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Therefore I Am

by P L Nunn

 

Part 12

 

Clark went home and took the shower he hadn't felt comfortable taking last night. Which, upon reflection was sheer hypocrisy, considering what he'd obviously felt perfectly comfortable doing this morning.

He hadn't woken up with the clear thought of 'you know, I think I'll feel up Lex, this morning'. That hadn't been his intention at all, it was just that the material of Lex's pajama bottoms had felt really good under his hand. It had been really thin and slick and the shape of Lex's leg under it had been smooth and sleek. Like everything about Lex. And it had seemed pretty safe, just sort of testing out the feel of it, until Lex woke up and then things had turned decidedly unsafe and he'd had a lot of trouble breathing and cognitive decision making had sort of gone out the window.

A few days ago and he might have viewed that untimely interruption as a Godsend, saving him from a regrettable lapse in judgment. Today - - well, today some pretty awful things had entered his mind, directed at the trio of people knocking on Lex's door. And he couldn't quite shake the feeling - - the absolute electric trill of sensation that had gone from dick to scalp - - when Lex had ground his ass back against his erection. His dick kept twitching every time that palpable memory flashed across his mind, and he couldn't help thinking, that God, it had been a long, long time since he'd had sex. Actual sex.

Which put him in something of a foul mood. Unresolved sexual tension was a bitch.

Since he was officially on sick leave today, he put on a comfortable pair of jeans and a long sleeved jersey after his shower, then stood in the middle of his living room and scowled at the damage. The TV was a lost cause, beyond repair. The stand he might be able to salvage with a few well-placed screws and braces. The floor would be more difficult. The hardwood was old and not easily patched without the replacement wood standing out like a sore thumb. He supposed he might scour the salvage yards and see what rescued hardwood planks might be found.

But not today. Not for quite a few days maybe, until he felt certain that Lex was out of immediate danger. He did a quick cleanup of the shattered glass and the ruined television and deposited the pieces in the dumpster behind the building. The girl across the hall poked her head out of her apartment as he was locking up and he recalled Lex mentioning she'd been a witness to the little altercation the day before yesterday.

He was usually really good with names, but she hardly ever spoke to him, ducking her head and averting her eyes when they passed in the hall.

"Uh, hey, Meg?" He was pretty certain Meg was her name. Hopefully. He smiled just in case he was wrong. "Um, sorry about the other day."

She nodded, lowered her eyes nervously and said. "I was worried. You were - - not conscious. Is - - your friend - - is he okay?"

"He's fine. Things just got a little crazy."

She swallowed, like she was building courage. "I saw the news - - he's - - he's Lex Luthor, isn't he?"

No use hiding it anymore. Clark sighed. "Yeah."

She nodded again, shifted, looked as if she might say more, then changed her mind and retreated back behind her door.

Clark stared at the door a little curiously, then shrugged and continued on his way out. He stopped to eat at the diner down the street. They had breakfast specials until ten and he just made it. Five dollars for eggs, bacon, a generous serving of hash browns, homemade grits and coffee made him feel considerably smarter than Lex, who'd paid fifty dollars for a steak dinner last night. And that wasn't even counting what Lex had had. Or the crazy generous tip.

Clark had known his share of super wealthy people, and it boggled his mind sometimes, that they remained wealthy; at the rate they tended to throw money around. Oliver was worse than Lex, and Clark had never actually seen Oliver do anything work related. At least not Star industries work related. At least Lex had spent a lot of time dealing with company business, even if it hadn't always been legitimate.

He went to his bank and withdrew Lex's money, thinking he ought to be more annoyed than he was at Lex ferreting out his savings account number and using his identity to amass funds. But he was more impressed than anything else that Lex had managed to do it in such a short time.

Afterwards, with a wallet thick with more cash than he'd carried around in his life, he paused by a newsstand and stared down at the morning edition, which featured another picture of Lex and an article by Lois. He bought the issue and scanned the article as he walked, rolling his eyes a little at the sheer fabrication, frowning as he got to the part about Lana. Lois was careful to use direct quotes to avoid libel accusations. She was good at getting around pesky little issues like that. Considering how Lex usually skulked around the edges of things until he convinced you were coming up with the idea he wanted you to come up with on your own, he'd been pretty damned direct with Lois. 'She was out of control and I feared for my life.' Didn't really leave a lot to the imagination.

And if Lana hadn't actually been - - well, out of control and a danger to Lex's life - - Clark might have been a lot more irritated than he was. Tess Mercer hadn't escaped her share of accusations either. He'd painted her as a once loyal employee entrusted with the reins of LuthorCorp, who'd turned on him when he was vulnerable, selling him out to a bitter business rival, 'via a bedroom merger'- - direct quote - - that was attempting to unlawfully keep him from what was rightfully his. Which was all pretty much true, but still - -

Clark shut his eyes and took a breath, trying to think of some possible way Lex could have stirred the hornet's nest to more of a furor than he had with one carefully crafted interview. He could almost imagine Lois cackling gleefully to herself as she typed it up. It spoke loads to their editor's dedication to the job that he'd slipped that front page extravaganza onto the presses past Tess Mercer's notice. She was not going to be happy and more than likely somebody's head was going to roll. Hopefully only metaphorically, and hopefully not Lois.

And hopefully, Tess - - or Lana for that matter - - hadn't picked up that article and gone into a rage and decided to throw caution to the wind and go after Lex regardless of how skillfully he'd made the public aware that they might. Which thought made him nervous, so he headed back to the Regency.

The fast way that ensured he wouldn't have to deal with the press waiting outside hoping for a glimpse of Lex. He made the jump to the balcony window outside the bedroom, just in case there were still people in there with Lex in the main room.

There weren't. No people at all, including Lex. Just a big empty suite, where everything was in perfect order. The bedroom had been made up, which meant housekeeping had been by, and Lex's jacket was gone, which meant hopefully, he'd gone of his own accord.

Clark stood there a moment, getting his more pessimistic side under control - -every time Lex was out of his sight did not mean Lex was getting into trouble, damnit - - but there was a lot of trouble out there looking for him, so Clark focused his hearing and tried to find him.

And God, but it was easy. Lex's heartbeat, the way he breathed, the murmur of his voice as he spoke, were like beacons that Clark found himself uniquely attuned to. It was hard to filter away all background noise when trying to focus on a single sound, a single voice, but he could narrow it down to a pretty select area.

Lex was talking to somebody about - - a phone. Clark shut his eyes, letting out a breath of relief, followed by a huff of irritation. The least Lex could have done was let him know he'd been planning on going out. It wasn't like he didn't have Clark's number.

He let the focus of his hearing go and shut out everything but the immediate area, then flopped down on the couch and scowled at the ceiling. Thought about cutting on the TV, but listening to mid-day news held no interest for him. He glanced at the open door to the bedroom and his mind wondered back to this morning. About what might have happened - - and yeah, like it or not, he'd wanted it happen. Practically been salivating over the idea of it happening. He shut his eyes, remembering the satin smooth feel of Lex's skin under his hand, of his dick, hot and twitching and just nice. Not as nice as the feel of his ass though, and Clark's dick lengthened in his pants just thinking about it. He idly rubbed his palm along the ridge on the inside of his jeans and thought about that lone condom in his medicine cabinet, that had sat there, ignored since he'd sub-let the apartment from Lois.

Would he even need a condom with a guy? It wasn't like pregnancy was an issue and God knew Clark was immune to sexually transmitted diseases and Lex, body-wise, was pristine. He thought about the various mechanics of it, his only references before the last week of Lex, the various online porn he'd stumbled upon over the years. It wasn't like it was easy to avoid the stuff cropping up in searches and yes, maybe he'd even clicked on more than one link - - youthful curiosity being what it was. Maybe even sat up in the loft, on more than one occasion, whacking off with the after images of various online images stuck stubbornly in his imagination. Maybe even Lex had figured into those little sessions, flitting unbidden into the scenario, when it by all rights he should have been thinking of Lana. Or girls in general.

His phone vibrated in his pocket, and he blinked, a little embarrassed at where his thoughts had been wandering. Then, upon seeing the caller ID, the embarrassment factor quadrupled. He winced and flipped open the phone.

"Hi mom."

"Clark," His mother's concerned voice made him sort of want to go and wash his mind out with soap. "I saw the news. Is it true? Is it really Lex?"

He didn't want to discuss the intimate details over an open phone line. "Yeah, Mom. It's really him."

"Are you okay, honey? I saw you in the clip from LuthorCorp. He's not coercing you - -?"

"Mom, I'm fine. He's not - - not like he was when he - - disappeared. We don't have to worry about him being a threat to me - - or anybody."

He hoped she got his meaning. It was as much as he was prepared to say when anybody could be listening in.

"Clark are you sure?"

"I'm sure, mom. I'd bet my life on it."

She was silent a long moment, then said quietly. "I wish you wouldn't talk like that. But okay. If you want to talk, you know where to find me."

"Sure, mom. Maybe I will. I know you're busy. Love you."

"I love you too, honey."

He pressed the phone against his forehead after he'd hung up, and choked off a little helpless laugh. His timing really had sucked today.

He cut on the TV, because distraction was obviously needed to keep his mind from wandering. He ended up on a rerun of a Law and Order and an episode in, he heard the sound of footsteps in the hall. A quick look through the door and he saw that it was Lex. Alone.

The door opened and Lex stepped through, a newspaper under his arm, saw Clark and paused a miniscule moment before smiling. It was just a little wary, so Clark figured he still had the scowl on his face.

"So where were you?" He tried not to sound like he was accusing Lex of a crime.

Lex lifted a brow. "Out. Obviously."

Clark settled a little deeper into his not trying to scowl, took a breath and complained. "You could have mentioned it. It would be nice if I knew where you were - - just in case."

"I assumed you could find me - - just in case." Lex reminded him, breezing past and into the bedroom. "You did say to simply call."

Clark sniffed, pushed himself off the couch and trailed after Lex. Leaned in the doorway while Lex was hanging up his jacket and said. "So you I guess you read Lois' article?"

Lex's lips twitched. "I did."

"You weren't taking any prisoners."

"No."

"Lana's not unhinged."

Lex turned and gave him a skeptical look. "I have a few fractured ribs that beg to differ."

It was hard to argue with that. While Clark was thinking about how to go about trying that didn't sound like he was grasping for straws, Lex walked up to him, got into his personal space and fixed him with a look that sort of made him forget the argument that he was attempting to formulate.

"Listen, Clark. I'm at a disadvantage here, and I apologize if playing hardball with the people out to take me down offends your delicate sensibilities, but it's how the game is played. If Lana doesn't want to be labeled a vengeful psychopath, then she really needs to stop trying to kill me."

Clark opened his mouth, couldn't think of anything to say as counterpoint to that bit of sound reasoning, and shut it. Lex was still close enough to smell and he smelled good. Some subtle and expensive scent that he must have gotten with yesterday's delivery. Or maybe it was just whatever soap the Regency put out in rooms like these - - or maybe it was just Lex. It made Clark's palms itch regardless and his mouth go a little dry.

"Okay," he wasn't even sure what he was okaying, it was just something needed saying, with Lex still standing there, blue eyes still fixed on him, and Clark's mind went to that condom issue before he could stop it and he felt the heat start up on his cheeks.

Lex's mouth curved into a smile. He idly lifted a hand and touched Clark's chest, brushing fingertips across the fabric of his jersey. Casual touch that sent sparks all over Clark's body.

"I'm hoping for a productive day. Hopefully there are old alliances out there weighing the chances of me coming out on top of this thing and deciding whether to throw in public support. Hopefully contacts willing to offer anonymous support with the hope that I'll remember and return the favor."

"Okay." Clark was reduced to the same one word reply. It was all he was presently capable of coming up with.

"Okay," Lex echoed slowly, that scrutinizing look in his eyes, like he was trying to figure out what was going on inside Clark's head. Since Clark wasn't entirely certain he wanted Lex in on that embarrassing knowledge, he averted his eyes and edged out from between the door frame and Lex and back into the living room where he could breathe normally again.

Lex's mouth twitched. He sauntered past Clark to the mini-bar, and poured himself a tumbler of water, leaned there with his elbow on the bar top and resumed watching Clark.

Clark took a breath, squelching the urge to just retreat. He'd faced more dangerous things than Lex- - hell, he'd faced Lex when he was more dangerous - - and not felt the all-consuming need to flee. Or, maybe it wasn't the urge to flee that bothered him so much as that other urge not to.

"So where did you go?" He hadn't forgotten Lex's non answer. Lex took a sip of his water and did one of his half shrugs, then pulled a sleek little cell phone out of his pocket and held it up.

"I thought you might be tired of me borrowing yours."

It was a valid excuse. And almost on queue the phone rang softly in Lex's hand. Lex tossed Clark an amused look, before answering.

