Glory Fades

by Annie

Glory Fades

By Annie

Rated: NC-17
Summary: Clark/Lex: what happened after they both got home; darkfic; warning for a death (not Clark or Lex) Spoilers: Hug; Pilot; Exodus; Exile; Calling Disclaimer: Still not mine. :(

Superhearing was a bitch, especially when it wouldn't switch off, and that was something Clark hadn't quite learned to do as well as other things. It was especially a bitch when he had insomnia. Most especially when the insomnia was the product of such searing guilt that it was hard to wrap lucid thought around it, harder still to make up for it when it was daylight and he wasn't supposed to be sleeping.

Clark hadn't even slept in his bed once since he had dragged his sorry ass from Metroplis three weeks ago. Didn't think he deserved even the most meager creature comfort, opting instead to spend his nights in the loft having insomnia.

Crushed inside to constantly remember the thing that had driven him back to the farm, that little girl. Clark had made good use of his extraordinary hearing in the city, scouring the bars and clubs for conversations about unloosable bets, card games in back rooms where x-ray vision was a definite plus, and drug buys where money was changing hands and a superstrong, superfast intruder could snatch away a wad of money like it had never existed.

Except that last time; that last drug buy in the alley. The one that went wrong, the one that Clark had decided to pass on, tossing a mental coin in his head and choosing the blow job the hungry-eyed woman had offered as an opportunity to lure him into the deeper, damp part of the alley. Probably planned to knock him out and rob him during a post-orgasmic mental lull, but Clark knew that wouldn't have been happening anyway. High as he was all the time on his Red-K adrenaline ride, the only thing he ever wanted post-orgasm was another one.

The drug deal had gone sour even without Clark-thievery, and when the shot had rung out Clark heard the woman scream hysterically, accompanied by the sounds of shouts and perpetrators scrambling to get away. His enhanced hearing had kicked in unbidden and he'd roughly shoved the woman kneeling before him, knocking her against the side of the building, zipping up as he raced out of the alley without thinking. He wanted to give chase, saw which way the two druggies had gone, but stopped when he heard the tiny, wheezing, whistling sound. He thought the woman on the sidewalk, bent over almost double, had been shot. He saw, instead, that she had herself huddled protectively around a child. Her child. Her little girl, no more than 6, convenience store bags strewn around them on the sidewalk, and the little sound was coming from the little girl. From inside the little girl, and Clark recoiled in horror, tried to shut off the superhearing, couldn't get to it over the rising nausea inside, turned and threw up in the gutter, all the while trying to shut out the sounds, the blood slowing, the small heartbeat growing weaker and weaker. Pulled a stolen cell phone out of his pocket and called 911 in between bouts of puking in the gutter, finally realized with a silent scream inside that the sounds had stopped. The sirens were getting closer, the poor mother was still screaming and the two druggies had gotten away. Clark didn't know what had gone wrong, not that it mattered now, and he turned away from the sight, moved away from the approaching sirens. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he mumbled softly through tears on his face, pain in his heart and he tugged at the red-stoned ring, not managing to twist it off until he had reached the corner, crushing it in his fist brutally and brushing the pulverized pieces off his hand numbly.

It had started raining and Clark Kent was going home.

Now, three weeks later, insomnia reigning in his self-imposed prison of solitude, Clark's hearing notched itself up unbidden again, catching the exotic sigh of an expensive engine, the turn of tires a distance down the highway, slowing imperceptibly and making the turn onto the Kent farm.


Yet another source of guilt. By the time the influence of the ring had worn off, and the impact of those headlines he had been ignoring all summer finally hit him, Clark had been all but doubled over with grief and rage. His little brother or sister. That little girl. Lex. All gone. All because of him. Because he was rash and selfish. He had acted immaturely. He had ignored the responsibility inherent in his gifts. He'd stood quietly by and let Lex marry that doctor, even when every jealous instinct inside had screamed for him to warn Lex away.

