by Te

Darkness ahead.

by Te
May 2002

Disclaimers: If they were mine, I'd get on the bandwagon fast.

Spoilers: Vague, vague ones for the Pilot and Nicodemus.

Summary: See this.

Ratings Note: NC-17.

Author's Note: Third and final piece to the Damascenes series. Will not make sense without the first two:

Unruhe: Glaube:

Erleuchtung is German for "revelation."

Acknowledgments: To my We for endless encouragement, even when they can't catch me. (Fast as fast can be...) To Jenn and the Livbun for audiencing, Ced and Jess for the German, and the Divine Miz E. for being cute.


Neither Mercy nor Hope are in evidence when they get back up to the penthouse, but Clark has no doubt the women received the coded message through Lex's comm nodule. There is, of course, trash to be removed.

He doesn't believe the women ever consider themselves to be truly off-duty, no matter what Lex might say.

And Lex...

Lex is all but rocking on his heels, expressions shifting almost wildly just behind the controlled planes of his face. His eyes glitter and sparkle and light on Clark now and then as if he can't quite stop himself from looking.

Needing to believe?

That's not... quite right.

It's bigger than that for Lex, he thinks. Deeper.

There's a joy in him now that can't be encompassed by happiness alone, an excitement like nothing short of rebirth. Clark watches him move through the penthouse, hands jammed like a kid's in his pockets except for a touch here and there to certain pieces of furniture.

He feels... awkward isn't quite the right word for it, but watching Lex plan their future -- and he has no doubt that that's what he's doing -- is something so far beyond his experience.

Even when they were lovers, perhaps especially then, Lex had always been careful with Clark. Gentle and cautious with everything but his body, and never, ever obvious about his own needs.

Not like now.

Had Lex doubted them so much?

And if he had... had he really been wrong?

They can do this now, be this in a way they never could before. It's... breathtaking in its vastness, and Clark can't do anything but watch Lex move through the apartment, restless with all parts of himself.

It's like a punch to the solar plexus when Lex finally pauses and looks over his shoulder at Clark, smile wide and bright and so real. "I think it would be easier if you told me what you *didn't* hate about this apartment."

Not what he was expecting. "What?"

And Lex's eyes almost sparkle with amusement before he turns away again to make an expansive gesture taking in the whole of the penthouse. "Do you have any idea how hard it is to decorate with a eye toward avoiding anything you or my late, lamented father would like without lapsing into the horror of Laura Ashley?"

Clark has to grin. "And here I thought you'd discovered a new love for the Bauhaus movement."

"I didn't even like the band, Clark. Christ, look at this place..." Lex trails off thoughtfully, and it's as good an excuse as any to move close. Cup those strong, surprisingly broad shoulders and lean in.

"Your office was always your real home, you know."

Unclassifiable noise, a twitch under Clark's hands. "That has to change. That will change. I..." One hand over Clark's, cool and rough, somewhere between soothing and just what he needs. "It starts now, Clark. We start now."

Can't hold in a shiver and Lex's other hand is on his hip, stroking, scratching at the fabric of the suit. "A cosmic do-over?"

"A new beginning. And the first Star Wars joke you make will be your last, geek boy."

Infectious happiness and Clark lets himself go with it, wrapping his arms around Lex and trying to visualize the apartment as something open, welcoming, even without Lex's actual presence.

And that's... something that should be said. "You were home for me, Lex."

A brief stiffening and Lex is leaning into him. "Ah, Clark..."

"I'm... I'm serious. More than any place. It was you."

"I find that a little hard to believe."

Clark squeezes Lex a little, just for the sigh. Wishes he could swallow it. "What did you see in me, Lex? That first time?"

"God. Connection --"

"That's what... that's what I feel, Lex. That's what I thought about. What brought me here tonight. Well, last night." It will be morning soon. "I was alone, and you were alone, and you thought... you thought you didn't have to be alone anymore, right?"