Apparently it was his tailor, arranging a time to drop by the rest of Lex's order. But that one call seemed to be the call that broke the dam on incoming calls. The suite phone rang almost as Lex was disconnecting from the cell, and Lex took it and his water and settled down onto the couch.

This time it was the Kansas state representative calling to congratulate Lex on being alive. Lex traded smooth, meaningless pleasantries in that way he had that made you feel just special that he was taking his time to talk to you at all.

Clark took the morning paper and went out to the balcony, leaned on the rail and looked out over the city. This high up, she spread out before him like a patchwork quilt, the green of Centennial park one big rectangle, the greys and browns and muted tones of the city blocks forming others. He listened for the sounds of distress, and heard the usual daytime turmoil of fender benders and street corner arguments, the wail of a fire truck siren, but no rush of any huge inferno that warranted help outside the skills of the Metropolis FD. Metropolis during the day seemed well capable of caring for herself. Night time brought more predators out.

It had been several nights since he'd patrolled, and he felt a little remiss in his duties, but not as much, maybe, as he should have. He browsed the paper, looking for gangland slaughters or life taking disasters that he might have helped prevent, and found none. He did find his piece on the Centennial park owls, buried in Life and Leisure, which meant it was a slow city news day in anything not Lex-related and his editor and been looking for filler.

There were a few things he could be working on while he was whiling away the time trying to keep Lex safe. A few stories he'd been researching that he might finish up and email in. He ran home and was back with his laptop while Lex was still on the phone.

He propped his feet up on the little glass topped patio table and pulled up his work files. There was a knock on the suite door while he was at it, and he stopped what he was doing to stare through the door. An older man, unarmed, that turned out to be a city council member, that 'just had to come by in person to see if it were true'. Lex greeted the man like an old friend, and it was hard to tell if it were all bullshit on Lex's part, or if he generally liked the guy.

The rest of the afternoon followed in that vein. Councilmen, businessmen, people of influence calling or drifting by to the test the waters and see for themselves whether Lex Luthor was back to his old standards. Clark knew for a fact that Tess had managed to sully Lex's reputation pretty badly, back when she had been convincing the LuthorCorp board of directors to play along with the Star Industries merger. Not that Lex himself hadn't helped with that failing confidence with his 'projects' and his 'obsessions', none of which had boosted the stockholder bottom line. As far as Clark could tell, none of Lex's various contacts today had been LuthorCorp related.

Clark spent the better part of the afternoon out on the balcony, while Lex held court. He finished up one human interest piece he'd started work on over a week ago, and emailed it in.

Time rolled on, and eventually, well into afternoon, Lex drifted out onto the balcony and leaned against the rail, staring at Clark while Clark was in the middle of trying to pull a zoning record up from online city records. Battling through city hall red tape was one of the more frustrating parts of his job. He could have gotten faster results going down there in person.

Clark stopped mid-peck and wondered why he was mildly annoyed with Lex. It had just sort of budded while he'd spent the afternoon listening to Lex play politics with the movers and shakers of Metropolis. Maybe it was because most of those movers and shakers just struck Clark as being - - slimy and superficial, willing to shift allegiances at the first sign of vulnerability - - and that was the world Lex was trying his damndest to force his way back into.

"What have you been out here doing all afternoon?"

"Working." Clark shrugged, then glanced up from under his brows at Lex and asked. "Are you really bosom buddies with all of those guys? Councilmen, judges, congressmen?"

Lex canted his head eyeing Clark with a certain wry curiosity. "You're asking if they're friends? Not particularly. But they are necessary acquaintances. That judge will likely be the one to break the blockade that LuthorCorp has put up between me and a court date in this decade."

"And you had to promise him what to get his cooperation?"

Lex smiled, not one of his pleasant ones. "Clark, are you accusing me of some sort of underhanded deal with a state official?"

"Why, did you make one?"

He got teeth in the smile this time, and a laugh, before Lex looked away, staring out over the hazy park. "Not this time. I'll owe him one. It's understood."

"One what?"

"God Clark. Nothing I can't afford to give. It's not that huge a favor as far as he's concerned."

"It's a huge one for you."

Lex shrugged, not disputing that. He sighed, turning back again to face Clark. "I thought I'd go down for an early dinner. Did you want to come, or do you prefer to sit up here and judge."

He lifted a brow, daring Clark to deny it. Clark sat there glowering, until Lex stepped forward and leaned down, hands on the arms of Clark's chair, snaring Clark with a penetrating blue stare. "I know upon occasion, you've liked to think of yourself as my moral compass. And honestly, there were times when you made an impact on my decision making process, but I think I've got a handle on it, Clark."

Clark held the stare, and asked warily. "How did I ever impact any decision you made?"

Lex gave Clark a look, as if he were naïve for even asking. "Because what you thought mattered to me. It still does."

When Lex said things like that, with that dead earnest tone in his voice, it never failed to make Clark feel either one of two things. One - - like a complete dick - - or two - - a shiver of warmth that he'd always used to think verged on inappropriate. The definition of inappropriate wasn't so clear now as it used to be.

He felt a little of both now. He chewed his lip and asked ruefully. "So you want to go down and eat - - in public, with the press laying siege to the hotel - - after all the stuff you stirred up?"

"Absolutely. Unless you're afraid my notoriety will rub off on you if we're seen in public together?"

Clark snorted, and closed his laptop. "Too late for that. My mom already called because she saw me on TV with you at LuthorCorp."

"And she thought I was blackmailing you somehow into playing bodyguard?"

Clark sighed and nodded.

"I burned a lot of bridges," Lex straightened up, brushing imaginary wrinkles from the front of his shirt. "It's doubtful I can repair a fraction of them. Some of them, I have no desire to try. Your mother - - I'm sorry that was the first thought that entered her mind."

Clark stared up at him. Lex was in different set of clothes than he'd started out the day wearing. Charcoal grey silk shirt and black slacks that emphasized all sorts of lean. Made Clark take a deep breath and look down at himself in an excuse to tear his eyes away.

"Can I get into the restaurants here wearing this?"

Lex shrugged, tossed him a nonchalant grin. "With me? You could get in wearing a burlap sack. You're fine."


Going down to the restaurant was about what Clark had expected, minus the press, which the Regency staff had been diligent about keeping the hotel and its environs free of. But the rest of the general public, especially the ones with enough clout to get dinner reservations at the Regency's - - according to Lex, world renowned - - dining establishments, were here in mass.

The place in general was buzzing with activity, the lobby downstairs full of incoming guests, the second floor full of well dressed people, either waiting for seats, or migrating from one elegant bar to the next. The hotel boasted a lot of them. Clark thought perhaps there was a wedding or some other event to warrant the crowd, and there was something going on in the big ballroom on the other side of the balcony, but upon closer inspection it appeared to be the reception for an Indian wedding, complete with fantastic traditional garb. Very few people on this side of the balcony were sporting lehngas and sarees though.

Either the Regency had a booming mid-week clientele, or the lure of walking through the press skulking outside had pulled in the glory hounds of Metropolis's elite. That and the possibility of seeing Lex Luthor, now that he was front-page news worldwide.

That assumption was validated when they stepped off the elevator, and heads started turning, whispered murmurs going through the level like the progression of a wave, people staring and trying not to. And though Clark wished he'd elected to stay upstairs, Lex didn't hesitate at all. He slid into that elegant press with a casual saunter, ignoring the majority of the stares, slowing his initial stride just enough for Clark to recover from his hesitation and catch up. A pretty redhead oozed up and laid a hand on Lex's arm, pouting that it had been 'forever'.

"Too long," Lex agreed, giving her a smooth smile, and moving on.

"That was Chantel Chaot," Clark whispered, just in case Lex hadn't recognized the notoriously famous Chaot heiress.

"Yes," Lex agreed.

"She was supposed to be serving time for drug possession." Which was the last Clark had read from celebrity gossip rags that Lois always had lying around.

"Really? Daddy's money." Lex surmised and reached out and shook a silver haired man's hand, pausing enough to exchange a pleasantry and a promise to 'make time for drink or two at Rutgers'. Clark wasn't entirely sure, but he thought the man might have been the chairman of the Metropolis stock exchange.

It went like that until they reached the lounge outside the Regency Serendipity, and Lex strolled right through the line of hopefuls to the tuxedoed host and asked for a table.

Though asked might have been too generous a label for the request. Lex didn't particularly have a questioning sort of tone to his voice and the host, which was the sort of man that would have looked down his nose on any regular day at Clark and most especially at Clark in jeans and a jersey, smiled the same sort of ass-kissing smile the hotel manager had, and said without missing a beat.

"Right this way, Mr. Luthor."

Clark had no doubt whatsoever that somebody had just gotten their reservation bumped.

The restaurant wasn't quite as formal as Clark had feared on the inside. Though the waiters were all tuxed up, there was sort of a streamlined, modern feel to the place, with subdued neon lights behind tinted slabs of glass on the walls, and beaten brass table tops with matching cutlery. There was a wall of dancing flame separating them from the adjoining table, a thin layer of tinted glass between them and it. The conversation was muted, sublimated by soft music and the tinkle of glassware.

 

It was the sort of place, Clark was sure, where the plates would be anything but round and the portions artfully arranged and lamentably small.

The menu was almost incomprehensible. A lot of raw fish and briefly cooked meat and vegetable creations that Clark was almost certain he wouldn't like.

"I don't suppose they have burgers here?"

"I wouldn't put money on it," Lex agreed. "Just pick something. Unless the quality has declined since the last time I was here, it's hard to go wrong."

"I want my food cooked," Clark said softly, as the waitress glided up. And he had to look twice because her tux was tailored to mold to her curves and her curves were pretty impressive.

Lex smiled at him dryly and ordered, asking if Chef Setarra were well, and the waitress assured him he was and promised to pass along his interest. Clark gave Lex a quick glare for his lack of help with the menu and ordered the pork something or other. You had to cook pork, so there was only so much they could do to it.

The master chef himself came out a few minutes later and gushed over Lex, and promised to send out something special. Clark was getting pretty comfortable with being part of the background. People either sort of just glanced at him, marking him as an obstacle to get around to reach Lex, or pretended to ignore him completely. And Lex - - thank God - - wasn't going out of his way to introduce him, even when people managed to pin him down for more than a few sentences of conversation.

"I swear to God, Lex, it's like we're in a room full of cats and you're wearing catnip. Everybody and their mother are falling over themselves to get close to you."

Lex lifted a brow at Clark's analogy, and swirled his wine. "As soon as I'm off the front page it'll die down, but right now, I'm this week's hot topic. It's useful."

Clark snorted, took a long look around the place, crammed full of Metropolis' upper crust. "Well, you are good for business. Lois would kill to be here."

"Hnn. She'd probably have to."

"And I get in without a jacket and tie. How good is it to be you, huh?"

"Considerably better than it was a week ago."

Clark had to grin at that, thinking that a truer statement had never left Lex's lips. Lex faltered in raising his wine glass, staring at him. He shook his head minutely, and took a sip.

"Why don't you do that more often?" he asked, leaning back, the glass cradled in the palm of his hand. "Smile like you mean it? You used to do it all the time - - when you weren't sulking over Lana."

Clark opened his mouth, caught off guard by that observation. "I dunno. The world got meaner, I guess."

Lex nodded slowly. "I suppose it did."

The waitress interrupted them with a trey of complementary 'things' sent out by Chef Setarra. Little chunks of watermelon topped with slivers of raw fish and little sprinkles of caviar. It was a combination that defied nature, as far as Clark was concerned. He didn't even want to pluck off the seafood and eat the watermelon in fear of the flavor contaminating good melon.

Lex had no problem with them. But then Lex apparently ate all manner of things. Because his dinner consisted of perfectly good, perfectly great Kobe beef that had been sliced raw into paper thin medallions and dribbled with a ginger smelling marinade. It was a truly regrettable waste of red meat.

Clark's pork was predictably puny in portion, and came propped up on a pile of braised asparagus, and drizzled with a white wine sauce. The flavor wasn't half bad, though he preferred his asparagus cooked to mushiness. The bread that came with the meal was the best part. He considered later that night, maybe zipping out for pizza to fill the portions of his appetite left unsatisfied by dinner.

It took forever to get away from the table, with people stopping by to congratulate Lex on existing. When Lex finally rose to leave, an older, familiar woman sashaying in with a pair of dark suited men sporting ear buds, that were obviously bodyguards, waved him down.

One of them put a hand out to halt Clark as Lex strolled forward and leaned in to give the woman a polite embrace.

"Mrs. Carver."

"I've told you before, Lex, its Abby," her hand slid around to his ass. Actually squeezed, and Clark gaped a second before he snapped his jaw shut, because Abigail Carver was the Governor's wife. And a good twenty-five years Lex's senior. There was no call for hands on greetings of that sort.

"I was devastated when they declared you dead, darling. What a wonderful surprise to find you alive and well. We were all thrilled when the news hit."