He hadn't been to the mansion or called Lex once in the weeks since he had returned to Smallville. Lex had called the farm a few times the first week, but Clark hadn't answered any of his messages.

Clark shifted slightly on the old sofa, tensing, waiting for the sound of footsteps on the stairs to the loft. He frowned when, after several minutes, Lex still hadn't appeared. Sighing in resignation, Clark got up and went over by the telescope to see what was going on.

Blob of darker blackness in the driveway, a car reflecting glints of light from the half moon above. Another smudge of dark, Lex, leaning against the car, barren scalp a pale blur in the moonlight.

Clark turned his head to check out the house; no lights on except for the one small light in the kitchen, so that meant his parents had settled in for the night. Not that they would have been up after midnight anyway.

He could feel Lex's eyes on him, didn't need to see that to know it was true, and nodded briefly before he headed down and out of the barn.

"Hey, Lex," Clark greeted him quietly, stepping into place next to Lex and leaning against the car uncomfortably, half afraid to look him in the eye, even in the darkness.

"Clark," Lex replied agreeably. "I wasn't sure you'd be glad to see me. I'm still not."

"I'm very glad to see you, Lex. You have no idea."

"I left messages."

"I know you did." Clark admitted guiltily. "I didn't know what to say to you. I should have been there."

Lex shrugged, wasted effort in the darkness. "I never called to tell you the wedding was back on..."

"No, Lex," Clark interrupted. "I should have been the one to find you. I should have gone to the island."

Lex turned toward Clark in an attempt to see him better in the dark. "Everyone thought I was dead. I never expected you to be there, even after all the other times you were. Just lucky for me, I guess, that I was in Lucas' good graces and my father wasn't. Lucas put up such a stink about LuthorCorp abandoning the search and rescue that Lionel had to order them to keep looking indefinitely. I still can't be certain my own father didn't have a hand in the crash."

"And Helen?" Clark asked carefully.

"Departed for parts unknown. My men will find her."

Clark sighed. "I never liked her much anyway. I was just afraid to tell you. Afraid to lose your friendship. We hadn't been on the exact best of terms for months, and I didn't know how to fix it."

Lex raised an eyebrow, another wasted effort. "Why didn't you stop me then, if you really felt that way?"

Clark moved away from the car and turned to face Lex now. "Would you have listened? You said you loved her. Besides, I had a lot going on in my own life just then, and that all ended up going to hell."

Lex put a hand on his arm briefly, taking it away much too quickly. "I know that, Clark. I was really sorry when I heard the news about your Mom's baby. I probably would have gone to Metropolis myself to drag your rebellious ass back to the farm, but I was otherwise occupied. After I was rescued and they finally let me come home from the hospital, I was gearing up for a search and capture mission when Lana told me you had come back home."

Clark sagged visibly, and Lex ached to reach out and touch him again, stopped by the distraught sound of his friend's voice.

"It was awful there, Lex. I was awful there. You have no idea what I've done, what I've seen, how I've hurt people. People I love and people I didn't even know. I was riding so high, I had nowhere to go but down. Gravity's a bitch. "

Lex laughed humorlessly. "It is. Especially over water. I know how you feel, Clark, it's exactly where I've been myself the last three months. I was so sure I had everything together. I was giving as well as I was getting from my father, and I know he hated it. I had this beautiful, intelligent woman who said she loved me. I had wealth, which did me absolutely no good at all when I was living on raw crabs and palm leaves. Glory fades in the face of real life, Clark."

"So, I've learned." Clark agreed.

"We've both learned things," Lex said. "And that's what brought me here tonight."

"Yea?" Clark asked cautiously.

Lex took a deep breath, inhaling the clean, subtly male scent he always associated with Clark, steeling himself and taking the plunge.

"Do you remember Bob Rickman?"

Clark's breath quickened in anxious anticipation. "Yea. What about him?"

