Title - Disconnected
Author - cjandre
Pairing - Clark/Lex
Rating - PG-13
Disclaimer - They don't belong to me, but I don't whore them out for money either.
Summary - Clark needs help believing. (AU after Whispers)
Author's note - much thanks to svmadelyn and willingprey for hand holding and the ending. Thanks to juno501 for the offer of beta, sorry I didn't get back to you in time.
Clark picked the cell phone up on the third ring. He found it in the dark, sitting on the bedside table next to his alarm clock, just where he had left it. He heard the caller’s rasping breaths before he even said hello.
“Hey, Lex. Bad dream?” He kept his voice down and settled back onto his pillow staring up into the black.
“Yeah. I…” Lex choked up for a moment, and Clark knew it had been a bad one. “Clark, tell me again.”
Clark closed his eyes, as if it would make any difference, and wished Lionel Luthor dead. Then he told Lex the story.
“It was in your scotch. They were spiking your drinks with hallucinogens. Your dad wanted to convince everyone that you were crazy.”
Clark heard Lex gasp. It was a small pained sound. Clark plowed on with the story.
“But you were strong Lex, and smart, and you realized what was happening and tried to escape. Then you were betrayed, and Lionel’s people caught you.”
This time it was Clark that had to choke back tears, but he didn’t let that stop him either.
“So, they put you in Belle Reve and gave you more drugs, but you were still too strong for them. So finally they gave you electro shock treatment to wipe out your memory.”
Clark listened to Lex’s breathing and heartbeat even out. Slowing to a normal level.
“You’re still too strong for him, Lex. You know what he did, and you’re going to beat him at his own game.”
Lex sighed in relief. Like he hadn’t heard Clark’s recitation nearly every day for the last three weeks.
“No problem. I’m just a phone call away, you know.”
“That was the idea when I got you the phone. I really appreciate it, Clark.”
They didn’t say goodbye. Clark pressed the disconnect button, and carefully replaced the cell phone on his bedside table next to the alarm clock with its smooth glass face. He rolled over and closed his eyes, ignoring the birds singing outside, and the smell of bacon cooking in the kitchen. He heard light footsteps in rubber-soled shoes come up the stairs and approach his room.
“Honey? Are you up?” His mom said softly from the door, giving him the chance to be asleep if he wanted.
He almost took it, but he heard her take a step towards the bed and was afraid she’d reach out to touch him if he didn’t stop her.
“I’m awake, Mom.”
“I thought I heard you talking.”
Clark didn’t take the bait. He doubted his Mom really wanted to hear about how he’d become Lex’s memory. Not that she didn’t know about the phone. She’d been there when Lex had given it to him at the funeral. Someone had to be with him. It wasn’t like he could go anywhere by himself.
She wanted him to talk, and she wasn’t giving up.
“Sweetie, it’s a beautiful day. The sun’s out.” She told him softly. “I really think we’re going to have some warmer weather today.”
“That’s nice.” He said without moving.
“I talked to Lana, yesterday. She asked about you.”
“How is she?”
“She’s almost through with physical therapy.” Martha’s voice was bright.
“That’s great, Mom.”
“She’s trying to get things at The Talon back to normal. She’s having a Valentine’s Day party tonight.”
In his head he could see what it would be like: pink and white balloons and cut out paper hearts. There would be crepe paper and ribbons. Lana would have a special screening of “Sleepless in Seattle” or something. Couples would sit at the little round tables. All the drink orders would be in multiples of two.
People would laugh.
“She said she’d love to see you there, Clark.”
Clark just bet she had.
“I know you might not want to go with me or your dad. I was thinking maybe you and Chloe could go.”
Chloe. That’d be great. She could take notes on how blindness affected the alien. It’d make a great report for Lionel.
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea, Mom.” He rolled over and pulled up the blanket.
“At least come down and have breakfast.”
As if food would fix anything. He sighed. “I’m not hungry. I don’t need it. Just leave me alone Mom.”
