Glaube

by Te



Glaube
by Te
April 2002

Disclaimers: If they were mine, I'd get a lot less sleep.

Spoilers: None, really.

Summary: They need to hash a few things out.

Ratings Note/Warnings: NC-17 for m/m and content some readers may find disturbing.

Author's Note: So Caroline put an incendiary image in my blog, and then LaT's and my usual wibbles about Lex took a religious turn, and, well... BAM. Sequel to "Unruhe." Read that first, or this won't make much sense:

http://www.smallvillefanfic.com/archive/1/unruhe.html

Glaube is German for "faith."

Acknowledgments: To my We in absentia, always my loves. To Liv and Jenn for audiencing, to the #smallville crew for keeping me company... and then the Spike came back just in time to save me from the corner I'd painted myself into. whew

Feedback connects you to the infinite. No, really. thete1@earthlink.net

*

"Take the suit off."

And it's not as though he was planning to leave it on, but... Lex. It's pathetic, and maybe it's a little sick, but it means more. Coming from him.

It gives the familiar motions of undoing the hidden clasps and zippers an air of ceremony, it rarefies the city light through the penthouse windows into something befitting a moonlit sacrifice.

Lex is somewhere behind him. Clark can place him by focusing on his heartbeat, on the rush of blood beneath the skin, but... he doesn't want to.

Better to not be able to quite see Lex for this, in any way.

Better to allow Lex the advantage.

There's a special kind of nudity once the jockies are gone, even with most of him still covered in the blue not-quite-spandex that had, he remembers now, been one of the simplest parts of his Kryptonian legacy. Dye mixed and designed by his mother herself, based on estimations of what a Terran sky would look like. Sized to match his father's proportions.

A gift for the child she'd never see grow.

The feeling of nudity is one he can't entirely explain. It would make more sense if his parents were more than just weary-eyed holograms alternately begging and demanding he be strong. If the suit hadn't become so much more (and less) than what it had been intended for.

Still.

He wants Lex to understand that stripping it off is... safer than leaving it on, all necessities for what they'll do in this bedroom aside.

The sound of fabric shifting behind him.

Lex is growing impatient. Clark smiles to himself a little. It's... possible there'll be other chances to explain.

He toes off the boots and peels out of the suit at something close to human speed, relishing the half-rational prickle at the back of his neck when he bends. Lex has always been able to make him feel every part of his body, and every part's connection to every other.

Clark remembers the early days of their sexual relationship, and the conflicting urges to pose a little, flex whatever muscle seemed to catch Lex's eyes while also wanting to dive under the covers and turn the lights off.

He knows what he looks like now. Not so different than before, but... there'd been a certain satisfaction in surrendering the years-long battle to his hair, cutting it only when it got long enough to form a respectable ponytail and otherwise leaving it alone. A confidence born of years walking through a world where not even thick, determinedly hideous glasses was enough to keep men and women from offering things he'd only ever associated with the man behind him.

He knows what he looks like as he stands again, turning his head to the side. Not quite enough to see Lex.

More than enough to be seen.

I'm giving you this, he wants to say. Take it only if you've figured out what to do with it, or take it anyway. I don't care, he doesn't say.

Hand on the back of his neck, thumb tracing the short hairs there. Firm in a way that would probably hurt a human.

"I should kick you out." Lex's voice is musing, hovering between bleak and blank. And... he could do it. Want doesn't have anything to do with what's between them.

Isn't that what they both learned the hard way? Clark smiles, a little sourly. "I'm kinda hoping you won't."

Slow hand down the center of his back, pressing at the hollow of his spine. "Just like that? Eight years of cold war... ended. Just like that."

"Would you prefer a return to the status quo, Lex?"

Low chuckle. "I'm never going to stop hating you for walking out, you know." Gentle, gentle strokes on the fine edge of molestation and massage.

Clark takes a deep breath. Wants this to begin, or end, or... breathe. "You'll never forgive me for being able to do it, even for a little while."

