by Abi

Title: Cupiditas

Author: Abi


Pairing: Clark/Lana, Clark/Lex

Rating: NC-17

Spoilers: Heat, Shattered, Truth

Category: Het/Slash

Author's Notes: This is my first fanfic. Thank you so much William Rayne for the beta.

Synopsis: Careless behavior in the lab is inexcusable. Bad scientists! No bail money, next time.

Disclaimer: If I could get my hands on some meteor rock and close my eyes and make a really big wish, I would probably turn into a middle aged man, and who really wants that? I like my breasts where they are. Still, might be worth it to own pretties like Lex and Clark...

The exterior of Cadmus Labs is dark. Inside, a pair of researchers in white lab coats press their bodies together against the heavy laden lab tables. The man in glasses sweeps his arm across the nearest counter, picks up the tiny woman and lays her across the now clear space like a hero in romance novel. He climbs on top of her and she giggles wickedly.

The cacophony of breaking glass does nothing to cool their ardor. The floor is littered with broken Petri dishes leaking a viscous, green substance. A magenta haze hangs thick in the air. A sliver of glass embedded in a cut on a manicured hand grasping ineffectually in the air goes unnoticed. A trickle of red compliments the faint splatter of green.

"Take that, Fairy Princess!" Chloe yells as she sweeps her arm through the water, aiming a huge splash in Lana's direction.

"You are so going to pay for that," Pete observes, snickering from the side of the pool. He realizes too late that it was a mistake to draw attention to himself. The girls smile wickedly at each other and move through the water toward him like sharks closing in on their prey. "Hey, now, I didn't so anything. Help me out here, Clark."

A mischievous grin spreads across Clarks face. The girls continue their menacing approach. The other pool patrons instinctively move away from the group of teens, somehow sensing the imminent attack.

"Oh, no. Not this time. There is no way I am getting in the middle of this one. You are on your own, buddy."

"Oh, come on, man. It is your job to...," Pete is suddenly pulled under by the olive arms wrapped around his legs and pushed by the ivory pair on his shoulders. " people." He spits water out at the now hysterically giggling duo.

"You took it like a man, Pete." Clark smirks and swims away before they can all gang up on him. Eventually, he allows them to dunk him, to promote peace. It has nothing at all to do with having two beautiful girls touching his naked skin. Nothing at all. Pete gives him a knowing smile and splashes him right in his big, goofy face.

In the locker room Clark steals an innocent peek through the wall to the girls' changing room. Must use powers for good, not evil. Must resist the tits. He forces himself to close his eyes and look away from the wall. He shakes his head and takes a moment to think about baseball and trig and the hair that grows out of Mrs. Petersen's mole. Yup, that does it. He can move the towel away and get dressed now.

"Are you alright, Clark? You look a little flushed." Martha presses the back of her hand to her little boy's forehead in some strange ritual carried on by every generation of mothers. She feigns worried with a slight frown.

"I'm fine, Mom. I'm going to be late, though." He kisses his mom on the cheek and speeds out the front door. A little smile crinkles her eyes. She is going to miss this next year when her baby goes off to college.

"Hey, Chloe." Clark drops his bag on the floor heavily, pulls up a chair and sits down at the desk he considers his in the Torch office. He knows the whole place belongs to Chloe and only Chloe, but he pretends.

"Hey, Clark," Chloe replies absently while staring intently at the computer screen and simultaneously shuffling papers. "I am working on a follow up to one of your favorite Wall of Weird entries."

"What?" Clark asks with a hint of trepidation in his voice. "What are you talking about? I don't have a favorite meteor freak."

"Really, Clark, you could have fooled me. I think you definitely have a favorite meteor mutant, perhaps one living all alone in a big drafty castle," her right eyebrow arches up as she swivels her chair around to face him. "But I digress. I'm working on an expose on your favorite biology teacher cum Mrs. Luthor."

"Desiree? Chloe, you have to stay away from her. Do you even remember what she did to Lex?" The self righteous tone of his voice punctuated by a hint of desperation starts to rise. "If you write about her it is just going to bring that whole mess crashing down on him all over again. He can't take it right now."

"Don't get your panties in a twist. I don't want to hurt him any more than you do. She is out of prison, Clark."

"No. They took her away. She was convicted of murder and given life without the possibility of parole. She can't be out." The deer in headlights look spreads across his face as he tries to convince himself that Chloe was wrong, just this one time.

"I know, but she kept just walking out of the maximum security penitentiary on the arm of one guard or another."

"Why didn't they just put her in solitary or give her female guards?"

