The Pleasure Principle (Rentboy!Clark - Beginnings)

by Jett

AU - Sex, seduction, heartbreak. It's all part of the education of the boy who would be trade.

Written for Rivka and Lenore's Cliche Fic Challenge.

Dedication: For Fleegull because I'm her beoytch. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. ::purrs::; Roses, Margroks, Celes720 - my RentBoy!Clark enablin' posse. Mwah.

Feedback: If I ask, will you provide? Then, consider the deed done.

The Pleasure Principle
Rentboy!Clark - Beginnings
by Jett

1989. A time when the sky rained fire, crops wilted, crisped by incinerating heat, and a single parent had the misfortune of being flattened.

Lana Lang cried bitterly, not entirely sure of the events. At three, the memory would remain vague at best, and her mother and her Aunt Nell would do everything to obliterate the horror of the moment.

In the end it would prove just as well as her "father" turned out to not be her father at all. And Lana would stop just short of smiling every time she ordered a short stack and Mrs. Butterworth's from TJ's Diner.

By the time Clark Kent was eighteen, OSHA had cleaned up the town like proper government locusts, making damned sure the meteorites that pitted Smallville were gone and life was pretty much as it had been prior to the light show. Chloe Sullivan, girl reporter, tried her best to drum up stories, but in the "leafy little hamlet" formerly known as "The Creamed Corn Capital of Kansas," there really wasn't much beyond the occasional cheating scandal at Smallville High. Not even so much as a two-headed calf to exercise journalistic muscles. Decidedly pissed (why oh why had her father moved her from Metropolis anyway?), she was more than happy to bid Yawnsville adieu and make her way to Met U, insisting Pete Ross come with ("What are you going to do here, Pete? Chase small town girls for the rest of your life? It's time to bring your game up to a whole new level."), leaving one flannel-clad farm boy in her wake as he tried to decide precisely what was his "destiny."

Currently, said farm boy was horny as hell. Maybe a quick jack-off session would help him concentrate. He slipped his hands into his pants, almost not hearing Lana as she mounted the stairs.


"Lana!" Hands back where they were supposed to be, not where he wanted them to be, faster than Lana's eyes could follow.

"What's going on?"

"Nothing much." Clark paused. Lana had finally split with Whitney Fordman - he wasn't attentive enough, she said. "What's up with you?"

Lana plopped down on the sofa. The movement made Clark shift uncomfortably. There was semi-erection in his pants in dire need of tending. The former cheerleader sighed, touching Clark lightly on the leg. "Bored. Goddamn bored."

Cursing!Lana was something Clark didn't think he'd ever get used to. The language was part of the way she separated herself from Whitney. She'd taken to swearing like a sailor, and if Clark weren't so embarrassed, he might, God help him, be turned on by the blue language.

Lana noticed the lump in Clark's jeans. "Did I interrupt something?"

"Nah..." Clark began.

"Liar," she said flatly. Lana had also - for better or worse - become much more adept at speaking her mind. "What's going on in there?" Playfully, she tugged at Clark's pants, popping free the snap as she reached for the zipper.

"What're you -"

"Bored, Clark. What part of 'bored' didn't you understand?" Lana rolled her eyes. The orbs came to an abrupt halt. She grinned, part malice, part joy. "I wanna suck you off."

The look on Clark's face told more than he wanted revealed. He was in dire need of a game face and made a mental note.

Lana regarded him. "Oh dear sweet... Clark?" Lana stumbled back. "Are you still a virgin?"

"No." Damn. The Fairy Princess had gotten better at speaking her mind. He'd gotten no better at lying. "Not exactly."

"Being the 'Master of Your Domain' does not de-virginize you. A blow job won't either, but I'm willing to set you on the path." Lana gestured. "Get up." Clark stood. Expertly and instantly, Lana had Clark's zipper open and dick freed. "Fair warning. You know, they say sex is like a drug. Once you get started, it's hard to stop."

"C'mon. Do you really expect -" Clark stiffened, as did his cock as Lana suctioned. She pulled back.

"Yes, I do. Just do me a favor. Don't come in my mouth."


"We'll save that for later. Besides, it's good practice. Control? Women - or men - will love you for it."

Clark nodded slowly as Lana gripped his ass. "Men?"

"Who am I to judge?"

Clark blinked. A lot. "You've been with women?"

Lana looked him squarely in the eye. "Duh, Clark," and went back to the task at hand. Her cheeks hollowed rhythmically, and, as she politely caressed his balls, Clark thought of Andrew "Dice" Clay: "Juggle the balls - they ain't orphans, honey." Coincidentally, Lana picked up the pace. Sensing Clark was about to spurt, she pulled back.

The cheerleader gone bad girl was good. Clark shuddered and let go. Come caught on the edge of Lana's mouth, squirted elsewhere and, as his cock softened, drizzled down Clark's jeans.

Lana raised a finger to the damp spot on her mouth, wiping away the semen. She tongued the corner, then licked her finger, sucking it like candy. "Sweet. And not bad for the first time. But room for improvement. Definitely."

She bounded down the stairs.

Limp, Clark peered over the rail. "Don't worry, Clark. Tomorrow, I suck you off - and swallow." She smiled a little girl grin and disappeared.

Lana arrived at the appointed hour - and none too soon, given the pressure his cock was exerting behind his zipper. Clark was very happy his parents had gone off to an organic farming expo, making them less likely to walk in on Lesson #2, or what he'd dubbed "Project Deep Throat," considering what Lana had shared the day before.

He was showered, wearing a freshly laundered blue shirt, and smelling like a fresh Kansas breeze. He wondered if cologne might be more appropriate when Lana appeared behind him, sniffing.

"Au natural. I like a man who isn't afraid of what he smells like."

New mental note: cologne? A no-no for Lana.

Whisper light, Lana fingered the inside of Clark's ear, drawing her finger down the length of his neck. "Nn-now what?" Clark stuttered.

Lana took a half-step. She tilted her head, giving Clark the once over. "Strip."

Clark shook his head in astonishment. Maybe his ears were playing tricks on him.

"You heard me." Lana's voice dropped an octave. Sultry didn't begin to cover it. "Strip," she repeated.

Hesitantly, Clark reached for a shoe. He changed his mind, opting for his shirt. He changed his mind again. This time, he went for his pants.

Lana huffed impatiently. "Definitely still crawling."


"You have to crawl before you can walk. You? Barely rolling over."

"Maybe music'd help?"

Lana didn't seem convinced. Still, she crossed to the boom box, tossed CDs about until she found something appropriate. Fiona Apple sung huskily through tinny speakers.

"I've been a bad, bad girl... I've been a bad, bad girl... I've been careless with a delicate man... And it's a sad, sad world... When a girl will break a boy just because she can..."

Lana shimmied out of the pink cotton slip dress.

No bra.

No panties.

Clark gulped and sent nonsense Morse code via lids and lashes. He staggered back as Lana gyrated, completely lost in the music.

