All feedback is welcome: praise will be answered, flames will receive a gracious and effusive thank you! Rating: NC-17


Clark carried the box of vegetables into the kitchen and set it on the counter as Mrs. Perrin came from the front of the house. She was a striking woman, blonde, older, kind of frightening until she smiled. He wasn't entirely sure what her job was -- something between a housekeeper and a personal manager, as far as he could tell. Lex said she kept everything under control so he didn't have to.

"Oh, thank you, Clark. Be sure and tell your parents how much we enjoy it," she said. "How is school going?"

He grinned at the typical adult question. "Pretty well, thanks. Is Lex in?" He felt awkward asking, but she never made him feel like an intruder, unlike Robert. Robert gave him the creeps, appearing out of nowhere, treating Clark as a nuisance.

She opened the refrigerator and started putting things away. "I believe he's in his office, going over some paperwork." She smiled at him. "He'd probably appreciate being interrupted."

Walking through the hallways, Clark tried to imagine living in a place like this. It was less intimidating from the inside, the rooms smaller than he'd expected before seeing them, but everything was so...formal. It was like being in a museum, especially when Lex wasn't around. It needed red velvet ropes and tour guides, with a security guard on patrol. He couldn't see just kicking his shoes off in the living room or leaving his underwear in the bathroom. Maybe you had to grow up with it; Lex never seemed anything but completely at ease. He wondered if Lex felt equally uncomfortable at the Kent's house.

The office door was open, and he poked his head in. Lex was sitting at his desk, papers in hand, rubbing his eyes. He looked tired. "Hey, Lex," Clark said. "Am I interrupting?"

Lex pulled his hand away from his eyes and looked up, smiling in a way that made Clark feel welcome, like Lex had been waiting for him. "Yes, thank God." He dropped the papers on the desk. "Have a seat. I was just about to throw myself out the window in sheer boredom."

Clark looked over at the colored glass. "I'm not sure that opens."

"It's the principle. If I have to read one more company projection, I'll be suicidal."

Clark sat on the arm of a chair in front of the desk, bracing one leg on the floor. Lex gave him that quick scan that always made Clark a little self-conscious. Lex didn't judge him by his clothes, but he did seem to notice -- and Clark usually felt underdressed. He shoved his hands in his jacket pockets. "So, you're talking some kind of performance art statement."

"Something like that. What do you know about performance art?" Lex leaned back in his chair and kicked his feet up, his eyes on Clark's.

Clark liked that, liked that Lex looked straight at him, connected with him. Lex wasn't just humoring him when he listened like that, eyes and ears and mind engaged. Usually. "One of these days, you'll admit that 'small town' -- and Smallville isn't that small -- doesn't necessarily mean 'stupid hick.'"

Hands raised in apology, Lex smiled. "Okay, but I get one rube joke per conversation, just to keep my hand in. If I go too native, I won't be able to hold my head up in polite society."

Clark snorted. "I didn't think you had much use for polite society."

Lex smiled again. "Oh, I don't like the company, but it has its uses."

Swinging his leg, Clark shook his head, and Lex's eyes dropped from his. Clark wondered what he was trying to hide, and frowned. Lex was usually straight with him, but there was a lot about the kind of life Lex had lived that Clark knew nothing about -- and what he'd seen he didn't care for. "You're too young to be this old and cynical."

"Oh, my father made sure of it." Lex looked up again and answered Clark's frown with a twist of his mouth. "What brings you to my humble abode?"

Clark shrugged. "I was dropping off Mrs. Perrin's order in the kitchen."

Lex gave an exaggerated look around the room. "And yet here you are, well away from the kitchens. Do you always pay personal visits to your parents' customers? Doesn't that take a while?"

"Aside from the Berrys, none of my parents' customers have staff that take the order -- and none of the other customers are friends. Besides, it was the last delivery." Clark grinned at him again. "Are you saying I'm aspiring above my station?"

Instead of answering, Lex rose and came out from behind the desk. Even on a Wednesday afternoon at home, he looked like he could hold a meeting on a moment's notice, in his dark pants and sharp white shirt. "Do you have to go home immediately?" He walked to the door, and Clark stood up and followed.

"No, I'm going over to Pete's tonight for dinner and some movies, but he's not expecting me for an hour or so."

Lex led him down the hall. "Would you be interested in a swim? I was getting ready to take a break when you showed up." He looked back as Clark stopped.

"I...don't have a suit, or anything."

Lex shrugged. "I'm sure I can find something. We have extras for guests."

"Well, okay, I guess." Clark tried to imagine keeping spare clothes around on the off chance a visitor wanted to help with the plowing or working the cows. Sometimes he wondered if he and Lex had much of anything in common, and if that was what appealed.

"It's not a command performance, or anything, Clark." Lex started up the stairs. "I'm not going to be offended if you're not interested."

Clark took the stairs two at a time to catch up, his hand on the rail. He didn't think Lex was upset, but he sounded odd. Distant. "No, I'd like to. I haven't seen the pool."

"I'll give you the full tour, water and all."

Lex called for a swimsuit for Clark while Clark looked around a bedroom and bath that were like something out of a glossy magazine. The bedroom itself was all rich fabrics and dark heavy furniture, and a bed that looked sinfully comfortable. As for the bathroom, the word was inadequate. It was easily the size of Clark's bedroom, and it had a tub that seemed as big as the Kents' main bathroom and a walk-in shower of black marble with multiple showerheads set into the ceiling. There was even a phone within easy reach of the shower door. You could practically live in that bathroom.

He came out at Lex's call to take a pair of trunks from a disapproving Robert. "Thanks." He waited until Robert had left, taking his stiff back with him. "I don't think he likes me."

"Don't take it personally, he doesn't like anyone. And I'm sure he thinks you're aspiring above your station. He's always been more of a snob than I have," Lex said as he rummaged in a drawer.

Clark grinned. "He's probably not too crazy about you hanging out with some farmer's kid, then. Bad for your image."

"He probably thinks it reflects poorly upon him to work for someone with such low tastes." Lex pulled out a handful of purple cloth. "Why don't you change in the bathroom? You can leave your clothes in there, if you want."

It didn't take long to change, but Clark waited to make sure he didn't walk in on Lex, and Lex finally knocked on the door to see what was keeping him. Then he grabbed a couple towels, throwing one to Clark before heading out the door.

Clark felt awkward, following Lex through the castle hallways to the back. He held on to the towel around his neck with both hands. He'd never imagined walking around half-naked in the Luthor mansion. He'd never imagined himself half-naked much of anyplace, but the formality of the castle made him feel even more naked. He must have looked pretty awkward, too, because Lex kept looking at him and smiling slightly.

Lex had opted for a deep purple swimsuit that made Clark blush, but he showed no desire to crawl under a towel like Clark would have in his place. He half-listened as Lex mockingly gave him "the full tour" of the rooms they passed, including sarcastic comments on why his father had acquired this and that. The rooms were perfectly appointed with appropriate furnishings and accessories, all clearly expensive. Things were old and worn, like at home, but where the Kents' furniture was simply wearing out, showing the dings and marks of heavy use, these pieces were aged, the patina of time elevating them to the level of art. His thoughts of exhibits and guards seemed more appropriate than ever, and the idea of walking half-naked through a museum struck him funny.

"What are you grinning at?" Lex's gaze was warm.

Clark shivered. Even with the modern touches, it was still a drafty old castle. "I can't believe you actually live here, in this place. It's a museum."

Lex smiled, and it was painful to see. "Oh, no, Clark. It's a tribute. To my father and the Luthor wealth, so great and powerful that putting a castle out in the middle of nowhere, with nobody living in it, is incidental. We are the kings of conspicuous consumption." He moved through a room that looked more like a living room than anything Clark had yet seen, toward a pair of French doors. Through them Clark could see the flicker of light on water and the green of growing things. "When my father put this place together, the papers were full of cynically-worded articles on the waste and pride involved. And it didn't help that it sat empty." He pushed the doors open and stepped through; the sound of falling water drifted out. "Voila. The indoor garden and pool." He stepped to the side and pushed some buttons on a control box on the wall.

Clark walked out, aware that Lex was watching as he got his first view of the poolroom. He revised that, even as he thought it -- this was nothing like a poolroom. It was an oasis.

The pool was enormous and curved off to the right, behind some trees, with a shape unlike any found in a geometry text. It was something out of a coffee table book, one of those things you couldn't believe anyone actually owned. A stream meandered through a landscaped area to the left, fell over a waterfall, then burbled its way into the water. Clark could see scattered statuary and seating areas. It felt strange even thinking of this as a room; it was like the outdoors had moved inside.

Lex stood there, letting Clark take it all in. He wondered if Lex would let him bring his mother over. She'd love it -- after she got over the impulse to write one of those articles Lex had described. "Do you take care of any of this yourself?" He couldn't picture Lex gardening.

"God, no," Lex said. "If these things had to rely on me-- Well. No, my father employs an expensive service with a sterling reputation to come from Metropolis."

The mockery was thick in his voice. Clark wondered how often Lex felt...unreliable, not in control. His castle, but not his home. Nobody lives in it. Clark was grateful he'd ended up on the farm. "This is...wow. Really incredible."

Lex's smile was twisted. "We Luthors never do anything by half-measure."

Clark looked at him. "Stop it."

"What?" Lex asked, but he didn't sound very interested.

"Stop acting as if you and your father are some sort of inseparable thing. You're not your father, Lex." Clark didn't know why it made him so angry when Lex sounded like this, when he...hid behind this mask Clark didn't know. He wasn't sure if it was self-mockery, or Lex laughing at him. He hated it when Lex made him feel like the rube he made jokes about. Throwing down his towel, he walked over and dived into the pool, ignoring Lex calling his name.

The water was obviously heated, but not too warm. He stayed underwater until he reached the end of the pool, then surfaced, shaking his hair out of his eyes, just as Lex dived in. Clark stayed where he was, treading water, until Lex reached him. He swam strongly, slim white body cutting through the blue, blue water. Clark wondered what it was like to not have hair fall in your eyes, not to have it to run your hand through while you were stalling for time. He swiped his own hair back.

Lex came to a halt by the side of the pool, wiping water off his face. "What was that all about?"

Clark shook his head, his anger past. "I don't know. Sometimes... I don't like the way you do that. Fold yourself in as if you don't have a life of your own."

Lex's eyes were piercing. "I'm a Luthor, Clark. I can't ignore that."

"Yeah, but you can make it mean whatever you want it to. It doesn't have to mean what your father says."

Lex looked at him for long moments. Clark shivered again. The pool could use a little more heat. "Fair enough."

Clark smiled at him, then laughed at how Lex's eyes widened. "Well, good. Let's swim." He splashed water in Lex's face, and took off.

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Lex wiped his face, sputtering, and he knew he was grinning like a maniac. "You loser!" Then he was after Clark.

He tried, but he didn't catch him. Lex was the stronger swimmer, but Clark more than made up for that in raw power. Lex's lagging had nothing to do with the fact that from behind, he could see those broad shoulders slicing through the water, those strong legs kicking into the air. He wondered if Clark noticed that Lex always seemed to be home on delivery days.

They swam for a while, pace gradually slowing, until they were side by side. Finally, Lex decided he'd had enough, and he stopped halfway back towards the far end of the pool, treading water and stretching his arms. Clark continued on, maybe not even noticing that Lex had stopped, and ran into Lex on his return lap. Lex briefly felt large, warm hands on his waist before Clark back-pedaled and came to a halt. He shook his hair out of his face, which was slightly flushed, then headed for the side of the pool.

"I probably need to head over to Pete's," he said as he pulled himself out of the pool. He made it look effortless, palms on the side pushing him up and out, until he was sitting, looking back at Lex.

