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by P L Nunn


Chapter Eleven


Four hours of stark fear. Four hours when he hadn't known if Lex were alive or dead - - and all evidence had pointed towards dead, what with the bodies of his driver and bodyguard left like so much refuse on the street. A second car brutally twisted, casually splattered with the blood of the driver, who he'd heard a rescue technician say had probably already been close to dead when someone had put a bullet in his head. And Lex just gone, maybe to be made an example of in some twisted mob-mentality justice. Every bloody scene in every Godfather movie Clark had ever seen raced through his head. Amazing how much darker his imagination could be, when the life on the line was vital to him. How hard it was to think past fear and anger and the need to do something - - anything to make headway.

In retrospect, he hadn't been rational. He'd gone after the two men he did know to be involved in this mess like a madman and people had seen his face and seen him do questionable things. He'd wrecked that bar and injured people that more than likely had nothing to do with Lex or Gotham based interests. And found nothing but dead ends and railed at the world until his phone had rang and he could breath again at the sound of Lex's voice.

He'd almost taken out that boat. Come damned close to just ripping a hole in her hull and watching her sink in the sluggish current of the river. The blood on Lex's cheek had been stark against his pale skin, and the side of his face sported several ugly bruises and for a while all that Clark had been able to think about was hurting the people responsible. But he stopped himself, having gained enough calm back, enough reason after setting Lex down on dry land, that his own survival instincts kicked in and he figured it was simpler just to cripple the barge and let the MPD take care of the problem than risk a boat full of men seeing his face and remembering it, just to bleed off built up tension.

After that, the evening belonged to the Metropolis PD, the FBI, LuthorCorp Security and the baying cries of the press who'd been all over this story since the first reports of the bloody gunfight on the street and the kidnapping of the richest man in Metropolis. Lex let himself be pulled into it and refused to let Clark near. Vehemently garnered a promise to keep his face and his name clear of the incident, before the first LuthorCorp sedan screeched up, the howl of police sirens not far behind.

Clark had balked, until Lex had asked how desperately he wanted his face plastered across the front page along with his, how badly he needed the scrutiny of the authorities and how he'd answer questions that were sure to be damning.

"Let me deal with this. I can work this out without things coming to light that don't need to. Don't make it more difficult for me, Clark." Lex had hissed at him, at the corner of an intersection where the river could be seen four blocks down one way and the misty spires of downtown rose above the stark simplicity of the warehouses down the other.

Clark had stared at him, at the dried blood on his face and the bright urgency in his eyes and realized that Lex was trying to protect him. To shield him and Lex couldn't do that if Clark was there, in the way, unwittingly contradicting whatever story Lex had come up with to deal with unwanted questions. So he'd given in, despite every protective instinct he had screaming at him to stay and defend - - even when there was nothing tangible to defend against anymore.

He didn't go far though, watching and listening on the roof of a warehouse a block away, while Lex gave an initial statement of what had happened to the police. The men on the barge were being brought in, bodies and all, on a police cruiser, while tugboats pulled the barge to dock.

There were bodies scattered and the police weren't treating Lex with the kid gloves they had after the explosion and perhaps that was due to the FBI that had been stalking around the scene of the kidnapping, trying to exert their influence, and the MPD needing to prove their own control over the situation by taking Lex down to Merrimont Plaza Central to give his statement, instead of taking it at LuthorCorp West.

The press was crowded outside like a flock of impatient vultures waiting for a scrap of anything. This was better than the car bomb by far - - shootouts on the street, murders, kidnapping, rumors of organized crime associations with LuthorCorp interests. Clark mixed with the crowd and listened to the speculation, frowning at the slurs and the insinuations. Frowning again as he wondered if any of them might be true.

He could find Lex inside, among the multitude of bodies crowding the MPD's central headquarters and if he concentrated, willed himself to block out all the other outside noises, he could focus on the familiar sound of his voice. There were mentions of attempted extortion, pressure on union sanctioned workers on some LuthorCorp construction project in Gotham, of refusal to submit to payoffs and bribery and retaliation from certain underworld interests.

It was like Lex had been planning his lies for weeks, not the eight blocks they had walked before the world caught up with them. He had answers for everything, glib deceptions that Clark heard bits and pieces of past the occasional distraction of the crowd or police radios blaring reports of traffic accidents, crimes, disturbances, all the everyday conflicts that were part and parcel of a big city.

