by C.M. Decarnin
"Lex... wait. Wait... Please..." The warm touches, little kisses, continued to nuzzle softly on him, his breath reflecting back from Lex's lips, cheek, everywhere at once as the tiny motions covered him, cocooned him in a world of Lex, lying on Clark, stroking in his hair, on the nape of his neck at the same time the warm breath from Lex's mouth spread over his face, his throat, and Lex's other hand gently at his shirt buttons, and Lex's -- oh god -- there -- but it was all so gentle, every touch so small, he was in the middle of it before he knew he didn't want to stop, that meant he had to, had to, just, had to -- "Lex -- please -- please -- I --" and if he gasped it and whispered it like that it wasn't going to mean what he needed to -- had to -- "Stop. Lex. Stop."
And as gently as everything he had been doing Lex pulled back slowly and looked down at him, curiously.
"Lex, I -- I don't know if -- I'd better --" The feel of Lex's body still against him, so calm and warm and everything -- His own body wanting to come home in it...
"Clark, I'm not sure if you mean you don't want to have sex with a guy, or you don't want to have sex with me, or if you're just not sure if you want to have sex at all, or if you want something first... Steer me a little."
Lex's eyes were so kind, in that rational way, he was still so close, so warm, his breath smelled so... fascinating... "I want..." And Clark's breath all went out of him in the most tremulous exhalation, so embarrassing as it sounded like... love... sex... "I --" And he realized what he needed to say depended on what, exactly, was going on. "I need to know... what... how you... I mean is this just... like... kind of fooling around, or..."
"You can't think I'm seducing you like the lord of the manor trifling with a peasant girl's affections?" He saw Clark's hurt and denial. "So by fooling around you mean... friendly sex with no attachments? Something like that?"
"I --" Clark despaired of sorting out all the things he thought or meant or wondered. "Yes?" And Lex smiled a little ghost smile.
"So the other extreme of the question would be... Am I falling in love with you?"
That was -- basically -- though not how he would have --
Lex's musing half-smile met him, his eyes kind and his voice so gentle as he answered, "I believe I am."
Clark exhaled again, as shaky as before. "Then..." He reached a hand up to touch Lex's arm. "I have to..." What? What could he do? "I need to tell you..." His whole life since he'd come here, fourteen long years learning not to do this, hard to get his breath -- "I don't want to hurt you."
"Meaning... you don't feel the same way."
"No!" He got that out so fast Lex didn't get his irony even in place. "No, it isn't that! I mean... I'm... strong. I'm... stronger than other people."
And Lex was looking at him as if a hundred windows were opening inside his mind. He didn't say a thing, letting Clark go on, or not.
"I've always been... so strong that... I'm afraid of hurting you."
Lex evaluated that. Finally he asked, "Has that ever happened?"
"No. But. I mean, I never..." In the small space between them it felt like he could feel his blush's heat reflected back on him.
"Oh," said Lex.
His arm had come down around Clark. It felt protective.
He asked, "You have brought yourself off, though."
"Yes." How strange, he didn't feel embarrassed. He felt like he was sharing himself. With Lex.
"Did you break the furniture?"
Clark laughed a little. "No."
"But you're afraid you might break me."
"Because I want you so much. I could feel -- when you were kissing me I felt like I was starting to -- not be able to stop."
"No. That's just it, I wasn't scared at all. I just wanted so much to... to get..."
"I don't know. Just... more. Closer." His voice got to hardly above a whisper. "And to come with you."
Lex's eyes closed in a barely perceptible smile. "That's pretty much what I wanted too." He looked down lazily into Clark's eyes. "Want to try it again?"
Clark's whole body was warm and trembly with how much he wanted to. "I just -- I just don't --" but even as he said it his body was melting closer, his breath was catching, his fingertips were touching Lex on flank and hip, then Lex's breath brushed his face again.
"It will be okay," Lex whispered. Clark felt a hand slide back around his ribs and it made him arch softly into Lex... Lex... the warmth and the strength and the reality, everywhere he moved, Lex being so careful of him it made him feel precious, treasured -- emboldened. He dared to hold Lex closer to him; ventured a first, very first, kiss of his own. A little off-square, breathless, hopeful and needy, his tongue licking Lex's lips a little bit, before he sank back with a wish that now Lex would show him what the best kisses in the world ought to be like.
Instead Lex just held him tight for a moment, completely silent.
But then he did kiss him, with a more chaste and sweet kiss than he could ever have imagined. With the warm breath of it in his mouth, he tasted what Lex was saying to him, the respect, a kindliness, and longing... The realization that he was understanding the language of love as if he had been born knowing it swept through him in a thrill of excitement. "Kiss me some more!" he blurted. He wanted to know about what Lex wanted, what he felt and everything he was, in this new way that spoke more intelligibly than words. When Lex obediently touched his lips again, he felt in Lex's mouth a bit of a smile, and curiosity, but then Lex's tongue brought into Clark's mouth a taste that was pure sex.
With a tightening from the whole length of his spine out to his hands and feet, Clark responded, thoughtless, direct. Lex pressed back on him, gripping a little, but cautious, mindful of his virginity. A wave of urgency rolled down Clark's muscles, calling to Lex to let him free, bring the beautiful gift of himself, the key Clark had waited for his whole life long, so he could fly, fly, forever, a new creature out of his cocoon --
And Lex's body took him on. It rolled against him and thrust right onto his crotch.
Clark felt the threads that always bound him tighten warningly. He let his hands clutch, but gently, gently, gently, gently -- his hips spasmed and his breath gasped in without him, and he wanted to come right now, but you were supposed to have your clothes off, and -- do things -- Himself naked? -- his hips swerved hard and Lex's groin came down hard, and between his thighs Lex stayed right with him, taking the same motion and following in, he could feel Lex had a -- a -- an erection -- Lex -- wanted him -- Lex panted "Clark!", and Clark's body arched to him genitals-first, his name in that voice all he needed to know about Lex naked. With no more ifs, ands, or buts their bodies were talking to each other, nothing between them either of them knew or cared about but heat and the perfect motion.
With a huge urge to hold hard, Clark groaned and flung his arms apart. One hand clutched the back of the couch, the other found the bottom edge near the floor. Lex... Letting Lex take him, and Lex understanding with such a gentle hand on his ribs in the midst of still mounting sexual surging, Lex would always understand every move Clark made, they were made for each other, at least he was made to be borne down on like this by Lex, almost like he was fucking into him and... oh... god... that... would be... oh.. god...