"Nothing about him, actually," Lex hastened to explain. "See, since I've been back, I have been having the worst nightmares you could possibly imagine, and I have been discreetly seeing a therapist. I allowed her to do one, and only one, regression therapy with me, some kind of new treatment that doesn't involve total hypnosis. I would never allow someone that kind of access, but with this new session, I was able to stay partially awake and have some control over everything I did and said."

"What does this have to do with Rickman?" Clark asked, although he knew very well exactly what Lex was going to ask him about.

"Clark, when I was under Rickman's control, when he made me......when I tried to hurt you and Tippet, you did things. You kicked off one door of my car and ripped off another one. You ran faster than I could see. I shot you, and you were fine." Lex held a hand up as Clark began to protest. "I know I saw these things Clark, and my first reaction was to be sick, because I couldn't believe I had actually tried to kill you. My second reaction was that I want very much to not have this between us. I told you our friendship would be the stuff of legend, and although I have come back from the dead feeling like one harsh bastard, I want, no, I need, answers from you. You're the only good thing left in my world, Clark, and I'm not even sure if that's true anymore. This is the last time I'm ever going to ask you for any explanations about that day, or about the bridge. If you think our friendship is failing, if I tell you that you're the only thing I have left, tell me the truth now and salvage us, Clark."

"There's no truth to tell, Lex," Clark began to protest, but Lex reached out and grabbed his arm tightly, stopping the words, heat from the contact spreading through both of them.

"Clark," Lex demanded, almost desperately. "I need this from you. I have everything and I have nothing. I need your truth to keep some kind of sanity in my life. I need something I know I can always count on, and I want that something to be us. I wanted to talk to you every minute I was on that fucking island, and you weren't there. My question is, are you going to be there now?"

Clark's mind was reeling, and he wasn't sure if it was the heated urgency in Lex's voice or the burn of Lex's fingers on his arm. He couldn't do this. He couldn't go against everything he'd been told from the day the Kents found him, ached to bare his secrets to Lex in a way he had never wanted to do anything before, couldn't even think straight with Lex's hand on him, with Lex's eyes burning into his in the dark driveway.

"Trust me, Lex," he tried weakly, and Lex abruptly let go of his arm, coolness showing in his face now instead of the need Clark had seen mere seconds ago.

"If you can't talk to me, after all we've both been through, why do you think I'd ever trust you, or anyone, ever again?" Lex reached up slowly and laid his hand on Clark's cheek, touch as soft as breath. "I would have shared my own secrets willingly. I thought you would save us, Clark. I see I was wrong."

Lex took his hand away from Clark's face reluctantly, palm and fingers aching to stay there, marked the feel of Clark's skin on his hand in his memory, then turned and got back into the car.

"Lex, wait," Clark tried to stop him, held the door so Lex couldn't close it yet, didn't want to see Lex drive away if he'd never see him again and knew in his heart that was what was going to happen.

"Wait for what, Clark?" Lex asked patiently, drinking in the sight of the boy before him hungrily, taking a long last look to hold him for a while.

"Just give me some time to think," Clark replied, letting go of the car door when Lex gripped his wrist and pulled on his arm.

"You've had three weeks of ignoring me and my messages to think, Clark. I haven't stopped thinking since my plane fell into the sea and I almost died. Good-bye, Clark."

Lex started the car and took off down the dirt road without another look back.

Clark stood rigid in the driveway, even after Lex turned back onto the highway and disappeared from sight, listening to the sound of the car driving away, the sound of Lex leaving. The sound of Lex never coming back. An incredibly painful sense of loss was oozing through Clark like poison. Loss of everything; little baby, little girl in the street, Lana, the trust of everyone he knew, and now, worst of all, Lex, the one thing this pain inside was telling him he couldn't lose, had to keep at any cost.

As he ran frantically at superspeed through the fields to intercept Lex, all Clark could think was that he'd been a nave fool.

Lex was half a mile from the castle when he rounded the curve in the road at full speed and then had to slam on the brakes in a panic when he saw the form in the road. He thought at first it might have been a deer, but when he recognized Clark, saw him striding purposefully around to the driver's side of the car, he pushed the lock button in fear at the intense look on Clark's face in the headlights.

