Blood Sports VI: Quarry

by Kitty Fisher

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FEEDBACK - yes please

Blood Sports VI: Quarry
Kitty Fisher

Disclaimer: Not mine

Rating: NC17

Pairing: Clark/Lex

Author's Notes: Lorelei and The Spike are the best betas, love and hugs to them both for services above and beyond the call of duty! Feedback please - pretty please? Archive - sure, just ask.


Muted light was spilling through half-drawn damask. In the soft silence, Clark sat on crumpled sheets, lazily letting his eyes feast on Lex's body. Veins, just there, almost touchable under thin skin; palest mauve threads winding across temple, wrist, ankle, throat, at the concave arc of hip where bone tried to jut through flesh. He'd watched Lex a hundred times, and never tired of just this. Of looking at the thousand places he had touched, of looking for the thousand places he had still to find.

A pulse was fluttering in Lex's groin, a tiny disturbance that hinted of blood, hot and sweet. Slightly metallic. Clark could still taste it, would always be able to remember what it felt like on his tongue. Lex's blood, shared in a sacrament as ungodly as he could imagine.

Scarring Lex for love.

Clark lifted his head as if scenting the air, breathed in gently the sharp tang of whatever the linens had been washed in, beeswax polish, sex, sweat. Lex. He sighed happily. Lazily glanced towards the locked door, at the line of haphazardly dropped clothing that marked their rushed passage from the door to the bed. Shoes, shirts, pants, underwear, then the bed and on the bed, Lex, naked, lying on his back, eyes half-closed, cock at half-mast despite the urgent need that had made them jerk each other off, hard and fast, as soon as they were alone.

The castle was very quiet. Late afternoon, all the staff working at a discreet distance. No traffic. A few birds calling. And under it all the thrum of Lex's blood, rushing, thick and hot.

Clark shivered.

A slow roll of Lex's head towards him. "You okay?"

"Better..." And he was. After a miserable week, this was perfection. Bliss. He sighed contentedly, lazy in the knowledge that this was their time. That they had hours and hours before he needed to go home. "Much better."

Lex made a noise, somehow signifying contentment, agreement. Complicity too. Sitting at his side, Clark bent forward to kiss his shoulder. There were a few faint freckles dusted there. Like specks of dried honey, except they didn't come off when he sucked. He'd tried. Though the ones on the inside of Lex's thigh had been spectacular in other ways. For, apparently, he liked to be bitten.

He kissed again, mouthing his lips on smooth warmth. Sliding his hands under Lex's arm, he lifted it slightly, holding it gently, feeling the weight and strength of slim muscle, of strong bone. And there, a dark marring; the scar. Livid, living. He bent forward another inch, until Lex's skin was under his lips. The scar was raised; a dark cross incised in flesh. Still not perfectly healed, still laced closed with stitches. Raw, primitive, the mark of possession. Of love. Clark moaned softly, hands cupping Lex's arm, angling it to his mouth. A kiss for every stitch. Lips lifting, falling, barely grazing skin. Breath softly scudding back as he breathed in, the faint sweetness of antiseptic a curious aphrodisiac.


Lazy eyes watching him. "It'll scar perfectly." Lex peered sideways. Smiled in a way that made Clark's insides shift and knot.

Stolen time - which was all they would have until his dad got a grip and realised this was for real. Time stolen, like now, after school on a Friday, his dad not even wanting to know where he was. His mom pushing him out the house with Cherry standing at her shoulder smiling; a fairy godmother in designer clothes and spike heels.

"Jesus, you know I want to do everything? Fuck you, hurt you, eat you too."

"That can be arranged." That smile; lazy, saying more than most people managed in whole sentences.


"The scar will be fine. Toby stitched it up like the pro he is."

"How did you know that's what I was going to ask?"

"I just did." Sketch of a shrug, skin rasping softly on linen.


"And it doesn't hurt that much anymore. Not really. Though I guess I could do with something to take my mind off it." Lex curled across and touched Clark's face. "You could tie me up. That might do the job." His voice was light, teasing.

"You mean as a favor? After all, I wouldn't want to do anything like that myself, I'd only be helping you out."

"Sure." A slight evening in the tightness around Lex's eyes, humor ghosting behind his features. "Yeah, tie me up and make me forget my poor wounded arm. Betcha can too."

"Yeah." Clark nodded. Where had Lex learned to do this? Had he attended a class in his boarding school that taught reading, writing and flirting? Sexual manipulation 101? If he had, then Clark's cock was giving the teacher full marks. God, he was hard again, already. Just from the thought. The tease.

Sliding one hand from under Lex's arm he met Lex's touch. Fingers gliding, sliding together, interlocking. He stared at the pattern of their woven flesh. His own hand just larger than Lex's, though the paler fingers were also much more slender. Elegant. Like Lex. Like the long arm lifting up to him. The strong wrist. Long bones like cathedral architecture, light and soaring and sublime.

He kissed the fingers notched through his own. One after another. Then the back of Lex's hand, mouthing freckles softly, eyes half-closing as he slid his mouth to the jutting bone in Lex's wrist. Sucking, slow and hard. Forearm. Elbow. Sighing as he kissed, running the tip of his tongue over the patterning in the delicate dip of elbow. Slicking skin, blowing on the shiny saliva-wet marks, watching Lex's skin lift, listening as a soft gasp breathed from Lex's lips. Smiling. Kissing again. Wanting to find the elusive inch of Lex that was untouched, unkissed, unknown by anyone other than himself. Wanting all of Lex to be his, and no one else's. No one at all. Clark groaned greedily, shifting, sliding his cheek up along one bicep, burying his face in Lex's smooth armpit. Breathing Lex. He licked. Tasted the sweetness of sweat. Felt his cock spasm. Licked again, groaning as he dragged his lips upwards, still greedy, still seeking. A nipple, sucked into his mouth. Teeth biting down sharp and quick. Gloating as Lex arched up with a sudden exhalation. Biting again.

Then he was kneeling over his lover. Kissing him, mouth to mouth, just the most fleeting of touches, backing away as Lex tried to lift up to meet him, wanting more, as greedy as he was himself.


"No?" Dusty voice. Need so blatant beneath the stab at control. Ah, God, that he could do this. Sweet, oh yes, so sweet. Power like a rush, delicious, addictive. That he could do this to Lex. Amazing. Every time; amazing. And perfect beyond any question, any reason, any argument.

"I haven't touched you for days. I'm not sure I can do anything too fancy."

"Then don't. Do what you want. Anything."

Something they'd done before. Reassurance wrapped in leather and chains and the fine edge of control.

"Wait." Clark paused until Lex nodded, the movement slightly uncoordinated. Then he was off the bed, searching in the chest where they kept various toys.

He walked back to the bed slowly. Loving the weight and thickness that made his cock bounce, loving the way Lex watched him. Wanted him. At the end of the mattress he stopped and slowly raised his hand to show what it held. Black leather, very fine grained, supple as silk. Custom made for Lex, who loved it passionately. He knelt on the bed, crawled until he was by Lex's shoulder. Staring down, he watched Lex's throat ripple as he swallowed. Saw the dark dilation of his sea-change eyes.

"Sit up." Lex sat. Knelt with economic grace. Waited. Clark touched his arm with one finger, just by the scar. "I'll be careful.."

"I..." Dry swallow. And a second attempt. "I know."

"I won't damage it more."

"Toby can always re-stitch it."

Clark made an incoherent noise. "Lex..."

"Clark, trust yourself. Just do it..."


Clark held the intent, calm gaze until the hood was slipped over Lex's head, leaving him blind. Light, supple, the leather was so close a fit that Clark had to ease it into place with care, pulling it tight as he slowly notched the zip shut. Final adjustments made with both hands curled around Lex's head, Clark slid one hand to Lex's chin and pushed gently until the masked and blind face was staring at him, leather encased from upper lip to the nape of his neck. No holes for breathing, just solid leather, lined in silk. Shaped, it moulded the hollows of eye and cheek, the sharper promontories of nose and cheek-bones. It ended in a line under Lex's nostrils. The lush mouth left bare. Fuckable. With a shudder that made him gasp, Clark wondered if one day he'd come just from this. From looking at Lex when he was so perfectly his.

Leaning forward he brushed a kiss onto Lex's slightly parted lips. "Lie back."

A quirk of Lex's mouth, then he obeyed. Stretching himself back on the dark blue sheets, so beautiful it made Clark's heart beat faster, a knot of harsh desire twisting behind his balls.

"I'm going to tie you, Lex." A kiss, soft as a promise. Then carefully he stretched Lex wide, shackling his wrists into straps now permanently chained to the wooden bed. Concentrating, savoring the preparation. The laying out of Lex as an object, an icon. An altar. Kneeling between Lex's legs he guided them further apart, stretching them as he fastened each ankle into its own cuff. Fingers caressing as he straightened, Clark sat back on his heels. He looked up the length of Lex's body, idling here and there with his gaze. Staring possessively.

