Absinthe

by Beth


Thanks to Jenn for witnessing the inner angster and the beta.


The room has an almost antiseptic feel to it, which befits its location, but not its purpose.

The table is poured concrete, rising from the floor like a stolid mushroom, while the chairs are bolted to the floor. The plain, brown paper bag sitting on the concrete tabletop looks almost cheerful in this setting. The shower is built into the wall, hard fixtures that had probably started rusting two seconds after installation. The bed...

... the bed is a thin mattress over more poured concrete, and the linens feel nubby and rough against Clark's fingers as he waits.

It's going to be their last time here, and Clark doesn't know how things will go once they're outside, beyond the twenty-foot walls and the razorwire.

He looks up as the door opens and a guard escorts Lex into the room.

Reading the list of things they need to know about this privilege takes almost as long as the cavity search Clark had to go through to get to this point. He signs the bottom of the form, swearing upon penalty of imprisonment that they won't take drugs or try to set a fire. Lex is leaning negligently against the harsh white cinderblock wall, looking bored, but he watches everything more closely now, and considering Lex has always been watching, waiting, that's saying something. They both manage a meager smile for the guard as he leaves them, his snicker still audible, even to human ears, as he locks them in.

Clark never knows what to say, in these first few seconds, when Lex is still wearing prison orange and he's still trying to regain the ability to wear his own clothes comfortably after having a guard spread his ass while another shines a flashlight in his mouth.

It's easier for him to cross to Lex, to pull him into his arms; to start with a kiss instead of words. Lex responds as he always does, quickly, needfully, slipping his arms around Clark's neck, making those few inches of height difference nothing more than a memory.

One of the things that Lionel Luthor's money is paying for is no observation during their conjugal visits, so Clark doesn't hesitate to use superspeed to move them from the wall to the bed. To strip them as quickly and as carefully as he can, he knows better than to rip a zipper off the property of the state of Kansas.

Clark is on his knees, and while it doesn't hurt, he can still feel the texture of the painted concrete. Lex's cock in his mouth and he's making up for not having this, not having this every day for the last five, when they should have been together...

When Lex comes, pulsing down his throat, it leaves Clark wishing he could feel it harder, wanting to be raw.

The idea that he's been serving this time with Lex seems horribly arrogant, considering that Lex is in here and Clark's out there, a college graduate, a cub reporter... and something else besides.

That he abandoned Lex totally for a year while he learned about ice and how cold it could be to be alone with dead memories.

He lays Lex down on the bed, wishing it were anything else, the plush down of the feather bed at the castle, even the utilitarian Met U campus issue of his former dorm room.

Soon, though. Soon.

Lex pulls him down for a kiss, sliding his hand around Clark's cock as he tastes himself on his tongue. Rubs the pre-come down the shaft, revealing the head and begins a rhythm.

Clark hates this part, in a way, doesn't want to think of Lex doing this to himself in the middle of the night in a cell in the middle of nowhere.

Amazing how much of this is about sex.


The bag lies torn beside the bed, the little blue tube is somewhere under the covers, but they aren't willing to move to find it. Lex is still inside him, his head resting between Clark's shoulder blades as he breathes, cooling sweaty skin.

They both groan as Lex pulls out, the burn resurfacing for a second, but maybe it's more about the emptiness returning. He still falls into Clark's arms without hesitation, a gift Clark needs to reward with more kisses. Temple. Ears. Lex closes his eyes and Clark brushes his lips over the lids.

Finally the scar and lips.

They haven't spoken, beyond each other's name and a few curses here and there.

"Lex?"

"Hmm?" Lex is stroking his nipples lazily, leaning into to suck and tease. Clark has to hold himself tightly to stop from using the x-ray to find the lube in the sheets.

"I'll be here next week to take you home."

Lex stills, his thumb pausing in mid-stroke. "Home," he repeats softly, a tone of lust in his voice that used to be for Clark alone. "Where is that now?"

"The place in Metropolis for now."

"Ahh. Not the castle?"

