Falling Away With You

by alakewood

Feedback is much appreciated. Comments in my LJ (livejournal.com/users/alakewood/) from my readers there is what kept this story going.

Falling Away With You
by a.lakewood

Clark was in the barn taking down decorations that still remained from his graduation party the day before. As he balled up the streamers he had torn down, Clark heard the familiar sound of the Porsche approaching. He headed out into the driveway, anticipating his on-again-off-again friend's arrival. Ever since that night in the LuthorCorp lab - when Lex had injected that...untested antidote into his arm - their friendship had been firmly on-again.

Clark smiled at the fact that he could recognize the sound of Lex's cars from a good mile away and discern it from the sound of the other vehicle on the road. There was something almost comforting about it. But the purr of the engine was interrupted by the sound of twisting, groaning metal, shattering glass, and a scream. Clark dropped the bag in his hand, cleaning the barn up completely forgotten. He strained to hear something more, but heard only his parents in the house, cows out to pasture, birds in a tree further down the driveway, and the wind rustling leaves of the new stalks of corn in the field.

He rushed to the highway on the other side of the field and superspeeded towards town. He saw the decimated remains of the blue Porsche smashed into the trunk of an old pine tree. He rushed to the driver's side and carefully pulled Lex from the wreckage, completely unsure of whether or not the man in his arms alive. Cradling the battered body to his chest, Clark superspeeded to Metropolis General - arriving there faster than he ever had before. Lex was immediately taken from his arms and into surgery.

Clark wasn't sure how long he stood there in the ER entrance, but a nurse approached him, blood smeared on her scrubs. She gently touched Clark's arm, startling him out of racing thoughts that completely overwhelmed him. "That man is lucky that you were so quick getting him here. Another couple of minutes and he could have bled out or his heart could have stopped," she said quietly. "Come with me and we'll find something for you to change into."

Clark glanced down at his blood-soaked clothing. "Thanks," he said, his voice sounding odd to his ears, following the nurse. She exited what must have been a supply closet, he thought, with a set of scrubs similar to the ones she wore. She handed them to him as well as a plastic trash bag.

"Here. The men's room is just down there. I'll be at the station in the lobby, okay?"

"Okay." Clark headed to the bathroom and changed, putting his soiled clothes into the bag. When he got to the nurses station, he stopped the nurse who had given him the scrubs. "Can you call me when Lex gets out of surgery? - Mr. Luthor."

The nurse looks at him a moment before turning towards the computer terminal. "What's your name?"

"Clark Kent," he answered. And when she started typing, he started with his phone number.

"Wait," she interrupted him. "Mr. Luthor has already designated you as the first person to be contacted should anything happen to him."

It took Clark a good couple of minutes to wrap his still-fragmented mind around that bit of information. "Thank you," he said. He slowly made his way out of the hospital before superspeeding home.

The screen door in the kitchen banged shut, half-startling Martha, who stood at the sink rinsing vegetables for dinner. She took in Clark's appearance, momentarily not noticing the scrubs, focusing on the troubled look in his eyes. "Honey, what's wrong? What happened? Are you all right?" she questioned, drying her hands on the dishtowel on the counter before pulling out a chair at the kitchen table for him. Until Clark collapsed into the chair, almost with enough force to splinter the wood - however, only causing it to groan in protest of the sudden weight - he hadn't realized how weak-in-the-knees he'd felt.

"I'm fine, Mom...It's Lex...He was in an accident - I got him to the hospital in Metropolis as fast as I could but...he was bleeding so bad." He wiped at his face, surprised to find that it was wet - he couldn't remember crying.

"Oh, Clark...Is he going to be okay?"

On the verge of tears, Clark shook his head as he shrugged, afraid to open his mouth for fear that he'd break down completely.

"Clark..." Martha soothed, leaning across the table to take his hands. "Your father and I can handle things here for a few days...Why don't you go back to the hospital and stay with Lex?"

Clark took a deep, shuddering breath, trying to calm his emotions. "Are you sure?" This time, when he spoke, his voice didn't sound quite so raw.

"Yes, sweetheart. And don't worry about Dad - I'll talk to him. He'll understand."

He stood, still clutching Martha's hands, his knees a little unstable yet. He pulled Martha up to him and enveloped her in a hug. "Thank you, Mom. I love you."

"I love you, too, Clark."

Clark had changed into his normal jeans, t-shirt, and flannel shirt before he had returned to the hospital that afternoon. The nurse, Michelle, he learned, from the photo ID clipped to the pocket of her scrubs, took him to the waiting rooms in the surgery ward. By the time Michelle returned later that night, Clark was half-way through the second to last magazine on the table in the middle of the room.

"Mr. Luthor is being moved from surgery," Michelle began. "We're taking him to a private room in ICU. Do you want me to take you down there? You can talk to his doctor," she suggested. She led him to the waiting room closest to Lex's private room. "Wait here, and I'll get Mr. Luthor's doctor for you."

"Thank you, Michelle." He received a gentle half-smile and nod from the nurse before she left.

"Clark Kent?" a man, the doctor, Clark presumed, asked him, tucking a clipboard beneath his arm to reach a hand out. He vigorously shook the hand Clark had offered when he stood. "Doctor Loeffler."

"Nice to meet you, sir."

"I suppose you'd like to be updated on Mr. Luthor's current state, yes?"

"Yes, sir."

"We've finally got him stable, but he coded twice on the operating table. He sustained two broken ribs, a compound fracture of the right tibia..." he removed the clipboard from beneath his arm and scanned the top paper before continuing. "Also, his right wrist was broken, he suffered another concussion, lots of internal bleeding and bruised organs...one of his lungs was punctured by one of the broken ribs..." The doctor's eyes then flickered up at Clark, then he went on. "A valve in his heart ruptured when the steering wheel impacted his chest - this is what also caused the broken ribs and lung puncture..."

Clark reached out for the wall, the table, a chair, something to grasp so he wouldn't collapse, his head reeling at the extent of Lex's injuries.

The doctor rested a hand on his shoulder. "Are you all right, son? Come sit down. Here." He helped Clark settle into the chair the young man had occupied when he first entered.

"Did- Did you have to...?" Clark trailed off, his hand splayed over his chest.

"Did we have to do open-heart surgery?" Dr. Loeffler supplied. When Clark nodded, he answered the question. "Yes. It's the only way to repair that kind of damage. In order for his heart to function correctly, we had to mend the ruptured valve with a tissue graft."

"What else?" Clark asked after a moment.

"He's in a barbiturate- or drug-induced coma to keep the swelling in his brain down - which, thankfully, has minimized. We're trying to bring him out of it, but haven't been successful so far...Even though the intracranial swelling has diminished, there's a possibility that Mr. Luthor has suffered brain damage. How severe, we don't know yet."

Clark had never been more thankful to be sitting because he was sure his knees would've buckled beneath him at the doctor's words. "You have no way of knowing when he'll wake up?" Clark whispered the question.

"It could be days or weeks."

"And you can't bring him out of it?"

"Anything beyond what we've already tried could cause more damage than what he has already sustained. And, while Mr. Luthor wishes that you be aware of his condition and such, you understand that you have no authorization over anything that we do insofar as operating, treatment, etcetera. Lionel Luthor is still, legally, his next of kin. All decisions will be left up to him."

"When can I go in and see him?" Clark didn't want to dwell on the fact that Lionel held Lex's life in his hands.