"A little --" Choked little laugh, ending on a growl. "I won't believe you if you say you're already feeling your immortality. The kids still know your music, even if they hate it. The faces are still smooth, still tight with youth..." Insinuating voice, low in his ear. Lex pressed close. So close. "You haven't been alone. Not yet."

"And you have?"

He can feel Lex's smile. "There's not enough room at the top for a whole lot of people, Clark." Bare, hard hand moving over his chest, down to his belly to tease his navel.

"But there's room for me."

A pause he can feel with his whole body. "And that's all that matters?" Teasing, teasing. "Careful, Clark. You only think you've lost your innocence. That sort of thing takes time. Compromise."

Clark lets his head fall back on Lex's shoulder, and Lex's wondering little sigh eases an ache he didn't know he had. "You're no Mephistopheles," he says to the ceiling, and he wonders if this is what the humans feel when the ground is rushing up to meet them. When Superman is nowhere in sight.

Lex's palm over his heart for a moment, another, before it curls into half a fist and presses. Short, sharp nails raking furrows down Clark's torso, flare of fathomless intensity that makes him jerk. Gasp. "We all have our little ambitions," Lex says.

"Fuck me."

"Yes."

"Hard. Like you used to. Like you only did when something pissed you off."

"Clark Kent, superhero and whipping boy to the stars?"

Clark reaches back to cup Lex's ass, still bare since the shreds of his shorts and sweats were irretrievable. Pulls him in hard. "Don't pretend you don't want to."

"Who are you to tell me --"

"Yours, Lex. I'm yours." Grinds back against Lex's erection and it's already building, shocks and wonders all through his system, aching everywhere they're not touching. Everywhere they are, and Lex. God. Lex is allowing it. Holding Clark tight and rocking against his ass in short, purposeful thrusts. Lex knew, Lex always knew...

Sharp shove and Clark overbalances, unprepared. Lands on his knees before the foot of the high bed, and oh God, yes.

Scrambles a knee up onto the mattress but Lex is there, hand on the back of his neck.

"No. Stay. Right there."

Clark gasps out something like Lex's name and stills, bracing himself as best he can. Spreading. "Yes. Yeah, okay --"

Hard slap to his ass, more a shock than anything else. "Shut up."

"Oh fuck --"

Another and Clark bites his lip. Waits for it.

Hands on his ass, on his back. Stroking and kneading. Relearning, and Clark wants to believe Lex's eyes are closed for this. That there's nothing more important in his mind right now than the fix of memory and sense.

Clark shivers and wants and there are so many words, all of a sudden. Questions and pleas and promises and apologies and the sort of fuck-drunk babble that only made sense in rooms like this. On nights like this.

Has to bite his lip again, his tongue. Tastes iron and the burning wash of healing and watches blood, black in moonlight, patter on Lex's pure white bed.

He used to only buy them in reds and purples. This is not a bed for Clark.

Yet.

Drops to his elbows, pushing his burning forehead against the cool, cool comforter. He wants to sweat, he wants to stain this bed, this Lex, and he knows he's being irrational, but God, it's been so long.

Fuck me, he thinks, and his brain doesn't have time to catch up to himself before Lex just... covers him. Body to body, that soft t-shirt nowhere close to what Clark wants to feel. Arches up anyway, bending his neck just a little more.

He can't speak, but he's almost sure he knows what Lex wants to hear just the same.

He knows what he needs.

The bite to his neck is slow and hard, making Clark shudder and shudder. His body isn't used to this anymore, and it's a shock to realize it had been. That sex, this kind of shivering, momentous closeness could ever be something he could take for granted.

The words are bubbling up again, and Clark can't keep silent. Whines from behind clenched teeth and wants to ask if this is the kind of compromise Lex meant.

If this is what he wanted.

God, Lex and his fucking beliefs. Faith in him unforgettable now, unimaginable only in terms of how he'd missed it. (We have a future)

Lex is gnawing on him steadily, rocking slow against his ass. Learning him, yes, and making Clark learn.

Is he conscious of it? Does he know what he's doing?

How much could a childhood with Lionel Luthor teach a terrifyingly brilliant boy about programming?

