by Vivian Darkbloom
When the last of the Joker's bombs has been disarmed, everyone turns to look at Batman. There's still clean-up to be done but Bruce is proprietary about Gotham and perhaps he won't want their help.
He doesn't. Clark and Wonder Woman offer up some polite argument; the others don't bother. Flash is itching to get back to Central City; Green Lantern and Hawkgirl have Watchtower duty and J'onn has already seen in Batman's mind that he doesn't want them hanging around.
So Clark surrenders and says goodbye. He knows Batman will be watching him leave, noting the direction he's flying. Bruce misses nothing, including the fact that Clark is grateful to go. It's been three days since he's seen Lex and even for Clark, an ocean between them feels like too far a distance.
Lex had written down the name and address of the hotel for him but Clark has forgotten both and lost the piece of paper. So instead, he tunes in to Lex's heartbeat and sets off across the Atlantic. He enjoys flying at night, especially when there's no imminent danger to cope with, and it's a splendid night, cool and clear.
It's past two in the morning in London, but the city looks very much awake. There are swathes of bright light along the river, buses and taxis zooming around traffic circles. Lex's hotel (fancy, of course) sits off one of the circles, facing a stone arch. Clark lands on the roof of the building opposite and locates Lex's window. Lex has left the window unlatched - which Clark has expressly told him not to do, for safety reasons. It does, however, make for an easier entrance.
Lex is sleeping, flopped on his stomach. He's managed to partially kick off the covers; his pajama bottoms have ridden up, revealing legs silvered by moonlight, He mumbles something, face buried in his pillow. Clark smiles, quickly sheds his costume and climbs into bed next to him. Lex, not really awake, lifts his head and peers at Clark through bleary eyes.
"It's okay. It's me," says Clark and leans over to kiss him.
Lex grunts and because he is bossy in bed, even when half asleep, immediately begins the process of arranging Clark to his liking. This involves pushing Clark on his back, throwing a leg over him and ending up mostly on top of him, his head finding a pillow in the crook of Clark's shoulder. Then Lex shivers because he's succeeded in kicking off all the covers. Clark retrieves them and whispers: "Good night."
"Mmm," says Lex, then mumbles "You never get jetlag."
"No jetlag," agrees Clark. Sleep-talking Lex always amuses him, especially when Lex denies it all in the morning, "Go to sleep."
And Lex does. Clark deliberately stays awake a little longer, the better to enjoy the warm weight of Lex in his arms, the gentle rhythm of Lex's breathing merging with the rush of traffic outside. The last thing he hears before falling asleep is the distant chime of a church bell.
Clark wakes to a puff of breath on his face and pressure on his legs. Lex is straddling his thighs, ridiculously alert considering the sun is just rising.
"Good morning," says Clark and reaches up to cradle Lex's hips in his hands. Lex cocks his head and deliberately grazes his bottom over Clark's morning erection. Then he settles back on Clark's thighs, waiting.
"Tease," murmurs Clark. He runs his hands across Lex's chest: sleep-warmed skin and hard little nipples. Lex flexes his legs and sweeps his ass over Clark's cock again.
"You do that one more time," Clark informs him amiably. "And I am going fuck you right through those pajama bottoms."
Lex smirks. Clark never swears, except in bed and he knows Lex loves being the cause of it. Lex is hard too. His pajamas aren't doing a very good job of holding him in. Clark reaches for Lex's cock and gets his hand batted away. He sighs and grabs Lex's hips again.
Lex reaches down and slowly, tantalizingly, begins to jack Clark off. Clark moans, His fingers clench around Lex's hips until Lex gives a warning squeak; Clark takes fistfuls of duvet to squeeze instead. He pumps into Lex's fist and just as he's about to come, Lex swoops down and takes Clark into his mouth. Clark yelps, and comes, making the bed shake violently.
He tries to pull Lex down to cuddle but Lex is already pulling him up and dragging him towards the bathroom. There is nothing Lex likes better than sex in an expensive shower. Clark visited Lex in Barcelona last month and while the city remains a scenic blur, he has photographic recall of the black marble walls in the bathroom.
Lex pushes Clark into the shower, shimmies out of his pajama bottoms and tests the taps on Clark until his preferred degree of heat is reached. He spins Clark around to face the wall, plants kisses down his back and gently presses the tip of a finger inside him. Lex's finger is cool and the water is warm....Clark arches his back as Lex works in another finger. Somehow there's lube - how Lex has managed to anticipate the need for lube in the shower, Clark perhaps doesn't want to know.
Lex can tease Clark for an hour before fucking him. But right now, he's too excited; his cock is urgently pressed against the cleft of Clark's ass. Clark braces his arms on the wall and pushes back for more until Lex is all the way inside him. Lex's breath is heavy on his neck and his hipbones nudge Clark's ass with every thrust. Clark reaches down for his cock but Lex growls an objection behind him and replaces Clark's hand with his own. Clark thrusts into Lex's tight wet fist as Lex thrusts into him. He throws an arm back, to draw Lex closer. Lex gives an ecstatic hiss and comes, burying his face in Clark's shoulder.
He stays like that for a while, slumped against Clark's back and Clark seizes the moment to finish himself off. Then he uses the hotel's fancy pink soap to wash himself and what he can reach of Lex.
Lex pulls out and spins Clark around for a kiss.
Clark wrinkles his nose:
"You should talk," Lex says. "You've still got "night before" breath. When did you last eat?"
Clark thinks it over, as he soaps Lex's chest:
"Uh, breakfast, yesterday? Pizza bagels with Lois?"
Lex shakes his head:
"I'm taking you out for breakfast."
Clark lounges in a fluffy hotel robe while Lex gets dressed. The only clothing he has with him is his costume which seems an insurmountable obstacle to a discreet walk around London. That is, until Lex opens his suitcase and, with a raised eyebrow, tosses Clark some khakis and a black cashmere sweater.
"Don't pretend to be annoyed," Clark says. "You like packing for me because then you get to dress me."
Lex has had the further foresight to bring extra shoes, socks and a toothbrush for Clark; there's no underwear, probably on purpose. Still, he looks almost respectable next to Lex in his Armani suit. It's nice to have a change from his deliberately shabby Planet clothes every now and then.
If the concierge of the hotel is surprised to see Lex leave with a guest when he retired alone, there's not a flicker on his face to show it. They step out into the crisp air of a London morning. Clark has flown over London many times - and fought a few battles here - but he's never walked the streets as a regular pedestrian.
