Clark stared longingly at his crutches; across the room in Carla’s hands, he felt as if the Grand Canyon was between the two of them. It did not help that standing here leaning heavily on Lex he was immensely comfortable.
Comfort, which was the only reason he didn’t want to move. It wouldn’t matter who was holding him, Clark tried to convince himself. Nodding at Lex he forced himself to his feet. He could do this. He had been walking for as long as he could remember.
There was no secret to it. One foot in front of the other, the floor was padded in case he fell, not to mention he had Lex on one side and bar on the other. The room reminded Clark mostly of a dance studio. With the floor to ceiling mirrors and hardwood high shine floors in the area without the padding.
He could not hurt himself. It was completely unlikely. Yet he was nervous. He had been a week out of his chair. Making his way around the penthouse with his crutches, though he had not tried stairs yet; he had even mastered the balancing act it took to relieve himself.
“Clark it’s all right. We can do this tomorrow,” Lex said softly.
“No, I can do it,” Clark said his cheeks coloring as he remembering the sight of Lex that morning, dressed only in a pair of low hung sweat pants, he had been moving his body in slow precise movements that even Clark could see meant a level of control Clark could only dream to have even before this accident.
“Can…can you show me what you did this morning?” Clark asked suddenly.
“Tai Chi? Sure Clark, but you will need to be walking first,” Lex added with a smile.
“Lex, if you are not helping Clark-”
“He’s helping really.”
“Maybe it would be a better motivation if Lex were over here.”
“No!” Clark blushed. “I mean no, this is fine. I’m ready.”
“Okay Clark, I’m going to let go,” Lex said gently. Clark nodded though the moment Lex lessened his grip he held onto the bar for dear life. Lex reached for him again but stopped as Carla held up an arm.
Clark slowly took one hand off the bar and turned to face forward. After a shaky step he lifted his other hand though kept it about an inch from the bar. He made it about three steps before the floor started to move up to meet him. Before he had a chance to hit the floor he was wrapped in strong arms and settled down onto the padding.
“Thanks,” Clark said as Lex sat down beside him.
“It was nothing,” Lex said looking up at Carla who approached them.
“Clark, as trite as this sounds the first step is the hardest. I’ve had patients who took weeks to remove both hands from the bar and actually take a step. You are progressing in leaps and bounds.”
“Faster than normal?” Lex asked calmly.
“No just braver than normal,” Carla said with a smile.
“Well one thing Clark is not lacking, is excess bravery.”
“Why does that feel like an insult?” Clark asked giving Lex a look.
“No idea what you mean Clark,” Lex said hiding his grin.
“Do you see this Carla? It’s just not fair.”
“Let’s get you back on your feet,” Carla said instead.
“More walking?” Clark asked looking at the crutches she had left across the room.
“But you said I-”
“All the more reason to continue right?” Carla said sharing a smile with Lex.
“You’re all against me,” Clark whined as he allowed Lex to pull him back to his feet.
“It’s not that far Clark, look how far you have already made it,” Lex said with a smirk indicating the three or so feet he had already walked.
“I hate you,” Clark said with a sigh.
“Of course you do, now walk.”
“This would be so much easier if I could fly,” Clark said not noticing how Lex stiffened.
“Not everyone’s Superman Clark, I want you across the room in the next hour,” Carla said with a smile.
“Nietzsche?” Clark whispered to Lex.
“Don’t worry about it,” he replied loosening his hold some as Clark reoriented himself with the bar. Tightening said hold when Clark lurched dangerously.
“I’m okay,” Clark said softly, smiling when Lex’s fingers brushed gently through his hair.
“I’ll send for your mother’s pie if you make it to Carla in the hour,” Lex said. Clark stared at Lex wide eyed before taking a shaky step forward.
Lex smiled watching Clark move slowly across the wall. For someone who used to be able to circle the globe in seconds this had to be excruciating. Then again Clark had no recall of being able to do this; and as the months passed Lex stopped believing he ever would.
It was interesting to say the least to learn that without his secret he and Clark would have remained friends. Lex wasn’t sure there wouldn’t have been something else to draw them apart; then again if Clark was human they would have both died that day on the bridge.
As Clark slept exhausted from his physical therapy, exhausting, for a body that had not been in motion for week; Lex paced. He had finally begun to accept the fact that Clark was indeed fundamentally different than he had ever been.
And it did not look like Clark was going to be changing back any time soon. There were aspects of his memory that had been fundamentally altered in such a way that it benefited Lex. It was almost as if he had done it himself.
Casting one last look at a slumbering Clark Lex made his way out of the room. “Mercy, Hope, my office, he glanced around and noticed Carla was gone.
“She’s gone home for the night,” Lex nodded.
“We have quite a few things. I think it’s time we went back to Metropolis. I have some anonymous information that should fall into the right hands, clean up the less than savory dealings in the town. And we will need to take down the lead panels and Kryptonite shielding on the penthouse.”
“What?” Hope asked surprised. “I know he seems nice now, but what’s to say he won’t switch back?”
Mercy was too busy looking through the list of dealing that Lex wanted cleaned up. “What if someone points back at you?”
“I’d like to see them show any proof of my involvement. I’m sure a LexCorp employee or two are of questionable business practices but I can not track every employee or every move they make. Especially when they are not working, of course I will be appalled.”
“Boss, how will we do this? Are you going to move back into the penthouse during the demolition?”
“I’d rather not deal with chance of exposure, Hope you will supervise, while Mercy drops off the package to our ace reporter. Make sure the proper precautions are taken, we do not need a new batch of the meteor infected.”
“Sir, I supervised the installation, I would be able to make sure-”
“Hope is perfectly capable of this task. I do not hire deficient workers.”
“Who will be with you?” Hope asked.
“You will be gone for two to three days at the most. Mercy one, Charity will be spending the day off site, as we prepare for my return and some meetings, and the changes in staff that I will need soon. As well as the disbandment of section S17. She will be more than adequate protection for a few hours.”
“She’s been behind a desk too long, I can do both jobs, and Hope can protect you, better than that bottle blond.”
Lex smiled. “I suppose you are right, you will leave in the morning Mercy.” Both Mercy and Hope blinked. Mercy nodded and turned walking briskly out of the room as Hope stared. “Sometimes you have to force people to admit things that are obvious.”
“Charity was never going to come was she?”
“Oh no, we do have a meeting about some of the visitors that LexCorp has been having, and I will be dismantling section S17, but you were never going to Metropolis.”
“Well it’s not saying much, Charity is a sectary.”
“The last time Charity and Mercy sparred it was a draw,” Lex pointed out organizing folders on his desk.
“But Charity can barely hit the broad side of a barn.”
“Why did you hire her?” Hope asked.
“She has other talents,” Lex said vaguely.
Coming from another man the line would have been lewd and disgusting especially having seen Charity; coming from Lex she wouldn’t be surprised if the diminutive blond could shoot laser beams from her eyes.
“And I bet I never want to come up against these talents.”
“Not if you value your soul,” Lex said sweeping out of the room.
“Lois, are you sure this is a good idea?” Jimmy asked as he followed her down the hall to the cancer ward.
“This is the best idea. Clark will be back at his desk faster than you can say stop the presses.”