Rain made for shitty metaphors, Lex had found -- trite ones, melodramatic in the worst way. Regional climate systems had nothing to do with personal woe, and to pretend otherwise required a degree of arrogance and egotism that even he had never achieved.
But nonetheless, there was Clark hunched over in the passenger seat beside him, staring out the window and looking numb and miserable. And there was the rain pouring down in the night outside, right on cue, in that arch and ironic manner that was really beginning to make Lex pissed.
He watched Clark out of the corner of his eye as he drove. "Clark?"
"Hmm?" Clark turned a little.
"Where do you want to go?"
"Oh." Clark shook his head. "I don't know, Lex. Wherever."
They were already on the route to Metropolis -- reflex, maybe. Conditioning. It was as good a ride as any; at the least, sticking to the path to the city would be safer than wandering around the country backroads in these circumstances.
It was a little past ten-thirty by the dashboard clock. It'd been twenty minutes since the abrupt phone call to the mansion, almost ten since he had picked Clark up outside the Kent farm.
Clark had been standing at the edge of the road, next to the mailbox. He was only wearing a t-shirt and jeans, Lex had noted as he pulled up -- no jacket or umbrella to shield him from the wet or chill. "Thanks," he'd said as he climbed into the car.
"Don't mention it," Lex had said, and they'd lapsed into a steady quiet.
Now Lex said, "Sure, Clark. We'll just drive."
Clark's nod was barely perceptible. His eyes seemed fixed on the windshield wipers as they flicked back and forth ahead of him. Maybe he was just looking at some point further down the road, invisible to Lex.
It wasn't that Lex wasn't curious about what they were doing, but it was less that he wanted to know than that he wanted Clark to tell him. There was no point in interrogating Clark. He would talk when he felt like talking; Lex could wait until then.
He stopped for gas about thirty miles outside of Smallville.
He slipped his credit card into his pocket and handed his wallet to Clark. "Go get something to eat." He nodded towards the mini-mart across the pavement.
Clark held the wallet carefully with two fingers, as if he was afraid to touch it more closely. "I'm not really hungry."
"I would probably believe that from anybody else. Grab us some chips, soda, whatever you want."
Lex waited to watch Clark jog across the slick parking lot to the convenience store and enter, before he opened his door.
After he finished filling up the tank, Lex moved the car to directly in front of the store, under a light. He could see Clark at the counter inside. He was smiling -- not a real smile, but one of the good fakes -- and engaged in animated chat with the cashier.
That seemed typical. The Kents had always struck Lex as the sort of people who knew everybody in town, whose errands always ended up taking hours because they had to stop and catch up with some old acquaintance everywhere they go. Lex could picture Clark standing patiently beside his mother or father as they dragged on and on. Then, of course, the carefully scripted overture towards him:
"What? This is Clark? You've gotten so tall! How old are you now? In high school already? Time's really catching up with us, eh, Jonathan? I suppose you're a football player like your old man, Clark?" And Clark, unfailingly polite and friendly to them all.
Lex tapped his fingers against the steering wheel.
Clark and the man behind the counter shook hands firmly, and Clark stopped to wave back again before he reentered the car.
"I got us some Cokes," Clark said, plopping into the seat.
"What was that all about?" Lex asked as he maneuvered the car out of the parking lot.
"It turns out that guy was from Smallville. He went to high school with my dad," Clark said flatly.
Lex let his gaze flicker over briefly; Clark's face was closed and distant again.
The rhythm of the raindrops was calming, almost soporific, and Lex was yawning despite himself. He began listening to the patterns of the night: the steady patter of the water all around, the syncopated thump of the wipers, Clark's steady breath beside him.
"Lex?" Clark's voice surprised him, shaking him out of his slight reverie.
"Can you pull over for a minute? I need some air."
He parked on the shoulder and walked around the back of the car. Clark stood on the grass, a few steps beyond the edge of the asphalt, facing an empty field. The ground squelched beneath Lex's feet as he joined him. It was almost completely dark now, and Lex could only make out the outline of Clark's shape through the rain.
"I hate this," Clark said suddenly. "I should love the rain, you know, like my parents do, because it's good for the farm. But I just wish it would stay sunny all the time."
Lex nodded, but Clark's gaze was still fixed directly ahead. He reached out his hand out and squeezed Clark's forearm gently. Droplets of water fell from Clark's hair as he turned his head.
"You never asked why I called you."
"I didn't think you felt like talking."
"Thank you." Clark gave him a small smile. "I just -- I needed to get away for a while. I had a rough day."
