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Someone to Stand With

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Someone to Stand With

by Anastasia

Thanks to: Calysta Rose for her continuing beta of my fics. I couldn't and wouldn't do this without her.

Sweating, gasping for breath, Clark put his head in his hands. Stumbling, he pushed the telescope aside, nearly knocking it over in his rush to get away from the open loft doors. Dizzily, he leaned against the wall of the barn, willing the headache to go away.

The headaches had started more than two weeks before and were becoming increasingly worse. From once every few days they had begun to occur more frequently; now, Clark couldn't go more than an hour or two without being immobilized by one.

In the beginning, he'd told his parents about each incident because it was so unusual for him to feel ill or out of sorts. They'd been justifiably concerned, but had done nothing more than monitor him and constantly ask how he was feeling. They had no other choice; they couldn't very well take Clark to a doctor and risk blood tests or x-rays.

As the ache in his head dissipated, Clark crossed the loft and sank down onto the old couch. The throbbing in his skull was almost a bad memory, but the twisting in his stomach was starting in again, as it always did now after the episodes. It was psychosomatic, he knew. He was so worried about what the headaches could mean that he was making himself crazy.

Worrying had slowly become a part of Clark. During the meager hours when he wasn't debilitated by headaches, he spent his time doing research. Magazines and the internet had an unending supply of explanations for what could be going on in his head; the problem was, the more he found out, the less he wanted to know.


Clark started badly at the voice that drifted up the stairs. He opened his eyes to find himself curled into a ball on the couch, clutching a pillow whose stuffing was now exposed and falling out onto Clark and the floor.

"Yeah, Mom?" Clark struggled to keep the emotion from his voice.

"Are you okay up there? You've been so quiet..."

"Yeah, Mom," Clark said again. "I'm fine. I'm just...studying. Finals are coming up, you know." He hoped his voice sounded at least conversational. "Are you and Dad leaving now?"

He wasn't sure whether having the entire afternoon and evening to himself comforted or scared him. If anything new happened with the headaches, at least he'd be alone to face it without involving anyone else. On the other hand, if anything happened with the headaches...he'd be alone. Clark shuddered.

Martha walked up the first several steps to the loft but didn't go any further. "Your father and I are due in Metropolis at one. We'll probably be back sometime after ten. There's turkey in the refrigerator and bread on the counter for lunch if you want it. There's pizza in the freezer or some of that spaghetti from lunch yesterday if you want that for dinner. Cookies are in the cookie jar and I made some watermelon Jello this morning..."

Despite his dark mood, Clark had to smile at his mother's concern. "I'll be fine, Mom!" he said, letting her hear his laughter. "I'll stay out of trouble and I won't starve."

His mother laughed. "Well, we have enough food for that last one, but I don't know about that other. Sometimes I think you have `trouble' written on a sign around your neck..."


Martha laughed again. "Okay, Clark, take care. We love you and we'll see you tonight. We'll call when we get to Metropolis and we'll call again when we're on our way home. If you're around, answer the phone, okay? And if you leave the house, write a note and let us know where you are."

Clark rolled his eyes, glad his mother couldn't see the face he was making. "Yes, Mom," he said obediently. "Have fun. Drive carefully." He sighed in relief as he heard his mother leave the barn. He heard the door of the truck open and close.

When the truck drove away, Clark found himself standing up, moving about the loft restlessly. He really didn't have much studying to do; his classes were easy for him and he was always caught up with his reading and note-taking. Exams were not going to be a problem. The problem, he thought, was going to be keeping himself occupied today.

Pete was at his grandmother's for a birthday party. Chloe was out of town for the day on a field trip with her journalism class. Lana was helping the 4H club with their annual horse show. Everyone had plans but him, it seemed. And he was the one who desperately needed plans, to keep his mind off of...other things.

There was a soft knock, as if someone were outside the barn but loathe to disturb its occupant. Clark waited, hoping that if were a salesperson or someone looking for his dad they'd get discouraged and leave.

The barn door creaked open and Clark tensed. "Hello?" he called down the stairs.

"Hello?" came the echoing answer. "Clark? Are you up there?"

"Lex?" Clark's spirit began to lift. Lex was the much-needed distraction he had been looking for. If he could convince him to stay for lunch, to stay to talk for a while... "Yeah, I'm here, Lex," Clark yelled back down to the other man. "I'll be right down."