Lex still, still, still so gentle, even as he gave Clark every bit of beautiful violence he needed on his hard cock to get it harder and harder and more exquisitely there, with every gasp of Lex's breath and shift of his legs overloading a Lexometer Clark had never realized he had, telling him Lex was really there, closer to him than anyone had ever been in his entire life and it was Lex...! Lex... Lex...
He felt the nanosecond of Lex making sure it was okay, slight splintering of wood under his fingertips, as he ascended into a zone of nothing mattering at all except how beautiful, how beautiful it felt and then Lex
"Oh! God!" and it just kept being too -- too -- beautiful -- too --
He felt himself arching higher into Lex who was breathing very hard and holding onto him much tighter with both hands, the feel of it where the hands shifted just a little on his back and shoulders sending him skyrocketing, hips pushing up where Lex was rocking down into him, groaning at the beauty of it just as Lex's moves changed into very slight jerks and his shoulders arched back away from Clark, coming, Clark felt, and the concept of Lex coming on him, Lex, on him, swept him to the place where there was no Lex, no Clark, just black bliss, and the dark, darkest red of the newborn swells of it like pain that opened to black blossoms of new ecstasy. The word "Always -- always -- always" repeated in his consciousness, without him knowing what it meant or attaching it to anything. Then suddenly he was back, with Lex on him hot, panting, full-length, making sounds into his shirt that were words, but not the kind that needed any answers. At last Clark could bring his arms around him, with a great sense of Lex's fragility, enclosing him in an embrace that he felt Lex snuggle into, even as he sagged away toward the back of the couch and partially off of Clark's body. It was a good thing, Clark thought dimly, that the couch was so much too small for both of them to lie on comfortably at once, otherwise they might just fall asleep right here.
From deep unconsciousness Clark was jerked into a state of motion, noise, alarm, emergency. Something heavy dragged across him -- Lex -- fighting.
Clark saw a hard grip on Lex's arm, another on his opposite shoulder as Lex was jerked off of him, looked up and saw his Dad -- His Dad yelled, "You son of a bitch!" as he had a gasping Lex hauled upright onto his feet, then his Dad's fist --
Clark was up off the couch in a blur, gently-fast pried his father's fingers one by one loose off of Lex's arm and pulled Lex back, away, and held out one hand wardingly toward his father as his other arm stayed protectively around Lex. Gasping, he said, "Dad!", and he knew though the cry was one of shock, the look in his eye was warning. Still his father tried to lunge past him and Clark had to fend him off, as gently as he could with his forearm. He backed further away, still keeping Lex sheltered. He'd never seen his father's face so enraged.
"Pervert! Freak!" and he took a wild swing Clark caught and held.
"You're not going to hurt him!" he cried.
"Get out of my way, Clark!" Jonathan made a move.
"No!" Clark kept Lex safely back, planted his feet and stood. His Dad's eyes kept going from him back to Lex, rage flaring in them at sight of the man. Clark's hand stayed up warningly, his arm stiff and straight. "I won't let you hurt him!"
Jonathan's face contorted, his eyes dug into Lex like knives as he shouted, "You little punk! You can't even stand up like a man and take what's coming to you!"
And Clark felt Lex gently shrug his hand off; reluctantly, Clark let him, but his eyes never moved from his father.
"Mr. Kent --"
And as Clark expected, the sound of Lex's voice hit his father like gasoline on a fire. He went for him.
And the only thing Clark could think of to do was to throw his arms around his father like bonds to hold him back without hurting him. "Dad!"
Lex had the sense to keep quiet.
"Clark, damn it --!"
"Dad! We weren't doing anyone any harm!"
"Clark you don't know what -- Let me go." The change in his voice from fury to irascibility was sudden. Clark sensed he had started to feel foolish trapped immovably by his son. Cautiously, his heart beating so hard he knew his father must feel it between them, he let go and stepped away. For the first time he risked a fast glance back at Lex. Lex looked dishevelled, pale, and mad.
His Dad looked dishevelled, flushed, and really, really mad. Madder than he had ever seen him.
"I should have known! A child molester!"
And Clark rolled his eyes before he could stop himself. "Oh Dad, come on."
And for the first time Jonathan looked at him as if he were something more than a living stumbling block between himself and Lex Luthor.
"Dad, I'm sixteen. I'm legal. And I'm not --" Well, he couldn't exactly say he wasn't a virgin, yet, and besides, that probably wouldn't be the smartest thing to bring up at this exact moment, so he tried, "I'm not innocent."
His father's eyes changed. Like they were seeing him more. It was a look of... It was an odd look. Then his Dad's eyes turned toward Lex.
Irresistibly, Clark looked at Lex too, and found Lex looking back at him. Penetrating him, with almost that same odd expression. After a moment, Lex's eyes turned to his Dad.
Checking back and forth between them Clark caught the strangest look passing from Lex to his Dad and back. As if, somehow, without saying a word, they had found some kind of common ground.
At last Lex said, "We should talk."
And his Dad didn't try to go for Lex's throat. Though Clark could see him thinking about it.
Finally his Dad said, "In the house."
Oh god. Mom was in there.
His Dad gestured toward the stairs. He wasn't, Clark realized, going to leave Lex alone with him for one second.
Clark let Lex go first. It still seemed like a good idea to keep his body between them.
How was he going to tell his Mom he was gay?
It had seemed so simple when Lex had come up behind him and startled him while he was hanging up the model of the Enterprise his grandfather had sent him. He'd decided to hang it in a spot out over the railing where it wouldn't be in the way in his loft, and was just adjusting the hopefully invisible fishing line that would give the nacelles a slight tilt, when Lex's voice had made him turn too fast and lose his balance. He had just had time to see how close Lex was, see the mildness on his face turn to fear, and then Lex's arms had grabbed around him, and Clark, afraid he was going to take Lex over the rail, had pushed himself hard against him, with a complicated twist and shove at the wood with his left leg, throwing his arms around Lex to be sure of his safety as balance returned. Then they had both stood there a moment, in the shock of fear. Then they had... not let go.
