It took Clark exactly as long as it might - - say take a man to hand a few bills over and accept a bag of food in exchange - - to get back to the apartment. Lex barely had the time to digest the blurred departure - - because really, suspecting all these years and seeing were two entirely different things and he hadn't been in any frame of mind the first time to appreciate it - - when Clark appeared again, with two plastic bags of aromatic Chinese cuisine.
Apparently, Clark thought he'd been ordering for four people, instead of two, because there was a plethora of food stuffed into those two bags. But then, Clark always had had an impressive appetite. Lex wondered if his alien metabolism was so fast that his body demanded huge quantities of food, or if he'd simply had the healthy appetite of a 6'plus growing boy that had turned into a man of no small proportion.
With food at hand, Clark seemed willing to suspend all uncomfortable conversation. He dragged out cheap Corningware plates, two cans of cold soda from the refrigerator and settled down cross-legged on the floor across the coffee table from Lex.
"I had a coupon," Clark explained around a mouthful of spring roll when Lex lifted a brow at the package of six. "And it expired this week - - and this stuff reheats really well."
Lex slipped off the chair onto the floor and opened a carton full of white rice. Hard to go wrong with white rice. Hard to go wrong with anything when his stomach was growling in such misery that gnawing on the cardboard box would have almost been acceptable.
The actual food was better. Incredibly good, in fact. He had no idea if it were the quality of the restaurant or his own desperation that made it so. He didn't care.
He was ravenous and once he started in, it was hard not to shovel it in at a pace that matched Clark's.
He looked up finally, fork poised halfway between the box he was eating directly out of, and mouth, to find Clark staring at him over his own empty plate. Multiple other empty boxes littered the tabletop.
"God, Lex, how long has it been since you ate? I've never seen you wolf down so much in one sitting."
Forever was a good answer, but not one Lex was prepared to give. "When you're on the run, simple necessities are few and far between."
Nothing but the truth in that statement, even if it hadn't been much of an answer. He swallowed the last chunk of broccoli and laid the fork down, beginning to feel uncomfortably full. He had an idea that the hunger had been as much mental as physical. A desperate need to get one step farther away from being a man grown in a tube.
He was no more able to fill the silence when Clark scooped up the empty boxes and gathered dirty dishes to take to the sink, than he had been before. He was tired and hated the stench of chemicals that clung to his skin. How could Clark not smell it?
"Would it be too much of an imposition to use your shower?"
Stilted civility, which he half expected Clark to decline, though he recalled a time when Clark had made the offer outright 'what's mine if yours', naïve, big-hearted boy that he'd been. Lex had never vocalized a return offer, Luthor generosity being an oh so complicated thing. But he'd have given Clark anything he asked. Without hesitation or regret. It was entirely likely that he still might have even during those years of hostility, Clark holding fast to some odd, precious spot in his heart more tenaciously than any woman Lex had bedded or married.
Clark considered the request, no doubt trying to figure out what sort of damage Lex could accomplish sequestered in a bathroom. He waved the hand with the scrub brush finally and said. "Towels are in the closet next to the bathroom."
The bath was a tiny affair. Narrow space between sink and bathtub, with the toilet crowded up against the wall at the end. He leaned on the sink for a moment, simply breathing, then looked to meet his gaze in the mirror. The lack of the scar was so blaring now. But it wasn't just that. All the laugh lines were gone, and the small creases that stress and time had worn into his flesh. He was like new again, fresh from the wrapper and somehow it seemed fundamentally wrong. He'd earned those flaws. Gone through hell gaining them. There were no other scars that his body had retained, no matter the depth of the injury, so peeling off his clothing, looking for differences seemed a moot point. He did it anyway.
He stepped into the shower after the water had warmed, pulling the curtain closed and standing there as the water beat down. There was a folded cloth on the shower caddy and a bar of soap. He lathered it up and began scrubbing at his skin.
