Saturday, November 06, 2004

Chapter 6: Onslaught

Laying Clark down gently, Lex turned his face to the side, lowered the back of the lounger to elevate his feet, checked for Clark’s vitals, then pulled out his cell-phone and handed it to Lana.

“The Kents are on speed dial... #3.” Lex instructed as took off his jacket and spread it over his friend. Pouring some of the mouton into one of the napkins, Lex folded it and laid it across Clark's forehead.

Watching Lex as she dialed, Lana held her breath as the phone began to ring.

...

"I'll get it..." Chloe called as raced to the phone. Martha had finally given in to the suggestion that she get some rest – leaving Chloe downstairs to finish dinner preparations.

"Hello? Ms. Kent?"

Hearing Lana's voice, Chloe ground her teeth -- certain that her suspicions were about to be confirmed. Lana had run off to be with Clark... Why am I not surprised?

"Ms. Kent?, It's Lana."

"Oh, Hi Lana. Did you get everything straightened out at the Talon?" Chloe asked icily.

"Chloe, please don't do this right now. I need to talk to Clark's Mom. It's serious!"

"Oh of course it is; everything between you and Clark is serious," too caught up in her own injured pride to hear the plaintive note in Lana's voice, Chloe continued "but nothing he has with me could be serious... Is that it?"

Over the phone, Chloe could here Lana speaking with another voice that sounded decidedly male (probably Clark!) – telling someone that she wasn't letting Lana speak with Ms. Kent. Oh, go ahead Lana... tell on me... how mature. In the background, she heard him ask for the phone and got ready to blast Clark for running off without telling anyone.

"Chloe, indulge your school-yard jealousies later, and put Mr. Kent on the phone." Even over the phone Lex sounded uncompromising and in command.

And, if Chloe weren't already feeling stung... she might have listened. But, like so many other times, when Chloe indulged in emotional tangents- she went full out, asking snidely "What are you? Their best man? Like I haven't noticed that you are always pushing them together..."

But, before she could continue, Jonathon's hand closed on hers from behind, twisting the phone out of her grasp.

"Hello?" he answered, glaring at Chloe, who looked back half-sheepishly, half-defiantly. Jonathon's attention to her was quickly lost though as he clamped his hand over the phone and called out, gladly at first. "Martha, Martha. It's Lex, he's..."

Then, his voice broke as he realized what Lex was saying, "Is he?"

The bleakness of his voice shocked Chloe- instantly causing her to regret everything she had said to Lana and Lex. There was not a single good question that she could think of, which would follow "is he?" in that anguished tone.

From the foot of the stairs, Martha watched Jonathon go pale and grip the table for support as he answered something Lex must have asked, "No, that's not necessary, we can be there in a ten minutes. ... Lex, thank you." Martha was at his shoulder by the time the phone reached the hook.

"Is he?"

Taking her gently by the shoulders, Jonathon seemed to need steadying himself before he spoke, "Lex is taking Clark to the hospital. Clark collapsed, and Lex isn't certain, but thinks it may be from a heart attack" he paused as Martha's cried out of alarm "...He also thinks it may not be the first time that Clark has collapsed today."

"Oh, Jonathon, what if?" Jonathon hushed her, pulling him against his chest as he looked over her shoulder at Chloe.

"Chloe, there's another set of keys in the hanging plant by the back door, would you please lock everything up? We need to get there as soon as possible."

Chloe nodded numbly as they hurried out the door. She couldn't believe it: Clark can't be... He can't be.

...

He can't be, Martha thought as she gripped Jonathon's hand. He can't be having a heart attack... he's too young, too healthy. He’s not…

"Jonathon, he can't be can he? Not with his... strong… constitution... not with his ‘parentage’ Jonathon?” His silence terrified Martha. "Jonathon...? What did Jor-El say?"



Lex grimly snapped the phone shut and glanced back at Lana, “stay with him. I will…”

“A heart attack? Lex, are you sure… He’s…”

“No, I’m not, but several symptoms are… there.”