"I appreciate that, Abby. Do say hello to the Governor for me."

"Of course, darling." She patted his arm.

Lex continued on, Clark cast one last look at Kansas State's first lady and moved to follow. He could honestly say, that tonight had been one of the most grueling of his life, and that included natural disasters, meteor mutants and alien invaders.

When Lex stepped onto the elevator, a few people scurried over to try and catch the same car. Clark put himself in the doorway and glowered. "Take the next one."

Lex chuckled. Then blew out a weary breath and leaned against the back wall.

"You should go into a career in protective services." Lex commented and Clark cast a dour glance at him over his shoulder.

"I already have, thanks."

"Ah, yes. You are working a second job, aren't you?"

Clark turned back around to face the doors, annoyed. He was starting to feel vaguely bipolar with all the mood swings. He took a deep breath, staring at Lex's wavery reflection behind his until the doors opened. He stalked down the hall and stepped aside at the doors to the Venice Suite to let Lex swipe the keycard. He went in first scanning the rooms, instinct to make sure no one was lying in wait, that nothing suspicious had been secreted in while they'd been gone.

Lex trailed in after, not concerned, already shrugging off his jacket and loosening his tie.

"God, remind me tomorrow the benefits of room service."

"Did you sleep with the governor's wife?" Clark blurted.

Lex stopped at the bedroom door, both brows raised in surprise. He recovered after a moment and continued in to hang the jacket. "Why would you ask that?"

"She squeezed your ass."

Lex considered that fact, and shrugged. "Yes. A long time ago."

"She's like twice your age."

Lex pulled off his tie and draped it across a tie hook. "She looks good for it." And when Clark's frown deepened, turned and said. "I was trying to get LexCorp off the ground and my father was trying to keep it down. I needed a favor from the governor. His wife had considerable sway."

"Oh my God. You slept with her so she'd put in a good word with her husband? That - - that's the sort of favors you trade in?"

Lex lifted a brow, not quite so amused this time. "Clark, it's been a long day and a longer evening. Could you table your righteous indignation and have this conversation another time?"

"Sure, we can have it over breakfast."

"Fine, being called a whore over coffee is always more tolerable."

"Yeah, well, you're the one who traded sex for favors."

"I wasn't planning on offering Judge Matthews the same compensation, if that's what you were worried about."

Clark opened his mouth, shut it and glowered. Lex stared back narrowly, then took a long breath, and said slowly in the midst of Clark's disgruntled silence. "I think that we're both stressed after this evening and that the best thing to do, for all involved, is to take up where we left off this morning."

It was not what Clark had expected him to say. It felt as if his heart skipped a beat or two and the glower sort of melted off his face, replaced by a considerably dumber expression. If Lex had been looking for a way to knock the irritation out of him, well - - he'd managed to hit a homer on the first try.

"I don't know about you," Lex unfastened the button at his collar. "But I felt distinctly cheated - - you know, with the lack of completion. It's a issue of mine, leaving things unfinished."

Clark could get on board with that issue, but at the moment he was having trouble tearing his eyes away from Lex's fingers working their way down his shirtfront, button by button. The dark grey of the shirt contrasted sharply with the pale strip of chest and stomach revealed. The comforter on the bed beyond them was almost a matching shade of charcoal and it was easy to imagine Lex's pale skin against that.

He swallowed, forced his eyes up to meet Lex's, which were fixed pretty firmly on Clark's face. "You were stressed?"

"Those people are sharks, Clark. If I sink, they'll tear me to pieces. If not, they'll come looking for favors. When Tess was tearing - - the original me - - down, I guarantee none of them came to the defense."

He kept Clark's gaze another moment, then went and sat down on the end of the bed and pulled off his shoes and socks. He tucked the latter into the former and sat them neatly on the floor at the edge of the bed, then leaned back, a lazy look in his eyes, daring Clark almost to take that first step.

And he looked good, with the loose shirt falling away from the lean planes of his torso and that glint in his eyes. The sort of good that made Clark's jeans tight and his palms itch. It wasn't like his mind hadn't been wandering to this place off and on all day. It wasn't like he hadn't been driving himself to distraction trying to deny it, and pissing himself off when it leapt up and slapped him in the face. If he was having mood swings, it wasn't because of having to deal with the snobbery of Metropolis elite - - it was because of this. Because he couldn't look at Lex anymore and not remember the things they'd done and imagine doing more.

He stepped forward, right up to the edge of bed, between Lex's knees, staring down with the sort of determination he usually reserved for battling evil.

Lex let out a breath, mouth twitching in a half smile, before he turned his attention to Clark's belt. And that was a riveting place for Lex's attention to be. Clark held his breath as Lex's fingers drifted up the front of his thighs, settling on his buckle, unfastening it, then turning deftly to the button and the zipper. And God, but Clark was hard under there, embarrassingly so; this livid, throbbing erection that bobbed free as if it had a life of its own when Lex snagged the top of Clark's jeans and his boxers and dragged them down.

He should have been mortified, or self-conscious or had some iota of shame, but none of those things were anywhere to be found in the face of his dick pretty much mouth level with Lex.

Lex looked up at Clark, this under the lashes speculative stare, then he leaned forward and sucked the head of Clark's cock into his mouth. If it hadn't been for Lex's shoulders there to steady him, he'd have dropped to his knees then and there.

As it was, he leaned there, gasping, eyes rolling up in their sockets, while Lex ran his tongue along the underside of his twitching erection.

Lex's hand slid around to his ass, fingers clenching, then he pulled and Clark tumbled forward, just managing to catch himself and twist to the side to avoid falling outright on top of Lex. Lex twisted with him, managing to come out on top, ended up straddling him, weight solid and hard, and absolutely nothing at the same instance. Interesting juxtaposition, feeling all the electric jolts of sensation, yet hardly aware of the others that would have a normal man gasping at the sudden load deposited on his gut.

Lex shrugged off his shirt, tossed it in the general direction of the floor, then leaned down, planted his hands on either side of Clark's head and kissed him. All open mouth and tongue at the get go, disregarding all his little lecture on the couch that night, about working up to the heavy stuff.

Clark didn't mind. Clark groaned, trying to suck more of Lex's tongue into his mouth, grinding his hips up, cock sliding with delicious friction against the smooth material of Lex's slacks. He ran his hands over Lex's back, along the jut of his shoulder blades, the little knobs of his spine. All the intricate moving parts under silken smooth skin.

He lifted his arms as Lex tugged his jersey up, raised just enough to help Lex get it off and it went the way of Lex's silk shirt. Lex paused, sitting back and staring down, faint curve of a smile on his lips as he traced the ridges of Clark's abs, before Clark got impatient and pulled him back down. Clark rolled them onto their sides mid-kiss, so he could wriggle out of his jeans, and kick them off the rest of the way.

Hot and cold had very little effect on his skin, but being naked with Lex sent goose pimples all across his flesh. Naked with Lex. Almost naked with Lex, with Lex still half clothed. And a little part of Clark's brain wanted to shrink from that all out commitment, because fooling around with your clothes on was one thing, and naked - - totally naked in bed together was another bigger thing altogether.

"Clark," And maybe Lex was just that good at catching Clark's little tells, because he snagged his jaw, forcing him to meet his eye. Said softly, firmly. "Don't. Just don't, Clark."

Clark blinked. Blinked again when Lex's other hand slid down and palmed his cock, slow grind of his splayed hand. He let his breath out in a whistle, pulled Lex flush against him, draped a leg over Lex's thighs and rubbed against him. Back on track. Fully back on track.

"Okay, okay," Lex was gasping. "Just let me - -" he was working at the belt of his own pants, and Clark decided that the annoying little part of his mind that insisted on questioning everything needed to be gagged and bound and tossed in a corner. It wasn't hard to do, just a matter of stopping higher brain function in general and going with the desires of that lower brain.

And helping Lex get his pants off seemed a pretty good idea after all, as far as his dick was concerned.

Rolling around with Lex was another really good notion, a fantastic one, that ground body parts against body parts, and ended up with Clark exactly where Clark wanted to be, Lex pressed under him, erection to erection, Lex's breath this soft panting heat against his mouth. He squirmed enough to get between Lex's thighs, then shut his eyes and thrust against Lex's hard belly. Lex moaned, nails digging into Clark's shoulders, thrusting up to meet him, cocks sliding against each other, all slick and hot. Clark came a little, but it was okay, because it didn't reduce the hardness of his dick one bit, just relieved some of the mind-blowing pressure.

"Clark," Lex's fingers tangled in his hair, pulling hard. It took a second pull for Clark to register Lex wanted his attention. He blinked down, liking the way Lex's eyes had gone soft and a hazy, his lips pink and little swollen. Clark's doing. He leaned in and kissed him again, driving his tongue in time with his thrusts, thinking how fantastic Lex's mouth had felt around the head of his dick and maybe he could get Lex to do that again and to stick with it longer. He'd even return the favor, because God knew he loved the way Lex's dick felt in his hand and against his skin.

He felt Lex's heel digging into the back of his thighs, Lex's hands all over his back, before his fingers curled back into Clark's hair and he jerked again.

"Clark." Less breath this time, a shuddery catch in his breathing that took him a moment to get under enough control to form a sentence. He dragged one arm away from Clark and pointed to the bedside table. "Lube. Get the lube."

Clark stared in the direction he was pointing, then back down at Lex. Everything below the waist coiled up, vibrating with expectation. He thought about that condom again, and all the implications that went with it. The things they could do with a little lubrication.

He shut his eyes, shuddering, wanting it so bad he thought he was going to come then and there.

"I don't - - I don't want to hurt you." He barely got the words out.

Lex stared up at him, not getting it.

"I could hurt you." Clark reiterated the old excuse. The one he'd always used with Lana.

Almost Lex laughed. He ground his hips up before Clark could take offense, and Clark shut his eyes. "What's the difference, Clark, between dry humping me into a mattress and actually fucking?"

Clark stared at him helplessly, not knowing how to answer that. Not knowing if there was an answer that he'd even believe himself.

Lex slipped a hand between them and grabbed Clark's dick, firm grasp that made him gasp and flinch body wide. "I think you don't give yourself enough credit. That or you're just scared. Are you scared, Clark?"

"I'm not scared."

"Good. Then reach over and grab that lube so that we can fuck."

When Lex said it like that, it was sort of hard to deny him. Sort of hard to think at all, with the white noise in his head. He pushed himself up, leaned over and fumbled in the drawer for the tube of lube. He was pretty sure even hotels like that didn't supply that sort of complementary item, so Lex must have had the foresight, and the confidence that he'd need it, and gotten it himself. Clark knelt there, between Lex's thighs, staring at it dumbly, until Lex reached up and removed it from his fingers.

"Do you need a lesson on the mechanics?" Lex inquired.

An indignant reply that he didn't - - even though, he probably did - - died on his lips as Lex squired out a dollop of the stuff on his fingers, then reached down between his legs, hand sliding behind his balls. He lifted his hips a little, and inserted a finger. He gripped the base of his cock with his other hand, running the ring of thumb and forefinger up and down as he rotated his finger inside himself. Clark knelt there frozen, watching him, his balls tightening and his nipples gone so diamond hard that they actually hurt.

"A little preparation," Lex said between breaths, lashes fluttering against his cheeks. "Is always appreciated."

Another finger joined the first and Clark stared, entranced as Lex worked them in past the knuckles, arching his back to get better access. He gasped, obviously hitting something in there that triggered a spike of pleasure, and Clark swallowed, mouth gone completely dry, balls throbbing hard enough he had to grasp the base of his own erection to keep from spilling. It might have been the hottest thing he'd ever seen, Lex arching off the bed, thighs spread on either side of Clark's, slowly finger-fucking himself. Of their own accord, his hands slid up Lex's thighs, golden brown against white skin. Thumbs pressed into the hollow where tendons met in the juncture of inner thigh. Lex drew in a shuddery breath, and caught at Clark's hand.

"Your turn." Lex said, and Clark dragged his eyes up to Lex's face. Lex fumbled blindly for the tube and put it into Clark's hands. There was nothing to do but squeeze a blob of clear gel out onto his own big fingers, though his hands were shaking terribly. When he sat there, staring, Lex caught his hand and drew it down, and there was his hole, pink and puckered and glistening from the lube Lex had already smeared around and it would be tight and hot, Clark knew it would. He pressed a fingertip in, and Lex made a sound that verged on needy. Clark echoed it, and pushed in, easy and slick, and both of Lex's hands were on his cock now, slow, tight strokes.

"Another one," Lex directed, and Clark was quicker to obey this time, sliding another digit in. Tighter fit this time and he figured two of his fingers equaled about three of Lex's. He pushed them all the way in, fascinated by the way Lex's body swallowed them up, curled them experimentally and got a gratifying moan from Lex, an arch of the back as he tried to impale himself deeper. But there was only so deep fingers could reach. Clark's cock, leaking in frustration, could reach deeper, and it twitched to remind him of that plain fact. He wasn't entirely sure he wouldn't spill everything from just this.

