Title: Sans Investigation
Author: Anastasia (email@example.com) Homepage: www.slashcity.org/~anafic
Rating: PG-13 for language
Category: angst, h/c, drama
Summary: Lex wants Clark investigated; someone takes it too far Spoilers: for everything up to and including Kinetic Archive: Smallville Slash Archive and my own site. All others please ask.
Clark stood outside Lex Luthor's castle, confused and apprehensive. One of Lex's employee's had come by school to say that Lex needed to talk to him. It was something about the construction going on with the old theatre. The worker had made it sound serious and Clark was worried Lex had changed his mind about helping Lana.
Before he could raise his hand to knock, the large door opened. "Mr. Kent, please come in."
It was the same man who had come to the school and Clark found his stomach flip-flopping anxiously. He had not quite trusted the man then, and it seemed his subconscious was telling him the same thing now. But he trusted Lex. And Lex would not do anything to hurt him.
"I've come to see Lex," Clark said. "Will you please tell him I'm here?"
The man gave him an oily smile. "I'll do better than that. I'll get you comfortably settled for your wait and then I shall fetch him."
Clark glanced back at the door, the urge to bolt warring with the urge to get to the bottom of whatever it was Lex had in mind. He stayed. "I'd rather wait here," he said, hoping the uncertainty of his words would not be heard by the other man.
"I'm sorry, Sir. Mr. Luthor never speaks with his visitors in the entryway. You'll have to come with me."
Silently, and against his better judgment, Clark followed him.
The man led Clark through a series of hallways and into a private elevator. As Clark studied the stiff back and shoulders, his insides clenched. On the outside, the man appeared detached, business-like. Inside, though, Clark sensed something dark, something hidden. Put simply, something bad.
As the elevator dropped levels, Clark stood as far from the man as he could, glancing at him from the corner of his eye as casually as he was able. Lex's employee didn't seem to notice, his sight trained on the glowing arrow above the door.
When the arrow lit to a light green, the car slowed as if it were preparing to stop. It made sense, Clark reasoned. The `up' arrow would be for the castle's living quarters, the `down' arrow for the work area where Lex conducted his business.
Clark found himself unconsciously tensing at the thought of being somewhere under the Luthor castle. He was wondering what it would look like. Would it be wall-to-wall carpeting, with offices and computers and cubicles, or would it be like a mad scientist's lab, with test tubes and beds and hideous experiments going on all around?
Clark was biting back a slightly humorous, slightly hysterical laugh when the elevator made another sudden drop. There were no more arrows on the light board, indicating that there were no more levels to go to, but the elevator was definitely still going somewhere. As the car hit bottom, Clark began to get more than the nervous, sick-to-his stomach feeling he'd been plagued with since reaching Lex's home.
The emotionless man looked almost giddy as the doors slid open. He gestured ahead of him with one hand. "This way, Sir." The look he gave Clark as he turned to be sure he was following left no room for interpretation.
Stomach twisting painfully, Clark pressed his back up against the elevator wall, regretting his decision to follow the man and wondering if his curious nature was about to turn on him.
"Mr. Luthor does not like to be kept waiting." The voice brooked no argument; it was so similar to that of Clark's father when Clark was disobedient that Clark was out of the car before he even had time to process the decision.
The room across the hall from the elevator was enclosed with large glass windows. Inside, Clark could see plush burgundy carpet, a heavy oak desk, and comfortable-looking chairs. Even in the basement, it was obviously nothing but the best for Lex.
"You can have a seat in here," the man said, keying the sliding door open with what appeared to be a very complex code.
With visions of the posh room and dozens of questions regarding Lex's need to see him, Clark unquestioningly stepped in.
Standing in the room, Clark blinked, for the first time in his life doubting his own vision. When the door closed and locked behind him, he barely noticed.
The room was empty. The interior was stripped, as if it had never been- obviously some sort of sick Luthor illustion. The floor was uneven beneath his feet; the walls were made of rough-hewn stone. Using his vision to look through it, Clark could only see black...with large splotches and rivulets of green running through. He grew dizzy at the thought and knew his earlier queasiness hadn't been just nerves.
Hurrying to the door, Clark put his hands against it. There was no knob to grip, but his strength had never made that a problem before. As something akin to an electrical shock followed by nausea raced through him, Clark fell back, finding himself sitting on the floor.
