Sleep While I Drive

by jenn



Author Notes: Romance. Schmoopy. Shamelessly so. No other explanation.

Dedication: Wendi did four things. She sends me music recs, she sends me the nicest notes, she makes me smile with her emails every single time, and then, she sends me this. Andy, Beth, Hope, Tara, et al, who sort of, you know, kept PUSHING. LaT for clothing advice, Fabrisse for wine. The lovely, lovely Amy who beta'ed the entire thing and made me remove a lot of adverbs. I mean a LOT. My admiration for her patience and kindness knows no bounds.

Disclaimer: Lo, and there was a great and powerful corporation, and it did own the show, which this author does not. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Good enough?

Fedback: Adored at all times, especially with double caffeinated coffee.


"Clark driving that night. Lex dozing in the light of a harvest moon, the summer warmth still lingering in the air enough to keep the top down in the dark." --Wendi


There's a car curled up like a sleeping cat outside the barn.

Clark drops his backpack into the dust that's accumulated by the front door, wondering how he'd missed seeing it on his walk to the house. Somewhere in the back of his mind is blind, unquestioning gratitude that he stopped running just as he got out of the cornfield, stumbling to a halt on the only part of the yard that would have had a clear view from the car.

Granted, it's been a long day, so who can really blame him for being a little out of it? There was Chloe and Pete being themselves, and there was a kid in English class who was suddenly wearing a lot of layers, and Clark could swear he was looking through the front wall and into the girl's locker room during class. Then again, Clark's been getting a little paranoid recently. There was lunch and it was meatloaf, which just isn't on his top ten list unless his mom makes it, and there was that pop quiz in chemistry that, okay, he did fine, but it's just wrong to give pop quizzes on a Friday. Unnatural. Mildly sadistic, but then, no one would accuse Mr. Laurence of being exactly thrilled with his life's work or with people in general.

Maybe that explains why he's not married.

And work on the Torch after school--it makes him tired just to think about those endless layouts that seemed to stretch from the computer to the far wall, covering every inch of usable floorspace. It had to have been an act of God that Lana had shown up to help Chloe out when she did. It was probably symptomatic of his need to just get away that he didn't even consider hanging around a little bit longer, despite her wide smile.

So. It's been a long day. Sun's already touching the horizon and skipping downward to approaching dusk and the white car in the driveway is painted in a sheen of pale purple. Really symbolic if you think about it, not that he needs to. There's only one person he knows who thinks nothing of driving three-hundred-grand imports around potholed country roads. Or a person who drives a three hundred grand anything period, unless you count Mr. Carlson with his new John Deere tractor that his dad's always talking about like it's some sort of religious icon.

Standing on the porch, Clark's uncomfortably aware of the dust on his sneakers and coating his arms beneath the once-rolled up sleeves of his shirt. Superspeed is hard on his clothes. Sweat sticks his t-shirt to his back and his jeans are just--not something he wants to think about, not in comparison to that car. Wiping his hands on his thighs, knowing it won't help, he flicks the screen door open and kicks his backpack inside, wiping his forehead with the heel of one hand and knowing he's only smearing the dust. God, it's been hot recently. Something about May this year--it's almost never like this, except when it is, and already they're predicting drought and heatwaves for the entire state.

Clark shudders at the thought.

The edges of his vision show the truck's gone--Dad and Mom must have already left. Letting the screen door bang shut, Clark jumps lightly down the stairs, taking in the way the dust on the ground's already shifted so the tire marks aren't visible anymore. There's no wind worth speaking of, so Lex must have been here for awhile. Maybe since school ended, and Clark wonders what Lex has been doing for the hours since.

The top is up, of course--smart thing to do with the heat and Lex's skin, but it's a convertible and it's got to be some sort of crime to leave it up when it's not freezing or raining. Leaning into the passenger-side door, Clark notes the windows are cracked and the air conditioning on--the engine's purring soft as a cat being stroked. Clark enjoys the cool air wafting across his face from inside. There are definite perks to having indecently rich friends.

Lex is in his immaculate business best, but the tie's off and curled loosely in one fist, two buttons of the collar undone, revealing traces of pale skin. Pale purple shadows curve beneath his eyes, almost a match for his shirt. Mouth set in a hard line. Like dozing, if anyone could be that guarded and still be asleep, but the blue eyes slit open almost instantly, meeting Clark's without a trace of surprise. Lex does that sort of thing; Clark's beginning to wonder what exactly that meteor strike did for Lex besides the entire hair thing.

"Clark." Little almost-curve of his mouth, but it doesn't quite reach his eyes. Carefully, Clark pulls back, opening the door and sliding inside. Oh God, oh yes, yes, cold like winter, and the sweat on his back could be freezing in place. He's getting dust all over the nice leather seats, but Lex never seems to care so Clark won't either. At least, not while he's enjoying the cool.

Turning his head, he catches an unreadable expression on Lex's face. "Hey." Not sure what to say exactly--he wants to make a comment about the unfairness of being able to lounge in expensive air-conditioned cars while other people have high school nightmares to attend on a daily basis, but the words die before they get much farther than vague thoughts. "What's up?"

"Hmm. Good question." Lex stretches a little, a shift of long muscles beneath skin and shirt that's just a little more fascinating than Clark thinks should be normal. Slim gloved fingers reach for the keys, hesitating briefly, before Lex looks back up. Something's in his face that Clark can't quite read, but it disappears almost immediately, replaced with a quick smirk. "Come on."

"Come on?" Not that saying no is anywhere near his head right now--farm chores and snacks and calling Chloe later on are all fading like the grass in the yard, crisping brown and disappearing before they even fully form. "Where are we going?"

Lex's head tilts, and he deliberately peels off his driving gloves, letting them fall onto the console between them.

"I don't know. You're driving."


An Aston Martin is probably not meant to be driven by someone like Clark, whose driving lessons were done in a truck that stopped if you so much as twitched the clutch the wrong way. Lex had been patient with every jerk of the clutch, fingers ghosting over his on the gear shift, showing him what to do, how to do it. It had taken time, but soon, Clark had felt the car like part of his body--its moods, its shifts, the slight pull to the right when they took a curve, how fast he could make the straight-aways because the cops didn't bother to come out this far into the rural districts. In any case, this is a Luthor car, and Clark suspects that is a deterrent in itself.

Zero to eighty in five point six seconds; slick, soft leather seats that he tries not to feel guilty about getting grimy; new-car smell, though Lex's car has had it for awhile; and it moves like something out of a particularly good car fantasy. The entire night is huge around them and Lex lets him pull down the hood so--wow.

It's not like running--not as fast, not as hard, not as high, not as free.

But--not as alone, either.

"Lex?"

He keeps his voice low. The sun's down in dark blue and Clark's been watching the appearance of the clean asphalt of Metropolis before making the curve to circle around the city. Just missing the suburbs, though he recognizes the sign for the place that Chloe lived before her father's transfer to Smallville.

Lex doesn't answer--the seat is shifted backward and Lex's head turned a little toward him; quiet exhaustion is written into every line of his face. He's been sleeping since they left Smallville, and Clark thinks that maybe it happened the second they passed the city limits. The space of the car seemed to become less tight, and Lex had relaxed into the seat after tilting it back, eyes closing until the last sliver of blue vanished. Clark remembers reaching out and catching himself before he touched Lex, to smooth that little frown line, but it disappeared soon after. The slow, steady pulse of Lex's heart and the edge of regular breathing had told Clark that Lex was asleep.

He's been careful to stay on good, flat roads ever since.

There are a lot of questions in his head--God, so many they crowd up the space inside this car. But--they aren't as important as they probably should be, might be another day, another time. Not with the edge off the heat and the night cool and smooth; not with the top down and the wind cutting into his hair and drying the sweat, the roads stretching far and wide going on forever. Like he could go anywhere, anywhere at all.

Though it'd be nice to have a destination. The only instructions he got were pretty--well, ambiguous.

"Not here."

Well, that had certainly clarified things.

The exit off the highway goes to the east, and Clark thinks carefully before ignoring the first exit. The second, too, and looking to his right, Clark can see downtown Metropolis brilliant in the dark. There's the bank building and more skyscrapers than he can count; farther down there are the tiny yellow fairy-lights near the ground grouped in a near circular glow, so maybe there's a baseball game tonight. In the center is the LuthorCorp headquarters, every room alight and dazzling in the night. Clark glances at Lex before turning his gaze back to the road.

There's a convenience store to the right and Clark hopes his skill with doing actual turns is as good as his ability to navigate straight-aways. Taking the exit, he flicks on the blinker and turns into the parking lot. It's approaching ten, so the place isn't as crowded as it might usually be. Clark pulls up under the brightest lights nearest the door and flips off the engine, turning to Lex, who hasn't even stirred.

He must be really tired.

"Lex."

There's a little sound that makes Clark grin, and he reaches over to touch one shoulder. Inches before contact, Lex's hand is wrapped around his wrist and the blue eyes are fully open as if they've never been closed.

Clark has never seen anyone human move that fast, and it makes him catch his breath.

"Clark." Instantly, the grip on his wrist eases, but Clark almost forgets to pull back. Lex straightens, glancing around with a few brief blinks. "What are--"

"Getting something to drink. Bathroom. You know, normal things people do after being in cars for awhile."

The corners of Lex's mouth tilt up in what is unmistakably the beginnings of a smirk.

"Should have gone before we left," he answers, shaking his head. Straightening, his hands automatically smooth his shirt back into uncreased perfection, a trick that Clark watches with a little awe. All he has to do is look at his clothes and they get wrinkled. One glance around the parking lot and Lex grins again, but something in his eyes doesn't quite match it. "All right. Bathroom break for the children. Run along, Clark."

"You need anything?" Clark asks, and Lex actually pauses, head tilting. Which is--okay, weird--but then, Lex takes questions seriously, even non-serious ones. Sometimes, Clark thinks he does it just to throw people off.

"I'm not sure." Meditative, before he reaches out, taking the keys from the ignition and dropping them in Clark's hand. "Hmm. I'm hungry."

And Lex--Lex eases over the top of the door, unlike any other person, who would--well, open the door--but he makes it look so...regular. So...normal. So I-am-Lex-and-people-like-me-aren't-stopped-by-such-petty-things-as-closed-doors, or maybe Clark's overanalyzing Lex again. Clark does the normal thing and opens the door, feeling Lex's amused eyes on him as he shuts it behind him and hitting the alarm on the keychain. Locking it is--well, the top's down. Stupid much?

The store's dimmer than Clark really likes--paranoid, paranoid, paranoid, can't say it too often, but hey, he lives in Smallville. This is one of the older stations, with patched linoleum on the floor, a bulb missing near the fountain drink area, and it's not exactly that clean, but Clark's only really asking for a working toilet here, though he does spare a thought for Lex following him inside. Glancing back, Lex looks his regular, slightly amused self.

Hmm.

The bathroom is small and never, ever meant for anyone who wasn't really short and really thin. Washing up, he gets a paper towel and cleans the accumulated grime of a fast run and a long, open-air car ride from his face and hands, then give the mirror a long look.

Fact; he's not at home. Fact; he's well outside Metropolis, a good three hours from home. Fact.; his parents would so not approve. Fact; he doesn't care very much.

Fact; he has no fucking clue what he's doing.

Clark dries off and decides to think about it later.

Lex is walking the aisles like he's expecting diamonds to show up for possible purchase, pacing the selection of chips on display with that intense concentration that's just a little spooky if you're the focus, but really funny otherwise.

Coming up behind him, Clark doesn't even try to startle him--not because it's childish, but because it has never, ever worked any time he's tried it. At all. Not even a speeded up heartbeat, and how damn annoying.

"That hard to pick chips, Lex?"

Lex tosses him a dazzling grin. Clark notices in some part of his mind that the lavender sleeves are unbuttoned, and Lex is rolling them up neatly; it is a hot night, and he can see traces of sweat on Lex's forehead, edging his open collar. The store is pretty much the definition of an oven, and Clark wants the cool wind of the car ride desperately.

"I'm evaluating my choices, Clark. It's called smart shopping."

Clark grins, leaning into the shelf carefully as Lex picks up the tortilla chips and checks them like Clark's mother does for content and freshness. "You know how to shop for yourself? In a store?" He gets some pleasure in mocking someone who has his water shipped from out of state. It's the little things in life that make it worth living.

"The theory is, exchanging cash for goods or services, or so television has told me. Run along and get yourself something to drink." The smile's quick and bright, brighter than the bare fluorescent bulbs overhead; Clark blinks a little, ducking his head and walking the few feet to the case. He picks a soda at random--he's never been picky on where he gets his caffeine from--and the weight of Lex's gaze is thick.

Once in the car, he looks at Lex, who's getting that sleepy look again, and Clark pushes his curiosity down.

"Where are we going?" he asks, and Lex looks at him for a moment that stretches with a significance that Clark can't quite interpret.

Little edged smirk that has nothing to do with anything in this car. "You tell me when we get there."


Lex takes over at three am, and Clark hadn't even known how exhausted he was until it seemed like seconds later the sunlight slit its way between his eyelids and the car is slowed.

Stopped

Stopped--somewhere. Clark opens his eyes.

Parking lot of a smalltown motel, second to last place in the world a Luthor would show up, painted in the dark grey of pre-dawn. Smallville looks cosmopolitan in comparison, which is seriously saying something. The motel makes Clark wonder if they've flicked over into a bad knock-off of Reservoir Dogs by accident. Peeling paint, old dull orange doors, general ambiance of a pay-by-the-hour sort of place, but Lex is just sitting calmly like they're at the Hilton. Clark stretches, absently shrugging the seatbelt off as Lex turns off the engine. A glance around doesn't raise Clark's opinion of the area. The road's a nightmare of potholes and seriously bad geometry, and there are only a few buildings stretching around them. He has to wonder how he slept through all the jerking of maneuvering the streets.

Clark has to pity Lex's mechanic when he sees what this has done to the shocks on the car.

"Lex?" Are we--wherever? Good question, but Clark doesn't really think this is the place. Dust is just rising with the morning, and to his practiced eye, dawn is slowly disappearing behind grey clouds. The heat and humidity is so thick it's closing around them like a damp blanket. It's going to rain. From the looks of it, probably really, really hard, but it won't last long. Quick, hard storm, fast and furious, over before the echoes even have time to register. Still a little out of it, Clark helps Lex put the top back up, there's the sound of the car alarm, movement, Lex's low voice a little far away, and they're--

--inside.

The cool is--oh, so welcome, and a gentle push to his back sends him onto something soft and comfortable. He barely cares where the hell they are, finding a pillow by touch and pulling it up against his chest.

There's movement around the room as Lex--does things. Whatever that could be. Smells of cheap detergent and age and mildew are all around them, soaking into everything--not very Lex, a place like this, but weirdly appropriate. The theme seems to be Lex Is Doing Something Significant, though to be honest, everything Lex does ends up being significant, even if Clark doesn't know it at the time. Clark's just learning what those things mean.

Maybe it's just that he's never seen Lex be this blatant before.

Outside, Clark can hear the first drops of rain splashing into the dry, hungry ground, and he reaches out as the bed shifts, touching smooth cloth and warm skin beneath, the metal edges of Lex's watch. There's a single tense moment, before the body beside him relaxes into the mattress with a soft groan of old springs.

"What?" Low drawl that means Lex is tired, though if he looks, Clark knows it won't show on his face.

And--what? What, why, what happened, Clark wants a compass and a roadmap, and not because he's lost in Kansas, either. There's this moment that lasts forever, where all the questions want to start trickling off his tongue but what actually comes out is, "Are the windows rolled up? On the car?"

"Yes." Lex's fingers cover his, and Clark decides not to open his eyes, letting the beginning sounds of rain rush through his mind. Soft and wet over their head, hitting the roof like tiny nails at high speed, a closer sound of thick droplets hitting a carpeted floor that might mean there's a leak, and Lex, rubbing his fingers slowly, rhythmically, thinking maybe. Or listening, like Clark is.

The kiss is unexpected--Lex always moves so fast, faster than some people can even think, faster than Clark knows how to follow. Startling, hot, soft mouth, Clark's on his back, and he isn't sure what to do.

First times are all about that, though. No clue what's going on, just knowing the moment--this moment--is important. Knows he'll remember it forever, the rain outside and the cool air on his sweat-slicked skin, and Lex's body, hard and long and so warm, so hot, like his clothes have been soaking up the heat of the sun for days. There's cloth everywhere his hands touch until he gets to Lex's face, stays there and holds on, opening his mouth under the pressure and letting Lex have this.

Letting himself have this, too.

The hands in his hair tighten, tilting his head, and Lex's tongue is inside his mouth--licking slow and steady, exploring with deliberate care. The taste is warm and soft and uniquely Lex, spicy and dark. Maybe lot like want, too, though Clark hadn't known that it had a taste. Edges of sweat on the silky skin behind Lex's ear, thumb brushing the strong line of his jaw. Arching up and trying to get more of the taste, of the feel of the man against him, and the easy sprawl of Lex's body on top of his, so heavy and so different from the feel of a girl's body. Strange in all the right ways.

"Lex," he mumbles when Lex pulls back, but the warm lips settle on his throat, slow and steady sucking across his collar, pushing his shirt aside. Drawing patterns on his skin with a wet tongue that Clark can't quite follow; he's lightheaded with the touching, with Lex's hands on his head, pushing him into the pillow in another soul-shaking kiss that--oh God, please, Lex. Somehow he manages to get a thigh between Lex's legs and pressure where he knows they both need it, and the sharp, quick-bright bite on his throat is approval enough.

It's slow, though, all deliberate--Lex's careful, almost lazy rocking against him, hard length against his hip. Tantalizingly light bite into his shoulder and Clark slides his hands down Lex's back, pulling the shirt loose, moving underneath. Silky, damp skin that he traces with short nails, and Lex bucks against him. The liquid warmth of Lex's hand at his waist, pushing up his shirt, rubbing into his skin, as if he's learning every muscle by touch.

