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Quality Time

by P L Nunn


Chapter One


"And there was no video capture - - not one of thirty seasoned professionals who witnessed any part of this fiasco?"

Lex stepped over debris, pausing to look up at the gaping hole in the ceiling that let in the unforgiving light of Iquique Chile at mid-day. The nervous director of the Iquique facility security trailed in his wake. The sounds of cleanup, of machinery moving debris, of men directing the progress of the removal were a constant cacophony in the background.

"They infiltrated the network, sir. Disabled all monitoring systems, triggered the emergency evac alarms and the non-essential staff was out of the facility before we realized it was an attack. And once the subjects were loose - - most of this damage, Mr. Luthor, it was from the level 4's."

It was supposed to be the most secure of the remaining 33.1 compounds; hidden on the outskirts of Iquique in the Atacama Desert of Chile. A holding facility for the worst of the worst. The one's that would have been rotting in state or federal prisons even if they hadn't been driven that last step over the edge by meteor infection. The one's that were capable of damage on a large scale - - some of them regrettably, more so now, after continued experimental exposure and certain unregulated genetic manipulation - - not all of which had progressed with his express knowledge.

And they'd uncovered the existence of the base - - the costumed vigilantes - - terrorists with advanced toys, enhanced physical abilities and no concept of harsh reality - - and as they had other compounds before this one, they'd broken security, demolished research and released subjects. He could only hope, in a moment of bitter spite, that the liberated level 4's had promptly turned and bitten off the hands that helped them.

He was almost 100 percent certain that Clark had had nothing to do with this particular mess. If so, he'd crept out of bed last night with more quiet grace that he usually exhibited. And woken up in a better mood than anyone who'd just finished demolishing a detainment center for the genetically challenged might have, when the person he was sleeping with had carefully managed to avoid mentioning the existence of said center. Little wonder of that, when all they'd do was argue if the subject came up.

One day, they were going to have to have a particularly long discussion about necessity verses ideology. And probably a long cold, silence afterwards. There were simply some things, they didn't see eye to eye and probably never would.

But Lex understood certain things better now than he had. Comprehended the scope of various threats, or the possible lack of, and had accordingly altered the primary objective of some projects, phased out others entirely, and instituted various policy changes that could only benefit in the long run. Some of that, a pragmatic man, a man that liked to believe he was honest with himself at the very least, was the direct result of Clark Kent.

Not that Clark had made ultimatums, because Clark hadn't and Lex wouldn't tolerate them. But he had a way of finding out things, at the worst possible time, and he'd do what he thought he had to do, whether it was reasonable or not, whether he knew all the facts or not, and there would be anger and tension between them. Arguments and disappointments and Clark would pull away and question things that Lex didn't want him to question - - things like attachments and loyalties and tenuous commitments.

Lex had it all worked out in his head, the way things might go - - might slide into decline against his will - - and so, Lex made subtle changes. Things that needed alteration to begin with, really. Because some things were worth reassessing priorities for.

Except for this facility, with its nine high level mutants, each and every one of which had proved a threat worth breaking a few rules over. It was doubtful there was another facility in the world capable of containing them, because no one else in the world had bothered to research them enough to know what they were dealing with.

And now that facility was a smoking wreckage in the desert.

"Salvage what you can." Lex adjusted his sunglasses and headed back outside. "Level the rest."

There was a Land Rover waiting to take him back to the small airstrip outside Iquique. He'd gotten the call mid-way though breakfast about this mess. Had made arrangements to fly down after Clark had left to return to his own apartment to change clothes before work.

If Clark didn't know already, he certainly didn't need to be enlightened. Lex didn't need the headache. He didn't need Clark's accusative stare, big eyes solemn and disappointed, like this was a problem Lex had created, instead of one he'd been trying to resolve. He didn't like that Clark could make him feel guilt for things he damned well didn't need to be guilty about. Lex didn't mind keeping secrets - - he thrived on secrets - - but somewhere along the way, lying to Clark's face had become distasteful.

It was a twenty-mile drive from the facility to the airstrip. Twenty miles of flat, dry land that soaked up the sun and spat it back up in shimmering waves of heat. Lex spent most of that time on the phone, ignoring the flat vista outside the tinted window of the vehicle, pulling in resources to deal with this problem.

The airstrip was a low collection of buildings, one long paved strip that ran out into the desert, and a small gathering of single engine prop planes, most of which had seen better days. The LuthorCorp jet stood out among them, large, sleek and silver.

The Land Rover pulled up beyond the runway and Lex got out, heading towards the plane.