Lex Luthor looked up from his computer, startled and annoyed by the loud knocking on his door. "What?" he demanded.
The door opened, revealing a man Lex cared nothing for-one of his father's trained monkeys. Lex had merely inherited him with the estate.
"Did you want something, Chandler," Lex sneered the name, "or did you come here merely to stare at me and keep me from more important matters?"
The man cleared his throat. "I've just come to tell you it's all been taken care of."
Eyes back on his computer screen, Lex asked without interest, "What's been taken care of?"
"You wanted Clark Kent. You've got him," Chandler said simply.
Lex spun around, fire in his eyes. "What do you mean, I've got him? What have you done?"
"He's in the `waiting room' on the lower level, Sir. For whatever use you have of him."
"Lower Level?" Lex exploded from his chair and started toward the man in the doorway.
Against his training, the man wisely took a step back. "You said you wanted him investigated, Sir. I only did as you asked..."
"I said I wanted him investigated!" Lex spat out. "Not *kidnapped! Jesus Christ! What were you thinking?" Pushing the other man out of the way, Lex stormed out, heading for the elevator in long, quick strides.
The meteor rocks.
Still shocked at being thrown to the floor, Clark shook his head to clear it, quickly regretting the action. The walls shimmered as his vision went in and out of focus. He tried to lift his hands to grab his throbbing head, but found he couldn't. Fear gripped him almost as painfully as the nausea building in his stomach.
The rock burned his palms where they touched the floor. Another scan of the room revealed Clark's worst nightmare. The ground beneath him was almost entirely lined in the meteor rock; whether it was by coincidence or design, Clark had no way of knowing.
Slowly, Clark took a breath, difficult considering his lungs felt like they were on fire. With great effort, Clark managed to lift one hand and stared at it. His skin was cold, his fingers pale and gnarled, every vein standing out. He had to get out of the room.
The Lower Level. His father's fucking ape had taken Clark to the Lower Level.
Bringing him to the castle against his will-when Lex had in no way asked them to-had been bad enough; dropping him off down below and leaving him there was inexcusable. Clark was an innocent; he wouldn't understand what was going on. Worse, he would never trust Lex again, which, Lex found as he pondered it, was the most painful cut of all.
Holding his breath, Clark managed to get to his knees. He was pretty sure the door wouldn't be useful to him unless he could kick it down, but the room's windows had potential. In actuality, the windows were visible only as mirrors on Clark's side, giving reality to Clark's ever-present fears of being locked up and studied.
Light-headed, either from his thoughts or the green rocks surrounding him, Clark pitched forward, unable to maintain his balance. Head in his hands, face-down on the floor, Clark tried not to lose faith. But considering that he was trapped, getting weaker with every passing moment, and was living his worst nightmare, it was difficult.
Always a Luthor, always wanting to be prepared for what awaited, Lex keyed opened the well-concealed panel in the elevator, exposing a video screen. A press of the correct key gave him access to the activity in the Lower Level.
"Fuck!" The explosion of plexiglass as Lex's fist went through the vid screen echoed loudly in the small space. The sight of Clark Kent lying motionless on the floor was more than Lex could stand. Torn between going to Clark and making someone pay for their actions, Lex punched another of the elevator's buttons, reversing the direction of the car.
It took almost every ounce of energy Clark had left, but he managed to lift his head from the floor. His x-ray vision flickering on and off, he searched the floor for the area with the least green rock beneath it. Then, gritting his teeth, he used his elbows to pull himself, inch by inch, toward the farthest corner of the room.
"What the fuck did you do to him?" Lex grabbed Chandler by the lapels and slammed him against the wall. When the stunned employee failed to answer, he repeated the action. "Tell me what in the hell you did to him!"
Although it was difficult to do in a rumpled suit, with the beginnings of a concussion, Chandler managed to keep his composure. "I did my job. I did nothing to him." He choked as Lex's hands came up and around his throat. "I merely...brought...him here...and took him..."
"Down to the Lower Level. Yes, I think we've covered that. Now, explain to me why I just looked in on your `job' and found him lying face-first on the floor, looking..." Lex tightened his shoulders and bit his cheek to stop his shudder from showing outwardly. "...dead."
Chandler gasped for breath as Lex let go of him and pushed him to the ground. "I don't know what happened! He was alive and well and walked in under his own power not more than a half hour ago."