Lex had just felt... so good in his arms. So incredible. And good. Warm, and hard, and soft, scented with something amazing and subtle, Lex who had reached out without a thought and tried to save him, he could still feel it in the muscles touching him; Lex who had gasped against him, he would never forget how that felt, and something took him straight back to the adrenaline-saturated moment when he had carried Lex cold, wet, in his arms, laid him on the rock, and brought him back to life with his own breath. He still had nightmares about those agonizing seconds that had stretched like hours, when he'd thought it wasn't going to work, that the strange and beautiful creature he had embraced and lifted up from under the river water was lifeless, that he was the only one there and he wasn't doing it well enough -- then Lex had coughed, and strangled, and suffered the dreadful paroxysms of the drowned -- alive! Clark had felt from that moment, as he hovered over the rather awful recovery, and then tried to keep the boy warm, that this living body now belonged to him: that he would forever need to watch over it, and protect the miraculous soul that had so thankfully returned.
A lot of that weirdness had dissipated as he got to know Lex.
But he never entirely forgot: Lex had come back from the dead at his behest. Lex was fragile, precious, a miracle.
Tough, feral, knowing -- so many traits had overlaid his first impression, deepening and layering the fascination.
And here Lex was in his arms again. Where he belonged.
The next second realizing he should have let him go. That he hadn't.
That Lex hadn't.
That Lex was looking at him with a very open, waiting look.
As if at any moment Clark could back away, and that would be all right. Or Clark could stay.
With Clark not moving. Dropping his eyes, feeling a blushing warming his face; but not letting go.
And finally, Lex leaning in. Brushing his cheek against Clark's cheek, his breath, warm, gusting along the side of Clark's neck, standing up the tiny hairs as if it were a chill! His hands, shifting gently around Clark's back; his muscles, relaxing into Clark with care. On his neck, just below the tip of his earlobe, he felt the ghost of a kiss.
Clark, smiling unstoppably, as Lex pulled back slowly.
"Let's get away from this," indicating the railing with a tiny jerk of his left side, and drawing Clark with him, over to the couch. Not sitting down on it, just standing there as he took Clark into his arms again, and Clark knew that was so as not to scare him.
All the same Lex had brought him over here next to a horizontal surface. He felt very nervous.
Lex seemed to pick up on that. Probably something about the rapid breathing and rigid stance, he thought wryly.
Lex asked softly, "Do you want to kiss me?"
There were so many reasons he shouldn't. He was scared. He didn't know how, and he could make a fool of himself, and Lex was a guy, Lex was Lex, his parents could be home any minute and he was an alien, he hadn't brushed his teeth after breakfast, and, oh yeah, it was illegal? But Lex hadn't asked if he should, Lex had asked if he wanted to. And one part of him so did...
The same part that was scared. Tell the truth --
-- and shame the Devil. But it was his own cheeks turning burning hot. When he didn't move Lex reached up and touched his face with his fingertips.
"May I show you how?"
Oh great. Could he be a bigger baby about it. He felt as if he were helplessly disintegrating, will-less with conflict. Then Lex without further ado placed his mouth so softly onto Clark's that it was like an invitation, not a conquest. And Clark realized one of the things he deeply feared was that Lex would view him as an acquisition. In ways he couldn't even define. Wasn't that how men did? Even men who weren't as rich as Croesus. Whoever Croesus was --
"I'm sensing that I don't have your full attention here," Lex murmurred.
Clark let a breath out that wobbled all over the place.
"Clark," Lex said, "tell me three of the things you're afraid of."
Instinctively, Clark weaseled. "I... don't know much about... this..."
Lex nodded. "Okay. That's one."
"My Mom and Dad..."
"Might come home."
"Oh." He nodded again. "That's two."
He couldn't say that one. Or that one... He looked at Lex in desperation.
"Maybe you're afraid to say what you're afraid of?"
Amazed at the bullseye, Clark made himself say, "Yes."
Relieved when Lex smiled, and said, "That can be three." His hand, Clark realized, was on his arm, it had been all along. "Just so you know, you're in charge here. If I even think you might not want something, I'll ask. About your three fears, I don't have any magic cures, but not knowing much is not a crime. It's not like you can do it wrong. It's something you're experiencing, not something you're performing.
"If your parents come home, we'll stop.
"And I always have things I feel but don't want to admit. I can only assume that everybody does." He gazed at Clark a long moment. "It's not wrong to foresee what might happen, worst case scenarios. They're always there. But you just have to pick what you really want. That attracts and draws and excites you."
If he did that, there wasn't even a question. Lex was the most exciting thing in the world.
Wow, that... simplified --
And his hands were drawing Lex toward him without even thought. He saw surprise on Lex's face. And then delight. And then again that mindblowingly careful, gentle kiss was at his mouth. So slight, so -- Clark tilted his head an inch against it, and let his tongue just touch on Lex's lips. The taste on the tip of his tongue like... summer air... the warm touch of movement, wet -- a millimeter of the inner side of Lex's lower lip, silken, muscular. Shockingly exciting. And then gone.
Lex wasn't pushing anything on him. Every touch almost a pulling away, so Clark had to come after it. The breath against Clark's skin all that lingered. He wouldn't have believed that Lex could move so slowly, or so carefully. He hadn't touched him anywhere embarrassing, and Clark was so grateful; he was actually getting used to being in this slight, almost spectral, embrace; to touching his hands to Lex; feeling Lex against him all up along his -- oh -- oh no.
He pulled back hastily.
Lex didn't seem ruffled or offended when he stepped back. Clark hoped he hadn't felt how impolite his body had been, there up against --
He didn't want Lex to leave, but he couldn't stand up against him, with... with this. Inspired, Clark pulled Lex's hand after him and sat down on the couch. It was getting to where standing up straight wasn't the easiest thing in the world anyway. Lex sat down easily beside him, pulled him gently to a new kind of kiss, with Lex's hands on his face, cajoling him, holding him so lightly, then the palm stroking down, off his cheek and down his neck onto his chest where the top button of his shirt was open, just resting there, warmer than his temperature. He felt himself shaking as if he were cold, but he knew it wasn't that. Lex felt it too, and his arms came around him.
The warm feeling of Lex was almost more than he could bear. His head tilted back.
