Heat 6

by Ionah


Although each story in this series is standalone, I'd *strongly* suggest you read the first 5 stories in this series. Each story builds on the last, and if you try to come in at this point, there's going to be a hell of a lot of stuff you won't understand!


Shifting onto his side toward Clark, Lex listened to the rain slapping against the windows of his bedroom. Although the storms had stopped, the wind and rain had continued throughout the evening and into the night. Now, at nearly three am, the last of the front was moving through, leaving the sound of scattered rain showers behind.

But it wasn't the intermittent rain that had kept Lex awake. He rarely slept through the night. Too many thoughts spinning around in his head, and now -- now that he knew his father was up to something -- he couldn't imagine sleeping easy.

Clark lay spread out on his stomach, his face half buried in the pillow. Propping himself up on his elbow, Lex stretched his leg over the back of Clark's thighs and stared hard into the darkness. He could make out Clark's profile, but nothing else. He ran his hand along the hard edge of Clark's jaw, caressing the faintly stubbled cheek. So hard and firm, with just enough prickle to remind him that Clark wasn't exactly the boy he seemed to be most of the time.

The smell of semen and sweat filled his nostrils, the scent sharp and musky, even somewhat sweet. It was a scent Lex would love to become used to smelling in his bed, in his room. If he could work things out just right, he had a chance of making that particular wish come true, albeit not as soon as he might like. Clark would have to graduate first, and then start college.

But someday...

Clark stirred, groaning slightly in his sleep. Quickly, Lex removed his hand from Clark's jaw and turned onto his back. He folded his arms behind his head and stared up at the dark ceiling.

"Lex, are you awake?" Clark asked softly.

"Yeah."

"I just had this really bad dream where Pete busted into the castle and said that if I was...well, he said we couldn't be friends if I didn't end it with you."

Lex felt the corner of his mouth twitch. "That wasn't a dream, Clark."

The bed creaked, and then Clark was straddling him. "What do you mean? We've been up here all night, Lex. I know it wasn't real."

Clark sat back on Lex's thighs, letting the sheet slide off his back and pool at Lex's knees.

"No," Lex said. "It wasn't real. It was a test."

"What are you talking about? What kind of test?"

"It seems when you're asleep, you like to share. Your dreams become my thoughts, and my thoughts become your dreams..."

Lex couldn't see Clark's expression in the dark, but he heard the sharp gasp and then the slightly crazed edge to Clark's voice when he spoke. "How long have you known about this?"

"Since you finally fell asleep a few hours ago. Maybe it's because of our close proximity, or maybe it's merely that our link is getting stronger. Whatever it is..." Lex trailed off, his smile returning. "You have these amazing dreams, Clark..."

Clark gripped Lex's hands and drew his arms up over his head to rest on his pillow. Neither of them wore any clothing, and Lex found himself breathing harder as Clark's sleep-warmed skin rubbed across his.

"You haven't been taking advantage of me, have you, Lex?"

"Of course not." ...Didn't realize you had so many kinks....

"That's not fair. Maybe I should repay the favor and spend a few hours taking advantage of you." Clark leaned forward and bit lightly at Lex's bottom lip.

Lex pushed his body up against Clark's unyielding weight, every muscle in his body straining to press his flesh against Clark's. But Clark still held Lex's arms tight to the bed, and Lex was no match for Clark's amazing strength. His heart rate sped up, and Lex found himself more turned on than he'd been all night. "Do it," he muttered. "Take advantage of me." ...Now....

"No." But Clark was rocking forward, pressing his cock tight against Lex's. Lex arched at the heat of Clark's bare flesh against his own, then exposed his neck to Clark's warm mouth.

The darkness intensified the sensations of skin on skin, and Lex wanted to pull Clark down on top of him and wrap his legs around Clark's hips. He wanted Clark with an intensity that shook him. Fuck. Why couldn't he seem to get enough of this? He was becoming too used to having Clark whenever he wanted him. He wasn't sure he liked the feeling of dependency that had been growing inside him over the last few days. It far outweighed the longing he'd had for Clark's friendship.

Clark sucked lightly at the skin just behind Lex's ear, then spoke softly, "This is serious, Lex. We have time to get used to this thing between us, but we don't have forever."

"I realize--" A shiver interrupted Lex's response as Clark's tongue flicked out and trailed along the outer curve of Lex's ear.

"You can't try to take advantage of me while I sleep. I don't want some device messing with my mind. I don't think you want that either."

"Of course--" Lex gasped when Clark bit down on his earlobe, gently tugging at the soft flesh with his teeth. He nibbled his way down the side of Lex's throat, then shoulder, and when he reached Lex's chest, Clark covered Lex's left nipple with his mouth. Lex tried to hold back his groan, but it was impossible. The wet heat of Clark's tongue lapped at the sensitive flesh and sent a spike of need and want straight to his dick. If he'd been hard before, he was doubly so now, almost to the point of pain.

"Lex, oh God...the one time I wish you'd keep your feelings to yourself."

"You know I can't make it easy for you."

Lex felt a light push against his mind, then another, harder than before. Clark was trying out something of his own, and Lex wasn't sure he wanted to be a guinea pig for whatever it was.

He ground his teeth together as a flood of heat poured through his body, filling his groin with a burning fire of torturous need. "Oh, fuck..." He gasped for breath, thinking he would die before he even figured out what the hell Clark had just done.

...It's me. That's what I feel like every time I look at you, every time I'm near you. You think you have it bad for me, now you know the truth....

It was a feeling far beyond the human limit for desire. Lex wondered how many times he would have to experience it before he became addicted. He suspected it was already too late. No one else could ever give him this, make him feel what Clark made him feel.

"I'll never use it against you," Clark whispered. "Never, Lex. I promise."

Clark blanketed him, covering his body with hot kisses from the neck downward, bringing Lex's arms back down to his sides as he moved lower. When he reached Lex's cock, he took it into his mouth slowly, effortlessly holding Lex's hands to the bed even as Lex fought to bury his hands in Clark's thick hair.

Lex arched his back, thrusting his hips upward. He couldn't control his body's reaction to the wet heat of Clark's mouth. Clark's weight held his legs to the bed, and Clark's hands clasped Lex's fingers tightly. Clark worked his mouth over Lex's cock, bringing Lex to the brink of an orgasm so fast that he had to wonder if he wasn't still tied into Clark's inhumanly intense feelings.

He knew he wasn't going to last, but after everything they'd done earlier that night, it didn't seem to matter.

...It doesn't. This is for you....

Then Clark released Lex's hands finally, and Lex immediately thrust his fingers into Clark's soft hair. Clark twirled his tongue around the head of Lex's cock, stroking the hot silky flesh and causing Lex to jerk against the bed. He bit his lower lip. "Fuck..."

Then Lex whimpered as his balls tightened, and he squeezed his eyes shut tightly as shudders shook his body. He bucked against Clark one last time as Clark swallowed every drop of Lex's come.

Neither spoke as Clark crawled back up Lex's body to lie down beside him. Pulling Lex into his arms, Clark settled himself comfortably on the mattress and rested his chin on Lex's shoulder.

Lex took it for what it was. He might not have the chance again.

<><><><><><><>

When morning finally came, Clark woke slowly to the feel of Lex rubbing his chest. Their positions had shifted sometime during the last few hours of early morning sleep, and he was now on his side, with Lex behind him. Lex had wrapped himself around Clark, propping his chin on Clark's shoulder and squeezing one knee between Clark's thighs. Lex's left arm had draped over Clark's chest, and his fingers were softly brushing circles over Clark's sleep-warmed skin.

Clark savored the feeling for as long as he could, pretending sleep, but he knew Lex wasn't fooled. Still, Lex kept up the gentle caress, and Clark kept his eyes closed even as he was unable to stop a low groan of appreciation. He'd gone to sleep with a half-hard dick and awakened in a state of complete arousal.

"A true learning experience," Lex said into his ear, then with a loud groan, he stretched away from Clark to let the cool morning air swirl across Clark's back. "I'm stiff everywhere. I'm too used to sleeping alone. In fact, I've never slept with anyone before."

Clark's eyebrows rose. He twisted around to face Lex and then propped himself up on one elbow. "What about Victoria?"

"What about her?"

"Are you trying to tell me you didn't sleep with her?"

Lex reached out and tweaked Clark's left nipple, getting a gasp out of Clark. "That's right. I never slept with Victoria."

"But you..." Clark trailed off, not sure what he wanted to say.

Lex raised his eyebrows at Clark's questioning tone. "Of course we fucked, Clark."

Clark's felt his face flush. "I didn't mean--"

"Of course not." Lex tilted his head to the side in an obvious attempt to hide a smirk.

Clark pushed himself to a sitting position on the bed. His frown was directed more at himself than Lex, because for a moment there he had experienced a swift surge of hope that Lex hadn't had sex with Victoria -- even though he knew better. It was the stupidest thing, because he just had to call her up in his mind and he could tap into the multitude of images and sensations that lingered in Lex's memories of her.

His eyes drifted shut. His mouth parted on a sigh. Fuck, she'd been good at--

He jerked his eyes open to stare at the patient expression on Lex's face. That had not been his own thought, that was for sure. Either Lex didn't know what he'd just done, or he just didn't care that Clark had used their link to pry into his sexual experiences with Victoria.

It bothered him to think about Lex being with other people. Even though those people were in the past...

...That's where they'll stay.... Lex reached for Clark's arm, then tugged him back down beside him on the bed. "Just never ask to see my PDA, Clark. That way the past will be much easier for you to ignore."

Clark wasn't surprised that Lex's expression was completely serious. He'd obviously had a full and varied sex life, and Clark thought it was probably a good idea that he didn't know all the details. At least not until he'd gotten over the burning jealousy he felt every time he thought about Lex with anyone else.

Clark frowned at Lex. "I'm not going to freak out if I find out how many people you've slept -- I mean, had sex with. It's just...I don't know. It just bothers me, that's all. I'll get over it."

But just mentioning the PDA had brought a flood of x-rated images and feelings into Lex's mind -- images and feelings Clark shared. Clark made a concerted effort to shut down the link.

Lex didn't seem to notice Clark's sudden flush. "Of course you will," he said, patting Clark's shoulder. "But there's no sense making it harder than it has to be."

Yeah. Only it was too late for that. His dick was already hard.

"Lex..."

Lex folded his arms behind his head and stretched out on the bed, slowly, seductively, spreading his legs wide so that Clark couldn't help but see Lex's cock, already growing hard, and the beginning of the cleft between Lex's ass cheeks. "Yeah, Clark?"

Clark swore he could actually smell Lex's arousal. A strong, heady scent, earthy and sharp. His own cock sent a stab of heat to his abdomen, harsher than the tingle he'd just about gotten used to. It reminded him of the night he'd first discovered what true desire felt like, the unbelievable heat, the rush of arousal.

Before he even knew what he was about to do, Clark straddled Lex, pinning him to the bed in one swift move.

Lex actually looked startled for a moment as Clark's weight settled over him.

"Oh God, Lex, I want to fuck you."

"Then fuck me."

Clark swallowed hard as another wave of painfully hot desire rushed through him. He reached for the fancy bottle of lubricant tucked between the pillows, then rolled off Lex to sit beside him, where he opened the bottle and smeared the slick liquid over his fingers.

He hesitated, but Lex seemed to know what he wanted. With languid grace, Lex rolled over and rose up on his knees and elbows.

Clark was too horny to be embarrassed at his strange need to take Lex from behind, to mount him. And the sight of Lex's tight hole just waiting for him made Clark's nostrils flare in anticipation. He wanted to bury his cock in that tight heat, over and over until Lex knew that he belonged to Clark and no one else, forever.

...Perfect. You're perfect like this, waiting for me. You're mine, Lex, all mine....

...Fuck.... But Lex's thought was without rancor.

Despite Clark's anxiousness to get on with it, he made sure Lex was well prepared before he pushed his dick against Lex's asshole. The puckered skin was slick with lubricant when Clark eased his cock inside.

Lex grunted, then gasped, and Clark felt Lex grasp his own cock in his fist and start jerking off as if Clark himself were the one doing it. ...So tight, I'm never gonna get used to it....

Clark felt a trickle of perspiration touch his hands where he held onto Lex's waist. Lex seemed to be doing all the work as he rocked back against Clark's hips, then pulling away before slamming back against him.

"And hot. So hot, Lex, I don't think..." Clark thrust, his hips rocking against the smooth curve of Lex's ass. He had no real rhythm and his body trembled at the onslaught of raging heat as it shot through his belly and into his groin.

Clark held on tight as fire burst through him, taking his breath and leaving him to collapse over Lex's back as he shot a heavy, thick stream of semen into the recesses of Lex's body.

He barely heard the low groan echoing from Lex's chest before Lex himself collapsed onto the mattress.