He jumped when Martha landed a solid smack on his ass. “Young man, I will not leave you alone. I will never leave you alone. Now get up, get dressed, and get downstairs for breakfast.” Then he heard her shoes scrape as she walked out of the room and back downstairs to the kitchen. He could hear her tears, until he purposely tuned her out, concentrating on locating his dad instead.
He heard heavy work boots out in the barn. Listening closer, he heard his father’s heart beating. It sounded okay. Didn’t it?
Then he heard the boots leaving the barn and heading for the house.
Staying here was just going to get him more concerned visits from his mom. He knew that, and it wasn’t like he couldn’t get downstairs. So he’d go.
Clark shrugged himself up from his bed and fumbled for his clothes. His mom had laid them out on a chair by his bed and he slipped them on. The jeans, t-shirt and flannel shirt hung on him. He couldn’t remember how long they had been sitting there waiting for him to get dressed
The last thing he did was pick up the cell phone from his bedside table and shove it in a pocket. Lex didn’t usually call during the day, but Clark didn’t want to miss him if he did. He wouldn’t let his best friend down.
Finally he followed his mom down the stairs, holding carefully to the banister and feeling the edge of each stair with his toe before moving on to the next. It was like a game he and Pete had played when they were kids – trying to get from the kitchen to Clark’s bedroom without opening their eyes.
Clark stumbled, blinking in the darkness.
It was a game he’d win, now. He’d have sort of an unfair advantage, of course. He snorted and grinned for a second.
But what was the point? Pete wasn’t there to rag on him for cheating.
The world contracted to what he could feel under his feet and fingers. One step, and it might not be there. There was no way to know.
“Mom, I’ll eat later. I’m not ready to be up yet.” He turned on the stairs wanting desperately to go down on his hands and knees. He had to get back to his room. He had to make sure it was still there.
“Now wait a minute, Clark.” It was his father’s voice.
A hand wrapped around his bicep, large square fingers that should have felt stronger than they did.
He jerked away, hitting something. The wall? There was a crack, he felt dust on his arm as he went to his hands and knees and scrambled back up the stairs to his room. There was a harsh panting in his ears as he tried to count the doors.
He scrabbled at the door knob, wrenching it open, there was a thud, and a shout behind him.
He tried to crawl into his bedroom, but it wasn’t. There were boxes, soft things. Towels?
“Clark!” Pete screamed.
“No, no no.”
“Clark, help me! Somebody help me!” Pete sobbed. Metal groaned.
Clark had to find Pete. He had to save him. It’s what he did. It’s what he was good for.
“God, it hurts, Clark! Help me!”
He dug through the boxes and the towels and the shelves. He felt cloth and paper give way, but he was looking for metal. He could hear the scream of metal over the snap of bones. He didn’t stop until there was plaster under his fingernails and silence in his head.
“Pete?” Clark whispered.
There wasn’t any answer.
Of course there wasn’t. Clark was curled up in the bottom of the linen closet in his own home. He wasn’t in the wrecking yard. He couldn’t save Pete.
“Pete’s dead.” He said it out loud just to hear it.
Clark jumped. “Lex?” He felt in his pocket for the cell phone, even though Lex’s voice was here. Right here.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
The world rushed back into focus. Lex was just outside the closet. Clark heard him shift and sigh. He was sitting, or maybe squatting, just a few feet away.
Downstairs his parents were having a whispered argument.
“The last thing we need is a Luthor nosing around when Clark is so out of control.” He father was saying.
“What Clark needs right now is a friend he can talk to, and in case you haven’t noticed the only person he’s talked to since Pete’s funeral is Lex.” Martha’s whisper was steel.
“He just needs time, Martha. Once his eyes heal, he’ll get back to normal.”
“It’s been a month, Jonathan. This may be normal for Clark now.”
Clark already knew how this argument ended. He refocused on Lex, not wanting to hear his dad stomp out of the house.
“So, my mom called you?”
“Yes. You could have, you know. That phone I gave you can dial out just as easily as it receives calls.” Lex’s voice was smooth, but Clark thought he detected a hint of sadness.
“So, you just decided not to let me know what was going on?”