"Sorry. Sorry." How could he hide this? He fumbled for something to say. "Um." He felt as if he'd been drinking. Certain... inhibitions... not so strong... an inclination just to keep on letting Lex kiss him, and slowly, easily, let himself mold up against Lex, even if it meant Lex would -- find -- out -- Lex had his hand on him, there, just above his waist, as if he were supporting him.
"Clark, are you okay?"
"Yes. Yes. I'm. Um. I just."
He was completely helpless. Lex should have just let him fall off the loft, god, it would have been easier to explain. He'd heard people had even fallen out of airplanes and survived. A loft was nothing. Then Lex's hand suddenly started sliding down his body quickly straight onto his fly.
Unable to look up, Clark said, "Oh, gee," in complete embarrassment, and then felt even stupider. He should have said a swear word at least.
"It's nice that you're turned on, Clark."
Lex reassuring him.
"I'm really sorry," muttered Clark. "I didn't mean --" What did he mean? Where was that sentence planning on going? "I don't know what..."
Lex's fingers moved on him slightly and he gasped back, putting up his own hands as if to fend him off. "Please! Just -- if you do that I --"
Lex reluctantly took his hand away. He leaned in, concerned.
"I like it, Clark. Who wouldn't?"
Clark finally heard him, the warmth in his tone, the caress of persuasiveness. But his awkward mouth muttered anyway, "It's pretty gross."
Lex laughed a little, incredulously. "What? Where on earth did you get that idea?"
How did he get himself into these things? "I've heard -- you know..."
Lex really sounded curious and Clark made a heroic effort. "Girls. Talking." And people just got so -- ribald about it; or else mad. Plus it was so...
He felt like he was roasting over a slow, mortifying fire.
He flicked up a look at Lex, who was looking very enlightened.
"So these girls... How old were they?"
Clark thought back. To the last time he'd heard or overheard... "I guess... fifteen."
"You think they might feel that way just because they're really young?" Lex asked bluntly. "And maybe didn't like the guy they were talking about? You've got to believe me on this, that is not going to be most people's reaction to you getting aroused. On the contrary." He watched Clark a moment. "Tell the truth. Is the feeling you get from it 'gross'?"
He could feel the scarlet flooding his face. "No." He didn't think he'd ever felt this young and unwieldy in his life before.
"Of course not. It feels nice. It is nice. You're just a little shy is all." And with that, Lex leaned in at him, and without Lex pushing or exerting any force on him at all, Clark found himself leaning, back, back along the length of the couch, until he was... lying... down...
...and Lex was kind of all around him...
They went up the back porch steps into the kitchen. His Mom turned around from peeling potatoes in the sink, started to say hello to Lex and then caught sight of Clark's face, and his Dad's. His father stomped across the kitchen, and they all knew his Mom was seeing how Clark kept himself between his Dad and Lex, shepherding Lex warily.
He turned and faced her. "I just found -- him -- and Clark asleep on the couch in the loft. Together." He wouldn't even say Lex's name.
Then Mom was looking at him. And he knew she could see right through him because he felt naked.
He couldn't think of a thing to say.
"Clark?" There was a note of alarm in her voice. It released him.
"Mom, it's okay."
"It is not okay --" His Dad.
"Mrs. Kent --" Lex.
She held up both hands. "Wait."
Her attention fixed on Lex. "You had sex with Clark?"
He could see Lex's dilemma in trying to answer that without saying way more than they wanted to hear. So Clark put in, "Mom, we didn't even take our clothes off."
Geeky as it sounded, he could see it relieved her. She looked back at Lex before he could think of anything else.
She said, "This is not acceptable."
"Clark is not old enough."
"Mrs. Kent," and Clark expected to hear an apology; the grown-ups slotting the kid into nonentity status. "I don't agree with you. Clark is exceptionally mature. Even if he weren't, he is at an age when boys do have --"
"Clark isn't old enough for you."
Her bluntness hung there, and Lex took a moment to answer. "Mrs. Kent, I can only say I feel immeasurably honored and grateful to have Clark's trust and affection. I'd never do anything to hurt him, in any way. This is," and for a second he actually fumbled for words, "a really new development for both of us..." He glanced at Clark. "But not one I'd be willing to abandon."
"Me either!" Clark put in stoutly, so happy at Lex's sticking by him that he almost smiled across his whole face, until he remembered his Dad. He looked over at him and saw disgust twist his father's mouth. Jonathan spoke contemptuously.
"Even I didn't think you'd sink this low. Preying on local children."
"Dad!" Clark felt the unfairness like an arrow through him. It tried to negate everything wonderful he had felt, everything he knew Lex had felt. "I'm almost as old as Mom was when you started going out with her! It's no different!"
"Clark." And he could see his Dad actually trying to be kind to him. "People as rich as the Luthors aren't like other people."
"They're just people, Dad. And they're all different. Lex isn't like his father. I know his father is --" He glanced at Lex. He couldn't say that, not right in front of Lex. "Dad, Lex isn't easy, he isn't simple to know like most people, but he's so different from Mr. Luthor. All he's done his whole life is stand up to him. Can't you imagine how hard that is?"
He could see it wasn't something that had ever occurred to Jonathan. Because he'd always assumed the Luthors were working together like two sides of a pair of pliers to pinch and squeeze Smallville. He still stared over at Lex with that deep mistrust.
Clark turned back to his mother. "I'm not a baby, Mom. And it's not like Lex is..." He groped for the word. "...old."
She was unswayed. "You are too young to be in a relationship with someone nearly twice your age."
"Mom! Lex is only twenty-two! That's only six years older than me!" It felt pretty feeble; six years was practically forever.
But Martha looked taken aback. She looked at Lex. "But -- you're through college and running your own business --"
"There are some ways in which rich people really are different," Lex said dryly. "I was raised and trained from childhood to run a corporation. Apart from that, I always had advanced placement. I got my degree when I was twenty."
Clark could tell his Mom was impressed. He felt a big twinge of pride. Lex was so cool. But now what if she thought Lex was too smart for him? But he was smiling when she turned her eyes toward him, anyway, he couldn't help it. Underneath, though, he was still shaking from the shock of this conflict. He always felt as if he lost years off his age whenever he had to argue with his parents, and as for arguing about -- having sex -- He couldn't actually see how he would survive this.
"There is no issue here more important to me than Clark's wellbeing. I'd never do anything to hurt him."
