It was like and episode of the Twilight Zone – – this strange, blandly jovial atmosphere that permeated the Kent farm. There should have been averted glances and arguments – – and Lex had tried that latter route to no avail – – or at the very least uncomfortable silences.
Not Clark cooking breakfast while he related the tale of the last time it had snowed this early and he’d been stranded at home when the schools had been closed for the day – – a truly lamentable thing since Pete Ross had only recently acquired a Playstation 2 and Clark had been devoid of electronic entertainment.
“Why didn’t you just run over, like you did yesterday to the mansion?” Lex asked archly, and Clark gave him a look, followed by a plate of waffles, only slightly burnt around the edges.
“I was twelve. And Pete’s house is farther away than yours,” he said, then added in a muttered undertone. “Mom wouldn’t let me.”
Lex drizzled maple syrup over the waffle in a geometric pattern, watched it pool in the holes and said. “I understand that avoiding an uncomfortable issue seems easier, but in the long run, we need to discuss – -”
“I know it’s your thing to analyze everything?” Clark sat his own plate down with a thump. “But do you have to pick everything to pieces right away? Can we just not think about – – you know – – the why’s and wherefores right this minute and just enjoy the snow?”
Clark was embarrassed. Clark was confused. But apparently Clark had liked the sex enough – – had liked having it with Lex specifically enough – – that he was willing to overlook the first two. Lex wasn’t certain if he’d classify it so much as denial as a type of compartmentalization that he never would have suspected Clark capable of.
He cut into his waffles, hating to leave it. Hating not understanding motivations that had direct bearing on him.
“Why don’t you have a degree?”
Clark looked up at him, blinking, a folded waffle with syrup and bacon in the middle, halfway to his mouth. “What?”
“Are you even still attending classes?”
“Things came up. There’s been a lot of distractions – – the farm.” Some of the comforting familiarity of a glower came back to Clark’s face. Lex was well aware of some of those distractions and they had nothing to do with the farm.
He took a bite of waffle, that masochistic part of him that needed conflict that needed to get in the last shot fulfilled
“When was the first time you wanted to – – you know – – with me?” Clark shot back, attempting to play the game by his own abrupt change to what should have been an embarrassing topic. Only Lex wasn’t embarrassed by it, and he was no small bit amused by the fact that Clark couldn’t even say it.
“Fuck you?” Lex asked for clarification with a raised brow and Clark pressed his lips and gave Lex a narrow look that bordered on accusatory. He nodded though, reluctantly and Lex felt a swelling of unexpected affection. He’d missed these little conversations with Clark.
“Third meeting,” he said without hesitation and Clark stared, working that out in his head.
“The cornfield?” Clark asked, a faintly scandalized expression crossing his face.
Lex shrugged. “I admit to having my kinks. You?”
“I don’t – – what?”
Lex took a sip of cooling coffee, back on solid ground now and liking it. There was something about Clark flustered that never failed to appeal. That was apparently a kink, too. “When you figured out you wanted to ‘you know’ me?” Lex smiled placidly around Clark’s euphemism.
Clark stuffed the last bit of waffle-sandwich in his mouth, the flames in his cheeks heating up. Lex cut another square of waffle and let Clark debate that question with himself. Though Lex would be honestly surprised if Clark had any earthly idea. Indecisive was not a word that had done Clark justice as a teenager.
Clark did not disappoint. “I don’t know. I mean – – I wasn’t thinking about – – or if I was I wasn’t comfortable admitting – -there were – – I really don’t know – – Does wanting to strangle you count?”
Lex lifted a brow. “In some circles – – absolutely.”
Clark looked at him, gauging, not quite as easily shocked as he might have been – – say, four years ago, but clearly erotic asphyxiation was not on his list of comfortable conversation.
He had no problem though, with food related erotica, licking stray syrup off his fingers with the sort of oblivious seduction that always used to set Lex’s teeth on edge. Still did in fact. Clark simply had no idea.
“I’m going outside and shovel snow,” Clark announced, apparently finished with the intimate admissions portion of the conversation. He finished off the dregs of his coffee with a gulp and put plate and cup in the sink with a clatter that betrayed rattled nerves. There was the faintest line between his brows, which meant he was thinking.
