Author: Blue Gold
Pairings: Clark/Lex, Clark/Bruce,
Summary: The world has changed; things will never be the same; or so everyone thinks. What happens when the world makes things right? Can enemies, lovers, and friends find their place again?
Disclaimer: I *sniff* do not any of the characters in this story
Spoilers: General All Episodes,
Authors Notes: Incorporates aspects of DCU.
Superman stared at Luthor through the haze of green kryptonite. He approached Superman, and smiled as he shut the box with the kryptonite. Confused Superman didn’t even try to stand he had been exposed for much too long instead his hand began crawling towards his waistband.
Superman has barely caught his breath reaching for the watchtower teleporter at a pitiful human speed now that the green kryptonite was gone. His fingers had just closed around the trigger when he was awash in a yellow glow that made green Kryptonite feel like a paper cut. He was still screaming when he appeared in the watchtower; despite having left the gold kryptonite on earth.
Clark woke with a moan rolled over and threw up. He looked at the clock as he sat up slowly; he had gotten five hours sleep a record for him since the night his entire world had changed. It had been seven months. Two of which he barely remembered.
He turned on his cell phone grabbing it from the bedside table and shuffled over to the desk on the other side of the room, hitting a few keys at random until his computer returned from standby. Putting in his password, he accessed his Daily Planet email noticing one for an interview for Perry.
He had been booted off the investigative journalist beat, and given mostly puff pieces that required research, and little footwork. He was just glad Perry remembered that kid who flipped a tractor and had a good idea what he did in his free time. The email was in usual Perry fashion brisk and to the point.
You have an interview with Lex Luthor, Thursday at 2pm, the Metropolis Grand Restaurant. He will not take no for an answer and the paper needs this. Your retirement is over.
Editor in Chief
Clark stared at the name again, Lex Luthor and frowned. He knew what Lex was doing. He had figured out the connection between Superman and Clark Kent three months after he had put on the costume.
A quick search showed him what Lex had done that was so news worthy. Apparently a ten million dollar donation to habitat for humanity and an acquisition of a company where he didn’t consume it into the mass that was LexCorp. Clark easily drafted a set of interview questions and refused to let himself be baited by Lex.
Lex wanted to see him? Then so be it, it would be better than finding him on the farm early one morning. Standing Clark looked around and realized he would have to go shopping again. Despite the diet Bruce had helped him put together, he still threw up at least one meal, sometimes two and had dropped another two inches he supposed.
He idly wondered if Lex was larger than he was now, but did not think he had gotten that thin. Standing he headed to the shower as he pulled the rubber band from his hair. Grabbing his ever present bucket he poured it out into the toilet before flushing,
His hair fell into his eyes and he wondered why since the change he just hadn’t bothered to cut it and had gotten long enough to need to be pulled back. Turning on the shower, he glanced at the mirror heaving a weary sigh before entering the shower.
He mentally went through the list of things that he had to get done to be ready for the interview. The list just seemed to get longer as he showered and he would need to go into town for a few things. Towel around his waist he grabbed his cell phone flipping it open.
“Wayne,” the voice answered almost jovially for Bruce.
“…” Clark cleared his throat, not sure how many days it had been this time since he had last spoken. “Hey Bruce,” he rasped hating the way his voice sounded like now always scratchy and as if it was hoarse. But he supposed screaming for days on end would do that to a human, or the near approximation that he is.
“I’m going back to work,” Clark said simply. “I have an interview Thursday, with Lex Luthor.”
“What game is he playing at?” Bruce snarled, the bat coming into his voice.
“Bruce, I’d rather do that then have him come up to the farm. He probably did not expect for me to disappear for more than half a year. He’s been amazingly patient for him.”
“Where are you meeting him?”
“I don’t need a baby sitter Bruce.”
“Then why are you calling me?” Bruce asked and Clark winced. He knew that anger was from his leaving. Bruce may not understand but Clark knew it was better for everyone involved if he just went.
“I…never mind…bye,” Clark said quickly dropping the phone onto his desk. He didn’t have the energy to deal with Bruce. He ignored the phone when it rang again almost instantly and stood walking over to his closet. After the first two weeks on his own he had bought sweats and cheap slacks in a variety of smaller sizes.
He pulled out a 28″ and tried it on glad it was still too small and pulled on a 30″ that was somewhat roomy. Heading down to the kitchen almost expecting a vision of his mother, he pulled out eggs, bacon, and the powder for his protein shake.