And two hours later, when they let him go, Lex avoided the media altogether, retreating in one of the two LuthorCorp sedans while the press bemoaned the lack of comment from the victim of the spectacle. A department spokeswoman came out to appease them, or deliver as much appeasement as possible concerning an ongoing investigation. Clark didn't stay to listen, shadowing Lex all the way back to LuthorCorp West where he disappeared in a ring of security to his offices.

Where Clark wasn't wanted. Lex had said he'd call. When it was safe. Free of witnesses and questions and the things Lex needed to take care of to reinforce his claims to the police. So Clark went across the street to the Planet, where he should have been all along, hoping after the fact that his abrupt absence hadn't put him in shit that was too deep to wade out of.

Chloe was still there, at her desk and typing away at her computer. A dozen other reporters were, because there as no such thing as 9 to 5 in this line of work, and especially not now with another Luthor centered breaking story to cover. She looked up at him when he came in, waited until he was at her desk before saying quietly.

"You went after him. Lex." It wasn't a question.

He shrugged, because he wasn't going to lie to her outright. Not about that.

She shook her head, gave him a tired smile and said. "Once a hero . . . I shouldn't be surprised, huh? How'd you know?"

Where, how, who? She might have been asking anything. "He called me."

She looked at him closer, considering that, wondering what he wasn't telling her and deciding maybe that she could wait it out and let him fill her in on the rest on his time, not hers. She'd mellowed a lot over the years, learning it was easier to earn his confidences if prying wasn't involved.

"You ought to ask for an exclusive. It would get you off the hook for bailing work today."

"That got noticed, huh?" He gave her a little, pained grin and she snorted.

"Yeah. I think Marty had you in mind for some more Crypt work today."

"Great," Clark muttered. He could have gotten the front page if he'd reported half of what he knew of the situation. And hell, Chloe had been turning out articles for years about the crazy shit that had, to a bunch of kids that had never really left the boundaries of their hometown, seemed centered on their small portion of the world. Their personal exploits, only minus personal involvement.

That's what reporters did, they reported. Shared what they'd seen with their eyes and uncovered with their persistence and he had seen an awful lot of things. He wouldn't use Lex though. Wouldn't use the fragile exclusivity that he most definitely had even if it might gain him regular front-page status. A name. A reputation in the business. But a reputation just wasn't that important to him. Not like it was to Chloe or Lois.

He thought he'd rather have Lex's trust. If such a thing were possible. If Lex even knew how to invest total faith in anyone anymore. There were only so many times you could get burned before you stopped trying altogether and Lex had been let down a lot, by people that should have been looking out for him. And maybe Clark was included in that number, by omission or choice, one time or another.

"I guess you didn't hear, then," Chloe broke his train of thought and he looked down at her. "Word is we've got a new editor-in-chief and I think you know him."

Clark got tired of waiting for Lex to call long before Chloe packed up and went home. He kept himself busy for as long as he could, finished a story he'd started researching - - oh a week ago - - before he'd gotten thoroughly distracted. Went up to the roof to look across the street and see how many potential witnesses were still active in and around Lex's office. Went back downstairs and called his mother, told her he'd probably be home late - - if at all - - and she asked him, with a quiet sort of worry in her voice if everything was okay. Of course. Nothing to worry about. Go to bed, mom, it's late. See you tomorrow.

He went up to the roof again, saw a lull in activity within the confines of the executive office and decided enough was enough. A handful of seconds and he was on the terrace outside the posh meeting lounge off Lex's office. The glass doors weren't latched, so maybe Lex had been expecting him. Or maybe someone, gardener or janitorial staff had simply forgot to lock them after work. It wasn't like the threat of intrusion fifty stories up was that great a concern.

He slipped inside, quietly sliding the doors shut behind him, and did one more scan to make sure no one was striding down the hall outside towards Lex's office. There was security down the hall, and Lex's assistant's desk was empty. Lex was in his, the fingers of one hand resting on the glass covered keyboard in his desk. He was all focused energy, Clark could see it in the lines of his body, straight and rigid, stubborn. Refusing to admit that a body needed to stop now and then, even in the face of obsession. Clark was tired after today. Maybe not physically, but he felt it in the thread of his thoughts.

Then Lex saw him, and his fingers froze on the keyboard, the rolling sense of forward momentum that had oozed off of him a moment ago stalling.

"I got tired of waiting." Clark moved towards the desk. Lex tapped a key and the screen went to screen saver. Clark told himself not to care. That was just Lex being cautious, one little piece in the whole Lex-trust issue.