The suit Clark had borrowed looked kind of geeky on him, like he'd swum in his regular shorts, but Lex liked that. It suited him. He was still Clark. Half-naked Clark, but still the inexperienced farm kid, more concerned with how things were than how they looked. He didn't seem to have any idea what kind of impact he could have, never seemed to make any attempt to use his looks, his body, to influence people. It was relaxing. Most of the time.

With a sleeker, tighter suit, he could have been someone else, someone sophisticated, knowing. But he was just Clark, eyes wide and innocent of any of the images flashing through Lex's mind. If things were different, if Clark were different, older -- interested -- he'd go over, looking in his eyes, pressing his legs apart, sliding his hands up Clark's thighs... Lex could almost taste the chlorinated water as he sucked against the red cloth, could feel Clark's hands as they ghosted over his head, his back... He shivered, achingly hard, staring until he didn't think Clark could help but notice. He ducked under the water and came up closer to Clark, but well to the side.

"I usually use the sauna for a while," he said. "If you have time?" He knew he was in trouble. He had no idea what time it was, but it left the decision up to Clark.

Clark looked down into the pool, kicking his feet. It helped; he looked more like a kid. "Won't it take a while to heat?" he asked.

Lex blew at some water dripping off his nose, stretched his shoulder out against the side. "Should be hot; I set it when we came in." He glanced up, and Clark was looking at him, sidelong, but then he turned and looked around, running his hand through his hair, probably checking for a clock. There wasn't one, but he must have come to a decision.

"Yeah, I'd like that."

"It's over there--" Lex gestured to the left "--that door set into the mock hill. You go ahead, I'll be right there." He couldn't possibly climb out of the pool in this state without sending Clark screaming back to the welcoming arms of his parents. "You can drop the suit in the basket outside the door."

He almost bit his tongue off when he realized what he'd said, to what he'd committed himself. He hadn't thought, he'd just spoken. In his circle, nudity was a given; nobody stressed it, because it was gauche to be too modest. "If you want," he qualified. "It's up to you."

"Sure, that's fine," Clark said. Lex couldn't tell if he was honestly okay with it, or just unwilling to seem unsophisticated. It amazed him how easily such an innately honest boy could lie, butter just sitting on his tongue.

Clark turned, bending to grab his towel, and headed toward the sauna, and Lex wasn't going to watch -- not while Clark walked away, and not when Clark stopped outside and stripped out of his trunks, one leg at a time. He didn't hurry, but he did look stiff, as if his body couldn't lie as well as his mouth did. He moved a little faster, dropping the trunks in the basket and pulling the towel around him before opening the door and stepping inside.

Lex watched every move, barely breathing, and discovered you were never too young to feel like a dirty old man. Pangs of guilt joined his arousal as a dormant conscience came to life. He hadn't meant to, but he was taking advantage of Clark, watching him like this. He felt badly, as well, that Clark was probably in an agony of embarrassment that could have been avoided.

Lex leaned his forehead on the edge of pool, deep breath in, slowly out. Sometimes he was just criminally thoughtless. There was nothing like putting yourself in a compromising position -- especially with a kid like Clark. Oh, he didn't think the Kents would press charges, if they found out. He'd be lucky if there was enough of him left to identify.

Worst of all, now he'd put himself in the position of also having to strip, unless he wanted Clark to think that Lex had been making fun of him, or have him asking questions Lex couldn't afford to answer. Walking into the sauna with a tent in his towel...

A good rush of panic did what calm reason had failed to do, and he pulled himself out of the pool, remembering the smooth motion of muscle in Clark's arms and back as he did so. What had possessed him?

He stripped off his suit and wrapped a towel around his hips. More covered now than he had been in the pool, he felt more naked, more vulnerable. Maybe it was the awareness that under his towel, Clark was naked, too. One tug, and...and that didn't help the situation a bit. Another deep breath, a clearing of his mind, and he opened the door.

The sauna was lined with two tiers of wooden benches with a steam pit in the center, a bucket of water and a dipper next to that. Clark was lying on his back on the lower bench across from the door, towel draped over his hips, head turned towards the center of the room. He leaned up on an elbow when Lex came in. "I sprinkled some water on the rocks."

"Good. That's good." Lex took the few steps over to the corner on the right, sitting nearly at Clark's feet and leaning back against the top shelf. He closed his eyes, keeping his mind a careful blank. The steam seared his nostrils, seeping into his skin, and he started to relax.

After a minute or two, he heard Clark shifting and felt the brush of a foot against his thigh. He opened one eye to see Clark sitting up, carefully holding the towel at his hips, looking at him. Staring, really. Clark grinned when Lex caught him.

"Sorry."
Lex smiled. "No, I'm used to it." Having Clark look at him was different, though. He didn't know if he liked it, or not. "Look all you like." Maybe it was because he didn't know why Clark was looking -- or because he wasn't hiding it.

"It's not--"

"Not what?" Lex smoothed a hand over his scalp. "I'm not as unusual as I used to be. It's practically a fashion statement now."

Clark seemed to have taken him at his word and was looking at him intently. "Where did you get the scar?"

Lex touched a finger to his lip, pressing it into his tongue so he could feel the scar tissue, Clark still watching. Lex took his hand away and shrugged. "Came with the haircut." He leaned his head back and closed his eyes again, his skin prickling. "I hope I didn't make you uncomfortable, with the thing about the suit. I didn't think about it before I said anything."

"What?" Clark's voice sounded husky. "No, of course not. It's no different than the locker rooms. Not a problem."

"Good." Great. Good job of not making it obvious you realized he's uncomfortable, Lex thought. Maybe the steam had cooked his brain, what little he had left.

This time, he let the silence be, his mind drifting.

If he opened his eyes, Clark would still be looking at him. Staring at him. Maybe this time, Lex would stare back, and Clark would look away, as if shy, then back, in that way he had, peering out from under the fall of his hair, because at bottom, Clark wasn't all that shy, not when he knew what he wanted. They'd look at each other for a while, then Lex would take that foot, lying almost against his thigh, and shape it with his fingers. He'd press his thumbs into the ball of the foot, along the arch, watching as Clark watched him do it, as he leaned up on his elbows, eyes wide, mouth open as if he couldn't get enough breath any other way. And then Lex would bend, and press his mouth to the sole of Clark's foot, mouthing the instep, then slowly, looking up between each sucking kiss along his skin, Lex would move up his leg, shifting, letting his own towel fall unnoticed except through the sharp inhalation Clark made. Maybe he'd use his teeth, see if Clark liked that. And when he reached the towel, he'd look up at Clark again as he deliberately took hold of the cloth, drawing it aside, snagging it on Clark's hard--

Lex opened his eyes, wide, and shook his head, scrubbing his face with one hand. Looking over, he saw that Clark was sitting up, arms on his knees, still watching him, and he felt a sharp jolt of pleasure. Clark's eyes were a little wide, and Lex rested one arm across his own knees, leaning forward, hoping that his arousal wasn't too obvious in the relatively dim lighting of the sauna.

"You okay, Clark?" He had to ask, had to give the kid something, try and make things seem normal again. He hoped his voice didn't sound as rough as it felt, as if he hadn't used it in a while. At least to form words.

As if Lex had broken a spell, Clark started. "Yeah, I just-- I think I'd better go, Pete and his family are probably waiting dinner for me."

Lex nodded, more calmly than he felt. Any relaxation he'd managed was subsumed in need. He clenched his fists together and nodded again. "Probably a good idea. I'm glad you stayed."

Clark smiled slightly. "I am, too." He gathered his towel carefully, holding the trailing ends in front. "Feeling less suicidal? Or was it homicidal?"

Lex's own smile felt stretched and strange. "Yeah, maybe. I'm no longer bored, thanks to you." Truth could sometimes be the best lie.

This time, Clark's smile was bigger, a heart-stopping flash of white. "Man, you're easy. I, uh, I can see myself out."

You have no idea, Lex thought. "Yeah, I think I'll stay in here a little longer. Have a nice time with the Rosses."

He watched Clark leave, his mind tracing the remembered shape of his ass in detail, his palms itching to follow. He dropped his head into his hands as the door closed.

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Clark wasn't sure he drew breath from the time he left the sauna until he was standing in Lex's bathroom, looking down at his briefs, wondering how to put them on. He wasn't sure he'd had a conscious thought from there to here. The whole trip was a blur, and not because he'd raced through it; he didn't think he'd moved any faster than a normal panicked walk. It was as if he'd forgotten how to do things that came as naturally as, well, breathing. God, he could have run into anybody.

And now he was standing, naked, in Lex's bathroom -- and he was still hard. Stunningly hard, and his whole body felt swollen and hot. He wasn't sure how to put his clothes on; he wasn't sure of anything, at the moment -- except that he might be gay.

To distract himself from that thought, he looked around the bathroom, but all he could see was Lex in the shower, all that pale, pale skin against dark marble. Lex leaning back, eyes closed, mouth open -- like he had been downstairs as Clark watched. Water streaming off him, his skin slick and smooth and wet like he'd been in the pool, and Clark leaned forward to lick that tiny scar that he'd never noticed like this before...

Clark closed his eyes, trying to think of something that wasn't Lex, that would calm him down, let him get dressed and leave -- and not something that would end up with him jerking off in Lex's bathroom, because he didn't think he'd ever recover from that.

God, if his parents-- Well. That helped. He thought of his parents, how if they knew he was here, in the Luthor mansion, naked and horny in Lex's bathroom, after just having been naked with Lex--

Okay, apparently some instincts were stronger than fear of parental freakouts. Lex. Was naked. Clark had been naked. With Lex. It took every bit of willpower he had not to look, through the walls, down through the floor, through the damn benches...and the towel...

He was so glad that he'd forgotten he could do that while he was in the sauna. Bad enough he suspected Lex sometimes thought he was kind of a hick; now he probably thought-- Oh, God, what did Lex think? The way Clark had stared, the way he'd run out of there... He wasn't stupid; he was-- Well, he was a lot more now than Clark had realized before.

He hadn't thought he could go through with taking his suit off. Naked in the locker room, sure, no problem, horsing around with the other guys, comparing equipment, snapping towels. But somehow it was different here. With Lex. He wasn't going to be a rube around Lex, if he could help it. He wasn't going to be a child.

Then Lex had come in, also in nothing but a towel, holding it carefully, and Clark had felt awkward again. If he weren't so young, so...small town, he wouldn't make Lex uncomfortable in his own sauna. Lex had sat down and closed his eyes, seeming to relax, so Clark had, too, but he'd kept sneaking looks at Lex. And then he'd stared.

Something had changed while Clark was sitting on the edge of the pool, looking at Lex. Water streaming off the rounded curve of his head, slick and gleaming; it had done something to Clark he couldn't identify, but which had made him even more self-conscious going into the sauna.

Then, as he'd watched, Lex's skin had turned pink in the heat of the sauna, warm, softer-looking, somehow. Clark had wondered if that pale, smooth, hairless skin went all the way down, and his eyes thoughtlessly followed his mind down Lex's chest, across his belly, stopped only by the towel -- and his own fierce arousal. He'd shifted on the bench to try and conceal it, mortified and confused. And then he couldn't stop watching, Lex shifting on the bench, rolling his head, moistening his lips now and then. Clark fixated on the scar on Lex's mouth, the only thing marring the shape of his lips, a tiny imperfection that saved his face from being too delicate, too fragile--

Then Lex had opened his eyes and looked straight at him, and all Clark had wanted to do was touch him, leave his towel on the floor and crawl between-- He'd frozen, shocked, hard, with no idea how he was going to get out of there. He was pretty sure Lex understood what had happened. Clark wasn't sure he'd ever be able to face him again. Lex wouldn't laugh -- but he'd be polite, and that might be worse.

But it didn't matter, because Clark was never going to be able to leave this bathroom. He'd lock the door; there was plenty of water. His parents weren't looking for him until late tonight, since he was going to Pete's-- and oh, God, he was late for dinner at Pete's house. He couldn't go and eat dinner with them, as if nothing had changed.

