It is the little things that finally undo him. The glimpse of a lean tanned wrist underneath the frayed cuff of a Sunday best jacket, the slightly too long curls at the base of the boy's neck that shine in the sunlight filtering through the tall windows. A streak of farm-dirt on his cheek that Father Luthor longs to wipe away.
Most of all, it's the simple innocence that draws him. He wants to save it and corrupt it and have it, and he knows that is impossible, he knows that ultimately he's going to destroy it.
But he can't help himself.
If it were a knowing innocence, the sort the town girls with their primped hair and sly sidelong glances have, it would be easier. If the fleeting looks thrown his way were flirtatious in any way, if the teases of skin were deliberate, the longing behind the confusion in those troubled eyes at all faked, it would not be so hard.
Of course, he knows what he should do. He understands desire and temptation and how they lead to sin - he preaches often enough about them, warns his flock of the perils of fueling desire. He uses farming metaphors suitable for an uncomplicated audience, tells them to root out the weeds of sinful desire, not fertilize them or let them grow. Yes, he knows full well that he should look away, look anywhere but at this boy whose beauty is so sharp it hurts him.
Father Luthor is not weak, not in any sense of the word - years of celibacy testify to that - but this is temptation beyond what he can bear. This is sin made manifest, everything man has ever wanted since the first taste of the forbidden. And he cannot look away.
Today, he preaches of love: love of God, love of neighbor, love that leads to sacrifice. Holy, righteous, loyal love. He speaks of brotherly love and familial love, but not of eros. Not of passion or lust or the consuming desire that can burn a man up from the inside and destroy him. He does not speak of that, even though he can think of nothing else.
The boy, Clark, is seated near the front, and no matter where Father Luthor looks, whose eye he catches and calmly preaches to, it is Clark he sees, Clark he wants to teach the joys of this other love, the unspoken one.
He dressed in his coarsest robes this morning, the rough wool chafing his skin, a constant reminder of the evils of the flesh. After his morning prayers, he read Galations chapter five and prayed for the spirit to remind him how to walk the narrow path. But he thinks he is beyond prayers now, because the spirit does not guide him, and does not keep his eyes from straying, over and over again, to the source of his temptation.
When the service is over, he speaks to Mr. and Mrs. Baker, and the McNulty family, and briefly greets the rest of the congregation, but afterwards he can't remember anything that was said. Trivialities, that is all that everything outside his desire has become, inconsequentials that don't engage him.
The church empties eventually, and the necessity of polite conversation and pretence are over. He locks the main entrance and stifles the twinge of guilt that rises: the church is never locked on a Sunday.
His steps are slow, heavy-soled shoes echoing on the stone floor, but he knows where he is heading, what he is about to do, and no deliberation of pace is going to prevent it.
He reaches the altar, eventually, and pauses. Turns. Faces the pew that Clark occupied earlier.
He is so hard he can see the outline through his robes, pointing heavenward like some cosmic joke.
He hesitates, because this-this thing he is about to do, this is the point of no return.
He lifts his robes, bunches them up about his waist, and leans back against the altar, the edge sharp in the small of his back. He reaches down, and just the touch of his own hand is enough to make him shudder; this is something he has resisted for so long, too long for control.
His fingers curl around his erection, and he knows what to do, has imagined it enough times in that hour in the dark of night when thoughts run wild and wrong. And as he pumps his hand up and down, fingers easing moisture from the tip and trailing it down the hard length, he lets his mind travel along the road it wants-needs to take.
He is vaguely aware of a sound, the side door possibly, but it does not fully register. His entire world has shrunk to this experience, to the thought of Clark Kent working in the fields, strong arms hurling straw bales, the heady stink of sweat and farm about him. He pictures him, sleeves rolled up to catch the sun and black hair mussed up from hours of work. Gulping down water straight from the jug, so it trickles down his chin, his neck, and lingers wet in the hollow of his throat.
His own throat constricts, and his hand speeds up. So close, so very close. He feels himself tighten and shuts his eyes, as near ecstasy as he has ever been.
There are footsteps, speeding up, but he cannot open his eyes. Not just yet, not until-
"Father Luthor, are you all right? Oh-" The query ends on a shocked exclamation as Clark (Clark, of all people) reaches his side and Father Luthor comes with a horrified moan, his seed spilling on the ground before him.
"Clark," he starts, but is silenced by the look on Clark's face. Not the expected disgust, not confusion, but raw, naked want.
It is the most beautiful sight Father Luthor has ever seen.
Notes: Galations chapter 5 verse 24 reads - And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Many thanks to Zahra for betaing. Written January 2006.
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