Lex's hand tightens on his own, just a hint of that rage Clark is so unsure of. Take it out on me, he doesn't say. You never have to be angry again... he wants to believe that.

"I didn't understand it, Lex. I'd never been alone. Or... there were always enough people that it didn't seem that way."

Lex brings Clark's hands down over his chest, presses one over his heart. Rare sentiment, or rarely common sentiment.

Clark presses a kiss to Lex's scalp and lingers to nuzzle. "Sometimes I thought you were lucky. To be surrounded by people you knew you could never trust."

"That's... an interesting way of looking at things..." Dubious tone.

"No, it's like... I would sit on my fire escape --"

"Sometimes I'd have you watched."

God, just a quick hard jolt to Clark's cock and he has to press Lex back against him.

Soft chuckle. "Mental note: gets turned on by stalker behavior."

"Only from you."

"Mm. When we rule the world, we can start a whole new line of Hallmark cards. 'When you care enough to have your estranged lover watched by hired muscle.'"

"'Sorry I destroyed your latest nefarious plot.'"

"'Happy birthday, you murdering son of a bitch.'"

Clark laughs helplessly, searching for the thread of his thoughts. "I'm serious, though. I spent so much time looking at my... my friends, knowing I couldn't tell them everything, or... wondering if I could tell them, and how they would take it --"

"Clark, you told me. If I didn't run screaming for the hills or put you on a slab, who would?"

"It's... not the same. And it's not..." Trails off a little helplessly. He distinctly remembers acquiring a job at the Daily Planet based on his skills with the English language, among others.

Lex turns in his arms, one palm pressed to his cheek. "Tell me." Serious in an instant.

"It's just... with people like Chloe and Pete... I've waited too long. Hell, I've waited too long with everyone. Lies on top of lies... by the time you got to Smallville it was already too late."

"You really believe that, don't you?"

"I'd known them for years, Lex. Lied to them for years, even while I knew every one of their secrets."

Tiny smile. "Your loss of faith in humanity, my gain?"

"None of them want me, Lex. None of them know me. None of them would want to know me."

Careful stroke and Clark turns into it. "You're so sure..."

Clark smiles, and he wonders if he should be surprised that it's not... sadder. "I told you, Lex. I'm sick of it. Of them."

"You think you made your choice before you even got here, don't you?" Lex's voice is dreamy. Thoughtful. "No, don't answer that. Forget I even asked. I'm more than selfish enough to take this as a given."

"It is. And... it was. Do you think it was hard to kill Burgess, Lex? Do you think I went through some kind of epic moral struggle while you laid it all out for me?"

Lex smiles, strokes a finger over the curve of Clark's ear. "I did a minute ago..."

"I made my choice, Lex. Does it matter when?"

Both hands in Clark's hair now and Lex's head hangs between them. His breathing is harsh, almost worrying, but when he looks up... the shine is back. The hunger and the kind of joy Clark thinks people should fear. Ecstasy. "No. It doesn't. Come back to bed."


"Take off..." Sharp tug on his hair. "God, take that fucking suit off." Biting kiss and Lex still isn't letting go.

"Oh fuck --"

"Yes. Yeah. You just --"

And Lex is biting at him, mauling him like an animal and it feels so good. Every part of it, every part of the man, and God, Clark never wants to be anyone but the man who can take this.

Who Lex can give this to, unashamed and unafraid. "I love you."

"God, so much..."

Lex walks them back into the bedroom, tearing at the cape, scratching at the suit ineffectually until Clark finally lifts him away and gets it open and off himself.

"Christ, Clark, I've seen nun's habits that are easier to get into."

"From which side?"

Choked laugh and Lex splays his hand on Clark's chest, staring and pressing for one moment, two, and even though Clark can feel the push coming he doesn't bother to prepare himself.

Lands hard on the bed, Lex on him before he can bounce a second time, half-naked and moving against him. Feeling Clark with his whole body and God, not naked enough.