"I still have things to do."

"What things?"

Lex gave him a 'you don't expect me to answer that, do you?' look and Clark braced a palm on the desk and the closest chair arm and shrugged it off.

"Are you on something? Amphetamines? Main-lining caffeine? Shouldn't you be slowing down by now?"

Lex's expression softened a little, a faint grain of humor touching his eyes. "I'm in a zone Clark and I like to finish what I start. Some of my adrenaline highs actually come from the satisfaction of success, believe it or not."

Clark swiveled the chair, got a hand on the other arm and his shin pressed against the edge of the seat between Lex's knees. Lex's expression flickered, interested despite himself, despite the lure of his machinations.

"You sure you're okay?"

The cut on his cheek was thin and scabbed over. The bruises were shadowy blushes on translucent skin in the muted light. He hadn't let Clark really touch him since snatching him off the barge, surly in his avoidance of seeming weakness. The corners of his mouth twitched up though, and he held up the casted hand.

"There was a suggestion this afternoon of cracking this open. I'm beginning to think it was a good plan."

Clark eyed the proffered wrist, the miraculously almost melded bones and cartilage. Almost perfect, with little of the callous formations that grew over most healing bone. But not quite yet.

"Ask me again next week and maybe."

Lex shrugged and laid the hand on his thigh, since Clark was hogging the arm rests. "You should go home. Get a night's sleep or do whatever it is you do on a Friday night. You still have friends, don't you?"

"I have a few," Clark said dryly.

"Some of the things I'm working on are time sensitive."

"The story you told the police in your statement? Union scandal? Extortion? Is there even a LuthorCorp project in Gotham?"

Lex frowned at him, not even close to being used to Clark's unique methods of gleaning secrets. For a man used to the clandestine and covert it was bound to make him uneasy. "Of course there is. How sloppy do you think I am?"

"I don't think you're sloppy at all. Devious and underhanded . . ."

"Shut up."

Clark grinned, leaned down and kissed him. Lex curled his fingers into Clark's hair at the nape of his neck, thumb stroking the skin beneath, mouth slow and easy under Clark's. Soft lips, rough velvet tip of a tongue that lazily teased the inside of Clark's mouth. Clark sank down, onto his knees before the chair, Lex's thighs pressing his hips, hard, long muscles under his hands. He was fever hot so quickly he'd hardly realized it was rushing up on him. He reared forward, trying to deepen the kiss and Lex leaned back, breaking it. The chair tried to roll backwards and Clark kept it from moving with his grip on Lex's legs.

"I need to finish this," Lex reaffirmed his earlier statement, his breathing only half again faster than it had been and his eyes only a little brighter.

"Right now?" Clark pulled a bit, sliding Lex's hips to the edge of the chair, Lex's groin firm against his belly. Lex grabbed the armrests, a hitched breath escaping.

"Right now would be preferable."

Clark ran his hands up Lex's thighs, luxuriating in the feel of lined trousers sliding against smooth skin underneath.

"Not ten minutes from now?"

"Ten minutes wouldn't be enough." Lex argued, lashes fluttering down against pale cheeks when Clark slid his hands around his hips, fingers pressing into the small of his back.

"I can be really, really fast."

"That's not necessarily a quality that merits bragging rights. Oh."

Clark pulled him off the chair and onto his lap, leaning back with Lex's weight on this thighs and the skin of Lex's throat at mouth level. He pressed his mouth between the open collar and licked the hollow at the base, nipped at the knob where the clavicle met the sternum. Wonderful skin, silk on the outside, hard underneath. Angles and bones and jutty places because Lex just didn't have proper eating habits and Clark couldn't have loved running his hands over him more.

"Fuck." Lex said softly and said it again, but it was more like a moan than a word, when Clark sucked at the juncture of neck and shoulder.

Lex's fingers tangled in his hair, pulling, and it felt nice, a vague tingle against his skull, not as nice as the solid feel of muscle and tendon under his mouth, or Lex's weight on the erection in his pants or the feel of Lex's back under his hand.

"Damnit - - Clark. If you leave a mark I will hunt you down and hurt you." Lex had his breath back, and maybe the hauling on his hair hadn't been foreplay. Clark pulled away reluctantly, tilting his head back to look up at Lex, who was flushed and dark-eyed and probably in control of a lot more of his wits that Clark. Clark let his eyes flicker down to the spot on Lex's neck that had so fascinated him. There was a blossoming, irregular patch of pink. If he were optimistic, he'd say that Lex's collar would hide it, if he were buttoned up with a tie.