“Symptoms…” Lana asked as she stared at Clark trying to discern the symptoms Lex mentioned. Turning back, she was stunned to see Lex gone, and couldn’t help thinking “Well, Clark’s rubbed off on him.”

Scooching onto the lounger, by Clark’s hip, Lana picked up the napkin to gently wipe the perspiration from his forehead.

As she did, he roused slightly in response and startled her by murmuring, “Emily…” in a voice heavy with sadness. Darting back as if she had been stung, Lana dropped the cloth.

“Emily?” She asked, “Clark, who’s Emily?”

Not fully conscious of it, he answered her, “Jacob’s mother…” but the answer only confused her as she tried to remember a family in Smallville having an Emily and a Jacob. There wasn’t one.

“Jacob, Ben, Savannah, Sarah, Cheryl, George…” Clark continued – his voice becoming heavier and sadder with each name until his voice broke into sob-like breaths. Lana was mystified.

“Clark?” She asked, “Who are they?” Lana asked hoping to understand.

Clark was hardly conscious, just barely waking from his collapse, but his face distorted at her question and his reactions intensified. Sweat covered his forehead; he started to shake; and his breathing shortened into gasps.

“Damn it, Lana, what do you think you are doing?” Lex demanded as pushed past her. Quickly glancing over Clark, Lex grabbed his friend by the shoulders and pressed him back into the lounge chair to slow his shaking.

“Come on, Clark, Wake up.” Lex insisted, “Open your eyes.” He repeated in a firm litany- until Clark groaned and opened his eyes.

The sight of Lex looming in his field of vision, eyes filled with concern, startled Clark, who had only moments before been certain that his struggling breath and racing heart were indicators of his impending death. Staring up in confusion, Clark felt as if his mind was dividing into three disconnected segments. One segment was trying to slow his breathing and heart. The second was trying to hear what Lex was saying over the seemingly endless newscast that continued to play through his thoughts. And, the last segment seemed intent on observing the scene in a slow-motion fugue as if expanding his perception of the last moments of his life before they ran out.

Looking in his friend’s eyes, Lex realized immediately that while Clark was clearly trying to, he wouldn’t be able to focus enough to get his breathing and heart rate under control. He needed something to capture Clark’s full attention… Of Course.

“Lana,” gestured her closer.

Trying to interpret the perceptions of each segment, Clark was able to sparsely pick out some of the words passing between his friends: “Why?” he heard Lana ask, but the words he could pick from Lex’s reply was barely decipherable, “damage… he… focus… calm… distract… control. Mystified Clark watched as Lana reached out to brush strands of sweat-soaked hair back from his forehead, then settled beside him leaning into him. Clark’s gaze froze on her lips as they descended toward his.

Lex’s smile turned into a grin as he heard Clark catch his breath, holding it as Lana’s lips lightly brushed his. Trust Clark to be Clark. That may not have slowed his heart rate, but it’s a start. It was a start. Clark’s shaking immediately stilled as if he were afraid that some small movement would send Lana fluttering away like a small finch teased down from a branch. Lex watched in bemusement as Lana’s kiss had the desired effect: Clark’s breathing normalized; and, even from the side, Lex could see that Clark’s complete focus was on Lana.

Lana kiss lingered several moments until she was certain of its effects; then, blushing under Clark’s gaze, she leaned back locking eyes with Clark and asked, “Clark, we… I want to take you to the hospital. Okay?”

Unwilling, at that moment, to end the sweetness of that momentary kiss – Clark was robbed of his usual protests and hesitation so simply nodded.

Hiding his grin, Lex came to the other side of the lounge chair, helped Clark stand, and gestured for Lana to support Clark from the other side. Lana’s support was hardly needed, as Lex could easily support his friend’s weight, but he was loathe to cut short Clark’s tenuous grasp on peace. When they finally reached the humvee and settled Clark in the back seat, Lana closed the door between them turning to ask Lex, “How did you know?”

Lex favored her with an intentionally patronizing glance before answering, “How could you not?”



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