The mixture of water and soap made the smell stronger and he scrubbed harder, trying to erase it. The liquid in the growth tanks would be thick like mucus, rich in the nutrients a rapidly grown organic body would need. He'd have breathed them into his lungs, absorbed them into his flesh - -
God. It was in his head. He knew it was in his head, but it was so hard to shake the crawling stigma of it. He forced the cloth away from skin he'd rubbed pink on his chest, shut his eyes against the water and shuddered. Clone or not, he was stronger than this. This mind and these memories were all he had and if his progenitor had passed them on to an upgraded copy - - then he'd be a fool to drive himself mad with doubt.
Lex Luthor was dead. Long live Lex Luthor.
He laughed, a twinge of hysteria lacing the edges of it. It was just a matter of convincing himself of that fact. Of convincing himself that everything he felt and thought was real.
He slipped a hand between his legs, looking for the surest way to irrefutable reality. Stroked his flaccid cock with soap slick fingers and felt it stir. As familiar a feeling as breathing. He rubbed the pad of his thumb across the glans and his cock jerked, growing in his palm. Just like always - - save it was the first time this body had ever encountered the experience. Was he technically a virgin - - or was that a purely mental state of being?
He softened a little at the thought - - his mind apparently having far too much control over the natural urges of his body - - and pumped with a vigor halfway to vicious trying to finish this most basic and usually most pleasant of activities.
His cock refused to respond - - most certainly not a problem he recalled ever encountering. He summoned up masturbatory material to encourage cooperation. Lana on her knees, pleading forgiveness, offering up oral apology. But no, Lana didn't quite do it for him, when all he could dredge up for her presently was annoyance.
His mind came up with another scenario. Lana on all fours with Clark behind her, his big body dwarfing hers. Not inside her yet, but wedged between her buttocks. He'd be proportionately large and uncut - - because what doctor's scalpel could pierce skin that flattened bullets? A glimpse of the treasure trail, rising from the thatch of coarse curls above his cock, not quite reaching his navel. His hand huge on her side, moving under to cup her small breast - - but no, that wasn't doing it, either.
Take Lana out of the picture. Just Clark. On his knees. Big thighs spread wide, hand encircling the shaft of his cock while his balls dangled in the shadow between his legs. Lazy strokes, downward motion pulling back the foreskin, revealing the glistening pick head - - thick lashes fluttering on pink cheeks as he whispered a name.
Lex sobbed, back hitting the stall wall, orgasm spilling over him with that familiar mind-blanking moment of pure bliss. It overflowed across his hand, spattered his stomach, only to be washed away by the downpour of water.
He sank down, shuddering, laughing when breath allowed, at the pure irony of it. That the only thing that got him off anymore was Clark. No particular shock that. It had been like that, one way or another, for some time now.
He sat for a while, letting the water sluice down upon him, until it started to cool, Clark's hot water supply apparently not endless. It was an effective motivation to terminate inertia. He dried off, wrapped a towel around his hips and appropriated a capful of Clark's mouthwash from the medicine cabinet. He took a moment to examine the contents, curious as to what an alien immigrant would keep in his bathroom cabinet. No drugs. Not even aspirin. Just the sort of toiletries a man who wasn't out to impress anyone might have. The most interesting thing was the one lonely condom package tucked in the corner. Trojan. Extra large. Of course.
He finished his snooping and pondered the pile of his clothing. Old, dirty and sans underwear. Hostilities aside, if Clark were willing to feed him and house him, certainly he wouldn't deny him a change of fresh clothing. It was the neighborly thing to do and Martha Kent had raised her adoptive son well in that respect.
He stepped outside to ask. But the apartment was empty and there were simply no Clark sized hiding spaces in the two-room affair that might have concealed him.
Clark was gone.
Clark had a boner and it was truly, horribly humiliating. He had no idea where it had come from - - well, technically, he was up on the biological factors - - he had taken high school biology - - so maybe it was more the 'why?' factor that plagued him.
It was Lex's fault, of course. If Lex hadn't been taking so long in the bathroom, Clark wouldn't have started worrying what he was up to behind closed doors. Honestly, visions of homemade bombs or kryptonite in the toilet bowl didn't seem that out of reach. It was Lex, after all. Even if he were acting strangely - - reasonable? Was that the right word?
