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Running

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Running

by Annie


Running

By Annie

Rated: PG13
Summary: Clark runs to get Lex.
Disclaimer: Not mine, quoth the Raven. Spoilers: Shattered; Vortex
Somebody asked for a breakout fic; sequel to Run. Not necessary to read that one first. Feedback: crehnert@ptd.net

"I don't want you involved in this anymore, Clark!"

The anger in his voice doesn't touch me or even slow me down as I stomp around the barn. Soon, I'll have a trench worn in the floor.

"Dad," I start, but he's terrified for me, for my secrets, my safety. I don't blame him for that, but it's nothing I want to bring into the equation.

He tries to override me, succeeds because I hate arguing with either him or Mom. Hate the aftertaste of disrespect it leaves in my mouth. I love them. That also doesn't enter into the equation.

"This is too dangerous, Clark! You could put yourself, your Mother, all of us, in a lot of danger. We don't want you involved with the Luthors. We never did, and especially now! Can't you see what kind of people we're dealing with?"

I feel the snap of emotion inside as I rise to Lex's defense. "Person, Dad." I correct him quietly. "Just Lionel. He can't hurt me, but he is hurting Lex. What if he never gets better? What if that bastard never lets him out of there?"

He winces at the unaccustomed word I've used, but bastard is the least profane thing I can actually say out loud with regard to Lionel Luthor. The rage I'm stoking inside for Lex's father feels like every sick moment I've ever suffered from exposure to Kryptonite, and I commend myself silently for not having torn the barn down with my bare hands when I got back from Edge's hideout. Then there's that little issue of me leaving him there, alone and exposed, shocked by what he had seen, easy prey for the men who came and dragged him away screaming my name. Almost pulling me out of my hiding place, where I watched them take him, where I was still so panicked I couldn't move.

"It's their business, Clark. Your Mother is in the house almost beside herself with worrying about you. And about us. Is Morgan Edge dead?"

I sigh. "Lex shot him...."

"That's two," he reminds me bitterly, and I stop the pacing abruptly and look him squarely in the eye.

"Half of those men he killed while saving your life."

"Yes, Clark, and we still don't know the full story of what went on between him and Nixon."

"It doesn't matter," I insist. "What matters now is Lex. I have to get him out of there. If you don't know what I'm doing, then you can't stop me, and you can't be blamed either. I have to do this myself. Really, you couldn't stop me anyway."

I can see he's almost at the end of his patience and the yelling will begin in earnest soon. I want to save my time and his breath. He opens his mouth to try another argument, and I'm not listening.

I move in close, face to face, close enough to hug, but we don't.

"I have to do this, Dad. I can't let him there to rot and be driven totally insane by his own Father. I have to go and get him. It's Lex."

I can tell the second he truly understands the determination I feel, the depth of my emotion that won't allow me to listen to reason - his or anyone else's. I can see it move across his face and through his eyes, sense the defeat in the waning tenseness of his body.

He sighs, a barely-there sound in the vastness of the dim barn. "Do you think you can?" he asks in resignation.

"I just have to, so I will." I tell him simply. "They won't know how to stop me. They won't even be able to focus long enough to see me. I just have to make a phone call first."

His hand reaches up to squeeze my shoulder and he looks at me with something more than love. Trust, maybe. Fear, definitely. "I'll help you," he offers, as if there could be no question that he would be at my side. I shake my head.

"No. I can't take a chance trying to superspeed three people out of there. But, thanks. I'll figure out what to tell Lex about how I got in later," I assure him, catching the cautionary look in his eye, still reluctant to tell him about the car. About Lex seeing.

Another squeeze. "Just go see your Mother before you leave. She needs to know you'll be coming home. With or without Lex."

"It will be without," I assure him. "It's not safe for him here, or anywhere in Smallville."

"Where are you going to take him, Clark?" he asks my back as I turn away and head out into the evening sun to go to the house; make my peace with Mom.

"I'm working on that." I tell him, some kind of muddled plan running around in my head.

She's in the kitchen, making pie crust to keep her hands busy, because I know this is something she can do mindlessly.

"Mom," I start, but she holds up a shaky, flour-covered hand to silence me, and I can see the will power she is exerting to stay where she is, to not fly across the room and hold me in her arms protectively. I'm not four years old, and she has been realizing this more and more with every day that passes, every bad decision I make.

"You're going to get him," she says, and it's much more a statement than a question.

"It's Lex," I tell her, as if those two little words will convince her. She moves finally, wiping her hands on her apron and coming around the counter to reach up and touch my face, her gaze searching mine, sad understanding fueling the tears I can see building there.