The toe of Lex's shoe connected hard with the other man's ribs. "You better hope he stays alive and well, or your job won't be the only thing I make sure is taken from you." With a second kick for good measure, Lex took off for the elevator again, Clark the only thing on his mind.
Standing outside the room that held Clark, Lex leaned against the window, forehead on the glass. Clark had moved, something that would have delighted Lex if he hadn't been out of his mind with worry. He wasn't moving now; he was huddled in the corner of the room, head down on the floor.
With shaking fingers, Lex managed to enter the door code, barely waiting for it to open before forcing his way through.
Rushing across the room, Lex ran a hand through the thick, dark hair. "Clark? Clark..." Lex's words were met with silence. Kneeling, Lex squeezed Clark's arm; the sturdy frame and taut muscles quivered beneath his fingers.
"Clark...please don't be afraid," Lex whispered, leaning close to Clark's ear. "Just tell me what's wrong and I'll fix it." Lex knew money couldn't buy him out of this, but the Luthors always found a way to get what they needed in matters of health, wealth, and personal advancement.
Clark trembled harder, causing Lex to fear, irrationally, that he would shatter like fine china. Then with a small chuff, Clark collapsed flat out on the rocky floor, his knees too weak to hold his weight.
"God, Clark, what did they do to you?" Lex put his arms around Clark's shoulders, holding him as he shook. "What did they do to you?" Clark lurched, and Lex was afraid he was going to be sick. Gently, he rolled Clark onto his side.
"Fuck." Lex's chest tightened. Clark radiated pain; his eyes were squeezed shut, his breathing was too shallow. Lex traced the red splotch that marred one pale cheek. "Christ...someone is so going to pay for this..."
"Shhhh, Clark," Lex told him. "Lie still. I think you have a fever, but you're going to be okay." He put the back of his hand to Clark's forehead, flinching at the heat pouring off of the teen. "Here, at least let me get you out of your top shirt."
With all the strength he had left, Clark fought Lex. It was a pitiful attempt, but he couldn't let Lex see him.
"Clark, work with me here, will you?" Lex tried to make light of it, pretending not to notice that Clark was being purposely difficult.
"What...do you...want?" Clark asked through gritted teeth, still holding firmly inside his plaid flannel.
"To help you," Lex replied easily, trying once more to unbutton Clark's shirt.
Weakly, Clark pulled away again. "That...man...said you...wanted..." Clark's words were slurred.
"To talk to me?" Lex saw affirmation in Clark's eyes. He ran a hand over his scalp in frustration. "Chandler is a fucking moron. He twisted my orders to fit his own desires and he will be paying dearly for it." He watched as Clark's hazy mind processed the idea. "No one hurts my friends."
Clark looked up at Lex, dazed; moments later, his eyes rolled back in his head and he sagged against the slighter man.
"Clark!" Lightly and then more firmly, Lex tapped his fingers on Clark's cheek. "Clark? Come on, Clark. Come back." Lex desperately wanted to call for help, but considering the deep trust issues he was currently having with the staff he discarded the idea as quickly as it occurred to him.
"That's it. Come on, Clark." Lex reached down and took Clark's hand in his own, rubbing his thumb over Clark's knuckle's. "What the hell?" Lex dropped the hand, staring at it. The skin was mottled and waxy, the fingers twisted and crippled like those of an old man. "Jesus..."
Cautiously, Lex picked up Clark's right hand and then his left. Pushing the blue flannel up and away from Clark's wrist, Lex followed the angry, distended veins up the muscled arms to Clark's elbows.
Fuck, Dad, Lex thought. If I have the air tested down here and find traces of something that could have done this to Clark, I'll hunt you and your minions down and you WILL be held accountable.
"Let's get you out of here," he said to Clark, helping him to sit up. "Do you think you can stand?"
Clark gave Lex a sleepy look that said he didn't understand the question. His head lolled and his eyes started to roll back again. Clark sagged in Lex's arms like a rag doll.
"No, Clark," Lex said, his heart pounding. "You need to get out of here." Standing up, Lex slipped his hands under Clark's armpits and lifted. "Oh my god."
Lex straightened up as far as he was able, placing a hand on his wrenched back. The teenager was solid; apparently Martha Kent's home cooking agreed with him. Breathing heavily, Lex bent to give lifting Clark one more try.
