by C.M. Decarnin
I'm not looking for another as I wander in my
Walk me to the corner, our steps will always rhyme.
You know my love goes with you as your love stays with me,
It's just the way it changes, like the shoreline and the sea,
But let's not talk of love or chains and things we can't untie,
Your eyes are soft with sorrow,
Hey, that's no way to say goodbye.
-- Leonard Cohen
Clark rolled over in the long grass.
It rustled and accommodated to him, its relaxing green surround and the incredibly erotic smell of the crushed stems giving him the feel of luxury, as if the tall sleek tubes massed together near his eyes were costly threads, the darker long leaves springing from them the rich painted pattern on bedding even Lex's sheets could never rival.
He was being bad.
You didn't trample the growing hay. You didn't lie down in it, and break it. Everything depended on it.
Everybody knew that.
He'd been walking, along the hardpacked shoulder of the road, and suddenly the thick silken green waves of the grasstops in the wind had called to his skin, and his mind, irresistibly; always so responsible, always considerate, but this time it was as if the earth itself had summoned, and he was between the wires of the fence and wading into the heavy emerald surf... in far enough that he would not be seen, and then lying down, stretching out on his stomach, gathering as far as his arms could reach, the sheaf a green pillow for his head. Minute crickets, grasshoppers, ants and tiny spiders hastened and sprang to get away from him. His eyes shut, he listened to the sensuous hiss of the grass and wind. Pinpointed with the chirrs of redwings, trills of thrushes now and then, like bright sprays of rhinestones sewn to the velour of the sound. He sank away. Deep, but rising back up soon to skim along the surface of consciousness, deliciously sleeping yet awake. Then he turned over, lazily letting the blue of the sky into his eyes.
He remembered clouds further west, but what he could see, fringed by the bowing green, was all a big cookie of sky-blue, infinite yet intimate, as if he could revel in it like the antheming birds, anytime he wanted.
The sun beat through his clothes like exquisite massage, yet now and again the quick breeze that swooned the grasses fell across his face like a caress.
The only thing that could make this better was if he could have a lover... here... next to him in the green hay... but if he couldn't, ever, he would have to remember to come and lie down like this in the real grass, on the real earth, remember he belonged to them, their embrace, the kisses of the sun, the hands of the air...
Someone knelt down next to him suddenly, his eyes must have drifted shut again, when he looked he was surprised it was Lex Luthor. Peering at him anxiously, and Clark smiled at the humor of how far he was from anything being wrong. But it was nice of Lex to care. He saw Lex still appeared worried, reaching out and laying his hand to the front of Clark's shoulder, and he realized it was because Lex wouldn't be used to seeing people lying on the ground. City boy. Clark kept smiling reassuringly, and then gradually his consciousness changed, he became aware the other reason Lex was so concerned was that he cared more than Clark had realized, he... had feelings for Clark. In that instant Lex tried to cover it up, sitting back, a faint smile adjusting on his lips, slate-blue eyes wary under amusement. "Aren't you afraid of getting run over by a farm implement?" and their eyes, meeting; each suddenly knowing the other was remembering Clark not being hurt by the last vehicle that had hit him. It was weird, exciting, looking into eyes that knew; and cared for him. Sharing a secret.
The smile that flickered now in those off-blue eyes was real. Wild, deep, daring, almost wicked it was so knowing.
He looked down and noticed Lex was naked.
The tips of the swaying grass brushing against his unclothed skin.
The touch was getting Lex aroused, so that he raised his head and closed his eyes, and breathed in through his mouth. And Clark's whole body came alive with a delicious desire, to hold that naked Lex against his flannel and denim and t-shirt, his face, his lips, with his arms close around him, hands upon bare hot skin. He reached down and felt up Lex's butt to get him to press in against Clark's hardened, heated cock.
Lex's bed floated in the lake in Lex's pleasure-grounds, specially made round sheets and crescent-shaped pillowcases imprinted with real grass, hand-colored by illegal aliens. As he rolled Lex over and parted the naked thighs to let himself between them, he hoped his rhythmic movements wouldn't capsize the idyllic craft so he'd have to haul Lex soaking wet out of the water before he fucked him.
It was the excitement that probably woke him, his heart beating and his groin throbbing hotly. He was still in the grass.
