by a campbell
Sandwiches, soda, chips, spread on a worn chenille bedspread on the Kents' living room floor. A simple meal, and one for which Martha had blushed and apologized. She was so sorry that this was the best they had to offer. But, with the move, and all the confusion...
Lex looked away, fighting an impulse to chuckle. Martha just didn't get it. No apology necessary, as far as he was concerned. What she offered was a feast in Elysium. After all he'd been through, it was great just to have food, any food. Though he hadn't really been hungry, anyway.
"Just think of it as an indoor picnic, Mom. Minus the ants!" Clark's attempt at reassurance made both Lex and Jonathan laugh as though it were the funniest of jokes. Clark was back, and himself again, and could say anything he wanted, and be smiled upon. As he slid an arm around Martha and kissed the top of her head, Martha embraced him so tightly that Lex was sure Clark's ribs would have bruises tomorrow. Martha looked ridiculously young when she was happy, and Lex had no doubt she was absolutely giddy, now. Well, she deserved it. They all did.
"Some picnic," Martha scoffed. "We don't even have paper plates! Just paper towels!"
"It doesn't matter, Mom. It'll still taste great. And, it will be a new experience for Lex. 'Roughing it'." Lex was thrown off balance by the nudge of Clark's elbow, and by the dazzling grin that followed. "Right, Lex?"
Lex regained his footing and looked down, not knowing whether to smirk or sigh. Clark, God love him, had no idea what 'roughing it' really was. Peanut butter sandwiches on paper towels were a damn sight better for supper than grubs. "I can't stay," Lex protested, only to be immediately overruled.
"Oh, no, Son." Jonathan shook his head. This time, I'm insisting. You're having supper with us."
How could he refuse? Jonathan had called him Son. Even if it was just gratitude talking. He couldn't deny that, as exasperating as he found Clark's father at times, something in him craved the man's affection and approval. Which accounted in part for him being a soft touch tonight. That, and the fact that he'd even been given the chance to visit the Kents again. He'd thought so often while in exile that he'd looked his last on Clark, that he'd never see him again before he died.
Martha had hugged him, Jonathan had shaken his hand with a warmth rare and genuine. Clark had beamed bright and big as though it were Christmas morning and not early fall, and gathered Lex into another bear hug, the third great hug that day.
He'd never felt quite so welcome at the Kents' place before. Amazing what $350,000 could buy.
A house. A farm. A family.
Mentally he chastised himself. The Kents' affection was sincere. The sum was pocket change to him, anyway.
Too bad it couldn't buy Clark back.
Lex leaned against his car, turning his face up to the dark evening sky, breathing deep. Even though the golden harvest moon shone full just above the horizon, the cool breeze made him shiver. He looked back at the farmhouse, saw Martha through the windowpane, pulling one of the gingham curtains closed. The light in the kitchen went out. Clark was probably on his way up to bed.
Lex sighed, and smiled bleakly, resigned to the feeling of melancholy settling in.
He knew he'd ruined any chance he'd had with Clark long ago, in the friendship's early days. He'd accepted that. And had been trying to make up for it since, in order to keep the one real friend he'd known.
He remembered Clark's companionable shove, the warm embrace in the farmyard that afternoon, how Clark had touched him, with no hesitation.
Touched him with affection, for the first time since...
Lex let his thoughts drift back to the day he had pushed too far.
Lex couldn't remember exactly when it happened. Sometime around Christmas during the winter of his first year in Smallville. Before Victoria had come to the mansion, before Clark's run-in with Phelan. Before Amy left; he recalled her bringing in a plate of cookies and a glass of punch for Clark as he studied while Lex worked that snowy afternoon. Lex had been drinking double-malt whiskey, straight, and rather more than he had intended. He drank more than usual at times like this, partly, he admitted to himself, because it made him feel older than Clark, more mature, and partly to relax. Being around Clark had been known to make him tremble.
