The air is heavy with the smell of earth and rot. A thick pungency filling the room as Lex stands in front of the open windows of his study.
A smell now so associated with all things Smallville. After an early childhood spent primarily in the claustrophobic sprawl of cities, Lex still isn't sure if he'll ever get used to being this close to nature. Fresh air, wide open spaces, at first they made him nervous. Now they just afford him the time to think. It just goes to show how you can get used to anything if you're exposed to it for long enough.
He takes in a deep breath, window wide open, stars blinking back at him from the night sky. The only sounds he can hear are from far away, that and the smell are his only companions. A lush over-ripeness reminding him of the similarities between life and death.
He's never really thought about it before but now he realises how everything in the city is tainted. Smog-enshrouded and not until he spends time here, does he realise how claustrophobic it can be. Not that of course he'd trade that in for the world. He's by no means a country-boy and no matter how "pleasant" the scenery or how "interesting" the locals are he'd move back to Metropolis in a heart-beat if he could.
Smallville's not exactly what he's used to and Lex still can't quite get his head around the fact that the most important date on his current social calendar seems to be the local garden club's bake sale.
Such a different way of life and Lex finds himself spending more time simply observing, appreciating everything he has.
And everything he doesn't have.
Now he knows every thought begins at that same point. Clark. He knows that it's not right but he can't help but wish that every thought instead, ended with Clark. Thought and action if he's really honest with himself.
One last long breath of country air and Lex latches the window shut, keeping out the smell and noise of nature.
He takes another sip from the crystal goblet in his hand. Dark red liquid almost glowing with the small amount of light cast from the lamp sitting on top of his desk.
Lex isn't really a wine drinker, he usually prefers something stronger but he knows if he starts this early on with anything harder he'll be incoherent by later. He wants to keep his wits about him, see if he can catch Clark out, start to unravel the enigma that now seems to be bordering on full time obsession for him.
He knows there's something there, but every time he thinks he's going to get close enough it slips through his fingers, like a wisp of smoke and the harder he tries to hold it the more difficult it seems to be to grasp. Clark doesn't seem the sort to come out and simply tell him if he asked and Lex is starting to wonder if the thrill of the chase, the solving of that mystery is really the attraction.
Of course he doesn't think that for long. He knows there's more holding his attention than Clark's ability to keep his mind occupied, there's no denying he's attracted in other ways as well and doesn't that make the chase, oh so much sweeter?
Room covered in shadow, reflection flickering in the glass before him and Lex is aware of someone else entering the room. Unsure, never leaving the safety of the doorway and even if Lex couldn't see the slightly distorted reflection in the window he'd know from the movement alone that it was Clark. Long shape of his features distorted in the pane of glass, dripping like melting plastic, elongated in the glossy surface.
'Uh ... Lex'
Stuttered words, syllables almost broken and Lex swears he can hear Clark's voice hitch when he says his name. Or maybe that's just wishful thinking.
So he waits, heart beating once, and again in his chest, back still to the door and he can sense Clark's nervousness crank up a few more notches. He'll admit the boy may have changed him in some ways but nothing can erase Lex's love of the game.
'Glad you could make it, Clark.'
Even though he tries to deny it, Lex always gets THAT feeling when he sees Clark. Like the very first time they met, but the feeling still isn't being diluted, not growing weaker by any means and that thought alone worries Lex. Puts him on edge because he knows he has to concentrate hard to not make any mistakes.
To not act on his instincts.
As much as he wants nothing more, Lex is pretty sure that it would end badly for everyone involved. For everyone except his lawyer that is.
The simple concept that he's worrying about what will happen to Clark is somehow alien to him. He knows that if he told Lionel exactly what he was thinking about this under-age farm boy, his father would be disappointed and isn't that an under-statement? Not so much due to the situation itself, more because Lex is genuinely concerned for Clark's well being and Lex knows that's something his father would not approve of.
Not that Lex would ever be foolish enough to be honest with his father, he learnt at an early age that anything said with confidence to Lionel would resurface later at a generally inopportune time and Lex doesn't really want something like this used as a bargaining chip in one of his father's power plays.
This Lex doesn't make mistakes like that, he hasn't been that foolish for quite some time so he knows what to keep from his father. Same as he knows what to let filter through to Lionel. His father's not the only one who knows how to use information.
Back, now facing the window and Lex just watches him. Eyes down-turned and Clark's nervousness counters any concern that Lex would have been feeling. Makes him more confident, after all he's still a Luthor and Luthors are more at home when it comes to conquest.
'Can I get you a drink, Clark?'
Gestures with his hand, Lex knows how he'll answer but he can't quite resist seeing Clark blush again, the dark haired boy just shakes his head, bites that impossibly full bottom lip into his mouth as his cheeks are stained red.
