Spoilers: through Asylum
No way could he say it out loud, and look at Lex - at the pale lines of his face, his throat, how his shoulders curved like wings, and how his hands sailed through the air like white gulls. He couldn't look at Lex, at the things that made him so rare, fragile. Lex was so thin, so white, so…different; everything about this man set him aside, even before he opened his mouth. Sometimes it looked like he was made of marble, or glass, or sculpted from snow and cream. Clark wanted to just cradle him, and press Lex's face against his chest. He wanted to whisper, "Shh, it's all right," and other loving lies into Lex's ears.
So he couldn't say it in the light. And he couldn't be touching Lex either, because he'd feel the way Lex would tense. Feel the emotions cording through Lex's muscles, making him start like something skittish and wild.
This is how it would go. It would be night, and Lex would be in the dark. Maybe he'd be trying to sleep, but he'd be awake when Clark got there - waiting, without knowing it. Clark would reach over, and run his fingers across Lex's cheek before he said anything, just so Lex would know that it's Clark, and that it was important. Clark would feel the smooth glide of Lex's cheek underneath his fingers, and then he would turn away, and Lex would maybe call his name.
"Clark?" -- just once. Low, and uncertain, but steady - maybe sawed off a little by sleep. Clark would rest his hands against the window ledge, press his forehead against the glass, and look out at the gardens. At the fountain in the courtyard; the arcs of water flowing up, ghostly without light. Then he'd open his mouth, and whisper the whole story – out, into the dark.
He'd tell Lex everything, and start at the damned bridge, because Lex has asked the question often enough. Clark knows he deserves an answer, and Clark would give it to him. All of it -- he'd admit the things he's never said to anyone else.
"I was so scared," he'd say, "I thought I was crazy. I thought maybe I was dead and just didn't know it. I thought we both were. I thought you were the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen, and it made me angry because you weren't Lana."
And he'd keep going. He'd apologize for all the things he's always wanted to; he'd apologize for his dad, and for his town, for doubting Lex, for hurting him - for wanting to, some times. For ignoring Lex, and never touching Lex softly, for never brushing his lips over the arch of Lex's skull.
He'd tell Lex how much he admired him, and how much he sometimes hated him. He'd say that he'd never wanted to be Lex's best man (either time), and that he'd looked for any reason at all to break up the weddings. He'd tell Lex that he'd read every Warrior Angel comic Ryan had given him, and that he thought they were all pretty stupid. He'd admit that sometimes he didn't even bother trying to understand what Lex was saying; instead he just listened to the way the words sounded, all wrapped up in Lex's voice.
Clark would spill his secrets out into a dark and still bedroom like a handful of marbles, and talk until his voice wore thin. He'd see Lex's reflection in the mirror, every poised and stark line of his body, in shades of grey against the polished glass. But he wouldn't look at Lex's eyes - two blue holes that Clark drowns in, every day --- so he'd be able to keep going.
Clark would tell Lex about the barn, and the blanket, and how he'd sung to his brother. Maybe then, he'd cry, because it still hurts to think of, still feels like there's something burning inside him, and smoke is coiling up through his lungs and pricking at his eyes. It could be the memories of those days, of Lex and the way he'd shone, hectic and afraid in the light in the barn, that might make Clark break down. It could be that they wouldn't. But Clark knows that if he was going to cry at all, he'd cry when he told Lex about that one kiss, their only one. Side by side, with the straw prickling at Clark's hands, and Lex's body warm against his, leaning in.
"I don't know what's real. I don't know what's sane and what's not. I don't know what's happening to me," Lex had kept saying, over and over until the words didn't seem to mean anything. Until Clark couldn't understand the idea of sane at all, and all he heard was how vulnerable, terrified, this man beside him was. This man who he loved so much it seemed like the word was too small to hold everything he meant by it. Clark's fingers moved without asking, pushing up Lex's chin until Lex was looking at him. His eyes were wide, and clear like water.
Clark knows he said something then, but he can't remember what it was. It isn’t important. It might have been, "I love you." Then Lex kissed him, deep, sweet scared, and Clark had calmed it. Turned it slow, and just let Lex know he was there, that he would always be.
Or that he'd meant to be, because he had, and Clark would tell him that, too. He'd go all the way in the telling, and admit the way he'd ran, and why. He'd explain how he'd left Lex to the doctors, and the big black cars, and the chain link fences of the sanitarium. Leaving nothing out, he'd admit that a part of him had been relieved that Lex knew, and another part relieved that Lex was *gone*.
He'd tell Lex that during the month before Clark had been able to visit him, Clark had gone to Belle Reve every night. He'd walked the perimeter of the asylum, and he knew the patterns the chain link made in shadow, crossing over and over again on the gleaming asphalt. It was worse than when he'd thought Lex was dead, and had walked the long, proud halls of the castle. Even with his ring on, that had been like drowning slowly, but Belle Reve was worse than that. It was a tearing, a breach. Something that shredded him over and over again until there was almost nothing left, and it felt like the small wind coming in from the south would send the pieces of him flying.
It seems like what happened that night, at Belle Reve, is the least part of the things he would say. And maybe it is, because three years can hardly match a minute, or however long it was between when he walked in the door to save Lex and when he got dragged out, moaning Lex's name. No matter how long that minute seemed -- because Lex's eyes were on his face, and his name was on Lex's lips and he was doing *the right thing* and Lex was going to be okay -- it was just a minute and it's gone.
Clark will tell Lex every petty, mean, small thing that he's ever said or done or thought. He'll confess every lie, every misdirection, every betrayal, but he'll also tell Lex the big things, too. Like the way sometimes he looks at Lex and he feels like he's expanding, getting taller, wider, just so he can house this enormous feeling that swells and fizzes through him.
When he thinks of it, Clark never pictures himself finishing before the sun comes up. No, he always falls silent at the same time, as night starts to thin out, and colors begin to streak across the sky. Before the sun's up though, and there's still enough shadow, he turns to Lex, finally, mouth dry and tired from so much speaking, and all he can see is the way the soft light catches on Lex's eyes, skipping across flecks of silver.
He doesn't know what would come next. It could be that Lex would send him away, mouth pressed, a tight line in his face. Or maybe Lex would reach out a hand in the thin light, and draw Clark down beside him, murmuring into Clark's skin, lips warm and smooth and insistent.
Clark knows, though, that isn't important; it's the telling that matters. It's like the words are water - like he's adrift in them, slowly learning how to breathe beneath their weight. He doesn't know if he'll ever push past them, leave them behind; he can see it going either way, easily. What Clark is sure of, though, is that this thing, this secret more than any of the others, and what he decides to do with it -- what he decides to do with *Lex* -- is what will make him. Who he is to *Lex* will form him, birth him anew, lay him bare, and create the man he'll become.
And so if he tells Lex, Clark will tell him in the dark, so that he doesn't have to watch as he leaves behind the shell of who he might have been.