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What you Sow

by P L Nunn

 

Part Ten

 

There was a two-hour delay getting off the ground due to weather that had decided to put a dent in Lex's plans. Which meant, by the time he drove the two and half hours to the airport outside Metropolis and impatiently paced the private terminal waiting for air traffic control to clear the LuthorCorp jet for take off, it was after midnight when he finally got into the air.

The delays, the lack of sleep and the fact that though scotch never left him with anything more than fond memories, vodka inevitably made his head pound, put him in less than a tolerant mood when they finally sat down at LaGuardia. Being told by his people, upon arrival, that they'd lost track of the Twins, didn't improve the mood.

"Sir, we followed them though half of Manhattan, but our people couldn't get into the last club they entered and they never came back out - - at least through the front entrance."

"Where are they staying?" He suppressed the urge to rail at the man for not having the credentials to gain entrance to what was no doubt one of the cities more exclusive clubs. There were simply some places you didn't get into unless your face was plastered on the front of magazines or movie screens or your bank account had a ridiculous number of zeros attached.

"They have a yacht at harbor - - the Dionysia. But they haven't returned to it."

Par for the course, if the Twin's habits were anything like they'd been when Lex had known them - - and from all indications, they'd changed little over the years - - to the ruination of their father's empire. But if drugs and sex and notoriety were all they craved, then the remainder of the Daniakos fortune would easily supply them a lifetime's worth of debauchery. Unless they'd been plying their hands at fucking with Lex's life - - in which case he might have something to say about the length of those lifetimes - - or the stability of Daniakos prosperity.

Lex pinched the bridge of his nose, willing the headache to recede. It didn't seem inclined to take orders.

The ride through Queens to the Queensboro Bridge and into Manhattan was quiet and relatively traffic free at three a.m. and there wasn't a damned thing to do, without a bead on his quarry but check into the hotel and wait till they showed. Which very well might not be till after the clubs opened again and they were back out on the prowl.

He got a suite at the Mandarin Oriental, his lodging of choice when visiting New York, and someone's reservation probably got bumped in their eagerness to accommodate him. He got an executive suite with a Central park view. Clean white furniture with rich mahogany trim and windows that looked out over the twilight vista of upper Manhattan.

The bar was fully stocked and he considered it for a moment, before dismissing the urge, wandering into the bedroom and letting himself collapse into softness. He lay there for a while, the room spinning a little behind closed lids, the cool, processed hotel air clearing his head.

The gun in his pocket poked against his hip, and with a sigh, he sat up, shrugging out of the coat, tossing it across the chair opposite the bed. He toed off his shoes and scooted back against pillows, not particularly caring if he fell asleep in his clothes. He'd have them pressed in the morning and maybe go to Bodaro's and pick up a change of clothing while he was waiting for word on the Twins. He hadn't been to Bodaro's in a long time, or John James in the Garmet district.

He should have stopped and packed a bag - - or called and had one delivered - - he'd had the time, after all with the weather delays. But his focus had been off - - or too narrowed - - he wasn't sure which, and the minor details that he usually paid so much attention to, had been overlooked. It was distracting, the subtle feeling of something fractured - - but not.

The rain on Clark's dark hair had sparkled like diamond dust. The image came out of nowhere. Stayed with him while he lay there, melting into fine hotel linen. If he put his hands in it, the shards would melt away like snow - - absorbed by Clark's heat, because Lex's fingers were cold - -

He blinked - - light filling his vision from floor to ceiling windows that he hadn't bothered to pull the shades on when nothing but darkness graced the other side. Someone was knocking on the door, and his people would have called before coming up and hotel staff wouldn't have dared interrupt a guest in their room, unsummoned - - and even then they wouldn't be insistent about it.

Lex twisted his wrist around to look at the time. 9 o'clock. Sharp. Almost six hours sleep had cleared his head, but he still had the taste of a day old binge in his mouth. And whoever was beating on his door was going to lose a job or gain a problem.

He slipped on his shoes, thought about tucking in the shirt, but it was rumpled enough that it would hardly matter and he wasn't out to impress people on his shit list.

He stalked through the suite and snatched the door open. Stood there a second looking at an annoyed looking Clark Kent before slamming it shut in his face.

