A Formal Feeling Comes

by Nifra Idril


As always, thanks to Lyra.


Disclaimer: Not mine, y'all.

A/N: The title of this fic comes from an Emily Dickinson poem. The lines are "...after great pain/ a formal feeling comes."

A Formal Feeling Comes


Clark might not be the smartest person he knows, but he isn't stupid, either. And yeah, maybe he's young, but he's not that young, and he knows what the looks Lex has been giving him mean.

Or should mean, in a world that's right and fair. Knows the way silver shoots up through the blue of Lex's eyes like fire when Clark stands close enough for Lex's breath to stir his hair. Knows that Lex catches his breath when Clark touches him, and knows that he can feel Lex's smiles skip-tingling over every inch of his skin. And he knows that all of that pretty much spells sex.

It's been months, dammit, months, and every time Lex looks at him -- well every time Lex looks at him like that, Clark feels those eyes mapping out the contours, shapes, lines of his body. It's like Lex wants to touch him, but can't, and so he lets his eyes run over Clark's body like hands, like lips. It makes Clark feel naked, all the time, and he wants to be, and sometimes Lex's smile gets predatory and they're so close that Clark can smell coffee and orange juice on Lex's breath -- and nothing happens.

Clark knows if something happened it would be illegal, knows that Lex is trying to make good and that seducing under-age farm boys from the middle of nowhere doesn't really fit in with that plan. And plus, Clark is a farm boy from the middle of nowhere - so he figures that maybe Lex doesn't think he gets it. That maybe Lex doesn't know that Clark...that Clark wants desperately to just touch Lex all over, and feel the rocking, rolling rhythm of Lex's breathing.

Clark's thought about it a lot, and a while back, he realized that he was going to have to make the first move. He was bad at that with Lana, how the hell was he ever going to make a first move with Lex?

Lana is all curves and soft laughter and if he made an ass of himself she'd let him forget it, but Lex...Lex is all angles; eyes pointed, polished, like weapons, and he's got sharp, sharp teeth, and also a memory longer than the royal red carpet people stretch out in front of him. Besides, screwing up with Lana just meant caffeine withdrawal for a while and maybe a couple of awkward moments in the hallway.

No big deal.

Screwing up with Lex means losing his best friend, and yeah, he'll still have Pete and Chloe but the thing about Pete and Chloe is that they aren't Lex. Lex, who can make Clark feel like he is a real person - interesting, and worth knowing, and who can put him back together with a well placed smirk.

He's spent months agonizing over it, weeks trying to decide whether or not to make a move at all. But every night, he closes his eyes, whispers Lex's name and listens to the crinkle of the sheets, the quiet grunts he tries to stifle as he jerks himself off, and when he goes over to the mansion he wants Lex so much that it makes his stomach feel hollow. Just wants to be able to rest his head on Lex's shoulder, and kiss him gently, or hold his hand. Wants it too much to go without it.

So when afternoon sun filtered through Lex's lashes, staining them ginger and lighting the blond in them, and Lex leaned lightly against the pool table, Clark hadn't been able to stop himself. Hadn't been able to fight the thin line of the frown on Lex's forehead, or the sad way his mouth pursed to the left, and so Clark had leaned in, and brushed his lips ever so lightly across the smooth skin of Lex's cheek. He'd moved his hand across the soft purple felt and covered Lex's hand, interlacing their fingers, and breathing out a soft, simple sigh against Lex's ear -- a sigh that might have been Lex's name.

And there really hadn't ever been a moment in Clark's life like that one, even if it only lasted for a couple of seconds - seconds that were light, and airy, and brushed against the inside of Clark's heart like feathers.

And he'd hoped, and maybe it had been stupid, because...Lex was Lex; he was carved of ivory, and his eyes spat sapphire, and Clark was just a not so dumb kid who was really bad at lying, but did it all the time.

Lex had pulled his hand out from underneath Clark's, stepped back. His face was tight, and he looked at something over Clark's left shoulder, and he asked Clark to leave without saying a word.

Clark didn't run, which, maybe was a little strange. Just walked, slowly, woodenly out of the castle and closed the front door behind him, gently. Didn't think or feel anything except for the subtle shifting of his muscles as he walked all the way home, one deliberate step at a time. It took hours, but he didn't really notice. He walked through the cornfields, alongside the road, and was covered with a fine film of red dust by the time he got home. It was dark out, and his parents were arguing in the kitchen. He heard his mom's voice, strident with worry and knew it was his fault, but couldn't really stir himself to care or feel guilty.

He dropped his backpack by the door, knowing they'd see it eventually and figure out that he was home, and he turned, and walked to the barn. Just as slowly, just as mechanically as he had walked home -- walked away from Lex. Climbed up the stairs, and now he sits on the couch, one hand fiddling distractedly with his telescope and what's strangest is that this could be any other night.

Except that Clark feels like something necessary has been pulled out of him and now there's nothing left to keep his skin from collapsing in on itself, because it hangs over nothing of importance. It's not an ache, or even really numbness, but something else that spreads over and through him, and he can barely keep breathing. His chest feels heavy, and empty.

Clark's not stupid, and he knows that Lex might wanthim, sure. But Lex doesn't want him -- doesn't want anything more than his body, not now. And God...there isn't anything in the world that could have prepared Clark for that.

And it's his fault. He knows there was a time when Lex would have turned his head enough to meet Clark's searching kiss, knows that Lex would have pressed him down onto that pool table and stripped Clark naked and with those long, fine fingers would have done all of the things that Clark had always wanted. And Clark wouldn't have told Lex that he loved him, because Clark would have been too overcome to speak, and so he'd just have wrapped his body around Lex and shown him. Clark knows that once, this might have happened, because it was always there. Just hovering in the periphery whenever Lex talked to him - tickling like a laugh trying to be suppressed.

It was all in Lex's voice, in Lex's eyes, the way he touched Clark gently, and looked at him in the light. It was more than friendship, and it was more than sex, and it was fragile, and essential and now it's gone.

Lex gave Clark trust like it was air, breathing it into him, begging to have the gift returned. And Clark breathed it in like he deserved it and told stupid, facile lies, and expected Lex to accept them, just because it was easier and Clark was afraid. Of what it didn't matter, because now he knows Lex's skin feels soft, smooth like ice against his lips, and he knows he'll never feel it again, even if he sees it every day of his life.

And Clark can feel all the air leaving his lungs, and he can hear the sound of wind making love to the cornfields and crickets calling up the stars, but it's all far away. He never knew heartbreak was filled with such stillness.



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