Don't Touch

by rebecca

Disclaimer: Words mine. Everything else belongs to people with much more money and power than I will ever have. Author's Notes: This story owes its existence to jc, Jul, and Random, without whom I couldn't have done this. Thank you guys. And thank you to chlaal and canadian_snoopy, both of whom beta'd this before I sent it.

In retrospect, it had been a bad idea to encourage Chloe and Lex to become friends. He'd known they would get along; he just hadn't realized how well they'd hit it off. It seemed that he never saw either of them anymore. Well, he still saw Chloe around school, but aside from that--she just wasn't around. And he barely saw Lex, even when he went to make produce deliveries.

So one Saturday in April, when he'd finished his chores and had nothing else to do, he super-sped his way up to the manor in search of Lex. Maybe Chloe'd be around too; he never knew these days. Part of him wondered if Lex and Chloe were dating. But--surely they'd have told him, right?

It was easy enough to get inside the castle; finding Lex was a bit more difficult. He wasn't in his study, or his bedroom, or the pool. Clark finally resorted to using X-ray vision and found Lex--or someone, at any rate--in a room in one of the upper levels. He frowned, bounding up the stairs. He thought he'd seen two people. Maybe Chloe was around. But why there?

As he got closer, he heard sounds coming from the other side of the door and momentarily froze. That was Chloe, all right. But she was crying out in--pain? What the hell was going on in there? He narrowed his eyes and looked through the door. Unfortunately, X-ray wasn't good for much when all he saw was Chloe leaning against the wall and Lex standing behind her. "Lex?" he called, loud enough to be heard. "Chloe?"

He heard a muttered curse from Lex before the door opened a crack. Lex stood there, dressed all in black, looking decidedly displeased. "Now is really not a good time, Clark, can you come back later?"

"What's going on?" Clark asked, blocking Lex's attempt to close the door.

"It's none of your business."

"I heard Chloe crying out--is she all right?"

"She's fine, Clark."

Clark looked more closely at Lex. Something wasn't right there. "Can I see for myself?"

"I don't think that's a good idea." Lex glanced back over his shoulder.

"Why not?" Before Lex could stop him, Clark pushed the door further open and stepped into the room--and froze.

Chloe was there, all right. She wasn't wearing any clothes, she was standing facing the wall, and her arms were chained over her head. "Lex, what the hell are you doing?" Clark demanded, noticing that Chloe's back was reddened and her hair was damp with sweat. "What's going on?"

"I'm not doing anything she doesn't want, and as I said, it's none of your business." Lex's voice was steel, without the usual covering of silk. "Now, if you would please shut the door on your way out--"

"I'm not going anywhere until you tell me what's going on," Clark insisted.

Lex sighed and rubbed a hand over his scalp. "One moment." He turned and crossed the room to Chloe, gently stroking the back of her neck and murmuring to her. Clark picked up a bit of what he was saying. "Good...good, relax, it's okay, pet." He reached up and undid the padded cuffs around her wrists, wrapping her in a soft blanket before easing her down on the ground.

"Chloe, are you all right?" Clark asked, looking over at her. To his surprise, she looked at Lex, who nodded, before answering.

"I'm fine, Clark--and I would have been finer if you and your overgrown Boy Scout mentality hadn't come bursting in here." She was shivering slightly; Lex stroked her hair absently, which seemed to relax her.

"But--what--" Clark found himself at a loss for words.

Lex smirked. "Ever hear of S&M, Clark? There's a very thin line between pain and pleasure. Some people like to blur it."

"How do I know you didn't talk her into this?" Clark asked warily.

"You don't have a very high opinion of Chloe's willpower, do you? Give her a little more credit than that, Clark."

"It's just--you can be very persuasive, and--" Clark stopped, fumbling for what he wanted to say.

"Chloe has a safe word. If it's too much, she'll use it." Lex glanced down at her, still stroking her hair. "Right, pet?"

The use of 'pet' as a term of endearment made Clark squirm a little. But Chloe didn't seem to mind. She nodded, licking her lower lip absently. "Yes, Lex," she said softly.

"I don't believe I'm seeing this," Clark muttered to nobody in particular.

"You live in Smallville, where the weirdness to normal ratio is about 10:1, and you're freaked by consensual sexual activity?" Lex raised an eyebrow. "I have to say, I'm surprised."

"It's not the same thing."

Lex shrugged easily and looked down at Chloe. He murmured something to her, too softly for Clark to hear; Chloe looked uneasy for a moment, but nodded. "Okay, Clark," Lex said, looking back at him. "You have a choice. You either leave now and never mention this again--or, to satisfy your conscience, you can stay and watch--with the provision that you do nothing but watch. Because so help me, Clark, if you interfere and Chloe gets hurt as a result, I will destroy you."

Talents and friendship aside, Clark had the uneasy feeling that Lex meant every word he said. "I'm staying," he said stubbornly.

Lex shrugged again. "Suit yourself." He knelt next to Chloe, unwrapping her from the blanket. "On your feet, pet--there you go. Are you all right?"

She nodded. "Yes, Lex," she said quietly.

"We'll start slow again--I don't want to overload you."

Clark had to repress an instinctive urge to jump up when Lex cuffed Chloe's wrists over her head again. He noticed that the cuffs were padded, and the chains attaching them to the wall were long enough that she had a bit of slack and enough length to hold on with her hands. She bent her head when Lex's hand curled around the nape of her neck. "What's your safe word, pet?" he asked quietly.

"Torch," she told him.

"Good." Lex kissed the back of her neck and moved away for a moment, picking up a soft black flogger.

Clark chewed on his lower lip. He'd said he'd stay, but watching this was making him tense as a loaded catapult. And he was more than a little embarrassed to find himself getting turned on by the whole thing. This wasn't healthy...wasn't it?

Lex trailed the lashes of the flogger over Chloe's back, making her shiver. He didn't seem to move his wrist at all, but suddenly there was a crack and it snapped down on her back, just above her right shoulder blade. Chloe whimpered, her head dropping forward. She tensed when the flogger cracked down again, slightly below the last mark.

All Clark could do was watch in growing fascination. Lex was being careful, he thought grudgingly. He wasn't letting the flogger land anywhere that would be potentially dangerous--like over her kidneys--and he wasn't leaving welts or bruises behind. And Chloe--how could she want this? It was obvious she did, from the sounds she was making, but how could Chloe of all people be attracted to this?

He didn't know how long it was before Lex set the flogger down and picked up something else--a leather strap attached to some kind of handle. When it landed across Chloe's thighs, the noise was louder and--from the mark it left--the blow was harder as well. Chloe cried out when it hit her, gripping the chains tightly. "You like this one, hmm?" Lex murmured, striking her again.

"Yes, Lex--please--" Chloe begged.

He chuckled a little and swung the strap. Clark swallowed, over in his corner. Something about the way she was begging was just an incredible turn-on, as were (much as he hated to admit it) the sound the strap made when it landed and the way her skin reddened as a result.

Chloe was panting for air by the time Lex set the strap down, kissing the back of her neck. "Can you handle more?" he asked.

She nodded, her breasts heaving as she breathed in deeply. "Yes, Lex," she said, almost pleading.

He nodded and ran a hand down her back, slapping her ass sharply. "Not too much more, pet--I've got other things in mind for you."

Chloe made a soft whimpering sound, shifting her stance a little. Clark had to do the same thing, adjusting himself in his jeans. He flushed as he did it--what if Lex saw him?--but Lex didn't even glance in his direction before picking up a whip.

At the first stroke of the whip, Chloe nearly screamed, and would have fallen to her knees if she hadn't been cuffed. Clark blinked; maybe the chains were there as much for her benefit as Lex's. He hadn't thought of that. "That's it," Lex said evenly, his face a mask of concentration. "Let it go. Let it all go."

Lex swung again and she sobbed aloud, tears running down her face. Clark dug his nails into his jeans in an attempt to stay still and not jump up and interrupt. It had been one thing to see the strap, but she was crying now. Only the knowledge that neither of them would speak to him again if he interfered kept him seated. And why was he still so damn hard?

Clark found himself counting the strokes, wincing with each one. Seven, eight, nine, ten--and then Lex stopped, putting the whip down. He rested his hands on Chloe's shoulders, murmuring to her softly. "Good girl, you did well, I'm proud of you..." Clark didn't hear all of it, but he got the gist. "I'm going to uncuff you now," Lex told her, reaching up for the clasps.

Lex moved away when Chloe's hands were free and she fell to the floor on her hands and knees, shaking, for a moment. Only a moment, though--then she sat back on her knees, her hands behind her back and her head bowed. Her hair fell forward, hiding her face. "Are you all right?" Lex asked, stopping in front of her.

She nodded, licking her lips. "Yes, Lex," she said, her voice a bit hoarse.

"Look at me, pet," he said, and Chloe obediently looked up, blinking tears away. "You've done well so far. It's time to change the pace a little." Lex smirked a bit and Clark repressed a surge of concern. What the hell did Lex have in mind now?

"Please, Lex, may I--" Chloe obviously knew where it was going, even if Clark didn't. Her eyes had lit up at his comment and she looked eager for something; what it was, Clark had no clue.

He smirked again. "So eager, aren't you, pet?"

Chloe blushed, dropping her gaze momentarily. "I didn't tell you to look away from me," Lex said mildly, and she jerked her head up. "We're going to have to work on that, I think."

"I'm sorry, Lex," Chloe said, looking embarrassed.

"You've done well today, though, so I'll overlook it for now."

"Thank you," she said softly.

He raised an eyebrow. "Thank you, Lex," she immediately amended.

Clark shook his head. It was scary, the way she jumped to do whatever he said. And yet--it was strangely arousing. What would it be like, to be under Lex's control like that? Or to control Chloe like that?

