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Clark lay back and took a deep breath. Up above the sky was clear and there wasn't a sound for miles around. After long minutes of contemplating the sheer blueness, he finally sat up, avoiding a glance at the unconscious body just a few feet away. The crystal in his closed fist felt cold and lifeless.

It felt like an eternity before he finally turned and stared down at Lex. It was over. Zod was excised and Lex was himself again. At least Clark assumed that this was the case, though he couldn't be sure since Lex had collapsed immediately after Zod had departed and not woken since. Had it been a few minutes or longer, Clark wasn't even sure. He should have felt relief at having defeated Zod, but right now all he felt was a cold numbness that grew the longer he sat in the field.

Clark crawled over to Lex, too exhausted from the ordeal of the last few days to stand. He reached out and gripped Lex's shoulder, slowly turning him over. He wasn't prepared for what he found. He'd thought for sure he'd be staring into the evil that was Zod. That somehow Lex's face would show what Zod had wrought upon him, but instead all that remained seemed almost peaceful. Lex looked very much as though he'd just fallen asleep in the field.

Clark spent the next few minutes making sure nothing was broken or damaged. When he was convinced that Lex wasn't in immediate need of medical attention, he removed the leather coat, and flung it as far away as possible.

It felt so strange to be this close to Lex after months of their estrangement. Clark couldn't stop thinking about the thrill he'd felt when he'd fallen to his knees and taken Lex's hand in his. It had been a ruse, but he'd never expected that one simple touch to feel so right. He'd never expected his old feelings for Lex to resurface so powerfully.

Clark looked down from his musings, almost startled to find that he'd pulled Lex close, cradling his body in his arms. He should have gotten Lex to a hospital as quickly as possible, but something was stopping him. He stared down at the slack features of a man he'd once cared about so much. He could admit to himself here, in this field far from prying eyes, that the feelings he'd had were more than just caring. A long time ago, Clark had worshipped Lex's every word and every gesture. He'd been so sure that one day he could have eventually told Lex how he truly felt about him. How had it come to this?

If he was honest with himself, Clark knew just why he was here in this field, holding Lex in his arms. He knew that when Lex finally woke, they'd not speak one word to each other. He knew where Lex stood with respect to every action Clark had ever made, and every word Clark had ever spoken. But he didn't want to dwell on that right now. Clark had his chance once a long time ago to make things right between them. He hadn't taken it, and now the situation between them was what it was: barely civil enmity. He had no right to ask for, let alone, want something else. This was of his making, and now he'd lost Lana as well. That loss was one he was willing to live with, but this was almost unbearable. His chest constricted at the thought of never again seeing a look of adoration directed at him from the man he now held in his arms.

Clark forced himself to look down at Lex's face. He looked so at peace, it was hard to believe that just a while ago, Lex had been possessed by Zod and bent on the destruction of the entire planet. It was hard not to think just for a moment that maybe if Clark stayed here with Lex until he woke up and if Clark explained everything to Lex, that maybe just maybe, things could change. But Clark knew that was just a dream. Zod wasn't the only one who hated him. Lex did as well. Despite all that, he pulled Lex in closer and cradled him against his chest.

The truth between them didn't stop Clark from reaching out and gently caressing Lex's smooth cheek. The touch was electric, and Clark's fingers lingered as they glided over Lex's lips. He slowly brushed the scar on Lex's mouth, feeling a shiver run through his body.

"You're so beautiful," he whispered, startled at how much awe and reverence his tone held. The sound of the words rang in Clark's ear, echoed over and over again, a raw truth behind them that Clark had never realized up until this very moment. His throat constricted again and the feeling of helplessness grew with each second that passed. Why was he the one who had to give up everything and everyone he loved? Why?

Without a second thought, Clark tilted his head and placed a tender kiss on Lex's slack mouth, lingering much longer than he should have. It felt wrong to do this, but Clark couldn't pass up the opportunity. It had been six years since their lips had touched on that day by the river. That touch had stayed with Clark since, haunting his whole life. He'd always wondered what it would have been like to share a real kiss with Lex, and now, after six long years, Clark knew he'd never find out.

Clark lifted his head and watched as a teardrop splashed onto Lex's closed eyelid, slipping down his temple as though he were the one who'd shed the tear. His gaze followed the wet trail, transfixed by the sheer beauty of Lex's features, unable or incapable of looking away.

After a long while, Clark finally, carefully, gathered Lex's unconscious body in his arms and headed for town, walking slowly, savoring every moment while he still could. His eyes had dried and his resolve had hardened. There was no turning back. Their future was set in stone. It probably had been a long time ago.