Eyes closed tight, just one image superimposed on Clark's eyelids. A silhouette of bare scalp, a man standing in front of him.
Lex's balcony catches the morning sun.
Layers of noise drift over him, a birdcall, a street vendor's cry, traffic so constant that he no longer hears it. One week in Metropolis and already he can tune out the city. All that he's aware of is vibration rather than distinct sound. It reminds him where and who and how close.
Very close. The primitive rhythms of lungs breathing and hearts pounding, blood rushing through veins and arteries. His own blood and Lex's, in tandem, racing each other.
One heavy step forward with leaden feet. No further. Still empty space between them, a few inches. It could be the frozen vacuum between galaxies, too daunting a stretch to bridge. At least he was a child when he last crossed space, traveled from that gap in the night sky that once upon a time was Krypton. No decisions necessary, all made for him. He didn't have to be brave to do that. It's more like a fairytale to him, of bold exploits of long ago, than his own past.
Lex is talking, details of his new apartment. "Of course, it will be much better when the entertainment room is finished."
"What's left to go in?" He should be more interested, would be normally.
"I've a fifty inch High-Definition Plasma TV coming tomorrow, and I need to choose a pool table."
"Yeah? That'll be good."
It's not dark, even though he's pressing his eyelashes together. Sunbeams filter red through his closed eyelids, bright blood red light, vampire rich but sun warm.
Lex's breath is a little gaspy, as though his mouth is open. Clark is aware of every in and out, notices each tiny change in depth. Hearing it makes his heart pound more.
All Clark has to do is reach out and his arms would be around Lex. He could pull that lean body toward him, slide his hands slowly down to the narrow waist. Maybe Lex would sink into him, mold his back against Clark so that only cotton separated them. Then he would lean his forehead on Lex's scalp, discover if that skin was as delicate and silky-smooth as it looked. He would rub his face gently from side to side, moving up until his lips touched Lex's skin. Dry, closed lips at first, because he's nervous, and that could be passed off as an accident. He would feel Lex shudder under his touch, a small ripple of movement, controlled but still there.
But he's not sure if the shudder would be desire or horror.
He can't breathe any more, dares not breathe. If he tries, he'll pant for air and Lex will hear him and speak and the illusion of hope will be over.
He mustn't move either. He doesn't want to move away and can't move closer.
Lex smiles, secretly. No one can see it. It's a smile all for himself. He can feel it, sense the stretch of his lips, the taut curve of skin that reaches up and makes his eyes crinkle at the corners. Wearing this smile makes him feel good. It's all tied in to the man standing behind him - the smiling, the feeling good, the move last month back to Metropolis.
Yet, it's a smile he's uncertain of. Should it exist? Is it real, a living symbol of pleasure? That is, after all, what a smile is supposed to be. A sign that he's happy in the moment, content. But he's not content. He so nearly has what he needs, but for the first time in his life, he's not reaching out to take hold of it.
"So, how many parking spaces have you got?"
"Not enough for all the cars, but it'll do."
Clark laughs and asks again. "So, how many spaces?"
Gentle sarcasm in the reply. "Geez, Lex! How're you gonna manage with only six cars at a time?"
Clark is so close behind him, just one tiny stumble would send him reeling into Clark's arms. A baby step. Nothing for him. He's taken big steps, huge landing-on-the-moon steps. Big steps that weren't a fraction of the magnitude of this one. He doesn't know if this step would be right or wrong. Not knowing scares him. Feeling scared is alien to him, and scary in its own right. A vicious circle of fears surrounding him, spinning one to the next, on and on, never pausing.
He personifies the fears: three witches, encircling him, chanting in a strange language. He saw Macbeth the other night. A modern production, with glamorous witches. But his fears aren't glamorous. They're cold, draining the warmth out of him, weakening the smile to a faint travesty of happiness. The pretty witches fade into curls of icy Scottish mist. Replaced by nothing. That works better for him. Fear is blank space, not young witches in floating, transparent dresses.
He's not sure if he and Clark are pretending anymore. They've done a lot of pretending, even though the lies are less these days. Admiring the view from a new apartment is only the latest pretense. That and the coincidental need for him to return to city life just as Clark starts college.
The city is around them, but he doesn't see it. He may as well be blind. He sees nothing.
He hears nothing either. A sound is missing. There's no steady breathing behind him.
It is his answer. Lack of that one simple sound is enough to propel him in the step he has to take. Good or bad be damned, he wasn't brought up to tremble at risks.
One moves forward, the other back. They meet.
Worlds whirl, supernovas go dark. Empires could have fallen in that space of time. Neither would have heard nor felt the crash. Neither would have cared about such an irrelevance.
One more little thing happens.
Sometimes the little things are enough. They can dissolve distance more easily than intent. Pretense vanishes with the lost space.
They breathe in and out, molecules dancing back and forth between them, skimming the space that doesn't exist.
Later there will be words, jumbled questions and answers, tumbling confessions. There will be kisses, hot wet mouths to explore with thrusting tongues. There will be bare skin to expose and touch and learn and oh god, yes, there will be hard cocks and blow jobs and fucking and absolutely everything. They will be hot and sticky and avid for each other and they'll make every room in this apartment theirs, christen them with moments too good to forget and too heady to remember.
But for now, each shared breath says all they need to know.
They feel the earth spinning - under them, around them, fast. So fast no one can stand. They can't stand, not alone and separate. Falling, falling hard. Clasping each other as support, motionless again. Clark's eyes are still tightly shut, Lex's open now but seeing only the bold blue fabric of Clark's shirt under his face, so close it blurs into the brightness of summer sky.
No space between.
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