Lex coaxes him up, stripping the shirt away, sweat-stained t-shirt next. Unbuttoning his own shirt with slow, deliberate flickers of his fingers, kneeling between Clark's legs while their breathing synchs, staring at each other, maybe like a challenge, but mostly just--want. Lex, hands on his skin, tongue in his mouth, splayed fingers digging in wherever Clark twitches and he--God, he wants, so badly it quivers in every muscle of his body. He can't help arching up, cock grazing Lex's through their clothes, only enough pressure to tease.

"Clark." It's hissed against his shoulder, and Lex pushes himself up on both arms. Lex stares down at him for a few long seconds, not moving, before an easy, graceful shift away to the bed beside him. Clark can't help holding on, rolling onto his side to keep some kind of contact, and the little smile he gets in return is--hot. The smooth skin of Lex's back is under his fingers, and he can't quite help touching, tracing more, feeling the lines of fragile bones beneath, the knobs of his spine through thin flesh.

"Lex--" He doesn't know how to ask, can't even find the words. Licking his lips and watching Lex's gaze fix, breathing quicken briefly before Lex brings himself under control, damn, damn, no. Soothing, soft touch to his face that he turns into, licking the warm palm and tasting sweat and leather and the lingering salty-bland remains of tortilla chips. Clark's unable to help sucking one finger into his mouth, staring at Lex, who's just--watching him.

Huge eyes, dilated to near-black, ringed in bare dark blue, want and heat and need unmistakable. Sleepy surprise too, and other things Clark can't read, maybe no one can, even Lex, before the finger pulls away, drawing a wet line across his cheek and under his chin.

"Take your shoes off."

Well, that's--practical. Easy to do, and Clark kicks the sneakers onto the floor, socks a quick afterthought. The flush of hot arousal is fading, the cool rain wetting the earth outside, and the room's just a little below what would be comfortable. Lex is pulling back the covers before Clark has a chance to comment.

And he is tired, so it's easy to curl back against Lex's body, let him drape the blankets over them both. Warm hand settling low on his stomach, a finger sliding just inside the waistband of his jeans. Strangely soothing, rhythmic strokes that aren't so much arousing as--nice. More intimate than anything they've done yet, in some way Clark can't define.

He can feel Lex's breath, warm and steady on the back of his neck and he wants to ask something, anything, even if it's something stupid, like why they're wandering through Kansas (if they're even in Kansas anymore) when that's not even the first thing that Clark wants to know right now. Lex's mouth grazes the back of his shoulder, a slow and dragging wet, open-mouthed kiss that ends with a warm forehead pressed to his shoulder and Clark shuts his eyes.

Questions, right.

But before he can even begin to form the first one, the one that will at very least make one thing make sense, sleep is pulling him in.


He wakes up alone--startled body memory bringing him fully upright, and outside is pale grey light through the threadbare yellowed curtains.

The room's empty--he sees his shoes by the bed, neatly one beside the other, socks rolled into impossible little balls beside them. Not like he left them, tossed on the floor in a messy heap. It makes him smile a little before he takes in the rest of the silent room.

Half-turning, Clark touches the place where Lex was beside him and there's not even the memory of warmth. The room's deserted, nothing but his own shoes to show that anyone's been here at all, and Clark pushes the blanket to his waist, staring into the front wall, through it with a flick of his eyes.

The car's gone.

Flopping back down, Clark counts off things that make what this looks like silly. Lex wouldn't bother coming all the way out to--here--and just leaving him, and in any case, he's probably getting something to eat. Inner clock tells Clark it's edging toward late afternoon, four at the very least, even if the outside is in perpetual pale twilight.

Taking a breath, he swings his legs off the bed and cracks his neck a little. The worn sheets have traces of grime, and he wonders if he should avoid the shower here. But. Dirt's bad, and his years as human, not to mention his mother's son, have taught him one thing above all others.

Clean is good.

And having something to do--anything to do--will hopefully stop the thoughts running over and over in his head like a litany. What, why, when, all of it, over and over, and he wants to shut it up and out, it's called repression, dammit, use it.

He's pretty good at it.

He strips in the bedroom, dropping the dirty clothes over the edge of the bed. Short walk across rough-grade orangish carpet to the flimsy plywood door that opens at a touch. Motel soap, threadbare white towels, nothing to write home about, really, but the feeling in here is--more. More like Lex. Hand against the sink, Clark takes a breath, catching the edges of whatever cologne Lex wears, almost thinks he can taste the leather in the air. Stupid, strange thought, and Clark shakes his head, ducks briefly into the shower and turns on the water.

The mirror reflects back the same person he was yesterday when he looks back up. Tall, still a little too thin, big eyes and messy hair. Image projected to the world is the same as the person living inside his skin--young and nave and impulsive and God knows, this isn't anything he doesn't know already, down to the bone.

Yesterday, though, he'd been in his normal life on a rural farm and had never felt Lex touch him. Something has to be different. He should see something.

Flinching, Clark pushes the cheap plastic curtain aside and climbs in.

Cold--damn, shit, hell, fuck, and Clark washes fast. The soap in its little paper container is almost shredded and superspeed has some uses after all. Clark steps out and grabs for one of the tiny towels and pushes open the bathroom door with his shoulder.

Lex is calmly sitting on the edge of the--the made bed, as if he never left at all and Clark blinks as the other man glances up. Frozen second where they're staring at each other, and Clark wonders what would happen if he dropped the towel.

His fingers tear the cheap cotton, a sound that somehow seems to break--well, everything. Lex's guard is up and his head is tilted, little smile turning up one side of his mouth as if he's thinking about a joke that no one else is bright enough to get.

Clark notices, in some really strange, distantly interested part of his mind, that Lex has changed clothes. Light grey long-sleeve shirt, pushed up over pale forearms, casual khakis, like something out of a magazine's representation of the Young Casual Businessman at Rest, but not even a picture could have managed to dull the sheer energy radiating from him. Something on the edge of hysteria and caffeine, and maybe--God--want, too, and it hits him like a touch he can feel all over his body.

Lex's eyes flicker over him, fast and tactile, before he looks away, and Clark notices that the clothes he left beside the bed are gone.

"There's a change of clothes there," said Lex, and his voice is just like always--practical, calm, like they are at the castle and Lex is pointing out where the juice is. Breathing out, Clark nods and picks up the duffle bag--not designer, not LuthorCorp, just something from some nondescript store. and Clark has a momentary vision of Lex pricing bags with the same intensity he studies grain prices.

He doesn't bother going to the other room to change, flush heating his skin--this isn't home or a locker room or by Lex's swimming pool or anything simple and definable, where you knew no one was really looking and everyone would pretend they weren't anyway. He can feel Lex watching him, even though every quick glance back never catches him, and Clark flushes more every time he sees Lex casually not-looking. A few endless minutes of wrestling with the white t-shirt, before he turns around again.

"Lex?"

Lex stands up, pulling at the shirt to remove the wrinkles, then tilts his head to the other side of the bed.

"Get your shoes." Something silvery bright dangles briefly between his fingers, and he tosses it at Clark--the keys are warm, edged in dampness from Lex's palm, and there's an insane desire to lean down and--God, lick the taste off. "You're driving."


They stop to eat at the next town--a dingy place that's way too dark, bare overhead light bulbs swinging idly for no reason Clark can fathom. The tablecloth's vinyl and colored in red checkers, old spots of burn from cigarettes and grease giving it either character or that low-class chic that Clark's always found both strangely nostalgic and slightly gross. The vinyl-padded seat of the booth makes noise every time he moves, and he's moving a lot.

Lex is so still that there hasn't been a single vinyl squeak from his side of the small wooden table.

"Lex?" Clark's fingers keep sliding on the menu from the thin layer of grease coating the lamination. The real advantage these places have is the food, Clark thinks, and shifts again as he glances around. Nearing eight, there are a lot of customers, but the dark makes it feel as if the diner's deserted. It's not a bad feeling.

"Hmm?" Lex has been studying the menu since they came in, idly giving his order for coffee and water without looking at the waitress, and Clark came really close to suggesting decaf--if Lex gets any more wired, life can only get more surreal. "You pick something yet?"

"Yeah." No, not really--he's been a little too busy watching the man with him to get around to actually choosing food, but hey, this is America. You can't really go wrong with a hamburger. "You?"

"I think so." Lex flips the menu over, studying the entrees again before letting it fall and pushing it aside with one elbow. "Tired?"

Clark blinks.

"No, not really." He's barely touched his own coffee. "I slept okay." Dreams fragmented in a highly interesting montage of Lex in a thousand different moments except the only one he really wants to think about. Lex and his hands and his mouth, turning up now in a slight smirk that sends a little spark through Clark's chest. "What--I mean, did you sleep okay?"

"A little." The darkened lavender under his eyes makes it a lie, but this doesn't seem to be the time to call Lex on it, though Clark wants to. Wants to ask what he did while Clark was sleeping--there are vague memories of waking up with Lex's arms around him, cool and smooth; warm, steady breath brushing his skin. Fingers lightly carding through his hair and the unfocused sense-memory of curling closer into Lex's body, cheek pressed to his chest and listening to the steady rhythm of his heartbeat before drifting back to sleep. "Though I will admit, it's a little jarring to wake up to orange carpet."

Clark grins, setting his menu aside.

"Slumming has its disadvantages," he answers, and Lex grins a little. "So, you plan to tell me what this is about or should I just keep guessing?"

And there it is. Got it out so casually, tossed in as part of the conversation in progress, and no, it doesn't sound jarring at all. Lex doesn't look jarred either; he seems more expectant than anything else Clark can identify.

"Road trip. Heard of them?" Lex grins again, resting his chin in his palm to survey the room. "I've--always wanted to try one. You know, the entire experience of minimal money, badly repaired car--"

"Lex, we're in an Aston Martin."

"--bad food, strange sleeping quarters, and I said I was doing a roadtrip, not torturing myself." Lex's grin widens. "I've heard some people choose to sleep outside during them. I've decided we can survive without that part of the experience."

Yes, Clark has to agree, and he lets his fingers skate over the menu idly.

"So you felt inspired--" Clark offers, and Lex shrugs a little, glancing around briefly as if trying to find the waitress.

"Inspired, bored, lots of things." Lex leans back in his chair, crossing his arms over his chest. Clark doesn't believe it. "Want to tell me why you came?"

Oh. Well. Clark drops his elbows onto the table, bracing them against the inevitable slide on the slick surface of the tablecloth, and meets very cool blue eyes.

"Bored, inspired. Not like I had anything better to do." A ton of homework is waiting inside his house, but his parents are gone for the weekend. He pauses to wonder if Lex knew that already and decides he probably did. Wrapping his fingers around a salt shaker, he thinks about asking about last night, but the words won't quite come out.

"Can I take your order?"

Clark looks up at the woman in complete and utter relief. Perfectly in line with the ambiance, half-chewed gum resting on her back teeth and a run in her hose. The apron's seen better days, or God, better decades, and she's pushing fifty very easily. Snapping out a pad, she gives them both a dim glare, like she's expecting them to be rude before they even open their mouths.

"Cheeseburger," Lex says prosaically and smiles, slow and charming. She's less than impressed, and Clark looks down quickly before Lex catches his grin. "And fries. Thank you."

"Same thing," Clark says, handing over his menu with Lex's. She gives them both another glare, then thumps away. Lex is watching her with faint amusement before he looks back at Clark.

"Where are we going anyway?" Clark asks, picking up his coffee cup. Almost empty. Dammit. He wishes he'd asked for a refill. "I mean, you know, just so we don't miss it."

"We won't," Lex answers easily, and pulls out a paper napkin from the dispenser, wiping his fingers clean. It's just--Clark sits back and really takes in what he's seeing. Lex Luthor in a run-down diner in a town even more remote than Smallville, calmly taking in the ambiance and managing not to fit in without a bit of effort expended. Even dressed down--or the Lexian equivalent thereof--Lex gives off those vibes of perfect assurance, of money, maybe class. Even out of a suit, he still looks like he's in one, which is sort of weird but about as close as Clark can come to explaining it.

"Lex--" But what is he going to ask? Lex, what's going on, why are we doing this, why did you kiss me and then stop? Silly, strange, surreal questions, but he's always wondered, just a little, what Lex sees in him other than the image of the stereotypical hero, the kid next door, the country boy.

Lex's eyes on him are calm, and Clark shuts his mouth tight. There's this feeling that tells him that right now isn't the best time to ask.

"Nice place," Clark comments slowly, fixing his gaze on the tablecloth. Burn here, stain there, nothing particularly outstanding at all except everything. Clark closes his eyes briefly, letting the dawn play behind his eyes in memory. "If you're going for student slumming, you're doing great."

"Glad you approve." And there's nothing but fond amusement in Lex's voice.

It's quiet while they wait for their hamburgers.


"So the entire time you were at Princeton, you never did anything like this?"

Lex uncurls a little in the passenger seat to give him a glance, and Clark's thinking very seriously that he may never be able to drive a domestic automobile again. The night's cooled off, but only marginally, and as much fun as the top was down, Lex just doesn't do heat waves well. So. Top up, air conditioner full blast, and it's too quiet not to talk.

Talk.

Top up could have been a serious tactical error.

"Not really." Lex stretches his legs, glancing out the window. It's too dark to see much--they've moved back into rural territory, and Clark's pretty sure they left Kansas behind a couple of hours ago. "School, social life--"

"Club scene?"

From the corner of his eye, Clark sees Lex grin. "That, too. Why did I tell you about that again?"

Clark touches the gas lightly and switches to fifth. "Possibly because you were very concussed. I won't say you didn't suggest strip chess--"

"Jesus."

"--but for conversational topics, it wasn't a bad choice." Lex is eyeing him, looking to see if he's lying--which he's not. Lex on painkillers is a highly interesting person indeed.

"Good of you to take advantage of my drugged condition," Lex answers, adjusting one sleeve mid-forearm. Clark notices that his watch is gone and almost opens his mouth to ask why, but his teeth click shut over the words. Glancing at a sign, Clark comes to a slow halt at the stop sign.

"North or south?" Clark asks, keeping his eyes glued to the road.

"South." Lex has to be a masochist of some stripe--it's so hot. Grinning a little, Clark hits the blinker and easily manages the shifts--there's something to be said for desperation being the mother of education. With the car purring against him, the road pretty much dead, Clark can split his attention again.

"So. Where are we going?"

"You were one of those kids who always said 'are we there yet?' at fifteen minute intervals, weren't you?" Lex asks, shooting him an amused glance from beneath his lashes. Gracefully, he lifts a long leg, bracing his foot on the ruthlessly clean dashboard and leaning the seat back. There's a hint of socks beneath the edge of the pants.

"Fifteen seconds, actually," Clark answers. "I'm a talented whiner."

Lex snorts. "Do better."

Clark tilts his head, giving Lex his best smile. "Please, Lex? Tell me where we're going?"

"No."

"Lex..."

"No."

"Please...."

"Clark, did you take your drivers' education in Britain?"

Clark jerks his gaze back to the road and notes that the driver's side wheels are grazing the grass on the left side of the road--not good, not good, and Lex is chuckling softly as he lurches back into his lane, making the Aston shiver and hiccup indignantly.

Breathing out, Clark thinks of ways to get Lex back for that one.


Maybe it was all the not-looking through the night that makes Clark so hyperaware when they stop for the--day. The heat's already jumping and the dew only makes it worse, like the water itself is trapping heat against his skin, and Clark wonders how it's possible to breathe air this heavy.

Clark is careful not to comment on the fact that Lex seems to be deliberately picking the worst possible motels in the smallest possible towns--Richfield barely boasts a convenience store, and the motel is just one step above sleeping outside. Barely. At least from the outside. Clark watches Lex unlock the door and walk inside as if this wasn't about as questionable as places get.

It's--not so bad, and if Clark closes his eyes, he can pretend the floor isn't faded lime-green like something out of a really cheesy movie. Kicking his shoes off first (he's learned), Clark stretches back on the bed, next to the window air conditioning unit blowing cold air just above the surface of the mattress. It dries the sweat on his face and neck, almost making up for the fact that the sheets and comforter smell uncomfortably of cheap bleach and mothballs.

Maybe he'd better not to think about it too hard.

Turning his head, Clark watches Lex removing things from his pockets. Wallet. His watch. Another set of keys. A piece of paper, white and folded, greyed edges of age and wear, and Clark narrows his gaze to see what it is, before Lex slides it beneath his watch and turns around, leaning against the dresser. Languid, coiled energy at temporary rest. Slow, lazy blink, the corner of his mouth quirking in a smile.

Lex makes Clark think of--not sex, not exactly. He can't see Lex in the position of anyone in the porn he's seen or the visions his own head calls up when he reads about sex. The visions don't work, and the words are just wrong. Lex isn't--but he is. Lex seems to breath it, the feeling of it. The things that slide through Clark's dreams on hazy wings and Lex--God--Lex and his smiles and his skin and the way he moves, like liquid, like the restrictions of bones are for lesser mortals.

Clark's breathing speeds up, and he thinks he can hear the sound of his heart pounding against his chest. Fresh sweat breaks wet and hot over his palms, and he pushes himself up on one arm, unable to help licking his dry lips, feeling the unmistakable press of his erection against the soft denim of his jeans. Lex's head tilts, quick smile, before he turns, all angles and too-fast motion, reaching down to pull his shirt over his head, grey cotton pooling in one fist before he drops it on the floor. Clark's on his feet, staring at the broad expanse of pale back, corded muscle beneath smooth skin. Clark's bare feet feel every rough fiber of carpet as he crosses the room, and he's reaching out to touch before he even knows what he's doing.

Instant of perfect tension, every muscle beneath going utterly stone, steel beneath the thinnest blanket of flesh, and Clark pulls back, but his fingers are caught. Lex, one hand on the dresser, barely turned enough to catch him, blue eyes hotter than the morning dawning outside, than the sun at noon when Clark helps his dad work the fields in the summer. The long fingers are cool, hard, specialized calluses from pens and foils and boxing, and Clark runs his thumb over the knuckles Lex broke only a few months before. Then the slightest pull and Clark's pressed against Lex's back.

Air- and sweat-cooled skin is only a thin layer of cheap cotton away. Clark can feel every bone and every shift of muscle against his chest like there's nothing between them at all.