Lex regarded her for a long moment before nodding. "All right, pet. Think you can handle changing the pace a bit?"

"Yes, Lex--please?" Chloe bit her lower lip, looking up at him pleadingly.

"No hands."

Chloe nodded and--Clark's jaw dropped as she leaned forward, carefully undoing Lex's pants with her teeth. With her hands behind her back, her balance was off, and she nearly fell over before getting them open and releasing his cock. She didn't hesitate before swallowing it, her eyes half-closed in concentration.

How had Lex taught her to do that? With one movement, she'd taken him into her throat, as deep as he'd go. It wasn't like Clark had never heard of the idea before, but mostly in porn stories or smuggled copies of Playboy. He didn't think he'd ever watch Chloe eat a hot dog the same way again.

He could see the muscles in her throat working rhythmically as she swallowed, her cheeks hollowing around Lex's cock in her mouth. Lex had his hands fisted in her hair, his gaze locked on her face. Clark didn't know how to read the look on his face, but in some ways it was more arousing than Chloe kneeling on the floor.

"Enough," Lex said at last, sounding a bit strained. "I'm not done with you yet."

Chloe immediately backed off, licking her lips. Lex tucked himself back into his pants and fastened them again. "I want you on the table," he said, nodding at a large padded table by one wall. "On your back."

She stood and climbed onto the table, stretching out on her back with her arms by her sides. Lex seemed to take a moment to gather himself before walking over to her. "Do you need me to restrain you?" he asked, resting a casual hand on her stomach.

"I don't know, Lex," she said softly. "What--"

"Better to be safe than sorry then, I think," he said, ignoring her semi-question. "Stretch out, pet."

Clark noted the padded cuffs at the four corners of the table; when Chloe stretched out spread-eagled, they fit her perfectly--enough to give her a small amount of slack, but not enough to let her move. "Comfortable?" Lex asked, brushing his thumb over her lips. She sucked it into her mouth before he pulled it away.

"Yes, Lex," she said, biting her lower lip.

"Relax, pet," Lex said, sounding amused. "This won't hurt."

She smiled a little. "But what if I want it to?"

"You're getting impertinent," Lex chided. "Don't I give you what you need?"

Chloe flushed and nodded. "Always, Lex."

"Then trust me." He bent his head and kissed her lightly.

Clark swallowed, watching them. Lex opened a drawer under the table and took out a small bottle; he opened it and poured some kind of liquid into his palms. Clark sniffed; it smelled a little like jasmine.

"Your skin shines so beautifully when you're oiled," Lex murmured, sliding his hands over her body. "Such a pretty pet."

Chloe half-closed her eyes, relaxing against the table. "If I could, I'd give serious consideration to keeping you like this," Lex continued, working the oil into her skin with smooth, even strokes. "All spread out and oiled, and all mine. Of course, it'd also be tempting to put you on display, so everyone could see how beautiful you are when you're like this."

Clark shuddered. The room was definitely too warm. Yes, that was it. The heating must have been turned up too high.

"Would you like that, pet?" Lex asked softly. "Being shown off like that? I wouldn't let anyone else touch you, of course. You're mine, and I don't share."

"If it would please you, Lex," Chloe said after a moment, although her breath had caught at the idea.

He smiled. "I've trained you too well, I think. Draw your legs up a bit, pet--yes, like that, good." Lex poured more oil into his hands and kept working it into her skin. Clark wondered what, exactly, he was planning. Somehow he didn't think Lex would be content with leaving Chloe the way she was.

Even with all he'd seen, he still nearly jumped out of his skin when Lex slid one finger into Chloe. No warning, no teasing, just--one second his hand was on her thigh and the next he had one finger deep inside her and his other hand on her belly. "So wet," he murmured in approval. "You want more, don't you?"

"Yesss," Chloe hissed, her head falling back. "Please, Lex--"

"Relax, pet. I'll give you what you need." He slid a second finger inside her, stroking deep. Clark bit back a groan at the sight--Chloe, spread out and tied, her skin gleaming, with Lex's hand between her legs, fucking her with (oh, God) three fingers now. She was whimpering, her head tossing from side to side on the table.

He'd never realized what elegant hands Lex had before. Pale, slender, with long fingers (slick with a combination of oil and the silky fluid between Chloe's legs)--his jeans were definitely too tight. "Easy," Lex was murmuring; Clark tried to listen past the roaring in his ears. "Relax for me, I know you can handle it."

Chloe moaned, biting her lip. Clark saw how she tensed before forcing herself to sink into the soft pad on the table. What if she didn't want--but Lex slid another finger inside her and she cried out in pleasure. "So wet--it's like liquid silk around my hand," he said softly. "Silky hot and tight and beautiful. Can you handle the rest?"

She seemed to be beyond words; she nodded, panting. Lex didn't chide her about her lack of response; he just folded his thumb tightly against his palm and slid his hand slowly, little by little, into her.

"Good--oh, so good, pet--" Lex seemed to be having trouble keeping his voice even, but Clark didn't think Chloe noticed. He had barely noticed. God, Lex's whole hand was inside her, fucking her--the muscles in his forearm tensed as he moved his arm. Clark glanced down at his lap and was vaguely surprised to see that he was absently rubbing himself through the denim.

"Come for me, pet," Lex said, his arm moving harder and faster inside Chloe. "I can feel it building in you. Don't hold back on it--come for me."

She half-sobbed, trying vainly to arch against him. Clark nearly whimpered. "Come on, pet," Lex murmured. "Come on--"

A high, keening wail sounded from somewhere in the vicinity of Chloe's throat and she shuddered all over. Clark watched in disbelief as she slumped against the table; apparently she'd passed out.

Lex eased his hand out of her carefully and wiped it off with a towel before releasing the restraints. He watched Chloe intently until she shivered and woke, her eyes opening and looking around until they settled on Lex. She was shivering a bit; Lex snagged the blanket from before and helped her sit up, wrapping the blanket around her. "Don't try," he said, holding her in his arms. "Just relax. It's over now, I've got you. Just relax."

Chloe huddled in his arms, resting her head on his shoulder. "But--you--" she managed finally.

"We'll take care of me later. Right now I want you to just settle back into yourself. You did well, pet." Lex kissed the top of her head, stroking her hair gently.

Clark wanted desperately to find a bathroom where he could finish jerking off, but didn't want to disturb them on his way out. There was something so tender and--well, loving--about them, Lex sitting on the table and Chloe curled up half in his lap.

He had no idea how long it was before Lex tipped Chloe's chin up with a finger. "Feel better?" he asked, looking down at her face.

She nodded. "Thank you," she said softly.

He kissed her, gently but thoroughly. "How about we go get you cleaned up? Think you can walk?"

"I don't know, but I can try." Chloe smiled a little.

She'd obviously forgotten he was there, Clark realized. He was sure Lex *hadn't*, but didn't want to remind Chloe of his presence. So, no problem--he'd wait until they left and then speed back to someplace solitary. He just hoped they didn't take too long to leave.

Lex stood up, helping Chloe off the table. She stood for a second before her knees buckled; fortunately, Lex seemed to have expected it and caught her easily. "Don't even try," he said, lifting her into his arms. She wrapped her arms around his neck and leaned her head on his shoulder, closing her eyes.

He carried her out the door and down the hall; Clark didn't wait around to see what happened next. As soon as they were out of sight he sped home as fast as he could. He barely got himself out of his jeans before coming harder than he ever remembered.

Later that night, Lex showed up at the loft, his usual faintly sardonic mask in place. "Was it good for you, too?" he asked.

Clark woke up the next morning and gave serious consideration to just hiding in bed for the rest of his life. Only the realization that it was Sunday and he didn't have to see Chloe (or Lex) until the next day gave him incentive to get up. Maybe if he just pretended everything was fine on Monday?

Yeah, that was an idea. He'd just stay far, far away from the castle today and act normally when he saw Chloe in school. He hoped she would as well...

"Uh, Clark, man, I don't know what's gotten into her, but you might want to stay away from Chloe today," Pete said, glancing over his shoulder Monday morning. "She's been acting majorly weird."

Clark winced. Okay, maybe this wasn't going to just blow over. "Weird how?"

Before Pete got a chance to answer, Chloe came over to them, her eyes glinting with suppressed anger. "Clark. We need to talk. After school." She slapped him on the chest in a manner that would have been friendly had it not been hard enough to stagger him, had he been human, and strode off, not bothering to look back.

"Damn, man, what'd you do to her?" Pete asked, staring at Chloe's rapidly retreating back. "I haven't seen her that ticked since sixth grade, when Rob Gould stole her journal."

"I--uh--it's a long story, Pete," Clark said hastily. "And we'd better get to class."

The rest of the day dragged on; Lana tried to talk to Chloe at one point and came over to Clark a moment later, shaking her head. "I don't know what you did, Clark--but you'd better apologize fast, or she's liable to explode."

"I will, if she lets me." Clark winced, looking over at Chloe.

"That I can't promise you." Lana patted him on the arm. "Good luck."

Chloe met him outside school, once everyone had gone. Her arms were crossed over her chest and she looked at him with a glare that made him wonder nervously if she had any bits of meteorites on her. "What. The. Hell. Did. You. Think. You. Were. Doing?" she bit out, one word at a time.

"I was worried about you," he protested.

"I'm touched by your thoughtfulness. But did the words 'this really isn't a good time' mean nothing to you?"

"Not when I heard you crying out in pain, they didn't." Clark looked at her stubbornly.

Chloe sighed. "Clark, is Lex your friend?"

"Yes, but--"

"Do you trust him?"

"Yes, but--"

"What's with the buts here? Either you trust him or you don't."

"I do trust him. It's just that--he's older, and more experienced, and I don't want you to--well, to get hurt." Okay, so that wasn't the greatest choice of words.