He'd dreamed he was jumping Lex's bones?
His blush and being out in the open and waking up combined to rapidly dwindle his dream-on. Which was too bad, because, well, sex: it's a good thing, but on the other hand, what if someone really did come along, and he was lying there with his dick in his hand, he'd have to move to Kamchatka and change his name. And even then.
He remembered how the grass had looked brushing along Lex's flank, how Lex's face had looked, tipped back, helpless with arousal. How Lex was in love with him.
Would Lex actually look like that?
He was doing it?
Clark turned back from the castle's kitchen door.
Lex was just doing that thing where his gaze rappelled down Clark's body in segments, then climbed back up.
If they'd been opponents, he might've been checking to see if Clark was in fighting trim.
Or if he'd been somebody's bodyguard, looking to see what Clark was packing.
What Lex was looking for, Clark wasn't sure. But he always looked a little amused about it, as if they shared some joke. Clark had never wanted to admit he didn't know the punch line.
"Another produce drive-by?"
Eyelids at half-mast. Voice smoky and sardonic.
No wonder people didn't trust Lex. They thought it came from insincerity. To Clark, it always just looked as if Lex operated from another plane of existence. As if he knew things no one else had dreamed of, here in Smallville anyway.
Clark gestured at the cardboard box on the counter.
Okay, that was inane.
It wasn't that he was really embarrassed to talk to Lex. You weren't accountable for what your mind did while you were asleep. His Dad thought he guilt-tripped himself too much, but he actually had a pretty realistic grip on where his responsibility began and ended, he didn't blame himself for dreams.
It did make him a little shy, though.
Like the time he had first acutely realized that in Lex's world, you didn't wander in the back door and holler, to see if he was home. Not that he had ever exactly done that. But it had made him also realize he was probably too old to do that anywhere else, too, except at Pete's house. Fifteen, but looking full-grown. What if he walked in on someone's Mom, with like, her blouse off or something? The very thought had been enough to transform him into a polite knocker at screen door jambs, overnight. Ironically, the castle was the one place he never had to knock any more. They'd had a kitchen door key made for him.
And now, sixteen. He'd lain down in summer grass, and somehow walked in on Lex without his clothes on...
He could feel the blush.
"Is anything wrong?"
Clark raised his eyebrows and pushed his lower lip out a little, wide eyes sliding left as if checking his thoughts, then innocent: Gee, nothing I can think of.
Any guy would back off from such a clear 'Nobody here but us chickens.'
Lex wasn't any guy.
"I ask because you haven't been stopping in to say hello all week." And let it hang there.
"A lot of, um, things to do on the farm. Summer." Which was true.
But didn't sound it.
A lot of people now probably didn't even know that the original reason there was no school in the summer was that kids were needed at home to work on farms.
He hadn't meant at all to offend Lex. He just hadn't been able to think how he would look him in the eye after dreaming horn-dreams about him; what he would talk about.
Was this what they meant by homosexual panic? How his mind was a complete blank beneath his autonomic nervous system innocence responses? Devoid of social skills and desperate?
Lex said, "Well, you know you're welcome here any time."
"Thanks." Oh God; lame.
And it came to him, in a life-wide clarity, that if he always had to lie like this he was going to die a virgin.
"And if there's any problem I can help you with I hope you'll always feel free to come to me."
Lex would never be at a loss for words. It was like he had been to some school where they taught you exactly the right thing to say for every conceivable situation. Actually, Clark remembered seeing books like that. He should read one. He should have read one yesterday. Yet he had a sinking feeling the chapter on "Hey, buddy, I dreamed I was humping you and you were so naked" would be starkly absent. Also the footnote on "Naked; hot; naked" that kept popping up in his mind and his underwear in ways he would not have thought possible a week ago. God, the wretchedness it was to be him, at any given moment.
"I, uh, I will. If... you know." He was the world's hugest dork, and why should he even care what he looked like to Lex when he was never again going to be able to think of a way to speak to him. "I should..." His arm flailed toward the door. He bobbed his head. "See you later then."
Lex nodded. On feet encased in boots heavy
as lead weights, Clark turned his body as if it were the awkwardest robotic
construct ever stuck together of rusted gears and bobwire, and clumped
to the door; turning for a stiff, bumpkinoid wave and smile as he pulled
it shut behind him.