"It's okay." Almost a whisper, and Clark closes his eyes, lets Lex draw his hand down. Over the hard stomach Clark's fingers want to memorize, burning into the tips so his body never forgets this, and he raises his other hand to rest on Lex's shoulder. Breathing in the scent of Lex, sweat, the light cologne, and the skin on the back of Lex's neck is amazing to taste, cool and smooth. The indent at the base of his skull he can tongue slowly, where sweat settles during the day, salty-bitter, instantly addictive. There's the brush of Lex's free hand on his thigh in soft, steady strokes, so light he can barely feel it, waking every nerve to concentrate on it, and Lex is moving his other hand. Dragging it across his chest, slow and easy, letting Clark feel as much as he wants.

It's--almost dreamy, like Clark's stepped into another world that only half-exists outside the confines of his mind, and he can hear Lex's breathing, slow and steady. Lex, who feels incredible, like something Clark's been waiting for all his life. Lex lets him lead, the lightest pressure on his hand when Clark slides it up, brushing his fingers over a small nipple, breathing out as Lex tenses again. Tense in the right way, though, Clark's sure of it, moving his mouth forward, finding Lex's throat and the hard pound of his pulse with his tongue, under his lips, sucking to feel it in his mouth.

Smooth, hairless skin everywhere, so much that Clark's a little dizzy with the permission given, has to touch it all just in case it's withdrawn. Pulls his mouth away and breathes a little before tracing the line of Lex's shoulder, dragging his teeth and catching a hitch in Lex's breathing that means he's doing something right. Circles Lex's nipple and bites down into the muscle at the juncture of neck and shoulder, just lightly, just enough, and Lex hisses something that sounds like encouragement.

"Lex..." he hears himself whisper, but he can't drag himself away from tasting to form a coherent sentence and talking is overrated anyway, he's always thought so. The hand on his thigh digs in briefly, acknowledgement, and then the hand covering his leaves, curling back around his neck, nails digging into Clark's skin. Pulling his head, tilting it forward, and Lex turns his head and kisses him. Awkward angle forgotten at the first thrust of Lex's tongue into his mouth, drawing over his palate and looking for, finding every spot, everything that makes Clark twitch and hold tighter, pull Lex closer, unable to help grinding against Lex's ass.

Clark wants permission to touch everywhere, everything, every place Lex hides--it's almost impossible to drag his hands away long enough to remove his shirt, and Lex turns around, putting inches of warm space between them, looking at him as he pulls it over his head, wide blue eyes and wet red lips. Dark reddened stain on the side of his throat and another on his shoulder from Clark's mouth, and it's like proof, like permission, but he can't--can't quite make himself take the step separating them. Shirt loosely clutched in one fist to keep himself from reaching out, and Lex takes the decision out of his hands, stepping forward, hand on his jaw, lightest pressure that's all Clark needs to tilt his head down.

Slow, careful kiss, sucking on his lips and tongue pressed briefly against his teeth, sliding just over the edge before darting back out, licking into the space behind his lip. Lex kisses like a long lazy afternoon in summer, and Clark's never going to be able to not taste this every time the thermometer climbs. Taste of salt and soda and spring water and Lex beneath it, rich and heavy and something Clark wants to keep forever. Slick skin to slick skin and this can't stop, ever stop, this moment, this second, please never, but before he can make himself drop his shirt, reach out, Lex steps away and around him, so smoothly that Clark is left staring at the wall with the taste of Lex in his mouth.

He turns and watches Lex unmaking the bed methodically, blanket and sheet neatly folded down, then sitting down to kick his shoes off. Clark's moving, can't help it, and Lex looks up, flickering blue from beneath red-gold lashes before Clark straddles his legs, knees on the bed, pushing him back down into the mattress. Braces himself on both hands, he looks down at the contrast of cheap cotton sheets and Lex's pale skin. Lex just watches him, but those hands slide over his thighs and that's permission, it's okay, and Clark leans down and kisses him. He feels Lex's response all over his body, letting Lex draw him down, skin on skin so good, better than rough cotton, body to body, and Clark could do this forever, wants to, just let the world slide by in a hot haze that he can ignore entirely. Cold air from the window unit makes him shiver when it hits his bare back, little rush of goosebumps and Lex's hands smooth down his back to take them away. Fingers in his hair, turning his head, new angle, new kiss, and still letting Clark keep control. And touching him. Touching Clark. Lex is learning his body like Clark wants to learn Lex's, every inch and every movement and everything that makes him twist and shake and moan into that warm, wet mouth. The sharp draw of nails down his skin makes him arch, push down, grind against Lex, feeling him hard against his hip. Rolling Clark on his side, one leg thrown over his hip, giving Clark something to grind against, and Clark's losing himself in the taste and feel of that mouth, that body. In Lex.

It could be forever that they lay there, making out like kids, like he and Chloe used to in his loft, sweat dampening the sheets beneath their bodies and thickening the air, drying into their skin, until Clark finds himself cradled close, Lex pulling back just enough to look him in the eyes. No smile, nothing readable except the want that's always been there if Clark's honest with himself, and it's exactly what he needs to see.

A little glance around shows bright light outside the curtains, summer morning that's open to everything, before Lex shifts enough to get them both in the right position on the bed. His skin feels cold without Lex's, and he's glad when Lex pulls up the thin blankets around them, the smell of detergent comforting now, something to associate with this moment, this second, this time. Aroused and sleepy and wired to hell, like he could sleep standing up and moving and maybe running, but Lex gentles him, slow strokes over his chest and stomach, warm breath against his hair, and Clark starts drifting before he can form another thought.


"You want to go to a fair?"

Lex's voice almost cracks on the last word, and Clark grins, shifting down to make the turn off the highway. From here, he can see the Ferris wheel gleaming just over the line of old brick buildings that make up the downtown, and see, this is a good reason to drive. Drive equals control of places to go, and Clark wants to go there.

"You really need to loosen up," Clark comments, tossing Lex a quick glance from the corner of his eye as he makes the turn onto the main street. Right up ahead, the park, striped tents glazed in pale shades of pink and gold from dusk.. Clark's always loved them when they came to Smallville--his mom was always worried about the danger of the rides, but, well, he's Clark. Exploding things and guns and various weaponry don't seem to do much, so unless they have meteor rock hidden somewhere in there, Clark thinks it's safe enough.

He does take a second, however, to wonder what state they're in now. He hasn't been paying attention to the road signs.

"Loosen up? Clark--" Lex trails off, leaning forward against his seatbelt and pulling his feet off the dashboard, casualness discarded. "You're serious."

"Yeah."

"A fair."

"Yep." Brightly colored signs let Clark know where to park, and he follows them, grinning at the balloons bouncing in the light wind. Lex stares around himself as if he's been transported to another planet. "You've never been to one?"

"Not that I remember." Lex winces at a sign painted with a rattlesnake. "And this, I'd remember. Clark, they display poisonous wildlife for entertainment--"

"It's sorta part of the ambiance, Lex. I think there's a rodeo--"

"Fuck." Lex drops back into the seat, and the wide blue eyes look at Clark like Lex expects him to suddenly change color. "A rodeo."

Wow, if Clark had known, he would have dragged Lex to one of these before. "You know. Cows. Horses. Ropes. People in western gear--"

"I'm so glad you elaborated, but I think pop culture's given me a good idea of what I'm in for." As they slow down, Lex gives the entire area another long look edged with shock. Clark bites back his grin as they pull into the lot, stopping at the booth to buy their parking space. Wallet, wallet, there's a good chance it was in the jeans that disappeared the first night, or maybe in his backpack--

"Here." Soft, firm leather is shoved into his hand, and Clark blinks, glancing down, before gingerly opening it. A lot of cash, even for Lex, and Clark tosses him a curious glance before fishing out the smallest bill, a ten thank God, from the neat stack of hundreds stuffed in. Putting the wallet carefully between them, he hands it over to the woman and takes the little piece of plastic, hanging it on the rearview mirror. "Ten dollars to park?" Lex's shock is hysterical. This from the man who thought nothing of dropping one hundred dollar tips at restaurants and buys water that cost more than some people's air conditioning bills.

"It's--"

"A wonderful way to rip people off, and if you even think of parking between those two cars--over there." Lex points to the deserted far end of the lot and Clark sighs.

"Long walk."

"I like my car with its current paint job," Lex answers testily. "And exercise never hurt anyone."

"You're being a brat."

Lex shifts in the seat as Clark parks, unfastening the seatbelt before giving him a little grin. Bright, happy, bordering on hysterical, but the lavender shading beneath his eyes is lighter than ever, and that's good.

"Yeah. Goes better with the image," Lex answers, grin widening, before pushing open the door. "Top up, car locked, alarm activated. Come along now, Clark. We have things to do. And grab my wallet, will you?"

Clark picks it up as he gets out, wondering if he's ever even seen this much money in his life. Tucking it under one arm, he gets the top down and clicked in place, pushing the little button that activates the alarm and the locks, then circles around the car to watch Lex leaning back, arms crossed over his chest, viewing the impromptu fairground like he's watching a really, really confusing movie. Slate blue shirt today, and jeans of all things, which Clark's never seen Lex wear before, and the watch is gone again. Lex takes his wallet, tucking it into his pocket, before reaching out and touching Clark's shoulder. The warmth sinks through Clark's shirt and into his skin and maybe farther, and he's careful not to move at all.

"So, where to first?"

"Gotta pay to get in."

Lex gives him a look. "Pay for parking, pay for tickets--pay for individual rides, too? I'm in the wrong business."

Clark can't help laughing and Lex pushes off from the car, hand sliding down his arm and then off, leaving the memory of heat. It's a good one to have. "I think, if they're like the ones in Smallville, you can buy a bracelet or something for unlimited rides."

"Hmm. I am in the wrong business. I wonder--"

"Lex, I don't think this is the time to decide to acquire more businesses for LexCorp." It's rather symptomatic of his relationship with Lex that he actually feels the need to make that statement. He hasn't forgotten that long-ago antique store Lex bought during the really strange night involving mutant frogs and Chloe turning blue.

Lex doesn't answer, but there's a hint of a smile on his face that makes Clark wonder what's going through his head as they walk toward the main gate. It is a long walk, giving Clark plenty of time to--think.

Not a good idea.

He's remembering waking up and how Lex had been watching him when he opened his eyes, so close Clark could feel the warmth of Lex's skin. Lex's wrist resting on his waist, fingers light against his back, idly stroking like he was barely aware he was doing it. Unreadable expression, but one that hadn't been there only a split-second before, and Clark wishes he'd seen that one. Before the sheer not-awkwardness of getting up, getting dressed, walking out into the pre-dusk light, and Clark had seen a fair in only an hour and wanted to play.

Or--well, play with Lex, anyway.

From this angle, it's easy to see the bruise just above the collar of Lex's shirt, vivid and shaped with the edges of teeth, and every time he looks, Clark can taste Lex's skin like a ghost on the back of his tongue. And he has a completely insane desire to find some dark area in the carnival, pull Lex into it, and taste it again, catch the scent of blood pooling just beneath skin and the sharp taste of iron-tinged flesh and salt and he's--he's really going to need to think of something else very soon. Very, very soon. These jeans aren't as loose as he might wish right this second.

And he's not going to think of the fact that anyone who sees Lex will know someone has him, even if the assumption's not going to be that it's Clark. But--and he's only thinking this in the very quietest, smallest part of his mind--he really likes that.

And he's not going to think anymore.

"Clark?"

They've--stopped. Main gate, woman at the booth with a grin, and Lex's hand wrapped around his wrist--how'd that happen? His hand is pulled up and Lex neatly wraps something vividly yellow around his wrist, locking the tab into place. Right. Okay. Yes. They're at the fair. This is for the rides. Grinning a little, Clark notes Lex already fastened his own on, and is looking over the stalls and rides with concentration more suited to a chess tournament.

"Where were you?" Lex asks, taking a step into the rough gravel and looking down on it with very little favor.

"Just--thinking." A flush heats up his skin under the curious gaze. "Um. And wondering if you're afraid of heights." Clark points to the Ferris wheel. "Be fun."

Lex doesn't stumble--Lex never stumbles--but there's a check-pause-motion of movement Clark catches from the corner of his eye, before Lex is liquid ease again.

"Terrified," Lex answers with a curl of his lips, almost a smirk. "But--I can be persuaded."

"Huh." They pass the first of the vendors, men and women in bright summer clothes selling handmade afghans and rock sculptures, which get Lex's attention for far too long, especially the big one that probably weighs a ton and Lex circles at least five times. Clark's never noted that Lex is that big into art, but it is pretty cool if you're interested in that sort of thing. Apparently, Lex is. "Lex? We're sort of not going to be able to fit that in the car."

Lex gives him an absent look, then blinks. "No, of course not."

It's strangely hard to get Lex away from it even then, though.

Homemade baked goods are next, and Clark never even guessed Lex had a serious weakness for sugar cookies. There are six tents of just plants, but luckily, Lex isn't that big into flora, though he does get a weird kick out of noting that the bags of fertilizer in the back of the booths have the LuthorCorp logo on them.

Lex also really, really gets odd about the prize cows on display, but he controls himself until they manage to escape the admiring crowd.

"You're embarrassing," Clark hisses.

"Clark. Livestock." People give Lex weird glances when he makes a sound that's cross between a chuckle and a cough.

"Lex. Agricultural show."

"Clark. I use those for shoes, not worship." God. People are looking at them, and Clark wonders if they can actually feel how out-of-place Lex is, but Lex, being Lex, is enjoying it. Like a kid just released from school, he wants to see everything, apparently a fan of the immersion method of acquiring knowledge, and Clark trails after him with a lot of sudden sympathy for his mom during his own childhood.

He just doesn't think he'll survive Lex Luthor at a rodeo.

And of course, the games. Oh God, the games. Lex and the games that are rigged and those that aren't, and the way his eyes narrow when he loses and knows he shouldn't, and they blow fifty dollars so Lex can win a small stuffed duck from the magnet booth. Clark thinks the guy was just getting desperate to get rid of them, as Lex monopolized the magnets-circle game for far too long.

"That's just--Lex. You complained about how much parking cost. God."

Lex is studying his duck with a pleased expression. "It's the principle of the matter. That was--"

"Not fair, rigged, yes, I know. Did you notice me playing anything? No, because I know I won't win."

"And notice, you don't have a duck, either."

"That duck cost you fifty dollars!" And maybe he's beginning to get his father's thing about Luthors and carelessness with money. But Lex only smiles and tosses his duck in the air, catching it easily.

"If all you're doing to do is bitch, you can go wait in the car." Another absent toss before something catches his attention and Lex has his sleeve, pulling him along, and oh God, this isn't a kid on vacation, it's a kid in a candy store. A kid who has never seen candy before, and Clark can't help laughing, trailing behind and catching the curious gazes on them and not giving a damn. "Really, you're too uptight for your age."

"You didn't just say that." Lex laughs and pulls harder, and it's just--weird. Weird-good, in that way he'll be pulling up these memories for years to think about. "Okay, Ferris wheel now?"

"I just ate."

"Cookies, Lex."

The most charming smile in the world greets him, but under it is something else entirely, something that makes Clark catch his breath and wonder if there are any dark corners he can pull Lex into. Warm and friendly and curious and knowing, and it's Lex and it isn't Lex at all.

"If you're willing to risk your clothes if I get sick," Lex answers as they slow down, ducking between a vendor selling hand-carved animals and a selection of soft-wood furniture, "then lead the way, Clark." Smug smile, and the hands on his arm doesn't leave.

Hmm. Looking down, it's dark enough not to be able to catch Lex's expression, but the clear eyes are filled with teasing light.

"What next?"

"I have no idea. I've never been to one of these. What else is there to do?" Lex is eyeing more of the games and Clark shakes his head, glancing around until--oh yeah. Oh yeah.

"Lex."

"Hmm?" One foot toward the shooting game. There are a few seconds of intense memory that wipe away the moment--Lex with a gun in the garage--and Clark stiffens, jerking Lex to a stop. "Clark?" Worry, and Clark breathes out, letting the image wash away in the warm, scented dark of this reality.

"Um...over there." Pointing and Lex follows his gaze, freezing in place.

"You're kidding." The appalled look is reward enough, and it's just encouragement as far as Clark is concerned. Laughing, he gets Lex's elbow and pulls him along, using a little more strength than is strictly human to get him moving, and he's never seen that look on Lex's face before.

"What the hell is that?" Lex asks. "No, I know what that is. What I want to know is why the hell you think--that's for children."

"Loosen up," Clark mocks, flashing his wrist at the bemused vendor and pulling Lex's up quickly before pulling him through the chain. Luckily, being late, there is no one else on it, and Clark remembers watching these as a kid--he'd never been allowed to play on one, too much danger with lots of kids and one uberClark. "Come on--"

"Have you been on one of these before?" Lex asks as Clark kicks off his shoes, finding the edge and grabbing onto thick plastic. Smell of an entire day outside and far too many bodies, but Clark doesn't care. It looks like fun. It will be fun, and he's been just watching for too many years.

"No. I wasn't allowed."

It's easy to pull himself up on top, thick cushion of air beneath him that begins to sink under his weight.

"Not allowed?" Lex's feet haven't left the ground. Head tilted, watching him with utter focus. "Why not?"

Crap. Clark slides down onto his knees, then pushes up, feeling the bounce and ignoring the question in favor of making another jump. Very cool, like that trampoline that he sneaked out to play on at Pete's house, before that unfortunate broken leg of Pete's older brother that made the trampoline go away.

Bouncy castles. The ultimate nirvana of childhood, and Clark tries to balance, but he's not exactly the most graceful person on earth. Catching his feet somehow, Clark sways with the motion and looks up to see Lex, elegant and completely unrumpled, walking airily over the moving plastic like it's a reasonable, flat floor.

The bastard.

"Having problems?" Lex asks, hands tucked in his pockets, deliberately riding the air puff sent his way. "You've really never been on one of these, have you?"

"You have?" Apparently so, if Lex is this comfy moving around. Not bouncing either, which is the entire point, and Clark drops his full weight down, watching Lex's eyes widen, but his balance isn't lost. Dammit.

"Tenth birthday party," Lex answers, glancing off into the distance briefly. "I broke my arm."

