Clark looked up from the phone in his hand to the mansion across the boundary of box hedges, weathered statuary and dead fall gardens. He was already inside the wall, having bypassed security and outpaced the motion sensors capacity for detection. He’d been aiming for politeness, calling ahead for permission and Lex was lucky he’d waited this long, because the desire to head out here yesterday evening and ask about the connection between Lana and Lex’s old clubbing buddies had been really hard to resist. The only reason he hadn’t was because – – well, because he’d been feeling distinctly anti-social after the incident at the Talon.
The fact that the sheriff hadn’t swung by to arrest him for assault and battery had barely made a dent in his mood. Chloe had called him later and let him know that no charges were being pressed, so apparently Jake had taken Clark’s threat to heart. Which didn’t make Clark feel much better.
All his life he’d been told – – after that first imperative rule of not telling – – was never strike out in anger – – never do something that in a moment of rage, he couldn’t control. Something irrevocable, like shattering a fragile human body and having the world know that he wasn’t like the rest of them. He’d come so damned close. And why? Not in self-defense, or to protect a threatened life – – but because he’d been pissed – – and it had come up so fast and sharp that still didn’t understand it.
He’d come out to see if he could get an honest answer out of Lex today and gotten rebuffed. But Lex had had an edge to his voice, this little twinge of something that straddled the sharp line of hysteria and Clark thought about mental lesions and broken psyches and all the other possible repercussions of ripping the remnants of Zod out of him.
So he scoped out the wandering grounds security on the other side of the mansion sneaking a smoke, and bounded over the hedges and closer to the house. He expanded his vision, sifting through layers of stone and mortar to find the living things within. There was the cook, chopping something in the kitchen and the housekeeper washing windows in the solarium. Lex in his study, pacing, nervous energy oozing from his stride.
Clark focused past the walls and into the warmth of the room. Orange from the fire, red from the stained glass, yellow sun from the high windows. Lex moved in and out of the patterns of light. He had a glass in his hand, a thick, grey sweater – – faded blue denim with a familiar hole in the knee. Familiar worn seams clinging to the line of Lex’s legs. Clark’s hand me downs.
Clark swallowed, almost losing his focus, things going skeletal and layered before he concentrated and got the finer points of his vision back on line. Before Tuesday morning, when Lex had been limping out of Clark’s house, he wasn’t sure if he remembered ever seeing Lex in jeans before – – Lex didn’t do jeans and t-shirts and casual Smallville attire. But there he was, stalking about his study wearing Clark’s old Levi’s and it was simply, unaccountably – – hot.
“Shit.” Clark turned around, putting his back to the wall, squeezing his eyes shut for a moment, trying to get the image out of his head. There was no way, no possible way he’d ever worn those jeans the way Lex did. The soft cling of wear-thinned fabric to long, lean thighs, the pale glimpse of knee through the rip in the leg – – the hole in the back pocket over – –
God. His own jeans were getting far too tight. He looked down to confirm and even standing here alone, it was embarrassing. He cursed it, under his breath and told it to go away, but it was still centered on the idea of Lex in his jeans – – of Lex walking the way Lex always walked, wearing ‘his’ jeans. And it was the most ridiculous thing ever that he was standing against the side of the mansion with a boner. He wasn’t fifteen anymore, and plagued with raging hormones that triggered these sorts of things at the brush of a strong breeze.
The need to get out of there became pressing, even if running superspeed with a hard-on wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world. It wasn’t like he was going to be confronting Lex today anyway. Not and keep what was left of his dignity.
So he got home in seconds flat and leaned against the corner of the barn, secure in the solitude of the farm, his breath forming furious little clouds before his face. He wasn’t out of breath, but he was breathing hard and there was nothing to do but rub his hand over the bulge in his pants, because it didn’t seem to want to go down on its own and it was insistent to the point of discomfort, almost.
Harder – – the scrub of cotton boxers and the inside seam of his zipper pressing against his cock felt like the scraping teeth of heaven. He shut his eyes and knocked his head back against the wood, thinking about Lois’s breasts against his arm this afternoon, and Chloe’s mouth and God – – God, it wasn’t enough to wash away Lex’s ass in Clark’s jeans and his legs – –
He came, sticky and hot inside his shorts, and hissed through his teeth after the pressure went away and he could breath again, and walk again without feeling like he was going to poke a hole in his jeans.
In all honesty, Clark couldn’t say it wasn’t the first time Lex had ever crossed his mind while he was masturbating, but it had been an awfully long time and even then it had been embarrassing. The only bright spot was that his mother wasn’t home to inquire why he needed to change pants in the middle of the day.
Tomorrow. Tomorrow he’d try to talk to Lex again, when Lex would hopefully be wearing normal, tailored clothes not likely to cause spontaneous erections.