The phone. He could call Pete, claim he wasn't feeling well, that his folks needed him to do something, anything... He'd go home -- where his parents were, and that was worse. Okay, he had no choice; he'd have to kill himself. Maybe electrocution would work. He'd take a dryer into that black marble shower and see what happened. Only, chances were he'd just short out every breaker in the castle, and then Lex would come looking to see--

And he really had to leave. Now. Somewhere in the midst of the panicking, his dick had finally gotten bored. He managed to get on his briefs and pants, carefully arranging himself, shivering at the touch of his own hand. Imagine if it were--

He brutally squashed the thought and quickly finished dressing to the internal computations of his math assignment.

Finally ready to leave, he opened the door, then stopped. He didn't want to see Lex, not yet. He felt too fragile, ready to fall apart. A voice in the back of his mind tried to point out the flaw in his logic, but he ignored it. He just needed to see where Lex was; he'd leave the towel alone.

Focusing, he turned his gaze down in the direction of the pool, a floor below and several rooms over. One floor, a wall, two, and a part of his mind noticed a kind of dilation, things seeming closer than they were, going in and out of focus. No sign of Lex between here and there, and then through to the pool; he shifted his gaze to the right, into the sauna--

--and nearly wrenched the doorknob off as things snapped into sharp focus, and it was as if Lex was in the next room. Lex was sitting where he'd left him, but Clark didn't have a chance to choose not to look through the towel. He sat with his legs braced, head thrown back, one hand on his dick and the other on his thigh, holding the towel, and the look on his face -- lips slightly drawn back, eyes closed, seeming caught between agony and intense pleasure -- nearly made Clark come.

Clark couldn't look away as Lex stroked himself. He was riveted by the flush of red on Lex's belly and thighs, the muted dark velvet of his dick as Lex moved, panting slightly. Clark stopped breathing again and he couldn't move and then Lex was coming, his mouth a grimace, a convulsive arching of his back, and Clark felt it like an electric jolt through his system, both more intense and less focused than a climax, and his vision kind of whited out. The doorknob came off in his hand, and the weakness in his knees almost had him on the floor.

After a moment, dazed, he tried to wedge the doorknob back on, but ended up just dropping it on the counter. He raced through the mansion and out the door, and for a couple of minutes he ran full out, as if it were his salvation, the sweat he'd broken cooling off his heated skin. Lex's face, his body, were burned into Clark's inner vision, and everything was different now. Just one more way in which he wasn't like most people, one more thing to cope with, one more... He wondered what Lex had been thinking about, when he came--

He came to an abrupt halt a couple of miles past the turnoff to the Rosses. What if Lex had been thinking about him? He shook his head, the thought too big to contemplate. Away from the castle, away from Lex -- and the temptation to look again, invade his privacy just once more -- he felt light-headed, empty for the moment, as if the speed had blown away the lust-induced confusion in his head. Right this moment, he didn't have to figure everything out. He only had to figure out how to apologize to Mrs. Ross for being so late for dinner. He turned and headed back down the road.

It wasn't a hard chore. They had just sat down themselves, and while Pete gave him a hard time about always missing the bus, Mrs. Ross smiled and told him it was no trouble at all. "You probably had chores to do, I know how that is."

Clark could feel the flush in his cheeks. He hadn't lied, hadn't made any excuses, just apologized, but it felt like lying. No explanations were necessary, but Mrs. Ross was a mother, and there was his mother, and he felt heavy again, weighed down with secrets.

Pete's father usually held sway over the dinner table. A history buff, he liked to use the meal to discuss current events, or hold impromptu history lessons, and it was something Clark had enjoyed before. Everyone else was normal: Pete's older brothers were picking on him, his sister was pretending she didn't know any of them, his mother was chiding them, and usually Clark would be right there, getting in Pete's face -- but he felt separate, not quite real. He heard the voices, but his mind was busy spinning, spinning, carefully not sticking too long on any one image or thought.

"Yo, Pete," said his brother, Toby. "Coach gonna let you play this week? Or use you as the ball?"

Clark grinned. He liked the Rosses, the rough and tumble of how they played together. Pete and he had talked about it, growing up as a single child compared to growing up in a large family. Neither could grasp what the other's life was like, and both had had periods of envy. He wondered if Lex had ever wanted any brothers or sisters, if he ever got lonely. Maybe that was why he let Clark hang around, took such an interest in him. Something in his chest twisted sharply. It was foolish of him to think that-- that what he'd seen had to do with him.

"Clark, child, are you okay?" Mrs. Ross looked at him with concern.

"Mom!" Pete said.

She shook her head at her youngest. "Peter, I know you think you're too old for me to fuss over, but Clark -- he's got better manners than you. He knows it's a mother's job to fuss." She turned back to Clark. "You haven't eaten much. That's not like you," she said, smiling.

He smiled back, but it felt weak, faded. "Actually...I'm not feeling very well." He looked at Pete. "Can we do movies some other time? In a couple of days?"

Pete looked at him skeptically. "Dude, you're never sick -- long as I've known you."

Clark winced internally. He hated lying. "Then I guess it's about my turn." He stood up. "Thank you for having me over, Mr. and Mrs. Ross."

Mrs. Ross batted Pete across the head. "See? Manners." She nodded at Clark. "Do you need a ride home?"

Clark put on his jacket. "No, I'll be okay, I've got--" The truck, he was going to say, only he realized he didn't; he'd left it at Lex's. He smiled at Mrs. Ross. "I'll be fine." He said goodnight and headed for the front door, Pete following him

"What is it, man? Something wrong?"

Clark zipped up his jacket, shaking his head. "No, I just don't feel well, like I said. I probably didn't get enough sleep, or something. I'm gonna go home and crash."

"Okay, but your loss. We're gonna have a Hongkong-fu marathon, people kickin' ass, flying through the air..."

Clark grinned. "I'll live. I'll see you in school."

The door shut behind him, and he headed down the driveway, making sure he kept to a normal speed as long as the house was in sight. Home wasn't his goal. He didn't know where he was going; he couldn't sit still, couldn't pay attention to anything else. Lex probably thought he was an idiot. A childish idiot.

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Sitting at his desk, Lex tried to go over reports, but all he could see was Clark, flushed, a film of sweat on his skin. He'd be willing to bet he wasn't the only person on the Kents' delivery route that looked forward to the days Clark worked. More than one bored Smallville matron would probably like to undertake some of Clark's education.

He'd left so abruptly -- Lex wondered if he'd be back. He took a deep breath, blew it out in frustration. Nothing like a lecherous older male to instill confidence in a straight young farm boy. But Clark had said he was expected at his friend's, and the lighting had been dim... Lex thought maybe he was in real trouble.
Jerking himself off after Clark left...it had left him empty, unsettled. Imagining Clark in his bed hadn't caused him any qualms before; he wasn't sure what was different, but something was. Clark wasn't a casual thing. Clark was a friend, and friends were one area Lex didn't have a lot of experience -- not friends like Clark, all open and out there, who said what he thought, who worked at being a friend. Who had secrets that seemed to be burning him up inside. Lex wondered if anyone else knew Clark's secrets. That was obviously one of the things that made his parents uneasy. Sometimes Lex thought Clark's secrets were the only things coming between them -- but then he remembered his own secrets. Somehow Clark made Lex forget those for a while.

He rubbed his eyes and turned the page, but the words refused to make sense. Too many distractions; he still couldn't explain the broken-off doorknob. It didn't look like it had fallen off, it looked...snapped. And he could ask Clark -- maybe, if he saw him -- but Clark would probably give him that clear smile and shrug. Even lies tasted sweet from that mouth. Oh, the mystery that was Clark, compounded by the entirely too enticing boy that was Clark. He'd had to have a drink before showering, then another after. A little too much, a little too fast, and it made it all too easy to fall into a reverie, of Clark stripping off his swimsuit, Clark, as Lex had pictured him while he jerked off, up against the edge of the pool, still in his suit, while Lex, naked, slid his hand in and wrapped it around Clark's cock, felt Clark's hands on his ass--

The rattling at the locked door, followed by knocking, jerked him out of his fantasy. "Yes?"

There was a longish pause before an answer. "It's Clark."

He sat there, breathing through the rush. Then he walked over and unlocked the doors, standing back, and after a few seconds they opened to show Clark, in the flesh. The thankfully clothed flesh. He looked nervous, upset, his hands shoved in his jeans pockets, but his eyes stayed steady on Lex's as he waited to see what Lex would do. Lex swallowed hard and stuck one hand in his own pocket, trying to ease the tightness as he stepped back and watched Clark move into the room, over to the fireplace, then turn and face him.

Lex put his other hand in his pocket as Clark moved by him. "What brings you back? Shouldn't you be at dinner? Or did you forget something?" He walked over to his desk, picking up his glass.

Clark shook his head once, sharply. "No, I-- I was on my way home--" He couldn't seem to keep his eyes steady on Lex's; they'd wander then pull back up, then fall again, and Lex felt heat flowing over his skin, equal parts tension and pleasure at seeing him so soon.

He'd only been gone about forty-five minutes, and Lex knew that the Luthor mansion didn't show up anywhere on the line between the Rosses and the Kents. Lex turned and looked at him, taking a drink. "This is kind of a detour then, isn't it?" Maybe Clark had noticed something, the way Lex couldn't stop watching him, the way he made Lex hard... He shifted his stance. Lord knew it would be like Clark to decide he had to confront things head on, get them out in the open, make his position -- or lack thereof -- clear.

Clark looked around the room, took his hands out of his front pockets and stuffed them in the back pockets, and turned his face back towards Lex, his gaze cast down. He looked good. So damn good.

"I wanted to talk to you."

Lex sat against the corner of his desk. "Sounds serious."

Clark nodded and drew a deep breath. Lex couldn't help but let his eyes drop in appreciation, but he pulled them back up and smiled encouragingly.

"I-- Something...happened this afternoon. While I was here, and I'm not--" He shook his head, looking frustrated. He kept darting quick looks in Lex's direction.

Lex shivered, chill. "Yes?"

"I thought I should-- I wanted you to know I'm not--" Clark bit his lip lightly, pulling it between his teeth, bringing his eyes up slowly to Lex's.

Lex nodded. "Not what?" Not gay? Thanks, but no thanks, Lex, I don't want to star in any of your home porn videos, not in the pool, not in the sauna.

Clark took a few steps closer to Lex , his eyes avid on Lex's face. "Earlier today...I-- I wanted to tell you, talk to you..." He trailed off, as if searching for the right words.

Lex felt a sweep of exhilaration, followed swiftly by a disproportionate despair. He was right, Clark had noticed, and he was here to let Lex down gently, as the kind, sweet boy he was. There was a thrilling freedom in the idea that Clark knew, that he'd know that Lex wanted him -- but he wondered how it would change their relationship. If they'd even have a relationship. Odd that Lex himself would be the one getting in the way, if not. Still, it had to be a good sign that Clark wasn't avoiding him, right? If he handled this properly, coaxed Clark into talking to him about it--

But Clark wasn't looking at him -- or rather, he was. He was looking at Lex's mouth, and he was chewing on his own lip again. Then Clark raised his eyes, looking at Lex in confusion, but Lex wasn't sure what he was seeing. Now it was Lex's turn for confusion. "Clark -- what are you trying to say?"

"I think I'm gay." The words came out in a rush, and his face was suffused with confusion, bewilderment -- and a desperate need, as if Lex held all his answers.

Lex's stomach clenched, and he stared at Clark, who fidgeted. This was nothing like what he had expected; it didn't seem to be about him at all, at least not... Had this afternoon triggered this revelation? Was it possible that Clark was having as much trouble as Lex himself? God. Who had decided he'd earned this? And what the hell was he going to do about it?

He stalled. "And...why are you telling me?" Lex winced at the wounded, rather fallen look this elicited.