I blink hard against tears of my own. Her argument might be the single one that could change my mind. She knows this instinctively. She also knows that, deep down, I would never forgive her.

"It's Lex," she nods.

Some amount of hugs and tears later, I find myself in my bedroom, door closed, cordless phone in hand, punching in Chloe's number without even thinking about it. Of course, I know it by heart.

"Clark," she answers quietly, and I know she has checked the Caller ID self-defensively, probably worried about calls from rich, old bastards who might want to know where I am.

"Yea, it's me. Are you okay?" I ask, heart thudding lightly with fear for her. "Is your Dad home?"

"He's here. He's not going out or anything, and neither am I. Not tonight. What happened? My contact in the sheriff's office told me they hauled Lex away. Were you there? You couldn't stop them?"

"No," I tell her softly, fresh guilt and panic surging up, despite my super attempts to quell them. I realize I still haven't told my parents the thing they will be most upset about. Lex knows. "No, Chloe, I couldn't. How's Lana?"

Soft sigh on the other end. "Still sedated, but they think she'll be okay. Are you okay?"

I don't answer. What am I supposed to say? Yea, I'm fine. Big, superpowered, cowardly alien - that would be me. "I have an idea, Chloe. I need you to find something for me."

"What are you going to do, Clark?"

"It's safer if you don't know. Will you just look for something for me?"

It doesn't take Chloe too long to find out what I need to know. I make one more phone call, this one a bit more difficult and uncomfortable, a lot longer; Mom and Dad will have a fit when they see the bill. I can't do anything more from here, so I run to Belle Reve. To Lex.

I watch from the cover of some trees across the road from the main gate. There are lead bars on a lot of the windows, and it makes my x-ray vision even more surreal than it already is, the skeletons appearing and disappearing between the bars. I cringe for the people I can see inside, laying, pacing, banging their heads on walls, tearing something, paper I guess, into little strips. One skeleton is laying on a bed, pounding the wall repeatedly with one hand, the other flung protectively across his eyes and I don't even want to think about what he might be trying to block out.

Lex. Focus on Lex, I tell myself, he's in there somewhere. This won't be quiet and it won't be pretty. The gates open slowly and a long black limousine pulls slowly out of the driveway. I recognize the plates. It's Lionel, and I want to run over and drag him out of the car. My fists clench unbidden and I have to remind myself that I am here for Lex. Lionel isn't going anywhere, and if - when - Lex gets better, I'll let him plot his own revenge.

The limo is barely out of sight before I get back to my scan, and there! No mistake, I would recognize Lex's skeleton anywhere, having looked him over for bruises and broken bones on numerous occasions. Just this morning, in the barn, for instance. First floor; fortune smiles on the brave or something, because I won't have to try to leap out of any high windows with Lex in my arms. I shudder at the thought of Lex in my arms, as a chill of dread creeps down my spine.

I can't fuck this up.

I study the scene. Lex is alone in the room, no guards. From the weird way he is sitting, I know they have him in a strait jacket and I flinch inwardly at how that must feel. I watch people walking up and down hallways, in and out of rooms, and this is better than blueprints, helps me track the way in to Lex and back out again.

I'm anxious and scared; I'm determined and I'll be out of there before the alarms can even start going off. I trace the path again, looking through all the walls. Through the gates, up the drive, through the big front doors, probably locked, but that will mean less than nothing to me. Down that hall, two lefts and into Lex's room, through a wall if necessary. Grab Lex, reverse and I'm out. Fast.

A horrible thought pops into my head; what if Lex doesn't want to come? Or what if he just doesn't want to come with me? This is something I haven't even considered, but I push it away forcibly. Lex is out of there tonight, and if I have to hold him down or tie him into a chair, he'll listen long enough for me to try to explain. Everything.

I take a few deep breaths, close my eyes, see the path and just - go.

Nothing is a deterrent; through the gates, leaving them swinging wide in my wake; through the heavy doors, guard knocked aside in shock; down the halls and one of them ends in a wall-size, one-way window. I can see Lex and it almost stops me in my tracks, but I'm going too fast and I'm too high on adrenaline and desperation; through the one-way glass with a resounding shatter and I've scooped Lex up in my arms before he can even react. Before the glass hits the floor, I'm already out the front doors again, the guard hasn't even had time to get off the floor, and then we're gone, a blur down the highway and I feel him like dead weight in my arms. Lex is frozen in shock, and I hold him against my chest protectively, relief washing through me. I whisper encouraging words to him; "It's me, Lex, it's okay, I've got you, you're safe, I won't let anyone hurt you." Desperate words, stolen by my speed, like my unbidden tears, swiped away by the wind before they can fall.