"Way to go, Clark--for a moment there, you sounded almost as patronizing as my uncle Albert. Give me some credit for making my own decisions, would you?" Chloe snapped.

"Sorry," Clark mumbled.

"Why did you stay?" she asked, ignoring his apology. "What prompted that moment of sheer idiocy?"

"Uh--can I point out that Lex invited me to stay?"

"You can, and believe me, I'll take that up with him later. But why did you accept the invitation, Clark?" She hadn't calmed down any, Clark noted warily.

"I don't know," he admitted. "I'm sorry."

"You know what I think? I think you were jealous."

"What?" Clark stared at her, dumbfounded.

"I think you were jealous. I think you'd gotten used to me being always there, good old reliable Chloe, the girl next door. And it pisses you off that someone else sees me as more than that."

"Chloe, that wasn't it!"

"Wasn't it? What's wrong, Clark--you don't want me, but no one else can have me?" Chloe demanded.

"I never said that!" How had this gotten so out of control? Chloe looked ready to kill him, he noted warily. "Chloe, I think you're overreacting a bit."

"Overreacting?" She stared at him incredulously. "You come barging in on Lex and me when we're in the middle of something, you refuse to leave until you see for yourself what's going on, and then you stay--for what reason? And now you have the balls to tell me I'm overreacting?" Her voice had climbed dangerously high, he noticed. "Go to hell, Clark--and don't ever talk to me again unless you're ready to apologize." Chloe turned on one heel.

"Chloe, wait! I didn't mean--"

She spun around, glaring. "Didn't mean what, Clark?"

He had no idea. But he didn't want her to leave when she was this upset with him. "I--" he started, not sure of what to say.

"Don't even try, Kent." She strode off purposefully, ignoring his attempts to call after her.

Clark saw her head for a car that looked like one of Lex's. And--yes, it was Lex. He was lounging against the hood, arms folded over his chest. Chloe stopped short of him, glaring at him with an intensity Clark could see even from where he stood.

He couldn't hear what they said to each other; he was too far away. But he saw Chloe gesturing angrily and Lex remaining still; obviously they were having an argument of some kind. He had a sinking feeling he knew what it was about.

They stood outside the car for about twenty minutes; Chloe's anger seemed to peak after about ten or so and from then on it was just her cooling down. She eventually calmed enough to smile and nod at something Lex said, after which they got in the car and drove off. Clark guessed they were headed for the castle.

He couldn't help it; he followed them back to the manor, making sure they didn't see him. Chloe still looked upset, but not as much as she had. From a vantage spot behind the gates, he watched Lex park the car and turn to Chloe, brushing a thumb over her cheek gently. She smiled a little and leaned into the touch before saying something that made Lex smirk and draw back.

They got out of the car and went into the manor, Chloe's arm loosely linked through Lex's. When had they gotten so comfortable with each other? Clark knew from experience that Lex wasn't the biggest fan of casual contact, yet he seemed to have no problems with being attached to Chloe. When had that happened? For that matter, when had this whole thing between them started?

Caught up in his own thoughts, he looked back and saw that they'd disappeared inside the mansion. He focused and used X-ray vision to scan for them, finding them in Lex's study. Perfect--it had big windows and a handy tree he could hide in. They'd never notice him. So he ignored the little voice that told him he was seriously breaking all kinds of friendship rules and climbed up the tree, settling comfortably against the trunk. He couldn't hear anything, but he could see it all.

Chloe was facing Lex, arms crossed over her chest. She had the 'I know you're full of shit but I'll let you get away with it' look on her face Clark knew only too well. As he watched, Lex said something and she laughed, nodding and dropping her arms. He reached out and brushed a thumb over her cheekbone in the same gesture he'd used earlier.

Clark watched, wondering what they were saying. It didn't seem to be anything important; Chloe was laughing and Lex had a smile on his face. Or something closer to a smile than Clark normally saw from him, anyway. After a couple of moments of conversation, Lex drew Chloe closer, settling his hands on her waist. She leaned against him for a minute before jerking back at something he'd murmured.

From the surprised look on her face, Lex had said something she hadn't expected. She gestured toward the window in rebuttal--Clark froze for a moment, afraid they'd seen him. But neither of them moved toward it, and Chloe turned back to Lex, so Clark relaxed minutely.

Lex crossed the room and sat on one of the couches, watching Chloe with a look on his face Clark couldn't read. Attraction, yes, and--amusement? Maybe. But he wasn't laughing at her, and she seemed amused as well. She started walking toward him, slowly, unbuttoning her shirt as she went.

Oh. Well. Suddenly the whole thing made more sense.

She was wearing a button-down green shirt over jeans and a white tank top. As Clark watched, she unbuttoned the shirt and let it fall off her shoulders. She was still wearing a simple tank top and jeans, yet Clark already felt himself growing hard. Since when had he started seeing Chloe as sexy?

Instead of reaching for the tank top next, she bent and removed her sandals, kicking them to one side. The view Clark had gave him an excellent picture of Chloe's jeans stretched tightly over her butt as she bent over; he wondered if Lex saw it as well, because Chloe was taking her time standing up.

As she straightened up, she continued the stretch, pulling her tank top off over her head in one smooth motion. She stayed like that for a moment before dropping the white top behind her. Clark shifted uneasily, his mouth growing dry--especially when Chloe ran her hands over her body, her eyes half-closing. When the hell had she learned this?

Chloe reached behind her and unhooked her bra, letting it fall off her shoulders slowly, one inch at a time. Instead of pulling it off, she bent forward, letting her breasts hang free and the bra fall to the floor before standing up. She had really nice breasts, Clark thought muzzily. Soft and round, with pink nipples that were already hard. He swallowed and shifted again.

From the intent look on Lex's face, he was enjoying the show as much as Clark was. His eyes were locked on Chloe, following every movement of her hands. And Chloe--damn, she'd picked up a few tricks somewhere he didn't really want to know about. She was teasing Lex, running one finger down her stomach, stopping just short of the waistband of her jeans, smoothing her other hand over her hips.

Lex said something and she laughed, unbuttoning her jeans and unzipping them--Clark thought that if she'd been moving any more slowly the sun would have set by the time she got her jeans off. Chloe pushed them off, lazily, eventually stepping out of them and kicking them to one side. She stood in front of Lex, clad in a pair of green lace panties that left her looking more erotic than if she'd been nude.

Clark bit his lip, one hand reaching down to free himself from his jeans. Lex made a gesture with his hand and Chloe hooked her thumbs under her panties, taking them off. She had a small tattoo on her right hip; Clark frowned, but couldn't make it out. He was amazed by how self-assured she was, looking utterly unconcerned with the fact that she wasn't wearing anything and Lex was still completely dressed.

Chloe dropped to her knees in front of Lex, resting her hands on his thighs. She bent her head and rubbed her cheek against his groin--like a cat, Clark thought. But when she would have undone his pants, he stopped her, taking her wrists in his hands and holding them down on the couch.

Lex said something else and Chloe smiled. There was nothing submissive about her attitude--and yet, as Clark made his grip on the branch relax before he broke it, she was kneeling at his feet, nude, and beginning to undress him. How did she do that?

He stopped her when she'd gotten everything off but his pants. She looked up at him in confusion for a moment, but straddled his lap when he tugged her upwards. Kneeling as she was, her breasts were right by his mouth--a fact Lex took full advantage of, wrapping his arms around her and holding her so he could play with her breasts all he wanted.

Lucky bastard, Clark thought, watching Chloe squirm. He stopped, shaking his head mentally. He didn't want Chloe. Really. But--Lex had one of her nipples in his mouth and one hand on her ass, and she was biting her lip and looking incredibly wanton and--Clark groaned, shifting his grip on the branch to his left hand so his right could deal with his cock.

Chloe stopped Lex for a moment, shifting position to undo his pants. Lex nibbled her neck and let her, although he still had his hands on her body. She kissed him, briefly--right before she took him inside her. Clark's cock jumped, wishing it was inside Chloe as well.

Oddly, neither of them seemed in a hurry. They rocked together in a slow, easy rhythm, Chloe's hands on Lex's shoulders and his hands on her ass. Chloe's eyes were closed and her head tilted back, exposing the smooth, clean line of her throat. Clark found himself stroking his cock to their rhythm, unable to look away.

After what seemed like forever, Chloe began moving faster on Lex's cock; his grip shifted to her hips, pulling her down deeper even as she rode him. Clark couldn't hear the noises they were making, but his brain helpfully filled in the soundtrack with memories of what Chloe had sounded like on Saturday. Soft whimpers and moans and pleas and the slick wet sounds of Lex inside her, only it wasn't his fist now, it was his cock, hard and hot, and Clark closed his eyes and shuddered and came all over himself with the image of Lex's cock inside Chloe burned into his brain.

When he'd recovered sufficiently to be able to open his eyes, he looked down at the study again. Lex and Chloe were still moving together; as he watched, Chloe tensed suddenly, her small white teeth digging into her lip as she came, shuddering against Lex, who came right after she did, head thrown back and mouth half-open.

Clark watched as they stayed entwined, Lex's hand curled around the back of Chloe's neck, drawing her down into a deeper, more thorough kiss. She pulled away, moving as if to get up, but Lex said something and she smiled, staying where she was.

He was suddenly acutely aware of the mess he'd made of himself. Clark stripped off his flannel shirt and used it to clean up a bit before tucking himself back into his jeans and climbing down the tree. The branch creaked a bit as he did; he looked at it and realized he'd bent it away from the trunk with his grip. His face grew warm; next time, he'd have to be more careful.

He was halfway home before a thought occurred to him. 'Next time?' Hell--he was in serious trouble.

Chloe wasn't speaking to him, apparently; she flat-out ignored his presence in school, going so far as to walk away whenever he came near. Since Clark couldn't look at her without getting hard (skin gleaming with sweat and oil, face flushed as she rode Lex's cock), he was just as grateful for the cold shoulder.