He touched one lean, perfect thigh. Let his hand fall in a gentle slap, striking where the muscles were thickest, where the sound of skin on skin was somehow sharpest. He watched as Lex's mouth parted, head tilting back. A rake of short nails down the same muscle made Lex gasp. Again. The skin reddening in five clear weals. Again, though this time to the other thigh and the shuddering gasp lifted Lex's chest off the bed, to thud back as he moaned softly. Panting erratically; breath becoming more and more complex to initiate.

Not even because of pain. Just from anticipation. Tease. The promise of more.

A harsh sound from deep in Lex's throat. Finger marks livid on pale skin. Another slap - high up, close to the tightly drawn up balls. Thin skin. Delicate. Clark used his hand, the slaps hard and fast, curling from inner thigh to outer as Lex jerked and gasped and at the end cried out as the final slap came closer to real pain. Shuddering in the cuffs. Every tendon and muscle taut.

His own breath erratic, Clark touched again, his palm gentle, fingers curled inwards as he traced the backs of his nails over the heated, abused skin. Skimming up and back, soothing almost. Though with each sweep his touch got harder. Deeper. And at every twist and turn of his wrist, Lex's cock flexed, darkened.

"Clark..." Husky, throaty version of Lex saying his name. Oh, the things that did to him, the images it made him see, the possibilities it made him dream, plan, do.



"What d'you want, Lex? To come? You want me to bend down and suck your cock, maybe?" Clark leaned forward, but he didn't suck, he merely breathed on the heated skin. "You look like you really need to come - and you only got off about a half hour ago. That's greedy, Lex."

"Jesus, yes. Clark, I..."

"You what? You need? Well, yeah, so do I."

Pushing up onto his feet, Clark walked alongside the stretched body, bed dipping under his weight, to stand by Lex's leather hooded head, standing there, looking down. Could Lex know what he was going to do? Was he thinking, guessing, hoping? Clark watched as a drip of precum slowly looped off the end of his cock. He caught it in his palm, and rubbed his cock once, slight grip, gentle touch. "Deep breath, Lex." And he knelt over Lex's face and sat back, his balls pressing over and into Lex's parted mouth.

Muffled sounds; surprise, struggle, as Lex fought to suck in flesh and air together.

Clark settled more weight backwards, gasping as Lex's tongue pushed into his sac. Another squirm and Lex's hooded nose was pressed tight into his ass. Clark grunted with the sweetness of it. Rough leather, slick hard tongue. Of the sounds, wet and raw and goading him on as Lex struggled, muscles tight and strained from ankles to chest, cock a weeping, upward spear of angry flesh.

There clearly wasn't quite enough air.

Clark lifted his ass up, gut clenching at the wet sucking sounds as his balls pulled free. He shuffled backwards. Looked down into Lex's blind and bound face. He touched the wet mouth, smiled as Lex quickly kissed his fingers, licked them.

"It gets harder from here." Proud of his even tone. Prouder that he could speak at all.

One hand angling his cock down, he presented it to Lex's mouth, smearing shiny fluid over skin, across cheeks and leather indiscriminately, pushing his cock against Lex's face before finally letting the pretty, gasping mouth take it. Huge stretch at this angle. The head slipping inside, punishingly thick, he could almost hear the creak as jaw bones levered wide, then wider.

Eaten in sections as Lex's lips worked their way down his cock, Clark watched. Hardly moving. Letting Lex work for every inch. Head sucked into heat. Wet tongue sliding jerkily into his slit until it was too deep inside and even then he could feel Lex's tongue working him, sliding around his shaft as his glans nudged against soft palate. Pause. Then rocking back and forth as he listened to the suck and groan as Lex's back-angled head rocked with him. Watching Lex's chest lift and fall in irregular, uneven breaths, watching his own cock, half swallowed, totally obscene.

Clark placed his hand flat on the dip between the arcing curve of ribs. Feeling the strain, the heat and sweat slicking skin. Wondering at the intensity of thought that each simple breath needed, he straightened slightly, then pushed down. The feel of his cock sliding into the grip of Lex's throat so utterly amazing. He groaned brokenly until he was all the way inside, until his pubic hair was tight to the wide stretched mouth and all he could do was pant, overwhelmed by heat and constriction.

And Lex couldn't breath.

Holding there. Watching Lex's body as he began to struggle. Silent keening vibrating through his cock, transmitting Lex's desperate need right through his balls, up his spine and into his head. Lex's life just there... held. His own.

Clark struggled for his own control. For focus. Yes. On Lex fighting the cuffs that bound him. Wrists and ankles pulling hard, though there was so little give he could scarcely move. Couldn't do anything but absorb whatever Clark gave him. A slow shudder rippled up Clark's body. Then he pulled his cock free. All the way out, cock bouncing high as it was released from the wide O of Lex's mouth.

Sitting back, breathing hard, he watched Lex whoop in air. Gasping, saliva dripping from his mouth, bubbling on his lips as Lex remembered how to breathe. Simple imperative. Simpler mechanics. Air, breath, breathe...

Then Clark angled his cock back, rubbing it over the swollen lips like a promise.

Strangled gasp. Long distance runner still a long way from home.

Without any instruction, and only the tiniest pause, Lex opened his mouth again. Obligingly, Clark filled it. Hard and fast. Sliding home, right to the root, almost without pause. Gag reflex hit, ridden over, triggered and somehow controlled. Clark groaned as Lex's throat gripped him tighter than a fist, jerking him off squeeze after squeeze as Lex's belly hollowed and his cock wept, the struggle consuming Clark until the room was blurring at the edges. With his hand barely able to move, he touched Lex's jaw, his neck, the tangle of bones at his throat. He could feel his cock. Feel where it swelled Lex's gullet. Where it trapped his breath.

Almost lifted on struggling shoulders, Clark pulled free enough for Lex to take two breaths, not enough, not nearly so and then he slid back, the cruelty conscious, delicious. Holding there, swaying from the effort of keeping still, of being still, just there, spine arched in as he pushed down, as he used strength and control to push Lex over the edge. And Lex's cock spasmed, jerking untouched in the air, spitting load after load onto his belly and thighs, onto Clark's hands, cock.

Hardly seeing, Clark somehow remembered to pull back, to rip his cock from Lex's choking, gagging mouth. Hand sliding in instant lube, Clark gripped his own cock. One long pull, fist tight and harsh was all it took - he came, shouting out loud, his own semen spattering over Lex's belly, chest, in the pooling, glistening patches that lay on Lex's twitching skin.

Falling back, shuddering, Clark lay there, panting himself, as he watched Lex breathe, mouth wet and open, chest rising erratically as he struggled for air, for composure. So beautiful. Clark pushed up, then somehow got onto his knees. He was hardly able to move, wanting nothing but to lie down at Lex's side and hold him. Be held by him.

The straps first. One wrist, then the next, shakily unbuckling the cuffs. Crawling down the bed as Lex eased his arms down, gasping softly as his muscles protested. The ankle straps were next. Then another long crawl up the bed to kneel at Lex's shoulder. Clark unfastened the hood slowly, stripping the sweat sodden leather away very gently. Letting Lex readjust to light. Waiting. Watching his face, his eyes, as they slowly pulled back from full dilation, as Lex slowly returned to the now.

Dropping the hood onto the floor, lying next to his lover, Clark pulled Lex into his arms. Wanting this as much as what had gone before. This tenderness when they still lived in the aftershock of what they had done.

He kissed Lex's scalp. Sniffed in the raw scents of leather and sweat and heat. Of Lex. He rubbed his cheek against fine skin. Murmuring incoherently as Lex reached up and took his hand. Held it tight. Thumb stroking in instant comfort. Instant understanding.


A kiss to his skin. Lex still slightly breathless.


A wriggle, stiff, but still a wriggle. Lex lifted his head. Nodded. Tongue sliding over dry, swollen lips, he tried twice for a smile. It worked, finally. "Fuck."

Clark nodded in agreement. He pulled Lex closer, holding him, cradling him as he pulled the sheet over them both. There were red marks around Lex's wrists. Clark took one, rubbed it with his thumb, then kissed it gently before tucking it under the covers. He didn't want to sleep, but he caught himself drifting on the cusp of awareness. A single stroke of a hand over Lex's skin, and he was somehow sliding over the edge.

He awoke when Lex stirred. Blinking, drool wet in the corner of his mouth, he uncurled himself, eased his arm from under Lex, shifting so he could look.

"Hey, wake up."

"Mmm, why?"

"Because it's time for me to go."


"I keep telling you, I have no idea if I am or not." Lex pinched him. Not that it hurt, but he winced obligingly.

"Time 's it?"

"By your bedside clock, just before eleven."

"Fuck. We went to sleep."

"Guess so."

Lex opened his eyes, yawned, and rubbed one hand over his face. "Okay, I'm awake." He frowned slightly. "I wish you could stay."