Clark blinks, drawing his legs up as he bounces to his feet and miraculously, he manages to keep upright, looking at Lex only feet away. The big park lights give him just enough light to catch the strangely wistful look on his face, and then Lex turns, shifting again to keep his balance. The blue eyes aren't here at all, and Clark stills, and somehow, it's easy now to keep his feet, moving plastic in bright orange around them.

"I'm sorry."

Lex half turns and hops experimentally, watching the ripples carefully, then looks up at Clark.

"You're doing it wrong," Lex says slowly, like he's testing every word for stability before placing it between them.

"Doing it wrong?" Clark shifts again, finding the small ripples easy to manage. Sinking more, and really, this could give him weight complexes or something. He looks up from his feet just in time to catch Lex's slow, very careful smile, and oh, God, Lex.

Lex, who jumps, full weight, and comes down hard, big ripple and Clark doesn't have any time to brace himself before it hits, and feet, gravity, balance, all gone, all gone for good, and he stumbles backwards, bounced off a thick orange side wall and onto his face on the plastic.

It smells horrible, and it's hot, and Clark rolls over to see Lex standing over him, hands in his pockets, and too damn pleased.

"You bastard."

"Careful, farmboy. I can prove my genealogy." Then he's gone, moving faster than Clark could have expected when Clark darts out a hand to get a vulnerable white-socked ankle. Lex, who is laughing at him from the shadows, pacing the back wall and grinning. "That's the best you can do?"

"I'm not ten, Lex." Clark struggles onto his knees and does the basic math. Using his arms, he pushes up and comes down with his full weight and Lex is close enough to be caught, slammed back into the plastic, and there are people, Clark reflects idly, that would pay money to see Lex on his knees with that look on his face.

"Who the hell wanted to regress to pre-adolescence on a fucking bouncing castle?" Lex asks, pushing himself up, hand on the wall, eyes narrowing.

And it's unfair to use more than human speed, but just a little, and Lex doesn't have time to move before he's on his stomach on plastic and Clark's dancing on the other side, and it's easy to stay upright if you just keep moving. Out of Lex's way, and he sometime forgets Lex is as competitive as he is smart and there's no way in hell this is going to go anywhere but really messy.

Just what he thinks when a particularly hard bounce ends him on his back and Lex is laughing at him, falling on the rolling plastic beside him, reddened from exertion and leaning back on one arm to glance up at the sky.

"You know, Clark, if you'd just said something, I would have bought you one of these instead of a truck."


Somehow, they end up walking around for a long time--Lex's energy level is just amazing, like he's hyped up on indecent amounts of adrenaline, coursing through him like electricity. Just amazing to watch, feel, so close that Clark can feel the flicker of it through his skin when they touch, and the accidental sort of touching is happening in some non-accidental ways. Cotton candy and soda and hot dogs, with Lex remarking that he remembers when the LuthorCorp labs developed this particular preservative. He also buys, for reasons that Clark doesn't want to examine too closely, a little set of carved chess pieces from a stall near the edge of the grounds.

There's a splash of bright red and green over their heads.

"Of course there are fireworks," Lex observes, casually kicking dust off his shoes. "This is a small town fair. There will be fireworks. And a queen somewhere, no doubt, on some sort of throne."

"We have the Corn Queen in Smallville," Clark offers, as he pulls off a piece of the cotton candy. It's drying thick and grainy on his teeth. Super-enamel takes care of things like cavities, though. "Chloe used to talk about the May fete she went to once."

Lex grins a little and brushes dust off his shirt, dropping the cardboard in the overstuffed trash can. "One day I'll tell you about the tradition of May fete. I think you should appreciate the historical significance of that particular--celebration."

"There's a history?"

Lex laughs softly and drops his empty cup with one last sip into the can, carefully wiping his hands clean on a flimsy paper towel. "Very much so. Ready to go or want to stay to watch this?"

Clark looks up at the next brilliant rain of color in green and gold. Huge, expensive ones, the kind that he only sees on the Fourth of July or some really, really cool event in Metropolis--he's always had a weakness and Lex knows it.

"We can watch from the car with the top down," Clark offers, and Lex nods without comment.

It's pretty easy to find the car--the lot's almost deserted, but the view's still great. It's nice to slip inside, top down, comfortable leather seats surrounding them, a light breeze drying the sweat gathering in Clark's hairline and the back of his neck. Lex's stuffed duck, chess pieces, and wallet go into the glove compartment that he kicks closed with a dusty shoe. It makes Clark wince just a little when he sees the grime and dirt gathering over the dashboard, and he tries very hard to ignore the fact that the carpet is turning brown very quickly at this rate.

A burst of dark green, however, draws his eyes back up, and Clark deliberately pushes everything else out of his mind, levering his seat back to almost horizontal to stare up, enchanted. He's always loved them--his earliest memories, the ones that are little more than cobwebs in the far spaces of his mind, have these colors dancing through them, silvery-white trails edged in every tint of the rainbow. Breathing out with the next flare of light, there's the faint sound of the explosion from the area of the park they're setting these off from, and it shakes the car in a soft rumble of almost subliminal feeling.

"You love the Fourth of July, don't you?" Lex asks quietly, and Clark tilts his head a little to see Lex looking at him. Nothing but simple curiosity and a little smile curving his mouth.

"Yeah," Clark breathes, and then chuckles to himself. "Yeah. Every year, I'm the first at the grounds and last to leave. When I was little, my dad took me to a guy that made his own fireworks and let me watch him assemble them. It was interesting, but--" Clark's eyes are drawn back up at the bright flash of pure red. "It's the result that I care about. Not the parts that make it up." Lex is silent for a few long seconds and Clark looks back over, seeing Lex's eyes fix on a splatter of glittering blue-white lighting the sky. "How--how'd you know I liked them anyway? I mean, we didn't know each other really well then--"

"Oh." Lex smiles again, almost absently. "I asked around."

Clark blinks and thinks about it, then rolls on his side at the flash of electric green, and the car briefly looks like something underwater, exotic. He knows better than to surprise him, knows better than to try this at all, really, but he reaches out, fingers just touching Lex's shoulder, and the clear eyes meet his, little flares of red and gold from above reflecting in the pupils that swallow all but the thinnest line of blue. A breathless second of nothing, but Lex's lips open on a little breath, tongue touching his upper lip, and Clark leans over.

It's light and sweet, like something Clark would do in Smallville, maybe, if he'd had a girlfriend (boyfriend) at the football games or the community events or hell, just driving out on the back country roads like other kids did. Lex tastes like sugar and soda and faint traces of what could be mustard, but he can't quite separate everything out, can't concentrate enough to care when Lex's fingers curl around the back of his neck, cool and hard, nails drawing designs into his skin. Soft, open mouth and sharp teeth that nip his tongue, lick to the corner of his mouth that's just a tease. Then, faster, deeper, Lex's energy cycling through them both like something electric, raising goosebumps on Clark's skin, making him run his fingers beneath the collar of Lex's shirt, trace hard bone and smooth skin like warm velvet, damp with sweat. Wonderful moment where Lex makes a pleased sound, and fingers slide through his hair as Lex shifts closer and Clark regrets, oh God he regrets the presence of that gear shift. He wants to--move, run, laugh really hard that this, something like this, could ever happen to him, and just remember how to breathe without gasping, touch more skin, and not, not be outside in a car doing this.

Endless seconds, days, years, not long enough, before Lex draws back, hands on Clark's face holding him in place, and a quirked eyebrow and unedged smile just for him.

"It's getting late," Lex says, drawing his fingers down Clark's face, and Clark can't help turning, trailing his tongue over Lex's knuckles. "Brat. Come on." An easy, grinning shift away and Clark realizes that the fireworks are over. Lex reaches for his seatbelt, snapping it on, and Clark fishes the car keys out of his pocket.

"You telling me where we're going yet?" He licks the taste of Lex off his mouth and wonders if he can keep it for the rest of the drive. He can still feel Lex's nails in his skin.

"Not a chance, farmboy. Let's go. And try not to find any more shiny objects you've just got to stop at, hmm?"


Three hours before Motel #3 (actually, a Motel 8, but Clark was just relieved it was any place that didn't make him worry about needing rat traps), Clark called home and left a message on the answering machine. It wasn't nearly as hard as he'd expected, and it was only pure luck, he thinks, that he chose just the right time to call and not get a concerned parent. They knew him well enough to trust him, but he wasn't--quite ready to tell them what he was doing.

Lex was sleeping in the passenger seat only feet away, which made the entire situation that much more surreal, and Clark left a short message and hung up. He could have used the cell phone in the car, but--

"Clark?" Lex is stretched on his stomach on the bed, shirt discarded with a very encouraging casualness that makes Clark work to keep from just bouncing down beside him.

"Yeah." Clark locks the door and checks the curtains before sitting down to remove his shoes.

"What did you tell your parents?"

Clark stiffens briefly, almost breaking a shoelace. Clenching his fingers, he forces himself to move slowly, carefully, no breaking-of-laces or tearing-of-shoes by accident today, no sir.

"I--left a message telling them I was okay." Clark forces himself to look up, but Lex is reading some newspaper he picked up at the last convenience store, and there's a tiny line cutting between his brows. "Lex?"

"Okay." Nothing else, and Clark wonders if Lex had been awake after all or just guessed.

"What are you reading?" Lex looks up--the shadows are back, and Clark frowns, kicking his shoes as carefully as he can and untucking his shirt. "Lex?"

"Nothing important--just stock reports."

"I'm surprised you didn't bring your laptop." And maybe he's really slow or something, because it's just hitting him now--Lex hasn't so much as looked at his cell phone since they started. At least, nowhere Clark's seen since the first morning, and gingerly, he sits down on the bed.

"You'd be surprised what I keep in the trunk," Lex says with a ghost of a smile, and he folds the paper deliberately, tossing it on the floor, and lifts gracefully on to his hands and knees, crawling with slow, deliberate movements to the head of the bed and sprawling against the headboard.

"You'd never do that to your laptop," Clark answers, and Lex's leg is so close. It's a little jump, but not much of one, to lay down, rest his head on Lex's thigh. Fingers almost instantly slide into his hair and Clark fights the urge to purr. "I've seen how you treat it."

"True." Lex's voice is very low. "Think of this as hooky from life, Clark."

"You brought your cell phone."

"There's a good chance I'd descend into withdrawal without access to my cellphone, at least. Gabe is perfectly capable of keeping everything under control and it'll do him good to know I trust him."

Clark grins and moves into the slow, casual touches, the brush of skin on skin. Warm, soft denim under his cheek and the quiet is like a blanket around them, the barest hint of a new sun peeking through a crack in the curtains between the close lines of the blinds. Slow, deliberate trace of his face, around his throat, and Clark closes his eyes, needing to feel this completely. Burn it so deeply into his memory that every dream will have this, every second remembered like the first time. He can't help rolling over, rub his face into Lex's stomach, warm salty skin, and it shivers when he touches his tongue to it, slow careful drag of tasting. Fingers tighten briefly in his hair, and Clark almost pulls away until he realizes that Lex is holding him in place. So--it's okay, to shift closer, suck a little skin between his teeth and gently bite down. Mouthing as far as he can before pushing himself up on one elbow, following an easy path up Lex's chest, licking carefully each time Lex twitches, bites bringing low exhales of breath that make Clark, God, so hard.

"Lex," he mumbles against warm skin, tracing with his fingers where his mouth has been. "You taste--" He loses his train of thought when he gets to Lex's collar, the bones he can brush with his teeth and Lex makes a very, very interesting sound, one Clark wants--needs--to hear again. "God, Lex. I want--"

"Mmm?" Both hands in his hair, drawing his head up, and Clark breathes out as he looks into Lex's face, feels that hot gaze fix on his mouth. Lex leans forward and lazily licks across his mouth, tracing the line of his lips, moving briefly into his mouth in a casual tease before pulling back, and then the flat of his tongue climbing up Clark's cheek. "Beautiful mouth, Clark."

He feels the heat on his skin from the sudden flush, and Lex smiles against his face, sliding back down to his jaw and nipping the bone. Another trail of slow licking that's slowly driving Clark crazy, needing things he can't even form into words. Lex's mouth is pressed against his ear, hot and sweet, and a sharp bite makes Clark moan.

"What do you want, Clark?" Lex whispers, then runs his tongue over the shell, and Clark digs his fingers into the blankets, shivering at the jump of his cock, the too-tight denim surrounding it.

No way to do anything but tell the truth, voice breaking, breathing too fast, and he sees the fireworks again, painted in purple and gold behind his eyes when he closes them.

"Touch me. Please, Lex."

It's--fast, and Lex moves like he looks, like he thinks, like he breathes. Fast and sudden and Clark has no idea what he's doing--first times are all about that, though. And this is another one, when Clark's on his back and Lex straddling his thighs, the tips of callused fingers tracing his waist.

"Take off your shirt." Rough whisper and Clark gets it off in some act of contortion he would have never guessed he was capable of, throwing it on the floor, barely having time to brace himself before a hot mouth is on his throat, his shoulder, God, his chest and moving so fast, sparks of heat flaring wherever Lex touches him. Hard teeth scraping his ribs, settling on his nipple with a bite that makes him arch, curving a hand around the back of Lex's head and whimpering into the ceiling, bucking up against Lex's hip, just as hard as he is, rubbing against him with deliberate rocks of his hips. There's not enough air and it should be cool, he knows the air conditioning is working but it doesn't matter. It's like the sun is shining on his entire body, every place Lex touches him. He realizes distantly that his jeans are being unbuttoned and pushed down, boxers next, then Lex's hand is around him, a sudden, sharp shock that takes everything away but a mindless sound he never, ever thought he could make.

"Yes," Lex says, and just feels him, slow and easy, testing, moving, touching like Clark does to himself but better, knowing every spot that makes him twist, and Lex is--moving away, stretching out beside him on one elbow, hand on his chin, staring into his eyes, close enough to feel his breath on his mouth. "That's it." Tight grip, hard and fast and a stroke that makes Clark's teeth ache, his body arch almost off the bed, and a long leg hooks over his hips and Lex is chuckling softly. "That's it, Clark. That's--it."

"Lex--" The hand on his jaw keeps his face turned, staring into Lex's, and the strokes are just fast enough to make him buck into each one, groaning, unable to help it, every instinct in his body screaming for more, now, please, don't stop, faster, please God, faster. Lex seems to know, feels it, maybe, and each stroke is a little faster than the one before, thumb on the head just that extra jolt through his body, tightening him inside and outside, and he has to reach up on the next breath, touch Lex, who is watching him like there's nothing else that exists in the world. Hungry and curious and fascinated and amazed and God, so much else that he can't breathe through it.

"Come on, Clark." Lick to his mouth, faster stroke of his cock and it's never been like this, ever. Even close. "Right here, for me, Clark. Yes, that's it, we're almost there--"

"Please, Lex--"

"Beautiful, Clark. Just like this. So close." And Clark can barely comprehend the words but Lex's voice--God, his voice and his skin and his hand on his cock and the fingers tight in his jaw. "I want to see this, show me, Clark--"

"God--"

"--everything. Do it, Clark, yes, right there, now, Clark....now."

The long stroke ends everything, and Clark can't even find the air to yell, to breathe, to think, explosion of color and light and so much more than he ever expected, and reflected back at him in Lex's eyes. It lasts forever, hot wet dampness on his stomach and Lex's hand drawing it out, slowing it down, bringing him back to earth in something like shock. A lot like pleasure.

Very much like love.

"Lex--" he hears himself whisper, and Lex grins, lifting his hand, shiny and wet, sliding his fingers into his mouth slow and easy, and Clark's cock jumps enough to make him wince. Aftershocks still shaking every muscle and Lex licking himself like a cat, before the blue eyes half-close and he slides a little down the bed, mouth dropping on his stomach--

"Oh God--" He's never going to breathe again, not ever. "Jesus, Lex...."

"I like how you taste." Murmured directly into his skin, and Clark hears himself whine, feels himself getting hard again, so fast. "Mmm. I forgot how--quickly teenagers recuperate." Low, amused, and Lex's tongue brushes the head of his cock and that's---oh God, that's just wrong, and very right and he's trembling, shaking, telling Lex things he's not sure are even possible, might not even be words. Thinks he's begging Lex never to stop and that's a reasonable request, he knows it, perfectly reasonable, never move again, just like this. Just like this.

"Lex--" Sanity comes from out of nowhere and he reaches down, gets Lex's chin, pulls him up, and his body just screams please, don't do that, don't stop it. "Lex--" Warm, swollen red lips, slick lines on his face, and words aren't going to work, overrated anyway, and he just gets hold and pulls Lex up. Kisses him, tasting salty-bitterness in his mouth, on his skin, his own taste on Lex like a mark, like the bruise on his throat and Clark goes there next, biting down, iron-sweet tang of bruising skin and so soft and Lex's breathless sounds. It's easier to do than say, he's figured that out, and he goes for the button on Lex's jeans, prying it open and the zipper might break but he's not sure he cares. Slick cotton under and then Lex, silky-hard, hot, big, and different from the feel of his own cock. "Tell me--"

Breathless laugh and Lex arches into his hand. "You're doing fine." Fingers tangled in his hair and Clark finds more skin, sucking down, trying to remember how to do this, and instinct is a wonderful thing, body memory taking over and letting him concentrate on Lex. Pre-come on his palm to make it slicker and he pulls back and licks his hand, feels Lex's eyes, wide and black, fix on him, then back down, wrapping around, better, wetter, beautiful, his Lex moving into his rhythm. Grinds against Lex's hip and kisses him again, into his mouth, finding every trace of his taste and trying to take everything, all of Lex. Lex, moaning into his mouth and twisting against him and gasping breaths and he can feel it begin to happen, thick pulses that make him pull back, wanting to see Lex, see this, what Lex looks like when he comes for Clark.

The moment hits and it's--amazing. Breathtaking. Lex, beyond his usual cool control, beautiful, mouth open, wide eyes and flushed skin, shaking in his arms and it's enough to set him off, ducking his head to bury his groan in one warm shoulder.

Shaking together, warm and damp and close, and Clark realizes why he's always liked fireworks so much. Lex's mouth is in his hair, soft and warm, and he burrows closer, closing his eyes and licking the taste of Lex from his fingers.


Clark doesn't even bother observing the road signs--he's never been out of Kansas in his life until now, has no idea when they crossed any borders, and towns pretty much look the same from one place to another.

