by Caelum

Beta Stuff: No official beta, so any and all errors are mine to obssess over later.

Territorial Stuff: No ownership at all, and no infringement is intended.

Feedback Stuff: Feedback is adored and greatly appreciated.

Potential Squick-Related Stuff: The contents of this fic may disturb some readers, due to graphic and violent imagery.

Spoiler Stuff: Events in Seasons 1-3 are mentioned either explicitly or vaguely. In addition, a portion of the plot is based on a spoiler for Season 4.


Oxygen hissed softly in the pastel confines of a hospital room. Clark lay silently, battered beyond casual recognition. The specialists had indicated that the majority of the more significant damage was internal. Only when he had opened his eyes did Lex believe that it was really him. He'd spoken then, his voice a weak whisper with words that bunched together oddly.

"I'm...sorryLex," he'd said, and his eyes had closed again for such a long time that Lex thought he'd fallen back asleep, or worse. But then they'd opened again.

"I have... totellyouthings," Clark had wheezed, and he refused to be discouraged from whatever it was he'd decided to say.

Watery green eyes looking up at him, confessing things Lex had never expected to hear in a voice that sounded like dying. Shaky, brief details of a split, physical and mental, in the Kawatche caves. That he was extraterrestrial. That the split had left him not entirely human, but much closer than before. Close enough to be broken. That his more powerful, more alien half was named Kal-El. That Kal had done this to him, and that he had all of Clark's abilities. That Kal was dangerous, but he also had Clark's weakness. Meteor rock could hurt him. Maybe even kill him. Clark had called it Kryptonite.

Lex had remained quiet, pale fingers wrapped around the faded golden skin of Clark's hand, his mind wrapping around what he was saying. He was silent for a long time, fingers brushing absently against Clark's hand.

"Why are you telling me this, Clark?"

Clark had only looked at him, giving his hand a faint squeeze as he closed his eyes. Lex watched him sleep, cradling Clark's limp hand in both of his.

When Clark's body finally gave in, organs failing in steady succession over the next three days, Lex had been there. Martha had hovered in the doorway the first day, arms crossed over her chest, her face drawn and pale with the knowledge that she would bury her husband and her son in the span of a week. She was not there when Clark passed on, and Lex felt it was in her best interests.

He'd heard the last whispered words that issued from Clark, "Love you... always... loved... you..." followed by a rattled gasping breath that still haunted Lex's dreams.

He'd brushed his fingers over Clark's face, closing sightless green eyes. He'd leaned down, pressing a soft kiss to lips that were still warm. He'd looked down at Clark silently for a long time, as hospital staff scurried past the open door of the room. Eventually he'd set Clark's hand down, folding it neatly over the other one.

He'd left the room, walking in sterile halls filled with people who didn't know him, and couldn't hold it against him that he still couldn't say it.

It became a tradition. White lilies for Lillian, and white tulips for Clark. A lesser man may have been considered sentimental, but fortunately he was not a lesser man. He remembered both of them with a reverence and a pain both exquisite and deeply personal. They'd both loved him beyond what he felt he was worth. They'd both hurt him far beyond what he felt he was able to handle. He'd destroyed Lionel for Lillian, and he would destroy Kal for Clark.

Stars exploded behind his eyes as his forehead impacted the wall, and he could feel the rough brick of the wall breaking the skin of his knuckles, palms, and fingertips as he clawed at it. The coppery musk of blood filled his nose, and a frantic screaming voice inside his head knew that it was his. Pain blossomed ugly and red, searing along his right shoulder, writhing through the muscles of that arm as the weight against him fell away. The seductive pull of oblivion whispered softly, and he felt himself being pulled slowly into it as he dropped to his knees.

He woke slowly, the sound of dripping water drifting into his ears, insistent, torturous. He could feel resistance through his arms, a familiar feeling of being bound, but when he moved his arms experimentally, only the left one cooperated. An intense wave of pain and nausea assured him that his right arm would be remaining uncooperative. He could feel the give of a mattress below him and the warmth of a blanket around him. The faint rustle of sheets slid beneath his bare back when he moved. Cool air blew gently against his bare feet from an air conditioning vent somewhere overhead.

He opened an eye, and then slowly opened the other. The room was dark, and felt suffocating and small. His tentative fingers touched his face, feeling a sticky mess near his left eye. Careful investigation located the source, a painful tear across his forehead, the skin puckered and pulling apart, sticky with congealing blood. Gradually his eyes became accustomed to the room, enough to see the blurred lines of furniture, lumpy and misshapen in the darkness. A door opened somewhere on his left, admitting a solid figure and a small amount of light. The dripping sound got slightly louder with the open door, and then stopped. The light from the doorway bathed the room in faint shades of blue and gray. The figure walked in silently, dropping into a chair beside the bed.