Lex stood at the bottom of the stairs, looking up. "I see your parents aren't home, Clark. So what are you doing hiding up here? Who are you seeking refuge from this time?" His voice was a mixture concern and curiosity.

Clark grabbed his jacket from the back of the couch and threw it over his shoulder. "I like it up here, that's all..." He started down the stairs. "Mom left turkey in the fridge," Clark said, hoping Lex had not yet eaten. "Do you want to..." Clark gasped, grabbing for the raiing as he doubled over in pain.

"Clark? Are you okay?" Startled, Lex vaulted up the stairs two at a time, wanting to get to Clark before he tumbled down them head first.

"Lex, no..." Clark tried to raise his head, but it felt as if it were made of marble. "Ohhhhh..." Nausea spread through his body like wild fire and Clark felt himself losing his balance. If he fell, he wanted Lex out of the way; he wouldn't risk injuring his best friend because of his own lack of control.

"Clark, sit down," Lex was urging, his hands on Clark's shoulders now.

Still unable to straighten up or look around, Clark forced his eyes open. Black and white circles dotted the wooden steps beneath his feet and Clark blinked, the small movement making him wince. Clark slowly closed his eyes again and reopened them; the circles of color remained, dancing and blurring until Clark couldn't catch his breath for looking at them.

"Easy, Clark," Lex said, not trying to hide the concern in his voice. "Let me help you..."

For an instant, Clark allowed himself to relax at the much-needed sound of Lex's soothing tones. He was suddenly exhausted. And he hurt.

Breathing in deeply, Clark tried to follow Lex's directions. He bent his knees, attempting to sit, when another pain shot through his skull. With sickening realization, Clark felt himself lurch forward. Careening into both walls, shattering the railing, he fell down the steps, taking Lex with him.

The next time Clark was aware of his surroundings, it was to find himself sprawled at the bottom of the stairs...lying on top of Lex Luthor.

"Lex..." In a panic, Clark rolled to the side to free the man trapped beneath him. "Oh god, oh god, oh god..." he murmured as he sat up and began inspecting Lex for damage.

Lex was out cold, his pale skin even whiter than usual, his eyelids almost translucent. Heart heavy with the harm he'd already done, Clark carefully checked Lex for broken bones and blood loss. Finding none, he gently turned the other man onto his side.

"Oh, no, no, no, no..." Clark began to chant nonsensically again as he discovered a large, egg-shaped lump at the back of Lex's skull. Unable to help himself, he reached out and ran a finger over it lightly, pulling his hand away at Lex's soft moan.

"God, god, god, god..." Clark looked around as if the barn held the answers he was looking for. The headache, when it struck, hit him straight behind the eyes, blacking out his vision again. The strangled scream that escaped from between his lips was as much from pain as it was from frustration.

"Clark?" The word came out weakly. "Are you okay?"

Clark rocked where he was on his hands and knees, but couldn't focus on the words long enough to translate them.

"Clark?" Slowly, Lex sat up, groaning as his body protested. "Fuck." He needed to get help, but the way he was feeling he knew he wouldn't be driving anywhere.

Staring at the still-unresponsive Clark, Lex fished his cell out of his pocket and punched a button. "I need some help," he said into the phone. "I'm at the Kent farm. We're in the barn. I think Clark's in serious medical trouble. Have two of our best doctors standing by at the manor."

The conversation cost Lex, and before he could put the phone away, it dropped from his numbing fingers. With the last of his strength, Lex pulled Clark to him, holding the younger man as he shook, hoping Benjamin would arrive quickly with the car.

"You don't appear to have a concussion." The doctor put his flashlight away and turned Lex's head carefully to the side, inspecting the purple-green bruise one more time. "Still, I would advise against any..." he gave Lex a knowing look, "...strenuous...activities for the next two or three days."

Lex rolled his eyes. "Don't worry. The way my back and head hurt, I wouldn't last a minute with the crush of bodies or the blaring music at a club."

The doctor snorted. "I was thinking more along the lines of Miss Hardwicke."

"Don't forget your place, Doctor," Lex said stiffly. "Now, tell me about Clark."

"Your friend appears to be fine," a second doctor said, coming into the room.

"Appears to be, Dr. Stanton?" Lex shook his head. "The professionalism and medical knowledge in this room underwhelms me."