"Come on, Clark, help me out here." He felt Clark move groggily, saw his feet move, trying to gain purchase. "That's it, Clark," Lex praised. "Just get your feet under you. Then you can lean on me."
Clark towered over Lex and, fading in and out of consciousness, he was like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Hunched over, with the other man's weight against him, Lex stumbled toward the door and the elevator. "God, Clark," he panted. "Either I need to bulk up or you need to slim down. I said once that our friendship was going to be legendary...and I already feel too old for this shit."
By the time they'd made it across the hall, Lex could feel tremors in Clark's body that echoed his own. Both men were being stretched to their limits. Pulling Clark inside the elevator with the last bit of strength he had, Lex fell to his knees, Clark still in his arms. He attempted to ease Clark to the floor, but he was too tired and Clark hit the deck with a clunk.
Within moments, Clark was curled in a ball; quickly, the small tremors that had been underscored by their escape from the room gave way to all-out convulsions.
"Clark?" Lex was so exhausted he could barely keep his eyes open. "Oh god...no... Clark..." On his hands and knees, Lex crawled to where he could see Clark's face. Clark's skin was pale, covered with a sheen of sweat.
"God, Clark...no, no, no, no..." Lex put an arm around Clark's quaking shoulders, wanting to stop the painful shudderings but not knowing how.
"Sir? Mr. Luthor?"
The calling of his name brought Lex back to himself and he looked up to see Phillipe, one of his best bodyguards.
"Sir? Do you require assistance?"
Lex had to bite his lip to avoid moaning in relief. Phillepe would help him, and if Lex said things went no further than the three of them, they wouldn't. "Yes." Lex's eyes fell on Clark again; just looking at the younger man's greenish pallor made him queasy. "Get him into my bedroom. I'll deal with him from there."
Phillipe eyed Lex skeptically. "And who is going to help you?"
Lex scowled. "I'm fine. You can help me by helping him. Now, move. I don't want this turning into some in-castle publicity magnet."
With very little effort, the large man did as he was ordered. Hoisting Clark over his shoulder, Phillipe carried him in the direction of Lex's suite, looking back every few yards to ensure that Lex was not far behind.
Gait uneven, Lex struggled to keep up with the security guard. He failed. Even so, he arrived in his bedroom close behind them. "Thank you, Phillipe. You can go now." Lex leaned heavily against the bed, staring down at Clark.
"Sir? Would you like me to call a doctor?"
"No! I said I'd take care of it." Lex took a deep breath. "I'll handle this, Phillipe. Thanks for your help."
The other man nodded and walked out.
For a long time, Lex sat on the edge of the bed, rubbing Clark's back, brushing his hair away from his face. It was comforting in a way Lex didn't understand; he was sure no one had ever done the same for him.
Lex's heart began to race again. "Clark? Are you okay?" Seemingly unable to stop, he ran his fingers through Clark's dark hair again.
Slowly, Clark rolled onto his back, blinking up at Lex as if the light hurt his eyes. "Lex...? What are you...doing?" He frowned. "Where am I?"
"You're at the castle, Clark," Lex told him gently. "Do you remember coming here?"
Clark's eyes were suddenly hard. "You lied to me, Lex."
"No, Clark..." Lex couldn't bear the hurt in Clark's voice. "I didn't know anything about it, I swear."
"He told me...you wanted to talk to me. I came here...in good faith." Clark swallowed against the pain, huddling in on himself again. Tears welled, but did not fall.
Unconsciously, Lex ran a hand up and down Clark's arm, managing to calm at least himself. "I didn't tell Chandler to do that, Clark. I...I asked him to do some investigating into the accident that day on the bridge, but I never told him to bring you here."
Lex stood up. "His actions have been dealt with accordingly, and he's no longer in my employment," Lex assured him. "I'm only sorry you had to get mixed up in his power trip."
Clark looked surprised. "That was...fast..."
"I told you...no one hurts my friends." Lex's voice went almost below hearing range. "Especially not the best friend I've ever had."
"Lex?" Clark's mouth opened wide. "Really?"
Without hesitation, Lex nodded. "I never say anything to my friends that I don't mean, Clark."
Clark said nothing as he processed what Lex was saying.
"Can I see your hands, Clark?" Lex asked, almost fearfully.
Clark looked confused. "My...my hands...?"