Lex takes him to a busy restaurant and leads him to a booth at the back. No one pays them any special attention which is refreshing, given the fuss always Lex generates in Metropolis. Lex orders coffee, fruit salad and toast and Clark chooses the largest and most lavish breakfast which comes with three different types of sausage and a pot of marmalade. It's heaven. In between bites, he asks Lex:
"How's the conference going?"
Lex eyes light up:
"It's fascinating. Dr. Lerner has a theory-"
And he's off and running on the lectures he's attended, the scientists he's met. Clark only marginally understood the theme of Lex's paper, He smiles and nods.
"And how did things resolve with the Joker?"
"He's invented a new sort of detonator," Clark says, gloomily, then stops. He's not supposed to talk about League business with Lex; Batman and Wonder Woman have been very clear on this point. "Can I have one of your strawberries?"
Lex pushes his plate over:
"Are you able to stay over tonight? I could show you around London."
Clark considers his schedule; he worked the by-election story all last weekend for the Planet so he's supposed to get a weekday off in exchange. He's not slated for Watchtower duty until tomorrow night. But it's still best not to promise anything.
"I'd really like to," he says. "You know, as long as nothing comes up-"
This is sufficiently close to a promise to make Lex smile. They take a quick walk along the Thames. Lex points out landmarks to Clark, mixing historical stuff with pop culture trivia.
"Remember the boat chase from that James Bond movie?"
"Yeah," says Clark.
"It happened right along here."
Lex's conference is being held at a convention centre just north of the Thames. Clark pulls him into an adjacent alley for a quick kiss.
"I'll be done by four," Lex says. "Meet you at the hotel?"
I'll try," Clark nods.
He watches as Lex gets swept into the crowd of scientists.
It's pleasant to walk through the London streets, rather than speeding through them. Clark rambles aimlessly. He finds a monument to the fire of 1666, then wanders further along the Thames towards Westminster and St James park. He's admiring a pond full of ducks when he hears the first boom.
Clark has acquired an ear for "good" and "bad" noises. This is a bad noise. He blurs into costume and speeds to the source of the sound.
Oxford Street is jammed with frantic people, all trying to run away from an enormous, noisy robot. Clark's throat tightens. Toyman.
"COME OUT, COME OUT AND PLAY!" That horribly creepy voice. The Robot stomps its foot down on a taxi, the driver and passenger jumping clear just in time.
"HELLO, SUPERMAN! PEEK-A-BOO - I SEE YOU."
The robot stiffly raises its arms and starts firing projectiles. Clark catches the first and crushes the second. The third nearly knocks him out of the sky because it's got kryptonite at its core. It's typical of Toyman to mix up the mock threats with the real.
Pedestrians are escaping down the side-streets but the cars are stuck, the drivers terrified. The robot uses a claw to peel the top off a bus; Clark intercedes before Toyman can fire a round at the passengers. The bullets ricochet off Clark's chest instead and he melts them as they rebound.
Toyman, while extremely dangerous in the short-term, is never capable of making contingency plans or putting up much of a sustained fight. Clark aims himself at the robot's midriff and punches a hole in its chest. Its arms flail wildly as Clark pulls at random wires. Bruce or Lex would know exactly how to disarm it; Clark just guesses. Whatever he does, it's sufficient to have the robot staggering and Toyman shrieking in distress:
"I HATE YOU, SUPERMAN. SO VEWY, VEWY MUCH."
Clark catches the robot before it can fall and crush the trapped cars; he gently lays it down in the centre of the road, then flies around to the control booth to apprehend Toyman.
But Toyman has one last shot left in his bow, a shotgun blast of kryptonite powder that drops Clark like a stone. He hits the pavement, head swimming.
There are concerned faces bending over him.
"Please...." Clark manages. "Can you get this dust off me?"
Many hands rush to assist and Clark is quickly back on his feet again. Two men have a tight grasp on Toyman, looks of disgust on their faces as he wriggles and sobs.
"Like a bloody ventriloquist dummy, isn't he?" says someone in the crowd.
The police arrive. If they're surprised to see Superman so far from home, they show no sign of it. Toyman is cuffed and deposited in the back of a police car and Clark helps to divide the wreckage of the robot and place it in two police vans.
Alls well that ends well. Except it doesn't feel well, it feels terribly wrong somehow and Clark isn't sure why. He wishes Lex was here with him; this automatically leads to him listening for Lex's heartbeat, just to reassure himself.
And he can't find it.
At first, Clark thinks some of the kryptonite dust must have gotten into his ears. But no, he can hear his mother's heart beating all the way across the ocean. At home in Smallville, Martha is sleeping peacefully. But here, in London, there's no trace of Lex.
"Are you all right, Superman?"
It's the first of the reporters on scene. Clark ignores him and flies back to Lex's conference centre. Hoping against hope - but no, Lex is gone.
"It was a set-up," Clark explains, wearily. "Toyman created a diversion so that someone else could grab Lex."
They're standing on the roof of the conference centre. Flash, as usual, can't stay still for ten seconds and is flitting from corner to corner. Batman asks:
"Did the attendees at Lex's conference notice anything unusual?"
Clark shakes his head:
"Just that Lex received a text message and got up and left the lecture."
Batman and Flash exchange a quick look.
"And no, that doesn't mean Lex has staged his own abduction and this is one of his plots," Clark says, in a tight voice.
"Supes, we're not thinking that," Flash protests. Batman says nothing. There's an awkward silence.
"Where are the others?" Clark asks.
"Earthquake," says Batman. "And J'onn's in the Watchtower. He's been trying to track Lex but hasn't been able to get into his thoughts. He'll keep trying. If you're implying that we came with a diminished force just because it's Lex, you're wrong."
Bruce can almost approximate J'onn at mind-reading sometimes. It's unsettling. Clark looks down at his clasped fingers.
"I know. I'm sorry. It's just-"
"It's Lex," says Flash. "He's your guy. We know."
Pause. Clark watches a red bus negotiate a sharp corner.
"What did Toyman say?' Batman asks.
"Nothing intelligible," says Clark. "Sobbing about his broken robot."
"I'll re-interview him," Batman says, grimly. "Flash can talk to more of the conference attendees. And you-"
"I'm going to keep flying," Clark says.
England is beautiful, Clark thinks. Also, he hates it. He will forever associate green patchwork fields, Roman ruins and idyllic small towns with panic and fear. There is no trace of Lex, nothing; Clark can't find his heartbeat or see his skeleton, though he x-rays every building he flies over.