What was thatall about?
Lex stood mystified at the kitchen door, watching through the glass panes as Clark trudged to his truck and got in. He could see him lean back in the seat with closed eyes. Suddenly he looked over and saw Lex still standing there; Clark smiled weakly, waved, started the ignition and drove off.
The last time Lex had seen him, Clark had been teasing and badgering him about his city ways -- gently, Clark was never unkind -- in the friendliest joking exchanges.
Clark in the persona of a backward minor character on Mayberry RFD.
The kitchen phone hung, quaintly, on the wall. To keep it out of the way, he supposed. Before Clark could get home, Lex dialed, and was satisfied when Martha Kent answered. Invitations extended via Moms, he had found, were always that little bit harder to turn down.
After he hung up, he wondered what on earth he'd
done that for.
Clark came to the kitchen door from force of habit and then blushed at himself as a dweeb. What if there were no servants around? It was almost evening. He'd been given a key for the specific purpose of delivering produce, not to wander in whenever he felt like it. Though, true, he'd also been given it because he was Lex's friend, but --
The lights were all on in the kitchen and pantry and Mrs. West was making them pizzas. She let him in with smiles and greetings, and he ran his eyes across the once-baked crusts she was covering with toppings. Three. Different. Kinds! Real mozzarella. Familiar-looking peppers and onions, and cherry tomatoes that had actually been sliced, into tiny sweet red rounds; pepperoni, sausage, thick chunks of ham -- it all looked strangely raw and unpromising but once it had been melted together by the miracle of cooking --
He was starving. He also spotted a gigantic salad of many colors full of Kent Farm goodness.
He wended his way through the corridors and up the stairs to the tv room -- which in the castle meant the room with the serious television screen that would hardly have shamed the Talon to show a movie on.
Lex was there and Clark's palms started sweating. The plan of just hanging out with Lex and getting over it suddenly seemed a lot less simple than when he'd determined on it the previous afternoon. "Hey, Lex," he said casually.
Lex turned from his wall of DVDs, smiling. "Hi Clark. I hope you're in the mood for some of the world's great opera."
Clark couldn't help it, he felt his face fall into a look of dismay.
Along with the sweep of relief that Lex was just yanking his chain, Clark realized he didn't think he'd ever heard Lex laugh before. Not like he meant it, not like something was actually funny and not just a painful irony of Life with a capital Lionel. Almost a year now he'd known him, and never heard him laugh? Rolling his eyes and then smiling back, he had to wonder what that said; about Lex, about their friendship, about holding back. But then, Lex was twenty-two. You probably didn't go off on laughing jags much when you got to be that old.
Still, he came across the room with a little ache like pity down in his middle. "You jerk," he accused.
"I'm thinking some classic Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons and then Buckaroo Banzai. Though one of these days it will be opera. I have some Peter Sellers productions that will knock your socks off."
Clark's brow wrinkled. "The Pink Panther?"
"Different Peter Sellers. Stratospherically superior stagings of Mozart, every gesture and word a revelation --" Lex glanced enthusiastically toward the shelves of jewel-case spines.
"But today, Bullwinkle," Clark intervened in the nick of time.
"Right." Lex recalled himself. "Kick-back comedy for the careworn. Be sure and mention to your mother that we had salad. You came in through the kitchen?"
"Pizza," Clark confirmed reverently.
"They've been working you hard on the farm?"
"The truck gardens have been going crazy. Plus the AP History, I just finished the first half."
"Aced, I trust?"
"Yeah," Clark admitted embarrassedly. Sometimes he felt like he cheated, school was so easy for him, but at least a scholarship wasn't one more thing his parents would have to worry about. "Then haying again next week."
"I thought they only cut hay once here?"
"Prairie hay, yeah. But we have some alfalfa. You cut that about once a month. It makes a decent cash crop once you have enough for your own animals."
Thank god for agriculture.
Lex had the DVDs he wanted and went over to put the first one in the player. Watching him, Clark was very aware of the businesslike way he did everything. The business-type shirt and slacks he was wearing. It all gave him such a manly air, as if even entertainment were purposeful to him, not something you did to briefly change your life, but rather to add to your intel. It was hard to imagine Lex Luthor ever doing something as frivolous as. Well.