"I'd recommend tomorrow. The state that you're in right now... It will make it that much harder for you to see him. Do you want to talk to one of our grief counselors?"

"I, um...Thanks, but no. I think I'll...be okay."

"All right. If you need anything, any of the nurses at the nurses' station will be more than happy to help you."

"Is it okay that I stay here? for the night?"

The doctor smiled, soft in comparison to the weathered skin of his face. "Of course. I'll talk to Michelle if she's still on duty and see if, maybe, she can find an empty room for you, all right?"

"Thank you, Dr. Loeffler."

After a long couple of minutes, Michelle returned to the waiting room. "Clark?" she questioned. "I've got a room for you."

Clark woke the following morning unsure of where he was. It sounded as though a hundred people were having a hundred conversations no more than two feet away. As the thick cloud of sleep cleared from his mind, he remembered that he was in the hospital - the conversations were between doctors and nurses and patients, and all he had to do to get rid of them was focus his hearing on one thing, drown everything else out - and the nightmare of Lex coming thisclose to dying was actually reality. Clark swung his legs over the side of the bed and sat there a moment wondering if he should go check on Lex first or call home. He decided he'd better call home because, if Lex was awake and up to taking visitors, he wouldn't leave Lex's side until someone made him.

When Clark approached the nurses' station, he didn't recognize any of the men or women there from the previous day. A woman roughly the same age as Michelle glanced up at him briefly before her gaze returned to him only a moment later. "Clark Kent?" she questioned uncertainly.

"Yeah. How'd you know?"

"Michelle described you very well. I'm Candace." She extended her hand over the counter and they shook, her hand lingering a moment longer than necessary. "I assume you would like to know how Mr. Luthor is doing?"

"Actually, could I -"

"He's been asking for you."

"Nevermind. I can call home later." His parents would understand if he called sometime in the afternoon. Besides, there was probably a phone in Lex's room he could use; that way he wouldn't even have to leave Lex's side.

Candace smiled. "Okay. Follow me." Candace led him to a door five or so beyond the waiting room he had been in the night before. She peeked in quickly before closing the door again. "The doctor is in there right now."

"Dr. Loeffler?"

"No. Dr. Loeffler isn't scheduled to arrive until one. Dr. Hennessey is on duty right now."

"Oh. Okay."

After a couple of minutes of silence, the door opened and a young doctor stepped out. Candace gestured towards Clark. "Dr. Hennessey - this is Clark Kent. Mr. Luthor asked to see him."

"Yes," Dr. Hennessey agreed, turning to Clark. "Go ahead and go in. But be brief. Mr. Luthor has been through a lot."

"I know. Thank you." Clark waited outside the door as Candace and Dr. Hennessey left. Waited a minute or so longer to work up his courage to open the door. He entered the dim room quietly, the door clicking shut sounding loud. He could see the foot of Lex's hospital bed from where he stood, and Lex's right leg in a cast. Focusing on just putting one foot in front of the other, he finally made it to Lex's bedside. "Oh, God, Lex..." his voice broke upon seeing his best friend's mottled face. The left side was far more bruised than the right, a cut butterfly-bandaged closed above his eyebrow. He guessed it made sense if it had been his head that had caused the broken driver's side window. His hands trembled as he reached for the metal guard of the bed.

"Hey...Clark..." There was a faint smile curling at Lex's lips, happiness and relief in his eyes marred by pain.

"Lex..." a shuddered breath. He moved a tremulous hand towards the less-injured side of Lex's face, at first afraid to touch, but Lex leaned into the caress. "They did- didn't know when you'd wake up...I was so afraid I was going to lose you before..." Lex pressed a gentle kiss to Clark's palm and that was what undid him, allowed the tears he'd been trying so valiantly to hold back to just fall. Clark wasn't surprised at how natural it felt, how much like being lovers it felt. And Clark hadn't even admitted his love yet, didn't know for certain if it would be returned.

"Before what?" was the softly asked question from Lex, who, Clark realized, had shed tears of his own.

"Before I could tell you everything," he whispered.



"You don't have to..."

Clark tore his gaze from Lex to see where the chair behind him was. Not moving the hand that still grazed Lex's cheek gently, Clark reached for the chair and brought it closer to the bed so he could sit, so he could confess without the fear of his knees buckling beneath him. "Lex," he began, stroking the tear-trail on the pale cheek beneath his thumb away, looking Lex in the eye once again as he took a breath.

"I already know."

"But I still need to say it."

"I know you're different, Clark...That you've always been different...I know what you are."

Clark's eyes widened, then he realized that Lex hadn't freaked out about it like he thought he would. "That's not what I was going to say. But I'll get to it."


The look in Lex's eyes was all the encouragement he needed. "I love you, Lex."

A sharp intake of breath caused Lex to wince. "Don't," he said to Clark, noting the panic in the younger man's eyes. "Just a small pain."

"You sure?" worry still evident in the voice, if not the eyes.

"Yes...I just wasn't...expecting your...declaration."

"Oh." Clark cast his eyes downward, even more unsure as to whether or not Lex felt the same.

"Clark. Look at me. Please."

Clark complied, feeling his unease melt away at the lazy smile Lex wore. It had to be love, his heart told him. His head immediately rationalizing, or really good drugs.

"I love you, too."

He knew he was grinning like an idiot, but Clark couldn't help it. He leaned up, giving Lex plenty of time to tell him to stop, to place a chaste kiss upon Lex's dry, chapped lips. As far as first kisses went, for either of them, it wasn't spectacular, no fireworks. But it was enough because there was love. Clark sat back and looked at Lex for a long moment before he stood and moved the chair to the other side of the bed. He threaded his fingers through those on Lex's good hand. "As far as my other confession is concerned," he sighed, "I want to wait until you're better to go into that, okay? But I promise I'll tell you everything. Tell you the truth."


It was the Friday before the Fourth of July that Lex was released from the hospital. Clark had been there with one of Lex's cars - a black BMW, dark and sleek and with an understated-but-there presence that oddly reminded Lex of Clark. The cast on his wrist was off, but the one on his leg remained working with the steel rod and pins to prevent damage and further injury to the tibia as the compound fracture healed. As Clark pulled the car around to the hospital entrance, Michelle, one of Lex's nurses, brought Lex down in a wheelchair. Together, Clark and Michelle got Lex situated into the backseat of the BMW. The subsequent ride to the Luthor mansion just outside of Smallville was one continuous silence that neither were quite sure how to break.

The trip seemed over entirely too soon considering that there was so much to say and not a single word had been uttered. Two nurses met them at the edge of the front drive with a wheelchair for Lex. Clark easily helped him out of the car and into the chair. As the nurses took Lex inside, Clark turned to the car to return it to the garage, but, as with Lex, that was already being taken care of. Clark felt unneeded. With the staff hired to attend to Lex while he remained on bed-rest until the leg-cast was off, Clark wasn't sure if there was anything he could offer. He let himself into the house and took the stairs to Lex's bedroom. There, he lingered inside the doorway uncertainly, watching the nurses get Lex comfortably positioned on the bed. "Thank you," Lex said, meeting Clark's eyes, "that's fine. If I need anything, I'll let you know. But, please, excuse us." Lex dismissed his nurses, who each gave Clark a curious glance before exiting, then he gestured for Clark to come to him. He patted the unoccupied side of the king-sized bed. "Sit with me."

Clark moved over to the bed, sinking down onto the mattress hesitantly. "Lex..."

