Previous parts are collected here and I've started this part with a recap, since it's been a looong time between parts.
Recap: In the last part Perry gave a priority assignment to Lois and Clark. Chloe discovered where Alex is living and Lois covered Lex's press conference; this resulted in Clark discovering that Alex and Lex are two different people.
Clark decided he had the Kryptonian equivalent of the flu. His head hurt, he couldn’t think straight, he felt queasy, and flying felt like swimming through concrete. When he got home to his apartment, he slumped on the sofa without even changing.
The doorbell rang and he rose to answer it. At the last moment he whipped on some old farm clothes in superspeed before pulling back the latch.
It was Chloe. She'd brought pizza.
'Chloe, you're my hero!' He took the pizzas from her eagerly. He'd forgotten that there were some perks to life in Metropolis.
Clark fetched plates, glasses and napkins from the kitchen. He paused in his tracks when he saw that Chloe was still standing in the living room. She raised an eyebrow at him and panned her eyes down his body. 'Um, Clark... I think your suit is showing.' She was trying not to laugh.
Clark fumbled with his bottom shirt buttons and the belt of his jeans. Damn.
'That bad, huh?' Chloe took a seat on the sofa and passed him the first pizza.
'I just can't believe he's done it...' Clark helped himself to pizza as Chloe poured the sodas. 'I mean, I know he's been experimenting with cloning for years, but I didn't think he'd clone himself.'
'If that's what he's done.'
Clark looked up. 'What do you mean? We saw him…'
'Yeah, I know. He was in two places at the one time. But there could be other explanations. Time travel... or... remember what happened with Dr Sinclair?'
Clark felt the blood drain from his face. 'You mean with the black Kryptonite? Oh no! I didn't even think of that. But that time he killed people... and locked himself in a cellar... and this time he's...'
'Doing your copying. I know. So that doesn't make sense. But I do think we've got to consider all possibilities until we can get a better idea of what he's trying to accomplish.'
'We know what he's doing!' Clark burst out exasperatedly. 'He wants to stop us writing about Lexcorp... and he thinks ruining my career is the best way to do that.'
Chloe paused, her slice of pizza halfway to her mouth. 'Don't you think you're jumping to conclusions a bit, Clark?'
'What do you mean?'
'Well, he's been at the paper for a whole week and hasn't exactly managed to get you fired or even in that much trouble, right? Besides, I think Lex Luthor might have bigger opponents than Clark Kent nowadays.'
Clark dropped his pizza slice. 'What do you mean?' Chloe was talking nonsense. It was obvious. Lex, Alex, whoever, had come to the Daily Planet. Who else could he be after?
Chloe gave Clark a pitying look. 'Like... Superman?!'
Chloe picked the onions off her pizza slice. 'You need to be really careful, ok? He might be thinking he can get to Superman through you. He knows there's a connection. Just don't give him any reason to think it's any more than that.'
Clark rolled his eyes at her. 'You’re worse than my mom! I have managed to keep my secret for ten years, you know.'
Chloe laughed. 'Not from me! And you weren't flying around in red and blue lycra that whole time. Just… keep your shirt buttoned, ok?'
Clark grinned despite himself. 'Ok, ok. I'll do what I'm told. You must have got the same bossiness gene as Lois after all!'
Chloe threw an onion slice at him.
The next day, Clark's--and Chloe's--worst suspicions were realised.
The day started well enough. Lois suggested that Clark handle background research on the police corruption scandal. He was working his way through articles from the last five years when he heard Alex behind him. He was chatting to Jimmy… something about an event he was organising?
Clark turned from his desk, tilted his head to look over his glasses and scanned Lex with his x-ray vision. Nothing strange. Not a bone out of place. If he was a copy, he was a damn good copy.
'Good morning, Clark.' Alex turned suddenly, and Clark jumped back in his chair. 'Sorry to startle you.'
He smiled just like Lex. That slow, mocking smile.
Lois broke the silence, rising from her desk. 'Well? How do I look?' Lois was wearing a slick black skirt suit and maroon shirt, open to expose just a bit too much cleavage, if you asked Clark. Her hair was pinned up in some complicated way and her eyes looked even bigger than usual. She stepped forward and immediately rolled over on her ankle in her high shoes.
'Damn heels!' Lois grimaced at him.
Alex extended an arm for Lois to hang on to while she pulled the strap of her shoe back into place and tested her ankle. 'You look stunning. Who's the lucky man?'
'Source, actually.' Clark could have told him that. Lois only ever wore that suit when she was interviewing. Interviewing men. Usually very powerful men.