<><><><><><><>

"I don't want to say anything to my parents about the photos, Lex." Clark spoke around a bite of honey-glazed doughnut. Lex watched as Clark swallowed, then flicked out his tongue to swipe the sticky sweet residue of the doughnut's glaze from his lips.

Shifting in his seat across the table from Clark, Lex realized he should have volunteered to take care of that for Clark. Clark would've tasted a hell of a lot better than what Lex was eating for breakfast. He dropped the unfinished bagel back onto his plate.

Clark wouldn't meet Lex's gaze, as if he were afraid Lex would be offended that he didn't want his parents to see the pictures of them fucking in Lex's car.

"Clark," he said, pausing when he raised his linen napkin to wipe his mouth, "I don't want you to tell your parents about those photos."

Clark opened his mouth to say something, but Lex quickly tossed his napkin onto the table and continued. "But don't you think they would rather hear it from you as opposed to finding out some other way?"

Clark raised his gaze to Lex's for the first time since bringing up the photos and stared at Lex, then sighed. "I know. I was afraid you'd say something like that."

"Let's be thankful the photographer couldn't get inside the car to take the pictures. They're graphic enough as it is."

"No kidding."

Lex felt the corner of his mouth twitch as a thought came to him. ...Maybe I'll frame a couple of them....

Clark responded with a dark glower. ...Like hell....

Lex shrugged, then pushed back from the table. "Just a thought." He looked toward the door, then flicked his gaze back to Clark. "How long can you stick around this morning?"

"Not long. I'm supposed to help my dad fix the tractor."

"That tractor should've been retired a long time ago. I'd be more than happy to replace it for you, if it meant you'd stay the rest of the day here with me."

"My dad would never accept it. Besides, you don't have to buy my company. I'm going to try to come back before tonight, but with dad, well, I don't know if he'll let me."

"He let you stay last night."

Clark's gaze slid sideways, away from Lex. "I didn't really ask him."

"You didn't ask," Lex stated quietly.

"No. But I left a message. And my parents didn't try to call, so they must've decided it was okay."

"Sure they did. I'd say it's more likely they knew it would be a waste of their time trying to convince you to go home."

"Well, maybe that too." Clark reached for his cup of cocoa. He took a sip, then said, "They're trying to accept what's happened. It's just going to take a while. Dad has a few...issues...to work out."

The corner of Lex's mouth twisted. "He seems to have more than a few issues to work out when it comes to me and my father." He paused. "Why don't you make arrangements to stay tonight too?"

Before Clark could answer, there was a short knock on the door followed by a servant entering the room. "Mr. Luthor, there's a Miss Phillips here to see you. She says--"

Lex turned a frosty glare on the servant. "You know better than to disturb me just because someone wants to talk to me."

"Yes, sir. Understood, sir, but--"

A soft, melodious voice interrupted the servant's words as Danielle walked around the corner of the open door. "Lex, isn't your father just wonderful? He's offered to let me fly to Europe in the LuthorCorp jet."

Danielle's dark blond hair swung around her face as she sauntered into the room, her high heels clicking loudly on the marble tiles. Her blue eyes burned with the light of unholy amusement, and Lex noticed right away that her peach colored dress reached only mid-thigh, where the filmy fabric teased at her creamy smooth skin with every step.

...*This is her? No wonder he--*... Lex felt Clark clamp down on the link, apparently remembering that Lex was picking up on every one of his thoughts. Lex couldn't fault Clark's reaction though, because the truth was that Danielle was a very attractive woman, on the surface.

With a sharp glance directed at the servant, Lex rose quickly to his feet. Clark followed suit, but more slowly, a frown on his face. Although Lex was certain he'd heard Danielle correctly, he said, "Excuse me?"

The servant, hired just two weeks ago, interrupted before Danielle could repeat her declaration. "I'm sorry, sir, but she arrived in your father's limousine."

Lex fought a surge of temper at the servant's attempt to deflect the blame for having let Danielle into the mansion. "You're fired," Lex said softly. "Get out."

The servant's shocked look lasted only a second before he quickly resumed a neutral expression and hurried out of the room.

...Lex--...

...Not now, Clark....

...But--...

Danielle's breathy laugh halted Clark's mental objection and brought their attention back to her. "Exactly what I would have done, Lex."

Lex's mouth twisted in a mirthless grin. "What are you doing here? After our last meeting, I was under the distinct impression that you didn't want to see me again."

Danielle smiled, soft dimples forming on each cheek. "Didn't your father tell you? I'm to wait here for the helicopter that's taking you to the LuthorCorp jet. I'll be flying to Europe with you." Then, "Oh, Lex, don't look so worried. I have no intention of throwing myself at you again."

If only Lex believed that. Unfortunately he didn't, therefore his telepathically linked mate didn't either.

Lex, considerably more worried about Clark's reaction to Danielle's unexpected appearance than the thought of spending time on a plane with her, said simply, "That's good to know."

...I don't trust her....

...What about trusting me?...

"Considering we'll be flight companions, I do think it'll be better that way. Unless you've changed your mind. Have you changed your mind, Lex?"

...It's her I don't trust, not you, but how do you expect me to take this after what happened in Metropolis? You let her put her hands all over you....

Lex took a deep breath, finding it hard to separate the two conversations, one in his head, one aloud.

"I'm afraid not, Danielle," he said. Then he sent a thought to Clark. ...For God's sake, trust me on this. I have no intention of fucking around with Danielle....

"That's really too--" She stopped speaking abruptly. She was only a few feet away from Lex but her gaze had snagged on Clark, standing silent and still on the other side of the breakfast table. Without taking her eyes off Clark, she asked, "Who's your friend, Lex?"

Well, fuck.

She changed direction and advanced on Clark. Clark's eyebrows rose comically as she circled around him, and he followed her progress with his eyes until she passed behind him. Then he whipped his head around in the other direction as she came around his other side.

Lex saw the sudden widening of Clark's eyes and flicked his gaze downward in time to catch Danielle's hand boldly caressing Clark's ass.

Hell no, she wasn't getting her hands on Clark.

Clark jerked away from her touch, but Lex was already furious. He reached around the table and grasped her upper arm tightly, pulling her to his side, away from Clark.

...I'm sorry, Lex, this is all my fault....

...This is just fucking great, Clark. You have the whole damn town chasing after you....

...I'm not doing it on purpose. You know that....

Danielle turned her attention to Lex. "Jealous, Lex?"

"No."

At his tight-lipped response, her eyebrow went up. "I see." Her gaze returned to Clark, a speculative gleam in her eye. "I quite think you are."

Clark cleared his throat. "Well, I guess I'd better go." Clark didn't wait around for Lex to try to change his mind. With one last lingering look at Lex, he hurried to the door.

Lex watched Clark leave. When he turned back to Danielle, his icy gaze erased the satisfaction from her eyes. "You'd better have a damn good reason for barging in here and ruining my morning."

<><><><><><><>

Clark could feel Lex's burning anger all the way home, which was admittedly a short trip at the speed he traveled, but he still felt uneasy at having left Lex alone with that woman. Yet how else could he have shown his trust in Lex?

He entered the house expecting to have to explain why he'd avoided telling his parents face to face that he was going to stay last night with Lex. The screen door slammed shut behind him, but when he stepped into the kitchen, no one seemed to be home.

He looked out the window and noticed that his Dad's truck was missing.

"Was last night...okay, sweetheart?"

His mother's voice behind him made him realize he wasn't alone after all. He turned around to face his mom. "Uh, yeah, mom, it was fine."

"Did it make you feel better, being close to Lex?"

"Yeah. It did."

Martha was silent for a moment, as if she wasn't sure what else to say to Clark.

"Where's Dad?" he finally asked.

She stepped the rest of the way into the kitchen. "Oh, he's gone on to the tractor supply."

"Is he--"

"No, honey, he's not mad. He just said he wanted to go early so he could get back sooner. He has a lot to do today."

"Oh, okay." Clark stared down at the toes of his boots. When he glanced up, he caught the look of concern on his mother's face.

"Well...I need to finish an English paper I have due on Monday," he said. He turned and headed for the stairs, strangely uncomfortable at his mother's presence. Maybe it was knowing that soon he would have to tell her about the photos of himself and Lex. Or maybe it was something else altogether.

"Clark? Are you sure you're okay?"

"I'm fine," he said, taking the stairs two at a time.

"Wait," Martha called out.

Clark halted near the top of the stairs and turned to look over the balustrade at his mom.

She stared up at him with a soft smile. "I forgot to mention that you had several calls from Lana earlier. She seems pretty desperate to talk to you."

Clark nodded, then continued to his room. Lana would have to wait. He really didn't want to talk to her right now.

He'd been staring at his half-finished essay for nearly thirty minutes when he heard his mom calling for him to come down.

"You've got company, Clark."

For some reason, those words made him think of Pete and he felt the cold hand of dread clench in his stomach. He took a deep breath, shoved his papers into his top desk drawer, and slowly stood. The trip downstairs was probably the hardest he'd ever taken.

But when he looked out over the railing, it wasn't Pete waiting for him.

It was Chloe.

<><><><><><><>

Lex poured himself a scotch from the decanter before he crossed the room to sit in the middle of the sofa. He relaxed back into the cushions and waited for Danielle to explain her presence in Smallville, something she seemed in no hurry to do.

Danielle leaned back in the chair across from him, crossing her legs and exposing a great deal of smooth thigh. Apparently, that peach dress hadn't been designed with sitting in mind.

Lex's lips curved faintly. "So my father is using you to distract me from...other pursuits. Frankly, I'm surprised you'd go along with him on this, Danielle. I thought you were smarter than that."

"Your father did nothing more than request that I accompany you to London tonight, Lex."

Lex stretched his arm across the back of the sofa and slowly swirled the golden liquid in his glass. "Tonight? I have no intention of going anywhere tonight."

Danielle's lashes lifted to reveal a triumphant gaze. "In that case, you should offer me some kind of accommodations here, Lex. I've already sent the limo back to Metropolis."

"So that was the plan all along, was it?" Lex brought his drink to his lips for a slow sip. He thought of what Clark would have to say if he let Danielle stay. But, knowing her, could he afford not to let her? He swallowed, then lowered his glass. "I've never been good at tolerating the machinations of others."

"But you've always been good at creating your own. Maybe we can work something out...Lex."

He met her bold gaze with a hard look. "I seriously doubt that. I've recently made a few changes in the way I do business, on the advice of a...close friend."

"The boy?"

"He saved my life on my first day in Smallville. We've become friends."

"You think you're so clever, Lex, but after what I saw in your eyes this morning, there's nothing you can say to convince me that you aren't interested in him as more than a friend." She rose from her seat and moved to stand beside one of the bookshelves. Her hand trailed idly across the spine of a thick tome. "Have you told him? Does he know you want him?"

Lex didn't waste his breath denying Danielle's accusations. He knew her well enough to know that she wouldn't even consider the idea that she could be wrong. With her, his best bet would be to play on her assumptions. She'd always been overly arrogant, and Lex had never hesitated to use that to his advantage in their few dealings together.

He leaned forward and placed his half-full tumbler on the nearest table. "He doesn't know, and I have no intention of telling him."

"Oh, the horrors of unrequited love..." She shrugged. "Or lust, as the case may be." She turned to face Lex, her eyes glittering with intent. "I bet your friend would appreciate the attentions of someone like, say, me. Since you don't seem to want me along on the trip to London, maybe I'll extend my visit and look him up while I'm here in Smallville."

Now that wasn't so typical of Danielle. Sure, she had a habit of using sex to further her business relationships in much the same way Lex had done. But Lex was certain there was only one reason for her sudden interest in Clark, and it had everything to do with the recent manifestations of Clark's alien nature.

"He's too young for you, Danielle. His parents will never allow a woman your age to prey on their son. Trust me."

"Trust you? Never, Lex. I'm smarter than that." She raised one hand to her neck and twisted her index finger into the gold chain she wore. "But I wonder if he is?"

<><><><><><><>

"How could you, Clark?"

Clark felt a frown pulling at his face. Chloe's accusatory question made no sense. As soon as they'd crossed into the kitchen and Martha had retreated to the back of the house to give him some privacy with his friend, Chloe had tossed a CD on the island's countertop and then turned on him with the fury of a small tornado.

"Well, Clark, what do you have to say for yourself?"

"Uh, nothing?" At the widening of her eyes, Clark quickly added, "I don't know what you're talking about."

Since he was standing backed up to the island counter, Chloe had to reach around him to grab the CD.

"This," she said fiercely. "This. You and Lex, doing it in the front seat of his car! My God, Clark, right out in the open where anybody could see you."

He couldn't blink, or breathe for that matter, but his face had no trouble turning fiery hot, and most likely, blood red in embarrassment. Chloe. Oh, God.

"Where did you--"

"Pete sent it to me. He said he thought it was a fake. As soon as I saw it I knew it wasn't though."