"Don't you tell me to deny it. I've done wrong and I want to suffer for my sins. I've come to you cause I need guidance to be true and I just don't know where I can begin."

Lana stepped close to Clark, grasping his head, breathing along his neck. "Your turn."

Awkwardly, Clark removed his shoes. "What I need is a good defense cause I'm feelin' like a criminal." Slithering out of the pants followed as "And I need to be redeemed to the one I've sinned against."

"By George, Clark."

Encouraged, Clark ripped the buttons from the shirt. "Because he's all I ever knew of love..."

"Fuck love," said Lana.

She stared into the massive erection. "Now, the fun begins." Lana licked the head of Clark's cock, then took the whole of him in her mouth. He fought to not wobble back as Lana's nose tickled pubic curls. He wanted to grasp her hair, but didn't trust himself not to tear it from its roots.



"Coming in your mouth today?" Clark rasped. "It's all good, right?"

Lana pulled away. "Yes Clark. But just not yet." She used her thumb and forefinger, squeezing them on either side of Clark's dick. "Cause you're not gonna come."

Clark breathed heavily as Lana watched. "How's it feel?" she asked.

Like a volcano - with a boulder on top of it to stop the flow of lava. Of course, Clark wasn't that articulate when he answered. "I...I..." was what he said.

"All things in their time, Clark." Lana released his cock and returned to suctioning. When Clark loosed the swimmers, he swore he heard a chorus of angels.

Lana kissed Clark immediately, the remnants of his come lingering in her mouth. She looked at him expectedly. "So?"

The taste was not what Clark expected. Sweet indeed. And sampling himself in her mouth? Hotter than an oven set to "broil." "Is that...?"

"You. All you. Well, mostly you." Lana slipped the dress back on. "You're getting better, farm boy. We'll make a man out of you yet."

And with that, Lana was gone, leaving Clark -



And thinking: how bad would it be to fuck a cow?

The cow fucking didn't come to pass. Maybe Clark came to his senses, or maybe it was the look he got from Amelia when he walked by oh-so-innocently. He wasn't Dr. Doolittle, but message received loud and clear. Don't even think about it, farm boy. Dissed by a cow. Moo juice maker, steak waiting to happen. Rather than risk further psychological damage, head hung, Clark wandered back to the loft where he instead set about checking the telescope obsessively, hoping for a glimpse of Lana.


Maybe she'd call.


They hadn't made plans.

She was probably still at the Talon.

Maybe he should go to the Talon.

Maybe they could (heh) do something at the Talon.

A hand drifted languidly over the length of the 'scope. No, fuck Lana. She was all about "control" - what was she anyway? There was a word for women like that - dom something or other. Hell, the next time, she'd probably want to put a collar on him and ride him like a...

Clark's mind drifted. He'd look good in a collar, and she could ride him until he broke.

So not good.

Hastily, Clark made a decision. He showered, put on the nicest sleeveless tee he could find to go with the nicest, tightest jeans he'd dare wear and went to that bar he'd heard so much about. Maybe he could find something to do there.

Wild Coyote wasn't quite what Clark expected. Smoky, rambunctious jukebox, and filled with men just...loitering. He took it in, leaned against the bar, adopting his best "No biggie" pose. Instantly, he heard a honey-coated voice.

"Fresh meat."

"Excuse me?"

"I haven't seen you here before."

"It's probably because I've never been. Here," Clark added quickly.

"Really." The man circled Clark. "Too bad. I think we could've had a long-time thing going. So how much?"

"For what?"


Clark didn't see, but when the blonde head bobbed in front of him, he wasn't sure if he should be happy - or afraid.

The other man stumbled back. "Whitney... One of yours? I should've known. He's beautiful. We were just talking price."

"Then talk to me."

"Excuse me?" Clark's voice had crept to near-squeak.

"Let me handle this, Clark." Whitney turned to the man in question. "What're you looking for?"

"The usual."

Whitney whispered in Clark's ear. "Blow job."

Clark's eyes widened. Whitney immediately took notice.

"I don't know that you can afford him."

"Try me."

Whitney murmured a price. The man shook his head, horrified, and disappeared across the room.

"Thanks. I think."

"No problem, Clark."

"Why would he think...?"

"Take a look around."

In his search for gratification, Clark had wandered into new territory. His eyes fell on Whitney's table. Full of beautiful man-boys. "They're mine," whispered Whitney. "All mine." The former quarter-back's pride of ownership was conspicuous. "Been blown, never blown anyone? Am I right?"

Clark shifted uncomfortably.

"It's not a hard thing to do. You have the equipment. You've got a basic knowledge of how it works. And there's good money to be made, Clark."


"Look," Whitney led Clark from the main room and into the darkened hallway beyond. "I can help you out. Show you a thing or two. If you're willing."

"What's it gonna cost me?"

Whitney smiled. "A blow job. And a good one." Whitney's hand slid down Clark's pants and came to rest dangerously near his dick. Clark's body responded even as he wondered into what kind of soap opera he was diving. "That's what I'm gonna show you."

"I dunno Whitney. There're a million reasons I shouldn't -"

"And one reason you should: you'll like it. I can see it in your eyes. You're built for sex, Clark. Have you ever looked at yourself? Really looked? Use it or lose it, Kent."

Even as Whitney dropped trou, Clark was pretty sure it wasn't an alien thing. Lana said it: "Sex is like a drug," and all he could think about was the feeling. The build-up, the euphoria, the eruption. Clark wanted to know what else it could feel like, experience variations on the theme, and short of sticking his dick in a stump...

Or Amelia...

His mind traveled. Fresh baked pie on the kitchen table.

No. He needed a body.

"Let's see what you've got," said Whitney as Clark hunched and licked. "Fuck, Clark! Fuuck!"

Clark looked up, all eyes and innocence. "Goddammit Clark! No teeth! It's a cock, not a corndog."

Whitney inhaled deeply and exhaled. It was more of a snort really, sort of like the sound a bull makes before charging.

Clark took a half-step back.

Whitney closed his eyes, twisted his head, cracked his neck. He shook out his hands, allowing his arms to go loose at the shoulders as his head rolled around.

Was this some kind of ex-football player pre-kick-your-ass ritual? Clark took another step back. The second step put him against the opposite wall.

Whitney opened his eyes. "Kent?"

"Um, yeah?"

"What the fuck are you doing way over there?"

"Uh, standing?"

Whitney pulled up his pants but left the zipper open. "Get over here."

Clark hesitated.

"Look, I'd get an invitation engraved, but Cranes is closed. Move your ass, Kent!"

Instantly, Clark took a single great stride in Whitney's direction. Whitney held up a finger. "Let's start at the very beginning."

"It's a very good place to start."

"When you read, you begin with 'A,' 'B,' 'C' ..."

Clark thought, "When you sing, you begin with doe-ray-me," but kept the song and the picture of Julie Andrews naked, twirling on the hill, to himself.