'Ah. In that case, I'd say you were dressed for success.'
Lois rewarded him with a beam. 'Thank you! Let's hope so. Right, Clark?'
'Right.' Clark was keen to change the subject. He didn't need Lex to know that they had an important project, though the way news travelled in this place, he probably already knew. 'Anyway, we don't want to keep you from your work.'
'Actually I was coming round to ask you if you would be interested in buying a raffle ticket to support a charity I work with.'
'It's a refugee aid organisation. They send aid kits to displaced persons camps around the world. Food, clothes, toys for the kids… I help out there on the weekends. Anyway, we're organising a soiree on Saturday night and there's a raffle. First prize is a laptop.'
'I'll buy one.' Lois took the pen Alex proffered and wrote her name in the booklet where he indicated. 'So what's the soiree thing you've got planned?'
'Well it's designed to raise awareness about the diversity of refugees and the tragedy they face. We've got a few local artists together and we're showcasing art made my refugees or ex-refugees. There's a photography exhibition, we're going to show some short films, there will be some poetry readings, that sort of thing.'
Lois was watching Alex intently. 'That sounds great.'
Clark rolled his eyes.
'Well, if you wanted to come...'
'Sure! We'll come, won't we Clark?'
'Great! I'll email you the details.' Alex smiled. 'Clark? Did you want to buy a ticket too?'
Clark glanced up and shook his head abruptly. 'No thanks.'
Lois glared. Clark could feel her gaze through the back of his head. 'Clark! It's a good cause!' She rolled her eyes at Alex. 'I'm sorry about him. He can be rude sometimes.'
Clark opened his mouth to protest, but Lois was still babbling. 'Of course, he'll buy a ticket. Here, I'll write him down for you. He can pay me back.' She scribbled Clark's name and number into Alex's booklet and handed over more change. 'And if there's anything else we can do... I mean it's such an important issue.' She glared at Clark again.
Alex flicked the booklet shut and tucked the pen into his shirt pocket. 'Well... there is one thing you might be able to do…'
Lois put her hands on her hips and glanced sideways at Clark. 'Sure. What is it?'
'I'm kind of embarrassed to ask... but, you know Superman, don't you?'
Lois dropped her hands to her sides. 'Oh! Uh...'
Clark found himself rising from his chair to stand beside Lois. 'We don't really know him that well at all.'
'Speak for yourself!' Lois elbowed him; she liked people to think she knew Superman.
'Well... look, it's probably too much to ask, I know he's so busy, but any sort of endorsement from him … even just a mention of our organisation in an interview... it'd do the world of good.'
Lois smiled. 'We'll see what we can do.' She elbowed Clark. 'Won't we?'
'We can't promise anything.'
'I understand.' Alex looked somber.
'Thanks anyway, Lois.' He walked away.
Lois left for her interview shortly after, and Clark rang Chloe to tell her she'd been right.
But it was in the afternoon that things really turned bad.
Lois was out with the source, Clark was reading articles and keeping his senses honed to Lex... Alex... as much as he could. As far as he could tell, Alex had suckered everyone on the floor into buying a raffle ticket. Clark was so sure it was a con job, it took all his strength not to run up and tear the book from his hands. It was a relief to scan and find him back in the copy room.
But then Amelia joined him.
Clark tried to concentrate on the article he was reading, but his curiosity got the better of him. He tuned his hearing to that distance and could catch snatches of what they were saying: 'I had a really good time last night… Can't wait to see you…' One romantic comedy cliché after another: it was nauseating.
He focussed his vision. They were standing facing one another, but not quite touching. Clark could imagine that. Lex was probably wearing that intense, serious expression he used to use when he had begging Clark to trust him, to believe in their friendship. He imagined Lex staring at Amelia that way, and felt a pang of anger. Lex was such a deceiver! As he watched, Lex reached out a hand and circled Amanda's face. Clark caught his breath. Then in a sudden movement, they both surged towards one another, pressing their bodies tight together. Lex's arm was circling Amelia's waist and he was... pushing her back behind the copier. Damn.
Clark shook himself out of his reverie and stared at the screen in front of him. He rose from his desk. He sat down again. Lex... Lex was going to have sex in the copier room. Surely not. Wasn't that just something that happened in movies?
He tried telling himself not to be surprised. He tried telling himself that Lex was better occupied that way than snooping in the Daily Planet research files. Neither of these suggestions helped much.
Clark dropped his head into his hands and moaned. He wasn't sure why.
