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Chloe's threats of editorial displeasure, and even of ousting him from the Torch staff if he didn't deliver due diligence, were not nearly as effective as her threatening to talk to his mom.
Which was the last thing Clark needed, since his mom was already staring at him like he had some terminal illness. And she was pissed at his dad in a way that he'd never seen before. Short and sharp with him to the point that his dad was sort of ducking out of the house fast and staying out in the fields or the barns as much as he could.
Because of him.
"I'll be there in thirty minutes," Chloe had said after leveling her threats. He'd wanted to go up to the loft while he waited for her inevitable arrival, but his dad was working on the tractor and the things Clark wanted to do couldn't be done with his dad down in the barn proper.
He'd felt oddly relieved after last night. Like some of the weight of guilt had been lifted from his shoulders. Like some penance had been paid with the drawing of his own blood and the infliction of pain. The marks he'd made had vanished though, as soon as he'd distanced himself from the shard of green meteor. It bothered him a little, that he wouldn't scar.
So he went and sat on the front porch, plucked one of his mom's sunflower blooms and wasted time idly roasting the green seeds with little controlled bursts of heat vision.
Chloe pulled up in the little VW Beetle her dad had gotten her for her sixteenth birthday, gave him a look from out the window and said. "Don't make me get out and drag you over here."
He rolled his eyes, tossed the flower and shuffled over to the car. "I don't see why it takes two of us to write a 4-H article," he complained.
"You're here for protection. That 4-H crowd is dangerous."
He snorted, glanced askance at her as she pulled out of the drive and onto the road. "Pete would have been happy to protect you."
"Pete's being a dick."
He slouched in the passenger seat, but her unflinching loyalty made him feel a little better. He wished almost, that he could talk to her and tell her what was going on. He got the feeling that maybe she'd be okay with the parts of it that had his dad and Pete - - and Clark - - all snarled up in knots and it would be nice to have someone with a sympathetic ear, other than his mom. But Chloe would never be satisfied with a half story and there were too many parts that couldn't be explained away with a 'I just wasn't myself'.
So he slouched in his seat and kept his silence, while she chattered away during the trip to the county fairgrounds.
The parking lot over by the riding arena and the exhibition barns was pretty full. Lots of trucks with horse trailers. The place already smelled of manure and livestock.
There was a junior horseshow going on in the arena, and the bleachers were half filled with spectators. Chloe snapped a few shots, and stopped to talk with a few riders and parents of riders watching from the fence.
She handed him the camera after and said. "Since your skills of communication have obviously evaporated, why don't you go get some pictures?"
So he left her to wander about the grounds, remembering to take shots now and then. The big barn was full of bleating, clucking and mooing. Not to mention the human sounds of people walking the aisles between small paddocks and cages and plastic duck ponds. 4-H was a big thing in the heart of farming country and the entirety of the huge exhibition barn was full of young attempts at livestock husbandry.
He took a shot of one of the duckling displays, looked up and saw the last person in the county he expected to see in a barn full of baby farm animals.
Clark caught his breath and stared at Lex.
This had not been, Lex thought, one of his better ideas. Tromping through a fairgrounds full of children and farm animals on a Saturday morning on the off chance that Chloe had been able to convince Clark to make the outing had simply not been well thought out.
He was almost ready to call it a morning, when he caught sight of Clark heading into the largest of the barns. He blew out a slow breath, experiencing a moment of doubt. A moment where he questioned his own sanity, because this was most certainly not the venue for the conversation he wanted. But his choices were limited and he wasn't willing to wait for another chance encounter.
He followed Clark in, ignored all the milling livestock surrounding him, focus completely on the boy shuffling along the aisle. Clark had a camera but only used it periodically and not enthusiastically, as if his mind were someplace entirely separate from the space his body occupied.
When he looked up and noticed Lex, his eyes widened in shock. It looked as if he were considering bolting. Lex held up a warning finger, which Clark's eyes flicked to, before traveling back up to his face with growing terror.
The terror was a good thing. The terror gave Lex firmer footing, when his own gut had tightened with unease.
"We need to talk." He said it before he stopped, a few paces away from Clark, just out of arm's reach. As if a few paces would make a difference with Clark's speed and Clark's strength if he snapped from the stress. But that was the nerves talking, because there was nothing foreign in Clark's face. Nothing malicious in his eyes.
Clark opened his mouth. Shut it. Eyes darting anxiously.
Lex jerked his head towards the aisle against the barn wall, where there were no animals in pens and nothing but empty cages and stacked bags of feed. He started that way, and after a moment, Clark followed.
"I'm - - I'm sorry," Clark blurted.
Lex half laughed at the desperation in his voice.