They - whoever they are - must have gagged Lex so he couldn't call for Clark. Or they've drugged him. Or they've already killed him. (Don't think that.) He's somewhere behind lead walls, behind a magnetic force-field that is blocking J'onn. Maybe they've managed to get him across the Channel to France? No, Clark's checked; he's not there.
The sun sets. Clark wonders if Lois knows Lex is missing yet. He can talk to her about almost anything, but not Lex, never Lex. Lois has asked Clark repeatedly: how can you possibly want to be with Lex after what went on between him, and you, and Lana? All the mess, the anger? Clark has never given her a proper reply but he frequently thinks up answers in his head.
This is one truth: the shared mistakes they'd made over Lana, the truly awful mistakes, have actually served to bond Clark and Lex. They'd both used Lana unforgivably, as a way of sublimating their yearning for each other, a yearning that neither of them had been brave enough to admit at the time. It had taken years.
That's one truth; this is another: Both Clark and Lex are adept at compartmentalizing, boxing up past traumas and setting them aside. Clark knows that this isn't a healthy way to cope with pain - but he also knows he couldn't have survived his adolescence without being able to seal his mind off from certain experiences: losing Dad, finding Alicia hanging from the rafters, abandoning Lex to the mercies of Belle Reve.
Lex parcels away his painful memories too - but he's had more traumas than Clark and his "boxes" are more prone to springing open. Clark has spent far too many nights holding a silently sobbing Lex after he's had a nightmare. Lex doesn't like to talk about his nightmares but from fragments of sleep-talk, Clark knows that he often dreams of his mother, Pamela, of Duncan and Julian. Clark suspects there may be deeper buried memories that haven't emerged in dream-form yet: that other baby (not Julian) and several hundred childhood traumas served up courtesy of Lionel.
Lois wouldn't understand any of this; she only sees things in black and white. It's what makes her an excellent front page reporter, her ability to pick an opinion, stick with it and plough through any ambiguity. If Clark is more of a "page 8" reporter, it's because his experiences with Lex and the Justice League have taken away the privilege of seeing people as a pure dichotomy, good or bad. The Joker is evil, no question. But he's also gravely mentally ill. Toyman - much as Clark would like to pound him into the ground at this particular moment - isn't right in the head either and can't be held fully responsible for his actions. Bruce is filled with an almost infinite darkness - but he channels it as best he can into a noble purpose. And Lex - Lex has done terrible things. But he's also had terrible things done to him, practically since the moment of his birth and he has tried very hard in recent years to make recompense. The scales aren't even yet; perhaps, he'll never get there. Still, Lex is trying.
And the deepest, most secret truth of all, the one that he can absolutely never tell Lois, is that Clark has never physically craved anyone, needed anyone the way that he needs Lex. The silk of Lex's skin under his tongue, the warmth of Lex's fingers laced through his, the soft scent of drowsy Lex asleep on his shoulder....Clark can't be without him. He denied his need for Lex for far too many years as it is.
The sun rises. Clark circles Scotland for what seems like the thousandth time. A figure, burnished red by the sun, flies up to join him.
"You haven't been answering our calls," says Diana.
"I heard you," says Clark. "But there was no news."
Diana reaches out to clasp his hand.
"You should rest for a few hours. Green Lantern and I will continue the search while you sleep."
Clark consents to follow her back but he has no intention of going to sleep. They land at Bruce's country house. Diana leads the way through a long paneled hallway. Clark winces; it bears an unfortunate resemblance to Lex's Smallville mansion. They find Bruce and John in the library, poring over a laptop. Flash bustles in with a tray of take-out coffees, giving Clark a quick pat on the shoulder as he passes.
"It just doesn't make any sense," says GL. "Toyman is very territorial. Since when does he leave Metropolis?"
"He's obviously partnering with someone," says Clark.
"But who would take him on as a partner?" says GL. "Toyman's a terrible team player. No focus. Even Luthor never wanted to work with-"
There's an awkward pause. Clark feels his anger rising.
"You still think Lex has staged this? That he's setting a trap for us?"
"Superman, no one has said this," says Diana
"That's not what I meant-" says GL.
"What does it matter what we think?" says Batman. "Whether Luthor is the victim or perpetrator, the end goal is the same: we find him."
While there's nothing technically offensive about this statement, Clark still feels his hackles rising. And Bruce, of course, doesn't back down, just stares at him, eyes shadowed by his cowl.
"That's enough," says Diana. "Superman, I'll say it again - you need to sleep."
"There are guest rooms upstairs," says Bruce, turning back to his computer.
"I'm going back to Lex's hotel room," says Clark. He turns to leave.
Diana follows him into the hall. Clark says, sharply:
"Diana, I don't need a baby-sitter."
"Good," says Diana. "That's not my area of expertise. I came to say this: You may doubt our concern for Luthor, Superman, but never doubt our concern for you. Batman has spent the night tracing Toyman's movements over the last forty eight hours; Flash has been combing the streets. I came straight here from Honduras-"
Clark hangs his head:
"I know. I'm sorry. I keep-"
Images of Lex dead, tortured, helpless. He closes his eyes.
"You're tired and volatile right now," says Diana, softly. "But don't fly off the handle. It doesn't help Lex. It only hurts you."
She's right and Clark knows it. He can't meet her eyes but Diana pulls him in for a hug anyway.
Flash has flitted up behind her and adds himself on to the hug:
"C'mon, Supes. You gotta keep your chin up. I mean, this is Lex Luthor we're talking about! The guy is nothing if not resourceful." Flash lowers his voice. "Remember how he picked the lock on the Bat-cuffs that one time? And how mad Bats got? No one else has ever done that."
Clark tries to smile. Wally gives him a serious look.
"Keep that in mind, big guy. It's the exact same qualities that made Lex a huge pain in the ass as our enemy that will save his bacon now."
Clark desperately wants to believe this and replays all of Lex's miraculous escapes over in his head as he flies back towards London. The trouble is, a lot of those escapes were contingent on Clark turning up in the nick of time. And surely Lex is waiting for Clark to turn up right now.
The hotel room seems stripped of Lex's presence. The bed is immaculately made; Lex's closed suitcase sits next to the dresser. There is no sign that Lex was here less than a day ago, that he and Clark slept in this bed, tangled in each others' arms. It could be any anonymous hotel suite.
Clark suddenly feels terribly tired; he sits on the edge of the bed and puts his head in his hands, willing his brain to work, to solve this.
That's when he notices the camera.