Lex held out his hands, waiting for Clark to place his hands in them. He wasn't disappointed. "They're..." He swallowed his surprise. "They're fine, now."
"Lex? What are you talking about?"
Lex shook his head. "I saw them, Clark. Your hands and arms...even your face and neck...they looked...diseased...your fingers looked arthritic. I don't understand."
Realization dawned for Clark, showing that he did understand. He held his hands in front of his face as if to reassure himself that everything was back to normal. "I'm fine, see?" he told Lex. "There's nothing the matter with me."
Lex was unconvinced. "But there was. You didn't see yourself down there, Clark." Lex shuddered. "You were feverish, blacking in and out of consciousness. Your skin was sickly, you were gasping for air, you were sweating..."
The effects of the meteor rocks. Clark recognized the description immediately. "Lex! Enough!" Clark lay back against the pillows, his breathing labored. "I'm fine now. Just focus on that. Whatever was wrong before isn't wrong anymore. I'm fine, see?" Bravely, Clark sat up, folding nearly in half as waves of vertigo sliced through his mid-section.
"God, Clark!" Immediately, Lex was on the bed, holding Clark as he began to rock back and forth.
"Feel...sick..." Clark managed to get out.
Quickly, Lex helped Clark to the bathroom, kneeling beside him as he heaved unendingly, emptying his stomach several times over into the toilet. When he was relatively sure there was no more for the other man to throw up, Lex left Clark hunched against the wall and went to the cabinet for a wash cloth. Soaking it in cold water, he offered it to Clark.
"Thanks," Clark said, wiping first his forehead and then his mouth. He eyed the toilet distastefully. "I'm sorry about that."
"There's nothing to be sorry about," Lex assured him. He reached up and flushed the toilet. "Think you're finished?"
Clark grinned a small grin. "Yeah, I think so. At least for now." Leaning on the white porcelain, he stood up, legs shaky.
"Do you want something to drink?" Lex asked. "I can have something brought up. Juice...soda..." Brandy, he thought to himself.
"No," Clark answered him. "I think I'd just like to go home." But he had no car there, and just the thought of using his speed to go home made him want to vomit all over again. He paled.
"Clark? Are you sure? Maybe you should rest here for a while. I can give your folks a call to tell them where you are..."
"No," Clark said again. "I want to go home." It was something about being sick and wanting to be where his mother was, Clark decided. Not that he didn't want to spend time with Lex, but he'd had too much for one day.
"Okay," Lex agreed reluctantly. "Let me put some shoes on, and I'll take you home."
"I don't want to be a problem," Clark said guiltily. "Well...no more than I've already been..."
"God, Clark." Lex put an arm behind Clark, to make sure he wasn't going to lose him on the way to the elevator. "I'm directly responsible for everything that's happened to you here today. Of course I'm going to see you home."
Lex paused long enough to press the elevator button. "And I'll explain it all to your parents. They already don't trust me, their distrust will quadruple if they hear an explanation from you and can only imagine the other side of things."
"I can explain it to them," Clark said, sounding unconvinced.
"No, Clark. I insist. You're life was endangered today down in that room, and I insist your parents know what went on. Even if it makes them hate me more. I'm still not sure I understand everything that happened, but I'll tell them as much as I know." He gave Clark a knowing look. "And maybe if you tell them your side of things they'll get the full picture."
Clark shook his head. "I don't know what you're talking about Lex. I was feeling a little sick, but I'm much better now. It's probably just the flu...or something I ate."
"More like something down on the Lower Level," Lex said, louder than he'd intended. "My dad is going to get a fucking earful about this."
"It's okay, Lex, really," Clark tried to calm him as they walked out to Lex's car. "It was a misunderstanding."
Lex grumbled as he closed Clark's car door and walked around to the other side. "It seems our relationship is based on misunderstandings, Clark," he said quietly. He got into the car. "I'm not looking forward to this," he admitted. "But I'm glad to see you looking and feeling better than when I found you earlier. At least that'll make my case a little easier to plead."
Lex reveled in the wide smile he received from Clark; he was almost able to forget the reception he was about to walk into as he saw the easy forgiveness on Clark's face. Lex felt the edges of his own mouth turning upward. That smile of Clark's solved just about all the problems he had in the world.
Meeting Clark's blue eyes, Lex did smile then, wondering not for the first time if the Kents knew what a wonderful son they had.
~ el fin ~
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