"Lex - - I need - -"

"Yes. Do it. Do it."

He was past the point of hesitation. Past the point of questioning himself. He pulled his hand out, swiped his lube-covered fingers down his dick, then grasped Lex's thighs, dragging them up across Clark's. Easy access, the tip of Clark's erection pressing against Lex's ass. He pressed in, and god, it felt like being swallowed up by a little slice of heaven, rose up on his knees, taking Lex with him and pushed in the rest of the way. Lex gasped, grasping at the comforter behind his head, body as taut strung as a bow.

And Clark bent there, hands clutching the back of Lex's thighs, seated deep inside and afraid to move in fear he'd do some damage. But God, it was hard not to, encased in warm, pulsing flesh, not as wet as a woman, with a different sort of slick, but so damned tight.

His eyes burned and he closed them, drawing in precious self-control. One breath. The next. And he could do this. Even with the stars dancing at the edges of his vision, he could do this.

Lex urged him to get to it, with a gyration of his hips. Clark moved. Slow and easy at first, getting the hang of it. Lex wanted faster, Lex wanted harder, and wasn't shy in saying or trying to drag it out of Clark with his own movements. But then, Lex was in a disadvantageous position for controlling this, body arched backwards over Clark's thighs. Beautiful position, from Clark's point of view, and one that was likely imprinted upon his memory forever, but it didn't lend to great traction.

He hooked Lex's knees and bent forward, and thank God Lex was flexible, because this new arrangement was much better suited for getting down to business. And this time when he went in, he sank deeper, balls pressed tight against Lex's ass. He drew back and drove in again at a slightly different angle and Lex cried out, one hand on his dick, the other grabbing at the headboard.

"Did I hurt - -"

"No. NO! Fucking right there. Do that - - again."

It wasn't as if he needed much encouragement, with the absolute mind-blowing sensation rushing up on him in ever-larger waves. He couldn't think much past the feel of Lex, hot and taut and naked under him, the glimpses of Lex's bobbing pink dick as Lex jerked himself off, Lex's eyes, half lashed, dark and huge pupiled.

He slammed in, again and again, primal and wonderful, Lex tight as a glove and convulsing around him. Contracting in spasms as Lex threw back his head and came, spurting over his chest and Clark's. He lunged down, bending Lex's knees almost to his ears, capturing his mouth and all the helpless sounds Lex made as he came.

He stayed there, sucking on Lex's lower lip, pressing his lips along the edge of his jaw, a study in that control he needed so badly to practice every second of every day, until the last tremors of orgasm eased out of Lex. The tide had ebbed a little, the edge of Clark's need just a little muted, but it was easy to start back up, all it took was the friction of moving. He braced his hands on the bed either side of Lex's shoulders and built up his rhythm. He had endurance, Lana had told him he had endurance, it was just those first few times with Lex - - well, endurance hadn't really been able to contend with the novelty of - - well, Lex.

And Clark liked the build up almost as much as he liked the culmination. Liked that cresting head of pressure that was the closest he ever came to feeling the intensity of pain mixed in with the pleasure.

Lex's hands were on his shoulders, nails scraping along the ridge of his clavicle, exploratory mapping. His eyes were on Clark's face, some of the sex haze cleared. He sucked in little breaths with each inward thrust, bottom lip a little red where Clark had bitten him, a faint mark of the same at the edge of his jaw. Like Clark had been marking territory. As soon as the thought hit, the animalistic part of him howled, hell yeah, this territory was most definitely his and he'd defend it to the death.

He growled, picked up his pace, feeling that climax coming. Lex wrapped his legs around his waist pulling him in, urging him on, until Clark exploded, pressure gushing out of him in this heady burn. He leaned there, fingers tearing into the mattress, while the climax pulsed through him, spilling into Lex with sharp little thrusts of Clark's hips.

He drew a long, shuddery breath after, the strength drained out of him to the point that his arms shook. Strange feeling, like somebody had slipped kryptonite into the mix. He couldn't recall ever feeling quite so debilitated after sex with Lana, even the super powered kind. It felt sort of good.

He eased out, and Lex made a little 'ahhh' sound as he did, then carefully stretched out his legs as Clark rolled off and to the side. Lex lay there, eyes closed, flexing his toes, as if he had leg cramps, which, come to think of it, might be possible. Clark had had him in an ungainly position for a good while.

"Are you okay?" He leaned over, staring down at Lex, concerned that maybe he'd been rougher than he'd thought.

Lex cracked his lashes, peering up at him. His cheeks were still pink from exertion, his lips still pretty swollen from kisses. Clark sort of wanted to kiss him again. Sort of wanted to ease his way back in and try out a new position. The exhaustion had faded away, replaced by the low humm of expectation.

"Mmmm," Lex gave him a lazy smile. "I'm good. I'm the epitome of good." He reached up, laying his hand along Clark's cheek, thumb idly stroking his skin. It was electric.

Clark caught his wrist, drew his hand to his mouth and kissed his palm, like Lex had done to him - - what seemed forever ago - - in Clark's kitchen. He licked the inside of his wrist, down the soft skin along the inside of his arm until he reached the hairless pit, which was just erotic.

 

Lex lay there, eyes half shut, passively enduring it, until Clark reached one pebbly pink nipple, flat and small and inviting. He closed his mouth over it and Lex shuddered, hand finally drifting up to Clark's hair, pulling his head back to meet his eyes.

"Really?"

Clark smiled at him, the one that showed his fangs and nodded. "Really. You don't have to do a thing, if you don't want. I can find my way around."

Lex laughed. Dropped his head back down onto the pillow, the one hand still carelessly tangled in Clark's hair. "I've always been a strong supporter of independent study. Go for it."

 


 

A vague, warm nuzzling somewhere around the area of his shoulder drew Lex out of sleep. Well-earned sleep, that a sluggish mind did not relish relinquishing. But the nuzzling moved to a point below his ear and sleep or not, it was hard to ignore the lazy waves off pleasure it sent seeping through his body.

He made an incoherent, sleepy sound, somewhere between protest and approval, cracked his eyes and looked down at Clark's dark head. He wasn't sure, but his internal clock complained that it was very, very early. Too early to be conscious after a late night of strenuous activity.

"Hey," Clark stopped what he was doing and propped himself on an elbow, looking down. "Good morning."

"Is it technically, yet?" Lex muttered, not bothering to move. Not sure at the moment he wanted to test out the theory that he actually could. Once moral dilemmas had been conquered and decisions made, Clark's enthusiasm had only been outshined by his stamina. Which was, one might even say, if one were looking to state the obvious, superhuman.

"Sure. Its 6:30." Clark grinned down, and if he hadn't looked so good, all bright eyed with sleep-tousled hair, Lex might have held that simple declaration of time against him.

"Wake me in two hours and we'll discuss the difference between your definition of a good morning and mine."

Clark chuckled, leaned down and kissed him. It was the sort of slow, languid kiss appropriate for a body not quite fully awake, and Lex closed his eyes and sank into it.

"I was thinking breakfast," Clark moved from his lips down to his jaw and it tickled a little.

"I'll be right here when you get back," Lex murmured.

Clark laughed again, lips pressed against the throb of Lex's jugular and the vibration of it sent shivers down his spine. Clark's hands slid over his skin under the sheets, warm, slightly rough finger pads creating little tracery sensations in their wake.

Down his belly to the inside of his thigh, the back of his hand resting against his scrotum. Lex stirred, he couldn't help it.

"I've been thinking," Clark said, lifting his head and looking down at Lex with serious green eyes. He didn't move his hand, just stroked his fingers a little against the throb of the femoral artery.

"God. Really?" That spot on the inside of his thigh was apparently a sensitive one.

"You've taken all this really well. I mean the stuff about me. And I never thought you would. I always thought if I told you - - you know, before you started figuring it out on your own, that you'd freak out on me. Sort of like you freaked out when you actually did find out - - which wasn't fair to either of us, because you got faulty information and you were a little - - off, by then - -"

"Clark, is there a point - -?" He wouldn't have snapped, save for the fact that he was hard against his belly, and Clark's fingers circling that same spot were driving him just a little mad.

"Yes," Clark said on a gust of breath. "I just wanted to say that I made the wrong choice back then, and I was a dick to you a lot of times when I shouldn't have been and I'm sorry."

Lex laughed, because really, Clark picked the damndest times for heart to hearts. Lex would have appreciated the admission a lot more if half his attention hadn't been focused firmly on what Clark's hand was idly doing beneath the sheets.

He lifted a hand to Clark's face, brushed his thumb across Clark's soft lower lip. "That's sweet. Really. You know what would drive the point across? You go down there and take care of that, then let me sleep in to at least - - oh, ten? Could you do that for me?"

Clark lifted a brow, just a bit affronted perhaps that his garbled apology hadn't been taken more solemnly. But his eyes drifted down to the outline of Lex's erection under the dark sheet and there was interest there instead of the blush of embarrassment that he might have gotten two or three days ago at such a suggestion. During the course of last night's exploration, Clark had discovered a talent for oral sex that had literally robbed Lex of the ability of coherent speech. Lex had always admired Clark's mouth, imagined Clark doing things with that mouth, but fantasy had never quite lived up the actuality of it wrapped around his cock.

Clark's lips twitched in a smile, and he moved his hand to cup Lex's balls. Lex shut his eyes and groaned. Then Clark, ever one to pull out all the stops once he committed to a situation, lifted up the sheets and delved under; this huge Clark-shaped lump, that Lex spread his legs to make room for. He shut his eyes and grinned up at the ceiling at the incongruity of. The grin turned into a open mouthed moan when Clark swallowed his cock, just took it all in, hot wet mouth, velvety rough tongue against the underside, throat constricting against the head. He rolled Lex's balls in one big hand while he worked, humming a little, as he pulled back and sucked on the head like he was trying to suck milk through a straw. It was fantastic. Wonderful. The best blowjob he'd ever had since the last one Clark had given him - -oh sometime after midnight.

He dragged one of Clark's pillows to him and pressed it over his face, because screaming out his orgasm this early in the morning was just rude when there were other rooms on the floor. But God, it was good, and he was surprised he came with as much gusto as he did, considering how many times he'd come last night.

He lay afterwards, reeling, feeling the lethargy begin its slow seep across his body. Clark crawled back up, removed the pillow and pressed his lips to the side of Lex's mouth, again to his forehead, before he settled down against him, pulling him back into his arms. It made Lex catch his breath, the utter gentle regard in that motion, the simple affection in that chaste kiss. There had been nothing chaste, nothing particularly gentle about last night. It had all been sex and heat and discovery. Hell, he didn't even remember if he'd fallen asleep or passed out.

This - - this made him tremble a little, with a different sort of want, until Clark tightened his arms and buried his face against the back of his neck. Then the lethargy came back, and it was easy to fall asleep.

 

He woke up again to the smell of coffee. The sunlight was considerably brighter coming in through the balcony doors and Clark was absent from the bed.

Lex stretched experimentally and discovered none of the lingering aches he'd expected. Everything, including his ribs, felt surprisingly good. The advantages of a newly minted body, he suspected. He had to wonder if when the original him had been whipping up this body, he'd found a way to enhance that one meteor mutation that actually benefited him. It was a handy talent to possess, considering how his luck tended to run.

It was five to ten, according to his watch and he stifled a laugh, because he had asked to sleep in and Clark had been very good to wait until ten to bribe him into wakefulness with the aroma of what smelled like very good coffee.

After a quick shower, he put on a casual knit pullover and slacks and padded barefoot out into the main suite. There was a breakfast cart by the little glass topped dining table, with several domed plates and a silver carafe of coffee. Clark was at the table, pecking away at his laptop with one hand, munching on a croissant filled with egg and sausage in the other.

"Morning." Clark looked up and smiled at him. The big, open one that made Lex quiver a little inside. It was a relief of no small magnitude that the light of day hadn't sent Clark back into guilt over inappropriate choices mode.

"I ordered breakfast." Clark waved a hand.

"I see." Lex padded over and poured himself a cup of coffee. A spoonful of sugar and he sat down, taking a long sip. There was fresh fruit under one of the domes. He took some of that, and a plain croissant, then sat back and watched Clark worry at his keyboard while he ate.

"What are you working on?"

"This eminent domain issue with a old building on the east side. They're trying to evict a bunch of old time tenants and raze the building to make way for a new city complex. Its rent controlled and a lot of those folks are retirees who are just gonna be screwed if they have to find new places. They're trying to declare it a historical landmark. I've been following it for a while, you know, trying not to let these folks just get swept under the rug while the city bulldozes over them."

"The world in general, is not a nice place."