The Lex in his dream was a person who didn't exist. Sensuous. Strokable. Exquisite.
They sat down on the couch and Lex dimmed the lights a little using a remote like the control panel of a 747. Clark sank gratefully into the world of moose and squirrel.
His head swiveled at the first waft of pizza fragrance. Lex stopped the action and they attacked the dinner trolley, offloading the food and sodas onto the coffee table, with profuse praise, before Mrs. West could lift a finger. She had pre-sliced the pizzas, so it was a matter of seconds till Clark had the first succulent point on his tongue and bit down on flavors that almost made him whimper, they were so good.
"Ih' weawy goo', Mih' Weh'." Mere words were so inadequate to the ambrosia.
"Enjoy." She left, smiling, and Lex started up the cartoons again. By the time they switched over to the main feature, Clark was merely dallying with a few last slices, researching whether each kind could possibly be as delicious as he remembered it. He didn't notice when he put his plate down as he got absorbed into the movie.
It was... unusual.
After a while he realized it reminded him of Lex. Strange-flavored. Unique. Nuanced, layered, subtle. Complex. Yet sharply unlike Lex in embracing the ridiculous. Cherishing the beloved tropes in a way that admitted their impossible nature, yet allowed them, willy-nilly, to rise above themselves, to triumph in waves of true feeling. All the while he was being poked with delight by the wickedly intellectual dialog -- and even the music was great! By the final credits he felt good about the human race, and the bouncy march music made him want to get up and dance. Though he didn't, since he was profoundly not a dancer.
He suspected Lex wasn't a dancer either. That is, both of them could and probably would execute prescribed ballroom steps in that sedate amateur way that made tango and foxtrot and waltz all look the same; but neither of them would ever exactly rock out.
He wasn't sure he wanted to know why that was.
But he was smiling as he looked over at Lex. His friend. His comrade. Side by side, shoulder to shoulder (the music was still playing), come what might. That would be so great. Someone to count on. Lex smiled back and Clark caught his forefingers moving, directing the music.
Sprawled a little, lazy and replete, Lex nodded. "An unrecognized masterpiece."
"It reminds me a little of Galaxy Quest. Except this one isn't so..."
"Overt in its metafictional stance?"
"Possibly." Clark grinned.
"It'd make a good pop culture monograph. In Galaxy Quest, you have the fans, who end up participating in the rescue and saving the day, whereas in the Banzai universe the fans are already an acknowledged fighting force in the Blue Blazers -- which is pretty much the way marketing was actually done in the forties and fifties." He clicked the machine off. "You have the Galaxy Quest tv actors who think their roles are ridiculous, though they're secretly very protective of them, versus the Hong Kong Cavaliers whose performances are just another very serious aspect of their heroism."
"But they both kind of point out that this hero stuff we know is so ridiculous is... secretly something we really want, and that's something we love about people, that they do want that. And sometimes really do have that in them."
Lex looked thoughtful, his head resting back on the couch. "Yes... though personally if I saw one of those aliens I think I'd scream like a girl."
Clark's gaze lingered on Lex's pearlescent complexion in the dim light, the subtle curves of his face, the relaxation of his body. He said softly, "I really doubt that."
Lex's eyebrows rose as he turned his head to face Clark, his lips parted slightly in surprise.
"You'd do whatever you had to," Clark went on. "You'd save the day. You're the hero type."
The eyebrows remained elevated. "That's a new take on the Luthor genome." He let his head turn back to the forward position. "One I think my broker, among others, would be stunned to hear."
Clark, eyes attentive, was sure he detected the slightest faint flush, almost invisible, along Lex's cheekbone.
He hadn't been thinking that much about him during the movie. But now, seeing that he could give Lex embarrassing pleasure made him feel... strange. Aggressive.
As if overpowering someone at least emotionally could be a good thing.
Anyone could blush at a compliment. It didn't mean anything, Clark's prudent self said wet-blankettingly.
The salad bowl had finished the movie in his lap like a big bucket of popcorn. He set it on the coffee table and as he was leaning back in his seat he stretched like a great, predatory jungle cat.
Leaving his arm extended along the ridge of the couch back.
This was probably a bad idea.
If Lex didn't like it they'd be shattered.