Lex's hand was still on Clark's arm, and he rubbed reassuringly. It was cold; Lex was close to shivering from the storm, even with his jacket, but Clark was as unmistakably warm as ever.
When Clark spoke, the words came out quickly, and Lex leaned forward to catch them. "There was this woman, earlier, I guess she was one of the ... mutants? One of the people from the Wall of Weird. And she was giving birth during the meteor shower, I guess, and she had this baby, only it stayed a baby all this time. Only it was -- not right. There was all this stuff wrong with it. And I guess the woman was trying, you know, to fix it with the other babies."
"I had heard about kidnappings of infants around town," Lex said.
"Yeah. And my mother's friend Elise, she just had twins a couple days ago, and the woman almost killed all three of them..."
"But you saved them," Lex finished quietly.
"Yeah. And now the woman and her baby, they're both dead." Clark squinted. "She was trying to help her kid. And the baby was just a baby."
"You can't always feel responsible for everyone."
Clark rubbed his cheek with the back of his hand. He stood still for a moment, and then said guiltily, "And then tonight, Chloe broke up with me."
Lex could find in Clark's face no clues on how to respond to this news. "Her loss," said Lex. Chloe was a smart girl; he'd certainly thought she was better for Clark than Lana ever would be.
"She said I was -- distracted," Clark continued. He looked down and nudged the mud with his foot.
Lex smiled a little. "I've gotten that a few times myself."
"None of the people I went out with were ever worth giving much of my concentration to."
"Like Victoria." Clark sounded disgusted.
Clark looked up at him; from this distance, Lex could make out the color and expression of his eyes easily. "I never liked her, you know."
"I know." He let go of Clark's arm and took a small step back. He placed both hands in his pockets, taking a deep breath.
After another moment of silence, Clark said, "Then earlier, I had a fight with my dad."
"So we ran away."
"No.... They don't even know I'm gone, I bet. They probably think I'm out in the barn, cooling off."
"How bad was it?"
"Pretty bad." Clark crouched to pick something -- Lex guessed a pebble -- up off the ground, then straightened up again. He rubbed the object between his thumb and index finger.
"About anything in particular?"
"Just -- stuff," Clark said guardedly. Defensively.
There had been a time when that tone, those so-obvious implications would have had him angry, or disappointed, or wondering, but these days Lex was almost proud at how much control he had over his reactions to Clark's secrets. Let it go.
Clark continued, "Just about everything seemed to get thrown in there by the end."
Lex paused. He listened as another car passed on the road, brightening their surroundings with a split-second of light. "Was I one of the things?"
Clark hesitated. "Yeah."
"It's not your fault," Clark said, furrowing his brow. He kicked at the mud, splattering it lightly against the hem of his jeans.
"I don't like causing arguments between you and your parents."
"It's not you, Lex. It's my dad."
Clark was soaked by now; Lex wished he had remembered an umbrella.
"It hadn't been so bad lately, anyway." He looked up to meet Lex's eyes. "There had been a lot fewer of the fights about you since I started going out with Chloe."
Lex looked up at the sky. He wouldn't have minded an umbrella for himself, either; his head was fucking cold. Carefully, he said, "I don't think your father's antipathy is as simple as thinking I'm a sexual predator out to seduce you, Clark."
Clark folded his arms against his chest and hugged himself lightly. "It doesn't help any."
"You know, Clark, there's really not anything I can do about your father thinking I'm a faggot."
Clark let out a frustrated sigh. His breath lingered in the cold air. "That's -- I didn't mean it like that. I'm sorry, Lex. I'm mad at him. I'm not trying to take it out on you."
Lex nodded. "Was that one of the things you fought about?"
"More or less. He didn't come out and say it, but that might have been because of my mom. He just said a lot of stuff about thinking about how things might look, and about how easily people get the wrong impressions about stuff. Things like that."
"Ah," said Lex, and he wondered if there was something else he should say. He noted absently that the rain had stopped. The moon was out now, almost full, and he could see Clark's face clearly.
"Do you think I'm distracted?"
Lex had the overwhelming urge to touch Clark again. His hand slipped out of his pocket; he stopped it in midair. Glancing up, he saw Clark staring, and he moved his hand away again, back close against his side. "That's not how I would phrase it."
"How would you then?" Clark's eyes drifted from Lex's hand to his face, not quite meeting Lex's eyes. He looked slightly shell-shocked, out of focus.
"I would say that often, important things come up for you, and you're not always able to pay as much attention as you may want to the people you care about."
