enclosed would have explained in lurid detail the part his mutated genes had played in the death of the one-year-old girl, and of course Lex, with his desire to know would have read each and every one of them. But there was no way Clark would be able to bring himself to do the same. He had--as Lex had clearly done--tried not to hope for a future with the three of them together, but he realized then that neither of them had actually believed that it wouldn't happen. He thought of the tiny photograph still tucked inside his wallet and couldn't stop the tears from filling his eyes.
He would try to find out if and where she'd been buried so that when the shock had passed he and Lex would be able to pay their respects, maybe find some sense of closure. That information had probably been included in the file, so that should be easy enough to do. And first thing tomorrow he would look into starting a memorial fund, even though that was more Lex's--
"That fucking meteor shower."
Clark was startled out of his thoughts by the whispered words. "What?"
Lex had been staring into the cold remains of the fireplace, but he turned his head to face him then. Clark saw his own sorrow reflected in those eyes for only a split second before they went hard. "I said 'that fucking meteor shower'."
His head jerked back as though he had been slapped. Lex was well aware of the irrational guilt that Clark still harbored in regards to his arrival on Earth, and although it hurt to hear, Clark recognized it for what it was. "Lex, please don't do this." He swallowed the lump in his throat and tried to ignore the beginnings of panic he was feeling.
Lex shrugged and slipped his hands into his pockets as he turned fully around. "I haven't done anything." He started back over towards the bar, the controlled way he walked the only clue that he wasn't stone sober. "It was all you, after all. Wasn't it?"
"Lex, that isn't fair and you know it." He fought to stay calm. What Lex needed right now was rest, not the argument he was obviously gunning for. They wouldn't be able to start dealing with this until they were both able to think more clearly. "I think what we need--"
"What I know, Clark, is that if it hadn't been for you she would still be alive. And as far as what "we" need..."
"I need another drink. And you, you need to get out." He reached for the remaining tumbler and pulled the stopper from the nearest bottle.
"I said 'Don't'." Lex ignored this directive as Clark suspected he would, but a quick shot of heat vision aimed at the decanter got his attention again.
The bottle in Lex's hand shattered into several pieces, sending the liquor splashing onto the bar and soaking the front of his shirt. Lex did manage this time to throw the second tumbler, and it burst loudly against the hearthstone. "What the fuck is wrong with you!" Clark merely crossed his arms and glanced impassively towards the mess, determined to remain unmoved by this display. Lex scowled darkly as he wiped his wet hand across his chest, and Clark was awaiting his next move when he noticed the dark streaks left on the damp fabric of Lex's shirt.
"Lex!" The realization that he had injured Lex with his high-handed tactics filled him with shame. He took half a step before being pinned in place by Lex's glare. "Lex," he began, eyes pleading for a ceasefire. "Your hand." He reached out his own even though they were too far apart to touch.
Lex's brow furrowed in confusion, and it further proved how intoxicated he really was that he didn't feel the gash that split his palm. He looked down at his dripping hand in surprise before curling the fingers into a fist. "Leave."
"At least let me-"
"Clark!" He closed his eyes and dropped his head back in frustration. "Just...get out."
And maybe that was the best thing at the moment. Utterly mortified by his behavior, Clark was eager to do whatever he could to make it right again, and even though it was against his better judgment, if Lex wanted him to go, well then he would do it. He wouldn't like it, but he would do it.
It would only be for tonight anyway. He could patrol the city and return early in the morning while Lex was still sleeping it off and crawl into bed behind him. Then later he would nurse him through the minor hangover that he was sure to have, and together they could decide how to deal.
"Okay." He nodded solemnly and took a step back. Lex had grabbed one of the linen napkins from under the bar and was carefully winding it around his bloody hand, and he didn't look up as Clark headed slowly towards the doorway. He would stop off at the kitchen and let Mrs. Barrows know to keep an ear out, just in case Lex needed anything while he was away. "I'll be back in the morning."
Lex muttered something too low for even Clark to catch, and remained focused on his task as Clark slipped out the door.