Even despite eating more calories than he had when he had been Superman, Clark continued to lose weight at a slow but steady decline. Not being able to keep food down all the time did not help. And unless he wanted to die of high cholesterol, he had to watch what he ate and not just eat fattening foods.
The first few weeks had been a nightmare. He had felt as if Bruce and Alfred were forcing food down his throat. Even after that eating wasn’t always easy, but Clark forced himself to finish his breakfast and take his shake with him around the farm. Waving to the hands he passed, he was no longer even remotely able to do his chores though he would gather eggs every now and then.
Most of the hands paid for by WayneTech or Queen Industries. Clark tried very hard to ignore the hypocrisy of the situation. But he needed help and they had just never sold the farm. Random hands and the money from the Warrior Angel Movie shoot helping to keep the farm above water for years.
His mother even came to stay sometimes in August when on vacation. He had to say he was glad she was in DC. He had had all the mothering he could take from Alfred and Bruce. Part of the reason he had finally moved back here.
“What are you doing? You can’t take care of a farm,” Ollie said walking into the room Bruce and Clark shared in Wayne Manor.
“I’ll hire hands,” Clark said with a sigh pausing in his packing and sitting on the bed to give Ollie his full attention.
“With what, a reporter’s salary?” Ollie snapped pacing the length of the bed.
“I’ll figure something out.”
“Clark, why are you doing this? Did you talk to Bruce?” Ollie asked.
“He grunted at me, he was in the cowl. I can’t do this anymore. I’m not a part of your lives anymore.”
“Clark I knew you long before you put the cape.”
“But I always had power. I can’t put on a cape. You and Bruce are both human and do this. I’d get myself killed.”
“No one expects you to…”
“Ollie I know, but I’d like to know who I am again, without the cape. ”
“Fine, I suppose if Bruce can’t convince you I won’t but I will be checking up on you-”
“As a washed up old has been?”
“As my friend,” Oliver said and Clark rolled his eyes.
“When were we ever friends? I was the Boy Scout who ticked you off by not using his powers. And you were my new billionaire.”
Clark stepped into the lobby of the hotel, rubbing his eyes after the glare of the sun. He slid his glasses back on wondering if Lex would realize he needed them now. He had spent some time this morning trying to decide if he should go to the Planet first and settled on going to type up the story and have the unavoidable confrontation with Lois after having to put up with Lex.
He saw him easily with the tall Amazonian form of Mercy standing directly behind him scanning the crowd, for him, he suspected. He almost laughed when her eyes dismissed him almost instantly. He approached the table and ignored her glare.
“Mr. Luthor does not have time for whatever you are peddling he has a meeting,” Mercy snapped.
“I know Mercy, the interview is with me after all.” Clark said his eyes on Lex. He barely noticed the shock of the bodyguard instead intent on Lex. Lex who had been a master at controlling his emotions for years, allowed his eyes to widen as he roved over Clark and his body. Clark knew Lex well enough to know that was akin to open mouth shock and expletives from anyone else.
“Clark?” Lex whispered and Clark ignored the almost breathy tone of his voice.
“Who else?” Clark asked taking a seat. Even as he took out supplies for an interview he watched as Lex composed himself, face falling back into his mask, he did all but take a deep breath as he added this new Clark into his world view.
“What are you doing?” Lex asked.
“I did not drive all the way here for you to not even pretend this is an interview. So I will be asking questions and taking notes. You have had dealings with reporters before?” Clark asked sarcasm dripping from his voice.
“Yes, including you Clark, you’ve never taken notes before,” Lex replied ignoring the tone.
“Things change,” Clark replied simply adjusting his glasses.
“And glasses Clark don’t you think it’s about time to let that charade go?”
Clark let out a sigh of exasperation and handed his glasses to Lex in on swift move. Lex glanced through the glass and pulled away. “I’m one point away from being legally blind,” Clark pointed out extending his hand for his glasses.
This seemed to rattle Lex even more so than his physical appearance. He returned them to Clark’s hands. “So why habitat for humanity?”
“What?” Lex asked.
“The charity? Or would you rather talk about you acquisition of Price Industries and the fact that you do not plan to liquidate and absorb them into LexCorp?”
“I see you’ve done your research.”
“I’m here for an interview Lex. If you want to see a freak show, go to the Circus.”
“You sound upset Clark, were you so concerned that you had to acquire guards to visit with me?” Clark’s glance flicked to Mercy but did not look around, he could have sworn he had seen a familiar blond head but had decided to ignore the presence of the Emerald archer.
Tired of this and the fact that Lex did not seem to care even slightly about keeping up pretenses he stood gathering his materials as he did. His expression blank he carefully slid the chair back into place and turned to leave.