"Though, fuck it, I've got to drop in to the plant."

"Now? It'll be nearly midnight when you get there!"

"Clark, the crap factory never sleeps. And I have to pick up some papers I need to work on for a conference call tomorrow."

"On a Saturday? That sounds fun."

"No, it doesn't. It sounds boring and I'd much rather be in bed with you. But..."

"Yeah, but." Clark sat up, twisting around so he was sitting cross-legged, looking at Lex. "How's the arm?"

Lex lifted the limb in question, peered sideways. "Looks fine."

Clark inspected the scar closely. Bending at the waist he kissed it softly. Kissed Lex's arm at elbow and wrist, leaving a last kiss curled into his palm. "Thank you."


"Yeah, I know." He smiled. "Will this ever be anything less than this?"

Lex stared into his eyes. Calm, knowing. "Not unless we fuck it up."

"Pact then - no fucking up."

"Pact." Lex grinned, the happiness sudden and clear on his all too often closed face. "Now go. Come back when you can."

"I know. I'm going. " Clark climbed off the bed. One glance before a super-speed shower and then he was back, dressing slowly, dragging out the last minutes. "Will I be able to see you tomorrow, you know, if you're working?"

"One call, that's all. I'll be done by noon. The rest is up to you. I'll be here if you can get away." Lex smiled. "Cherry wants to go driving with your mother. They seem to be working their way through my car collection - you know I heard them discussing the relative merits of the 911 and the 928 the other day."

"My mom, the car geek - who'd have thought."

Lex pushed himself up the bed to rest against the pillows. "You know, I swear they go out and re-enact scenes from Thelma and Louise."

"As long as mom stays away from Brad Pitt. Dad just wouldn't approve. Mind you, I don't suppose he'd take to the robbery with violence stuff either."

"Might take his mind off us?" Lex brightened.

"No!" Pulling on his shirt, Clark tucked it into his pants. "Just don't even think it - he's having enough trouble dealing with Cherry as it is."

"I didn't tell him she was a man."

"No, I did. I thought it better than watching him make a complete idiot of himself."

"Shame. Cherry was really enjoying herself. I think Martha was too."

Clark giggled at Lex's look of complete innocence. "I'm glad Cherry came back."

"Yeah, she's a good friend."

"To both of us." Boots laced, Clark sat on the edge of the bed.

"Yes, she is." With a lazy stretch, Lex leaned over to meet Clark's kiss. "Now go away, before you turn into a pumpkin."

Clark groaned. "Does that make you Prince Charming?"

"No, it makes me a mouse. Or possibly a rat." He paused. "I might not continue with this analogy. Good night, Clark." He pushed back the sheet and stood up. "This is going to be the fastest visit to the plant ever." He yawned.

"Don't work too hard."

"When I get back I might just sleep. Get up early and work on the papers then."

"Still going to pick them up tonight?"

"Yeah. I need some air." He stretched, long and lean and marked at wrists and ankles with what would be bruises.

"You'd better wear long sleeves tomorrow."

"Mmm. I better." Lex stroked one reddened wrist. His smile was debauched.

"'night, Lex."

Glance like a blessing. Clark backed out of the room, sighing as he closed the door. For a long moment he stayed there, paused, with one hand touching the door. When he heard the shower he smiled and jogged down to the door. Letting himself out, he walked for a second, then was gone. He was home in less than three minutes.


His dad was sitting on the steps outside the kitchen, waiting for him. A few moths were battering themselves on the glass of the porch-light, though some of them darted away as he approached.

"Hi, Dad."


Clark took a deep breath. "I thought you were out?"

"Yeah, well. I came back. I've been out a bit too much of late. I was waiting for you."

"Oh." Clark nodded miserably. Cautiously, he sat on the same step. Waft of stale cigarette smoke from creased flannel. Unease like a humming in the background. Clark stared straight ahead, seeing night-distorted shapes of barn and trees, wondering when the lecture was going to start.

After a moment his father nodded, as if to himself. "You know, you caught me by surprise, over at the Luthor place." He leaned his elbows onto his knees, shifting forwards, boots rustling softly on the dusty step. "I guess I overreacted."

Clark risked a sideways glance. His dad seemed sober. He actually appeared to be quiet and calm, rational. Clark frantically wondered exactly what his father meant and what could he say in reply. A weird mix of panic and hope seemed to be trapping every possible combination of words in his throat. In the end he gave a noncommittal nod, hoping that was enough.

"I don't think much of queers." Clark knew he must have made a noise, for his dad raised a hand as if to stop him, then went on. "No, I'm not going to chew your head off again. I know that you're going to defend Lex and tell me that you feel the same way as he does." He clasped his hands, looking down at them. "But I'm your father. I can only see an older guy hitting on someone younger, less sophisticated, and think the worst. Yeah, and I don't think much of Luthors as a breed either, which kinda got into the mix and made me madder."


"No, son. I've done a lot of shouting this week - a lot of sulking if truth be told, and now I'm trying to tell you why."

"Dad, I do understand." And he did. In a way, he could empathise perfectly. "But what if Lex had been a girl? What would you have done then?"

"Hoped she wasn't bald as a coot."

It took a moment, then Clark realised his dad had made a joke. It was enough to give him hope. "I like Lex the way he is, Dad."

"I kinda got around to seeing that." Jonathan sighed. "I don't like it. I never really will like it. But, well, I talked to some guys this week who really are bigots, and I was ashamed of myself." He turned, smiled a little. "Your mom helped me see that. She's been at me all week to stop being such an asshole."

"Mom's okay." Clark grinned. Asshole. Oh, he could hear her saying it.

"Yeah, I guess she is. As for you and rich-boy, I'm not happy. But I'm not going to take my shotgun up to the castle one day."

"Lex'll be relieved."

"I don't give a rat's ass about Lex. I love you, son. If this is right for you, then so be it. But if the bastard ever hurts you, then I reserve the right to hurt him. That sound fair?"

"Lex won't ever hurt me."

Jonathan twisted so he was facing Clark, he looked so serious, so confused. "I still can't believe you want a guy, like that. I mean, you were interested in girls before - what happened?"

"I fell in love."

His father flinched. Shook his head slowly. "Jesus."

"I didn't do it to be difficult, Dad!" Clark shrugged. "I like Lana, and Chloe, but differently from Lex and with him it's just - "

"Hey, don't. I'm not sure I want to know." Deep sigh. "I don't like it, but as long as you're happy, I can live with it. Or I can try."

"Thanks." And God, he meant it. Clark wondered if in fact this was a dream. That he'd wake in Lex's bed and come home to more glacial silences and his father's continued distrust. "It means a lot to me, Dad. I love you, you know that. I didn't really want to hurt you."

A nod. "I may be thick-skinned, but I kinda got the message. And I love you, son."

"So, I can see Lex?"

"Looks like it."

Clark nodded. He felt close to numb. And he wondered exactly what means his mother had used to get his dad to see reason. But, fuck, he could see Lex! Suddenly he knew he was grinning. Like a loon. "Thanks."

"Yeah, well..." Gruff, tough dad. Jonathan stood up, dusting the seat of his jeans casually, as if nothing momentous had just been decided.

Clark stood as well, and just hugged him. A huge, overwhelming embrace, that after a brief moment was returned in full. He stepped back, still grinning. "You're okay too, Dad. I ever tell you that?"

"Nope." Mock punch to Clark's shoulder. "Good to know it."

An engine sounded in the distance. "Is Mom inside?"

"No, but this might be her now."

The sound got nearer, and turned into the deep, throaty purr of one of Lex's Ferraris. Together, Clark and Jonathan walked out to the drive, just in time to see the low, elegant machine emerge from the night, head-lights sweeping over the Kent property as it drove up. The car stopped neatly by the gate, lights killed and the engine switched off.

It was faintly shocking to realise his mom was driving. Clark watched, then glancing at his dad he spoke softly, teasing. "Lex thinks Mom wants to be a rally driver."

"I think your mom thinks so too. Hi, Martha. Cherry." Jonathan walked forward to hold open the driver's door. Martha uncurled herself and stood up, smiling widely, bright, happy, glowing with energy.

"Hello, you're both home! What time is it?"

"Midnight." Jonathan's voice. Dry, amused, indulgent.

"My! I can't believe it... Cherry, it's midnight!"

"Honey, you know what they say, time flies and all that." Cherry emerged from the other side of the car. She was wearing jeans and T-shirt, almost the same as Martha's, but the effect was entirely different. Partially because all of Cherry's clothes looked two sizes too small and nothing met in the middle. She looked from Clark to his dad, and nodded. "Martha, honey, it looks like some people have been talking."

Martha shot a glance at Jonathan. She blinked, then smiled. "Really?"

"Yeah. I've told Clark that if that Luthor boy ever hurts him I'll kill him." He grunted softly as Martha threw herself at him, and kissed him soundly.