Clark wasn't even sure - - Lex was a better liar than Clark might ever hope to be, even with all his years of practice - - but there was just something different about him that seemed genuine. Or maybe not different at all - - but the same. The way he'd used to be, when things had been so much simpler.
It put Clark off his guard and that was a dangerous thing to be with Lex, so he'd - - purely for his own sense of self-preservation - - taken a look through the walls to assure himself no foul deeds were being perpetrated in his bathroom.
And of course they were. Despicable things, that involved Lex splay legged against the wall of the shower, his hand tight around his dick - - stroking off. And instead of immediately shutting his eyes and blocking out the sight as decency demanded - - he'd kept looking, magnetically drawn in by the details like a driver passing horrific accident. Little details, that he couldn't stop himself from absorbing. Like how tight and pale pink Lex's nipples were. How utterly hairless - - all of him - - slick and pale and dripping with water. How the water dripped off his lashes and into his half open mouth. How the taut head of his dick was flushed and rosy against the pale skin of his hand - -
Which had been about the time Clark noticed the painful tightness in his pants and looked down in surprise to find the bulging outline of a hard-on.
Mortifying. And confusing as hell. And if he didn't get out of the apartment and away from the terrible, terrible knowledge of Lex jerking off in his shower, he thought he just might die.
He was halfway between Metropolis and Smallville before he slowed and doubled over, trying to make the traitorous stiffness in his pants go away of its own accord. But it wasn't cooperating and he'd burst a zipper or two in the past on occasion and that was just not an easy damage to explain. He cursed, and unzipped, reaching down to lay hands on the problem.
God, but his own touch felt good. It had been too long since he'd manually seen to his own needs. Not since Lana had left him, because all he'd been able to think about when the urge crept up was what he didn't have anymore and that had alternatingly depressed/pissed him off, so he'd simply avoided. Like some sort of really twisted pride thing that he wasn't entirely sure made sense, but that some part of him couldn't dismiss as ridiculous. But, really, if just watching Lex jerk off caused a sympathetic erection, it had been too long.
So maybe the whole thing was his fault after all, because he'd used to jerk off all the time. Impenetrable as his body might be, it still had basic needs. God knew the barn had seen its fair share of whack off sessions back before he'd been the only one living in the house.
He grimaced, squeezed tight and gave himself a few rough strokes. That was all it took, before his balls tightened and he was spurting. He aimed it away from his shirt, spattering the dark ground. He could breath properly afterward, like a weight had been lifted. He stuffed himself back into his pants and crouched to wipe his hand on the grass.
He felt better now, having reasoned out the cause. Even his Kryptonian body, if deprived of sexual stimulation for too long might become a bit- - over sensitized. It hadn't been Lex - - simply what Lex had been doing, reminding Clark's body that it had been too damned long since it had engaged in similar activity.
His cell rang in the process, and he considered ignoring it, not exactly in the frame of mind at the moment to talk. But then there were things afoot that were important and it might be something he'd be sorry he missed later. So he reached into his pocket with his other hand and flipped open the phone.
It was Chloe.
"We have to talk." She said, before he'd had the chance to finish a 'hello'.
It was a dilemma. He wasn't entirely certain he was capable of going back to the apartment and not feeling as he were slinking back after doing something shameful - - but at the same time, leaving Lex to his own devices seemed a bad idea.
"What did you find out?" Of course she'd found out something. She had that tone in her voice that screamed she was sitting on top of big information. He was almost hesitant to hear it, because if it was Lex related - - and what else might it relate to, considering the current situation - - it was certain to be bad news.
"This is not phone conversation material, Clark. You need to come over here. I'm at Isis."
He shut his eyes. If it was the sort of bad that required a face to face - - he felt a prick of disappointment. Almost he'd hoped that that strange little whisper of feeling in his gut about Lex being different had been real. But of course it had been nothing more than wishful thinking and he should have known better.
He snapped the phone shut and was there before he'd stuffed it back into his pocket. Chloe looked up as he stepped through the door, her own cell still at her ear.