Lex hated to interfere with the process, so he worked on the remains of his breakfast while Clark pulled on a jacket and went outside to pit himself against the snow. A little surge of sensory memory flooded in as he watched Clark leave – – bare skin against bare skin, the hot press of hands, the sounds Clark made when he was close to the edge – –
Lex took a breath, realized his hands were shaking a bit, and carefully laid the fork and knife down across the edge of his plate. He scraped the remains of his breakfast in the garbage and took the plate to the sink. The bowls from last night were still there, along with Clark’s dishes from this morning.
Lex couldn’t recall the last time he’d done more than rinse out a coffee cup, but the scant collection of dirty dishes sat wrong with him and since there was no housekeeper to hustle in after him and take care of the untidiness, he felt compelled to deal with it.
It was the stress. The more disordered the world around him became, the more pressing his need to exert order over it. He’d had a therapist or two suggest a mild touch of OCD, but he didn’t believe it. He’d always preferred the term meticulous.
He liked his ducks in a row and he liked his details and the concept of preparation before the fact had always been a major motivator for him. That wasn’t obsession, it was practicality.
Compulsion was a different matter. The more he thought about it, his need for Ares completion – – his drive to take 33.1 in directions it hadn’t originally been designed to go – – it had almost been a compulsion. Excessive and repetitive in his efforts. So strong it had been almost beyond his control. So he hadn’t tried.
So what had changed? When? And how? He kept trying to go inside his head and decipher possible differences – – trying to find the footprints of something that might or might not have been there to begin with. How did he differentiate when he’d never realized anything was amiss to begin with?
You couldn’t. Just as delusional schizophrenics very rarely realized their reality was the distorted one.
He put the last dish in the strainer, poured out the dregs of his cold coffee and refilled his cup. Strong and black as it was, he could barely register the taste as he took a swallow, mind too wrapped up in frightening what ifs.
If he’d had a piece of alien inside him, left over from the whole entity, what did that mean? How tainted was he still? He’d had himself tested with excruciating thoroughness after Zod had inexplicably disappeared. Nothing abnormal had showed up – – nothing except the most miniscule alteration at the basest genetic level and the lingering effects of the alien altered immunization.
What was he supposed to have been on the lookout for? He hadn’t gone off the deep end, hadn’t engaged in the sort of killing sprees that phantom possession or extreme meteor exposure induced.
Not a rampage.
He recalled those names he’d listed. Those numbers he’d tallied in his head. He looked out the window at white covered everything and swallowed. His reasoning was sound – – it was the methodology that kept snagging him.
Lex shook his head, annoyed with himself for obsessing on something that might be nothing more than fanciful speculation and couldn’t be helped even if it wasn’t, instead of dealing with the things he could affect.
He imagined his father hadn’t been the only one trying to reach him. His assistants were probably having multiple panic attacks at the lack of contact. He had promised an appearance at the Metropolis office today.
Clark’s laptop was on the kitchen island, so Lex opened it up and logged onto his email. He read a few that looked interesting. Flagged a few for later perusal and sent a message to his assistant letting her know he hadn’t fallen off the face of the earth and to reschedule his missed appointments for later in the week. He hesitated including the number of the Kent farm as a method of contact. He wasn’t quite sure why. Was it that he didn’t want the questions of why he was here – – or was the lure of anonymity, tucked away in the last place the world might expect to find him, that attractive?
He logged off without emailing the phone number. Pulled on his jacket and went out to the porch. The steps had been cleared of snow and there was a path shoveled from house to barn. He could see Clark, blue jeans and red jacket a vivid splash of color against the white walking back towards the house down the long drive that separated it from the main road.
It was a pipe dream, this thing with Clark, more fanciful than his dreams of stability with Lana. But he wanted it. Badly. No points to prove. No foes to vanquish. No vengeances to extract. Just the simple truth that Clark made him a better man. That Clark made him stop and consider and always had. That what Clark thought mattered in a way that no one else ever had. That the cease-fire they were presently engaged in, not to mention the accords of the armistice, made Lex something he hadn’t been in a long time. Happy.
Granted, it was interspaced with fear and doubt about the return to hostilities, but even sporadic bursts of it were rare enough to be hoarded.
He stuffed his hands in his pockets and walked down into the yard, along the shoveled path.
“How’s the road?” he asked, when Clark was close enough that he didn’t have to yell to be heard.
“Plow hasn’t been through yet, so still pretty bad. I’ll put the snow blade on the tractor and clear the driveway this afternoon so we can get out when they do come by.”
“So what do you do on farms during snow days, anyway? Other than shovel snow?”
Clark stomped up to him, eyes gemstone bright, breath misting the air. “The same things we do on non-snow days. The snow just makes for more work.”