"Chloe, listen, you don't understand." Clark reached out for her arm, but she jerked away from him, crossing her arms in front of her chest. Her eyes teared up and her lower lip began to tremble.

Clark sighed and leaned back against the counter's edge. "I thought you were more open-minded than this."

"I'm very open-minded, Clark. Just disappointed." She let out an exasperated sigh. "I thought we were friends. You should have told me."

Clark was disappointed himself. It had never occurred to him that Pete might ask Chloe to look at the pictures because he thought they were fake.

Clark cleared his throat and shifted his stance. He leaned forward, toward Chloe. With the most brilliant smile he could manage, he said, "Chloe, the pictures are fake. You know I like girls. Somebody's just trying to make Lex look bad."

Clark watched breathlessly as Chloe's eyebrows lowered. Her confusion was short-lived. Her nostrils flared, her eyes glittered, and her jaw clenched. Without a doubt, she knew he was lying.

"What pictures, Clark? It's a freaking video clip!" With that, she tossed the CD at his chest and turned to stalk out of the kitchen.

He reached out and grabbed at Chloe's upper arm, pulling her around, determined to keep her here until she wasn't so mad at him. She threw him a look of irritation and screeched, "Sto--"

Clark clamped his hand over her mouth. "Mom's in the living room."

She huffed, then stared at him before finally nodding briskly.

He removed his hand from her mouth.

"Let go," she said.

Clark bit into the inside corner of his lip. It occurred to him that if he had to be saddled with this crazy alien stuff, what would it hurt to try and use it to his advantage just this once? Just one little thing, not even for himself really, but for Lex. To help keep Lex's private life private, to keep himself from becoming another stain on Lex's reputation.

He closed his eyes for a brief moment, then took a deep breath. When he let it out, it was slow and deliberate. Come on, pheromones, he thought. He stepped into Chloe's personal space and eased his hold on her arm. With a feather soft touch, he brushed his other hand across her cheek. "Chloe, you have to understand, Lex and me, we're just--"

But his words were cut off as suddenly Chloe's whole demeanor changed. With a sultry glance from under her lashes, Chloe tilted her head to the side. Her voice low and seductive, she said, "Was Lex your first?" Then, with a quick step forward, she closed the rest of the distance between them to rub her body against his in a move that was blatantly sexual.

Clark jerked away from her in shock. Shit, he'd made a big mistake. "I don't think--"

Chloe flattened her hand on his chest and gave him a little shove backward. Caught off guard, Clark stumbled and found himself backed up to the counter again, this time with Chloe barely inches in front of him.

Shit, shit, shit. Why had he ever thought this was a good idea? This -- this seductress was not Chloe.

He was distracted by Chloe's hand making circles on his chest, deliberately brushing over his nipples through his shirt.

He swallowed hard. Lex was going to kill him. Absolutely kill him if he let this go on for even one more second. "Chloe, stop. You don't know what you're doing."

"Oh, but I do, Clark, I do. What I don't understand is why no one else saw it until now." She pressed her hands hard against his chest. "God, Clark, you're so hot you make my mouth water. And you smell, like, really, really good."

When her hand slipped under the hem of his blue t-shirt and fisted around the top of his jeans, Clark nearly choked. He grabbed at her hands, but her grip was firm, her movements sure. He would have to use force, since it was obvious that he wasn't going to be able to pry her hands free of his zipper before--

Too late. He heard the rapid descent of the zipper and felt the sudden flow of air through his cotton briefs.

Her hand cupped his cock through the plain white fabric, squeezing lightly and wringing a strangled gasp from Clark. "Don't fight it, I can make you feel really, really good if you let me."

At the sound of a loud gasp, Clark jerked his head toward the kitchen doorway. For the rest of his life, he would never forget the widening of his mother's eyes, the way her hand flew up to her chest as she stood stone-still in the kitchen doorway, watching as Chloe held the fly of his jeans wide open, one hand buried between the metal teeth of his zipper.

Then, "Clark Kent! What's going on here?"

Chloe actually hesitated before slowly removing her hands. She shook her head as if to clear it. "Mrs. Kent? Clark?"

"Chloe, I think you should go home. And Clark," Martha said, "in the living room, now. We need to talk."

<><><><><><><>

"Clark, I'm trying not to jump to conclusions here, but it's hard not to considering what I just walked in on. You're going to have to explain yourself."

He blurted the first thing that came to mind. "Chloe attacked me."

His mother stared hard at him, clearly waiting for further explanation.

Clark shoved his hands into the pockets of his newly refastened jeans as he paced around the living room. "Well, sort of..."

"And you didn't do anything to encourage her?"

"Of course--" He stopped, then sighed in defeat. "I did. It was all my fault. I thought if I could just get her to do one little thing for me -- no, not that," he interjected hastily. "You see, there's these... uh, well... this video of me and Lex in his car..."

"Video? Of you and Lex together, going somewhere?"

He grimaced. "Not exactly."

"Clark, honey, you're going to have to come out and tell me, because I sure can't read your mind."

He turned away from his mom. Taking a deep breath, he pulled his hands out of his pockets and flopped down on the couch. Maybe it would be easier to explain about the pictures and video if he didn't have to look at her while he did it. Elbows on knees, he leaned forward and rested his head in his hands. He cleared his throat and then blurted out the truth, "Mom, it's a video of Lex and me having sex that first night after we left the bonfire."

Her silence unnerved him. He couldn't stand not knowing what she thought so he lifted his head to look at her. Just as he made eye contact, he felt himself start slipping sideways as he lost all control over his body.

The world around him disappeared.

<><><><><><><>

The world slowly reformed around him, and once again the image of his alien mother hovered above him. She smiled down at him.

"My son, I'm pleased that you've decided your current partner no longer suits you. A malleable human female capable of reproduction is a much better choice for you."

All he could think to say was, "Huh? What are you talking about?"

His alien mother's expression wavered between curiosity and confusion. "You chose to attract a new partner. Why else would you do this, if not to replace the one you have?"

Clark imagined himself closing his eyes in defeat. He never seemed to get anything but bad news from these sudden visits. "I was just trying to get Chloe to do something for me, that's all. I don't want a new partner. I like the one I've got just fine."

"Your declaration makes no sense. You were warned of the danger to your partner from those under the influence of your unique pheromones."

"Lex, his name is Lex. And you never said anything about choosing to use it meaning that I was choosing a different partner!"

"In an effort to expedite the programming of the device, some assumptions about your current environment may have been incorrect. It seems that your assimilation into this particular human environment has interfered with your ability to reason logically, my son."

"What? Are you trying to say that living with humans has made me stupid?"

"You're far from stupid. However, by trying to pass as a human, you may have compromised your intelligence."

Clark imagined smacking himself on the forehead. "Great," he muttered. "I'm not just an alien, I'm a dumb alien who just happens to be in heat."

His mother scowled at him. "Enough. You know that the time I have for explanations is limited. Listen closely. The female will most likely try to terminate your bond with your partner in the hopes that you'll choose her as your new partner. You must be prepared for that eventuality."

"Chloe wouldn't hurt anybody."

"Chloe is now under the influence of a very powerful chemical, and she shouldn't be held accountable for her actions. Maybe it would be best if you accepted her as your new partner. She seems to be a very controllable female."

Clark started to speak, to reject his mother's proposal, but her raised hand stopped him.

"You were loved dearly," she said softly. "And your happiness was always important to us. But you must never forget your purpose. You must make our people strong again. And along the way, you may be required to make sacrifices."

"I...I won't give Lex up. I won't."

"If you continue to test your Lex, my son, you may not have a choice but to give him up."

"I don't know how to stop it," Clark said roughly. "Don't you think I would've stopped giving off these...these vibes if I could?"

"It seems that your only choice is to let matters progress as they will. If and when your subconscious mind is confident that your choice of partner is a good one, you'll most likely cease production of the chemicals your body is releasing."

"I want it to stop now, not later!"

"I'm sorry, but I've told you all that I can deduce about what is happening to you."

"No, you haven't. I need to know when I'll stop having these violent urges to...to, uh, have sex with Lex. I can't seem to control myself when I'm around him. He's--I just don't think he's going to be able to keep up with me if it keeps up."

She looked at him for the briefest moment with something similar to pity in her gaze. "These humans are a fragile species, are they not? But these weaknesses are what made these people and this world so perfect for you. As long as your mate is a human male you will continue to have these urges, my son. The fire of puberty continues until one's mate begins reproducing."

"But...but Lex is a guy," Clark said, dawning comprehension making his voice sound faint.

"And males of the human species do not reproduce," she finished for him. "Without the proper chemical signal from your mate, you will continue to burn for him. Yet another reason why you should reconsider choosing the female."

"Shit, why didn't you tell me this sooner."

"Would it have made things easier for you?"

"Probably not."

"Then you see there was no need to tell you sooner. My son, my purpose here is to make your transition from boy to man as easy as possible, to give you the information you need to cope, to thrive on this planet. Telling you things that have no value other than to cause you concern isn't appropriate."

"What else haven't you told me?"

"Many things. But you may never need much of the information available to you through the device. I never wanted you to be frightened of what you are, of what you will become. However, we've assured ourselves that you will have access to as much information about our people as you will ever need, but that information isn't available through this device."

And then it was over. No goodbyes, no nothing.

He caught himself with one arm pressed to the sofa cushion below him and managed to stop his sideways descent.

"Clark, are you okay, sweetheart?" his real mother asked.

"I...it was her again -- my alien mother, the device in my head, whatever you want to call it." Clark sighed and flopped back against the back of the couch to stare at the ceiling. "I've messed up again."

Lex was going to be pissed when he realized what Clark had done this time. But for once, Lex wasn't lurking in the back of his mind.

<><><><><><><>

Lex leaned forward on the sofa and steepled his fingers against his lower lip. He stared at Danielle as she trailed around the room.

Danielle's presence in Smallville made sense only if he assumed his father still wanted something from her. But what was it? And could he use it in his fight for independence? Or...fuck, his father wanted him to think that, knowing that Lex's typical method of persuasion meant he would give Danielle what she wanted in exchange for whatever information she could give him. And Danielle had made it clear what she wanted.

Lionel had always encouraged Lex to do whatever it took to get what he wanted from others. Lex had, in fact, done quite a bit to help his father get what he wanted, especially after it became apparent that Lex had a knack for gaining and holding the attention of the ladies, regardless of age. He'd slept with many women (and a few men whom his father had apparently chosen not to notice) while his father groomed him for his place at LuthorCorp. Each and every one of those women and men had ultimately been nothing more than trades -- a fuck or two in exchange for information, stock, or anything else of value to his father.

Lex felt a frisson of unease crawl over his scalp. His father was setting him up, and if it weren't for the bond between him and Clark, it might have worked perfectly. But Lex wouldn't risk it now that he knew how Clark would react, now that he'd made a vow to Clark that he would never fuck anyone else.

He meant to keep that vow. In a way, his vow to Clark was a godsend. It had put a stop to something that should have been stopped a long time ago.

Danielle stopped pacing. She turned to Lex with an easy smile. "You have to admit, Lex, there's just something about him. I noticed it almost immediately."

"Clark is no different than any other teenager. Unless you consider a hurried fuck in the backseat of a car a good time, you probably wouldn't enjoy a liaison with a boy his age." Lex rose to his feet and went to refill his drink. The clink of crystal on glass filled the silence until he turned back to Danielle. "I happen to know you prefer silk sheets and perfectly aged merlot while Clark is exceptionally fond of milk... and doughnuts."

"He just needs someone to give him a taste of something better, Lex."

"Maybe he does. But it isn't going to be you."

"Lex," she drawled. "Your jealousy over this boy is heartwarming, but really, it wouldn't even be an issue if you were to act a little more enthusiastic about me accompanying you to London. A quiet, uninterrupted flight, a bottle of wine, a gourmet assortment of hors d'oeuvres, and we could have such a good time."

"Just so I know," Lex said, "what did my father offer you if you could get me to fuck you on the plane?"

The morning sunlight streamed into the room and glinted off Danielle's eyes. Her lips tightened, her expression becoming pinched. Then she shrugged. "Fine, you want to know what it would take to get me to sleep with you now that I know your true nature? A fifteen percent share of the voting stock of AXxis Labs."

Fuck. AXxis Labs was his.

Finally losing his calm, Lex surged to his feet. "What do you want with AXxis Labs?" he demanded.

Danielle stalked across the room to stop directly in front of Lex. Looking down on him, she said, "Nothing. Other than having something that belongs to you."

"What the hell is this all about, Danielle? You've never had an interest in acquiring stocks, you've always let Daddy pick and choose for you, and then sold to whomever the hell you wanted to sell to."

"You want those stock back, don't you? I can see it in your eyes." She stuck out her lip in a mock pout. "Oh, but I can't give them to you, because they aren't mine. Not yet, anyway."

