Lex ponders how he got here. Where here is. Oh, he knows his geographical location all right. He's not so drunk that he can't recognize the floor of his penthouse, although he is so drunk that he's not sure which room it is. His interior designer didn't use much variety when it came to carpeting the place. He should have insisted on recognizable symbols on each floor, orientation points for moments like now.
Not that he would ever have predicted a moment or a day quite like today. Not in his worst nightmares.
No, the here is different altogether. This is a place that even the best malt whiskey he owns won't take him out of. A place of pain and bruises, even though he was barely touched and has no visible marks. Only his eyes look bruised - he'd seen them reflected dull and shadowed in the entrance hall mirror when he'd peeled off his driving coat. He feels young and alone but he looks old today.
The carpet is rough under his fingers despite the quality of the wool, an embossed pattern that looks good from higher up, but not so good at two inches distance. It blurs into a nauseating swirl before his eyes. Or maybe he already felt queasy, he's not sure. Just one more thing that he doesn't know. Not good for someone who only yesterday had felt that, even if he didn't have all the answers, he at least knew where to look for them. He'd thought he knew enough not to be too surprised by the answers.
He hasn't had answers today, or yesterday, or whenever it had been. Instead he's had an overload of questions. Questions he would never have thought to ask, that he isn't sure even have answers. And that's disturbing, way outside his ordered world. He feels as though his world is collapsing in upon itself, crushing him under the weight of chaos.
Questions holler inside him. Has he misjudged Clark all along, missed seeing this vicious, cold side of him? No, he can't believe that Clark really cares so little for him that he'd set him up for such a fall. He won't believe that two years of the best friendship he's ever had were an illusion, all lost. Drugs? Insanity? Teenage lust or curiosity? No explanation fits.
He feels betrayed, again. Tries not to go down the path of asking himself if everyone he ever cares for will betray him, but he can't help it. Alcohol's never made him this maudlin and self-pitying before, but--. It was Clark. Clark, who left him so weak and out of control. Clark, who was supposed to be the one person to break the pattern, the friend he could always trust. Clark, whom Lex had grown to love so much he thought he'd do anything to protect him.
He wishes he could believe it was a dream. One of those too-vivid dreams he used to have after the meteor shower and after his mother died that left him whimpering, unsure if they were real or not. But there is no way his imagination could conjure up a scene wherein his best friend forced him to blow him and then laughed, actually laughed a bright open laugh, when his decent, God fearing, so-not-deserving-of-this parents walked in on them. And said parents hadn't shot at him, or shouted him out of their house. They'd asked if he was all right. Fucking hilarious.
Besides, all the whiskey in the world right now wouldn't drown the taste of Clark's come. And the scent. He can see a bit of dried come on his shirt cuff. He aims a neat nail at it to flick it off but misses and scratches his wrist. He swears. It doesn't really hurt, even as he watches the white scratch turn to pink, but it's just one more affront.
He rolls onto his back, tries to raise his glass. He tips it too steeply and the remaining drink trickles over his face. Maybe for the best: it was only stinging his sore throat.
He tries to get up. The air holds him down, its presence an affront to his dignity. He doesn't feel like having anything around that he needs, and still less something that he needs that is fighting against him. He can't even hit it.
He tries all the same. Futile. Punches that start so feebly that his arms don't even straighten before falling back to his chest.
He curls up eventually, exhausted. His eyes bleed wet salt, trails lingering crustily on his damp cheeks. The reasons are too small to matter. He's not weeping because of Helen or because of a hostile island or because his best friend effectively raped him. He's certainly not weeping because he's twenty-three and as near as dammit an orphan. He's weeping because he can't get up. He knows it's irrational and foolish, but the tears remain, a final undignified drain on his energy. His skin itches. He can't even get up to shower. He wants clean clothes and a clean body, and the air is denying him both and he can't do a fucking thing about it.
A good hard fuck would work right now, write over the body memories that he needs to erase, so that's what he'll have. Lex swipes the key card, strolling into the penthouse, ushering--.
"What did you say your name was?"
"Rob." A pause, as wide eyes take in their surroundings. "This is really your place?"
"Yes, so come on in, Rob." He lets the name roll seductively off his tongue. Lex has slept most of the day, and it seems he's not lost any of his recuperative powers. He is equally sure he hasn't lost any of his ability to charm.
