I wuvs ya, beta-mine.
Clark woke completely disoriented and more than a little hung over. When he tried to sit up, it felt as though his head was filled with liquid, which he took as a sign that he was not meant to move. Ever again.
Except that there was something hard trying to burrow into his back. Very carefully, he rolled over onto his side, reached into the cushions of the couch and came up with a remote control, which he dropped on the carpet. It landed with a dull 'thud' that echoed in Clark's skull and pretty much made him want to die.
A few minutes passed, and he cautiously cracked open one eye, looking around.
Yup, this really *was* Lex's living room. Which meant that there was a good chance that he really *had* kissed Lex last night. And, whoa, Lex had *totally* been into it. He hadn't been drunk, either. Clark grinned, and immediately regretted it. He closed his eye again, and groaned.
Damned alien metabolism. Clark could *not* hold his liquor, and when he tried? He spent the next morning *really* regretting it because his freak show body processed alcohol about as well as a midget played basketball against the Chicago Bulls. Okay, that wasn't *quite* true, but Clark had found that drinking - even moderate drinking - gave him horrendous hangovers which, thankfully, passed quickly. But before they passed? Clark learned a new appreciation for invulnerability because…if this was pain, pain *sucked*.
Moving slowly - very, very slowly - he forced himself to sit up. Not as bad as before. Maybe he could do this 'being alive' thing after all. The real test was opening his eyes again.
Which he did. Even more slowly than he'd sat up, and really, once they were open it wasn't *so* bad. Kind of intolerable, but mostly fuzzy. He blinked, and the room shifted into better focus, and he noticed that on the table there was a bottle of aspirin, a tall glass of water, some orange juice and a paper crane with his name written on the side.
And not even the fact that his head felt like it was residence to a hundred angry gnomes could keep Clark from smiling.
He reached out and pulled lightly on the wing of the crane, and it unfolded into a letter. Only Lex, Clark thought, gently shaking his head and smiling wider.
Aspirin and water or hair of the dog. Your choice.
I tried to give you a blanket, but you kept kicking it off and muttering something about fans.
I had to go into the office, but I'll be back by one-thirty. I'd like to have lunch with you then. Feel free to use the shower (second door to the left off the main entrance way), but if you'd like to go home and change, tell the doorman that you'll be back soon and he'll let you up when you return.
Opting for aspirin and water, Clark gave the screwdriver a dirty look as he sat back, toying with the folded paper in one hand. He glanced over at the clock, which told him that it was noon, giving him an hour and a half before lunch.
Lunch. Clark smiled. Lunch, which he *loved*, because it could lead to more kissing and then naked and then his first - and rapturously awaited - sexual experience with a man.
…or lunch, which he *hated* because it could lead to talking and crushing humiliation as he learned that Lex really wasn't interested in a rube like him.
But that wasn't going to happen, right? Lex *asked* him to that charity dinner thingy, and what's more, Lex *flirted* with him. All the damned time. And he did that thing with his eyes where he looked at Clark and it felt like he was touching Clark all over really lightly. Lex had even done that thing on the balcony. With the tension and the watching, before Lois Lane showed up.
Clark abruptly became nauseous. Oh, dear sweet *God*…Lois *Lane* had seen him with Lex last night. Had seen him *full on* in the light. He was so screwed. So deeply screwed.
And yet not.
Which caused all kinds of frustration, but that was really beside the point because he was *never going to get laid again* if he ended up in some kind of government research lab being cut up and burned and experimented on, all because Lois Lane had seen him and recognized him and he was too much of a dumb ass to use any kind of disguise when he saved people. And, oh, yeah, way to save the world's most annoying reporter, Kent. Way to get yourself a one-way ticket to being *recognized*.
Good God, he really was a big dumb animal sometimes.
But. She hadn't really been paying attention to *him* so much as Lex, right? And who would connect the boring intern guy standing in the shadows behind Lex Luthor with the Superman-savior-type person who had beaten up a bunch of guys in an alley once? Even *Clark* wouldn't believe it if it wasn't him, and he was given to believing some pretty out there things.
So he was safe. Right?
Absolutely safe. Because, if he wasn't? Lex would have said something in his note. "Clark - sorry about your hangover. By the way, Nietzsche would turn over in his grave if he knew you were being called Superman."
So he was in the clear. No worries.
Hah. A Clark without worries was like a horse without hooves.
But, hey, silver lining: his head felt better. Panic really chased away pain. Which was…nice?
Clark lay back down, and picked up the remote. He turned on the television and channel surfed for a few minutes, before settling, predictably, on the news. A year as a communications major had gotten Clark pretty handily addicted to the news. He preferred getting it in print, but he wasn't picky.
Besides, sometimes it was funny to critique what made the filler segments. Like today; pet clothes. Clark chuckled through two hat wearing chihuahuas and a disgruntled cat in a slicker and wondered vaguely if anything remotely like that had ever happened on Krypton.
Probably not. Too busy conquering other planets and destroying their own.
"…and in other news, former detective with the Metropolis police department, Sam Phelan, died under mysterious circumstances late last night. Phelan was being tried for corruption, grand larceny and conspiracy to commit murder. Police officials have made no statement as of yet, but Phelan had recently been giving testimony on criminal activities in Metropolis and sources inside the department believe that his death might be linked to his recent disclosures."
Clark sat straight up. Whoa…Phelan dead? Last night? That would explain the phone call, and even why Lex was in the office on a Saturday. Although, Lex would probably live in the office if he could. But what did this mean for Lex?
Now that Phelan was gone…would the pressure still be on? Or would the investigation lose momentum? Clark wasn't concerned about the investigation into LexCorp in and of itself, but it was hard to miss how tired Lex had looked since this whole thing had started.
And was it wrong that Clark really didn't care that Phelan was dead? Surely he should feel some kind of outrage or *something*, but mostly? He just…didn't care. And he didn't even feel guilty about that, except in a fuzzy, obligatory kind of way.
