Summary: Learning to follow in ten steps.
Thanks: lyra_sena, as always for seeing me through the first half of this, and svmadelyn for the speedy beta and ability to help me brainstorm, while I was way drunk.
So. Yeah. Clex. Who knew? Not me. *chips away at writer's block*
It was in Mexico -- a long beach, a licking of foam. His hands were lined with salt. His eyes stared without blinking at the sun; he hadn’t slept a full night in five days. His skin was grey and thin beneath his eyes.
He whispered your name, and the wind swallowed it. When he turned to you, his eyes were clear.
You sit at your desk, and run your fingers along the cherry stained wood. Through the blinds, thin slats of light from the street lamps leave pale stripes on the maroon carpet, the hulking chairs, the curved glass of the decanter.
The cursor of your computer blinks ruthlessly. You have a letter to write.
He was investigating in Acapulco. You followed him there, to the tiny hotel beside the water. Your room was one floor above his, exactly.
You found him at the bar.
When he saw you, you thought he was going to run. He tensed, the table top in his hand creaked. He opened his mouth to ask you a question, and then shut it with a shake of his head.
You thought he was going to tell you to go away, when he spoke. Instead his voice bubbled out in surprisingly good Spanish, and he ordered you a drink.
“You’re a long way from the office,” he said. His smile was crooked and his shirt was rumpled. There was sweat on his collarbone; you could see it underneath his loosened tie.
You sat down without saying anything, and wrapped your fingers around the beer that was set down in front of you. Water ran down the long neck like tears.
He didn’t make chit chat. Instead he sat back, and stared at the thatched roof over your heads, his long legs stretched out and crossed at the ankle. His shirt was rolled up to his elbows, his hair curling around his ears.
You suddenly knew that you never stopped wanting to kiss him. You’d somehow convinced yourself you had.
“Lex,” he said after a minute, “tell me why you’re here.”
You didn’t have an answer.
I regret to inform you that LexCorp’s connection with Cadmus Labs must come to an end.
It looks wrong in print. You frown at the paper, and think of typing up another draft. Of explaining that you’re not interested in the affects of green Kryptonite anymore, and that you plan to destroy the caves and the mines, and as much of Smallville as you see fit.
You’d like to type up something about turning a new leaf, or ‘live and let live’. The platitudes, however, give you indigestion.
And you are not entirely altruistically motivated. You’re not destroying all the results of your experiments. You know better than to do that.
It’s better to be prepared for betrayal, even when you don’t anticipate it, but with Clark it would be idiotic not to.
When it got dark, he sighed. He pinched his nose, and took off his glasses. There was light coming from the paper lanterns strung around the bar. Shadows covered half of his face when he turned to you.
You said, “I’m tired.”
He half-smiled. “Yeah.”
Then he stood up and stretched, his shoulders pressing tight against the starched white cotton of his shirt, his arms raised over his head. He picked up his bottle, and swallowed what was left of his drink in one long gulp; his tan throat moved beautifully.
He put money on the table, and said over his shoulder, “Come on, Lex.”
You aren’t sure you should trust him. You’ve never been sure. You’re not even sure you want to.
It’s somewhat comforting to hate him, it always has been. You could blame him, then, for everything. You can still blame him for quite a bit – whatever happened, or is happening, you’ve still got your memory.
You know what he’s done wrong, and how it’s affected you; for years you would repeat every slight over and over to yourself as though it was a rosary.
You’re sure he’s done the same. You may have, in the past few years, given him a little more to work with. You know that you never meant to kill him, but he doesn’t.
Still, it was on his bed, his sheets, and he slept beside you, easily. He had to have known that in your room, there was a weapon, even as his eyes drifted shut, and he nuzzled your shoulder.
You’re not willing to let him be braver than you are.
You sign the letter.
He trailed his tongue down your back, and pressed a kiss to your hip, where his fingers were curled over it.
You panted out his name, and he smiled against your skin.
After, you stared at the ceiling. You said, “This changes nothing.”
He turned to you, raises an eyebrow. He stared at you for a long time, and touched your chin with one finger.
“Of course it does,” he told you.
You closed your eyes, and listened as he got up and showered – the creak of the handle as he turned it, the hiss of the water over his body. You could smell the sulfur on the water as it ran.
“This changes nothing,” you said again to the empty room. You didn’t sound sure.
He’s waiting for you, at your apartment. You know, because he’s called to tell you twice.
Still, you drive five times around the city, getting stuck once on the bridge in traffic. Your hands are comfortable on the steering wheel, you lean back against the head rest. You stare at the lights of cars waiting to cross into the city from the long flat fields beyond. Where Clark came from. Where you came from, once.
You haven’t been there in years, but you still remember the taste of Clark in his barn, the way he let you lick the soft skin behind his ear, how he’d cup your pelvis in his hand as though you were breakable.
You remember the taste of blood in your mouth, the smell of burning papers, the house you’d built for yourself falling down around you weightlessly as though the bricks were merely cards, waxen triangles fluttering down in the false wind. You remember starting to hate Clark, and hating yourself for that.
But, once, you woke up next to him, pressed into the warmth of his side, with one of his big hands on your back. His lips were parted and pink, his lashes a dark fan against his skin, and you whispered against his sleeping shoulder that you would never let anyone hurt him, never.
You hadn’t known him terribly long, then. Three years later, you tried to kill him for the first time.
One week before you boarded the plane to Mexico, you nearly succeeded.
It took you two days to finally ask him if he was all right.
You were lying next to him on the cheap, white sheets, the air thick with humidity and the smell of sulfur from the shower. He was flicking channels restlessly, comfortably naked. You touched his chest, the smooth space below his pecs and flattened your hand against it.
“I thought you were dead, you know,” you told him.
He stilled completely. “I thought that was what I wanted.”
You thought it was what you wanted too, then. Except, what you wanted was Clark’s mouth, and so you took it as soon as you had the chance, fisting your free hand in his dark hair and dragging him toward you. You licked the line of his jaw, down his neck, across his ribs, his back. Clark’s hands ripped and tore the thin sheets and he screamed your name and your hand on his chest could feel the pumping of his alien heart.
He is sitting beside the window when you come home and his feet are bare, tucked up beneath his knees. There are shadows in his eyes, glasses perched on the bridge of his nose. His hands are stained with ink.
You grip the side of the door, and you remember the first time you kissed him, how his hands closed in the air on either side of your hips, fingers biting viciously into his palms. You remember the way he laughed beneath the covers of your opulent beds, how his eyes were bright with tears when he sent you away. You remember the first time he told you he loved you. You remember the last, and you want to lick the ink from the side of his palm.
“Having second thoughts?” he asks, eyes steady, voice thick.
“Third, fourth, fifth, sixth,” you murmur, undoing your tie, and walking toward the warm light he sits in. You stand an inch away from him, and he tilts his head back to meet your eye.
“I don’t trust you,” you tell him.
“You probably can’t trust me,” he says to you, putting a cap on the pen between this thick fingers and setting it aside. “I probably can’t trust you. I’m still here, though.“
You rock back on your heels, staring into his calm green eyes, and you ask him, “Why?”
Clark hooks a finger in your belt loop and pulls you forward. He puts his mouth to the patch of skin showing where your shirt is untucked from your waistband, blows his hot breath onto it, and you shudder.
“Because,” he says, drawing you down slowly, inexorably. “This is where we end up.”