Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Clark/Lex, Joe Sawyer, Nancy Adams
Genres: Drama, Holiday, Horror, Mystery, Suspense
Rating (this chapter): PG-13
General Summary: Something wicked lives in McCready’s Marsh.
Chapter Summary: Clark leads Lex into McCready’s Marsh.
Date Of Completion: November 18, 2017
Date Of Posting: August 25, 2018
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC and Warner Brothers do, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1374
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
All chapters can be found here.
Over weed-choked ground,
Shrouding the secrets
Of the haunted marsh.
The sky was growing gray as the wind blew colder. Lex considered rolling up the windows but decided to hold off. The cold air was ‘bracing’, as his father would say. As evil as Lionel was, the man was an unabashed sensualist.
Clark was staring out the passenger window. For a teenager, he didn’t brood much, but today was one of those days. Lex remained silent as he drove, admiring the color of the autumn trees. He had never really stopped to enjoy such a simple pleasure since his childhood until he had moved back to Smallville.
“So where to now?”
Clark shrugged. “None of Bull’s friends will give us any more than Ken did.”
“Nice bunch of fellas.”
Clark smiled faintly. “Jocks versus everyone else. High school stuff.”
“Oh, I remember.”
Clark was busy working on where to go next so missed Lex’s tone. Lex was okay with that. He had no desire to go into his Excelsior years.
“Huh?” Lex blinked, leaving his reverie behind.
“We should speak to her next.”
“Won’t she just tell you to stay out of it?”
Clark grinned. “Probably, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.”
Lex sped up. He’d been cruising at a moderate speed, unusual for him, and wondered if Clark had noticed.
“When she catches you at this speed, she’ll ticket you for sure.”
“How do you think the Smallville Police Department stays in flack vests?”
“Your parking tickets?” asked Clark in amusement.
“Damned straight. Or not-so-straight.”
Clark’s eyes widened slightly. A smile curved lush lips. Lex’s heart beat a little faster.
They reached Smallville in good time and Lex parked in front of the police station. Clark got out and asked Lex, “Want to come in?”
“Why not? Maybe I can pay a few parking tickets while I’m at it.”
Clark grinned and led the way inside the station.
As a small town police station, the staff served not only the town but the outlying farms as well. Sheriff Nancy Adams and three deputies were on staff, the deputies rotating night duty with the sheriff pitching in frequently.
Adams was in her office talking on the telephone so one of the deputies, a tall, thin towhead with large hazel eyes and a sprinkling of freckles on his nose looked up from behind his desk. He was already standing and put a paperweight down on a stack of reports.
“Hi, Clark. What can I do for you?”
“Hi, Joe.” Clark smiled. “Sheriff’s busy, I see.”
“Yeah, and in kind of a cranky mood.”
“Oh.” Clark’s smile turned a little brighter. “Maybe you could help me.”
Lex watched in amusement. He wasn’t sure if Clark was aware of his manipulative methods, or if he just did it automatically. The kid was a master at it, either way.
“How?” asked Joe, obviously flattered.
“Well, can you tell me anything about the Bull Rush disappearance?”
“Oh, well, it’s an ongoing investigation, sorry.”
“You mean there’s no clues?”
“No, I just can’t tell you. Unless you have something?”
“No, I haven’t heard anything. Have you, Lex?”
A bit startled, Lex said, “Ah, no, sorry.”
“Deputy Sawyer, better start your patrol.”
“Uh, yes, Sheriff Adams.”
Joe picked up his hat and jacket and left hastily. Sheriff Adams eyed Clark suspiciously as she came out of her office.
“What do you want, Clark?”
“Just wanted to find out if you’re turned up anything about Bull.”
“Well, as the deputy told you, nothing right now. You sure you got nothing for us?”
Clark shook his head. “It’s hard to figure a strong guy like Bull being overpowered by anybody.”
“Well, this is Smallville.” Adams crossed her arms.
“Ah, yes. Sorry to disturb you.”
“Not at all. If you see something, let me know.”