"Sorry is appropriate for when you spill a glass of water on my laptop, or dent my car when you misjudge the toss of a ball. I'm thinking for rape, I deserve nothing less than the truth."
Clark shut his eyes, one hand clutching at the fence rail to the empty paddock on his left as if his legs were threatening to give out under him.
"I - - I hate that I hurt you - - I wasn't - -" Clark whispered, eyes still closed, little beads of wetness making his lashes clump together.
"Yourself?" Lex finished for him bitterly. "Yes, your parents mentioned that. Right before they threatened to report me to the authorities for statutory rape."
Clark's eyes snapped open, big and liquid and rainforest green. Surprised. "They -- what? I told them - - I swear, I told them it was me - - my fault."
Lex smiled thinly. "Why? Why was it your fault, Clark? And what did it have to do with the ring?"
He could see the gears turning behind Clark's eyes, the utter conflict. He'd seen it before, when he'd pressed Clark and Clark had lied and lied and lied. Almost Lex could imagine the words that would come out of his mouth, one more set of ridiculous excuses. He'd find something to smash against Clark's too pretty face when it happened, beat him until he was senseless if such a thing were possible. But then, it was more likely that he'd simply turn and walk away, and let the resentment eat at him until it was a huge, ungainly thing.
"Everything," Clark whispered, barely audible, surprising him. "The ring - -it had everything to do with the ring."
Lex swallowed, pulse accelerating to the point that he almost felt dizzy from it. Honesty. Finally. And for a second he didn't know what to do with it. But the second passed. "Because of the red meteor rock."
Clark nodded, misery incarnate.
"Which altered your personality."
"Just like the green rock physically hurts you."
"You know about that?"
Clark flinched, not quite able to meet him in the eye. "I don't know - - exactly. It just always has. The red - - that was the first time."
There was evasion at the edges of that answer, but it was a start and he could dig at the details once the important questions were answered.
"I hit you, dead on, that day on the bridge." It wasn't a question. It was the answer to all the mysteries that had kept Lex up night after night for close to a year.
Clark shut his eyes again, drawing a shuddery breath. Nodded. "Yeah."
Too simple a response, when Lex needed to know everything.
"How?" He took a step forward wanting to crawl into Clark's head and claw out the answers. Clark took a step backwards, back hitting the fence, as if he were the one with reason to be wary.
"I'm strong," he whispered. "Really, really strong."
"That I figured out. And fast. Is it meteor mutation? And why hide it from me? What did you think I would do?"
"Hate me?" Clark looked up at him, tremulous, pressed against the fence, hands clenching and unclenching at his sides. Frightened boy. Desperate boy.
"Why? For saving my life? How closed-minded do you think I am? God, why didn't you just tell me?"
"I was afraid," Clark cried, lurching forward, cheeks spotted with red, and this time it was Lex who flinched back.
Clark stopped dead. Naked pain.
"Please, please don't be scared of me." Bare whisper.
Lex lifted his chin, ready to deny any such thing.
A teenager leading a calf crunched down the aisle towards them. He opened the gate to the empty pen behind Clark, giving them a wary look. Well deserved, with them caught in the midst of the conversation they were presently engaged in. Clark red cheeked and miserable and Lex's face mirroring God knew what. Not his most controlled expression, surely.
Clark slipped past him, escaping between calf and open pen and Lex was stuck there until the animal moved all the way inside. Clark was gone by then. Just gone.
Lex stood in a straw covered intersection and silently cursed.
"Hey, I've been looking for you."
Chloe stomped up to him out by the small exhibition ring where a group of pre-teens were showing sheep. It took him a second to even recognize her through the snarl of emotion that wanted to surge right up his throat.
All he could see was Lex, and the look in Lex's eyes. The earnest need to know - - the start of fear - - and how was he supposed to make him understand that he'd die rather than hurt him again? He wanted to tell him everything. He wanted to spill the whole ugly truth, but if he was afraid of Clark already, with the not so world-shattering facts he thought he knew - - how would he react to the actual truth? Because there was nothing like dealing with the fact that the kid that had gone off the deep end and raped you was also an alien from outer space. That would go over really well.
Lex hadn't even given him the chance to try and express how sorry he was about what had happened. Or try and explain what the red rock had done to him. How messed up he'd been in his own head. Clark needed Lex to hear it.
He handed Chloe the camera. "I'm done here. If you need to stay, I can find my own way home."
Leaving was imperative. He couldn't face Lex again right now. He just needed a little time to get himself together.
She pursed her lips, ready to argue. Something stung his head, right next to his left eye. He lifted a hand to his temple, baffled.