And God, but it would be sweet to be in Lex's little cult of one. Three if you included the bodyguards, but Clark has never been entirely comfortable thinking of the women as human. Superman has had to injure them far, far too many times for that.

Want you, oh, I want you, he breathes into a moan, fisting his hands in the comforter. He wants an excuse to rip it to shreds, and Lex gives him one:

Firm, slow lick just beneath Clark's hairline with the flat of his tongue, and Lex had been the one to teach him that. How to touch someone with your tongue until it might as well have been just another hand.

How to use it to drive a boy wild, how to leave him begging from that alone.

Strokes against the grain of his skin, down Clark's arms until Lex can catch his fists in his own and then back up again.

Sharp, steady bites on his back. Down the center of his spine, on his shoulderblades. Punishment and promise for them both. Lex is damaging his jaw more than Clark's idiot flesh. The bites fall not-quite-randomly, just off-pattern enough to keep Clark guessing, writhing, and this is...

So good.

Flash of guilt -- he still hasn't patrolled -- but --

Hands on his ass, spreading him. Lex's tongue in his cleft and Clark groans aloud, biting it off much too late and waiting for Lex to stop. He can feel Lex stop, almost see him pulling off, moving away, leaving him oh fuck alone, but it's not happening.

All in his head, and the worry has just lost him time. Sensation.

Wet, slick heat and every time Lex does this might as well be the first time, dirty-hot and raw. Unexpected, even those times Lex laid him out and told him exactly what he was going to do to Clark, for Clark. Nothing like this... intimacy.

Shameless and nearly unmanning and Clark is as hard as he's been in years, since the days when he woke up aching and desperate for the Lex who apologized in his dreams, open and naked, so naked --

His lip is open again and Clark burrows his face into the mattress, scrubbing himself into it and Lex is... ah, still teasing, but teasing like this is as good as a fuck. Licking him open and pulling away, again and again, smooth, hairless cheeks pressed to his body and hard hands holding him so open.

Clark feels himself shaking from the strain of not thrusting back hard, but it just makes it better, hotter. Lex's health and well-being under his control. Clark's pleasure and sanity under Lex's.

Poetry there, or symmetry, or just simple rightness and Clark bites his lip open again on purpose. Blood for this. Bleed for it. Has to... something. Offer this, and Lex's first dip inside makes Clark feel bestial, imperfect and dirty and hot all over.

Sweating, now, and the silence is broken with Lex's wet sounds and Clark's mindless noise and it could be any night, any day, but it isn't, it *isn't*.

This is tonight, and the weight of everything that's come before is both omnipresent and useless. Oh, God, he'd been so young.

"Please..." And it might as well be the first word spoken in years, the only one. Doesn't bother to stifle a moan as Lex pulls away. Clark can hear him lick his lips. He thinks he can hear the tiny, juddering pause as Lex's tongue flicks over the scar.

"I thought I told you --"

"Listen. You have to listen to me, Lex --"

"I don't have to do anything." Cold. So cold.

"I came here. I... I gave myself to you --"

"That's your problem."

And yeah, he had no right to expect it to be this easy. Hurt radiating from Lex like an oven, like the polar ice caps, but... he's still there. Right behind him. Clark can hear Lex's heart pound. "I'm here now, Lex."

Sharp laugh, almost entirely real. "I don't know what I thought I was doing when I started work on your self-esteem, Clark, but I refuse to take credit for delusional ego."

Clark looks back over his shoulder and grins in pure calculation. "I'm all yours, Lex. What you dreamed about. What you cursed yourself for needing."

"Get out." Flicker.

"I know it because it's me, too. Both of us. You have your faith and your pretty white sheets and you're all alone. Is that what you really wanted? To be a martyr for your own godhead?"

"I don't..." Lex trails off, scrubs a hand over his face. Muffled laughter from behind his palm and then Lex is looking at him again, eyes bright and glittering in the uncertain light. "You're the only one who ever made lying hard."

Clark shifts to rest on his back, bloody sheets sticky against his back. "You hate me for that." Clark smiles a little wider, meaning it in some part of himself he's reasonably sure didn't exist the last time he and Lex were naked together. "It's all right. I hate you for letting me leave."

