Title: The Relapse
Warnings: Mild angst. Oliver is presented as somewhat of a villain here.
Summary: When Clark goes missing, Lex and Batman set aside their differences to find him.
The instant that Clark feels the effect of the kryptonite he knows. As he falls to the ground, he inwardly kicks himself for not having seen the signs, for not allowing himself to see that a relapse was imminent.
* * * *
"He disappeared on a routine patrol?"
"Yes," says Green Lantern. "Unfortunately he'd flown into an area with no security cameras."
"But his com-link was working?"
"Yes. It was recovered at the scene."
Bruce turns away. Clark always alerts the League when he's in trouble.
"He was at LexCorp the whole time…then back to the penthouse. He's been on the move for the last hour." Green Lantern looks at Batman, hard:
"What's in your head, Batman?"
"I wish J'onn was here."
J'onn would know for certain; could settle it. But J'onn is on a peace-keeping mission in deep space.
"I'll check in later," says Batman. "I have an idea."
* * * *
Clark wakes up to a green-tinged horizon, sliced by the bars of a cage.
"You don't have to do this," he says. It's hard to keep his voice gentle and steady, while fighting back the waves of nausea.
"I don't want to, Clark. But I have to, to help you. You'd do it for me. You have done it for me. Whenever the drinking has gotten out of control, you were always there for me. You've pulled me out of bars and gutters. Tough love, man."
Clark tries to sit up:
"This is different. You know that."
He's addressing a back, a distant slumped back.
"Oliver…look at me. Please…"
He's knocked backwards by a wave of green.
* * * *
When he gets where he's going, Batman isn’t surprised to find Lex there already, silhouetted against the skyline. Black trenchcoat, black gloves. He's dressed for vengeance.
"So," says Lex, turning around. "Shall we cut the preliminaries or do you feel obliged to lie to me?"
"You've decided something. Care to share?"
"Superman has vanished from a routine patrol. Obviously he was ambushed. It is impossible to ambush Superman. Therefore the person who took him is someone he trusts…"
Deliberate emphasis on "trust."
"Green Arrow has been behaving erratically for the last two weeks," says Lex. "Vigilante justice, even by his low standards."
"You've been tracking him?" says Batman.
"I track all of you," says Lex. "Both sides of the coin. Oliver Queen has stumbled out of twelve bars in four days."
"And now you have a theory," says Batman.
"The same as yours," says Lex. "The question is: are you here to help me – or protect him?"
"I'm here to protect Superman," says Bruce.
* * * *
Oliver is drinking straight from a bottle. There are deep circles under his eyes, his hand shakes. Through the pain, Clark feels a pang for him. He's clearly in a very bad way.
"When Lana was going to marry Lex," Oliver shakes the bottle, splashing droplets on the floor. "You tried to stop it. You knew. Why can’t you see now what you could see then? Why, Clark?"
Clark rolls his head onto his arm so at least he can stare up at Oliver:
"It's different. Lana was going into it, eyes closed. She couldn't….I know Lex, all of him. The best and the worst…"
"No!" Oliver smashes the bottle. A shard of green glass just misses Clark's nose.
"You don't know him. You refuse to know him. You throw a veil over his past and pretend the worst of Lex Luthor doesn't exist. But he does, Clark. The worst of Lex is the only true Lex."
"No…" Clark's voice sound weak and uncertain, even to his own ears. "Oliver, it's not as simple as that. We don't reduce people to archetypes, not even Lex. He's faced his past. He's paid…"
"The fuck he has!" Oliver staggers to his feet and looms over Clark. "All your choices, anyone you could have had and you choose…it would have been better if you'd stayed with Lois…I wish…"
Clark wishes for Lois too because there is no one better at cutting through hypocrisy. If she was here right now, she would look Oliver right in the eye and say what Clark himself can't: "Oliver, this isn't about protection. This is jealousy."
* * * *
Oliver has turned his com-link off; Clark is off-line. Queen Industries owns a hodge-podge of properties around Metropolis. Batman considers the list, with Lex at his shoulder.
"Don't try to lose me," warns Lex.
But when Batman turns around a minute later, Lex is gone, trying to lose him. Batman finds him slinking through an alley, en route to the waiting limo he must have texted when Batman turned his back.
"I can cuff you," Batman points out.
Lex's eyes flare.
"For crimes I haven't committed?"
"For the crimes you're contemplating right now."
Lex acknowledges this with a tiny smirk.