"So, what I want you to do is to suck me." Whitney jammed his finger in Clark's face. "Slowly." Clark stared blankly at the finger, then took it into his mouth. "Nice, very nice," drawled Whitney. There went Julie Andrews. The image in Clark's head shifted rapidly to Vivien Leigh - without the corset, without the hoop skirt, and definitely, without the drapery dress. "Now try a little tongue."

Clark took Whitney's hand in his own, pulling the finger out, licking along each side, tasting the sour taste of old beer and sweat. He pulled the finger back into his mouth, twirled his tongue.

"Innovation. Very good." Whitney snatched his hand back, releasing his finger with a distinct pop. Clark looked as though someone had taken away his dinner plate before meal's end. "Clark, now pay attention." Clark raised his still-fixated-on-the-finger eyes. "What you just did, I want you to do again." Whitney dropped his pants. "Get creative but -"

"No teeth."


"Not a corndog."


The previous pop gave Clark an idea. He thought "popsicle" and went to work, licking, sucking, almost choking when Whitney thrust himself deeper. "Be a man, Kent," Whitney growled. So Clark threw up his hands, pressed into the wall for balance and swallowed him.

Whitney's eyes lolled. Clark's unexpected aptitude had the ex-quarterback making soft sounds, and when he grabbed Clark's hair, Clark knew it was just a matter of time.

Whitney came hard. Clark stood up suddenly, before Whitney's cock could go completely from rigid to flaccid, grabbing the blonde by his face and kissed him.

"Kent? What the fuck was that?"

Clark grinned. "Got creative."

Clark stood in the loft, grinning madly. Maybe the encounters of the last few days had broken him. He felt giddy, accomplished, and, best of all, eager to share. What good are skills when kept to one's self? And heck, maybe there were new ones he could develop.

Clark ignored the urge to take matters into his own hands in spite of their availability and his impatience, opting instead for the more mature solution: he'd make a phone call. Under other circumstances, Lana would probably be the recipient, but given her busy social schedule - she flitted in and out of Nell's house more than fireflies blinked around the summer Kansas sky - each time, with a different person (male, female, didn't matter), he thought he should seek another option.

He punched a number on the portable. Immediately, he was greeted by a warm, familiar voice as he paced. "Chloe! How's it going? Getting settled in?"

Warmth turned glacial. "Clark? To what do I owe the honor?"

Clark shuffled his feet, stuck one hand in his pocket. Close enough to - no. Not gonna scratch... So not going to scratch the itch. Clark pulled his hand from his pocket. "That's a little harsh, isn't it?" Not going to be derailed. Nope. Not when I have things to show her. Or she can show me.

"I'll check the dictionary for precision later. Never let it be said I misspoke."

"I' the neighborhood. I wanted to see what college life was like."

"Not much of a life since classes haven't started. But I suppose I could give you a tour -"

"Great!" I'll see you in fifteen minutes.


The line was dead.

Clark's shower could only be described as instant. He avoided temptation, knowing that control was indeed the key to all things. Or at the very least, all things he had in mind. He repeated his new mantra - no touching! - out loud.

He didn't bother to dry his hair, figuring it would dry on the flight over. He'd said fifteen minutes.

He got there in ten.

Clark made point to look "urban." This time, black jeans, a short-sleeved black tee and a black jacket. His hair was indeed dry if mussed, sort of like he'd just gotten out of bed. Clark caught a glimpse of himself in a hall mirror and began playing with the curls to no avail. Hurriedly, he resolved that "bed head" made him look that much more ready to be debauched.

Oh, he was ready.

Clark rapped on the door, leaned against the frame, affecting nonchalance. He inhaled deeply as Chloe tugged the door open. Her eyes went bright and wide at the sight of him as her head lifted, taking in ever inch - even lingering over his cock as it sat embossed along the right side of his zipper. Clark noted she recovered quickly, replacing the bare excitement at seeing him with a blase Metropolis facade, swinging the door to afford entrance. "Where were you - across the quad?"

"Something like that." Clark plopped down on the tiny single bed. Soft. Maybe too soft, considering it sagged under his weight, but he imagined he could make do. Get creative. Improvi -

"Clark, what're you doing here? Really?" Chloe's eyes narrowed as she advanced.

I want to fuck you. No, too straightforward. True, but not right. "I didn't like the way we left things."

"What 'things'?"

"Between the two of us."

"Never was an 'us' Clark. We're friends. All we ever were, all we'll ever be. You made that abundantly clear."

"I don't want to fight anymore, Chloe. Really. It's a waste. Of time. Energy. Energy that could be better spent... I have a proposal for you."

"Which would be?"

"Friends - with benefits? I don't know that I'm ready - or capable - of anything else."

"To be with one person?"

Clark tilted his head in agreement.

"So you keep your options open?"

"So do you."

"Any ex-cheerleader 'options'?"

"Not really. Lana's fun, but well, she's Lana."

"Post-Whitney. Not a pretty picture. Although I applaud her resolve and insistence on reinvention. It's been...intriguing. There's a piece in there somewhere if I could just find the angle -"

The words were swallowed by lips and a tongue not Chloe's.

"What'd you just do?"

"Kissed you."


"Part of the 'friends with benefits' thing."

"Who says I want to -"

Another interruption, soft lipped, wet. Chloe responded, grabbing a hold of Clark's face for balance. "There're other benefits," said Clark.

"Oh? And what might they be?" Chloe withdrew. "I thought you wanted a tour?"

"Fuck a tour," said Clark.

"Clark Kent, was this all an elaborate ruse to get into my panties?"

"I doubt I could. My ass..." He swiveled to indicate. "And they look so good on you."

Chloe smiled. "Some compliment." She nodded, scoping the ass in question. "Definitely bootylicious."

The freshman slithered free of her underwear as Clark pivoted back to face her. "Of course, the panties look mighty nice on the floor there too."

"You next."

In spite of the absolutely overwhelming impulse to rip every shred of clothing from his body, Clark looked Chloe squarely in the eye, swallowed hard and said oh-so-seriously, "I think I need some help," and thus entered A New Era.

"No fumbling, too eager butt grab?" Chloe mock sniffled. She scrutinized Clark. "Mrs. Kent, our boy's become a man and thus deserving of a special kind of accommodation."

Chloe removed Clark's shirt, slowing enough to appreciate the vista. She tossed the shirt aside with a flourish.

Without warning, she licked an exposed nipple. The heat and moisture sent a shudder through Clark. "Let's see," Chloe said, unbuttoning Clark's jeans, "what we can do about these." Slowly, she tugged the zipper, loosing the mechanism a single tooth at a time.

Clark wanted to whimper but thought patience.

The word stretched in his mind.


Always a good thing.

The jeans fell, and Chloe stepped back to evaluate the view more fully. "Commando?"

In spite of all his preparedness, the blonde still had it in her to make him blush. "You're lucky I got dressed at all."

"I dunno. It might've been interesting, you, here, buck naked. Sans the requisite arrest for indecent exposure. Think you could've managed that?"