Lunch would have been more difficult if Chloe hadn't decided to take pity on Pete (he had no illusions she was doing it for his sake) and vanish into the Torch's office with her food. Pete looked at Clark, his face openly curious. "I take it yesterday didn't go so well?" he asked.

"Uh, no." Clark stabbed his straw into his milk carton with a bit more force than necessary; the carton exploded all over the table. "I--guess that was defective," he said, grabbing napkins to wipe up the mess (his come spattered over his chest, sitting on the branch outside Lex's window).

"Right. Clark--are you and Chloe dating or something? Cause I gotta tell you, man, there are some seriously strange vibes going on between the two of you."

"No, nothing like that. Please, she won't even speak to me." Clark tossed the soggy mass of napkins in the trash and stared down at his lunch, afraid to meet Pete's eyes.

"Then what is going on?"

Well, Pete, I walked in on Chloe and Lex in the middle of an S&M scene and stayed, and then yesterday I spied on them having sex--no, that probably wouldn't go over too well. "We had a--disagreement," he said glumly.

"Clark. I could tell that much from the ice in the air between you two. What was it about?"

"Um--it's a long story, and I don't know if Chloe'd appreciate me telling you, so can we just leave it at that?"

Pete looked at him strangely for a moment, but finally shrugged. "Yeah, okay."

"Thanks." Clark sighed in relief.

He didn't even bother trying to talk to Chloe after school, choosing to go home and zip through his chores instead. His mother tried to talk to him but he pleaded homework and escaped to the loft. He was not going to go in search of Lex. He just wasn't.

(Lex's face, slack with orgasm, his hand slippery from Chloe--God, his hand inside her, the way he'd looked at her, kneeling by his feet--) Clark cut off that train of thought as soon as he could.

By the time he did, he was halfway to the manor.

"Really freaking...yeah...I know..."

Clark shook his head. That sounded like Chloe, but from here? He was only picking up bits and pieces, too. What the hell?

As he got closer to the castle, he heard more. "You, on the other hand--don't even give me that innocent look, I know you better than that!" Chloe was--teasing Lex?

"I wouldn't dream of it."

Clark sat down on the ground in confusion. Great, now he was hearing things. Was this another one of his abilities no one had bothered to tell him about? (Okay, so no one knew what they were until they manifested. Minor detail, that.) He frowned in concentration, trying to focus.

"So now Pete thinks that we're both on crack and Lana keeps trying to smooth things over. And I can't even look at him without my vision going red. This is all your fault."

"I'm not denying that, Chloe, but I did apologize."

"I'm not mad at you." There was a slight pause; Clark wondered why. "Okay, I'm not mad at you anymore."

"But you're still mad at Clark."

"I think I have a right to be!"

"Easy, Chloe, I'm not saying you don't."

"Thanks, so much."

Clark heard laughter--when was the last time he'd heard Lex laugh? "Come here, sweetheart."

"Yes dear."

He couldn't take it anymore; he sped over to the mansion, finding Lex and Chloe in the study. Now he could see and hear. Suppressing the whisper of conscience, he settled into the tree again, moving fast enough that all they would have seen (had they looked outside) was a rustle in the leaves.

Chloe was sitting on Lex's lap, her head against his shoulder. He had some kind of drink in one hand and was idly rubbing her back with the other. "Let me have a sip of that?" she asked, reaching for his glass.

"You won't like it," Lex told her with a half-smirk.

"I don't care." She took the glass and drank, wrinkling her nose. "You're right, I don't. What is that again?"

"Scotch and soda. Took me a while to get used to it, too."

"He won't tell me, but I'm sure he thinks you're controlling me in some way," Chloe said abruptly. "Because God forbid I might want to just--let go."

Letting go? Was that what this was all about? It didn't make sense. (Her head thrown back in total abandon, coming so hard she blacked out, trusting Lex to bring her back)

"Our dear Clark has much to learn about the ways of men and women and the games they play," Lex remarked. "I could show--"

"Don't you dare!" Chloe was off his lap and halfway across the room in an instant. "Once was enough!"

"Chloe, I wasn't seriously considering it. Besides--Clark's too naive for my tastes, and even if he wasn't, I don't share. You're mine, pet." Lex's voice had deepened a bit, reminding Clark uncomfortably of Saturday.

"What about you?" she demanded, head cocked to one side. "You won't share me, but--"

"I think you misunderstood me. When I say I don't share, I meant it. I won't share you with anyone else and I won't share myself with anyone else, either."

She smiled a bit, but didn't go back over to him. "All mine?" she asked softly.

Lex just smiled. "Come back over here, pet."

"Why should I?"

God, this branch was going to break right off the tree if he wasn't careful.

"Because I said so."

Chloe raised an eyebrow. "That so?"

"Oh, you're going to be that way about it today?" Lex sounded faintly amused.

"Maybe I don't want to play."

"Maybe you need to."

Clark tensed, ready to jump off the branch and run inside. He knew he hadn't been completely wrong; there was something dark going on between Lex and Chloe. Just the way he was telling her what to do was proof of that. He had to keep watching, to make sure everything was all right.

Christ, he'd been lying to everyone for so long he was getting good at lying to himself. Admit it, Clark--he was there because he wanted to be, because the thought of seeing Chloe and Lex together gave him a hard-on, and because watching them was hotter than anything he'd ever dreamed.

"Maybe you need to," Chloe countered.

If they ever found out about this, neither one of them would ever speak to him again. Not that he could blame them. After the way he'd treated Chloe over looking into his adoption records, and now this--he felt like such a hypocrite.

It didn't make him leave.

Lex hadn't moved from his spot on the couch. "Maybe we're both a little tense over this--trouble--with Clark," he suggested.

"Gee, you think?" Chloe sighed and went back over to Lex, settling herself on his lap. "He has one justifiable argument in his favor, and it's not even a good one."

"What's that?" Lex murmured, massaging the base of her neck.

"I should have--well, one of us should have told him when this thing started." She closed her eyes, leaning into his touch. "I'll give you a month to stop doing that," she mumbled.

"True. But it doesn't excuse his behavior."

If they only knew... Then again, this was one of those secrets no one was going to know about. Not even his parents--God, especially not his parents! The thought alone almost made him fall off his branch.

"Mmmm." Chloe was practically purring.

"Come upstairs with me and I'll give you a real massage," Lex said, his voice gentle.

"Mmm." She smiled. "Why are you so good to me?"

"I have to do something to counterbalance my evil bastard reputation," he said lightly.

She smacked him. "Seriously, Lex. Why?"

He smiled a little. "I take care of what's mine," he told her.

Somehow, he'd made it home without either of them becoming alarmed. Inwardly, though, he was worried--and confused. Chloe had said, a while ago, that she didn't plan on changing her name when she got married. She'd disdained the tradition of wives 'belonging' to their husbands as an outdated ridiculous custom. And now, here she was, not minding at all that Lex considered her to be his. His pet, his--lover? Girlfriend? He didn't know. And with her not speaking to him, he couldn't exactly ask.

For a moment he considered asking Lex, then gave up on that idea as well. Lex had every right to tell him to butt out and no reason at all to explain his actions. But Clark was worried. It wasn't that he didn't trust Lex, it was--

--that he didn't know what kind of hold he had over Chloe and he was concerned on her behalf. Which was a nice way of saying he didn't trust Lex.

There was really no way out of this situation. He couldn't say anything to Chloe without revealing he'd been spying, and he couldn't just leave it alone in case something was wrong. So the only thing to do was to keep an eye on the two of them and make sure everything was okay.

Great. He'd just rationalized spying on two of his best friends in general and their sex life in particular. Could his life possibly be any more screwed up?

It took him several days before he considered his hearing to be anything close to under control. One moment he'd be fine and the next he'd be deafened by a bird chirping. School was hell on earth until he managed to figure out a way to control his hearing, and he'd learned all kinds of things about his parents that he really, really hadn't wanted to know.

Fine-tuning his hearing was more difficult than his sight had been; he eventually resorted to visualizing a big pair of ears pointed at whatever he wanted to hear in order to make it work. His distance control was still shaky, but if he concentrated, he could hear all the way to Lex's manor from the loft.

It came in handy when he was doing homework.

Between chores, homework, school, and the like, he didn't have much time to check in (spy) on Lex and Chloe. He'd made it up to the manor a couple of times, but generally just found them hanging out or working together. Clark noted with amusement that they had matching laptops; seeing them in Lex's study, both typing away, made him laugh.

Chloe had developed a habit of stretching out with her head in Lex's lap when she wasn't working. Clark had thought Lex would tell her to move, but he seemed comfortable with it, often stroking her hair or her neck idly. He was still surprised by how easily--and how often--Lex touched her. It was almost as if he was reassuring himself she was there.

In school, meanwhile, Chloe had apparently decided to forget the whole mess, although she clearly hadn't forgiven him. She acted as if nothing had happened--except when they were alone (a situation she allowed to happen as little as possible). Clark was hoping she'd cool down eventually; whatever her faults, Chloe had never been one to hold a grudge for long.

Then again--did he really want her to forgive and forget? He didn't deserve it. She didn't know he was still watching her when he could, and he didn't have any reasons to justify his behavior, other than ones she'd slap him for. Maybe it was just as well she was barely talking to him. He couldn't even look at her without flushing and feeling an unsettling combination of guilty, embarrassed--and turned on.

In his moments of conscience, he tried to rationalize what he was doing. He wanted to make sure Chloe was all right, after all. And Lex, for that matter--there was something in the way he looked at Chloe, in the way he touched her, that made Clark think uneasily that maybe Chloe wasn't the one he should be worried about.

Most of the time, though, he suppressed the little nagging voice and went on watching. It was wrong, he knew it was wrong, and he could no more stop than he could hurt himself with a pair of scissors.