Clark looked back up with a weak smile and Lex narrowed his eyes.

"Okay," Lex said with a huff of faint irritation. "There needs to be a safe word."

"What?" Clark asked blankly.

"You know," Lex said, his fingers still clenched very tightly in Clark's hair, but leaning in close to breathe next to his mouth. "A word that, say if I felt the need for you to tie me up, maybe punish me in really dirty ways for my misdeeds, a word that I would use if I truly, honestly wanted you to stop."

"Why not just say 'stop?" Clark's cock was achingly tight in his jeans, because frankly, the way Lex said that, sort of hinted that it might be something he'd bring up one day. He was going to burst the zipper anytime now.

Lex sighed and rested his forehead against Clark's for a moment. "I could, but that's really not the point. You take the fun out of things."

"All you ever have to say is stop." Clark said softly, feeling suddenly awkward and foolish and guilty. Because of course there would be follow-ups tomorrow with the police or the FBI or someone else as humorlessly professional and the edge of a hickey peeking out from under Lex's collar would be embarrassing. Clark would personally be mortified, on Lex's behalf. On the bright side, at the rate Lex healed, it would be gone by tomorrow afternoon.

"Sorry," he murmured. Lex shut his eyes, shook his head minutely like he was dealing with a moody teenager, then pulled Clark's head back and kissed him. Kissed him again and deeper while Clark leaned back with his hands braced behind him on the floor and let Lex do what ever Lex wanted. Which seemed to involve pushing himself up Clark's body, and thoroughly taking charge of his mouth. The feel of Lex's cock against his stomach, hard solid length through expensive pants, Lex pressing against him, grinding his hips against the ripple of Clark's abdomen, tongue meaty slick soft in Clark's mouth, thrusting like he was fucking . . .

Clark came in his jeans, just shuddered and released, gasping against Lex's mouth, fingers digging into the carpet behind him. Lex kept kissing him until the last shudder passed, then pulled away, teeth bared a little, eyes dilated and narrow, then let himself slide down Clark's thighs until his knees were on the floor, like he'd planned the whole thing, getting Clark off. Lex was still hard, and Clark would have happily taken care of that for him, but Lex pushed himself up, arranging himself a little as he stood, taking a calming breath and stating evenly.

"As much as you would have thought I'd learned from past mistakes, I don't have a change of clothes in the office. So don't give me that look. It'll go away on its own once you go find somewhere else to - -" he stopped mid-sentence and stared down at the floor behind Clark. Clark looked back and saw ten finger spaced holes in the carpet that probably went down into the flooring underneath.

Lex took another breath, composing himself and Clark could just imagine the wheels turning, as Lex tried to figure out how he was going to explain this to the repair crew.

"Sooo, you're really okay and - - everything?"

"Get out."

Clark knew good advice when he heard it. He was out of there before Lex starting figuring out those ways to hunt him down and hurt him.

Two days later Anton Solomon was dead. Chloe showed Clark the post from the wire feed. Showed him information that he hadn't known before. That the MPD had not been able to hold Solomon on the kidnapping charges, because Lex hadn't identified him as one of the culprits. There had been a lot of legal maneuvering with lawyers coming down from Gotham, and Anton Solomon had been released, a person of great interest in the investigation and warned not to leave the state.

Which of course, he had, straight away, heading back to Gotham. A mistake, because the Gotham papers claimed that it had been a mob hit and Chloe's inside sources went even further and supposed that it had been a 'Family' matter.

"It seems like," Chloe said. "Information came to light, concerning Anton Solomon doing a lot of business outside the organization. Nobody is printing that yet, because nobody has been able to pin down solid facts. But from what I hear from very reliable sources, is that the Solomon family had no idea about the alleged 'extortion' at the LuthorCorp construction site, but that proof of it supposedly reached the elder Solomon's. Not only that, but information about the younger Solomon buying out a few small family franchises and rumor running wild that he was trying to undermine his big brothers. They apparently didn't take it well."

"It doesn't look like," Clark said slowly, scanning the article concerning the 'hit' that had taken place in a Gotham club called the Scapegoat Lounge. He'd been gunned down in the middle of dinner Sunday evening.

"It's really coincidental," Chloe surmised. "That this just happened to come to light now. If he were doing all this, trying to position himself for a move up, he was doing it really blatantly. Ether that or he had a death wish. Or somebody set him up. Somebody with an excruciating eye for detail. So why didn't Lex ID him after the Police brought him in for questioning again?"