Clark moved involuntarily as his Dad took a step closer and demanded loudly, "Oh no? What do you think it's going to do to him if it's known Lex Luthor is screwing him?"
His Dad plowed on. "What do you think his life is going to be like then? You think that's not going to hurt him? And all these feelings you supposedly have all of a sudden, what about the string of women you've had parading in and out of your house since you got here? How did you feel about them? Not to mention the diseases --"
"Dad!" Clark felt as if the words and ideas and anger were tearing wounds in him. He could tell even Lex felt battered, impassive as he looked. How could his Dad say these things?
"No, Clark," Lex said, evenly, like balm. "These are all legitimate questions."
God, Clark suddenly thought, he looks so tired.
"Jonathan..." His Mom still looked shocked at the language his Dad had used about him, but she was trying to think straight, he could see. "You know what's going to happen if we forbid them to see one another."
"I know what's going to happen if he doesn't keep away from Clark, I'll have the law on him!"
He saw his mother wince. That would never happen, he was surprised it even existed in his Dad as a verbal reflex. Keeping official attention away from Clark had been the first rule of all their lives. Then he saw that awareness come into his father's eyes and the impatient anger it brought with it. They had no protection of any kind under the law, they never had had any.
His mother looked as if she were afraid something secret was going to be revealed out of the sheer explosiveness of the situation.
"Jonathan." She got him to look at her, and held his eyes for a long time. "Maybe... we could all sit down. And talk about this."
Oh, this was getting surreal. His first time with someone (Lex...) and they were going to discuss it. No-o-o-o --
But she was getting the iced-tea jug out of the refrigerator. She set it on the table. She put ice in four glasses and set out four long thin spoons. She gestured Lex to the table and with a look at Clark he could only sit down, at the far end from where Jonathan would be sitting. Martha was pouring the iced tea, and finally Jonathan pulled the chair out and sat. Slowly Clark moved to the seat across from his mother. He sat down. When she held out his glass he automatically took it, and suddenly heard the ice rattling in it, and realized his hands were trembling uncontrollably. He set the glass down fast, and hid his hands under the table. But all three of them had seen it. The quality of the silence became impossibly complicated.
Lex rescued him. Taking the attention off him by speaking to his parents. Though his voice sounded a little thick. "I understand your questions. I'd be asking them myself if I were in your position. I'll have my medical records opened to you at any time you want to see them. For now..." He looked from one to the other. "I have no sexually transmitted diseases, though I can't expect you to just take my word for that. And I haven't done anything... risky with Clark."
He seemed so calm, so centered. How could he not be completely humiliated?
"As for my feelings, I have cared for individuals in the past, but unfortunately they all turned out to be more interested in my bank balance than in me, so, no, I haven't had deep feelings for anyone in a long time, and I've avoided trying to inspire any." He put both sets of fingertips around the base of his iced-tea glass. He said quietly, "Clark is different."
He added after a moment, "I don't have to tell you that. You know him. He's honest. He's brave as a lion."
Clark was feeling about as brave as a cottontail at that moment, and blushed painfully to hear himself described like that.
"No one could ever question his loyalty and sincerity. He'd never pretend to feel more than he does, on the contrary, he's more likely to hide it." Clark could hear the little smile in Lex's voice. "I trust him." He heard Lex taking a deep breath. "We just now... discovered... that there's more. It's been there but acknowledging it is new... So I don't think either of us has it completely figured out. But..." Lex just couldn't say it, and Clark couldn't blame him. He looked up for the first time and met Lex's eyes. He couldn't look away. The look on his face was so vulnerable to Clark's gaze, so naked of all Lex's usual defenses. Mine, Clark thought. The amazement. The rush! Like a head of carbonation rising through him too fast, spilling out as a thrilled smile.
Oh, they probably looked goofy doing this, lost in each other's eyes in front of his parents. He looked self-consciously down at his lap, where his hands were still shaking, despite his happiness. He look up at his Mom. She looked as if she were trying really hard to understand, and cope. He was their only child, he suddenly realized. They'd never done this before either. But it would be so much easier for them if only they could have faith in Lex. A little faith in him wouldn't hurt either, but they knew he was just a beginner. He guessed it made sense if they worried. Too bad there weren't any training wheels for this.
As if she were reading his mind, his Mom said, "Caring for each other is one thing. Having sex is something else. Lex, you're a grown man, but Clark isn't. We'd be saying the same thing if he were seeing someone his own age."
"Mom, it's not something you can learn with adult supervision." Oh god, had he said that?
To his surprise, his mother laughed. "No. No," she said, covering her face for a moment with one hand, "it isn't. That's why you have to be old enough before you start."
"I am. I am old enough." He thought of the bliss he had experienced. "I really am." How old did you have to be to feel that good?
She only sighed.
He ventured a look at his Dad, who had been so uncharacteristically silent.
You didn't have to be a mind-reader to get the gist. Mom seemed like she was about to say they might be allowed to date with no petting. His Dad looked like he was still on page one, deciding if Lex should die or just be ridden out of town on a rail.
He seemed to realize they were all hesitating, waiting for him to say something. Eyes fixed on Lex, he said flatly, "My son has been heterosexual all his life. Suddenly a Luthor rides into town and Clark falls into bed with a man. You expect anyone to believe that just happened? That you didn't calculate and plan and lure him into it every step of the way? That's how Luthors operate. It fits right in with going after young kids."
"I'm not a kid!" They weren't listening. Clark could see his mother send a doubtful look toward Lex. It was all so wrong, so unfair! To his horror, he saw that Lex himself had colored a little and looked to be struggling with emotion -- Lex who always gave a plain and cool answer to everything, no matter how difficult.
"That's not true!"
It was a voice he had never, ever heard from Lex. It wasn't a yell, but it sounded like it came from a place a loud cry of pain would come from. And it was all he said. All he had. No justifications ready, no logic marshalled, just this voice from a wounded core.
Clark was fascinated.
Lex looked like he was drowning, battling, flailing out to regain control.
"Dad." Clark whipped around toward Jonathan. "It isn't. It isn't true. I can prove it."
His father just looked disgusted and unbelieving.