A minute, maybe less, and we're there; an old abandoned factory about twenty miles out of town on Route 5. I go in through a back door, out of sight from the road, and finally stop. I can't release my grip on the wanted burden in my arms, and I suddenly feel the wetness on my face. No wind to dry the tears now.

I'm ahead of schedule, and we have to wait.

It's dark in here; barely any of the moonlight comes inside, and Lex begins to come out of his shocked silence, struggling uselessly against both me and the strait jacket. I lay him on the floor as gently as I can, staying out of the way of his thrashing legs. He's ranting and calling for help. Calling for me.

"I'm here, Lex," I assure him loudly. "I would never leave you there! Be still." I reach down and rip at the strait jacket, shredding the canvas and flinging it away into the dark. I'm not sure what's supposed to be under it, but there isn't anything. Lex is exposed above his waist to the cool air, and I am unable to stifle a gasp at the condition he is in. I'm shredded myself, like the offending canvas. He moans as his arms and shoulders finally relax into a more normal position, and I reach down to run my hands up and down his arms softly, trying to warm him, trying to help the tortured muscles I feel under my fingers. Even in this darkness, I can see the still-healing slashes from his jump through the window at the mansion. I can also see his chest and arms are covered with newer bruises. They weren't gentle with him.

I want to hurt someone.

"Shirt," he's mumbling. "They took your shirt. I wanted it on my skin."

Tears come to my eyes again; the shirt I gave him this morning in the loft, the shirt that was too big for him, so that he had to roll up the sleeves. Made himself look even more childlike and vulnerable as he tried to defend himself, looked even more desperate at the mansion when he begged me tearfully not to let them lock him up.

I strip and give him the shirt I'm wearing now, pulling it on for him as he murmurs softly, remembering this afternoon. "I knew it, I knew there was something. I just knew. You should have told me." Tears on his face then. "Why don't you trust me? You chose me, and then you left me."

I sit on the concrete floor and pull him into my lap, holding him against my chest, hands still running aimlessly up and down his arms, feeling the tenseness there, the fear all through him.

"Sshh, Lex, it's okay, it's going to be all right. I'll never leave you again, I promise." I whisper against the cool, bruised skin of his head, brushing my lips there to comfort him and he moans and tries to lean further into my arms. I feel the tears that slide down his face and land on my bare arms, and I pull him in even closer. I kiss his eyelids carefully, I want to stop his tears, don't want them to see him like this when they get here. Don't want them to see my tears either.

"I'm going to help you, Lex. I found someone. Someone I think we can really trust. Someone who doesn't like Lionel. We'll get you better, and then I'll tell you everything. Every single thing. Just - try to stay with me here," I plead with him as I rock him gently in my arms.

"Never leave you," he mumbles. "Never go so far you can't call me back," he promises distractedly, and I wonder if he is talking about distance or sanity. He moans softly.

"Julian is dead, you know."

I brush a hand gently across his forehead. "Yes, Lex, I know. You told me, remember?"

He sighs. "It was my fault. Dad says I loved him too much, and I killed him."

A simple statement, so matter-of-fact, and it takes my breath away and makes hate grow in my heart. Lex is crying again, and I wipe the tears away, strangely tempted to lick them from my fingers. Taste Lex.

"I don't believe you can love someone too much, Lex. I'm sure your Father is wrong."

Lex seems suddenly lucid, reaching up to lay a hand against my cheek possessively. "My Father is wrong about a lot of things, Clark, but not this. You can love someone too much."

The glow of headlights approaching, slowing down and then being turned off, distracts him.

"Someone's coming," he reacts fearfully, and I hold him tighter, because I can feel the tenseness building in his body, feel him wanting to bolt.

"It's all right," I assure him. "They're here to help."

"Who, Clark? Who did you call?"

I take a deep breath, unsure what his reaction will be.

"I remembered, a long time ago, you told me you used to be friends with Bruce Wayne. I know he has lots of money. You said he never liked your Father. I called him today, told him what was happening. I asked him to come and take you under his protection, have you admitted to Arkham Asylum under the care of a doctor he knows, to do tests and prove you were drugged, and to prove that you're sane. He said he'd come right away tonight and get you. You told me once that he was one of the few people in the world you trusted."