Clark would have loved an answer to that, that didn't make his gut churn with unease. And Chloe had that self-satisfied look on her face she got when she'd convinced herself she knew the answers to mysteries untold.

"Miss Sullivan, I don't see a story on my desk."

Chloe looked up, the satisfaction turning to a wide-eyed 'oh shit' expression at the complaint called out across the newsroom.

"Oh my God," she whispered to Clark as she brushed him aside to bring up a file and hastily hit print. "One day, and I'm already on the new Chief's shit list."

Clark stared across the newsroom, saw the time worn face of a man he'd known briefly years ago. Chloe had told him Perry White had gotten the job. He'd half expected it to be some other man by the same name, because the one he'd known had been disillusioned and wasted. But not so much that he hadn't almost discovered Clark's secret. Chloe said he'd come to them via a stint at the Chicago Tribune and an assistant editorship at the New York Times. Perry had been busy the last five years.

Clark was spotted and he wasn't sure why he had the urge to flee before Perry could navigate the busy newsroom between them.

Chloe spun on her heel as he came up, her newly printed article held out like an offering. He took it out of her hands, eyes scanning the text, a slouch shouldered man at the end of middle age in a rumpled white shirt with a coffee stain on the collar and a loosened tie and ink stains on his fingers.

"I understand you have the tendency to miss work, Kent," he commented, without looking up from reading.

Clark swallowed, caught under the scope. "Well - -"

"Won't do in my newsroom, even for interns and especially not for staff reporters. Not unless you come back with a story in hand. I can tell you from experience, you get off track, it's hard to get back on."

There was confidence here that hadn't been, years ago in backwater Kansas, a man that had rediscovered his calling - - born again newspaperman. Almost frightening concept.

"Uh, yes sir?"

"Of course, yes. And stop hiding in the damn crypts, boy. Go out there and write. That's what you're here to learn, damnit. Take a page from Miss Sullivan here. Even if her last two stories were about trash, she got to the heart of it." He thrust the story back to Chloe with a nod of approval and 'get it to copy'.

He slapped Clark on the shoulder, attention already snagged by a passing journalist. "Good to see you in it, Kent. Where's that damned kid with the 4th street fire pictures?"

And Perry was off and Chloe was hurrying to get her story to the copy editor who'd get it to press before the printer's started rolling, while Clark stood there feeling like he'd been bowled over by too much information in too short a time.

Lex hadn't identified Anton Solomon because Lex had wanted him on the street. Lex didn't do things arbitrarily and Lex had been very intent on tying up loose ends Friday night. Sometimes Clark wanted to believe coincidences were every day occurrences, even though he very well knew better.

He had not seen Lex all weekend. Lex had been busy and Clark had work to catch up with on the farm, the harvest of the first crop of the year, and the semi-annual Main street farmer's market in downtown Smallville to deal with all day Sunday. Farmers from all over the county gathered, showing off the bounty of first crops, sharing homemade food and gossip and camaraderie. His mom knew everyone young and old. Funny how so many of the faces Clark recognized as schoolmates were still here, rooted to this town, following in their father's footsteps in a way that Clark desperately wanted not to do.

He'd passed by the Talon. Saw Lana inside laughing quietly with her new beau and passed on by, because she would call him over to talk and he'd go, because even now he couldn't refuse her and he'd be miserable. Easier to avoid her altogether. He hadn't been inside the Talon in 6 months.

He'd called Lex Sunday night, after they'd gotten home and put everything in its place and he and his mom had sat drinking coffee and eating the last of the two pies she'd had left over from the market. It had been late and Lex had sounded tired and Clark wondered now if he'd known about Anton Solomon's murder when they'd spoken.

Happy coincidence.

Clark turned it over in his head all day. All through class and carried it into work with him. He worked on a fluff piece about the Smallville farmer's market and all the not-so-much kids of his generation that were carrying on family tradition, caught in the cycle generation after generation. If anyone in Smallville ever actually saw it, they might find his social commentary less than appealing. Perry took three minutes to read it at the end of the day, said the content was good, but the fluff clogged his sinuses and to harden it up, then tossed it aside, which was a relief of sorts.

He went to Lex's office after work. Didn't call, just went in the front way, a lot, lot easier this time than weeks ago when Lex hadn't wanted to see him. The receptionist called up and he got ushered to the elevator, straight shot up and walked down the swank hall with its museum quality art to the reception area where Lex's secretary smiled at him and told him that Mr. Luthor was on a conference call and please take a seat while he finished.

