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Drunk is Better Than Dead

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"Some one call for help"

"Is he alive? We’re not sure"

Voices swirled through his subconscious, fading in and out like the reception on an old radio. His head pounded to the beat of some music he couldn't quite hear. Oh, yeah, that was his heart. When it'd get to be so damned loud anyway?

Maybe he'd finally snapped. He idly wondered if he was strapped down on another metal gurney somewhere, waiting for the flick of a switch that would burn away even more pieces of his tattered soul.

Trying once more to focus, make sense of the garbled words filtering through his alcohol-soaked brain, Lex forced his eyes open, the dim light sending a fresh spear of pain straight through his head. Worried eyes met his, the concern in them wrapping around him like a warm blanket.

“Clark.”

"Hey, Lex." Clark's voice was soft, gentle as he eased into the seat next to him.

Bleary, confused thoughts raced through his mind, speech slow and deliberate as he spoke. "How'd you find me?"

"I'll always find you, Lex."

"Always?"

A firm hand settled over his, fingers lightly squeezing. "I promise. Let me take you home, okay?"

Panic seized his heart, stealing his breath as he jerked away. Blood washed images painted his mind, the bar fading around him as the scene of horror he'd witnessed filled his vision once more, the sickening sound of a body hitting the ground overwhelming him. "No! I… I can't! Please, Clark, I…"

A touch on his back soothed him, banishing some of the blind fear telling him to run, to hide where they'd never find him. "Shhhh, Lex, I know. I wouldn't take you back there. I meant home with me, Mom's waiting for us."

"M…Martha?"

Warm breath touched his chilled flesh as Clark laughed quietly, leaning close, forehead touching his. "Yeah, she told me not to come back until I'd found you, brought you home."

Calm settled over him as he bowed his head, so exhausted, lost, he had to remind himself how to breathe. He felt Clark's arm go around his back, banishing some of the shadows threatening to drown him. "M'tired, Clark… S'okay if I rest now?"

"Sure, Lex, rest. It's okay, I've got you. He can't hurt you any more"

Eyes closed, some distant, still functioning part of his brain wondered why Clark's voice sounded so funny when he answered him, his voice cracked and raw. Lex felt himself being pulled to his feet, strong arms supporting him as his knees buckled, the words chasing him down into the darkness.

Clark caught Lex before he fell, his precious burden held close against his heart. Stepping out into the cool night air he pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, speed dialing the number as he supported Lex against his side. "Mom, I've got him, we're on our way."

Putting it back away, he lifted Lex back up into his arms again. Relieved to leave the dark desperation of the smoke-filled bar behind them, his body rose into the air as soon as he was sure that they were alone, pushing them both towards home and safety.

He took a shuddering breath as he looked down at Lex's face, pain still etched around his eyes, even in sleep. God, how he hated Lionel, if the bastard weren't already dead Clark knew that he could have crushed the life out of him without a single regret.

What kind of sick fuck turned a gun to their head, blasting their brains all over their office while their son looked on? He'd known it was bad as soon as the first images started coming in over the news wire at the Planet. Pictures of a blank-eyed, blood-splattered Lex talking to the police haunted him.

There was no question that it was suicide, Lex had only just arrived. Lionel had shot himself almost before his secretary could close the door behind him. She'd told the police that. That she'd heard Lex cry out, 'Dad, no!' before she could even get back to her desk, just before the sound of the gunshot ripped through the office.

Lex had been in shock; Clark could see it even though he couldn't get near him as he'd handled everything to keep the company from falling apart, maneuvered through the farce of a funeral. He'd planned on getting to Lex then but his security had closed around him like a vice as soon as the service was over.

When word had filtered out that he was missing a few hours later he'd thought his heart would stop as he'd frantically tried to find him. All kinds of bleak scenarios had chased through his mind as he'd searched, overjoyed to finally spot the blue Porsche with the LEX1 license plate parked outside a sleazy bar on the outskirts of Chicago.

He hadn't even cared that Lex was so drunk he couldn't see straight, that hadn't surprised him. It was really the only damned coping mechanism his father had ever taught him. Clark could deal with drunk. Drunk was so much better than dead any day of the week.

Looking down he realized he'd flown them back to Smallville almost on autopilot. His mom stood looking for them from the safety of the front porch. She was moving toward them even before his feet completely touched the ground, a gentle hand coming up to touch both his and Lex's face.

"How is he, baby?" Concern filled her eyes as she got her first good look at Lex as they moved into the warm light of the farmhouse kitchen. "God, Clark, he's lost even more weight. He looks like he hasn't slept since this started. Where was all of his staff? Couldn't a single one of them care enough to see what he was doing to himself?"