"Where..?" His voice was hoarse, thick and dry like his tongue. The figure shifted, and the cool surface of a glass pressed unceremoniously into his left hand. He took it, drank it down carefully, and tried again. "Where am I?"

"Hotel room," the man replied, and his voice was familiar. It took a moment of thought to place him as the head of Lex's personal security detail, a position that he'd held for all of a week.

"How long have I been out?"

"Two hours, Mr. Luthor."

Fuck. Lex tried to sit up again and gritted his teeth as he immediately regretted it. "Did you acquire the target?"

A pregnant silence. "He was injured, but managed to elude us."


An almost imperceptible shrug in the darkness. "Hire someone else."

"A tempting thought, but unfortunately not a feasible solution," Lex retorted, finally pushing up to sit. There were not many people left who were willing to work bodyguard duty for Lex Luthor. To call it a high-risk job would be a laughable understatement. His body screamed protests at him, and he ignored it, draping his legs off the side of the bed and standing shakily.

The man beside him shook his head. "You should rest."

Lex snorted, but took a shaky step in the near dark. "Call Toby," he responded, flatly. "Tell him to meet us at the penthouse."

He stumbled carefully toward the pale light, pushing into a Spartan bathroom. With a grimace, he managed the zipper of his pants, and leaned forward, holding himself upright by splaying the fingers of his left hand out against the wall. His right arm hung limply away from his body, and he chewed at his lower lip as he moved his forearm slowly close enough to hold himself steady, his eyes watering from the pain. A continuous stream of fluid hit the mark, and he sighed audibly, leaning heavily against the support of his left arm and closing his eyes for a long moment.

He blinked slowly, pushing back from the wall and zipping himself up. The face in the mirror above the tiny sink looked barely human, streaked with caked blood, dark circles under his eyes the color of fresh bruises, his lip split. The shape of his shoulder looked wrong, and it was swollen and already bruising in shades of black, blue, crimson, and green. Lex steeled his jaw, glancing at the doorframe for a moment. He pushed away from the sink, took the few unsteady steps, and then slammed his shoulder against the doorframe with the weight of his upper body behind the thrust. A roar of agony burst from his bloodied lips as his shoulder popped back into place. The pain lessened, settling from excruciating red-hot flares to a throbbing ache.

Lex took in a deep breath and steadied himself, his jaw still clenched from the pain as he stepped back into the bathroom, slid his belt from the loops and unfastened his pants, letting them drop. The shower steamed against his skin, water running red in circles around the drain at his feet, fading gradually lighter and lighter. His forehead stung from the impact of the water as he let it rush against his face.

The gunshot was loud between them, the kryptonite bullet ripping through Kal's abdomen and spraying Lex with his blood. Lex dropped the gun between them, murmuring against Kal's slack lips and struggling to breathe as the hand tightened around his throat, "Fuck you."

Kal's eyes glowed red and he staggered back, his hand dropping to grab Lex's shoulder and spinning him to face the wall. His voice was husky and dark with rage and pain against his ear. "You'll pay for that one, Luthor."

He stepped from the shower, patting gently at his injured arm with a towel. He carefully pulled his pants back up over his hips. Fastening the button was difficult, but the raging pain in his arm and shoulder was subdued and the numbness was fading slowly.

He left the bathroom; the man seated beside the bed raised his eyes as he returned to the dimly lit room.

"Where are my shoes?"

The man arched a brow and nodded toward the foot of the bed. Lex saw his shoes, stained with the tint of crimson over black leather. He dropped to sit on the foot of the bed and pulled on his socks and shoes slowly, holding his right arm against his chest.

"The target will be watching the penthouse, Mr. Luthor."

Lex smirked. "I'm counting on it."

The man shook his head. "You are becoming a very difficult man to keep alive," he remarked, dryly.

"You knew that when I hired you. Losing your nerve?"

A smirk. "Not my nerve. Just the majority of my team."

"They will be replaced," Lex replied dismissively as he rose from the bed. "Let's go."

The man nodded and moved to the door, opening it and glancing outside quietly, a gun in his hand. After a moment, he left the room and strode out into the faint blue light of pre-dawn. Lex followed, holding his arm against his bare chest, his eyes distant and icy.

Lex kept his eyes steady, challenging. "You're delusional."

Kal smirked and licked his lips slowly, his eyes lascivious. Lex clenched his jaw tightly, and Kal leaned in closer, their lips almost touching. "Am I?"