Clark looked up at him, solemn eyed. "Yeah. I can sweep in as the Blur and stop somebody from murdering somebody, or save people in a disaster, but I can't do anything about stuff like this. It sucks."

Lex canted his head, caught by the true regret in Clark's eyes at that failing, at the laudable fact that he wanted so badly to save the world and could only do it in bits and pieces.

"That's life."

Clark lifted a brow. "That's a pessimistic point of view."

Lex shrugged and popped a chunk of pineapple into his mouth. "Again. Life. So, I was thinking I'd go out today."

Clark gave him a long look, trying to figure out if he had an angle. "Out where?"

"I don't know. The park maybe. I saw there's a Shakespearian festival."

"Seriously?" Clark asked, sounding skeptical.

"Why not? I'm in the mood for fresh air. I think I'll walk.'

"To the park. With about two-dozen reporters all waiting to pounce on you if you step foot outside the hotel? With snipers hiding in the bushes - -you do remember the cemetery, right?"

""Hmm. Maybe you're right. I should probably take a car."

He rose, moving towards the balcony. Clark followed him, frowning. "Why? More exposure? You think you haven't had enough?"

"You can never have enough exposure, Clark. Besides, it would only benefit me if one of my various enemies did try and take a shot." Lex tossed him a wry smile, but Clark seemed less than impressed.

"That's just reckless and I can't cover everything."

"It's an impromptu visit to the park. You don't really think Tess has every corner of the city stocked with assassins just in case I happen by?"

Clark chewed that over, then canted his head and said with a blatantly devious expression. "Y'know, I can think of better ways to spend the day."

Lex gave him a sardonic look at the completely non-subtle attempt at distraction. Granted, it was a good attempt, because the idea of spending the day fooling around with Clark was a tempting one, but he needed to keep that front page streak running, needed that public interest to keep the powers that be on pins and needles when it came to dealing with him. As long as the whole city was talking about him, there was only so much pressure LuthorCorp could put on the people with the power to bury his cases in the judicial system.

"Are you trying to seduce me into staying a shut in, Clark?" But, if Clark wanted to play at flirtatious innuendo, Lex was more than game.

Clark stepped into his personal space. "Do I have a chance?"

It was too tempting not to close the rest of that distance, to tangle his hand in Clark's hair and pull his head down for a slow kiss. Absolutely thrill of victory that Clark let him do it, and kissed back, eager and warm, one hand pressing his hip as he backed them up a step until Lex's shoulders touched wall.

He should have known they were too new at this for casual. Should have known Clark was too heady a drug for it to be just a teasing kiss. He weeded both hands through Clark's hair, luxuriating in the feel of it, silken and soft under his fingers. Clark just moaned and pressed against him, tongue thick and warm and trying very hard to take up residence in Lex's mouth.

After a few moments, he pushed against Clark's chest, needing to breath, and Clark pulled back, flushed and bright eyed. A slow grin spread over his lips, an expression entering his eyes like he'd just come up with the best idea ever, before he dropped to his knees at Lex's feet. Lex could find no room for complaint at the notion of being on the receiving end of a second bout of oral sex in one morning. Discouraging Clark from a newfound passion would be a sin of tragic proportions.

"Twice in one morning?" He couldn't help himself from voicing the thought though, mostly because his mouth needed to be doing something while Clark was unfastening his pants.

"According to you, the first time wasn't technically morning, remember?" Clark said, before nudging Lex's half hard cock aside and pressing his mouth against the hollow of his hip. He got Lex's pants down around mid-thigh, rubbed his cheek against an erection that was getting harder by the second and added. "And I really like the way you feel - - you know - -in my mouth."

Which had to be the hottest thing anyone had ever said to him, and Lex had been talked dirty to by some very creative people.

Clark ducked his head and sucked a ball into his mouth. Lex let out a gust of air and thumped his head against the wall. Shut his eyes and did it again as Clark got to work. There very well might be basis here to change his mind about the public outing. There very well might be reason, to forget all his time consuming plans and just go off someplace with Clark and while away the time having lots and lots of sex. That thought budded around the time Clark slipped the tip of a finger inside him whilst simultaneously swallowing him to the root.

Which combination caused bright lights to pop along the edges of his vision. Clark pulled back a little, to look up at him from under soot dark lashes, and Lex hooked a leg around his back to pull him back because, damnit, he wanted Clark's nose pressed against his crotch and Clark's throat constricting against the head of his cock.

Clark complied, shifting Lex's knee to his shoulder and that was a good position because it gave Clark better access with the finger, and if Clark curled it just so - - The bright lights blossomed into one big wash of blinding color as he came. He dug his hands in Clark's hair, holding him exactly where he wanted him while he strained against his mouth.

Clark stayed where he was after Lex finished, keeping him in his mouth while he softened, finger still stroking that spot and sending little jolts of sensation through the entirety of Lex's body.

Then Clark took his mouth away, and looked up, pupils so dark they almost obscured the green of the iris. He let Lex's knee slip down to the crook of his elbow, then surged up, taking Lex up with him. Held him there off the floor, one arm hooked under Lex's leg, the other hand on his bare hip. The rosy tip of Clark's erection could be seen poking past the top of his jeans.

Lex lifted his eyes to meet Clark's focused gaze. He'd offer to return the favor and go down on Clark, but he had the feeling that wasn't what Clark was thinking.

"You wanna?" Clark asked, a hopeful sort of eagerness in his voice.

Lex canted his head, actually stiffening a little again himself. The wonders of a twenty-year old body never ceased. "I wouldn't be adverse - -"

"Right here?" Clark managed to sound breathless without breathing hard.

"Why not?"

A grin split Clark's face, blinding and beautiful, and then he was gone.

It was the most bizarre thing, solid weight against, him, holding him up one moment and the next, just gone. Lex had a fraction of a second to experience the sensation of falling, before Clark was just there, before his feet hit ground, pressed back against him holding the tube of lube.

Clark hurriedly unzipped, pulled himself out and ran a lube-slicked hand down the length of his erection.

"How do you want - -?" Clark asked, and Clark was just far too polite when Lex was starting to get short of breath again and not looking for rules of etiquette.

"Any way you'd like."

"God," Clark moaned, and spun him around, face to the wall, jerked his pants down somewhere in the area of his ankles and nudged his legs apart with the insertion of a knee.

It was a turn on of no small proportion.

Clark slipped two slick fingers in, hastily lubing him up. Withdrew, bent his knees to get the angle he needed and pressed the head of his cock in. He sank in with one long stroke, right up to the hilt and it stole Lex's breath. He ground his teeth against the initial burn, that overpowering sensation of being filled past capacity, because Clark was damned big.

Clark had the sense of mind to just lean there, utterly still for a moment while Lex relaxed around him, then he started to move. Fast and deep, fingers biting into Lex's hips as he thrust. Lex braced his hands on the wall and panted in time with it, going to his toes with each upwards apex, hissing a little each time his cock was pressed hard between the wall and his belly.

Clark wasn't out to prove his stamina this bout, just to get off, and after a few dozen quick thrusts he cried out and came. He wrapped his arms around Lex, pulling him back against him as he spasmed, then one big hand slipped down and encircled Lex's cock, jerking him to a second orgasm with quick, tight strokes.

For a few moments, after, the only thing keeping Lex from being a puddle on the floor were Clark's arms. And it was almost laughable, because Lex had never been overwhelmed sexually by anyone in his life - - not counting drug induced incidents - - and it wasn't like Clark had refined skills in the area. Any tricks he'd picked up had been recent acquisitions. Last night recent.

Maybe it was a Kryptonian thing, and god knew he'd speculated about the possibility of that, when he was obsessing about how Clark had duped him all those years. When he'd been questioning why he hadn't just taken Clark like he'd taken any number of other dangerous meteor infected.

But, more likely, and without that niggling little paranoid voice in the back of his head, he suspected it was simply Clark. Just like the reason he'd never made that move to take Clark and put in him in a lab, came down in the end, to the fact that it was Clark.

"That," Clark sighed against his shoulder. "Was really, really good."

Lex made a sound of assent and wriggled a little to be released. Clark loosened his arms, and shifted back, slipping out with a wet, suckling plop. Lex shut his eyes and the departure, and stood a moment, trying to get a feel for his legs, before stooping to pull up his pants.

"So, I'll be taking another shower." He said, with a dry smile. And changing clothes. There were multiple wet spots on his sweater, not to mention what was starting to dribble down the inside of his leg. Impromptu sex with your clothes on was all fine and dandy until you had to deal with the aftermath.

He started that way, made the middle of the room before there was a rush of air, a billowing of curtains and he found himself unexpectedly facing a small, furious woman.

"Fu - -" Was as much as he got out, before there was another rushing, this one mostly in his head, before he blinked, and staggered and found himself in an entirely different spot in the room than he'd just been, with his back against the suite door and Clark standing in front of him, arms spread warningly.

"You son of a bitch!" Lana spat and stalked forward.

"Lana! Stop right there." Clark warned her and she actually did, and stood there glaring.

"We talked about this," Clark said. "You can't just show up and attack him."

"Attack him? I'll strangle him," her voice rose on a high note and she lifted her hand and shook the several pieces of folded paper she had clutched her fists. "He's suing me."

Clark blinked at her, not getting it.

She shook the documents again. "A process server showed up at Isis - -just knocked on the door and handed me these. He's suing me for theft of proprietary tech - - and, and he took out a restraining order!"

"Which you're in violation of." Lex glared at her around Clark. "And I've got a witness."

Clark gave him a quick, harassed look, before turning back to Lana.

"Lana, just calm down."

"Oh, fuck you Clark. Did you read what he's been saying about me?"

Clark gaped at her and Lex came close to laughing out loud. It was a truly priceless moment.

"Point out a fabrication, Lana," Lex dared her, very much wanting to step around Clark and look her in the eye, but Clark was having none of it. And at the moment, Clark was probably the more rational of the two of them, even if Clark were trembling faintly, just a touch of sweat starting to glisten on his skin. She was hurting him just by being here and that pissed Lex off.

"Come on Lana, you stole from me. Outright. On multiple occasions. You're wearing the proof of the last time, right now. Count yourself lucky I'm not bringing charges against you for all the other 'things' you appropriated."

"I didn't steal it from you!" She almost screamed it, which was a testament to her frustration.

He lifted a brow at her admission, and she scowled.

"I'm going to bet that a court of law will say that you did."

She hissed, eyes narrow and glistening. It looked like she was going to make a move, she had that look on her face that hinted she was past the edge.

Clark took one step back, forcing Lex back in the process and said softly, almost mournfully. "I swear to God, I don't want to hurt you, Lana. But I will stop you this time, if you try me."

She shifted her gaze from Lex to Clark, a faint little furrow in her brow as she tried to figure out how serious he was. Tried to work out maybe, the ways he could stop her if she ignored his warning. Lex didn't doubt she knew things about Clark that he didn't, and that firsthand knowledge made her falter.

She lifted her chin angrily and threw a barb. "I've never been so disappointed in you, Clark."

Clark flinched, but before Lex could comment that Clark wasn't the one being a psychopathic bitch, she was gone.

Lex tried to shove past Clark, and after a moment, Clark gave way and let him. He was annoyed, and it wasn't that he hadn't expected a little blowback, especially from the less stable targets of his plans to reemerge into society, it was just - - he hated that pacifying tone Clark got in his voice when he spoke to her. And yes, it was idiotic to expect Clark to not fall over himself to protect Lana's delicate sensibilities, no matter who he was fucking - - or she was for that matter - - but it still grated.

"God, Lex did you really have to do that? Wasn't she pissed off enough?"

He had the urge to echo Lana's sentiment of 'fuck you, Clark', but he held it back, retorted instead with a calm. "If you think I'm going to stand here and discuss your ex-girlfriend while your come is dribbling down the inside of my leg, you're mistaken."

Clark blinked and finally Lex got that blush. Figured it would take the mention of Lana and sex in the same sentence to get it.

Lex started shedding clothing at the threshold to the bedroom. He got as far as the shower before Clark recovered enough to follow him, standing in the bathroom door while Lex stepped under hot water.

"I wasn't defending her, Lex. I just don't understand why you're going out of your way to piss off people who can actually hurt you."

"Hence the restraining order," he said over the spray of water.

There was no response to that. No response at all for the duration of the shower, so he figured Clark had retreated to another room. But he was leaning against the long marble vanity when Lex opened the shower stall door, towel in hand. He offered it as Lex stepped out.

Lex took it grudgingly, sopped a little water off his head and shoulders before wrapping it around his hips and striding into the bedroom.

"You did it just to annoy her and you know you did." Clark said, following him in. "Its not like she's going to abide by it anyway. Obviously."

"Why, because people with superpowers don't have to obey the law?" Lex pulled on a clean pair of underwear and pants.

"No!" Clark sounded offended. "We have to obey it more."