Clark x-rayed the room when he arrived last night, just as he does any new environment. This camera has been installed since this morning. It's in plain view in the upper right corner; he's supposed to notice it. As Clark looks around, he realizes that the camera is not the only new element in the room. There's a cell phone on the bedside table that definitely isn't Lex's. It's a cheaper, larger model. As soon as Clark picks it up, it vibrates with an incoming text message.
"SUPERMAN. FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS TO SAVE LEX LUTHOR."
The screen clears; Clark waits.
'REMOVE YOUR JUSTICE LEAGUE COMMUNICATION DEVICE."
Clark hesitates. If he can get this phone to Bruce, they can trace the signal:
'WE CAN SEE YOU...."
Clark turns to face the camera and pulls his com-link free.
THERE IS A BOX ON THE DRESSER WITH TWO BRACELETS INSIDE. PUT ON THE BRACELETS.
The box is small and made of wood. It contains two heavy, lead bracelets.
PUT THEM ON AND SNAP THEM CLOSED.
Can the kidnappers believe that lead restricts Superman's powers? If they think lead renders him powerless, that's a very good thing and Clark is prepared to play along. He puts the bracelets on, fastens them with a click, then holds his wrists up for the camera.
LEAVE THIS FLOOR BY THE BACK STAIRS AND TAKE THE ALLEY EXIT.
Clark obeys, bringing the phone with him. He meets only one surprised chambermaid, who says "Superman!" and nearly drops her armful of towels. At the bottom of the stairs, there's a door. It opens into a dead end alley; there's a blue van parked at the end.
A woman steps out, tall, dark-skinned, in a white lab-coat. She looks vaguely familiar.
"Where is Luthor?" Clark asks, as calmly as he can muster.
The woman doesn't answer. She's scrutinizing a remote control in her hand. Clark takes a step closer. The woman glances up and says: "Stay back" in a dispassionate voice.
It's her eyes that trigger Clark's memory. She has her father's eyes.
"You're Petra Hamilton....Steven Hamilton's daughter? You sent all those poisoned letters last year. You killed four people and nearly-"
Clark takes a step towards her and she pushes a button on her remote. There's a click, a sudden vibration against Clark's wrists and then the lead sheathes fall off the bracelets. Instantly, the world turns a sickening green; it's like the time Van McNulty shot him with a kryptonite bullet, except that this time the pain isn't localized. The impact buckles Clark's knees and he crumples to the ground. More people in lab coats appear; they lift Clark onto a stretcher and wheel him towards the van. Their hands hurt him. There's a blip in time - like the skip on a DVD, then he's waking up in the van, with faces looking down on him.
"His eyes are open," says a man with a British accent.
"Doesn't matter," says Petra Hamilton, briskly. "He's incapacitated. Take some blood."
Piercing pain in his arm. Clark gasps.
There is conversation in the van but the bracelets have fogged his senses. He hears Lex's name once. It's a fight just to stay conscious.
"....do the blood work tonight," a voice says. "Run the tests tomorrow. Start the dissection the day after....."
Clark struggles to hear the response:
".....Luthor.......we don't need......not after tomorrow.....we have enough samples....."
The pain is constant. Clark has no sense of how far they've traveled or in which direction they're going.
The van stops with a jolt. A hood is thrust over Clark's head and he's lifted back onto the stretcher. There's a pause and the lab-coats have a short dispute about where to take him. A man grumbles a few words Clark can't make out with "Luthor?" at the end.
"It's only for one night," says the Petra Hamilton.
His stretcher is wheeled a short distance, then carried down a flight of stairs. Clark can hear the people moving him huffing with effort. There's a jangle of keys, then the creak of a door.
"Company for you," says a male voice, sarcastically.
"Oh, splendid," says Lex. It's his most arrogant voice, formerly used to taunt Superman, currently used to goad business rivals. "Do you absolutely have to put him in here?"
And even through the pain, Clark's heart lifts a little because Lex is alive.
"No - not on the bed," says Lex. "For God's sake." There is male snickering. Clark is tossed from his stretcher to a hard cot. A door slams, the keys jangle again and the voices grow faint.
"Clark?" Lex's voice, anxious, close to his ear. Clark tries to answer but it's as if his throat is locked. All he can manage is a rusty moan.
"I had to pretend we're still enemies. If they knew, they'd separate us....Clark, what did they do to you?"
There's a clanking sound. Lex pulls the hood from Clark's head but Clark still can't see anything. He's scared that it's his eyes, they've damaged his eyes but no, it's just that the lights are out. He can dimly see Lex hovering over him through the dark and the layer of green film. Every time Lex moves there's a clanking noise.
"My hands are chained to the wall but I can move a bit," Lex whispers. "They've been keeping me in the dark between sessions."
Sessions....Clark doesn't like the sound of that. He tries to speak again but nothing comes out. Lex says:
"Why are you....what have they done to you?"
Lex's hands whisk over as much of Clark as he can reach. He's being very gentle but even the slightest pressure on Clark's skin is painful. Lex finds the bracelets.
"Is this what....these cuffs? I've never seen kryptonite synthesized like this. They're actually glowing in the dark."
Lex tries to tug one of the bracelets over Clark's hand but it's too tight. Clark groans again.
"Does it hurt when I touch you?"
Clark hisses in response.
"Sorry. But I have to get them off you. There's not much time."
Clark thinks about what was said in the van, how he'd only have to share a room with Lex for one night. They won't want to kill Clark any time soon, not before running a battery of tests on him. That means that it's Lex that is running out of time.
Lex rolls onto his side, as far as his chains will allow, so he's facing Clark.
"I just have to find..... Do you think you could tilt your right wrist towards me?"
Clark focuses what little energy he has on his wrist and manages to shift it a fraction:
"That's better," whispers Lex. "These bracelets.....I can feel....there has to be a tiny clasp keeping them locked. I'm going to try and pick it but I can only use my right hand because of these damn shackles."
Clark tries to make an assenting noise. Lex's first few attempts to reach the lock fall wide. Something scratches Clark's hand and there's blood in his palm.
"Sorry," whispers Lex, distressed. "That's my wire....I think I've found the lock now. Just stay still."
That much, Clark can do. He tries to concentrate on Lex's voice, rather than the waves of pain coursing through him.
"It's Petra Hamilton," says Lex. "Did you figure it out? I knew she'd re-surface but I didn't anticipate an attack in London."
Clark murmurs a response.
"She's different from her father," whispers Lex. "Despite what happened to him in the end, Hamilton wasn't an unprincipled man. Not initially. But this woman - she's pure research, Clark - without any thought of the human consequence. Worse than me at my absolute worst and that's saying something."
There are footsteps in the hallway. Lex pauses until they pass.