"They did. Apparently her appeal has no gender boundaries. She's out." Clark's eyes practically bulge out of his head. A glassy look accompanies the momentary lack of verbal skills. "Clark!"

"Huh? Sorry. How long has she been out? Do you think she is going to try coming after Lex, again?" The pleading is plain.

"I don't think she plans on coming back here after what happened last time. Don't worry, Lex will be fine. Besides, she's been out for months and no sign of her since, here or anywhere else." She pets his arm to calm him down. She knows that that only person that Clark has to rescue more often than Lana is Lex. The contact is more grounding than her platitudes.

"We have to find her, Chloe," he says earnestly.

"What do you think I'm doing? I'll find her. Her MO sticks out like a sore thumb. Don't worry. Meanwhile, there is nothing you can do."

"You'll tell me as soon as you find anything?"

"Of course, you know I will."

"And you won't print anything until then, right?"

"I promise, Clark," she swears solemnly. "Now, stop distracting me. Go write that piece on graduation and the ensuing festivities. Get out!"

He hesitates in the doorway for a moment and then walks out into the hall. He sees Lana and she smiles at him the way she does in his better dreams. He feels his cheeks flush and cracks his best coy smile. Not many boys will admit to having a coy smile, but Clark Kent has an entire arsenal of smiles and he uses them shamelessly. Time somehow stops and it is just the two of them. The look on Lana's face becomes hungry and Clark loses the ability to think. All he can do is move toward her and possibly pant.

"Clark! Come on! Snap out of it, man," Pete snaps at him, breaking the trance. Clark looks down at his friend and sighs heavily. When he looks back, Lana is gone.

"Sorry, Pete. What's up?"

"Besides your little alien?" The raw amusement in his eyes is unmistakable. "Maybe you should put a book in front of that. Or take a trip to the little boy's room."

"Oh My God," Clark moans miserably and his blush is now bright enough to use as a locator beacon. "Thanks."

He walks as quickly as he dares to boys' room while Pete snickers. He can not remember being so embarrassed in his entire life, not even when he threw up on Lana in the 8th grade. The worst of it is that even in a state of abject mortification, his little green man is still standing at attention. What is wrong with me? He throws water on his face and resists the urge to die. Mrs. Petersen's mole, Mrs. Petersen's mole, Mrs. Petersen's mole...Relief!

"Clark, I wasn't expecting to see you today." The smile on Lex's face says that he is happy at the interruption. He closes his laptop, walks around and leans casually against the front of the glass desk. "To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?"

"I just wanted to see how you are doing, that's all. We haven't spent as much time together as we did before, before..."

"Before I had a psychotic break and my father had me institutionalized?" Lex quirks an eyebrow and smirks at Clark's responding blush. "It's alright, Clark. I don't need you to check in on me. I'm fine."

"No, it's not like that. I know you don't need a babysitter. I just miss you." Clark's gaze is no longer on the floor in front of his feet. He is looking right in Lex's eyes, and Lex can't mistake it for anything but genuine affection.

"I believe it is your turn to break." Clark smiles with relief and they move to the pool table with an easiness that comes only from long habit.

Clark comes crashing to the bed with such force the frame collapses. The floating seems to be back. Damn it. He can't recall the dream that he woke from, but the sticky substance on the sheets attests to the general theme. He clutches his covers around himself as his door swings open to reveal his worried parents.

"Are you alright, son?" Clark drapes an arm across his eye so that he doesn't have to see the look of concern on his dad's face.

"I'm fine. Just another freaky alien floating incident. I'm sorry about the bed." He doesn't open his eyes.

"Don't worry about it, honey," his mom tries to reassure him. She shoots a quick glance at Jonathon and walks out of the room. "I'll just go work on breakfast."

"Clark, is there anything that you can think of that might explain why you are all of a sudden floating in your sleep again? I thought you got that under control."

"So did I, Dad. Do you think I want to float in my sleep uncontrollably? What am I supposed to do next year in college? How am I supposed to explain to my roommate how I woke up on the top bunk when I fell asleep on the bottom? It is completely impossible for freshmen to get single dorm rooms."

"I'm sorry, son. Your mother and I are just worried about you. Can you think of anything that might be precipitating this now?"

"Um, no?" He blushes and pulls the covers up over his head. "I don't know. I, I woke up kind of sticky, if you know what I mean," he manages to stammer out from the safety of his blankets.

"Oh." Jonathon blushes. "Well, I guess that you can handle this one on your own. Just let me know if there is anything I can do to help you."