Lex noticed the sheriff’s eyes on him as he turned to trail after Clark. Once outside, he remarked wryly, “Sheriff Adams isn’t exactly the most trusting type, is she?”
Clark grinned. “Nope.” He sighed. “I’d be more frustrated but I don’t think they have anything.”
They both got into Lex’s Porsche and Lex asked, “Where to now?”
“Home, I guess.” Clark suddenly snapped his fingers. “I forgot about Lydia.”
“Yeah, she lives out in the marsh.”
Lex frowned as he drove out of town. “I’ve heard about her. She’s lived out in McCready’s Marsh since the ‘30s, though some say she’s been there since the 1800s, when the town was founded.”
“Her ancestors might have been.”
Lex glanced at Clark. “Some says she’s a witch.”
Clark laughed. “Just because she’s an expert in herbs and other marsh plants, she’s a witch?”
“Didn’t she and her ancestors practice midwifery?”
“Yes, before Smallville had a doctor.”
“Some still go to her.” At Clark’s look, Lex said, “I’ve heard stuff.”
“Some people do.” Clark stretched, distracting Lex. The Porsche bounced over a pothole and he gritted his teeth. “They leave a request for medicinal herbs at Lydia’s cottage and when they return the next day, the herbs are there.”
“She never goes into town?”
Clark shook his head. “Mr. Gaffney brings staples like coffee and sugar out to her place.”
Lex drove the Porsche past endless cornfields, now filled with bare stalks as the last of the harvest was in. The trees were blazing with color as autumn was in full glory. Lex liked being this close to the land. Despite parks and other greenery in cities, it just wasn’t the same.
The cornfields turned into stubbled fields with bales of hay and then to meadows with wildflowers bobbing in the breeze. They finally reached the woods that edged the marsh.
“You’d better wait here,” Clark said as he got out of the car. “Italian leather shoes won’t survive trekking through the marsh.”
“Ah, but I came prepared.” Lex popped open the trunk and reached inside, lifting out a pair of sturdy hiking boots.
Clark grinned while Lex changed his footwear. Next he took off his long duster and put on a heavy lumber jacket from the trunk. At Clark’s look he grinned.
“What? Tramping through a swamp with a long coat isn’t a wise idea. Living around here makes you prepare.”
“It’s a marsh, not a swamp, and you’re wising up, city boy.”
Lex walked up to Clark and promptly patted Clark on the ass. Clark’s gaze grew heavy-lidded and he ran his tongue along his lips.
“You’re tempting me, Lex Luthor.”
“I like to hear you say that.”
Clark’s gaze did things to Lex he didn’t want to think too closely about. Clark turned and headed for the marsh with Lex throwing up his hands and following behind him.
Lex tried to take his mind off the spongy ground beneath his boots. Marshes were notoriously slithery, in his opinion. At least he was able to enjoy a great view as he marveled at how Clark’s jeans fit him so perfectly.
He could hear birds from a short distance away, haunting sounds that sent a chill down his spine. He supposed he would consider himself lucky that it was afternoon and not night. The distinctive damp watery smells of the marsh tickled his nose.
“Damn, it’s squishy out there.”
Clark chuckled. “Maybe you’ll appreciate cornfields more now.”
Clark’s step was bouncy as he forged ahead, almost teasing in the way he walked. Lex wanted to smack his butt but that could start something he didn’t want to finish out here in the swamp…pardon him, marsh.
Instead he decided to concentrate on watching his step and anticipating the meeting with Lydia Kraven. He’d lived in Smallville for two years but had never seen her, but that wasn’t unique. Most people in Smallville had never seen her.
The occasional croak of a frog punctuated the squish of their boots as they went deeper into McCready’s Marsh. Lex felt mesmerized as the trees closed in around the two of them and the sun was blocked, giving Lex a claustrophobic feeling.
Clark found a path and suddenly paused by a bramble bush.
“There it is,” Clark said.
Lex nearly bumped into him and peered into the darkness.
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