Rob appears overawed by his surroundings, unable to hide it. He's younger than he looks, maybe too young to have been dancing in a night club on his own. All to the good. It will make it quicker, easier. Rob wanders around, reaching out to pick up a small abstract sculpture in gray alabaster or a glossy coffee table book, then pulling his hand back short each time. He looks like a child in a museum, on his best behavior. A six foot plus child with long dark hair and the wrong-colored eyes.
Lex doesn't want to look at him, to watch him trying to orient himself. He doesn't want to think about why brown eyes are wrong. He's supposed to be forgetting, not bringing home the closest match to Clark the evening offered. He should have chosen differently, but maybe close-up he won't be able to see.
He moves closer, grasping Rob by his belt, pulling him in. Hard, tight, close. Rob's lips open, waiting. Not what Lex wants.
He uses the belt again, to push and turn. Whispers in Rob's ear, "Strip for me." Makes it sound seductive rather than expedient. Never does to let fucks know how unimportant they are.
Rob makes a teasing display out of stripping, eager to display himself, proud of his own form. He has good reason for his pride. Tanned all over, cut. A gym and sun-bed devotee. Lex admires in a clinical way, but it's not what he really likes. He's seen natural farm work muscles and tan, real beauty. Tan should have lines and gradients, Lex thinks.
Lex has seen enough, pushes him down onto the sofa, hard.
"Open yourself for me," he demands, not even looking at the younger man now as he finds the lube and the condoms he's after, set up ready earlier in the day, and tears one off the strip. Once was all he needed tonight.
"Hey man, not so fast. I didn't come here for this sort of stuff."
Lex reaches for his wallet, pulls out a wad of bills, throwing them at Rob. They flutter, dirty paper.
"I'm not a--"
"Everyone is if the price is right." Lex pulls another bundle of money out, careless of denomination. Rob is silent.
Sex by numbers. That's what it feels like. One: strip. Two: condom. No trust here. Three: one finger. Four: two fingers. Five: scissor. And magic number six, the number of sin and base, earthly desire: fuck the guy.
Skin and leather. Wiry hair that feels too coarse against Lex's skin. Heat rising. Rob stretched out under him. His hands move back as if to feel Lex.
"Don't move your hands." It's Lex's turn to do the touching. The menace in his voice is more effective than handcuffs.
He slams back and forth, hard and determined. Each move is carefully calculated. Forceful enough to satisfy whatever it is that had sent him out looking for this, not so hard that the damage done won't heal in a few days. He doesn't really want Rob to have to pay for this.
He can smell Rob's sweat, rank and acrid. He keeps his breathing as shallow as possible. Clark had smelled of soft sweetness, even as he'd stood there as impassive and rigid as one of the suits of armor in the mansion entranceway.
The sharp trill of the intercom buzzer is nearly a relief. Lex pulls out, almost but not quite gently, flinging the empty condom in the wastebasket. Makes it first attempt. Of course. He's good at everything he tries, from survival techniques to basketball.
He zips himself up, glad that he's wearing loose pants. He's uncomfortable, too hard and unfulfilled, but that seems fitting.
The doorman's tinny voice comes over the intercom as he presses the button by the entrance. "A Mr. Kent to see you, sir."
Damn! Which fucking Kent is it? He won't ask. He doesn't want him, whoever he is, to think Lex needs time to gather his thoughts.
"Had I better go?" He'd forgotten Rob. On a better night he might have been a memorable lay. Tonight, well, he's been out of him for a few seconds and he's out of mind already.
"No, stay where you are. He won't be staying long." Then to the doorman, "Send him up."
The knock, when it comes, is tentative, almost as though Kent still isn't sure he is welcome. Well, he's got that right, whichever Kent it is.
Lex doesn't rush to the door. He pours himself a drink, brushes his shirt down, and walks to the entrance. He takes a large gulp of liquid as he opens the door. He tells himself he's thirsty; he's getting good at fooling himself. He's had lots of practice recently.
A shaking boy stands there, a crazy contrast to the confident creature Lex left yesterday. He looks as though he's not slept in days, circles like dirty finger smudges under his green eyes. He looks smaller too, his shoulders sagging.
"It's OK, I'm not here to come in or anything, not if you don't want me to. I--." His voice fades out into uncomfortable silence.
"Why shouldn't you come in, Clark. I can't have a friend visit me and stand outside. That would make me a most ungracious host." Lex's voice drips charm, pure Luthor, pure actor.
He turns on his heel, stalks back into the living room. "Close the door behind you," he calls back over his shoulder. "You never know who's out there."