He had just finished with a call and was slipping his phone into his pocket when the ground trembled. A faint shiver of earth that he barely noticed for the first few steps, before the packed dirt sort of hiccupped, shifting under his feet.

First thought was, earthquake. The Atacama desert was a major fault zone and the area was rife with seismic rumbling. A common occurrence by all reports. He stopped in his tracks regardless, assaulted with the unease of any mid-western boy raised on ground that never so much as hiccupped, much less threw tantrums under his feet.

But the jet wasn't trembling on the tarmac and the distant native air strip workers were going about their business as if nothing were amiss - - and you'd think commonplace aside- - they'd at least pause to see if something groundbreaking was on the way.

Lex looked down, at small pebbles trembling near his feet. And suddenly sound was screaming at him, a sonorous roar of tearing, cracking earth, the ground rupturing open some scant yards from where he stood. Dry earth and rock ripped, the clamor huge and deafening, and there was a swath cut through the desert, a widening chasm that spewed sand and rock into the air like someone had planted charges beneath the surface.

First instinct said duck and run, even though there was nothing to duck behind. He brought his arms up, shielding his head as bits of rock and debris pelted down, and stared, eyes watering from grit as the rent widened, snaking across the ground. It reached the Land Rover, yawning beneath its back end and the men still inside threw open doors and struggled to get out. One of them made it before the earth split wide enough to swallow the whole of the vehicle.

Lex staggered back from the edge, fighting for balance as the earth continued to shake wildly, as more spidery rents appeared under his feet, traveling to the airstrip and buckling the grey asphalt. The ground rippled under his feet like it had a vendetta. He fought for orientation in the cloud of dust that rose, obscuring clear vision. He heard the cries of his driver, and maybe the calls of someone at the door of the jet, wanting them onboard and airborne to escape this unexpected earthbound rage.

He squinted through the dust and saw the shape of a man, striding forward from the direction of the desert. The cloud cleared enough to make out details. Big man, broad, square face with small dead eyes, the faint curve of a smile on his wide mouth. There was a smaller man scurrying behind him. Young, raw-boned, pixie featured.

Lex drew a dust-laden breath, the taint of bile rising in his throat. He knew these men. Knew their files. Knew what they could do, and what they had done. That they'd made it here, twenty miles through the desert, was not particularly surprising, considering their abilities. The young one was doing this, manipulating the earth. The big man had other talents and terrible tendencies.

The earth exploded up under his feet and he staggered backwards, going down, sliding in sand and loose dirt. He scrambled for purchase, kicking away from the edge of a chasm that might not go deep. It wouldn't be the fall that got him, but the smothering fall of sand and dirt and the inescapable jaws of the earth as it closed up around him and the notion of that sort of death terrified him.

A figure appeared on the other side, bare arms under the institutional grey of the jumpsuit. There were tattoos along the forearms, and the ridges of ceremonial scarring - - a mark for each victim. And supposedly the scarring had begun long before this man had gotten caught, trapped in the cab of his overturned truck, pinned next to a chunk of kryptonite the size of an engine block, in the second Smallville meteor shower.

"You think I forgot you?" The voice wasn't natural, not when the man practiced his abilities. "You think I'd forget the bastard that put me in that place?"

Lex wouldn't expect him to. Two years ago when they'd apprehended this man - - Garrison Rule was the name - - Lex hadn't been particularly shy about letting him know what was in store for him. There had been a great deal of ineffectual threats made against him. A great deal of promises that a man doomed to a high-tech prison would never make good on.

"I said - - remember I said - - you and me would share some quality time?"

Fuck. He didn't want to think about the reports of what this man did for entertainment. He tore his hands trying to get up the crumbling grade, and Rule jumped the distance, landing barefooted in the loose earth next to Lex with impact that suggested his weight had taken on considerably more density than simple human flesh. Then Rule was sliding backwards, battling for balance, even as the sound of nearby gunfire close to deafened Lex. The bullets hit Rule dead center, tearing holes in the jumpsuit, knocking him into the chasm, even as Lex crawled up.

A hand grabbed Lex's arm, hauling him the rest of the way out. His driver, with a gloc in his other hand, staring down in alarm as the man he had shot dead on, looked up grinning, low, almost inhuman laughter drifting up, the dull roughness of sandstone pebbling the visible flesh.

"Go," Lex cried, pushing his driver, pelting towards the plane, because he didn't know how fast Rule could climb out of the chasm with his body weighted down with the geometric density of desert rock.

Not as fast as they could run.

And the boy was still out there, a boy that could manipulate earth, that could tear up the ground under them even as Rule could absorb it and take on its characteristics.