"I didn't know if you'd want to go back there right away. It's rebuilt... but..."

Lex's thumb moves over him again, faint touches as he thinks. The other hand... the one that Clark doesn't like to think about as much is in his hair, carding through the short strands.

"Metropolis will be fine," Lex says as he rolls out of the bed. At the shower, he turns on the hot water, but moves out of the way. Clark forgets every time that the water is always cold the first few minutes. Just a little something to cool the convict's ardor.

He's unwrapping the little bar of Ivory soap, grimacing at the scent, when he looks back at Clark. "What were people told, again?"

"That you've been working behind the scenes in Africa. Your dad opened a factory there, but communications are primitive. It's a good cover."

Lex looks up from where he's running his real hand through the streaming water. "Almost as good as Superman?"

Clark sits up slowly, wondering who exactly told Lex about Superman, he's only been doing it a year, and this facility, Absinthe, doesn't exactly get the Daily Planet.

"How?"

"Dad stopped by a few months ago, left me a copy of the Planet. Nice job, saving the school bus of orphans and nuns."

Clark searches Lex's expression, which is frighteningly mild, wishing Lionel Luthor to hell and back.

"I..." The shower is warm now and Lex hands him the soap.

"Don't drop it," he says with a grin.

"Lex..."

"Clark, it's prison humor, just go with it."

Lex refuses to meet his eyes now, as they finish cleaning up, doesn't look him in the face again until they're wrapped in towels with PROPERTY OF THE STATE OF KANSAS screaming from the dingy white terry cloth.

"I had to help."

"But you couldn't do it as yourself?"

There's something in the tone. Something brittle.

"No."

Lex nods, but it's a false sense of understanding, Clark thinks. In here, he's still Lex. He doesn't know that out there, Lex Luthor exists in the shadows. They both have secret identities, but Lex won't meet his for another week.

"Any other surprises? Anyone I should watch out for, who thinks maybe I wasn't in Africa?"

"Lois Lane, at the Planet. She doesn't like your dad."

"We should get along then."

"I don't know that she'd understand this," Clark says softly, waving his hand around to encompass their setting, indicating everything he didn't walk in here with.

"What? That I went to prison for murder?"

Confession or confirmation, he's never sure which this is, but he says it anyway. "For me."

Lex doesn't waver. "In a way, yes."

"I understand what you.... Okay, no I don't."

Lex gives him a bemused look as Clark sits heavily on the concrete chair, the one he reserves for people he's about to tell a hard truth to. Well, if the shoe fits...

"You were willing to break me to keep your secret, once. Nixon left me no choice but to break him. He would have come out of that coma and destroyed you.

"But it was still always my decision, Clark. I protect what's mine."

Fingers, gentle in his hair. Clark leans in to rub his cheek against smooth skin above the scratchy towel.

Roger Nixon had died of a particularly strange chemical cocktail in his IV the day after he began to wake from a two-year coma he had fallen into the day three tornadoes had swept through the town of Smallville.

Justice... in the days of terrorism was different, and a closed court and a secret trial and imprisonment was all Lionel Luthor's millions and a promise could buy for his son. Lex had been sentenced to five years in Absinthe, with no one but Clark, his parents, and Lionel, the wiser.

And the government got a potently nasty little chemical it dumped on a hostile foreign country. The news reports had all said it looked like blood, falling from the sky.

Clark had never known the lengths his lover would go to, never understood that love meant everything. And Lex was right. Clark had been willing to break his friends to keep his secret. Lex had lost his hand, received more concussions than Clark could count on two hands before, on their third night together, the lies had fallen away.

Closing his eyes, Clark breathes in the scent of Ivory and the prison laundry, then the scent of Lex's skin. Lex was punished for his crime; morally, the slate is clean.

As he dresses, he repeats that to himself.

As he signs the paperwork to start the release process next Monday, he repeats it to himself.

A week later, as he and Lex walk into their apartment, and he hears a scream and Lex watches him fly to save, to atone, Clark believes.



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