"I always had assumed about you. I was never really sure until that night at the lab," Lex said quietly.

Clark knew this is why they had both been so quiet all day, knowing that, once in the privacy of Lex's home, they'd finally discuss this. "What about that night made you sure?" Clark questioned.

"I'm not...sure. I'm not sure what made me sure," Lex stated satirically, quirking a half-smile. "How the stabilizing chamber for the antidote reached one thousand degrees Kelvin so quickly, while no one was looking. You coming out of that fever...When I left you in that hospital, Clark...I know exactly how you felt when you pulled me from that car - it's what I felt when I walked away from you that day. Not knowing...But there you were, offering yourself for us to test on." Lex shook his head. "And I knew. I just couldn't risk someone finding out about you."

"So, that's why you injected yourself?"

"Yes. Besides, by that point, I'd already been exposed to the virus. Not to mention that the whole situation was my responsibility."

"When were you exposed?" Clark hadn't known that Lex was infected; otherwise, he probably would've made the lab his first stop. This thought made him feel extremely guilty - if he'd gone straight to the lab, he wouldn't have gotten to his parents as soon as he had.

"Earlier that day when we tested the first version of the antidote. My Haz-Mat suit ripped when I was helping to restrain an infected employee. And, obviously, the first trial of the antidote didn't work. I'm not sure if it was the antidote that killed him or the virus."

"And you injected yourself with that second antidote not knowing if...if it would kill you or not? Why, Lex? Why would you do something like that?"

"To protect you," Lex answered, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. "Protect your secrets."

"I just...After everything we've been through - every reason I've given you to not trust me, or to hate me - you'd still risk your life for me?"

"Clark, I could never hate you. You may have just come to this realization of how you feel for me, but I...I've been in love with you for years."

Clark leaned into Lex, cupping the older man's jaw as they kissed. Slowly at first, just tasting and feeling, then it deepened, passion flowing between them. Clark whimpered slightly when he broke the kiss. His forehead pressed against Lex's, he ran his thumb over the scar on Lex's lip before pressing a soft kiss there. "The meteor shower is when it all began," Clark started quietly, and told Lex his entire life's story. From the crash, being found, the development of his powers, to the day on Loeb Bridge - everything.

Lex looked at Clark, eyes wide with wonder as if suddenly the biggest mystery of his life made sense. "I remember you," he said with awe.

"Remember me?" Clark repeated.

"In the truck. After Jonathan and Martha found you - or you found them. I was sitting in Lionel's lap and you were in your mother's wrapped in a blanket. You reached out-"

Clark reached his right hand up to Lex's forehead, tenderly stroking over his cheek and down his jaw with his fingers. "Like that." A statement, not a question.

"Like that...Do you remember?"

"Vaguely..." A small, sweet smile crossed his lips at the wistful look on Lex's face and he moved closer, moving the pillows that were propping Lex up into a sitting position. "Sleep with me?" he asked, slowly lowering Lex down to the bottom pillow that remained.

Lex pulled Clark into a long, languid kiss before letting the younger man settle beside him. "Of course." After a pause, "I love you, Clark."

"I love you, too, Lex," Clark said, hand reaching up to cover the one resting on Lex's chest, twining their fingers, then pressing a feather-light kiss to juncture of throat and jaw just below Lex's ear.

Clark awoke hours later in the waning sunlight in Lex's bedroom, Lex's body radiating warmth as he continued to sleep beneath the arm holding him protectively close to Clark's own body. After countless minutes of just watching Lex sleep, his chest rising and falling with even breaths, there was knocking at the bedroom door. Startled, Clark quickly scrambled off of the bed and into a nearby chair, effectively jostling Lex awake in the process. He looked at Clark confusedly with heavy-lidded eyes. "There's someone at the door," Clark explained.

Lex yawned, "Oh," as he stretched the best he could. "Afraid to get caught in my bed?" There was a cat-caught-the-canary grin on Lex's face when he asked.

"I wasn't sure if we're ready for people to know yet - about us."

"It's okay, Clark. I-"

Another series of knocks on the door before it opened slightly and the maid's head poked in. "Mr. Luthor?" she questioned quietly.

"Yes, Amelie?"

"Dr. Mierzwiak is here. He wishes to speak to you."

"Thank you, Amelie."

"Do you wish for me to send him in?"

"Not at this moment." Amelie nodded at that, then left the room. "Clark, could you excuse us for a few minutes?"

"Sure. He's just your doctor." He stood from the chair and started to lean down to kiss Lex.

"No. Dr. Mierzwiak will hopefully working on a project for me."

Clark straightened. "Are you sure you're up for business meetings right now?"

"It's hardly a business meeting, Clark. Why don't you head home, have dinner with your parents, and come back here later."

"Are you just trying to get rid of me?" Clark asked with a smile on his face that didn't quite reach his eyes. He was a little hurt by Lex's suggestion but didn't want to show it. Lex noticed anyway.

"Clark...You know I'm not. It's just...It's a work-thing. Something that's still in progress. I'll be funding his research - it's probably something about money, it won't be that interesting to you anyway. Besides, you haven't seen your parents all day. You can come back after dinner and we can watch a movie or something. All right?"

"Okay." Clark grabbed a few of the pillows from the floor that had been on the bed earlier to help prop up Lex again. Adjusting the last one, he bent down for a kiss. "Do you want me to send the doctor in when I go?"

"If you would, please. I'll see you after dinner?"

"Absolutely, Lex."

Clark exited the bedroom, leaving Lex alone. But that only lasted a minute or two before Dr. Mierzwiak quietly entered, a thick manila folder under his arm. "I would stand to introduce myself, but..." Lex gestured to the leg-cast with one hand, then offered it to Dr. Mierzwiak to shake. "It's nice to finally meet you, Dr. Mierzwiak."

"You, too, Mr. Luthor. And, please, call me Howard." He let go of Lex's hand. "I heard about your accident. You look as though you're doing rather well."

"I am, Howard. Please sit, and we can discuss my funding of Lacuna, Inc."

Dr. Mierzwiak took a seat in the chair Clark had recently occupied and opened the manila folder, now in his lap. "Here's a basic overview of the procedure as it is now." He handed Lex a stapled document.

Lex scanned the papers, a look of skepticism on his face. "So, you can remove these `problem memories' non-surgically?"


"And this is permanent."


"Have you looked into temporary removal?"

"That's why I responded to your letter, Mr. Luthor. Even with the profit we make from the procedure, it's just enough to maintain the equipment and pay the staff. With your funding, there's no telling where research could take us."

"Do you think it's possible to temporarily remove memories?"

"No. Once we remove them, they're gone - we can't download them to, say, a disk or to the computer. However, I'm fairly certain that we could simply block the memories off. It would be kind of like an amnesia. I think it could even be possible to change the memory, change what happened."

"So, for example, in this testimonial from Joel Barish, he had a girlfriend erased from his memory. Instead of erasing her completely, you could turn their relationship into a simple meeting? He still recognizes her, but just knows her in passing?"

"Yes, I think it's quite probable."

"And reversible?"

"Possibly. We would have to do extensive testing to be sure. But that, I believe, would be in the distant future."

"I'll give you three months in my labs here to see where you get. You will have all of my lab technicians at your disposal. They are the best in their fields. Beyond that, if there is anything else you need, please let me know."

"I'm not sure how far we'll get in three months, but I know that the brilliance of LuthorCorp employees should not be underestimated." He closed the folder and stood, holding his hand out to Lex. "Thank you very much for your time, Mr. Luthor."