"The one advantage we have," Lex says, resuming his assault on the bracelet, "is that she hasn't taken the personal element into account at all. Even if you and I were enemies, we'd still work together to get free but that possibility obviously hasn't occurred to her. We might as well be two lab rats put in the same cage."
Lab rats. This makes Clark worry all over again at what might have been done to Lex over the past day. He tries to speak but suddenly his head is spiraling and Lex's voice fades out. There's a sensation of falling, of being pulled down into a green whirlpool.
"Clark," Lex's voice, soft but urgent. "I know it's hard but try to stay conscious. Please."
"Did they hurt you?"
The words sound strangled and Clark barely recognizes the voice as his own. Lex doesn't say anything for a moment, though he keeps scratching away at the lock. Clark knows he's going to deflect the question.
"When she was targeting the meteor-affected people before," Lex says, "She was testing their endurance, looking for transferable assets. She's interested in my ability to heal, probably because of the military applications."
Clark shudders, not wanting to consider how Petra Hamilton might have been testing Lex's healing capacity.
"Hey," Lex says, quietly. "Don't get.....it's not more than I could take and given my own research at 33.1, it's considerably less than I deserve-"
Clark makes a protesting noise. Lex gently shushes him.
"But you don't have any moral debt to pay back, Clark. I'm not going to let her hurt you. I'll get these cuffs off and then you'll get us out of here."
Clark knows Lex's voice well enough to distinguish real confidence from Lex putting on a brave face. Right now, it's the second one. Lex shifts position; his chains clank. His mouth is close to Clark's ear:
"You know that I love you. I don't tell you often enough but I think it every day. First thought in the morning, last thought at night."
Clark listens uneasily. If Lex is getting sentimental on him, then Lex is worried.
"I'm sorry that I made you pay for so long, for something that was never your fault. I should have waited for you to trust me, instead of keeping after you, relentlessly. It was just....wanting you, every part of you, every secret, admission into every corner of your life. I was consumed by you, Clark. I still am."
"I treated Lana terribly, used her three times over. As a way of binding you to me, because you were so connected to her; As a way of taking revenge on you; And as a replacement for you, a role she could never have filled, any more than I could have replaced you for her."
This is years ago, Clark thinks. Why is he delving into the past?
"No, I have to say it." Lex takes a breath. He's deliberately avoiding Clark's eyes, keeping his gaze focused on the lock.
"When you forgave me, Clark....the first time you kissed me, I couldn't believe it was happening. I didn't deserve your forgiveness then and I still don't. There's not enough time in the world to make reparation-"
A tear splashes Clark's face.
"Lex...." God, it hurts to talk. "Please. Enough."
"I just need you to know that whatever happens, this past year has been the best of my life. The time with you, it's been the only time that my happiness has been completely real, not just a front to assuage other people."
And Lex falls silent. Clark settles into a queasy limbo between sleep and wakefulness. His exhaustion urges him to sleep; the pain of the bracelets forces him to stay awake. He fades in and out of full consciousness, unsure of how much time has passed. Hours, he thinks.
There are sounds coming from the hall; people's voices, the scrape of heavy things being shifted around. Does that mean that it's morning already? Are they out of time? Clark is afraid to ask and Lex is perhaps too focused on his wrist to answer.
So far Clark has really only considered his own pain. But the fear was lurking underneath, waiting to take him over. What if he really can't save Lex, if Lex is lost to him forever? Even when things were at their darkest between Clark and Lex, a world without Lex had been unimaginable. And to lose him now, just months after finally winning him back....
More noise from the hall. Clark whimpers. High and quavery, like Shelby used to, when Clark went for a drive without him.
"Clark, I'm sorry, so sorry."
Lex's voice, harsh and broken, in Clark's ear.
It's at that moment the clasp of the bracelet pops open.
Lex draws a startled breath, and then flings the bracelet violently across the room, as far away as he can get it.
Clark instantly feels better. He still can't move but some of the pressure is gone from his throat, the pain has lessened and the green film has partially lifted from his eyes:
"You did it, Lex!"
Lex reaches across him for the other bracelet but his chains haul him up short.
"Roll towards me; I know exactly how to unlock it now."
Clark manages to roll onto his side and Lex attacks the other bracelet.
"Six bloody hours to get the first one off and this one....."
There's a click and Lex tosses away the second bracelet.
"Under thirty seconds," says Clark. "You're amazing."
He's not quite at full power. The bracelets are still in the room and he can feel them draining him. It takes a couple of tugs to break Lex's chains, when normally chain comes apart like candy floss in his hands.
"That's considerably better," says Lex, easing himself off the bed, He staggers a little, when he stands and Clark catches him. "Thanks. Do you think you can break the door down?"
"Yes," says Clark, grimly. There's no choice in the matter. For the first time, he notices that there are spots of blood along the inner sleeves of Lex's shirt: orderly spots of blood, the size of bottle caps, forming two symmetrical columns. For a moment, he doesn't trust himself to speak.
"What did she do to you?"
Lex folds his arms against his chest, hiding the spots, as though he's ashamed of them.
"Don't worry about that now. We've got bigger problems. Did she take a sample of your blood? We have to make sure it's destroyed. Or else-"
There's a loud bang from the hall, like a firework going off.
"I'M VEWY, VEWY MAD AT YOU."
Lex turns to Clark, startled.
"How the Hell...is that Toyman?"
There's no time to explain. Clark closes his eyes and launches himself at the door, which bursts from its hinges.
"WHY DIDN'T YOU SHARE YOUR TOYS WITH ME?"
"Come on," says Clark and pulls Lex out into the hall. There's smoke and commotion happening at one end. Clark will come back and deal with it but he's got to get Lex to safety first. He scoops Lex up and flies to the end of the hall. The door is lined with lead, he can't see through it but....
Another explosion behind him, smoke fanning down the hall. Clark curls Lex against his chest and aims his back against the door. There are steps leading up to a door and once that's kicked open: blessed fresh air, morning light, freedom.
They nearly collide with a very surprised Hawkgirl.
"You were in there, Superman? J'onn couldn't sense you-"
Clark looks over his shoulder. It's an industrial street with warehouses on both sides. Police sirens are echoing from all directions. Batman, GL and Flash are coping with a barrage of projectiles from yet another of Toyman's robots; GL is catching them with his ring and tossing them to Batman to diffuse. Flash stacks the defunct bombs neatly in a pile. Wonder Woman is delivering methodical punches to the robot's head.
"There are people still inside," he tells Hawkgirl. " I need to go back. Can you get Lex to safety?"