Now, he just needed to get his priorities straight. Get a little work done about the farm – – or maybe take a break from it all for an hour or two and take a spin about the globe. God knew he needed something to drain off pent up frustration that was obviously effecting more than his mental state. Maybe he’d head up to the Fortress where it was cold enough that he actually could feel the chill on his skin. Cold right now would be a very good thing.
The drink didn’t dull the perplexity. Not even in mass. It took the edge off though. It always took the edge off. If not for the advantage of meteor enhanced biology, Lex thought his liver might have been well on its way to early retirement.
No one had ever bothered to suggest his alcohol consumption teetered on the edge of addiction, not even Lana and god knew he’d increased the intake during the last few months of their marriage – – but then she hadn’t really cared at that point. And no one else would have had the courage to mention it.
Clark maybe, if they’d still been friends.
But of course, when they’d been friends, the need hadn’t been so intense. Then it had just been the pull of the normal, everyday tension of being a Luthor. The stress of having Lionel as a father.
Now – – well, there was a price to knowing the things he knew, and doing the things that needed doing.
It wasn’t like he allowed himself the luxury of actually getting drunk on more than very special occasions. It wasn’t as if it were easy for him to reach that point – – aforementioned enhanced metabolism a definite killjoy when it came to recreational substances.
He’d spent the day fighting distraction – – fighting the urge to turn things over in his head and discover the worms underneath. His mind kept drifting back to Mueller and what Mueller did for him with a vague sense of quizzical repulsion that was simply foreign. And if he thought too hard about it, delved too deeply, the unease would spider outwards, tangled roots from a central hub – – This problem had been eradicated because it had become a hindrance in the operation of that venture which protected this facility which had honestly been created to study a dangerous curiosity – – to alleviate a known threat – – not become one in and of itself.
So he’d finished off the brandy and in lieu of sending one of the staff down to get a fresh bottle, had started in on the vodka.
And somewhere around a quarter bottle into that, he’d started thinking about Clark – – and that strip of hard belly visible when he’d been asleep in the chair and how soft his lips looked in repose – – like a woman’s almost, full and dark with natural rouge. And he’d used to have the most explicit fantasies about that mouth and what it could do for him. To him – –
Fucking ungrateful bastard. All of Lex’s efforts – – wasted – – discarded like so much rubbish, because Clark didn’t understand the simple need for pragmatism. He hated Clark because he was oblivious to the pain he created and yet he was willing to condemn. Clark who he’d protected – – who he still protected, even though part of him wanted to destroy – – to devastate Clark. And he could have so easily – – a phone call – – as simple as calling Mueller and erasing a problem – –
If Clark only knew the impulses Lex had denied for him – –
He’d felt the need to share this information some point after dark – – but not wearing Clark’s clothes – – God, he wasn’t so far gone that he was willing to share that little moment of weakness, so he’d changed and gone down into the garage and pulled the cover off the Porsche, letting it flutter to the concrete in a waft of dust particles. He’d neglected her too long, content to be chauffeured about like a fledgling imitation of his father. Fuck Lionel.
He got in the car, headed out of the castle grounds and into rural America.
It was just before seven, the sky blanketed with clouds that made the evening darker than it ought to be, that insulated the air with a sense of moist cold that might be the herald of more early snow or simply cold, cold rain.
Clark was at the kitchen table, when he heard the sound of a car taking the drive too fast, tires spitting gravel outside as it pulled to a short stop. He had the dregs of cold Campbell’s soup in a cup, the crumbs of grilled cheese on a napkin and his laptop open before him in preparation of doing a little research of his own.
Through the kitchen door he could see the sleek shape of a car in the darkness, headlights illuminating the fine mist that saturated the air, engine purring quietly. It was still running when Clark walked out onto the porch and stood on the steps warily. Even if there had been an abundance of criminally expensive Porches navigating the roads of Smallville, this one still would have been familiar. Lex used to drive it all the time, the car he’d always end up coming back to, after he’d gotten over the allure of new acquisitions. Clark hadn’t seen him in it in a while.
It didn’t look as if he was planning on getting out of it now, and Clark wasn’t sure if that were a good thing or not. Him showing up at the mansion, intruding upon Lex’s personal space was one thing, Lex showing up in his domain was another. It made him bristle a little defensively and want to walk over and tap on the window to suggest Lex call before showing up on Kent property.
Only, maybe he didn’t mind so much tonight as he might have, this afternoon’s embarrassing moment aside, and he was curious. So he walked across the yard, feeling the very fine mist on his skin and rapped once on the window. It slid down, breaking the buffer between the quiet of the night and the low beat of the music throbbing from at least a half dozen strategically placed speakers.
Lex didn’t look up at him, one hand on the wheel, eyes forward, staring towards an empty field.
