The mansion was still empty. The only people Clark could see in and around the grounds were security guards. He assumed that they were there to protect Lex's art and books until Lionel came and took them away.
Because Lex wasn't coming back there. That's what everyone said - his parents, Chloe, Pete. All the newspapers said the same thing, from the Ledger to the Planet to the Tattler - in big headlines.
Luthor Heir Declared Insane
Lex Luthor Not in Right Mind
He couldn't escape it - the pictures of Lex in that room, in that jacket. His eyes all bruised and red, his mouth open and so scared.
He ran around the mansion again. There were weeds in the flower gardens, and some of the more delicate plants were dying. His parents trained him well - he plucked weeds and watered bushes. It was all he could do.
"Just in time for dinner, Clark." His father nodded to him as he ran into the house. He dashed at normal speed to the bathroom to wash his hands and then to the kitchen to set the table. The news was on in the den. "And in local news, billionaire industrialist Lionel Luthor has bad news. It seems the doctors at Belle Reve facility offer little hope that his son and heir will ever be able to leave. Mr. Luthor declined to comment, saying that his personal tragedies were not up for discussion.
"In business news, LuthorCorp stock took a sudden rise..."
Clark nearly dropped the pile of dishes in his hands. His mother, who was dishing up some vegetables, saw and took them away. "Clark? Are you all right?"
"Lex doesn't belong there. He was drugged. We had proof."
His father walked into the kitchen. "Now, son. You know what his father said."
"How can you believe a word Lionel Luthor says?" Clark could feel his voice get louder. "You know he lies all the time! Why wouldn't he lie about Lex?"
"Calm down. There's no need to shout. Take a deep breath." His father's hand was warm on his shoulder. "What could would it do him to do that to his son?"
"Lex...Lex found out something about his father. Something bad, something with Morgan Edge. And look - his stocks are up. With Lex out of the picture for good, he doesn't have to worry about losing anything."
"Let's sit down. We need to talk about this."
"NO! It's my fault. I have to do this. I have to save him." His father never let go of his shoulder. Both of them knew that nothing could hold Clark back.
"Son, five more minutes won't make a difference. Sit down. Eat dinner with us. And then tell us why it was your fault and why you suspect Lionel Luthor."
"Okay." He took the plates from his mother and finished setting the table. The routine calmed him down a little.
Over a meal that came entirely from their own farm, Clark told them about Lex figuring him out - and the horror in his voice, but the joy in his face. He told them about running away so he wouldn't be found out. He told them about the secret files he'd read that summer, when, under the influence of red kryptonite, he'd spied on Lionel Luthor and broken into LuthorCorp headquarters.
To his surprise, his parents acted neither shocked nor disappointed. "You had to leave, Clark. There's no telling what would have happened to you."
His mom nodded at his father. "You did the right thing, honey. And maybe it's a good thing Lex is where he is. So he can't tell anyone. Or they won't believe him."
"How can you say that? Lex would *never* betray me. I know that. And even...nothing is worth having him...if he wasn't insane before, he will be insane in there. You know that."
"I was given these gifts to help people. You keep telling me this, and you keep telling me that this secret is the price I have to pay. But. I can't make *Lex* pay it. I won't make Lex pay it. It's not fair, it's not right and I can't let him be there. Can you? Really? You know him, Dad. Mom. You know him. Think about him in there, drugged, lost. Alone. Broken."
His father frowned in thought. "Martha, we'll be back soon."
"No. Dad, I have to do this alone. I got scared and left him before. I have to take care of it now. *I* do, and I can't let you get hurt doing it."
"Do you even know what you're going to do?" His dad picked up his coffee cup.
"Yeah. I'm going to break into that place, grab Lex and take him back home with me. He can't spend another night there. He can't."
His mom looked worried. "Clark, he could be...even if he wasn't crazy before, we don't know what shape he's in. We don't know what they did to him."
"I'll take care of him. He can't hurt me, remember? And he knows it now. I'll take care of him for as long as I need to." He would. Even if it wasn't the Lex he'd fallen in love with. Which was the one secret no one else knew - that he loved Lex, that he was probably gay because telling Pete or his parents that he was a gay alien was more than he could face.
His mother shook her head. "You can't do this. You can't...you can't keep Lex as a *pet* in your room, Clark. He needs a doctor's care - even if he's just drugged, he needs more care than any of us can give him."
"The doctors aren't helping him. They're hurting him. Mom, Dad, please."
"Listen to your mother, son. The answer is 'no'."
Breaking into Belle Reve was easy. He was expecting kryptonite traps and many, many guards, but he got in with no problems, using the skills he'd learned in his Metropolis summer. He stole an orderly uniform and no one gave him a second look as he prowled for Lex. And it was a good fifteen minutes before anyone would see Lex was gone.
By then, he was putting Lex on his own bed. Lex didn't even wake up.
And the next morning, his father dragged out the cot for Clark. And neither of his parents could keep their eyes off of Lex - he was thinner than he was when he came back from the island, and his eyes were bruised and sunken.
Clark's mother called his school and arranged to pick up his work.
Lex didn't fully wake up for a week. They could feed him soft foods and steer him to the bathroom, which helped, but he never seemed aware of anyone else. Meanwhile, the news was full of Lex's kidnapping and the search for him, and all the papers were wondering why there was no request for ransom. And Chloe and Pete called up several times a day wondering what was going with Clark.
"Clark! Help me! Get away! Clark!"
Clark jumped out of his cot and ran to Lex, who was screaming and thrashing around. "Lex, I'm here. I'm here, Lex. Lex." Lex went still for a moment.
"Yes, shhh. It's me. It's all right. You're safe. Shh."
He remembered when Lex was strong - not as strong as he was, but strong for a normal person, a person from Earth. That strength was gone now. So when Lex tried to pull him onto the bed, Clark would have had no trouble resisting. Lana would have had no trouble resisting.
He let Lex pull him onto the bed, and he let Lex wrap himself around him.
And he didn't pull away when his parents showed up at the door. Instead, he patted Lex's back and whispered nonsense to him, and held him. And when he looked at Lex's eyes again, Lex was back there.
"Clark? Where I am?" His arms tightened.
"My room. My house. You're safe. No one knows you're here."
"No one?" He looked around, as if trying to see through walls.
"No one, son." Clark's father walked into the room, Clark's mother by his side. They looked at the boys in the bed with the oddest expressions. "And until you're ready to face the world, no one will know. Not we can help it."
"Mr. Kent? Are you sure? A Luthor is a dangerous enemy to have."
"I know. But we Kents can be pretty dangerous ourselves." And his father smiled, and his mother echoed the smile.
"Now, Lex. If you're feeling up to it, I suggest Clark help you take a bath and then we'll get some real food in you. Clark, if you'll carry Lex to the bathroom, I'll get some clean towels and leave you two alone."
Clark stared at his parents in confusion, but he obeyed, getting out of the bed and carefully swinging Lex into his arms. Lex held on tightly. "Mom? What are you...?"
His parents shared another weird look. "Son. We love you, and we trust you, and nothing will change that. We *will* be having a talk later, mind you." His father grinned. "But right now, take care of Lex. He's part of the family."
And he left the room, shaking his head in wonder.