"Was that a bug - -?" She started, looking up at him. He looked down, saw the flattened bullet in the dirt between their feet. Drew a breath of surprise and looked back up, over her head and saw the next one coming.
It would pass over her head. He was pretty sure it would pass right over her head with space to spare, headed for his. He could stand there and take it, but instinct said, avoid bullets smashing into his skull, no matter that they couldn't penetrate. Instinct said, don't leave her just standing there in front of him, when somebody was shooting at him. He grabbed the shoulder of her shirt and jerked her out of the way, slapped the bullet out of the air with the palm of his other hand, stooped down to gather both slugs up before Chloe had the chance to sputter indignantly.
"Wasps," he said, and got her moving, looking over his shoulder to see if more shots were coming. They weren't. And Chloe was brushing at her hair, asking if one was on her.
"I don't think so." He stared in the direction the shots had come, and there was just parking lot and field and trees way beyond that. No sign of any shooter at all. He was scared. Shaking a little, the slugs hard little shapes in his hand.
"You get stung?" she asked.
"Yeah," he muttered, rubbing the spot. Five or six months ago, he'd have sported a bruise, now it was just a welt, the sting of which was fast fading. She tried to get him to stop walking so she could look, but stopping right now seemed beyond foolish. There were so many innocent people here - - too many possible victims who couldn't shrug off bullets if they happened to get caught in the cross fire. If he was the target and he took himself away, he'd take the danger with him.
"I gotta go, Chloe."
"How're you gonna get home?"
He shook his head, veering off through the crowd around one of the barbecue pits, then taking off before she could work her way through and follow him.
After the second shot had failed to take the target, Don Decker packed up his gear and moved out, fast and efficient. He was out of the woods and on the road in his SUV within three minutes of that last failed shot.
At 6000 yards, he shouldn't have missed. He'd made longer shots. In Kuwait. In South America. On a rural road in Kansas. That first shot had hit. He'd seen it through the scope. The second, he didn't know what had happened. The kid had moved faster than Decker could follow and Decker was good at tracking rapid movement.
He'd seen bullets glance off bone before, negating a fatal shot, seen people take head shots and keep walking - - but there was always blood. Scalp wounds gushed blood. There'd been no mark on the kid. Just a moment where he'd lifted his hand and looked towards Decker's distant perch in the woods across the field beyond the parking lot.
Not a normal kid. Just as the woman hadn't been, with her infectious scent, so he'd taken her out from a distance. Only she'd accepted his bullet with ease, head opening up like a ripe melon when the .50 caliber bullet had ripped out the back of her skull.
She'd never pose a threat again. None of the others would that he'd been able to reach. This boy was another matter.
He didn't know exactly what had happened between Lex and the kid, save that sex had been involved. Had only heard the aftermath, the angry father threatening charges, the old man's sly insinuation. The speculation of the staff as they crept through the mansion afterwards, quietly doing their jobs. He'd been there, amongst the day workers, in the same room as Lionel Luthor and the old man never suspected. Blind and focused on his own issues. Focused on his son.
Just like Decker. Who'd seen the visible marks. Touched the brand Lex had let someone else leave on his skin. His hand still tingled from it, days later. The first time he'd ever laid fingertips on that pale flesh. He'd imagined it for years. Imagined any marks left, would be of his making. All those long months at the sanatorium with no focus but the creation of scenarios and of the fulfillment of his ultimate goal. And he was close, but if Lex fell to some outside threat before he had the chance to take him, it would all be for nothing. Besides, the voices whispered, killing Lex, if it came down to it, was a right he'd earned. Years of protecting, years of watching Lex fuck anything that caught his eye, spreading himself thin among the glittering youth that frequented the nightspots of the Metropolis upper crust. He'd almost thought Lex had changed, grown out of it, from what he'd seen since he'd been trailing him here. A woman or two, which a man might be expected to indulge in.
But the kid - - the freakish kid - - who was taller than most men, prettier than most women truth be told - - fucking that kid made him no better than he had been, before his daddy got fed up and sent him here.
Whore. Whore. Whore, the voices chanted, and urged him not to wait. Not bide his time, but to take him now. Punish him now for his transgressions. Make him scream. Make him writhe.
He took a breath and shoved them to the back of his head, because he hadn't survived as long as he had, or been as good at his job as he'd been by ever proceeding with an operation that was anything but meticulously planned.
Besides, this kid, this Clark Kent, who'd tread on territory Decker considered his own, needed to be eliminated. And if the boy were dead any charges leveled would be useless without his testimony, which meant Lex wouldn't be tied up in court, or sitting in a jail cell and out of Decker's reach when he finally decided to move on him.