The night's perfect, though, the kind you read about in really good romance novels that he doesn't admit he used to steal from his mom's room to get a good idea about how sex would go. When he was much younger, of course, before Chloe, before Lex, before anyone really, and certainly before he got the idea that he was interested in both sexes, not just one.

Which Clark doesn't try to spend much time worrying about. He had The Talk with his dad years before, and Clark flushes as he shifts gears, a flare of pure heat that's probably visible for miles and could throw heat radar off. He catches Lex's curious glance from the corner of his eye and the way Lex's mouth quirks, just a little, like he's remembering how Clark tastes.

That makes the flush even worse, but in a really, really good way. Clark can't help but smile back, switching lanes just because he can, idly watching the fields pass by, one by one. Wheat, it looks like, and there's the distant shape of farm corporations and huge grain silos silvery under the orange moon looking down at them.

The top's down, but for some reason, it doesn't impede conversation much.

"So after your senior year, you did the backpacking across Europe thing, right?" Clark asks as they pass a huge billboard advertising vasectomy reversal. Clark can't help but twitch when he sees those.

Lex snorts. "Right. No. Hotels, Clark. Unlimited funds. Paris to Hong Kong in three months."

"Hong Kong." Clark tastes the word. It even sounds exotic. "Pre- or post-assimilation into China?"

"Both. Before had the best bars. After had the best parties, with all the upper class revolutionaries and their indignation for the common man being stomped on by communism." Lex gets a strangely wistful smile. "I enjoyed it a great deal."

"Did you play capitalist revolutionary fighting for the common man?" Clark's not seeing it. He's not even trying.

"That depends on if you consider the purchase of a kilo of heroin a way to contribute to the cause," Lex answers dryly. Clark blinks--he really doesn't know much about drugs, but that sounds like an awful lot. "LuthorCorp's Tokyo office had some political problems after that little transaction. I'm still not sure how they bought me out of prison."

"You were arrested?" Clark can't visualize Lex in a prison of any kind--it just doesn't work on any level. Lex is too alive, too full of energy--Clark just can't imagine any walls able to hold him that Lex didn't erect himself.

"Possession of narcotics, inciting dissent, formulating rebellion, expired visa, and a few other things thrown in just for kicks. It wasn't the drugs, but the company I kept that made me a target." Lex shrugs, leaning back into his seat with a soft shift of body-warmed leather.

"What was her name?" It's not like it's hard to guess on this one.

"His name," Lex corrected with a flash of a smile. "Lor Pel. Very good businessman, lousy conspirator. About as good at subterfuge as you are, and less organized than your average riot. We were old --friends. He attended the same boarding school that I did."

Oh. Clark processes that, letting his hands slide from the very correct ten-and-two his father taught him.

"Oh. Was he--I mean--"

"I haven't heard from him since I was deported," Lex answers, and his voice is lighter than Clark thinks Lex feels. "He probably went underground with some of the others. It would be too dangerous for him to contact me now. For both of us."

Clark nods, swallowing a little as they pass another grain silo. The silence that descends straddles the border between being uncomfortable and normal--like the conversation is over, but only because it's time for it to be. Clark thinks about Lex and the visions of Hong Kong and kilos of heroin and men and women and revolutionaries.

It's a little dizzying, to be honest.

"Tired? I can drive for awhile."

"No," Clark answers quickly, hands moving back up, fingers closing tightly over the wheel as he straightens. A single glance at Lex confirms the darkening color beneath his eyes, as softly smeared as bruises, and another look he can't help at the dark bruise on his throat that Lex hasn't commented on, and okay, there's absolutely no excuse for doing that. The loose, long-sleeved t-shirt in a fragile shade of purple matches the coloring too well, almost like emphasis.

Clark fixes his eyes back on the road and doesn't think of the strange little shiver he gets every time he looks at that. Every time he thinks of morning, waking up with his jeans still undone and tangled around Lex like he was never going to let go, and at the time, it had seemed like a good plan. Still does, if he's honest. Mouthing Lex's spine and hearing the stuttered beat of Lex's heart beneath his palm and grinning. Lex, warm and sleepy and touchable, kissing him slow and hot under thin blankets and sheets, then getting up to take a shower, and Clark rolling into the warm space left by his body, breathing in his scent, content to listen to the quiet sounds of Lex in the bathroom.

He could--get used to that. Maybe he already has.

"Stop at the next store," Lex says, shaking Clark back into the present, and he makes the connection that they've come upon another town. This late, Clark would think that nothing but convenience stores would be open, but the first thing they see is a very well-lit grocery store. Lex eyes it with a flickering look that's not quite hesitation. "That's an improvement. Stop there."

Clark nods, watching for the absolutely non-existent traffic before pulling in, scouting parking spaces until he finds one very close to the main sliding doors. The alarm's activated, and Clark tucks the keys in his pocket and tries to smooth his shirt a little, wondering a little enviously how Lex always manages to look so crisply ironed. It's as if even his clothes just wouldn't dare screw around with his fashion sense or something.

"What are we getting?" Clark asks as they walk in, and Lex leans down to grab a red handbasket from the stack close to the door. He gets a smile and a shrug as an answer, which is really no answer at all as far as Clark's concerned. "Lex, have you been reading what people eat on road trips? Because I really don't like beef jerky."

"I'm being impulsive, not psychotic," Lex answers with a flash of even white teeth in a predator's smirk. "And I don't know. Clark, it's the journey, remember that. It's--being free."

"Free." Clark obediently trails behind as Lex stalks the store like a cat looking for an elusive mouse--nothing, and that really means nothing, escapes his notice, down to the six varieties of homemade rye breads in the bakery. "I don't like rye bread."

"Neither do I." Lex picks up a box of donuts, studying the expiration date as carefully as Clark's mom might, which is a weird thing to think about. "Hmm. Chocolate covered or glazed?"

"Like that's an actual question." Clark rolls his eyes. "Chocolate covered and filled."

"Smart boy." Lex sorts through the boxes expertly and fishes one out, checking the date, then turning it over to study the donuts inside. "These look acceptable."

"Don't tell me--your cook makes fresh doughnuts daily."

"Please. I import my doughnuts from New York every morning by jet. Anything else?"

"Powdered. We aren't getting anything healthy, are we?"

Lex snorts as he picks up the box of powdered on top. "Dinner was healthy enough, so no. Eclairs, eclairs, eclairs--no. Cookies. Hmm."

"Oreos," Clark answers automatically, and Lex looks up with a smirk. "It's the only kind for road trips, Lex. It's in the manual."

"A discriminating consumer. Let's go find some." Two boxes of doughnuts are neatly stashed in the bottom of the basket, and for reasons that pass Clark's understanding, Lex gets really, really fascinated with the entire cheese section. Especially the goat.

"I've never had goat cheese." He shouldn't have said that. A little plastic container is dropped into the basket, and Lex is on the quest for crackers. Happily located with the Oreos. Unfortunately, this doesn't end the stalking of the supermarket, and Clark finds himself trailing Lex through canned goods and staring a little blankly at olives while Lex explains the term 'virgin' as it refers to olive oil and Clark fights not to blush too hard.

Clark has to wonder if Lex is going to investigate every aisle of the store just for the hell of it when they end up in the produce section and Lex gets pomegranates, and yes, Clark should have known not to say he'd never had those either.

At the closest register, Lex drops out what appears to be the very epitome of junk food collections--fruit, crackers, cheese, cookies, doughnuts, and a case of soda that Lex sent Clark off for when he became aware of a lack in the drinks part of the trip. There's bottled water in the car, granted, but apparently Lex wants to stay as close to hypercaffeinated as possible.

Two aisles over, Clark catches sight of a newspaper headline and the word LuthorCorp is easily visible over the man's hand, but nothing else. Clark half-turns and Lex's hand brushes against the small of his back, settles as a warm pressure. He finds himself leaning into it instantly.

"Clark?"

"Something about LuthorCorp in the newspaper," Clark says, and is surprised at the sudden movement, Lex beside him, a quick glance over before he looks up, catching Clark's gaze.

"Probably the latest merger," Lex answers absently, hand falling to his pocket before a small frown creases his forehead. "I left my wallet in the car. Could you run get it?"

Clark blinks, watches the customer in front of them paying. They're up next. Dammit.

"Yeah. Just a second." Turning, he walks by, glancing back again at the man with the newspaper, but the paper's tucked under one arm, and a quick look at Lex shows him perusing the magazines and papers on the partition between lanes with the little frown still cutting lines into his face.

It's in the glove compartment, of course, and Clark resets the alarm before trotting back inside the store, aware that the night is cooler than usual and there's a definite lack of sweat. It's nice for once not to feel like he's being very slowly drowned in hot humid air--cool humid air isn't exactly much of an improvement, but a little better.

He gets back up just as the cashier finishes and hands over the wallet, and Lex's free hand closes over his palm, thumb pressing against the back to keep Clark in place as he pays.

"What direction?" Lex asks, giving him a lazy smile as a bagboy packs up their purchases. Clark catches a sidelong look from the checker, but Lex's fingers are rhythmically stroking the sensitive skin inside his palm, so he certainly can't be blamed for not being able to concentrate.

"You're really getting off on leaving this up to me. I'd think I was being manipulated, you know. If I was paranoid."

"You should be paranoid. Didn't you ever watch X-Files?" Clark picks up the two bag as Lex gets his change, giving the cashier one of his most charming smiles. Clark feels her gaze on them both as they walk out and only when Lex lets his hand go does he realize why.

Oh. Oh.

"Mom wouldn't let me." For a lot of reasons. "I'm the trusting type." The ghost of heat lingers on his skin, and Clark has to fight to keep from reaching out again.

"I've noted this before." As Clark deactivates the alarm, Lex slides over the top of the door like it's just so--normal. And easy, while Clark's uncomfortably aware that he'd land in a really ungraceful heap if he tried that. Probably break something, too--the car, that is, not himself. Pushing the key into the ignition, he sees Lex digging through the bag with single-minded concentration. "We can't possibly eat all that."

"I've seen you eat. I've fed you before. You could easily wipe out a major grocery store chain. There's probably a very good reason your father sticks to farming. God knows what you'd cost to people who don't grow their own vegetables."

"I'll remember that the next time you invite me to dinner, Lex." It's become perfectly natural now, effortless to get the car in motion, and here he is, Clark Kent, Smallville resident and skilled driver of late model super-expensive imported luxury automobiles. Heh.

"I always remember to keep enough supplies on hand. Boy scout, Clark," Lex answers smugly as they pull out, drifting beneath the huge yellow-white fluorescence and slowly toward the access road that leads back to the highway. "Choose a direction yet?"

"West," Clark answers, checking both ways by instinct. There's just no one on the roads, anywhere, which is really spooky on one level and really cool on a completely different one. Probably what's saved him from a major car accident while he was getting accustomed to the Aston.

"Good choice. Drive on, farmboy."

Clark grins and watches Lex pull out the doughnuts, sliding a nail delicately on the edge to cut the tape, then pulling the box open. "Want one?"

"While driving? Lex, I'm glad you have faith in my driving abilities, but--manual shift. Steering wheel. Night. Expensive car. Don't think so."

"Oh, that." As he studies the sheer lack of oncoming traffic, he catches Lex neatly pulling out a doughnut and okay, he wants one. No, his appetite isn't that big, but it's been hours since dinner at that little diner beside the motel. Hours.

So the sudden assault by the scent of rich chocolate icing and the smear of it over his lips makes him swerve, and Clark hears Lex laughing as he pulls the car back into its lane.

Blinking, Clark breathes a quick thanks it's nearing one in the morning. "That's not fair." It tastes even better than it smells, and Clark licks his lips, trying to catch icing that's clinging to his chin.

"You seemed hungry." A glance shows Lex eating the piece, licking icing off his fingers with fascinating deliberate movements, before he pulls off another with a string of chocolate he catches on one finger, making Clark's mouth water. "You don't need hands. Eyes on the road or you don't get any. I like my car."

"That's still not fair."

"Life's rarely fair. Deal with it." Then the soft doughnut is between his lips, and Clark doesn't bother answering--sugar and sweet pastry, God, chocolate and rich filling, and just at the tip of his tongue, the edge of Lex's finger as he pulls away, salty-sweet and best of all.

It's arousing--oh God, yes, and it has to happen now, hours before they'll stop for the day--but it's also warming in a way Clark doesn't bother examining. He has to fight a grin as he chews, hearing Lex rummaging through the bags for something else, then swallows quickly as Lex pulls off another piece. "More."

"You're spoiled." This time, a little more skin, almost as good as the taste of chocolate. He licks deliberately, and Lex smears a line of chocolate over his cheek before he pulls away. "You could at least say please."

Clark swallows the next bite at a gulp and smiles.

"Please, Lex," he says with a deliberate drop in his voice, and Lex's fingers freeze on his skin briefly. Endless few seconds, wide blue eyes in peripheral vision, and Clark forces himself to keep a straight face. "You did say to say please."

"Mmm. Be careful what I wish for."

Clark laughs as Lex slides the next piece between his lips and watches the road pass by.


"The doughnuts are gone."

Lex says it like it's an announcement of new firings at LexCorp, and Clark shakes his head as he follows Lex's directions and turns off the highway into town. Oddly enough, however, Lex doesn't direct him to any of the small or even mid-tier hotels that line the different sides of the road.

"Um, Lex? Where are we--"

"And yet again, the inner five-year-old awakens." Lex's voice is indulgent and a thumb traces the remaining smear of chocolate beside his mouth. Clark catches his breath as Lex licks his thumb afterward. "Fair, Clark. Agricultural fair. I had to go to an agricultural fair--"

"You had a great time! You won a duck!"

"--and now we'll do something I want to do--"

"--like this entire trip isn't your idea--"

"Hush, child. You haven't even heard what it is." Lex settles back into the seat and Clark notes the shadows are almost gone again. Lex with a hint of a smile curving one side of his mouth.

Dawn's going to show its head in the greying east any minute now. Clark can't help glancing back in the rearview mirror at it, and yes, he's been on the road with Lex too long, because his body's already mumbling things about being time to find a nice room and curl up with Lex under a layer of warm blankets and against smooth skin, and he's--well, Clark's learning fast.

"There," Lex says, and Clark glances to the right, following the motion of Lex's hand to the rising stone of a nice hotel, and Lex has changed MOs again. Clark blinks but pulls up in front where Lex directs, aware of two people in dark colored uniforms approaching. "They'll take the car, Clark."

"Oh." Hmm. Clark gets out, uncomfortably aware of his windblown hair and the crumpled red t-shirt and jeans, but the man barely seems to notice, nodding and slipping inside as Clark steps away from the car. Lex is waiting on the pavement, watching with casual interest, and there's nothing to do but follow him inside. There's a brief meeting with someone Clark assumes is the manager, then Lex tucks the key in his pocket and his hand closes lightly over Clark's upper arm, leading him to the elevator.

"This is different," Clark murmurs, gazing at the mirrored interior, the long, red-cushioned bench at the back, and he catches a reflection of Lex's smile before the hand on his arm loosens, sliding up to his shoulder in a slow caress that sets every nerve burning. He closes his eyes, breathing in the cool air, smelling expensively of wood oil from the dark paneling and something faintly tangy, like the stuff his mom cleans the floor with at home.

"Change is inevitable," Lex murmurs, warm breath against Clark's neck, and Lex is fingering each vertebrae as if he's studying to make a sculpture. "I don't want to bore you, Clark."

Clark breathes out, fisting his hands at his side at the heat of Lex's mouth on the back of his neck. "Can't--see you ever boring me."

There's a low chuckle, rippling through the air between them, and if there's a slightly bitter edge, Clark pretends not to hear it, leaning into Lex as his palms skim down Clark's sides, slow and careful, feeling his way across Clark's body. The soft ding of the elevator is a shock, bringing Clark's eyes open, and he catches a glimpse of Lex's little smile before the hand on his back pushes him out the door, into the muffled silence of a wide beige hall, thick, soft carpet under the dusty soles of Clark's sneakers. He glances down, unable to help checking to see if he's leaving tracks, but has to hurry to catch up to Lex's quick stride. The card slides into the slot in the door, and Lex pushes it open, walking inside like someone used to being surrounded with soft, rich air and expensive things.

Which he is, but Clark--well, forgot.

Huge living room-type space, and Clark forgets to breathe at the sight of dark polished wood and shiny chrome and glass, and Lex is pulling the blinds closed over the--the glass wall that shows the rise of dawn. He pauses for a minute, though, watching the pearl-grey color and Clark quickly dodges by too-expensive furniture to come to stand beside him, staring over a city of skyscrapers and a world painted in the monochrome colors of night.

"Wow."

"Quite a view," Lex says softly, eyes fixed on something Clark can't see, something that may not be in this city at all.

"You've been here before?" Clark asks, and bites his tongue, wishing he hadn't said a thing. Lex's gaze is on him now, calm and controlled and thoughtful.

"Yes and no." With a pull, the blinds are closed, leaving them in the faint darkness of the room, and Lex turns around, head tilted as he looks around. "I'm going to take a shower." He carelessly pulls his shirt over his head as he heads unerringly for a doorway that doubtlessly leads to whatever other rooms make up the suite, and Clark lets out a breath at the glimpse of pale skin, muscle cording beneath with every movement.

"Can I watch?" The words escape without Clark even meaning them to, and he feels himself flush, sees the slightest hitch in Lex's step, before a glance over his shoulder, and it's that smile, the one Clark knows. The one that makes him hard and confused at the same time, always has, since the first time when he had no idea what it meant.

"Always."


It's Shower Heaven, huge and glass and lots of visibility, and Clark doesn't even bother waiting for Lex to finish before he's stripping and stepping inside smooth blue tile the color of the sky in high summer, glittering metallic faucets and showerheads with multiple features, and he's not sure where he got the nerve to do it. Maybe with the scent of soap and Lex, spicy and warm, and Lex turns the sprayer on him before he can even articulate what he's thinking.