Seeing Rob still in the room, behind the couch now, hunting for his scattered clothing, is almost a shock. He'd forgotten him yet again. He really isn't on his game today. His presence is good, though, even if Lex isn't willing to explore the reasons he's glad Rob's still here.
The gasp tells him that Clark has found his way into the room.
"Want to join me in a drink?" Lex asks, though he's never offered Clark anything stronger than a soda before. "I don't have beer, but I'm well stocked with spirits."
A small voice. "I don't really drink."
Lex swallows the immediate retort that comes to mind. "Looks like I'm drinking alone then. Oh, Rob, this is Clark, a good old friend, isn't that so, Clark?"
Lex isn't sure who looks most uncomfortable, a blushing Clark who clearly hasn't a clue where to look, or Rob who seems to be battling fear and anger and embarrassment as he pulls his pants up, and defiantly gathers the scattered bills. Tomorrow Lex will feel the guilt of treating him this way, of having seduced a nice young man who only wanted a fun evening out. But he's too caught up in his own sour pain to feel for an almost stranger right now. And he can't let himself care what Clark thinks.
"I'm going," Rob announces to an uncaring room. Even the mannerly Clark doesn't think to reply as Rob walks as quickly as he can out of the room.
Lex contemplates his glass. Already empty. He pours another. "How did you get here?"
Lex feels the laughter bubbling up, painful through the rawness of his abused throat. Hysterical again. He'll have to congratulate Clark. Making him hysterical twice in two days is quite an achievement.
"You ran? All the way from Smallville, I suppose. I knew you were fit, hell, you've demonstrated that rather convincingly, but that's quite the impressive feat."
The door slams shut, a sharp coda to a wholly forgettable part of his evening.
"I won't hurt you, not now. I've-- dealt with the problem." Clark's words are coming out in a monotone, scripted. He must have practiced, managed better in rehearsal, but Lex thinks seeing Rob has thrown him off his stride. "Mom and dad have helped too." He looks down at his feet. "I hurt a lot of people this year, but you," he looks up, but Lex won't let their eyes meet, "I never wanted to hurt you."
"Really?" All desire to laugh vanishes. "That's interesting. Oddly, I would have considered making your parents think I'm a child molester to be somewhat hurtful." Not that Lex is sure what they think of him, can't make sense of the way they acted like they cared that he was hurt. "Or does Smallville have its own unique rules on such matters?"
"They don't think that. They know it was all my fault."
Lex shrugs out a breath. He needs a moment, just to regroup, marshal his forces. Heck, to find his forces.
"Sit down, Clark." He points to the couch against which Rob had been gasping a few minutes earlier. He finds a perverse pleasure in the thought that the smell of sex will be strongest there, that Clark might be discomforted by being forced to touch leather that had been fucked against.
"So, your parents find you in their kitchen, where your mother bakes her pies, and you all sit and eat your wholesome Kent family breakfasts together, being blown by an older man, a Luthor of all people, and they instantly blame you. An intriguing concept." Lex wanders around the room, hands in his pockets, the height of casual indifference.
"I can explain."
"Too late." The words come out quickly, before Lex has time to consider whether they are true or not.
"In that case, at least let me give you this." Clark holds his hands out, supplicating and offering, but determined too. The gift: a small metal box, plain and slightly battered.
"What is?" Lex stands in front of Clark, not reaching yet for the box.
"A way to stop me, if--."
Lex takes the box, careful not to touch Clark, seeing the same care in the way Clark pulls back immediately. It weighs as heavy as its promise. It has tiny clips, over-dainty for the box. The detail grates.
"Please open it." Clark is shaking. Lex isn't, but the effort, the fake poise, is straining him.
"And why should I trust you enough to open this?"
Silence. "I suppose you shouldn't," are the words Lex finally hears, whispered painfully.
He opens it. Inside, a small green rock. Meteor rock. He looks up. Clark sinks back into the sofa, looking sicker even than when he'd walked through the door and seen Rob. Lex doubts he looks worse than Lex felt last night though, the moment Jonathan and Martha had walked in the door.
"You don't have to leave it like that. You could have it made into a necklace, or a ring, something you can carry all the time. I didn't have time to get it done, and I didn't know which you would prefer, and I thought I'd better just get it to you as quickly as I could and I wanted to say sorry." Clark takes a deep breath and continues. "I know sorry isn't enough, will never be enough. That's why I wanted to give you that, so it can never happen again. And maybe one day, I can explain--."