"I am never coming out of here again. I am now scarred for life. Tell Mom that I will not be taking the covers off my head in this lifetime."

"Don't be so melodramatic. Now, get up and get your chores done before you are late for school."

Clark stays put until he sees his dad's skeleton walk down the stairs to the kitchen.

"What is going on here, today?"

Clark can barely keep his eyes in his head. The girls at school seem to have given up modesty all together in favor of cleavage and skin. Their shirts are so tight he doesn't need x-ray vision to see things that force him to think of Mrs. Petersen's mole in great detail just to make it to class. They keep brushing up against him, accidentally. He can feel their warm bodies carelessly pressed into his all the way to the Torch office.

He immediately regrets choosing this as his safe haven. He almost leaves, but can't face the torture that is the halls today. Chloe is wearing the skimpiest outfit he has ever seen her in. Her thighs are exposed by a skirt so short it belongs on a figure skater. Worse, she is sweating and making soft noises. She is reading something on the computer and fanning herself. When did her breast get big enough to heave like that? Mole. Big. Hairy. Mole.

"Hey, Chloe," he says as he shuts the door. She squeaks and jumps up. Her body is blocking the screen, but she turns it off anyway as soon as she recovers from the surprise.

"Clark, what are you doing here?" She sounds funny.

"I come here every morning. What are you doing? Did you find something out about Desiree and don't want me to know?"

"No! I am just working on something private. You of all people should understand wanting a little privacy."

"Fine. Do you have any leads?"

"What? No, I just said that," she snaps. Maybe he should go. "But something interesting happened last night. The police detained two Luthor Corp researchers for indecent exposure. They were having sex in the parking lot outside the Dairy Queen. Lex bailed them out of jail this morning."

"Why is that anything but really disturbing gossip, Chloe?"

"Because it took three deputies to separate them. It's like they had no shame, or control over themselves for that matter."

"So, what? Sometimes people get caught up. You aren't going to put that in the paper, are you?"

"You're right, it isn't quite Wall of Weird material, yet. But it is interesting."

Clark sits under a tree at lunch reading the un-sexiest book he could find in the library, as far away from everyone else as possible without actually leaving campus. He tries to bring back the sense of calm he felt during forth period trig with Mrs. Petersen, just focusing all his attention on the black hair that bobbed every time she spoke. He had been completely unaware of what was going on around him for an entire hour, but now he had no idea how he was going to make it through the rest of the day without his head exploding. Heh. Dirty mind!

He is still trying his best to meditate on that happy memory when the book is ripped from his hands. Lana lowers herself onto his lap and wraps her arms around his neck. Groans when she kisses him and simultaneously grinds into him. His arms snake around her, pulling her in closer. The added resistance is all she needs. She writhes uncontrollably against him like she is having some kind of seizure.

"Lana, are you okay?" Clark asks breathily, but doesn't let go.

"God, Clark! You feel so good. Oh..." She buries her face in his chest, which constricts tightly as she continues to rub frantically into him, and moans. "Clark, touch me, please." She sounds desperate, but she doesn't wait for an answer. She grabs his hand and moves it where she wants it, under her skirt.

The second his fingers touch the slippery heat she cries out. Clark is mesmerized. He lets one finger slide inside her and she bites his shoulder. Her hands are suddenly in a death grip in his hair and she is bucking wildly. Tears start to stream down her face. She looks like she might be in pain, but when he tries to stops she howls. He starts to press his fingers into her rapidly and listens to her pant.

He feels the inside of her fluttering against his fingers. She slows, and then the hot walls contract viciously around him. Her eyes close tightly and she thrust against him twice, hard. He watches the silky fabric that covers his hand form a sight ripple. She holds her breath and then releases it in a sob. Her whole body shudders and then she melts into a little puddle in his lap. He removes his fingers and pets her hair. He can feel tears soaking his shirt.

"Hey, shhh. It's okay. I love you." She only shakes harder and cries audibly.

Clark has no idea what is going on. He wants to comfort her, make her feel better, happy. But he is horribly confused. It isn't normal for a girl to cry after molesting you, is it? She wanted this didn't she? He just went along for the ride, without thinking about the consequences. He suddenly feels horribly guilty. He must have hurt her. Oh, God! He switches over to x-ray vision and looks her over. He can't see any injuries, but that doesn't mean there aren't any.

"Lana, are you hurt? Please tell me what's wrong." The pleading in his voice cuts through the fog of her tears and she looks at him.