Lex glared angrily at him, Kal's hand wrapping around the base of his throat. Kal pressed against him and Lex's right hand moved slowly from beneath his coat even as he wondered if he could possibly do this when the face so close to his was so much like Clark's.

The car purred slowly through the streets, and Lex watched the dawn through the window. The building housing his penthouse rose before them, a mammoth structure of glass and steel in the pale daylight. In front of the door, two men in black coats stood waiting, dark sunglasses covering their eyes. The car stopped in front of the building, and the men flanked Lex as he strode inside, still cradling his arm against his chest.

When he reached the penthouse, Toby was waiting. He looked him over and shook his head, smirking. "You stupid bastard," he said quietly, with hints of admiration in his voice.

Lex smirked back and dropped to sit in a leather chair, his eyes looking over the two men as Toby crouched beside him and began to examine his shoulder and face.

"We don't have much time. I expect the target to be here soon." He glared at Toby and clenched his jaw as Toby's fingers pressed into the fleshy joint of his shoulder experimentally. "Fuck!"

"Don't yell at me, asshole. You're the one who fucked up your shoulder," Toby scolded with a grin as he reached into his bag and handed Lex a couple of pills.

Lex shook his head softly. "No time. I need to be coherent for this."

Toby shook his head and set the pills down on the arm of the chair, wrapping a bandage around Lex's arm and shoulder to support the joint. "And I need to be seriously gone for this crazy shit." He reached up and applied several butterfly bandages to the gash across Lex's forehead.

Lex waved his left hand dismissively, steely eyes returning to the two men. "No excuses this time. Eliminate the target."

"You were in our sights, Mr. Luthor. The risk of hitting you was far too high."

"I sincerely hope that won't stop you if it happens again," Lex arched a brow as the man's jaw went slack for a moment before he nodded. "Good."

Lex looked away, his eyes studying the wall of plate glass windows as Toby worked on his injuries. He felt the sharp sting of an injection and a soft tingling in his shoulder, the pain gradually ebbing away without any of the accompanying narcotic grogginess. He really didn't pay Toby well enough. He'd have to change that.

Toby left the room and returned with a glass of Scotch and a shirt. He set the Scotch down as Lex stood and slid his left arm into the shirt, letting the right sleeve drape uselessly at his side as he buttoned the shirtfront quickly with his left hand.

Toby picked up the Scotch and handed it to him. Lex took a swallow, relishing the sharp burn at the back of his throat. "The usual payment is waiting for you on my desk."

Toby grinned and wandered off to get it and leave. "Get some sleep, Lex. You look like shit."

Lex smirked and shook his head, walking toward the windows. He stood, waiting, blue eyes watchful.

Lex jerked away, his voice solid and menacing. "Don't touch me."

Kal only laughed, shaking his head as if amused by his own private joke. "You'd like nothing better." His grin was all teeth bared and feral joy, his eyes narrowing, the gleam of a predator in their depths. "Think about it, Lex. All of the Clark, none of the guilt."

Lex growled at him, and Kal's grin only widened. "Hit a nerve, didn't I? Not a difficult thing to do where you are concerned." He leaned in closer, his nose brushing against Lex's softly, and his eyes piercing. "Clark may have loved you, Lex, but I own you."

The words burned into him, staining him, and Lex wanted nothing more than to stop wanting the thing in front of him, to just hate him.

Lex opened his eyes, just now realizing he had closed them, and grimaced, taking another swallow of the Scotch. The men were still in the penthouse, one standing beside the door, another closer to him and the windows. The third man was roaming somewhere in the corridor outside of the penthouse. The man standing near him extended a hand, palm up and holding a dull silvery bullet with a faint green tint.

Lex took it and left the window, returning to the chair. He pinched the bridge of his nose and resolutely ignored the dull ache in his shoulder, shifting his weight in the chair to accommodate his shoulder. He was so tired, exhaustion a dead weight in his limbs held at bay only with the relentless energy of his desire to end this.

Kal was proving unsurprisingly capable of downsizing his security detail with ruthless efficiency. He sighed and drained the glass, setting it aside. Lex examined the bullet carefully, his jaw clenching tightly. It should have killed him. It had been designed to explode inside of him, to spread the kryptonite as far as possible and make it nearly impossible to remove all of it. The mechanism in the bullet had somehow jammed, and the weapon had failed. It was also possible that they'd underestimated how much exposure it would take to kill Kal. Lex glared at the bullet thoughtfully, considering his options. He had one left. His failsafe.