"Letting you leave?"

"Don't play dumb, Lex. You know who I was then. What I would've done for you. A word here, a touch there... you owned me."

"I still do."

"So prove it. Take me. Fuck me. Show me who's boss." And Clark is... tired. This was supposed to be easier, wasn't it? Didn't he think that?

"Ah, Clark..."

And God, he can't take that... sadness. Reaches up and hauls Lex on top of him, shifting just enough for Lex's chin to hit the pillow instead of his shoulder. Rolls them over and pins Lex down and this, yes, this, too..."Show me your faith, Lex. Because I'm not doing this anymore. I'm not going to pretend and I'm not going to keep... keep circling around you like some stupid fucking satellite."

Lex shows his teeth. "You still live for the simple answers, don't you?"

"The past is past. Isn't that what you used to say?"

"I was young and stupid --"

"I hurt you."

There should be something wrong about loving the way he can make Lex just... shut down. But. It's proof.

"I believed in you --"

"You believed what you wanted to believe --"

Easy to smile. "It still hurt."

Staring each other down, now, and this should be harder, the tension shouldn't feel as right as everything else, but...

It does. Lex. There are other definitions of immortality, other interpretations of forever.

Lex breaks first, blinking and turning away for a moment, mouth tight and eyes angry. "What do you want from me, Clark?"

"You. Us. I never loved anyone else. Did you?"

"No. But that doesn't matter --"

"It matters to me."

Twisted fish-hook smile. "Forgive the cliche, Clark, but what about... God, I can't even say it, it's fucking ridiculous --"

Lex's cheek against his palm is cool. Smooth. Impossible not to caress and Clark doesn't try. "It's what we need."

Long sigh. "Nothing's changed."

"Everything has. I know who you are now. And I'm never going to lie again about who I am."

Lex studies him openly for long moments. "And who's that, Clark?"

"An alien. A man. Yours."

Sharp breath. "This would be the best time to point out that relationships built on possessive obsession --"

"Are all we know."

It shocks a laugh out of Lex. "That's pretty fucking sad, Clark."

Grins back. "I don't know, I always kinda thought it was hot."

"Did you..." Just like that. Anger to thoughtfulness to sarcasm to... heat.

"Yeah..."

"You always wanted someone to hold the leash, didn't you? Someone to give it up for..."

Clark rocks his hips, tries to keep his eyes open. Skin. God, skin. "You always needed someone to leash... someone who would. Fuck. Understand..."

"Understand what?"

"Everything. Someone who has a choice about whether to give it up or not. Someone who wants to do it anyway."

"God, Clark..."

Thrusts a little harder, more purposefully, and this is the same as ever. Wanting this feeling, this ridiculously smooth skin and all that hard muscle against his cock and wanting so much more, even if he has to stop. Takes his hands off Lex's shoulders and sits up on his knees, still rocking. "Lex. Lex, fuck, tell me what you want, I'll --"

And Lex is out from under him, fast and agile, arm hard around Clark's throat and breath hot in his ear. "You used to be more subtle about manipulating me."

"I didn't --" Lex's arm tightens. "... know I was manipulating you."

"No?"

"Not for the important things."

Sharp teeth behind his ear. "You didn't want to believe. You're good at that."

"I..." The next bite makes Clark struggle a little, just enough to give Lex more skin to touch. Please. "I used to be." Another bite, harder, and Lex is turning Clark until they're face to face. Awkward, somewhere close to pain. Lex could snap necks with his bare hands. Clark leans in to kiss, tasting himself, dark and impure on Lex's tongue. Wants to bury himself inside, get everything, be everything.

"No more lies between us, Clark." Deadly serious, rage just beneath the surface.

"No. I never knew you were so angry..." Leans in for another kiss and Lex allows it, taking control with one finger pressed to the hinge of Clark's jaw and another digging into the tortured tendon in his throat. The sound of his own muffled moan makes Clark desperate. Needy.

"You know now." It's not a question.

"Yes."

"You know why."