"Um, maybe."

Chloe stepped forward, removing an oversized shirt as she approached. She tossed it at Clark and pounced. The two fell onto the mattress and quickly, the mattress crashed to the floor.

Chloe pouted. "That was disappointing."

"Not necessarily." Chloe watched as the bed frame disappeared, flung to the far side of the room. The plaster patch would come out of her security deposit.

"Tell me what you want," Clark whispered.

Chloe began to giggle. Not a good sign.

"No. I want..." Clark's voice went deep and insistent, "to get you off."

"Clark Kent!"

Clark put a finger to Chloe's mouth, then licked her lips. A face devouring kiss followed. "Never mind. I've got an idea. Or two."

Clark slid down Chloe's body, tonguing the length of her from throat to navel. He raised his head, considering. He decided to hike up the skirt, bunching the fabric around Chloe's waist for better access.

Clark bent back down, tongue stretching to meet the swollen clit. Writhing, eyes squeezed tighter than she thought possible, Chloe couldn't see Clark as he screwed up his face in concentration. If a dick wasn't a corndog, then a clit couldn't be a... nugget? Logically speaking, of course.

Clark licked gently, alternating pace, pressure, direction, listening as Chloe's sounds grew from vaguely interested grunts to moans that rattled the walls.

What had the book said? G-spot. G-spot... Clark continued to tongue Chloe's clit as she wriggled beneath him, sticking two fingers inside her, searching. When she arched, pulling at his hair, he determined the G-spot was more than a myth.

Clark continued the finger/tongue routine until Chloe screamed, the pleasure overwhelming as she came violently, hit by waveafterwave afterwave of orgasm, making it apparent if Clark hadn't been who and what he was, he would've been thrown clear. Of course, had Clark not been Clark, Chloe probably wouldn't've come like she'd just experienced her first-time with a very special vibrator.

"Clark," she panted, looking the farm boy in the eye, "is there something you haven't told me?"

Clark and Chloe had a very good friends-with-benefits thing going. At least, right until the moment when Chloe found herself -

"A boyfriend?"

"Pick up your jaw, Clark." Clark noticed his mouth was open, if only slightly. Quickly and discreetly, he slipped his face into "neutral." "And pay attention. 'Potential'."

Clark made grand air quotes. "'Potential' boyfriend," he repeated.

"Yes," said Chloe with a grand huff. "You know, I'm really surprised you're acting like this."

"Wha -? C'mon." Clark paced. "How'd you expect me to react?"

Chloe gave him The Stare. He hated, hated, hated The Stare. "Like a grown-up."

"Chloe, you're killing me here." Inspiration whacked Clark in the head. "And a dying man gets a one last meal, right? So, one more?" Clark tried not to sound like he was begging for food he wasn't going to get (at this rate, he wasn't in the restaurant or the store - more like standing on the sidewalk with his nose pressed against the glass. Nose pressed against...). "For ol' times' sake?" Clark took Chloe in his arms, grinding his pelvis into her. Not much, just enough to elicit a small jolt cum gasp from Ms. Sullivan. "Say 'no' now. Dare you," thought Clark.


The jaw went where it'd indeed gone before.



"Flies." Chloe pointed in the direction of Clark's mouth. He closed it again.

"He won't be as good."

"How do you know?"

"I have a sense about these things."

"You may want to have it adjusted. Sure, the sex's been great. At times, earth shattering." Clark blushed and thought "Damn straight." "But..." Chloe turned dramatically on her heels. "I want more." Clark blanched. "And not from you." The hint of nausea rolled onto its back and died a merciful death.

"I'm not 'boyfriend' material?"

"For me? What're you smokin'? I. Know. You. Which is why I know we'd never work. You might be potential boyfriend material for somebody, someday, but me, hell no. And I meant that -"

"In the nicest possible way," grumbled Clark.

"Glad we understand each other. Now, go! He'll be here any minute."

"I wanna meet him." How'd Chloe managed to turn Clark back into Whiny Teen - in - whoa, new record - less than ten minutes?

"No." Chloe shoved - hard. Off-balance, Clark went very neatly through the doorway. She slammed the door in his face.

"Fine!" Clark yelled through the door. "Have fun with your 'boyfriend'."

"'Potential'," Chloe shot back.

"Whatever," muttered Clark. She could've at least given him a "heads-up" before he dropped by. Oh, maybe that's why she insisted he call first.

What to do? He wanted sex, he wanted it now, and if he didn't happen upon an opportunity - and soon - he felt like he'd explode. Messy alien bits everywhere.

Fuck Chloe - or not. A bar. Metropolis was full of bars. Clark'd find what he needed.

Zipping through the streets, he dismissed several venues - too loud, too trendy, too ridiculous. Moments like this, he missed the simplicity of Small -

Wait. What was that? Clark peeked into a lounge-y looking spot, grin mounting his face like he planned on mounting someone, anyone, tonight baby! Entering, he took a seat at the bar. He squared his shoulders and attempted to pass for the twenty-one year old he was supposed to be.

Clark caught the eye of a waitress. "What kind of beer do you have?" Good resonance. No fear. Mentally, Clark congratulated himself.

"You should try the Hoegaarden. You won't find it on tap everywhere."

Clark looked up and into the sparkling eyes of a tall, dark haired man. He was a little leaner than (Clark'd grown more muscular since high school - not that he tried); his hair was neatly trimmed, styled so it spiked in just the right places. Staring at him without meaning to, it occurred to Clark this new arrival reminded Clark of a more refined version of...himself.

The stranger stuck out his hand. "Joaquin," offered the man by way of introduction. There was a hint of an accent, Spanish, not States-inflected though. Clark ran through a mental list of accents, subsequently determining Joaquin was in fact from Spain.

"Not to foist my biere de luxe of choice on you." Joaquin nodded slightly and the waitress suddenly appeared, Hoegaarden in hand. "The head is spectacular," he said, admiring the glass as he held it up to the light, blocking Clark's view of him. Clark noticed Joaquin hadn't managed to block the Kryptonian's view of Spanish fly. Clark's eyes stalled, taking pleasure in the replacement scene. "Thick, frothy, and a light, refreshing Milky-Way palate with very little bitterness or hop content. Aftertaste of cream, with a hint of tartness." The man sipped, drawing Clark's eyes upward as he licked foam from a wide, pink swath of mouth. "The aroma is so amazingly satisfying - cloves, subtler tones of coriander, apple." The man took a long pull from the beer, paused before swallowing. "The primary flavor - sharp citrus - highly refreshing."

Joaquin nodded again in the general vicinity of the waitress. As quickly as Joaquin's beer had appeared, another appeared for Clark. "Try it. I guarantee you won't be disappointed."

Clark wondered if he could get drunk. If it were possible, Joaquin would be certain it happened. All for the sole purpose of taking full advantage.

Clark threw back the Hoegaarden in a single gulp.