Clark shreds the shirt, the tie, sitting up to push it off Lex's shoulders and just feel him. Kiss him hard and trace every curiously homey freckle, every ruthlessly toned muscle while Lex struggles against him, biting and clawing and squeezing.

"Too long. Too fucking long --" Vicious bite to his shoulder and Lex uses the moment's shock to get his hands between them, digging short nails into Clark's chest before pushing.

On his back again and Lex is spreading him, eyes taking him in everywhere, like a map of some unconquered country.

God, and how had he ever seen Lex as anyone different. Power in him like a scent, ozone before the storm, and there had never been anyone like Lex. Never could be. "God, I need you to fuck me --"

Hand on his throat, hard enough to crush a human's windpipe, hard enough to make Clark's next breath desperately important. "I will. I will. I just..." Lex presses harder and leans in to kiss him, long and deep. "Have to have all of you --"

"Yes --"

"Nothing less, not ever --"

So fervent and it makes Clark's eyes roll back a little, makes him arch beneath Lex who just rides it out, watching hungrily and nodding to himself.

"So fucking beautiful..."

And Lex is moving, shifting down Clark's body and simultaneously working the fly of his pants. Quick stroke to Clark's cock and up again. Bites Clark's nipple hard enough to shock a scream out of him, and it's only the little tumor in Lex's finger that keeps Clark from calling for the damned ring.

Needs this, every bruise, every mark Lex has never been able to give him. Settles for tangling his wrists in the sheets and holding on, helpless as he can make himself and on offer.

"Oh, Clark..." Wondering and reverent and Lex's mouth on his cock is a benediction.

Raw, shameless blessing in the scrape of teeth, the sweet, sweet suck that's so incredible and nothing like what he wants. "Lex. Lex, please, need you in me --"

Lex's hands tighten on his hips and he goes down, swallowing Clark's cock so effortlessly his heart skips, jerks back into action and Clark can hear himself moaning, hear the sheets tearing --

And Lex pulls off, grinning. Lips swollen kiss-red and wet. Just staring for a hungry little moment before ripping a drawer off its tracks and dumping the scant contents on the bed. Sex drawer, and Clark is not going to think about everyone Lex has had since their last time.

Closes his eyes and spreads as wide as he can.

"Hard, right? So hard it might hurt even you?"

"Oh God, yes --"

"No preparation, then."

"Fuck --"

"Just a little... ah. Fuck. A little slick on my cock. Get your knees up."

Clark obeys, shivering at the feel of Lex's arms slipping under his knees and oh, fuck, he can feel him.

Blunt nudge of Lex's cock against his hole and then in.

"Lex --"

Lex's arms flex and shake under his knees and then stiffen, pushing Clark's knees back to his chest, holding him open. Lex's eyes flick open, sharp and gleaming as the sweat on his lean chest. "Is that what you wanted?"

Burn and rush, burn and rush, something almost tidal and God, he's so full. "Oh God... oh fuck..."

Lex twists, rocks in another inch. "Answer me."

"You. I want you..."

Another, and Lex's hissed breath sounds almost pained. "Tell me... tell me how..."

"Ah, God... don't hold back... don't you dare hold back..."

"Fuck. Never." In. Balls-deep and just looming over Clark. An idol in shades of pale and flush and Clark remembers the first time he was confident enough in his control to wrap his legs around Lex's neck.

Not even close to that control now, and he's never felt more... human.

Lex holding him open, holding him stretched, holding him pinned on his cock like the world's dirtiest experiment.


"Gonna beg me, Clark?"

"Oh God, always wanted..." Tiny shift makes him groan, try to arch for more. "You always made me want to. Even. Even when you were giving me everything..."

Sharp gasp and Lex pulls out until just the head is inside, breaching him, stretching against the pull of his body's desire to heal, snap back into shape. "Hunger. That's... fucking starving for you --" Slams in hard, throwing his head back and biting his lip and Clark can't describe the noise he makes.