"You're welcome, Howard. Lacuna, Inc., is a very worthwhile endeavor," Lex replied, shaking Dr. Mierzwiak's proffered hand.

The Fourth of July fell on a particularly humid Monday. Clark had brought Lex out to the farm, allowing him a little escape from the mansion which, regardless of its vastness, had started to make Lex go a little stir-crazy in the short time during which he'd been home. Clark had driven one of Lex's favorite cars, a less-ostentatious and roomy Mercedes, trying to keep Lex as comfortable as possible, considering that they'd be spending the next hour-and-a-half or so sitting up in the loft.

Clark quite easily lifted Lex from the car and carried him into the barn, despite Lex's protests. "Clark, you really don't - I'm not a damsel in distress for Christ's sake."

"If you were a damsel in distress, Lex, I'd have you thrown over my shoulder."

"No, those were barbarians. And cavemen. And you are neither."

"Well, there's no other way to get you up to the loft. And that's where the best view is." Clark climbed the stairs carefully and let Lex take a seat in his desk chair so he could move the couch in front of the hayloft door. He lifted Lex again and set him down on the couch gently, then moved a wooden crate over so that Lex could keep his casted leg propped up. "We've got the most perfect vantage point for the fireworks compared to anywhere in all of Smallville." He pointed to the southeast. "They get shot off over Morley Reservoir over there."

They sat in a companionable silence, hand in hand even though their skin stuck together, until the first distant bang sounded and color lit up the sky. Lex's hand squeezed Clark's as the next few fireworks went off. "It's amazing," he whispered, looking completely awe-struck.

"Haven't you ever seen a fireworks display?"

"Not since I was a child. And that was orchestrated to Handel's "Water Music" when my mother and I were in England." His voice was nearly as distant as the detonations of the pyrotechnics.

While Lex continued to watch the fireworks with utter rapture evident on his face, Clark took the time to watch Lex. His mouth hung slightly open, sweat beading on his upper lip and in a couple places across his forehead. Clark noted how Lex's t-shirt clung to his chest, also damp with sweat. He was on his knees between Lex's legs before he even knew what he was doing.

Lex dragged his eyes away from the light display to look at Clark, confusion knitting his pale ginger brows together. "Clark?"

"Shh," Clark murmured against Lex's lips at the same time as his fingers slipped beneath the waistbands of both Lex's loose khaki shorts and boxers.

Lex arched up best he could under Clark's body to allow the younger man to pull the offending garments down, not bothering to unbutton the shorts. The extra tension of the still-fastened clothing sliding over Lex's erection made him hiss in a breath. "Oh, God, Clark..." Lex could feel the desire coiling in the pit of his stomach and Clark hadn't even touched him yet.

Clark looked up at Lex waiting for him to catch his gaze. When their eyes met, the usual bright blue-gray of Lex's were dusky and dark, clearly telling Clark how much he wanted this. He nuzzled the inside of Lex's thigh gently with his nose, breathing in the musky, heady sent of Lex's arousal. "I've wanted this for so long, Lex." An open-mouthed kiss placed to the juncture of hip and groin. "Wanted to taste you..." Breath on oversensitive skin a maddening caress.

And the fireworks Lex saw after that, were behind his closed eyelids.

Clark and Lex were on the way back to Smallville from Metropolis - Lex had finally gotten the leg-cast removed and was on crutches. "Lex?" Clark questioned shyly, looking at the man in passenger seat out of the corner of his eye while he down-shifted to pass the car in front of them.

"Yes, Clark?" Lex grinned at the younger man's timidity.

"Do you want to come over for dinner tonight? I talked to Mom about it and she said she'd love for you to join us. That you need to get out of the mansion after spending a full month cooped up in there. Besides, I'd really like it for you to be there."

"Is there some sort of celebration going on at the Kent house that I'm not aware of?"

"Depending on how you count, we've been together for exactly two months today," Clark grinned, hardly keeping his excitement contained. "I think I want to tell my parents."

"How do you think they'll react? Especially your father? I don't really feel like spending another couple of months in a cast after finally getting out of that one."

"I think Mom already suspects. You know my mom. Not much of anything gets by her. She seemed really happy that I asked if you could come over for dinner with us. And, Dad...Well, I can't remember the last time he said something even slightly mean about you. You've been in his good graces since the virus scare - I told him about you refusing to test the antidote on me. I want to tell them that I told you about me, too. I think that will help them understand how I feel about you. Only the people I trust know my secrets."

Lex reached for Clark's hand, threading their fingers together. "I'm ready if you are."

At dinner, Clark had waited patiently for a good opportunity to present itself, but none did. A few moments after Martha served pie for dessert, she noticed that Clark hadn't started on his yet. "Clark, honey, are you feeling okay?"

"I'm in love with Lex," he blurted.

Martha looked somewhat shocked, then immediately panicked when she noticed Jonathan clutching his chest and sputtering. "Jonathan!"

"I'm fine, Martha," Jonathan gasped, holding up a hand. "I just inhaled some pie is all."

"God, Clark. I thought for sure you'd given your father a heart attack," Lex said.

"I thought he had, too," Martha sighed, sagging against her husband. "Are you sure you're okay?"

"Considering." Jonathan took a drink of water, then another bite of pie, chewing thoughtfully.

Clark watched his father for a long couple of minutes. He wondered if his admission had been completely ignored. "Dad, I know-"

Jonathan held up the hand not holding a fork to silence Clark. "I'm gonna need some time with this, son."

"I know, but-"

"I need to process this."

"I know. But...keep an open mind. And...know that no matter what you say, my feelings for Lex won't change."

Martha placed a gentle hand on Jonathan's shoulder, eyebrows raised, expression slightly expectant. "We've...thought...that this might happen. So, while I've had time to think about the possibility...that it's actually happened?...well."

Clark's mouth was agape, eyes wide, and Lex voiced the words that weren't materializing themselves on Clark's tongue. "You've given this - us - prior thought?" His disbelief was evident. Also, he was surprised at how calm Mr. Kent seemed to be with the topic. He hadn't expected anything less than a shouting match ending with one of the Kent men sulking away in defeat.

"As a parent, you learn to expect the unexpected."

"Even more so, I'd guess, with a kid like Clark."

Martha and Jonathan exchanged a look, and Clark sighed. "I told him everything. I love him. I trust him. All I want is for you to be able to do the same."

The rest of the evening didn't last long after that. Clark helped his mother with the dishes while Lex sat uncomfortably across the table from Jonathan and the man's quiet scrutiny.

"This would go a lot quicker if you let me use my abilities," Clark said, gently nudging Martha's arm with his elbow.

"You're going to be going off to school soon. I want to spend as much time with you as I can before you go." She looked up at him with expressively wide, blue eyes.

Clark grinned and kissed her cheek. "All you've got to do is call me and I can be here in a matter of minutes. We can do the dishes every night if you want."

Martha flicked the soapy dishrag at him. "As much as I'd like that, you know that you can't be running home every day."

Dishes done, Clark placed a lemony scented hand on Lex's shoulder. "Well, I suppose I better get you home, huh? Probably have the nurses in a tizzy."

Lex's eyebrows arched when Clark said `tizzy.' "Yeah." He pushed himself up from the table and took his crutches when Clark handed them to him. "Thank you for having me for dinner, Martha, Jonathan."