A dangerous pair to have ended up together.

The runway buckled. A trench that might or might not make take off an impossibility - - which meant death sentence, with himself unarmed and only one man with one gun to face down two very dangerous mutants. One a serial killer and one a boy with no remorse, no conscience, and very little hold on sanity.

The plane was taxiing, the pilot pragmatic enough to want the hell out of here, passengers or no. Lex caught the rail of the boarding stairs and swung up, his driver hard on his heels. Something hit the body of the plane, putting a dent in metal. Flung debris and he had horrible visions of rocks flying up and getting sucked into the engines, igniting the whole of the jet.

The driver pulled the door closed, and the both of them fell into seats as the speed picked up. There was jolting, teeth jarring impact that sent everything in the cabin that wasn't secured tumbling. The wheels hitting that trench maybe. The plane skewed a little, and Lex clutched his armrests, having little enough optimism left involving the probability of him surviving one more aircraft related mishap. There were only so many lucky breaks a man could have before his quota was up.

But then there was that stomach lurching sense of leaving the influence of the earth, a sudden cessation of vibration against solid ground. He counted the seconds - - five - - ten and figured if they hadn't exploded mid-air yet, they weren't likely to.

He took a breath, hands shaking, palms stinging from where he'd gouged them on rock. His cell rang, an unexpected, startling chirp, in his pocket. He reached for it, flipped it open. Recognized the number as the first on his own speed dial.


"Clark?" He wrung every ounce of tension out of his voice and it came out cool and calm. Shut his eyes, leaned his head back against the seat and quieted his breathing. Even over the phone, Clark had frustratingly sharp hearing.

"Hey, Lex, about dinner tonight."

"What about it?" Dinner? Dinner. There had been plans to cook in. The penthouse or Clark's apartment? He was usually so much better at retaining details during crisis.

"Something came up at work - - and before you get pissy with me, I'm not canceling, I just need to push it back a little."

"Fine. When?" He didn't even have the energy to complain about the insult.

"Seven?" Clark suggested with a hopeful tone. "If I'm not home sharp, I won't be long after. Promise. Just let yourself in. A story just ran over me and I need to stay and finish it up. I'll tell you about it tonight."

"Seven works for me. I've got some things to tie up myself."

Seven was a godsend. It would give him time to get back to Metropolis and start damage control.

"Lex? You okay?" Clark asked instead of making Lex's life easier and hanging up. Lex gnawed the inside of his cheek, wondering what Clark had picked up on. Heart rate, maybe? Or the sound of the engines? God help him if it was something in his voice.

"I'm flying. Turbulence. It gets on my nerves." Clark would understand that, knowing his history with planes. One crash and three near misses did not a comfortable flyer make.

"Statistically, it's still the safest - -"

"Shut up. I'll see you tonight."

Clark's idea of cooking, was cooking out. In the footsteps of his father and his father's father, the kitchen was woman's domain, but the grill - - ah, the grill was his passion. He had learned at his father's side, so the story went, and the Kent family grill and the big, tin can modified smoker, were spoke of with quiet reverence.

Clark could cook anything over coals. Meat, vegetables, concoctions in iron skillets, though Lex actively dissuaded him from those sorts of rustic casseroles.

Being summer, Clark, along with half the neighbors on his street, if the constant smell of burning charcoal during the evenings was any indication, was caught up in the craze of grilling out.

So, when Lex got there, five minutes after seven - - because even if the metaphorical shit had hit the fan at work, it was no reason not to be punctual - - Clark was just breaking out the charcoal.

He came in the back way, pulling up inside the fenced yard. He could hear the buzz of the landlady's television through the bottom floor screen window. He very seldom saw her, and when he did, she was usually scowling, though Clark mentioned occasionally that Mrs. McClusky's cat had done this, or Clark had offered to help with the gutters or the boards of the front porch and she'd baked him cookies or muffins or tried to set him up with her granddaughter. Which went beyond wishful thinking to rude, because Lex's car spent enough nights behind the fence of her backyard for her to know he was staying the night on a regular basis and that Clark was neither free to pursue this granddaughter, nor particularly inclined towards daughters in general.

Clark waved a pair of tongs at him in greeting from the second story patio that he had refurbished almost from the foundation up, and went back to arranging coals. He had changed out of his usual Planet uniform of button down shirt and tie, and into a t-shirt and a pair of baggy, khaki shorts that almost reached his knees. He was barefoot.

Lex climbed the steps and arched a brow, taking in the outfit close up.

"I'm so overdressed, I feel out of place." He'd shed his jacket in the car and the shirt was a light silk mix, conducive to summer weather.