But the boy had proven himself no soft target. Everyone had weaknesses, though. It was just a matter of ferreting them out.
It never occurred to Clark not to tell his parents. Up until lately, when he'd been struggling with all his Lex-related confusions, he'd never hidden anything from them. Good or bad. And if somebody were taking potshots at him, they needed to know.
So he went home, and shuffled around the yard, until his dad came out of the tool shed, chainsaw in hand, and approached. Despite the uneasiness he and his dad had been experiencing this past week, Clark felt a lot better telling him about getting shot in the head, instead of his mom. Better if his dad broke the news to her.
His dad looked at the two slugs in his hand, then up at him, one grease smeared hand going up to grasp the side of Clark's face, turning his head so that he could get a better look at his, by now, unmarred temple.
"Martha!" his dad bellowed and again, until she came out the back door, dishtowel in hand. His dad swiped the slugs from his hand and stormed up the porch steps.
Her eyes widened, when she saw what he held, and darted to Clark questioningly.
"Somebody took a shot at him."
She gasped, going to Clark, who'd hesitated on the bottom step, and giving him a critical once over.
"Are you all right?"
He shrugged. "Sure. It just surprised me."
"Who?" she looked from him to his father.
"I didn't see anybody. When I looked where I thought the shots had come from, there was nobody there."
His father clenched his fists, muscle ticking in his jaw. "I wouldn't put it past Lex - -"
"Don't!" Clark flared. "Don't you try and put it on him."
"He doesn't believe that," his mom said, even as his father looked at him, a little taken aback by the vehemence in his tone.
"Sure he does," Clark cried, suddenly angry. The first time the guilt and the numb pain had receded enough to let the anger seep through in what seemed forever. He remembered what Lex had said about them threatening him with statutory rape charges. And they knew better. "You think he's responsible for everything that goes wrong around here. And he's not. He's not!"
"We know that, honey." His mom gave his dad a look. Sort of a sternly encouraging one and his dad swallowed, throat working, before he nodded and relented.
"There are plenty of other people with reason to hold grudges. There was no trace of anything - -?"
Clark took a breath, getting the flush of emotion under control. He shook his head. They looked at him, as scared as he was. Even though he was pretty much invulnerable, knowing somebody was out there that wanted him dead was no easy thing.
Clark went up to the loft, leaving his parents at the kitchen table quietly conferring about how to deal with out of the blue murder attempts. It wasn't like they had a lot of options other than wait it out and see if whoever it was tried again and hope that Clark could catch him at it.
They gave him the usual warnings. Keep your eyes out, honey; which he hadn't been doing much of lately, with his mountain of other distractions. Let us know if you notice anything out of the ordinary; which was pretty much a weekly occurrence in Smallville. Don't go off alone. Be careful! Because he'd been practicing real recklessness walking around the 4-H show.
At least his mom and dad weren't fighting. There was nothing like somebody shooting your son in the head, to make you forget your disagreements over his other screw-ups.
He sat on the sofa, turning the little lead capsule he'd molded to hold his shard of meteor in his hands. There was this little kernel of relief inside, formed from the things he'd admitted to Lex. Not whole truths, but half-truths felt a lot better coming out than flat out lies. And Lex had sought him out, because there was no way he'd be caught dead wasting time at the 4-H show unless he'd had an ulterior motive.
And maybe it hadn't just been an information-gathering mission. Maybe Lex wanted to make things better, but he was still uneasy around Clark. And when you were uneasy around things, you started to resent them. Just look at Dad and how he felt about Lex. It was because Lex scared him and Lex represented things he didn't understand and didn't approve of, so what had started out as simple annoyance with somebody who'd driven Clark off a bridge, ended up full-fledged hatred. It wasn't like Lex had ever done anything - - and you couldn't count the cows because that hadn't been his fault - - other than try and find out the answers to questions that had been eating at him, to warrant that hatred. To warrant his dad trying to blame him for something Clark had done.
So Clark figured Lex needed to feel secure around him. Needed something to make him feel as if he had the upper hand if he was going to get past whatever fears he had.
He stared at the capsule in his hand. Pulled off the plug of a cap, and emptied the shard onto his palm. Instant waves of sickness. It felt like the thing was trying to eat its way through his hand. When he closed his fist the burn ate its way up his arm and into his body, making his heart constrict. He fell back against the couch, all the strength seared out of him, squeezing his eyes shut, squeezing his fist around the meteor until tears ran down his cheeks and he couldn't stand it anymore.
He blindly reached for the capsule, fumbled with shaking hands to get the shard back in. Plugged the hole and sprawled there, gasping. The pain didn't feel quite as vindicating as it had last night. Not nearly so welcoming.