The woman looked haughtily offended. "You could have a full medical work up if Mr. Kent would cooperate," she clarified.

"Meaning what, exactly?" Lex asked, his eyes darting toward the door and across the hall to the room where Clark had been taken.

"Meaning he won't let me near him. He's been lucid since you brought him in and has reported no more headaches. He insists he's fine and says something about his parents not believing in doctors." The doctor sniffed. "Farmers..."

"The Kents are entitled to their own beliefs," Lex said sharply. "Thank you for coming in. I'll handle things from here." With a wave of his hand, he dismissed the two doctors, accepting the ice pack from his own doctor before they walked out.

Tossing back two of the purple capsules left by his physician, Lex stood up carefully. His head hurt but it wasn't bothering him as much as wondering what was going on with Clark. Ice pack in hand, he went to have a talk with the younger man.

"Clark?" Lex stood in the doorway of the smallest guest bedroom. Clark was sitting on the edge of the bed, staring out of the window, looking for all the world like a prisoner.

Clark turned to look at Lex, his wide blue eyes showing his confusion and uncertainty.

Lex sat on the opposite side of the bed, not wanting to crowd or intimidate Clark. "Clark? The doctor said you wouldn't let her check you over. I'd feel much better knowing you're okay..."

"I'm fine," Clark answered, a bit too quickly.

"Yeah, I could see that earlier," Lex said with a sad half-smile. "The blank looks you were giving me and your tumble down the stairs really reinforced your good health."

Clark turned and looked at Lex. "Look, I'm really sorry that happened. I'm a klutz...and it makes me sick that you got hurt because of me." He eyed the ice pack Lex was holding to the back of his head. "Are you okay?"

"Don't apologize for your health, Clark," Lex said gently, side-stepping Clark's question. "I just want to know what happened back in the barn."

Clark sprang from the bed, pacing between the bed and the window. "Just drop it, okay? Nothing happened. I'm clumsy like that. I always have been. I tripped, I fell, I knocked you down, I hurt you. I think it's self-explanatory."

Lex let out a frustrated breath. "I know your parents don't have a problem with doctors and hospitals, Clark. When your dad was...sick...he was there for several days and your mom was right there with him the whole time."

"You don't..." Clark put his hands on either side of the window, pressing his forehead to the cool glass. "You just don't understand how it is."

"No, Clark, I don't. But I'd like to."

"You can't. No one c..." Clark saw first white and then black. Head spinning, vision fading, he tightened his grip on the window moldings and hunched forward; the glass from the window, when it shattered and fell down around Clark, was just one more thing his brain blocked out. Lex's voice shouting to him was another.

"Clark! Clark!" Shoes crunching on broken glass, Lex moved in behind Clark, wanting to stop his vicious movements. Yelling for someone to help him, Lex managed to pry Clark's fingers out of the wall; when Lex's doctor arrived, he helped Lex get Clark away from the broken shards and onto the floor.

Eyes squeezed shut, Clark convulsed with the pain. Curling in on himself, he unconsciously rolled away from the doctor's prying hands.

"If you can hold him still," the doctor said, "I'll give him a sedative." Dodging the foot Clark suddenly kicked out, he reached into his bag.

Kneeling, unaware that he was cradling Clark's head and shoulders, Lex couldn't tear his eyes away from the window. The glass was gone, exposing the screen, but more disturbing than that were the twin holes on either side of the window...where Clark had put his hands through.

And Clark didn't have a scratch on him-no blood, no bruising, no scrapes; Lex had been sure to look as they'd pulled him away. So what was going on? A seemingly indestructible young man debilitated by headaches? Something didn't add up and as much as Clark wanted him to, Lex couldn't let it go.

"There," the doctor announced. "That should do it." He held up a needle, expelling some fluid from the end of it and tapping it with his finger.

Lex's attention was brought back to Clark, who had been still for some time. "Doctor? What are you doing?" he demanded.

"Administering a sedative," the doctor said, speaking as though Lex were dense.

Blue-hot rage burned behind Lex's eyes. "And who gave you permission to do so, Doctor? You were there when Doctor Stanton said Clark didn't wish to be treated. He said his family didn't believe in it. You will respect that."

"There is patient in need. I will treat him as I see fit," the doctor said evenly.