Naked Lex and Naked Clark in a shower, which should be, might be, just a weird, weird thing if Lex wasn't Lex and still looking far more dressed than most people did fully clothed. Something that Clark's beginning to think has nothing to do with a wealthy childhood and more to do with Lex himself--the perfect unself-consciousness that's wrapped around him more thoroughly than clothes ever could. Lean lines of muscle that shift in back and ass, moving like he's never been anything less than perfectly comfortable in his body, and Clark leans against the back wall to watch, wiping water out of his eyes and pushing wet hair back from his face, faintly aware of the stubble on his face, wondering where their stuff was. If people just brought it up, and Clark reviews his memory of movies involving rich people and overpriced hotels with lush suites, but for some reason, his mind keeps fast-forwarding to the parts that include big beds and lots of moaning.

Lex isn't helping. Lex, with all that skin on display like there's nothing more normal in the world, and Clark can't help breathing out every time Lex hands slide over his own skin. It's like a deliberate tease, even with soap involved that does less in the way of blocking the view than one might think, and Clark fights the urge to step forward, pull Lex close, and follow the lines of water with his tongue.

"Enjoying yourself?" Lex asks, and Clark feels himself flush again, tries to turn his head away, but the space between them is suddenly measurable in breaths, not feet. Wet, warm hand on his chin, tilting it forward, and thumb pressing into his skin in a firm caress lingering at the point of his jaw. Naked Lex touching him, and it would be very easy to close the distance between them, press up against all that wet, naked skin and kiss. Feel him, completely, all that body and slick skin that shivers under his hands and see the way Lex looks at him when Clark touches him, when Clark makes him come. Addiction, addiction, he needs it, and it's almost painful when Lex steps back, before Clark can even begin to touch. "Finish up." Lex glances down at Clark's erection and one eyebrow raises slow and teasing before a wicked smile. "Not too much, though."

And a whirl of cooler air when the glass door is slid open, and Clark watches numbly as Lex finds fluffy towels from the depths of some closet and disappears out the door, trailing water like he's leaving a trail for Clark to follow.

Clark doesn't need a map. He thinks he could find Lex while blindfolded in a dark room.

It's a fast shower, and Clark dries off roughly, glancing into the mirror. He needs a haircut. Pushing damp hair from his face, he wraps the towel around his waist and walks out, glancing between the expanse of living room in view through the arch and down the hall to a half-open door. The soft murmur of a voice decides Clark's path, and he turns to the bedroom, the thick carpet soft and smooth beneath his half-dry feet. Habit makes him tap on the door and Lex's voice pauses.

"Come in."

The heavy wooden door pushes open at the lightest touch, and Lex is elegantly sprawled at the foot of the largest bed Clark's ever seen. His cock jerks under the towel and another flush heats up his face, but there's no possible way he can be blamed for that. Lex is--Lex. Loose grey sweatpants Clark hasn't seen before, on his back, one bare arm coiled above his head, the hotel phone beside him. Lex gives him a smile before returning to whomever he's talking to, and that's invitation enough for Clark. The bedspread is smooth under his knees and he crawls his way over, dropping level with Lex's bare stomach.

"Yes. Thank you." Lex listens for a few more minutes, then puts the phone back on the hook and sits up to pull the plug out of the back and drop it on the floor. "I ordered room service."

"Oh." Clark lifts a hand and touches bare skin. Lex makes a soft sound, muscles tensing beneath Clark's hand in just the right way. "What did you order?"

"Wouldn't be nearly as much fun if I told you," Lex answers, and fingers slide through Clark's hair. "Just wait."

"You're really into this mysterious thing, aren't you?" Clark asks, scooting close enough to brush Lex's ribs with his mouth. Lex shivers and the hand in his hair tightens.

"Work with me." One knee raises as Lex braces a foot on the mattress and Clark looks up to see the blue eyes are closed, ghost of a smile curling his mouth.

"Whatever you want." Clark goes back to mouthing whatever skin in reach, letting his tongue draw lazy patterns over bone and muscle, Lex shifting into him.

"Be very careful when you say things like that," Lex murmurs in a satisfied voice, and Clark grins, biting down gently to feel Lex arch, hear that sharp exhale of breath. "I take that back. Say whatever you like. I will take you up on it."

A gentle tug on his hair and Clark lifts himself on both elbows, shifting up the bed until they're eye to eye. Lex rolls gracefully onto his side, lifting on one elbow to look at him. It's like being studied, but not quite, not with that look on Lex's face that Clark's never seen before, not on anyone when they look at him, but definitely, definitely not Lex.

"You're missing school, you know," Lex says in a quiet voice, and there's nothing there that Clark can quite read.

"S'okay." It's impossible to look away, even if he wanted to. The big room is dark and quiet around them--Clark can see the blinds are closed and curtains drawn close, the only light from the lamp on the bedside table. "Lex--" But he stops, thinks, wonders if it's worth the effort to ask now, even if he wants to know, even if a part of him is screaming to figure it out, to understand. But--not yet. He doesn't want it that badly, not to break this moment, this second, this look.

So he leans forward, pushing all questions deep into the recesses of his mind, forgetting them entirely with the first touch on Lex's mouth. Soft and sweet and opening for him instantly. He traces the scar with the tip of his tongue, sucking Lex's lower lip and getting a short breath before sliding inside. Lex is like candy, like a gift he never thought to ask for, like running during the worst of the lightning storms, and Clark can smell ozone and clean water when he presses forward, Lex shifting onto his back, hands on Clark's face. Warm and hard and so gentle, tips of his fingers slipping to touch everywhere, and warmth flares with every brush.

Clark moans and the kiss is deep, shocking, almost brutally, a twist of hunger moving beneath his skin. Taste and touch and smell becoming a single, pure drive, need, and Lex is letting him. Letting him touch and taste and responding to every touch. He's had to have better lovers, more experienced, more skilled; Lex's body is used to people who know what they're doing, how to do it, but it--doesn't matter. Lex is letting him touch, taste, play, enjoy.

A sound intrudes on his consciousness and Lex's fingers tighten, almost in denial, before he pulls back, licking his lips and staring at Clark for what seems like forever before sitting up. "That's room service."

"Fuck."

The smile Clark gets is slow and bright.

"You'll thank me in about five minutes." Lex pushes him onto his back, a quick, hard kiss with a bite to his lower lip that makes Clark dizzy and reaching before Lex pulls away, breathless, lips swollen and red. Here, now, Clark can see other bruises he's made on Lex's skin, usually hidden by clothes, and it goes straight to his cock. "Stay right here. Don't move." A long look at the sprawl of Clark's body and Clark's completely forgotten the towel that's laying uselessly under his hips before Lex pulls it away, tossing it on the floor. "I'll be right back."

Dry-mouthed, Clark nods, running his palms over the smooth covers, methadone to the heroin of Lex's skin, and Lex shifts onto the floor, running a hand over the back of his neck before pushing open the bedroom door and walking out without bothering to stop for a shirt. Whoever's out there will see him, looking like that, like someone whose been--doing things. Like something out of a magazine that you have to be eighteen to buy. Like sex. Like Clark's, even if whoever's out there doesn't know who he is. It makes Clark smile.

He curls an arm under his head and wonders how Lex manages to get through a day without being molested, just on principle, but he doesn't get far before there's the sound of Lex returning, pushing the bedroom door shut. Tinkling noises like glass and Lex discards something on the table Clark noticed beside the door, before the bed shifts and Lex is straddling him, just over the ache of his cock and Clark breathes out.

"Eyes closed," Lex says softly, and Clark nods. "Sit up."

Not easy, but Clark manages, groaning a little at the pressure of his cock against Lex's ass through the thick layer of thermal cotton.

"Do you like champagne?" Lex asks, and Clark recognizes the sounds now.

"I guess. Only had it at weddings and stuff." He keeps his arms braced on the bed behind him, because if he moves, he'll have to touch Lex. Have to. Soft, slick skin so close he can feel the warmth, and he listens as Lex removes the cork, and there's a pop and cold flow across his chest and pooling in his lap between them, making him catch his breath. Oddly, it does nothing to diminish his erection.

"Sorry," Lex murmurs, obviously anything but, and then a warm tongue is slicking his skin, picking the taste up with slow, languorous movements, and Clark breathes out unevenly as Lex shifts farther down. Rough swipe of his collar, down the center of his chest, stopping for a quick lick to one nipple before pushing Clark down gently and down his stomach. Clark reaches out blindly and fumbles for the edges of Lex's sweats, pulling them down as far as he can, and Lex chuckles before shifting away and stripping them off. Naked, warm skin against him now, perfect, and Clark doesn't bother trying to pull away.

"Having fun?" Clark says, drawing his nails up Lex's sides, and Lex lets out a sharp breath.

"You have no idea." Thorough, long licks to his stomach, down almost to his cock, and the ache intensifies when Lex pulls away, sitting up on Clark's thighs. "Sit up now."

"O-okay." He keeps his hands on Lex's waist, skimming his hips with his thumbs, and he hears Lex take a drink, before a warm, tart mouth is sealed to his, and the taste of the champagne and Lex is in his mouth. Clark swallows the mouthful, catching Lex's tongue between his teeth and Lex rocks against him, cock to his stomach and then pulls his mouth away.

"Now this." It's a familiar scent, but Clark's mind is about six steps behind anything resembling clear thought, and he lets Lex slip something into his mouth. The taste kicks in seconds later.

"Strawberries?" Sweeter than he remembers and he chews, liking the contrast of flavors in his mouth.

"Brings out the flavor of the champagne," Lex murmurs as Clark swallows the fruit, and Clark opens his eyes to see Lex smiling down at him. And--that smile, that pleased, aroused smile that Clark never wants to see Lex lose. The next kiss is fast and hard and Lex licks the strawberry out of his mouth, everywhere, so quickly Clark can barely follow the movements. When he pulls back, Clark's breathless and Lex is grinning. "More?"

"Please."

There's more than one bottle, Clark knows that much--Lex gets more touchable, softer by the minute, licking crushed strawberry off Clark's shoulder, chest, out of his mouth, and Clark learns to love champagne--tart and sweet and subtle, like Lex, only the lightest edge of hardness in every taste. Lex lets him roll him onto his back, pour it on his skin and lick it off by inches, and laughs when Clark rubs strawberry over his stomach and eats it off with brushes of his teeth, making Lex arch and hiss and twist himself up and around, and Clark can't look away. He's burning memories into his mind, sight and taste, feel and sound, scents a riot he can't separate from each other. He's dizzy and aroused and he's high in a way that's like floating and maybe, just maybe, like flying, and he's laughing when he sucks another bruise into Lex's throat and Lex's fingers lace through his on the pillow beside his head, tight and needing.

When he looks up, the blue eyes are focused and wanting and Clark reaches down with his free hand, running the tips of his fingers over Lex's erection.

"I love you." It slips out, natural in the dark, perfect, and it tastes like champagne and strawberries on Lex's skin. The blue eyes stare up into his, searching and wondering and knowing and everything Clark knows he'll never hear Lex say, and that's okay. "I want you to fuck me." There's enough strawberry on his skin to excuse his blush if there is one.

Lex's breath catches and Clark licks a kiss onto Lex's mouth, pulling back just to look.

"Yes."

Lex shifts away, opening a bedside table, and Clark lets himself lean back into the impossibly thick pillows, and then Lex is beside him again, kissing him, touching him, hand on his cock hard and perfect and he's arching into it before Lex pulls away. He keeps his eyes closed when he hears Lex doing something else, then slick fingers are against his ass and he stops being able to think at all.

The finger that slides smoothly inside isn't anything but different and good, and Clark breathes out, opening his eyes in surprise and Lex is close enough for them to share breath. Watching him, and he smiles as Lex slides back out, slow, steady rhythm brushes against something hot and bright that makes him catch his breath.

"Okay?" Lex whispers, and his hand closes over Clark's again, and Clark tightens his fingers around Lex's in response, concentrating on the feel of this, new and interesting, another little flare that makes him arch every time Lex crooks his finger. The second finger slides in easily after and Clark feels himself stiffen in surprise, forces himself to relax again. "Clark."

"Yeah," Clark murmurs and the stretching is just as good. Unexpected touch to that place. "God, that's good."

"Thought you'd like that." Clark's heart is pounding and he can feel his cock jump, and then the third finger and Clark groans. "Okay?"

"God, yes. I--" Bright, hot, need like something Clark can taste and it's like champagne, too. He's arching into every thrust, every twist of Lex's fingers and his mind's already jumping ahead on its own, how this will feel when it's Lex. Lex, moving inside him, and his cock jerks hard. "Now. I think--Lex, please."

"Okay." A few more thrusts, harder, stretching and Clark groans, pushing his hips against Lex's. "Okay." Breathless and Lex pulls away only for seconds, and the sound of foil in the quiet of the room is a shock, and somehow arousing too. Clark slips his hand down, squeezing his cock at the next shock of arousal, and then Lex is moving his hand away. Wet mouth slides over him and Clark arches wordlessly--too much input, powerful rush of sensation everywhere; his fingers and his mouth and his nipples and his ass and his cock's in heaven. Tight, wet warmth wrapped around him, sucking, and Clark hadn't known, God, hadn't even guessed. His hands fumble down, finding the smooth skin of Lex's scalp and traces his fingers desperately over it, settling at the base of Lex's neck and Lex swallows, nose pressed to his skin and it's--too fast, he can't stop himself from arching, moaning Lex's name and pushing his heels into the bed, feeling the slide of smooth material and then he's coming, hard, so hard he sees stars and it hurts it's so good. "Oh God Lex...."

Long, endless, blissful wonder and Lex licks him clean and then sits up on his knees, pushing Clark's thighs apart and lifting them, bracing them over his arms.

"Clark--" Like Lex thinks anything could make Clark want to stop now. He slides his hand into Lex's and squeezes hard, still shaking with the aftershocks of orgasm and he needs this like he's never needed anything else.

"Please, Lex."

The first blunt nudge is different from fingers--bigger, smoother, thicker, and the first push is so good Clark's cock jumps, and God, it's never happened that fast before, he's half-hard again already. Lex is watching him, wide blue eyes and sweat shining on his forehead that Clark wants to lick off, and when Lex pauses, he arches and rocks toward him. More inside, and it's a stretch that's so good he groans, throwing his head back and Lex's hiss is wonderful. "Clark--fuck, Clark--"

"More, I want--" And Lex is all the way in, and Clark runs out of words, out of air, of thought, of anything that isn't his body in this moment of perfect, unedged want. Amazing, full and hot and Clark can't imagine, can't conceive how he lived without this. Lex's breath hard and fast and the wonder on his face and Clark wants him to move, rocks up experimentally to watch Lex's eyes shut, breathing out in something like a groan.

"I--knew." Lex pulls out, achingly slow, the thrust faster, harder, and then settles into something easy, something Clark's body can follow mindlessly. Legs around Lex's waist, he's learning how to do this, how easy it is, how good it feels, and it's Lex. Lex, who murmurs things Clark can't quite understand, who is watching him like he expects Clark to disappear, who is holding his fingers like he'll never let go and Clark never wants him to. Breathing has to be relegated to simple instinct, because Clark's mind is all sensory overload, and his cock's so hard it hurts, brushing against Lex's stomach with every thrust. "Clark--"

There are words filling the air, but they string together without rhyme or reason and Clark realizes he's the one saying them, can't even begin to care. Reaches for his cock and Lex stops, so suddenly Clark hears himself whine, changes his balance and catches Clark's palm in his and licks, wet and fast.

"Jesus, Lex--"

"Now do it." Shift of that body again and then Lex thrusts, hard enough to make Clark yell, surprised at the sound of his voice, and his own hand on his cock is necessary, now, has to, jerking himself off, feeling Lex split his attention between his face and his hand, and it's going to happen fast, the build dizzying and almost frightening if it wasn't so good. Orgasm comes out of nowhere, Clark's not expecting anything like it, and it's like the fireworks and it's like coming home after and it's--

--mind-blowing, shaking his body and Lex is saying his name over and over and he tries to concentrate through the shocks that *won't* stop, please God never stop. Lex comes with a shout, hard thrust that drives Clark into the mattress and hot pressure in his ass and a warm mouth against his shoulder, biting down so hard maybe even invulnerable skin will be marked.

Clark will remember it, even if his body doesn't.

It's an eternity later when Lex slowly pulls out, discarding the condom, collapsing beside him in a sweaty heap and slowly loosening his grip on Clark's fingers, but not pulling away. Sated, lazy, exhausted, and thrumming with sex, and Clark can't help watching through half-closed eyes. They stare at each other for what seems like an eternity, then Lex's other hand just brushes his mouth.

"I love you too, you know."


Clark wakes up at what feels like noon in desperate need of the bathroom. It's not the easiest thing on earth to untangle from sheets and blankets, harder even than that to get his hands from Lex, peeling himself away with a shock like pain from tangled limbs and smooth, sticky skin.

Lex is still sleeping when he gets back, and Clark takes a second to just watch him--elegantly lounged on his stomach, blankets twisted around his hips, smears of strawberry-red on his spine and the line of his jaw, new bruises in places that Clark's memory only offers up vague memories of, enough to make him grin.

Carefully, he slides back in beneath the blankets and settles down, not touching, wanting to look. He's never had much time before Lex wakes up simply to watch, to enjoy the silly intimacy of just being here with him. The little line of crushed strawberry on Lex's jaw draws his hand, though, and he reaches out. His wrist is caught in an iron grip less than a breath away from smooth skin, fingers digging into bone.

It's shorter this time, and the grip turns gentle, thumb caressing before Lex opens his eyes, looking at Clark with focused interest and not a little amusement.

"It can't possibly be time to get up yet." Freeing Clark's hand, Lex reaches for a pillow--Clark's, actually--and pulls it over his head.

"Hungry." Clark traces Lex's back, studying the faint red lines from his fingernails, criss-crossed in random patterns over silky flesh, raised texture, tiny dots of blood smeared and dried into his skin. There's an almost irresistible urge to lick the taste off.

"What a surprise." Lex's voice is muffled beneath high-count cotton sheets and thick fleece. "It's an indecent hour..."

"It's noon, Lex." And he really is hungry.

Lex raises a graceful hand from under the covers and motions to the floor. "There's a phone. Hit pound one to get room service."

Clark grins and climbs over Lex's back, hearing the faint sounds of gasped breath and a muttered curse, leaning far enough over to get the phone and the cord. Pulling both onto the bed, Clark rolls on his stomach and plugs it back in.