Lex turned and gave him a look, waiting for him to explain Lana, or any of Clark's other super powered acquaintances who regularly engaged in acts of vigilantism if not outright destruction of property.

Clark opened his mouth, shut it. Took a breath and said finally. "Okay, you've got a point and it's valid. The people out there who want to make the world a better place, need to work on that. Most of them are just human, you know."

"And human beings are flawed creatures prone to mistakes?" Lex finished for him.

Clark shrugged a little uncomfortably.

Lex pulled on the second knit he'd gotten Harrington's to deliver and decided a little shopping might not be out of line. He was getting low of clothing, and hand stitched tailoring was not required for every occasion.

He eyed Clark while he was refastening his watch, not as annoyed as he had been, now that he was clean again, and the adrenalin had subsided.

He walked over and patted Clark on the arm. "I don't blame you for the fact that your friends are asses."

Clark rolled his eyes. "Gee. Thanks."

"I'm still going out."

Clark let out a weary breath behind him.

He called down for the concierge to arrange a car, then headed for the door, Clark trailing in his wake.

He opened it upon a man in the process of raising his fist to knock. A very large man, with hard features and prematurely silver hair, that he recognized as one of the security Tess Mercer had had at her back when he'd strolled into LuthorCorp the second, legitimate time.

"Mr. Luthor," the man said, not missing a beat, even as Clark stalked up behind Lex and stood there hovering at his shoulder.

The man presented a card, with the LuthorCorp logo, with a name, Hans Loflan, Head of Internal Security, LuthorCorp.

Lex took the card, turned it over in his fingers, then looked back up at the man and said blandly. "Its very nice, but I'm not hiring at the moment."

The man's brows drew just a little, obviously lacking any semblance of a sense of humor. "Ms. Mercer would like to talk."

"Really? My attorneys have provided her with their contact information."

"Ms. Mercer would like to talk with you. Privately. She extends the invitation to the locale of your choice."

Clark made a scoffing sound behind him, but Loflan's eyes never left Lex. They were very intent, dead eyes. The sort of eyes you saw on a man that killed and killed well. Lex had had men like this in his employ when the idea of having a man killed hadn't made him slightly nauseous in the pit of his stomach.

He pushed back the little curl of unease this man raised, and lifted a brow. He was curious what Tess had to say. Or maybe she was just following his lead and making a statement. One that she could get to him, if she wanted, regardless of the suspicions that would come her way.

"Tell her to be at the Japanese garden in Centennial Park in an hour. I'll make time for her."

 


 

There was a hotel sedan with driver waiting when they reached the lobby. The concierge rushed up as Lex stepped off the elevator and asked if he'd like anything else.

No, thank you. Lex strolled past, heading for the revolving doors, the concierge trailing him. Clark got there before him, and pushed through. The press stirred, a few of the local ones recognizing Clark Kent Daily Planet reporter and spreading the word. Others likely remembered him from the LuthorCorp excursion. There weren't quite the two-dozen Clark had lamented about, but there were a respectable number loitering in and about the Regency's portico.

Lex stepped out of the revolving doorway and they came to life, rushing him from various trajectories. Clark said a word Clark generally didn't use under his breath and put an arm out before Lex could start for the car, eyes flickering over it intently. Using his x-ray vision to check for bombs, perhaps. A handy talent to have when there were people who'd rather you were dead than alive.

It only took him a few seconds, but it gave the press time to descend, and cameras flashed, and mikes were thrust into Lex's personal space as they scrambled over each other to shout questions. They even asked Clark a few, like what his relationship was to Lex? And was it true they'd met in Smallville after a traffic accident?

Which made Lex smile a little as Clark latched onto his arm and bull dozed through the press to the car. Someone had been skimming small town newspapers and God knew if they started going through enough Smallville Ledgers they'd find more than one incident involving Lex Luthor and local boy turned reporter, Clark Kent.

It would very likely damage Clark's reputation.

The sedan muffled their cries, and Lex relaxed back into the seat, cast a glance at Clark, who wore the sort of look on his face of a man going into battle.

"The park," Lex told the driver. "Lose any journalistic tails, if you can."

The driver nodded, gave a signal to the bellman out in the portico drive, and the man stepped out in front of oncoming traffic with hands up, and gave the sedan the opening it needed to whip out into traffic. It took longer to reach the park than it might have, but the driver took a roundabout route, shaking the few reporters that had jumped into cars and tried to follow.

He let them out finally, at the far side, near the carousel, with its flock of ever-present children. The grass was green and vibrant with spring, and people had already spread blankets for early picnic lunches. No one here gave him a second look, too busy walking dogs, chasing Frisbees, or runaway toddlers.

There was a walking path, lined with mulch that headed around the field and into a wooded section to the east. If Lex recalled correctly, the Japanese Garden's lay a good distance away in that direction. The park was huge, covering nearly a thousand acres of greenery in the midst of Metropolis' concrete wilderness. If he were late making that meeting with Tess - - he'd get over it.

It was beautiful here in the springtime and he couldn't remember the last time he'd allowed himself - - or the original him had - - to come here and simply enjoy. When Lillian Luthor had been alive they'd had a penthouse - -oh, right over the trees there - - he could barely see the spire of it - - and he'd come to the park weekly. There was a nature trail somewhere that had her name on it.

People were power walking down the path, ipods buds in their ears, intent on doing their due diligence before getting back to the grind. Lex stuffed his hands in his pockets and strolled leisurely down the path, Clark ambling along at his side.

"There's going to be speculation," Lex said.

"Probably," Clark said. Clark was a reporter and he knew how the rumor mill worked. As far as any of the press who'd been staking out the Regency knew, Clark had been holed up with Lex in there for two days running. Dinner last night would only spark more curiosity. The only thing that might stop rampart rumor was Lex's multiple marriages and too numerous to count dalliances with members of the opposite sex. The ones he'd had with same sex partners he'd always kept much closer to the vest.

"I'll talk to Lois. Put a spin on it."

Clark gave him a look. "What kind of spin? Am I your bodyguard? Your secretary? Personal biographer?"

"Friend?" Lex suggested. "The only one I trusted not to turn on me when I staged my comeback?"

Clark stared at him, wide eyed, before he took a breath and said. "Yeah, I sort of like that one."

Lex smiled. "Rings of the truth. I'd still expect to see something in the Inquisitor about all the dirty things we've been up to, though."

"We have been up to dirty things," Clark reminded him.

"Yes, but are you okay with seeing it in print?"

"Hell no, I'm not okay with it. People should be able to do what they want with other people in private and not see it in the paper. I hated how the press treated you back then and I hate it now."

Lex lifted a brow at Clark's vehemence.

"The price of being in the public eye, Clark."

"Yeah, I know. And I've shoved my tape recorder into people's faces before too, but I've never asked who they were sleeping with. Private is private."

"God, journalistic standards. What is the world coming to?"

Clark's mouth twitched.

It took considerably longer than that hour he'd suggested, to reach the Centennial Japanese Gardens. It was a beautiful section, funded by private donations and tended meticulously by various local clubs. The water gardens were rife with huge, colorful koi, the landscaping surrounding them subtle and green, with spots of flowering trees and groves of bamboo. As a child it had been one of his favorite spots, one of his favorite entertainments to frighten whatever nanny had taken him here, by skipping across the stepping-stones with careless abandon.

The stone lanterns seemed ancient, moss covered and lovely, just as he remembered, and there would be multiple streams feeding from one pond to the next. There was a Chaniwa Garden past the ponds, with a latticework teahouse, with the untraditional additional stone benches and tables outside to accommodate picnickers.

Tess Mercer was sitting at one of those tables. Her silver haired head of security stood leaning against the side of the teahouse behind her. No one else was in the area that Lex could see.

Clark was another matter. "She's got three - - no four guys spread around the area." He reported. "They're armed. I don't like it."

"Any of them have sniper rifles?"

"No."

"Okay." He kept going, stepping across time-weathered stones while colorful carp lazily skimmed beneath the water's surface.

He paused at the edge of the path leading up to the teahouse and asked Clark to hang back. Clark frowned, but nodded and Lex trusted that with his speed, it didn't particularly matter where he was, if Tess decided to take this little tête-à-tête in a violent direction. He'd be there before any of her men could make a move.

As Lex approached, Tess nodded at her guy, and he padded off, taking himself about as far away as Clark the opposite way.

She watched him approach, expressionless. She didn't complain about him being late and he didn't bother to look at his watch to see just how much he actually was.

"You're looking lovely today, Tess. Green's your color." He slid onto the stone bench opposite her.

"And you're looking as if you just stepped onto a college campus. How is it that press is all over you about the sordid details of a failed marriage, but ignore the obvious question about why you look as if you're barely old enough to legally drink?"

He let the corner of his mouth twitch. "I'm going to take that as a compliment."

"Don't. It's one more thing I'm going to use to take you down."

He canted his head, considering. "So did you invite me out here simply to level a few threats?"

"You're trying to play hardball with me, but you just don't have the resources, or the ammunition that I have at my disposal."

She had a fantastic poker face, he'd give her that. There wasn't a spark of emotion as she spoke. " Do you know the charges I could have leveled against Lex Luthor? The information I could let slip about any number of activities that I'm sure the federal government would take great interest in? You might win an identity, but what good would it do you rotting in prison?"

"Are you talking about all those below board projects that LuthorCorp is still running? The one's that you've not only green lighted for continued funding, but expanded upon? Those activities? You're not the only one that keeps records of LuthorCorp activity, Tess and I've got a laundry list with your name on it."

She narrowed her eyes, turning that over, trying to figure out if he were bluffing and if he wasn't where he was getting his facts. God knew she'd gone to lengths to close him out of every LuthorCorp connection he'd ever had.

But she was a smart woman, a very smart woman and she'd know - -just as he'd made it his business to know - - who was attempting to keep tabs on his operations.

"Ah. Lana's little Isis Foundation project. With the way she and Chloe Sullivan feel about you, I'm surprised she parted with that information."

He smiled coldly. "I'm sure she'd be as well. Mutually insured destruction is a bitch."

She leaned forward, irritated enough that she let it slip in the glitter of her eye and the way she held her mouth.

"Let's not forget the one big elephant in the room. The fact that you aren't really Lex Luthor. And let's say that I'm willing to weather the storm of bringing to light LuthorCorp's cloning projects, which were really, when you get down to it, the personal pet project of your progenitor, and our attorney's can spin the hell out of that argument and you'd be living proof of his obsession in the area.

Our stocks might drop for a while, we'd be castigated by the far right, but really, we'd survive. You'd be a parody even if we never proved it, you'd never escape the stigma. Once a rumor's out, its out for good. So, let's say I 'm willing to risk it? Are you?"

He laughed. "Are you mistaking me, Tess, for someone who lives and breaths on the tides of public approval? I can assure you, my relationship with bad press has always been love hate. Go ahead, put it out there. See who suffers more for it. All you have is the accusation of a woman who's trying desperately to cling to power that doesn't belong to her. You think you can spin a tale to the press? I guarantee you they'll be eating out of my hand."

"You talk such a good game. In that respect you really are like him." She smiled coldly. "But don't you doubt? Deep down, where even you can't deny the truth of the matter? That no matter what you do, or what you gain, you're just downloaded carbon copy of a man who couldn't stand the idea of mortality."

She touched on that niggling little kernel of doubt that he never had been able to shake, but he didn't let it show on his face. Just lifted a brow curiously as she slid a folder across the stone table towards him.

"My people are good, and since you have all his memories, you know just how good. We'll find something. Some flaw, some means to delegitimize you, and then - -" she leaned forward, cold eyed and focused. "- - and then you can imagine, I'm sure, what lengths I'll go to see you destroyed. You and anyone who tries to help you."

And her eyes drifted past him towards where Clark stood. He narrowed his own as she continued. "Or, you can just disappear. Take your lawsuits and your claims and go someplace far away and with absence, I might be convinced to let this feud go. There's an offer in there. It's a good one. All it needs it your signature. A blanket forfeiture - - and it doesn't have to be war."

He casually flipped open the folder. There was a post it with an eight-digit number stuck to a legal document. It was a fraction and a tiny one at that, of what he was worth, or what he had been before she'd started deconstructing his assets. He looked back up at her, with a wry, amused smile.

"Really, Tess? You're trying to buy me off?"

She smiled back, on her game again. "Your choice."

He laughed outright. Closed the folder and shoved it back to her.

"It is, isn't it? I've enjoyed this little talk, really." He stood. "But next time you want to chat, contact my attorney."

He walked away from her, and he could practically feel her glare stabbing him in the back. Could feel the hidden eyes of her men from whatever vantages they were secreted away. He flexed his hands to stave off the shaking. He didn't need her picking up on that. He didn't want Clark to see it, but then Clark wasn't paying him as much attention as he was glaring past him towards where Tess still sat at the stone table. Likely Clark had listened in to the whole thing and likely Clark wasn't happy.