"And you’re concerned lest I besmirch my reputation?"
"No," says Batman. He thinks: But you’re a fool if you let Oliver manipulate you.
"So ….you're driving then?" says Lex.
* * * *
Clark moans. Oliver hovers over him.
"Yes," says Clark. "Yes, you are hurting me. And the pain gets worse the longer I'm exposed."
Oliver ducks his head.
"Necessary pain. Some sacrifices, no matter how much it hurts, they've got to be paid…"
Something in his voice….Clark tilts his head and stares through a haze of green to meet Oliver's eyes. Oliver's face is plaintive, his eyes smudged by grief.
He doesn't intend to survive this. This is suicide by Lex. Oliver intends Lex to kill him because he thinks Clark could never forgive that; he'd sacrifice himself to keep them apart forever…
But Oliver has turned his back.
* * * *
"It's here," says Lex. "This is the place."
There are other buildings on their list but Bruce knows he's right. This is it.
He stares at Lex:
"Luthor, I want your weapons."
"Clark's in there, in danger and you're worried about what I'm carrying?"
"Yes," says Batman, and waits. Lex shrugs:
Batman pats him down and relieves him of a suspicious looking pen. Lex watches him:
"Do you truly think I'm a fool, Bruce?"
"I'm hoping not."
* * * *
Oliver hears the footsteps first. Clark's ears are plugged by the proximity of the kryptonite but he sees Oliver react and take up his stance with bow and arrow,
"Ollie," says Clark, weakly. "Don't. Please."
"I'd do anything for you, Clark," says Oliver and then the door is kicked open.
Through his green fog, Clark sees Batman first and relaxes a little…if Bruce is here. But Lex is here too and Oliver's arrow is aimed at his head. Lex, expressionless, fumbles in his pocket.
Batman easily disarms Oliver and grabs him round the chest but Lex is still blocking the door and what is he doing with his hand?
"Lex…" breathes Clark, and Lex turns to look at him.
Rage in his eyes, but tenderness too. At that moment, Clark knows that Lex won't rise to the bait; that it will be all right.
Lex turns to the console and presses a button. The green cage shudders, then stops humming. The residual ache from the kryptonite is still there but the crushing weight is off Clark's chest. He can sit up again.
"Batman…" says Clark, his tone a warning. Get Oliver out before he provokes Lex or Lex provokes him.
"An arrow in the back didn’t suffice this time?" says Lex, his voice cutting through the silence in the room. "You had to take the sadism further."
"One of my arrows still has your name on it," says Oliver and Batman shoves him out the door.
Lex has found the latch to the cage and reaches down to pull Clark up.
"The limo's on its way."
"No need," says Clark, scooping Lex up. "I want to fly. I need the air, the sun."
He steps out the door and leaps into the air but the kryptonite dust has left him wobbly. It's not quite a crash landing but it definitely isn't graceful.
"Limo!" says Lex, urgently tugging at his sleeve.
* * * *
When they get home, Lex goes straight to the kitchen. Clark watches him uneasily. Lex's back is absolutely rigid. Though he had rested his cheek against Clark's shoulder during the drive, it is evident that Lex is still very angry.
Clark steps out on the balcony to call Bruce:
"How have you dealt with him?"
"He's in a locked room in the Watchtower sobering up," says Batman.
"Just G.L and Black Canary. But this is a serious matter, Superman. The League should discuss Green Arrow's future with us…"
"No," says Clark. "He made a mistake; he slipped up."
Disapproving silence from Batman, then:
"What should I do with him?"
"Put him in Dinah's custody. She's handled this before, will know the right way to get him help."
Another silence, then:
"As you wish."
Lex returns with a grilled cheese sandwich, a cup of tea. His mouth is set in a straight line.
Clark eats, slowly. He doesn't want food. He needs sleep, sun. And he needs Lex. He pulls Lex closer and kisses him. Lex is very still for a moment, an animal about to bolt, then he's furiously wriggling out of Clark's arms.
"I need to know…If I turn on the news tonight," says Lex. "Will I learn that Green Arrow is under arrest? Or at the very least, expelled from the League?"
Clark stares at him, helpless. For a moment, he thinks of pulling Lex back into his arms, kissing him until he softens, until he stops asking questions.
But Lex is already stalking away.
Clark shuffles to the bedroom. Betrayal from Ollie, disapproval from Bruce, anger from Lex, the one he loves most….sleep isn't a physical need for him but he desperately needs a little oblivion now, to wipe his chalkboard clean.