"Because you're my friend -- and I didn't know who else to talk to." Clark looked away. "I didn't want to talk to anybody else."

Whatever else Lex was, a coming out counselor wasn't part of it -- and this was Clark. Dangerous, beautiful Clark. Who needed someone. Someone he could trust -- not someone who only wanted to teach him exactly how good it could be.

Hands turned to fists in his pockets, and he turned his head, his jaw aching, to look down at the reports on his desk, unable to bear the weight of that desperate gaze any longer. "It's not the end of the world, Clark. It might seem like it, here in Smallville -- not exactly the bathhouse capital of the world. But you'll be out of here soon--" All the words he didn't want to say, none of the ones he did. Come here and let me touch you. Let me kiss it and make it better.

Clark's laugh was choked, broken, and Lex clenched his fists tighter, fighting the urge to pull him in, soothe the pain he heard in that sound. He looked back up, but Clark had turned to face the fireplace, one hand on the mantle, the other on his hip. "I know it doesn't seem like it--"

"Sure doesn't."

Lex let the silence grow for a minute, trying to figure out what would help, without hurting. Wondered why he was doing this.

"It gets easier. I'm sure your parents will--"

He watched as Clark pulled his arm back and punched the mantle. Into the mantle. A crack, and then a strained silence.

"I'll have to get someone to check for termites," Lex said, as they both stared at the stone fireplace, at the one stone that was no longer in place. Clark looked over at Lex, and Lex could see both longing and apprehension on his face.

Lex walked over and caught Clark's hand in his, and Clark tried to pull away -- though it seemed a token attempt. Clark tensed, then relaxed as if Lex had taken a heavy burden along with the hand. "Anything else you want to tell me, Clark?" He brushed the dust and grit off the unblemished hand. "At least that explains the doorknob."

He looked up at Clark and smiled, and was rewarded with a shadow of his grin. It made him want to turn Clark's hand over and press his mouth into the palm. He realized that he was rubbing his thumb along the back of Clark's hand -- his too smooth, unblemished hand. He stopped, watching Clark, noticing how Clark's breathing had deepened, and how he stared at their hands.

He was so young. So vulnerable. Lex could have everything he wanted, right now, on the couch, on the desk, on the floor. Blow him, bend him over, break his heart -- and he could hear Clark pleading for it.

He dropped Clark's hand, clenching his hands again, and Clark looked up sharply, his eyes dilated, breath still coming raggedly. "Still going to tell me that you don't know anything about my car?" Lex asked. He smiled, and he could feel its edge carve Clark's heart right out. Heart broken, and Lex didn't even know what he tasted like. Virtue sucked.

Clark's hand tightened into a fist, and for a moment, Lex thought Clark was going to hit him. He wondered if it would kill him. If it would be his only chance to have Clark's hands on him.

Then Clark smiled, and it was cold, clean, perfect. "Guess I don't know my own strength." He stepped back and walked around Lex, towards the door. "I'm sorry I bothered you this evening. I'll let you get back to work."

So much wounded pride should bend his shoulders, Lex thought. But Clark stood tall -- taller than usual, like he'd grown a little. And Lex felt nothing. Nothing but cold and empty. "Clark, wait--"

But just like that, he was gone, out of the room, and when Lex followed, he saw no sign of him. He heard the truck start up, far sooner than it should have.

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Clark moved as fast as he could once he left Lex's office, until he got to the truck. Then he started it up and drove slowly, not ready to be anywhere too fast, but heading for home, needing its light and warmth. Needing to be somewhere that didn't feel like rejection.

It was cold. He wished he felt it more, felt the chill cutting through his thin jacket, so he'd feel as numb on the outside as he did inside.

What had he expected? That Lex was going to-- He didn't know what he'd thought. He hadn't thought. He'd found himself outside Lex's door again, not remembering how he got there, just knowing he had to see Lex. Right then. If he'd waited another hour, another minute, something would have snapped.

Now he wished he'd never left the Rosses. Hell, he wished he'd never gone looking for Lex this afternoon, but that hadn't seemed like an option, even then. Lex seemed to draw him like...like Clark drew in air. He gravitated to Lex, whenever he was around, and Lex didn't seem to mind. He even seemed to like it. And Clark liked the way Lex listened to him, paid attention. Usually.

He sighed, wondering what had made him think Lex had any answers for him, would be able to... Clark shivered. Was he really stupid enough to think someone like Lex would--

Lex probably thought Clark had a bad case of hero worship, following him around, taking up his time. He knew his folks didn't understand it, knew they didn't trust Lex. A lot of people didn't trust him, and man, that must be lonely. They didn't know him; they only knew that he was a Luthor, and assumed that he was like his father, that he looked down his nose at people, that he was just out for himself.

And Lex didn't let anyone see it get to him. He seemed to expect it, the stares, the muttering. He'd probably had a lot of practice pretending he didn't care, that things didn't hurt -- that he didn't want, didn't need, like everyone else. Lionel Luthor's son, bald since age nine... He didn't even try to blend in; he was just too there. He demanded your attention, and then he ignored it. But he'd never drawn back from Clark; he'd never ignored him.

But tonight... Lex had never taken aim at him like that, like a...a scalpel, or something. Trying to cut, to make him bleed. Lex had pressed him before, about the Porsche, but it'd seemed like he was testing, not really expecting an answer. Even when Clark had lied, when they'd both known he lied, Lex had shrugged, as if he had all the time in the world to put the puzzle together. It had made Clark nervous -- and a little excited. He should have known that it was something more than admiration he felt when Lex smiled at him like that.

And oh, God, what was he going to do about tonight? The doorknob, the fireplace... More evidence in Lex's hands. He wanted to tell him the truth, hating the lies more than he'd ever hated them with his other friends. He wanted to show Lex he trusted him -- but maybe he didn't, really.

He made the last turn toward the house and saw its lights, warm and welcoming. Maybe it was a good thing he hadn't told him. Maybe Lex wasn't interested in him anymore. With the way Clark had blurted things out, he probably thought Clark had some kind of stupid crush on him -- and that obviously made him uncomfortable. But hell, who wouldn't be if a sixteen-year-old geek ran up and dumped his sexual orientation crisis in your lap?

God. He'd have been better off going home and risking the parental landmine. Hi, Mom, hi, Dad. I'm fine, how are you? Oh, by the way, I might be gay. Although surely, if they could cope with a spaceship in the basement, they could handle this, probably better than Clark was doing. Better than Lex had.

And oh, that hurt. For the first time, Lex had acted like Clark was a nuisance he didn't have time for, as if Clark were a child, annoying an adult with better things to do -- with no time for games.

Remembering Lex in the sauna, imagining him in the shower, Clark didn't feel like a child, and he didn't want to play childish games. Being with Lex had been one place where Clark hadn't felt too young, too awkward. He had thought Lex understood him. He'd felt like he could talk to Lex about anything. But when he'd told Lex he was...that he was gay, Lex had retreated, as if afraid of what Clark might admit to next. Pull back, disentangle yourself. Keep the boy at arm's length.

But Lex... What was it he had said?

It gets better. As if he knew for sure.

Clark pulled up to the house and shut off the engine, then sat staring into space. He remembered watching Lex jerk off in the sauna. Clark had managed to talk himself out of the idea that it had anything to do with him. But what if it had? What if Lex did find Clark...attractive? If so, why would he act like he had just now? Why would he shove--

Clark chewed on his lip. When Lex had picked up Clark's hand... Clark held his hand out, flexing it, remembering how Lex's thumbs had caressed it, and when he'd looked up-- There had been a look in Lex's eyes. Something...

Lex had always been madly curious about Clark, about things that didn't add up, but he'd never been vicious before. He'd been...patient. Smiling. Tonight, his patience hadn't just stretched, it had snapped. And he'd gone after Clark...

But he hadn't changed until he'd been touching Clark, almost petting him, and oh, man, it had felt so good, Clark had thought he was gonna swallow his own tongue -- and then Lex had pulled back behind those cold eyes, so far and so fast Clark hadn't seen him move. He'd gone after Clark with the first weapon that came to hand.

And if he'd been trying to get rid of Clark, the broken mantle was the perfect diversion. Already off-balance, Clark had been so stunned, so hurt by Lex's attack, after he'd opened himself up so completely, after he'd had to listen to Lex, of all people, tell him it would all be better when he got older... But why? What could make Lex Luthor retreat? Clark blinked.

Maybe Lex was scared, too.

He shivered, heat gathering in his belly again. He didn't know what to do with a Lex that attacked, seemingly for the fun of it. But a Lex who lashed out, maybe out of fear? He grinned.

He could work with that.

He started the truck again and turned it around, heading out.

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Lex wasn't even pretending to look at the reports this time. God. It was so tempting to sit here and think of Clark, indulge himself, the way he had this afternoon -- but he couldn't. Every time Lex thought of him, it felt like he was hurting Clark all over again.

He stared into his glass, brooding, trying to reach a state of sufficient numbness that he couldn't see the stunned look on Clark's face, see those devastated eyes icing over. Worse, that moment when Clark had stopped looking stunned, at least obviously, and retreated, pulling back behind his face, behind his eyes, leaving a polite mask.

It was a mask Lex knew all too well, and the thought that he'd taught Clark how to make one of his own--

The ice rattled against his teeth as he drained the glass. Trust a Luthor to take something sweet and vulnerable and crush it. His father would be proud, for so many reasons. Lex couldn't deny that he'd had thoughts early on that Clark might be useful, and that for that to happen, Clark would have to be tougher, harder. Less softness, more edge -- more like Lex, like the man Lionel Luthor had created. But Dad wouldn't be so proud of the fact that the influence seemed to be equally strong the other way. Clark made Lex want to open up, be someone worth Clark's trust. Someone who wouldn't take advantage of a scared, confused teenager for his own gain, his own pleasure.

And there was the rest of it: Clark was attainable, now. If Lex went to him, said-- anything. I'm sorry, I was wrong, I panicked -- Clark would accept it. It would be so fucking easy. He could tie the kid up in knots -- probably even make him think he was the one who owed an apology. Well, no. Maybe not. Clark had his innocence, but he wasn't stupid. God, sometimes he was so far from stupid it was frightening.

He sucked a piece of ice into his mouth, chewing it up, chilling his lips and the insides of his cheeks. Cold in and out. He sat forward, grabbing the bottle he'd brought over from the bar so he didn't have to go so far, and held the stopper, ready to pull it out. At the moment, he wasn't so far gone that he'd tipped over into maudlin self-pity. It was close, so close, but he couldn't afford to go there. He'd end up over at Clark's at 2 a.m., throwing rocks at his window like a besotted fool.

He pushed the bottle away and sank back in his chair, rubbing his eyes. God, what a fucking mess. No, can't seduce the boy; that might hurt him. That might fuck him up, twist his honest, clean, so Goddamn sincere it hurt self into something that Lex would be ashamed to look at.

Something about Clark made Lex want to be better, made him want to care. Made him want, until he was sick with the wanting. Not sex. Not just sex. Lex looked at Clark and wanted...everything. For Clark. Wanted to smooth his path, make sure that nothing and nobody that he wanted was denied him.

Except, apparently, Lex himself. For his own good.

And why was it that being able to have Clark made it impossible to think about him? When had Lex ever denied himself anything he wanted, not tried to figure out how to get it? And this time, the wanting was mutual. He'd never had any kind of trouble imagining all kinds of things he'd like to do with Clark. Now... Well, he could still imagine them, but it was like he'd installed a censor; he felt guilty, like he was using Clark, somehow. Clark deserved better. And God, he really was besotted, wasn't he?