"Jonathan..." Breathless mom. Clark had a sudden image of what she must have been like as a girl. What she could be like now if they weren't so stressed by money and life and having an alien for a son. A queer alien too. Some families got all the fun.

"So, congratulations." Cherry was at his side. She kissed his cheek, hand sliding around his arm. "You okay?" Softer. For him alone as his parents hugged.

"I think so. Dad was... nice."

"Good." She giggled softly. "Martha was going to resort to short rations on food as well."

"As well?" Clark blinked. "Oh..."

"And I didn't tell you that!"

"No. No, you didn't." Clark shook his head. Grinned. God, he loved his mother. She was something else.

"So, I'd better get this rust-bucket back to the castle. Lex's mechanic waits up just to tuck her into bed every night, you'd think he didn't trust us."

Martha disentangled herself. "Cherry, that was such fun. Will we see you tomorrow?"

"Honey, you can't keep me away. I want more of that peach pie, and damn the diet!"

"It's yours. We could go for a little drive... Jonathan, maybe you'd like to come along?" Both women turned to him innocently. "How about it, or don't you trust me?"

Jonathan, mouth caught between surprise and panic, just cleared his throat, managing a nod.

"You'll enjoy it, Dad. Mom's a great driver."

"I know she is." Jonathan agreed quickly. "Okay, if there's time when I'm done with work."

"Good. I'll borrow the Aston Martin, the leg-room in the back is better." Cherry and Martha embraced, close as sisters, before Cherry slipped into the driver's seat and started the engine up. "Night everyone!" She winked at Clark as Martha closed the door. A neat three-point turn and the Ferrari was gone, the engine throb fading slowly into the distance, the lights disappearing into the night.

In the silence that remained, Martha turned to her men. She looked from one to the other, and nodded decisively. "You know, I feel in need of some ice-cream."

Which meant it was celebration time. She wound her hands through their arms and slowly began to walk towards the house.

Clark smiled to himself. He couldn't wait to tell Lex. The knowledge that everything was now different made him giddy, made him almost breathless. Lex would be overjoyed. Permission from his dad for them to see each other. And he wasn't dreaming. At his mother's side, Clark tilted his head up, glancing at the stars, at the huge sweep of the Kansas night sky. In all of that, in all the universe, he wasn't sure if there could be a happier person than himself. He looked sideways, seeing his parents smiling at each other. He was so lucky - all this and Lex too. Yeah, life really was okay.


The ice-cream was thick with pieces of peach. Clark grinned when Martha allowed him a second bowlful. Being indulged was great.

"So." His mom sat with her chin propped on one hand. "Did you both have a nice evening?"

"Mmm." Clark concentrated on his bowl. "Thanks." He didn't blush. He did have a violent image of Lex wearing the hood, which didn't do much for his composure, but he managed to sit still and not go completely scarlet.

"I got to the Lexington and Jake Wheeler was in there." Jonathan was lounging back in one of the kitchen chairs. He was frowning as he turned a spoon over and over in his fingers. "Him and a bunch of guys who got laid off from the fertilizer plant last fall. You know, they greeted me like a long lost brother." He looked across the table ruefully. "That's when I got to thinking about what I was so riled up about. I mean, Clark's my son, whatever he is, or does. That's the bottom line. And those losers think I'm going to bitch about LuthorCorp with them, just because I might've pointed out how rotten I think the Luthors are... Well, I felt damned uncomfortable."

"Dad, but everyone knows what you think of the Luthors."

His dad shifted, tossed the spoon aside so it clattered onto the table. He took a moment, then answered slowly. "I know, son. But I don't hate Lex personally. At least, I'm trying not to. I am trying. It's all I can do."

"You'll succeed. I know you, Jonathan Kent, you don't like injustice. You may have faults, but real bigotry isn't one of them."

"Even if your son is queer?"

Clark's words dropped into silence.

After a moment, Jonathan cleared his throat. "Even then." Martha sighed as his dad went on. "I don't understand. But then I don't understand why your mom ever took up with me, so I guess I'm not very bright sometimes." He smiled at Martha, the look as deep and loving as it was possible for a look to be.

"I saw something I liked." She pushed her chair back, and stood up to walk around the table. At her husband's side, she paused. "I still do. Maybe that's what Clark sees when he looks at Lex."

Jonathan flinched. Then sighed deeply. "You're a wise woman, Martha Kent."

"I just know what it's like to love someone."

After a moment, Clark cleared his throat. "Well, I think I'd better be getting off to bed."

His parents both giggled. Neither of them having the grace to be embarrassed as they turned to him. His dad winked. "Sorry, Clark."

Though his mom clearly wasn't, as she simply sat down in his dad's lap, wriggling contentedly as Jonathan's arms linked around her waist. "That's okay, Mom." Clark grinned at them. He'd not realised how much he missed them just being happy. "Sleep sounds good."

"At least it's Friday night, Clark." His dad nodded over Martha's shoulder.

"Yeah." Clark stood up, gathered the dishes and piled them in the sink.

"Leave those, I'll see to them."

"You sure, Mom?"

"Absolutely. Go to bed and have sweet dreams."

"Of peach ice-cream." Clark wiped his hands and turned. At that moment he registered the roaring sound of an over-revved engine. There was shouting too. "What..."

"Clark, what is it?"

"Someone's coming."

Then they could all hear it. Hollering and whooping. Ugly, brutal sounds of laughter over the screech of brakes and the howl of abused gears. Martha was on her feet and at his side, Jonathan was there too as Clark pushed open the door.

Bright spill of headlights. Running out onto the grass Clark saw a battered old pick-up finishing a bumpy turn in the drive. Through the shadows he could make out a bunch of figures crowded in the truck-bed, and the glint of a bottle being passed from one hand to another.

His dad was suddenly beside him, shotgun in hand. Jonathan shouted into the night. "Hey! What do you want?"

"Want?" One of the men stood up unsteadily. He seemed to kick at something at his feet, which brought more laughter, and Clark could hear the wildness in it, the drunken violence. "We don't want anything, Kent. We just thought, being neighbourly an' all, you might like a gift. A goodwill present. Hope you like it."

The speaker bent forward and released the catch holding the tail-gate in place. It crashed open, and something rolled out, thudding to the ground. A slap on a side panel and the truck was in gear, dust flying up from the back wheels as it roared away, skidding and skewing drunkenly before turning into the road.

"What on earth..."


Clark heard his parents' voices, but he was kneeling in the drive. Kneeling by the curled, unmoving body that lay forlornly in the settling dust.

He touched skin. Swallowed hard, somehow forcing himself to look, deep beneath torn clothing and bloodied skin. Heart beat. There. Fast, but firm.

He almost fell forward, but a hand on his shoulder gripped hard. He turned, looked into his mother's horrified eyes.

"Is he..."

"Alive." His voice almost choked. Turning back to Lex he forced himself to check every bone. Slowly, methodically, arms and legs, pelvis and spine. Lastly the fragile head, trying not to see the torn and filthy skin but to focus on the shape of skull, the wholeness. After a moment he wiped a shaky hand over his face. "He's got some cracked ribs, but I think it's okay to move him." As if he was a doctor, for fuck's sake. "Mom, call an ambulance."

"No..." Word spoken as if ground out through broken glass.

"Lex?" Clark swallowed, almost choking. "Oh my God, Lex..."

"No ambulance. Please..."

Clark nodded, one hand on Lex's shoulder. "Okay, shush, I promise."

Lex tried to uncurl, gasping sharply as he failed, his pain so obvious that Clark was shaking, his vision blurred. Lex...beaten. Those bastards. There was a litany of screams running though his head, all his own, his rage monumental, strangling his breath...

"Clark!" Snapping back, Clark looked up. "Bring him inside." After a moment he nodded, and met his mother's concerned eyes. She looked at him steadily. "We need to see exactly what's been done, clean him up."

Clean him up. Yes. He could help.

But lifting him would hurt too. Touching him. The bruises were everywhere. Clark bit his lower lip as he slid one arm under Lex's shoulders, wincing as Lex's features tightened with the pain. Another arm under his hips, careful, suddenly calm, steady. He lifted. Almost wishing that Lex would faint, that he hadn't come round so fast, that hurting him wasn't quite so easy.

Superspeed had them inside. Clark laid Lex on the couch. His clothes were ripped, the shirt almost in pieces. Somewhere he had lost one shoe. It seemed almost a worst indignity than all the rest. He knelt at Lex's side and could have howled.

"Clark, get some water, the first aid box and a blanket." A hand gave him a gentle push. Hesitating only once, he went. The water poured from the tap so slowly. He cursed it, yet was still back before his mother had knelt. She touched Lex's cheek gently, wincing when he hissed and flinched away from her touch.

"Sorry..." Whispered apology, blood wet on his lips.

"Lex, don't be."

"Mrs. Kent..."