"Is there a menu?"

"Clark, look at where we are. If they don't have it, they'll go find it for you. Shit, at these prices, they should do a ritual sacrifice for your continued good health while you eat."

"Really?" Wow. Clark stares at the phone, the sheer possibilities a little overwhelming, and he hears Lex come out from under the pillow, curling back on top. A glance gives him a wonderful view of sleepy blue eyes and a smirk.

"Yes, really."

Clark thinks for a second. "Hungry?"

"Not for food." The smirk widens and Clark tears his eyes back to the phone, because he's not, not, not going to blush. Not. "Get whatever you want. I'm--flexible."

Jesus. A variety of images run through Clark's mind, too fast to catch on any one, and a lot of them involve Lex and flexibility.

"Pancakes okay?" His mind isn't offering anything useful except the syrup. God. He's never going to leave this bed. Ever.

"Fruit too." Lex shifts closer and runs his tongue slowly over Clark's shoulder, hand a slow, almost chaste caress down his back. "Coffee. Juice." It's the most exquisite tease ever created, waking little nerves everywhere in Clark's body. "Cheese."

"Cheese?"

"Be creative." Lex sits up as Clark dials, elbows pressed into the mattress, receiver tucked under his chin, and then Lex braces a hand on either side of him, mouth on his throat, sucking hard.

"Fuck, Lex--oh, God, hi. Umm." They're asking what he wants. Food. "Um--pancakes?" Lex. Using his teeth and his tongue and biting his shoulder and then slowly following the line of his spine. Oh. Oh yes. "Yeah. Pancakes and--blueberry syrup? Okay."

"Coffee," Lex murmurs from somewhere around his waist, then sliding easily between Clark's thighs, both hands on his ass. "Don't forget coffee."

Clark's feeling lucky he still knows his name when Lex spreads him open, cool air brushing against sensitive skin.

"Umm...coffee. Yeah. That's--that's fine--" Clark breaks off in shock as Lex traces a finger down the cleft, stopping just at the hole, and he's--Lex-- "Yeah. Whate--ever fruit you have." Clark shifts as Lex lifts his hips but is totally unprepared for the hot, wet tongue that follows the trail of that finger, and Lex pushes him onto his knees before the first shock even begins to dissipate, licking hard. "Oh fuck. Oh--" He's still on the phone. *He's still on the phone.* "Umm, cheese and that's--all. Yeah. Okay. Yes. Oh God, yes. Uh--" and that second Lex pushes his tongue inside and it's over. Thinking, talking, breathing, phones, and Clark buries his face in the pillow, biting into innocent cotton and thick fleece before he starts screaming.

A finger replaces the tongue, pushing deep inside and hitting that place, and he hears Lex reach for the phone through the rush in his ears..

"Yes, thank you. In an hour, please." Lex pulls out, circling the edges as Clark thrusts his hips back and this is teasing, beyond words teasing, and it's not fair. Oh God, it's not fair. His cock is rubbing into the sheet so hard he might, just might, leave burn marks and he's never, ever--. Lex thrusts two fingers and Clark moans through a mouthful of pillow. "Remind me to call you often," Lex says, trailing his tongue teasingly from shoulder blade to ribs. "That voice is worth money."

Bastard.

Clark hears the phone being hung up, and then Lex is back down the bed, hands on Clark's thighs, pulling them farther apart, then his ass, and oh God yes. "You're going to like this, promise." Cool air blowing over the tiny, incredibly sensitive area that Clark had had no idea did anything like that, ever, and then Lex's tongue--oh God, his tongue, that skilled, slick, perfect tongue that's moving in, deep, hard and fast, then slower, licking, sucking, and Clark's shaking on his elbows, air thick and unbreathable in his lungs.

"Please, Lex--" His entire skin is awake, aware, alive, and everything touching him is just a tease; suddenly-rough cotton and Lex's hands and Lex's tongue and the air itself is destroying his mind. He's making sounds and they're--God, whining and begging and needing and he's twisting back, trying to get more, needs more, Lex holding him open and doing that, and there's no way this can ever end, and no possible way Clark can ever let it. "Don't stop. Don't--you dare...." Hard press and twist and Clark's yelling, and it's a good thing Lex is rich, it's a good thing they're in a really big suite with hopefully thick walls because he can probably be heard in the street.

When Lex pulls away, it's like being dropped on concrete far too hard, and Clark's panting into the pillow, wet with sweat and spit and very possibly tears but he's not examining that one too closely. Hollowed out, open, and Lex--wouldn't leave him like this.

"Lex." Words are drifting in and out of his working vocabulary. "In me. Now." So's grammar, come to think. If he could.

"That's the idea." Slick hand slides over his balls, fingers playing expertly, and Clark chokes back a groan and pushes his palms into the mattress. "Relax, just have to--"

"Ready now." He thrusts his hips back and Lex makes one of the most interesting sounds Clark's ever heard. "Come on, Lex...."

There's a rough, breathless laugh behind him, and it's seconds before Lex pushes--oh God, three fingers in him, rough burn and the shock's so good Clark forgets to breathe. His fingers dig into the mattress and hears material tearing and doesn't give a good damn, and Lex sucks a bite into the small of his back before the hands on his hips hold him still and Lex is pushing inside.

Clark moans and arches his back, and Lex is all the way in him, so deep he can feel this everywhere. "Jesus, Clark...." And Clark could live forever hearing Lex say his name like that. Just like that. Breathless and aching and needing and filled with utter shock. "...perfect."

He's going to die like this.

"God, you're good," Lex mutters, and Clark can hear him clench his teeth, pulling out with aching slowness before another almost brutal thrust inside him, and it's nearly too much. "So good, Clark, just--" There's a breathless pause and Lex thrusts again, harder, slick friction and incredible sense of fullness and Lex's voice like something out of the best of porn commentary. "So good."

There's no way Clark can find anything like words, and he stops trying. Groans against soft cotton, Lex's smooth body rubbing against him, pushing him more open with every thrust, murmuring words he can't comprehend. "Please..."

"Shh." Lex runs a hand down his back, fingernails digging in briefly as he thrusts in again, then settling on the back of his neck. Thighs splayed on either side of Lex's, and then hands below his arms, pulling him upright--oh, oh, yes--and deeper, harder, better, Lex's hands on his chest slow and soothing, strokes that really aren't erotic except they really, really are. Lex's breath is warm against his ear, and the slow, wet lick makes his entire body shiver. "Okay?"

"Oh God yes. More." Lex's hands slide to his hips, instructing, and it's--wonderful, wonderful to feel this, every buck of Lex beneath him, deeper inside him, teeth in the side of his neck and a tongue soothing every bite. Smooth hands running all over him, pinching his nipples awake and sliding over his jaw, turned just enough for a sucking kiss that takes his breath, and he's moaning, gasping, riding Lex, and it's--new words for good. Galaxies beyond good. It's Lex's hand slick on his cock, slow and counter to the rhythm inside him, making him bite into his lip, and that talented thumb circling the head slow and easy, and the almost brutal force of the orgasm hovering just out of reach. So close he can taste it like blood on the back of his tongue, and then Lex's rhythm changes and fast, furious jack of his cock.

"Lex--"

"Like that," Lex murmurs against his ear, and his voice is so calm, breathless, controlled. "You're beautiful and I want you to come." Stroke of his cock, stroke inside and Clark's far beyond anything like brain function. "Come on, Clark. Now. Now."

Like Lex's voice is all he needs, the connection's made, and light explodes behind his eyes, down his back, constricting every muscle and he's shaking, hands out to brace himself on the bed when he collapses--can't see, can't hear, doesn't care, and mindless moments of nothing but the shock of it riding through him, Lex riding him harder, and the feel of Lex coming inside him.

He's never moving again. Not for anything. Not when he can stay just like this, ass in the air, Lex smooth and hot and slick against his back, sucking on his shoulder where his teeth dug in too deep.

It's cold when Lex moves away, but it's brief, and Lex pushes him over, pulling up the rucked blanket and curling it around them both, twisting long fingers in Clark's hair, pulling him up for a kiss that lasts forever, a full body grind that makes every overwhelmed nerve shudder, then pulling back, smiling a little, very possibly at the expression on his face.

"Next time," Lex murmurs against his cheek with a long, slow lick, "you can fuck me."

Oh God.


Room service comes and goes bearing food, which is probably a good thing, at least for Clark's sanity.

There's a television hidden in the cabinet across from the bed and they eat watching whatever cartoons drift across whatever station Lex's channel surfing takes them. Lex is so relaxed he's like someone else entirely watching Power Puff Girls, leaning back into Clark's thighs and eating pieces of pancake off of Clark's fork whenever he offers. Which he offers a lot, just to watch Lex's mouth. There's a brief detour to ESPN to check on a basketball game ("I have money riding on this one, Clark." "How much?" "Don't ask.") and a long stay on HBO while Clark drifts in and out of consciousness, vaguely aware of casual petting, a phone call on the hotel phone, then Lex leaving briefly and returning, shifting just enough for Clark to fall back asleep against one bare thigh and dream of syrup and the recreational uses thereof.

"Clark." Hand nudging his face, and Clark comes back to the world with the vaguest awareness of blankets twisted around him. Rolling on his back, he blinks into the ceiling. He reaches for Lex, but catches only air and sits up, turning around on the bed to see Lex fully dressed, just inches away and ten times too casual.

"Time to go?" He's beginning to like this--big warm bed and room service and well, naked Lex. A whole day of naked Lex.

"Not exactly. We're booked here for a couple of days." Lex smiles in a way that doesn't quite mesh with happiness, but something very close to satisfaction. "We're going out."

"Out?" It takes Clark a second, and he pushes himself up on an elbow. "This is revenge for the agricultural fair, isn't it?"

"You have no idea." Lex steps back and--oh.

"You're--dressed up." Not business casual, not club-pretty, but something else entirely--dark suit, dark shirt, tie, not quite formal but very, very close. Aloof, personal space stretching out around him like armor. He's suddenly untouchable, like Metropolis and Smallville and too many nights and days that Clark's been forgetting, but this brings him upright, watchful, a strangely hollow feeling carving itself into his stomach. He's feeling--naked, which is sort of funny considering how naked he is and Lex, well--isn't. "Where--are we going?"

"Shower, dress, go, in that order. I'll tell you when we get there." There's the briefest hesitation, and Clark searches Lex's face before Lex takes the step separating them. Slim, tapered fingers trace the air just over his lips. "Trust me."

"Like I haven't been doing that already." Clark swings his legs onto the floor, but Lex doesn't draw back. Fingers on his cheek, brushing stubble, and Clark wonders again if someone ever brought their stuff up.

"Don't shave."

Clark blinks, nodding slowly, and Lex steps away, hands clasped behind him, another smirk that carries traces of the man he's spent four nights with, before Lex goes out the bedroom door and disappears down the hall.

The shower's hot and Clark stays for awhile, scrubbing off strawberry and liquor, semen and spit and coffee and God, syrup, ducking under the head to catch the full blast of almost-boiling water. He's always loved hot showers. Now it's almost--not ritualistic cleansing, but more resigned, removing the last traces of Lex from his skin. Stepping out, the towels are waiting, by some weird act of hotel magic or maybe the maid service has been by, and Clark blinks at the thought of the mess of the bed.

Better not to think on that too hard.

Coming out in the bedroom, it's very hard not to. Freshly made bed, like he and Lex hadn't ever been here, but there's a suit laid out on the flawlessly smooth comforter, and Clark frowns, brushing his fingers over the material of the shirt. Soft cotton, deep blue, catching a little on water-shrunken fingers, finer than anything he's used to wearing, and Clark drops the towel, picking it up. Feels different from any of his dress clothes, and he notes with some corner of his mind the lack of boxers or underwear.

There's probably no good reason for that to make him relax, but it does. The clothes slide on like he's used to wearing stuff like this, and Clark's been around Lex long enough to know a tailor's fit when he sees and feels it. Wow. God. When had Lex...

"Clark?" Knock on the door, polite double rap probably taught at whatever hideously expensive boarding school Lex had attended.

"Almost ready." The pants slide on easier, straight lines and flawless crease, and shoes and socks, and okay, what does Lex have in mind? Straightening, he turns around, pushing the bathroom door closed to get the mirror and he looks--like himself. Mostly. Just a really well-dressed himself. Without a tie, and he half-turns to check and, yes, there it is. Some random, abstract pattern he doesn't quite get, but he slides it around his neck and wishes he'd learned to tie these at some point.

"Come in here when you're done." The softest, lightest sound of footsteps, and if Clark was human, he would never have heard Lex at all. Checking again, Clark looks at the buttons on the jacket, then sighs. He doesn't wear stuff like this.

Lex is in the indecently large living room, drinking something, probably out of the bar in the corner. The curtains are drawn back and the view is utterly breathtaking--Clark finds himself taking two steps into the room without thinking, the lights of the city brilliant against the velvet-dark night.

"Wow."

Lex turns around, giving him a smile. "Beautiful." Clark gets the feeling he's not talking about the view. "Ready?" Clark shifts, looking down, and then back up, but Lex is already crossing the space between them. Quick, impersonal fingers slide expertly over the jacket, smoothing the lines at shoulder and side, brief brush against the bare skin of his throat when he resettles the collar, quick work of tying the tie in place around his throat, buttoning the three buttons of the jacket and stepping back. "Not bad."

"Thanks." Clark's not sure if he means it ironically or not. "Where are we--"

"I've got to break you of this little habit of asking. Journey, Clark, not destination." The smile's real enough, but Clark's still feeling--off. This isn't the Lex he's been riding with for days--this is the one who runs his own company, a plant, watches the future with narrowed, interested eyes, watches everyone with cool, weighing interest. Lex isn't--touchable right now, and Clark's fingers twitch at his sides, against the smooth material of his pants.

"Okay."

Lex methodically checks for wallet, keys, and the keycard, always prepared, that's Lex. Clark glances back only once, taking in the view again, then follows Lex out the door.


Clark's been to really expensive restaurants before--there were the formals and there were a few times his parents had a special occasion, and there was prom with Chloe, but. Not like this. Elegant, hushed sounds, expensive crystal, and lots of extremely well-dressed people casually congregating in a limited space that smelled interestingly of sage and expensive food.

He's not a complete idiot, please God, but this is--really damn different. He can't help shifting a little, and Lex gives him a little look that's part curiosity and part something else entirely, before the maitre'd appears out of nowhere and takes them to a table.

Clark can feel the gazes on him, on them, and uses his very best oblivious look to get through, glad that he's years off blushing too much. Lex's hand on his arm stops him from obliviously running straight into a wall and he's in a chair so comfortable that Clark revises his scale of discomfort with the fact that it can't be all bad when you sit in the equivalent of arm chairs to eat.

Lex orders them both water and then looks at him assessingly.

"Ritual sacrifice at the table?" Clark asks softly, fingering an immaculate linen napkin folded into some complicated and obscure shape that he vaguely recognized from Home Economics as a swan.

"I'd come here more often just for the amusement value." Lex picks up his glass of water, glancing out the windows that showed a good view of the lower side of the city. The park, Clark thinks, taking in the tiny lights sprinkled like dust over the darker shapes of trees moving in a light breeze. "There's a river that runs through the park--my mother took me on it when I was a kid."

"I could stand to see a river," Clark answers, taking a drink of water so he has something to do with his hands. Porcelain and fine linen and crystal. God, if he gets out of here without breaking anything, it will be an act of God. "Not a lot of those around Smallville."

"Streams, frozen lakes, and gulleys, but no, I don't remember any actual rivers worthy of the name." Lex is--not quite here. Clark's getting uncomfortable flashbacks of their first night driving and he's not liking it--the way the silences fall and the way Lex is focusing on something that isn't in this room at all. Something that isn't Clark, and it's an addictive thing, to be the center of Lex Luthor's attention. He doesn't remember a time he didn't like it.

"I'd accuse you of being a closet romantic, what with dinner and a walk in the park--" There. Got it. Lex straightens, looking at him, wide eyes and the beginnings of a grin tugging the corner of his mouth. "But you're into history stuff--"

"Dueling?" Lex leans back, and okay, this Lex Clark knows. "I didn't bring my foils, but that can be remedied. Dawn?"

"Traditionalist." Clark's read up on fencing. Having best friends with a propensity toward weapons makes you curious. "You think you'd beat me?" It's a point of question, actually. Lex is never going to be as fast or as strong as he is, but Lex is unpredictable and really skilled, one, and two, superspeed just can't be used. He's done a few practices with Lex, especially after stressful days when Lex couldn't bother himself to send for Heike, but the fine points of it still escape him.

Lex has never missed how fast he's caught on either, and there's a speculating look on his face, like he's mulling where he can buy some foils and there's an image, totally out of his mom's romance novels, that show him and Lex on some bridge over a picturesque river with swords. He can't help the laugh that brings, and Lex twitches like he's seeing the same thing.

The--well, whatever it is, it's gone, and Lex settles with a menu, picking out something with his usual decisiveness while Clark stares blankly at the sheer number of possibilities.

"Find something you like?" Lex asks, and Clark jerks his gaze up, fingers still mindlessly sliding down the slick list of entrees for the third time.

"I'm--being a discerning customer." Or a desperate one. If he could be sure Lex wouldn't laugh his ass off, he'd tell him to order for him.

"Discern faster." Lex lays his menu aside and--something--brushes against Clark's leg, almost as if at random. He looks up, but Lex is studying the wine list with an intense expression, as if he expects domestic to somehow sneak it's way onto an imports-only menu.

There, another brush, and that's not his imagination, then a kick to his knee and Clark drops the menu. Lex is leaning back in his seat, unreadable expression and looking a little bored.

"Are you kicking me?" Even with the evidence, he just can't see it. This is not--not--Lexian behavior. Fits none of the models in Clark's head, even the one that assaulted him on the phone this morning.

"Why would I do that?" He's looking right in Lex's eyes with the next one, and either Clark's imagination has joined his other superpowers and brought him into alien-schizophrenia, or Lex is possibly the only person in the world who can look that utterly innocent while committing some form of assault. "Pick something yet?"