But that was mostly normal, right? After all, he didn't *know* Phelan, and Phelan had made life difficult for someone that Clark…really cared about. And even though his head was feeling better he was *so* not ready to deal with the implications of *that*.
He would have to think about it at lunch, though. Lunch. Clark glanced at the clock again, and then looked down at himself. It was a little after twelve. He had plenty of time to go home, change, shower, freak out, and get back in time for Lunch. After all, he was wearing the ruins of a tuxedo, and really? Clark preferred the idea of *not* looking like hell when Lex came back.
It was a nice day, and Clark didn't bother to fly or even run all the way back to his apartment. He strolled. He may even have whistled, because he kept getting funny looks from people he passed on the sidewalk and he realized that he probably *did* look weird, but he didn't care. Because. He'd *kissed* Lex, and Lex had left him an origami note, and as Clark walked home in the early afternoon sun, he just *had* to smile because both of those things were pretty damned cool.
Lex didn't *have* to leave him a note, right? And if Lex'd felt weird about the whole kissing thing, he wouldn't have done the origami thing, would he?
No. He wouldn't have. Clark was *sure* of it.
He smiled more widely, and a woman walking past him clutched her purse, eyeing him as though he were a lunatic. She was probably right, too.
The whistling had broken out into full scale humming by the time he'd reached his door. He fished in his back pocket for his keys, but heard a strange 'whirring' noise issuing from his apartment. Trying the doorknob, he found it unlocked, and stepped cautiously into his apartment.
Two large standing fans had been set up by the windows in the living room, and Chloe sat on his couch, assembling another one. At the sound of Clark putting his keys down on the kitchen table she looked up, startled.
"Hi," she said, smiling too brightly. "Your mom said you were complaining about how hot your apartment was, so I brought these with me. Dad had them before we got central air, and they were still in the attic under mountains of dust."
"Thanks," Clark responded automatically. "Uhm, Chloe, not to sound ungrateful or anything, but what are you doing here? How did you get in?"
Chloe wiggled her fingers at him. "Picked the lock with a bobby pin. I've been wanting to do that for *ages*. Now I really feel like I'm Nancy Drew or something." She raised an eyebrow and looked him up and down. "What were *you* doing last night, Kent?"
He blushed, and shrugged his jacket off. "I crashed at a friend's house after a party. No big deal," he mumbled.
"*You* went to a party? 'Clark Kent Gets Social Life; Friends, Family Shocked,’" Chloe intoned, giggling.
Clark probably would have bought the 'normal' act if he hadn't known her for so long, but there was an edge of hysteria to her laughter, and she wouldn't meet his eyes and Clark knew that there was something very, very wrong in the world of Chloe.
"So you didn't answer my question," Clark said, crossing his arms. "What are you doing here, Chlo'?"
She shrugged and waved her hands airily, flashing a bright, false smile at a spot on the wall over his left shoulder. "Just wanted to get out of Smallville for a day or two and figured you'd probably be bored out of your skull up here on your own."
"Riiight," he drawled, walking over to sit next to her. "Remember how you said that I'm a bad liar? You're doing worse than me right about now."
"I slept with Pete," Chloe blurted out, clamping her mouth shut afterward as though she could prevent further damning words from escaping. She sat back on the couch and hugged her shins, resting her chin on her knees. "Last night."
Clark blinked, and sat back himself. "Whoa," he mumbled.
"Yeah," she agreed, sighing loudly.
Frowning, Clark thought for a long minute. "What…happened? I mean, were you drunk?"
She shook her head, staring straight ahead without expression. "No, nothing like that. We were just…talking and then we weren't talking and...he's been so *weird* since I got home from Northwestern. I don't know what to do or say anymore and then last night, I was talking about Jordan, and Pete…"
"What were you saying?" Clark asked, curious. Pete had been *insanely* jealous of Chloe's on and off boyfriend, Jordan, all year long. The only thing that had kept Pete from hitting Jordan in the face on a daily basis was the miles between MetU and Northwestern.
"Jordan cheated on me," Chloe confessed quietly. "I told Pete. And I was talking about how no matter what I do, where I go, I'm always second best. I'm just not...not pretty enough, or smart enough, and it gets old, you know? I said that I just wasn't ever going to be as important to someone as I want to be. I couldn't ever be anyone's first priority, I mean."
And that insecurity is courtesy Clark Kent, ladies and gentleman, Clark thought to himself as guilt began to eat away at his invincible stomach lining. "Chloe, you know that isn't true, right? You're an amazing person and --"
She looked up at him, blue eyes sharp. "You know, Jordan said that, too?"
And how the hell was Clark supposed to respond to that? He chose not to say anything at all, but he held her gaze until she looked away, a gusty sigh stirring the wispy bangs that lay across her forehead.
"Pete got mad at me. Told me that I was an idiot and that I didn't see anything at all and that Jordan was an asshole who didn't deserve me," she told him.
Poor Pete, Clark thought, realizing suddenly how much it must have *killed* Pete to hear Chloe talk like that. Pete had been in love with her since middle school - she'd always been *his* first priority -- and he was right, Chloe just didn't *see* it.
"I agree with Pete," Clark said when Chloe lapsed into silence. "Jordan is an asshole who doesn't deserve you. Do you want me find him and beat him up?"
The words were so formulaic that he winced and Chloe chuckled, but the small smile on her face said that she understood that he meant it. And yeah, Jonathan and Martha Kent probably wouldn't have approved - Misuse of Powers, Son - but anyone who could make Chloe Sullivan cry like this? Deserved whatever they got. Even if *Clark* was one of those people. And he totally was.
"When Pete kissed me, it was…. It felt *right*," she said, voice wavering. She paused, swallowed, and looked over at him. "It felt the way I always thought kissing you would feel."
Clark looked down at his hands, trying to find something even remotely tactful and appropriate to say to that. "Chloe," he began softly.
"I'm not still in love with you but…five years is a long time and from eighth grade to senior year, you were all I wanted. Or, all I thought I wanted, and I'm just…" Chloe's voice broke, and she drew in a shaky breath. "I'm just really confused right now."