"Call me Martha, please. If you're bleeding on Aunt Sophie's second best couch, you really do have to stop being so formal." She smiled brightly, though Clark could hear the brittleness underlying her answer.

A twitch at the corner of swollen lips. "Yeah..." Flat on his back, Lex looked up wearily. His eyes were not quite focussed as he looked at Clark.

Standing at the end of the couch, one hand holding a chair-back, Clark frowned. "Mom, what about concussion?"

"No. I wasn't...out of it long enough." Lex spoke softly, unevenly, long shallow breaths punctuating words.

"You might."


"About this? Yes." Clark nodded decisively. "Mom?"

"I'll keep an eye on him. Lex, are you sure you don't want us to take you to the hospital? Clark says you've got a few cracked ribs and anyone can see that some of these bruises are appalling, let alone the cut on your arm re-opening..." She broke off as Clark gasped.

"Clark... It's okay..." He closed his eyes as Clark stared at his arm.

Martha nodded. "You need stitching up again, Lex. I can't do that." She touched him gently, just under the livid cut. She seemed to examine the incision, some indistinct emotion shadowing her eyes before she shook her head and looked up at Lex. "Looks like they punched this deliberately."


Lex on the ground. Kicked like a dog. Clark realised he was angry when the chair-back he was gripping snapped into kindling, the sound sharp enough to make everyone jump. "Sorry..." Though he wasn't. There wasn't room in him for anything other than Lex. Brushing splinters from his hands he moved to stand at his mother's shoulder, staring at the dark ooze welling from the cross shaped scar.

They'd made love a few hours ago.

He'd hurt Lex for love a few hours ago.

Now this.

"Lex... Let us get you to a hospital, please?"

"No... there'll be reporters."

"Oh." Clark looked at his mom, they shared understanding.

"In that case, Clark, help me get him undressed." Blinking, unsure and gawky, fighting conflicting imperatives, Clark nodded. Martha smiled compassionately at Lex. "Sorry, Lex, we'll try not to hurt you too much."

In the end they managed to strip Lex of his pants and underwear, his torn shirt, all without inflicting too much extra discomfort. Naked, the bruising was everywhere. Clark couldn't look. Not really look. The blanket was in his hands, bright, gaudy colours, something they used for picnics, totally incongruous. Unfolding the large square, he settled it over Lex's legs, tucking it around his waist, his fingers brushing chilled skin.

"Come here." Lex looked up at Clark through narrowed eyes.

Leaning over the back of the couch, Clark wove his fingers through Lex's, and forced himself to watch as his mother began to soak the dust and dried blood from Lex's skin. It seemed to take forever. Martha working methodically, carefully, applying arnica cream to bruised skin, cleaning the places skin had broken open. She taped the worst, including the cross on Lex's arm, covering them with gauze.

Lex coughed painfully, one arm tight around his own ribs. With Martha's help he turned, resting one shoulder on the cushion she slipped behind him. He took a shallow breath, visibly collecting himself as she started to clean the long scrape that curved from his shoulder-blade down to his hip. When she was done, Lex swallowed once, before uncurling slowly, lying back with his eyes firmly closed.

"Clark, get rid of the water, please?"

He jumped at her voice. Then nodded. Slowly disentangling his hand, he bent forward and kissed Lex's wrist, flinching when he saw the circling pattern of bruises. Bruises he had left there. He took the bowl of filthy water outside, emptying its contents onto the grass outside the kitchen door. There he paused. Staring fixedly into the distance. After a moment he leaned into a flowerbed and threw up. Then he wiped his mouth and went back inside.

He left the bowl in the kitchen. Lex looked up blearily as he approached.


A hand, unsteady, scraped raw across the knuckles, reached for him. Clark was there, holding it gently as his mother moved away to sit on a nearby chair. He darted her a look of thanks as she leaned back, tucking her hair behind her ears.

The tension in Lex's muscles eased slightly. He breathed slowly, as if remembering how his body worked "Thanks..."

Martha shook her head. "I'm glad we could help."

"Why did they... dump me... here?"

Clark frowned, sharing a look of total mystification with his mother. "No idea. Lex, did they say anything at all?"

"If Lex wants to know why he was dumped here, the answer is simple - because of me."

Clark and Martha turned as Jonathan spoke. Lex merely re-focussed slowly to behind where Clark stood, at where Jonathan leaned against the wall.


"I didn't want this. But the Wheelers must have thought I would." He took a step forward. "Lex, I..."

"Mr. Kent...please... don't..."

"No. I've been a damned fool."

"Jonathan?" Martha stood up as her husband pushed away from the wall and walked towards them.

"I shouted my mouth off about the Luthors. I may have said a few things about Lex too. No excuses, son. I'm more than sorry."

Lex, one hand clutching the couch, tried to sit. Clark blinked suddenly and helped ease him upright. Lex's fingers spasmed in his hand. "Mr. Kent, please...don't."

"Don't what, Lex? Take the blame? Look, I may be a pig-headed son of a bitch but I know when I'm wrong and I like to think I admit it too. If I hadn't gone off the deep-end about the two of you, then you wouldn't be lying there all beat up. That's a fact."

"Not fact - possibility." Lex shivered, the words slurred as he spoke. "Martha, could I have some water, please?"

"Lord, yes!" She hurried away, coming back with a glass. She passed it to Clark, and took it back when Lex was done.

Lex closed his eyes. He was so pale, his skin clammy under Clark's touch. "Mom?"

"Jonathan, whatever caused those men to do this to Lex, it doesn't really matter now." She touched Lex's forehead. "Lex, I've done what I can, but you need to see a doctor, there might be internal injuries."

Clark looked at Lex. "We could call Toby, you trust him. Would he come out here?"

"Yes." There was sweat beading on his forehead. "My wallet..."

"There's no wallet, Lex." Martha shook her head. "I guess those pigs took advantage of that as well."

Lex took a long, shaky breath, then counted off the number. Clark repeated it slowly so his mom could write it down. She went off to call.

"Clark, I need the john."

"Oh. Hang on." Clark looked directly at his dad, who blinked, and with an understanding nod followed Martha into the kitchen.

"Upstairs. Then you can use my bed to rest on. It'll be better than the couch. Okay?"


Clark kissed Lex once, on the temple. Then he tucked the blanket around him and simply lifted him into his arms. Slowly, carefully, he walked up the stairs, Lex held against him. In the bathroom he helped Lex to stand, his own gut twisting at the whimper Lex couldn't stop from making when his legs took his weight. Held there, mostly supported by Clark, he pissed, slowly, painfully, the urine dark with blood.


"Kidney punches. Don't worry..."

Clark could almost have laughed. "Oh, I won't. Not when you look so fine and dandy."

Turning, Lex caught sight of himself in the mirror. He swallowed, lifting his chin to stare right into his own eyes. "Fuck." Lex touched his face, peering at the bruising, then he leaned back into Clark's arms, his eyes closing.

His knees seemed to simply buckle, and Clark caught him up in his arms again, carrying him through to the bedroom, ignoring the small protest that slurred on his lips. The room was hung with Crows pennants and star charts. It was somewhere he hardly ever used anymore, somewhere from his childhood - about a thousand light-years away from who he was now, who he was since Lex.

The sheets were already pulled back. Clark carefully rested Lex on the bed, taking the bright picnic blanket and tossing it onto the floor, pulling up the covers, smoothing them into place like his mother used to. Lex was drifting almost immediately. Sitting himself on the floor, Clark watched him.

After about ten minutes, Lex stirred. He slowly rolled his head towards Clark. He almost smiled, the intention clear, though his lips couldn't quite follow through. "Call Niels, or Cherry. No one else. They'll worry..."


"Clark, I'll be fine."

"Lex, I love you."

A smile burned deep in Lex's eyes. "Clark..."

"I'll go and call." Clark stood up, turned, and realised his mother was standing in the doorway.

"I'll stay here with Lex, Clark. When you're done with the phone, go and see your father, he's sitting on the front steps."

He paused at her side. "He didn't want this, right?" It wasn't really a question, but the thought that it was a possibility hurt so much.

"No." Deep sigh, and Martha came into the room. She pulled up the chair and sat looking at Lex. "Your dad has a temper, but he's not malicious." She smiled encouragingly as Lex stirred and looked groggily up at her. "He's not very proud of himself, Lex."

"Martha..." Lex curled one arm out of the sheets, to lay it on the comforter, palm upwards. After a moment she reached out, and delicately clasped his fingers. "It's okay."

A wry shake of her head and she was smiling gently. "I'm meant to be comforting you, not the other way around."

"I don't need it."

"You get beat up that often?"

Lowered eyes, a faint shrug that ended almost before it had begun, pain like a shimmer across his skin.

Pride and stubbornness - Lex could give the Kents a run for their money. Despite the millions and the cars, life hadn't treated Lex fairly. Clark swallowed bitterness, and a sudden knowledge that there were some things he could never make right, however much he loved Lex, however much he needed and wanted and cherished him. He also knew he'd die trying to protect Lex from more pain like this. From anything that hurt him.