They'd taken a break to play cards on the rug before the fireplace The room was warm, comfortable, the glow of the firelight in contrast with the gathering gloom outside. Clark was on vacation from school, and in good spirits, all smirks, pouting mouth and serious gazes from beneath dark lashes as they played...so pretty. He has no idea, none at all, Lex recalled thinking, and found it harder than usual to concentrate on his game.
Clark turned teasing and sarcastic when it was over. Lex couldn't help but notice with amusement that he was showing his age--fifteen, almost sixteen--that day. Just a kid. So young... "Can't you just let me win once, Lex?" Clark complained, giving him a good-natured shove.
"It's against my programming," Lex replied. And shoved back, teasing, too.
Clark shot him a mock-threatening glare, and grabbed his arm. They grappled with each other, and Clark burst out laughing as Lex pinned his arms to the floor. "You can't do it," he gasped, "I'm stronger." Lex was chuckling, too. He felt the scratch of carpet on his face and arms as they rolled over a couple of times. Somehow, he wound up back on top, looking down at Clark, who was breathless, laughing and coughing simultaneously.
The smile faded from Lex's face as his gaze darkened. He touched a palm to Clark's cheek. "Clark," he whispered, his voice cracking, husky with a yearning that astounded him.
Clark caught his breath, and lay still. Their eyes locked, and Lex remembered feeling his own resistance and common sense crumble and fall together in a dusty heap. Clark's youth no longer seemed a deterrent, but an invitation, as desire leaped and flamed between them.
Lex ignored the warning voice clamoring far off in his head. He had to touch, to kiss.
He bent down, teased Clark's lips open with his tongue. Kissed him, a real kiss, warm and wet, reached down to stroke through the denim of jeans. Clark was half-laughing in an uncomfortable sort of way, trying to ease away from Lex's hand and mouth. But Lex was focused, persistent. He knew he was irresistible.
He leaned in to whisper hot words into Clark's neck, kiss his throat. He felt Clark harden, swell under the touch of his expert fingers, felt the material grow damp under his hand. Hardened, himself when Clark's whimpering gasp reached his ears. Held Clark steady, coaxed down the zipper on the jeans with the hand he had free. Folded back the denim, eased Clark's cock out, paused for only a moment's admiration before going down, sucking, hard, and Clark tried to resist at first but then crumpled, too.
"Lex." The low groan seemed torn out of him, and his eyes were scared, but yearning, before they fell shut.
Lex wondered, even in the heat of his passion, if Clark would throw him off. Clark was stronger, bigger, and could easily have batted him across the room. But, after the initial, agonized resistance, he stopped fighting, and let Lex do what he wanted. No more protests, just jerks and breathless groans. And Lex had been fine with that. He'd wanted to suck Clark's cock forever, and now, confident in his own skill, intended to make it count, for both of them.
He had no doubt that, physically, it had been great. Clark had come so hard that Lex had felt him trembling with aftershocks for nearly a full minute afterward. Lex lay sprawled half on top of Clark, eyes closed, savoring the taste of come and the echoes of whiskey in his mouth as his own breathing slowed. He sensed the thud of Clark's heartbeat as he warmed to the feel of strong, toned muscles beneath him, damp with perspiration. He touched tongue to bare skin, trailing down Clark's stomach, circling wisps of damp, curling hair. At last, he raised himself, and looked down, heart full, gaze warm. Clark lay, chest heaving, eyes squeezed shut, saying nothing.
The fire had died down, the room grown cold. Lex bent, touched a slim finger to the cleft on Clark's jaw, then let it trail down Clark's throat. He touched his mouth to Clark's lips, which the boy had bitten hard enough to draw blood, and felt his chest constrict with tenderness. "Clark." His voice broke as he spoke, and he stopped in surprise. He ran his fingers through dark hair, and Clark flinched and moaned. Lex bent to embrace him, but his tender smile faded as he realized the sound was more one of anguish than of contentment.