He should be thinking about the car, dammit. About the car, the fireplace -- the fucking doorknob, for Christ's sake. Clark at the plant. Adrenaline, my ass. Those were the mysteries he should be puzzling over. Not Clark's wounded eyes, that vulnerable mouth... Clark, like the first time he really saw him, wet and panting, and that mouth, hollowed out cheeks like he was using it to--

He picked up the glass and threw it at the fireplace, narrowly missing the punched-in hole, simmering frustration boiling over into anger. He wouldn't do this. The car. That fucking car. He didn't even want to be in the same house with it. The same city.

Well. He didn't have to be, did he? He pushed the intercom, and as usual, Robert responded within a matter of seconds.

"Yes, sir?"

"I'm going to Metropolis for a couple of days, Robert. Let Mrs. Perrin know I'll be back Friday, probably late."

"Yes, sir. Will you be wanting me to pack a bag for you?"

Lex didn't want to wait that long. "I have everything I need in town. Take a couple days off if you'd like, I won't need anything until Saturday."

"Very well, sir. Have a good trip." Always proper, always formal, never overstepping his bounds. Lex thought Robert had probably weaned himself on Upstairs, Downstairs.

He sat forward, punching in a number, running his hand over his scalp while he waited for it to kick over to his secretary's voice mail. "Connie? Lex. I have to run into the city for the rest of the week. Reschedule any appointments, except for Levy; have him come into the Metropolis office. Anything else, you can reach me on my cell."

Coding in a new number, he thought of the few things he'd want to take with him, mostly work-related. Go to Metropolis, visit a few clubs, maybe find a nice, dark-haired boy with a knowing look and a willing mouth, something to-- "Natalie? Yeah, it's Lex. I'll be at the house tonight, planning on staying a night or two. Will you let my father know? You know how he hates surprises... Oh? Well, no, I won't need more than the skeleton staff. Thanks."

So Lionel was out of town for the week. So much the better. He wouldn't have to subject himself to questions for which he had no acceptable answers. He shuffled his papers together, stuffing them into his briefcase and making sure he had his cell. If he changed before he went, he could go straight to the clubs.

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Clark made the trip back from Lex's a lot faster the second time. Then he sat in the truck in front of the house for a while, debating whether to head inside, or up to the loft. The house meant questions, but at the moment, having someone show they cared that much sounded pretty nice.

By the time he'd made it back to Lex's, the mansion had been dark and locked, and Lex hadn't been there. Clark had walked around the whole house, scanning, to make sure. He'd driven home fast, a little angry, a lot sad, and very horny. It was possible Lex had an appointment, a date -- but he doubted it. Lex wasn't going to know what hit him when Clark caught up with him. Sighing, he climbed out of the truck and headed into the kitchen.

"Clark? Is that you? What are you doing home so early?" His mother came from the living room and looked at him in surprise. "I thought I heard the truck earlier, but I guess it was somebody driving by."

Clark hung up his jacket and shrugged, stuffing his hands into his pockets and hoping she was too preoccupied to read him too easily. "Didn't feel like watching movies, I guess." His smile felt lame, but his mother raised an eyebrow. Didn't feel like watching movies, didn't feel like chasing after some maniac in a Ferrari who tried to outrun awkward situations -- didn't feel like being alone.

"I was getting your father and myself some ice cream. You want some?" She opened the freezer, looked inside, then looked at him, one eyebrow raised. "I guess you already did."

He shrugged and grinned sheepishly. "I'm a growing boy."

Shaking her head, she shut the freezer door, then pulled her jacket off the back of a chair and put it on. "I swear, between food and clothes, sometimes I wonder if you're ever going to stop growing." She patted herself down, then picked up her purse and dug around in the bottom of it.

"How do we know I will?" What did they really know about him, about what he could do, what he'd become? Everything felt alien and strange.

She pulled out her keys. "What brought that on?"

He shrugged. "It's still new to me. I think about it a lot." It was mostly true. "Music, movies, looking at the stars -- it reminds me that we don't know much about how I'm different."

She came over and hugged him, then pulled back to look into his face. "As far as I can tell, in all the important ways you're not so different."

He grinned and hugged her again. "You're my mom. You're paid to say things like that."

She shook her head. "Strictly volunteer, here. They couldn't pay me enough." Her smile warmed him. "Clark, are you okay?"

"Sure, I'm fine. What could be wrong? I'm a teenage alien with freakish powers, and--" And I just found out that I might be gay, too, and the guy that helped me figure that out seems to be as freaked out by it as I am. "Really, I'm okay. I think I'm gonna go crash, maybe read, or something. I've got some math homework." He walked over and hugged her.

Martha Kent, however, did not give up easily. "Did something happen at the Rosses?"

"No, Mom, nothing happened. In fact, Mrs. Ross commented on how polite and charming I was, in comparison to her own family. And I owe it all to you." He smiled widely, falsely, and kissed her cheek. "Where's Dad?"

Frowning, but apparently willing to let him get away with it, she turned back towards the door. "He's finishing up something in the barn. If you see him, tell him I went to get more ice cream." She went out, then turned to call back through the screen door. "And take out the trash before you go upstairs."

"Yes, ma'am," Clark said. "And I'm sorry about the ice cream."

"One of the hazards of the job." She smiled and shut the door.

The trash taken care of, he raided the refrigerator, making himself a sandwich and grabbing a coke before heading upstairs. He kicked his door shut behind him and thought about turning on the computer, but he couldn't think of anything he wanted to look at, and he didn't think typing "gay alien support group" into the search engine was going to help. He sat down on the bed and kicked off his sneakers.

It made him feel oddly better to hope that Lex was as off-balance as he was, that he didn't know what he was doing, either. And the only way Clark was going to find out how Lex felt about anything was to talk to him -- without letting him push Clark away. Now that Clark had it figured out, that didn't seem so impossible, as long as he could find Lex.

He finished off the sandwich and drink, and lay back across his bed, head on his arm, staring at the ceiling. He didn't want to think about it anymore. Maybe it was just as well Lex had taken off; maybe he'd get over whatever his problem was and they could actually talk about this. Or something. Maybe if he'd just kissed him, instead of punching the fireplace...

He rubbed his stomach, back and forth, enjoying the feel. Barb Kirby had kissed him in the Kirby's coat closet when he was twelve, after her seventeen-year-old sister had abandoned the birthday party for a phone call from her boyfriend. Someone had suggested spin the bottle, and everybody was too embarrassed to say no. She'd initiated the kiss itself, and then told everyone at school he was her boyfriend. He was just glad that apparently he'd been a bad boyfriend, or he'd probably still be not-dating her. He never had figured out how to get out of that by himself.

That had been mashed noses and clacking teeth, with nervous giggles on her part. It had been sweet, in its own way, but nothing he had wanted to pursue. The kiss from Tina, when he thought she was Lana, had been...nice. Just nice.

Somehow he didn't think Lex would giggle. Maybe he'd smile; maybe he'd get that breathless, heavy-lidded look he'd had when he was jerking off. His mouth open, rounded, looking at Clark for a minute before kissing him back.

Clark shifted his legs, then sat up and stripped off his long-sleeved shirt. Lying back, legs stretched out, T-shirt pushed up, he stroked his stomach, his nipples tightening. He could almost imagine Lex's hands on him, different than the touch of his own hands, better, but his mouth... He imagined heat, wetness, and the thought of Lex's tongue... Clark shivered. Maybe Lex's kisses would be like his looks, direct, intense, slipping inside Clark and swallowing him whole. And Clark would slide his hand over the smooth, smooth skin of Lex's skull, shaping his head, as close to him as he'd ever been and nowhere near as close as he wanted. Then Lex would take his hand and dip his fingers under the edge of Clark's jeans, fingertips bumping along the tip of his dick... He'd keep it slow, teasing, driving Clark wild.

He moved his other hand, Lex's hand, to cup himself through his jeans, rubbing up and down as he hardened. He could almost hear the words murmured into his ear, something dirty and oh, so hot coming from Lex. He shuddered and squeezed, then quickly unzipped his jeans and pushed them down, along with his briefs, hissing slightly as the cool air touched him. He bit his lip and took his dick in his hand, Lex's hand, Lex's voice in his ear, telling him how he looked, how much Lex liked what he saw, Lex's cock pressed hard against Clark's thigh--

He arched his back as he came, his vision blurring until all he could see were Lex's eyes as he watched Clark come.

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Lex could feel a migraine building as he pulled into Smallville. He'd made good time on the trip back, fueled by equal parts rage and humiliation. Just his luck Lionel's trip had been cancelled in time for him to show up that morning as Lex was meeting with Levy. It was a minor meeting over some contracts up for renewal, but his father had swept in, all smiles and energy, and taken over.

Then he'd accused Lex with a straight face of having undermined his own authority with his inexplicable whims -- before getting icy cold about the lack of wisdom inherent in the kind of jaunting Lex had done the night before. Wouldn't do LuthorCorp any good if the scion of the empire were caught (again) in some sleazy dive. Lex wondered if his father actually paid people to keep track of him, or if it was simply speculation on Lionel's part.

The most amusing thing was that Lex hadn't done anything but look. He'd fully intended to, but the only types that appealed were too far from the mold that had formed Clark. Wouldn't it be the height of irony if he couldn't have Clark, and because of Clark, he couldn't have anyone else?

He passed through town at a brisk but legal pace; the last thing he wanted was some local cop ragging his ass tonight. The Beanery caught his attention as he drove past, and he pulled in sharply. He wasn't likely to sleep much tonight anyway, and a good strong dose of caffeine with a handful of meds might shove the leviathan off.

It was only when he got inside and found the place deserted that he admitted his stopping had little to do with coffee. "Slow night," he said to the barrista as he paid for a double-shot cappuccino to go.

"Game night," she said. "They'll be in after 9:30, those that don't go out to the lake for the bonfire."

Ah, the rituals of the public high school. He wondered if Clark was sitting in the stands, watching his friend Pete play. Maybe he was keeping the lovely Lana Lang company as she watched her jerk of a boyfriend run around the field, patting the asses of his teammates without a thought of impropriety.

Lex thanked her graciously and left, risking the cops as soon as he reached the city limits. It was pathetic, hoping to run into Clark like that. Possibly the most pathetic thing he'd done in years. He felt like a teenager again. The worst part was knowing that it probably wasn't the most pathetic thing he'd do before this was over. Before either Clark was out of his system, or far enough away he wasn't touchable. Or Lex was. He should look at it as an exercise in self-control and discipline. Maybe he was getting soft, no longer sitting right in the palm of his father's hand.

Passing the lane for the Kent farm wasn't as hard as it might have been. Clark probably was at the game with friends, and Lex wasn't in the mood to deal with Jonathan Kent right now -- or Martha, for that matter. He was still a too angry to deal with anyone's parents.

He nearly missed his own turn, pulling the coffee away from his mouth and holding it out to the side as he rolled the steering wheel with one hand, squealing up the drive. He smiled in satisfaction when he didn't take out any of the grass, and didn't even mar the upholstery.

Clark didn't step out of the shadow of the main entrance until Lex had gotten out of the car and pulled his bag out of the trunk. Then he stood with his hands in his jean pockets, and for a minute they stared at each other. He looked...determined. He looked good. Lex finally made himself turn and shut the trunk. "What are you doing here?"

Clark walked over and blocked Lex's path, practically trapping him next to the car with his body. "Waiting for you."

Lex didn't want to stop and think about how that made him feel. "How did you know I'd be back tonight?" He took a drink of his coffee and considered ducking around him, but somehow he knew he'd lose ground if he did, and he wasn't sure he could afford it. This close, Clark seemed calm, amused. A wall of calm -- which heightened Lex's own inner turmoil that much more. He stood perfectly still, wondering what Clark would do if he screamed.

"Mrs. Perrin told me." Clark smiled. "She likes me. Here, let me take that."

Lex damned the impulse that had led him to bring anything back from the city. "That's okay, I can take care of it--"

Before Lex could stop him, Clark had taken his bag, but instead of turning for the door, he looked at Lex. "Why did you leave?"