"I keep telling you to get cook out clothes. How're you supposed to enjoy bar-b-que and corn on the cob in hundred dollar shirts?"

"God, we're not having corn on the cob?" Hundred-dollar shirt? Not even close.

"No," Clark reached for him with fingertips smeared with black soot, and Lex leaned back, giving him a warning look. Clark grinned, wiping his hand on his pants - - God - - and said. "Steaks. The good cuts, because I know you're finicky. And grilled tomatoes and squash, and baked potatoes and bread - - and maybe a salad if that's not enough."

If Kryptonian metabolism could be harnessed, world obesity could be wiped out, because Clark regularly ate enough for four people and never gained a once of anything other than solid muscle.

"Finicky is a word you'd use for a cat," Lex said mildly. "Try, discriminating instead. I'll take less offense."

Clark grinned, wide, white smile that never ceased to make Lex's breath hitch a tiny bit. He lit the charcoal without benefit of a match, just a quick glance from under sooty lashes and heat radiated over black lumps of coal like the sun off the surface of the desert, and flame was born.

It was almost a turn on watching him do it, being so casually on the inside of a secret he'd been on the outside of for years.

Lex walked into the kitchen, where a bag of groceries sat on the hideous orange counter and Clark followed him in, happy with the state of his burning coals.

"What happened to your hands?"

Of course Clark was going to notice sooner or later. Lex healed fast, but not that fast and generally, when the two of them were alone together, the use of hands became an issue. Lex shrugged, not trying to divert the subject. Diverting the subject didn't work as well with Clark now as it had when he'd been a teenager.

"There was an incident at the airstrip in Chile this afternoon. Me basically meeting the ground. Embarrassing." It was absolute truth - - just minus pertinent details. If Clark asked him what he was doing in Chile, which was a possibility, he'd have more trouble coming up with a half truth that might not come back to bite him in the ass.

Clark canted his head, snagging one of Lex's hands in his, turning it palm upwards to examine the scrapes. He looked back up with a smile, thumb softly stroking the whole flesh between the parallel scrapes. Lex shivered. "Did anybody get a picture?"

Lex allowed the ghost of a smile to cross his own lips, as much fueled by relief as wry humor. "No. It won't be in the rags this week that I was on a South American binge."

Clark gave him back his hand and went to pull vegetables out of the brown bag. Lex pulled up a long-legged stool and sat down at the end of the counter. The kitchen didn't allow for a lot of room, so it was better to plant himself and let Clark bustle around unhindered.

"So tell me about this story that ran over you." It felt good to focus on Clark, to divert ninety-five percent of his attention to something that relieved his stress instead of the things that kept him awake at night. Clark made him a better man, and he knew this because one; Clark told him, and two; most nights he did sleep better. Because most days, he didn't receive reports of project progress that made him feel cold and tight inside and he wasn't actively commissioning things that stole little bits of his humanity.

And then there were days like today, where there had been nothing but bad news, and he had felt cold and he would sleep badly, unless he could convince Clark to fuck him into oblivion - - and then he might actually get a decent few hours rest.

He'd work on that after the steaks.

He didn't expect Clark's story to be quite so literal. Clark related it while he was preparing his vegetables.

"I was in the wrong place at the right time, or the right place at the wrong time, depending how you look at it." Clark paused in his seasoning process to consider. "Anyway, I was on Marshall Street and this car came barreling right onto the sidewalk and through the front window of the Marshall street jewelry exchange. There was this couple walking by that would have gotten sideswiped if I hadn't been there."

"And you saved this couple in a manner that no one will question?" Lex interrupted, because really, Clark's common sense evaporated in crisis situations. And Metropolis was not Smallville.

Clark gave him an under the brow, 'don't give me grief' look. "I can be very quick, Lex. Anyway, It wasn't an accident. It was these two guys who were high on something, and they jumped out in all the confusion and started stuffing jewelry from the shattered cases in their pockets. One of them had a gun, and was waving it around with this sort of wild eyed look, and so I sort of quick fried it from the edge of the mess and then sort of - - uh, tripped them up when they were trying to make their getaway and the police had arrived by that time, so I hung around to give a statement - -"

"You gave a statement? Are you insane? You're supposed to be reporting the news, not making it. People in Metropolis aren't like people in Smallville who look out their window every other day and see some sort of freakish incident." Clark was going to give him ulcers before he was thirty.

"Of course I gave a statement. I was a witness," Clark said calmly, like he was trying to explain something fundamental to a slow child.

"And I needed to stick around to get more information for the write up. It'll be in the morning paper. Page two."

Clark was entirely well pleased with himself.