"No, I'm not hurt," she snuffles. "I'm just humiliated. I don't know what came over me. I've been thinking about you all day. I couldn't stop. I thought if I could just talk to you, I would feel better. I can't believe I just did this. I didn't even ask you if you wanted to, I just molested you."

"It's not like I fought you off or anything." He gave her his brightest smile. "Lana, you know that I want to be with you. I've been in love with you since like the 3rd grade. You can molest me anytime you want."

"But anybody could have come along and seen us. What if someone saw us, Clark?" The scandalized note in her voice is just an afterthought to the self loathing.

"Nobody saw us. I am the only one that comes back here. You don't regret it, do you?" The potential for hurt glistened in his eyes.

"Well, I guess not. I love you, too Clark. You know that. I just don't want to get hurt again. Promise you won't hurt me this time."

"I never wanted to hurt you in the first place," he whispers miserably into her hair. It isn't the answer she is looking for, and he knows it, but he can't bring himself to lie right now. I won't hurt you this time, I promise. I'll protect you, from myself if I have to. She pulls away and stands up stiffly.

"I have to go to class."

Clark stares at the ceiling of the loft. He tries to think about anything besides what happened with Lana that afternoon. What is wrong with me? The girl of my dreams throws herself at me and all I do is screw it up. She was in his arms, kissing him and begging him to touch her and somehow he managed to push her away more effectively than ever. She didn't even look at him the rest of the day. He needs to talk to someone about this.

Chloe and Pete had been MIA since third period. They were probably chasing leads or something. There was no answer on Chloe's cell. Perhaps they need saving. That would take his mind off of Lana. The blur as he runs off to find them is barely visible. They are not at the Talon, the Torch office, or at home. They definitely need saving. He starts to look for Chloe's car in the usual places she gets herself into trouble. She isn't at the plant, Cadmus or Crater Lake. He is worried by the time he finds it on the side of a dirt road, hours later.

There is no sign of which way they went when they got out of the car, so he x-rays the ever present cornfields. He spots two familiar skeletons on the ground not far off. They look like they are struggling. At least they are alive. He can fix this. Whoa, not struggling. Okay. This is new. Looks like Pete might need someone to talk to, too. Later. Much later. He slips back out into the corn, leaving Pete and Chloe none the wiser.

Who else could he talk to about Lana? He is standing in the door to Lex's office in under a minute. Lex is not there. Clark scans the house looking for another familiar skeleton and finds him in his room. It is only 9:30, so he walks up to the master bedroom without hesitation. It is way too early for Lex to be asleep. He walks right in. He hasn't had to knock since Lex got back from the island. Nope, no Helen, no Desiree, no Victoria, not even any random women from Metropolis to worry about. Lex is a girl-free zone.

Lex is also asleep. And naked. And his room smells funny, like when he has been spending too much time all alone in the loft thinking about Lana. Suddenly, his body is reacting inappropriately. How can just that tiny little thought about Lana give him such a raging need to go spend some quality time in said loft? Well, he did just make out with her that afternoon. Is it still making out when you put your hands there? What ever it is called, it was damned frustrating. Even with all that friction, he still hadn't come that afternoon. And then he was too upset when he got home to worry about that.

"Clark?" Lex asks sleepily. "What are you doing here?" He rubs his eyes and pulls a sheet over his lap.

"Oh, sorry, Lex. I just thought you would be up. It's not even 10:00 yet."

"Did you need something?" A patented Lex look sweeps over Clarks body. Clark is suddenly very aware of the tightness of his jeans. They are really tight. The look on Lex's face changes abruptly as he notices, too. It is suddenly hungry and the sheet doesn't really hide much. "Clark?" The question isn't sleepy this time.

"Never mind, Lex. I'm sorry I woke you up." Clark turns to leave, blushing ferociously, but he is so hard it aches right now and how can he possibly concentrate on walking like this?

"You don't have to go, Clark." The voice seems closer than the bed, and when Clark turns to look back, he realizes why. Lex is about a foot away from him and the sheet is long gone. "I can help with that."

Clark knows he should go, immediately, but he can't make himself move. And then he can, but is not, in fact, moving towards the door. He is on his knees with his hands on his best friend's ass sucking cock like he can't get enough. Lex is moaning and his hands are tight in his hair, like Lana's had been earlier. The ache in his pants is excruciating, but he couldn't stop grasping the pale flesh or sucking the hard length in his mouth if he wanted to, so it just has to wait.