'Your parents aren't here Clark, we're alone and you know that means you can do anything you want.'
Clark's head shooting up in surprise, eyes widening as he takes in what Lex has said.
'Don't let me stop you from having a drink, Clark, like I said your parents won't find out if you don't want them to.'
And Clark's nodding his head, unconsciously saying yes but Lex is without a doubt the answer is in fact no.
Lex doesn't belabour the point, instead he just tops up his own glass.
'You seem nervous, Clark'
Another hurried nod and then he's smiling, Lex needs another drink when he's exposed to the brightness of Clark's teeth. The fact that the boy only seems to smile like that when he's talking to Lex isn't lost on him.
Not that he's been paying that much attention of course.
'The Persians wouldn't drink wine until after the meal.' Lex swirls the blood-red liquid around in his heavy glass, captures the hint of light in it's surface, takes a long leisurely sip before he continues. 'They thought it was un-cultured, wine was made to be savoured, not to be corrupted with the taste of food. So different from the way the Greeks thought of it.'
Clark's full attention as Lex continues to speak.
'The Greeks, like Alexander, would drink at almost every opportunity, they say that they were more suspicious of drinking water, they'd mix the two. The dirtier the water, the more wine. I suppose in the harshest conditions they ended up drinking it straight.'
Lex is without a doubt he now has Clark's full attention, mouth slightly parted as he watches Lex's every move.
'A way to stay healthy.'
Clark just swallows, still not responding, hands toying with the cuff of his jacket. Not the type of cut Lex would have chosen but he thinks that if he'd offered to buy clothes for him, they'd have been sent the same way his last gift was.
Returned, note attached. Thank you, but, no thank you. Worded more politely and in Clark's hand writing but it doesn't take a genius to know who wrote that note.
Another sip of the wine, Lex leaning back against the edge of his desk.
'He was a very interesting man, Alexander. You know he was gay?'
Lex takes another mouthful of wine, heavy silence filling the room and he just waits for Clark to say something. Can see his slight uncomfortableness. Perpetual blush darkening his skin another shade, almost matching the colour of the wine Lex is drinking and that thought alone is warming him so much more than any amount of alcohol ever could.
Still no answer.
'He had lovers, it was only natural at that time. One was of noble birth, a childhood friend Hephaistion. The other was a Persian boy, Bagoas. A eunuch. The spoils of war they say, his beauty was legendary. Like most of the Persians, dark burnished skin, dark hair and hauntingly beautiful eyes. Full lips, the colour of pomegranates.'
Lex just continues to watch Clark, 'He was the son of kings, given to a King and when his land was conquered, Alexander took him in.'
'They were ... were lovers?' Even Clark can hear how young his voice sounds. He can't help but worry that no matter how hard he tries Lex will always make him sound like this. He's glad they're alone, if there was anyone else here he'd feel even more embarrassed.
The two of them, off to Metropolis. To see an exhibition on Alexander and Clark hopes that's why Lex decided on this particular conversation topic.
Lex just nods, Clark's eyes attracted to the movement of his throat, pristine and so pale as he drinks from his glass. He can't help but swallow unconsciously in response.
'But if he was a eunuch?' And he's blushing even more now, dips his head down, stares at his shoes and wishes he could take some things back. Swallow up that last infantile statement and replace it with something urbane and cultured. Something worthy of Lex.
He can hear Lex laughing, head back up as his attention is captured by the other man's movement. He watches Lex as he moves closer, when he's moving past him he can hear him speak, voice pitched low.
'There's more to love than just that Clark.'
Lex can almost smell the nervousness coming off Clark, he probably shouldn't push it but isn't that what he does best? Isn't that what he's been taught to do?
'Different customs I suppose, Like the wine.'
'Like the wine.'
Lex can hear Clark repeating what he's said, softer almost under his breath. A look of concentration on his face, Lex can tell he's thinking something through. Everything about Clark seems so innocent to Lex, reminds him of what he was never like at that age.
'Didn't they know all that wine would dehydrate them?'
Lex can't help but laugh, genuine confusion on Clark's face and isn't it so undeniably ... "Clark" to worry about something like that.
'I guess when you're conquering the world Clark, some things have to be ignored,' Lex is pleased Clark's smiling now,
'Quite an achievement really, all through Europe, Persia, India and ... beyond.'
An almost faraway statement taking over Lex's face.
'Then he stopped, it makes you wonder how different things would have been if he'd kept going.'
One last swallow and Lex drains his glass, leaves it on the polished wood surface of his desk and turns back to look at the other man. Smiles in response to the grin that he can see from Clark.
'We should be going as well, Clark.'
Taste of wine on his lips, staining them red like blood.
The colour of Clark's lips.
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