She sauntered across the room to stop directly in front of Lex. She raised her hand to touch his face, but Lex turned his head away. She let her hand fall to her side.

"There's only one way to get those stock from your father, Lex. But I'm more flexible. I'm willing to make a deal." Looking up at him, she said, "I want...Clark, was it?" At Lex's perfunctory nod, she continued, "Oh, I admit when I first came here this morning, I wanted you, but after meeting your friend I changed my mind." For a moment, she actually looked confused, but then she shrugged. "I don't know what it is about him, but I want him. And I'll get a great deal of pleasure from having him -- and knowing that you won't."

Lex swallowed hard, thinking fast, trying to come up with a way to make this all work in his favor. "I hadn't realized you were so vindictive that you'd fuck a high school kid just to get back at me for something as insignificant as me not wanting to fuck you."

"It wasn't insignificant! The only reason I was willing to sell those shares to your father was because I knew he'd call you in on it, and my God, Lex, everyone knows what you'll do to please your father! And then you backed me into a corner and forced me to sell those shares anyway. You've fucked half the women I know for one reason or another, and I won't be the only one you've said no to, do you hear me?"

Her words stabbed at Lex. He'd done what he'd done in the past and there wasn't any way to take it back now. But at that moment, he hated Danielle for throwing the truth in his face.

She spun around and paced toward the chair she'd vacated earlier. He glared at her back, his jaw tight, his breath coming faster than it should. He needed to calm down before she turned around and saw how her words had affected him.

But she wasn't finished. She turned her head to speak over her shoulder at him, but kept her gaze fixed on the wall across the room from them. "That's my offer. We can make a deal, or you can watch your father accumulate more and more shares of AXxis Labs until he steals it right out from under you. Personally, I don't care what happens to your precious company's assets."

<><><><><><><>

Clark rushed through the chores, a sense of increasing urgency spurring him on. Something was wrong with Lex, but since Lex hadn't made any effort to communicate with Clark through their link, Clark had held back his own curiosity, forcing himself to be patient and allow Lex all the privacy he could.

If Lex wanted him to know what was going on, he would open up the link and let Clark in. He hadn't yet, but that didn't mean he wouldn't.

He'd just stepped onto the porch when he knew Lex was on his way over. For the first time that morning, he reached out to Lex with his mind.

...Lex? What's going on?...

...There's something I need to tell you, but I want to do it in person....

Clark didn't like the feelings ghosting through his mind, but he resisted the urge to pry. Instead, he went in the house and grabbed a snack and then carried it back out onto the porch where he waited for Lex to pull up.

Lex was closer than Clark had realized, and before he was even halfway through the ham sandwich he'd made himself, Lex was pulling up in the gravel drive. Clark stood, leaving his sandwich on the seat of the wooden rocking chair his father had made a few weeks ago.

Lex's shoes crunched gravel underfoot as he stepped out of the silver Lamborghini. He strode toward the porch, his movement purposeful and determined.

Feeling dread well-up in his gut, Clark lost the battle with his conscience. He slipped through the barriers of Lex's mind, looking for anything to ease his worry.

...Clark, out!...

...Sorry.... But he wasn't and they both knew it.

Lex stepped up onto the porch and stopped in front of Clark.

"I want to go with you," Clark said.

Lex didn't even bother asking what Clark was talking about. "That's out of the question."

"I can act as a buffer."

"With the way you've been attracting people lately, you won't do anything but cause trouble, Clark. She's already interested in you. We need to keep you away from her -- hell, we need to keep you away from everybody for a while. Besides, you know you can't go. What would the press make of a high-school boy flying to London with an unrelated wealthy business man? Nothing good, I can assure you."

"You can claim I'm an intern or something working with your company."

"It's a lie, and someone would find out. Hell, my father would probably provide the leak just to punish me for having the balls to defy him. He wants me to know he's still in charge of how the world sees me."

"What has he done now?" Clark asked, having picked up on the faint twist to Lex's mouth.

"He's managed to get his hands on a significant chunk of the stock of one of LexCorp's recent acquisitions, and he's dangling it in front of Danielle as an incentive for her to come between you and me."

Clark's brows drew together. "But she can't."

"No, she can't, but he doesn't know that. I don't know how the hell he managed to get that stock, but I want it back. And I have a plan."

"You--" Clark's voice cracked. "You're going to fuck her, aren't you?"

Lex reached out and grabbed Clark's hand. "No. Never. But we're going to make it look like I do, and when my father tries to mess things up between us by showing you that I'm cheating on you, it won't matter. You'll know the truth."

"But... Danielle will have the stock."

"She's agreed to sign a binding agreement stating that she'll sell the stock to me."

But there was more, Clark knew. He felt Lex's uneasiness with the rest of his explanation, as if he was almost afraid to say it. Clark waited and when Lex didn't seem in a hurry to continue, he asked, "What does she want?"

Lex swallowed visibly. "She wants you."

Clark felt his eyes widen. "And you agreed?" he nearly yelled.

"No!" Lex rushed to say. At Clark's skeptical look, he added, "Not in so many words."

"Oh my God, I can't believe you would even hint that I'd... I'd sleep with her to get that stock for you."

"I didn't, Clark. That wasn't the agreement." Lex pulled Clark's hand up to his cheek, rubbing the palm against the soft skin of his face. "You won't have to do anything you don't want to do. You and your damned alien chemicals caught her attention this morning. I told her I would set up a date with you for her and that if anything happened it would be between you and her. She thinks I have unrequited feelings for you. She's getting off on the idea that she'll have something I want but can't have. That's all."

"I..." God, he wanted to say he wouldn't do it, but the words wouldn't come. He wanted to do something for Lex, to pay him back for all the trouble he'd caused Lex since he'd unknowingly bound Lex to him. But this was too much like what Lex had been willing to do in Metropolis, trading on the promise of sex. Clark wasn't sure he could do it, even knowing that there was no way this woman could make him do anything he didn't want to do.

He opened his mouth to tell Lex all those things, but when his eyes connected with Lex's he realized that Lex already knew. Lex was expecting him to say no, and for that reason alone, Clark found himself saying, "Okay, I'll do it, but I won't fuck her."

Lex closed his eyes on a relieved sigh, his entire body seeming to relax.

Clark's fingers had been itching to reach out and touch Lex ever since Lex had stepped up onto the porch. He finally gave in to the uncontrollable urge. Lex's eyebrows rose enquiringly as Clark's palm cupped the back of Lex's head, but he didn't resist as Clark pulled him forward and kissed him.

The crush of lips and the mingling of breath and saliva had Clark burning to get closer. He put his hands on Lex's arms and spun around, pushing Lex up against the wall of the house between the front window and the front door. He needed the leverage so he could grind himself against Lex.

"Lex..."

"Clark, stop, not now."

"But..."

"We're on your...front porch..." But Lex's objection was lost in the vortex of Clark's mind as Clark reacted to the rush of heat and fire Lex's presence always seemed to cause. He pushed Lex hard against the wall, kissing along Lex's jaw and ear and down the smooth skin of his throat. He was already halfway there, and from the sounds Lex started making, it seemed he was taking Lex right along with him.

"Lex, I need you so bad," Clark mumbled against Lex's collarbone, trying desperately not to overwhelm Lex with his feelings, but failing pitifully. The tingling fire, the burn of pain and pleasure all blending together as Clark humped restlessly against Lex.

"Fuck, Clark, don't--shit, yes, yes, oh God, what are you--get out of my--shit, you're going to make me come in my pants."

Something heavy landed by Clark's feet. Startled, he jerked backwards, releasing his hold on Lex so fast that Lex nearly fell face first to the floor. Clark caught him and stood him upright, then looked around to find his dad staring at him and Lex with a dark scowl covering his face.

He heard Lex's barely audible mutter. "Well, fuck."

Clark felt a flush start up his neck. A quick glance at Lex showed Lex smiling weakly at Jonathan.

...Dammit, Clark, this is all your fault....

<><><><><><><>

Jonathan wanted Lex gone, pure and simple. Lex could see it in the man's eyes as if they were speaking to him loud and clear. The cold glint, the hard stare, it all added up to one big mess of dissatisfaction with the way things were.

Lex couldn't have cared less. Clark was his now, and he wasn't going to let Jonathan Kent interfere with his and Clark's relationship. He'd been put in this situation without his consent (however unintentionally) and he refused to be the one suffering because of it.

But he was going to have to put a stop to Clark's overactive hormones, one way or another.

Jonathan poured three cups of steaming coffee and sat them on the kitchen table. Clark picked his up and drank from it immediately. Lex and Jonathan waited.

"See," Clark said, as he plopped his half-empty cup back on the table, "you two do have something in common."

"Our desire to protect our tongues from scalding coffee?" Lex asked.

"Loving me."

The corner of Jonathan's left eye twitched.

Lex cleared his throat. "Well, that's something." He raised his cup and started blowing on his coffee, watching the waves ripple across the surface. ...Clark, you're going to pay for saying that....

...I'm counting on it, Lex. God, I'm so hot right now. Maybe I can show you something up in my room....

Lex had just taken a sip of coffee when Clark's thought came through. At the suggestion, he nearly choked. Coffee splattered out onto the table.

Jonathan slapped Lex on the back a couple of time, making it even worse. Lex glared at Clark as he used a napkin to wipe his mouth and then the tabletop.

"Still hot?" Jonathan asked, a trace of humor underlying his unsympathetic tone.

...You've been trolling through my mind again, haven't you, Clark? Dammit, I've told you to stay out of my head....

...But you have these awesome fantasies, Lex....

...Fuck.... This was payback, Lex realized, for him having spied on Clark's dreams last night. But Lex had his own methods of punishment, and he set about putting it into motion.

...*Have you found the one where I bend you over the loft railing in the barn, Clark, or the one where I fuck you in your bed so hard that the frame breaks? Or how about the one where I tie you up in that chain you have hanging from the ceiling in the barn, or hell, the one where I'm the one wrapped up in that chain?*...

Clark swallowed roughly, then grabbed up his coffee and drained the rest of the cup.

Jonathan sat back in his seat, his arm stretched out and his fingers curled around his cup of coffee. "Something wrong, guys?"

"You just don't know what I have to put up with from your son, Mr. Kent."

Clark looked across the table, eyes wide with innocence. "Hey, Dad, I'd like to show Lex that new bench you're making for Mom."

Jonathan looked surprised, but he recovered quickly. "Sure, Son, I can--"

"Nah, I'll do it. You just, uh, go ahead and eat lunch then come out and we'll get started on the tractor."

He shook his head as if he knew exactly what Clark was trying to do, like a father scolding his son for trying to get out of his chores. "We've really got to get busy, Son, if we want to get that tractor fixed today. Five minutes, while I change into my work clothes. Don't start something you can't--" he stopped to clear his throat, his face going red, as if it had just occurred to him what it sounded like he was saying, "--finish."

Clark looked like he had a stick stuck in his throat, and Lex was sure he was the only one who could appreciate the humor of the situation. Lex smiled before he stood up and let Clark lead the way out of the house.

<><><><><><><>

Clark wasn't sure how to break the news about Chloe to Lex. He was surprised when Lex said, "Don't get any ideas, Clark. My ass is still sore from all the fucking last night."

He looked at Lex blankly for a moment, before it hit him that Lex thought he'd wanted him out here in the barn for that reason.

"I was just teasing you, Lex. After what happened earlier, I know you don't want to do...uh, anything right now. I'm... well..." He stopped and cleared his throat. He pointed to the bench sitting on the floor behind Lex. "You can sit on it. It's just not painted yet, that's all."

Lex sat and waited.

"I'm sorry I keep coming on so strong. I can't seem to look at you without wanting you."

"Come here."

"Huh?"

"Come here. Sit down beside me. I don't bite." Lex's lips curved. "Most of the time."

Clark sat, close enough that his thigh pressed tight against Lex's. Maybe it was silly, but the contact helped ease his anxiety. What he had to tell Lex...well, it wasn't something Lex was going to be happy about, for sure.

"So, what's wrong? It wasn't but a few minutes ago that your mind was full of thoughts of sex, but now -- now I can't tell what you're thinking. You're getting better at keeping your thoughts to yourself when you really want to. I'm not sure I like it."

"What happened to stay out of my head?"

"It's not my head we're talking about."

"Yeah, I know. You don't mind knowing what I think, but you don't want me knowing what you're thinking. I kind of got that from earlier. You went to a lot of trouble to make sure I didn't know what was going on between you and Danielle."

Lex gazed at Clark, his expression unreadable. "Is that what you really think? That I'm trying to keep things from you?"

"Aren't you?"

Lex sighed. "Maybe. Maybe I am. But there are things about my past that I'm not ready to share with you, Clark."

"You can tell me anything. You don't even have to tell me. Just let me in and --"

"No."