"Again. Please, please again --"

Slick-simple noise of it. Wet slide of flesh on flesh and the slap of Lex's balls against his ass, heavy and tight, so tight, and Lex is in him. Breathing hard and shuddery, nails digging into Clark's thighs.

Staring down at him like he never expected to feel anything like this, and Clark can understand.

This isn't the cautious sweetness of the way they were, this isn't -- *couldn't* be -- any night but tonight, anyone but the two of them.

"Clark.. you --"

"Need you, Lex --"

"Yes..." In.

"Only you."

"Yes --" In.

"Faster -- God harder --"

Hip-twist and Lex grinds in, muttering something unintelligible, eyes squeezed shut and so fucking beautiful.

Clark rips the sheets before he can stop himself, reaching for Lex and stroking the planes and impossibly subtle curves of him. No one had ever matched this for him. Too skinny, too muscular, too languid or too stupid. No one ever had everything he wanted, needed, and Clark can't believe it's taken so long to understand that.

First love, yes, but so much more. Because in the quiet center of his own hunger Clark can look at the man fucking him into a newer, better shape and see something beyond perfection. Made for greatness and altered for him, by him in a fall of planetary rubble and radiation.

Splays his hands on Lex's chest and watches the pressure register on Lex's face the way nothing else has. Shocking flash of open eyes and Lex is smiling triumph at him again, sharing it as though there's no doubt Clark can understand the whole of it, that this sex is just a part of everything else, that even the love is nothing compared to a world where the two of them can come together.

"Oh, God, Lex --"

"Yes --"

"Yours --"

"Oh fuck --" Barely even two words and Lex is pushing against his hands, driving in fast, simple hard rhythm of rut and God, Clark remembers when even the thought of Lex being this raw, this naked was enough to drive him over the edge in his lonely loft.

Now it's just his. Just real.

Hand on his face and Clark realizes his eyes are closed. Knows what Lex wants but has to keep them shut for a little while longer. Has to feel those blunt fingertips tracing his cheeks, his eyelids, his mouth, yes, suck them in --

Groans at the scratch of short, sharp nails over his tongue.

"Open. Fuck, open your eyes --"

Laughs around Lex's fingers and obeys and this joy... this joy could kill him, burn him to ash. Lex pounding into him now, grinning like a maniac and stuttering his rhythm just to fuck with him --

"God, you're such a bastard, Clark --"

Sucks Lex's fingers deep and bears down and it's almost hard to decide whether to concentrate on fucking with Lex right back or concentrate on coming his brains out.


Tip of his leaking cock juddering over Lex's ruthlessly hard belly, balls tight against his body and just so fucked.

He's moaning, drooling, and Lex is working him hard, taking him higher, ratcheting up the tension with every chuckle, every curse, every gasping moan.

"Yeah... oh fuck, that's it, we're so close..."

And Clark can't take it anymore. Wraps his legs around Lex's waist, digs his heels in and pulls Lex in, holds him there until Lex is trapped inside him, unable to move, unable to do anything but flex inside Clark.

"Jesus... Jesus fuck --"

Up in an eye-blink, arm around Lex's back and ah fuck deep, Lex biting his jaw and throat, cursing and pumping up, up, so strong, tireless in his own way, hands in Clark's hair and this close there's nothing but the sex.

Scent of themselves pure, pushing out oxygen and reason and leaving only the sweat, only the need, only the feel of Lex driving his way up and in. In. In.

"More..." And it isn't even close to a word.

Lex sucks a vicious bite right over the artery and drives himself even harder, faster, one hand snaking between them to fist tight and hard around Clark's cock and this is good. Best. Best thing, sweetest, need you -- "Mine."