Clark reached to open the door, and almost snarled at the lock keeping him out.

"Unlock the doors, Lex, or I'll take care of it myself!"

"Go away, Clark," Lex demanded. "I don't want to talk anymore tonight!"

"I do. You want the truth?" Clark asked. Lex watched curiously as Clark raised his arm up out of Lex's view and then suddenly, with a metallic screech of protest, the roof of the car was sailing off into the woods.

"Now you know what happened that day on the bridge," Clark stated patiently, the words slow to make their way into Lex's surprised head as he looked up and saw only stars and Clark where he should have been seeing car. "Unlock the doors, Lex." Clark requested again, more calmly this time, and Lex reached out automatically to push the unlock button, watched in fascination as Clark made his way around the front of the car and then opened the door to climb casually into the passenger seat.

Lex found his voice again. "So, you have things to tell me, Clark?"

"Lots. Pull off the road before someone else drives by," Clark suggested.

Lex silently put the car back into Drive and pulled onto the wide shoulder of the road. The chances of anyone driving by at this time of night in Smallville were slim to none, but Lex wasn't about to risk being interrupted if Clark was going to be totally honest with him.

"I can do all those things you were talking about," Clark admitted in a rush, hands shaking, turning in his seat to face Lex, who was repositioning himself to look directly at Clark and gauge his honesty. "I'm strong and fast. I can't be hurt, except by pieces of the meteor, the green ones. The red ones make me crazy. I can hear, oh, I don't know, maybe miles away, if I really try. I can see through things. I could pick you out in a crowd just by looking at your skeleton. I've looked at it a lot, checking you for injuries and.... just making sure you're all right sometimes. I can burn things with my eyes. I can rip the roof off a car, and I've actually done it to two of your cars now."

Lex frowned, disappointed. "Why was this so hard for you? I know people have been affected by the meteors, why couldn't you tell me these things? Most of them I already knew anyway. Clark, I would never hurt you. This is the big secret that has been undermining our friendship? And you can't really read the language in the Kawachi caves, can you? I knew Dr. Walden was crazy."

Clark smirked. "He was crazy, but he wasn't wrong, Lex. These things aren't the big secret. I'm not one of the meteor mutants."

Lex reached out and put his hand over one of Clark's, absently stroking along the side of it with his thumb. "You're a human being with gifts. I've told you before, I'd do anything to protect my friends. I'd do anything to protect you, Clark. From anyone."

"That's just the problem," Clark said slowly. "I'm not a human being. I came here with the meteors."

The motion of Lex's thumb on his hand stopped, and Clark found to his surprise that he missed the sensation immediately. He looked into Lex's face in the dark and watched the gleam of his eyes as Lex gazed solidly back at him.

Painful silence for a few moments; then. "I suspected something like that," Lex informed him quietly. "Without you actually telling me, I couldn't be sure. Did you think it would make a difference to me?"

Clark swallowed nervously, sitting very still, reluctant to move and remind Lex that he still had his hand covering Clark's.

"I figured you'd freak, never talk to me again, or, maybe...." He trailed off, catching the small sigh clearly.

"Or maybe I'd have you dissected?"

"Lex, it's just....your Dad, he's..."

"A bastard. He'll never know this. He'll never touch you. Do you trust me now, Clark? Can I tell you that I just about knew all your secrets already? That I have already analyzed your blood and the tests came back inconclusive? I thought it was a meteor thing. Now I see it isn't. Did you think I would treat you any differently?"

"I was afraid, Lex. I'm still afraid. I've lost everyone, or at least their trust. If I'm all you have, then you're all I have, too. And I'm not even human." Clark finished wryly.

Lex pulled his hand away from Clark's slowly, reveling in the feel of Clark's fingers trying to keep his there.

"We've made mistakes." Lex began. "Terrible mistakes, both of us. We need to rectify these mistakes. How do you propose we do that, Clark?"

Clark shrugged. "This is a good start, isn't it? We're being totally honest with each other, man to man. Or, man to not-man, I guess."