"I never... there was so much I didn't see..."

"You see now."

"God, yes, Lex..."

"What did you dream, Clark? That I'd come back to you? Beg you to come back to me?"

"I knew you never would."

Tongue in his ear, fast and nowhere as insinuating as the low drawl of Lex's voice. "You wanted it, though."

It's almost pain, now. Pressure points undoubtedly learned from someone thorough and sadistic. "I thought I did. Lex --"

"You think you know better now."

"Yes."

"And the next time you have a little epiphany, Clark?"

Has to laugh, even though he knows it makes Lex want to hurt him, kill him for being able to do so. Sobers as much as he can. "I'm sick of epiphanies, Lex. You can do the believing for both of us."

Lex's jaw works for a long, silent moment. His breath is sweet. "That's not good enough."

"What would be? Promises? A proposal? Hey, you're a Senator. Get that Protection of Marriage thing thrown out --"

A little more pressure to Clark's jaw. "I'm getting really fucking sick of your attitude."

"And I'm getting tired of you taking out your hits on me. I left you, fine --"

"This isn't about --"

"Yes it is, Lex. You want... you want to know if you can believe in me. I want to know what the fucking point is. I'm here now. I'm here now."

"God. And I bet you don't think you're manipulating me now." And Lex lets him go, moves to push him away, but Clark can't allow that.

Reaches back to hold him still, pull him in tight against his side. Lex's cock pressed just beneath his ribs and God. God. The feel of him struggling as good as everything else. "I'm just trying to get you to fuck me, Lex, I..." But. That's not what Lex sees. Lex with his eyes on the conversation they'll be having five minutes, five years from now.

Lex who doesn't trust him anymore, and can't possibly imagine showing weakness the way Clark has tonight without ulterior motives stacked far, far beneath other ulterior motives. Takes a breath. Lets go just enough to turn Lex in his arms.

Face to face, and the rush of the muscle-strain healing makes him shiver.

"Tell me what it would take, Lex."

And it's the same smile Lex always used when Clark lied to him, but... Sudden, sharp focus. "Put the suit back on."

"What? Why --"

And Lex is standing, moving to the armoire. "Just do it. There's something you need to see."

"Lex --"

"You asked. Now I'm going to show you." He doesn't bother to turn around, just dresses with cool efficiency.

Not the way he dressed in the mornings after when they were still together, unless he was going to a meeting with his father. Did you kill him, Clark wants to ask. Did you design the poison yourself? There's a knot in Clark's belly, resting uncomfortably somewhere above the tangle of frustration and frustrated arousal. Clark tamps it down as best he can and dresses quickly, willing his erection to subside.

It works about as well as he expected it to, which is not much at all.

Superman. God, he could laugh until he lost his mind.

"Ready?" Lex is straightening his tie.

Clark nods and follows Lex out of the apartment, sparing a glance for Hope, stone-faced to the left of the door.

The original guard is still there, and tips his cap to Lex, who ignores him.

Clark searches the guard's face for clues, and receives nothing but a curious look in return.

This is what it will be, a small voice whispers inside him. This is how they'll look at you, once this is over.

Look at who? Superman?

There's no answer.

The elevator is hidden cleverly behind still more mahogany paneling, and is obviously private. Spacious enough for Lex and a bodyguard or two, but no one else. Clark can smell sex on them both, and whatever expensive detergent was used on the thick carpeting.

Lex looks perfect, as unruffled as he does in the office, in front of the cameras... everywhere that doesn't matter.

He returns Clark's stare, but doesn't say a word for the entire trip down into unmarked sub-levels.

Clark hadn't realized they were there.

The door slides open with a tasteful hush and Lex pauses just outside the elevator. "Lead-lined, of course. I had the work done while you were assisting the earthquake relief efforts in Tokyo."

"Is this..."

"No. Follow me."

The floors down here aren't carpeted at all, the lights bare, harsh fluorescents that highlight the shadows under Lex's eyes, the leanness of his body under the perfectly tailored clothes.