"Clark, go on. Cherry will be worrying." Martha nodded at him. When she looked up, he saw she was crying silently.

He swallowed hard. "Sure."

Walking down to the kitchen, he dialled from memory. Cherry answered almost immediately.

"Clark? What's happened?"

"Lex is here. He was hurt."

"Oh God, did he crash the Porsche? Is he alright?"

"He's been beaten up."


"He's okay. Mom's looking after him. We don't know where the car is, though at a guess it has to be somewhere between the house and the plant. Will you ask Niels to organize getting it home, maybe sometime while it's still dark?" He couldn't go himself. Just couldn't leave the house.

"Of course, honey. I'll go with him, and come over to you as soon as it's done."

"You don't have - "

"Yes I do." And the receiver went dead. He placed it back carefully. After a moment, he went out of the kitchen door, and sat by his father.

The night was cool, the stars like scattered salt on the black of the sky.

"Dad, don't blame yourself."

"Who else then, huh?"

"The bastards who kicked the shit out of him."

Jonathan flinched at the words. "Jesus..." He sniffed wetly, and looked up at the night. "He's very young, isn't he?"


"A boy. And I've been thinking of him as a man."

"He is a man. He's had to grow up very fast."

"Son, those guys were so drunk they could have killed Lex by accident. He's damned lucky to be awake and breathing and not a damned vegetable!" Jonathan punched his fist into the step, grunting as flesh slammed into wood.

"But he isn't."

"No thanks to me."

"Dad, you didn't mean this to happen. Did you?"

"No!" Wide eyes, pain there under the guilt. "Never..."

"So stop this. I need you. So does Lex."

"Ah, son..."

"The doctor Lex knows will be here soon. Cherry's on her way to find Lex's car. Mom's upstairs, being mom. And I... Dad, I want to kill those guys."

It took a moment, then Jonathan paled. "Clark. You can't..."

"I know." Clark nodded agreeably. "But I want to hurt them back so badly. I won't, because Lex doesn't want any publicity. But one night, I'm going to go over to the Wheeler place and I'm going to break that truck into pieces so small they'll be lucky to find them with a magnifying glass." He caught his father staring at him. "No one will see. My speed is useful for more than getting to school on time."

"I know, but..."

"No, Dad. I either know that I'm going to do that one night, or I go over there now and kick that guy myself, show him what it feels like to be tossed around and kicked and punched - " He broke off, burying his face in his hands. "Oh, God, Dad - he's so hurt!"

"Son." And Clark felt his father's arm rest around his shoulders, pulling him close. "Ah, Clark..."

They sat quite still. After a while, they straightened. Clark scrubbed at his face. Moving slightly apart, they continued to wait, listening to the night, as close as they had been in years. Later, Clark stood up. He wandered up to his old room, looked at Lex sleeping, at his mother sitting by the bedside. She smiled at him. He went in and kissed her cheek, whispered, "Thank you." Then he went back to the porch, and sat back on the step.

"Everything okay?"

"Lex is sleeping."

His dad nodded. "For the best."

Clark settled in, crossing his ankles as he stretched his legs out. Went back to waiting. Some time later the sound of a motorbike taking the country roads too fast brought them both to their feet. By the time the Harley came to rest in the drive, they were there.

"Clark, good to see you again!" Tonight Toby was wearing beads over his leathers. Clark smiled at him, ignored whatever judgement his father might be making.

"Come inside, Lex is upstairs."

Pulling a bag out of a pannier, Toby followed. "You didn't give me details - has he been shot, stabbed, what?"

"Beaten." It was his father who spoke. "A group of guys got hold of him and did him over really well. I'm Jonathan, Clark's father."

"Toby." They paused and shook hands, which had Clark almost dancing with anxiety.

"Er... upstairs?"

"Alright, lead on." And huffing as he walked, Toby followed Clark. In the bedroom he took one look at Lex and shook his head. "Damn fool boy. Always getting himself torn up some way or another." A nod at Martha. "Ma'am."

"Hello." She skimmed her eyes over his clothes, then clearly decided to ignore them. "Thank you for coming out in the middle of the night."

"Lex is one of my best customers - and I work best at night." Wide grin, that faded as he turned back to the bed. "Right, let the horse see the water."

The Kents clustered together by the door. About to pull back the sheet, Toby smiled as Lex woke up. "Okay, folks, clear out while I see to the boy."

"Anything you need, call, okay?"

"Sure will, ma'am."

And herding her family ahead of her, Martha left the doctor with his patient.


A half hour later, Toby clomped his way down the stairs.

"There's no internal injuries that I can see. He's got a couple of cracked ribs, and nasty bruising that I swear you can see the imprint of boot-soles in, but he'll live. Gonna be cranky as hell 'til the pain wears off, but that's better than lying dead in a ditch somewhere." Toby looked at them as Clark stood up. "Stay where you are, Clark. Lex is asleep, and that's the best thing for him. I stitched his arm back up - along with the nasty slice out of his shoulder. By the way, whoever cleaned him up, did a fine job."

"Thank you." Martha smiled.

Toby handed over a small container to her. "Pain meds. Two every four hours, then as he needs them. He'll know himself, when he's a bit better. And that's about all. Try and make him rest, though I wish you all luck with that one."

"Can we pay you?"

"No, Ma'am. Lex'll see to my fee when he's up and about. Good night, pleasure to meet you all."

"I'll walk you to your bike." Clark scraped his chair back and followed Toby out the door. By the gate, he put out his hand, smiled when Toby shook it. "Thank you."

"Hey, no problem! I wasn't asleep."

"Don't take this personally, but I hope we don't see you for a while."

Toby slapped his arm. "No offence taken. And if you're worrying, the scar will be fine - the fuckers didn't rip it open when they tore the stitches out. It'll look perfect in a few weeks."

"Oh, thanks."

"Wouldn't want all that work to be wasted now, would you?"

"No. No way." Slightly taken aback, Clark nodded. Smiled over-brightly.

Climbing onto the bike, Toby grinned at him. Then he clamped on a helmet and started up the Harley. "They only beat him up. Just in case you wondered. There's no rape, or anything else nasty. Though they kicked his balls pretty bad, so be gentle with him for a while."

Clark swallowed. "I wouldn't... we wouldn't... not while he's like this!"

"Good. 'Night." And he was gone, the bike accelerating away, Toby waving once.

It was getting light, a rim of morning setting the trees into silhouette. Clark yawned, and slowly walked back into the house. His father was half-way up the stairs. He paused. "Your mom's turning in, I'm going to sit with Lex for a while."

"Oh." Clark nodded as his dad continued upwards. He wasn't sure what else to do but let his father just get on with it. Letting him sit with Lex seemed the right thing to do. Slumping in one of the armchairs, Clark stared at his boots. Thought - clear thought - eluded him. Images straggled through his mind, of Lex, of Lex with blood trickling down his face. Of his father, confused and asking forgiveness, something he wasn't sure had ever happened before. And his mom, being strong. Being so great. Maybe he'd buy her some flowers. Lex would probably buy her a field of flowers - when he was better. A field of tulips, though she had those herself. Orchids maybe, did they grow in fields?

He closed his eyes. And jerked awake when the door opened. "What?"

"Only me, honey!"

Cherry. Heartbeat slowing back to normal, Clark was on his feet, hugging her. "Cherry... I didn't expect to see you."

"You think I'd sit at home not knowing anything? How is he?" She gripped his arms, staring right into his eyes.

"Asleep. Patched up. Alive."

"Fuckers. I hope they burn." She let him go as she sighed shakily. "Thank God Lex is okay. What happened?"

"About eight guys beat on him. We don't know how they got him, but they brought him here. He was lucky."

"He usually is, though I reckon he's on life number five... What injuries this time?"

"Toby was just here, he checked Lex over, said there's no concussion, no internal damage, just cracked ribs and more bruises than you can count."

"Toby? Damn, I missed the reprobate. If Toby says he's fine, then he is. That's a relief anyway."


"You're right. It could have been worse. Though I don't suppose Lex thinks anything like that right now, poor thing." She straightened. "He won't be happy about the Porsche. Niels is taking her home. It took us an age to find, and the bastards have trashed it completely. Luckily Niels had a tow-rope - that man is seriously always prepared."

"Maybe Lex's people have to be."

"True." She hesitated. "Clark, honey, you don't look too sparkly yourself."


"Tell me."

"I thought he was dead." There. Said quickly. The fear still so stark. "They dumped him like a sack of grain on our drive. Cherry, you should have seen them, they didn't give him a chance."

"If he'd had a chance they wouldn't have got anywhere." She shook her head.

"What else?" She walked back to him, tucked a finger under his chin, tapped twice. "Come on, hon, tell me."

