Closing the Distance
Summary: The rest of the story; sequel to Distance and Distant Truth Spoilers: None.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
He's never come here before.
The French doors open, warm breeze wafting into the penthouse along with him, and the first thought that goes through Lex's mind is the location of the small lead-lined box which houses the green-stoned ring. It's in the top left drawer of the desk, across the room, and Lex knows that if he bolts for it, Superman is more than fast enough to get there first.
The first step into the room sounds the alarm, and Lex's bodyguards burst in, guns at the ready, stopping in their tracks at the sight of Superman, standing in the room, hands raised in the air, vague look of amusement on his face.
Lex raises a hand of his own to stay any premature firing.
"War or peace tonight, Superman?" Lex asks, already knowing the answer, as Lex himself is still standing, unharmed.
"Peace, Luthor. If it was war, I would have had you flown out of here before they even got into the room."
Lex nods briefly in agreement and turns to the three men charged with his safekeeping.
"You're dismissed. For the night. Don't come back here unless I call you."
"Sir," the titular head of the team begins to protest, but Lex silences him with a look. He takes his two companions and they back out of the room, closing the door behind them.
Lex walks away from the television and the stock market reports crawling across the bottom of the screen and heads for the small bar, silent question for Superman as he lifts the brandy bottle and a glass.
"You know better." Superman refuses.
Lex pours himself an unhealthy portion and waves toward a chair. "Right. No drinking on duty. Are you ever off duty? And why are you here? What immoral thing is it you imagine I've done today?"
Superman prefers to remain standing, so Lex shrugs and leans back against his desk casually, legs resting out in front of him and crossed at the ankles. Deceptively calm, a swallow of brandy as he waits for Superman to answer the question, burn of the liquid in his throat an inadequate distraction from the tightly-clothed figure in front of him.
"This morning," Superman begins. "It feels like unfinished business, and I don't want that between us."
Lex regards him coolly, apparent composure belied by the unseen tremble making tiny ripples in his brandy. "I was under the impression that you finished our business one morning twelve years ago in Smallville. Am I mistaken? Or were you?"
"I didn't think it was a mistake, certainly not then. And if the amount of times I've had to stop you from a course of destruction is any indication, I was right."
Lex digests this statement silently, searching the hero's eyes before him for some piece of the man left behind. They seem to be on even footing here, and Lex doesn't particularly relish the fact.
"I don't want to have this conversation with you, Superman. I'm very busy tonight. Call LexCorp main office tomorrow, make an appointment, and I'll be happy to discuss anything that's not ancient Smallville history."
There's a deliberate smirk in his voice as he says this, and, with a flash of color, Superman has left the penthouse. Lex is just about to go back to his stock reports when he feels the breeze, turns to see Flyboy has indeed returned, and is in the process of superspeed changing into street clothes; jeans; comfy tee shirt, and it's Clark now, and Lex unexpectedly needs another drink.
"Can we have the conversation now, Lex?" he asks sarcastically.
"Possibly. But you haven't answered my question," Lex reminds him, glass in his hand, desk at his back and, truth be told, the entire penthouse and rest of the city totally forgotten at this glimpse of the past, standing in the warm flesh before him.
Clark rolls his eyes, shades of the old Clark all over him now. "Which one? You've asked me a hundred questions today, Lex. You get the answer to one of them. You pick. Which answer do you want the most? Why did I save you instead of Lois? Why am I here? Why did I leave you? Was I mistaken? Pick one if you can."
Clark is deadly serious now, despite the little eye roll a few seconds ago, and Lex knows immediately which answer he wants, can hardly manage to get the words out, and still has to push, still has to have the upper hand.
Lex shrugs, taking a sip from the glass again, eyes meeting Clark's over the rim of crystal, and his heart starts to pound, heat strumming through his veins, unreal sense of loss, and it's totally beyond his control.
"I don't think I want any of the answers. But, I do think you want to give them to me."
Lex can see Clark start to build the wall, the separation between them, and the fleeting look of sadness on Clark's face almost makes Lex regret the words, but he has to know, has to force the issue.
"Don't play me, Lex," Clark says tiredly. "It's late, I've had a lot on my mind today, and I know you. I won't take this manipulation from you. This is what happened in the first place, if you remember."
"I wouldn't think of it," Lex replies. "But after all, you came to me, so you must have some point to get across."
Lex needs a refill and heads for the bar, silently offering one to Clark again, who shakes his head slightly, wanting one badly, but afraid of choking on the tightness in his throat tonight.
"You're right," Clark admits. "I had to come here and get it all out in the open, once and for all. I'm tired of playing cowboys and Indians with you for the last decade. One, I have no idea in the universe why I flew to you first. It was a totally unconscious decision on my part, and I have agonized about it every day and night since then. I don't know if it was a mistake or not, that's kind of up to you."
Lex raises the brandy to him in a gesture of gratitude. "Two?" he prompts.