"For now, you can just tell me why a piece of Smallville meteor rock--, that's what this is, right?" Clark nods mutely. "Why a harmless piece of rock, if carried on my person, is going to prevent my friend from going crazy again."
"It makes me sick when I go near it." Clark looks up again, as if asking permission to continue. Lex ignores him, denying permission.
"A ring, I think. It would look good set in platinum, though green's not my first choice of color." So calm, he's proud of himself. Doesn't normally notice such minor triumphs, but today he's glad of any he can get. Control, order, self-discipline.
"If you wear it you could do what you want to me, anything you want--" Clark's voice tremors, the words a little too loud as if in compensation.
"Do what I like? A very open sort of offer, unless it's as much a lie as your innocent appearance." Lex can hear his own voice sounding like it does in an irritating board meeting, when he's dealing with a recalcitrant stock-holder. It's low, lethal as a bullet, has cut down many a brave man. Clark isn't deterred.
"I'd be weak, so you'd be-- safe-- from me, if you wanted, to do stuff, back. More even. Not just-- not only the stuff we did-- I did," his voice almost breaks here, almost breaks Lex, but Clark plows on regardless, "but whatever you wanted to do."
"Have you been reading a manual on empowering rape victims by any chance, Clark?" Lex won't be broken again.
The word hangs between them. Said out loud, real now. Bloodied letters a foot high in the air between them, bright and dripping.
Clark's face crumples, tears gather in his eyes but don't spill. He swallows, over and over until words can form again, flow out of him in eager desperation.
"I'll let you if it would help. Let you f-fuck me. I-- um-- showered and stuff, earlier, in case."
"Actually Clark, you don't have any say in the matter now. I'm the one holding the power to make you weak after all. And it would seem that, for now, all I have to do is keep the box open." Lex turns the stone over in one hand. "So small. Must make living in Smallville-- interesting."
Lex takes a few steps away, then turns. Clark looks less ill. "Distance related, clearly."
Clark nods, just a tiny motion.
Lex puts the stone in his pocket and moves closer. "'The good old rule sufficeth them, the simple plan, that they should take, who have the power.' A good old rule indeed, one I've always lived by. And as you interrupted my fuck earlier on, I will indeed take."
"W-what do you want me to do?"
Lex can almost admire the determination, but the hint of martyr, of self-flagellation, is irritating him. He can't let himself think about why Clark is punishing himself, why he is punishing Clark, or how much they'll both regret this later. Hell, he doesn't really want to think, period. Mindless sex, that's what he's promised himself, that's what he'll have.
"You can strip, and then you can keep quiet."
Clark tugs off his jacket, looking for somewhere to lay it, settling for the other end of the sofa. He starts to pull off his tee-shirt.
The feel of Clark's skin jumps unbidden into Lex's mind. The times when he'd casually brushed against Clark's arm reaching for a coffee cup, the touch of his river-wet lips the day he died and was resurrected. He doesn't want that, no good memories should intervene here.
"Don't bother with that. Just your jeans. This won't take long."
Silence apart from the rasp of denim and a zipper. Clark stands and turns into the sofa, leaning against it.
The sight, Clark's naked ass half-showing beneath the tee-shirt, jeans crumpled around his ankles, looks like a cheap porn magazine shoot, set up without any imagination. Perfect.
"You'd make a good model, you know," Lex muses as he unzips his fly. "You'd have done well in Metropolis if you'd known the right people. Now, if I hadn't been stuck on a remote god-forsaken island, going mad from hunger and--" and other things he isn't going to admit to, not here and now, "I'd have been able to set you up." The bottle of lube is just visible under the sofa, kicked there in the comings and goings. Retrieving it, Lex cups his left hand. Cold and smooth, warming slowly to silkiness.
"Open yourself." Conscious repetition, Rob mark two. No refusal this time, though. Just a puzzled look as Clark turns his head for a moment, fading into comprehension. Lex watches as Clark's fingers disappear inside himself, gives him a minute. Then slicks his own burgeoning arousal, taking unexpected pleasure in the slide of his hand, calloused fingers firm and warm.
"Did you ever think of me while I was missing?" Leans against Clark, the head of his penis just nudging Clark's cheeks. "I often thought of you, of how you'd saved me before. What a good friend you were. Wondered on the dark days if you'd weep at my funeral. Didn't want that, didn't want to think of you hurting." Hips forward, Lex pushes in, feels as much as hears Clark's grunt of pain. Ignores it. Another thrust, another, more and more, and his hips are moving out of his control now, back and forth, hard and furious and so, so angry. Anger flaring hot like a lightning strike in him, an act of god not man.