He almost confided in Lana. Not about the whole spying thing, of course--she would have killed him, and rightfully so. But he did consider talking to her about his reservations regarding Lex and Chloe as a couple. It would have been easier to do if he'd known whether or not she even knew about them. He didn't think she did.

"Why the long face, Clark?" Lana asked, dropping into a chair next to his. Friday night, and the Talon was busy--he'd gone there half-hoping to see Chloe and half-praying she didn't show up.

"Huh?" He looked up from contemplating his coffee, startled. "Sorry, I was just--thinking."

"Anything in particular/"

He decided on a half-truth. He was getting scarily good at those. "I was just wondering what Chloe's been up to lately," he said. "I haven't seen her around much."

"Is she even talking to you?" Lana asked wryly.

"Not if she can help it," Clark admitted.

"Well--looks like you're about to get a chance to find out." Lana nodded toward the door; he looked over and saw Chloe. She was alone for once, with her bag slung over her shoulder, and as he watched, she got herself a drink and scanned the room for a place to sit. Before he could stop her, Lana waved at Chloe, inviting her over. "Chloe, how are you?" she asked. "I haven't seen you around in a while."

"Yeah--it's that time of year and all." Chloe smiled at Lana, managing to convey total disinterest in Clark's presence. "I finally managed to take a night off."

Lana laughed. "Don't I wish." She winced at the sound of something breaking and rose. "That's my cue--I'll see you later!"

"I'm surprised to see you alone," Clark said when it looked like Chloe wasn't about to walk off.

She raised an eyebrow coolly. "Despite what you think, he's not my keeper," she said, sipping her coffee.

"I didn't mean that." Well, maybe he didn't.

"Mm-hmm." Chloe pulled a book out of her bag and began reading, for all intents and purposes engrossed in--Clark craned his neck--_All the President's Men_.

Was it worth it to try and talk to her? He drummed his fingers on the table, trying to decide. Chloe shot him a sidelong glance and he stopped. "Sorry," he apologized sheepishly.


"Chloe--are you going to ignore me forever?" he blurted finally. Well, that hadn't been what he'd wanted to say, but it wasn't like he could take it back now. For all his powers, time travel *wasn't* one of them.

She looked up at that, marking her place in the book and setting it aside. "I don't know, Clark, should I?"

Based on his activities--yes. Based on what she knew--"Chloe, I made a mistake, and I'm sorry. I just--"

"Well, hi there," Lex said, strolling over to them. "Am I interrupting anything?"

Chloe shook her head, tucking her book back in her bag. "No, not at all. I didn't expect to see you here tonight."

"Neither did I, but I figured a thirteen-hour workday was enough for once. Might I steal a sip of your coffee?" he asked Chloe. "I think I might fall asleep right here if I don't get some caffeine in my system."

She laughed and handed it over. Clark watched moodily, reflecting that he now knew what authors meant when they said people 'lit up' around other people. It was like there was a light bulb inside Chloe's head--one that only turned on when Lex was near. He didn't trust it.

"Bless you, I think you may have just saved my life." Lex gave her a 'public' smile (as opposed to the real ones he gave her when they were alone) and nodded at Clark. "Is this seat taken?" he asked about what had been Lana's seat.

"It was Lana's, but she ran off, so it's all yours now," Clark told him.

"Thank you." Lex sank into the seat and sighed, leaning his head back against the cushioning.

"You know, I'm not so sure I want to let you drive home tonight," Chloe said, studying him. "Smallville has enough weird car accidents without adding fatigue-induced ones into the mix."

As Clark watched in disbelief, Lex fished his car keys out of a pocket and dropped them on the table in front of Chloe. "Whether or not I'm safer with you behind the wheel is another matter," he said wryly.

"*I'm* not the one who drove his car off a bridge."


"Lex, I didn't think you'd stop by tonight!" Lana said cheerfully, hurrying back over to them. "Can I get you anything?"

"No, thanks--I'm fine. A few hours of sleep and I'll be good as new." Lex ran a hand over his head and offered Lana a half-smile.

"All right." Lana grinned. "I'd love to stay but I'm needed up front, so I'll see you all later." She hurried off, stopping to talk to a table of customers on her way.

Chloe shook her head, reaching for her mug again. "Welcome to the wonderful world of Lana Lang, where energy is more abundant than oxygen and sarcasm is an almost foreign concept."

"We can't all be wisecracking cynics," Clark retorted, a bit more sharply than perhaps he should have.

"Okay, Clark, who pissed in your Wheaties?" Chloe asked dryly. "You ever hear of a concept called a joke?"

"I didn't think that one was funny."

"Right." She looked at him a moment later before standing and picking up Lex's keys. "Come on, oh somnambulant one, let's get you home before I turn into a pumpkin."

Yes. Good--them leaving was good. That way he didn't have to constantly worry about betraying himself with something one of them had said to the other. Maybe he could have a normal night for once.

Lex smirked and stood, nodding at Clark. "Come by the castle sometime this weekend, if you want. Sunday would be good."

Oh, he'd definitely be there. Later Friday night, and Saturday--and Sunday, too, if he could. He just didn't trust the vibes between them. He was looking out for his friends. And damnit, he was horny.

"Night, Clark." Chloe slung her bag over her shoulder and turned to go. As she and Lex left, Clark noticed that his hand was flat against the small of her back; a subtle, possessive gesture. He bristled at the sight.

Focusing his hearing was difficult, but he managed to pick up on what they were saying. "I thought you didn't have a curfew on weekends," Lex was murmuring as they neared the door.

Chloe grinned and opened it. "I don't."

Clark headed over to the manor Sunday afternoon, for once taking his time in walking over. It was a gorgeous end-of-April day--sunny, warm, with just enough of a breeze to keep it from being overly hot. He wasn't entirely surprised to find Lex outside, working on his laptop with a tall glass at his elbow--although he was a little startled to see him in jeans and a blue shirt; Clark had begun to wonder if Lex owned anything casual that wasn't black.

"Clark, hi," Lex said as he approached. "You've arrived just in time to keep me from spending my entire Sunday working."

"Didn't anyone introduce you to the concept of weekends off?" Clark asked, rolling his eyes. He sat down on another chair, hands dangling between his knees.

"They did, but I'm afraid it didn't stick." Lex closed the computer and set it aside. "Do you want anything to drink?"

"No, I'm all right."

Lex nodded, looking thoughtful. "I hate this phrase, but--we need to talk, Clark."

Oh shit. Lex knew about him. Or his abilities. Or--he was so dead. "Uh--what about?" he asked.

"Relax, Clark, I'm not going to bite." Lex smirked a bit and took a drink from his glass. "Only Chloe gets that privilege--and that's what this is about, really."

"Oh?" Please, let that not have sounded as strangled as it felt.

"She and I--talked yesterday," Lex admitted.

"I'm sorry." That came out before he'd realized he meant to say it. But then again, he knew from experience that having a discussion with Chloe could be (and often was) less preferable than a root canal. Well, if he could have root canals.

"Hey, I'm still in one piece." Lex shrugged and set his glass down. "Look, Clark--my private life is just that. I passed the point of needing to justify my actions to anyone a while ago. And Chloe's past the age of consent. So whatever we do is our business." He stood, shoving his hands into his pockets. "On the other hand, you're a good friend to both of us, and I can understand why you'd be concerned. So we reached a compromise."

"You did," Clark said weakly. He had no idea where this was going, and he was half-afraid of finding out.

Lex nodded. "Mm-hmm. Chloe wasn't too happy about it, but--as I said, I'm still in one piece."

"So--uh--what did you decide?" His voice hadn't cracked in four years; maybe there was something caught in his throat.

"You have to understand something, Clark." Lex came around in front of his chair and sat down again. "We didn't keep this quiet from you. We kept it quiet from everyone. Her father works for me, she's still in high school, and you know what the Luthor name means around here. Now imagine the publicity resulting from this situation."

"I'd--never thought about that," Clark said slowly. He hadn't, either.

"You're still the only one who knows, and that's only because you walked in at an--inopportune moment, shall we say?"

His cheeks flamed red and he nodded. "Yeah. Sorry about that."

Lex shrugged dismissively. "I'm not the one you need to apologize to. And believe me, Chloe tore strips off my back for encouraging the situation." He smiled a little. "But--tell me something, Clark. Would you still be as upset if you'd walked in on two people who were simply in bed together? Or was it the situation itself that gave you pause?"

"The situation. I heard Chloe cry out, and I thought something was wrong, and--" Clark looked down at the ground.

"Fair enough." Lex paused for a moment, as if considering how to say something. "Did you ever go looking up sex sites on your computer?"

"A few times," he admitted. "But I never came up with anything like--like what I saw."

"How you avoided it is beyond me--it must be one of those Clark Kent weirdnesses." Lex shook his head a little. "Do you know the term sadomasochism?"

"I do now." Okay, so he'd done some research after walking in on them.

"Oh good, I'm not starting from square zero." Lex rubbed a hand over his head and looked up at Clark. "There's nothing wrong with it, Clark. Between two consenting adults, it can be an incredible experience."

"I can get that here--" he tapped his head. "But I still don't see how people can enjoy being hurt. It just seems wrong."

"They're called endorphins, Clark. Ever hear of things like 'runner's high'?" Lex stood again, pacing a bit. It was an oddly nervous gesture for him.


"Some people experience pain as a pleasurable experience. Others can be taught to do so."

"I get all this. But why you and Chloe? Did you talk her into this or something?" Oh shit. That really wasn't the best thing to say.

Lex whipped around and looked at him. "Clark, this was her idea," he said, his voice oddly gentle.

