...I'm posting this fic on my lunch hour. Looked it over and while I'm not sure I exactly like it, I figured I would put it here for the sake of doing something with it. I used a style/format in it that I've never tried before, and upon review, I am happy with that part of the fic.
So... feel free to review. Tell me I'm nuts; smack me around for being cruel; whatever. I know some people don't like "warnings", so I will simply say this. If you're curious, click in and read the first sentence. Take it seriously, and if it doesn't send you running screaming for the door, let me know what you think. I honestly have no idea where this came from *sighs*
Anyway, here it is...
10:30 PM - 11:17 PM
Lex was dying.
It was something like shock to feel the real thing after the use of that phrase had become so cliche through random speech -- Dying of laughter. Dying to touch. Dying of curiosity.
He'd heard the first, felt the second and said the last, but they were nothing remotely like the sensation of true death, so apparently, colloquialisms can be misleading in their ubiquity. Icy claws scratching slowly up his skin, raking into the flesh by inches to freeze tissue and blood. He figured bone wasn't far from being conquered by the grip of cold as well, and in his previous thoughts on the subject -- inexorable for an adrenaline junkie like he was -- Lex had imagined feeling more panicked than this, when he knew death was imminent.
It could be the lingering effects of the barbiturates. Or perhaps mental shutdown as a psychological defense mechanism. Quite possibly, he'd simply lost too much blood for his brain to have the required nourishment to fuel a fight or flight response.
Not that it mattered. He couldn't run even if he tried, even if he was unshackled from the chair and given a head start like some fucked up version of cat and mouse played out by a doomed supporting actor in a cheesy horror flick. Despite the hissed promise of a long, slow, torture, Lex knew he wouldn't last much longer. Blood flowing too fast and thick from his veins for survival to even retain dark horse status. Pulling up lame and out of the running, but Lex remained perversely attached to every shallow breath. His femoral vein had definitely been cut and he knew that the nearby artery was still intact only by the sheer lack of fountain-like spurts of blood when he looked down. That would have been a faster, less painful path -- maybe even entertaining in a truly disturbing way -- to his personal fade-to-black.
He would laugh around the gag in his mouth if he had the energy or the breath to spare.
The psychotic was circling him slowly, Lex's blood dripping from the serrated blade of the long hunting knife, and he felt his stomach shudder looking at it. Insane and deadly urge to vomit when his head dropped on his suddenly numb neck and his eyes encountered the growing pool of red on the floor beneath the ladder-backed wooden chair he was bound to. How much was that? A quart, maybe? Too much for a transfusion to be more than a waste of time and platelets, and Lex was impressed that he still had the will to choke back the bile creeping up his throat. Luthors don't quit, even when the ending is inevitable, and besides that, drowning on his own gorge wasn't the way he'd let this end.
The man pacing around him stopped, almost absentmindedly sinking the knife into Lex's shoulder, and pain burned like fire, briefly chasing away the chill in his body. Just a flesh wound this time, more painful than deadly, which the earlier stab to his leg had been. Lex had too much experience with injury to not know that the leg wound was going to kill him sooner rather than later, but the man pacing around him kept shooting furtive glances at the door. Waiting for something that really didn't matter anymore, not to Lex, but it was obvious that the hired kidnapper had no idea how close Lex was to death.
They didn't make sadistic mercenaries the way they used to.
Black was creeping in at the edges of his vision, and Lex bit the inside of his cheek, then his tongue. Needing to hold on as long as possible, because there was an irony in this situation that only the conscious could appreciate. Lex forced himself to focus, deciding that the concentration required to count the cinderblocks composing the wall across from him was sufficient to do that when he lost count before reaching twenty twice in a row and had to start all over again.
A metal door slammed back against that wall, and damn it, he'd gotten all the way to thirty-two that time. He almost started back at one before memory twinged and he focused on the form in the doorway. His would-be-savior assessing in the blink of an eye, cinder dust from the new handle-shaped dent in the block wall settling around him like a cheap special effect that Lex was watching in unnatural slow motion.