Martha embraced him lightly. "It was our pleasure, Lex. You should come over more often."

The smile she aimed at him was genuine and Lex smiled back. "I'd like that."

Jonathan took Lex's hand in one of his large, calloused paws, shaking it warmly. "Don't be a stranger, Lex."

"I won't. Goodnight," he said, slightly dazed as Clark led him out the screen door and into the back yard. "Well. That was..."

"Amazing," Clark laughed. "My dad. I can't...Wow."

Lex hobbled towards the passenger side behind Clark. "Any possibility of body-snatchers?" he questioned, only half-serious.

Clark helped him into the car. "Lex," the tone in his voice the same that Martha used when admonishing Clark. "Dad's changed a lot. After all the problems with his heart and everything, he's got this...new outlook on life, you know?"

"Experienced that first-hand," Lex said, threading his fingers through the silky hair at Clark's nape and pulling him down for a kiss.

Clark had already been at Metropolis University for a week when Lex called him. "Lex! Hi. I've missed you. Are you all settled in at LuthorCorp?"

"Best I can be with my father constantly hovering over my shoulder. How's school so far?"

"It's great. I haven't made my bed all week. Mom would kill me, and that kinda makes me feel guilty. But not enough to make it."

Lex could hear the grin in Clark's voice and chuckled. "You want to meet me for lunch?"

"Sure. Where?"

"There's this little outdoor bistro downtown..."

Clark was already at the caf and stood from the table when Lex approached. He leaned over the table to kiss Lex like he had a thousand times at home, but Lex stuck a hand out, which Clark dumbly shook while maintaining an awkward smile similar to Lex's. They both sat. "I don't know what I was thinking, asking you to have lunch with me in such a public place. There's media everywhere," he said, never dropping the smile.

"Lex," Clark sighed, finally understanding why Lex was so tense. "I don't care if they know about us."

"That's not what I'm worried about, Clark. Under normal circumstances, I could care less about them. But they're going to get really curious about you. They'll start digging. Clark, we can't have that. I won't let them get that close." Then Lex looked like he'd made a decision, like he'd resigned himself to the last possibility.

"Lex?" Clark wanted to know what was going on in his boyfriend's head, but he didn't want to push too hard.

"Let's just eat lunch. We'll talk about this later."

Their later never came. Clark arrived home on a Friday night - almost two weeks after his lunch with Lex - to have dinner with his parents and found one of Lex's cars in the driveway behind his dad's pickup. Clark focused his hearing on the conversation in the kitchen where his x-ray vision showed his parents and Lex sitting around the table.

"It's in Clark's best interest. I wouldn't even think of doing this if it weren't."

"I have to agree with you, Lex," Martha said.

"It'll break his heart," Jonathan said quietly, something in his voice that Clark didn't think he'd ever heard before.

"It's the only way I can protect him. That article piqued Lionel's interest even more than it already has been in the past. He knows well enough to leave you and Martha be, but I wouldn't put it past him to stoop as low as torturing others for information that he wants."

"You don't think he'd-" Martha stopped herself, sounding as though it were unthinkable.

"He's done it before. Made me forget, though, in that case."

Jonathan sighed. "If it's the only way..."

"I assure you, it's the only one I could come up with."

"...then we're behind you on this."

"Now, how to tell Clark."

"Tell me what?" Clark questioned, in the house in less than a second, fake sunny grin plastered on his face.

"I can't believe you went behind my back to talk to my parents about this," Clark said incredulously as he paced the loft.

Lex sat on the couch, elbows on his knees as he ran his hands over his scalp. "Clark, we agree it's best."

"For who?" Accusatory as he stopped in front of Lex and stared down at him.

"For you. To protect you."

"This isn't about me."

"This is all about you," Lex said, only controlling his anger because one of them had to.

"If it was, you would've asked me, Lex. You wouldn't've just made this type of decision without me. You're talking about erasing me from your fucking memory. Like everything we've been has meant nothing." Clark looked as defeated as he sounded when he finished his short tirade, leaning against the loft window. "Is that all I meant to you? Nothing?"

"Clark..." Lex stood, wooden floorboards creaking as he crossed the small expanse to the hunched figure at the window. He pressed a kiss between Clark's shoulder blades as he wrapped his arms around Clark's waist to intertwine their hands on the sill. "You mean everything to me - you know that," he spoke into Clark's back. "If you didn't, and I'm not sure that would ever be a possibility, do you think I'd go through so much trouble to keep you safe? It's going to be me forgetting everything, you'll remember. But this is only temporary - it's reversible."

"What's the point, though?"

"I can't let my father find out about you and make you some sort of experiment. I could never live with myself if that happened."

"Suppose he finds out anyway - some other way? What then? You won't remember us at all and I won't ever be there to remind you. What then, Lex?" Clark turned in Lex's arms to look down at him.

"He won't. He won't bother your family-"

"How do you know?"

"Because he's infatuated with your mother. I don't think he could ever bring her harm intentionally."

"But he can hurt you."

"That's what we're trying to avoid with this, Clark."

"I don't like it."

"Neither do I. But it's necessary to keep your secret safe."

"When?" He could feel the familiar burning in the back of his throat.

"In a couple of days."

"For how long?" Followed by a deep breath.

"I don't know. Until my father is no longer a threat."

"That could be years." Clark dropped his head against Lex's shoulder, unwilling to let his tears fall.

"Will you wait for me?"


It wasn't until Lex had already had the operation that Clark wondered how long Lex had been planning having the procedure done. Lex had set up appointments with that doctor before Clark had ever told him anything. And, now, he couldn't even ask because, when he passed Lex at Lex's favorite coffee shop, Clark only received the briefest of glances. Only mild recognition.

That coffee shop eventually became one of Clark's favorites, too. As he frequented it, he learned Lex's schedule for stopping by. Soon, even that wasn't enough. He had to make Lex remember. Two months of casual glances, after three and a half months of the most perfect thing Clark had ever known, would never suffice. So, he started keeping track of where Lex went after-hours.

Lex had been visiting this particular club almost every night for a week straight. The club was familiar to Clark. Somewhere deep in his belly, excitement thrummed in beat with the pulsing bass-line and sweaty dancers as his body recalled his time spent on the Metropolis club-scene. The movement came naturally, and he wove his way through the crowd towards his target. Red kryptonite had nothing on the effects that seeing a writhing, half-naked Lex had.

Clark remembered seeing Lex enter the club earlier with a tall, dark-haired woman, and wearing a dark plum silk shirt. Now, the shirt was nowhere to be seen. And the woman had been replaced by a couple of men - eager men. Clark knew that if he wanted to get Lex back - in whatever way - this was his best bet. He gave into the pull of the bass and let his body summon sensory memories and move accordingly. He was fluid motion as he pressed his way between Lex and one of the other men. The slide of Lex's sweat-damp skin against the thin cotton of his tee made Clark wonder about the things he and Lex hadn't had the chance to do. He couldn't keep his hands off of Lex's body, sliding over his back, his shoulders, gripping at his hips. As the last song bled into the next, Lex leaned up to Clark's ear and Clark could feel Lex's erection pressing against his thigh. "Come with me," Lex said loud enough for only Clark to hear.

That was all the encouragement Clark needed to follow. Beyond the VIP section and another couple of rooms where several of Metropolis' elite were partaking in less-than-legal acts, Clark found himself pressed up against a pale blue padded wall.