"Wonderful." Lex said dryly.

"It's what I do." Clark grinned at him, one of the big blinding ones that tended to make Lex loose his train of thought.

He held on to it this time, and lifted a wry brow. "The reporting or the hero complex?"

The grin turned into a smirk and Clark wielded the big knife with which he was currently slicing onion, in Lex's general direction. "Just because you had an embarrassing afternoon, don't give me a hard time. I did good. Perry loved the write up. Only, and I want an honest opinion here - -"

"What other type do I generally provide?"

"This is the third story I've gotten printed involving incidents where I lent a helping hand. Perry says he's thinking of transferring me to the crime beat and that's fine - - that would be awesome, because I'm like first year - - if I'm not taking advantage. Is it ethical for me to benefit career wise - - from situations I'm impacting using - - you know, abilities?"

First off, it was flattering that Clark was asking him an ethics question, when Lex recalled a time when Clark repeatedly and pointedly accused him of not having any. Secondly, if anyone actually accused Clark of lacking a quality which he obviously possessed in dangerous excess, Lex would buy out the paper and make a few staff changes. But of course that would require Clark being outed in a way that stretched the definition of the word, and that would be a whole other crisis to deal with - - and hating to be unprepared, Lex had been spinning damage control scenarios in his head for weeks, in case the situation arose. He mentioned neither of these things to Clark.

"No," Lex said carefully,

"No?" Clark asked with the arch of a dark brow. "All that over thinking and all I get is a no?"

It was faintly appalling that Clark could read him so well. "If you're going to risk exposure doing these things - - and I really wish you wouldn't - - then I certainly see no reason why someone else should benefit out of some misplaced altruism on your part. It's not as if you're out there creating problems to deal with - -" Not like certain of Clark's acquaintances. "You're simply reaping the rewards of being a boy scout and quite a few boy scouts have risen to fame and fortune."

"What would you know about being a boy scout?"

"Absolutely nothing. I'm the anti-boy scout. I get lost in the woods if there are more than three trees. But I know good work ethic."

Clark grinned at him, speared the steaks onto a platter and went outside to throw them on the flames.

Clark excelled at his grillwork and the steaks were no less savory than fifty-dollar plates at The Two Deuces. They ate out on the deck, on a patio table and two mismatched chairs that Clark had picked up at a thrift store. The weather was nice this late, the breeze cooling, with even the occasional chirp of a cricket from the little slice of yard behind the brownstone. Clark kept smiling at him. Slumming had never been so good.

There were never leftovers with Clark around, so it was just a matter of washing dishes and tidying up before they retreated to the living room and the long leather couch that Clark had relented and let Lex buy him. Clark cut the TV on, while Lex read the copy of Clark's story about the aborted heist.

Clark flipped around until he found what might have been a rerun of Jeopardy and paused. "So what do you think?"

"Tight." Lex shrugged, tossing the hard copy onto the battered end table.

He could only talk Clark into so many domestic gifts and Clark always acted like he'd struck buried gold when came back from the second hand store, or the dumpster in this alley or that, with a new find. It drove Lex mad. The apartment was certainly eclectic because of it. If Clark had any idea how much the couch cost in relation to the mismatched end and coffee tables, he'd probably burst a blood vessel - - if such a thing were possible.

"Who is Albrecht Durer?" Lex said absently, as a pictorial question came up on the TV showing a late fifteenth century woodcut of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It felt good to sink back into the couch, to lean against Clark and feel Clark's arm automatically slide around his shoulders. He hadn't realized he was sore from today, until he he'd slowed down enough for his body to catch up with his mind.

One out of the nine liberated subjects had been retaken within six hours of escape. One damned subject, in a small town outside Peru, apprehended in a local bus terminal in the process of sucking the eyes out of a man she'd lured into the dark corner of a restroom.

All of his resources on red alert and they'd only managed one. Sooner or later the others would make themselves known. God willing sooner and not in a manner that sent the media into a frothing frenzy.

Clark's bare foot rubbing up against the top of his socked one, both their legs stretched out on the coffee table, proved a much-needed distraction. The remote lay on Clark's thighs, unguarded.

"Watson and Crick." Lex said, when the answer popped up about double helical DNA.

"You forgot to phrase as a question," Clark reprimanded him. "And who knows all this stuff, anyway?"

"Anyone who's ever taken the time to learn." Lex snatched the remote and flipped over to CNN. "If all you're going to do is complain about me knowing all the answers, we can broaden our minds with current affairs."

"I work in a newsroom, Lex. I get current affairs all day. Turn it to Scrubs."