Or maybe that's just what it seemed like in comparison, because in the next instant, Clark was next to his chair. Hunting knife coming down and shattering against impermeable flesh, and Lex would have crowed in victory except for the gag and the entire lack of energy to exalt over a triumph that was too late to matter. The bear of a man was picked up in Clark's large hands and heaved across the room like nothing more weighty or alive than a tennis ball. The crack of bone would have been something of a comfort if Lex's blood weren't currently forming the world's most obscene puddle underneath his feet.
All it took to get the truth was his death.
It wasn't until he felt Clark's hands at his wrists -- snapping the links of the cuffs connecting him to the chair as though they were composed of spider's silk rather than tempered steel -- that Lex realized he was seeing nothing but black with his eyes still open. Several slow blinks made no difference. He really would've liked to have seen Clark's face up close after the revelation.
"Hang in there, Lex. I'll get you to the hospital."
He wanted to speak, to explain, to... something. Hard to focus. Impossible, but he felt himself scooped up and his head pressed with a gentle hand against an invulnerable shoulder.
And he was flying again. Almost the same as the river, but with accompanying physical sensations this time as movement too quick for reality took them out into the night. Summer bugs embedding into his skin like they usually did on the grill of his car, rush of wind in his ears, eyes still sightless and voice unusable as well, even though the gag had been removed at some point that he couldn't specifically recall.
The last thing he felt was the thrust forward of Clark's sudden stop, arms around him fighting forward momentum like a living seatbelt. The last thing he heard was Clark's voice.
"Lex! Don't die on me!"
Dying of curiosity indeed.
9:45 PM - 10:21 PM
His eyes drifted open slowly, bleary sight making visual detailing impossible just yet. The first thing he noticed was the gag in his mouth. Not tied like in a bondage game -- too tight for that, cotton knotted and stretching the corners of his mouth. It tasted vaguely of detergent and motor oil, and Lex had to swallow carefully to avoid choking on the flavor. His arms were straining downward. He felt two pairs of shackles, one cuff locked around each wrist and the corresponding side foot rails of the chair, thus accounting for the awkward positioning. Testing his legs brought no movement, just a stretch-whine noise that took him a minute to identify as duct tape.
Interesting. At least he wasn't hanging upside-down from the ceiling this time. One instance of impersonating a side of beef was more than too much for a single lifetime.
Fighting off the haze and glancing around, Lex could finally make out his surroundings. He quickly identified it as what he'd expected -- a dank, deserted warehouse. Probably somewhere on the waterfront, and the guess was confirmed with a careful listen that brought the sound of water slapping against a breakfront to his ears. From the stale, lingering smell in the air, Lex guessed that this place had at one point during its incarnation been used for gutting fish. One flickering halogen light hovered far above his head, spotlighting him in the center of the open space.
The vague melodrama of that was disturbingly amusing.
The man approached him from behind. Footfalls echoing on the concrete floor, sound bouncing back and reverberating like the soundtrack of a B-grade suspense film. Lex waited, hoping that the gag would be removed now that he was conscious.
He needed to recite his lines, right?
But the man perversely stayed just outside the circle of light, moving slowly around and stopping at the edge of the glow to study Lex with silent intensity. Damned creepy, that silent regard, and Lex was relieved when his abductor finally spoke. "I'm going to enjoy making you bleed, Luthor. I believe in giving my customers their money's worth."
He stepped forward into the light, holding up his hand to reveal a long, serrated blade that Lex easily identified as some type of hunting knife. Couldn't recall whether it was used to remove the hide or to bone the carcass, and his mind was apparently choosing to do a very strange tap dance to avoid the instinctual panic. He was dealing with a professional, and-
"He'll be here soon. I should get started. This will take a while."