Lex frowned, waited. Eventually, he stroked Clark's arm, studying him with concern. "Clark, are you all right?"
Clark opened his eyes, the glaze of pleasure fading slowly from his face as he focused on Lex, who swallowed again as Clark's gaze darkened, became unreadable.
Clark mumbled something inaudible while scrambling to his feet, then zipped up and gathered books, backpack and jacket together with haste, not meeting Lex's eyes.
"I've got to go."
Lex swiped at his mouth and rose to his feet, tried and failed to grasp at Clark's wrist as he slipped away. "Clark..."
Clark turned around before he reached the door. "I can't..." He broke off, flustered, his cheeks rapidly staining a deep rose. "Later." Before Lex could blink, he was gone, vanished in a second. Lex was left alone in the lengthening shadows.
"Damn it, Clark," he'd said to the empty air. And kicked the couch, hard.
When Clark came into the Beanery the next day, Lex's sharp glance could detect bruises still on his mouth, though the blush had faded from his cheeks. He was pale, and his eyes didn't leap with light as they usually did when they met Lex's, nor did he greet his friend with his customary brilliant smile. He'd made conversation that was no more than cordial, had seemed embarrassed, looked away, given monosyllabic answers and put distance between himself and Lex as soon as politely possible.
Lex didn't need a house to fall on him. But he made it a point never to deter easily. He followed Clark to the end of the deserted counter.
"Listen, Clark," he moved in close, using his quiet and intimate voice--not too quiet and intimate, though. Didn't want to scare him, drive him further away, make the same mistake twice. "I was drunk yesterday afternoon. Things went a bit too far. I didn't mean to--"
Clark cut him off. "Lex, don't." His eyes were dark and troubled, and Lex felt a distant rush of unreasoning panic which he fought to subdue, and succeeded. He was never afraid, for God's sake.
"I was out of line," Lex said. "I admit it." But just stay my friend, please. Your terms are fine.
"It's okay," Clark insisted, his voice quiet but determined. "Don't worry about it." He forced a smile which didn't dispel the darkness in his eyes, and Lex saw him swallow, hard.
Lex looked away, lips thinning. So he doesn't want to talk about it, he told himself. Fine.
Clark turned away, headed over to where Lana stood, smiling and chatting with Pete. Lex left his coffee unfinished and went home.
Lex had been--not ashamed. He was never ashamed. Nor did he waste his time regretting past actions or things that couldn't be helped. Disappointed, yes. But his friendship with Clark was too important to jeopardize, even without sex involved. Sex was easy to find, friendship less so.
Lex vowed to stick to soft drinks or bottled water from then on when Clark visited.
But, after that, Clark didn't drop by as often. After that came dates with Chloe, and then Lana, suddenly available. When Clark did drop by the manor, it wasn't just to hang out, though they did share a rare game of pool now and then. It was mainly when he wanted something, like bail money for Joseph Willowbrook, or a place to stash Ryan, or restaurant suggestions for his parents' anniversary dinner. No more touching, no more teasing. Definitely no wrestling. Still friendly, but wary.
Things had changed.
Even if Lex sometimes caught Clark with that same look on his face, same light in his eye that he'd had earlier that fateful afternoon: curious, dark, hungry. It didn't mean much, since Clark would banish this expression as soon as their eyes met, and turn the topic of conversation to something innocuously unrelated before he shrugged and left for the day.
They stayed friends. Which was what Lex had wanted, of course.
But he'd really wanted so much more.
Lex never made a habit of moping for what might have been, or for what was lost. Waste of time.
Soon, he'd been distracted by other things. Victoria, Desiree, Helen. And at least as many others whose names weren't worth remembering. Business challenges and commitments took up his time. He tried to resign himself to Clark drawing away, going on with his young life. The life he deserved.
They stayed friends. Lex contented himself with what crumbs he could.