"I don't think that's any of your business. Now if you'll--" He considered reaching for his bag, but he didn't think that fighting Clark for it was going to make his position any stronger. Plus which, he had this image of Clark holding it up at arm's length and Lex having to climb him, and it was doing bad things to his equilibrium, so he leaned back against the car and folded his arms. "Clark, I'm not the person you need to be talking to about-- about whatever it is we're talking about. What are we talking about? What are you doing here?"

"Waiting for--"

"Yeah, I got that part. Why were you waiting for me? What on earth do you have to tell me that couldn't wait until daylight?" Lex finished off his coffee and felt like throwing the cup down the driveway. Instead, he made his voice as disinterested as possible, trying to find his own wall of calmness and cool, no heat in, no heat out. His temples throbbed. "Did you come to apologize about the fireplace?"

Clark looked away briefly, then back down, smiling, and it didn't help Lex's calm. "No, but I will, if that's what you want. I'm sorry about the fireplace. And the doorknob. Anything else you want say, before we talk?"

Lex realized that Clark had expected this tactic; he wondered how far he could push it. "I'd like an explanation of how a boy of sixteen can punch a hole in the solid stone of my fireplace."

"I didn't, really; I dislodged one of the stones. The mortar must have been weak."

"One of the stones was cracked, Clark. And what about the doorknob?"

Clark smiled again. "Shoddy construction."

Lex laughed, and he hoped Clark missed the faint note of hysteria. "It was broken off."

"Metal fatigue doesn't care how much things cost, Lex." Clark stepped in closer. "Is this what you want to talk about?"

Lex pushed off from the car, putting him even closer to the heat of Clark's body. "I didn't think this had anything to do with what I wanted. It's been a long day, and all I want--"

He felt the cup give way in his clenched fist as Clark kissed him, but that was the only reaction he allowed himself. It was an awkward kiss. They didn't quite bump noses, but the angle was wrong, and Clark's mouth was more tentative than his forward motion, so it landed mostly on Lex's upper lip.

It was sweet, the most innocent kiss Lex could remember. He didn't realize he'd closed his eyes until Clark stepped back.

Lex stared at him for a moment, his mind blank. Clark didn't say anything, and as the silence stretched, he looked more and more nervous. Lex calmly put his empty hand into his own pants pocket, and when he didn't do anything else, Clark leaned forward again, but more slowly, hesitantly.

"Don't," Lex said, and it came out as a sort of croak. His throat was dry and dusty. "This...is a bad idea. I'm an expert on bad ideas, and trust me, Clark..." It wasn't what he'd planned to say, which had been something devastating, guaranteed to prove to Clark that Lex wasn't interested in sixteen-year-old mysteries with red mouths and hungry eyes. Some kind of lie.

This time, Clark got the angle right, because Lex's body ignored his mind and tilted his mouth to meet Clark's. Still as sweet, and a lot less tentative, and Clark's mouth moved along his, completing one kiss and moving right into another. It was oddly innocent, mouths barely open, and Lex clenched his hand in his pocket to keep from pulling Clark closer. He wasn't sure whether he was still trying to pretend a lack of interest, or keep from scaring Clark off.

This time, when Clark pulled back, he looked more sure of himself, and when he licked his lips, Lex barely trapped the sound that tried to escape his throat. "We can't do this, Clark."

Clark reached out and took hold of Lex's tie, running his hand up and down it, and Lex could feel the brush of his fingers. "Do you want this?" Clark asked.

Lex heard the real question: Do you want me? The vulnerability of it hit him like a blow. He stepped back, smoothing his tie. When he spoke, his tone was smooth and cool. "What either of us wants isn't the issue -- it's still an incredibly bad idea. Don't you think my reputation is soiled enough? If your parents knew where you were--"

"I'm old enough to decide for myself, Lex."

Lex laughed, his head reeling. "I doubt they'd agree. And it doesn't matter, Clark. This. Is. A bad idea. Maybe if I keep repeating that you'll get the point." He rubbed his hand on his scalp, frighteningly turned on by how intently Clark watched him do it. "You're so young. You don't even know what you want, do you?"

"No. Yes." Clark took a deep breath. "I know I want to kiss you again. I want everything." Clark looked directly in Lex's eyes. "I want you to show me what I want."

Lex shuddered. "God. I." Clark's smile this time was decidedly more wicked, and from it Lex learned the real difference between innocence and naivete. Naivete was boring; innocence was...a big turn-on at the moment. Everything seemed to be a big turn-on at the moment.

"I can't do this." He caught Clark off-guard and brushed past him, heading for the door. Clark simply followed him, carrying Lex's bag.

"Sure you can, Lex. I hear it comes naturally." Clark's own naturally teasing tone was back, and Lex laughed in spite of himself.

The light in the entryway came on as they neared the door, and Lex dug his keys out. "Go home, Clark. I need some sleep--" which was a lie, because he didn't think he could sleep if he tried "--and your parents will miss you." He worked at calming his breathing, ignoring how cold he felt, away from Clark's heat.

"They won't expect me until late. They think I'm at the bonfire with Pete." Clark leaned against the wall, waiting for Lex to unlock the door.

Lex froze, key in the lock. "What do you mean they think you are? Where does Pete think you are?" That Clark had planned this out, had lied to come be with him, sent a mingled flush of heat and denial through Lex.

Clark at least had the decency to blush. "I told him I had a date, and we were going to Metropolis."

Lex stared at the door, just breathing. "And how, exactly, does he think you're getting there? Won't he wonder who you're going with?"

Scuffing one sneaker on the stones, Clark didn't look at Lex. "I told him I couldn't tell him, that it was someone older than me."

"Presumably female." Lex's tone was dry.

Clark looked up, defensive. "It's none of his business."

Lex smiled and looked at him. "He's your friend, Clark. It's not a good idea to lie to your friends. Or your parents. What are you going to tell him when he wants to know how the date went?"

"I guess I'll have to wait and see how it goes." He looked flustered, but determined.

Lex opened the door. "Go home, Clark. Better yet, go to the Smallville High School football game, cheer the other boys on to victory, yearn over Lana, and go to the bonfire with your friend Pete." He held out his hand for his bag. "You don't want to be caught between me and everyone else in your life." When Clark didn't move, he stepped inside and turned to shut the door -- but Clark slapped a hand against it, and it wouldn't budge. "Go home, Clark. You're a child, and no matter what you think you want, this isn't it."

Lex had to back off when Clark slammed the door open. "God, Lex, you're not my parents! Are you telling me that five years has made that much difference? That you look back and what you wanted then wasn't real?"

What had he wanted then? A father's love, seemingly long gone, or terribly ill-expressed. Friends. Someone to hold him -- and having found the latter here and there, mostly unwisely, he wondered if that was the reason he was resisting so strongly what he wanted so badly. He wasn't the kind of man he thought someone like Clark should be involved with. "It doesn't seem real anymore." He moved over to the wall to reset the security alarm, Clark following. When he turned, Clark was right in his face, much too close for comfort, and Lex retreated a couple of steps without thinking.

"What if you were 29, and I were 24?"

"That would be different, you'd--" Lex stepped aside, but Clark moved to face him again.

"24 and 19? Would that still be different?"

"Maybe--"

"Will I change so much? Did you?" Clark was right in his face again, and Lex held his ground.

"Yes. And you will too, and you'll wish--"

Clark shook his head. "I will never wish I hadn't kissed you." He hefted Lex's bag. "I'm going to take this up to your room."

Lex stood there, breathing deeply, his eyes closed. God. Clark. In his bedroom. Not tonight, dear, I've got a headache -- although already his head was feeling better. He followed him around the corner, and Clark was halfway up the stairs. "Clark, nothing we could do is even legal around here."

Clark turned and flashed him a smile. "Then we'd better not get caught."

"Clark--" He started up the stairs, but Clark didn't stop. Lex found him standing a few feet inside the door, staring at the bed, an immense Italian piece that dominated the room. "Clark--"

Clark dropped Lex's bag and turned to face Lex, his eyes serious. "Tell me you don't want this. Tell me you're trying to protect yourself, not me -- and I'll leave." Lie to me, his face said.

Lex wiped his damp hands off on his pants, then picked up his bag and walked past Clark to drop it on the bed, trying to think over the memory of the shape of Clark's mouth. "You aren't even listening to me! I don't--" He shook his head. "Nobody wants this but you. Sixteen years old, discovering your hormones-- God, why'd you pick me to try them out on? You should be with some sweet sixteener like Lana, or your friend Chloe--"

He sagged in equal parts relief and loss when he heard the door slam.

Until he heard the shower start.

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Clark fell in love with the shower, even if the glass wall made him feel conspicuous -- but maybe that was because he hoped Lex would walk through the door any moment, before Clark died of embarrassment. Plenty of hot water, plenty of room...plenty of time as the door stayed stubbornly shut.

He hadn't expected this to be so hard. If he'd thought about it at all, he'd thought kissing Lex would be enough. Fantasies aside, he hadn't been able to imagine past that. Coming in here had been an impulse, since he didn't think he was going to talk Lex into kissing him again -- not that Lex had really kissed him before -- but he wasn't ready to give up. And Lex hadn't exactly pulled away, so Clark had decided to go for shock tactics.

He just wasn't sure how long he could stand here, naked. In Lex's shower.

In which Lex was naked all the time.

He turned his face into the water, rubbing his arms, shivering. He wanted to touch himself. More than that, he wanted Lex to touch him, like he had in any one of the fantasies Clark hadn't been able to stop having. And somehow, Lex turning him down hadn't figured in any of those.

The last two days had gone on forever. First there'd been school to get through, and the irrational fear that Pete or Chloe would notice something -- and the furtive, private tests to see whether his newly recognized tastes extended beyond Lex, with inconclusive results. The guys at school were still people he'd grown up with, and his new insights didn't make them look any different -- although his interest in locker room hijinks had a slightly different feel. Then he'd gone by the castle, only to find out from Mrs. Perrin that Lex had unexpectedly taken off. It was both annoying and promising, and Clark had wondered what Lex thought the trip would change.

For Clark, it had been time to think, to consider possibilities. Was this normal alien teenage hormones? A possible new kind of meteor exposure? Or was it just the ordinary process of self-discovery, where he hadn't so much switched teams as become a free agent, if his reaction to the girls at school was any indication? It was the kind of thing he'd normally talk to Chloe about, and the fact that he couldn't was another sign of how his life was changing.

Most of the time, though, he thought about Lex. And no matter where he started, fruitless thoughts turned to daydreams to indefinite but heated fantasies. He'd zoned out in class, lost track of time in the middle of his chores, completely forgotten to meet Chloe for homework after school. His mother had taken to giving him odd looks as he got more and more restless -- and that wasn't anything he wanted to think about right now.

He pushed his hair out of his face, turning so the water ran down his back. His courage was failing him. It had been hard enough to work up his nerve in the first place. If he moved fast, he could be in his clothes and out the door before--

When he opened his eyes, Lex was in the doorway, staring at him, and Clark wondered how long he'd been there. He'd taken off his jacket, and his socks and shoes, and stood there in his bare feet. Clark waited, his arms raised, as Lex looked him over. Clark recognized the look now. He'd seen it before, but he hadn't known what it meant. He'd always liked it, liked the attention, but he'd thought it was just Lex trying to figure him out. Now it made him feel more than good; now it made him hard. Maybe it would from now on.

He watched Lex watching him, wanting to look right through his clothes, but he wasn't certain of his control. Lex was clenching and unclenching his hands at his sides; Clark doubted he knew he was doing it. Even with the heat of the water, Clark shivered; he didn't think he could stop as long as Lex was looking at him.

Remembering how he'd imagined Lex, Clark leaned back against the black marble, his arms behind him, but he didn't close his eyes. He wasn't sure he could. And when Lex tugged his tie loose with one hand, moving across the floor toward him, Clark had trouble breathing. Lex stopped outside the glass, one hand resting on it, the other unbuttoning his shirt, very slowly.

