Whitney stared at the ceiling and could only think of Clark. He knew he should not have come back to Smallville but he did want to see his mom. It was the middle of the night and she was not here. He would call a few relatives in the morning to locate her. He mind drifted back to the loft and pushing Clark away. It was a dream come true but it was the dream of a previous life. The doctors told him he was lucky to have survived the helicopter crash and with torn muscles and fractured bones at that. But the blood results had come back and they tried not to frighten him but they compared them to his blood work when he first enlisted and there was something wrong. The problem was unknown and that scared Whitney. They could not classify the anomaly. Two months of recovery and battery after battery of testing and they could not figure out what was in his bloodstream. Whitney had not shed a tear since his father's funeral but he had come very close dealing with this problem.

He thought back to the event that changed his life, when he ceased to be a good person, when he stopped being able to look in the mirror. The afternoon he took Clark into that field and humiliated him. Since that day, Whitney's life was never the same. Part of him tried to ignore it but the Catholic in him succumbed to the guilt. Everything bad happened after that incident and while standing there Whitney knew he could have stopped it. He could not stop the shudder that tore through his body. He sat up slowly as his back was still protesting the abuse it had taken by the long walk and carrying a load beyond his current stamina.

He walked into his bathroom and looked in the mirror. The last time he had looked in this mirror he was off to find a new life and now he was looking for a life at all. He started laughing and part of him wondered if he had finally lost his mind but he laughed until he cried. He sat on the edge of the tub, head in hands, and wept for the first time in two years.

He did not remember getting in the shower but he was under the hot spray, trying to clear his mind and loosen up his stressed back muscles. He ran a hand over his head and through his hair, which looked like it did when he left for the Marines in the first place. He walked back into his room and sat down on his bed and tried to think of nothing for all his thoughts ran to the morbid and that served no purpose that he could see.

Clark drove up to the Fordman house and could not get over his nerves. He had not slept after Whitney had left. For Clark it was the chance to find a glimmer of happiness in a depressing place in his life. He had told his mom that Whitney was home and his mother was surprised. Betty had not mentioned it to Martha when they saw each other and she was out of town for her sister's birthday. His mom handed him a plate of food and a fresh made pie.

"Take these over to Whitney, his mom won't be back until next week. While I'm sure he can take care of himself, he probably hasn't had a decent meal in ages. If he wants, he is more than welcome to join us for dinner anytime."

Clark shook off the memory and walked up to the door. He was nervous because he needed Whitney in more ways than he could count. Clark hadn't spoken a word to his father in almost three months outside of directly answering a question. He didn't talk to anyone and he really wanted to talk to Whitney, it was as if a valve had opened and the words wanted to flow. He waited at the front door for it to be answered.

Whitney heard the doorbell ringing and saw that he had fallen asleep. He groaned as his back protested the awkward way he had slept. He hobbled down to the door and saw Clark standing there.

"Hi, I brought you some stuff, my mom told me that your mom is out of town."

Whitney tried to smile but his back was screaming at him. "Thanks, come in."

Clark watched as Whitney turned and reached out for the wall to steady himself. Clark looked at Whitney and then at his back and noticed the crisscrossed tracks of healing muscles and noticed some of them having spasms. Clark reached over and grabbed Whit to support him. "Hey, you okay?"

Whitney tried to cover his pain but could not. He tried not to take the relaxers or pain meds unless he really needed them. "Fine..."

"Liar." Clark placed the food on the counter and then guided Whitney to the couch. "So I take it the pain you are in is the result of your accident?"

"Yeah, chopper crash...two people died, me and one other guy survived. He died two days later. I was told it was a miracle that I survived and had as few injuries as I did."

"Wow, why didn't you tell me last night?"

"Clark, for a few months before I left, I told you everything, well almost, I didn't want to come back and just use you like that again. Besides, you needed to talk more than I did."

"No, you should have said something other than the vague things you did say. Do you need me to get you some medicine or something?"