"I haven't been totally honest with you, Clark. There's Helen."

"What? That you stole that blood from her office? I assumed that when you said you analyzed it. Where is it now?"

"I gave it back to her," Lex replied. "I have no idea what she did with it, and I only hope she didn't give it to my father. If she did, I'll take care of that problem when the time comes. No, it's Helen herself. I had Victoria and Desiree, you know how that turned out. I only had Helen because I didn't have you. You and I were drifting apart. I couldn't find a way to hold on, couldn't think of a way to make you stay close to me. Helen was a misguided attempt to have somebody for myself."

Clark's heart skipped a beat anxiously. Up until that very moment, he'd never known that this was exactly the conversation he'd wanted to have with Lex for what seemed like a very long time.

"You wanted to be close?" Clark ventured carefully. "How close?"

"Close," Lex replied. "Close like most people are close. Closer."

"I'm not people," Clark remarked bitterly.

Lex laughed nervously. Nervous Lex was something Clark hadn't had much experience with.

"I've watched you for a long time, Clark, and you certainly look human to me." Lex leaned in a bit closer and inhaled deliberately. "Smell human. Sound human." Lex reached out to cover Clark's hand with his own again, moving in so he could see Clark's eyes in the dark. "Feel human." He closed in, putting his other hand lightly on Clark's thigh, and Clark's breath caught in his throat, breathy whisper in his ear when Lex asked, "Do you taste human?"

Clark moaned at the words, tried to get around the dueling sensations of Lex's hands on his hand and thigh, Lex's mouth next to his ear, finally managed to form words. "You tell me, you seem to be the big authority here," and he would have said more but the hot, wet swipe of Lex's tongue along his jaw to the spot just below his ear stole his coherence and turned the words into a surprised moan. Making out with Lana had never been like this, never made him this needy this fast. His cock was getting hard and there wasn't going to be enough room for it in his jeans in a very short minute.

"Taste human," Lex assured him softly. "Can we do this? I want to do this. It's all I ever want."

Clark threw his head back in surrender to feelings. "Please," he whispered, and "Thank God you're alive."

Lex needed nothing further, climbed right over the center console and into Clark's lap, feeling the growing hardness there with a low moan, taking Clark's face in his hands and licking it, tasting it, finally settling his mouth on Clark's for a demanding kiss. Clark opened his mouth when he felt Lex's lips on his, Lex's hands in his hair, and he reached down and started pulling off Lex's coat, tugging at his shirt to get it off, wanted Lex-skin under his hands as soon as he could get it.

Lex moaned at the feel of Clark's hands on his skin, ground his hips firmly against Clark's and kissed him harder, then moved away from Clark's mouth suddenly to lean in and bite the skin of his throat, whispering almost to himself, "Mine, just mine, please." Clark raised his hips urgently, gasping at the feel of Lex's teeth on his skin, Lex's fingers teasing his nipples, and he reached down frantically to get his hands between them, opened Lex's belt and pants, shoved his hand inside, seeking the hard length he could feel pressing against him.

"Oh, God," Lex moaned, realizing that Clark's cock would be needing attention, too, and raising up slightly to open Clark's jeans and free the rigid cock into his hand.

Clark jumped at the sensation of someone else's hand on his erection, caressed Lex's cock and leaned up, searching for Lex's mouth again, claiming it hungrily, hands working, hips moving and then Lex stopped abruptly.

"Jesus, Lex, I need to come," Clark objected desperately, "Don't stop!"

"I do, too, badly," Lex told him, brushing more kisses against Clark's mouth and throat. "I need to come with you. But I need something else, I need you, Clark, want you in me, say yes."

Clark shook his head numbly, cock aching for release, lips hungry for Lex's mouth again. "I don't.....I don't know how."

Lex smiled and licked across Clark's lips again. "It's all right, I do. I won't hurt you, I promise." At the look on Clark's face, Lex added, "I won't hurt me either, at least not any way I don't want to."