He only had a couple of the buttons undone when he opened the door and walked inside. By the time he reached Clark, Clark was panting, his mouth open and ready as Lex tangled one hand in his hair and pulled him in.

His kisses were short, biting, and Clark felt them like sharp stings on his mouth, punctuated with sounds that only made sense after Clark got over the shock of Lex kissing him. "I can't-- Clark-- This is beyond stupid--" The movement of his clothes, the pressure of his body against Clark's naked one, were more than any imaginings he'd had, but the frantic kisses and broken words were painful.

He pulled back and rested his forehead against Lex's, and Lex let him go, eyes closed, breathing hard. Clark slid one arm under Lex's soaking wet shirt and around his waist while he shaped the back of Lex's smooth skull with his other. "Don't you want this?"
Lex laughed breathlessly and placed a palm on Clark's chest, stroking lightly back and forth. "What do you think?"

"I think I'm glad," Clark said, brushing his mouth along Lex's temple, licking at the water.

Lex gasped slightly and turned his head until Clark's mouth was near his ear. "I think I'm insane."

"Hush." Clark ran his tongue along Lex's ear until he moaned, then tugging lightly, he pulled Lex's head back and waited until Lex looked at him, loving the glazed, heavy-lidded look. Clark kissed him, slowly, soft and warm.

Lex drew a stuttering breath, then leaned into him, sliding an arm around his neck, and this kiss was as different from those first scared touches as those kisses had been from any Clark had ever had before. Lex was completely there for this one, right with Clark, pressing into him, his other hand stroking along Clark's waist, and the first touch of Lex's tongue in his mouth nearly made him come.

He hadn't known kisses could be so deep, that he could be so hungry for things he couldn't even name. He'd tried to imagine, but it was different with someone, so much more, so much more, and then Lex was whispering into his ear, things he couldn't quite hear but they seemed to go straight to his dick, trapped between them, pressing against Lex, sliding first against cloth, then the bare skin of Lex's belly. Lex had barely touched him -- his mouth, a hand on his hip -- and Clark was rocking into him, unable to stop, embarrassed at his lack of experience, but when he felt Lex's skin against him, Lex's mouth on his ear, nothing could have held him back. He came, and the sweet bite of Lex's teeth in his skin was the sharpest sensation of all.

Then Lex was kissing him again, stroking his hip, his back, gently, comfortingly, bringing him down.

Clark had thought that reality would have trouble living up to the fantasy, that his imagination had painted things far too wildly, but fantasy hadn't stretched far enough to include the fact that he could taste the coffee Lex had been drinking, or the way he smelled, or the simple truth that Lex, still clothed, Clark's come on him, made Clark feel even more naked -- and he liked how it felt.

And it hadn't come close to preparing him for the look in Lex's eyes when he leaned back, rubbing his naked scalp into the palm of Clark's hand. Clark felt too young, too...quick, but Lex's look was lazy and pleased as he stepped back under the spray, letting the water cascade over his head, pulling Clark in to wash him clean.

All reluctance and uncertainty seemed burned away. Lex's smile, the way his tongue grazed his upper lip, the way he looked at Clark, making his skin even more tight and shivery...and the way he looked to Clark. He wouldn't have thought, after the sauna, that he'd find Lex in clothes as erotic as Lex out of them, but again he was wrong.

The light purple of Lex's shirt had gone dark in the water, and it clung to his body where it wasn't hanging open, exposing the pale, smooth skin of his chest. His pants sagged, shaping his thighs and dragging ridiculously on the floor, bare toes just showing. He should have looked foolish, but all Clark could see was that he was hard, as hard and needy as Clark himself. Then he reached for his shirt buttons again.

"Wait." Clark wasn't sure he actually got the word out until Lex stopped. "I want to do it."

Lex's smile turned shaky, and his breath came faster; Clark decided he liked that. He liked having that effect on Lex Luthor, liked the idea that Lex was even half as off-balance as Clark himself.

Lex nodded. "Be my guest," he said, and stood there, waiting for Clark to move.

The buttons were small, slippery, hidden inside a placket that resisted Clark's nervous, hurried fingers. With a growl of frustration, he gripped the edges and pulled them apart, sending buttons skittering across the marble. Lex raised an eyebrow, but his mouth had a softness to it that Clark was beginning to recognize, and his nostrils flared as he tried to breathe calmly. Clark grinned. "I figured it was already shot, so why not?"

"Yeah, why not." Lex rolled his lip between his teeth. "Don't stop there."

Clark slid his hands out along Lex's shoulders, pushing the shirt off and down his arms, peeling it away from all that smooth, smooth skin, and Lex let him, helping him get it over his elbows, off his hands. Then Clark trailed his fingers lightly back up Lex's arms and along his shoulders, across his throat. He could hear a hitch in Lex's breathing, and it turned him on even more. He liked the way Lex kept looking at his body.

Water ran down Lex's chest, and Clark followed a stream with a fingertip. Lex looked more naked half-clothed than most people would nude. He thought that Lex naked might kill him. He thought maybe he wanted to die like that. He reached out and pressed the flat of his palm to the bulge in Lex's pants, cupping his fingers over it, shivering. Lex covered it with one of his own and pressed it tighter, groaning, and Clark could feel the rigid shape of his cock, the heat of him through the wet cloth.

He wanted to hear Lex make more sounds like that. A lot of them.

"Clark, you're driving me crazy." Lex's voice was husky, even richer than usual, and it both soothed and excited Clark. "Let me--" He tugged lightly on Clark's hand.

Clark nodded, once, and stepped back, rubbing his hands on his thighs, uncertain where to put them now, too aware of his own aching dick. He settled for rubbing lightly across his hipbones as he saw the motion catch Lex's attention. He watched in turn as Lex unzipped his pants and fought his way out of them, looking less than elegant and hot as hell.

For some reason, he'd thought Lex would be...completely smooth. Hairless. That he wasn't sent a sharp jolt through Clark. The wiry red hair was so real, so tangible; he reached out without thinking to touch him -- and Lex made that sound again, the one that shivered through Clark and made him want to swallow hard. He turned his hand so the palm pressed to Lex's stomach, fingers sliding down, fingertips sliding into that patch of hair, around the velvety-looking cock that he didn't touch. It looked so soft, and so hard -- so naked, without the familiar hood of skin. He wanted to know what it felt like.

He looked back up to see Lex watching him again, eyes half-closed, his mouth open, the look Clark had seen in the sauna, the look he'd wanted to see again, and he had to be closer. He pulled until Lex was wrapped in the circle of his arms, back to front, his free arm slipping around, holding him, and the press of their naked bodies was so intense that for a moment, Clark couldn't move, couldn't think, his head pressed against the smoothness of Lex's.

Lex let his head fall back on Clark's shoulder, his own arms mirroring Clark's, holding on as if he might fall. His left hand slid over Clark's right, not trying to move it, just stroking his wrist and hand. Then he tilted his head, kissing along Clark's jaw, and Clark turned into it, sinking into Lex's mouth. He was learning what he liked, what Lex liked: more teasing, tongues slipping back and forth, and there was a deep intimacy to it, being open this way to another person -- to Lex. Clark was pretty sure that if he wanted, Lex could make him come just from this.

Lex broke away, gasping, his eyes dark and wild, sliding one hand up to curve around Clark's neck. "Touch me. Please," he said.

The pleading note in Lex's voice shocked Clark, jolted right to the core of him, and he rubbed his cheek and mouth over Lex's ear. "Show me how."

"Fuck. Clark." Lex arched against him, and Clark shuddered at the dark note in Lex's voice, at the profanity from that mouth, usually so polite, so contained. Lex slid his hand down Clark's arm, and this time Clark moved with him, wrapping his hand around Lex's cock, holding him gently, wanting Lex to show him what to do. Lex squeezed his hand. "Harder."

Clark closed the circle of his hand, moving it, loving it when Lex started thrusting, loved giving him something to thrust against. He tried to remember the rhythm he'd seen Lex use. "Have you ever done this thinking of me?" he murmured in Lex's ear.

Lex tossed his head back, a nervous gesture, rubbing against Clark's mouth, his cheek. Lex's skin was so smooth. "Yes," Lex gasped. "God, yes."

Clark picked up the rhythm of his movements, mesmerized by Lex, by the way he held on as if he were going to come apart. "Lex, Jesus -- you're incredible." He listened to Lex's breathless sounds, and when Lex said Clark's name, Clark had never heard anything like it. He held Lex to him tightly as he came, stroking him through it until Lex shuddered and squeezed his arms.

Then he was mouthing Lex's temple, nuzzling his ear, licking along the edges of his skull until he got to the knob on the back of his head, gently sucking and biting and waiting for Lex to catch his breath. Clark was hard against Lex's back, intensely aware of the press of flesh, but for the moment he just wanted to stand there and catch his own breath, and his wits, and hope his knees didn't give out.

After a moment or two, Lex relaxed, not quite a dead weight, but boneless. Then he turned in Clark's arms and kissed him, warm, wet kisses, slower than before, his hand reaching to circle Clark's dick, and Clark embarrassed himself by whimpering.

Lex laughed softly against Clark's mouth. "You like that."

Clark nodded, not trusting his voice. He ran his hands over Lex's shoulders and down his back, pulling him in tight, pulling another of those sounds from Lex, leaving him less embarrassed.

"What else would you like?" Lex's voice was husky and deep, and he kept stroking. The strangled noise that came out of Clark's mouth in no way resembled language. Lex kissed down his chin and licked his throat, then pulled Clark's head down to whisper in his ear. "Can I suck you off?"

The crudeness and intent of his words, combined with his tongue in Clark's ear, erased Clark's ability to think. He pushed hard on Lex's shoulders, and Lex wordlessly went to his knees. Clark winced at the thump as he hit the floor, but the way Lex looked up at him sealed his apology behind his lips. Mouth open, tongue just touching his lip, he looked ready for anything Clark wanted, and the thought was a flare of heat in his belly. He reached out and touched his finger to the scar on Lex's upper lip, pressing lightly.

Lex washed his tongue over the pad of Clark's finger, then closed his teeth gently around it, flicking it with the tip of his tongue, back and forth. His eyes never left Clark's, and he slowly slid his mouth further, taking it in. Clark felt a groan, almost a growl, building in his chest, and took his dick in his fist as it throbbed. He slid his finger in and out of Lex's mouth, watching the shape of his lips, the warmth and softness leaving him shuddering. When he couldn't take anymore, he pulled his finger away so he could cup his hand around the back of Lex's head and pull him forward.

The first touch of Lex's tongue on his cock nearly brought him to his knees. He staggered, practically dragging Lex along with him, until he felt the wall at his back. Lex grinned and licked him again. The growl that had lodged in Clark's chest came out as almost a purr, and he rested his head against the wall, too heavy for his neck to support.

Lex played with him, quick licks of his tongue almost indistinguishable from the warm water at first. Then Lex was rubbing his mouth, his cheek, his temple, his scalp, along Clark's thighs, his cock, and Clark couldn't breathe, could only watch.

Lex's lips nibbled at Clark's closed fist. "Let go."

For a moment, he didn't understand, and then he couldn't move until Lex nipped sharply at his hand. When he finally did, he pressed his palms to the wall. Maybe he'd dig right into the marble before this was done, leaving his mark. He wanted to leave a mark.

Lex braced his hands on Clark's thighs and slowly enveloped his cock, lips pressed close, tongue gliding warmly. His thumbs stroked along the crease of Clark's thighs, but he touched Clark's cock only with his mouth. Clark felt consumed, the heat between his thighs leaving the rest of him oddly cool, feverish. Then Lex pulled back, just as slowly, and Clark ached to feel the heat again. Once, twice, Lex's mouth slid forward, then back, and Clark didn't think he could stand it, closing his eyes because watching was worse, made it feel even slower when he needed more, faster, harder.