Clark felt the anger, like something living in his gut. "Dad thinks it was his fault. He's been going and bitching about Lex in a bar full of Luthor-haters. Though Lex says they were after him anyway, that what dad said didn't make any difference. But Cherry, they dumped him here. As a present for dad!" Images from a moment of horror. "They said it was neighborly."

"Your father has a temper and a mouth that says more than it should about some subjects. But Clark, don't you go fretting about whether he meant this. He didn't, I'm one hundred percent sure."

"I know. Getting him to think the same might be a problem."

"Make sure you do. And don't let him do anything stupid - the same applies to yourself."

"I'm not going to get a shotgun and go after them. Though, God, I'd so like to."

"Don't. Lex will deal with it all. If he feels like it. He doesn't need you to fight his battles."

"Aw, damn..."

"There, you can smile about it."

"Cherry, if it wasn't for Lex, I think I'd want to marry you."

"Honey, if it wasn't for Lex, you could at least have the honeymoon." She giggled. Then sobered quickly. "Do you think I could take a peek at him?"

"Oh, yes! Sorry... He's in my bedroom."

Clark showed her the way upstairs. At his bedroom door, he waited, while Cherry stepped inside, smiled at Jonathan, and then just looked at Lex. He didn't stir. After a moment she patted Jonathan on the shoulder and left, pushing Clark ahead, closing the door softly behind her. Back in the kitchen she stood in the middle of the floor, running her hands through her hair, cursing softly, under her breath.


"Sorry. It was swear or burst into tears." She sniffed. "And crying ruins my make-up."

"Come back tomorrow?"

"Just try and keep me away." She smoothed her fingers over her cheeks, then she straightened, looking at him brightly. "Right, on that note, I'm off. I need my sleep and it's getting late."


On tip-toe she reached up and kissed his cheek. "I'll be back sometime around lunch. Sleep tight."

"Thanks, Cherry."

A sad smile. "Anytime, sweetie, anytime." And she was gone. After a few minutes he heard the soft engine purr of the Aston Martin. Then there was silence.

Jonathan came into the kitchen. He opened the fridge and pulled out a carton of milk. "Want some?"

"Please." Clark watched it being poured, then took the proffered glass. He was thirsty, and the milk was cold and creamy. He wiped his mouth on the back of his sleeve. "Thanks."

"Right, I'll get back upstairs." Jonathan tossed the empty carton into the trash.

"I'll go."

"No. You stay down here, your hearing's better than mine. Just to be on the safe side. I promise I'll stay with Lex, and if anything changes I'll call you."

"You sure?"

"Son, if they come back, we need to know about it."

"You think they will?"

"No." Jonathan shook his head. Then rinsing his glass out, yawned widely. "I'll sleep just fine in the chair."

"Dad. Thanks."

"Yeah, well." A smile, tight and rueful.

He watched as his dad went back upstairs. So much change in so little time. It made him almost feel giddy. Prowling back into the lounge he sat on the couch, just where Lex had lain. There was blood staining one of the cushions. He picked it up, wrapped his arms around it. And waited for morning.


At some point in the morning, his parents stirred. They talked in low voices, and Clark joined them in the kitchen. They were sat together at the end of the table. "Morning."


"How are you doing, Clark?"

"Okay. How's Lex?"

"He's taken some more painkillers, so he'll sleep. Eat some breakfast, then why don't you go and keep an eye on him. The chair's not too uncomfortable."

Taking an apple with him, Clark sketched a smile and headed upstairs. In his room, Lex was in the bed, curled slightly on his side, fast asleep. He looked pale, ill. Clark settled himself into the chair, putting the apple onto the bookcase at the side of the bed. Sunlight streamed in through a crack in the drapes. He got up, closed the gap, then sat again, slumping in the old chair, head resting back. He watched the rise and fall of shallow breathing. Lex, asleep. Alive. He settled, tucked one hand as a prop for his cheek. He was very tired. Very...

He awoke with his mother at his side, she was holding a cup of coffee. "Here."

"Mom..." He sat up, uncurling creakily. The coffee when he sipped it was hot and sweet, perfect. "Thanks." With a rush he remembered everything, the empty bed made him panic. "Where's Lex?"

"He wants to take a bath, but I told him he couldn't until you were there to keep an eye on him. Jonathan would have offered but I'm not sure Lex is really ready for that."

Clark closed his eyes. In some ways it was a good job Lex wasn't well, or his dad might have learned more about Lex's verbal skills than he bargained for. "No, I don't think so either. Why didn't you wake me?" He couldn't believe he'd slept through Lex getting out of bed.

"You were exhausted. Lex insisted he was alright - until I insisted he couldn't bathe alone."

"Oh." Clark downed his coffee, handed the cup back, thanked her absently. "What time is it anyway?" The light looked odd for morning.

"Nearly five. In the afternoon."

Which explained the light. "Damn, I slept that long?"

"You needed it. So did Lex... and he's so much better. The pills that Toby provided seem to work wonders."

Did they. Clark briefly wondered how legal they were. Then realised he didn't care - if they worked, if they helped Lex, that was all that mattered. He stood up, kissed her on the cheek and headed for the bathroom.

"And you can shower after - I want all those clothes for the wash!"

"Okay." He paused. "What did you do with Lex's stuff?"

"Made sure the pockets were empty then put it all in the trash. He can wear things you've grown out of. At least until Cherry comes around with something that'll fit."

"You've spoken to her?"

"A few times through the day - she's coming around this evening. She was telling me about rescuing Lex's poor car. He doesn't have much luck with Porsches, does he?"

Two down, two to go. "At least he's got spares for you to drive."

"Clark Kent, that was not what I meant and you know it." She caught his teasing grin. "Oh! Go on with you."

Quick smile, and Clark went.

Lex was sitting on the edge of the bath, he was naked apart from the dressings. Clark swallowed hard, pausing in the doorway, suddenly almost afraid. "Hi..."

Turning slowly, Lex smiled crookedly. All his injuries were so vivid. Clark felt the same rage as yesterday filling him. That anyone could do this to another person. Another human. It was an obscenity he never wanted to witness again.


He forced the anger away, made himself smile. "Mom says you want a bath."

"I was hopeful."

That made Clark laugh. Lex, sounding like Lex again. Bliss. But a bath... "Are you sure you should?"

"Yes." Accompanied by a glare. Or what would have been a glare had both eyes been open.

"Toby said you'd be cranky."

"Ha, ha. He'd be cranky too." Lex's words were slurred because of the bruising, though he did sound better. Less impossibly fragile than he had in the night.

Clark turned on the water, not too hot, not too cold. He filled the big old tub halfway, then smiled at Lex. "Ready?"

Lex put one hand on the bath's rim and pushed himself up. He gasped as he stood, though Clark was there, holding him, arms around him, bringing him close. "Lex..."

"Don't. I'll be fine. Please..."

Clark backed off a little, and though he kept his hands in place he didn't try a kiss, as he had been intending. "Sorry."

Lex hesitated, then he looked Clark in the eye, tilting his head so their gazes could meet. "Thank you, for everything."

"Lex - "

He lifted his hand, touched Clark's lips with his fingers. "Bath."

"I'll scrub your back."

"I was hoping you'd do just about everything."

"I will." And Clark picked him up.

"I can get in on my own."

"I know."

"But I'm not going to?"


Lex nodded. "Just getting it straight." Broken smile.

Steam was rising from the water. Not bothering with any pretence, Clark simply put him bodily into the water. Lex tensed as his legs slid under, sitting up as he adjusted, keeping the dressings dry as Clark gently eased his arms free. After a second Lex sighed. One arm on the side of the bath, he took hold of Clark's wet hand and pulled him gently downwards. Obliging, Clark knelt. Their hands wound together. A drip from the tap rippled the water's surface.

Distant sound of plumbing, creaks and groans as pipes cooled.

Lex shivered. Once. Then he looked at Clark. "I thought they were going to kill me."

Clark heard the memory of true fear in Lex's voice. Scared to meet Lex's eyes in case they saw his anger, he just nodded.

"They were so drunk. I should never have stopped."

"How did they get you to?"

"The pick-up ran me off the road. I got out, but there were too many of them."

Clark concentrated on breathing slowly, evenly, on not seeing the fear and panic, the terror of being chased down in the darkness. "There were about eight of them, you didn't have a chance."

Lex was silent for a moment. Then he nodded, as if in agreement. "They dumped me here, didn't they?"

"Left you as a present."

"Oh, yes."

Clark watched Lex remembering. Watched him live it again. "I know who they are."

"They didn't make any effort to hide."

"Will you prosecute?"

"No." Lex's voice was flat, factual.

Clark squashed down the rage. "I'm going to go over to their place one night and trash their pick-up. I'd trash them, if I thought it would help."

"It wouldn't."

"No? It would make me feel better."

"Short term maybe. You'd regret it eventually. Promise. Not even to damage their property."



"So I can't do anything?"