How the hell - -? It was just damned annoying - - beyond annoying and well into infuriating - - how Clark always ended up exactly in the places Lex least expected and most certainly didn't want him. Clark was supposed to be tilling fields and sowing seeds in fucking Smallville - - not showing up at his doorstep in the most exclusive hotel in Manhattan. How had he even known? Who on Lex's staff could have slipped the information? Some advocate of Lana's, doling out information on the side? Had he followed him to the airport? In his truck, at the speeds Lex had been going down a rain slick highway? Unlikely?

Lex made it to the bar, before turning on his heel with a smothered curse and heading back to the door. He opened it again to Clark's glower and forced his own expression into one of barely controlled neutrality.

"How did you get here?" Which wasn't necessarily the right question, but Clark got under his skin in a way no boardroom adversary ever had.

"You're the only one allowed to fly?" Clark retorted with just enough surliness in his voice to make Lex think he probably had spent the last few hours with his big body crammed into the cheap seats of a commuter plane.

Lex rethought his line of questioning. "How did you find me?"

Clark shrugged, a little more uncomfortable with that one, and countered with a prying question of his own. "Have you talked to them, yet?"

Lex wanted to snap that it wasn't Clark's business and for him to back off - - but, they'd already covered that ground and Lex had been drunk then too and agreed to something he shouldn't have.

Clark disrupted his calm badly enough sober; he really needed to stop encountering him three sheets to the wind. How the hell had he overheard? But then, Lex used to have a room full of answers about Clark that he didn't know the proper questions to. Or was that the other way around? Sometimes the questions and answers surrounding Clark ran muddied in his head.

"I don't know what you think you know, but you've wasted a trip. Go home, Clark."

"No."

If he'd had hair - - Clark would have had him pulling it out in frustration. The idea of yanking on Clark's and using it as a handle to slam his head repeatedly against the wall was an attractive one.

"What are you hiding, Lex?"

"Many, many things. You go first and we'll start spilling secrets."

Clark glared.

Maybe it was simply habit, too long ingrained, that dictated he keep his secrets close, whether they were incriminating or not. Maybe it was just Clark. But having this debate - - especially when Clark had no concept of voice modulation - - halfway in the hall of the Mandarin Oriental was in decidedly poor taste.

He grabbed one flannel sleeve and pulled Clark across the thresh hold. Clark stepped into the room grudgingly and Lex shut the door behind him. They protected the privacy of their guests ferociously here, so how Clark had discovered his room number was another mystery.

"So, have you talked to them yet?" Clark repeated.

Lex gave him a look, wondering how he'd even gotten upstairs dressed like he'd just walked in out of the field. Mud spattered jeans and blue flannel were the sort of thing that stood out in upscale Manhattan locales.

"No. How did you know I'd found them at all?"

Clark chewed his lip - - no small bit distracting to see the corner of a full lower lip sucked into Clark's mouth - - and finally declared stubbornly. "I heard part of your conversation - - I could see it on your face."

Which was a horrifying thought, that he could be so transparent that Clark, who was undeniably intelligent and bright, but often painfully unobservant about the important things, could decipher the whys and wherefores of this trip from one side of a phone conversation and a misplaced expression.

"While I'm impressed by your powers of deduction, Clark - - if I had needed your help or wanted it, I would have asked. When I said I'd let you know if I found out any pertinent information, I meant it. Clearly, I haven't found out any yet. If you feel outside of the loop -- well, I'm sorry, but it's not your loop."

Lex moved into the bedroom, ignoring the glare, reaching for his phone inside his jacket pocket. Clark trailed behind him, stopping at the doorway, eyes drawn to the fantastic view of Central park and the towering monoliths of grey flanking the red and oranges of fall foliage. He wondered idly if this was Clark's first time in New York. Certainly seeing it from this view had to be a first for him.

Lex checked for voice mails, listened to his man in the city report that the Daniakos had not returned to the yacht and that there was still no sign. Lex wasn't concerned. As long as the boat was in harbor, they'd be in the city and as long as they were in the city, they were predictable. They'd stick to routine. He'd find them tonight.

"What are you going to do, Lex?" Clark asked, tearing his gaze away from the windowscape and fixing it on Lex.

"Buy you a return ticket home. I'll even spring for Business."

Clark kept staring, not amused.

Lex considered having him bodily thrown out. Maybe even physically put on a plane home - - only he doubted Clark would go easily and Clark's unique durability was no less pronounced than his absolute, infuriating doggedness.

