Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Clark/Lex, Lydia Kraven, Jonathan/Martha
Genres: Drama, Holiday, Horror, Mystery, Suspense
Rating (this chapter): PG-13
General Summary: Something wicked lives in McCready’s Marsh.
Chapter Summary: Halloween drifts away in a haze.
Date Of Completion: February 18, 2018
Date Of Posting: December 7, 2018
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC and Warner Brothers do, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1232
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
All chapters can be found here.
The truth drifts
Just out of reach,
The day after Halloween is like most days after: the decorations looked a little forlorn, especially in the light of day. The town square was littered with wrappers, bags, and a few Styrofoam cups. The lawn chairs were gone, though one stray chair was upended by the hot chocolate stand.
The town’s municipal workers set to work cleaning up as people started their day in a haze, unable to say what exactly had happened the night before. They greeted each other almost sheepishly, making nervous jokes about too much hot chocolate to drink and foggy minds. A few tentatively ventured to ask if anyone else had heard loud roars and felt the ground shake, but were met with shakes of the head and guilty avoidance of eyes. Even by Smallville standards, it was all very strange.
By lunchtime, Smallville learned of the disappearance of nearly a dozen teenagers with only Cicely Stawicki as the survivor of the marijuana party. She was in Smallville’s Medical Center but visitors except for her parents were banned by order of Sheriff Adams. A rumor that surly Eckersley Tannen was missing, too, made the rounds.
“Stoned teenagers missing? They’ll be back. And Eckersley? Guy’s too prickly to just be gone.”
That was the general consensus, though Lex had his doubts.
Lex had gone home last night, still in a foggy state of mind, and had endured a troubled sleep. He wondered where Clark was and part of him wanted to go out and look for him, but for some reason he just couldn’t rouse himself out of bed.
So it was on the morning after Halloween that Lex drove out to McCready’s Marsh. He tramped through the swamp-like environs to Lydia Kraven’s cottage. She could help him search for Clark. He was sure of it. He tried not to think about being alone in the shadowed marsh.
The cottage appeared deserted, shafts of sunlight breaking through the trees on this crisp morning. Frost was on the pumpkins back in the countryside, and winter was creeping closer. Autumn would reign for several more weeks, but now it was the slow preparation for the season that would overtake it. The clearing containing the cottage was silent, and that silence set his nerves on edge. He waited at the edge of the clearing, trying his best to look nonchalant as he shoved his hands in the pockets of his short, fleece-lined jacket. Wisps of early morning fog drifted through the clearing from the marsh, cool and stealthy.
She appeared on the porch, coming out of sun-dappled shadows. She was wearing a different cardigan and dress from last time, but they were faded, almost colorless. Nothing but her startling blue eyes stood out.
“Good morning, Lydia.”
“Good morning, Lex.”
“Where is he?”
“Sleeping on my couch.”
A couch sounds so prosaic.
“May I see him?”
“I’ll have to ask him.”
“It’s okay, Lydia.” Clark opened the door and stepped out onto the porch that creaked under his weight.
“I was worried about you,” said Lex.
Clark stepped out into the sunlight, briefly turning his face upward. His face was bruised and he was wearing a brown homespun shirt that Lex had never seen on him before. His pants were dark-brown breeches with laced-up brown boots. Both looked similar to clothes he owned but Lex was certain they weren’t his. What had happened to his costume? He wasn’t sure he wanted to know.
Clark smiled at Lydia. “Thank you.” He walked down the porch steps toward Lex.
Hugs were exchanged, Lex holding on tight. “You should’ve called!”
“I’m sorry.” Clark sounded uncertain. “I’m not sure why I didn’t.” They broke the embrace. “I have to let Mom and Dad know I’m okay.”
“I’ll drive you home.”
Clark turned to Lydia. “About the...”
“All should be quiet now.”
Clark absorbed that statement and slowly nodded to Lydia, who inclined her head in acknowledgment. He headed into the woods.
“Thank you for the note on my doorstep.”
Lydia said nothing but didn’t appear hostile. Lex decided to catch up with Clark. As he turned to leave, she said, “Keep your eyes on him.”
He turned back and didn’t feel uncomfortable under her blue gaze. “I will.”
She seemed to melt back into the shadows. “The marsh reclaims its own. There will be no more monsters to stalk the night.”
“Don’t ask too many questions.”
She was gone.
The Kents scolded their son and thanked Lex for bringing him home. Clark assured them that he was fine, and somehow ended up with permission to go back with Lex to the castle. Surprised but pleased, Lex led Clark into the library.
“What happened last night?” Clark looked uncomfortable. Lex remembered Lydia’s admonition. “Hey, it’s okay. I don’t need to know.”
“I, uh, I’m not really sure.”
Lex nodded slowly. It fit. Everyone in town was befuddled, according to the Kents. Had this marsh monster clouded men’s minds like the Shadow of the old radio show? Lex remembered how confused he’d been last night, feeling weak and loopy. The Kents had been so out of it that they’d barely registered Clark’s absence, highly unusual for them.
Clark stepped into Lex’s space. Need radiated off him in waves. He kissed Lex, almost chaste. Lex returned the kiss.
“Upstairs,” he whispered.
They were deliberate in their movements, though stumbled going up the stairs.
Once in Lex’s bedroom, Clark stared at Lex. What lay unspoken between them might always be so, though Lex hoped someday that might change.
Lex touched Clark’s bicep. He could feel a slight trembling.
I almost lost you.
Despite his fuzzy memories he knew that Clark had fought a monster. His usually trusting friend trusted to a point. Whatever his Secret was, it was more than meteor freakery, and Lex was determined to be patient for once in his life.
Right now, secrets be damned, big ‘S’ or not. He drew Clark to him and kissed him as he stroked his lover’s broad back.
As if hearing his thoughts, Clark sighed in relief and held on tight. They tumbled into the bed, desperate and needy and confused but grateful for surviving. Surviving Smallville was no small thing.
This most recent Halloween was never quite remembered as the years went by. People had only vague memories of what had happened that night. They did remember the movie on the town square and fog, but nothing much after that. The memories were like the fog itself: wisps that eluded a firm grasp.
Eckersley Tannen’s disappearance sort of slid away, people barely remembering him except for the auction of his farm, as he had no heirs or relatives.
The fate of the teenagers who disappeared in the woods that night remained an unsolved mystery. Some thought that Cicely Stawicki had something to do with it, but she just ranted and raved about a monster and finally ended up in Belle Reve.
Outside of Castle Luthor the wind blew, gently knocking over a small bag of foxglove, feverfew, and ladies’ slippers down the steps of the side porch, all herbs useful to one who knew the medicinal treasures of the marsh, a gift of great price.
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