He put a gentle arm around her shoulders and hugged her lightly. When she leaned into him, he laid his cheek on top of her head and pulled her closer. "What's confusing?" he asked her.
"Pete's my *friend*, Clark. It's…I love him, yeah, but it's not supposed to be like *this*, you know? I mean…I'd do anything for him but...I woke up this morning and he was still asleep and...," she sniffled, looking up. Her eyes were wide and blue and terrified. "I've never felt anything that *big* before. And…what if I fuck this up? What if I lose him, Clark?"
"So, basically, you freaked out, huh?" he teased, gently.
Chloe smiled weakly. "Basically."
"Chloe…I'm sorry that I hurt you," Clark said slowly, measuring each word. "I never wanted to, or meant to. I was…I was stupid in a lot of ways, and I never really realized how you felt about me. If I had known…I would have been more careful."
"But you still would have chosen Lana," Chloe stated flatly.
"Yes," Clark said, holding her eyes. "I would have. Chloe, if I could do it again…the one thing I'd do differently is try to keep from hurting you."
"It's not like you knew or anything. You didn't do it on purpose, it just kind of," she waved her hands vaguely, "happened."
"Right. I didn't know what I was doing," Clark agreed, nodding. He owed Chloe, owed her big, but he owed Pete, too, and he couldn't just comfort her without making sure Pete would be all right. So he drew a deep breath, and got ready to spill Pete's one and only secret. "You know that I love both you and Pete, right, Chlo'?"
She nodded, looking up at him again and she looked younger than nineteen and Clark just wanted to wrap his arms around her and tell her that everything would be all right. But he couldn't, and wouldn't, because both she and Pete deserved more than that.
"Pete has been head over his heels in love with you since the eighth grade. I don't mean like I was obsessed with Lana before we dated, or even how you felt about me. I mean, more deeply, honestly in love than I have ever seen one of my friends," Clark told her, voice steady. "And now that you know that, I want you to decide, very carefully, what he means to you. Because you didn't know last night how he felt, but you know today."
Chloe laid her head down on her knees again, lips trembling. "He loves me?" she asked, voice taut with emotion. "Like, really *loves* me?"
"Maybe you didn't notice, but…you've always been *it* for him," he said.
She didn't respond, becoming lost in thought for long minutes before Clark cleared his throat. "You said it felt right when he kissed you?"
"Yeah," Chloe murmured. "It did. It felt like…like I'd found something for the first time."
She turned to Clark, expression troubled. "I felt like it was only natural. Like it was just one more thing that Pete and I could do together. But this morning…it was *more*. And he wasn't even awake yet, and…why do things have to change so quickly?"
"Maybe things don't change as quickly as we think," he said, thoughtfully, "maybe it just takes a while to notice that they've changed."
Mulling that over, Chloe leaned her head against his shoulder. "Yeah, maybe that's it."
A breeze from one of the fans blew Clark's hair off his face and he smiled. "Hey, thanks for the fans."
"You're welcome," she said, smiling back. "Hey, Clark?"
Looking down, she picked at the corner of the pillow with her nails, worrying a string until it came loose. "What happened with Lana?" Chloe asked, twirling the thread around her fingertip.
Taken aback, Clark stiffened before forcing himself to relax. He didn't want to lie, right? Chloe *deserved* an honest answer to her question, and he wanted to give her one. Really, really did. It was just…hard. "I…I don't think either one of us really knows. I guess I just wasn't able to tell Lana everything and she thought that meant I had something to hide that would hurt her."
Chloe opened her mouth to ask, but Clark headed her off at the pass. "It's part of what I'm not ready to tell you yet.”
“I’m still mad at you about that,” Chloe reminded him. “I haven’t forgotten that you promised to tell me, though.”
“I never expected you to Chloe, but the point is…she thought I was keeping something hurtful from her. But, it really didn't have anything to do with me and Lana at all."
She nodded. "I believe you. Is that why everything -"
"Fell apart?" he finished with a tight smile. "It's a big part of it, but Lana needs someone who's more reliable than me and it *hurt* not to be able to be that for her. Reliable."
"You tried," Chloe said, squeezing his hand. "You really did."
Clark nodded, jaw tightening.
"Do you regret it?" she asked, watching him carefully, and it clicked. Chloe was trying to check the odds on her and Pete, and it made Clark want to grin because if she was checking out the risk-reward factor? There was a pretty goddamned good chance that she was going to go through with this.
And Pete and Chloe? Were meant for each other in a cosmic 'stuff of legends' kind of way. Clark was sure of it.
But he still owed her honesty, so he thought the question over before answering. "Sometimes," he said, "because it's hard when things end. But most of the time I'm just glad that I got a chance to make her happy, even for a little while."
Chloe narrowed her eyes. "Did she make *you* happy? Because that's important, too. It has to be about both of you."
"You're right," he admitted, "and she did make me happy."
She nodded, thoughtful. "And what about your friendship now?"
Ahh, the million dollar question, Clark thought. "Lana and I…we were never friends. Not really," he continued, seeing the shocked look pass over Chloe's face. "Before we were dating I didn't know her well enough to be friends with her. She was some kind of mythical goddess-type person, and by the time I did know her, really know her, we were together, and it was…different than actually being friends. But…I hope that sometime soon, Lana and I can give the friends thing another shot."
"She misses you," Chloe told him, quietly. "She really misses you."
"So Pete told me," he replied, shrugging. "I…just think we both need time, still."
"She's dating some guy named Chad." Chloe snorted, "I asked if he was from Florida, the home of the hanging chad. She wasn't amused."
"I bet Pete thought that was funny," Clark said.
Chloe smiled softly, "Yeah, he did."
"Do you love him, Chlo'?"
"I think…I think so," she admitted softly. "I really do think I love him."
"Then what are you doing here?" Clark asked.
"It's too much," she replied, finally. "Too much to process all at once. I mean...I never thought I'd love anyone as much as I loved you, and then I kind of find out that all along I've loved Pete more, and…I just need space and time to figure all of this out."