"He didn't do anything, Dad. He didn't say anything or make any moves. I felt that way from the first time I ever saw him, and it wasn't from anything he did, he couldn't, he wasn't even conscious. He -- wasn't breathing." To his dismay, he heard his voice creak, and his eyes burned, but he rushed on. "I looked at him, and I just felt -- 'Don't leave me!' I felt as if we were supposed to be together, and there we'd just met and he was d-- dead. Like we'd passed each other going the wrong way on an escalator, and would never get to talk, or --" He hauled in a long breath. "I knew right then. Lex didn't do a thing. He didn't have to."
His father barely looked distracted from his own ideas. "You wanted him to live. Of course you did, Clark. That's natural."
"No." He took another breath. It was like he was having to breathe by force. "I wanted him for me."
"You think that now. He's probably convinced you of --"
Clark heard his chair scrape back and felt himself surge to his feet. He cried, "Why won't you listen?"
Oh -- that had been out of control. He was shaking. He heard his voice take a nosedive toward despair. "He's not like you think he is! He never has been! Not being the same as everybody else doesn't have to mean you're evil. God, Dad --"
"Clark, you may think you know him, but you can't. You don't have the experience. You don't have any idea what it means to be a liar all your life."
Clark stepped back, knocking the chair over. "I don't know what it means to be a liar? Are you crazy?"
His mother half stood up, reached toward him, and his Dad looked -- scared. He'd gone over the line.
He didn't care. "Lex is a hundred times more honest than I'll ever be! If you think lying all my life hasn't taught me how to tell when someone else is doing it, you must not think I'm very smart." His breath came in shuddering. "I can always tell. Always."
His father was looking at him aghast. He plunged on. "Lex knows I'm different. He's always known. He knew he hit me with that car. We saw each other through the windshield for just that second. I could see that" -- horrified, anguished -- "look on his face because he knew he was going to kill me and there was nothing he could do, and then he hit me. No matter how much I lied about it afterward, he knew he hit me."
He turned to Lex, with pleading eyes. "I'm sorry." It was all he could say. If he kept talking he was going to start to cry and just, no.
Lex was looking shell-shocked. "It's okay, Clark," he said faintly. "You're right. I knew." He looked slowly over at Clark's parents. "That's why I could never let it go. When I came back to life... not only had I been reborn, but I'd been spared having killed someone. It was two miracles. One gave me life, and the other made it bearable to be alive. You can't imagine the gratitude I felt for that. But I knew..." He looked back just as slowly to Clark. "...it shouldn't be possible. It set up a conflict in my mind I couldn't get rid of. But I never wanted to hurt him. He was... my other miracle."
It looked like knowing for sure was almost as much of a logical conflict for Lex as not knowing.
Clark could relate.
His Mom, half-risen, fell back into her seat, her mouth open. "Oh, Clark," she said.
"Son," his father remonstrated.
"I had to tell him," Clark said. "About my strength. So I wouldn't hurt him."
He saw his parents quickly look at each other, and look away. Surmising how much Lex didn't already know.
Lex let out a short breath.
Clark didn't feel like he quite had the right to go and put his hand on him, but he wanted to. His... boyfriend. Before the thought was finished in his mind Clark felt himself smiling embarrassedly and his face coloring.
Well, whatever you called it.
Though whether Lex would want to be after all this... That thought took the smile off.
Lex was a businessman, on such a high level. All this turmoil over, really, not that big of a deal...
But he didn't look like he was thinking of how to get out of there. He looked strangely... settled. And Clark realized then that Lex always seemed poised to leave, to go on to the next thing, cell phone at his ear; as if every place he was was just on the way to somewhere else.
He almost looked like, all of a sudden, he belonged here.
Lex always looked as if he had a right to be where he was. But not because he was a part of it.
God there was just so much to him. Clark loved it, revelled in the complication that always centered on such simplicity of bold existence. Lex so fearless. That intoxicated him.
"We haven't wanted people to treat Clark like a freak." His father. Damage control.
And Clark realized he had injured his father's ability to express his anger by putting this power in Lex's hands.
Lex instantly saw it too. "You don't have to treat me with kid gloves just because I know." No bitterness in his face but -- it was definitely another complication. "Clark's right, I've known all along -- known there was something. I've never tried to make it public. I've never used it to hurt him or manipulate him. I never will." And Lex turned his eyes to Clark. Making it a promise.
"It isn't an easy secret to conceal," his mother warned.
"I can imagine. But I've done okay so far." Then there was some bitter irony, but with the slight lift of the upper lip Clark loved. "I've been in training all my life to keep a really big secret." It turned into a small, actual smile. And then Lex laughed. It took them all aback a bit, but it stopped abruptly.
He sat there turning into another person before Clark's eyes. As if he had seen a ghost.
There was no answer. Clark saw him turning white, and was about to dart forward and catch hold of him, as if he could stop whatever was turning Lex to ice, when finally he raised blue, haunted eyes to Jonathan.
"You were right." Like an automaton. "This can't work. I shouldn't be here." He stood up. "I'm sorry," with the briefest flick of his eyes toward Clark. He started toward the door.
Blocking him without thought, eyes wide, Clark put his hands on Lex's arms. "Lex!"
At his tone Lex seemed to recollect himself. He met Clark's eyes, and though he was trying to be expressionless, Clark saw the pain. "No. No. You're right." Lex touched his arm in turn. "You need to understand." He turned back but seemed to be in such a daze of misery he was barely seeing. He put his hands on the back of his chair.
"I never thought I would fall in love. I never realized it existed. I didn't think ahead to it."
Even his Dad was disconcerted, Clark could see, by the scraped, naked pain in Lex's voice.
"My father." It was as if, for him, the word contained all the explanation needed. But Lex was clearly used to having to expand on things he himself had grasped in a flash, and he unfolded it without a pause. "Anyone I ever marry or relate to seriously will automatically become a target for my father's intel. With anyone else, it would just be a matter for internal security."
Clark had moved around so he could see his face. Lex looked up at him. The look in his eyes hurt Clark's heart.
"I can't believe I didn't see this. Clark can't be with me. He shouldn't even be anywhere near me. Anyone else I could keep safe. But already there's too much evidence out there. I found it. My father would too. And what Clark is... that, I can't protect.
"Clark." Now Lex seemed to speak to him alone. "I'm a conduit. Straight to the last man on Earth you would ever want knowing your secret. Even if I managed to get him out of my life he'd still be hunting, searching for any chink in the armor. I'd always be the greatest danger to you. I can't believe I didn't realize..."