Joaquin laughed heartily. "My friend, have you heard nothing?" Joaquin gestured. Instantly, Clark's empty glass was replaced with a full one. "We have all night. And some things...some things are better when savored."

A fistful of Hoegaardens into the night led to a change of venue. Tongues tangled, Clark and Joaquin spiraled through the doorway. Large hands groped Clark's body as he pushed Joaquin inside. The duo fumbled with each other through the darkness, although Clark could make out the interior (largely industrial; steel chrome redesign. And spacious. Very spacious.).

Joaquin hit the light switch, adjusting the dimmer.

"Do you like?" asked Joaquin.

"Yes, yes, I like," responded Clark.

"Show me. Show me how much you like." Joaquin smiled, a magnificent, even smile Clark once thought the sole provenance of Americans and their fetishistic interest in orthodontia. The smile made Clark want to taste him, all of him. "But in a moment."

Joaquin slipped from Clark's grasp. Maybe he was drunk. Clark hadn't moved quickly enough to stop him. Beauty was within reach, but glided beyond him. Clark shifted. His cock reminded him why he'd come home with an absolute stranger.

"Come. Join me."

Clark wanted to speed things along, but instead, practiced the mantra he'd adopted as he sought sexual gratification. Patience.

"Don't be shy," said Joaquin.

Clark joined him at the bar. Joaquin looked into the reflection across the room. "We could be twins, you and I," he mentioned idly as he pulled two bottles of water from a refrigerator, slipping behind Clark as he handed him one. Joaquin shifted, moving his left leg slightly forward, enough to reduce the distance between his cock and Clark's ass, so close in fact that Clark could practically feel its heat.

Joaquin exhaled as he ran one hand along the right side of Clark's while simultaneously rubbing his cock against the rounded mass before him. "My, what tightness." He leaned in to whisper into Clark's ear, breathing as he spoke, "Very, very impressive." The combination of Joaquin's voice and breath in his ear forced Clark forward. He grasped at the bar edge. Clark's cock wanted no part of the mantra. He had to think about other things, non-immediate things. Not fucking the amazing double. Not the fucking amazing double. Anything but the man who'd begun fingering waves of hair as though he sought to rearrange and own them.

It was the tongue in the ear that almost sent Clark through the bar though. The moist heat of it, the rasping breath that followed. "This would be savoring," said Joaquin. Tired of being on the receiving end of torture masquerading as pleasure, Clark sought to transfer the knowledge gleaned from Whitney and Chloe. He turned to Joaquin, pivoting enough to force the other man back. Clark leaned in, forcing more backward movement. To the rear of the tight space, a wall was within striking distance.

Clark extended himself in the cramped space, filling it, stretching out his arms like barricades. He inclined more, tongue reaching for the side of Joaquin's neck. He stepped, pinning Joaquin to the wall, just below the shelves of glasses as he twisted into him. "And this?"

"Savoring," whimpered Joaquin.

Clark's tongue glided from neck to collarbone. Pressing against him, Clark gyrated slightly, enough to feel the warmth of the friction. He wasn't sure when it happened, just that a manicured hand was offered that lead him upstairs.

Clark took care unsnapping the green leather shirt Joaquin was wearing. The man beneath was lithe and muscular - more so than Clark had imagined. Clark ran his hand down the body, index finger playing feather-light around Joaquin's navel. Joaquin removed Clark's clothing with equal care. "What do you want to do?" asked Clark. His experiences were adding up, but still primarily limited to kissing and blow jobs when it came to men.

"Savor," responded Joaquin. He climbed into the king sized bed, extending a hand. Clark took the hand, climbed into bed. Joaquin kissed the base of his neck, wrapped his arms around Clark and drifted off easily. Clark lay awake, listening to the sound of Joaquin's breathing, impressed with himself and his patience.

The morning found Clark alone. A note and a pile of large bills were stacked on the nightstand. "Thank you. If you're interested, see Emil. There are events and I would enjoy the continued pleasure of your company. Emil will handle everything."

Clark turned over the bills, sifting through them. New hundreds, each and every one. Clark counted: ten, twenty, thirty, forty... He stopped. He was holding over four thousand dollars. The money became leaden, weighting his hands. He dropped the bills, watching as green paper flurried to the bed. His heart raced. Fun was fun, sex was fun, but since when had "fun" - or sex - paid? Clark considered. "Since last night." The words gnawed through the previous silence and stilled. He smiled, gathering the freed cash as he mentally placed a visit to Emil on the "To Do" list.

The address provided by Joaquin was known to the driver. It took Clark all of fifteen minutes, riding in the back of the town car, to reach the boutique. Hesitantly, he stepped onto the sidewalk. Clark drew a deep breath and sauntered toward the door, stretching out his hand to grasp the handle as the door swung back suddenly. A slinky bald man drifted through, holding the door open for Clark. "Thanks," said the one-time farm boy.

"Don't mention it," replied the stranger, his voice melodic, pitched so perfectly Clark's cock took notice. Clark watched as the stranger walked down the street, hips lilting as though they were spring action mounted, fine-tuned properly for seduction. Clark shifted himself and thought non-sex thoughts. It wouldn't do to be seen by Emil in a state like this. Stepping through the door and into the shop, Clark realized the stranger's eyes were blue, and he seemed vaguely familiar. It took Clark a moment, but he eventually realized he'd seen the stranger's picture in the society pages.

"Ahem." Clark looked up, unfurrowing his brow. Hands tucked elegantly into jacket pockets, Emil stood beyond Clark. "Joaquin said to expect you." Emil's eyes sparkled with appreciation. "He just didn't tell me what to expect."

Clark blushed. He'd have to figure out how to stop that if he intended to be with Joaquin for any length of time. As it turned out "everything" meant a new wardrobe and grooming.

Clark allowed Emil to touch and measure. He accepted the suit, pants, shirts and shoes he selected, conceding to the advice on exfoliants and styling products, stopping short of the hair cut. He wasn't positive snapping scissors could be explained. Besides, he'd grown accustomed to the longish swirls. Of course, by the time Emil and his staff were finished, the curls were the only point of familiarity.

Clark stared at himself in the mirror. He never knew. He looked like a grown-up. He a man.

Clark spent the next two years with Joaquin and Eksetera, the E(uro). T(rash). C(ontingent). as Joaquin affectionately dubbed his closest friends, Luka, Jean-Phillipe and Ari, traveling between the villas in France, Italy and Spain, the American coasts and Metropolis as what amounted to life as a kept man. For Clark's twenty-first birthday, Joaquin arranged a party, full of Metropolis elite. He watched as Joaquin signed then handed over the papers to the slinky bald man he'd only seen two years before.

Clark greeted guests, the leather trench coat Joaquin had given him as an early gift trailing behind him as he made his way through the assemblage. Noticing Joaquin wasn't in the room, Clark turned. He excused himself.

Opening the guest room, Clark found Joaquin, pants around his ankles. He wasn't getting dressed. A woman knelt in front of him, his erect cock deep in her mouth.