"Don't take too long," Clark warned, "because that's not fair to him."
Chloe hugged her legs tighter. "I know. I didn't mean to leave him hanging, but I *had* to leave. I had to just get *out* of Smallville."
"But you stopped to get me fans?" he asked, brows knitting with confusion. "Why?"
She laughed. "They were already in my car. Pete and I were going to drive them up, or give them to Goodwill."
"I'm a charity case, now?" Clark teased. "Great. Thanks, Chloe."
"Well," she said, giggling. "You *are* pretty pathetic - wearing yesterday's clothing and all. Even if it is a tux, and by the way, you still haven't really told me what you were up to last night."
"I went to a thing with Lex," he mumbled, blushing.
"A thing?" Chloe asked, voice bright with curiosity. "What kind of a thing? A date-thing?" she teased, poking him.
Clark blushed harder, and Chloe's eyes widened. "Whoa - you went on a *date* with Lex Luthor?"
"Kinda, I don't know, it's all really confusing," Clark said, running a hand through his hair. "We're going to talk about it today, and I'm kinda terrified and -" Clark sat bolt upright, looking frantically for a clock. "Shit! What time is it?"
"It's one forty-five," Chloe reported cheerfully. "Why?"
"Oh *damn*, I'm late, I have to go…" Clark said, standing. "But I have to change first…I have lunch with Lex and I can't go like this and -"
The doorbell rang, and Clark froze.
"Snap out of it, Kent," Chloe said, rolling her eyes and standing. "We are going to talk about this when I get back," she promised, slipping her feet into her shoes before opening the door.
Lex's expression betrayed nothing, which meant that he was nervous, Clark knew. And when had he become so good at decoding Lex-expressions? "Hello," Lex said politely to Chloe. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to interrupt. I was just here to see if Clark was…"
"I'm right here," Clark called, finding his voice. "Lex, this is my friend Chloe. Chloe, this is Lex Luthor," he said, making the introductions automatically. "Chloe, uhm, stopped by for a surprise visit," he told Lex hastily.
"Yeah, I sure did," Chloe said, with a chuckle. "Anyway, I'm going to go for a walk. I'll call before I come back…in case you need something…or something. Bye, nice to meet you, Lex."
She squeezed past Lex onto the landing and mouthed 'You so owe me' over Lex's shoulder before disappearing down the green hallway.
"Hi," Clark said lamely, waving Lex in. "Uhm…I'm sorry. I really didn't know she'd be here. I just came home to change, and -"
"It's all right," Lex assured him, smiling softly. "I was concerned that you had -" he paused, obviously searching for a euphemism, but Clark interrupted.
"You thought I'd freaked out. About last night."
The smile on Lex's face grew, an eyebrow quirking up. "Pretty much," he said. "Did you?" Lex asked, cocking his head to one side.
"Nope," Clark told him, smiling back. "Not yet."
Lex blew out a long breath, relief etched in every line of his posture. "Good."
"Yeah," Clark responded, and not kissing Lex's mouth as it pursed with thought? Really a struggle that Clark just did not want to fight. But he did. Because he still needed to know how Lex felt about all of this. "And what about you?" he asked, tracing patterns on the counter with his finger.
"Are you asking have I freaked out over last night?" Lex's voice was light, amused, and when Clark looked up his eyes were pewter with laughter. "No, I haven't freaked out. Clark, I've been openly bisexual since I was eighteen and I've been attracted to you since we met. The only concern I had - that I *have* - about last night is your reaction."
Clark grinned, the big goofy one that he reserved for special occasions. "Really?"
"Really," Lex confirmed, grinning back. "But we do need to talk about," he made a beautiful gesture with his hand that seemed to encompass everything in the room, "this."
"We do?" Clark echoed, grin dimming. "What about it?"
"Clark, let me blunt. Do you want me?" Lex's eyes darkened as he stared into Clark's face, becoming bluer, deeper and he smelled like juniper.
"Yes," Clark breathed. "I do. Want you, I mean."
Lex's grin sharpened, and he looked…hungry. And wow, Clark totally wanted to jump him right that very second - the desire was so intense that it was practically a biological imperative at this point. But Lex started talking again, and Clark was too paralyzed by sheer want to move anyway.
"Have you ever been with a man before?" Lex asked him, and his voice was low and thick. God, he was just…the human embodiment of *hot*.
Clark shook his head, not trusting his own voice.
The fire in Lex's gaze dimmed slightly, and he nodded. "I thought not. I want…I want you to be very sure about this."
He opened his mouth to respond, to tell Lex in a million different ways exactly *how sure* he was, but Lex forestalled him by raising a single, long fingered hand. "I want you to want me as much as I do you. I want to do things with you no one else has ever done. I want you to do things with me you never thought you’d do. I want you to want it so much you beg for it."
And that pretty much rated a *wow* on the hot meter. The hungry look was back on Lex's face, and his voice was like a living thing that rubbed against Clark's skin, smooth and twining around him like a ribbon, and Clark would have said something, but…he couldn't.
His mouth was too dry, and he felt like a fire had been lit under his skin and it was slowly consuming every rational thought he had ever had. All he had left at this point was: Lex good. Want Lex. Naked good. Want Lex naked.
Lex leaned forward and ran his thumb over Clark's lower lip, and his eyes flickered, intense, when Clark nipped at it. "Do you understand what I'm telling you, Clark?" he asked.
Clark shook his head slowly, eyes never leaving Lex's even as the predatory smile spread out over Lex's features again. "I'm telling you to be ready for a siege, because I am going to seduce you. Has anyone ever done that to you before?"
"No," he managed, hoarsely.
"It starts like this," Lex murmured, leaning in and licking a line up Clark's throat with quick, firm flicks of his tongue. He pressed a soft, lingering kiss to Clark's jaw and pulled back. "Opening volleys are always bold."
Clark was panting, eyes wide. "Whoa," he whispered.