"Don't like taking them, they make me feel real fuzzy. That's why I have gaps in my memory for the past two months."

"Here," Clark reaches over and begins to gently begins to massage Whitney's lower back. Clark again uses his `vision' to locate the knots and the muscle spasms to work them out. "Feel better?"

Whitney is at a loss for words. The strong smooth fingers are under his shirt and running over fading scars and they are working a miracle. He can't stop the moan or the whimper as Clark's talented fingers relieve a knot of tension. "Incredible...thanks."

Clark kept working his fingers around the muscles and let them run to the middle back and drop to the top of Whitney's ass but he feels Whitney flinch slightly so he again concentrates on the areas that are still healing.

Whitney tried not to lean into the touch but it felt so good. He quickly stopped himself and pulled away. "Thanks Clark, I really appreciate that."

"I don't mind, I would be more than happy to give you a massage daily."


"I'm serious."

"Thanks...we need to talk."

"What would we settle? You don't want the same things I want."

Whitney slowly stood up and went to the kitchen. He saw the pie and got two plates out. "Want a slice?"

Clark looked at him, "Sure."

Whitney walked back carrying two plates. He handed one to Clark. "It is not that I don't want the same thing because I like you Clark in ways that I never have with anyone else. I'm scared okay? What if I'm a freak like many people from Smallville end up being? There is so much unknown to me. I was carrying Lana's necklace when we had the accident, I think that is the reason I survived."

Clark paled and looked away. After a few moments of silence Clark responded, "Whitney, you are alive and I don't have any answers other that. As for the two month issue, I'd rather be happy briefly than miserable always."

Whitney dropped his head into his hands and sighed. He was at a loss on how to proceed. Clark completely ignored his confession of fear, it was two conversations happening at the same time but missing each other completely. "Clark, I'm not discounting you but...look can we agree to see how we progress. I want to talk to my mom. All she knew was that I had been transferred to D.C. I didn't want her to know I was injured, she has had too much to deal as it is."

Clark got up and took the plates to the kitchen. He rinsed them and turned and looked at Whitney. He just looked and pondered what he had confessed.

"Clark, what would you do if Lex came back in your life?"

"Lex isn't going to come back for me. He left and made it very clear that we no longer had a relationship. At this point even our friendship is in doubt."

"But what if he came back and asked you to reconcile and try to rebuild your relationship."

"Do you think it would be that easy? He left and I have had to deal with the crap by myself. He broke it off after it was being hinted at and because he didn't want his future plans disrupted. Tell me does that sound like love? No, it sounds like I was being used as a way to get off."

Whitney looked at Clark in amazement but he realized that Clark had been through Hell as well. "I guess I wasn't thinking. Clark...I need you as a friend right now and you need one also. So, I'll take a massage a day and we see how the summer goes...okay?"

"No. I don't want to be lead around and given false hope. I am your friend sounds like a recipe for disaster."

"Clark...I want to spend time with you and find a way to relax again."

"Whit, I know MANY ways to teach you to relax."

"How many of them do not involve sex?"

"...Two or three, maybe?"

Whitney saw the cute grin on Clark's face and knew he was fighting a losing battle. He had wanted him before he left and the bond they shared by writing had not lessened his desire for Clark in any way. Whitney leaned over and kissed Clark on the cheek. "We start with those and the daily massage. I need some time to sort out what I want to do and also to deal with my health."

"Whitney, so we are somewhere between friends and boyfriends, correct?"

"We are somewhere Clark, best I can guess is Smallville, Kansas, home of the weird and unusual."

"That was not the answer I was looking for, thank you."

"Best I can give you right now. You are on the rebound and I am on the mend. We need each other but not that way yet. Patience is a virtue after all."

Clark sighed and kissed Whitney's cheek, "So we make this up as we go along?"

"That is the only way I can think of right now, but at least the future is more open ended now."

"Come on, Mom told be that you are welcome for dinner anytime. You can help me by talking to my dad so I don't have to."

"I guess it is a start."


To Part Four, Following a Path

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