Clark staggered back, inadvertently bumping into a dresser, alerting Joaquin to his presence.

"She's for both of us," Joaquin explained as he turned his head toward Clark. He did nothing to stop the woman.

"Why?" Confusion seeped into the edges of what he'd intended as a bitter response.

"A change of pace."

Something clicked into place in Clark's mind. An awful thought he tried to shatter, but found stuck by talons. "Is she...the first?"

"Why would you ask such a thing?"

"Because I," Clark realized his voice had grown loud. He lowered it. "Because I want to know."

"Does it matter?"

"If it didn't, I wouldn't ask." The words were forceful. Rapidly, Clark divested himself of the supple coat - and flung it at him.

"So dramatic," Joaquin chided. "You don't love me," Joaquin called as Clark headed through the door.

Clark flinched. But Joaquin was right. "I know," he said quietly.

Clark tore through the living room and out the front door, disappearing down the street as the snow began.

Clark ducked into a diner. He ordered coffee as he went through a mental list of skill sets. Without Joaquin, he'd have to fend for himself. He'd gotten used to things, certain things. What could he do?

Clark paid for the coffee and headed down the street to the lobby of The Marquis. Here, he ran into Mrs. Robinson, a friend of Ari's who'd always seemed vaguely interested. Tonight proved no exception.

"Clark? My word. What are you doing here? Out on a night like this - with no coat."

"Joaquin and I had a fight." The admission obviously piqued the woman's curiosity.

"Don't tell me you broke up."

Clark said nothing.

"Let me buy you a drink."

"I couldn't -"

"Sure you could. And you will."

It was in that moment, that Clark realized he was onto something. Looking at Mrs. Robinson, the mountainous contours of her breasts, the assuredness with which she carried herself, the stack of platinum credit cards and wad of cash, he resolved to save the world one person at a time. He'd already lied to his parents about his livelihood when they asked the inevitable questions, particularly after the checks arrived. At least, that wouldn't be new.

Dark chocolate coated, large, ripe, stemmed. He bit into the fruit, feeling juice dribble down the center of his lip as he sucked and chewed melting sweetness and strawberry. The combination of the wholesome and the decadent - what was Godiva if not? - almost as tantalizing as the flavors mingling on his tongue. He slurped to avoid juice escape and instantly found his lips engaged. Mrs. Robinson had far too much stamina.

Clark's eyes wandered, stilling on the clock.

He blinked. Nine minutes and counting.

There was a trick to pouring beer, but luckily, Terri, Mrs. Robinson's niece, didn't know. The glass was upright, and the Harp filled the cobalt tumbler quickly, foam rising above the rim and spilling over the side. She lapped the lager as it drizzled down the deep blue glass, the pink of her tongue contrasting sharply to the glass' darkness. She shoved her upper lip into the over wrought head, suctioning the alcohol. Suddenly aware, she peered up at him, eyes wide, revealing a foamy moustache in all its glory.

Untouched. Mrs. Robinson'd mentioned she wanted the girl's first experience to be a good one. Clark would enjoy pleasuring her.

He checked the stack of cash left earlier by Terri's aunt - just to be sure he kept his priorities straight.

The Hawaiian vacation proved more relaxing than Clark thought possible. Traveling to a succession of islands, sipping Mai Tai's and watching the sunset, surfing the waves off the North Shore, luxuriating in spa treatments before heading off to Kauai, Maui and the Big Island. He was bronzed, full of heat and vigor. Simply put, ready to get back to work.

Clark deposited the suitcase by the door. Mrs. Jenkins, his housekeeper, would see to the laundry later. Checking his voice mail, he added appointments to his PDA. One voice stopped him cold. The man identified himself as "Alexander" in honeyed tones Clark immediately remembered from his first visit to Emil. He blinked. Maybe he'd gotten too much sun and succumbed to a form of island madness. Why would "Alexander" be in need of his services? Clark replayed the message. No, this was the man whose path he'd crossed four years ago, whom he'd last seen at his twenty-first birthday party - unless he counted the steady appearances in society and business sections of magazines and newspapers.

Clark paused, uncertainty gripping him, disabling rational thought. "Alexander" wanted an early evening appointment; instantly, the insecure, awkward, overly hormonal teen attempted reemergence. Clark reminded himself he'd come too far to be that boy any longer, and, after calling to confirm (though Clark was thankful he got voice mail), set about preparing for the evening.

Having instructed the doorman to allow Alexander upstairs, it was no surprise when the buzzer sounded at precisely 4:30 p.m. Clark swung the barrier wide. The man had been standing with his back to the entry, his hands tucked deeply in his pockets, a gesture Clark noted accentuated an ass that begged to be mounted. Clark swallowed hard, struggling to maintain the appearance of professional decorum. He gestured, admitting "Alexander," speaking the name aloud, allowing it to hover in his mouth.

Alexander stepped through the door, brushing by Clark, transmitting heat and a jolt to Clark's cock he tried to ignore. "Make yourself at home," Clark said as he headed into the kitchen. Alexander looked around, selecting the chaise, and deposited himself there with such assurance, Clark, tossing a glance back, almost came.

In the kitchen, safely out of view, Clark hyperventilated. In the two years he'd done this, he'd never been this attracted to any of his clients. It wasn't Alexander's beauty, though he was a gloriously handsome man; it wasn't Alexander's wealth, though he was wealthier than all of Clark's clients combined. It was the feeling of "clicking" that charged the air around him. As though they belonged together. Immediately, Clark determined such sentiments wouldn't do. They weren't good for business. He had to remain detached. In control. Clark thought of ways to regain his composure. It occurred to him the balance had to be shifted. How? He'd have to make Alexander feel like he did. If he could do that, control would be assured. Clark spoke into the intercom. "Ms. Evans?" Instantly, his assistant appeared.

"Room two?" the petite brunette inquired. Clark nodded, watching as she removed the champagne bucket from the cabinet.

Standing in the hall beyond room two, the large guest bedroom he used for clients, Clark adjusted his clothing and summoned the dispassionate mask the situation required. He entered the room with a swagger, standing tall, making sure every inch of his 6'4" frame was visible. He moved deliberately, forcing Alexander to pivot.

Damn those hips.

Clark ground the thought under his heel. Alexander was in his world now. And Clark knew just what to do.

Clark stood inches away from the man and waited. He watched noiselessly as Alexander took him in from top to bottom. The silence drifted and perched, overwhelming.

Clark waited.

"I don't..." Alexander - or Lex Luthor - as Clark knew him from the media - began to experience facade failure, proving Clark's instincts dead-on. "This isn't my normal course of -"

The halting conversation triggered Clark's next maneuver. The words ceased as Lex watched intently. Veuve Clicquot - Grande Dame - Clark's selection to ensure attention. Clark removed the bottle from the bucket with one hand and grasped a flute in the other. He tilted the flute, filling it. The bald man took a half step back and, inexplicably, began fiddling with room accoutrements. Clearly, the "unflappable" Lex Luthor was nervous. Clark smiled.