"Indeed," Lex said, smug. "Meet me outside my apartment tonight at eight," he instructed Clark, walking toward the door. He paused, turned, gave Clark a thorough once over. "God, you're sexy." Then he left, and Clark watched the sway of his hips from side to side.
"You too," Clark said to the empty room. "You too."
When Chloe returned, Clark had showered, and changed, but was still kind of off in his own little world populated by naked Lexes talking to him in that rasping, velvety tone of voice. She had to knock on the door *loudly* for him to realize she was there at all.
He let her in, and she glared at him. “You’re doing that thing you do again,” Chloe accused.
“What thing?” Clark asked, confused.
“That thing you do when you really like someone,” she repeated, eyes narrowing. “You get all moony and distracted.”
“I do not!” Clark protested, wincing when she raised both of her eyebrows and gave him *that* look. “Okay, maybe I do. But I’m not doing that thing right *now*.”
She gave her pink knuckles a pointed look. “Another minute and I might have broken the skin.”
“Why didn’t you just pick the lock again?” he asked, blushing.
“Because, I didn’t want to walk in on anything,” Chloe explained, exasperated. “Seriously, for the first time in * months* it looks like you’re about to start having a sex life again and while I may be a basket case today, I’m not *mean*.”
Clark wasn’t just red. He was every *shade* of red that the human body could produce. And Chloe was snickering at him, which would have been infuriating, if he hadn’t been so glad to see her less troubled than when she’d left his apartment earlier.
“So, you and Lex Luthor, huh? I didn’t think you’d take me seriously when I told you to flirt with him,” she said, tone light.
“I didn’t. I mean, it wasn’t serious, and I wasn’t flirting, but it got all weird. He’s my friend, and I like him a lot and –” Clark broke off, glaring at Chloe as she started to laugh. “What?”
“Yeah. Not serious at all, huh, Clark?” She rolled her eyes. “Hence the incoherent babbling and the perma-blush.”
“Shut up,” Clark said without heat, running a hand over his flushed face. “I don’t have a perma-blush.”
She snorted. “Right, you’re just really, really sunburned all of a sudden.” Chloe crossed her arms and leaned back against the countertop. “I gotta say, Clark, I’m a little surprised to find you harboring same-sex tendencies.”
“You and me both,” he mumbled, looking away.
“Hey, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about,” she said quickly. “It’s pretty normal. I read in my sociology class that sexuality is more of a continuum than a straight line, and most people are somewhere in the middle, even if they don’t admit it.”
“Do you think that’s true?”
Chloe shrugged, a grin quirking her lips upward. “You’re talking to the girl who went to see both Tomb Raiders because of Angelina Jolie.”
“Chloe!” Clark laughed. “Seriously?”
“Seriously,” she confirmed, grin widening. “She’s *hot*. And Charlize Theron, too.”
Clark shook his head, laughing harder. “Chloe, I never thought I’d say this, but…you’ve got really good taste in women?”
“Of course,” she agreed brightly. “But your taste in men tends to lead to the tall, bald and potentially homicidal.”
“Potentially homicidal?” Clark asked, confused. “What does that mean?”
“You know about Sam Phelan dying in his cell last night, right?”
Chloe’s eyes were bright, and she had the look on her face that Pete and Clark had always referred to as ‘the about to pounce’ look. She had something on the Phelan story, and was excited about it. “While Lex was over here, the police made a statement that they’d brought him in for questioning this morning in the matter of Phelan’s death, and he’d been unable to offer them an alibi.”
“What do you mean? Everyone in Metropolis saw him at the fundraiser thingy last night. Even Lois Lane! And then later he was…with me,” Clark protested, blushing.
“*With you* with you?” Chloe asked, brows inching toward her hairline.
“Well, not like *that*,” Clark said, blushing harder and looking down. “But yeah. I was at his place, so he couldn’t have done it.”
Her gaze sharpened, and she cocked her head to the side. “Were you with him between three and five in the morning?”
Frowning, Clark shook his head. “I…yeah, I was, kind of...I mean, I passed out, but Chloe he *didn’t* do this. I *know* him. Lex wouldn’t do something like this. Trust me.”
“He’s a Luthor, Clark. Their business rivals and enemies have this habit of developing serious cases of dead when they become trouble,” she stated evenly.
“Yeah, and he’s my friend Chloe, and I’m telling you that he *didn’t do it*.” Clark’s voice rose with exasperation as he spoke.
Chloe’s eyes hardened. “Journalism 101, Kent. Consider your source’s bias. You’ve got a big crush on him. Do you really think you’re objective?”
“Yes!” he snapped. “I mean, I don’t have a crush on him. But I know him and you don’t, Chloe. Besides, whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? They haven’t even charged him with anything.”
“That’s why I say ‘potentially homicidal,’” she pointed out.
“He wouldn’t do something like this,” Clark said stubbornly. “Believe me.”
“I believe that you believe that,” Chloe said carefully.
Clark blew out a frustrated breath. “Thanks a lot. Can you just…promise me you’ll keep an open mind about him, okay? Give him the benefit of the doubt?”
“I will, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to turn a blind eye. You shouldn’t either, Clark,” she warned. “He’s not squeaky clean.”
“I never said he was. But he didn’t do *this*,” Clark repeated.
“Whatever,” she said, biting her lip and looking at her feet. Chloe’s brow crinkled, and she looked up at him, entreating. “Can I stay here tonight?”
“Well, sure, if you’d like to, but, uhm, Chlo’? Have you even called Pete today?” Clark asked, studying her. A guilty look stole across her features, and Clark winced. “He’s going to be *pissed*.”
She drew a deep breath. “Yeah, I know, but I just –”
A knock on the front door cut her off mid-sentence.
“Coming,” Clark called, even as Pete from outside.
“Yo! Clark! Open the door!”
It was Chloe’s turn to freeze and stare at the door, panicked. Clark wasn’t sure whether or not Pete had good timing or bad timing or what, but as he opened the door he could feel the tension level in the apartment rising past thick to ridiculous.