Lex's answer was blunt and entirely sincere. Clark looked away for a moment. His throat hurt, and his chest, but he thought he understood Lex's reasons. For now, that would have to be enough. Lex deserved his privacy, especially considering that he'd never asked for this...this thing with Clark. Wanting to fuck someone wasn't the same as wanting to spend the rest of your life with that person.

"Stop it, Clark. You're being melodramatic. We've already been over this and you know exactly how I feel about you."

This time it was Clark who sighed. "You know, I think I get depressed when I have to go without sex."

Lex made a strangled sound, then reached up and patted Clark's cheek. "You'll survive without a fuck every twenty minutes."

"Hey, you don't know that," Clark muttered. Then louder, "And we don't do it every twenty minutes."

Lex raised his eyebrows. "We would if you thought I could keep up."

Clark's face reddened. "I can't help it," he said. "She told me... well, it's not going to go away anytime soon."

"Let me guess. You had another motherly visit from that alien device in your head, right?"

"Yeah."

"Tell me exactly what you found out."

"It's not going away for a very, very long time, Lex."

"It's a good thing I like you, then, isn't it?"

Clark didn't smile. Finally, Lex frowned, seeming to have realized that Clark's gloomy attitude wasn't going away. "Just how long are we talking about here?"

Clark avoided meeting Lex's gaze. "Until one of us dies and it's over, or until human men start having babies."

"That's not funny."

"I'm supposed to keep going through this until my mate starts reproducing. Only...you won't."

"Fuck. You're serious." Lex rubbed his hand across his forehead. "Is it just the sex stuff or is it the pheromone shit too?"

"Just the sex stuff, I think." Clark rubbed his hands over his thighs, the rough texture of his jeans scraping against his palms, the friction warming his skin.

Lex grasped the hand closest to him, stopping the obsessive motion. "No matter how much I love fucking you -- or having you fuck me -- I don't think I can keep up this kind of activity for the rest of my life, Clark. That's a lot of fucking."

"I'll just have to learn to control myself better, that's all. I mean, she thinks I should let Chloe kill you and take your place--"

Lex's hand gave a barely perceptible jerk. "Excuse me?"

"--but I told her I wasn't giving you up."

"That's nice, but what the hell is this about letting Chloe kill me? Chloe likes me, or I thought she did."

Clark turned toward Lex. "You can't blame her if she does. It's not her fault."

Lex shook his head, his exasperation unmistakable. "Just how the hell did you manage to turn Chloe into a killer?"

"I was trying to help you!" Clark stopped and took a deep breath. He had no right to get upset at Lex about this. "It backfired. I'm sorry."

"This alien shit just keeps getting worse. I feel like I'm getting fucked over by that device in your head. We have to find some way to stop all this."

"I am sorry it has to be like this, but I'm not sorry I chose you, Lex." Clark struggled to swallow, then continued. "I hope you don't hold that against me."

Lex stared hard at Clark. His eyes glittered in the barn's artificial lighting. "You're an alien. Nothing's going to change that. You're different from me and you always will be. But I love you anyway, dammit, and you know it, so quit feeling sorry for yourself. If I could do half the things you could do..."

"It's a good thing you can't."

"No shit."

The barn door swung open, and Clark slowly pulled his hand from under Lex's. Cool air swirled over the spot where Lex's palm had been, and for a moment, he felt bereft.

...It's okay, Clark....

But Clark knew it wasn't, and he knew that Lex had sensed his embarrassment at having his father see him holding hands with Lex.

Jonathan stood outlined in the doorway for a moment before striding into the barn and going straight for the tractor. He didn't say anything, just nodded in their direction. Whether it was a greeting or a reminder to Clark that it was time to get to work, Clark wasn't sure.

"We'll finish talking later," Lex said, standing up. "I'd offer to help, but I know absolutely nothing about tractors, and I don't particularly want to stand around while you and your father fix this one."

...Come over tonight. Stay with me....

...You know I will. I need you....

Lex looked over his shoulder at Jonathan, who was silently gathering his tools and supplies onto a table near the front of the tractor and who kept glancing at them from the corner of his eyes. When Lex looked down at Clark's face, his expression softened. Leaning down, Lex reached for the back of Clark's head, wrapping his hand around Clark's neck and threading his fingers into the silky hair, then he pulled Clark forward and kissed him. It was just a soft press of his lips to Clark's, but it was enough for Clark - for now. He understood that it was Lex's one small effort to remind Jonathan that Clark had shared himself with Lex, and that Lex now had the right to touch Clark in this simple way.

Clark let him. And when Lex pulled back and released him, Clark clenched his hands into fists to stop himself from yanking Lex down onto his lap.

Later. He would have to save that for later.

<><><><><><><>

Clark plopped the bowl of rolls down on the table. "Come on, Dad, you know I can't stand to be away from him for that long anymore. No one will know I'm staying there overnight. It's not like you have to drive me over and drop me off."

Jonathan pulled a chair out from the table and sat. "That's not what this is about, Son. You don't need to be spending so much time around the Luthors."

"I'm not! It's just Lex, you know that."

Martha entered the dining room carrying a steaming pot roast. She gave Clark and Jonathan both a look that had them avoiding her gaze. "Guys, let's talk about something else while we eat, okay?"

"Martha, we can't just--" She turned a sharp-eyed gaze toward Jonathan. He sighed and then nodded. Turning to Clark, he asked, "Did you finish your chores?"

"Yeah."

"Pass me the potatoes."

"Here."

Martha tried several times to start a conversation, but neither Clark nor Jonathan would answer with more than three words at a time. She finally gave up and let the silence fill the room.

Clark ate quickly. When he'd finished, he pushed his chair back and stood. "I'm going to my room."

"Clark--" Martha started.

Clark interrupted, "I'm packing something for tomorrow. Don't try to stop me."

Jonathan banged his glass down on the table. "Now listen here, Son--"

"No. You don't understand what it's like for me. If you did, you'd never ask me to stay away from Lex. Don't make me choose between him and you. I won't do it." Clark turned and started out of the room.

"You're my son," Jonathan said gruffly to Clark's back. "I'm just trying to look out for you."

Clark stopped at the foot of the stairs and looked over his shoulder. "I know, Dad, but I'm not the same as you and Mom, no matter how much you wish I was."

Jonathan and Martha exchanged a quick glance before they both surged to their feet. Jonathan hurried around the table, Martha right behind him. "You don't believe that, Son. We've always accepted you for who you are."

"We love you, Sweetheart, you know that."

Jonathan put his hand on Clark's shoulder. Clark resisted the urge to shrug it off. He felt strange, like a fundamental part of himself had been cut off from the rest. He didn't want anyone to touch him but Lex, didn't want to be having this conversation with his parents when it was obvious they would never understand what it was like for him when Lex wasn't around.

He felt the corner of his mouth twist up, and the gesture seemed familiar somehow. "Don't try to tell me you haven't ever wished I was human instead of some freakish alien."

Martha reached out and grabbed his arm, her expression one of shock and hurt. "Only because we want you to stay safe. Never because we wanted you to be someone you weren't. You're our son."

"I'm n--"

...Clark, shut the hell up and quit trying to ruin your relationship with your parents. For God's sake, you know they love you. Stop being perverse....

Clark stumbled backwards. His butt hit the fourth step on the staircase as he sat with a thud. Lex knew what he'd been about to say, and damn if Clark didn't feel lucky that Lex had stopped him from saying it. To deny that he was their son would have hurt his parents like nothing else could have. And it wouldn't have been true. He was their son, much more so than the son of the aliens he'd never seen except through the magic of an alien mind control device.

His parents squeezed in close to him. "Are you okay, honey?" his mom asked.

"I'm fine, just give me a minute, okay?" He put his elbows on his knees and rested his head in his hands, trying to get himself under control. Why had he almost lashed out at his parents like that?

...Another moment of excessive immaturity strikes my alien mate....

...Shut up, Lex....

...You're getting way too mouthy, Clark....

...Oh God, I'm going to have to apologize to my parents. And I don't want to....

...Do it anyway. They deserve it, and you deserve to suffer a little bit.... And more trickled through, whether Lex meant for it to or not. ...Need a father like mine, then you'll be grateful for what you've got....

Clark looked up at his mom and dad. He sighed. "I'm sorry. You're right. I know you guys love me. It's just..." his voice trailed off.

"Son, I know this has to be hard on you, but--"

"No, you don't know. It's not just hard, it's nearly impossible. I don't know what's going on with my body or my mind half the time anymore. And now Chloe knows about me and Lex, and she might be a murderer and that'll be all my fault, and Lionel--never mind about him. I just wish I would quit messing up so many people's lives!"

Jonathan's hand tightened on Clark's shoulder. "Does Lionel Luthor know your secret? Is he threatening you somehow?"

"No. He doesn't know, but...he knows about me and Lex having...a relationship and he's threatened Lex." Clark knew better than to say that Lionel was actually threatening Lex by threatening him. The whole truth would only lead his dad to do something stupid.

"Lex doesn't need to get you involved in his troubles with his father."

"He didn't. His dad's been spying on him. He can't help that."

Jonathan looked unconvinced. "That's another reason why you should stay away from Lex. How do you know Lionel won't discover your secret?"

"He won't." Clark raised his head and smiled for the first time since he'd plopped down on the stairs. "I took care of everything, and if he tries to plant anymore bugs, I'll find them too. I'm not going to let Lex's dad interfere with the way things are supposed to be."

Martha patted him on the arm and then kissed his cheek. After a quick glance at Jonathan, she said, "Go ahead and get your things together." Then she stood up and pulled Jonathan along with her back to the table.

<><><><><><><>

Danielle had donned her best seductive attitude for the evening, despite the fact that Lex distinctly recalled telling her that Clark was off limits until after they returned from London. He wanted to be certain that those shares were hers to sell before he set her up with Clark -- especially since he was sure Clark wasn't interested in her. It would be just like her to renege on the agreement if Clark resisted her attempts at seduction.

Like he was doing now, a little too well if the frown on her face was any indication. Clark had clamped his hand over hers, stopping its progress along his upper thigh.

...Clark, for God's sake, let her put her hand on your leg, it isn't going to kill you....

Clark threw him a look of horror. ...It's my thigh! And her thumb is brushing against my...my...... Even in his thoughts Clark was tongue-tied. He shifted against the cushions of the sofa where he sat beside Danielle and across from Lex. He and Clark were supposed to be playing a game of chess, but Danielle kept interrupting Clark's moves with moves of her own.

"Danielle," Lex said, temporarily drawing her attention away from Clark. "Your subtlety could use a little work."

She smiled and leaned back against the sofa cushions. Her fingers squeezed Clark's thigh, and Lex didn't realize he was glowering at her until she quirked an eyebrow and said, "Lex, I have to thank you for introducing me to your friend and offering to let him spend the night in your castle so we can have a chance to get to know each other better."

"Let's not forget that you're going back to Metropolis tonight. I've already arranged for the limo to return and pick you up in--" He glanced at his watch. "--less than an hour."

A sharp knock at the door brought Lex's head around. His servant stepped through carrying the telephone. "Mr. Kent has a telephone call, Sir."

Lex nodded in Clark's direction. "He can take it in here. Thank you."

Clark's eyebrows rose. He jumped up from the sofa and with a shrug, took the phone from the servant. Lex merely smiled.

...Just trying to escape her clutches, aren't you?...

Clark ignored him. Turning away from both Danielle and Lex, he moved toward the window on the far side of the room and spoke quietly into the cordless telephone. "Hello."

Lex leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. He let his fingers dance across the arms of the upholstered chair, feeling the soft fabric beneath his fingertips. If he concentrated really hard, he could almost hear what Clark heard. Almost, but not quite. Still, if he tried just a little harder...

Before he could really center himself in Clark's mind, Danielle spoke. "I want him to myself, you know."

"What?" Lex asked, not really paying attention to her. He watched as Clark rubbed one hand down his left thigh. He seemed on edge, and Lex knew that Danielle was a large part of the reason. Clark was uncomfortable around her, and he was uncomfortable with what he'd agreed to do.

But Lex couldn't see why. It was going to be a simple date where Clark had every advantage. Danielle was no match for Clark's strength. Clark had nothing to worry about. All he had to do was say no when the question of sex came up. Was Clark afraid he wouldn't be able to say no without screwing things up for Lex? Or was he afraid he wouldn't want to say no?

Lex thought that question deserved considerable contemplation. He'd have an answer from Clark before he let him near Danielle, and if Clark didn't answer it to Lex's satisfaction, he'd find another way to get those shares from Danielle once she got them from his father. He would not allow Clark to fuck Danielle for any reason. Clark was his.

"When we go on our date. I want him to myself. You can abandon the castle for the night or something, but I don't want our date to happen in a public place."