Lex stood up on the seat, feet planted on either side of Clark's legs, grateful for the lack of a car roof at the moment and the darkness that cloaked them, and stepped out of his pants, fully naked now. Clark couldn't stop himself from reaching up to touch, turning his head to taste the inside of Lex's thighs, caressed the hard cock he couldn't quite reach with his tongue.

Lex knocked his hands away gently. "Jesus, don't. Not yet." Lex climbed back down, reaching back behind him for something in the glove box and palming it as he turned back to Clark's waiting mouth and hands.

"Can I do this?" Lex asked again into Clark's mouth, and Clark's answering moan was all the permission he was looking for. Lex reached down and tugged on Clark's jeans and briefs until they were down around his knees. With more freedom to move, Clark ground his hips up against Lex even harder. Lex stilled him with a hand on his side, and knelt up, away from Clark, watching the boy's eyes carefully. Clark brushed his big warm hands up the front of Lex's chest, sensing but not seeing what Lex was doing, one hand behind him, dim, slick sounds mingling with their heavy breathing in the dark of the car.

"Pinch my nipples, Clark," Lex demanded, needy groan torn from him when Clark obeyed, pinching a bit on the rough side, then leaning forward to soothe the offended nubs with his tongue. "Do you know what I'm doing?" Lex didn't wait for an answer, squirmed a bit on his own hand and gasped lightly at the anticipation. "I'm getting ready for your cock, Clark."

Lex's hand suddenly reappeared and grabbed Clark's shaft, slicking it up and down, just hard enough to pull a moan from him that Lex leaned in and took from his mouth hungrily.

"Don't want to hurt you, Lex, want you so much..." Clark was whispering against Lex's cheek as Lex raised himself up again and guided Clark's cock right to his entry. He leaned down with just enough pressure to hold it there, and grabbed Clark's face again.

"Total honesty, Clark. All we have, right?" Clark nodded, legs shaking with the strain of holding still when all his instincts wanted his hips to surge up powerfully. Into Lex.

"So, I'll be honest," Lex went on breathlessly, punctuating the statement with a lavish lick of Clark's lips. "This is going to hurt me, but only for the first little while. I want it. I want you, Clark, everything, heart, soul, life, truth, body, you name it; if it's yours, I want it. Please," Lex leaned in to kiss him deeply again, nipping at Clark's lips, feeling Clark wanting to move, knowing he couldn't drag this on forever no matter how much he wanted to.

"Just be still," Lex whispered, resting his hands on the sides of Clark's neck, thumbs lightly smoothing back and forth over the heated skin. Lex almost whimpered when he felt Clark's hands on his hips, steadying him, turned the sound into a moan and pushed down.

Head of Clark's thick cock just inside - inside him, fuck - and Lex stopped, waited to adjust, breath quickening, shaking his head slightly at the concerned whisper, barely heard through Clark's ragged breathing.

"Sshh, still, just wait," Lex muttered, eyes closed, head down and leaning on Clark's chin, body invaded by Clark's heat and Lex wanted nothing more than to just slam down onto Clark's lap, knew that would be a really stupid thing to do just then.

A few seconds more, another inch down, and Lex was breathing harshly, already felt torn open, silently thanked the inventor of lube a few times and pushed down a bit more. Clark was almost hyperventilating and gave a tiny warning thrust of his hips, involuntarily. Lex gasped aloud at the extra inch he wasn't ready for and concentrated instead on the feel of Clark's hands on his hips, smoothing back and forth restlessly, Clark moaning in his ear, "Gonna come, Lex, can't wait, can't hold it...."

Clark was fighting against the incredible sensation of Lex, hot and tight around him, Lex's muscles clenching at the best worst moments, the hot blood pounding through his veins and the satin-fist clench of Lex holding him. He wanted to just move, knew he was about to come even without moving, but Lex grabbed his face and pulled him even closer.

"Don't you come, Clark," Lex demanded. "Not yet. Soon. Really soon, I swear, fuck Clark, I'm ready to come myself and you're not even touching me yet. Just...hold on a few more seconds."