Pete’s eyes sought out Chloe immediately as he stepped into the apartment, expression tight. “Hey,” he said, voice even.
And Clark wasn’t just a fifth wheel. He was a whole separate rack of wheels that just needed to get out of the apartment. “Hi, Pete, uhm, I was just headed out for a little while and why don’t you guys go ahead and order a pizza? I’ll be back later. Or something. Bye.”
“Later,” Pete said, still intent on Chloe.
Clark grabbed his keys, and his shoes, and left. He closed the door behind him on the way out, but he knew neither of them probably would have noticed if he’d left it wide open and the circus had set up shop in the hallway.
So, it was six-thirty and he was supposed to show up at Lex’s at eight. What was he going to do for the next hour and a half?
Sun beat down on the sidewalk, even as the sky purpled with the onset of evening. A slight breeze teased the paper thin leaves of the trees lining his street, and above, pigeons fluttered from one window ledge to the next. Clark looked around the street, made sure he was alone, and pushed off from the ground.
He wanted to watch his city as night fell.
Nervous did not adequately describe Clark’s state of mind as he waited in the elevator on the ride up to Lex’s. Panic-stricken was closer, but not quite right, either.
It was like…layers of apprehension and excitement twined around a nice, strong core of panic.
Lex was going to seduce him. Seduce. Him.
Clark was *sure* he wasn’t going to survive the experience because even *without* seductory intent, Lex wreaked havoc on his pulse rate.
Lex had *licked* his *neck*. And that was just an *opening volley*. What was next? Clark’s mouth went dry and it was like a jolt of electricity throughout his entire body and really? He might not even need to let Lex talk. Just fall at his feet and say, “Look, I’m seduced.”
Would that work?
Probably not. Lex was stubborn, and he seemed to have his heart set on this ‘seduction’ thing.
And really? It was kind of good. Because Clark wanted Lex – wanted him a *lot* -- but…if Lex had been openly and actively bisexual since he was eighteen, then he had a lot of experience. And Clark didn’t. Like, at all, and maybe, this whole seduction thing? Would…help. Somehow. With that.
He was going to be *seduced* by *Lex* because Lex thought that *he* was *sexy*.
And pretty much the only way that Clark could respond to that was by blushing and grinning and naturally, Lex found him that way when he opened the door.
Lex quirked an eyebrow. “Hello, Clark.”
Voice like a slick slide of water over Clark’s skin, and that was probably totally unintentional. Lex hadn’t turned the sexy on yet, and Clark was reacting. Oh he was in such trouble. But the good kind, he thought, watching Lex’s lips turn up. The *really* good kind.
“Hey,” he responded, and even his own brows rose at his tone of voice; low, husky. Basically just screaming ‘fuck me now.’
“Sorry I’m early, but I had to get out of the apartment. My friend Chloe needed some time to figure out things between her and her new…boyfriend.” It was so *weird* to think of Pete and Chloe as actually dating, and yet right. Clark had no doubt that by the time he got back they would be practically proposing marriage to one another, and they’d be happy together. He was sure of it, but it would still take a little getting used to.
“Ahh,” Lex murmured, nodding. “It’s not a problem. Let me just get my keys and we’ll head out.”
“Head out?” Clark asked, watching the fine cotton of Lex’s shirt stretch across his shoulders as he moved. Was it weird to be jealous of fabric?
“Yes, I’ve decided to educate you,” Lex informed Clark, shooting him a grin that could really only be described as devilish.
“Educate me?” Clark was proud of the fact that his voice didn’t even break once when he said that. Lex was going to *educate* him and they were leaving the penthouse to do it? Maybe Clark was preoccupied with sex – Lex seemed to inspire that in him – but the whole plan certainly sounded kinky.
Lex’s eyes laughed, even if he didn’t do so outright. “Educate you,” he confirmed, putting a hand low on Clark’s back to steer him out of the penthouse and into the elevator. “Come on.”
Lex’s definition of ‘education’ was *not* as kinky as Clark had anticipated. In fact, it held very little kink. To Clark’s combined frustration and chagrin, it contained absolutely *no* overt kink and what little kink was there was covered in spandex and inked in lavender and green.
“So, uhm, that’s Devilicus?” Clark asked, pointing at a vaguely familiar looking character. “The bad guy?”
Lex shrugged, a brow rising challengingly. “That’s a little simplistic, I’d say. Sean’s not necessarily a *bad guy* he just doesn’t quite share Cal’s morals and after the rift, Sean’s angry enough with Cal to not care about morals at all. But, remember, in the beginning they’re close friends.”
“Right,” Clark said, nodding and trying to hide a grin. Lex was really attached to this ‘Devilicus’ guy. “Close friends in a Beast and Iceman kind of way?”
“What does that mean?” Lex asked, looking up, and Clark *really* liked Lex’s eyes. It was like they were filled with flecks of silver and blue that swirled and coalesced and turned into streams of color that – “Clark?”
Right. Focus. Comic books. “I mean, close in like…a subtext-y kind of way,” Clark clarified, looking down and blushing.
“Mmm. Subtext,” Lex echoed, making love to the word with his voice. And when Clark glanced up at him, the feline smile that played around Lex’s lips said that he knew just how hot he was.
“I think we can safely say that there is quite a bit of subtext between Cal and Sean.” Lex put the comic book back, leaning across Clark to do it and Clark breathed deeply, wishing that he *dared* to lean in and nuzzle the long line of Lex’s neck right there in the middle of Forbidden Planet. But, he wasn’t that…bold? Brave? Comfortable?
He was beginning to be, though. Lex was…putting him at ease, keeping him talking about comic books, and just letting things run as they normally did between the two of them. Just with a little extra voltage to the flirtation. And was this seduction? Or...maybe a prelude to seduction?
As Clark thought, Lex leaned in and bit his earlobe. Just a quick, clean bite that got his attention.
Yeah. This was *definitely* seduction.
Clark turned wide eyes on Lex, mouth dry.
“Pay attention, Clark. I was talking to you,” Lex chided, grinning.