Before she can answer, Clark thrusts Lex into her arms and dives back down into the building. There are people staggering along the hall and Petra Hamilton is lying unconscious on the floor of a room filled with equipment. Clark grabs the closest people and flies them out. He leaves them with Flash and returns for the others, getting them out seconds before the last of the explosions fills the basement with flame.
Five dazed people in lab coats on the sidewalk. Clark looks at them. They were going to kill Lex and take Clark apart piece by piece. He passes them over to the police officers and paramedics and joins the battle.
A final barrage, a brief silence, then the all-too familiar wailing which means Toyman is out of ammunition and realizes his game is over. GL rolls his eyes and uses his ring to lift Toyman away from the crumbling building. Clark extinguishes the last of the flames with his breath.
"Who set out the welcome mat for American super-villains?" Clark hears a police officer grumble, as Toyman is maneuvered, weeping, into a squad car. "Mad Yanks, go home, that's what I say."
"Supes!" It's Flash, wanting his customary reunion hug. He vibrates like a humming bird in Clark's arms. "We didn't know where you were! This building gives off crazy vibes. J'onn couldn't sense anything-"
Batman joins them, dusting off his cape. GL touches down beside him.
"How did you track us here?" Clark asks.
Batman gives him an impassive look:
"I paid Toyman's bail."
"We figured he'd lead us right to the kidnappers," says GL.
There's an awkward silence because this is not a plan Clark would have endorsed. Too potentially dangerous - five people could have died just now. It's almost a fluke that they didn't. He meets Batman's eyes.
But the people didn't die. And Lex is safe. And there's no point arguing about hypothetical past crises when there are always new ones to be faced.
"Thank you," Clark says. Batman and Green Lantern exchange a look. GL nods.
Hawkgirl lands next to Clark, neatly avoiding a pile of rubble.
"Is Lex okay?" Clark asks.
Hawkgirl lifts an eyebrow.
"He's fine. He requested I take him back to his hotel. Thinks I'm a taxi apparently...."
"Thank you," says Clark. "Is he-"
But Wonder Woman interrupts him; she's made her statement to the police and now they want to interview Superman. A barricade has been put up to keep spectators at bay but among the crowd are several dozen British versions of Lois, slippery as fish, who keep sneaking through with their note-pads and microphones and getting summarily ejected.
When Clark has signed his statement and shaken the lead officer's hand, he rejoins the group, who are discussing travel arrangements. Diana is saying:
"....might fly back through Paris so I can have a quick visit with Princess Audrey...."
"Are you going to fly back with us, Supes?" Flash asks, then quickly falls silent, recognizing his blunder. Everyone glances at Batman.
"I brought the Javelin," Batman says. "You can fly back with us, if you like. You and Lex."
Letting Lex into the Javelin is a huge gesture on Bruce's part and a tacit concession that, yes, Lex was the innocent victim here. The only trouble is how Lex might react.
Clark flies back to the hotel room. Lex is coming out of the bathroom, a roll of fresh bandages in his hand. Clark sees, with a pang, that there are circles under his eyes.
"Lex, should I get a doctor?"
Lex shakes his head.
"No, I'm all right, thanks."
"Then, can I....?"
Lex holds out his arms and lets Clark unwrap the dirty bandages.
"Remember, it's not as bad as it looks," Lex says softly. "They're already healing."
But Clark can't speak, staring at the line of wounds, red and angry, along each arm.
"She was testing a variety of injuries," says Lex. "The acid burns will probably take longest to heal."
Clark closes his eyes and considers how quickly he could reach Petra Hamilton's cell, how quickly he could extinguish her, blot her out of the universe for this casual, methodical cruelty. She would have taken Lex from him.
A cool hand on his cheek. Lex says:
"You do realize, if you stop being the conscience of this relationship, it's not like I'm going to start."
Clark kisses the palm of Lex's hand, and then very gently re-wraps Lex's arms. He asks:
"Did you want to stay over another night? To recuperate a bit?"
"No, let's just go home."
"Ended today," Lex says sadly.
Clark delicately broaches the subject of Batman's offer of a ride. If Lex takes a turn for the haughty and turns it down, it'll set back relations between Lex and the League even farther.
But Lex only nods and lets Clark carry his bags downstairs.
The plane ride is awkward. Batman takes the controls, with GL riding shotgun. Clark and Lex sit in the passenger bay with Flash and Hawkgirl. Flash makes a few attempts at conversation but the atmosphere defeats even him. He curls up and sleeps, the lightning bolts on his head bobbing in time with his snores.
Hawkgirl throws Lex a glance every now and then. Clark knows that look. It means: don't even think of trying anything, buddy. She pulls out a bottle of nail polish and buffs her nails. Then she settles back in her seat and sleeps too, wrapping one wing across her as a blanket.
Lex desperately needs to sleep. He's been awake for over two days but he's too stubborn to display any vulnerability in front of the League, especially Bruce. He sits bolt upright in his seat, hands clutching the arm-rests. The old fear of flying still persists, even on a plane surrounded by super-heroes. Clark longs to pull Lex into his arms - or at least hold his hand - but that would be taking an unforgivable liberty. Lex does have his pride. Instead, he moves his hand a little closer to Lex's. Lex watches him from under his eyelashes. He inches his hand closer to Clark's so that their fingers are grazing. This tiny contact seems to relax Lex; his posture grows marginally less stiff.
Bruce drops them off on the outskirts of Metropolis. When the Javelin is out of sight, Clark picks Lex up and speeds them home. Lex is exhausted, a dead weight in his arms. Clark holds him up in the shower, steadies him while he brushes his teeth, then sits him down on the bed to apply fresh bandages. Lex yawns through all of it. Clark is about to gently ease him down into bed but Lex says:
"No, the couch. So you can get some sun."
The sun is just rising over Metropolis and the couch is dappled with golden light. Clark fetches his old quilt from the bedroom, the one Mom made. He lies down facing Lex, chest to chest, nose to nose. Lex is sandwiched between the back of the couch and Clark: wrapped in the quilt, snug and safe, the way Clark always wants to keep him.
"Mmmm." Lex has a repertoire of noises he makes before falling asleep. Little grunts, murmurs. He mumbles something into Clark's collarbone and Clark says "yes" and rubs his back. Nearly asleep now, Lex starts gently pushing up against Clark. He does this occasionally. The first time it happened, Clark assumed it was sexual, sleep-thrusting; he's since realized that it's actually more like burrowing, Lex trying to push himself deeper into Clark's arms. Rocking himself to sleep, with Clark for a cradle.