Lex met Danielle's glittering gaze. "Whatever you prefer, Danielle. I've already asked Clark and he's agreed to go out with you."

She looked over at Clark where he stood near the window. "He's very... compelling. I can see why you want him. I can't put my finger on what it is about him, but whatever it is, it makes me want to hide him away and keep him all to myself. He's much younger than I usually prefer..." Her voice trailed off, as if she'd become so caught up in watching Clark that she'd forgotten about the conversation she'd started with Lex.

Her gaze wandered over Clark's body, lingering in the same places that Lex always found his own gaze lingering, on Clark's broad shoulders and his trim waist, highlighted by a t-shirt that looked a size too small, and then on his tight ass and the long, long legs showcased perfectly in a pair of faded, work-worn jeans.

"Even if he doesn't look young," she finally continued softly, her gaze never leaving Clark, "there's an innocence about him. I can't believe that you don't intend to make a play for him, eventually. You will. He's too perfect for you to ignore for long. You'll surely corrupt him." And then her gaze shifted to Lex. "I can't let that happen, Lex."

Just fucking great, Lex thought. She wants to protect Clark from me. What the hell kind of chemical was Clark giving off that he could turn someone like Danielle, sexual predator that she was, into his protector?

"If anyone can corrupt Clark, it's you, Danielle."

She frowned. "But I don't want to corrupt him. I'd much rather look after him."

A strangled laugh escaped Lex.

At that moment, Clark walked back over to the sofa. He placed the phone on a nearby table, then returned to his seat beside Danielle, who smiled up at him, a sappy look on her face.

"What was that about?" Lex asked.

Before answering, Clark moved Danielle's wandering hand off his thigh, then his chest, finally giving up when she moved it back to his thigh. He sighed. "Chloe wanted to talk to me. She said it couldn't wait, but then all she wanted to talk about was...you."

Lex flicked his gaze toward Danielle. Clark gave a barely perceptible nod in response. ...She's very upset that I didn't tell her about us. Said she'd always suspected you were bisexual, never figured I was. Called you a pervert....

Lex blinked. Then he watched Clark's eyes open wide as he realized what he'd let slip.

Lex took a deep breath that failed to calm him. Why the hell did he care what Chloe thought of him? The little bitch just wanted to take what was his, but he wasn't about to let--

...Lex!...

...Fuck. This is your fault, Clark....

...Like hell it is. You're just jealous and you don't know how to handle it....

...Yeah, but until you did your alien thing with me, I wasn't the jealous type....

...Bullshit....

...Fuck off.... Lex got up and went to the small bar to pour himself a drink. He looked over his shoulder at Danielle. "You want one?"

<><><><><><><>

Thank God that was over, Clark thought, taking a pool cue from Lex. Danielle had left in the limo ten minutes ago, and he wouldn't have to see her again for a week. His skin itched where she'd had her hands all over him. If it hadn't been for his determination not to screw up Lex's plan to get those AXxis Labs shares from Danielle, he'd have dumped her on the floor and let her pick herself up.

He'd tolerated her and her wandering hands for the better part of two hours. Not even his newly active and working dick had cared that a beautiful woman wanted him. She wasn't Lex, therefore she wasn't of interest.

"Interesting," Lex said. With that, he straightened, removing the triangle from the center of the pool table and leaving behind a set of perfectly racked balls.

"You were listening, weren't you?"

"Pardon me?"

"You were listening to my thoughts just now. You know what I was thinking."

Lex looked over his shoulder at Clark. "I can't believe you didn't have some kind of reaction to her advances."

"You know I don't want anyone but you."

"You could hardly help it if you responded. You don't have to hide it. "

Lex's skeptical expression grated. "What do you mean?"

"Sometimes humans respond to sexual advances even when they don't want to. It's perfectly natural."

"Natural for you maybe."

"Oh, come on. You know how you can get a hard-on just from looking at someone... Fuck, you don't have a clue what I'm talking about. I know you weren't interested in Danielle, but what about your dick? Wasn't it the least bit interested in her?"

"No."

"Not even when her hand was practically cupping you?"

"No." With his free hand, Clark pointed his head. "Wanna check?"

"I'd have been hard by the time she finished with me, whether I wanted to be or not."

"Would you--"

"Of course not. If you think I'd want to fuck her just because she's good enough to give me an erection, you've got a lot to learn about being a man."

"Well, obviously," Clark said, "I'm sixteen."

"Shit," Lex muttered. "Don't remind me."

...Then there's the small fact that I'm an alien....

...Damn, let's talk about something else....

...We're not talking anymore, Lex....

...Smartass....

Clark opened his mouth to object, but someone chose that moment to knock on the door. The same servant that had brought the telephone earlier stuck his head around the door. "Mr. Luthor?"

"What is it?"

"There's someone--umph."

Chloe plowed around the man and threw the door open wide.

Clark dropped his pool stick and hurried to stand partially in front of Lex.

Chloe stopped just inside the door. "Clark? I really need to talk to you, it's important."

Clark glanced at Lex. Lex shrugged. With that confused look on her face, Chloe didn't look dangerous at all. The idea that she might be there to hurt Lex, to kill him even, seemed ludicrous.

"You can go," Lex told the servant.

All three watched as he left, and as soon as the door closed behind him, Clark whipped his gaze back to Chloe.

...Stay behind me.... Clark ordered Lex.

...I really don't think--... Lex's thought remained unfinished as Chloe jammed her hand into her pocketbook, reaching to pull something out.

"Chloe, don't!" Clark raced over to her, using his speed and hoping that Chloe wouldn't look up in time to see him. He'd grabbed her hand before she could remove it from her purse.

"Clark, oh my God, what--"

"I can't let you hurt Lex."

"Why would I hurt Lex?"

He looked down and noticed for the first time that Chloe clutched a small notebook in her hand -- not a gun or a knife or a weapon of any kind.

...Clark, I think that x-ray vision of yours might have come in handy in this situation....

...I just made a fool out of myself, didn't I?...

...You could say that....

...Well don't, okay?...

"Clark?"

"Oh, sorry, Chloe." Clark released Chloe and stepped back. "I was, uh, well -- what was it you needed to talk to me about?"

Chloe frowned before flipping open the mini-notebook she held. "Mrs. Evanston was asking a lot of questions about you this afternoon at the Talon so I decided to do a little more checking up on her."

She paused, apparently waiting for Clark to say something.

"And what did you find out?"

Chloe snapped her notebook closed. "Nothing concrete, but I think she somehow convinced the student that accused her of making sexual advances at him to drop the charges. And," Chloe said, a look of gleeful anticipation on her face, "it wasn't a month later that he had a fatal accident in the school's swimming pool. He supposedly slipped in a puddle of water, hit his head on the side of the pool, and fell in and drowned. And the only witness was Mrs. Evanston."

"Come on, Chloe, that's kind of far-fetched, don't you think?"

"Clark, I'm serious. The woman is way too interested in you for you not to take this seriously. Why else would she be asking all those questions about you, your routine, what your hobbies are, who your friends are? She even asked Lana who your girlfriend is!" With a pointed look at Lex, Chloe continued, "And I could've answered that one for her, but she didn't ask me."

Lex tucked his hands into his front pockets and stepped forward to join the conversation. "Why are you so concerned with Mrs. Evanston's interest in Clark?"

"Because...because...she's dangerous, can't you tell? She kept touching Clark at school and--and she doesn't have that right!"

"So you immediately jump to the conclusion that she's a murderess?" Lex asked.

Ignoring Lex, she reached out and touched Clark's arm, her fingers brushing against the bare skin of his forearm, lingering longer than necessary. "Clark, you have to believe me."

He felt Lex stiffen beside him. However, Lex kept a tight rein on his thoughts, leaving Clark to guess just how Lex felt about Chloe's action.

"You have to trust me on this. I think we should do something about her before it's too late."

"Whoa! Do something about her? Just what are you talking about doing, Chloe?"

"Stopping her from hurting you, of course."

"Of course," Lex said softly. He glanced to the side, meeting Clark's gaze for a moment before he looked back at Chloe. "Don't do anything drastic," he said. "Clark won't be nearly as appreciative as you might hope."

Chloe stared at Lex, then gave him and Clark a wide, wobbly, smile. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"You do, but I'm not going to force you to admit it in front of him."

"I just thought I should warn him about her, that's all." With that, she spun around and hurried to the door.

"Chloe..."

"No, it's okay, Clark, I'm leaving. Your boyfriend wants me to, just ask."

Clark didn't have to ask. He knew perfectly well that Lex wanted Chloe gone. She slammed the door behind her.

Lex reached for Clark's arm, grasping it in the exact place where Chloe had touched it. "She had no right to put her hand on you."

"Neither did Danielle, but you didn't have a problem with that."

"You don't like Danielle. And you sure as hell haven't ever imagined yourself in love with her."

"I've never thought I was in love with Chloe."

"You've come close."

Clark's mouth turned up in a grin. "You know, you're cute when you're jealous."

Lex yanked Clark hard against him. He covered Clark's mouth with his, kissing Clark roughly. Clark tasted the alcohol Lex had been drinking earlier. It wasn't a flavor Clark had cared for the only time he'd tried it, but on Lex he had to admit it wasn't half bad.

The pressure of Lex's mouth eased and his tongue slipped between Clark's lips. Clark opened to him without hesitation, already craving the heat Lex made him feel. He could never give it up now that he'd had it.

...Won't have to....

They stayed like that for what felt like hours to Clark, just kissing and touching, sharing soft sighs and intimate caresses. Warm breath mingled, along with feelings and thoughts.

It was the first time he'd touched Lex and not felt the overwhelming need to push for more. And when Lex eased him back against the pool table and pushed his t-shirt up above his chest so he could tease Clark's nipples with wet kisses, Clark just closed his eyes and gripped the edge of the table and let Lex lead him wherever he wanted to go with it.

<><><><><><><>

A muted sound woke Clark from his uneasy sleep. He moved, expecting to feel smooth sheets against his skin, but instead felt only cool air. When he opened his eyes, he saw the bed a few feet below his floating body. He plopped onto the bed, groaned and rolled over to stare at the spot where Lex should've been but wasn't. The covers were rumpled and pushed back into a pile. Clark reached out and touched the mattress. Cold. So where was Lex -- Clark glanced at the clock on the beside table -- at three a.m.?

A thin strip of light flared beneath the closed door. Clark sat up. A moment later, the light blinked out.

The link between them was silent. Clark waited a few minutes in the silence of the room, but he felt cut off and alone, and it wasn't a feeling he liked. Every moment he spent with Lex solidified his craving for Lex's presence in his mind. It had become an addiction. He needed Lex there in his mind, reminding him of their bond. Clark was certain Lex was shielding his thoughts from him for some reason.

Clark got out of bed and padded to the bedroom door. He didn't turn on the light when he entered the hallway and walked toward the low murmur of Lex's voice. Partway down the hall, he came to the room where Lex's voice was coming from. The door was open, but Clark didn't cross the threshold. Lex sat behind a desk, nowhere near as grand as the others scattered throughout the castle. He had his head turned to the side, staring at a portrait of his mother while he talked softly into the telephone.

"...whatever you can discover about this woman, and I want the information sent over as soon as possible. ... Yes, I know, but you'll get your standard fee. ... No, don't do anything yet, other than what we've already discussed. ... Of course. You take care of that too and you'll be well-compensated."

Clark chose that moment to step into the room. He felt uncomfortable eavesdropping on a private conversation, but he didn't like the dark tone of Lex's voice either. When Clark cleared his throat, Lex glanced toward him. He gave no visible reaction at Clark's presence other than an abrupt, "We'll finish this conversation later."

Lex slipped the phone into its cradle and rose to his feet. His robe gaped open, exposing his smooth chest. Clark's gaze tracked Lex's movements as he came around the small desk.

"Couldn't sleep?" Lex asked.

"No." Clark contemplated Lex's casual expression of curiosity. "Not without you there."

Lex reached for Clark's arm. "Let's go back to bed."

Clark stepped backward, just out of Lex's reach. "Not yet. Who were you talking to, Lex?"

Lex lowered his arm. "No one important. Don't worry about it."

"If you won't tell me who you were talking to, at least tell me what you were talking about."

Lex's mouth tightened. "Not everything I do is your concern."

"But I think this is. What are you trying to hide from me? Don't make me find out for myself."

"Don't threaten me."

"Then tell me."

Lex moved to push past Clark. Clark grabbed him by the arm and hauled him around to face him.

Lex's eyes widened, then narrowed when he realized what Clark was doing. "Get the fuck out of my head, Clark. If you don't, I'll never forgive you."

Clark closed his eyes and let go of Lex's arm. "I'm sorry," he said softly. "I shouldn't have tried... I'm sorry."

Lex was staring at him, eyes full of old hurt. "You could have a little faith in me, Clark."