“So, the chances of me getting you to clear off my car – -?”
Clark let out a snort of laughter and moved to the truck, brushed snow off the handle and yanked the door open amidst a shower of snow. After digging around behind the seat, he produced an ice scraper with a brush on end, and tossed it at Lex. Lex barely got his hands out of his pockets in time to catch the thing.
“Are pretty damned low, but I’ll be happy to lend you my doohickey.” Clark said cheerfully.
Lex turned it over in his hands idly, watching Clark brushing powdery snow off the pick-up’s driver side window with gloveless hands.
“I’ve got a five if you clean off the snow. Ten if you wash it afterwards.”
“Gee, really?” Clark turned wide eyes his way, false naivety unaccountably attractive. “Think of all the stuff I could buy with that.”
Lex’s mouth twitched. He descended on the Audi and swiped the brush across the layer of snow on the trunk.
“Do the top first or make twice the work,” Clark recommended helpfully.
“I’m aware of the process.”
“Uh huh.” Clark hopped into the bed of the pick up and used his arm to sweep snow from the cab roof.
“It was a test swipe.” Lex felt the need to clarify.
Clark turned around, hips against the cab and stared down at him. “Lex is this another one of those things you’ve never had to do before?”
“Its not rocket science, Clark.”
“Did you ever make a snowman when you were a kid? Snow angel? Write your name in the snow?”
They were not comfortable questions. The menial labor queries he could shrug off, but the lack of normal childhood questions made him edgy. There were certain things Lionel Luthor had never encouraged and juvenile wastes of time had been high on the list. Besides, Lex had never liked the cold. Even bundled up, he’d never had a tolerance. He wasn’t sure if he’d been that way before the meteor shower or not. When his mother had been alive, they’d spent a lot of their winters in warmer climes.
“By write my name, you mean piss in the snow? I’ve done that. Granted, I was drunk and letters weren’t involved – -” It was easier to divert attention than answer the initial question. By the same dubious grace, he might also have done the snow angel thing, if falling down and floundering counted. He didn’t think Clark needed to hear that.
“No snow men?” Clark was tenacious.
Lex narrowed his eyes and finished sweeping the roof of the car clean. “I never got around to it. It’s sort of a group activity, isn’t it? I never had a group. If you’re proposing one now, I’ll pass. I’m losing feeling in my fingers and ears and nose are long gone.”
“You’ve been outside twenty minutes.”
“Thirty, at least.”
“Twenty-two, twenty-three most.” Clark countered and Lex stopped and looked up at him, arching a brow at the haggling.
“Twenty-seven and I can prove it.”
Clark canted his head inquiringly.
“I logged off of my email at 9:41 came outside two minutes later. It is now,” he pushed back his coat sleeve and looked at his watch, then back up at Clark with a smile. “10:09 and 50 seconds. So twenty-seven minutes, which is closer to thirty than twenty.”
Clark stared at him a second, then shook his head. “You are a complete freak, you know that?”
Lex flung a clod of snow with a particularly energetic swipe of the ice scrapper in Clark’s direction. “Yeah? Look who’s talking.”
Clark opened his mouth, shut it, then crouched, scooped up an armful of snow from the truck bed and tossed it in Lex’s general direction. Lex stepped back and avoided all but the edges of the barrage, and most of it hit the recently cleared top of the Audi.
Lex stabbed the end of the ice scrapper in Clark’s direction, for there was a definite gleam in Clark’s eyes that a man got when a gauntlet of some sort had been thrown down. “Don’t even think it.”
He had certain unpleasant memories of winters at Excelsior and being the victim of malicious snowball pelting.
“Oh, no, you started it,” Clark was gathering snow from the truck bed. Lex put the Audi between him and Clark and a ball of packed snow exploded on the edge of the roof, next to his shoulder. He dropped down, letting out the bastard child of a laugh and a curse and packed a double handful of defensive armament.
Twilight Zone moment number two. If someone had told him last week he’d be crouched behind a car, prepared to engage in snow related battle, he’d have had them escorted from his presence.
“Don’t dent my car.” Lex warned.
“Don’t hide behind it.” Clark hopped down from the back of the pick-up on the side closest to Lex and hurled two consecutive balls. One sailed past Lex’s ear and the other hit his shoulder high enough to get snow inside his coat. He flung his own at Clark and it had to have been sheer luck that got him on the side of the face, because Lex hadn’t exactly taken the time to aim.