Lex laughs shortly. "You called Bruce? Bruce Wayne? And he came immediately? How persuasive were you, exactly?"

I never answer him, as we hear the door open slowly.

"Mr. Kent?" comes the voice I recognize from the phone call earlier.

"Over here. I've got him." I reply quietly.

Bruce Wayne walks over to us in the darkness, flanked by two other men. He ignores me, bending his dark head down toward Lex.

"Are you all right, Lex? What has he tried to do now?" he asks, and I know he is referring to Lionel.

I study him from the corner of my eye, reluctant to release Lex from my hold on him, not trusting him to remain lucid for very long and afraid he will run. I can catch him, of course, but I don't want him to get hurt, and I don't want Bruce Wayne to see me using my powers. One curious millionaire is more than enough.

He's very tall, dark-haired and handsome, and I can tell he spends more time brooding than he does smiling, simply by his demeanor.

Lex waves his question away. "You know Lionel. Anything for a laugh. He's probably laughing his ass off as we speak."

"Not for long," Bruce states grimly. "I've made all the arrangements," he says, turning his somber attention to me now. "I have a doctor ready to see Lex as soon as we get back to Gotham City. Lex will be in a room well away from the regular inhabitants of the Asylum, and he will be under guard at all times, for his own protection. Everyone on the staff has been alerted that Lionel Luthor is to be given absolutely no information, per Lex's request. Also, The Batman has agreed to do regular sweeps of the Asylum, to watch for any unusual activity." He speaks to Lex now, softer, a bit less authoritatively. "Are you ready, Lex? I don't want the limo out there too long, attracting unwanted attention."

Bruce turns to the two men behind him. "Help him out to the car."

"No," I object immediately. No way Lex would want these men to see that he needs help.

"I can walk," Lex insists, climbing to his feet, with a lot of help from me that I manage to disguise as only a minimum of assistance. "I'll go out with you," I tell him, putting an arm around his thin waist.

"Please tell them to make sure he eats," I ask Bruce quietly, and he nods, turning to bring up the rear as we head for the door slowly. I can feel the strain in Lex, fighting against the bruises, his achy arms and legs, his overall weakness from the last week or so of not eating or sleeping properly.

"Wait," Lex stops walking, pulling back, seemingly afraid to go through the door.

"Lex?"

"Your shirt. It's cold out. You need it back."

I almost sigh. Lex is retreating again, and I offer up a silent prayer for the drugs to clear out of his system soon.

"It's okay, Lex. I don't need it. You keep it."

He looks incredibly sad. "They'll take it away. When they put on the other one."

I turn back to look at Bruce pointedly. "He needs to keep the shirt," I insist. "And tell them, no strait jacket."

"Don't worry, Lex," Bruce vows seriously. "No one is going to take your shirt. And there will be no strait jacket."

Lex starts walking again, leaning into my arm slightly, and when we get to the limo, I am reluctant to break the connection, keeping my hand on his arm until he has settled back against the soft leather and Bruce has gotten into the back seat with him from the other side.

"You're not coming, Clark?" he asks, a bit confused, I think.

"I can't Lex. I'll be watched. The news of your escape is probably all over town and Metropolis by now. I'll have to stay at home, do some normal stuff for a few days. As soon as I can, I'll zip away and come to see you." I raise my eyebrow slightly when I say 'zip', and from the look on Lex's face I almost think he is going to actually giggle with glee.

His hand is on my cheek again, and I think it's becoming my favorite feeling in the universe.

"I didn't imagine it, did I?" he asks pleadingly, and I would cut out my tongue before I would lie to him at this moment.

"No, Lex, you didn't imagine it."

He smiles brilliantly, one of those rare, genuine smiles he usually only has for me. He leans in closer to my face conspiratorially.

"I won't tell anyone," he promises in a whisper. "Except Julian,"

"Thank you, Lex," I manage around the huge lump in my throat, giving Bruce Wayne a glance, seeing the understanding in his eyes.

"We'll take the best care of him. We'll see you in a few days, then?"

I nod, moving away from the hand on my face regretfully. "As soon as I can," I reply, stepping away from the limo and closing the door, unable to see Lex anymore behind the tinted glass

I stand beside the road, untouched by the chill in the night air, wondering what terrible revenge Lex will plot against his Father when all this is over. Wondering if the vengeance will ultimately ruin Lex or save him.

All I have to hope now is that I've done the right thing; that I've called the right person for help. In any case, I know that by day after tomorrow, I'll be superspeeding my way to Gotham City. To Lex.

For now, I run home.