Maybe he might not need this little piece of rock so much as Lex did.
He didn't leave the farm Sunday because his mom was freaking out. Besides, it wasn't like he wanted to talk with anybody but Lex anyway, so there were no big draws. Monday though, when she suggested he stay home from school, his dad stepped in, with a 'honey, we've dealt with worse things and we can't let ourselves or Clark be shut ins because of them. Clark can take care of himself.'
Which confidence made Clark feel a little better, because at least his dad trusted him in something like this.
So his mom relented and sent him off to school with the usual warnings. It was one of those days that seemed to never end, the clocks in each and every classroom moving like molasses was clogging the works. All he could think about was that Lex usually stopped by the Talon Monday evenings after spending the day going over the Plant weeklies. And Clark really wanted to catch him and try to get in the explanations he hadn't been able to at the 4-H show. He had the shard in his pocket, encapsulated in its little lead container.
Lana actually came up to him and initiated conversation. Softly mentioning that she hadn't seen him at the Talon last week, and hoping that he hadn't been avoiding it because of her. Suggesting even that they ride the bus headed for town together after school, if he wanted to stop in.
Since he'd had every intention of stopping in anyway, it didn't hurt anything to agree and let her think it was her idea. He'd pretty much come to the depressing conclusion that she held about as much sexual spark for him as a turnip, but he liked her and her company was soothing in a way that Chloe's wasn't. Being friends with her again would be a good thing.
So he got on the bus headed for Smallville proper, with her after school even though he could have run there a lot quicker. They sat and he listened to her chat about little things the ride there. Her horse throwing a shoe during a ride last week, the 'new' old movies she was trying to score for Talon movie nights. The karaoke machine she was attempting to get Lex to sign off to the purchase of. It was nice listening to her and only having to respond in monosyllables. She didn't press him for anything else. Maybe that was because she'd decided she didn't want to delve deeper anymore. Maybe she was still just a little angry with him.
It was a good ride into town regardless and he got off the bus on Main street feeling better than he had all week. Feeling like if he did find Lex at the Talon maybe he had a chance to set things right. Or at least start them down the right path.
He followed Lana into the Talon, her heading for the coffee bar, Clark pausing inside the door, scanning the room and finding what he was looking for. Lex at the table near the back where he liked to sit if he'd brought work with him. He had his laptop with him, but it was closed in favor of a few folders worth of printouts he was going over. He had a ballpoint in one hand and was tapping it idly on the tabletop.
He looked up, before Clark could convince himself to start moving, like he had some sixth sense attuned to Clark's presence, gaze zeroing right in on him. And when Lex's gaze zeroed in Clark felt it in his bones. Always had, he just hadn't realized - -or wanted to admit - - what it really meant.
Almost Clark chickened out, but he thought about the capsule in his pocket and it gave him an odd sort of encouragement. He took a deep breath, rallied his courage and moved through the café towards Lex's table, just like he'd done a hundred times before.
He stopped before the table, stuffing his hands in his pockets, fingers curling around the capsule, staring down at the little apple logo on the back of Lex's laptop like it was the most fascinating thing in the world.
For a minute - -a whole long minute - - Lex didn't say a thing. Then finally, he picked up his cup of coffee, took a sip and said, as if he were picking up where they'd left off their last conversation.
"I'm not afraid of you."
As opening salvos went, it was a good one. It took Clark more off his balance than he already was. He clenched his hand around the little container and felt the lead give a little under the pressure.
He swallowed and pulled it out. Very carefully sat it on the table near the laptop.
"Okay," he said softly, still not able to quite meet Lex's eyes. "But still - - I thought maybe - - this would make you feel better - - about me."
Lex lifted a brow, reached for the crude little cylinder. Pulled off the cap and tapped the sliver of green meteor out onto his palm.
Immediately Clark felt the rush of nausea. The curl of pain that sapped the strength from his limbs. He gasped, putting a hand on the back of the chair across from Lex to keep his knees from giving out.
Lex made a soft, annoyed sound and dumped the shard back inside the capsule.
"Are you insane?" he hissed, snapping the crude cap back on. He shoved his chair back, grabbed Clark by the arm and jerked him through the two swinging doors beside the counter that led to the attached theater. They only showed movies during the weekends, so it was dark and deserted now.
He shoved Clark with the palm of one hand, and Clark went with it, back hitting the wall with a solid little thump. Lex waved the capsule in his face, angry.
"You think if I wanted meteor rock to use against you, I couldn't get more than enough on my own?"
"I don't know," Clark admitted miserably. More than a little embarrassed.
"I've got a whole fucking lab looking into the damned rock and you give me this? For what? Are you looking to get hurt? For me to deliver a little retribution? What the hell, Clark?"