He had to appreciate her cold brutality, though he'd have appreciated it more if she'd been working for him instead of against. He couldn't recall the last time he'd come away from a meeting that hadn't involved his father, with that cold shiver of unease in his gut.

Clark blocked him from taking the stepping stone path across the pond, veering him towards the gravel path that hugged the edge. Better cover he supposed, if Tess decided, what the fuck and decided to have her men try and take him out. It was nice that somebody was thinking along precautionary lines. He certainly wasn't, mind still circling around her threats. Nothing she'd said had been overstated. She could level those accusations and maybe survive them. Better than he could, perhaps. So why try and buy him off? That offer hadn't been a last ditch effort, it had been the end game of the whole meeting. All the rest had been designed to freak him out enough to accept it.

There was a wall of bamboo to his left cut through here and there with little paths people had made over the years. Clark urged him into the shelter of one of them, into an old grove of dense trees, and once under that cover, Clark gave him the brief warning of 'We're going', before catching him up and simply accelerating faster than the human brain could compensate. There wasn't even a blur of motion that Lex's eyes could follow, just the feeling of dislocation and blinking into real time in an entirely different set of woods. Across the park entirely, perhaps, on a jogging path secluded by elm and pine trees.

"God," he breathed, and latched hold of Clark's sleeve to steady himself as equilibrium played catch up.

"Sorry," Clark said, then. "Lex, what are we going to do if she starts making accusations?"

He shook his head, not so much worried about that as the reasons why she'd informed him of the possibility before the fact. He started walking, thinking that if he'd been in her shoes, he wouldn't have given his adversary the heads up.

"She's worried," he mused out loud, then he glanced at Clark, who was pacing him, picking up on the wording of Clark's question. What are 'we' going to do? Not 'you'. An unintentional statement of camaraderie, and it was a warm distraction from the frostbite of the meeting.

"She's worried?" Clark sounded skeptical.

"I'd even go so far as to say scared." And the more he thought about it, the more he thought it an accurate assessment. He just didn't have enough pieces to figure out why.

"Why?"

"I don't know. Yet."

They were at the north side of the park, the old money side, where gothic buildings loomed overhead across the street. Ridgley Street was a block further down and the Regency a block after that. He wasn't averse to making the walk.

"Did you make that withdrawal?"

He sidestepped a dog walker with about a half dozen small, ridiculous dogs on leash. Clark waited for them to pass and lengthened his stride to catch up.

"Yeah. Yesterday. I forgot to give it to you."

There had been a distraction or two. He nodded and turned down Ridgley, where the shops were high end and always in fashion. Harrington's was a half block down. He bypassed the Prada and the Rochas boutiques and strolled into a Hugo Boss. Clark trailed him in, turning over a price tag on a sweater, then flinching and withdrawing his hand as if it had burned him.

"Seriously, how can this be worth so much more than something that looks just like it, you can get at JCPenny for a fraction of the price?"

"I assure you," A salesman oozed up, giving Clark a dubious once over before saying tightly. "That nothing you might pick up at a JCPenny is 'just like' anything you might purchase here. May I help you find something today?"

Clark rolled his eyes, not as oblivious to being talked down to as he once might have been.

"I'm just along for the ride," Clark said, and jerked his chin towards Lex, who stifled a laugh, pulled out a grey long sleeved henley and handed it off to Clark. Found another color and selected that as well. By the time he'd gotten around to browsing the button downs, the clerk had figured out who he was, and was trailing him with hopeful enthusiasm.

Clark just looked bored, so Lex took pity and headed for the counter. Clark pulled out his wallet, a tired, worn leather affair bulging with cash, and after looking aghast at the total, started counting out bills.

"Do you want this?" Clark asked, indicating the still thick stack of bills.

Lex waved a hand, declining the offer. The cut of tailored pants was not designed to accommodate a bulging wallet. Clark's baggy jeans were much better suited.

They took the roundabout way back to the Regency, strolling down Ridgley, wondering in a few more shop's, Harrington's included. People recognized him, which wasn't surprising, his face being plastered on the morning edition of the Planet again, a few of its competitors, the Inquisitor, which headline he didn't even bother to read, Metropolis Money Magazine, as well as a national or two that graced the newsstands.

"Do you want to avoid the press, or make an entrance?" Clark asked, as they turned the corner to the street the Regency occupied.

Lex considered. "Avoid."

"All right," Clark grinned at him like he'd crossed some moral hurdle with that choice, hooked an arm around his waist and pulled him in. "Hold on."

 


 

Clark hit the balcony trying hard for that soft landing, which wasn't always easy when you'd made a thirty story jump at high mach speeds. Harder still when you had your arms full of a person who didn't particularly seem to like being carted around, and shopping bags to boot. But he made it, touching down without a crack in the marble underfoot and was rather proud of himself for it.

He heard Lex's heart beat catching up with his body, beginning to thud like he'd run a race. His fingers were curled so tightly in Clark's shirt that the collar was stretched taut against his neck.

Clark stood there for a moment, not really minding having Lex in his arms - - sort of liking it, actually - - while Lex uncoiled, lifted his face from where he'd had it pressed into Clark's neck and took stock of his new surroundings.

You can put me down," he said dryly, after a moment.

Clark grinned, and let his feet to the ground, but kept his arm around his back, just in case. Some people took a while to get their balance back and it was a new thing for him, carrying Lex around while he was actually conscious - - he'd carted him around a lot back in Smallville when he wasn't, but that was generally to deposit him at the emergency room entrance - - so he wasn't sure about his recovery time. It was a good excuse anyway to press up against him and Clark found that he really, really liked the simple feel of Lex close.

Even better without clothes. A month ago - - hell a week ago - - he'd have had serious issues with that thought popping unbidden into his head. Now, well, he still couldn't entirely wrap his mind around the enormity of what he'd jumped into and all the implications thereof - - but he'd made that leap and there was no turning back, so he might as well embrace it and all of the perks it came with.

The main one being, not having to feel guilty about laying hands on Lex.

Lex even let him get away with it for a few moments, leaning into Clark; the solid, angular weight of a man so much different from what a woman felt like pressed against you. And though Clark wasn't averse to the idea of soft breasts pressed against his arm, he thought he could get along just fine without.

"I'm good," Lex finally had enough of inertia, and gave Clark's chest a little pat as a signal to let him go.

Clark sighed and loosened his arm. Lex relieved him of the bags, and headed into the suite. Housekeeping had been in while they were gone. The remains of breakfast were gone, the laundry bag with Lex's dirty clothing missing, the bed made and the bathroom spotless.

Clark plopped down on the couch while Lex put away his purchases. He flipped around the various news stations, checking to see if anything momentous had happened around the world, but other than the ordinary ongoing strife, there were no reports of new disasters. He felt a little guilty about missing patrol so many nights running. He'd make a quick run tonight. He could do that and keep an ear out for Lex at the same time.

Lex came back out on his cell, talking with his lawyer from the sound of it, and sat down at the end of the couch. He was warning them to be on the lookout for counter suits from LuthorCorp, though he failed to mention anything about cloning. Clark rather suspected he'd hold back that information to the bitter end, if he could. Then he got to talking about other legal matters, to do with his estate and Clark lost interest in the conversation. More interesting that Lex had kicked off his shoes and was in sock feet. Clark reached down, caught one of those feet and pulled it up into his lap.

Lex paused mid-sentence, both brows raised, and Clark tossed him a sly grin, peeling off the sock and pressing his thumbs into the arch of Lex's foot.

Lex blew out a breath and chased after the lost thread of his conversation. He'd lost some of the focus though, and he kept skipping beats. Clark had been told upon occasion, that he gave killer footjobs. When you were afraid to actually have sex with your girlfriend, you had to find other things to satisfy her. He'd gotten really good at massage.

He snagged Lex's other leg and drew it up, to give that foot its fair share of attention. Lex told his lawyer something about some fund somewhere and pressed the foot Clark wasn't working on against the modest bulge in Clark's jeans. The bulge got bigger and started snaking its way up Clark's abdomen. Lex rubbed the ball of his foot up and down the length, and the friction of cotton boxers and denim made Clark's eyes roll up in their sockets. Which was all fine and good, and survivable, until Lex pressed his toes against the big vein along the underside of Clark's dick, which had escaped the waistband of his jeans and that was just that.

Clark transferred his grip from foot to ankle and dragged Lex down the couch, which put him on his back, phone still glued to his ear, as Clark lunged forward and loomed over him.

Lex stared up, a faint speculative gleam in his eyes.

"Roy, I've got another issue to deal with here. Call me when you have news." He snapped the phone shut and tossed it carelessly onto the floor. He lifted an eyebrow at Clark and complained. "You and I need to have a talk about boundary issues when I'm trying to conduct business."

Clark grinned. Lex rolled his eyes, grabbed him by the ears and pulled him down. Hot, open mouthed kiss, and God, he didn't think he'd ever get enough of Lex's mouth. The texture, the taste, the feel of it - - bold and demanding and battling for dominance the one moment and submitting to Clark the next. Just kissing Lex was what he'd imaged real sex was like, back before he'd actually had it.

Lex pushed at his shoulder, hard, and Clark rolled with it, and off the couch and onto the carpet between it and the coffee table. Lex came with him, still glued to his mouth, but on top now, straddling him, his weight grinding down on Clark's erection, which felt so, so good.

He reached down and squeezed Lex's ass through his pants, imagining if they were naked, and his cock were right there, in position to just slide up into him, which was the best place in the entire universe to be. He arched up, balls so tight they hurt and God that was just from imagining it. Lex was worse than kryptonite to him, some undiscovered type that just made his libido go into crazy wild overdrive.

Lex pulled back, staring down, propping himself up with forearms on Clark's chest. He took a breath and declared. "I'm not going through another set of clothes until at least dinner, Clark."

Which wasn't a problem, really it wasn't. Clark could have them both out of their clothes in a second or two - - maybe three or four if he made the effort not to rend and tear.

He took one of his hands off Lex's ass, ran it up the line of his spine to the back of his head, and urged him back down. "So then let's get naked. What else do you have to do?"

"There are a about a dozen messages on my voice mail that it would benefit me to answer." Lex said against the side of his mouth, but he sounded like he was losing conviction. Lex's brain might be telling him to get down to business, but his body was very obviously going another direction.

Clark tilted his head to get his mouth into line and sucked his bottom lip into his mouth. Lex moaned and went with it for a few minutes, just kissing and slow grinding, then pushed himself up one more time and said breathlessly. "Okay."

He got up, not quite as gracefully as he might have if he weren't boxed in by couch and table, and thankfully a knee in the stomach didn't deter Clark in the least. He held out a hand once he was up and Clark took it and let Lex help draw him up. He held onto it, following Lex into the bedroom, but Lex wasn't headed for the bed, but for the bathroom and Clark was game enough for anything Lex had in mind. He started shucking clothing, as Lex did, though he kicked his to the floor, while Lex at least aimed to toss his on the vanity top.

Clark couldn't take his eyes off him, off his cock, long and cut and proudly straining towards his navel. Lex stepped back into the shower and turned on the water. Clark moved in after him, reached for him, but Lex pushed him back, against the marble tiles as the water began to beat down, and sank to his knees, trailing his hands down Clark's wet chest to his dick. Looked up with a faint, teasing glint in his eyes, water beading on his bare scalp, on his face and shoulders, making his lashes spike together, then bent down and took Clark into his mouth. Clark curled his fists, spread his legs and thought - -'oh, fuck yeah!'

Lex was good at this. Lex knew tricks that Clark couldn't even retain for future use himself, they made his mind blank so badly. It was overkill, really, because Clark was just happy to have Lex's mouth on his cock, period.

When he came, it was a long stream of joy, his hands clutching the back of Lex's head as he spurted. Lex pulled back, pink tongue flicking out to lick his lips while Clark bent over a little and breathed. Then Lex leaned in and swiped a trail of water next to Clark's navel with that same clever tongue, and began working his way up, lingered at a taut nipple, which made Clark shudder and twitch, then got to his jaw and bit him, hard.

"Turn around," Lex whispered, rough velvet in his ear, and Clark groaned.

He did, pressing his face to the wet tiles, shuddering as Lex pressed his lips to the slope of his shoulder and bit. Slid his hands down the length of Clark's back, fingers tracing the delineation of individual muscle, working his way down to his flank. Pressed himself against Clark's back, all slippery and warm and wet, the length of his dick resting against the crevice of Clark's ass.

Clark shivered in anticipation. They hadn't gotten around to this last night, or he hadn't given Lex enough of a breather to suggest it, though Lex had seemed pretty content with the arrangement. And honestly Clark wasn't sure he'd like it, but then Lex really seemed to - - a lot - - so there had to be something.