"You will treat him as a human being," Lex growled. "With respect for him and for his personal decisions." He looked down at Clark. "See yourself out, Doctor. And don't bother coming back. Your final paycheck will be in the mail."

"Mr. Luthor..."

"I will not have you taking advantage of your position, Doctor. Get out of here before you have to treat yourself," Lex warned.

As he watched the doctor storm out, Lex felt eyes on him. Looking down, he found Clark awake and looking at him.

"It happened again," Clark said sadly. "God, Lex, I'm sorry." He pushed himself up on one elbow, blushing as he realized the position he was in. "You shouldn't be involved in this. I have to go."

Jumping to his feet as if nothing had ever happened, Clark was out of the bedroom and down the hall before Lex could stand up and follow him.

"Clark, stop!"

Clark felt trapped, felt like hitting or pounding or ripping something. He had a vague recollection of the window as the glass fell out of it and the wall as the plaster gave way beneath his hands. Lex had already seen too much; as much as he desperately wanted someone to help him through whatever was happening to him, he couldn't go against years of his parents' conditioning. He couldn't knowingly give his secrets away.

"Clark, please. Can we talk about this?"

Clark took the winding stairs two at a time, wanting only to get away from the castle. "There's nothing to talk about Lex," he said over his shoulder. "You tried to help, but you can't. I have to do this by myself. Thank you for trying."

Rounding the final turn of the steps, Clark put on a burst of speed that got him through the hallway and out the back door. Taking a deep breath, he checked to be sure Lex wasn't there to see him and sped away.

Panting, Lex pushed the back door open to find...nothing. Quickly, he scanned the grass and, further off, the trees. Clark was nowhere to be seen. Walking the castle's perimeter, knowing deep down that he would find no trace of the younger man, Lex got in his car. Come hell or high water, he would find Clark before anything else untoward happened. He wouldn't let Clark be alone in this.

Clark soon found himself passing through the Kent fields and heading for home; his heart still pounded as he thought of his narrow escape from Lex's prying eyes and worried questions. Slowing slightly at the edge of the property, Clark considered going into the house and locking himself in. He really was not up to more of Lex's investigating.

Before he'd consciously decided it, Clark was in the loft, standing by the open doors. Looking out of the window, Clark watched as the trees and sky winked in and out of focus. He was familiar with the concept; his speed always blurred things and Clark was used to it, but this time it was different. Vertigo clutched him, leaving him reeling.

Scared, Clark stumbled toward the couch; sitting down heavily, he heard the piece of furniture creak beneath him. His mom and dad were going to have to do something when they got back. He didn't think he could live another minute with things as out of control as they were, let alone for days or weeks...or forever.

Clark propped his elbows on his knees, chin on top of his hands. He could accept his strength; that made him useful to his father around the farm. He could accept the speed. As long as he used it carefully, it was a good tool for making quick get-aways and letting him finally be on time to school. Even the floating above his bed he could accept because it was subtle and it made him curious about what was to become of it.

This, though...whatever it was...could not possibly be good. The other abilities had come about naturally, painlessly. They didn't make him endanger people; they helped him to help others.

Just thinking about the headaches brought another one on. Clark grabbed his head, squeezing until his grip was almost more painful than the knife-blade slicing through his skull. It didn't help. Leaning over the side of the couch, Clark got sick...over and over and over.

Retching until his stomach clenched and nothing more came up, Clark continued to lean, doubled-over, staring at the wooden floor boards until it seemed he could see straight through them to the barn below. Shocked, Clark jerked himself upright and watched as the room spun dizzily all around him.

Not knowing if he was standing or still sitting down, Clark gasped for breath, choking as the sour smell of vomit assailed his nostrils. It seemed he was too near it to still be on the couch, but he couldn't seem to open his eyes.

Reaching out, Clark's fingers hit wood and he wrapped his hand around the leg of the couch; apparently he was lying on his back on the floor. With no recollection of how he'd gotten there, Clark tried again to force his eyes open. He was desperately thirsty and he had a mess to clean up. Inaction wasn't going to solve anything; his father had taught him that.

Limbs heavy, Clark managed to roll onto his side, but his energy was gone. Head lolling, he panted, trying to summon the strength to get to his feet. Out loud, he laughed, a sharp, angry sound. It was an irony Chloe would have loved-since when did Clark Kent lack strength?