Then even that slow, delicious tease stopped, and when he opened his eyes, Lex was watching him again, mouth open, a slight wicked twist to it. "God, Lex. What are you trying to do to me?"

Lex shrugged and leaned forward, swiping his tongue over Clark's balls, his head brushing Clark's aching dick again. Clark growled in frustration, and Lex bit his thigh, hard. "If you want something, show me." Lex grinned at him. "Make me."

Clark flexed his hands, and watched as Lex rolled his head slightly, eyes narrowing as he watched Clark's reactions. He could see the blood running so close under that white, white skin, such a contrast to the deep, dark-flushed color of his own cock. He could picture his hands on that skin, molding, shaping, and he both wanted it and feared it. "I don't--"

"I thought I was the one with the 'don'ts,' Clark," Lex said roughly, squeezing Clark's thighs. "Are you going to slow down now?"

"Lex--"

Lex reached for Clark's hands, and Clark let him, letting Lex place them on his head, feeling the shape and weight of his skull as Lex leaned back into them, seeing his flush-red lips, wanting them. "Lex, I--"

Lex turned and pressed a kiss to Clark's wrist. "Don't worry, Clark. I trust you." Then he opened his mouth and let Clark guide him forward.

The slick heat sent shivers through Clark again. Lex moved only with Clark's hands, not resisting, but no longer initiating -- until Clark took over, setting a rhythm, one that Lex took to eagerly. He met Clark's thrusts, rolling his head in Clark's hands, and Clark petted him, stroked his fragile, fragile skull, indulging his desire to touch and be touched, getting off on the incredible intimacy of his cock disappearing into Lex's mouth.

His world narrowed, everything fading but the two of them -- that mouth, his hands on Lex's skin, the rhythm building inside him. He watched his cock slide back and forth between those incredible lips, listened to the hungry sounds Lex made, his own gasps. Lex's hands slid behind to cup and squeeze, and Clark was no longer sure who drove the rhythm, just that it was still far too slow, not enough, and then things narrowed further and it was too much and nearly too fast and there was only sensation, only friction and heat and wetness and he had to move faster harder more more slick hot wet deep oh god oh god oh god...

The wall held him up as his head cleared. Lex was still on the floor, propped up on an elbow, watching him with a seriously smug grin. It looked so comfortable Clark tried to unlock his knees, managing it only with great effort. Then he kind of slid to the floor in a heap. Lex shook his head.

"What?" Clark barely recognized his own voice.

"That is the most incredibly goofy smile you have on your face."

"Same to you." He knew Lex was right, and he didn't care. Even if he had, he didn't think he could stop grinning, especially when Lex laughed. It was a good sound.

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Lex hadn't laughed like this in a very long time, and for a minute, he wasn't sure how to stop. When Clark joined in, it only made it worse, and Lex wondered if he might be a little shocky. It felt like a loss of control, and he'd spent his whole life keeping things under control. This felt unreal. It felt...good. Clark... Clark was something outside all Lex's plans, a wild card. Lex needed that, needed something to pull him out of himself.

When he did stop, he lay back on the marble floor, eyes closed, one knee raised, totally relaxed. His smile felt every bit as goofy as Clark's had been. The cooling water felt like rain on his skin, and he realized that his migraine had faded. He couldn't remember when he'd stopped feeling it.

Clark was a lush weight in his mind, heavy, the way a good fabric was heavy, brushing against his every thought and feeling. He could still taste him. He would always know what Clark Kent tasted like, now, long after they'd both--

He heard Clark move, and opened his eyes to see Clark watching him, hugging one leg. He still had a slight smile on his face, but he was wide-eyed and staring again, an awkwardness in his body. Lex smiled, feeling oddly awkward himself. "Hey."

"Yeah?"

Lex rolled to his feet, then held a hand out. "Come on. Have you eaten?"

Clark shook his head, taking Lex's hand, but coming to his feet on his own. While he turned off the water, Lex watched him and used the intercom.

"Yes, sir?"

Lex didn't miss the way Clark stiffened at the sound of Robert's voice. "Have the kitchen send up some food. Something simple, enough for two. You can leave it in the outer room."

"Very well."

He released the switch, trying to decide what Clark's look meant. "I didn't think you'd want publicity."

"No." Clark's voice was rough. "But I'm not--" He shrugged.

"Having second thoughts?" Lex pulled the door open, grabbing a couple of towels, tossing one to Clark. He blinked when Clark was right there, pushing him against the wall, holding him there and looking straight into his eyes.

"No. You?"

"Second thoughts gave way before I got in the shower. I think I'm on at least my fifth or sixth thoughts by now." He smoothed Clark's hair out of his face.

Clark closed his eyes. "I don't know what I'm supposed to do now."

Lex's hand tightened on Clark's chin until he opened his eyes. "Neither do I, Clark. This is...new territory for me, too."

"Are you sorry?"

Lex couldn't be less than honest. "I don't know yet. Are you?"

Instead of answering, Clark leaned in to kiss him again. It was the simplest, sweetest kiss Lex had ever had. Clark was smiling when he pulled back. "No."

Something in his certainty made Lex nervous. "Give it time."

Clark let him go and started drying himself off. "Do you usually feel sorry later?"

"I make it a point not to waste time on regrets." He was cold and scrubbed at his skin. He saw in the mirror that Clark kept darting uncertain looks at him, and he felt mean, but he couldn't find anything to say that wouldn't betray his own confusion.

The silence grew between them as they finished drying off, and every motion seemed laden, important. Clark picked up his jeans, tugging them on awkwardly. Somehow a half-naked Clark in his bathroom was even more unsettling. He pulled on his own silver-grey pajama bottoms as Clark toweled his hair dry. Normal actions, anything but normal feelings. He moved to the door, needing out of the damp, warm space.

"Lex--"

Lex stopped, his hand on the handle. He looked into the mirror, and he saw that Clark's eyes were on the door, on the brand new doorknob. Then Clark looked up, meeting Lex's eyes in the glass, and Lex knew he could find out anything, and he realized there wasn't anything he wanted to know. Not now -- not after Lex had opened Clark up, spread him wide. He didn't want to know like that. "Don't-- Don't tell me anything now. I don't need to know." He went to pull the door open, and Clark's hand closed over his. "Clark--"

"I want to tell you. I don't want this between us."

Lex laughed, and he thought he might be a little hysterical again. "I don't know what's between us, Clark. I really don't. But what I don't want is for you to wake up tomorrow and wish you hadn't told me whatever it is you feel like spilling right now." He turned around, leaning against the door, touching Clark's face again, looking anywhere but those too earnest, too honest eyes. "Just wait. If you still want to tell me tomorrow, or in a week, or a month--"

"Why should I wait? I'm so tired of secrets, coming between me and the people I--" Clark turned his mouth into Lex's palm. "The people I care about."

Lex's chest tightened. "I know all about secrets, Clark. And trust me, I want to know yours." I want to know everything about you. "Just...not like this."

"I won't be sorry I told you." Clark sounded so very young, so defiant.

"You might. And if you were, I'd-- I wouldn't like that." Lex smiled. "Besides, half the fun is in figuring you out on my own, you know that."

Clark's smile was grim, his eyes uncertain. "Why does everything keep getting more complicated?"

"Because we're alive?" Lex wanted to know so badly he could taste it, but he didn't want to give Clark one more thing to regret right now. "Because you do things like strip naked and climb in my shower?" The look Clark gave him made him warm all over, and he shook his head with a shaky smile.

"Are you sorry?" Clark's voice was still rough, and it shivered over Lex's skin.

This time, Lex had an answer, but all he could do was shake his head again and open up to Clark's mouth. Many fears, but no regrets, at least none that could withstand Clark's hands on his skin, his tongue in Lex's mouth. He'd save any regrets for when he was alone. For when Clark came to his senses.

He could feel Clark hard against him, and he thought of his bed, and the long lonely night ahead, and thought that the lies were already at work. Somehow it seemed appropriate for whatever was between him and Clark. He didn't like it. "Clark?"

Clark kissed along his throat, his shoulder. "Yeah?"

"You're good at keeping secrets. But I bet you don't keep many from your folks." Clark's mouth stilled. Lex hadn't kept many things from Lionel, either -- no matter how hard he tried. "Are you ready to lie to them? Because I don't think they'll exactly invite me for dinner." He felt like he was pushing Clark away as hard as he could and wondered at what point he'd be able to just give in.

"Not yet."

Lex laughed. "God, you're so young. What makes you think this'll last past your first flush of hormones?"

Clark pulled back, and his smile was clear and unwavering. "What makes you think it won't?"

"Experience," Lex said.

Clark shrugged. "Right, because you're so old. And so what if it doesn't? Does that mean it won't be worth it?" His eyes weren't as clear as his smile. "Who are you trying to talk out of this, Lex?"

Lex ignored the questions, not sure he liked the possible answers. "It's not going to be easy, Clark. And I have a hell of a lot more to lose than you do. I'm the one they'll blame."

Clark's face dimmed slightly. "All the more reason to keep quiet for now. You've got more to risk than I do."

Lex almost laughed. Good Lord, Clark was protecting him. Was that his first instinct, always? To step in, to save, to take care of other people? Was that something born in him, or Smallville-bred? Lex wasn't used to anyone trying to protect him. Not like this. He'd never known that it could leave you feeling so exposed, so open. He'd never had it make him want to protect in turn.

It wasn't a comfortable feeling. He knew that he and Clark weren't thinking about the same kind of risks. Growing up as the son of Lionel Luthor, Lex had long since learned that vulnerability was a weakness, something to be hidden, avoided altogether, if possible. Honesty, openness, all those things that Clark took for granted as the way you should live your life, were things Lex had learned to exploit, to use as tools.

Then again, Clark wasn't totally inexperienced with keeping things hidden.

He pulled Clark to him, his kisses wilder, harder-edged, trying to distract his mind with his mouth. He could feel the fear that lay behind his own words, the fear that Clark made too much sense, that he'd lose all his barriers, all the things that made it possible for him to survive in a world with men like Lionel Luthor. If he gave in, if he started to believe in Clark Kent, in the Alexander Luthor that Clark could make him want to be, he'd never make it. He wouldn't be able to sit here in this cold, lonely place and make the choices he had to make.

But behind the fear -- fear of change, of the unknown, of being alone -- was a growing need, a desire to believe. He wanted to believe in Clark, in what Clark believed -- in the Lex he believed in. He was starting to think that Clark was the only real thing in his life, the only person with whom he could come out from behind these walls and still be safe. Clark made him feel clean. He pulled back, breathless, and leaned forward to press his mouth along Clark's shoulder, the curve of his throat, feeling the pulse of blood under his lips. He thought maybe if he could get close enough, wrap himself in Clark, the world might make sense.

The question was whether Clark would be safe with him, in his world, with the secrets Clark was trying to protect. He didn't know what they all were yet, but he knew they were valuable. He trusted that Clark's parents had good reasons to want to keep the Luthors away.

Clark didn't fit in his world, the world he'd been groomed to inherit his whole life. Lex knew he couldn't have both, and he wasn't sure which he wanted more.

"Lex?" Clark's hands were on him, touching him, trembling, and Lex again felt that surge of protectiveness.

"It's okay," he said -- and maybe it was. Maybe if he held Clark close enough, he could save them both. Maybe he could be strong enough, when he had to be. For now, like Clark's secrets, it could wait. For tomorrow, for next week, for whenever it could no longer be ignored -- the Kents, his father...the Porsche, the doorknob, the mantle... It could all wait. He pulled Clark in for another kiss. For now, he'd let this be enough.


Notes: Merry, Naomi, Killa, torch -- you guys rock in so many ways, and it wouldn't have been as good, or as much fun, without your support and enthusiasm. Spike, thank you so much for fresh eyes and great comments. My respect for you has only increased.