Lex reached around him for the liquid soap, squirted a long bead out across the swell of Clark's ass, slid his hands down afterwards, slick and soapy. He tried to insert a finger and Clark tensed, denying entry. Lex mouthed the center of his back, between his shoulder blades and murmured, 'relax'. His other hand drifted around to Clark's belly, rubbing small circles, which felt good, which made his cock stir to life again.

Clark took a breath, concentrated on the feel of Lex's body, the sound of his breathing. Lex slid his finger in, and it was an odd feeling, a tingly little intrusion as he stroked inward. It felt - - good.

His dick was ramrod straight, twitching towards his chest and Lex's other hand encircled it. Slow strokes in time to what he was doing with the other hand. Clark leaned his shoulders against the wall and pushed back.

The finger pulled away and he felt the head of Lex's smooth cock pressed against him. He pushed in and the feeling of penetration was new and wonderful. All the way in and Lex pressed against him, breathing hard, mouth fastened to a spot at the back of Clark's neck. Then he began to move and that was a whole other experience, touching something inside him that coiled and blossomed in time with Lex's rhythm.

Pleasure oozed through his extremities, making his toes tingle and his hands clench against the wall. Getting them on Lex, touching Lex would have been preferable but the position prevented it and damned if he was going to move and risk that awesome sensation of being filled.

"God - - Lex - -" He gasped.

Lex laughed against his back, scraped his nails down Clark's chest and drove in harder, faster pace. Moved his hands to Clark's hips to brace himself as he thrust. And he was hitting that one spot each and every time and it made Clark's insides clench and his cock jerk each and every time. And Lex was stroking it, pulling hard, which was fine with Clark, and hissing against Clark's back, body tense and hard as he strained close on the last thrust, coming.

And that felt pretty awesome too, the infusion of wet warm, inside him. He slid his hand around Lex's, which had stilled on his cock, and got the friction started up again. Faster and harder this time and he very well might have bruised Lex's hand in his enthusiasm. He came, all bright lights and ecstasy, spurting against the shower tiles.

He leaned there afterwards, grinning a little, Lex a warm weight against his back. Clark shifted a little and Lex slid out, leaving a weird little emptiness in his wake. Clark turned around without ever losing skin-to-skin contact; easy to do when they were both slippery and wet. Got his fix of hands on Lex's skin while Lex leaned against him, recovering his breath.

"You okay?" Clark asked, when Lex didn't make an effort to move after a few minutes.

"Yeah," Lex said and Clark thought maybe Lex was thinking again, after the distraction of sex had banished his problems for the short term. Running over those threats of Tess's that he'd tried to pretend hadn't fazed him, but that Clark knew had. Lex wasn't as good at hiding his little gives as he thought he was and Tess had been damned specific. Almost he wished Lex would have taken that offer, backed out of this fight and retreated to someplace safe. Clark would see that he was safe. But then, Lex never had been able to give up anything without a fight. No reason to expect him to start now.

Then he pushed back, looked up at Clark with a wry quirk to his mouth, flexed his hand and said. "Ow."

Clark winced. "Sorry."

The shower took a little longer to finish up than normal, but it was distracting taking one with another body, and hands tended to stray - - Clark's especially, because Lex's hairless skin was simply fascinating - - but eventually Lex called quits and stepped out. He complained about waterlogged skin and showed Clark wrinkled fingers to back up the grievance. It wasn't a problem Clark had ever had, his skin being a bit more impervious to the little things than Lex's. He grinned some more, just feeling good, and trailed out after Lex. He pulled on his jeans, and wondered out onto the balcony to let the wind dry him off, while Lex considered putting on the same old clothes he'd worn this morning, or changing into new ones after all.

Clark figured he needed to make another clothes run back to the apartment, but then he wasn't as finicky as Lex when it came to wearing the same clothes several days running. Underwear might be nice, but he wasn't averse to going commando if he had to. By the time Lex came out, Clark was thinking about how long it had been since breakfast, and that lunch was in order.

"I'm going out for lunch. Pizza or subs?" Clark asked, as Lex flipped open the Regency laptop he'd been using on the coffee table.

"Those are my only choices?"

"Yes." Clark had a craving for Bella's and he wouldn't be deterred.

Lex shrugged. "Sub. Italian. No onions." And turned back to the laptop, which was a pretty clear signal that he wasn't prepared to succumb to more distractions.

Clark called the order in, then took off, stopping by his apartment just long enough to get that change of underwear, and a new shirt, before heading downtown to a little take out Italian place a few blocks from the Planet that Jimmy had hooked him on. There was always a line of people waiting to pick up orders and the food was always good.

There was a predictable lunchtime line waiting when he showed up. He got into it, stood there tapping his fingers against his thigh a little impatiently as he waited. Caught himself at it, and clenched his fists to squelch the motion. Sooner or later he was going to have to get over this. There was a difference between keeping a watchful eye out for Lex, and worrying himself to distraction over him. The former was most definitely the healthier way to go.

He moved a space up in line, paying little heed to the clack of approaching heels, until a familiar voice said. "You know something Smallville, for someone supposedly sick in bed with the flu, you sure do get around."

He shut his eyes, swallowing a groan, and turned to face Lois. She gave him an arched brow look, daring him to come up with a lame excuse, so he just sighed and didn't try.

"Hey, Lois. I saw your article."

"Damned right you did," she said smugly, skipping line ahead of him. "Did you see the follow up today?"

"I haven't read it yet."

She sniffed. "You know you're busted, right?"

He stared at her warily, not knowing any such thing.

"I mean, I covered for you, because I'm a good partner. But geeze, Clark, everybody and their dog has seen you out in public with him, and you didn't think it'd get back to the city newsroom?"

Crap. Just - - crap. Clark saw his paycheck spiraling down the drain.

"So Walther's pissed?"

"He was spitting nails. Until, I pointed out that you were working an inside angle - -"

"I'm not working any angle - -"

"- - And that you and I were going to give him the story of the year."

"I thought you'd already penned that, Lois?"

"Are you kidding? Getting information out of Lex is like pulling teeth and when this thing goes to trial and we're sitting on the inside - - can you say Pulitzer?"

He gave her a little forward boost as the line cleared in front of her and she sidled up the counter.

"You do know I'm not writing any story about this, right?"

She shoved a bill at the kid behind the counter and he handed her a bag. "I don't see why not?"

He gave the clerk his order number and as the kid was hunting up his order, gave her an exasperated look and explained. "It would be a conflict of interest."

"How? Just because you two have got this weird thing going on?"

"There's no weird thing," he said defensively. "And he's a friend and I won't report on a friend."

"Oh, Jesus Christ, Clark, how do you go from 'that son of a bitch ruined my life. Blah blah, Lana, blah blah'? To he's my friend and I'm willing to lose my job because of him."

He exchanged money for bag and turned to glare at her. "I wouldn't do a write up on you either."

She waved a hand in dismissal and paced him as they worked their way back out onto the sidewalk. If she was going to stick with him, it was going to be a long walk back to the Regency.

"Clark, I would do a write up on me, if I was big news. And if you're not going to take advantage of Lex, then you've got to let me do it. Tell him I want a follow up. On camera this time. He owes me."

"I'll ask him."

She walked along for a few steps in blessed silence, then hit him with a - -"So are you sleeping with him?"

He stumbled on a sidewalk grate, caught himself and tossed her an indignant glare. "Why would you even - - why's that the first thing that pops into your head? God, Lois."

"Oh, don't 'God Lois,' me. And it wasn't the first thing that popped in, when I found out you were hiding him in your apartment. But then when you sleep over with him at the Regency - -curious minds want to know. There always was this sort of gay vibe in the air when you were in the same room with him, back before the two of you got all up in each other's faces."

"There was not!" Clark was actually offended that she'd said that, because it was so not true.

"Oh, please," she scoffed. "And if you're not, you're not, but I gotta tell you, I'm not the only one sniffing around in that direction. I'd start avoiding the Inquisitor if I were you because according to the hounds outside the Regency, you've been up there with him, two nights running, and all they need is a supposition and they'll be off and running."

Which was pretty much Lex's prediction as well. Clark clenched his jaw, annoyed.

"Since some of us are actually working," Lois said, at the intersection that would take her back to the Daily Planet building. "I've got to head back. Don't forget to tell him about that follow up."

He stood there on the corner after she'd left him, pedestrian traffic weaving around him, fuming all over again at the thought of being the subject of lurid tabloid speculation. Honestly, it was one of his worst nightmares - - he'd just never figured it would center around this particular subject.

He got himself moving again, ducked into the first alley he passed and as soon as he was out of easy view, he put on a burst of speed. When he got back to the Regency suite, Lex was on the phone and barely gave him a nod of acknowledgement as he walked in. Clark swallowed the bad temper that wanted to surge up. It wasn't Lex's fault.

He got a couple of bottles of cold water from the fridge and sat down opposite Lex, on the floor before the coffee table. He pulled out sandwiches and chips, pushing Lex's towards him, but Lex was pretty focused on the call. Lex sounded rather annoyed, and was speaking in clipped, patronizing tones to whoever was on the other end of the line

He finally snapped the cell shut and slammed it down on the sofa seat next to him. He took a breath, then another and said. "Fucking DMV."

Clark gave him a quizzical look. "What'd the DMV do to you?"

Lex turned his annoyed look on Clark. "Refused to reissue my license. Apparently, once you're declared legally dead you have to jump through hoops to get recognized by the department of motor vehicles as existing again."

"Ah. Yeah, I can sorta see their point, what with identity theft and fraud and whatnot."

Lex narrowed his eyes, not seeming to particularly care about legitimate reasoning. Clark doubted that Lex Luthor had ever had to deal with the simple little things like DMV red tape in his life. There'd probably always been a dozen sycophants either employed by his father or him to take care of these little daily life issues. At the moment, Lex had a couple of overworked lawyers and Clark.

"So what do you need? Birth certificate?"

Lex waved an exasperated hand, nodding. "Except that all of my personal documents are presently being withheld from me."

"So you get a copy from the hospital where you - - where the original you was born." Clark winced a little as he said it, knowing Lex was a little tender about the subject. And a certificate of live birth was a pretty damned big reminder that he hadn't been birthed at all.

"Yes. That's my next move. Its just irritating that I have to."

"So, is the hospital in Metropolis?"

"Metropolis Mercy."

"Okay, so no problem, then. It'll take a few days, but you weren't planning on taking a road trip, were you, that you'd need a drivers license?"

Lex took a breath, and slid down to the floor and pulled the tinfoil wrapped sub towards him. He gave Clark a wry look as he unwrapped it. "Not in the near future. There are just certain things that even I need ID to accomplish. And besides - -" he added, lifting the top of the sub to make sure it matched his criteria. " - - If the biggest government agency in the state recognizes me as Lex Luthor, there's only so much Tess can do if she decides to contest my legitimacy in a court of law."

"Sorta like a Miracle on 34th Street, defense." Clark said.

An amused half smile won through past Lex's aggravation. "Are you comparing me to Kris Kringle?"

"Oh, not even." Clark laughed and bit into sub. It was heaven on a twelve-inch bun.

They just ate for a while, and it was nice being able to enjoy good food without having to engage in conversation all through the meal. Lois couldn't go two bites without having to make a comment or ask a question that Clark generally didn't want to take his attention away from his meal to answer. Lana hadn't been much different and eating lunch with Chloe was like a whole, nonstop conversation. Maybe it was a woman thing.

"I'm going to need you to get scarce tonight," Lex said when he'd finished up his sub. Clark had finished wolfing his down about five minutes earlier, but then sometimes chewing wasn't as important as consuming when he was hungry. His mom had always been on him about that habit, but the chiding had never stuck.

"Why?" he asked warily.

"I've got a date."

Clark kept staring, waiting for the punch line. Lex's mouth twitched at Clark's lack of appreciation for his apparent attempt at humor, and he added. "With potential backer with a score to settle with Queen Industries. "

Clark let out an exasperated sigh. "Lex why are you going out of your way to start fights with people that have greater resources than you do?"

"Oh, please. You think Queen merged with LuthorCorp because he was looking to expand his tech trade? Because Tess was so good in bed? He did it to fuck with me. The least I can do is return the favor and Emerson Wade has the resources to help."

"Who is Emerson Wade?"

"A former Texas oilman who went high tech. Queen Industries staged a hostile takeover of one of his companies a few years back and the old man holds a grudge. He gave me a call and asked for a sit down."

Clark sighed, not liking it, but stopping Lex from playing corporate chess would be like stopping him from breathing, so there wasn't much Clark could do about it, but go along.

"Okay. I need to start back up patrolling anyway."

"Glad I have your approval," Lex said dryly.

Clark rolled his eyes. "Yeah, well, I'm not the one actively trying to piss people off."

"What's that old saying about omelets and eggs?"

"Yeah, well, I'm just trying to avoid you getting broken."

"Good goal. Do your patrol tonight. I'll be fine."

 

 

 

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