Lex is bucking into his mouth and chanting Clark's name and screaming and something warm and bitter is washing down the back of his mouth. Clark keeps sucking until Lex has collapsed onto the floor. Lex isn't crying. He is tearing at Clark's clothes and kissing him fiercely. Clark wraps his arms around the smaller man's waist, picks him up like a doll and carries him to the bed, but never stops kissing him.

Lex has ripped the thin material of his t-shirt away and his hot hands feel like they're branding the exposed skin of his chest on their way down. The button of his fly is stubborn and Lex can't get it undone, so he rubs the strained bulge through the rough denim. Now Clark is moaning and bucking and begging and the only thought in his mind is that he has to get his pants off. Now. He rips them off as easily as Lex ripped his shirt and he doesn't care because now those long fingers are pulling away his boxers and Oh, God touching him.

Clark has never been this turned on before in his entire life. Not in his Fortress of Solitude, not with Lana or Jesse or any of the girls he has kissed and not even in the back rooms of the clubs in Metropolis last summer. He is kissing Lex again and trying to get more resistance from the hand encircling him, but Lex won't let him get enough friction or even keep a steady rhythm going. The frustration is making him rut frantically like a crazed animal, but then Lex's other hand is spreading something cool and slick on the throbbing ache and guiding him.

When Clark feels the sweet tightness as he presses into Lex's ass, his consciousness floods back into his body. He groans into the hungry mouth that is still kissing him when Lex tenses. He stills completely until he feels the muscles relax and then starts to rock slowly. Strong legs wrap around his back and now he is pounding into the pale body beneath him. He is panting for breath and staring into eyes dilated black with just a hint of icy blue around the edges. So beautiful like this.

Lex is hard again. Clark can feel it smacking into his belly with every thrust. He is clearly doing something that Lex likes, because he is flailing and gasping and screaming for Clark. He keeps doing it as long as is humanly possible and then some. He never wants to stop fucking Lex, not ever, so good, but he losses what ever modicum of control he had been holding onto when Lex comes all over his chest. He shuts his eyes screams for Jesus. White heat scorches his eyes, but he keeps them shut tight. Tears seep from the edges, but he isn't Lana and he won't be sobbing into anybody's chest.

Lex is dazed, but still awake when Clark feels like it is safe to open his eyes. The last thing he needs today is to have to explain to his parents why the mansion is on fire and Lex is in the burn ward. That would really ruin his afterglow. Gentle fingers thread through his damp hair and he hears little whispers of "so beautiful," and "so perfect". Euphoria has clearly overridden Lex's higher order thinking skills for a moment. He drifts to sleep with a smile on his face.

Clark wakes up about two feet in the air, panics and crashes down on the unoccupied bed. He can hear a shower running. The panic only intensifies when he realizes where he is. Fuck. He grabs the tattered remains of his clothing and is gone in a heartbeat. He doesn't stop running until he is safely in his room. He hides the scraps and climbs into the wreckage of his bed. He tries not to think about the wreckage of his life.

He lays awake all night brooding. Who is he supposed to talk to about this? Normally he would talk to Lex about something like this, but he kind screwed that up. Pete hates Lex. He couldn't even talk to his dad about Lana and his mom is just out of the question. Obviously, he can not talk to Lana. Chloe? His chores are done and he is gone long before his parents wake up.

"What are you doing here so early this morning, Mr. Kent?"

"Just had some work to do on the graduation issue, Mr. Kwan."

"Where is your fearless leader? Miss Sullivan has her own keys to the Torch office."

"I am sort of trying to get something in before deadline so she won't kill me, so she doesn't know I'm here."

"I see. I'll let you get to it. That girl could scare the pants off anybody."

"Thank you, sir."

Clark sits in the corner of the Torch office for about ten minutes before his restlessness gets the better of him. He starts looking through Chloe's leads on everything from school policy violations to Wall of Weird material. He is mostly bored, until he finds her notes on Desiree's disappearance. Since he can, he hacks the files on her computer about Lex to see if there is anything related in them.

Chloe hadn't withheld anything from her files on Desiree yesterday. She had walked out of the building with a guard and never returned, just like Chloe said. The only interesting thing in the file is the medical history. Desiree had been voluntarily participating in some kind of research into her unique abilities, requiring a large volume of blood to be drawn. He is about to give up when he see the file on Cadmus.

He finds the names of the two researchers that Lex bailed out of jail yesterday. Dr. Maurice Devon, a microbiologist with a secondary master's degree in biochemistry and Dr. Libby Cabot, a geneticist who liked to do research on chemical weapons on the side. Lex, what are you messing with? They are both working on a project called Cupiditas. The project began roughly two years ago. There are a number of other scientists working under them, but Dr. Devon and Dr. Cabot are the project heads.