"Clark?" Hearing Clark's laugh almost set Lex's mind at ease. He hurried up the steps, wanting only to reassure himself that Clark was okay.

"God, I've been looking all over for you..." Lex's next words were swallowed up by the sheer terror he felt when he saw Clark sprawled on the loft's floor, nearly under the couch, pale blue eyes open and staring. Lex shivered. He had seen eyes like that before.

"Clark, let me help you up." Lex used the most reassuring voice he could muster.

Clark shrank from the voice. "You can't help me, Lex." Clark's teeth chattered as he spoke. "I t...told you. one can."

"Nonsense, Clark." Lex went for keeping the words light. "I'm a Luthor, remember? We can fix anything we put our minds to."

Clark's attempted smile came out more like a grimace. "Not this time, Lex. Guess your powers have finally met their match." As he spoke, he ran his hand up and down the couch leg, trying to calm his shattered nerves.

"Let me help you up," Lex said again. "Then we'll work through this Clark. I promise. Whatever it takes."

And Clark almost believed him. Wanted to believe him. But knew he couldn't afford to. "You should j...just go," he managed to say, though it hurt him to force the words out.

"And leave you here like this?" Lex sounded incredulous. "What kind of a friend would I be if I did that?"

"A good one," Clark said softly. "Friends listen to each other. All I'm asking is that you listen to me now."

"Clark, you can't see, can you?" Lex left Clark no room for maneuvering.

Clark's body jolted at the question. "I just can't open my eyes. I don't know why." The words came out in a whisper.

"Clark...your eyes are open. But that glazed's's like Cassandra. And that scares me, Clark. Please tell me what's going on."

For several long minutes, Clark lay still, thinking on Lex's words. He'd suspected his flashes of non-vision had been leading to blindness, but the reality of it was so much harder to take than the theory.

"Clark, let's get you off the floor," Lex was saying kindly. "You can't be comfortable down there..."

"I think I have a brain tumor." The words tumbled from Clark's mouth before he could stop them.

Lex froze, his hand stopping just short of reaching for Clark. "What?"

Clark curled in on himself, out of reach of Lex now. "I've done research, Lex. I know the signs. Severe headaches...blindness resulting from the tumor pressing against the optical nerves...and those are just the major ones."

Lex found himself biting back semi-hysterical laughter. "Is that your official diagnosis, DOCTOR Kent?"

Clark cringed, hurt by the classic Luthor sarcasm. "It's been going on for weeks now, Lex. The symptoms have been getting worse...and now..." A sob choked Clark's last word. "...this."

"Give me your hand, Clark." Lex knew he was dealing with an angry, wounded soul; the commanding tone of his voice could do no more harm than was already done. The corners of his mouth turned up as Clark unwound a bit and turned his head in Lex's direction.

"That's it, Clark," Lex encouraged, with an emotion he'd not even known he was capable of expressing. "Let me help you. We can go inside the house or back to the castle; just stop trying to get through this by yourself. All the really great men in history knew when to ask for help...and I feel that you're going to be one of them."

When Clark snorted at the joke, Lex felt the tightness in his chest loosen infinitesimally. Clark was coming back to him...the old Clark. Lex could feel it. Slowly, he pulled Clark towards him, helping him to his knees and then to his feet. The younger man was understandably shaky, but Lex held tight, supporting him.

Clark's hands reached out nervously, exploring the space around him, flitting up and down to make up for what his eyes couldn't see.

Lex ducked as one hand narrowly missed connecting with his ear. "Whoa, Clark, easy," he chuckled. "This is a barn, not a boxing ring."

Instead of being reassured by the light banter, Clark stiffened.

"I'm sorry, Clark," Lex was immediately apologetic. "I'm a little out of my element here."

"Yeah, well, that makes two of us," Clark said.

"We need to talk," Lex said. "Where do you want to go?"

Clark tipped his head to the side as if thinking. "The hay," he said.

"The what?" Lex asked in confusion.

"The hay. I always used to go there when I needed to think or didn't want my parents to find me. When I was a kid, they kept this part of the barn off limits; they were afraid I'd fall out of the loft doors." He gave an ironic laugh. "Not like they had anything to worry about..."

"What?" Lex asked, more confused than ever.

"Nothing," Clark said. "The hay is that way." Somehow still knowing where he was, Clark pointed unerringly to the stairs.