Clark would be pissed and it occurred to Lex, that there'd been a sort of détente between them recently - - an odd, fragile cessation of overt hostilities - - and strangely enough he found the thought of destroying it disagreeable.

"Lex, if you thought this was nothing - - that these people had nothing to do with - - her - - you wouldn't have hopped on a plane and flown out here in the middle of the night. So stop trying to pretend its nothing."

Lex turned, expecting the glower and got something more imploring. Got Clark tired of the fencing and looking at him for something he hadn't wanted to give in a long time - - honesty. That Clark thought he might give it was unsettling. That Lex had the need to provide it made his head ache a little.

"We've lost track of them," he said shortly. "But they'll be out tonight and word will get around because they like to make entrances. I'll have people watching the places they're most likely to go."

"And then?" Clark's eyes were fixed on him. Big. Intent. Leaf green in the bright morning light flooding the room through the windows. There had been times when Clark used to look at him and his mind would blank, all his finely honed grasp of language stalled when confronted with the statistical improbability that nature, left to its own devices could come up with something so lacking in imperfections.

He almost fell into the trap now, but pulled himself back from the brink.

"Then I go and have a talk with them."

"We." Clark amended.

Lex felt the inclination to laugh and stifled it. Looked Clark up and down instead, from the worn workman's boots to the flannel, a bit of thread unraveling from a tear at the seam in the shoulder, missing a button, two from the bottom. Repeated the look because - - well, there was simply a lot of Clark to take in.

"When I go looking for clues at the Wild Coyote, you'll fit right in. They won't let you past the door at the Marquee. I believe there's a rule against plaid - - unless kilts or mini-skirts are involved."

Clark lifted a brow, miraculously not offended back onto a glare.

"And which will you be wearing?" Clark asked, deadpan.

"Well, the Luthor's are Scottish - -" There was a rhythm to both verbal sparring and flirtation that was almost identical, and Lex fell into it without missing a beat. "And I've been told I have nice legs."

Clark's eyes flicked down the length of the aforementioned legs, then back up with an accompanying blush.

Lex lifted an eyebrow of his own, waiting for the comeback that would allow the dance to continue. But Clark had his mind on other things - - things connected to the blush - - and he had seen Lex's legs recently, as well as the rest of him, so he probably had an opinion.

Lex would have given quite a bit to know what it was, but he settled on being satisfied with the blush. The ability to make Clark color had never failed to please.

Not that it had ever been a feat, to tweak the modesty of a sheltered Kansas farm boy and twenty-one was not so far a reach from sixteen when you took into account the lack of social life - - limited sexual experience and the tendency to fixate on things he couldn't have. At twenty-one, compared to Clark, Lex had been a jaded, world-wise ancient.

"I didn't come - - Stop trying - - I'm going." Clark fumbled after words, flustered or angry, possibly both, big hands flexing at his side like he didn't quite know what to do with them. It was fascinating. Riveting, actually and Lex shrugged lazily, feeling a certain sense of control settle back into place and needing to keep it.

"Far be it for me to discourage you from trying then."

He decided on momentary mercy and let Clark off the hook by breaking the stare and picking up the hotel line by the bed. He requested laundry service then strolled towards the bath, unbuttoning his shirt as he went. He finished undressing on the cool imported tiles of the bathroom floor, noted with satisfaction that every blemish and bruise had faded. Aside from the faint reminder of healing ribs, he was entirely whole. Physically. He frowned at the metaphorical little voice that reminded him of that.

Clark was loitering at the bedroom door, not quite knowing what to do with himself, now that he'd cemented his intrusion into Lex's business - - not quite knowing what Lex was up to. Lex stepped to the edge of the bathroom door and tossed the crumpled ball of clothing at Clark.

"When they come to pick up the clothes, tell them to have them back within the hour. I'll be showering."

Clark gaped. His eyes went straight down Lex's body, widening, like a child without the manners to avert his stare politely from a physical defect, the blush going from pink to bright red, his lips parting a little as he clutched the clothes.

And honestly it had been a ploy, a little power play to unsettle Clark and Lex loved to put an adversary off balance, thrived on it - - but he hadn't quite expected that blatant, wide-eyed stare. There were old issues that reared up now and then, body issues that a man couldn't help having when he was bare as a ten year old below the belt.