Vengeance is mine.
Vengeance isn't sweet, though. Lex knows he's paying a price for it in precious trade, losing so much he values just for this. Tomorrow, by daylight and with no whiskey running in his blood, the price will seem too high, a foolish impulse buy, but today it's a must have purchase.
He feels far from ready to come yet. It's been a while since he came from pain, his own or that of others. Out of practice. Smallville has softened him; good thing he left.
He leans one hand on the arm of the sofa, the other he aims blindly at Clark's groin. Rough hair curls around a flaccid penis.
"This isn't good, Clark. I'm disappointed in you, thought you could manage better than this for me." His hand still has traces of lube, enough to ease the job. He strokes knowledgably, whispers encouragement in Clark's ear, just impersonal words.
"You like that, don't you? Feels good, huh?"
Clark is swelling under his touch, curling hard up against his belly as fast as only a teenage boy can manage.
"You said you'd do anything, so you're going to get harder than you've ever been before."
They're both shaking from the effort now. Lex isn't sure how much longer he can keep up this pace. His body still isn't healed fully, not from his desert island sojourn (and doesn't that make it sound like a happy little holiday) or, though he won't admit it, even in his head, from the night before.
"I might not let you come, though."
Another twist of his hand up Clark's cock, and he's peeling back the foreskin to smooth a nail underneath.
"And no begging. I don't like begging."
He'd begged, begged God and Lionel and Clark and his dead mother and even the devil. Begged for rescue or death, just not slow madness. Three months without an answer. Jonathan Kent would have a platitude for it, 'God moves in mysterious ways' or some such bullshit.
He can feel moisture on his fingers. He thinks it's precome, but it might be tears. Either way it slicks his progress as he fists Clark's cock faster.
He makes one last effort, pulls almost out of Clark and slams back in, feeling his balls tightening in readiness, the curl of almost-pain in his gut, and then he's pouring himself, his rage and hurt and bitterness into Clark, filling him with it, emptying himself. He has to let go of Clark, doesn't have the coordination left to keep holding him.
He leans against Clark's broad back for a minute, feeling Clark's struggle to hold them both up, feeling his atypical weakness in the tense muscles under the musky smelling shirt. Clark seems powerless, vulnerable, but Lex feels stronger now, spent of all the emotions that were weakening him. Maybe Clark's his scapegoat, come to set him free.
He smiles, a wry, mirthless smile. Pulls out of Clark, leans down to his pants' pocket and moves the stone back to its box. Closes it. It's not needed anymore, if it even was in the first place.
Clark still hasn't moved, still hasn't come, apparently. Lex speaks softly now, because he can. "You can jerk yourself off if you want."
Clark makes a faint motion, saying no, and pulls up his boxers and jeans. He's still facing the sofa, but Lex can see he's fumbling. He wants to help, make it better for Clark, too, comfort him, but his own strength is too new and hard won to risk sharing right now. The only thing he can do is end the evening now.
"I'll call my driver to take you home."
Clark nods. Probably can't face another run, not after tonight.
Lex makes the call from the intercom in the hall, needing the distance. He can see into the living room, watches as Clark tries to straighten out his shirt and pants, not succeeding. The smell of sex and anguish might never wash out of them again. He hopes Clark can afford to throw them away.
He hangs up, and Clark comes out to him. They stand, facing each other properly, eye to eye, for the first time today. Lex wonders if the pain he sees in Clark's eyes is mirrored in his own.
"Should I go down to the garage?" It's the first time Clark has spoken since Lex ordered him to be silent. His voice hitches on the words.
"The driver will be waiting by the elevator for you."
Clark turns to go, and it's really too late again, but Lex has to try, can't leave things this final between them, even if he still can't bring himself to talk, to ask why. Answers might help, but he's not taking the risk of hearing lies again.
"Clark." His voice is soft, regretful now.
"I know. Me too."
The door closes softly behind him.
Lex walks slowly back into his living room. He looks at the room. The sofa will have to go. He's been thinking of redesigning the room - he'll take today as the cue to do it. The box is still on the glass coffee table, incongruously old and shabby amongst the carefully chosen artifacts and deliberately placed magazines and books.
It seems even heavier now as he weighs it in his hand once again, holds so much more than a lump of rock. He'll decide what to do with it in the morning. He locks it away in his safe, not wanting the sight of it, and crosses back to his wet bar.
Oblivion beckons again, her welcoming hand reaching out to Lex.
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