The thing in front of him had Clark's face and that sent a familiar longing ache through him, but not his eyes. The eyes were different, harder and colder, and he focused on them because they grounded him, fed his rage. They regarded Lex with wary amusement and scorn, as if Kal couldn't quite reconcile himself to the idea that Lex could possibly present such a problem. Lex forced himself to remain still and maintain eye contact, standing against the wall with the lifeless bodies of two of his security detail crumpled beside him. Kal braced his hands on either side of Lex's head and leaned in, his voice conversational.

"You're becoming a serious pain in the ass, Luthor."

Lex merely smirked back at him, and Kal drew a fingertip slowly down his cheek. The physical contact made his skin crawl even as desire burned in him, and he knew it was intended to. He hated himself as much as he hated Kal, and in the diminishing of one he used the other to keep him going.

Gunshots and breaking glass shattered his thoughts. Lex arched a brow, glancing toward the windows as he closed his fist around the bullet. He winced internally as Kal pulled his lip into a snarl at one of his bodyguards, his fist connecting solidly with the bones of the man's face in a sickening crunch. In a blur of motion, Kal wrapped an arm around the other guard's neck, pinning him against his body as the man's neck snapped, a garbled cry strangled in his throat.

Kal let the body slump in his arm and dropped it carelessly to the floor, stalking closer to Lex with the fluid grace of a predatory cat. Lex watched him, his face impassive.

"You have no idea what I'm capable of," Clark's eyes were flat, promising things that Lex wondered if he could even define, let alone deliver.

"I expected you sooner." Lex rose gracefully from the chair, facing Kal.

"Really. Why don't you fill me in?" Lex answered, his voice neutral, curious.

Kal sneered at him, arms folded across his chest, making no effort to hide the smoke-ringed bullet hole in his shirt. "I was unavoidably detained."

Clark rose from the chair, walking a few paces away, his voice smug. "Let's just say... that when I'm through showing the world what I can do... I'll have everything I've ever wanted. I may be ever richer than you."

Icy blue eyes with barely leashed fury leveled at Kal. "How... unfortunate," he replied, a slow smirk crossing his lips.

"Maybe you're right to get away from your folks. Maybe I should do the same. If my father wants the mansion so much, he can have it. I never wanted to live in Smallville anyway." It was a challenge, and Lex knew that when he said it. He wanted to see if Clark, this Clark, would meet it.

A shudder in the air, and Kal had him pinned against the wall, his snarling face mere inches away. "He's gone. You can't bring him back, Lex."

Clark had looked at him, and replied. "You can come with me."

"I have you to thank for that," He stared with defiant rage at Kal.

Lex found himself answering before he even knew what he would say. "Nobody's using the penthouse in Metropolis. We can stay there."

Kal glared back at him, his hand tightening around Lex's throat, his teeth bared. "You never fucking quit, do you? What will it take to get you off my back, Luthor?"

He would never forget Clark's answer, it had flared white in his chest where hope was remembering how to exist again. "Clark Kent and Lex Luthor. I like the sound of that."

Lex smirked, his voice conversational. "You could stop being so resistant to death," he replied, coldly.

Kal grabbed his shoulders and slammed him hard against the wall. The pain was intense and he choked on it, the bullet flying from his outstretched hand. "Fuck!"

"Let it go." Kal's face was still furious, but his grip loosened.

"You'll have to kill me first," Lex snarled back.

Kal glared at him, his jaw clenched with fury, and then he lurched away from the wall as the sound of gunfire erupted from somewhere behind him. His momentum spun Lex around and sent him stumbling into a table, bracing himself against the impact with his left arm and side. He glanced back at the splintered hole left by a bullet in the wall, and swore under his breath as he heard his third and final bodyguard scream in pain from the penthouse foyer. Damnit.

A whoosh of air behind him, and an arm wrapped around his chest and pulled him back. Lex growled and thrashed against him. "What the fuck are you doing?"

Kal's hand closed over the front of his throat and his voice, dark and husky, breathed against his ear. "No more talking."

Kal's lips brushed against Lex's face, where the gash had reopened and was dripping blood slowly down his cheek. Kal breathed in, his tongue flicking out and licking a steady path along the trail of blood on his cheek.

Lex jerked his face away. "You sick son of a bitch," he seethed quietly as he felt Kal's hips grind up against him. A soft chuckle by way of an answer against his ear, and Kal let go of him. Lex turned and Kal pushed against him, Lex backing away slowly with each step.

The air between them crackled with tension, Lex's lips curled into a snarl as Kal leered at him, using his body to push him backward through the living room and into his bedroom. Kal's hands dragged slowly up his sides, gripping handfuls of his shirt and rending it in half, the pieces fluttering down beside them.