"How much?" Lex asked, licking a stripe up Clark's throat as he pulled a roll of bills from one of his front pockets.

"It's not like that," Clark breathed, hands at the small of Lex's back and just holding him there.

"Five grand?" Lex slipped his thigh between Clark's and pushed lightly.

"No," Clark groaned.

"Ten?" One of Lex's hands found its way under Clark's t-shirt, blunt nails scraping along his abs. Wet, open-mouthed kisses on his neck.

"You don't have to pay for this," Clark panted.

Lex pulled back to look Clark in the eye. "Everything has a price. What's yours?" Then a flash of recognition in his blue-gray eyes that made Clark's heart skip a beat. "You're the guy from the coffee shop. Did my father put you up to this?" Lex backed away like he'd been burned.

"I have nothing to do with your father, Lex. I just want this. With you." Clark tried to plead with Lex, make him understand with his eyes.

Lex looked skeptical, hesitant. "Free?"

Clark smiled a bit and looked at Lex through his eyelashes - something Lex had admitted often made him hard on the spot - and said, "Maybe dinner."

Lex took a couple of step towards him. "No strings?"

"No strings." He leaned down and claimed the mouth that rightfully belonged to him. But the kiss he was met with was nothing like those that he and Lex had previously shared. This was want and lust and something dirty, naughty - not what he and Lex had. A tarnished, poor-man's perfection. But he'd take it. Because this was still Lex. Grasping Lex's ass firmly, he thrust against the thigh between his own. "Just the one attachment."

Clark had wanted his and Lex's first time together - really together - to be special, and this was far from it. It felt like what it really was: just a fuck. One of the things Clark had heard rumored about Lex's past - the type of thing the multi-millionaire had done for kicks before being banished to Smallville.

But it was good. Lex behind him, pounding into him. "Harder," he found himself pleading. Ask and ye shall receive, Clark thought somewhere in the part of his brain that still allowed synapses to fire. Then Lex was driving into him - roughness and power that Clark was sure a lesser man would have never been able to take. The rhythm Lex had set became more and more erratic as he neared his climax. With one hand gripping Clark's hip with enough force to bruise human flesh, he twined the fingers of the other into Clark's hair to pull the younger man's mouth back into a voracious kiss.

When Lex came, he abruptly broke off the kiss, burying his face in Clark's neck, gripping the body beneath him as he rode out his orgasm. Clark followed almost immediately, calling Lex's name as wave after wave of ecstatic pleasure tore through him. They collapsed onto the couch together and Lex only remained pressed against Clark's back for a couple of minutes, getting up and pulling his pants on once his body stopped trembling.

Clark sat up, reaching for his abandoned shirt on the floor to wipe his drying come off of his stomach and the cushion, but Lex wordlessly handed him a towel seemingly produced from thin air. He watched Lex toe a door in the table at the end of the couch shut. "Thanks," he said, wiping his belly clean and starting on the cushion.

"Just leave it," Lex said.

"All right." Clark stood, pulled his shirt on and his jeans up from around his knees. The silence was suddenly awkward; Clark wasn't quite sure what to do. He couldn't kiss Lex as he wanted, suggesting they go back to Lex's penthouse to sleep. He couldn't tell Lex he loved him. So, he did all he could think of - he started to leave.

"I haven't come that hard in years," Lex admitted as Clark neared the doorway.

Clark paused, turning to look at Lex. He knew, in that single moment, he had the upper hand - controlled what happened next. The fact that Lex was stopping him, however unconsciously, from leaving told him that. "Maybe we should do this again sometime." Then he resumed his exit.

Clark, forgoing the daily coffee-shop visits, kept returning to the club every night after his encounter with Lex, but he waited two weeks before approaching him again. Lex had made it a habit of coming unaccompanied. Clark wondered if it was because of him, but didn't let the hope of that make him see the situation for any less than what it was. He knew Lex. Knew that he preferred his own company to that of Metropolis' privileged and the wealthy debutantes that dreamed of falling into his bed and often did so. Well, until their tryst that Thursday night, anyway. Since then, Clark hadn't seen Lex take a single woman, or man, up to the penthouse. Perhaps an offer would be made. Maybe a suggestion on Clark's part.

Moving slowly, trying not to appear as obvious as he felt, Clark danced his way through couples grinding and writhing and towards Lex. From behind, he grasped onto Lex's hips, following their movement perfectly, and latched his mouth onto the juncture of shoulder and neck. Lex stiffened in his arms only slightly, the tension receding when Clark turned him around, still following Lex's lead. He bent his head down again and kissed the older man obscenely. "I've been watching you tonight," Clark said, voice low and deep and almost breathy. "Let's go someplace else. Your penthouse; a hotel."

"What makes you think I want a repeat performance?" Lex questioned with his trademark smirk.

This caused Clark to grin slowly. "Why else would you come back here every night? Alone? And not taking anyone home with you?"

Lex leaned back, the look in his eyes the same as when he'd recognized Clark from the coffee shop and accused him of working for Lionel. "Are you spying on me?"

"I just had to make sure I was worth something to you." Not the nothing he'd feared he would become.

Lex just looked at him for a few long moments, perusing him. "I believe we have yet to determine your worth." Something wicked crept into the smirk.

Clark nodded his head towards the exit. "So, like I said: let's go someplace else."

Within twenty minutes, Clark had Lex pressed against the penthouse door, one of his thighs firmly between Lex's. "It's a good thing you've got the floor to yourself - if you don't get that door open soon, I have no qualms about fucking you right here on this floor." He punctuated his statement my pressing his thigh higher.

Lex's breath hitched and he fumbled, rather uncharacteristically, for his keys in his jacket pocket. "We will not be fucking in the hallway," he said after tearing his mouth away from Clark's throat so he could work on getting the door open.

Clark locked the door behind them once they were inside. A trail of clothing marked their path to the bedroom. With a not-so-gentle push, Lex was sprawled on his back on the bed for Clark's taking. Clark settled himself between Lex's spread thighs and took a moment to savor the sight before him. Smooth, pale skin a sharp contrast to the bedspread which was a color the same as the deep, royal purple irises in Martha's garden. Eyes lidded and dusky. Mouth slightly open. Chest rising and falling in time with the beating of his heart. Stomach muscles quivering under Clark's light touch. Cock heavy and thick, weeping. Tonight, Clark would make Lex his.

Leaning over Lex, a hand on either side of his head, Clark descended on Lex's mouth. Tongues seeking, parrying; breaths shared. Lex's hands slid up Clark's back, fingers trailing over defined muscle, one staying to explore while the other continued toward thick, silky, dark hair.

Clark shifted his weight to one hand so he could reach the other down between their bodies to prepare Lex. Using Lex's own pre-come, Clark slid one barely-lubricated finger into the heat of Lex's body, past that first ring of muscle. After a while, he added a second, then a third. When Lex was writhing, straining to meet the thrusts of his fingers, he pulled them away. Lex let out a frustrated sound that caused Clark to chuckle and kiss the impatient man beneath him. He grasped his cock gently, stroking himself a few times, noticing Lex watching him. Lining himself up with Lex's opening, he slowly pressed forward, allowing Lex's body to adjust. Eyes closed tightly, he panted into Lex's neck, the feelings of such intimate contact overwhelming him. When he was fully sheathed by the tight, flexing muscles, he reached the hand up to find one of Lex's, threading their fingers together. "God, Lex," he sighed as he started to move, slowly pulling out. He'd anticipated tonight, thought for sure it would be as quick as their first time. But this - slow and teasing - this he would draw out as long as possible. Make love to Lex. Take his time.