"I thought if you had it - - maybe you wouldn't flinch every time you saw me."
Lex closed his fist around the capsule, drawing his lips back in a silent snarl. He took a breath, glaring at Clark, not flinching at all now, too distracted maybe by his irritation to remember how dangerous Clark could be.
"Do I have any reason," Lex finally asked. "To be afraid of you?"
"No!" Clark denied immediately.
"Then why would you think I'd want this?"
Clark opened his mouth. Shut it. Looked away a little desperately. "I don't know. I just thought - - that if you could make me bleed, it would put us on even ground."
"God, Clark." Lex sounded aghast. "I don't want to see you bleed. I don't want to see you hurt."
He looked away, breathing out through his teeth and Clark took his chance and blurted out.
"My mom thinks the red rock took away all my inhibitions. And the only things that mattered were what I wanted, when I wanted it. And I didn't care who I hurt to get it. I thought I wanted Lana, but not enough to fight for her. Jessie didn't mean anything - - and - - and when I tried to - - do it, with her - - I couldn't make it happen." He blushed a little, embarrassed saying it, but Lex was looking at him again, with that expression nobody but Lex used. Like what Clark was saying was vital and interesting and really important to him. Clark drew a deep breath and tumbled on. "But once I started thinking about you - - I couldn't not make it happen. I don't know who that person was that wouldn't listen when you said stop - - and he was a bastard and I'm sorry. I'm so sorry - - but - -" He clenched his fists, needing to get this last part out and scared to death of voicing it. "- - But it made me realize I'd been lying to myself for an awful long time. That all those daydreams I had about Lana - - it was me trying to be normal - - trying to make my parents happy. That I liked Lana, but I never wanted her. Not the way I want you."
Lex shut his mouth, which had partially drifted open during this confession. Stood for a second, before he shut his eyes and softly said. "Fuck."
He said it again, before turning on his heel and stalking down the darkened aisle between rows of theater seats, and finally flopping down in the front row.
Clark stood for a second, not knowing what to do. Whether to give Lex space and quietly slip away, or to follow on the heels of the momentum he'd already built up. He'd said the hard part. The really embarrassing part and all things considered Lex had responded not so badly.
He gathered courage and walked down to the front of the theater, to stand before Lex. Lex didn't look up at him, so he crouched down at eye level, nervously expectant.
"You're sixteen," Lex finally said. Cross. Very obviously cross. "And I 'm not."
Clark caught his breath, thinking this was Lex trying to talk himself out of something. But if Lex were making the effort, trying to convince himself otherwise, then it was something he maybe wanted.
Possibilities of things Clark had thought he'd screwed up beyond his ability to repair blossomed in his mind.
"Yeah, you're ancient. Twenty-one." Clark said, and Lex gave him a sharp look, because Lex didn't like acknowledging how young he was. Lex was trying to spearhead a business and the way people perceived him was everything.
He stared at Clark, eyes feverish almost, so many things going on behind them that Clark couldn't begin to guess. Then he dropped his forehead onto his palm, leaned there on the arm of the seat and shut Clark out.
He wanted to reach out, put a hand on his knee, but he was afraid to touch him. Afraid Lex would remember the same thing Clark did, of his hands on him when he hadn't wanted to comfort at all, only to own.
"No," Lex finally said. "This is not happening."
Clark swallowed, stomach lurching in disappointment. Utterly terrified that what he'd admitted to Lex would be more of an obstruction to their friendship returning to normal than what he'd done to him while on red meteor rock.
"You need to go make things right with Lana. Hell, Chloe would have you in a heartbeat if Lana won't."
"I don't want Lana or Chloe," Clark said glumly.
Lex leaned forward, eyes emphatic and murky blue in the shadows of the theater. "Just because you did something when you were out of your head high, doesn't make it who you are."
"I'm not high now."
A desperate sort of laugh escaped Lex. He shook his head. "You need to go. You need to go and not think about this again."
Clark stared at him miserably. For a little while, a little optimism had seeped back into the world. He felt it draining out again now. He nodded, couldn't get the lump out of his throat, or the sting out of his eyes.
He started to get up, but Lex made a little hissing sound, reached out, caught him by the sides of the head and kissed him. Not an all consuming kiss like the last one they'd shared, there was barely any tongue involved at all, just this achingly wonderful press of soft lips and the scent of him close up and the hint of taste.
Clark dropped forward onto his knees, leaning into it, hands clutching the arm rests of Lex's chair, this euphoric sort of dizziness washing over him.