Lex's glower was half hatred, half lust as Kal pulled him close, yanking the belt out of Lex's pants and snapping the leather in the air beside him suggestively. He pulled Lex close, nipping at his bandaged shoulder as he unbuttoned and unzipped his pants, sliding them down off his hips to pool at the floor around his feet. Lex growled and winced away from him, and Kal smirked, shoving both hands against Lex's chest, toppling him over to fall in an undignified sprawl on his bed. Lex glared up at him, inching backward as Kal stalked across the floor toward the bed, shedding his shirt and pants as he moved. He crossed the bed on hands and knees toward him with leisurely cat-like grace, green eyes burning into him.

Lex's back hit the headboard at the same moment that Kal's predatory crawl reached him, lips smashing into his violently. Lex growled again under his breath, crushing his lips against Kal's, his teeth biting into them. They kissed as if it was a war in and of itself, tongues crashing together, teeth tearing into lips with the force of three years of pent-up frustration, foiled plots and assassination attempts.

Lex cried out in pain as Kal's fingers dug into his shoulders, his legs wrapping around Kal's torso as he ground up against him, panting, his eyes glazed. Kal bit down into the soft flesh of his throat, worrying it with his teeth, guttural sounds escaping him. Lex's hands clawed into Kal's hair, yanking his head back, injury forgotten as the synapses firing in his brain blended pain and pleasure together with dizzying intensity. Kal jerked back up to sit and dragged Lex with him, pulling him into his lap. Lex tilted his head back, his eyes closing tightly as Kal sucked at his throat, thrusting his hips against him in a steady grind. He pushed two fingers into Lex's mouth, groaning against his throat as Lex slicked them with spit.

Lex exhaled through gritted teeth as Kal's hand slid down his back and he pushed one finger into him, following it with another. Lex rocked his hips, fucking himself open on Kal's fingers as Kal panted against his throat.

Kal moved his face away from his throat, lust-darkened eyes searing into him as he withdrew his fingers and thrust hard into him. The stretching burn fired along Lex's spine, obliterating Clark's face from his thoughts. Lex sucked in a breath and hissed a moan, staring at Kal with slitted eyes as he bucked in his arms, clawing at his back.

Kal's hands pawed frantically at Lex's writhing body, searching for a grip he could maintain; sweat dripping down between damp curls, struggling for shuddering breaths and exhaling groaned gasps and barely articulate words. Lex squeezed his eyes closed.

"It's still strange to think he and Rickman were once best friends. Think we'll ever end up like that?" Clark's face was worried, bathed in setting sunlight that caught the faint stubble along his jawline.

Kal was pounding harder into him, rougher, urgency all but obliterating any rhythm in his movements. Lex sunk his teeth savagely down on the soft side of Kal's throat, desperately willing his mind to stop, rutting his body frantically into Kal's thrusts. Muscles coiled and rippled throughout his body, aching with need, pushing for release, for the end. Kal thrust into him again, and Lex lost control, screaming wordlessly as hot fluid spurted from him and within him as Kal barked a short gasping groan.

"Trust me, Clark. Our friendship is gonna be the stuff of legend."

He pushed away, his body protesting painfully at the abrupt withdrawal. He stumbled off the bed, limbs aching as he forced them to move. Kal slumped into the rumpled sheets, gasping for breath as Lex staggered from the bedroom.

He made his way shakily to the desk, propping himself up on trembling arms, his chest heaving, and papers fluttering off his desk as he shoved his hands angrily over its surface. The panic button was hidden artfully in the smooth wood panels of the top of his desk, and he closed his eyes tightly as his fingers found it and pressed it down. He dropped his head between his shoulders, dry sobs choking in his throat as he let the memories consume him.

"Lex?" God, he was beautiful, long tousled curls and bright green eyes.

"Three months on a deserted island was almost worth it to see the look on your face right now." And he had meant every word, more than he could ever possibly convey. That moment made all of it bearable.

It was somehow fitting that he saw Clark's face now as it was then, eyes soft and happy, and a beaming smile overtaking his features. The warmth he'd felt, the solid weight of Clark's arms around him. It had been the only part of coming home that really felt like coming home.

"I love you too, Clark. I always loved you." Lex said finally, as the roar filled his ears, and sent him home.

The silent night sky of Metropolis was rent by fiery orange and green, the explosion illuminating the night sky. Flakes of ash and burning debris rained down on the sidewalks as the building burned through the night and most of the following day, sending a towering column of fiery gray smoke into the sky that could be seen from miles away.

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