A few minutes into their love-making, Lex let out a strangled cry, gripping Clark's shoulder and hand, demanding, "Harder. Faster," and trying to quicken the pace to his liking.

"Shh," Clark whispered against his lips, then kissed him passionately. "Let's make this last." Eventually, the slow torture he was subjecting himself and Lex to got to be too much and he increased his rhythm. Lex still clung to him, eagerly meeting every thrust.

Lex's legs wrapped around Clark's body. "God, yes," he gasped when Clark's hand closed around his aching, straining erection.

Clark was just as close as Lex to falling over the edge, chanting, "Lex...God, Lex...oh..." Then Lex's eyes caught his. And it was like everything stopped. Time. Sound. The beating of their hearts.

"Oh, God, Clark," Lex moaned, head lolling back against a pillow, eyes drifting shut as he reached his climax.

Hearing his name one Lex's lips - everything came rushing back - and he orgasmed, too, collapsing onto Lex's trembling body. He mindfully rolled to the side, lying next to Lex so they were face-to-face.

This was so huge. Lex remembered him - he had to, because Clark never gave him his name during that first encounter at the club. But maybe... God, no. As the thought entered his mind, the afterglow of their love-making started to recede quickly. He didn't want to think it. But it was a possibility.

What if Lex had never had the procedure done at all? Just made it up as an excuse to get rid of Clark? Maybe he couldn't deal with the truth. Maybe they both couldn't. Clark, limbs still heavy with lethargy, slowly scrambled off the bed. Away from his...lover.

Lex's eyes were open now. Just watching him. Not with confusion. Not silently asking him to stay. Curious. And the recognition was gone.

A fluke.

"Lex." Didn't come out as pained as it felt. Clark averted his eyes from Lex's and bent down to pick up his boxers. "I gotta..." He backed out of the bedroom, picking up the rest of his clothing on his way. And Lex just let him leave.

December fifth started out just like any other Monday. Lex woke up at 5:30, went for his morning run, returned to the penthouse for a shower and a quick breakfast, reviewed his notes for the weekly board meeting that afternoon, and was headed to work by 7:45. When he got to work, his secretary gave him a brief overview of the messages she took while he was stuck in traffic. Business as usual until lunch rolled around.

Lex had heard about a new Mongolian restaurant that opened a few blocks west of the LuthorCorp building, so he was headed in that direction. A couple of blocks into the walk over, unsure as to why he didn't just take one of his cars, he bundled his coat tighter around himself as he stepped up onto the snow-covered patio of the outdoor portion of a small bistro. With the sign of the Mongolian restaurant in sight, he stopped in his tracks. And, for a reason he didn't know, sat in the chair of one of the peripheral tables. Moments later, a young woman in a maroon apron approached him, arms wrapped around herself. "Mr. Luthor?" she questioned timidly. "Wouldn't you like to come inside?"

Lex held up a gloved hand and shook his head. "I'm not staying."

The waitress nodded slowly. "All right." She gave him a last long look before turning and heading back inside.

Lex resumed staring at the chair across from him, trying to place his odd sense of deja vu. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a swirl of black. He didn't have to see the whole figure to know it was his father. "Dad," Lex greeted before Lionel was even in his line of sight. A tabloid was tossed into the snow on the table in front of him.

"Lex. Interesting article and photo spread on six and seven." Lionel stood across from where Lex sat, hands gripping the back of the chair he leaned against.

Lex watched his father as he picked up the magazine, then turned his eyes to the pages before him. Leafing through a ways, he saw pictures of himself and the young man from the club - and the coffee shop.

"I thought your fraternizing with the Kent boy had ended, Lex."

Lex was completely confused. "Kent boy?"

"Don't feign naivete with me, son. You told me, at the beginning of the summer, that your friendship - or whatever it was you had - with Clark was over."


Lionel's sigh sounded like it should've been accompanied by an eye roll. "Lex."

He just shook his head. "Dad. Honestly. I don't know."

Lionel circled the table and jabbed a leather-clad finger at the young man pressed flush against Lex's back in the first picture. "Clark. Kent. From Smallville. Your...`best friend.'" He looked at his son and took in the searching expression. Then it dawned on him. "Ah. Does this have something to do with that side-project of yours? What was it called?" He paused, in thought. "Lacuna, yes?"

Lex closed his eyes and tried to remember. "Lacuna, Inc."

"Yes. Is that what this is about?"

"I- I don't know, Dad. Maybe?" He suddenly felt as hopeless as he had during one of his father's interrogations about some historic Roman battle when he was nine.

"Of course." Lionel stared down at Lex for another moment, their eyes locked, before offering, "I'll see you at the board meeting."

Lex watched as Lionel walked away and disappeared into a car parked at the curb. Only when the car drove off did he return his attention to the tabloid pictures. "Clark Kent," he said, testing the name on his tongue. He peered at one of the higher-quality images that was a waist-up shot of the two of them leaving the club that previous Friday. "Clark." Lex could easily recall the first time he'd seen this Kent kid in the coffee house around the corner from his penthouse. But his father had said they'd been best friends in Smallville. He would've remembered that, wouldn't he have?

This must have had something to do with the Lacuna project. But what? Lex tried to think of all the possibilities as he scanned the rest of the pictures and turned the page.


Another picture of him and...Clark Kent. But this one was taken during warmer weather judging by Clark's simple t-shirt and jeans. He glanced around himself. The picture was taken here, at this very place. He could see Clark across from him saying, "I don't care if they know about us."

Then there was a sudden, blinding pain behind his eyes. Pressure. Intense. He gripped his head as another memory came to him.

"Will you wait for me?"

"Oh, God," he gasped as the pain ebbed away, each receding wave uncovering something new, and pressed the heels of his gloved palms into his eyes. He stood, taking a moment to steady himself, the abruptness of movement making him lightheaded. Lunch forgotten, he headed back toward the office, pulling his cell phone out of his inner jacket pocket. He called his secretary. "Sheryl, reschedule all of my meetings this afternoon - something's come up."

"But, Mr. Luthor-"

"And get me the number for Harold Mierzwiak."

"Yes, sir." There was a brief pause before Sheryl read off the phone number she pulled up on her computer.

"Thank you," Lex said, then promptly hung up. He quickly dialed Mierzwiak's number.

"Lacuna, Inc. This is Claire, how can I help you?" a woman answered.

"Lex Luthor. I'd like to speak with Dr. Mierzwiak."

"Oh! Just a moment, sir."

The phone was set down and Lex could hear the receptionist calling for the doctor. A minute later, "Hello?"

"Harold, I remember everything," Lex said. "How could that be?"

Lex pulled his recently acquired Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren into the driveway in front of the Kent's farmhouse. It had been five days since his memories of his relationship with Clark resurfaced.

He'd tried stopping by Clark's dorm room, calling his room phone and his cell phone, but he never got through. So this was his last resort.

After taking a few minutes to gather his thoughts, Lex got out of his car. He headed through the gate and climbed the porch stairs, hesitating before knocking on the door.

Martha answered, dishtowel in hand, looking at him with utter confusion. "Lex- Mr. Luthor," she amended with feigned surprise. She glanced over her shoulder, then closed the door behind herself, forcing Lex to take a couple of steps backwards.

Lex smiled softly. "Martha, I'm looking for Clark."