Lex pulled back, fingers still tight against the sides of Clark's face, staring at him like maybe his face was melting off or something equally appalling. Scared maybe, just like Clark. But not the type of scared that made Clark want to curl up in a guilty knot.
Then he pulled Clark back in, and this time the kiss got melty and desperate and openmouthed. Clark's fingers were making the armrests crunch and crackle, but he didn't care, all these things going off inside him that he could barely contain. He knelt there on the slightly sticky theater floor between Lex's knees, Lex's wonderful mouth making his head spin, and thought there was no place in the world he wanted to be more.
This was a mistake. A horrible, horrible mistake that he'd end up regretting one way or another. But, God - - he couldn't stop himself. Couldn't listen to Clark declaring he wanted him - -wanted him - - and look into Clark's big liquid eyes, or watch the tremor in that mouth about which Lex had had too many sinful fantasy's to count - - and not.
And God, he was sweet, mouth soft and tentative, but growing bolder as he leaned in. Not the boy that had slammed Lex against a wall and simply invaded. He shuddered a little remembering, but not from revulsion. That first one hadn't been a bad kiss - -by no means a bad kiss - - it just hadn't really been Clark.
He wasn't even entirely sure that other Clark didn't have a new place in his fantasies, but this one was the one that made him ache inside. This one made him plant himself in this damned town and endure the sideways looks and the lack of proper entertainment and the damned insufficient air conditioning, because the alternative would have been going back to that other life where there was no Clark.
He slid his hands down to the back of Clark's neck, broke the kiss with an effort of will and stared into heavy-lidded green eyes.
"This is a problem," he said. "This is a very big problem."
Clark nodded, looking dazed, and Lex had the feeling he'd have agreed to anything he said right about now. God, he had half a hard on pressed against his belly, and he didn't want to look down and see what Clark was sporting.
Only he did, and Clark was full-on hard and straining against his jeans and Lex remembered to the tiniest vein what he looked like, and how he felt. He hated his father right about now, for invading his house and bringing people into it, who kept Lex from having a quiet, private place to move this conversation.
Sitting in a darkened theater with doors that hadn't been locked leading out to a busy coffee café, most certainly wasn't that place. He took a calming breath, and looked down to where Clark's hands were gripping the armrests. The hard plastic had spidery cracks running up the length of it, radiating out from Clark's fingers.
He looked back up to Clark. "Just how strong are you?"
Clark blinked, for a second that evasive look flitting across his face, before he remembered that it was out in the open and he didn't need to lie. A slow smile widened his mouth and he said. "I can bench press your car. I could probably bench press a couple of your cars, stacked."
"Yeah. Does it weird you out?"
Lex considered. "A little. I'll get over it."
Clark took a moment thinking that honest answer through, finally nodded, smile fading to be replaced by a more solemn expression. "There's other things I want to tell you. That I will tell you - - but I sort of just need a little time to work my way up to them."
That was not the sort of statement that Lex's genetic make-up allowed him to take in stride. He sat back, studying Clark, feeling the solid warmth of Clark's hips against the inside of his thighs. Which did absolutely nothing to reduce the urgency of the erection against his belly.
"What sort of things?" He asked warily.
"Nothing that changes who I am," Clark swore earnestly. "Nothing dangerous."
Lex could understand the emotional turmoil of a sixteen year old trying to deal with being different. Things about Clark made sense now that hadn't before. How a kid with his looks had managed to develop such an inferiority complex. How a kid that was genuinely likable had only one or two close friends. He'd be afraid to engender more in fear of them discovering his anomalies and rebuking him.
It made all the lies he'd told to Lex a little more palpable. They'd been inspired by fear of rejection. Lex wanted to lean forward and kiss him again, to grind his erection against Clark's hard belly and relieve some of the tension that just wasn't going away on its own.
But not here. Lex's imagination was entirely too fertile, and he could envision Lana or one of the Talon employees walking through those swinging doors and catching him in the process. Which was a good thing, because what he needed was perhaps a little distance to wrap his head around what he was wavering on the edge of. And he was supposed to be the responsible one here. The adult here, even if he didn't feel it. He felt as trembly and desperate as he had the first time he'd had somebody other than himself wrap their hand around his cock and teach him just how fantastic sex could be.
Clark moved his hands from the chair arms to Lex's thighs, long fingers flexing, sliding just a little hesitantly upwards.
He shoved Clark back, and Clark gave way, surprised. More surprised when Lex lurched up, and snatched at his hand and hauled him up. Dragged him along to the stairs leading up the stage in front of the movie screen and through the curtains to the narrow maintenance area and the emergency exit hidden behind.