Orgasm rips a strangled scream out of him, another when Lex just keeps pumping him, keeps fucking him, urging him on, riding him out and kissing him softly, endlessly... and it's only the thump of his body hitting the mattress that lets him know that time hasn't really slowed down, that Lex is still moving.

Ragged now, desperation edging out the joy. Completion, connection...

"Please, Lex..."

"Ah God --"

"I'm here. Right here."

"Clark --" Choked out and Lex is moving in near-silence, all wet sounds and inadequate breaths, straining, straining... there. One last thrust, deep and hard, and Lex stills.


Comes gasping at the ceiling, hands curled into claws on Clark's hips.

Even then, Lex doesn't collapse so much as sort of hang between his shoulders, slumped, braced on his hands. Fingers digging just this side of painfully into Clark's skin and sweat beading on his scalp.

Almost a shock to be so still after that, and Clark realizes his hands are shaking when he reaches to stroke Lex's face.

Lex brushes kisses into Clark's palms, one for each, and then goes back to panting, elbows locked and clearly holding on.


Deep, shaky inhale. Silence.

"Lex, come on. Come down here."

Lex shakes his head slowly, almost dreamily. Unconscious negation and it's more than a little worrying.


And when Lex finally looks up, it clearly takes an effort. Slow, shaky work of muscle and Clark can feel him spasm inside him once, again. Still hard.

Makes him gasp.

Lex's eyes burn black in the uncertain city dawn, almost stereotypically frightening. Almost laughable, in a way it never really could be with Lex. "You... You're never going to leave me again."

"Oh... oh, Christ --"

Sharp, sharp grin and Lex leans in. Slow. Letting Clark feel every inch, every shift. Close enough to share breath. "You know, Clark..." Low, easy, conversational tone that's going to have Clark hard again in minutes. "I'm human, too." Tiny thrust, about all they can manage in this position, but...

"Fuck..." Still so sensitive. "What?"

"Part of the rat race. Nasty and brutish as the rest..." Insinuation as art form, and when Clark tries to stroke his way down to Lex's ass he gets held down. "Exception that proves the rule?"

Another thrust and Clark's trying to spread his legs again, trying to convince his thighs that they aren't as sex-worn as they are. God, Lex. "You were never anything like... anyone else."

"Freak?" Sharper thrust, and it's already too shallow, too neat.

"Mutant. Genius. Mine."


And Clark can't hold in a laugh. "Tell me you ever really believed that."

"Close enough..." And Lex pulls out just slowly enough that Clark can't help following, arching in a ludicrously pornographic stretch that does nothing to dim the gleam in Lex's eyes.

"Fuck --"

Scrape down his belly and Clark jerks. More. Fuck, more. "Turn over."

"Yeah --" Work of a heartbeat to obey, mind seizing on the way the expensive sheets have nothing against the dolphin-sleek purity of Lex's skin on him, all over him, covering him again. This time they aren't going anywhere.

Thumb at his hole, circling, pressing. Not quite letting Clark tighten up again and the slick mess of it isn't enough to dampen the feeling. Pure control and Clark grins and braces himself on his forearms.

There's no one who'd want to see Superman like this, no one who'd ever come close to understanding why.

And maybe, just maybe, there's no one who deserves an explanation.


After, Clark dozes intermittently through phone calls, moving furniture, and a Lex who always holds him just long enough to let him fall asleep again.

By the time Clark's mostly awake, it's well into the afternoon and Lex is rumpled interestingly at the foot of the bed, biting his thumb at a palm pilot. There's a stack of new linens beside him in rich purple.

Clark grins.

"Don't say a word."

"What? I'm grateful for your incredible homosexuality."

Low snort and a sideways glare that lingers. Changes to something heated enough to make Clark shift, changes again to something thoughtful. Cautious.


"You have a lot to lose."

"A shitty apartment. An identity that's been a lie since I arrived on this planet --"

"Your family."

"I... did I ever tell you that you're a moody son of a bitch?"