Clark rubs his back and lets Lex burrow until the murmurs stop and Lex is sound asleep, a warm heap butted against Clark's shoulder. Only then does Clark allow himself to sleep too, basking in the encroaching sun.
Lex wakes first, several hours later, and deftly removes himself from Clark's grasp. Clark keeps an ear open, in case he's needed but there are only the normal sounds of Lex re-acclimatizing: pecking away at his lap top, wandering into the kitchen for Ty Nant, calling Martha to reassure her that they're both okay. Clark, soothed, lets himself drift back into sleep.
He knows when Lex wants him to wake up because there's one too many trips past the couch, the swivel of Lex's hips casting a shadow over Clark's eyelids. When Lex passes the couch for the fifth time, Clark sits up and in one seamless movement, pulls Lex down into his lap. Lex reclines there like he planned this all along, which he probably did. Clark wraps his arms around Lex's middle and dips his head to kiss Lex's neck.
The intercom buzzes; Clark growls at it.
"I ordered pizza," Lex says.
He wiggles free but Clark, still in protector-mode, is imagining pizza men with machine guns, tranquilizer darts. He stands up:
"I'll get it."
Lex gives him a quizzical look but steps aside.
As it turns out, the pizza man is unarmed and Lex has ordered an extra large pizza with Clark's favourite toppings, rather than his own. This means pineapple rather than broccoli, pepperoni rather than anchovies and earns Lex a kiss on the cheek. Lex slowly eats two slices and Clark wolfs his way through ten. They watch the BBC coverage of Toyman's take down. The footage includes a shot of Lex being carried away by Hawkgirl; Lex snorts.
"Oh, that's dignified."
Clark rubs a circle on Lex's knee.
"People will assume she's capturing you. It'll help maintain your villain-cred."
Lex isn't consoled:
"I don't want anyone to think I'd stoop to working with Toyman."
There's a fleeting shot of Toyman, then a brief glimpse of Petra Hamilton's face in between two constables, as she's escorted from the police van.
"Strange woman," says Lex. "From what I saw of her lab, a talented scientist. She lured me out of the conference with a fake text message from Dr. Lerner - I was drugged and shackled in the van before I knew what hit me. Sound planning. Did you notice the van was lined with lead?"
"I was too sacked out to care."
"But she sabotaged her plan by choosing Toyman as a partner and by putting you and I in the same room," says Lex, thoughtfully. "Inattentive to the personal element.... it's a factor you always have to consider when hatching a plot."
Clark turns off the TV.
"You know," he says. "You saved us back there. Not me, not the League."
Lex looks at him doubtfully. Having received so little praise as a child, he still reacts to it with uncertainty. He says:
"Batman's plan might have gotten us killed," says Clark. "If we were still locked up in that room when Toyman's bombs started going off....it's possible one of the League might have found a way past Toyman and rescued us but we don't know that. We do know that we're alive because you got me out of those krypto-bracelets."
Lex looks down at his folded hands, tiny smile on his lips.
"Where'd you hide that wire anyway?" Clark asks.
"That's a trade secret," says Lex, slyly. "In case I ever need to escape from the Bat-cuffs again."
Clark laughs and hauls Lex onto his lap. Lex settles himself, threads his fingers through Clark's hair and tilts Clark's chin up for a kiss. Clark turns him around so that Lex's back is resting against Clark's chest and his legs are flopped, loose and relaxed, over Clark's legs.
Clark lets his hands roam under Lex's t-shirt. Warm belly, nipples. He buries his face in the crook of Lex's neck and gently nibbles there. Lex heaves a long, gusty sigh and squirms a little. Clark hikes Lex's sweatpants down just enough to free Lex's cock, which twitches, warm and responsive, in his hand. He bands one arm across Lex's chest, to hold him still, and uses his thumb to massage the tip of Lex's cock. Lex whimpers and shifts on Clark's lap. His hands reach back to clutch Clark's arms. All his attention is focused on his cock in Clark's hand and the rest of Clark is just what he happens to be sitting on. Clark loves him like this, needy and demanding. His own cock is growing hard under Lex's wriggling.
Lex suddenly thrusts so energetically that he nearly launches himself right off the couch. Clark laughs and catches him. He tightens his arm across Lex's chest and gives Lex's cock a series of little squeezes. Lex groans and strains upward; his neck arches back. Then he throws himself back against Clark's chest, makes an endearing hiccupy noise and comes, hot and wet, into Clark's hand.
Clark cheats, just a little, and uses a flash of super-speed to catch every drop of come, so that the carpet won't get stained. He licks his palm clean as Lex sprawls limply against his shoulder, panting.
"So many times, I thought about us doing this on my barn couch," Clark says softly. "Every time you came swaggering up the stairs....even when we started fighting, I still thought about it."
"It would have been worth it..." Lex says, between gasps. "Even if your Dad came in from stage left with a shotgun. And I bet Martha wields a mean pitchfork."
Clark grins and stands up, scooping Lex up in his arms.
He has wanted Lex since he was fifteen. He will always want Lex. Lex is the one person who never fails to surprise him: in love, in war, in conversation, in the bedroom. He can be aggressive in bed, pouncing like a panther, pinning Clark down and whispering orders in his ear. Or he can be like he is tonight, sleepy-eyed and docile, raising his arms so Clark can undress him.
Clark gently pulls Lex's t-shirt up and over the bandaged arms, then stops for a tummy-kiss on his way to tugging off the sweat-pants. Then he laughs because Lex is wearing only his socks now and Naked Lex in just socks is funny. Lex rolls his eyes and uses a socked foot to tickle Clark's chest. Clark tugs the sock off with his teeth, and then plants a big wet kiss on the sole of Lex's foot. Lex's feet are ticklish and he shakes on the bed in silent laughter as Clark slobbers over his foot like it's an ice cream cone
"No. Say "Please," says Clark.
"Go to Hell!"
Clark shrugs and nips Lex's baby toe.
Once Lex is peaceably separated from his other sock, Clark starts to remove his own clothes. His intent is to tease Lex by stripping slowly. Lex, however, is hard to out-tease. He watches Clark for a moment, thoughtfully; then Lex crooks a leg up to his chest and starts playing with himself, pale fingers cupping dusky pink balls. He licks his finger and traces a circle around his hole, never once taking his eyes from Clark's, knowing perfectly well this drives Clark crazy. Clark growls, almost rips his sweat-pants in two in his hurry to get out of them, and dives on Lex, replacing Lex's fingers with his own tongue.