Lex has always seemed to exist on the edge of ruthless health and starvation. Clark has the sudden, irrational urge to shoot out all the lights with his heat vision, to send the stark warehouse-like space into a kinder, if jagged darkness.

His boot-heels clack on cement, the soles of Lex's shoes are softer.

There isn't much here, the walls painted a battleship grey. There are a few file cabinets -- made of lead as well -- but Lex passes them without a look.

They come to something like a room within a room. A further leaded box, twenty by twenty by ten. There is only one door, and Lex pauses with his hand raised to knock. "Last chance, Clark." He isn't looking at him.

"Do it."

The knock seems like Morse code, but it's no pattern Clark can figure. The door opens soon enough, though, and it's Mercy in full fantasy-chauffeur regalia. There's a certain professional warmth in her eyes when she sees Lex, gone immediately when Clark steps out of minuscule shadow.

She raises an eyebrow, but doesn't say a word, or reach for her weapon.

"How is the good doctor, Mercy?"

Doctor?

"He seems to believe that I can be bribed, but other than that he's in good health. He ate most of his past three meals. His vital signs are within normal parameters. He wants to know if he can have books. He is..." Mercy's eyes narrow, almost imperceptibly. "Garrulous."

Lex chuckles softly. "Noted. You're on half-duty for now. Delta twelve."

Brief glance Clark's way. "Hope, sir?"

"An unavoidable inconsistency of command. You know your duties."

Sharp nod, crisp as a salute, and Mercy slips past them to the elevator.

"You're putting Hope on surveillance?"

Sour twist to Lex's mouth. "Lucky guess? Never mind. Hope and Mercy are my family, Clark. I will see to their needs. Now come on."

Inside the hot little room is... a man. Short, balding, with the sort of stoop Clark's come to associate with scientists who spend too much time in labs and too little time in the real world.

He's pale, sweating beneath the eyes. His obviously expensive glasses are fogged, his clothes are faintly rumpled. The room is clean but stale, empty save for a cot, a chair with restraints, and a primitive commode. A cell. The man is staring at him with a sickening mix of hope and terror, eyes darting to Lex in quick, random intervals.

There's something squirrelish about him, something inescapably mammalian and vulnerable.

"Superman. Meet Dr. Burgess. Dr. Burgess, meet Superman. You're going to have a lot to say to each other, I think."

"L-Lex, what is this?" Clark bites his tongue hard.

Burgess' eyes widen and he takes a step back.

"It's really very simple, Superman. Dr. Burgess was formerly one of the brighter lights at Cadmus. His work on fetal stem cell research was absolutely phenomenal, and the patents on some of his discoveries are going to make me billions of dollars within the next ten years. It would've made him rich enough to retire to his own private, tropical paradise, complete with discreet prostitutes of whatever flavor he so chose."

"Stem cell research --"

"Is patently illegal in this country, and rather unethical -- to some. It's also our current best hope for cures for Parkinson's, diabetes, Alzheimer's, MS... etcetera. Dr. Burgess fancies himself a... how did you describe it, doctor? A 'practical humanitarian?'"

Burgess takes another step back, sweat beading on his scalp. He swallows with an audible click, eyes still as wide and wild as a terrified animal, flicking back and forth between Clark and Lex with increasing desperation. "You don't understand, Superman! I didn't know where the stem cells were coming from, I thought... I thought --"

"Dr. Burgess didn't ask where the cells were coming from, Superman." Lex's voice is smooth, richly amused. "Dr. Burgess didn't really want to know, isn't that right?"

"No. I... no, that isn't it at all. Superman, you have to --"

Clark bites the inside of his lip, trying to keep his expression clear. "Get to the point, Luthor."

Lex's game face is as good as his own. "Well... as near as I can tell, the good doctor grew a conscience at some point. Or something close to it. What do you know about abortion laws in this country, Superman?"

"Luthor --"

Lex is smiling. Making it look easy. "Humor me. Just for a moment or two."

"It's getting harder and harder for women to get inexpensive and safe abortions. Everyone knows that. The protesters outside the clinics, the parental consent laws... what's your point?"