"I'm a bad friend." Clark sounded glum. At least glum was a step up from guilt-wracked and depressed.
Lex had never been glum in his life. "No."
Clark threw the stone in his hand into the expanse before them. Lex didn't see or hear it land. "You're busy and important and you're still a good friend. You've always been there. Every time."
"It's a matter of priorities," Lex said. "You have your parents, Lana, Chloe, Pete, and every victim in the greater Smallville area to worry about."
"What about you?"
"I have myself. My work and my plans. You."
Clark closed his eyes for a few seconds. "You concentrate on me," he said softly.
"You're worth it," Lex responded, equally quiet.
Clark took a step towards Lex. They were only a few inches apart, and Lex watched tiny clouds of air escape Clark's lips as he spoke.
"The thing my dad doesn't get," Clark said, almost whispering, "is that you really are my friend. You care about me. You don't give me things because you want to buy me or repay me or whatever. You just want me to be happy. You came and picked me up in the middle of the night, not even knowing why. You harbored a fugitive when I asked you to."
"I don't think I've made any secret of the fact that I'd do just about anything for you, Clark."
"You -- you'd protect me." It was somewhere between a question and a statement.
"Would you --" Clark's eyes broke contact for the first time, darting down and away before returning to Lex's gaze. "You would even kill someone for me."
"Yes." Simple, simple questions.
"I wouldn't want you to," Clark said solemnly.
Clark nodded. "Yeah."
Lex waited. This close to Clark's face, he couldn't stop himself from searching for the flaws that weren't there.
"Lex?" Hesitant, but that faded completely between that breath and the next. "Are you in love with me?"
Oh. There was the hardball. "Possibly," Lex said slowly, watching Clark carefully for his reaction.
The laughter was unexpected; that hadn't been in the carefully considered range of responses Lex had prepared himself for. Clark crouched on the ground, trying to catch his breath.
"Possibly?" said Clark. He shook slightly. "What do you mean, possibly?"
"What the fuck do I know about it?" Lex said sharply. "I don't have much to compare this with."
Clark stopped laughing. "You told me once you'd loved two people," he said, looking intently in the direction of Lex's knee.
"Yeah, well. Whatever role you're playing in my life, it certainly isn't a mother figure."
"You've never loved anyone else." Clark stood up and moved next to Lex, put his hand on his shoulder. Clark's eyes were wide and dark; he looked, Lex thought, obscenely young.
"But you might love me."
Clark pushed him back gently till his back rested against the wet car. Just a few inches apart, but they were connected only at Clark's hand, which now trailed down Lex's arm. Clark laced their fingers together.
"Yeah," he said, smiling. "Me too."
The kiss should have been anticlimactic, some part of Lex thought. Months and months of sexual tension, build up, wondering. It should have been fundamentally lesser somehow. Another part of him had expected more desperation, desire, need: a rawness to it. That was there in the kiss, but it was deep in the background. This kiss was small, and short, and gentle, almost but not quite virginal -- more of a promise than anything else.
Clark looked at him seriously. "That was our first kiss."
Lex pulled him in closer. Allowed to touch all this boy, now. All of it. How -- strange. Curious. He kissed the wet cotton at Clark's shoulder experimentally.
"The one by the river doesn't count," Clark continued, "because you were dead." His breath hitched a little as Lex ran his palm across his chest.
"I think," Lex said, "that we should try for our second now. What do you think?"
"I think so, too," said Clark.
Lex put his hands on Clark's waist and pulled in hard, pressing them together from chest to thighs. Clark braced himself his arms against the car. His eyes were closed, lips parted slightly, and Lex paused, watching him.
Clark opened his eyes. "Lex?"
The second kiss was different, more like the hungriness he had half-expected before. It was more intense, more concentrated in some way Lex couldn't define, and didn't especially care to.
With the third kiss, he stopped worrying about it altogether.
Kissing Clark was familiar somehow, like something he'd known once and forgotten. It was amusing to think that he had Chloe to thank for Clark knowing what the hell he was doing. Lex wondered what an appropriate expression of gratitude would be. Maybe *she'd* accept a car.
He slipped his hands under Clark's shirt, rubbing his back and sides intently. The skin wasn't clammy, but warm and close to dry, like the water was repelled away. Clark's hips were moving almost jerkily, and small whimpers escaped from his mouth to Lex's.
Lex pulled away from the kiss. Clark bucked against him hard as Lex began to nuzzle his neck.
"Hey, Clark?" Lex bit down lightly at the conjunction of his neck and shoulders.
"What?" Clark said foggily.