The lab had several ranks of test subjects ranging from mice on up to primates. It looks like some kind of drug research, but its funding comes directly from the pentagon. And even more disturbing, the drug testing is scheduled to move up to human subjects in just a few months. From project inception to human testing in less than three years, and at Cadmus Labs they only listen to Lex. The hope that the elder Mr. Luthor was the one with a military contract would just set him up for disappointment. This is not good.

"Clark! Wake up. What are you doing in here? Are you going through my files?"

"Wha? Chloe? What time is it?"

"It is almost 8:00. How long have you been here?"

"Since about 5:30. Mr. Kwan let me in. I have to talk to you about something."

"What is it?" she asked as the suspicious look fades from her face.

"I have to talk to you about Lex."

"Sure, shoot."

"Wait, do you want to tell me something about you and certain other friends of mine?" He is so happy to have something to tease her about that he misses the blank look.

"I don't know what you are talking about, Clark."

"Come on, Chloe."

"Really. What are you talking about? I mean Lana was a little weird last night, but then she seemed fine this morning."

"I'm not talking about Lana, I am talking about Pete."

"What about Pete? I haven't seen him since `the incident', so you probably know what's going on with him better than me."

"Fine, Chloe, don't tell me. Is this some kind of punishment for not telling you my secrets? Because I still can't tell you."

"Clam down, Clark. I am not trying to punish you. I just have no clue what it is that you want me to tell you here." She isn't lying. Clark always knows when she is lying.

"Whatever. Just help me find out what is going on around here. I think this has something to do with whatever they are working on at Cadmus labs."

"Fine. I take it that you have already read everything I have on it," she glances at the monitor of her computer with irritation. Clark gives her a sheepish, yet defiant look. "So, where do you want to start?"

"I think we need to have a little visit with our exhibitionist friends, don't you?"

"Okay, I'll get us out of first period. We'll tell Kwan we need to go off campus on a story."

"Dr. Cabot. You have a visitor in the lobby. A Miss Sullivan is here to interview you from the Smallville High Torch."

"Does she have an appointment?" a disembodied female voice emanates from the speakerphone at the security station.

"No, she does not."

"Please send her away. The research at this facility can not be interrupted for anyone, let alone someone from a high school newspaper."

"Yes, Dr. Cabot. I will escort her off the premises."

As soon as the security guard moves away from his desk to walk Chloe out, Clark speeds past, into the secured area. He can hear Chloe badgering the poor man with her tough reporter voice all the way down the corridor, buying him time. He smiles. She will be a fine investigative reporter some day, if she can manage not to get herself killed between now and then. Back to work.

He looks through the maze of walls, halls and laboratories until he finds the main server. He is a blur on the video feed at the desk, but the guard is still trying to extricate himself from the pesky reporter. Clark pulls her jump drive out of his pocket, plugs it in to one of the many USB ports on the front of the server terminal. He copies all the text files on project Cupiditas, and then as an afterthought searches for Desiree Atkins. An entire subdirectory comes up and Clark copies it, too. He notices with a sickening stomach that there is a large overlap.

Before he leaves, he checks for the Cupiditas lab. It is located on the southern side of the building against the external wall. He can just walk right up to the wall outside and won't have to worry about anyone seeing him, so he gets out. When Chloe sees him waiting at the passenger side door of her VW Beatle, she cuts the interview short and the relieved guard watches them drive off.

"Did you get it?"

"Of course I did. I am a skilled lurker, thank you very much."

"Yeah, I noticed. You are oh so subtle in your Lana stalking."

"Shut up. I'm very subtle."

"Clark, you are subtle like an army of little green men invading from outer space."

"Sir, there has been an unscheduled download of data pertaining to project Cupiditas at Cadmus. How should I proceed?"

"Do we know who accessed the files?"

"The data was transferred from the main server. Anyone who had access to that part of the lab could have done it. The terminal was logged in as an administrator at the time. Only the head researchers had access to the room, but their security badges placed them both in their labs during that time period."

"Find out who did it and destroy the data files. This project is classified. The last thing we need is military `supervision' of this project." Lex takes a deep breath. "Were their any reports of contamination symptoms aside from those two idiots, Cabot and Devon?"

"No one else at the lab reported any symptoms before containment procedures were initiated, but with the side effects it is almost impossible to ascertain the truth. There was a marked increase in indecent exposure calls to the police last night, but any effects of an outbreak will have worn off by today. The bacteria can't survive outside of the growth medium for more than 48 hours. Anyone affected won't remember. Preliminary test results indicate no long-term repercussions. There may be some confusion, disorientation and of course the memory loss. It's really quite remarkable."