He thought his jaw dropped about two feet. He was certain he stared at Lex blankly for a minute before gathering his composure. "What?" he managed at last. "Chloe--but--she--"

"Do you honestly think so little of me that you think I'd talk her into this?" Lex asked, although his anger seemed muted--resigned, almost.

"No, but--I didn't think she knew--" Clark stopped, shaking his head. "How?"

"Chloe would seem to be a bit more adventurous than you about Internet sites," Lex said wryly. "She'd done some reading, and was intrigued by the possibility. There aren't many things I *haven't* done, so I agreed to try it with her."

"And...she liked it."

Lex nodded. "She did."

That was the part he couldn't get his head around. Chloe--fiercely independent, stubborn Chloe, enjoying a situation where she had to follow orders and not question them? And being hurt into the bargain? It didn't mesh with his perception of her.

"Everything in life is about control," Lex said thoughtfully. "Whether you have it or not. Sometimes--sometimes, people need to just let go of it. Everyone has their own way of doing that."

He could understand that. All those nights he went out for a run and ended up counties (or even states) over gave him a sense of freedom he didn't get anywhere else. It was so good, so necessary to just drop the lies and the secrets and be who he was sometimes. "So Chloe's way of letting go is to let you hurt her?" he asked, dragging his mind back to the present. That he still didn't believe.

"No. Her way of letting go is to submit to me."

"What about you, Lex? What's your way of letting go?" Clark asked impulsively.

For a minute, he didn't think Lex was going to answer him. But eventually, Lex rubbed a hand over his head and half-smiled. "I have Chloe," he said quietly. "That's all I need."

"Does--does she know?" Clark asked at last.

"Know what?"

"That you're in love with her."

Lex froze for a moment before lowering himself into his seat. "Probably," he said. "She's rather perceptive about things like that."

"Yeah, she is." Clark smiled a little. "I'd do the whole 'if you hurt her I'll kill you' thing but I don't think I have a right to, for one--and believe me, she'd do a better job of it than I ever would, if it came to that."

That made Lex wince, a wry smile on his face. "Believe me, Clark--I value my health too much to hurt her."

Clark suddenly remembered Lex telling him 'I'd do anything to protect my friends'. He wondered how much more Lex would do to protect the woman he loved. Something told him uneasily he never wanted to find out.

Which meant he needed to stop watching them. Just--stop. Cold. He knew now that Lex loved her, and while he wasn't sure about Chloe's feelings, he was pretty sure she returned them. No problem, no dark undercurrents--so no need to watch.

Easier said than done.

"Clark?" Lex was saying, and Clark realized he'd gotten lost in his own guilty thoughts. "Earth to Clark, you out there?"

"Sorry--I got lost in thought for a moment."

"It happens." Lex drained his glass and set it down. "So. You want to play pool?"

Even after what he'd learned, even after knowing there was nothing to worry about between them, with no justifications whatsoever for his behavior--even after all that, he couldn't stay away. So he settled into the tree with a load of guilt on his back and the sinking feeling that he was caught in a trap he couldn't escape. Then again--he'd been stuck in this one since that ill-fated Saturday.

There was just something about the ability to watch them--Lex, always so reserved and cool in public, and Chloe, eternally flippant and cynical. But when it was just them, Chloe was softer, less wisecracking and more--gentle, maybe? He wasn't sure. And Lex--it was like watching a wall just disappear. Even his posture seemed to loosen up, as if he could only relax around Chloe.

But it was more than that. It was a glimpse into something he'd never have. He might be naive, but he wasn't blind. Clark knew the chances of him being able to have a 'normal' relationship were pretty slim, if not nonexistent. When he watched Lex and Chloe, he could pretend, for a few hours, that he wasn't destined to be the outsider. It was vicarious, but it was also all he'd ever have. And that, more than anything, was what kept him coming back.

No matter how he felt about Lana, or (given what he'd learned) Chloe, or (even more surprisingly) Lex, he was never going to be able to relax and just be with them. Even if they knew his secrets, he couldn't relax. There was always the danger of accidentally putting his hand through a wall, or ripping the door off its hinges when he opened it, or something. And then whoever he was with would have to worry about keeping his secrets. He'd seen what his parents had gone through to protect him; was it really fair to put anyone else through that?

It still didn't justify his actions, but he didn't think anything would.

Inside the study, Lex and Chloe were talking; between the darkness outside and the dim lights inside, Clark couldn't see as much. But he could hear just fine.

"So what'd you tell him?" Her voice was a little tighter than usual, and she wasn't in her usual spot on the couch. Clark thought she was over by the pool table, but his view of that was blocked.

"What we talked about." Sounds of Lex walking across the room, then the dry slide of skin on skin--his hands on her arms, Clark thought. "Nothing more."

"How'd he take it?"

"If I told you he was fascinated and wanted to join us, would you believe me?"

"Hmm. I think that goes somewhere on my list of 'you'd better be kidding or I'll shove this cue ball--'" Chloe cut off, laughing and smacking at Lex's hands. "Don't tickle me!" she squeaked.

"How many times do I have to remind you I don't share?" he murmured, apparently stopping.

"I like hearing it." Clark heard the gentle clack of pool balls and wondered if Chloe was actually playing pool or just rolling the balls around. God, now there was a loaded thought.

"Who would have thought that Miss Chloe Margaret Sullivan, staunch feminist and independent woman extraordinaire, gets so much pleasure out of belonging to someone?" Lex asked lightly. "If I'd known earlier--"

"You'd have what, Lex? Seduced a sixteen-year-old girl whose dad was one of your employees?"

"I was thinking more along the lines of bought you a collar earlier in this relationship."

Damnit, why couldn't he see? Chloe had gone oddly quiet, and Lex wasn't making a sound. "Oh," Chloe said at last, breathlessly. "Well then."

"Would you like that?" Lex asked softly; his voice was muffled, as if he was talking into something. Chloe's neck, maybe? Clark couldn't see. "Wearing my collar?"

She made a soft sound in her throat. "Um. Can I think about that? My instinctive response is 'God, yes', but--then I get into thinking about for how long and in public and my brain kind of melts."

Lex laughed; Clark heard the soft sound of his lips against her skin. "Just an idea, pet."

"Lex--I'm--not tonight, please?" Chloe asked. "I'm--too wound up, I can't let it go."

"It's all right. Come sit with me." They moved back into Clark's line of sight, settling down on the couch; Chloe settled at Lex's feet and Clark wondered why until he saw Lex's hands on her shoulders. "You need to relax, Chloe," Lex said quietly, beginning to work at her muscles.

She sighed. "I know, I know--I'm just--I don't want to be angry with him anymore. And he did apologize. But now I look at him and I feel guilty. Like I did something wrong."

He kissed the top of her head. "Misplaced guilt does not suit you."

"It doesn't suit most people, unless they're martyrs in training."

Martyr in training. Now there was a concept no one had applied to him before. What was the definition of a martyr, anyway? He'd have to look it up when he got home. Not that he suffered from misplaced guilt--all of his was right where it belonged.

"I'm sorry, Lex," Chloe said after a minute. "I'm just not good company tonight. Too edgy, I guess."

"It's all right." Lex kissed the top of her head again. "Want me to take you home?"

She shook her head. "Take me to bed. Just to sleep." Chloe tilted her head back, looking up at Lex. "I want you to hold me all night long."

It took a moment before Lex answered her. "I can do that."

The advantage to castles, Clark reflected, was that they had all sorts of turrets and ledges and things he could hide on. He couldn't quite leap over the castle--but he could jump to a spot that allowed him to see into Lex's bedroom.

He spent all night stretched out on the ledge, watching them sleep.

Chloe looked tired the next day; her hair was less flippy than usual and she didn't have her usual bounce (for lack of a better term). "Hey, you okay?" Clark asked during lunch.

"Hm? Yeah. I'm fine--just tired. Didn't sleep all that well last night."

Odd; from what he'd seen she'd been sound asleep from the time her head hit the pillow to the time Lex's alarm went off and he kissed her awake. "I--uh--spoke to Lex yesterday," Clark said awkwardly.

"Yeah. I know." Chloe twisted the cap off her water bottle and looked at him, as if waiting for him to say something else.

"Um--I was--I know your dad doesn't know about this, but what have you told him?" Clark asked; it was the first thing that came to mind.

Chloe smiled a little. "My dad thinks that Lex is paying me to be his research assistant on some kind of project he's working on. Said project requires lots of my time--but it's such a fortunate thing that the manor has so many spare bedrooms, isn't it?"

"He's paying you?" Clark was stunned.

"What?" Chloe dropped her water bottle. "Clark, I said that's what my father thinks. You think I'm some kind of hooker? That I'd let Lex pay me for this?" She stared at him; he was afraid he could see tears beginning to form in her eyes.

"No, no, I didn't mean that, it's just--"

She shook her head, swallowing. "Every time I think I'm not mad at you anymore you go and do something like this. Just--just leave me alone. I can't deal with you." Chloe turned and ran.

"Chloe, wait!" Clark called after her, but it was too late. She was gone--and he had the sinking feeling he'd be better off not trying to follow her.

He had no idea where she'd gone, but she wasn't in school the rest of the day. As he headed for the manor, he extended his hearing, trying to determine whether it would be better to announce his presence or just lie in wait.

"Do you want me to talk to him?"

"No--no, what good would it do? I can't--oh, God, Lex, how could he have thought that?" Chloe was crying--still? Clark felt sick to his stomach.

"Sssh, ssh. Relax. I don't think he meant it in the way you thought."

Clark was close enough to see; he peeked in the window and saw Chloe, curled up on the couch, her head in Lex's lap, half-crying. He was rubbing her back gently. "I just can't win with him," she said, scrubbing at her eyes. "Every time I think it's okay--it's not."

"I think this was more a misunderstanding on both sides."

"I flew off the handle again, didn't I?"

Lex smiled a little. "I wouldn't say that, exactly. More like he said something that came out exactly the wrong way, which was how you took it."