He nodded slightly, a casual assertion that he was in no way flustered, that he had in no way made a miscalculation in tactics, and stepped back into the bath, shutting the door behind him.

Well, that worked out wonderfully. He leaned there for a moment, eyes shut, before he allowed the ghost of a grim smile to cross his lips. At the very least he'd probably assured that Clark's stay would be an uncomfortable one, though he doubted even a little calculated nudity would throw him off the trail.

Lex cut the water on, determined to take a very long, very leisurely shower. Clark could sit out there and look at the skyline for all he cared - - or raid the well-stocked kitchenette - - or the bar. Maybe sulking on the couch, slouched back, knees spread, pouting. Clark had lips designed to carry a pout. Designed maybe for other things. A few years ago if he'd had Clark alone in a hotel room half a country away from Smallville Kansas - -

No. No. No. He was not prepared to go down that road this morning. Not in the shower with the beginnings of an erection that had nothing to do with Clark - - honestly - - it was simple habit. Spending the last few weeks of his marriage not sleeping with his wife had dictated manual relief.

Clark wasn't in the equation - - except that he was. He always was, one way or another, whether Lex was visualizing him on his knees in abject defeat or on his knees giving head, Clark always had a place in the fantasy.

He sighed, giving in to the whimsy, stroking himself - - hand on soap-slick skin. There was an art to being quick and deft - - when he sought relief because it was the body's imperative instead of something sensual - - he wanted to find that distance now, with Clark a room away - - but in the same vein, Clark was a room away. He shut his eyes against the spray of warm water and blanked his mind, finding that place where only sensation counted for a few blissful minutes

After that, he felt saner. Even the little niggling sense of unease that had been plaguing him since the most recent collapse had receded. The water sluiced down his body, taking the evidence with it and after a few minutes he added more soap and helped finish the job.

The mirrors were fogged when he finally stepped out, but the heat from the overhead lights had warmed the floor tiles, and the towels were thick and soft. He took his time drying off, calculating time spent. Not nearly as much passed as he'd have liked - - not enough to have really irritated Clark. But still, there was nothing to do, but put on the snowy white robe hanging on the bathroom door and walk back out into the cool air of the suite.

The bedroom, of course, was Clark free, so he snagged his watch and his cell and strolled into the living room. Clark was standing close enough to the windows that his breath created faint traces of fog. The fingertips of one hand touched the glass, splayed with the strangest hint of delicacy considering the size of the hand.

Lex stared for a moment, snared by the inconsistency, blinked and contemplated seeing if the quality scotch offered by the Mandarin was still as high as he remembered. But no, it was before ten and - - simply, no.

"Have you been to New York before?" he asked instead, slipping on his watch and fastening the catch.

Clark turned to look at him, a quick flash of the eyes taking him in, a bobbing of the Adam's apple as he swallowed. "No."

"It's a nice time of year to visit. Winter's not bad. Summer is intolerable."

"You've been here a lot."

Lex wasn't sure if it were a question. Clark was looking back over the park, where it was safe.

"When I was younger. We used to have a place - - over there," Lex indicated the rise of buildings to the right, exclusive, multi-million dollar apartments overlooking the park. "My father lost it in a bet, though he'd never admit it. He never got around to acquiring a new residence, but then he was never much for New York. Probably why I visited so often."

Clark was looking at him again, curious, a little uncomfortable, but not hostile. Minus the anger and the coiled tension that had seemed so much a part of him of late, he looked younger. Like he was supposed to look, instead of like someone trying to hold the weight of the world on their shoulders at all of twenty-one. It was bad enough trying when you were twenty-seven - - a losing proposition, because there was never enough of you to go around. And where had that pragmatism been when he'd been ignoring all the warning signs in the world of woman's discontent and running LexCorp into the ground, pursuing goals and pushing timetables that were unrealistic? And didn't that sound like something Lionel would say, which left an unpleasant, unsettled feeling in the back of his mind.

"What happened here, between you and them on their boat, that your father covered up?" Clark asked.

Lex felt his pulse skip a beat. He remembered why he hadn't been back to New York in a long time, now. Remembered flashes of things that Clark did not want to know about. Or maybe it was him, that didn't want Clark knowing.

"I sat it on fire with a flare gun. Minimal damages. They were able to take it home." Which was only truth. If he'd had been able to get his hands on a real gun at the time, there might have been manslaughter charges instead of easily paid off arson and property damage ones.