Because it was all secrets, Clark thought. Secrets and games and fantasies, until it all came together in one place here in their ordinary kitchen, and became real.
Lex's face was getting more ashen with that reality.
"Goodbye, Clark." With only another look at his parents, Lex turned and walked out the door.
"But --" Clark looked unbelievingly at his Mom and Dad, but only saw doubt, confusion, dawning comprehension, and alarm. "Lex!" He ran out, keeping the speed to just a dash. Don't give Lex more reasons. "Lex, wait!"
Lex was walking toward the car and didn't stop. Clark got in his way.
Lex's eyes closed. "Don't make this harder, Clark."
"You can't let him run your whole life!"
"Would you rather I let him run yours?" And Lex stared into him, his eyes the darkest blue of the end of the light, the sky just before it turned completely black.
"But -- this way, you're just letting him win!"
Lex looked so much as if he wanted to touch him. "No, Clark," he said very gently. "I'm not letting him play. Because this isn't a game. This is the real war." His face set in a way Clark had never seen before, past anger, past it all. "I can't afford to lose this one."
He stepped around Clark and got into the car.
But Lex just shook his head, the engine started, the car was moving.
He could catch it, he could stop it, he could --
It was gone.
He heard the screen door behind him after a while.
"Maybe..." A fumble for right words. "Maybe I was wrong about him, son."
Terrific. All it took was him leaving me. He felt Lex's hands as light as shadows on his face, all over -- Lex's lips so gentle on him...
He blurred away as far as he could go on a single breath.
He would not be seen.
Always that priority.
He felt like pulling trees up by their roots.
But they weren't his.
And he was not a child.
He crumpled to the ground.
What good was all his strength. It only became his vulnerability.
His speed that slowed him down from ever reaching happiness.
Vision to see the things he could not have.
All the miraculous stuff he could do was for other people. Toward himself it was only a liability.
And Lex didn't even know the half of it. If he did, he would scorch the earth where Clark had walked.
He would probably leave town.
If only Lex weren't Lionel's son.
If only Lionel were different.
It wasn't a serious thought but he recoiled anyway.
He never wanted to see death again.
He felt anger spilling into his veins, that a man should poison everything around him so literally and figuratively, and be so powerful that only death opposed him.
How could anybody be so mean?
He thought of his own Dad and felt ashamed. He shouldn't have run away like that just when Dad was trying to give Lex a little credit. But it had felt as if he couldn't stand another second -- of -- of -- all the things he couldn't stand.
And damn his Dad made him mad sometimes!
As for Lex: deciding he would just walk out of Clark's life without even asking --
He suddenly got that Lex had much more in common with Jonathan Kent than Clark needed to perceive in a boyfriend.
God, what the hell had just happened to him?
Like a bolt out of the blue he'd been thrown into Lex's arms. Wrapped around him, the tough warm body alive in his amazed embrace, feelings and physical touch had become identical. He loved Lex. In his hands, against his heart, Lex breathed and held him. That Lex wanted to touch him made it real. As if feeling and emotion had all acquired physical form, suddenly, in his arms.
They had made love.
Lightning again and he was embattled, out of nowhere, in trying to keep what he'd just won. Shield Lex from harm, physical, emotional -- In the midst of that Lex had turned and taken himself out of play.
This had all happened in -- an hour?
He understood what Lex had realized; in a shocked, yanked out by the roots kind of way. Lionel was trouble, and if there was one thing Clark had grown up with, it was the necessity of compartmentalization. Sealing off the submarine parts of himself.
But if that was going to destroy his life... what was the point?
Maybe the only thing he could do was just tell everybody everything. Then Lionel would at least have competition for his ass.
He stretched out on his back on the ground.
He could hear the violet-leaves near his ear uncrinkling where he'd bent them. Birds chirping randomly. The sun through the leaves was slanted but still hot; a dragonfly hovered in it, and whipped away.
The only things he had ever had of his own were dreams. He'd wondered if that was all he would ever know. If the magical day when he would be courageous enough to speak might never come.
It had taken him a while to recognize his fascination with Lex as love. Lex was a guy. He felt possessive, enchanted, admiring, drawn... and thought it was that Lex was so exotic, so intriguing among the humdrum farm and small-town people he had always known. So bold. Trailing such a flavor of the wide world behind every gesture. Treating Clark as if he mattered. And after all, the first time Clark had ever seen him, Lex had been driving, however briefly, the coolest car. That Clark had more than once felt sex stir around him he'd dismissed. He'd more than once felt sex stir around farm implements, the cafeteria ladies, and sunsets. That was life as a teenage boy knew it.
But then one day Lex turned, in a lightweight suit-jacket that furled back just so on the wind, showing a bit of flank where the muscles were turning him, under delicate lilac cotton shirt, and at the same time he'd been looking back at Clark over his shoulder with an almost-mischievous open-mouthed almost-smile, and all of a sudden it had all converged together in a staggering understanding: he didn't just idolize Lex like an older brother. It wasn't hero worship.
He loved Lex.
The whole universe had shifted, and fit together in a stunning different shape. And the next breath Clark had taken had been full of happiness, amazed. All the spice-taste and color and pageantry coming home in his own heart. What he'd felt on the riverbank, the determination not to let Lex out of his life, made total sense once you realized...
Oh man --
Could he be more doomed.
First Lana, then a guy? Did he somewhere deep inside not really want to have a lover? Always picking so far out of his league. Plus the guy thing.
A straight guy -- one who had more women than he knew what to do with. Brick wall, anyone?
He could be no worse off with one impossible love than another. As long as he was careful not to make a fool of himself. Not to let Lex see.
Then Lex was in his arms... he was in Lex's...
He crossed his arms over his face, blocking out the memory.
He had to think of a way that Lionel wouldn't matter.
To have this... the one thing he had always wanted... had starved for... god he hadn't even started kindergarten when he fell in love with Lana!
Was that normal?
But then, as he'd finally felt the thrilling touch, of love returned, of Lex all against him, to have it taken...
He sat bolt upright.
Bypassed the chauffeur in the driveway and the servant in the hall by moving just too fast for them to see him.
Stopped in Lex's office. There was nothing left on Lex's desk. It was all in a sweep of pieces across the floor.
Lex wasn't there.
Clark sped to the bedroom.