A fierce wave of protectiveness tinged with guilt swept over Clark. He could feel the growl in his voice as he answered his mother. "I don't know. They sure as hell did a good job of keeping me, and everyone else who really cared about him, away. Even Bruce couldn't reach him. I spoke to Chloe last night. She told me she'd tried to get through to him too."

Martha paused at the base of the stairs, her arms filled with pillows and blankets she'd drawn out of the hall closet. "You need to call them, let them know you've found Lex as soon as we get him settled."

Clark nodded, holding Lex carefully as he climbed the stairs behind his mother. "I know, I will, Mom. I promise, first thing tomorrow morning…" He looked down at the man in his arms, scared to see him looking so fragile, used to the force of his personality shining out through his eyes. "Mom, do you think it could have been on purpose, that someone wanted this to happen? That they'd wanted Lex to break like this?"

Martha helped him get Lex undressed and into a pair of his old flannel pajamas, both of them soothing him as he'd cried out, never really waking as they'd settled him in Clark's old bed. When he'd begun to shiver Clark had gently warmed the blankets around Lex with his heat vision, glad when he'd finally snuggled into the pillows, looking calmer and more at peace than before.

Clark sat next to Lex on the edge of the bed, Martha standing beside him, her hand gentle on his shoulder before she moved it to touch his face.

"We'll get him through this, sweetie. Lex is one of the strongest people I know. I don't think he could have gotten through the hell Lionel put him through his whole life, and survived it, if he wasn't."

Clark leaned into the touch. "I know, Mom. It's just that he looked so lost, so lonely when I found him. I should have figured some way to get to him sooner. I'm freaking Superman for Christ's sake; I should have found a way."

"Baby, no. You've just told me that even Bruce couldn't get to him. The important thing now is that we've got him, he's not alone any longer." Clark heard the steel in her voice as she continued. "I'll take the shotgun to them myself if any one tries to hurt him now. Lex is family and we Kent's take care of our own."

Clark smiled, knowing how fierce his mom could be if one of her chicks were threatened. "To heck with Superman, I'll just sic Supermom on any bad guys that might show up on our doorstep."

Martha playfully swatted his arm even as she leaned down to gently kiss both of them on the forehead. "Hush, you! I know you're not going to want to leave Lex tonight, want me to bring in that old rocker from my room for you to sit in?" Clark watched as she smiled, love for both of them clear on her face. "Or are you just going to lie in bed with him and hold him?"

Clark felt the heat painting his cheeks, amazed that at twenty-five he could still blush like he had when he was a teenager. "Mom!"

Martha laughed quietly as she straightened back up, one hand gently brushing against Lex's forehead. "No rocker needed then. Clark, I'm not blind. I've known how you've felt about Lex for a very long time. Even your father did. Don't you think it's time that you did something about it? Lord knows, you both deserve a little happiness."

Clark looked down at Lex, amazed at how young he looked, his face pale against the whiteness of the pillows he rested upon. "What if Lex doesn't feel the same, Mom? I could lose my best friend if I screwed this up."

Warmth suffused Martha's voice as she ruffled his hair. "Honey, how can you be able to see the tiniest microbe with those eyes of yours and still not be able to see what's right in front of your face sometimes? All you've ever had to do is look at Lex to see how much he loves you. No one else is allowed to touch him like you do." She shook her head, again smiling at both of them. "I suppose that you've had the privilege for so long that you just don't see it."

"Guess I'm pretty dumb, huh?"

"No, sweetie, you're just who you are and we all love you for it." Stepping back away from the bed, she moved toward the open doorway. "Call me if you need me, Clark. I'll just be down the hall."

"I will, Mom, I promise." With a final smile she softly closed the door, leaving Clark alone with Lex. Standing up, he quickly toed off his shoes, changing into an old tee-shirt and sweats from his dresser. Moving back to the bed he crawled in behind Lex, drawing him near with an arm around his chest.

He smiled as he felt Lex sigh, the rest of the tension leaving him as he relaxed against Clark. The fact that Lex recognized and trusted Clark, even in sleep, sent a warm glow throughout his body as he settled in, determined to be there if he needed him.

Closing his eyes, Clark felt the exhaustion and worry of the last week weighing him down. He knew that the next few days would be hard, but he also knew that they'd get through it somehow. No matter what kind of craziness swirled through their lives, they still made a pretty damned good team. And, they'd have the strength of all of the people that loved them to draw strength from too.

If they were smart, whoever had tried to hurt Lex would stay the hell away. Clark smiled, gently rubbing his face against Lex's shoulder as he held him close. If they didn't he'd sic Supermom and the Bat on them. It'd serve them right; maybe then they'd learn like he had. You just don't mess with destiny.

fin