"Lex." Genuine surprise. "What are you doing here?"

"I've been trying to get a hold of Clark all week. Something...happened."

Martha was quiet for awhile, then gestured towards the porch swing. "I know. Clark told us about your...encounter."

"I can't believe...When the memories came back- At first I couldn't believe he'd jeopardize what I was trying to do for him. Then I realized I probably would've done the same thing."

Martha shook her head, worrying her hands in the dishtowel in her lap. "I'm so sorry, Lex."

"I don't understand." What was going on? He really didn't like that look of pity on Martha Kent's face. "Martha?"

"Lex..." She reached for his hand. "Clark met with Dr. Mierzwiak on Tuesday."

"He...? And it worked?"

Martha shrugged. "They're finishing up right now."

Lex had never felt so frustrated and pathetic and powerless. "What happens now?"

Martha squeezed his hand. "We don't even know if this will work on him."

"And if it does?"

Martha shook her head again, auburn hair falling about her face. "I don't know...You both have been through so much pain and, somehow, it always manages to get worse. I know that you were only trying to protect Clark from Lionel, but...I'm beginning to think the cost was too high."

Lex leaned forward, elbows on his knees as he ran his hands over his scalp. "I think you're right."

Martha rubbed his back soothingly with one hand, starting when the door opened and Jonathan spoke, "Clark's waking - Lex!" He lowered his voice, "What are you doing here?"

To Lex, astonishingly, Jonathan sounded more worried than angry. "I was hoping to explain everything to Clark. I guess I was too late."

"We don't know that, yet," Martha was quick to add.

Jonathan shook his head. "The doctor's pretty sure it took."

Lex stood. "Well, I...I think I'm going to go." He slowly started for the stairs.

"Lex," Martha sighed, voice sounding as sad as she looked, grasping his hand and pulling him into a hug - a comforting, motherly-type hug Lex hadn't experienced since he could remember. "I'm so sorry," she said into his neck, clinging to him almost desperately.

When she pulled away and Lex saw the tears in her eyes, he thought for sure he'd start, too. He swallowed the scratchy, burning lump at the back of his throat. "No, Martha. It's okay. It's- It's probably best, right?" Martha sniffled and nodded and Lex tried to give her his most reassuring smile.

Jonathan offered his hand to Lex. "We've all come a long way - it's hard to see it end like this."

Lex nodded his head in agreement, dropping Jonathan's hand. "I'm-" He was interrupted when the screen door slammed open.

"Mr. Luthor?" Clark questioned, surprised and confused.

Martha and Jonathan's eyes darted to Lex, who seemed just as surprised and confused as Clark. But Lex thrived in awkward situations and recovered quickly. "You must be Clark," he said, sticking out a hand.

Clark eyed him carefully, then shook the offered hand. "Yeah."

"I was just stopping by to...let your father know that he's fully paid his debt to me. That our business is done." Lex nodded at Jonathan, who smiled back gratefully in return. "Happy holidays."

The Kent's watched Lex walk across the yard and through the gate, back to his car. Once the car started back down the driveway, Clark turned to his parents. "Was that weird or what? He had to drive all the way out here to tell you that?" he said, shaking his head, before he went back inside.

Almost a week later, on a Friday night, Clark was packing some of his things away to return home for winter break. "So, you and Dad are going to be here at noon tomorrow, right?" he asked into the phone clenched uncomfortably between his shoulder and ear as he looked for a text book on his shelf. A leather-bound book he couldn't remember buying fell from behind the other books onto the floor.

"No, just me," Martha said, sitting at the kitchen table with a mug of coffee.

"Okay," he said, slightly distracted as he bent to pick up the book. "You remember how to get here, right?"

"Of course, Clark. I lived in Metropolis once, remember?"

"Yeah. Yeah, sorry." He turned the book over in his hands, noting the edge of a photo sticking out the top of the pages. He opened to the picture. "Mom?"

"Clark? What is it?" Martha gripped her mug a little tighter at the tone in his voice.

Clark removed the photograph of himself and Lex Luthor, both smiling with his arm over Lex's shoulders, at Clark's graduation, from between the pages. "I...I don't understand." The book fell to the floor again.


"Why was Lex Luthor at my graduation?"

"Honey, are you starting to remember?" Martha questioned quietly, eyes darting about the kitchen looking for her husband.

"Remember? Remember what, Mom?" His voice was raised with panic. "Mom? What's going on?"

"Clark, calm down. I-"

"I don't underst-" Clark dropped the phone as something exploded behind his eyes. The same feeling he got when he heard one of the artifacts, but without sound. He fell to his knees, clutching his head in pain.

"Clark!" Martha gripped the receiver to her ear, listening to Clark's agonizing groans. "Clark!"

It took a moment for the pressure and throbbing to subside, then another for Clark to remember that he'd been talking with his mother. He quickly picked up the phone from the floor. "Mom-"

"Clark, honey, are you okay? What happened?" Her heart thundered in her chest.

He collapsed back against his bed, weary. "Why didn't it work?" He sighed, a heart-heavy sound.


"I'm tired, Mom. I'll see you tomorrow?"

"All right. Goodnight, sweetheart. I love you."

"I love you, too, Mom...Bye."

Clark was finishing the packing he'd abandoned the night before when there was a knock on the door. "Come on in, Mom," he said, glancing at the alarm clock beside his bed which told him that it was only 11:30. "You're early." He turned towards the door.

"Your mother called me this morning," Lex said quietly, hands shoved in his pockets, eyes darting about the room avoiding Clark's.

A long, uncomfortable silence ensued. Clark was the first to break it. "A picture," he said ruefully. "That's all it took for me to remember you. But you. We even. And you still didn't. And it hurt. And. I just. I can't do this anymore, Lex." He sank down to his bed and drew in a deep, shuddering breath. "Please. Just go."

Lex took a step forward. "Clark."


"I'm not walking away from you - from us - again."

"What's stopping you this time?"

Lex crossed to where Clark sat on the bed, and dropped to his knees before him. "I was stupid. I shouldn't've tried to do everything myself. But I couldn't risk my father finding out about you. Losing you. You have to understand." He tried to get Clark to look at him. He placed a hand on Clark's cheek and gently turned Clark's face towards him. "You said you'd wait for me."

"I tried. I couldn't."

"Seems like, no matter what, we're destined to be together." He eased himself up onto the bed beside Clark. "I know now that we're stronger together. That trying to avoid obstacles before they even arise is a mistake. What we have between us is only because of everything we've faced together." He took one of Clark's hands between his own. "I love you." Squeezed the hand he held gently, hopefully, after a minute or two. When Clark failed to respond or even look at him, Lex dropped the hand and slowly stood, the constriction in his chest winding itself tighter. He stroked Clark's cheek with the back of his knuckles. "Okay," he whispered, then turned away and headed for the door.

Clark gripped the edge of the mattress, fear seizing his heart. "Lex, wait!" He was up and across the room before Lex could even give pause. He clutched Lex's hands in his own. "We do this, we do this together."

"Together," Lex repeated, heart speeding with hope.

"I love you so much," Clark said, pulling Lex to his chest, running a hand over Lex's smooth scalp, pressing a kiss to his neck. "God, I missed you." He pulled back and kissed Lex. Kissed him again. And again. Again. "I'm never going to let you forget me."

"I never want to." He grinned and kissed Clark once more, not able to get enough.

"Good. `Cause this is forever."


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