It wasn't like with a girl, where if you tried it, and she didn't want to, she'd just say so, maybe give you a lukewarm let's-just-be-friends kiss. Or any one of a hundred not terribly awful responses. He had heard all of them from Pete, whose buoyant optimism carried him far and wide into the waters Clark had never charted.
Lex might hurt himself if he socked Clark really hard. And after all the advice he had given about Lana, all the bemoaning he had listened to... he would not be expecting a gay pass.
He should probably discuss this.
His hand, moving on its own initiative, touched the top of Lex's arm, and slid inward onto Lex's shoulder.
And lay there.
The look of shock on Lex's face wasn't even turned toward him, Lex was so stunned his wide eyes just stared forward.
Then he did turn. The expression of inquiry as he met Clark's eyes, covering his first reaction of knowing, giving Clark a kind of out, if he said something, right now, about their friendship, apology for being unavailable, even tell him about the dream --
Clark said nothing.
Looking into the night-blue eyes, seeing disbelief and amaze give way to comprehension that looked if anything slightly more aghast, and then finally a settling into wild computation.
"This is why you haven't been around?" Lex asked at length, in a thready voice Clark hardly recognized.
His own voice, forced, sounded a little echoey. "I had this dream."
"And you... what. Want to see if I've been stalking you this past ten months?"
The voice so wildly strained, the accusation so 90-degree skewed, his face getting ready -- there -- to go so icy closed --
Clark shoved gently along the couch and leaned in and kissed Lex's mouth.
Their breaths so warm together. His all over Lex's cheeks and chin as he kept his kiss, and his hands on Lex's arms, light as could be. So he was sure Lex could escape if it revolted him. It wasn't revolting Clark, the feel of Lex's body along his torso so profoundly sexual and yet almost religious, he wanted to hold and touch, protect and cherish. Kiss --
Lex pulled away, all breath, gasping "What the hell," feebly.
"Let me," Clark begged. "I can do it so you'll like it." Do what he wasn't sure, but he'd do anything, anything -- He wished Lex would do it to him, though, because the idea of that body moving against his was making hot chills run up and down him while he tried to remain somewhat sentient. Adult. Pete claimed you couldn't persuade anyone into sex, they were either going to do it or they weren't, from the git-go. The memory filled Clark with despair. Maybe pleading wasn't the same as persuading.
Lex pulled back further down the couch, away from his touch. But he looked -- unLexlike. The tiniest bit mussed. Lips a little redder, cheeks a little pinker, eyes a little dazed beneath the alarm and confusion, breath a bit quick and posture slightly tense -- his half-sideways position between a getaway and looking like if you pushed him a little, he would lie down.
But he was Lex, so he probably didn't plan on either.
Lex breathless. A sight he could survive on.
Lex looking at him like he'd never seen him before.
That was less promising.
Lex asked, "What was in this dream you had?" Trying to piece his cool together.
"You," Clark said. Longingly. Doofus, said something witheringly. "I mean, me. Us. I was lying in a hayfield and you were there. Then you didn't have any clothes on and you were turned on by the grass touching you."
Staring. "How poetic."
He seemed to be waiting for more.
"And, uh, then I." Yes? said Lex's waiting look. "I started making out with you. On a floating bed in a lake."
After a moment of silence Lex stalled with, "Your unconscious seems to have been unduly influenced by the Romantic Movement."
Fifties movies on tv, more likely, Clark thought, but it didn't seem to the point.
Finally Lex asked, "And this dream turned you gay?"
It had really been so much simpler than that sounded. "It just showed me that you're..." He found his eyes wandering down Lex's shirt, making him imagine what he looked like under it. 'Hot' sounded a little crude, 'sexy' a little frivolous, 'desirable' so formal. "...erotic." Then he hurried to add, "But it's more than that. I mean, I... liked it." How did you say this, right to someone's face? "Liked... you."
Lex looked wary. "Clark, a wet-dream doesn't seem like much of a basis for a relationship. Or even a crush."
"It made me see you in a different way."
"So after years of hesitation about Lana, you have one dream about me and become a teen Lothario? I don't get this, Clark. And in this town I've learned that if something seems unusual, you start hiring bodyguards."
Clark let a hint of pathos creep into his gaze.
But it backfired. Lex -- much, much less gullible than other adults and he should have remembered that -- looked straight back at him, and stated dryly, "Let's get one thing clear right now. There's not going to be any sex here tonight."