Chloe sighed and sat up. "I look awful, don't I?"

Well, Chloe had never been one to cry prettily. Her nose got all blotchy and her face got red and her eyes swelled up. Still, Clark was surprised when Lex looked at her and nodded solemnly. "You look pretty bad," he admitted. "Why don't you go wash your face--and meet me upstairs?"

"Is that a suggestion or an order?" she asked, smiling a little.

"Whichever you prefer," Lex said, kissing her briefly before rising. "But give me fifteen minutes."

Chloe smiled; she leaned against the couch for a few moments before going to the bathroom.

Clark dropped his head against the side of the manor and swore. Did he leave, listen, or find a place to watch? If they were using the same room as before--it didn't have any windows, which made peeking in rather difficult. On the other hand--it did have a skylight.

By the time he found a spot on the roof that wouldn't allow him to be seen from below but would enable him to see everything in the room, Chloe was just about there. She knocked on the door (why would she knock?) and Lex opened it, dressed as he had been--save for the pair of black leather gloves tucked into his belt.

Chloe's eyes widened when she saw the gloves, but she didn't say anything. "Ready?" Lex asked quietly.

She nodded.

He stroked a thumb over the line of her cheekbone. "Present," he said, stepping back.

She bit her lip nervously, reaching for her shirt--then she stopped, shaking her head. "I can't--I can't do this, Lex. I'm--he's--" she stopped, looking down.

"Chloe." Without his saying or doing anything else, Chloe's gaze rose to meet Lex's. Slowly, but it rose. Clark shook his head in amazement. How did Lex do that?

Lex stepped closer to her, almost close enough that the length of his body was pressed against hers. Almost. "Close your eyes, pet, and listen to me," he said quietly. When her lashes had--slowly--closed, he curled one hand around the back of her neck. "I am not going to let Clark tear us apart," he said softly. "Whatever he thinks, or whatever he does, does not matter. So listen well, pet."

On the roof, Clark tensed. If she didn't want to do this, Lex had no right to try and talk her into it. How could he admit he loved her and do this? It wasn't right.

"You're mine, pet," Lex said softly. "Nothing else matters. There is nothing else. There's only you, and me, and this room. Do you understand?"

Chloe took a deep, shaky breath. "Yes, Lex." Her voice was a bit unsteady.

He shook his head. "Look at me, pet." When she opened her eyes, looking up at him, he let go of her neck and brushed a finger over her cheek. "There is nothing else," he repeated. "Let it go, pet. Let it all go. That's why you're here."

Clark was amazed. He could see the nervousness and the tension in Chloe just--melt away.

"Trust me, pet," Lex murmured. "Trust me to give you what you need."

"I do, Lex," she said softly.

He smiled a little. "I know. Are you ready now?"

Without hesitation, Chloe nodded. "Yes, Lex," she said simply.

Lex stepped back, nodding. "What's your safe word?"


"Good." Lex folded his arms over his chest, regarding Chloe with a very calm, dispassionate look. "Present," he said again.

Clark watched, stunned, as Chloe undressed, folding her clothes neatly and putting them in a pile by the door. When she was nude, she knelt gracefully in front of Lex, her head bowed and her hands clasped behind her back.

"So beautiful," Lex murmured, stroking her hair. Chloe couldn't see the look on his face, of course, but Clark could. He swallowed hard at the sheer tenderness of it. "Stretch out on the table, pet," Lex directed, the expression vanishing in the next moment. But Clark knew he hadn't imagined it.

Chloe rose and climbed onto the table, hesitating a moment. "Front or back, Lex?" she asked.

"Lie on your back." As she obeyed, Lex came over to her, bending to kiss her. "I'm not going to push you today," he said quietly. "It's not what you need. But I am going to make you let go." He fastened the cuff around her left wrist, making sure it was snug but not too tight. "Do you want a blindfold?" he asked.

"Yes, please, Lex," Chloe said after hesitating a moment.

He nodded. "All right." After fastening the cuff around her right wrist--checking it with the same care, Clark noted--he took out a black blindfold and slipped it on over her eyes. "Comfortable?"

"Yes, Lex." Chloe seemed to relax further when she couldn't see. Clark wondered why; if he if he'd been blindfolded he'd have been more nervous about what was going to happen, not less.

Lex kissed her again, lightly, before fastening the cuffs around her ankles. She seemed to have less slack in them this time, Clark thought, although he wasn't sure why. "You know," Lex mused, running his hands over her body, "we're like fire and ice, you and I. You're emotional and passionate and impetuous and dangerous and beautiful. And I--am reserved, calculating, and cold." He bent his head and kissed her stomach, just below her navel. "But we both burn, pet."

Clark swallowed again, scarcely able to breathe.

"I'm going to make you feel the burn," Lex said softly. "I want you to know how it feels to be near you, to be with you. You've felt the ice before--now I want you to feel your own fire."

Chloe made a soft sound in her throat, involuntarily, tensing. Lex saw it and resumed petting her, soothing her until she relaxed. "Trust me, pet," he murmured. "Trust me to take care of you."

"I do, Lex," she whispered.


He opened a drawer and took out a few items--three long, white candles and a box of matches. Clark's jaw dropped in shock. What the hell?

"It's cool now," Lex said, trailing the end of the candle over Chloe's skin. "But it won't be for long." He brushed the candle over her lips and she kissed it automatically. "It's like you, pet," he said thoughtfully. "Cool and smooth--but then you add heat, and it melts." Lex set the candle down. "I'm going to make you melt," he said softly, stroking a line down the center of her chest, from her collarbone to her pubic mound. "Are you ready for it?"

No. No way was he going to--Clark's brain shut down due to hormone overload. Lex was pulling on the gloves, letting Chloe feel the smoothness of the leather, and she was making that soft noise Clark had come to realize was Chloe-language for 'oh, God, I want this'. Whether or not Chloe was ready for it wasn't the problem--Clark wasn't.

Lex struck a match and it flared to life with a hiss; he set down the box and picked up the candle, lighting it easily. The match got shaken out and tossed aside; he held the candle up for a minute, looking at it thoughtfully. "It's plain, white, and unscented," he commented to Chloe. "Colored ones--and scented ones, really--burn hotter, and I don't want to blister your pretty skin."

Clark shifted, rubbing himself against the cool stone of the roof. He was achingly hard and they'd barely gotten started. He watched in fascination as Lex brought the candle closer to Chloe, letting her feel the heat of its flame; Chloe bit her lower lip at the warmth of it.

Slowly, deliberately, Lex tipped the candle, and a drop of wax fell, landing right between Chloe's breasts. She hissed, and her hands clenched, but she didn't move. "Good," Lex murmured. Another drop fell, just below the first one. And another.

Lex was carefully drawing--dripping?--patterns on Chloe's skin with the melted wax from the candle, circling her breasts, following the line of her collarbone--he varied the distance, too. Sometimes he held the candle so close to her skin it seemed as though the flame would burn her. Sometimes he held it farther away, so the wax took longer to reach her skin.

Chloe was whimpering, almost crying; she was making soft pleading noises whenever the wax fell, mostly incoherent. Now Clark understood why she had less slack in her bonds than before; if she'd been able to squirm, Lex wouldn't have been able to control as precisely where each drop of wax hit her.

"Feel the burn?" Lex asked softly. "This is you, pet. This is how I see you. Flame and heat and liquid and so incredibly pliant for me. So beautifully mine." On the last word, he let one drop fall, landing right in the center of her left nipple.

Chloe screamed softly; tears trickled down her face from under the blindfold. Clark was torn between humping against the roof until he came and worrying that Lex had gone too far.

"Just one more, pet," Lex told her. "One more, right--there." Another drop landed on her right nipple and she screamed again, shivering. Lex blew out the candle and set it down, watching Chloe carefully. "Too much?" he asked gently.

She shook her head. "No, Lex."

"Good." He kissed her gently, brushing away her tears with his lips. "Do you want more?"

"Yes, please, Lex," she said, sounding a bit breathless. "Please--"

He laughed a little. "So anxious, aren't you, pet? All right, I'll give you more. But I told you, I'm not pushing you too much today."

Clark bit back a groan. Chloe really--she really was beautiful, stretched out on the table with wax designs hardening all over her skin. And Lex, with his black leather gloves and his look of intent concentration--Clark didn't know which of them he wanted more.

Lex picked up a new candle and lit it, watching it carefully for a moment before tilting it. The wax landed on Chloe's arm just below the cuff and she moaned, biting her lip. "Sensitive there, I know," Lex said lightly, moving to her other arm. She cried out when the wax landed there.

Lex looked like he was performing some sort of arcane ritual, with the gloves and the candle and the way Chloe was stretched out spread-eagled and tied. All that was missing was the big knife and the chanting of worshippers. And the way Chloe kept trying not to shiver or tremble, but couldn't keep from flinching every time another drop landed on her skin--Clark groaned out loud.

By the time the candle had burned down enough that Lex blew it out, all of Chloe's upper body was decorated with the wax, from her forearms to her navel. She looked like some sort of pagan priestess or something.

"Please, Lex," she begged. "Please, I need you--"

"You're a greedy thing today," Lex said, sounding amused. "Sure you wouldn't rather have this, pet?"

Oh, God--Lex picked up the third candle and stroked Chloe with it, coaxing her outer labia to open so he could slide the candle into her. God, Lex was fucking her with the candle, and if he looked closely enough he could see the wax dripping from her juices and the way Lex's gloves shone at the fingertips.

"Lex, please, it's not enough, it's not you, please, Lex--" Chloe was sobbing, trying vainly to arch her hips against the candle he held.

"Since you ask so nicely..." Lex set the candle aside and lifted himself onto the table with one easy motion. "Only me, pet," he said, reaching down to undo his pants with one hand, bracing himself over her with the other. "I'm the only one who can give this to you."