"You can't hurt them. And Clark, you can't risk anyone finding out about you."

"But - "

"We'll do something. Eventually. But no violence." A swirl of bathwater, and Lex was holding his chin, staring earnestly into his eyes. "Clark, I'm alive. Let the rest go."



And that was enough. The anger was still there, but it was changed. He no longer wanted to hurt. He just wanted Lex to never beg him again. "I promise."

Smile as a reward. "So, tell me about everything I missed?"

What had happened? So much. He started with the easy stuff. "Toby was great. Oh, and Niels found the Porsche, it was vandalised. Mom thinks you're just unlucky with them. Either that or she wants you to get another Ferrari for her to play with."

"Do you think she'd like one?"

"No! Don't even think about it. Dad would have fits."


"A nice bunch of flowers. Something she doesn't grow maybe."

Lex nodded. "What about you. What would you like?"

"You. Just you."

"Ah, Clark..." Lex turned, and offered Clark the kiss he hadn't been able to accept before.

Light and delicate, careful of bruising, and water splashes. A single kiss. Clark smiled as he pulled away. He sighed deeply. "Let's get you washed, or Mom will be shouting at me."

Lex nodded. "Washcloth?"

"You can use mine. Or rather, I can use mine. You concentrate on keeping your dressings dry."

Clark washed Lex gently, from the toes upwards. In another time, another place, he would have loved the task. Here and now he forced himself to concentrate, to touch gently, to ignore the marks and scuffs and the swathes of bruises. Lex didn't make a sound, though Clark was certain he hurt him once or twice. Perhaps being clean was an adequate exchange for the pain.

When it was done, he lifted Lex from the bath, wrapped him in their largest towel and carried him back into the bedroom. The drying process took longer. Eventually it was done. All the gauze dressings were dry. None of the scrapes were bleeding. Clark knelt back on his heels, wiped his face on the damp towel.

"What happened to my clothes?"

"Why? You should get back into bed."

"I want to get dressed first."

"Your clothes are in the trash. Mom says nothing was salvageable and Cherry won't be over until suppertime."


Clark hesitated. Then offered offhandedly. "There's old stuff of mine." He shrugged.


"And then you'll rest some more?"

"Yes." Solemn nod. Lex did look brighter, but still worn and battered. In comparison to twelve hours back he looked amazing. Though that wasn't saying much.

Clark gave in. He stood up, and rooting around in his closet came up with a pair of ancient sweats and a faded Crows T-shirt. No underwear would fit, not that it mattered. He knelt at Lex's feet, and began to slip the pants on. When the cotton was at ankle level, Clark stopped. He kissed Lex's knee, then rested his cheek there for a moment, eyes closed, listening to the blood surging through Lex's veins, to both their hearts beating in syncopation. He felt very young, as if understanding anything was beyond him.

He felt Lex's hand stroke through his hair, the gesture comfort and calm in equal measures. "How can you let me hurt you?" And the question was out of his mouth before he'd begun to realise he was asking it.

"It's different."


"This was ugly, foul, nothing like what we do. Nothing at all."

"There are bruises on you that I left there."

"Yes. I hope quite soon - when I'm less battered - you'll leave more."

"Lex..." So much emotion. Clark raised his head, knelt up so he could cup Lex's face in his gentle hands. "Jesus..."

"Kiss me, Clark."

And Clark obeyed. A gentle kiss, his lips trembling as he licked delicately into Lex's mouth, as their tongues met, as Lex's breath spilled into him and, in a shimmer of realization, the world began to make sense again.

It was a while before either of them moved. Forehead against forehead, Clark kneeling between Lex's knees. Strength given, accepted, returned seven-fold. They shifted when the sound of Martha calling for Jonathan filtered up through the floor.


Clark nodded. "How did you know?" The fear that he was no better than the men who had beaten Lex. The fear that Lex would never want him like that again.

Lex looked at him. Touched his face with one finger. "It was obvious."

"I'm so selfish..."

"No." Lex almost smiled. His good eye smiled, for certain. "Love has its compensations."

Clark nodded, though he wasn't entirely sure what Lex meant. But Lex had said he loved him, and that was enough.

He finished dressing Lex, quickly, efficiently, without too much discomfort. The Crows shirt looked weirdly right on his slim frame. It was loose, the pants were too long in the leg, not that it mattered. When he was done, Clark stood back and couldn't help his smile. "You look good."

"Better than Armani."

"My present to you."

"Thank you."

"You're welcome." Clark grinned, and watched Lex yawn. "Lie down. I'll bring some dinner up for you."

"I'm hungry, thanks, Martha made sure I had soup when I woke up."

"You'll want something. Mom thinks food cures everything, be warned."

"Thanks." Easing himself back onto the bed, Lex sighed.

"I'll go downstairs, see how mom and dad are doing."

"Thank them. Please?"

"They were great."

"So were you."

Clark shook his head. "I just followed instructions - mom's the one who could run the country."


"Sleep well."

Lex just closed his eyes. Clark pulled the sheets over him, and leaving the door slightly open, went down to the kitchen, thinking about food.

A slice of pie and two glasses of juice later, he felt better. His mom was preparing food, and as she hadn't told him off for snacking, he guessed she was still tired. Besides, he wanted dinner, the pie had barely dented his appetite. When he resorted to leaning over her shoulder and stealing carrot chunks, Martha shooed him away.

Restless, Clark wandered out into the barn. His dad was forking hay, working steadily.


"Dad, sorry, I didn't do my chores."

"I did the urgent ones, the rest can wait."

Which was like his dad saying the Earth was flat. "Are you sure?"

"Yep." Another forkful and he rested, leaning on the handle. "You've got more important stuff to be worrying about. How's Lex?"

"Better. Sort of."

"Well, a beating like that'll take a while to get over."

"He's sleeping again."

"Good. You still going over to the Wheelers' place to rip their truck to pieces?"

"No, Lex told me not to."

"He's got sense, that boy."

Clark shoved his hands into his pockets, awkward as his father stared at him. After a while he broke. "What is it, Dad?"

"I was thinking about how Lex seems to be good for you. I never expected to think anything like that."


"And I never thought I'd say it." Jonathan shook his head, one gloved hand squeezing the pitchfork's handle. "Can't say it's easy, either. But I'm trying to be honest, and that's honesty. I didn't want you to go over to the Wheelers' place, but I couldn't have stopped you. Lex did." He shook his head slowly, then looked up, eyes teasing. "Hell, if he was a woman I'd be worrying if my best suit still fitted."


"Yeah. Well, I get the hang of things eventually."

"I didn't ask to be gay." Clark sighed. "I didn't ask not to be human either."

Jonathan nodded. "Not much we can do about either of those things."

"What if I grow tentacles, or decide I want to live with Lex?"

"Well... the tentacles might be a real problem." Jonathan tossed the fork aside and began to peel off his gloves. "Everything else? My advice is to take things as they come. Don't rush into anything."

"I won't." Clark fell in at his father's side as he walked out into the yard, squinting as the low, evening sun caught his eyes. "I can't see how I feel changing though."

"Clark, there's college, a job. And what you're going to do with your powers."

"I'll go to college, use the stuff I do to help anyone I can. And live with Lex."

"After college. If you still want to. Maybe."

"If he asks me."

"He hasn't?"

"Not yet. But he will one day. Least, I hope he will."

"Son, remember there's another Luthor to think about."

"I know." Clark nodded. "But Lex will deal with his father. One way or another, we'll be fine." Life was going to be interesting, that was for sure. Clark couldn't imagine the future without Lex. They'd got this far on nothing much more than hope. How could the future be any harder?

"You're certainly both stubborn enough, so we'll see. You'll need a hell of a lot of luck, son. But your mom and I will be on your side. Whatever happens."

"Thanks. You've no idea how great that sounds."

"Not that it'll be worth much in the big wide world. It would have been easier with Chloe you know."

"Dad, have you met Chloe?" He kept a straight face for a long breath, then smiled as his father laughed.

"Hell, maybe you're right. I can't live your life, though I'll always want to protect you."

"That's how I feel about Lex."

His dad looked at him, his lips twisting wryly. "Let me take this in stages, Clark. I'll get there."

"I know." Clark grinned when his father punched his shoulder.

"Kids..." He looked towards the house. Clark turned to see his mom walking towards them, wiping her hands on her jeans.

"What are you two up to?"

"Just talking."

"Well, dinner's on. Cherry's on her way, she's bringing champagne."


"Because Lex wants a glass, which I'm not sure is advisable on top of all the medication he's been taking, but he seems to think it'll be okay."

It took a second for her meaning to sink in. "Mom, you mean Lex is awake?"

"Sitting at the kitchen table, getting his breath back. He says he was bored. I did try to stop him, but he'd made it down the stairs by the time I noticed and I didn't have the heart to send him back." She shook her head, tutting softly.

"He should be in bed!"

"Good luck." She was still shaking her head as he ran into the house.



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