He tried telling himself they were just kissing. But it was too easy to tune his hearing to that distance and what he heard wasn't comforting: heavy breathing, gasping, a zipper being pulled undone, mumbled endearments. The noises were a bit confusing because the copier was still running, so he focussed his x-ray vision again. Lex must have lifted Amelia onto the copier because she was lying back atop it, and his head was moving over her legs--he must be kissing her inner thighs--one hand circling her left breast, and the other reaching between his own legs. Clark stifled a moan.
His heart was thumping in his chest. What was going on? It was like he was scared they'd get interrupted. But that was ridiculous. He'd like nothing better. Hopefully it would result in them both being sacked. Listening to this was making him hot and uncomfortable and ... well, just uncomfortable. It had to be stopped.
He got up and paced. Jimmy gave him an odd look. 'You ok?'
'Yeah.' Clark replied shortly and headed for the corridor. He couldn't go to the copier room. He had no reason to. Could he?
No. Clark, be reasonable. He paced. He listened. Amelia was making more and more excited noises. Clark decided he had to get someone to go to the copyroom.
'Jimmy!' He whirled around. And crashed into Lois.
'Woah! Watch it!' Lois reeled back rubbing her head, which had collided with Clark's.
'Lois!' He clutched her arm. 'I'm late for a meeting. I left some copying with Alex--can you pick it up for me?'
Lois frowned. 'What meeting?'
'It doesn't matter! Just... can you just check please.'
'To see if the copying is ready!' Clark realised that he was raising his voice a bit too loud--he was getting some funny looks from those around them, but he didn't care.
'Clark, are you ok? You look terrible.' Trust Lois to be that blunt. She scanned his face. 'You're all… sweaty. What have you been doing?'
'I told you. I'm late. Lois. Please!'
'Ok, sure, I'll check later…' She started past him for her desk. 'Oh and thanks for asking how the interview went!'
He caught her arm. 'No!' He lowered his voice. 'Lois, I can't explain, just...' He trailed off, realising that Lois was going to find out what this was about the moment she opened the copyroom door anyway.
Lois gave him her I'm-so-patient look. 'Clark, what is going on?'
He steeled himself. There was nothing for it. He whispered. 'I think Alex and Amelia are having sex in the copy room.'
Lois's expression didn't change, though he could swear he saw her lip twitch.
'What is it with you, Smallville? You got some voyeuristic kink about bald guys? Because seriously you know way too much about Lex Luthor's sex life--even I don't take my investigations that far--and now you're keeping tabs on Alex too? It's a little odd. Don't you think?' Her ponytail swung as she tilted her head.
Clark considered punching her.
'Clark, I don't know why you've chosen to have this weird power struggle with the copyroom boy... in the week when we are given potentially the most important project in our careers.'
Clark opened his mouth, but Lois put a finger up to stop him.
'Oh don't think I haven't noticed, ok? And look, whatever turns you on... But I'm not going to play a part in your little game. If you want to ruin your career, fine. But don't drag me down with you.'
Clark clenched his teeth. 'Fine,' he muttered, 'forget it.' He turned and walked away.
He didn't care if she saw that he was walking in the direction of the copy room. He didn't care what she thought. Someone had to do something. Clark Kent was not going to let Lex Luthor seduce and take advantage of one of the Daily Planet staff members, right under his very nose.
He paused outside the room. The venetian blinds screened out the window and the door was closed. He focused his vision and caught a blur of a skeleton moving towards him before he jolted himself back into his normal vision. Amelia was slipping through the door. She smiled at Clark and walked away. He stared after her.
'Clark!' Lex stood in the doorway, a stack of copies in his arms, as if nothing had happened.
Clark stared at him. He tried not to notice that Lex's skin was flushed and his lips looked redder than usual.
'Clark?' Lex put down the papers on a shelf at his elbow and moved towards Clark. 'Are you ok?'
Somewhere in the cavern of his only semi-functioning brain, Clark observed that people seemed to be asking him that a lot today.
Lex reached out a hand and gripped Clark's upper arm. Clark could feel Lex's palm shape itself into the curve of his muscles, the palm that had been so recently curved around Amelia's cheek, Amelia's chest... 'Clark, is anything wrong?' Lex's expression was so concerned, so genuine…
Clark slammed his hand against Lex's throat pushing him back into the copy room and slamming the door behind them. The door rattled, and Clark pressed Lex back against the wall, lifting him slightly. Lex struggled beneath him, his hands clutching at Clark's shirt and the muscles in his neck fluttering against Clark's palm.
Clark let go and as Lex collapsed, gasping, he leaned in close. 'Don't. Ever. Do. That. Again.'