"I do, I swear. It's just...you sounded so...shit, I'm sorry, I don't know how to make you understand." How could he have done this to Lex? He better than anyone else knew just what kind of insecurities floated around in Lex's head. So why didn't his knowledge keep him from pushing those buttons -- buttons bound to make Lex defensive and angry? "You're keeping me out and I can't stand it."

"It's better this way, trust me."

"It's not. You don't seem to--never mind."

"I don't seem to what?"

"You don't understand. I need it. I need that connection with you more than I think I should and I know I shouldn't be telling you this..."

"Because of the power it gives me."

"Because of the burden it'll be on you." Clark gripped Lex's shoulders and stared into his eyes. "Because you'll realize that I won't ever be able to give you the privacy you want. And you might get scared and not want to have anything else to do with me. You'll know how much I need you and that might scare you too. To know that I depend on you so much. To know that you can't leave me, not really, even if you want to." Clark let his arms fall to his sides. "Because I know it scares me. Not knowing if you're staying because you want to, or because you haven't figured a way out of this yet. When you hide from me, I don't know which is the truth..."

Clark's heart felt like it was in his throat the entire time he waited, silent, for Lex to say something, anything. His glittering gaze seemed to burn a hole through Clark. When Lex finally cleared his throat to speak, Clark breathed a heavy sigh of relief.

"You're worried about all the wrong things, Clark. I don't want to leave you, I'm sure I'll never want to leave you. And it doesn't bother me that you need me. I want you to need me, to depend on me. And that's what you should be scared of."

<><><><><><><>

Lex's words hung in the air between them, and Lex wondered if he'd made a mistake. He knew from experience that truth wasn't always best. The truth made you vulnerable. And if that wasn't enough, more often than not, the truth hurt.

But Clark didn't seem to be bothered by the truth.

"I can't be scared of you, Lex. I love you. You would never try to hurt me."

"Oh, I always do everything with the best of intentions, Clark. You should know that. But somehow I always manage to screw things up. Just look at what happened with Nixon."

"If you hadn't shot him, my dad would be dead, Lex. You did the only thing you could."

Lex closed his eyes for a brief second. It was time to give Clark a taste of what life was really like inside the head of Lex Luthor. ...The only reason Nixon was interested in you or your family was because I paid him to look into a few matters for me....

Clark's eyes were wide. "The accident."

...I warned him to leave you alone, but he didn't listen. He chose his path and I chose mine....

Clark staggered backwards and bumped into the door frame. ...You didn't set out to kill him. You did what you had to do....

...I did what I had to do....

Lex's heartbeat pounded in his ears. He knew he was taking a great risk by offering Clark a peek into the depths of his mind. There were certain things that were never meant to be shared, but when one was part of a telepathic alien mating bond, those boundaries didn't exist. And somewhere inside himself, he knew he wanted Clark to know these things about him, and to accept them. To accept him, however flawed he might be.

"It doesn't change how I feel about you."

"How can it not?"

"It just...it doesn't, that's all." Clark stepped away from the doorframe. His hands cupped Lex's face and when he leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on Lex's lips, Lex wanted to push him away and scream at him that he didn't know what he was doing. That he couldn't still love him. That he couldn't want to be with him, to share the rest of his life with him.

He didn't deserve Clark's affection. He would never deserve it. But what the hell, as long as Clark was offering, he would take it.

...It's yours, Lex, always. You don't have to take anything from me because I'll give you whatever you want. Name it....

Clark was too serious and Lex didn't want to continue this particular conversation. Clark's offer was more than just heartwarming. It was also fucking dangerous. So he cleared his throat and gave Clark a cocky smile. "Your body, of course."

And Clark took the hint. "Well," he said. "That's not going to be a problem."

<><><><><><><>

Sunday morning dawned bright and early. Clark worried that his parents might still be upset with him for spending the night with Lex again, so he was anxious to get home. Not as anxious as he was to stay with Lex, in his bed, but that wasn't really an option. Lex had a trip to plan. According to Danielle, he was supposed to be in London first thing Monday -- London time.

A lingering kiss, a parting "I love you" and Clark was on his way home.

Every mile felt like a thousand, and he wondered if this separation anxiety was going to get better or worse as time went on. So far, he was sure it was getting worse.

As he slammed the screen door behind him on his way into the house, it hit him that he'd never gotten Lex to clarify the one-sided telephone conversation he'd overheard last night.

...I knew you'd get back to that before too long....

...You distracted me.... "Morning, Mom." Clark kissed Martha on the cheek. He decided he was getting pretty good at having a conversation in his head and still managing to go about his business as if nothing were happening. Cool.

...Oh, yeah, Clark. Are you saying that instead of having my lips wrapped around your dick last night, you'd have rather discussed my plans to have Mrs. Evanston investigated?...

"Do you want breakfast, Clark, or have you already eaten?"

...I--Oh God, that has to be a trick question....

"Are those blueberry pancakes? I want some of them."

Martha nodded and set about fixing a big plate of pancakes for Clark, while Clark poured himself a glass of milk.

...I still want to know what you were talking about, but I swear I don't think you're up to no good....

...Up to no good?... Lex's amusement filtered through and Clark flushed.

His mother noticed. "Something wrong, sweetheart?"

"Uh, no, nothing." He took the plate from her, then averted his gaze and carried his breakfast to the table.

He'd eaten over half of the enormous stack of pancakes when his dad sat down across from him. Judging by the tightness around his dad's mouth and the furrow between his eyebrows, his dad was worried about something. Since he kept staring at Clark, Clark didn't think it was too hard to guess exactly what it was that was bothering his dad. Him...and Lex.

Clark continued eating, giving his dad plenty of time to decide if he was going to say whatever it was that he seemed to want to say. He was chewing the last bite of pancakes when his dad leaned forward, elbows propped on the table.

"I know you probably don't want to hear this, but as your father, I feel like it's my responsibility to look out for you." Jonathan raised his hand to forestall Clark's objection. "Just hear me out, Son."

Clark nodded once.

"I don't care how much you like Lex, you have to remember that he's Lionel Luthor's son. Maybe Lex isn't cut from the same cloth as his father, but he's been under Lionel Luthor's hand for too many years not to have learned something from him. And the only things Lionel has to teach are questionable ethics and a love for money and power. I'm worried that you're putting too much trust in a man -- a boy -- who's more like his father than he'll admit."

"Lex isn't like his father."

"I'm not going to argue with you about that. I just want to remind you to keep your head up when it comes to dealing with the Luthors. There's nothing I can do about this thing that's happening to you, and believe me, I've spent plenty of time thinking about it, Son. We'll help you with whatever we can, but it looks like you're going to have to learn how to deal with it alone. Just try to stay away from Lionel and be extra careful about what you tell Lex, or let him find out about your abilities -- and your weaknesses."

Funny how some of the same things he'd warned himself about pissed him off when coming from his father. Maybe it was because he knew that he cared about Lex despite all that, and he knew his father didn't.

He wasn't worried that Lex would betray him, far from it. However, Clark was scared every time he told Lex about another one of his abilities. Because the truth was, Lex wasn't a match for his father. He lacked the complete disregard for others that Lionel had. Lionel wouldn't know what empathy meant if it reared up and bit him on the ass.

How many other people would have accepted what Clark had done with nothing more than a few harsh words and a weak protest?

Lex was a softie. Sometimes, anyway.

Unfortunately, he doubted he could say anything that would change his father's view of Lex. He'd been trying since he'd first become friends with Lex and it hadn't done any good. But he had to try. Both Lex and his father were important to him. He wouldn't be forced to make a choice between them.

"Dad," he said, "You have to believe me when I tell you I know Lex better than anyone but himself. He cares about me and I think he'll do whatever he has to do to make sure his father doesn't find out who I really am. He won't let his father hurt me. And I'll do everything I can to make sure of that too."

Then, between one breath and the next, everything changed. The feelings he'd been carrying around for the last week were gone. Lex was gone.

<><><><><><><>

He should have been paying attention. Maybe he would've noticed something through their bond, but he hadn't. One minute, Lex's presence had been lingering in the back of his mind, the way it had since the first. The next, every vestige of Lex's presence was gone...

Clark surged to his feet, his chair flying backwards to crash against the wall. "Something's wrong."

"What is it, Clark?"

Clark looked around, stunned. For a moment, he could've sworn he was staring at the cool marble floor of the castle's entryway. He reached up and touched his head, just behind his ear. As his fingers connected, he felt a sharp, stabbing pain give way to the gentle caress of his own hand.

Clark squeezed his eyes shut. No, he was wrong about Lex being gone. Lex was still there, but it wasn't right, it didn't feel the way it was supposed to feel. Then it hit him. Lex, the man who never seemed to stop thinking or feeling had gone completely, unnaturally silent.

"Lex. His head's hurting, he fell or...something...shit." Clark swallowed hard and looked at his dad, horror dawning. What if Chloe had been right? What if Mrs. Evanston was dangerous? What if she'd found out about Lex and...? Shit, he had to get over there.

"Clark!"

But his dad's exclamation was too late, Clark was already out the door.

<><><><><><><>

Clark didn't bother with niceties. He pushed himself through the bars guarding the castle and entered the castle through a back door -- the same door to which he made his produce deliveries. With Lex planning to leave later that morning, it was unlikely that the kitchen staff would be hanging around to prepare lunch.

He was right. No one saw him enter the castle, and no one saw him zip through the hallways as he searched every room he passed on his way to the front entrance. He stopped just outside the doorway, but worry for Lex almost overrode the part of him that urged caution.

He used his x-ray vision to see through the wall. There was only one body in the room, laid spread out on the floor, face down. Lex. He focused in on the body, staring intently until his vision cleared and he saw through Lex's ribcage to his heart, beating strong and easy.

Thank God for X-ray vision. As long as he knew Lex was okay, he could worry about Mrs. Evanston instead.

A hand landed on Clark's shoulder, and the sudden surge of weakness that flashed through him caught him completely by surprise. Clark stumbled to the side. Arms wrapped around him from behind.

"What's wrong, Clark? Are you okay?"

"Lana?"

His knees buckled. Clark gasped as he hit the floor, his weight was too much for Lana to handle.

She bent down beside him and ran her hand across his forehead. Her necklace glowed green as it dangled in front of his face. "Clark, you have to tell me what's wrong."

"Lana...you have to...to get away from me."

"I can't leave you alone. You need help. I've been worried that something was wrong with you. You just haven't been yourself lately."

Clark was nearly panting as he tried to hold back the pain of being this close to Lana's meteor rock necklace. Instead of backing away, she'd leaned over him and was gently patting his face.

"You don't understand," he gasped out. "I have to help Lex."

Her soft gaze went icy. "I'm taking care of him. Don't worry about that."

"You? You're the one who hurt Lex?"

"I didn't want to, but you're supposed to be with me, not him. I tried to explain it to him, but he wouldn't listen. He just gave me a condescending smile and told me to go home and write a letter to Whitney."

Clark groaned, the power of the meteor rock making him feel as if he were being crushed under the weight of the world. With effort, he managed to speak. "I thought...you were going to let Whitney have...your necklace when...he left."

"I was, but then I broke up with him -- for you, remember? I wanted you to have it instead." With those words, she reached up and unclasped the chain. Clark's eyes widened as he realized what she was about to do. He struggled to push her away from him, but in his weakness his hand slid down her chest as if that had been his intention all along.

She looked down at him, her eyes full of wonder and happiness. "I knew you wanted me," she whispered. "I knew it." And without another word, she gave him her necklace.

<><><><><><><>

Lex grunted at the effort it took to push himself to a sitting position. He reached for his head, the pounding pressure nearly sending him back to the floor. Fuck. He'd been knocked in the head before, but this was insane. He'd never had a headache this bad.

He crawled to his hands and knees, his stomach heaving the entire time. He'd be lucky if he could get his feet under him, that was certain. He reached for the nearby wall, using it for balance as he slowly, painfully pushed himself up. Everything was blurry, sights and sounds spinning and whooshing around him. He tried to send a thought to Clark and got a backlash of pain so severe that he was on his knees again before he could blink.

Fuck, the agony radiating from Clark was indescribable. Lex groaned and closed his eyes. He had to get hold of himself before he drowned.

Dammit, he should've known Lana was up to something, the way she'd kept pacing around him. He'd thought she was merely working off nervous anxiety. It was obvious now that she'd been working up the nerve to grab that fucking bronze statue and nail him with it.

He'd gone out like a light. He didn't even remember hitting the floor. This would teach him to send most of the servants away early. There was no one here now to help him. He needed to get to one of the emergency buttons he'd had installed after the mansion had been broken into last year.

And what the hell had the power to hurt Clark like this?

"You're awake. Good."

Lex opened his eyes to see Lana standing in front of him, pointing a gun at his head. As many times as he'd found himself at the barrel-end of a gun in the past year, one would think he'd be blas about the whole thing.