Clark shook snow out of his hair, spit a little out of his mouth and grinned in an entirely unsettling way.
“No,” Lex said, holding up two warning hands, but Clark was rushing at him, and an instinctive little flash of panic welled up – – because, well, when was the last time Clark had charged him without some sort of painful violence ensuing? But the white of Clark’s grin was incongruous with hostility and aside from loosing a bit of air, there was surprisingly little pain involved, other than that delivered to pride, when Clark’s shoulder connected with his mid-section.
The world upended with a great deal of speed and ease and Lex found himself head down and ass up across Clark’s shoulder for the few precarious seconds it took for Clark to toss him into the big drift that Clark had created with his snow shoveling.
Snow powdered up around Lex, finding its way down the back of his collar, up his sleeves and into overlapping sections of clothing that by all rights should have been impervious to infiltration.
“Son of a bitch,” Lex spat snow.
Clark apparently had no problem wallowing in the stuff, or dropping to his knees and shoveling more into the mix. Lex ground a handful of snow into Clark’s face, and Clark caught his wrist, pressing him back into the drift, leaning down, and just like that the mischievous kid drained out of his eyes and Lex was staring up into something more serious.
Lex reared up and met Clark halfway down, faux-fight adrenalin converting into something else entirely. How Clark’s mouth could be so hot when Lex’s own lips were numb from cold was beyond him. But it felt good, and he leeched away some of Clark’s warmth, drawing it into himself. Grasped a fistful of Clark’s jacket and pulled himself up to mold against Clark’s body, wanting to steal a little bit of the heat there as well. Clark had more than enough to spare.
Clark drew back, flushed, when he hadn’t been before, and scrambled to his feet, pulling Lex up with him. Lex was shedding his coat two steps inside the kitchen door, and there seemed to be as much snow on the inside as on the out. He managed to brush some of it off, before Clark had his hands on his neck, kissing him again. Tongue and lips and taste that flooded Lex with heat.
He pushed Clark’s jacket off his shoulders, and got to warm flannel underneath. Ran his hands up that and Clark moaned into his mouth and slid his hands down Lex’s arms and pulled him close. Lex broke the kiss to draw a lungful of air and Clark rubbed his cheek against the side of his head.
“Your skin’s so cold,” he said, as if that were a surprising thing, considering they’d just been rolling about in the snow. What was surprising was that Clark’s wasn’t. Lex didn’t care.
“Told you,” Lex breathed against Clark’s neck, inhaled his scent and thought that if he leaned here against him long enough, he might just thaw down to the core.
“Let me stoke the woodstove,” Clark said, and backed away. A tragic loss that might have been more tragic still if he hadn’t pulled Lex with him into the living room.
Lex peeled off his sodden leather gloves while Clark was stuffing wood into the cast iron furnace. There were a few clumps still in his collar, which he dusted to the floor, and his pants legs were damp with it.
“I might have to take you up on dry clothes after all,” Lex commented wryly.
“Okay,” Clark agreed, sincere and gorgeous, and shoved him backwards onto the couch. Came down next to him and kissed him again and Lex opened his mouth and let his hands run all over, mapping the terrain of broad shoulders and arms thick with muscle, narrow waist, the firm line of thigh. Flannel and denim were too thick to get a proper feel and he worked at buttons while Clark tried to get inside him through his mouth. They slid down, full length almost on the couch, a leg each planted on the floor, Lex’s dirty boot on the clean fabric of Martha Kent’s sofa cushion.
He couldn’t find it in himself to care, because Clark’s weight was pressing him down, and he’d gotten Clark’s shirt pushed off his shoulders and had his hands on Clark’s satiny flesh and he was absolutely certain he’d never touched anything so nice as that taut skin over hard muscle in his life. He dipped his head to fasten his mouth to the juncture of Clark’s neck and Clark made one of those groaning sounds he’d made last night and it went through Lex like a shot of electricity.
Just a damned sound and he was lost – – so what did that say for his chances against the rest of Clark?
Clark slid down further, both knees on the floor, his face pressed against the buttons of Lex’s shirt, fingers flexing on his hips almost hard enough to hurt.
“God, Lex,” he said softly and Lex could feel the heat of his breath through the fabric. “God – – freshman year.”
“What?” Lex blinked down at Clark’s dark head, baffled.
“You showed up at school – – to maybe look at the Wall of Weird – – you told me the story of how you lost your hair in the meteor shower.”
“Yeah?” Lex wanted to grind up against Clark’s body so bad it hurt, but Clark’s hands on his hips were like vises.
