by Alexa Jones
By Alexa Jones (email@example.com)
Post-Memoria, spoilers for Memoria
I didn't know why I should protect him. Looking at him in the tank, hair dripping and eyelashes wet, made something in my stomach lurch.
I couldn't explain it.
Clark's eyes closed as I unbound his wrists. His breath hitched as my fingers ran across his skin. I was tempted to stroke his wrist again, but as soon as it was free, he snatched it away like my touch had burned him.
My eyes narrowed. An atypical response, but I let it go.
Only later would I realize the full extent of his reaction.
"Wait, Clark, let me help you," I said as Clark attempted to climb out of the broken tank by himself.
He shrugged off my helping hand, and after a few stumbles, managed to crawl through the open side.
He wobbled as he stood up straight, bumbling away from the tank as quickly as his legs could carry him.
I watched him for a moment, then set about finding where Garner kept the towels I dried myself with after my treatments.
I found one and brought it over to where Clark was sitting on a box in the corner of the room. He was shivering, and I gently draped the towel over his shoulders.
He looked up as if he was startled to see me there, but then took the towel off his shoulders, gave me a seemingly grateful smile, and began wiping the green droplets off his body.
He seemed better after that, but he kept squinting and glancing around the room. Finally he asked, "Where are my clothes?"
I'd looked for those, too, but all I could find was remnants of red cloth. "I don't know. I couldn't find them."
Clark squinted again, then rubbed a hand over his eye and looked panicked. "I need to find them."
"It's okay, Clark," I soothed.
Clark didn't look reassured in the least. He stood again, still shaky. "Lex?" he posed hesitantly.
I looked at him, tilting my head to let him know I was listening.
"Can you... will you take me home?"
I raised my eyebrow. "How did you get here? What about your car?"
Clark avoided my eyes. "I don't feel well enough to drive home."
I didn't bother asking if he really did have a car here, and if so, how he would eventually get it back to Smallville. Instead, I merely nodded my head toward the exit.
Lionel was still there when we went down into the lobby. Clark turned his face away and seemed to make a point of ignoring him when my father's gaze passed over him. I looked at him and gave a slow smirk as I strode by. He didn't try to stop us, nor did anyone else. I imagine that he was working on damage control already.
We got in my car and the drive home was silent. I couldn't help noticing the way Clark kept shifting in his seat and clenching his hands on his thighs, almost scratching them as if irritated.
"You okay?" I asked, glancing over at him quickly before turning my eyes back to the road.
"They're... uncomfortable," Clark answered, still not looking at me and keeping his gaze out the window.
I refrained from making a comment about how nice his physique looked in them.
At last, we arrived back in Smallville, and not soon enough. Clark was simultaneously irritating and arousing me, squirming in his seat, wearing only those tight shorts.
I started to turn down the road to the Kent farm, but Clark panicked.
"Lex, I can't go home like this!"
I turned my head and looked at him curiously. "Why not?"
"I... my parents...."
"Let me guess... they don't know you ran after me?"
Clark nodded and turned his head away again. I suspected I would also find all of the Kent vehicles in the driveway, but I might never know because I took the road that was closest to the mansion instead.
"I might have some clothes you could change into."
Clark glanced back quickly and gave me a slight smile. I smiled back, just as slightly.
I took Clark straight to the guest shower. He still smelled like the treatment water, and he still scratched at his skin and ruffled his hair.
We climbed the stairs, Clark gripping my shoulder when he stumbled on a step. I'd never seen him so weak, and I wondered what about the treatment had had such a horrible effect on him.
I turned the shower knob, sticking my hand beneath the spray to test it. I swiveled around in time to see Clark grimacing as he tried to get the shorts over his thighs.
Averting my eyes, I pushed Clark down on the toilet seat and grabbed the edges of the shorts and helped yank them off. Clark seemed a bit better, but I didn't think much of it. I had to focus on staying unaffected when Clark was naked and now rinsing himself my shower.
I fetched two towels and set them on the sink, then left and set about locating some clothes Clark might fit into.
I brought those back with me, sitting on the edge of the bed in the guest bedroom. Clark came out not long after. He walked with sure strides once more, no longer tripping over his own feet. He looked better, his usual healthy glow had returned, although I couldn't be sure if it was only from the heat of the shower.
"I'm surprised you had shampoo," Clark said as he rubbed a towel over his hair, the other wrapped around his hips, low and looking like it was in critical danger of sliding off.
I didn't much appreciate his wisecrack. "This is my guest bathroom."
I wasn't going to let him into mine. Not anymore. He was a guest here and nothing more. I wouldn't allow myself to want him to be anymore.
Maybe Clark understood.
I tossed the clothes at him, and he dropped the towel in his hand to catch them, causing the other towel to slip. He grabbed at it before it could fall, clutching it and the clothes against his stomach.
He turned awkwardly to go back into the bathroom, but I stopped him with my voice.
"I've seen it all before, Clark." Not ten minutes ago, even.
Clark flushed, but seemed to know that I wasn't going to let him have the easy way out. He allowed the towel to fall, then stuck a leg into the sweatpants.
I crossed my arms and leaned back slightly, this time allowing myself to look all I wanted.
"Don't look at me like that, Lex."
I didn't know if Clark understood French, but he seemed to get the context of it well enough.
He swallowed and looked away, hurriedly putting on the t-shirt.
"He looked at me like that," Clark said quietly.
"In the lobby?"
Clark shook his head. "When they...."
He trailed off, but I persisted. "When they what?"
He sat on the opposite edge of the bed from me, hands in his head. "When they stripped me," he choked out. "They took my clothes and I couldn't stop them. And then your dad... he touched me. And they'd knocked my head and I hurt, but it still felt good and I hated it. And they just laughed and put the shorts on and then I was in that water...."
I could hear the sob in his voice. I knew Clark wouldn't have been given the same changing room courtesy I had, nor was I really surprised by my father's actions.
I moved closer, debating whether to put my hand on his shoulder, but I didn't know if I should. If he'd welcome it. If I even wanted to extend him the comfort.
"And it hurt, Lex. It hurt so much."
Clark shook his head, but didn't elaborate further. It wasn't the most comfortable procedure to go through, but I was able to walk perfectly fine afterward. The emotional distraught far outweighed any trace of physical pain.
I closed my eyes at the reminder of my own newly surfaced memories.
"Do you want me to take you home now?" I said at last, deciding there was nothing more I could do. Nothing more I wanted to do.
"No. I think I'll walk."
"Clark, ten minutes ago you couldn't even make it up the stairs on your own. Now you're going to walk home?"
"I'll be fine, Lex," Clark replied.
I bristled with annoyance. I knew if I pushed further, I'd only get more aggravated, so I let it drop.
"I'll bring you back the clothes sometime soon, okay?"
"Fine." I lifted my shoulders a slight shrug, then ushered him out of my house. I watched him shuffle down the driveway, hands in his pocket and head low.
Moping no doubt, but I couldn't bring myself to care. I'd visit him later, perhaps under the pretense of seeing how he was doing. Perhaps just to get the clothes back.