“You were busy, and dealing with your dad. I didn’t want to bother you.” He got up on his hands and knees and started crawl out into the hall. “It wasn’t like there was anything you could do. I just have to get over this. Get back to normal.”
His father’s words nearly choked him, but they were the only answer he had.
“Clark, you’re my best friend. You believe in me.” Lex grasped his arms and helped Clark to his feet. “You’re not a bother.”
Clark shook his head. “Right. You’re going to listen to the crazy, blind high school student that can’t leave his room without having a panic attack? ”
He’d done the right thing, not telling Lex. He remembered Lex’s face after Clark saved from drowning, from falling, from being hung upside down and shot.
How could he have let Lex see him like this? Helpless. Weak.
“Hey, I believe my best friend.” Lex shook him just a little. “I thought he believed in me, too.”
“I let you down.” And maybe it was time for the truth. Lex was strong enough. Lex didn’t need him, and he certainly didn’t deserve Lex. “I ran. I ran and when I came back you were gone.” He rubbed his fingers along the sleeves of Lex’s silk shirt, making sure he was really there, feeling the muscles underneath. Thin arms but strong.
He kept talking, not wanting to stop, not knowing if he’d ever have the guts to confess again. “It took me days to find out where you were and what they were doing, and even then I could have gotten you out, Lex, but I didn’t. I was stupid. I thought I could get you out legally.”
Lex’s hands grabbed his head, framing his face.
“Isn’t that what I taught you? With Ryan? Let the lawyers do their jobs so you don’t end up in jail?”
“But it didn’t work.” Clark whispered. “I couldn’t save you. Just like I couldn’t save Pete. I’m supposed to save people, Lex, but I couldn’t save him.”
“You’re special, Clark. Extraordinary. But you can’t save everyone, and I am sorry about Pete, but you did save me Clark. You save me every time I call.”
No. He wasn’t saving Lex. Clark was feeding him lies. The same lies he fed himself.
It was time to stop.
“I’m not human, Lex.” He whispered.
It took a second for the words to register.
“You know?” Clark asked, and wished he could see Lex’s face.
“I told you, I forgot a lot of things, but I never forgot you.”
So Lex remembered. Not just about Clark being an alien, but about Clark running away that day. Lex remembered that Clark had failed him utterly, but when he needed a voice in the middle of the night, when he needed words to hold back his own doubts and fears, he still called Clark.
“You keep me sane, Clark. Let me do the same for you.”
The world seemed to be rocking under his feet. He staggered out of Lex’s arms and found the wall with his hands. Running his fingers lightly along it, he found his room. He took the two steps into the nothingness that led to his bed, and sat down.
And Lex didn’t hate him.
He heard the sound of leather soles on hard wood, and then felt the bed sink a bit as Lex sat down next to him. His body heat pressed into Clark, followed by an arm around Clark’s shoulders.
He could do this.
He turned and put his arms around Lex and buried his face in his friend’s shoulder. “I heard him die, Lex.”
“Jesus.” Lex squeezed him tighter.
“I couldn’t find him, but I heard his bones snap, and I heard him scream, and I couldn’t help. It was like trying to run a maze blindfolded. I wanted to save him so bad, but I screwed up. I panicked. I couldn’t find him.”
“It wasn’t your fault, Clark.” Lex told him in his firmest laying-down-the-law-don’t-fuck-with-me voice. “You didn’t kill him. You tried to save him. You did your best.”
Clark didn’t know if it was true or not. He’d probably never know. Right now he just needed to hear it.
“Say it often enough and maybe I’ll believe it.”
He felt Lex’s smile against his cheek. “Hey, that’s what the phone is for.”
Forcing the screams out of his head, Clark opened his eyes to the usual dark and the hush in the house told him it really was the middle of the night.
He found the cell phone sitting on the bedside table next to his alarm clock, just where he always left it. He hit speed dial one, and only had to wait two rings before it was picked up.
The silence pressed in for a second. He could almost hear the screams hiding behind it.
“Would you tell me again, Lex?”
“Sure. That’s what the phone is for…”