by Nifra Idril
Lex's neck is bent like a branch under snow, and his head is pillowed into Clark's lap as straw pricks at his skin. Clark's hand rests lightly - every so lightly in the dip of Lex's waist, and Lex says, "I don't know what's real," and his voice is a ghost that haunts the dark, sweet-smelling barn.
Clark says nothing, but bites back a gasp, a sob, a promise. Lex is warm, lying against him and the silence all around them is cold. The whole barn seems to shiver with it, shaking a little in the nervous dark.
What Clark thinks about, as his eyes trace the grain of the grey wood above them, is this: I am not real, I have never been as real as when I am with you, I will never be this real again if everything changes tonight, if you change tonight. To Clark, it's as though those words have inscribed themselves upon him - a truth, blazing invisibly across his skin, burning wherever his body touches Lex's.
Lex's eyes are open, staring, and tears leak down his cheeks. Clark doesn't brush them away. Instead, he traces circles on Lex's hip and leans back against the wall. He whispers, "I'm not going to let anyone take you."
Lex says nothing. Clark isn't sure if he heard, or if he did and doesn't understand or care.
Lying halfway in his lap, Lex is so small. His wrists are slender, and his bones are visible through his skin - he's a statue, a skeleton, a shadow in the dark. There's dust on the tip of his nose and Clark wipes it off.
"Thanks," Lex murmurs, and Clark just nods, even though Lex can't see him.
"We'll get through this, Lex," Clark says finally, and his voice is too big for the moment. It echoes in the small stall, and Lex pushes himself up.
His face is round, and pink where it was pressed against Clark's knee - a crease runs over his cheek and his eyes are colorless. "You sound so sure," he says, rubbing a hand over his scalp. "How can you be sure? How can you be sure of anything? I'm not. I can't be. We can't be - there's nothing that's certain, I found that glass but I was with Louis for months and - "
He talks to the hay, his face drawing tighter and tighter, his voice becoming shrill and frantic, rising up toward panicked with every word. Clark doesn't know what Lex is talking about, but he reaches out, he puts his hand on Lex's shoulders, makes Lex face him, and he says, "I'm sure, okay? So you just have to trust me. Do you trust me?"
"Yes," Lex says quickly, jerking his head in a tight nod. "I trust you."
Clark feels a sick, proud twist in his stomach, and he smiles at Lex. "Good, so trust that we're going to get through this. I'll make sure of it."
Lex stares at Clark for a moment, eyes probing, marking Clark's expression and Clark keeps it as open, as trustworthy as he can. He tries to look encouraging, he tries to look in control - he tries to look the way Lex does when Clark needs him. He wonders if Lex knows how much Clark has learned from him.
Lex is rigid, stiff, and his breathing is coming fast - still panicked, still unsure. Clark rubs his shoulder a little, cupping his hand to the bow of it and Lex softens.
"Clark," Lex whispers, leaning his forehead against Clark's, "Clark, I just...I don't know what's happening to me. I don't know what to believe in, what I can count on...what's actually there. What's real."
"You are. You're real," Clark responds, and Lex snorts.
"Not even when I'm sane," he quips, and Clark grins before he sees the pale, lost look that pinches Lex's expression, and Clark says, "Hey, we're really here, this barn is real. That piece of glass is real. We're going to figure this out, Lex, all right? You and me, got it? We'll figure it out, okay?" and Lex tips his chin up, and for a second he looks like he did a week ago, three days ago, like he always has before now. His eyes shift quickly from grey to blue, and back again, before just shining, like moonlight on water or metal.
"You and me," Lex says, and Clark nods, his head bumping against Lex's as he does so. The puffs of air from Lex's mouth are warm against his own, and his hands have drifted toward Lex's neck and Lex still smells the way he always has - like pine.
"Yeah," he promises, and his fingertips ghost over Lex's jaw. "You and me."
Lex moves fast, leaning in, pressing his lips against Clark's, his eyes open and fierce. Against Clark's, his cheeks are wet, and Clark knows he shouldn't be doing this - that now isn't the time that now is all wrong, couldn't be more wrong, that this might not be what Lex wants, that even if it is things are -
It doesn't matter. None of it matters, because Lex needs this - Clark can feel it in every tense inch of his body, and so he kisses Lex back. And, oh, how Clark needs this. He thinks that he's never needed anything more than this, this one kiss.
And so he kisses Lex sweetly. He kisses Lex warmly. He kisses Lex honestly, and when Lex pulls back, his eyes are closed and his mouth is red and wet. "And is this real?" Lex rasps, and Clark brushes his thumb over Lex's lower lip.
"Oh yeah," he says, and Lex nods once, opens his eyes, and he smiles. Not a big one, just a curve of his mouth, the one that Clark knows now, knows fully. Their fingers mingle in the straw, sliding over one another - tender, definite, calm - and they wait.
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