Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Inner Demons: Chapter 2 (Waiting)

“Sorry Clark! Neither option works. You have just two choices: we can try to get you back to the truck or I can call the helicopter… it’s your choice… Walk or be carried.”

“With your shield or on it?” Clark grimaced.

“Exactly,” Lex smiled with encouragement. Even grim humor is an improvement, “Well?”

“What then?”

“That’s up to you. What’s your decision?”

With a resigned sigh, Clark rolled back to his side – answering “walk.”

Watching Clark with curious concern as he climbed to his feet and staggered, Lex crouched to set his shoulder under Clark’s arm and steady his steps. Without comment, Clark accepted his friend’s assistance – occasionally leaning when the path became difficult. As he did, Lex realized Clark was much thinner and lighter than he had expected despite his greater height and shoulder span. Somehow, to Lex, Clark had always seemed to have a firmly-planted, rustic solidness to him-- like one of Lex's hired sparring partners or security guards. But, as his friend leaned more and more heavily on Lex's shoulder, Lex noticed that it was still relatively easy to bear Clark's weight. If he needed to, Lex realized, he could probably even carry Clark to the truck. Hopefully that won't be necessary.

"Lex," Clark's weak voice brought Lex back to the present. They had come to a stop at the edge of the road between their vehicles. Looking between the two cars, Clark heaved a sigh and began, “Thanks Lex, I guess I'll…" only to be forestalled by Lex.

"Hold on one moment." Flipping his cell phone open again, Lex punched the speed dial.

"Vince, look- Get the Asten Martin's GPS location and come pick it up. No... I've already arranged for a transportation back. ... No. An insurance adjustor won't be needed." Clark's chuckle still sounded scratchy and weak to Lex, but it had to be a good sign. Vince, my friend, you've just earned the night off. Then something occurred to Lex.

"Vince, have Jennie lay out two of my exercise suits in the pool-house, and have the kitchen set up a tray of asiago, some fresh fruit, falwasser crisps and the mouton '45. Then, give everyone the weekend off... I'll take care of the rest."

Lex knew that Vince would recognize his typical starter course for dates and have certain amenities prepared, like certain of Lex’s favorite meals readied for a swift, showy preparation and a spare bedroom - in case one of Lex’s “lady friends” decided to stay the night.

If he could make Clark’s decision to stay at the manor as simple and logical as possible, particularly when Clark seemed to want to keep his parents in the dark, he might finally have the chance to solve some long-unanswered questions.

“Jonathon Kent,” Jor-El’s voice boomed through the shadows of the Kawatche caverns “you have not been summoned and serve no purpose here.”

“Where is my son? I know that you can find him.” At that moment, nothing could have been louder in Jonathon’s ears than Jor-El’s silence. Swallowing his frustration, Jonathon tried
again, “He could be in danger?”

“Kal-el is in danger. Your presence will only increase this: you have become a crutch crippling Kal-el and inhibiting his confrontation with the realities of his existence.” Jor-El’s accusation stung Jonathon, more so, because his own concerns had dwelled on this possibility of late. Behind him the cavern wall lit with complex images as Jor-El’s flat voice began to narrate “As the people of Krypton evolved across eons, in addition to mental and physical prowess, they developed existential emotions: emotions that …”

Chloe gathered the celery stalks and knife from Clark’s mother, while Lana wrapped her arms around the crying woman’s shoulders.

“I just don’t understand what happened,” Martha cried, “I just don’t understand.” The three women huddled together miserably - having no option but to wait for news -- any news that would give them some clue to Clark’s whereabouts or some clue about what might have happened -- some clue to why there had been no news-- some clue to why Clark hadn’t called.

As Lana and Chloe guided Martha to the couch, Lana glanced over her head catching Chloe’s glance and mouthed the words “Clark’s cell.” Chloe nodded, then asked “Lana, could you check the car… I think I left the radio on and the battery might run down.”

“I’d be happy to,” Lana answered and hurried to the door quickly pulling out her cell-phone as soon as she was outside.

The responding cell phone’s ring startled both Clark and Lex. Though neither moved to answer it, Lex was immediately aware of Clark’s turmoil growing with each ring. His friend’s pallid complexion became greyer and greyer as he wrung his fists visibly struggling with his dread of answering and his perceived duty to answer. Pulling over, Lex took the decision out of his hands… literally… taking the phone out of Clark’s grey-knuckled grip, checking the number displayed, and answering.

“Lana, just hold on,” Lex quietly commanded, watching Clark’s panicked reaction with concern…“I’ve found Clark. He’s not hurt, but he’s not ready to see or deal with anyone yet - not even his parents. Wait, don't say anything to them yet.”

Lana’s explosive response was audible to Clark over the cell-phone without resort to super hearing, but Lex’s voice remained firmly-calm and infused with compassion as he answered, “Lana, come out to the manor and let’s talk. If you still want to see him, I can take you to him.”

Noticing Clark’s anxious glance, Lex ended the conversation, “Lana, I can’t argue and drive at the same time, come to the manor, and we can discuss it further… No… Don’t tell the Kents until you understand the understand the situation better. I’ll be at the manor in thirty minutes.”

Lex cut the connection then turned off the phone, watching Clark with concern as he explained, “I’ll talk to her while you get cleaned up, take a rest, and figure out what you want to say. It’s going to have to come sooner or later, and I know you well enough to know that you will only stew over it building up your anxieties it until it happens.”

Clark answered with a rueful nod, then turned away to stare out the window. Checking his watch, Lex turned on the radio and guided Clark’s 4x4 back out onto the highway… driving far more sedately than usual.

Lana hurriedly back in to the Kent farmhouse, grabbed her purse, made an excuse to Ms. Kent and the suspicious Chloe about needing to handle something at the coffee-house, and ran out. Hesitating until she reached the end of the farm road leading from the Kent’s home to the highway, Lana finally reached the paved road and gunned the motor.

Eldritch Endicott sighed irritably as Lionel Luthor interrupted her for the fifth time to 'savor' the revolting classic. Despite his proclamations of Ravel's Bolero and its aesthetic qualities, Eldritch was certain that he continuously played the composition solely to annoy her with its crass sexual overtones and endless repetition. Losing patience, she perched her fingers on the dossier folder, then with a sharp push launched it across the broad burlwood desk with enough force to center it between Lionel's perched elbows.

“The dossier you requested, Mr. Luthor. If you have any further questions, contact me in the usual manner.” Turning on her heel, Eldritch stalked out closing the door the before the measure ended.

Sliding his finger across one of the remotes under the edge of his desk, Lionel chuckled. Impatient and predictable, Ms. Endicott, but I like the approach. Running a thumb over another button, Lionel leaned into the intercom, “Marcus, call Rembrandt, tell him to fire Ms. Endicott without explanation, have her belongings packed and security waiting at the door in for her arrival in five minutes. Also, have security call me as she pulls into the parking lot and make reservations at O'claires for two at nine thirty.”


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