"Remarkable or not, the ease of contamination is unsettling. Make sure this is contained."

"Yes, Mr. Luthor."

"Come on, man. Why am I sitting out here in the dark, freezing my ass off with you?"

"Because, Pete, you are the lookout. Besides, you haven't got anything better to do have you?"

"Well, normally I would be helping Chloe wade through all that data you swiped, but after last week's little outburst in the elevator, I think I would rather die than be alone with her. The embarrassment just doesn't fade at all does it?"

"I was under the impression that you and Chloe had resolved that little issue after last night." Clark gives him the sly wink-wink, nudge-nudge routine.

"Why would you think that a few days could cool the heat of my humiliation? It always did such wonders for your smooth factor with Lana." There is a hint of bitterness, but mostly just the dull sound of resignation.

"That is not what I meant. I am talking about you and Chloe, last night, in the corn field. I saw you. Don't make me say it."

"What are you talking about? I have been avoiding her like the plague since the hospital. You know that."

"Look, I know it isn't polite to kiss and tell, but you two are driving me insane! I saw you and Chloe having sex in a field so unless you are proposing that there are Kryptonite induced pod people running around Smallville, you can just give it up!"

"Whoa, man. I swear if I had sex you would be the first person I told about it. Chloe doesn't have any interest in me. All she sees is you. Do you really think that if Chloe gave me even the slightest bit of attention that I wouldn't tell you?"

"Pete, you didn't tell me how you felt about her in the first place."

"That was just because it was hopeless. It's still hopeless."

"It didn't look hopeless last night."

"Are you messin' with me, space boy?"

"Exactly how many times are you going to make me say it?"

"Hurry up and look at the lab so we can get out of here. You can tease me about my love life, or lack there of when I am not freezing my ass off."

"There were all these Petri dishes and blood samples. The Petri dishes were filled with a green medium. Three guesses what the secret ingredient is. And you will never guess whose blood they had."

"Desiree Atkins." Chloe smiles smugly. "I got into the files. It looks like they spliced her mutated DNA into a bacteria to replicate the pheromones that allow her to put the whammy on people. She had been cooperating with the research while she was incarcerated."

"Why would anybody want to do that?" Pete looks confused and uncomfortable, but doesn't look away when Chloe turns her attention on him.

"Don't you see? It's just like that Veritas stuff, only no nasty side effects. They can just give people a whiff of the stuff and it acts like mind control. They could make anybody do anything, just like Desiree got all those men to give her all their money or kill people. And then they just have no memory of it at all. They could use it to make the perfect assassin, someone who doesn't even know they are an assassin. And that is just the start!"

"No wonder the military guys sunk all that money into it. I can't believe Lex would do something like that." Clark looks defeated.

"Clark, I keep trying to tell that guy is bad news. You just won't listen." Pete shakes his head.

"He's not like his father, Pete. You just never gave him a chance."

"Both of you shut up, already. I am not in the mood."

"I think it got out," Clark manages to stammer out, under his breath.

"What do you mean, Clark?"

"Well, didn't either of you notice an absurd number of people making out in the halls or brushing against you accidentally yesterday?"

"Not that I recall," Chloe frowns. "Okay, maybe."

"Clark, please don't say what I think you're going to say." The misery flows off Pete in waves.

"Spill it, farm boy." Pete shakes his head `No' violently behind her back.

"Lana kind of molested me at lunch yesterday." Pete shoots Clark a silent `Thank you' and then a quick eyebrow quirk.

"What do you mean `molested' you?" Chloe looks at Clark suspiciously.

"I mean I was just sitting there reading, trying to think about trig," blush, "and she just sits in my lap and starts kissing me and stuff."

"Why the Hell am I just hearing about this now?" Pete is more jovial now that the attention is off him.

"So that's why she was so weird after school."

"Yeah, well. I think I kind of screwed it up. Do you think there is any chance she doesn't remember?" Hope and fear war for dominance on his face.

"Well, she was back to normal this morning and talking about Paris and stealing all the hot water, so you are probably safe."

"That would be really good, because I don't think I can take being rejected again before I graduate. Maybe I can take a couple more rejections once I get to college." His relief is palpable.

"Whatever, Clark." Pete is so done with the moping. How can his moping about Chloe possibly compete with the constant angst-fest that is Clark and Lana?