Lex's legs fly up in the air, flailing. Clark grabs them and folds them back, pressing Lex's thighs to his chest, leaving Lex fully exposed to Clark's wandering tongue. Clark licks him, long sloppy licks, calculated to make Lex wild. He finds an especially tender spot behind the balls and is rewarded by his very favourite Lex-noise, a cross between a growl and a yelp.
Clark raises his head:
"Do that again."
Lex is panting.
"I can't.....do it....on command."
"Then I'll just have to keep...." Clark hoists Lex's thighs onto his shoulders. "Eating you all up!"
A gentle nip to each thigh. Licks around the spot where Lex's cock meets his tummy; Licks to the tiny inner thigh freckles and the velvety thin skin of Lex's sac; Then licks below, making Lex's frantic again, his thighs clenching around Clark's neck, his hands tugging at Clark's hair.
Clark climbs back up Lex to whisper in his ear:
"Every part of you is mine."
He says this, or a slight variant, every time they have sex. It always seems so important that Lex should know it. Know that, in the end, all the love, the fights, the rifts and the reconciliations can be boiled down to one word: Mine.
Lex pulls him roughly down for a kiss. One of Lex's hands sneaks between them to tease Clark's nipples. He's wicked with nipples and can make Clark come with just judicious application of thumb. ("That's my superpower," as Lex said once.)
"I love you," Clark says, in Lex's ear. He's desperately hard; the wet tip of his cock is tracing patterns on Lex's thigh. "Lex, I love you."
"I need you to fuck me now," whispers Lex and his hips and mouth arch up simultaneously. Clark thrusts against one and kisses the other, while his left hand is knocking things off the bedside table searching for the lube.
"Clark!" Lex is wriggling down the bed, trying to impale himself on Clark's straining cock. "We don't need-"
Lex never worries about hurting himself which is exactly why Clark worries about it so much.
"Quit that," says Clark, sternly. Lex attempts a steely glare. Then he deliberately wriggles again because as much as Lex likes Clark taking charge in bed, defiance is his automatic response to any kind of command.
Here's the lube - finally. Clark squirts out about three times as much as they actually need and gives Lex two fingers to ride while he slicks his own cock. Then he gently hooks Lex's legs back over his arms. Lex wraps his bandaged arms around Clark's neck, and whimpers as Clark carefully pushes inside him.
They've had every type of sex: rough, kinky, cathartic and silly, sometimes all in the same night. But tonight it's tender. Clark can't forget how close he came to losing Lex today and it reminds him of all the other times he's nearly lost Lex. With every push and pull, with every clench of Lex's heat around him, he feels a thrum of gratitude that they are still here, together, in this bed.
"Don't close your eyes," orders Lex, between gasps. Eyes-closed sex reminds him of Lana.
Clark obeys and stares into Lex's eyes, which can take on many colours but at this moment and from this angle are as green and clear as stream water. Lex looks astonished, as he does every time they have sex and Clark knows the same expression is mirrored on his own face. Lex grips his neck and cinches his legs around Clark's waist. Clark slips a little deeper with every thrust until he can't distinguish Lex's moans from his own.
He comes first and collapses heavily on top of Lex. Lex grunts and pets Clark's hair, then reaches down to jack himself off. Clark listens to the sounds Lex makes - the mad thump of his heart, the thwack of his hand around his cock, the harsh breathing interspersed with grunts - and buries his nose in Lex's sweaty shoulder.
Lex shudders beneath him, his ass tightens around Clark's softening cock and his come splatters Clark's belly. Clark would be content to go to sleep like this, locked together in a sweaty sticky heap but Lex will want to brush his teeth, turn off the lights in the other rooms, fetch a water bottle from the kitchen and roll out of the wet spot and at this very moment, is gently nudging Clark's shoulder to get that point across.
When Clark comes back from the bathroom, Lex has put on a pair of Clark's pajama bottoms and one of his old Smallville High Athletics shirts. Clark slips into bed behind him and pulls him close. Lex turns around so they're facing each other. Clark squeezes one of Lex's flannel covered buttocks and Lex laughs softly.
The bedroom is dark, peaceful. It's time for confessions that are too sentimental for the harsh light of day. Clark whispers in Lex's ear:
"When the end comes.....you have to let me die first. I can't be in this world without you."
Lex blinks; his pupils are huge and dark. He murmurs:
"If only you had been that accommodating when I was actually trying to kill you."
It's a standard Lex deflection. But his eyes are suspiciously shiny; he strokes Clark's cheek with a finger, then kisses him. Gentle, sleepy kisses. Lex settles his head on Clark's shoulder and arranges Clark's arm around him like a security blanket.
Clark watches Lex drift into sleep. Tomorrow, he will present Perry with an exclusive interview with Superman, on the subject of Toyman's London rampage. Perry will be delighted. Lois and Clark will skirt around the subject of Lex's kidnapping. She will grudgingly admit that she is glad Lex is okay and they will both be grateful to move on to their next assignment.
In the early days, when Lois was still trying to argue him out of seeing Lex, she had said: "You do realize, Clark, that he's only being good for your sake? It's artificial virtue. When this relationship ends, so will Lex's choirboy act, you can count on it."
"The relationship won't end," Clark had assured her.
The thing is, though, Lois isn't completely wrong. Clark watches Lex's sleeping hand unconsciously clench and curl like a cat's paw. Perhaps Lex is only being virtuous on Clark's account. If so, that's still considerably more than Lex has ever managed with any of his wives or girlfriends. And does it matter what Lex's motives are, so long as the end result is positive? The longer they're together, the more secure Lex feels, the easier it'll be for him to make the right choices. Clark is certain this is true. Lex has always had a kind heart. His innate goodness was always there; it was just buried under layers of betrayal, loss, and lousy parenting by Lionel.
And even if Clark is Lex's sole reason for being good? That hardly makes Lex unusual, does it? Most people have a moral compass in their life, which prods them to do the right things: Religion, the law, their families. Clark has Martha and the memory of his Dad; Bruce has the legacy of his parents; Wonder Woman has the ideals of Themyscira; Hawkgirl and Green Lantern have their code as soldiers; even Lois (though she'd never admit it) still secretly hopes to set an example for Lucy and make the General proud.
So whatever Lois might think about it, Clark is proud to serve as Lex's conscience. If keeping Lex safe in his arms also means keeping the world safe from Lex.....well, that's a win-win proposition, isn't it? Icing on the cake. There's more than one way of saving the world. Loving Lex just happens to be Clark's favourite.
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