"Yes--" Chloe keened (there was really no other word for it) when Lex thrust into her. On the roof, Clark was biting his lip almost hard enough to draw blood, trying not to break the stones with his grip. A small pile of dust showed where he hadn't been quite careful enough.

It wasn't going to last; Clark could see that already. Lex was thrusting into her at a pace that he wasn't going to maintain for long, and Chloe was so close to coming Clark had no idea why she *hadn't*, yet.

"Come for me," Lex said thickly, gripping the table for better leverage. "Come, pet."

Chloe's head fell back as much as it could and she screamed, coming on Lex's command.

On the roof, Clark did as well. Great--that was the third pair of jeans he'd ruined so far.

Lex was still moving, but by the time Clark recovered enough to look down he'd stopped, his head resting against Chloe's shoulder. They were both panting for air--well, he was too, he supposed. After a moment, Lex eased out of Chloe and wiped himself off with a nearby towel before refastening his pants. "How are you, pet?" he asked, standing up.

"Mmm," Chloe managed.

That got her a smile and a kiss on the forehead from Lex, right before he took off the blindfold. Chloe blinked a few times, letting her eyes adjust to the light. "I need you to hold still for me so I can get the wax off," Lex said, picking up--ah, there was the knife that had been missing before.

Hopefully, Lex was in better shape than Chloe was. She couldn't even speak, let alone handle a sharp-edged object. Clark watched a bit nervously, but Lex was deft, gentle, and careful with the knife, sliding it under the wax patterns and prying them off without ever even nicking Chloe's skin. Clark noticed that her skin still retained pink marks from where the wax had been; he thought it was even more erotic than the wax itself.

"Come on back, pet," Lex said, releasing her from the cuffs. "Come back to me." He lifted her into his arms, resting his cheek against her hair. "You did well, pet--did you like that? Would you like to try it again sometime?"

"Yes, Lex," Chloe said--well, mumbled, really. She yawned, resting her head against his shoulder.

He smiled. "Come on, let's get you taken care of."

Clark rolled over on his back, looking up at the night sky. Huh--it had gotten dark and he'd never noticed. It sounded ironically like his life, at the moment.

Chloe's birthday was May 11; it happened to fall on a Tuesday. School was--well, it was awkward. Chloe kept avoiding him; he heard from Pete that she felt it was her fault and she just couldn't face Clark. How she felt the mess between them was her fault, Clark had no idea. But as he couldn't look at her without turning bright red and getting painfully hard, it was just as well.

He did have a present for her--he'd gotten her a basket of skin goodies, after asking Lana what she liked. Only he asked Pete to give them to her, instead of doing it himself. It would have been too awkward for them both otherwise. Especially since he couldn't stop watching her and Lex. The candle scene a week and a half ago had only made matters worse. His parents were starting to wonder where he was all the time, and he didn't have an answer to give them.

He envied Chloe, he really did. He didn't even know how old he was for sure--his parents had given him a birthday, and estimated his age, but he had no real knowledge of whether it was true or not. Maybe people matured at a different rate on his planet--maybe he was really two hundred. Or five, depending on its rotation.

Chloe was meeting Lex for dinner and then going back to the manor; Clark knew this, because he'd overheard them making plans. He knew he was becoming dangerously obsessed with this, that it wasn't healthy or even sane to keep spying. But it was all he had. It might be insane to watch, but he would have gone crazy from loneliness otherwise.

So he settled into the tree--hiding in it was much easier since it had flowered--and waited for them to arrive back at the manor.

They got there around nine; Clark's stomach twisted at the sight of Chloe, looking so happy and so obviously in love. "Thank you, so much," Chloe said, wrapping her arms around Lex's neck and kissing him deeply.

"My pleasure. Sit down and I'll give you your present."

"Lex, you already gave me a present!" Chloe sat down on the couch, raising an eyebrow. "You took me to dinner."

"That doesn't count." Lex opened a drawer in his desk and took out a flat velvet box. "Happy Birthday, Chloe," he said, sitting next to her and giving her the box.

"Lex, you--" Chloe opened the box and her breath caught. "It's--Lex, this--"

He smiled. "It's not often I can render you speechless without making you scream first."

She laughed at that. Clark wondered what was in the box; he couldn't see from where he was. "Lex, are you sure--"

He reached over and lifted up--a necklace. A gorgeous necklace, with an oval-cut emerald set in--silver? Platinum? Clark wasn't sure. The setting was deceptively simple, and the necklace itself was a simple, solid snake chain. It was elegant, beautiful, and had to have cost--hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. "The emerald belonged to my mother," Lex said, looking at the gem flashing green sparkles. "I had it reset for you."

Chloe blinked, her breath catching in her throat. "Lex--is this a promise?" she whispered.

"Do you want it to be?" Clark could almost feel the need beneath Lex's carefully controlled voice.

She swallowed, reaching out to touch the stone with a finger. Her eyes shone with tears; one slipped down her cheek as she nodded, slowly.

Clark couldn't believe his eyes. What was this? A collar? Proof of Lex's 'claim' on Chloe? A promise of an engagement someday? She was only eighteen! This wasn't right. This seriously was not right.

Lex reached behind Chloe's neck and fastened the necklace; she leaned forward and kissed him, her hands sliding up to cup his face. "I love you, Lex Luthor," she said huskily.

He kissed her forehead, then her nose, then her lips. "Mine," he whispered. "All mine."

Clark didn't stay to watch as they sank down on the couch, kissing and caressing and murmuring to each other. He fled as fast as he could, back to his loft, where he flopped down on the couch. Chloe had told Lex she loved him--for possibly the first time--and he'd responded by telling her she was his. That wasn't love. That was ownership.

She was wearing the necklace in school the next day; he noticed that she kept touching it, as if to reassure herself it was still there. "Chloe, that is gorgeous," Lana said, stopping her in the halls. "Where on earth did you get it?"

Chloe smiled. "It's actually not real," she said easily. Since when had she become such a good liar? "I got it at one of those little carts up at the mall. The chain's silver, but the stone is just glass."

"It's still beautiful." Lana smiled. "Reminds me a little of my necklace, actually."

"I hadn't thought about that, but you're right, it does." Chloe grinned back. "Thank you for the compliment."

"My pleasure." The two of them strolled off to class, laughing about something Clark had missed.

So first he gave her the necklace. And then she lied about it. That was it--Clark knew he had to talk to them. Today. He stumbled through the rest of school, trying to figure out what to say later.

He knew he'd find them at the castle after school; Chloe almost always went there unless she had to stay after for something Torch-related. And Lex tended to work in his study whenever he could. It was just a matter of phrasing what he wanted to say, really.

"Clark, I didn't expect to see you here," Lex said when he knocked perfunctorily before entering. Chloe, seated on the floor, looked up from her laptop in surprise. "What brings you around?"

"Why'd you lie about the necklace?" Clark asked, nodding at Chloe. Oh. Shit.

"Clark? What are you talking about?" Chloe gave him one of her patented 'You obviously need help' looks.

"To Lana. You told her it was fake. Why?"

"It is fake. I got it at the mall." Chloe stretched, looking supremely unconcerned. "It's pretty and all, but--"

"It's not fake. I know it's not." His mouth was running away with him and he couldn't stop it. Maybe it was all for the best. Time to end the lies and the hiding and just--tell them.

"How do you know that, Clark?" Lex asked, rising and walking around his desk slowly. He stood behind Chloe, hands casually shoved into his pockets.

"Because--because I saw you give it to her."

"You what?!" Chloe exploded, looking up at him. "How?"

"I--I was outside. I came by and I saw you talking, and I heard you, and--"

But Lex was shaking his head. "Nice try, Clark. But the only way to see into this room is if you're sitting in that tree. And there shouldn't be any way to hear through the walls."

"No," Chloe said, shaking her head. "No, Clark, tell me you didn't, tell me you didn't--"

"I watched you, okay?" The words burst out of him. "I--I watched. I sat in the tree and I watched. And--I could hear. Something about the meteorites, I guess--I don't know, I just could hear."

"No," Chloe whispered. "No--Clark--" Her eyes filled with tears. "How could you? And how did you even know? We were out last night, we weren't--"

"How long, Clark?" Lex asked tightly.

He closed his eyes. "Since the first time," he confessed, feeling sick.

"Clark--" Tears started spilling down Chloe's face; she stared at him with a look of such disbelief and sadness that it nearly made him cry.

"Chloe--I'm so, so, sorry--" Clark reached out for her, wanting to apologize, wanting to take back his actions of the past three weeks.

"Don't touch me!" she screamed at him, right before breaking down into full-fledged sobs. Lex knelt behind her and she crumpled into his arms, sobbing hard enough to make them both shake. "Don't ever touch me again," she choked out, clinging to Lex.

Lex looked up at Clark, and his eyes were colder than Clark had ever seen them. "I would have done anything for you, Clark," he said softly. "Anything."

He turned back to Chloe, leaving Clark standing in front of the two people he'd once considered his best friends. Clark had the sick feeling neither one of them would ever speak to him again.

It was only what he deserved.


June 5, 2014--excerpts from The Daily Planet

Second Luthor Baby Born
Lex and Chloe Luthor are pleased to announce the birth of their second child, Laura Juliet. The little Miss Luthor was born June 3 to her happy parents, who have a son, Lucas Gabriel (2 1/2). Both mother and child are resting comfortably. We at the Planet send our best wishes to the Luthor family.

Superman Exclusive!
Lois Lane got a special one-on-one interview with the caped superhero, which we at the Planet can assure you will be found nowhere else. For the full text, see page A2. An excerpt follows below. LL: So--why do you do it? What drives you to save all these people you don't even know? Superman: looks out into space for a moment I could say I'm trying to repay a debt.

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