She sat the phone down, took a breath and he could see her trying to organize thoughts. Which meant it was really big, because Chloe hardly ever needed thinking time between mind and mouth.
"I talked with Oliver and he's on his way back now."
"And I think we need him in on this conversation. Let me get him back on Satellite phone."
He caught her arm before she could head over to the array of computers that housed the information network that was the real purpose of the Isis foundation.
"Just tell me, Chloe. You don't need back up. What is Lex up to?"
She lifted her chin, swallowing. "Lex is dead, Clark."
He blinked at her, sudden horrible dread sweeping over him that Tess's men had found Lex at his apartment while he'd been gone and finished the job. But how? He'd been away for less than ten minutes.
He tensed, almost on the verge of heading back there and seeing for himself, but Chloe stopped him dead with her next statement.
"What you saw was his clone."
He stared at her, not understanding. Oh, the concept was clear enough, just not the context. Because if there was one thing he knew - -it was Lex. And the man in his apartment was nothing but.
"No." He shook his head. "It was Lex. Absolutely, it was Lex."
"No, Clark, it's a perfect genetic replica of Lex. Apparently it was his backup plan if the nanite suit failed. Oliver says Tess found out about the project and tried to stop it before completion, but she was too late."
"She's trying to kill him," Clark said numbly, running back every word Lex had spoken to him, every motion. Every expression. Nothing was out of sync - - if you discounted the lack of sociopathic rage.
"No. Apparently, it snuck into LuthorCorp and tried to kill her. The thing has probably been pre-programmed to take out everybody on Lex's shitlist."
"It? He's not an 'it', Chloe. And she is definitely trying to kill him. I heard her give the orders. And what do you mean, 'pre-programmed'? Even if he were - - a clone - - he's not a machine."
"No," she agreed. "But he was a blank slate before they downloaded his personality. Lex's personality and Lex's objectives."
He shook his head, still not able to wrap his mind around it. Lex's body and Lex's personality and Lex's objectives equaled Lex, didn't they?
"We're supposed to take Tess Mercer's word? She's got pretty good reason to want to discredit him, doesn't she? So does Oliver for that matter."
"Clark," she laid a small hand on his arm. Gentle touch, reasonable calm in her eyes. "Find him and see for yourself. He has Lex's body, but not his scars. But be careful. He knows about you and he knows your weaknesses. Oliver's plane lands in eight hours. We can sit down and figure out what to do then."
He gave her a frown, but didn't voice the fact that he didn't need to sit down with Oliver Queen or anyone else for that matter to decide how to deal with Lex. It wasn't a committee sort of problem. Until Lex did something to make it so, it was a problem of a very personal sort.
He stepped away from her, not wanting to hurt her when he sped away and speed was very much of a priority now.
He was back at the apartment so fast he almost took the door off its hinges with the abruptness of his entry. He stopped and forced himself to take a calming breath. To slow down in all respects before he reached one of those states where his body outraced his brain.
Lex was in his bedroom. He saw him through the walls, rifling through Clark's drawers. Damn it.
He stalked in and caught in the act, Lex looked up at him, eyes widening in surprise.
"I was looking for clothes - -" Lex started, before he caught on that Clark's stride wasn't faltering, then he held up a hand and took a step backwards. Clark caught him with a grip around the jaw and forced him the rest of the way, up against the wall between dresser and window.
He stared down, scrutinizing the details. There were differences, but not the kind that marked Lex as different man, but more the man he had been. Even down to the eyes, which lacked something of that cold, teetering on the edge of the precipice expression they'd worn so regularly the last few years. They were just wide and wary now, as Lex lifted hands, trying to free himself of the hold.
But the most telling thing - - the thing that made Clark feel sick that he'd not noticed before, because it had damn well been a fascinating draw for the eye in past years - - was the scar. Or the lack of it.
He brushed his thumb across Lex's upper lip, across soft, unmarred flesh. Lex shut his eyes and shuddered, fingers loosening on Clark's arms in a motion that eerily resembled defeat. It was in his voice when he spoke, as well a hint of dread.