Lex transferred the remote to the other hand and gave Clark a narrow-eyed, provocative stare. "Make me."

Clark's breathing hitched and the sweet tint of a blush rose on his cheeks. The fact that he still could, after all the things they had done together, never failed to amaze Lex. And charm him. And make him immeasurably grateful for the twist of fate that had brought Clark into his life.

He slid the hand not currently holding the remote captive up Clark's thigh, drawing the edge of the khakis up, raking the tips of his nails across lightly haired, golden skin.

A shuddery sound issued from Clark's throat, a not so subtle tenting rose in his shorts. Clark never, ever failed to rise to the occasion. Repeatedly. One might almost consider it one of his Kryptonian abilities. Not that complaint was ever warranted.

Lex looked down and lifted a critical brow.

"Is that all you've got for me?"

Clark snorted, grinning and bowled him backwards, considerable weight pressing him down into soft leather, big hand on the wrist with the remote.

Clark still had enough kid in him that the prospect of a good tussle never ceased to appeal, even though wrestling with Clark tended to be a loosing proposition. But, Clark's sense of fair play, overdeveloped thing that it was, tended to make him go to efforts to hold back, to offer advantages that weren't really there, when sometimes what Lex really wanted was a hard, stress-relieving fuck.

There was no drink, no drug, no mental exercise that he had ever tried that was as good at making him simply forget, as a liberal dose of Clark Kent.

Clark kissed him, a hot/sweet nibble across his mouth, but not what Lex wanted when he was in the mood to be bullied. Sometimes Clark just didn't pick up on obvious hints without a little show and tell. Lex reared up and bit him, hard as he could short of breaking teeth, on the throbbing sweep of Clark's jugular. He didn't leave a mark, but Clark got the clue.

Clark drew a breath, body going tense and serious, hands clenching just enough on Lex's wrist that he felt it. It made his pulse speed up and his cock hard. He bit his lip, dropping the remote with a clatter that probably meant the back had popped off and batteries had spilled over the floor. He honestly didn't care, he'd get Clark a new one, a really good one that would operate everything in the apartment.

He growled a little and ground his hips up against Clark's. Clark pushed back down, molding Lex to the couch, worming a thigh between his legs and coming down for another kiss that was enveloping and invasive and more along the lines of what Lex was looking for.

Clark pulled back, looking down, eyes dilated and dark and focused. His breath was annoyingly even compared to Lex's rapid panting and even that turned Lex on.

Clark pulled his arms above his head, casually crossed his wrists and gripped them with one big hand. Lex tested the hold. Half the excitement was in trying and failing. Feeling the sting of powerlessness. Reveling in the grip of power beyond human ken and owning it.

"You like this shirt?" Clark asked, an arch of a brow and a glint in his eyes. Lex had a few changes of clothes here. He could deal with the loss.

"It's not my favorite."

"Good." Clark slid a finger down from collar to hem, popping buttons like they were attached with strands of spider web. Lex shivered and rubbed himself against the knee between his legs. Issued half strangled sounds as Clark leaned over and started biting and sucking his way down from throat to nipple. Sharp, white teeth clamped down and Lex didn't even bother to muffle the sharp sound of shock. The pleasure/pain connection jacked directly into his brain and he arched, cursing breathlessly, so damned hard he was going to come in his pants if Clark didn't get on with it.

"Get naked - - ah, god - - and fuck me."

Clark looked up, having moved from the one nipple to the other, sultry and dark eyed behind velvety black lashes, teeth bared just a little like a predator interrupted in the middle of feeding. So fucking hot it was painfully clear he wasn't human, because nothing human could disrupt his higher brain functions so efficiently.

Clark grinned at him, and where he'd learned to tease so brutally, Lex had no idea. Oh, wait, he did. He'd picked that up from him.

"Eventually." Clark bent and ran his tongue up the center of Lex's chest, to the hollow of his throat and up the underside of his jaw.

Lex tilted his head back and groaned.

Clark laughed, low, deep in his chest and sat up, releasing Lex's wrists to strip off his T-shirt, revealing golden skin and sculpted musculature that went on forever. Lex's own personal Adonis, only better, for there were no jealous deities bickering over a share of his time.

Clark swung off him, a little faster than Lex could follow and was heading for the bedroom and hopefully the lube. Lex sat up, shrugging out of his shirt, got his fingers on the buckle of his belt and Clark was back, entirely naked and gloriously erect. His cock was simply perfect, uncut and jutting proudly, the weight of it pulling it out from his belly to bob perpendicular to his body.