"Have you ever--"
"No -- no." Clark's eyes were so open. "It never felt right. Before."
"Does it feel right now?" Lex thrust his hips forward gently as he licked the line of Clark's jaw.
Clark let out a tiny quiet moan. "God, Lex, yes."
Lex felt his smile slowly unfold. "Your jeans are probably pretty uncomfortable."
Clark nodded dumbly, breath coming out in uneven measures.
"Maybe I should do something about that," Lex suggested. He moved his hands back to the wet denim of Clark's waistband, and rubbed his stomach lightly.
"Yeah," said Clark. "I ... yeah." He nodded again, as if wanting to make sure they were absolutely clear on the point.
Lex's smile widened as he turned them around, pinning Clark against the car.
Undo the button, pull down the zipper, cup gently, and it really was petty to be so glad that Chloe hadn't gotten this far in Clark's learning curve, wasn't it? Under the boxers, and Clark's cock, hard and hot and wet in his hand, and Clark cried out, "Oh, God" and threw his head back at the first touch.
Ah, well. The Luthors were never above pettiness.
Part of the rush was the power: Clark -- Clark -- helpless before him, calling his name. Another part, maybe, was the focus of Clark's eyes, very obviously seeing only Lex, very obviously not distracted, very obviously not thinking of anything or anyone or anywhere else.
But those were relatively small parts, really, in the big picture.
He jacked Clark slowly, forcing him into the steady rhythm. Clark's eyes were fluttering wildly -- he was making an effort to keep his eyes open, Lex thought. To see him.
"Clark," Lex said, "you're so sexy." He stroked harder. "Does this feel good?"
"Good. I want it to. Is this how you touch yourself? When you think of me?" A painful sounding groan, and the accompanying buck almost threw Lex off his footing; Clark's arm shot around to wrap around Lex's waist and held him fast and tight.
"Yeah. Like that. Think of how it's going to feel when I suck you. When you fuck me."
"Lex! I -- I --" Clark's eyes were unbearably earnest, huge and overwhelming in his face.
"Just like that. Come on. Clark...."
And Clark was coming with a low wordless groan, as he arched forward and forward endlessly into Lex's hand as Lex whispered his name.
Clark fell back against the car gracelessly, looking ridiculously stunned. Lex smiled at him, then brought his hand to his mouth and slowly began to lick it clean; Clark watched his mouth as if he couldn't comprehend what he was doing.
Clark's taste so fucking familiar, again, even more than before. "You taste good."
"Lex." Clark stepped forward and planted his hands on Lex's head, pulling him in and kissing him deeply. "God, Lex, I want -- I want... so much," he said, and he dropped to the ground.
It wasn't that Lex had never imagined this, that he hadn't pictured Clark on his knees before him countless times. But the reality of it -- in the mud, in the middle of the night, beside some backwater Kansas road -- was disarming, almost impossible to take in. He stared down at the top of Clark's head, dark shiny hair, steadying himself with deep breaths as Clark worked awkwardly at his fly. Clark -- so eager for this that Lex could hardly stand it: the expression on his face as Lex's erection came free, the sharp breath and the whisper of his name, Clark's hand on his ass, all almost too much, and Lex shut his eyes tight.
He felt Clark rub his cheek against his cock, and then a slow lick, tongue dragging roughly along the length, but those were all the preliminaries he got before he felt Clark swallow, and take him into his throat.
"Oh shit," Lex said, eyes shooting open. Definitely not something to thank Chloe for; Lex had no clue where Clark had picked up this particular skill.
Clark's hands were encouraging him on, and Lex lost track of time, no idea how long he was there, braced against Clark's shoulders, cock pumping steadily in and out of Clark's hot wet perfect mouth.
Clark's eyes were closed. His face wore a look of intense concentration.
"Clark," Lex whispered. "Open your eyes."
Clark blinked, surprised, and looked up to meet Lex's gaze. His orgasm came with a sudden shock. He could feel Clark still, muscles tight around him as he swallowed, and when he pulled off, Lex fell forward against him abruptly. Clark tumbled onto his back, laughing softly as he took Lex's entire weight without an effort.
Lex noted that in the back of his mind, absently, but no. *Shut up, tuck it away somewhere, let it fucking go for now.*
He could do that.
Lex untangled his limbs and propped himself up against Clark to look down at him. Clark beamed back at him.
"Hey, Clark. You doing okay?"
"Yeah. I'm good, I think."
"Good to hear. Especially since we seem to be stranded here."
"There's no fucking way either of us is getting into my car covered with crap like this."
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