Lightening fast slash of the blade that sliced through the silk of Lex's shirt and the skin over his collarbone. Flesh stretched thin there, blood very close to the surface, and he felt it bloom out and start dripping almost at the same instant the hiss escaped his throat around the gag. Edges of pain dulled by the drug in his system to the point where it wasn't all that noticeable. He could recall managing to survive worse wounds without barbiturates cushioning his senses.
Lifting his head, Lex encountered the man's gaze and... froze. Wide, manic eyes staring down at him, obviously lost in a fantasy that Lex wasn't a party to, and it suddenly occurred to him that he was seriously fucked. Not a professional at all -- a lunatic staring back at him from that blank expression as the man crouched to bring himself to eye level and licked the blood off the edge of the knife with a groan of satisfaction.
Lex was *so* fucked. Muttering desperate curses and demands around the gag and shifting against his bonds only had the man grinning wider and straightening. He stood there and caressed the edge of the knife with sensual focus as Lex fell further down the metaphorical rabbit hole.
"Forgoing that Luthor calm, finally? I like that. I like it a lot. This will be more fun with you playing along."
The blade swung down in an arc, and even the drugs couldn't cushion the blow this time. Sinking deep into the flesh of his thigh and -- *shit* -- twisting as it was withdrawn. The slashed fabric of Lex's pants leg drenched with the wet heat of blood almost immediately, and his vision swam with the burn of agony spreading like poison from the wound. Killing and reviving every nerve with the throb that began spreading along with the blood. Too fucking deep, not nicking small vessels like the first cut. Had to be the vein, and Lex was guessing that if it wasn't completely severed, it was damned close.
Blood was starting to drip to the floor from the saturated fabric as the man started licking his knife again, apparently deaf to the sound of Lex screaming around the gag.
3:23 PM - 8:35 PM
Harrison nodded, taking the envelope from his desktop and placing it inside a drawer as he turned to his keyboard and resumed typing. "Very well, then."
Meeting ending on a familiar, casual note, and Lex crossed to the door and exited. He took the steps down to the ground floor and began whistling as he strolled into the late afternoon sunlight. Crossing the street to where his Jag was parked next to a fire hydrant, he grabbed the ticket from under the windshield wiper and tossed it on the ground before folding himself into the driver's seat. The trip back to his office at LuthorCorp lasted longer than expected when his father dropped in for an update on the Moran Industries acquisition, so it was after dark by the time Lex entered his penthouse at Towers.
He habitually checked his messages -- the only one he cared about was waiting and the rest contained nothing that had to be dealt with before tomorrow. As he poured a glass of Scotch, he made one call, leaving a message before grabbing the decanter and crossing to his desk. Lex settled into the soft leather desk chair to wait. Everything would be in motion soon enough, and the thought was as calming as the slow burn of the alcohol in his throat.
The quiet of the room settled into his senses, and Lex predictably found himself musing on Clark. Wondering what disaster had been averted today. Perhaps a Metropolis University co-ed had a gangly former farm boy to thank for her rescue from a runaway truck. That would be predictably saccharine enough, Lex supposed, and he could almost hear the sound of Clark's voice shuffling through a charming lie delivered with a guileless smile that urged belief.
He poured more liquor into his empty glass, taking half the drink in a gulp before setting it down and reaching for the drawer near his shin. Nearly toppling out of the chair with sudden imbalance, Lex braced an unsteady hand against the dark cherry wood of the desktop. Less than two glasses of Scotch wouldn't make his vision swim this way, and though he'd mainly practiced the recreational application of amphetamines during his time in college, Lex had enough experience with the effects of downers to peg the reaction. Lazy heat swimming in his blood, and he really didn't appreciate being drugged without his consent.
Falling back into the chair gracelessly, vision swimming even as it dimmed, and he could just see the blurry outline of a large form approaching him. Sounds of things breaking meeting his ears as his vision went black, and Lex's last conscious thought was that someone would be paying dearly for this when he got back on his feet.