"Anyway, she wasn't the only one affected. Remember those two researchers that got arrested for indecent exposure? They had to have been the source of it." Chloe is back on the story.

"Hey, isn't James Cabot on the swim team? Maybe he got it from his mom and the whole pool got contaminated," Clark says thoughtfully, recalling the name of the head researcher.

"Yeah, but bacteria can't be spread through pool water. The chlorine kills it before it can reproduce," Chloe points out with a little frown.

"You believe in all the freaky mutants that run around Smallville, but you don't think a meteor rock cocktail can't give bacteria a little resistance to Chlorine?" Chloe gives Pete her best withering stare, but he just smiles back and pokes her.

"Hey!" She smacks his hand away.

"Lots of people were acting really weird." Clark elbows Pete for reminding her, giving him a silent `shut up' for good measure.

"But if that were how it spread, we all would have been affected, not just Lana. There have been like 50 people at the pool since then." Clark's cheeks go radio active and Pete won't look at her at all. "What?! What are you not telling me, now?"

"Trust me, Chloe. You don't want to know," Clark mumbles under his breath.

"Son, I understand that another one of your little projects got out of hand."

"I would hardly call two charges of indecent exposure `out of hand', Dad."

"Neither would I. No, I'm talking about someone breaking into one of your little projects for the second time in a week and stealing your data. I don't care about the sex lives of your help."

"It is under control. I know who has it and I am going to take care of it. Now, if there is nothing else, I am going to go back home. The next time you summon me all the way up here, could you maybe call me first? I don't have time for this."

"You could always move to Metropolis. I don't want to be a burden on you, Lex."

"I am fine where I am." Far enough away from your thumb to breath a little.

"That is all, you may go." Lex hates it when he dismisses him like that and Lionel knows it. The boy is so predictable sometimes.

"Clark, I wasn't sure I'd see you today. You don't usually come by after you have broken into my labs twice in a period of just a few days." Lex turns his monitor toward Clark so that he can see the replay of the security video from the server room. "Care to tell me how you got in and managed to only get caught on one video feed?"

"Lex, I can explain," Clark pleads with his eyes, but before he can move into Lex's personal space there is a desk between them and Lex is sitting down.

"Don't bother, Clark. I know Chloe was distracting the security guard. She makes quite an impression."

"I had to know what was happening, Lex."

"You could have asked me, instead of violating the security of classified research. That little stunt could have had the FBI all over this place, not to mention the military presence if they ever decide that I can't control access at my facilities."

"I was too embarrassed to ask you. I mean, what was I supposed to say, `Hey, Lex, is there some reason everyone in the county is acting like they are in heat'? Do you have any idea how embarrassing it was to walk around school like that? And then Lana...And Pete and Chloe in the cornfield...And when I came to talk to you about it, I just couldn't."

"When did you come to talk to me?" The hesitance with which he asks is uncharacteristic for the young Luthor

"Last night," blush, eyes down and to the right, "but you were already asleep when I got here and I didn't want to wake you."

"You were here last night?" A thin venire of calm does little to hid Lex's underlying panic.

"Um, yeah?" Clark flashes on a memory of white skin, hot hands, tight flesh. The flush in his cheeks is not half as hot as what is building behind his eyes, so he closes them.

"If I did anything," Oh, God. Pregnant pause.

"Like I said, you were asleep." Straight in the eyes. Flash of something, but it isn't the tale tell signs of Clark lying, so Lex lets it go, along with the breath he had been holding.

"I need you to give me back the data."

"I destroyed it after we looked at it. Chloe learned her lesson about publishing things just because she knows them. You don't have to worry. We just wanted to know why we were all acting so crazy."

"Thank you. Can I trust you to come to me first in the future?"

"Yes, Lex. I'm sorry. You really should be more careful with stuff like that, though. What if it had unpleasant side effects like that Veritas gas? The whole town would have been screwed." Not that the whole town didn't screw last night...

"Was that a joke, Kent?"

"Yeah, but I really mean it about that stuff."

"I will try to be more careful about who gets a hold of my stuff in the future, Clark." The smile that spreads across Clark's face is a reward in of itself. "Pool?"

"Lex, you bastard, let me out of here! I swear I wont try to escape anymore, just please let me out!" Desiree Atkins' pleas fall out of her mouth and into an empty room. The tubes connecting to the sterile, white straightjacket eliminate all need for human contact. Research subject Cupiditas A259 will continue to be a valuable asset to the project for many years.

Cupiditas: (Latin) eager desire, passionate longing. (Forms include ambition, avarice, and most often physical desire of love)

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