"Why?" Clark asked. Of course Clark asked.

"I thought you didn't want to know the particulars." Lex smiled coldly with absolutely no intention of answering. He flipped open his phone instead and arranged for a car, while Clark chewed the inside of his cheek, perhaps using his imagination to fill in blanks on his own. As if Clark's imagination was sordid enough to come close to the truth.

Room service tapped on the door as he hung up, delivering his freshly laundered clothes. They'd made good time and he gave the boy the type of tip that guaranteed impeccable service in the future.

He took the bag into the bedroom, away from Clark's quiet speculation. Came back out pressed and immaculate, with his coat over one arm.

"I'm going out," he said, striding for the door, even as Clark hastily rose from one of the chairs by the window. "You can come, if you want."

He phrased it indifferently, as if Clark's presence mattered very little to him, one way or another. And honestly, it shouldn't have. But he felt a warm peal of satisfaction - - he might, if he were feeling particularly candid, even say relief - - when Clark stomped across the floor to catch the door before it swung shut behind him, and trailed down the elegant hall on his heels.


Lex was a son of a bitch. Not that Clark hadn't discovered and become accustomed to this fact for some time now - - it was just that he hadn't been close enough recently to be personally impacted. There was a difference between suspecting culpability in some unsanctioned research project or subtly rubbing the fact that he was dating/marrying/doing Clark's ex in his face, and stepping boldly forward, blithely unconcerned and blowing Clark's mind. Shaking the foundations of Clark's fundamental beliefs like he might uproot the board of some recently subjugated company.

It wouldn't have even been an event worth reminiscing about - - if Clark could have stopped reminiscing. It wasn't like he hadn't seen another guy's package before - - he had gone through four years of high school gym, after all. He'd never once looked at Pete and - - well, not been able to look away. And Pete had been damned impressive in that department and proud of it. And that was the sort of thing a man might appreciate - - or envy, or be proud to surpass - - and not feel like he was veering into the realm of unacceptable.

Not that Lex hadn't been impressive - - just not so much as Pete had been or Clark - - but then Pete had always sworn up and down that Clark was a freak and once he knew about the alien thing, he'd been smugly assured as to the validity of that claim. Lex had just been - - perfect and cut and - - pretty, the skin of his cock as pale and smooth as the naked flesh surrounding it. Probably softer to the touch - - and wasn't that a mortifying notion.

Lois's breasts, soft and round with infinite cleavage. The way Lana used to bit her lower lip, the hint of teeth and tongue. The swell of Chloe's hips - - the sharp jut of Lex's - - sleek muscle over bone angling down towards the juncture of his legs and all that smooth, hairless skin, and his pretty, pretty cock. Stop it. Stop it. Stop it!!

The worst thing - - the absolute most embarrassing facet of the whole thing was that he honestly didn't think he'd met Lex's eyes or looked at his face the whole time he was standing there in the bathroom doorway. He hadn't been able to tear his gaze up past his waist and Lex had to have noticed. Lex didn't miss the little things, much less the painfully obvious.

Dumbass.

He called himself a few other choice names while he listened to the sound of the shower running and kept his gaze fixedly glued to the city outside the window, because God knew what he might be tempted to look at if he let himself turn around and stare at the wall separating rooms.

All because Lex was a bastard, who wasn't happy unless he was pushing somebody's buttons.

And then he'd come out all fresh from the shower, snug in a hotel robe, smug in his own absolute calm and started small talk. Clark supposed it could have been worse. He could have come out with a towel wrapped around his hips and not spoken at all - - and God only knew how Clark might have embarrassed himself then.

So he found himself following Lex through the lobby of what had to be an outrageously expensive hotel. And the bellhop or concierge or whatever opened the brass doors for them and told Lex the car would be there shortly, as if the man were heartbroken that it wasn't out there waiting for them now.

He'd followed Lex here from the airport, after beating the LuthorCorp Jet by a long, long shot. The city had been sleeping then, the traffic no worse than Metropolis at night. He could hear it now, outside the barrier of the hotel drive. The rumble of a thousand thousand engines, the squeal of tires, the crash of rumpled fenders and broken headlights, the cries of irate drivers.

A car pulled up, as sleek and expensive as anything Lex had ever driven - - and yellow. Bright yellow. A man in a suit got out, came around the car with a clipboard and the concierge met him and waved him towards Lex. There were apologies for making Lex wait all of five minutes, and Lex signed something and strolled around to the driver's side of the car.