“Sorry,” he breathed.
“Something I’ve noticed about you, Clark, is that you have this habit of wandering off in thought and getting hopelessly lost,” Lex stated, studying his face for a moment. “What do you think about?”
Clark briefly considered saying ‘you’ but then decided that it way too romantic comedy and besides? He didn’t want Lex to think he was cheesy. Even if he was. “Just…stuff,” he said, looking away. “You know, nothing important.”
Lex looked skeptical, but said nothing. Clark’s ear still tingled with the imprint of Lex’s mouth.
He shoved his hands in his pockets, and walked over to the X-Men rack. “Beast is my favorite X-Man,” he said, needing to say *something*, even if it wasn’t ‘Lex, let’s get out of here.’
“Because even though *all* of them are different, he’s kind of…the most visibly different. All the rest of the original X-Men can pass for human when they need to. But, after Hank turns blue?” Clark shook his head. “And he’s still so…compassionate? I don’t know if that’s the word. But, humans give him the worst time of any of them, and he still works to try and save people. He never questions it… he just *does* it.”
Lex nodded, considering. His eyes were dark with thought. “I thought you’d like Cyclops for similar reasons.”
“Nah,” Clark said shaking his head. “I mean, he’s cool and all, but…he kind of does it for the power-trip and the whole ‘live up to Dr. Xavier’s’ expectations issue. And…I’m not as into that. He’s kind of boring.”
“Really? Most would think about it the opposite way,” Lex pointed out, intrigued. “After all, he’s got the girl, the planes, he’s good looking, and well-liked. He’s the competent leader while Hank’s the genius in the basement.”
“Cyclops is a good general but Beast’s a good man,” Clark said quietly. “I don’t know about you, but …given the choice? I’d rather just be a good man.”
Lex turned and looked at Clark, eyes sharp and bright with interest. He didn’t say a word, but suddenly the atmosphere between them was thin. It was as though Lex was trying to look through him and into him and at the same time, trying to use his gaze as a caress. Clark blushed, but didn’t look away until the moment died.
Needing to speak again, he cleared his throat. “So, who’s you’re favorite X-Man? And you *so* can’t tell me you never read it, because I don’t believe you.”
“Warren Worthington III, the Archangel,” Lex responded promptly. “Though I would assume that would be fairly obvious.”
“Sophisticated rich guy who runs a corporate empire all on his own before he turns thirty? Yeah, no one saw *that* coming,” Clark said, rolling his eyes. “Wonder why you’d pick him.”
“It’s the wings,” Lex deadpanned. “I love a man who can fly.”
“I guess I’ll have to brush up on my technique,” Clark said without thinking. He blushed bright red when Lex did a double take.
There were so many ways that Clark could answer that question. “Only on the Playstation,” was what he settled on, and accompanied it with an embarrassed grin.
Lex laughed, and Clark’s grin widened and felt giddy because he’d never *ever* been that…obvious in his flirtation before – not without the red meteor rocks – and Lex made it feel…natural and *fun*.
“Are you good at it?” Lex asked, raising a pale eyebrow.
“Play me and find out,” Clark challenged, wiggling his eyebrows and the way Lex’s eyes darkened made him *need* to touch Lex. Just, anywhere, so he shyly brushed his hand against Lex’s, palm to palm.
Lex’s skin was soft, and the bones in his hands were long and fine, and he smelled sharp in a fascinating way, and was smiling slightly at the comic book he held in his hand. Clark’s need to touch wasn’t assuaged; it only intensified and he wanted to press his lips to the base of Lex’s skull, the corner of his jaw, the dip in his wrist. Lex wasn’t actively trying to get Clark’s attention right now -- he wasn’t flirting, or doing any of the million and a half sexy things that he knew how to do.
But. Clark was *seduced*. Like, lie his body down on the floor and beg Lex to touch him kind of seduced.
“Lex…” he began, his voice strained and low, and Lex turned quickly at the sound of it.
“We could go,” Lex said, eyes locked on Clark’s. He sounded careful, and Clark knew what he was offering – stay here, take whatever it was between them slowly, or go to the penthouse and throw slowly out the window.
Clark had done slow. He had moved slowly from day one with Lana, taken things easy, and he’d still gotten hurt and also? It hadn’t been what he’d *wanted*. This…this heat – this was what Clark wanted. He wanted it so much his bones ached, and so he nodded, wordless.
Lex’s breath hitched, and Clark smiled, knowing it looked as predatory as Lex’s grins sometimes did. But, dammit, Lex wanted him *that much*. “You’re sure?” Lex asked, voice rasping over Clark’s ears.
“Yes,” he breathed out quickly. “I’m sure.”
And then Lex did something Clark couldn’t have expected. He leaned in and pressed a quick, fierce kiss to Clark’s lips, right there in the middle of the comic book store, pulling away as his eyes glittered – hot and hungry. “Let’s go.”
Lex turned on his heel, walking toward the door without looking back. Clark just stood there, staring with wide eyes until Lex turned at the doorway, impatient. He raised a gingery eyebrow, amused, and Clark snapped out of his paralysis.
It was dark out, and the sidewalk was filled with people as they walked toward the parking garage. “Would you like to pick up some food on the way?” Lex asked with a questioning look over his shoulder.
Clark just shook his head, letting his expression do the talking for once. He could feel the flush in his cheeks, the heat of his own gaze, and wondered again, what it was about Lex that made him so bold?
Lex hissed in a breath, and fished in his pocket for his keys. Clark was watching him, eyes trailing over the curve of Lex's bent neck when he heard the sound of a motorcycle engine revving. They both turned in the direction of the sound, only to find the motorcycle flying toward them at a rapid pace and the rider of the bike leveling a gun in one hand, pointed at Lex.
Clark saw the bullet before actually hearing the loud pop from the gun, and in a fraction of a second, the bullet was speeding directly toward Lex. Clark raced in front of the bullet, grabbed Lex, tackling him and rolling him onto the ground, even as he felt the bullet catch his shoulder. The woman on the bike roared past them, and there was another shot fired, and then another and they landed high on Clark's back, crushing on impact against his body.