Twisted smile, but there's real humor in it, even as Lex shuts his eyes. "Clark --"

"How many ways do I have to tell you I've made my decision, Lex?" Scrubs a hand through his hair and stands, toes curling into the soft carpet despite himself. Not used to this. Luxury and comfort and the home they both want, dammit -- "Hey, I have an idea! Why don't I just fly out to Central City and burn it to the ground? Or hey, I could always knock over a skyscraper or two. How much blood do you need, Lex?"

"It's not about blood." Quiet. So quiet.

"No? You didn't seem to feel that way when I took out your little Strangelove in the basement."

And Lex... has always had a feel for the moment. Timing, something, because when he finally looks up it feels as though more has happened than just movement.

It's a struggle not to turn away, and Clark doesn't win.

"Are you planning to just cut them out of your life?"

And that's... blunt. But. "They have nothing for me, now."

"That point could certainly be argued, but Clark... you say you've made your decision --"

"I have made my decision." Enough anger to face Lex again, and he's sitting cross-legged on the bed now, feet bare and pink and shockingly vulnerable... Clark takes a breath. "Lex. Why won't you trust me?"

But there's no anger in Lex, not anymore. Not for this. "It's not about trusting you, Clark. It's..." Flicker in eyes gone grey and Lex is the one looking away this time, if only for a moment. "Your parents... I imagine they were happy when you left me, yes?"

"My mother was disappointed --"

"In me."

"And my father was..."

Tiny smile. "Happy you left me."

Clark smiles back, a little ruefully. "Fine. They don't have anything to do with my life, Lex."

"No... but they can."

Narrows his eyes. "What do you mean?"

And Lex reaches out, takes his hand. Traces a finger over Clark's knuckles, down to his wrist. Very obviously trying to decide how to say it. "They know everything about you --"

"Hardly --"

"They know your powers. Your weaknesses. Your loved ones."


"They know who Superman really is."

"Clark Kent --"

"May still be necessary." So quiet, and Lex doesn't look up from his hand.

"What are you saying, Lex." And Clark can't even begin to make that sound like a question. Because... it isn't.

And when Lex meets his eyes this time... Sadness. God, such terrible sadness.

Clark feels his face working, his throat working, but he doesn't know if it's language or bile, so he just swallows.

"We can work in secret for a long time. You can tell your parents... I don't know. All sorts of things. But, Clark..."

And Clark closes his eyes, barely registering Lex's almost convulsive squeeze of his hand. But he does register it. He does.

"God... I... fuck. You have to know I don't want this --"

"Lex." His voice is thick. Unintelligible. Try again. "Lex."

"It's... there can't be any mistakes, Clark."

He can't open his eyes quite yet. "My mother... she loved you, Lex."

And Lex tries to pull away but Clark has him now. Has him.

"There could've been..." No. He doesn't believe that. He hasn't in... a very long time.

"Clark, let's just -- we can --"

Clark's knees give out and he crouches, holding Lex's hand to himself and squeezing his eyes closed a little more, a little tighter, another moment until... breath. Control.

Shaking hand on his cheek. "I love you so much..."

Opens his eyes and there's nothing but Lex. In daylight, he can see the tiny lines at the corners of Lex's eyes and feel the need for something like a vow from the universe. Wide eyes like living slate, like the sea, and ah, God, Clark needs. Turns his face into Lex's palm and just... breathes.

Choked-off laugh. "You know what they say about that last step... God, Clark --"

Kisses him fast, hard. Harder when Lex suddenly clutches him, wraps himself around Clark and tugs him down to the bed, to the floor, and Lex is holding on hard enough to hurt someone human.

Hard enough to hurt himself.

Clark pulls away as gently as he can, licks blood from Lex's split lip. "I'm coming back."

Lex's eyes fly open and Lex is searching him, wild-eyed and staring and obviously not believing, but... it's better than the sadness.

"I've made my decision."