“Should you be out roaming the roads without security?” Clark asked, instead of the blunter inquiry of what he was doing here and what he wanted.
Maybe Lex had been expecting the latter, because he leaned his head back against the headrest with an aborted laugh. “I have security.”
Clark bent a little to look into the shadowed interior of the car. Nothing there but Lex, but Lex, upon closer inspection, had the dense shape of a gun in his coat pocket. There was also the subtle scent of alcohol about him.
“Should you even be driving?” Clark asked, and Lex’s mouth tightened. He looked up, meeting Clark’s eyes, his own hidden in the shadows.
“You called me. Said it was important? What?”
Clark had. He hadn’t expected a personal visit. “It could have waited till tomorrow.”
“Well, that would be a first with you, wouldn’t it? I didn’t think you were capable of waiting when an urge struck?”
“Did you drive over here to insult me, Lex?”
“If I were insulting you, you’d know it – -” Lex started, then canted his head, a humorless smile touching his lips. “Well, maybe ‘you’ wouldn’t.”
If he dragged Lex out of the car and shook him, Clark wondered if he’d get an answer out of him that didn’t involve verbal abuse.
Lex cut the ignition, pushed the door against Clark’s legs and Clark stepped back to give it space to swing open. It was a relief of sorts that Lex had changed clothes. Back to his normal fashionable chic, even if the shirt was untucked and showing skin four buttons down.
He moved past Clark, the slightest waver in his gait, the mist sheening the pale skin of his head. Something was wrong. Clark could feel it. The way Lex shoved his hands in his pockets to hide the trembling. The distant look in his eyes. He’d heard the hint of it in his voice today, but the addition of god knew how much alcohol made it more pronounced.
“Lex?” he asked warily. “Did something happen?”
“Yes,” Lex said simply and stood there, in the beams of his headlights, staring at nothing. Then he shook his head and retracted the admission. “No. I just came to see what you wanted. I was rude on the phone.”
Clark let out a breath of disbelief. “I wanted to ask why you didn’t tell me the man Lana met in the pictures worked for old friends of yours?”
Lex didn’t answer for a moment, then he turned, the ghost of an ironic smile on his lips. “Why should I? Your sources of information seem more than adequate.”
“Because you said you would and I’m holding you to it.” Clark said it levelly, absolutely dead serious and Lex lifted his brows in something that might have been actual surprise.
“That’s touching. Really.”
Lex was drunk enough, Clark thought, that there might have been as much honest truth as sarcasm in that statement. Lex was also drunk enough, that he probably barely noticed the gradual permeation of water into clothing.
“If you want to stand in the rain, stand in the rain.” Clark started towards the house, leaving Lex in the drive, but making an offer he wouldn’t have considered a month ago – – hell, he wouldn’t have considered it a week ago. “Otherwise, there’s an actual roof and coffee in the kitchen.”
Which Lex needed about a gallon of, but Clark wisely didn’t mention.
Lex stood there, while Clark clomped up the steps and scraped the mud off his boots on the welcome mat, then started moving towards the house.
“Headlights,” Clark called and Lex stopped mid-stride, rocking a little in his tracks like balance wasn’t quite his friend, then returned to kill the lights.
When Lex came into the house, stopping just inside the kitchen door, Clark had already closed the laptop and stood with his hip against the kitchen table, wondering how much of a fool he really was. Lex was dangerous because he was beautiful, and determined and manipulating and capable of so many terrible things and Clark wanted to believe it hadn’t all been his fault. Not this last year.
Clark wanted to believe that the remnants of the monster who’d destroyed one world and tried to demolish another had tainted Lex and that now that it was gone – – maybe.
He didn’t even know what he was hoping for or why it made a difference because Lex had damn sure been toying with the idea of playing God before Zod – – but still, there’d been a difference. Just maybe there was something salvageable.
Which brought him back to being a fool. And a fanciful one at that. He thought about Lex in his jeans, and Lex mostly naked and smooth when he’d put him to bed – – and had to turn and fumble after a cup in the cabinet and poured coffee from the instant machine on the counter.
“Black right?” Even though he knew that’s how Lex took it. He knew so many little details about Lex, so many little likes and dislikes and confidences shared – – because they’d used to talk. Aside from certain dark secrets they both kept buried, they’d used to share confidences.
“I’m fine,” Lex said.
Clark took a breath, and turned around to meet his eyes. Lex’s face was pale beneath the sheen of rain, eyes dark and unreadable, like he’d gathered his calm between the car and the kitchen and was holding on to it for dear life.
“So why didn’t you tell me you found out who the man was?” Clark asked point blank.
Lex walked into the kitchen, trailing fingers along the back of the closest chair. “I just found out.” He paused, looked up at Clark speculatively and amended. “A few days ago. It slipped my mind that I was supposed to report to you.”