“That’s the first time I think I wanted you.”
Lex let out a startled breath. “Oh.” He couldn’t think of another damn thing to say, mind gone strangely blank from the admission.
“If I hadn’t been so afraid to admit it,” Clark pressed his forehead hard against Lex’s stomach. “Maybe it wouldn’t have taken us so long to get here. Maybe a lot of things wouldn’t have happened.”
“Maybe pigs will fly.” Lex coiled his fingers in Clark’s hair, forcing his head back, meeting that dilated green gaze. “You can’t change the past, no matter how much you might want. We work with what we’ve got and go from there.”
Clark winced, eyes shifting down away for a second, then his mouth twitched a little in a smile. “Okay, you’ve given me my words of wisdom for the day. Let me do something for you.”
His hands slid to Lex’s belt, unbuckled it with maddening leisure, unfastened his pants and curled his big fingers in the band and drew them down. Lex shut his eyes, stomach quivering with butterfly expectation. He didn’t know if Clark were teasing him or simply being very, very cautious. Lex’s cock was a rigid presence in his briefs though, and Clark lightly stroked the outline of it with the tips of his fingers.
Lex came half off the couch, sensation spiraling out from groin to fingernails. Clark pushed him back down, one hand on his hip, the other trailing across the inside of Lex’s thigh, tracing the long line of muscle down to the back of his knee. Back up, and the fingers wormed under the elastic at the leg of his briefs and callused pads grazed the sensitive skin of Lex’s scrotum.
“Jesus – -” Lex breathed, everything contracting, wanting more than that teasing contact. Clark edged back, caught the top of the briefs in his hands and pulled them down, then hesitated, staring, hands on Lex’s hips and not where Lex wanted them to be.
Lex had tips aplenty to give, if Clark was uncertain how to proceed, but he wasn’t sure he could voice them coherently. But Clark rallied, with a look up at Lex from under sinfully thick lashes, and he lowered his head and took the tip of Lex’s cock into his mouth. Lex dug his fingers into the couch cushions and thanked whatever karmic fuck up had allowed him this good fortune.
It occurred to him, as Clark swallowed him deeper, as Clark’s hands slid up under his shirt, tracing the curve of his ribs, sliding around to hollow his back, that Clark had probably been right. If he’d had this, back when Clark had been illegal enough to get Lex 17 to 25 in Kansas and Lex had been naive enough not to know half the things he knew now, that his obsessions – – there was that word again – – might very well have veered off in different directions.
Then thoughts dissolved completely, scattered by the silken pressure of Clark’s mouth, and the velvety scrape of his tongue along the underside of Lex’s cock. There wasn’t any finesse to it at all, Clark didn’t need it. Just being there, on his knees, leaning over Lex’s leg and devouring him with that furnace hot mouth was more than enough. God, if Clark learned tricks, Lex might not survive them.
There were sounds and he was making them, dying a tiny bit here, being reborn there, in endless tingling cycles, until that final little death that flooded his mind with white and had his hands clutching at Clark’s hair, spilling everything he had into that willing mouth.
Saying ‘thank you’ seemed a criminal understatement. He might have done it anyway, if he were capable of speech those first moments afterwards. As it was he lay there, all the strength bled out of him, and felt Clark’s weight against his leg, and the subtle tremor of Clark’s body as he drew ragged breaths.
Lex cracked an eye and looked down. “I don’t want to know,” Lex said. “If you’ve ever done that for anyone else.”
Though really, he did, so he might find the bastard and hurt him. But Clark dispelled the notion, by looking up, slight offense cutting through the glaze of his expression.
“I didn’t just say that,” Lex said, because really, where had his smooth gone? If Clark kept messing with his head, he wouldn’t be able to seduce his way out of a paper bag.
Clark’s expression cleared, though and he pressed his cheek against Lex’s thigh, licking moist lips with the same tongue that had been pressed up against Lex’s cock – –
“It’s not even the middle of the day,” Clark said, voice gone husky and deep. “And I want to go back upstairs and I want to get you naked and just – – do things. Are you okay with that?”
It was a laughable question. Lex could turn on the television and watch the plummeting stock values of his company, or get on Clark’s computer and return a few more emails while he was waiting for the road to be cleared so he could get home and maybe arrange to do a little more comprehensive work from the mansion office – – or he could while away the afternoon fooling around with Clark. It wasn’t the reasonable, nor the responsible choice.
“I think I could be persuaded – -“