Clark did nothing to assuage the billionaire's anxiety. Instead, he took a glassful of champagne into his mouth. Deliberately, Clark lowered himself, sliding along the slim, muscular waist, hands resting on the rock-solid ass. Slowly, he drew his hands forward to unbuckle Luthor's belt, unzipping his pants and watching as they dropped, pooling around silk dressed ankles. Clark reached for and gripped the magnificent ass again, lips gliding across the thick, erect cock, champagne cool against the heat.

Luthor arched. A few licks bestowed by a tongue that was capable of things human beings could only imagine (if their imaginations were broad enough) and second mouthful of champagne later, Luthor came.

Clark swallowed and smiled. Another satisfied customer.

When subsequent calls came from "Alexander," (Clark made a note to chide Lex about the lack of inventiveness regarding his "secret identity" should they ever have a conversation), Clark found himself eagerly anticipating and dreading the appointments. Lex proved more work than he thought possible. Not the sex. The sex was always satisfying for his client. Because the relationship was "professional," Clark could not let himself be handled. Even if Luthor wanted. Of course, Clark didn't know. Was Lex interested? Better yet, would Luthor want him if he weren't beyond reach? If he gave himself instead of charged, if he wore flannel instead of couture? He began to hate Lex and himself. And today, to make matters worse, Lex was late.

Clark stood alone in the kitchen, surrounded by the evening's props - food and cooking remnants. Marinated bay scallops. Olive oil, cooking sherry, garlic, kosher salt, ground black pepper, lemon juice. Grilled to perfection. Cooled beyond eating, but...

Meekly, Lex entered the space. "Sorry. Got tied up in a board meeting."

Normally, all activity was confined to either of the two rooms - or external accommodations. Tonight, Clark forgot the cardinal rule.

"It's your nickel," Clark offered nonchalantly.

"Oh, it's considerably more than a nickel. And worth every penny." Lex paused, awaiting a response but got none. Clark was deep in pro-mode. He took a scallop between his fingers, inspecting it.

Lex watched as Clark's tongue jutted out and lapped around the soft white oval, teeth moving, biting gently, revealing succulent insides. Hot pink dragged along the jagged edge, licking the moistness, surprised by the sweetness, fleshiness on flesh tremendously stimulating.

Another bite was in order. Clark lifted the scallop, reached out, brushing the mollusk against Lex's waiting lips. So soft. Like a kiss. He withdrew the offering and nibbled slowly, finishing the scallop himself.

Clark poured the wine. New York of all things. A 2001 Johannisberg Riesling (Reserve apparently) from Finger Lakes. The hype held. "Delightfully fresh on the palate," although the mineral and floral flavors evaded notice. Bouquet of apple blossoms? No, but the wine did most definitely "shine" with the scallops and would undoubtedly work with shrimp and chicken as well. Knowing he shouldn't, he forged ahead at his cock's insistence.

Clark was about to mix business with pleasure. He sipped the wine and took another scallop in hand, providing it to the anxious mouth before him. Clark took special note of the scar, a marking he'd seen time and time again and ignored. Today, the scar held him in a planetary pull, its gravity irresistible. He cupped the face in his hands, feeling the warmth of Lex's skin against his own. He leaned forward, licking softly from bottom to top, then top to bottom, his own lips grew jealous, demanding equal time. Clark allowed his mouth to have its way, moving his lips and tongue over the skin before him. Not content with Lex's face, Clark's hands roved his body. Today, he wasn't careful, and buttons leapt from fragile cloth as he tugged. Clark's tongue and mouth foraged until Clark couldn't stand it any longer. He leaned back, looking Lex in the eye.

Now or never.

Something unspoken passed between them. Snaps were popped apart, Clark's shirt removed with precision and deliberate economy of motion as though Lex had wanted the moment as much as Clark, was as frightened as Clark... At least, that's what Clark tried to tell himself as Lex's mouth glided over back and arms.

Clark took a mouthful of wine and turned to Lex, kissing him as the older man relieved him of his pants. Second thought. Could he stand to lose the person who'd become his best client? Too late. Lex had liberated Clark's eager cock and begun suctioning.

Clark's eyes rolled back as Luthor grabbed his ass. The man with the delicious scar possessed an amazingly talented tongue. And what about those teeth? Gently scraping. Whitney knew nothing. Joaquin was good; Lex was an Olympian going for the gold.

Clark tucked a scallop between teeth and offered, nibbling as Lex stood, leaning in. Another hungry kiss that Clark thought would remove the flesh from his skull. Lex's pants went missing, ripped away, a major casualty as Clark pulled him to the floor. Clark was able to control the descent; the ability to defy gravity had its perks. He positioned himself so they both could suck. Sixty-nine. No one else had had the pleasure.

Italian marble, stone cool, Clark about to go supernova. When they came within seconds of each other in spite of Clark's belief that he'd finish before they even got started, it was like nothing he'd ever experienced. Clark lay motionless as Lex repositioned himself to stroke him, eventually standing and offering a hand. "We should've made the first time special," said Lex.

"We did," responded Clark. "Of course, the second, third and fourth times..." A smile. Clark never smiled for his clients.

Lex led him out of the kitchen and toward room two. Clark diverted him, leading him to his bedroom.

As he lay in Lex's arms, the apprehension returned. He'd made a terrible, terrible mistake.

In the harsh light of morning, Clark's worst fears were made manifest. Lex was nowhere to be found. No note. No voice mail. And Clark had gotten paid extra for the evening.

It took all of twenty-four hours for "Alexander" to phone. In those twenty-four hours, Clark resolved to stop returning those calls. Voice mail was immediately deleted. The city was big, Lex's schedule hectic, and eventually, the calls stopped.

The appointment was set for 8:00 p.m. Clark arrived at the restaurant early and stopped at the bar.

"Clark? Clark Kent?" A familiar voice rode the silence.

Clark looked up. "Lana?" He took her in his arms, lifting her from the ground, kissing her lightly on the cheek. "What're you doing in Metropolis?"

An equally familiar tilt of the head as Clark set her down. "Live here." The wild child was gone, replaced by an elegant woman. "I'm...engaged."

"Really? Congratulations."

"We're celebrating tonight."

"Pete must be -"

"Pete?" Lana choked on nothing as she tried to speak, breathe and laugh at the same time. "Oh, no. We broke up ages ago."

"That's too bad."

"No, not really. We're still friends. It just wasn't meant to be."

"So... Who's the lucky man?"

"CEO of one of the largest companies in the world, potential politician - and lover like you would not believe."

It couldn't be. "Lex." The name fell through stunned lips. The scene unfolded beyond Clark like an out-of-body experience. Lex strolled across the room, gathered Lana in his arms and kissed her far too believably. Lana pulled away, wiping the corner of her mouth to eliminate a telltale lipstick smear.

