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by P L Nunn




Lex was tired. It was more than the fading injuries, or the busy schedule, the near harassment from the police and the FBI now that he'd put himself on their radar, or the hurried maneuvering of pieces on the board to assure that LuthorCorp was beyond reproach - - from any direction - - in a mess that had eaten up the better part of a month.

He'd fended off another call from his father today, a late, late commentary about Friday's fiasco. Insinuations in his voice, sly little comments that Lex didn't know whether to take as Lionel's brand of teasing or subtle threats. He always assumed the later. Always with his father. Talking to Lionel always wore him to the bone.

Clark exhausted him. Clark took his purpose and shredded it, made him question himself and things he damned well knew to be right and necessary and just made him crazy trying to figure out exactly what it was that Clark wanted of him. As if Clark knew. As if Clark operated on anything other that gut instinct and his own personal code of ethics, brighter and shinier than the rest of the world. Unfaltering. Unreasonable.

Lex had tried to hate him for that indefatigable sense of righteousness time and again, but it never stuck. He couldn't hate Clark anymore for those qualities than he could hate him for being more than human. So much more than human. A young god with so much vitality and so much fucking blind hope. Welcoming, warm, generous - - critical, demanding, indignant when the world wasn't fairy tale bright.

Beautiful, beautiful eyes, glances from which could be addictive when they gleamed with affection and humor and passion. And when they flashed reproach, they could wound to the core.

Fuck, but Lex needed a drink. Or six.

He'd maybe gotten three down, barely enough to even hint at the numbness he was searching for when Clark came back. He landed on the penthouse terrace and stalked through the doors like he had a purpose, while Lex considered what face to put on to meet it. If there were more recriminations he was going to get testy. He might even regret getting rid of the clip of kryptonite bullets in the night table drawer if Clark decided to really push his buttons.

"That was locked," Lex complained about the sliding glass door. "Having to explain the bizarre damages to building and door locks to the maintenance crew is taxing my imagination."

"So don't explain. You're Lex Luthor." And caught his face in his hands and kissed him. It was a stunningly good kiss, on the merit of the surprise factor alone.

When Clark broke it, still holding on to the sides of Lex's neck and asked earnestly, "Can we go to bed?" there was no other sensible response than yes.

And afterwards, the comforter was on the floor and the sheets strewn mostly off the bed, the headboard loose from Clark's gripping hands when he'd spread himself out under Lex and moaned to high heaven when Lex had slid inside. And both of them had learned the valuable lesson that when Clark orgasmed, and clenched in uncontrollable reaction, easily damaged human body parts were best removed from harms way until the spasms were over. Clark had apologized profusely until Lex assured him - - and himself - - that no permanent damage was done and that he was capable of rising to the occasion again and then Clark had switched his contrition's to those offered with gentle hands and mouth. And Lex, not easily deterred or at least not liking to admit it, had gamely taken up where he'd abruptly stopped.

Which left Lex lying sated and exhausted and Clark sprawled next to him - - simply sated. And after a while Lex's mind started working again, because although Clark's methods of avoiding problems was highly satisfying, it didn't make the issues disappear.

"What do you expect of me?" he asked and there was silence for a moment, while Clark digested the question.

Then, a tentative, "What?"

Lex shifted onto his side to look down at Clark, sweaty black hair spidered on his forehead, a little frown of unease between his brows. He was good at pretending ignorance, but Lex knew it was simply evasion.

"You looked at me as if I'd shattered your illusions in the office this evening. Or skewed your worldview. I don't know what you expect of me, but I'm almost certain I can't live up to it."

Clark shut his eyes, silent and unmoving for a while, just breathing and thinking about things that ought to make Lex very nervous. Finally, he said. "I know what I am. I know what I'd like you to be and what you are. And maybe someday there'll be a happy medium. But probably not today. And I think I can live with that - - even if you piss me off."

"If I piss you off?" Lex gave him a narrow look, thinking of multi-million dollars in damaged property in various incidents that he was almost 100% certain Clark had been party to.

"Even if." Clark flashed that wide white grin of his, like it was amusing, then his eyes deepened, soul-serious and dark and he rose up on an elbow to stare solemnly at Lex. "I'll be here. There. Wherever. Okay? I'll try really hard not to jump to bad conclusions - - not without asking you first."

"And if you hear something you don't like?" Lex asked warily, feeling very much off his balance.

"Then you explain it to me and we go from there. That's how it works, right? Honesty and trust in a relationship? It would be nice for a change, don't you think?"

Honesty and trust. God. As if either of them were capable. And that look in Clark's eyes. It was ridiculous fiction. Romance and whimsical promises Lex could deal with, but that look just made him want to retreat. The last person that had looked at him like that, with nothing in their eyes but concern for him had been on a deathbed and he'd been twelve.

"It's a grand fucking sentiment," he said bitterly, on the offensive because that was the only way he knew to deal with the uncertainty. "but it wouldn't last through the first time I broke the rules in your personal play book. I know you."

"Are you trying to talk me out of dating you?"

"Dating?" Lex blinked at the concept, then. "I'm just trying introduce you to a tiresome little thing called reality."

"Yeah, dating. Seeing each other. Relationship. Whatever. I sort of like the idea. And I know all about reality, by the way, so don't get snotty with me, just because you're feeling insecure."

Clark cocked an eyebrow at him, daring him to deny it. Lex chewed on the inside of his cheek and thought up all manner of rebuttals, every one of which would have worked perfectly well on almost anyone but Clark, who'd had the uncanny ability to read him from almost the first time they'd met.

An annoyance and a comfort all in one. He settled back down onto the pillow. After a moment, Clark flopped back down, head on Lex's shoulder. "Did I mention that I think I lo - -"

"God! Don't say it." Lex flared, exasperated. Too many people had claimed it in the past and he was worse off because of it.

Clark chuckled. Lex could feel it against his skin when Clark turned his face into his shoulder. "You are seriously screwed up. You know this, right?"

Dignifying that with an answer wasn't going to happen. His mind was too busy churning possibilities, scenarios, calamities to form a vocal reply anyway.

Clark trailed idle fingers across Lex's stomach. Soothing touch. Big, warm hands.

"Did I tell you, I got a 94 in my Copy Editing mid-term today, " Clark said lazily, recounting the mundane aspects of his day and oddly enough, Lex wanted to hear about it. Meaningless talk that meant everything and helped soothe the frenetic workings of his own thoughts.

"Perry White's the new editor-in-chief. Sober as the day is long. Rumor is he's been in AA since the day he left Smallville- -"




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