It was a Ferrari. Clark recognized the little horse logo on the front. He snatched the door open when Lex gunned the engine, slipping in before he could peel off without him.

"It's yellow," Clark observed, because, well, he'd never seen Lex drive anything yellow before. Lex liked blacks and silvers, and blue-grays. He didn't do colors that verged on neon. Though, Clark sort of liked it.

Lex flicked his eyes towards him, and cut out into traffic. Clark didn't ask where they were going, just looked up at the buildings that they passed, and at the people on the street and thought that New York was not that much different than Metropolis. Bigger. From what he'd seen on the way in, it seemed to sprawl forever. Clark didn't ask about landmarks, even though he wanted to, and Lex didn't offer explanations even though Clark knew he loved to play tour guide, which made the air vibrate with all the almost moments of broken silence.

They moved into the traffic of 7th Avenue. There were a lot of nice cars mixed in with the battered taxies. A lot of nicely dressed people mixed in with t-shirts and second hand jackets, on the street. Storefronts were polished and sleek and just reeked of the expensive things inside. Lex found a Ferrari sized space on the side of the street and backed the car into the spot.

"Will you feed that?" Lex spoke for the first time since they'd gotten into the car, and Clark looked at the meter and dug into his pockets for change. He had to assume Lex had nothing but plastic and large bills. He dropped two quarters in and figured if they stopped anywhere else that required coinage to park, he'd have to get change.

Lex was heading towards a store with male mannequins in the windows, sporting an assortment of casual chic.

"You're going clothes shopping?" Clark asked, standing on the sidewalk and blocking the smooth flow of pedestrian traffic.

Inexplicably enough, it seemed that Lex was. Clark took a breath and followed him into the store.

Lex hadn't gotten a dozen steps into the sore and already had someone fawning over him. Clark walked into the door and immediately had a turtleneck sweatered salesman looking down his nose at him as if he were a vagrant come in off the street. Clark narrowed his eyes a little back at the guy, stuffed his hands into his pockets and shuffled into the store. It smelled really good inside, and there was music with a sort of weird, acoustic tempo oozing out into the air from hidden speakers. The floors were all real wood and polished, but there were rustic brick columns, original probably to the building that they'd left unfinished to give the place that contradiction in terms sort of look. There was a pool table right out in the middle of the floor and a collection of leather couches and chairs that nobody was sitting at. The racks of clothes were along the sides in little well lit cubbies and every customer seemed to have their own private salesperson.

"Can I help you?" the turtleneck with the attitude asked, sounding as if he sincerely doubted there was anything Clark could possibly afford in this store. Which was probably true.

"No," Clark muttered, and when the guy kept staring, maybe on the verge of telling him where the nearest soup kitchen was, Clark jerked his chin towards Lex and added. "I'm with him."

Which apparently made all the difference in the world, because the smile turned from patronizing to ass kissing with the smoothest transition Clark had ever seen.

"Ah, well, what can I show you today? Are we looking custom or ready to wear?"

Clark had no idea the difference. "Just browsing."

Which got him a purse of the lips and the reluctant departure of the salesman. Lex had a pair of salesmen groveling to him over by cubby filled with lots of black. Clark loitered by the pool table, wondering if anyone ever played or if it was simply for looks.

A woman approached Clark - - long legs, short skirt, white silk blouse stretched over an impressive set of breasts. He figured she worked there when she said. "You're waiting on Mr. Luthor?"

"Um, yeah." He was having a real problem today, meeting people's eyes. He looked up from her cleavage with a slight blush and met hers. She didn't seem offended. In fact she ran one manicured hand up his arm in a measuring sort of way and asked.

"Perhaps I can interest you in something a little more urban? I'm sure we have something in your size, though I'd have to take measurements."

Her fingers slipped around his bicep and he swallowed. It was a come on. He could hear it in her voice, but he wasn't sure if it was all salesmanship or if she actually had something else in mind. He flashed her a nervous smile and tried to think up an answer that didn't involve stuttering.

"I don't think that will be necessary," Lex sauntered over, adjusting the cuff of a sleek black shirt. "I think we can guesstamate size."

Lex gave her a 'thank you, no' half-smile that didn't reach his eyes and she pulled her hand away off like she'd suddenly realized she was trespassing private property.