"Clark, my fiance, Lex Luthor. Lex, Clark Kent, an old friend."

"Really?" said Lex, shaking Clark's hand.

"We knew each other back in Smallville. I lived just across the road."

"Smallville? You don't look at all like a farmer."

"Actually, I'm not. There aren't many farms in the Metropolis."

"Clark, we're having drinks. Why don't you join us?"

"I couldn't. It's your night."

"Right," said Lana. "And, I'd like to share it with an old friend. Clark had a huge crush on me."

"Oh?" said Lex. "I'll have to keep an eye on him then."

"No, I got over Lana. Not that it was easy."

"Seeing anyone?"

Clark looked at Lex. "No one special."

"That's too bad. You deserve to be happy. Excuse me." Lana kissed Lex again and headed toward the rest room. "I'll be right back."

No sooner was she out of earshot that Lex leaned nearer to Clark. He spoke in hushed tones. "She doesn't know. I'd like to keep it that way."

"Discretion goes with the territory. I'm a professional, Lex. What you do with your life is your business." Clark leaned back.

"Lana's a friend of yours."

"Old friend. Emphasis on 'old.' As in I haven't seen or spoken to her in years. She can do what she wants with whom she wants. As can you."

"Are you sure, Clark?"

Lana's reappearance brought the conversation to an abrupt halt. "I would never have thought you two would get along. Of course, I still have this picture in my mind of Clark, very farm boy. In flannel."

"And I'm -"

"The antithesis. Sophisticated. But... so's Clark. You've changed. Quite a bit. I like it. You seem...happy. Are you?"

"Very," said Clark through nearly clenched teeth.

"I'm glad," said Lana. "Now who's ready for the next round and dinner?"

"I can't," said Clark, rising. "I'm meeting a client."

"What're you doing these days?" asked Lana.


"I hear there's good money in consulting. Would explain the Dolce & Gabbana."

"Lana, good to see you. Lex."

Clark exited the restaurant, and in an act of control that rivaled his patience training, didn't super-speed. He pulled a packet of cigarettes from his jacket, lit one without quaking, using heat vision since he couldn't find his lighter - and nearly set a nearby trashcan ablaze.

"You know, I tried calling you." Lex hovered in the shadows.

"I know."

"You wouldn't return my calls."

"It didn't seem like the thing to do." Clark took a long drag, exhaling the smoke in Lex's direction. "She really doesn't have any idea?"

"Why would she? I dote on her. I'm everything she ever wanted. Stability. Financial security."


"She's a beautiful, charismatic woman."

"Who'll look good on your arm."

"Campaigns have been won - and lost - on less."

Lex reached out.

"Don't touch me."

"I'd say 'overdramatic,' but I suspect you know that."

"Lex, go back to your fiancee. I'm sure she's wondering what happened to you."

"That's the beauty of Lana. She only wonders when I tell her to." Lex turned away and in that instant, Clark had vanished.

Clark was standing a few storefronts away from the restaurant when a Nordic blond approached. "Clark?"

"Yeah, " he said, tossing the cigarette. He unwrapped a stick of gum and placed it into his mouth. Clark rested a hand on the small of the man's back, not turning as Luthor receded in the distance.

The client said something else, words swimming through rubber cement as Clark heard the gun, the trigger cocked, the bullet dropping into the barrel. Why didn't Lex have bodyguards, and why did he have to pick tonight to get mugged? Clark hesitated. Still, he managed to lay the would-be thief out flat, returning to "Sven's" side before Lex knew what happened, before Clark could be missed by tonight's diversion.

In the apartment, Clark got the larger man off. For the first time in his career, the act left him surprisingly empty. He counted the money, fighting the sting of tears. Anger rose, bills were flung, a three-hundred pound mahogany desk went belly-up with a finger.

He remained hollow.

Clark knew if he stayed, he'd raze the building.

So, he packed. He left a note for his staff, explaining he didn't know when he'd be back. The flight to Smallville was over before he realized.

He landed lightly on the porch, not wanting to disturb his parents, who were watching a sci-fi program, and stepped softly through the front door. "Clark?" Abruptly, his mother's mouth swung wide. He hadn't been home much since moving to Metropolis. Abandoning Smallville and his roots was actually more apt.

"Look at you... You look like something from a magazine."

"When's the last time you got a haircut, son?" Jonathan twined course fingers in his son's hair.

"You look amazing. City life obviously agrees with you. Silk?"

Clark nodded. "Any of my old stuff in the room?"

"Haven't thrown it out. But, from the looks of you, it may not fit."

Clark wanted to grin, but found himself unable. He hurried up the stairs, stripped the expensive wardrobe, climbing into jeans and a flannel shirt. A little tight, but they would do. He flew out the window to the loft.

The hammock rocked mildly as Clark floated above it. He'd spent the last few weeks doing chores until his parents interrupted, convinced in spite of his protestations he needed rest. It was easier to acquiesce than argue. He'd also avoided the inevitable "What's bugging you, son?" looks by nodding and wandering off to the loft. Clark's eyes fluttered. He knew his parents were seeing right through him. Super-stamina didn't seem to go far in the face emotional turmoil. The scene with Lana and Lex had drained him utterly. He was near sleep when he heard the footsteps.

It couldn't be.

Immediately, Clark drifted back onto the hammock.

"You're harder to get a hold of than I expected. But easier to track than I believed." Lex continued up the stairs.

Clark didn't open his eyes. It had to be a dream. Or a nightmare. A month had passed. "What about your fiancee?"

"The wedding is off. I suspect it wouldn't've worked out. " Lex paused. "There's something I haven't told you: from the moment I laid eyes on you, I knew you were someone I wanted to get to know better. The boutique? I'll refrain from a 'destiny' speech. Although... I wound up in a business deal of dubious merit because of you. And when I heard you'd left Joaquin before I had a chance to... I had no choice but to become your best customer. So here I am. Wondering if you'd do me the honor of a date."

Clark opened his eyes. "Money changes everything," he said absently. "So does sex."

"Change isn't necessarily a bad thing, Clark. And money is useful. Take Lana, for instance. I wrote her a check because I didn't love her."

"What about your political aspirations?"

"I think the country's enlightened enough to accept whoever I bring to the White House. If not, we'll have to figure out a fix. We may need a new vocational path for you. Just because you have a knack for something doesn't mean you have to do it."

"I enjoy my work."

"Do you?"

"I did."

"Let's think about some of the skills that might be transferable to less salacious pursuits. You're good with people... Have you ever thought about journalism?"

"Not really. It doesn't pay very well."

"Touche. Clark, if it's any consolation, Lana didn't love me either. She was enamored of the notion of place, respectability. Little did she realize."

"You're not so respectable?" A sideways glance and a lip twitch that threatened to evolve into something more - and did. For the first time since that night, Clark chuckled, smiling brilliantly.

"Ah, there is a sense of humor."

"There's a lot you don't know about me."

Lex placed a gentle hand on Clark's face. "We've got time."


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