But whatever else Lex says is lost as Clark pulls on his uniform and flies away.

It's almost harvest time, and the corn is high and full. The world is ripe and full, in the way it can only be right around now. He'd forgotten that this was his favorite time of the year, once.

Cities were all about denying the weather, beating it back in every way imaginable. Only the extremes ever made a difference, and even then there were always work crews there the next morning, erasing every trace...

Clark shakes it off and zips into the kitchen, knowing the only thing visible is a small dust cloud. He takes a moment to be thankful for the fact that this past summer has been rainier than most.

No mistakes.

Clark's boots thump on the aging wood and he takes a moment to just... look. The summer curtains are still up, thinned with age but faded with repeated washings so that the light is still the same. He remembers the mornings he'd wake up to find the curtains missing for washing, and the irrational feeling of exposure. Kitchen windows are supposed to be small, and homily, gently covered.

Those were the only times he ever offered to help with the laundry.

Well, before puberty.

Smiles to himself and looks around. Taps the refrigerator absently to stop its hum, and frowns. Should he really be touching things?


His father is there, and Clark's smile is automatic. "Hey, Dad." There's a curious look on his father's face, though, and Clark realizes that he'd forgotten to move in for his hug. Does so awkwardly, and the extra squeeze he gets... His father knows there's something wrong.

Pushes Clark back, just a bit. "Something wrong, son?"

Has to laugh a little. His dad has always been straightforward. "Sort of...?" Squeezes his Dad's shoulders and looks him over a little closer. There's almost no blond left in his hair. The tiny defibrillator with pre-pulsor just beneath the skin of his chest is just as shiny and new as the day Lex's physicians had inserted it.

"Why don't we have a seat, Clark? Your mother's just taking care of some laundry, she'll be up in a few minutes..."

A quick burst of radiation would kick the defibrillator into gear, shocking his father's heart into overdrive... no. He'd said the pain was incredible whenever the thing went off. "No. No, that's okay. I just... I just wanted to drop by to say hello. And to thank you for everything you tried to teach me."

"Clark?" Nervous laugh. This can't take too much longer. "You're starting to scare me a little, son. Why don't you just tell me --"

"I can't do that, Dad. You'd thank me for that, I think."

"What --"

More of a pop than a snap this time, and Clark wonders if it has something to do with being in an airy wood kitchen instead of a stale lead cage, or if it's all about proximity, or bone health, or --

"Boys? What are you doing?" His mother's amused voice makes Clark jump, let go, and his father's body hits the floor with a sickening thud.

"Mom --"

"Oh my God." White sheets, towels flying, wet red 'o' of his mother's mouth as she runs toward them. "Jonathan! Jonathan, what's wrong?! Clark... Clark, call an ambulance!"

His mother on her knees, and time is stretching again. She's thinner than she was, but her hair is still as shiny as ever, burnished in the afternoon sunlight as she leans in closer, closer. Reaching for his father's neck and he *can't* let her feel that.

"I love you, Mom."

Time snaps back to itself like rubber as she whirls on him. "An ambulance, Clark, hurry!"

"It wasn't supposed to be like this."

"What... why are you just standing there? Clark, what's --"

"I was going to tell you... I was going to tell you something. You would've understood."

They glance, almost together, at his father's eyes. At the way they're glazing over. At the unnatural angle of his stare. And then his mother turns to look at him again. "Clark...?" Tears in her voice, or maybe nausea.

Clark kneels beside her, brushing his father's body aside. Catches her hand when she reaches for him. "Did you ever think that maybe you were the aliens, mom?"

Confusion on her face, and her hand spasms in Clark's own.

Shakes his head. "That's not... that's not right. I should've waited. I could've thought of the right words for this, I know I could..."

"You killed him."

It's amazing, almost wondrous. Clark can feel the scream building up behind her words. "I had to."

"You... he..." She's shaking her head now, lips trembling.