“Right,” Clark said. Nothing ever slipped Lex’s mind. “So, is there a connection? Between these old friends of yours and – – what happened?”
Lex lifted a brow at Clark’s inability to say it. Lana’s murder. So Clark looked away, tightening his mouth while Lex mulled over an answer.
“I haven’t found that out yet,” Lex finally admitted. “And they’re not friends. They were never friends.”
“No? What were they? There are an awful lot of pictures of you guys hanging out.”
Lex circled the table, long fingers still trailing the edges. “Have you been surfing the net, Clark? You can’t believe everything you read, you ought to know that.”
“And pictures speak a thousand words. What, did you have a bad break up with the sister?”
Lex reached the counter next to him, fingers turning the cup of coffee Clark had poured for him. “I thought you didn’t like hearing about my sordid affairs? I seem to remember a sermon – -”
“Lex.” Clark gave him a look, and Lex smiled wryly, shifting enough that his hip brushed Clark’s and even through layers of damp wool and denim, Clark ‘felt’ it.
“I never fucked her,” Lex said bluntly. Then he turned, facing Clark, close enough that Clark could see the blue and the green fighting for dominance in his eyes. “I honestly don’t believe anyone other than Niko Daniakos has ever fucked Sophia. But she would watch, while he fucked me. Is that the sort of detail you wanted to hear, Clark?”
Clark took a breath, not even beginning to know how to deal with that, and Lex never took his eyes from his face. Just watched with that predatory, hungry look, like he wanted to devour every nuance of Clark’s reaction. Like he wanted to shock and dismay.
“Would you like to hear the particulars?”
“No,” Clark said, mouth gone dry. He could imagine well enough. Too well, and he wanted the imagery out of his head, even while some baser part of his intellect kept drawing it up. He moistened his lips, and Lex broke eye contact, gaze flickering down.
“Hmm,” Lex sounded almost disappointed.
“Do you think they had something to do with it, Lex? Is the blood that bad between you?”
“I destroyed the jewel in their family crown.” Lex shrugged indifferently, as if it were nothing. “Ripped it apart and sold the pieces I wasn’t interested in off to competitors or salvage. Yes, the blood is bad. No, I have no idea the connection. Yet. But, honestly, if they’d a hand in orchestrating it, I’d imagine they’d have done a better job of setting me up. Same reason I never suspected my father’s hand in it. I’d be behind bars now if anyone competent had planned it.”
“Then who?” Clark exclaimed. “And why?” He drove a fist down in frustration and the cupboards rattled. He was lucky he didn’t dent the countertop. The hurt of not knowing was almost sharper now than the duller ache of her being gone.
Lex shook his head, the calculated indifference fading from his eyes. He swallowed, looking past Clark to the array of magnets and keepsakes stuck to the refrigerator door. “You know – – no matter the who or the why – – it was probably because of me. Something I’d done or someone I’d – – hurt.”
Clark drew a breath, trying to steady his hands. “You’ve hurt a lot of people, Lex.”
He wasn’t certain if he’d ever heard Lex admit it before. He wasn’t sure Lex meant to now, but there was something distant and a little lost in his look, which he shook off with a shiver of black clad shoulders and looked back up at Clark with a crooked twitch of the mouth. “Most of them even deserved it.”
Condemnation wanted to bubble up, like an old familiar friend, only Lex looked like he was waiting for it, and that threw Clark off the game.
Lex’s pocket rang. Clark started. Lex reached in for his phone, checked the number and flicked his eyes up to Clark mildly.
“I have to take this.” He walked towards the kitchen door with the phone to his ear. He waited till he was outside on the porch before answering, but Clark didn’t need to close the distance to hear the voice on the other end of the line and he felt absolutely no shame in eavesdropping.
“Talk to me,” Lex said.
“We’ve found the Greeks, sir.”
“New York. We have eyes on them.”
“Have the plane ready. I’m flying out tonight.”
He severed the connection, slipping the phone back in his pocket and starting down the steps towards his car without a backward look or an explanation.
Clark stalked out onto the porch, clenching his fists in irritation.
“Where are you going?”
Lex hesitated, turning in the soft rain to look back at Clark. “Business,” He said smoothly. “Did you need my itinerary?”
“You’re lying,” Clark said, a growl of frustration lacing the accusation.
Lex lifted a brow, patently false amusement on his face. “I might take offense at that – -”
“If you weren’t lying through your teeth.” Clark cut in.
“- – If I didn’t know how uptight you are over this unfortunate situation.” Lex finished without missing a beat.
The desire to shake him reared up again – – or to press him against the wall and force something resembling truth from his lips.
“Anything more solid than speculation,” Lex said over his shoulder. “I will let you know.”