"Of course. Perhaps something in jade, to set off his eyes."

Clark gave Lex a look as she held out a graceful hand, indicating movement on Clark's part that didn't involve exit from the store.

"If you're going with me tonight, you'll need something adequate to wear."

Which was sort of insulting and Clark would have loved to argue the point for argument's sake, save that Lex was right and it wasn't like he could run home and get a nice shirt - - well nothing as nice as what they sold here - - and zip back with out Lex noticing.

So warily followed the saleswoman to one of the cubbies with mirrors on one wall with two little changing booths to either side.

"Shirt," she directed and stood there with a sort of polite insistence until he frowned and unbuttoned the flannel. He had a T-shirt on under, which he damned sure wasn't shedding just out in the store unless a changing room door was involved. She took the flannel from him in two fingers and laid it across the back of a chair and looked him up and down. She laid hands on his shoulders, but it was an entirely light, non-suggestive touch this time like she really was measuring him.

He got handed a green shirt. He started to shrug it on over the T, but she clucked her tongue at him and shook her head. "Italian silk does not sit well over thrift store cotton."

He did not scowl at her. It wasn't polite. But he wanted to. He took the shirt and retreated into the little changing room and it did feel good against his skin, all slithery and smooth. The collar was really big though and he didn't like it.

He stepped back out to look in the mirrors and Lex was back.

"No. The collar's to wide," Lex said as if he were the final word, but well - - he was right about the collar thing. "Try the burgundy."

The woman was holding several shirts that Lex had apparently picked out and handed over. It made Clark uncomfortable in a tingly sort of way, Lex choosing clothes for him.

"I know how to pick out clothes," he said sullenly.

Lex lifted a dubious brow.

Clark took the other shirts and returned to the changing room.

"That one is very nice," the woman remarked when he stepped out in a long sleeved, dark red shirt that fit really well. Sort of embarrassingly well, the way it stretched across his shoulders and narrowed down around his torso.

"Maybe the next size up?" he asked hopefully.

"No. This is good." Lex said, circling in that predatory way of his. He stopped in front of Clark and reached up to the buttons that were done up almost to the collar. Clark came close to flinching, and controlled it - - not sure if he ought to bat Lex's hands away, or step back or stand there like a frightened rabbit and endure it while Lex unbuttoned the top two buttons. It felt sinful when Lex's knuckles brushed his skin - - and he focused his gaze over Lex's head to the brick column behind them and thought about cows and axel that needed fixing on the old tractor and dad telling him that 'son, the world will throw all sorts of temptations at you, the trick is being able to tell the good from the bad'.

That worked.

"Pants."

"No. Absolutely not." He was not going through another session of changing room charades with Lex playing the master of ceremonies. The jeans were relatively new and he just needed to brush a little mud off the hem. "Besides, the only clubs that have a 'no-jeans' rule are boring anyway."

"We're not going to have a good time. And how would you know that, Clark?" Lex canted his head, managing to looking doubtfully curious.

"I've - - been to a club or two - - in Metropolis," Clark muttered. He'd been to more than a few - - he'd cut a swath through the city, but it wasn't something he liked to think about, because it hadn't been him. Not really. He'd never told Lex about it. He'd never told anyone the details and he didn't plan to.

"Have you?" Lex was interested now. Amused and patronizing. "Did you go the whole fake Id route, or were you hitting the under twenty-one spots?"

"With the right attitude, you don't need Id." Clark shot back, offended.

He got a clever smile out of Lex at that, and a speculative look, while Lex did something with his tongue and the back of his teeth that made Clark's mind flash on the image of him naked.

Which was not what he wanted running through his head right now - - or any other time for that matter - - because he couldn't even begin to appreciate the vast scope of the wrongness.

"With the right attitude you don't need quite a few things." Lex agreed. "But a decent pair of slacks to go with the shirt would take you a good part of the distance. It's not as if I'm suggesting black leather."

And there was the glint of something old and familiar in Lex's eyes, a hint of flirtatious teasing that Clark hadn't seen from him in a very long time. He hadn't understood then, that Lex flirted with everyone - - tried to seduce everyone, one way or another, friends and enemies alike and that it had nothing to do with sex, it had to do with power. Because Lex was always on the prowl for one more conquest.

And if Clark kept telling himself that, he'd even believe it.

 

 

 

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