Carefully, Lex helped Clark down the steps. Bales of hay and loose piles of it lay stacked in the corner of the barn. He led Clark to it and the two of them sat down.

"You said you came here to think?" Lex asked, trying to get comfortable atop the prickly straws. "How could you concentrate?"

Clark settled down, his back against a hay bale. "I like the feel of it," he admitted. "It's soothing to sink down into it, to smell the fresh-cut hay, to have it all around me." He stopped, forehead furrowing. "I know, it sounds kind of weird."

Lex grinned. "What you just described is a jacuzzi, Clark. I guess mansions and farms just have different forms of them, huh?"

Clark shrugged. "Yeah, I guess so." He fell silent.

"Why don't your parents know about what's happening to you, Clark?" The question was painfully blunt.

Clark's jaw tightened. "They do." It wasn't really a lie.

"And what did the doctors have to say?"

"There haven't been any doctors. I told you..."

"Don't give me that crap about your parents' religious beliefs, Clark. My physician didn't even fall for it. It's not like I'm going to. I know your parents have been seen by doctors. This is serious, Clark. Why haven't they taken you?"

Even though he couldn't see the disappointment on Lex's face, Clark looked away. "They can't."

"If it's a money issue..."

"It's not!" Clark said angrily. "They just can't, okay? Please don't keep asking." Seeking refuge in the hay, Clark gathered it around him like a shroud.

"Does this have anything to do with your speed and your strength, Clark?" The question laid the conversation wide open.

Clark went utterly still, barely breathing. "Please don't do this," he whispered.

"I'm your friend, Clark."

"If you're my friend, then leave this alone, Lex."


Clark faced Lex, determination in his voice. "Care to tell me about your childhood, Lex? Or the tender relationship you share with your father? Or about your sometimes questionable business propositions?" He went for the jugular. "Or your mother?"

"Leave my mother out of this," Lex hissed.

Clark sighed. "So it's okay for you to have things in your life that are off limits to talk about...but not for me? Tell me how that works."

"My life `secrets' aren't threatening my life," Lex said simply. "And it's a very real possibility that yours are."

Clark slumped in defeat. He could admit to himself that if he were to pick someone to tell about his past, that person would be Lex. But he would want to do it in his own time and his own way, not under interrogation. That made it too much like his worst nightmares.

"You can't just come here, demanding answers," he said instead. "I'm not one of your employees, Lex. Stop treating me like one."

Another headache was threatening, crashing over Clark's brain and through his skull like an out-of-control tidal wave. Clark squeezed his eyes shut, trying to ward it off, not wanting to give Lex any more fuel for his fire.

"God, Clark...I'm sorry..." Lex watched as Clark, the best friend he had in the world-maybe the only friend-moved away from him, afraid of him. He saw the pain-filled expression, the shaking Clark was trying to hide, and he felt guilty. Luthors were not supposed to have a conscience, but Lex was suddenly feeling his acutely...and feeling more human than he'd ever felt before.

"I just want to know how to help you, Clark," Lex said finally. "I'm a man of action. When I see something wrong, I'm compelled to make it right."

"I'm not something you can fix." Clark's hands were at his temples again, pressing in, willing away the ache.

"But how do you know that? If you haven't even been to see a're only guessing. In my experience, speculation is a worse enemy to have than the truth."

Clark gave a sad laugh. "In my experience, truth and speculation are the same thing."

Lex laughed. "You may be right. This is Smallville, after all." He paused. "Do you think whatever this is links back to the time of the meteor showers?" he asked curiously. He saw Clark ready to bolt. "Please, I know you can't tell me, but if I guess it's not the same thing, right?"

Clark would have run, would have gone anywhere that got him away from Lex if he thought his legs would support him. He felt numb all over, extremities tingling, heart pounding. And then there was the small detail of his eyesight...

"Why do you care about this so much?" Clark asked piteously. "Can't you just dismiss me like the rest of the town freaks and find someone else to study? I'm just a kid, Lex. A nothing. I've got homework, school dances, and now this to worry about." He pointed to his head. "There has to be someone more important out there to warrant your attentions."

"I haven't found anyone in Smallville who intrigues me more than you, Clark. But more than that, I haven't found anyone in Smallville whose friendship I value more than yours.

"You've taught me what a true friend can be; you've taught me that friends help each other and that friends trust one another. Was I wrong to believe you?"