Lex's smile gets a little wider, a little sharper. "LexCorp stands firmly behind a woman's right to choose, Superman. You figure it out."

Clark closes his eyes for a moment. "You've been supplementing the income of the local clinics." The news of the charitable windfall had been in all the papers six months ago. Lois had come disturbingly close to expressing faith in her species.

"And providing useful security."

"And... harvesting tissue."

"Terribly illegal, but..."

"Practical?" Clark opens his eyes and looks into Lex's blank ones. How anyone could ever believe in that smile...

There's a hand on his arm, warm and clammy even through the suit.

"You've got to believe me, Superman! I was going to the press, the police, everyone! I was going to stop this."

Clark doesn't bother to look at the man. "Was he?"

"Oh, yes. He collected quite a dossier. Charts, pictures, bank statements... he had help, of course, but he would've made an excellent spy in another... life."

"The help?"

Burgess is tugging on his arm, now. "Dead! He killed them! I saw the bodies! They... he showed me oh God oh God..."

Lex nods slowly. "So, really, Superman... the only question that remains is what to do with the doctor." Lex turns to look at Burgess, tilting his head like an acquisitive bird. "He seems awfully attached to the idea of saving the aborted fetuses for a noble trip to the incinerator, but it's possible that he could come to see the error of his ways, I suppose...

"Or I could call Mercy back down here and finish the job."

"And that's why I'm here? To make the choice between letting you reprogram Burgess and letting you kill him?"

"Well, there's always the heroic rescue option. The evidence is gone, of course, but still. A job for Superman and all that." Lex leans against a bare, metal wall, hands in his pockets and eyes glittering far more than his smile would explain. "You asked what it would take... Superman."

A small gift that Lex isn't using his name, the pause a reminder of that gift. An acknowledgment of the choice Lex may even really believe Clark still has.

A tug at his arm. "Superman? You aren't... you aren't going to let them kill me, are you?"

Human suffering. Human frailty. It's... hard to look at Burgess. His fear is high, rank in the recycled air. His sweat is sour. His eyes roll like an animal's and his heart pounds arrythmically.

"They... I thought the tissue was coming from overseas..."

"Overseas."

"You know." Nervous giggle. "Where it's legal. Where..." Burgess swallows again, wet sound loud, too loud.

Clark fights to keep his face blank. "The tissue would still be coming from aborted fetuses, wouldn't it?"

"I... suppose... but I --"

Clark forces himself to breathe normally, trying not to think of all the microscopic particles of the man he's taking in. Filth. He can feel Lex's eyes on him. "So really, all you'd be doing is yanking funding from the clinics."

Burgess lets go, backing away fast, almost... scurrying. Stumbles over the chair and sits down hard and scrambles to his feet again. "It's wrong! They... they're paying women to abort their children, Superman! They're making us livestock!"

This is how they'll look at you, the little voice reminds him. How they'll plead, begging you not to betray them.

So very frail.

"Superman, please! We can't let them treat us like animals!"

Burgess backs himself into a corner while Superman watches, and that's just... far too funny, really. When you thought about it. Clark turns to Lex. "How long have you had him down here, waiting for this moment?"

"Sometimes coincidences really do happen, Superman." Deceptively lazy shrug. "So what's it going to be?"

"Can't you guess?"

Tang of fresh urine in the air -- Burgess has wet himself. Lex spares a disgusted glance for him before turning back to Clark. "Honestly? I really can't."

"What do you want me to do?"

"Whatever you can live with, Superman."

Clark nods, and it's the work of a moment to snap the doctor's neck, another to wipe the man's sweat from his palm, another to press Lex against the wall. To breathe something other than pathetic animal death. "Call me Clark."

And there's fear in Lex's eyes, so much fear that for a moment Clark feels like he made the wrong choice, but...

The fear fades, withering under a rush of elation, of triumph so powerful Clark thinks he can feel it entering him, altering him, melting through Lex's skin into his own.

"Clark. Oh, Clark... we're going to change the world."

And in the interstice, the blink before the kiss knows is coming, Clark feels something vast and terrible burning him away from the inside out.

He wonders if it's faith.

End.



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