1:00 PM - 3:22 PM
So many liars in his life. His father. Victoria. Prime examples both, but not the most frustrating liar in the bunch. At least Lex expected it from them. He was a willing participant in the games, even enjoyed them from time to time. They were (occasionally, in Victoria's case) good liars, worthy of his own deception in return.
Clark was a bad liar. An obvious liar, and it grated Lex to no end that the boy (man, now) had gone through four years in Smallville and almost one in Metropolis lying to Lex's face with one breath and calling him a friend with the next. Tedious and frustrating. Lex had given him openings to confess, though he'd lost count of the occasions somewhere between the beginnings of years two and three. He'd tried all possible methods. Nothing had worked so far, and his desire for the truth had moved from a want to a need to a compulsion over the years.
He sometimes he thought he only stayed "friends" with Clark in the hopes of getting that confession. His obsession could be expunged from his life then, along with the man who caused it. Lex clung to that theory like a lifeline tethering him to sanity.
The idea sprouted during a particularly boring meeting, charted carefully into his handheld and mused over as a voice droned on about earnings before interest and taxes when compared to beginning invested capital. It was a struggle to stay in his seat until the meeting broke, but when it did, he made a beeline for his office to place the call.
Minutes later, he was climbing into the Jag and racing out of the executive parking garage. Determination formed a thick, sweet fuel in his veins as he impatiently dealt with afternoon Metropolitan traffic. Reaching his destination and finding no vacant spots close to the building, Lex illegally parked his car and jogged inside with a hard copy of his notes clenched in his hand.
Mike Harrison was waiting for him. A Jack of all trades -- most of them dirty and expensive -- the man sat behind a nondescript desk in a plain looking office that belied the fortune he had to have accumulated over the years. Lex's own investments in Harrison's questionable services would have bought and paid for the entire South side building the small office was housed in.
"What can I do for you today, Lex?"
Lex sank into the client chair and slid the printed page across the surface of the desk. "Set this up for me."
Harrison put on a pair of reading glasses and scanned the document. Extensive dealings with unusual requests allowed the man to keep his composure as he quickly read the list of instructions. The only indication of surprise was the lift of a brow above the thick black rim of the spectacles. Finished reading, he dropped the glasses on top of his desk and settled back into his chair to consider both Lex and the request.
"What precisely do you hope to accomplish with this stunt?"
"That's not your concern. I thought you never asked questions, Mike."
"I usually don't, but this is strange, even for you, Lex."
Lex smirked. It was rare to see Harrison less than completely unruffled. "I realize that. Just tell him to make it convincing."
Mike shook his head a little, hitting some keys on his computer to check for contacts that could be available on short notice, Lex supposed. Confirmation of his assumption came as Harrison blew out a breath. "Tonight, huh?"
"Yes." No qualifications. Lex needed this over and done with before he lost his mind.
"I may have someone who can do it. I'll make the call and leave you a message if it can go down tonight." Mike turned away from the computer and stared at Lex steadily, searchingly. "You're sure you want him to cut you?"
"It has to appear deadly if it's going to work. I know my limits, Mike. And I heal fast."
Delivered with the trademark Luthor equanimity and a confident smile, the comment had Harrison settling back into his chair. "Whoever you're setting up will have no problem following the trail. I'll instruct the gun to make it obvious enough for a blind squirrel."
Lex stood, rounding the chair and tossing a thick envelope on the desk with a satisfied smile. Easy to be calm now that it was almost over. "Good. I'll leave a message for Cl- ... for my target as soon as you confirm that my timeline can be followed."
Mike nodded, brows furrowing slightly. "Can't you give me anything to go on as to why you're doing this."
Lex smiled down at him, deciding it wasn't too much trouble to throw him a bone.
"Let's just say that I'm dying of curiosity."
-- The End --
Yes, I'm a bad minion... *hangs head*
Andy (heading back to work)