He pushed Clark against the wall, knocking a few brooms over in his haste. He knotted his fists in Clark's t-shirt and lunged in to kiss him again. Clark moaned, this helpless, excited sound, hands not knowing where to go, hovering at Lex's hips, skimming up his sides, hips making little desperate thrusts against him.
He squeezed a hand down between them, under the hem of Clark's shirt, and felt the moist head of his cock, snug against his taut stomach, a healthy length of it escaping the top of his low-slung jeans. He pressed his palm hard against it and muffled Clark's cry with his mouth. Clark's head hit the wall after that, his mouth open and gasping, his eyes squeezed shut.
Lex popped the button one handed, eased the zipper down, so he could fit his hand down the front of Clark's pants. Ran his fingers down the velvety length, curled them around that oh so impressive girth and Clark shuddered and moaned and dug his fingers into the wall beside him. Maybe even literally. Lex didn't look to see. Didn't care. Was too busy rubbing his own erection against Clark's hip.
"Do you remember what it felt like when I sucked your cock?" Lex mouthed against Clark's clenching jaw.
"God - - oh, God - - yes - -" Clark's voice was hoarse.
"You'll do that for me."
"Yes - - yes. I want - - I want to."
Gratifying answer. Almost Lex considered teaching him how right here and now. But as appealing as a quick and dirty blowjob from Clark was - - he wanted more. A less sordid setting for the first time Clark went down on him. He was already plotting on how to get his father the hell out of the house - - planning out locales safe from prying eyes and wagging tongues.
"Touch me," he directed breathlessly instead. Got another moan from Clark, before Clark moved his hand to Lex's side, then slid it around, fingers tracing the outline of Lex's hidden erection.
Lex shut his eyes, shivering, knees wanting to give out from just that tremulous touch. Clark was the most devastating drug he'd ever taken. Likely the most addictive. Surely the most dangerous.
He pressed his forehead against Clark's shoulder as Clark's fingers got bolder, fumbling to untuck his shirt. Squeezing his big hand down the front of Lex's pants, which was a damned tight fit. There was the distinct sound of seams separating, which wasn't nearly so high a priority as Clark's hand moving down to cup his balls. Sliding up Lex's cock and flexing; and the ability to breathe with any sort of normal rhythm escaped him. He hissed, thrusting hard into Clark's hand, his own fingers tight as a vise around Clark. He heard Clark moaning, felt the body shaking impact of Clark thrusting back, and likely the only reason Lex wasn't knocked back off his feet was Clark's other hand clutched tight around his waist, holding them flush.
He couldn't find Clark's mouth, so he latched on to the fleshy pulse of his neck, biting down too damned hard, but oh, yeah, boy meets car, car comes out the looser, so Lex's teeth probably wouldn't make a dent.
He came in a hot rush of sex. Just pure, unadulterated sex that flowed out of him and onto Clark's hand, warm and sticky and primitive. Clark was twitching and jerking under his own fingers, whole body spasming against Lex, just spurting and spurting long after Lex was depleted.
They leaned there, Clark splayed against the wall, Lex against Clark, legs watery and weak and in no way capable at the moment of supporting his full weight. Clark's arms around him were likely the only things keeping him from puddling in a heap on the floor.
"God - - Oh, God - - Lex - -" Clark whispered, the sort of reverent tone one reserved for high renaissance masterworks on church ceilings.
Lex laughed, exhausted, face pressed against the hot skin of Clark's neck. Clark hadn't come that morning in Lex's bedroom when he'd been riding his meteor induced high. Had experienced the build up, but not the release thanks to the untimely interruption of their respective fathers - - and he wondered if this were the first time he'd come as a result of an act of sex with another person. He half recalled Clark mentioning a girl that had given him oral sex before he'd come and found Lex.
He suffered a stab of jealousy at the thought, annoyed at the concept of Clark and anyone else. Shook it off, and gathered enough reserves to push himself off Clark. They were both sticky with accumulated come. His silk shirt was dark and clammy with it. He pulled it away from his skin, not even bothering to try and tuck it back into his pants. There was no walking back into the Talon like this.
"You should go home and change," Lex had surprising control of his voice. "And you might want to avoid tossing your clothes in the laundry for your mother to find. Dried semen is hard to mistake."
Clark stared at wide-eyed, managing to look embarrassed after what they'd just done, at the mention of his mother and semen in the same sentence. He was adorable. He was Lex's. Clark had made the first move - - albeit under outside influences - - but Lex had staked the claim and the Luthor in him was voracious.
Clark still had a hand on him, heavy and warm on his shoulder. Lex recalled the weight of Clark's body on top of his and clenched his teeth to hold back the shudder. And God, he might burn for it, or be shot by an outraged father, but there was no turning back now.
This was going to happen.
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