He wasn't sure how long he'd stood in the dark, dew-moistened front yard. The moon had wheeled south when a gentle hand warmed his shoulder.
"Lex," Clark's quiet voice brought him back to the moment. He pulled himself up from where he stood slumped against his car, summoned his thoughts back from far away and long ago, felt the warmth of Clark's body close to his, keeping the evening chill, the darkness at bay.
"Anything wrong?" Clark was leaning close with a look of concern on his face.
Lex shook his head. "Just thinking."
Clark turned away for a moment, and sighed with something that almost seemed like relief. He turned back, gaze earnest, voice serious and firm. "Lex, it's good to have you back."
"I'm glad someone thinks so. Of course, Lionel will feel better once the insurance policy goes through." Lex's tone was a blend of bitterness and amusement.
Clark sounded exasperated as he responded. "Don't even joke about that, Lex. Things will be different now. Better. You'll see."
Lex brushed his jacket straight with a wry half-grin. "I hope you're right, Clark. Good night." He strode to the side of his car, watching Clark watch him. "Thank your mom again for dinner." And, no, he couldn't resist one up-and-down scan of Clark, from beautiful face down strong body, then up again. Clark watched, his expression sober, except for the hint of a smile. Lex could almost feel him respond, the attraction between them heating the damp air. The corners of Lex's mouth quirked up ever so slightly, and he turned to open the door.
"Lex, wait." Lex looked up to find Clark beside him again. "Wait." Clark put his hand on the door handle, took a deep breath, and continued. "We've never talked about what happened last year. The day we..." He fumbled to a stop.
Lex's hand dropped to his side. He closed the car door and ambled around to the front of the vehicle again. "The day we had sex?" His voice was bland, and he refrained from looking at Clark. Then, he shrugged. "I went too far, and I paid for it."
Clark fidgeted, looked away for a moment across the darkened fields.
"I want to talk about it," he said, and, to Lex, his voice sounded soft, beseeching. But then, he could have been deluding himself. He'd deluded himself about so many things.
"You never did before," Lex replied. "And don't feel you have to, now. I saved the farm for your folks today, gave them a chance to start over, but I wasn't trying to buy you."
Clark shook his head. "I didn't think that, never thought that, Lex." He moved in front of Lex, grasped his slim arms with both hands, held Lex's gaze with his own. "I want you. Always have. I was just afraid, back then. Afraid of how you made me feel, of how I felt. So powerful it scared me. I was a kid, then, but I'm not, now."
Lex shrugged again, looked away, tried to keep command of himself and subdue the excitement he felt from the crazy flip his heart had just executed. "Go back inside, Clark. Your folks will be wondering where you are." He took a deep breath. Yeah, sure, he liked what he was hearing, but he'd already resigned himself to doing without Clark except as a friend, and did he really want to risk his soul again? Sometimes Lionel had a point.
"No, Lex. You've got to listen to me. Please." Clark let his hands slide down Lex's arms to grasp his hands. Lex didn't resist further, just let his breeze-chilled palms warm in Clark's grip, and waited. Clark's gaze burned into his; the boy gnawed his lower lip for a brief moment, and then continued.
"After you were gone, lost at sea, I couldn't stop thinking about what happened. And about you. Even when I wasn't myself, I couldn't forget you.. See, I always figured there must be something wrong with me, because I tried to want Lana, or Chloe, or any other girl, the way I wanted you. I wanted you before that afternoon, but just wouldn't admit it to myself. And I knew I'd waited too long, and you'd never know, because I'd never had the guts to tell you."
Lex said nothing. He felt Clark's grip tighten for just a moment, saw him swallow, hard.
"I know you went off with Helen yesterday, and thought, well, they're trying for a second chance. I was afraid you wouldn't come back at all. And I don't know if maybe you guys are back together again, and I understand if I totally missed my opportunity, but I still have to tell you how I feel."