Lex was safe. Keeping Lex hidden beneath him, Clark looked around the garage, making sure there were no other hit men, and then breathed a sigh of relief, his body sagging against Lex's.
"Clark?! Clark?" Lex said frantically, struggling beneath him. "Clark, answer me! Are you all right, were you hit?"
Clark shook his head, and rolled over off of Lex. He stood and held out his hand to Lex. "Are you okay?" he asked Lex. "Did you get hurt?"
"No, no, I'm fine," Lex said, still sitting on the floor, dazed, eyes wide with astonishment. "What was that? Are you sure you're okay?"
"I'm fine, Lex really," Clark said, voice wavering, his breath coming short as he realized that if he hadn't been there...Lex would be dead. And that was completely and totally unacceptable.
"Clark, what happened?" Lex repeated, grabbing hold of Clark's hand and pulling himself to his feet.
Clark swallowed, lacing his fingers with Lex's without thought. "Lex, someone…tried to kill you."
In the dark, it was hard to see Lex's face, but Clark could feel his skin run cold.
There shouldn’t have been so much paperwork involved in almost getting shot, Clark thought bitterly as he studied Lex’s profile, silhouetted against the glass windows of the penthouse. It was hours later, verging on midnight, and Lex was grey with exhaustion, and shock.
After he’d finished the last round of signatures, he’d silently handed Clark the keys and let Clark drive back. It had been the first sign -- and really the only sign -- that Lex was upset. Other than the eerie quiet, that was. It was as though Lex simply refused to show any reaction to the attempt on his life – as though it didn’t bother him.
Lex Luthor was above such petty trifles as having people shoot at him.
Right, and Clark didn’t pass out when faced with green meteor rocks, either.
”Hey,” Clark called softly. “Lex?”
Lex turned toward Clark with a polite expression on his face. “Yes?”
“Are you okay?” Clark asked, hating the slightly amused look that passed over Lex’s face briefly before he turned again toward the window.
“Yes, I’m fine.”
He frowned, watching the smooth mask on Lex’s features for a moment longer before sighing and trying again. “Lex. Someone just tried to kill you – are you *sure* you’re okay?”
“I’m perfectly aware of that fact,” Lex said with an edge to his voice.
“So why are you acting like it didn’t happen?” Clark burst out, frustrated. “Aren’t you scared or mad or something?”
“Am I mad that someone attempted to murder me?” Lex asked, whirling, eyes like ice. “Yes. Yes, I am. Am I afraid? Well, that would be a rational response, wouldn’t it?”
Unfazed, Clark pressed on. “So…why are you pretending not to be?”
“Because, Clark, I don’t have that luxury,” Lex bit out, stalking across the room to the wet bar. “I have to make a statement in the morning, and try to figure out how to deal with the backlash this will have on LexCorp.”
“Don’t you have people who work for you that can do that?” Clark asked.
Lex responded without thinking, tone final. “I have to do it.”
“Because I can’t afford to lose what little credibility I have as C.E.O. of LexCorp,” he said, snapping back a shot of vodka. “Let’s see – I’m a drug addict, a murderer and now I’m the victim of a gangland assassination attempt? The only thing I have left is my ability to stand in from the camera and say that I’m all right and that business will be conducted as usual.”
“Lex…” Clark began.
“Didn’t you hear me, Clark?” Lex snapped. “I don’t have the luxury of being upset by this…this situation. I have a company to think of! Thousands of people who rely on me for their livelihood and investors who look at me as an indication of LexCorp’s welfare.” He took another shot of vodka. “No wonder they’re all pulling their goddamned money out.”
Clark walked over to Lex, and took the shot glass out of his hand. “Lex. You can’t do anything about any of that tonight, okay?”
Lex arched an eyebrow, lip curling with challenge. “So what should I do then? Fall to pieces?”
“No,” Clark replied, shaking his head. “I don’t think you could if you tried. Just…let go for tonight. Let someone take care of you.”
“You?” Lex scoffed.
“Yes,” Clark said simply.
Blue eyes narrowed to slits, and Lex eyed Clark narrowly. “Why are you here, Clark? Why are you *really* here?”
“You won’t believe me,” Clark replied, with a slight smile. “But…it’s because you matter to me.”
And Lex moved faster than Clark expected when he leaned forward and kissed Clark, lips smooth and firm as his tongue slipped into Clark’s mouth. Lex was…*devouring* Clark, kissing him like Lex would be able to know if Clark was telling the truth or not just by the way he tasted, clinging onto him like Clark was trying to get away when he wasn’t. Oh, God, he wasn’t he just wanted…more of this. This, hot, wet, open-mouthed kiss that could go on forever. This kiss was like sex without taking off any clothes, and Lex was making noises. Little needy noises, and his hands were scrabbling at Clark’s shirt and this was…
Totally not the time for this. Lex didn’t need a lover. He needed a friend, and Clark could *be* that friend, wanted to be that friend, wanted Lex to keep kissing him like that…but pulled away instead.
“Lex,” he whispered, shaky, “this…isn’t the time. I want this. But not now.”
Lex’s eyes flashed silver with rebellion, and he opened his mouth to respond, but Clark interrupted him by kissing him gently. “You’re tired, and this will wait.”
For a moment, Clark thought that Lex would object, but he remained silent, looking out the window before turning back, eyebrow quirked with reluctant humor.
“I did promise you seduction, didn’t I? And I can do better than that.” When he kissed Clark again it was slowly, with none of the urgency of before, but thorough, until Clark could feel his toes curling in his shoes, and his fingers fisting in Lex’s shirt. This time Lex pulled away first, leaning his forehead against Clark’s and breathing hard.
Lex cleared his throat. “Will --” he began.
“I’m not leaving,” Clark promised, stroking Lex’s cheek with his thumb. “I’ll be right here.”
A small smile turned up the corner’s of Lex’s mouth. “Thank you.”