Clark flipped through a Metropolitan Arts Magazine, a Newsweek, a Time Magazine while he waited, and the secretary kept tossing him surreptitious glances like she was trying to figure him out.

"Mr. Kent. He'll see you now." He looked up from an article on US Forces in yet another Middle Eastern country and smiled his thanks and the woman blushed a little.

Lex gave him a curious half smile when he walked in. Grey suit, white shirt, grey tie. Very Forbes. Like he'd been meeting with people today that wouldn't understand a flair for style and he'd been dressing down to impress. Odd, Clark thought, that plain conservative, even thousand dollar plain conservative, made Lex seem somehow younger than the casual chic of his preferred clothing. Or maybe it just made him seem less predatory.

"So, you're recovered from Farmer's market?"

"Anton Solomon was murdered last night." Clark stopped in front of the desk and said it flat out.

"So I've heard." Lex leaned back, head against the back of his chair, the smile gone, eyes grey-green in neutrality.

"Tell me," Clark asked, wanting not to believe. "That you didn't have anything to do with it."

"It would be naïve to think I didn't, wouldn't it?" Lex said smoothly, everything smooth, unfaceted, like he'd crafted a mask to hide emotion. "Considering the facts - - well, you're not that naïve."

"Lex, he was gunned down. Two of his men were killed with him."

Lex sat forward, slowly, cold eyed. "I'm paying for five funerals. If certain information was leaked, certain allegations suggested . . . That's the cost of doing business in the mob. There's no blood on my hands. If you choose to see it otherwise, then that's your prerogative. It would frankly be out of character if you didn't."

The stab of disappointment hurt. The lurching of his gut felt like betrayal, although Clark wasn't sure why it felt so damned personal. It wasn't personal, any more than any of the other things Lex had engineered over the years that Clark had found intolerable.

He nodded once, sharply, wanting away from Lex now, and though taking off from the terrace would have been a quicker route to escape, since he'd come in the front way, he needed to be seen exiting it. He turned on his heel and left, and maybe it was wishful thinking, but he thought he saw Lex flinch, mask cracking that instant when he thought he had Clark's back. Maybe.

He flew to Gotham. He didn't have a plan, or intention of doing anything but soaring over the sprawling, soot grey mass of a city older than Metropolis and so much more riddled with decay. He didn't set down, just hovered for a while in night dark sky and listened to the distant sounds of sirens and alarms, of the occasional gunshot and scream that he picked up through the collected cacophony of noise. Even in the dead of night, Metropolis was a shining beacon compared to Gotham. Little wonder crime ran rampart.

He left Gotham airspace, depressed, and flew north. Fast. Pushing himself until Canada passed beneath him in a blur and soon there was land cut up by channels of cold, cold water and then only the white of icebound land.

A few weeks ago, if he'd have burst in on Lex and demanded the truths of him that he had tonight, he would have gotten glib diversions or outright lies. Lex hadn't lied to him. Hadn't told him outright, I had this rumor planted, I bought off this interest and created a money trail that would lead interested parties exactly where I wanted them, but still, he hadn't lied. And he hadn't lifted a gun himself, or ordered violence - - God, Clark really hoped not - - he had simply taken care of a problem in the same ruthless manner in which he'd been attacked.

Was turnabout fair play when lives were involved? Clark couldn't justify it, but maybe Lex could and would sleep just fine. Hell, the government justified it all the time, which didn't make it right, or necessarily wrong. Just biblical. Eye for an eye - - human nature. Some humans just played nastier than others. But all of them - - and it felt odd not including himself in that thought - - had the same basic instincts.

He didn't believe in God. Not the god his mother did, but he did believe in forgiveness and second chances, because he'd be a hypocrite otherwise, as much as he'd fucked up trying to get a grip on adulthood - - as much as he'd hurt people that he loved.

Like Lex. Who he'd rend mountains for, and die for and maybe, in the heat of the moment if passion and rage got the better of him, kill for. Not a comfortable thought, but he'd almost been there Friday in the grip of terrified desperation. The least he could do - - the very least, was give him the benefit of the doubt.

He sat down on icy ground frosted with light snow and wondered what the hell he was doing in the furthest reaches of Greenland when he really ought to be in Metropolis dealing with his issues head on instead of running from them.

Idiot. Plain and simple.




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