“Where are you going Clark?”
“You clearly don’t want an interview. I’m not some project for you to gawk at. Since you dragged me into this city I might as well resign in person.”
“And how will you support yourself Clark?” Lex asked.
“I live on a farm Lex; some how I think I won’t starve.”
“You’ve changed Clark.” Clark shrugged and walked away part of himself annoyed that he wouldn’t even have a last article to hand to Perry but he supposed it was a sign. He supposed it was a good thing that he hadn’t lost his temper. When he had first come to grips with reality again he had wanted nothing more than to strangle the billionaire.
“Find the kryptonite on him quickly,” Batman ordered even as he approached the screaming Kryptonian on the floor of the transport chamber. He began to methodically remove Clark’s uniform trying to see if it was a spray, injection or something else he had never seen this reaction.
Great Hera,” Diana whispered and Bruce glanced at where she was on his other side helping to lever Superman who had not stopped screaming completely oblivious to the world around him. “Look at his eyes.”
Batman shifted his attention to Clark’s head and ignoring the mouth that remained open in a scream that was not possible in any human for that amount of time and looked into his eyes and almost fell backwards. It was the first time Superman had looked anything but human. His eyes were solid gold.
“What the hell did Luthor do to you?” Batman raged. “Get him into sickbay; it’s already in his system. And who knows what effect this gold kryptonite will have on him.”
Diana easily lifted the screaming hero though she winced at the volume of his screams. Batman’s hands touched both her ears and she was suddenly in blessed silence. She nodded her thanks and laid him on the gurney that the flash brought in.
“What are we going to do?” Flash asked instantly at Batman’s side.
“We will treat it like any blood borne kryptonite infection.
Hours later they were debating the finer points of Kryptonite poisoning and if introducing green would cause more harm than good. Despite the Gold eyes and the fact that this clearly was a strain of Kryptonite, Clark’s skin was still currently invulnerable.
It was a strange state of affairs. They had nothing to break his skin short of more of the damaging substance. And they could not simply pierce his skin and take it away as they had been able to learn. With out the presence of green kryptonite, his body would expel any foreign materials in seconds.
They had monitors on him though no one was in the room with Clark. It had been eight hours, and he hadn’t stopped screaming. That was one of the most horrific aspects of this poisoning. A human would have exhausted themselves hours ago. Even weakened on green kryptonite he would have stopped. But this yellow substance seemed to keep him just alien enough to prolong his agony.
Lex sat back at the restaurant and watched as the Green Arrow left, discreetly following the departing Clark before he stood. He did not glance behind him knowing that Mercy would follow. His mind was miles away after his encounter with Clark.
That blood curdling scream still woke him some nights. It had been nothing compared to the groans and whimpers of green kryptonite. And with Clark’s subsequent disappearance he had started to believe he was dead. That thought had not sat well with him at all.
Now looking at the man that Clark was he was surprised. His voice had changed, his hair grown even longer, so much so that it looked somewhat tame pulled away from his face with a leather thong. The most glaring difference had to have been his size.
Even at 15 Clark had had a presence that mad you feel that he could not possibly be that age at least until he spoke. But now Clark had wasted away, he wondered what Clark would have looked like in one of his old suits. He was sure that Clark could have lost 60-80 pounds.
His vision had been horrible, it was clear his memory was no longer the photographic wonder it used to be with presence of necessary note taking materials. Clark’s temper also seemed to have loss some of its edge.
Putting all these pieces together Lex did the only thing that he could do. He smiled, as he finally stepped out of the hotel lobby into the street. He had succeeded. He had killed Superman, all the rest would follow.
Clark stepped off the elevator of the planet and almost laughed. There were banners and balloons everywhere proclaiming welcome back Clark. He looked around and some people glanced at him but there was no recognition.
He hadn’t believed he looked that different but then again even Mercy had not been aware of who he was. Lex had been waiting for some signal from Mercy and had not so much as glanced at him until he spoke.
“What is taking him so long?” He heard the sharp tones of Lois’ voice and almost smiled. Even with her abrasive nature he had missed her. He had closed himself off from everyone and after half a dozen unanswered emails and many more voice mails Lois had written him off.
“Calm down Lois, Marv will call us when he comes in,” Jimmy replied and Clark looked at the photographer. Camera ready in hand and standing in a prime position near the elevator to catch sight of Clark’s surprise.
Clark walked slowly over to his desk, noticing that it was still a mess as if he had simply left it like that the night before. He took a seat and opened his email, planning to compose his resignation to Perry when he received a message from Lex.