Lex threw his head back and forced himself to breathe more deeply and evenly, reached to remove one of Clark's hands from his hips and guide it to his cock, because this wasn't going to last much longer, and Lex wanted to feel everything. He pushed down one final time with a harsh groan and then stilled again, letting himself adjust to Clark, Clark inside him, Clark fucking him and then Clark leaned in and began to lick and suck Lex's throat, fist working Lex's cock, and Lex couldn't wait anymore.

"Move," he moaned quietly, and Clark gave one small thrust upward with his hips, groaning his pleasure onto the skin of Lex's throat, all the sensation in the universe centered on his rigid cock inside Lex.

"Again. More." Clark heard from above him, and he thrust up harder, almost coming from the desperate gasp the movement wrenched from Lex, hand pumping Lex's cock a bit faster, feeling Lex shuddering with the strain of holding himself impaled.

"More. Come inside me, Clark, can't hold it." And then Lex was coming all over Clark's hand, moaning up into the night sky, the feel and sound of it making Clark fuck up into Lex harder, faster, and he was coming himself then, filling Lex, biting Lex's throat hard enough to bruise, melting into Lex like he'd been made for it, and maybe this was it, maybe this was his place.

Lex sagged down and relaxed against Clark's chest, breath finally returning to something close to normal only after several minutes. Clark put his arms around him, stroked Lex's head, Lex's back. "Mine," Lex whispered against Clark's chest, tongue slipping out for a final taste of Clark before Lex disengaged himself gingerly from Clark's lap and settled back into the driver's seat, leaning over for another kiss when he reached down for his clothes.

Clark was already dressed again, watching Lex worriedly. "Are you okay, Lex?"

Lex smiled, a real smile, a rare enough occurrence that it touched Clark to see it. "I'm glorious. I won't be sitting at breakfast though, I'm afraid," he declared dryly. He gazed at Clark seriously then.

"You're amazing, Clark. I want you all to myself, you know that, don't you?"

"You can have me all to yourself, Lex. You can have everything."

Lex laughed. "I better get you home, but you'll come over to the mansion tomorrow, right?"

Clark merely nodded.

Lex started the car and prepared to put it into gear. "Just think, Clark. With my resources, and your abilities - we could rule the world!"

Clark froze. Damned gravity.

"Lex, stop." Clark said quietly.

Lex turned the motor off and looked at Clark apprehensively. "What's wrong? Do you want to go to the mansion instead? That's fine, too." He frowned, couldn't be sure in the darkness, but it looked like a wet gleam of tears in Clark's eyes.

"Clark, what's wrong?" he asked again. "Did I hurt you? I'm sorry."

"An empire," Clark started to explain softly, cryptically. "Alexander the Great, your idol. That's your mission in life, Lex. An empire. The end result of every action you perform is to build an empire. I forgot. These actions, tonight, coming to the farm, the honesty thing, the...the rest. Is that for your empire, too, Lex? Me and my abilities?"

"What the hell are you talking about, Clark? You have nothing to do with any empire. This - tonight - this was us. Just us. You and me. Clark, this is something I've wanted, God, forever. I was under the impression you did, too."

Clark smiled ruefully. "I did, Lex. I still do. But trying not to rule the world has cost me more than you could know. Tonight I think it's costing me everything I've ever wanted. I can't rule your empire with you, Lex."

Lex was staring in stunned disbelief. "I don't want you to rule an empire, Clark! I just want you for myself. Why do you think this?"

Clark leaned over to get closer to Lex, breathing in the scent of cologne and Lex, the smell of himself all over Lex. "Because I know you, Lex, and as much as I want you, and believe me, I want you more than my next breath." Clark interrupted himself to pull Lex's face to his and kissed him deeply, praying to remember the taste and feel of it forever. "I can't have you. After all that's happened, all that I let happen, I've learned one truth for certain. I'm not here to rule the world; I'm here to save it."

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