Clark's crushing disappointment surprised him. He'd thought he was prepared for, even expecting, rejection. But then the word 'tonight' snatched him up in mid-fall. So... some other night...? Or, well... not, conceivably. But Lex hadn't thrown him the hell out yet.
"Why not?" he asked as humbly as he could. He didn't know what else to say.
Lex looked almost helpless. "Clark, just because you've been sprinkled with bisexual fairy-dust in your dreams doesn't make everyone around you automatically receptive."
"Then..." He hoped his face didn't look as surprised and hurt as he felt. "...you don't... see me that way?"
"You thought I did?"
Looking deep into Lex's questioning blue eyes, he could see only honest surprise amid all the upset and reassessment. "It explained how you look at me sometimes."
Lex said earnestly, "Clark, you're a remarkable human being. Physically as well as in other ways. People are going to look at you with... astonishment, if nothing else."
"Nobody ever did before."
Lex shook his head. "They must be used to you in Smallville. Like rangers who live among sequoias."
"I'm not that tall," Clark protested.
"Height isn't the point." Lex was looking at him again with intrigued focus. "This is part of it, that you have no idea what I'm talking about. Clark, you are almost unbelievably good-looking. Like something Hollywood could only dream of."
Clark felt himself blushing, but couldn't help laughing at the same time. "Nobody but you sees me that way, Lex! Trust me. I'd have noticed. Are you sureyou aren't bi?" He let his side relax in against the back of the couch, and giggled, thinking of the "Oh, it's only Clark" looks he'd been used to all his life, compared with Lex's sharp attention. Then he sobered a little, realizing that might explain why his dream had picked Lex out of everyone he knew; to, er, roll in the hay with him. Those long challenging gazes, those visual tours up and down his body, the taunts of the half-lidded eyes and provocation of the rich city guy's uptilted chin; looking back on it, Clark was only surprised he hadn't interpreted it as sexual a lot sooner. "You're really sure?"
"Clark, sex is the furthest thing from my mind when I'm with you." He shrugged. "I just don't swing that way. I don't have anything against it, but for me there's just no chemistry with a guy. Take it as a compliment when I say our friendship proves that. If I'm not turned on by Clark Kent, I'm never going to be turned on by any male. You could turn the angels gay, Clark."
"But not you."
"It's probably genetic. Some studies suggest that may be a factor, and if you look at my lineage... But if you decide that's what you want, there'll be plenty of other guys out there. You couldn't walk two blocks down Harlow Street in Metropolis without getting propositioned. Proposals of marriage, more likely."
Lex sounded like he really believed this guff. But a turn-down was a turn-down, however nicely you put it.
"I don't want other guys," said Clark morosely.
He looked up and Lex was looking at him kind of wonderingly. "This is really the last thing I expected from you of all people," Lex marveled. "Your Lana campaign has been ongoing since grade-school."
Great. What if he ended up loving Lex for ten years with no return? He was never going to get married.
Apparently the same thought occurred to Lex, as he fell abruptly silent. Clark turned with his back against the couch, dejected. "It must seem really dumb that I'd feel this way because of a dream," he mumbled.
"No. I mean..." Lex looked for a careful phrase. "From what I understand, attraction starts with the oddest things. Suddenly something can catch the attention and... it all follows from that." He hesitated. "If anything, I envy you. Your ability to feel love and sustain it the way you have for Lana. I've never been in love, I think it's doubtful I ever will. Sexual desire, yes, but... there's probably a trust in human beings in general you have to have, to fall in love." He shrugged. "Or something." After a pause he said, "Or maybe it's curiosity I haven't got. I see through most people so completely, there's no mystery." He smiled a little.
Clark felt the edge of wariness such a topic automatically raised in him, but he looked over at Lex. "Or you just haven't found the right guy." And batted his eyelashes.
It made Lex laugh, eyes wide and incredulous, and Clark smiled. It was such a relief that Lex wasn't offended or outraged, even if Clark wasn't going to get any. "Sure you don't want to try it just once, to see?" he pushed his luck.
Lex was shaking his head already, with quiet finality. "Sex with a guy is just never going to turn me on."
Clark sighed, sneaking a last look up at him before
turning his gaze sadly away.
End of "Shoreline" Chapter 1