Lex wasn't there but a suitcase was open on the bed, and an immediate crash sounded from the bathroom. Lex burst out and hurled a shaving-kit into the suitcase furiously. Looked like Lex had moved on fast from the denial stage.
He'd also changed his clothes.
He saw Clark out of the corner of his eye and gasped and turned.
"Lex, you can't have a hit put out on Lionel."
Lex stared at him.
This was the line. He had thought it was being outed to Lex, then he'd thought it was being discovered by his parents, then he'd thought it was Lex walking out on him. But it was this.
A line between life and death.
Him and Lex.
Hope and disaster.
The line lay in Lex, explosive rage and the dogma that a Luthor could do anything. Lionel's own training (god, and why hadn't he seen what he was preparing for himself in how he raised his son?) Need, desire, will.
The future split in two.
By him. By what he'd done to Lex. The alien lying in his arms.
Lex sighed and sat down on end of the bed.
He said, "I know."
Clark looked at him searchingly.
Lex snapped, "Why do you think I'm so pissed off?" He looked around for something else to throw but nothing was in reach. He shoved the suitcase off the bed instead. It only made an unsatisfying thump. "I know you could never accept it."
Lex knew him.
It opened a floodgate to warmth and a shimmer of happiness.
What he was -- what he would do and think and say -- could alter Lex's actions.
It didn't change anything. But it changed everything.
"There'll be a way," he urged.
"It isn't open for discussion, Clark." He stood up and put the suitcase back up on the bed. He stalked to his dresser and threw some underwear and socks.
"Where are you going?"
Lex stopped dead and stared at him. "Where I can't be tempted to make the most tragic mistake of my life. Away. Not here."
"Lex..." His voice sounded timid to his own ears. He didn't know quite how to say this. "You're... a genius. And I... I can -- do things. We should be able to figure something out."
Lex threw more clothes at the suitcase. "When you think of a way to make my father overlook your presence in my house, let me know."
"But... I mean... I'm still in high school. That wouldn't be for a long time yet."
"It may already be too late." Lex put a couple of folded shirts on top of the mound and crushed closed the suitcase lid. "He's noticed you."
"Well -- will you think about it? And if you think of anything, come back?"
"Sure." Lex picked up the case and headed for the door.
Without even knowing his intention, Clark found himself with his arms around Lex gentle as gossamer, immobilizing him. "Don't."
Lex didn't put his suitcase down. But after a moment he laid his other hand on the back of Clark's neck, accepting his closeness. Finally he turned his cheek in against Clark's. He stayed that way for a long moment, his breath warm. Clark could feel the outlines of his suit through his own rough cotton, the beating of his heart against his chest.
Then Lex said, "Goodbye, Clark."
He pulled away and without a backward look walked out the door.
Clark stood staring at the empty doorframe.
It wasn't as if he couldn't find him. Everywhere a Luthor went, the press was sure to be.
What they should have had. Everything they should have been.
One person able to keep them apart by the power of his sheer villainy.
The only thing that would let them be together was if they, or one of them, acceded to that villainy, to use its methods and let it be the rule of life.
They couldn't murder Lionel. They probably couldn't take away enough of his power to neutralize him -- certainly not by using legal, moral means. There wasn't anything else. Unless... If Lionel himself should change. If something could awaken a capacity for good in him. Enough to leave his son alone...
Clark stared at the prospect.
The Aerial Migration Patterns of Swine.
A title he and Chloe and Pete had tossed off in the Torch office, in a session of cracking themselves up over stories they'd never cover. They could do a column, about things that would never be, not as long as the current grownups were in charge.
He had a feeling Lex would come up at least as blank as he was on this score.
They said that sociopaths didn't have a capacity for good, or empathy, or whatever.
Was Lionel a sociopath, and if not, what made him so bad?
Instinctively, Clark knew it was beyond him.
Maybe there were experts.
He got a visual of a cadre of reformers launched at Lionel like a flock of doves. Or planes around Godzilla.
At least it was an angle. He could mention it to Lex.
If he ever spoke to Clark again.
It had only taken a minute to come up with it. And there was still the preemptive tactic of coming out completely about his abilities. There must be other ideas waiting to be thought of?
He should make a list.
Picturing himself sitting at a table with Lex, cozily plotting and planning and scribbling down ideas.
Then picturing Lex lying on top of him on the table, their papers scattered every which way.
His hand reached out, so strong was the impression.
Two years of high school left. If they didn't come up with something good by then... it might be time to tell the world about himself. Practically speaking, Lex would be stronger then -- better able to protect him from overt coercion. Play the media and the politicians loudly so at least no one could just make off with him to Area 51... Lex wouldn't mind the extra intrigue. Clark smiled. Lex thrived on that.
Eventually Lex would deal with Clark's declining to be renounced.
Noble did look good on Lex.
But scheming and plotting looked even better.
Winning and getting what he wanted would look best of all.
Clark wondered what Lionel Luthor really wanted. Just to mindlessly compete and win? Or was there something that could bring the predator to satisfaction? And make him stop.
So someday Clark could have Lex back. If it could be right now...
If Lex's hands ran lightly up his naked arms... Goosebumps. If the warm fingers skimmed on over his shoulders, neck, to hold his face for a gentle, complicated, sexual kiss with Lex's scent and taste permeating him so he could never mistake them for any other's. Lex's body touching against him.
He wasn't going to waste his life not learning Lex.
If the Luthors thought they were an irresistible force, it was time they got acquainted with the concept "immovable object". And that there was nothing quite as stubborn as a Kent who knew he was in the right.
Just giving Lex his few ideas, he knew, would start that mind working. Clark found himself smiling, out of a shy pride.
The thought was enough to make it seem like he was walking on air, an inch above the ground. He pictured Lex driving away from him in the silver Porsche, believing they should never meet again. Pictured himself whishing by Lex on the road, running invisible happy circles around his speeding convertible, all the way to wherever Lex had planned to go. Super-powers opened up a lot of romantic possibilities.
Maybe they would never find the perfect solution. That didn't mean they had to live like some kind of old Greek tragedy. People managed all the time to live imperfect lives, and still have fun, find love, and deal with gnarly in-laws.
He shouldn't be standing here in Lex's bedroom.
He shivered, thrilled at the thought. He glanced at the bed, and blushed.
He blurred out of the house, and through the fields, toward home.