by C.M. Decarnin
Lex turned and Clark was standing in the doorway, not advancing, watching him. That open look, that almost smile that Clark approached the world with, one hand up on the doorframe, that whole stance speaking touchability, that kindliness of availability and attentive and unhurtful all-embracing sociality, that so-magnetic gift -- Lex's own mouth open in a half a smile before he knew he was responding.
Only this time there was something even more, an extra happiness on Clark, the red plaid shirt and jeans might have been party clothes, the look of his eyes as if he'd come to play, or had good news, yet he was waiting there -- how long had he been standing watching Lex? Almost a disconcerting question if one weren't a Luthor to the bone. Lex's head tilted slightly, the smile behind his mouth another inch toward visible. "What's up?"
"I ran into a friend of yours. Or rather, he ran into me. I think your Dad has talked to this guy too." Sparkle of what almost looked like -- mischief -- in Clark's eyes, and what was definitely, definitely a smile on his lips, counteracting Lex's wary reflex at that thought.
"You intrigue me. Who was this?"
"His name was Roland Gantry. Of the Hartford Gantries, or so I think he'd have wanted me to add."
Lex dropped his eyes off to the right so none of the thirty or forty thoughts that shot through would be seen, and felt a streak of interesting pure terror bolt along his nerves. He looked back up at Clark, to see what he would say.
His big wide green eyes were, if anything, kinder, and more happy.
"He had a little hand-held and he showed me video clips of you and him."
Lex closed his eyes. As if it would keep him from seeing. That stupid two weeks at the beach. Eight years ago? Too young and drunk-dumb just to walk away the minute Roland turned the camera on. How Lionel found out he could imagine, but it wasn't relevant. Thanks Dad. You really take the cake.
Why did he always hate that I might have a friend?
Sometimes he thought his father was obsessed with him.
He certainly did not seem able to leave well enough alone.
Oh god. "Clark... I apologize. You shouldn't have to be involved in this." Making himself look.
And Clark Kent of the quarterback body and Guess-boy countenance dropped his hand from the doorframe and was walking toward him. What --? Smiling with a look in his eyes that could only be called intention -- well it could also be called... dear god.
Clark didn't stop.
Until he was right up inside Lex's space, almost touching him, and looking in his eyes with that yes definitely teasing, happy look, eyebrows a little raised; he asked Lex, "And if I want to be involved in this?" and laid his hot palm on the side of Lex's waist.
Lex Luthor gasped. "Whoa!" He backed and put his hands up hastily. "Clark!"
Clark stepped forward just as close again. "Lex!" he imitated, like a parent with a little kid. "Don't tell me a Luthor has to be a closet case."
"Jesus Christ." Clark was so close Lex could feel the heat off every inch of him. "I didn't even think you knew that word!" It was so long since he'd felt flustered he couldn't recognize the weirdness overwhelming him, just tried to cover it. Clark put his hand back on his waist and Lex pushed it off again, too fast, kept stepping back until Clark had him trapped against the bookcase wall. Clark smiled at him, and put his hands on both sides of his waist.
Pushed up against the wall of poetry.
"There were a lot of things I didn't know before I saw that video." And smiled.
"What are you doing?" Managing at last to get it out, the thing he should have said right at the start.
"If you don't know, I must be doing it all wrong." Clark smiled, again, so warm, so happy --
Lex pushed at him. "Clark, whatever you think --"
Clark hadn't moved. Except his hands which were sneaking around to Lex's back.
Everything stabilized to the new reality. He knew how to function here. No more breathiness, no more uncertainty.
"Okay. Clark. Stop."
Clark's hands paused.
Every millimeter of his skin was tingling with uniqueness. He met those young, knowing, intent eyes, then had to look down, smiling too, a little painfully. "Let go, Clark. We need to talk."
Clark's lips shut carefully, but he failed to look solemn. Or let go.
"You're a minor, Clark. A child, legally."
It must be the adrenalin that was focussing him so closely on each tiny movement; he saw Clark's lips trying to keep from laughing. Clark pointed out, "I'm taller than you are."
"Yeah well, your pubescent growth spurt won't be enough to keep me out of Leavenworth. Apart from what your Dad would do to me, Clark I could get twenty years just for standing here like this with a boy below the age of consent."
"Well, I consent. I'll put it down in writing."
"You can't consent, Clark. That's what age of consent means. You're not allowed to consent."
The smile was sneaking out. "But I want to."
"No matter what you want, if I lay a hand on you I'm a child molester, Clark."
He didn't force, or whine, or pout. That had never been Clark's style. But after a moment's thought he looked straight into Lex's eyes and said, "So you've thought about it."
Staggered, not for the first time, by the country boy's intuitive knowledge of human beings, Lex could only return the look.
"Are there any bugs in this room?"
Lex said, "No, thank god."
"Then lock the door. I'll pull the drapes."
Undercover shivers were running through him one after another. "If an underage tree falls in the forest --? Clark I think you're missing the point here."
"You did it." Bluntly.
"I'm not arguing the morality of this, Clark. I was arrogant, drunk half the time back then, and frankly didn't give a flying fuck if Roland Gantry ended up in jail." He paused to let that point sink in. "Our situations are completely different. For one thing, I was far from virginal."
Red spread over Clark's cheeks, and Lex could see he'd hurt his feelings. He didn't let it stop him.
"Think of your Dad and Mom, Clark; their position in this community. What they'd have to deal with. Their friends. Your friends. What my father's lawyers would do to your reputation in a futile effort to make me look pure as the driven snow."
Suddenly realizing he was only revealing just how much he'd thought about it.
"You wouldn't let them."
"Don't be so trusting, Clark. Hard time in prison? I don't know what I'd do. But that point's moot. I wouldn't have a choice. In a situation that bad I become a liability to LuthorCorp just by virtue of having the same last name. My father would do anything it took to keep that blot off the family profit and loss statement."
Clark kept looking into Lex's eyes. At last he said, "I just get everything figured out and now you're telling me I can't do anything about it."
"Afraid so," Lex said, relaxing slightly.
"How old do I have to be?"
"What's the age of consent in Kansas?"
"Well there you go. But --"
Before he could move, Clark put his arms around his neck, like a big heavy kid being carried home from a late-night carnival, and leaned completely in, and kissed him.
It was the strangest kiss he had ever tasted. Chaste, yet warmly thrilling. Lips soft and yielding but pushing the kiss on him. Pushing with the weight of a grown, warm body, pinning him, and promising, then asking if he'd change his mind, suggesting that he should, all in the language of a single kiss, till finally he had to jerk his head aside, and gasp. Panting open-mouthed and trying not to think.
Finally he spoke. "I take back that 'virgin' crack."
And looked up to see Clark gazing back determinedly. "In five months I turn sixteen," he said. He stood there graceful, steady, true, dependable. So alien, to everything a Luthor understood. So beautiful. He leaned again and whispered against Lex's ear, "Save the date."
Then he turned and ran out of the room almost faster than Lex could believe, as if he needed to get far away. A feeling Lex could more than understand. He leaned against the wall of books, all full of poetry, and thought about the two words 'sweet sixteen' and birthday cake and if he could ask Martha Kent the exact date of her son's birthday without coming all unglued, and what it would be like to show Clark everything he'd ever learned about the art of lovemaking, and learn from Clark the very heart of love itself.
Go on to The American Way