It was too temping not to reach out and touch, but Clark batted his hands away, catching his arms, pulling him off the couch and turning him forcefully around. He got hugged against Clark's naked front, one arm around his waist while Clark worked at his zipper and shoved his pants down, underwear and all.

His own erection bounced free, all neatly cut and pink compared to Clark, glistening at the tip and badly needing some sort of hands on attention.

His pants pooled around his ankles and Clark just lifted him up so he could kick them off, and then took him down, knees on the hardwood floor, belly pressed against the edge of the couch cushions with Clark tight against his back.

"How hard?" Clark whispered against his neck, cock this scalding hot presence against the cleft of Lex's buttocks.

Lex shut his eyes, a full body tremor rolling over him. "I want to feel it tomorrow."

Clark moaned against him, arm tightening enough to steal some of Lex's breath, before he pressed him forward. A finger pushed inside him, slick with lubrication, twisting and turning, finding that spot that made Lex lay his cheek to cool leather and grope for the edges of the seat cushion.

Another, stretching, scissoring and Lex thought he might have started drooling against leather, pushing back against the welcome invasion, and not making much leeway, because Clark's other hand was on the small of his back, keeping him in place. Keeping his cock trapped between his body and leather that was becoming slick with sweat and precome. He wanted to grind so bad it felt like his insides were knotting and Clark wasn't making it any better, leaning hot against his back, sucking at the back of his neck, fingers fucking him into oblivion, teasing that spot one thrust out of five.

"Fucking - - bastard - -" He couldn't wrap his mouth around a cohesive sentence.

"I love you, too," Clark said, low and rough against his ear.

Then the fingers were gone and Clark was pressing against him, thick, blunt heat of his cock unrelenting as it pushed in. Pain blossomed and Lex keened at it, treasuring it, worshipping at the alter of it, wanting it deeper and harder and faster before it faded and pleasure took over.

Clark was exasperatingly slow easing in, the measured pressure of inhumanly hot flesh spreading Lex open. Clark allowed him moments he didn't want to adjust, before rocking slowly backwards, a gentle movement in counterpart to the unyielding pressure of the hand holding him down. Lex sobbed in frustration.

"Ready?" Clark leaned down and kissed his shoulder, too soft and too sweet for what Lex needed now. He hissed and Clark moved his hands to his hips.

The first serious thrust rocked him forward, knees leaving the floor, hands braced against the back couch cushion. The second took his breath and actually scraped the couch flush to the wall. Then Clark was driving into him with long, hard strokes, leaving no vulnerable spot untouched inside him.

Lex always marveled, when his mind would start working again afterwards, at the sheer control Clark practiced, knowing how much strength was just enough - - how hard was just hard enough to drive Lex over the edge and well beyond and not destroy him in the process. It always amazed Lex that he was capable of trusting anyone that completely.

The rhythm of Clark's thrusts slid him across the edge of the seat cushion, ground his cock against body warmed, slick leather. The clasp of it was as good as a hand, better even, edged with the hint of pain each time he was driven down by Clark's forward momentum. And - - God - - Clark had the angle down pat, hitting his prostate with each inward stroke and no amount of will power in the world could stave off the orgasm that rocked through him.

He screamed, body spasming, nails scoring leather. Teetered at the apex for a too brief moment of euphoria then soared down the other side, dizzy and blind and shuddering at the fall.

Clark paused a few beats, groaning as Lex tightened around him, fingers digging into Lex's hips, riding out Lex's climax, then shoving into him again in pursuit of his own. A dozen rapid thrusts, and Clark cried out, pressing into Lex balls deep and spilling so strong Lex could feel his cock jerking inside him.

Clark stilled, collapsing across Lex's back, catching his weight with his elbows on the cushions, breath gone a little harsh but not the ragged gasps that ripped though Lex. It wasn't the physical exhaustion that got to Clark, it was the mental. It always took a few moments for his brain to reboot after intense orgasm.

Lex would have been happy to indulge him, but his knees were beginning to hurt on the hardwood floor and the sticky feeling of come soaked leather against his stomach wasn't as much of a turn on now as it had been a while ago.

"Shower?" he suggested, cheek pressed to the seat cushion.

"Mmmm." Clark made a sound of assent, and shifted just enough so his softening penis slipped out.

Lex made a little, inadvertent sound and lifted himself up enough to get Clark moving. Clark sighed and rolled over, and onto the floor. He pulled Lex with him, across his lap.

"Good?" Clark pressed his cheek against the curve of Lex's shoulder, breathing deep.

Lex's laughter felt a little dazed. "Fishing for compliments?"

Clark nuzzled the fleshy part of his ear, lazy and satiated.