Clark looks down at his feet briefly, gathering thoughts or courage, something intangible to hold onto, looks back up at Lex with an openness Lex hasn't seen in a dozen years, and Lex is floored, entirely unprepared for the surge of feeling in himself at the sight, controls his expression with maximum effort, but knows Clark can see it anyway.
"Two is....I'm not sure if Smallville was a mistake or not, either, " he admits quietly. Lex's heart stops, and the earnest look on Clark's face does nothing but twist the knife that has resided there for years. Lex can't do this, can't take that same hurt all over again, wants to reach into that desk drawer and put on that ring. Caress the man before him with the deadly jewel and watch him writhe in agony. Can't. He looks at Clark thoughtfully. "If I'm not mistaken a second time tonight, I believe I told you then that your decision was a bad call. Or words to that effect." Except, as Lex remembers the scene, it had been more like almost begging, and it had been years before he forgave Clark in his heart for reducing him to a level he'd never visited before. Or since. Clark sighs. "You did. It looks like I was right, though, when I see all these things you do, when I spend half my time trying to prevent catastrophes caused by you. How would it look, Lex, for us to still be together and you'd always be doing these barely legal and immoral things?" Sprig of hope trying to come to life inside and Lex crushes it viciously, futilely. "Personally, I don't care how anything looks. Are you asking me to take you back? After all these years?" The tone of the question demands a negative answer, but Clark doesn't want to lie, doesn't want to live a lie any longer, and with everyone but Lex gone, he has nothing.
"I don't expect you to do anything. You were right this morning, when you said I miss her. She's not the only one I miss. I just wanted to let you know, see if we can come to some kind of agreement. Stop fighting."
Lex lifts an eyebrow. "Dtente? Lex Luthor and Superman? Hardly seems possible."
The teasing tone of Lex's voice is discouraging, and Clark turns to go, through the regular door this time. No flying without the suit. Lex's words follow him, and Clark is unsure of their sincerity. Feels like Lex is taunting him, punishing him for coming here tonight.
"Of course, anything's possible. Who's to say my supposedly evil plans couldn't tend to lean in a more ethical direction if they're critiqued by someone more, well, more ethical?"
The teasing is gone from Lex's voice as he reaches the door, as the next words stop him just before he steps through it.
"All you have to do is ask. Just ask." The words are out of Lex's mouth before he can stop them, but they speak the truth, hanging in the space between them, and Clark pauses in the doorway, trying to decide if he hears what he thinks he hears, and his breath catches in his chest painfully, squeezes around his heart and he can't turn around, can't take the chance that he's misheard, waits for affirmation to come.
Affirmation doesn't, so Clark turns and Lex is still standing there, nothing on his face to reveal the truth, and Clark is sure he must have imagined it.
"Lex?" he says tentatively.
"I won't ever go back to Smallville, metaphorically or otherwise." He watches Clark's eyes as the hurt crawls into them and he can't do it anymore.
"I will take you back. As long as the dtente holds."
Clark isn't breathing, stands perfectly still in the doorway, looking for even a hint of deception, and he can't find any, still can't make his legs move him back into the room. Lex reaches behind to put his glass down without even looking, takes in the sight of exquisite realization slowly overcoming the pain in Clark's eyes, and Lex is abruptly, achingly, impatient.
"You're very far away over there." He hints softly.
Superspeed puts Clark very much closer in an instant, and Lex's breath is stolen from him by the strong hands framing his face, the lips warming his, the "Lex," whispered into his mouth. Lex's hands reach up unbidden to twist themselves in Clark's hair, and everything is exactly as before, feels and tastes exactly the way he remembers.
Clark runs his hands smoothly across the muscles of Lex's back, "Lex," breathes onto Lex's skin, lips lick his. "Lex," again, and Clark tongues Lex's lips gently, insistently, hands coming back to move deliberately, maddeningly, on Lex's face.
"Say my name," Clark demands against Lex's mouth, almost unheard under the moan Lex can feel building inside. "I want to hear it, I need to hear you say it."
Lex tightens his grip on the wealth of softness in his fingers and manages to speak, mostly needy sound, "Clark," finally, after years, and the word breaks him. Lex's mouth devours hungrily, and he's back against the desk, hard and painful, doesn't care, can't, can only feel the enticing heat in front of him, feels the slow, hungry kiss invading every part of him, feels Clark trembling with want against him.
"How far?" Clark is murmuring into Lex's mouth, words having a hard time getting through to the part of Lex's brain that might still be verbal.
Lex makes some kind of questioning sound, reluctant to give up the feel of Clark in his mouth to speak coherently.
Clark pulls away from Lex, and Lex feels the loss all over, aches to pull him back, heart pounding frantically at the heated desire he sees in Clark's eyes.
"How far to the bedroom?" Clark asks, moving his hands to Lex's hips, pulling them together urgently, hip to hip, hardness to hardness.
"Not as far as it was this morning," Lex assures him, closing the distance between them again to reclaim Clark's mouth.
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