"Clark," Lex thinned his lips, looking away from the intensity of Clark's gaze. "I'd just as soon leave Helen out of this conversation." And he hoped his tone conveyed that he would appreciate not being questioned.
When he turned back to face Clark, Lex was sure he wasn't imagining the leap of pleasure and relief in his eyes, though the boy seemed to be making an effort to stay serious as he continued.
"This summer, after I left home, in Metropolis, Lex...God, I'm not proud of what happened there." He released Lex's hands, and leaned back against the car. "But, Dad always says, 'There's no great loss without some gain.' It was kind of awful, on the whole, but I learned a lot. About myself, what I want in my life, out of my life. I'm sorry, so sorry. Please don't go. Give me, give us, a second chance."
Clark looked almost like a pleading child, and Lex felt his self-imposed walls collapse. He reached out with one hand. "Come here," he said softly, and pulled Clark in, close, savoring the feel of his strong, young form. He heard Clark's small murmur of surprise and saw his face break into a smile, even though it was dark. Clark pressed tight against him, warming Lex with the heat of his body, looking down at him with a passion more than intense.
"I'm sorry," Clark's voice was a low hiss, "I suck."
Lex shook his head, letting fingers play lightly down Clark's arm. "Don't be ridiculous, Clark."
"I should have told you a long time ago. Like I said, I suck."
"Prove it to me sometime," said Lex. And they both laughed.
Clark's broad grin faded as his eyes darkened. "Take me home with you tonight."
"Now, when your folks finally like me?" Lex was trying for sleek and cool, but couldn't suppress a grin nearly as broad as Clark's had been.
"Yeah, now. They're already in bed. I can be back before breakfast. They won't even know."
"I don't know, Clark. I'm still pretty worn out from my island vacation." He'd envisioned this, abandoned, thousands of miles from here, and awakened only to find it had been a dream.
Clark was back, close beside him, pulling him close. "Lex, could you just please..."
"What?" Lex whispered, his voice husky with a tenderness that took him by surprise.
"Stop talking, for once?"
Clark ducked his head as his mouth sought Lex's, his kiss hot, demanding, eager. And Lex came really close to melting in his embrace, remembering how he'd imagined this during the countless bleak hours in exile, thinking with his one cool brain cell that, if Clark had honed his technique with Lana, he had something, at least, for which to thank his business partner. He didn't let himself think about other possibilities. And, he kept himself strong. Couldn't let Clark have control of everything. He already had his heart.
In a moment, Clark broke the kiss to touch the bruise near Lex's mouth with gentle fingers. "I'm glad we're getting another chance."
Lex thought a moment, then nodded slowly. "I am, too, Clark. An unexpected blessing." He drew Clark in for another kiss, more heat, wetter, more intense. After a moment, Clark broke away, and took a deep breath that was more like a gulp. Then, he smiled.
"There's so much I want you to teach me, Lex."
"Knowing you has taught me a few things, too, Clark." He struggled to gain control of himself, of his desire.
"So, let's go. Got the keys?"
"Find them," said Lex. Clark grinned, and lunged in for a grab, but Lex slipped away and slid into the car, then started the engine, looking straight ahead as he reached over to open the door for Clark and waited for him to get in.
"Jerk," Clark huffed as he slid into the front seat.
Lex laughed, not too loudly. "Call me anything tonight, Clark. I'm cool with it. And Clark?"
"Thanks for giving me another chance."
"Sure," said Clark, then shifted impatiently in his seat. "Are we going?"
Lex smiled. Clark may have thought he'd changed a lot over the summer, but his sweet boy was still around. He put the car in reverse. "We're going. Hold tight. It could be quite a ride." Lex looked at him, then, with a grin wider than usual, stretched out his arm for Clark to lean into.
"I'm game for it," said Clark, settling in close, leaning his head on Lex's shoulder.
"Good," Lex murmured, turning to breathe in the clean scent of Clark's hair.
He sighed with a contentment that felt surprisingly natural. It had been a pretty great day, after all.
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