"Expectations exceeded." Lex leaned his head back and relaxed into the embrace.

"Yuck. You are filthy." Clark observed, hands smearing the cooling residue on Lex's stomach and chest. Lex twisted his head and gave him a look. Clark grinned and managed to get them both up on their feet without dumping Lex to the floor. Lex's legs weren't entirely pleased with the demands being placed upon them and other parts of him just wanted to sprawl somewhere and avoid movement altogether.

After the shower.

He put a hand on Clark's chest and pushed off. With the closet Clark called a shower - - the small, dark, dismally cramped closet - - there was little space for sharing.

"Clean that before it dries, or it'll stain." He waved a hand towards the couch. Fine Italian leather deserved better treatment, but what could you do?

"If you'd let me keep my couch, it wouldn't matter," Clark complained. Lex ignored that ludicrous statement and headed for the bathroom.

The brownstone's antique water heater promised a finite amount of hot water and Lex had endured the unpleasant sensation of a warm shower turning suddenly cold on at least two previous occasions. It encouraged quick showers.

He dried off and settled into the very nice, very broad bed, which had been the first housewarming gift he'd talked Clark into accepting from him, while Clark took his turn in the shower. The bed took a great deal of the room, only allowing for a dresser crammed up against the wall, and a charming deco fireplace, original to the building. Most of Clark's clutter was stuffed into egg crate cubbies in the apartment's acceptably spacious living room, as was Clark's desk/work area. Most of his junk - - and Lex used the term with complete authenticity - - was still in storage at the Kent Farm in Smallville.

He shut his eyes and drifted, naked on soft sheets - - also gifted by him to Clark - - and listened to the whine of the window unit AC as it attempted to take some of the heat and humidity out of the air. Clark could have cared less, but Lex didn't like extremes - - in temperature at least - - and Clark liked Lex reasonably happy when he stayed over.

He didn't hear Clark come in until the end of the bed dipped under his weight. Clark's hand slid up his ankle to his calf.

"Your knees," Clark said, and Lex cracked his eyes, looking down to the scabbed scrapes. They weren't deep and would be gone by tomorrow. Clark lay on his side, between his legs, half off the end of the bed, damp hair and stray beads of water on his broad shoulders.

Lex held up a similarly scraped palm and shrugged.

"You really fell hard," Clark commented and Lex shut his eyes and made a noncommittal sound, not wanting to expound on half-truths. Hoping Clark wouldn't push it.

"I don't like it when you get hurt," Clark grazed his lips over Lex's right kneecap.

"I'm not crazy about it myself."

"You should have told me when I had you on your knees on the floor." Clark kissed the other knee.

"Mmmm. I was distracted."

Clark moved his hands up the outside of Lex's thighs, fingers spread wide. Lex could feel his touch linger over little spots of faint soreness. Bruising from Clark's earlier grip that Lex didn't mind, but Clark always felt the need to do penance for after the fact.

Clark's mouth brushed in the wake of his fingers, warm and soft and Lex spread his limbs and let him have his way, lulled by the gentle touches.

"Have I mentioned," Clark murmured, lips brushing the inside of Lex's thigh. "How much I love your legs?"

His hair was tickling Lex's complacent cock and it felt nice. Nice enough to make interest stir.

"And your thighs - -" Clark sucked a little on the big vein on the inside of the right one. "Your thighs are really amazing."

"How about you veer a little east, and offer a critique there?"

Clark chuckled and slid up to lick Lex's hip. Licked his way across his stomach and flicked the tip of his tongue into the crater of his navel. A little breath escaped Lex at that and he squirmed away from the tingly sensation. Clark looked up and grinned at him, pleased with himself.

"I also love that you're ticklish."

"I'm not." It had to be denied for the sake of pride.

But Clark was on to other things, content with nuzzling and ghosting fingertips.

Clark mouthed his way down Lex's stomach, big hand whisper soft against his skin, stroking, petting and when Clark's lips closed around his cock, he shut his eyes and drifted, a gentler glide of ecstasy that lacked the hard edge of desperate need.

Tomorrow he'd go back to his towers of glass and steel and glittering wealth, and conduct business as usual in-between listening to reports of success or failure on the front of retaking dangerous meta-human threats. But tonight, he'd sleep in a brownstone apartment that had seen better days, with an air conditioning unit that wheezed as if it were keening its death note. Next to a man that didn't own a car, who lived from paycheck to paycheck and wouldn't take gifts without a fight, who could shatter iron in his hands and soar in the heavens, and filled that part of Lex that he'd thought hopelessly barren and empty.

Tonight, he'd sleep well.




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