He wasn't. He swallowed over the sudden knot in his throat. He focused his attention on the black-matte barrel, shutting Clark out, because if he didn't he'd never be able to get himself together enough to save himself -- and possibly Clark. "What the hell do you think you're doing, Lana? You don't want to kill me."

Lana frowned as she looked down at him. "I have to."

"No, you don't."

"I..." She shook her head, then raised the gun just a little higher, aiming directly between his eyes. "I have to. Clark needs me to. Let's get this over with."

Lex tried to stall. "Where'd you get the gun? Is it Nell's?"

"It belongs to Whitney. He kept it hidden in the garage behind his house. He showed it to me one time, said he likes to take it with him when he goes camping with his buddies." She shrugged. "I always wished he'd get rid of it before he got hurt with it, but he wouldn't. Now I'm kind of glad he didn't. "

He heard a groan from the hallway beyond the foyer. Clark was here, close by, he knew it. "What have you done to Clark?"

"He's not feeling well, that's all. I'm positive he'll feel better when he doesn't have to worry about you anymore."

Lex felt sweat trickle from his temple down the side of his face. "You don't believe Clark wants to be with me?"

"No. He loves me. He's always loved me, so the only explanation that makes sense is that you're making him stay with you somehow."

"Fuck, you've got that backwards. Not that I particularly mind any longer, but it wasn't exactly my choice, you know."

"It doesn't matter. We want to be together, but I can't be with him until you're gone." Lana gestured with the gun. "Stand up."

Lex tilted his head to the side, resting it against the wall. His shoulder wedged against the wall, he pushed himself to his feet. A bout of dizziness nearly sent him toppling sideways. He caught himself just in time. "Where is he, Lana? Where's Clark? I think you've done something to him. I think you're hurting him."

"No, that's not true. I would never hurt him. I love him."

"You are. You're hurting him."

"Shut up!" She lunged at him, her dark hair flying around her pale face, and grabbed his arm and pressed the barrel of the gun against his neck. She was quite a bit shorter than he was, so her arm was raised above her shoulder. It was an awkward position, for both her and him, but he could make do. He pushed off from the wall, spun around and pushed his elbow into her shoulder, pinning her arm to the wall. Lana's finger tightened on the trigger and the gun fired toward the ceiling. Lex ground his teeth against the pain the sharp retort sent stabbing into his ear. He wrestled Lana up against the wall, using his right forearm to pin her in place. With his free hand he tried to pry her fingers off the gun, but stubbornly, she held on.

The banging on the front door caught them both by surprise. Lex's first instinct was to turn and look, and Lana chose that moment to bring her knee up. He slammed up against her, flattening her to the wall and keeping her knee from connecting with his groin. Shit, that had been close. He ignored the pounding and put all his efforts into getting the gun away from Lana.

"Clark!" she yelled. "Help me!"

Lana obviously didn't realize that whatever she'd done to Clark had completely incapacitated him.

Lex felt her fingers loosen on the gun and he started to wrest it from her grip when he heard Jonathan Kent's voice. "Let her go, Lex."

Lex glanced over his shoulder to see Jonathan holding a shotgun pointed at him and Lana. "Mr. Kent, thank God you're here --"

"Lana, are you okay?"

Well, fuck.

"Please," she said, "you have to help me, Mr. Kent." As if she were the victim here, Lex thought.

Jonathan settled the shotgun against his shoulder, looking grim and determined. "Lex, back away from Lana -- slowly."

"If I let her go, she's going to try to shoot me. You can count on it."

"Where's Clark? I know he's here."

"I think he's out in the hall, just past the doorway. She's done something to him. He's hurting, bad."

"Clark?" Jonathan called loudly over his shoulder. When he got no response, he started backing away from Lex and Lana. "Clark?"

Lana was panting from her struggle against Lex's constricting hold. His head was turned away from her as he watched Jonathan approach the arched doorway, and her hot breath kept tickling his scalp. In one smooth motion, she sank her teeth into the skin behind his ear, catching Lex completely by surprise.

"Ow! Fuck!" He jerked back, his hold loosened for the briefest second and Lana yanked her hand free and pushed the gun against Lex's cheek.

"Don't move!" Jonathan yelled.

Lex felt blood trickle down the side of his neck. Lana's wild gaze made Lex think that whatever emotion had her in its grip had finally pushed her beyond all reason. Damn Clark and all this alien shit. Someone should've warned him that falling for an alien was going to be so fucking hazardous to his health.

Lana used the gun to push Lex backward. He didn't hesitate to follow her direction. He released her and raised his hands in the air to show her that he had no intention of doing anything stupid (again). He wasn't particularly thrilled at the idea of being shot -- in the face, no less, and it was clear that Clark wasn't going to suddenly appear and save him. Lex's stomach and head still reeled from his short experience with Clark's suffering. If he reopened their link, he was certain he'd be overwhelmed by Clark's feelings.

So that left Jonathan Kent to come to his rescue. Great, just fucking great.

Lana started walking around him, and since he wasn't about to put his back to her again, he slowly turned with her. He ended up with a clear view of both her and Jonathan. She stood sideways, keeping both men in her line of sight.

"Please put down the gun, Mr. Kent, or I'll have to shoot Lex."

Lex could see the indecision in Jonathan Kent's eyes, read the thoughts that flitted through his mind as he debated letting Lana pull the trigger. If he let Lex die, Clark would be free. No more mating bond with one Lex Luthor, no more worrying about Clark's secret being exposed. One Luthor would be out of their lives forever.

Or maybe he was just a bit too cynical these days. Jonathan Kent wasn't the kind of man who'd stand back and let someone be murdered in cold blood. Hell, if nothing else, he wouldn't want Lana to have to live with the knowledge of what she'd done.

"You know I can't do that, Lana. I've known you since you were in pigtails. You don't really want to hurt Lex. Why don't you give me the gun?"

"I'm sorry, but I can't do that. Don't you understand? I'm doing this for Clark. He needs me to do this. Now, please...put your gun down."

Lex felt the sting of sweat on his open wound. "Don't listen to her, Mr. Kent. She's going to shoot me regardless."

"Quiet!" she yelled. Then she aimed the gun just to the side of Lex and squeezed the trigger. Lex jerked, his heart racing at the sharp crack of the gun and the thud of impact as the bullet lodged into the wall behind him.

"Okay, okay," Jonathan exclaimed. "I'm going to put it down slow and easy for you. Just don't shoot anybody."

"Lex, move over by Mr. Kent. I'm going to have to rethink my plan now. Clark wouldn't want me to hurt you, Mr. Kent. I know that, so you don't have to worry."

Holding the gun tightly, she crossed her arms over her chest and paced around the room. While her attention was diverted, Jonathan leaned in close to Lex. "It's the meteor rocks," he whispered. "They're the only things that'll hurt Clark so she's had to have exposed him to one somehow. We have to get him away from it. He won't have the strength to do it himself or he would've already been in here. One of us is going to have to make a break for it."

"You go, I'm the one she wants. She'll be more likely to let you get away."

Jonathan straightened and gave Lex an almost imperceptible nod.

Lex starting easing away from Jonathan. Lana noticed right away. Raising the gun, she said, "Get back over there!"

Lex took a deep breath then stepped toward Jonathan. Lana started to lower the gun again just as Lex swung around and rushed her. She stumbled backwards, then raised the gun and fired it. Lex felt a searing pain shoot across his thigh then his body impacted with hers. They hit the floor rolling.

He straddled Lana and grabbed wildly for the gun, only to have it wrenched from his grasp.

He looked up to see Clark standing over him and Lana. A split second later, he was in Clark's arms, having the breath squeezed out of him.

Jonathan reentered the room, still carrying his shotgun. Out of the corner of his eye, Lex saw Lana sit up and watch sadly as Clark continued to hug him. He saw her eyes glaze and then when the fog cleared, she glanced over at Jonathan then back at them.

"Clark? Mr. Kent?" Her eyebrows drew together. "My head hurts. Could someone tell me what's going on?"

Jonathan stepped over to her and took her arm, helping her to her feet.

"Lex? Lex, are you okay?"

Lex noticed that Clark seemed to be fading into darkness. "Actually, I don't think I am."

Then the world went black.

<><><><><><><>

"God, I thought I was going to die."

"Yeah, well, me too." Lex leaned back on his sofa, his leg propped on Clark's thigh.

Clark reached out and fingered the edge of the bandage wrapped around Lex's thigh. "You were lucky. I was lucky. If you'd been seriously hurt..." he trailed off, unsure how to describe his feelings.

"What the hell do you call a gunshot wound, a scrape?"

"It was a scrape, Lex."

"And I passed out because of what exactly?"

"I think I was squeezing you too hard."

Lex rubbed his chin, unsuccessfully hiding a smirk. "Got a little excited, didn't you?"

"I was worried, that's all."

"At least it explains why my ribs are so sore. How'd you explain it to the doctor?"

"Well, I told Dr. Bryce that the sight of blood makes you queasy."

Lex sighed loudly. "Great," he muttered. "I've been emasculated."

Clark ignored Lex's long-suffering attitude and looked at him from under his lashes. "I'm glad you didn't implicate Lana."

"I hope you won't have any trouble expressing your gratitude for my selfless actions."

"I'm sorry you had to lie, though."

"It was an accident," Lex said.

Not exactly true, but Clark didn't want to push the issue. "It was very generous of you to let everyone believe you shot yourself."

Lex stretched his arm out across the back of the sofa. "Clark, it's just going to be easier all around if I can keep you as far away from any exposure to the media as possible. And my father, whom I'm sure I'll hear from very soon. I should really get out of these shorts and put on something more presentable."

Clark grinned and ran his hand along the uninjured inside of Lex's thigh. "I like you like this. Although naked would be better."

"Besides the fact that I hurt in too many places to count, the helicopter's going to be here soon."

Clark sighed. "I know. I'm glad you decided to let me go to London with you."

"I'm glad your parents agreed so easily. After what happened with Lana, I think they're feeling more sympathetic towards me and what I've had to go through since you turned me into your mate."

Clark frowned, wanting to object to Lex's statement. But after what Lex had just gone through, maybe now wasn't the time to bring up the issue of swallowing -- and who'd done it first.

"Just remember," Lex continued, "we still have to be discreet. We need to keep our relationship a secret as long as we can."

"I know." Clark felt a twinge of discomfort at the notion. Lex was his and he really wanted everyone to know that. Alien compulsions aside, though, he knew that exposing their relationship would be a bad, bad idea.

"One good thing has come of this. You've apparently stopped giving off your alien pheromone. The lady doctor didn't give you a second look."

Clark looked sideways at Lex. "She kept looking at you though."

Lex rubbed his hand across his bare scalp. "I tend to attract a lot of attention."

Clark eyed Lex, his gaze lingering on the smooth, bare skin of Lex's chest and abdomen. "I guess you passed whatever test my subconscious was putting you through."

"I'd like to know what the hell kind of test it was. I almost died."

"Oh, for God's sake, Lex, you didn't almost die."

"Okay then," Lex said, his tone sarcastic in the extreme. "I was almost killed. How's that?"

"Closer to the truth. I'm the one who almost died."

"Since I know more about how you were feeling than I should, I'll give you that one. Now, I can tell you're holding something back. Tell me--unless you want me to go digging."

"I...okay, but I don't want you to laugh at me, okay?"

Lex raised an eyebrow quizzically. "Sure."

"You could at least sound like you mean it, Lex." Clark's gaze skipped off Lex's face and settled on Lex's chin. "Anyway, I think it was your decision to keep quiet about Lana that did it. You put my happiness ahead of your own, because I know what you really wanted to do, and I think that's what the test was."

"Clark, as much as I'd like to think you're right, I can't believe the test would be something as simple as that. The fact that I didn't die, now that's more likely the reason you've suddenly stopped giving off that alien pheromone." Lex paused and stared at Clark for a moment. "And we can't even be sure of that yet. One unaffected person is hardly evidence enough to prove you're now chemical free."

Clark scowled. ...Like I need to hear that.... "Lana seems to be unaffected now, anyway."

"Good enough for me," Lex said. "I was getting damn tired of her staring at you every time we walked into the Talon." ...Coming on to you, putting her hands on you, wanting you....

Clark grinned, but made no comment.

Lex's mouth curved. An image of Lana behind bars flashed into Clark's mind. Oh, yeah, Clark knew exactly what Lex had wanted to do to Lana, in fact, still wanted to do to Lana.

...The bitch tried to kill me, Clark. You'll have to forgive some of my more violent fantasies for a while, since it's all pretty much your fault....

...Lex, you can fantasize about Lana all you want, but it better never involve sex....

...Fuck, Clark, she's just a kid....

...She's older than I am....

...Don't remind me....

THE END

(There's going to be a sequel--I swear. Unless I die first, of course. Eek... Now that's an unpleasant thought!)



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