The bed is too big without Lex. Clark lies in the middle. He doesn't sleep, not properly, but he drifts. His dreams and his reality are equally discomfiting.
Perhaps an hour later there are soft steps padding up to the bed. Lex curls up beside him, rests his head on Clark's shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Clark. Go to sleep."
And finally Clark does.
* * * *
He wakes in a pool of sunlight, the curtains are drawn wide. Lex is sitting up beside him, wearing one of Clark's old t-shirts, laptop propped on his bare knees.
Clark rolls over to get a better look at him.
"You've been asleep for fourteen hours," says Lex.
"Oh," Clark blinks, wonders about missed calls. A lot can go wrong in fourteen hours but hopefully one thing has gotten better. He sits up. "Are you still mad?"
"Of all people, I have the least right to complain about your relentlessly forgiving nature. But-"
"But you don't like it when the League sets itself above the law," finishes Clark.
"No!" says Lex, slapping the bed and nearly spilling his coffee. "I don't like it when you put yourself below the law, Clark, as though crimes against you don't matter."
"Oh," says Clark, startled.
"And I know I don't speak from the moral high ground," says Lex. "Which is frustrating. I want to kill Oliver or lock him the fuck up forever-"
Clark puts a calming hand on his arm.
"But what disturbs me most is that I can see right into his head and almost – almost – empathize with him. If you were with Oliver, I'd be doing everything in my power to get him away from you."
"You could marry him," Clark points out. "That tends to work. And your ex-wives always try to kill you anyway."
He has the satisfaction of seeing the ghost of a smile flicker around Lex's mouth before Lex wills it away. Too soon for jokes.
"But he hurt you," says Lex. "And that can't happen, ever again."
Clark strokes his arm:
"But I'm all right now. And what's the end result? We're here in bed."
He removes the laptop from Lex's lap and puts his hand there instead.
Lex frowns at him, but he's playing along now.
Clark rolls over, right on top of Lex. One of Lex's bony knees grazes his ear. In an instant, Lex's hands are all over him: one hand tickling along his back, the other pressing between his legs. Lex scoots up until his mouth is pressed against Clark's ear.
"I'm going to lick you until you won't know whether to beg me to stop or go on forever."
A tremble runs through Clark's thigh. Lex's breath is hot against his skin:
"I'm going to lick you, use my tongue and fingers until you open for me, only me. And then I'm going to fuck you, Clark. Slow at first until you beg me to come, and you will beg. Then fast and hard. I'm going to come inside you."
Lex rolls them over and straddles Clark's hips. Clark bucks his hips and says:
"Maybe I should fuck you."
Lex stares down at him.
"You are mine. You will surrender to me, completely."
He pushes Clark down and lowers his head. Clark moans. It feels so good, so cathartic, to give over control and put himself in Lex's hands.
* * * *
An hour later, Lex is collapsed in a sweaty heap on Clark's chest, sound asleep. Clark lies awake, watching the lights of the city strobe across the ceiling.
When Lex had regained his breath, he had whispered in Clark's ear:
"If he hurts you again, I’ll kill him. And if I hurt you again, I'll kill myself."
"Stop that," Clark had said. "That's not pillow talk." But Lex was already asleep..
* * * *
"Want me to stick around?" Dinah asks
"We're fine," says Batman.
"Are we fine?" Oliver is sitting in the window seat, looking away from Bruce.
"No," says Batman. "We're not."
"Are you throwing me out of the League?"
"I would," says Batman. "But Superman says otherwise."
"Oh," says Olive flatly. He's almost disappointed, Bruce thinks, and he knows why.
"Clark's forgiveness is crueler than his revenge," says Batman. "Isn't it? If we expel you, you have an excuse to go rogue, to kill Luthor . By taking you back, he's forcing you into good behaviour."
"I can't apologize to Clark enough, I hate myself for hurting him….but I can't stand to see him with Luthor," says Oliver, staring down at his knees. "And Batman, I know you don't like it either-"
Bruce stiffens. No one tells him what he's feeling. Maybe Clark, possibly Diana, not Oliver,
"Better get used to Lex," he says. "He's not going anywhere. And every time you go after him, Luthor inches a little further onto the high ground. You're practically guaranteeing that they'll stay together."
Oliver looks like he's been slapped. Bruce considers slapping him to draw a comparison.
"You have a week, to get yourself in shape. Be at Watchtower for Monday evening."
He leaves before Oliver can answer.