Every reservation Clark had went out the window along with his last reservoir of strength and every warning his father had ever given him about trusting no one with his secrets...especially a Luthor. His parents had always done the best they could; they tried to understand him and help him. But their influence could only reach so far.

Clark was growing up, changing in ways he didn't understand, and he desperately needed someone else inside his circle of influence. He needed someone who treated him like an equal, instead of like an offspring, and he needed someone he could go to, to talk to, when his parents weren't there or weren't enough. He needed Lex.

Turning to the other man, ready to bear his soul at last, Clark screamed as a spike of pain unlike any of the rest drove into his head, exploding behind his eyes like a star going nova.

"Clark!" Lex saw the sheer terror that crossed Clark's face, the horror-filled howl ringing in his ears. "Fuck!"

Blue eyes wide with the betrayal of his own body, Clark fell forward, into Lex. Forehead against Lex's shoulder, Clark cried out again, another sharp pain drilling into his skull.

"Clark, take it easy. God!" Trapped in Clark's nightmare, Lex felt helpless, not an experience he was used to. Awkwardly, he put his arms around the younger man, holding him close, willing the painful attack to subside. "Clark...Clark..."

Clark tried to focus on Lex's voice. It seemed to help. Taking a chance, he opened his eyes.

Bones. Clark could see bones.

Though his head still hurt, Clark shook it, not believing the information his brain was feeding to him. Pushing himself away from Lex, he stared in the direction of the other man. For a moment he saw only black again, but then...

Muscles...tendons...Lex opening his mouth, calling Clark's name, the movement of his jaw visible to Clark as a set of skeleton-like teeth and jutting bone.

Clark gasped as normal vision suddenly came flooding back to him; Lex's face loomed before him, all raw panic and concern. Nothing had ever looked so beautiful.

Lex grunted in surprise as he found himself with an armful of overcome Clark. Realizing he was finally getting what he'd been fighting so hard for, Lex found he was at odds about what to do next. Comforting had never been his strong suit, but the sobbing young man falling apart before his eyes demanded he do something.

Gently, Lex ran his fingers through the dark, thick hair, massaging Clark's scalp. He smiled at the deep sigh it brought forth. Emboldened, Lex allowed his thumbs to trace light circles at Clark's temples, wanting to make the headaches disappear forever.

Clark groaned. "Lex..."

"Shhh..." Lex crooned. "Just lie still." As he spoke, he felt the tension drain from Clark's back and shoulders, heard the sobs turn into quiet tears. When the younger man had calmed, Lex asked, "Do you want to tell me what just happened?"

"I think..." Clark didn't know whether to give in to the tears again or laugh hysterically. "I think I'm going to be okay." Relief coursed through Clark, making him giddy. He blinked and inwardly rejoiced as the world stayed put, Lex's shining countenance clearly in his view.

"And your vision? I know something's changed. You can see again."

Clark nodded. "Yeah...something's changed..." Concentrating, Clark stared at Lex, wanting to know if he could harness his new-found gift. Slowly, Lex's skin melted away showing first his muscles and then his bones. Then, as Clark studied the descending links of Lex's spine, he saw something else: the bale of hay behind Lex.

"Clark? What's going on? Why are you looking at me like you can see right through me?"

"Um..." Clark contemplated making something up, but decided against it. He'd already decided to tell Lex the truth, and this was a part of it. "Because I can...?"

To his credit, Lex didn't so much as blink. "Why doesn't that surprise me?" he asked with a smile.

"I'm different, Lex." The admission was easier to make than Clark had ever imagined.

"I guessed that." Lex chuckled. "Besides, this is Smallville, Clark. Who isn't?"

"I'm different than that," Clark tried again. "The meteor showers didn't come down on me...I came down in them."

The movements of Lex's fingers stopped as he heard the entire truth for the first time.

"Please don't hate me," Clark begged, almost too quietly to be heard. "I couldn't stand it."

"I could never hate you Clark," Lex said, resuming the soft stroking of Clark's hair. "Do you want to tell me what happened?"

The entire story came out, the words flowing from Clark's heart as they poured past his lips. And it wasn't like his mom and dad had said it would be; the world didn't end. If anything, the world became a place Clark wanted to live in again, a place where he was no longer a solitary figure. Finally, he would have someone else to stand with.

~ el fin ~

Comments? Anything? Please?