Clark reaches out to stroke her face, but she. Flinches. "Mom, don't --"

"You killed him!"

There's no way he's going to make her understand this, but. But. "I love you so much, Mom. You and Dad tried so hard to teach me what was right --"

"This isn't you."

Strokes her face. She can only twist so far, after all. "It is."

"Something... some kind of mind control. Clark, it's not too late, listen to me, honey, please!"

Her hair is still so soft. Lemons. Clark shakes his head. "You taught me how to save them from themselves, but there's a better way. A more... it doesn't matter. I know you and Dad wouldn't approve. I know it would just... I don't want to hurt you, don't you see?"

Long shudder all through her and he wonders when he was supposed to stop thinking his mother was the most beautiful woman in the world.

Pulls her in close, and she's struggling, but she's nowhere near as strong as she used to be, and of course nowhere near as strong as Clark. Always good to hold on to his mother, even now with her shaking like this, with her fear so heavy in the good, clean air of their kitchen.

And when he backs away, she's still again. Eyes wide and wet, but... still. "Don't do this, Clark. When... when whatever this is wears off... I can't bear to think of you hurting like that, honey."

It stings, God it stings, but in the end... she should believe whatever's easiest, right?

He lays them side by side after a short argument with himself, kisses her forehead and then wipes it clean. Her throat, his father's.

Cleans the whole kitchen with bleach, every smooth surface shining by the time he's done.

Minutes have passed.

Considers destroying the farm utterly, but...

... in a few more minutes he's in his Metropolis apartment, apologizing profusely to Perry for not calling in sick earlier. He makes a point of being seen buying hot and sour soup -- his neighbor's tried and true remedy for colds -- and the evidence chain is as good as broken.

He tries to sit at home and wait for the inevitable call from the Smallville police department, but the fact is that Smallville isn't the same town it used to be, and chances are people wouldn't just be dropping by.

Maybe he should've waited until delivery day.

He feels... very light.

Floaty in exactly the way he used to be in the days just before he had to stop denying the whole flight-as-viable-option thing. And really, it makes a lot of sense. After all, what was today but proof that he could do anything?

Anything at all.

The only eyes he'll ever have to meet are grey-blue, and Lex has never needed anything more than he's needed Clark. He knows this. Nothing to hold him back, no one to judge him, no one he ever has to lie to. Not anymore.

Clark swallows against his thudding pulse.

If the police call while he's out he'll just say he was asleep, he'll monitor the apartment with his hearing, he'll have Lex watch the place, something --

Into the suit and out into the night fast as he can manage, and Lex is in the rooftop garden waiting for him when he arrives.

A gesture and two vaguely feminine shadows detach from the rest and disappear inside and Lex is... there. Close enough to touch, and studying his face. Breathing harshly in the cool air. There's almost too much wind tonight for the dome to be down, but Clark is grateful for every gust.

Sweating under his suit.

Lex blinks first, and pulls Clark close.

He wonders if he should call himself Kal-El.

"You... I would've done it for you, Clark." Soft-voiced. Gentle pressure at the small of his back.

It hadn't even occurred to him, but... "I know."

Something between a sigh and a moan and Clark holds Lex a little tighter. Gets an edged laugh for it. "Which of us needs the comforting?"

"I could be wrong, but probably not the one who has committed multiple murders within the last twenty-four hours."

Sharp intake of breath. "Clark --"

"Shh." Strokes Lex's scalp. Again, just for the feel. "I... know myself well enough to know that this would've been harder if they'd had any idea... or if I hadn't done it myself."

"It says something that that makes perfect sense to me. I'm not entirely sure what..."

Smiles against Lex's skin. Kisses, just because he can. Wonders how much more redecorating has gotten done since he's been gone.



"We'll remember them. I promise you. We'll make a world they can be proud of."

Just not in ways they could ever understand. The wind chills the sweat against Clark's skin, and he holds Lex a little tighter. "I know, Lex. I know."


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