He opened it and was surprised to see the interview that did not happen transcribed for him. Shrugging he began to work on the article and had no idea how much time had passed when Lois approached him.
“Hey! It’s my computer that’s on the fritz. Not Clark’s.”
“Hello to you too Lois.”
“Do I know you?” Lois said with a frown clearly trying to place his face. Clark leaned back in his chair with a lazy smile that broadened into a grin as Lois’ jaw dropped. “Smallville!”
“What the hell happened to you?” Lois snapped taking in his drastically changed conversation.
“Thanks Lois,” Clark said standing as he saw more of the bullpen becoming aware of the fact that he had some how made it past their crack security team. Lois hugged him, knocking the wind out of him as she squeezed. “Lois oxygen.”
“Sorry Smallville, I guess the name fits now huh?” She said taking in his new much smaller form.
“If you say so.”
“C.K.!” Jimmy exclaimed approaching Clark for a manly hug. “It’s good to have you back,” he said trying to keep his expression neutral.
“Hey, Jimmy. It’s good to be back,” Clark said surprised to find that he means it. He looks around and people are smiling and waving and he can already see the questions forming in the minds of some.
“What’s with the hair C.K.?” Jimmy asked latching onto something that seemed the least dangerous to talk about.
“I just couldn’t be bothered to cut it. Who knew what would happen tomorrow?”
“Oh my god Clark! Why didn’t you tell me you had cancer?”
Clark blinked at Lois and tried to understand how she had jumped to such and outrageous conclusion. But that would mean understanding Lois’ mind. Something that would most likely never happen as long as he was sane; but insane or no it gave him something he hadn’t thought about. A human excuse, something to explain everything away even his stint in Gotham.
“I don’t really want to talk about it Lois,” Clark said finally slipping back into his chair. Even without his super hearing he could hear the random comment.
“…sister with cancer, kept her hair.”
He wondered why that was a question then decided it didn’t matter. Life at the Daily Planet would continue with or with out him. As usual to when the buzz of work had slowed down to less than supersonic speed the door to Perry’s office burst open.
“Is this a paper or your grandmother’s knitting group? Get to work!” Scattering like roaches, reporters fled back to their desks even as Perry stomped down to Clark, Lois, and Jimmy. “About time Kent, do you have the Luthor interview?”
“Writing it up now Chief,” Clark said barely looking up.
“Good and you two?”
“Welcoming Clark back, Chief,” Jimmy said even as he slid away.
“Lois you have a new partner for the time being.”
“What? When you said I would have a partner again I thought-”
“You thought wrong, Kent has his own assignment to complete. Luthor wants to do a series of interviews.”
“What? That man is pond scum.”
“This is why we have an objective reporter on it, and not you. We don’t need to be sued for Libel because you can’t hold your tongue. He may not own the Planet any more but he can still shut us down if we gave him the chance,” Perry waved someone over not that Clark noticed.
“Lois Lane, your new partner, Chloe Sullivan.”
Clark swiveled around then and looked up at the blond. Chloe had grown her hair out as well, longer than he had ever seen it. She smiled at Lois and that grin made his heart jump and his stomach clench. It takes Clark a moment too long to realize why his stomach is clenching and he knows he will never make it across the bullpen to the bathroom.
He reaches under his desk and takes the trashcan and vomits into it. He pulls a napkin from his pocket and tosses it into the trashcan as well. Looking he sees the four of them are staring at him, with a mixture of concern, horror, confusion, and suspicion.
“Kent, your last email said you were getting better.”
“I was, it’s been weeks since I’ve thrown up more than once a day.” He said this with little emotion before pushing his chair back to take the bucket to bathroom. He was glad that this had at least not happened when he was with Lex. He stood but froze for a moment at Clark’s voice.
“I’d hate to see worse if this is your better.”
“Throwing up on the hour when you haven’t eaten for three days comes to mind,” Clark said icily walking past her bucket in hand to clean it out.
“Good job Lois,” Jimmy said annoyed.
“I didn’t do anything.”
“Cancer isn’t a joke, he could have died, he still could. I know you like to tease him but this isn’t a joking matter. Really Lois.” Jimmy said turning to Chloe. “Do you have lunch plans?”
“I have a feeling I do now,” Chloe said slipping her arm around Jimmy and letting him lead her to the elevators.
“Lois, I have it on good authority that Kent is thinking of resigning. Try not to make that decision an easier,” Perry said before walking off.
“Resigning? Not happening Smallville,” Lois muttered returning to her desk.