And what the hell does he say to that? A waiter appears out of thin air at Lex's lightest gesture, cool and efficient and looking a little startled. He recognizes Lex, Clark thinks, and wonders why that sends off little warning bells in his head. Lex looks up with a lazy smile.

"Chicken Kiev for us both." He pauses, giving Clark a challenging look. "You took too long."

"I pick dessert."

"Deal." A few more words that Clark doesn't pay attention to--something to do with the appetizers or maybe seasoning, who the hell knows, and he's kicked again to get his attention back. Lex is leaning into the table, watching him. "Aperitif?"

Hmm. Clark gets his water again and nods, sipping to buy a little time, and he knows Lex knows that. Carelessly elegant on the other side of the table, only feet away, and this feels like a date. Date-date, and weird, if you're thinking of normal progression taking a step toward the surreal, and it only clicks in seconds later, with the wine, and Lex explaining the concept of aperitifs that he's getting it.

"Campari and orange," Lex is saying when Clark takes a sip from the tiny glasses the waiter sets on the table before vanishing in some strange, non-Smallville related mutation, or maybe all waitstaff pick up teleportation at some point. Slight burn in his throat, bitter, citrus edged. It reminds him of Lex.

"I like this." He could drink it all day. Probably not a good idea, but he could.

"Glad to hear it." Clark sees the blue eyes go distant, like he's thinking of something else.

"Just so you know, I shatter crystal." He punctuates it with a little kick that manages to connect to Lex's knee, and Lex comes back into the room with a vengeance, eyes flickering to the tiny glass Clark's holding.

"You do?"

Clark tilts his head, fighting the usual need to hide. Be normal. Worry about how much he's giving away. Surely lots of people have fragile items issues, or there wouldn't be so many television comedies centered around broken valuable items, right?

"Yeah." Clark pauses, forcing the words out from somewhere around his gut. "When I was in grade school, we had to take a class in etiquette--you know, manners and dinner stuff and answering the phone and how to talk to older people." Boring class, Clark remembers, and he and Pete had spent considerable periods of class time trying to see if their Hot Wheels could make it across the room to each other without the teacher noticing. "At the dinner set up, I broke the glass and the plate." And bent the fork, but Clark's going with the idea that it was really, really weak metal. Really weak.

"I remember those classes." Lex grins a little, playing with his glass. "Two terms of it, if I remember correctly. Napkin folding. Fork identification. Correct address. Tying a tie." His smile is sharp and a little mocking.

"There go your tie-removing privileges." Whoa. Innuendo, and Lex blinks, sitting straight. Clark takes another sip of his drink and tries to look innocent.

"I withdraw the comment." Sitting back again, total Lex focus, and Clark wonders why other people always get so uncomfortable when Lex looks at them like that. "How did you manage to break both the glass and the plate?"

Clark lets his fingers drift casually over the linen tablecloth, stroking lightly, and Lex's gaze slides down to fix there. Nothing wrong with a few distracting techniques. Nothing at all. "Accident. I got nervous when the teacher was pouring water out and shattered the stem. The plate was sort of when I attempted to start cleaning up." He debates whether to mention that the entire tablecloth inexplicably got caught under his foot and more than just one glass and plate were lost. Or maybe not. Lex is smirking, and something hard is briefly pressed into his inner thigh. Lex's shoe. And really, this table may be way too small.

"I never thought you were clumsy."

"Don't ask about my fourth grade nickname and life will stay that good." He wraps his fingers around the tiny glass, watching Lex over the top of the glass. Smoky look that Clark likes to see, wants to see more of, and this is flirting, Lex is flirting with him and this is getting more interesting by the second.

"Hmm. I could find out from Chloe--"

"She wasn't here when I was in fourth grade." Thank God for small favors. He would still be hearing it.

"I'll think of something." That's not a kick. That's--nothing like a kick. It's a long, drawn-out rub just on the inside of his knee and it's almost impossible to look at Lex and imagine him doing anything like that, lounged in the most careless way possible and somehow managing to remain uncreased. Probably learned in that etiquette class or something.

Dinner comes and goes, and Clark aware that he's starting to read significance and symbolism into Lex cutting up chicken, even more so when Lex explains the wine, pouring him a glass of something deeply red and very--dry? Right, dry--and he's learning more about the expense of grapes than he ever thought he'd need to. It's interesting, in that way that everything about Lex is interesting, and he sips the wine carefully when Lex watches him.

"Like or don't?"

Clark's not really sure about that yet. He likes sweet better. Champagne best of all, and okay, not appropriate dinner conversation. "It's not--bad." Thick, fruity taste on the back of his tongue that's pleasant, and Lex grins.

"It took me years to appreciate wine." Lex refills both their glasses and pauses, obviously thinking. "Still--"

"You like that brandy stuff--"

"That brandy stuff, yes." Amusement. "Acquired taste."

"Why?"

Lex pauses, obviously mulling his answer. "Because it's expected. Because walking into a cocktail party and asking for a soda isn't nearly as impressive as being able to name off a list of expensive liquors." Lex settles back into his seat, dismissing the remains of dinner with a hand and the waiter appears out of nowhere to collect their plates.

"Other people's expectations." Clark thinks on that for a few minutes, wondering how he can possibly call Lex on drinking liquor he doesn't like when Clark himself has a hundred small ways to make himself fit in. "I hate corn."

Lex blinks, looking over the rim of his glass with an inscrutable look.

"I didn't know that."

"Farming," Clark clarifies, and takes a bigger drink of wine. Second glass--or third? "I know everything my dad knows, and it's not like they expect me to carry on the Kent tradition of being bound to the land...."

"You make it sound like serfdom."

"Five generations of sharecropping before they bought the land," Clark says, and Lex's eyes flicker just a little. There's the vaguest tightness around his mouth and Clark wonders what prompted him to remind Lex of the fact that his ancestors had been the ones that first owned most of the farmland around Smallville.

"And to think you used to question why your father hates me so much." Lex's voice is very, very light. "It's tradition, you know."

"So is hanging guys in the cornfield for Homecoming," Clark answers, trying to pull the derail of this conversation back on track. It's--not easy. And he's feeling stupider by the second, because what on earth is going on with his head anyway?

"Dessert, sirs?"

"No," Clark answers, a little too quickly, but Lex only gives the waiter a brief shake of his head and stands up without ceremony. Clark wonders if either of them should be allowed red wine ever again. He's never going to like the flavor now. "Where--"

"For a walk." At Clark's blink, Lex shrugs. "They'll charge it to the room. Come on. I shouldn't have let you drink that much. Wine's not like liquor--it sneaks up on you."

"I'm fine." He's almost sure he is, but he doesn't pull away from Lex's hand under his elbow, getting to his feet, barely noticing the hand stays there as they walk out. Down a flight of sweeping stairs that Clark doesn't remember seeing when they arrived the night before, and through the huge glass doors before they're outside in the too-warm night.

"Hot night," Lex murmurs, loosening his own tie briefly. "So what do you want to do?"

Go back about ten minutes and start that last conversation over again. Or maybe not drink. Or better yet, convinced Lex not to get out of bed at all. They could be upstairs, right now, with room service and the Cartoon Network. Instead, they're walking down the sidewalk and waiting patiently to cross the street so Clark can walk off what amounts to being some seriously stupid behavior.

"River's fine. Ambiance, romance--"

"Did I mention I'm never letting you drink again?" Lex answers, voice amused and the hand on his arm tightens briefly before slipping away. "Ever?"

"You're not being much fun," Clark says and reaches out, just missing Lex's sleeve as the light changes and they cross the street. No cars--Clark's learned the hard way to look, look, look first. Especially when with someone like Lex, who seems an obscure magnet for trouble of some kind. Though there's a weird appeal in the thought of rescuing him tonight, along with the dueling on a bridge thing and this entire night and he finds himself making a sound that's depressingly close to a giggle. Lex stops short and turns to look at him, finger just brushing his jaw, lingering on the stubble Clark hasn't shaved away.

"I take that back. I'll get you very drunk one day." The smile is real and Clark tilts his head enough for the finger to brush across his lips. "Privately. Just for me to see."

It's an invitation as much as anything else, and Clark closes the space between them, leaning down to kiss--just light and fast, friendly, something he'd do with anyone he's--dating? Something. Whatever the fuck they're doing, and Lex responds like they're alone, press of fingers to the back of his neck and slide of a slick, wine-flavored tongue over his lips. Slow, thoughtful, lingering, friendly. A lot of things, and most of them are familiar, like this is something that's perfectly natural to do on any sidewalk in the world, even Smallville, and Clark wonders if the world can shift enough to let it be.

It ends easily and Lex is smiling--nothing behind it at all except himself and Clark relaxes.

"So show me this really cool river already."

Metropolis Park is very different, Clark thinks, as he follows Lex's effortless navigation through small, cobblestone paths that are following the Regency Romance theme in a rather disturbing way. More modern, with that slick look of something fashioned by man and overkilled at that, but this place is. Like a tiny bit of actual nature dropped into the middle of urbania, and Clark enjoys ducking beneath unpruned branches and noting the encroachment of vines and plants onto the sidewalk and up random benches that look like they've been out here longer than Clark's been on the planet. Lex is telling him about some battle fought around here--no huge surprise, that--and when the park was built and why, which he listens to with half his mind while the rest is focused on how Lex moves, like there's nothing more natural than dragging country boys through parks in major urban centers.

"Romantic," Clark says when he sees where they're going. "God, Lex, this is blackmail for years. I never thought you had it in you to be this sentimental."

"You're such a brat," Lex answers with a bright smile tossed over his shoulder. Unleashed energy, and it's only occurring now to Clark how fast they're going. Lex is probably the only person in the world who walks this fast and thinks of it as normal. "Just for that crack, you're losing your tie--removal privileges."

Steep slope of grass and it's better-tended here, but someone with aesthetics or maybe just carelessness has kept it closer to real, and Clark lets himself half slide down the embankment instead of taking the stone steps, seeing Lex grinning at him from only a few feet away. Big, wide bridge, arched gracefully over dark blue-black water, perfect for people to walk over in small groups, something out of a postcard or a travel brochure and the water moves sluggishly, like it has nowhere very important to go and just wants to enjoy the journey there.

Clark gets that. Meeting Lex on the rough wooden planks, he paces up to the center and highest point, leaning over to look down.

"I like it," Clark says, and Lex leans down beside him, watching the water, too. "How far does it go?"

"Not sure."

"You don't know everything?"

Lex spears him with a glance. "Keep going. You're about to lose your driving privileges too."

"You're getting crabby. Not enough sleep?"

The smile widens, and they're back in Innuendo Land, which is just fine. Clark shifts enough so his arm's pressed against Lex's.

"Someone kept me up," Lex answers, then looks back down at the water. There are no shadows under his eyes now, nothing, and Clark likes that. He can't really stop himself from leaning into Lex more, steady warm pressure and it's--nice. With his other hand, he loosens his tie, feeling the beginnings of sweat dampening the back of his neck and down his back, and notes that Lex already has a button undone--no, two, revealing a strip of pale skin. Slightly damp skin, and Clark fights the urge to taste it. "Summer is going to be a nightmare. I'm wondering how Antarctica is this time of year."

"No cable television."

"Yes, there's that. Or internet access, for that matter." Lex shifts against the rail. "I don't care for cold weather anyway."

"Never would have guessed by the way you constantly complain about how cold it gets during winter."

"You're in a very snarky mood." Lex turns a smile on him. "I like it."

"Blame the wine." The company. The oh, so damn romantic night with even a full moon in view and Clark grins. "Recite poetry to me."

Lex's eyebrows climb in surprise, mouth opening slightly, and Clark grins.

"Recite poetry to you? What--"

"You know, so I'll be more amenable to sex later." Clark gives Lex a few seconds to breathe. "You know. Mood and all."

"I have to recite poetry to you to get sex. Just so I'm clear."

"Yeah." Clark waits, but Lex is apparently still processing, and the silence stretches. "Oh well. It's been a long day--"

"Jesus, will you give me a second?" Lex is fighting a grin and it's just--so very unlike Lex, and it makes Clark wonder how many other Lexes are hidden inside that skin. "Poetry on demand...."

"Anytime now."

"'I dreamed you were a poem,'" Lex answers, sounding a little desperate, and Clark takes in the angle of his face. "'And I laugh and fall dreaming again of the desire to show you to everyone I love.'" He gives Clark a long look, narrowed eyes. "'Helen, thy beauty is to me, like those Nicean barks of yore, that gently over a perfumed sea'--"

"You're not very good at this." Lex sounds more desperate by the second, reminding Clark of his English class pop quizzes. It's funny.

"Oh good God." Lex lowers his head onto his arms. "It's been years--"

"You can quote Machiavelli and make it sound sexy, but that was just--well, not."

Lex looks up, and his mouth is twitching. "It might say more about you that you find me quoting Machiavelli sexy--"

"You could write me some." Clark idly straightens his sleeve. "Poetry, that is."

"I'd want sex first. A lot of sex first."

Clark grins. "I can do that."


Lex is unfastening his tie before they even get the door closed, mouth pressed against Clark's jugular and licking away the sweat. Biting hard.

"...'I conclude, therefore, that when a prince has the goodwill of his people he must not worry about conspiracies....'" Muttered directly into Clark's shoulder, and Clark groans, tilting his head back into the door.

"I wasn't serious about the Machiavelli," Clark murmurs, and Lex's hands are pushing his jacket off, sliding down his chest and untucking his shirt. "Really, Lex--"

"Don't like that part?" Sharp bite that makes Clark moan again, and sharp nails cut across his stomach. "Let's see, what else...conquest of a rebellious city-state?" Hands moving so fast, and Clark's a little dazed by how rough Lex's voice sounds. "How about cruelty and compassion? '...whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the reverse.'" Clark digs his hands into the door and Lex is on his knees in front of him, unfastening the front of the pants with fingers so fast they almost seemed to blur. "'The answer is that one would like to be both the one and the other; but because it is difficult to combine them, it is far better to be feared than loved if you can't have both'." Lex looks up and Clark breathes out. Hot blue eyes and parted red lips, rash of red across his jaw from Clark's face and God, Lex is hot. "I'm shortening the quotation a little. I hope you don't mind." Wide smile, then Clark's pants are around his ankles and his cock's in Lex's mouth.

"Not--fuck, Lex." Soft humming that drives his fingers into the door with the ragged sound of splinters and he wishes he cared more. God. Sweet, hot, tight, so wet, sucking and it's like a shot directly to his blood, like adrenaline if it made you feel like you'll melt into the floor and never want to move again. "Lex. Don't--God, that's--wow." He's making those sounds again, the low, needy ones, and then Lex pulls off, sitting back on his heels, one hand wrapped firmly around the base of Clark's cock, thumb rubbing hard. "Lex--"

"Want me?" Sharp smile, like it could cut through Clark's clothes and skin and find every secret he hides, and Clark lets his knees go, sinking into the floor. Lex straddles his lap, both hands on his face, kissing hard, conquest, maybe, something Machiavelli said in his as-yet-unreleased version of The Pornographic Prince, and Lex does sound sexy when he's talking like that. How to Conqueror Unresisting Smallville Boys. Clark arches up with the first brush of soft cloth against his bare cock, and Lex's mouth is hot against his ear. "'The first way to lose your state is to neglect the art of war; the first way to win a state is to be skilled in the art of war.'"

"Machiavelli in bed?" Clark whispers against smooth skin, rubbing his face against Lex's cheek, feeling the shudder in the back beneath his hands. He reaches down, pulling up the edge of the shirt and jacket both, finding bare skin. "Come on, you can do better than that."

"I can." Lex's breath is hot against his face and Clark dips his head down for that tiny triangle of exposed flesh he's been looking at since the bridge, running his tongue over it to pick up the salty traces of sweat. "'On desperate seas long wont to roam, Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face, Thy Naiad airs have brought me home. To the glory that was Greece, And the grandeur that was Rome'."

"Should have known you'd work Rome in," Clark murmured, sucking at the pulse point, feeling Lex's fingers dig into his shoulders, pushing the shirt off and Clark almost tears it to get it off, tossing it aside to pull Lex closer, rocking up to rub a little more firmly against Lex's ass.

"It's Poe, by the way." Breathless as Lex tilts his head back, eyes closing. "And it's romantic. You're really fucking hard--to please." Clark ducks down again--Lex tastes so good. Soap and sweat and the bitter bite of whatever cologne he's wearing, and the taste of trees and the outside, clean air and the tangy flavor of himself mixed in it all. Better than anything they ate for dinner.

"I'm easy," Clark mumbles, and it's really easy to get Lex's jacket down, off, harder to make all those tiny buttons work and Lex's fingers aren't much better than his getting them undone. One skids away from them across the smooth floor and Clark hears another pop off and ignores it, just relieved when there are none left, pulling the side of the shirt open and running his hands along achingly smooth skin. "Keep--going."

"Fuck." Clark gets an arm around Lex's waist, lifts, and there, on his back, spread out like a banquet and it's just perfect, Lex like this. Flushed and sweating and clinging, and his fingertips feel like they'll leave burns in Clark's shoulders. "Fuck. God, I--"

"Lex--"

"I'm trying." Clark ducks his head to a nipple, dark and hard already, sucking it into his mouth and feeling Lex arch, fingers in his hair and tight. "Okay. 'Love he comes and Love he tarries Just as fate or fancy carries; Longest stays, when sorest chidden; Laughs and flies, when press'd and bidden.' Oh fuck Clark--"

"Romantic, Lex."

Lex's voice drops to something like a growl. "I want you to fuck me now. That close enough?"

Clark bites down, can't help it, and Lex arches again, and the hands in his hair should probably hurt by now but it doesn't matter.

"Yeah." There's a half-formed notion in his head just to pick Lex up and carry him, but the idea is enough to make him laugh and he sits up, letting Lex up too. Flushed and gorgeous and interestingly rumpled, the imprint of Clark's teeth still visible on his chest and that's really damn sexy. "I--you know I haven't--"

"This is going to be very easy," Lex says, licking his lips, and it's enough to make Clark's cock jump almost painfully. A wicked look down, then back up. "Come on."

Lex strips the shirt on the walk, dropping it behind him like a discarded skin, and Clark struggles out of the pants before he trips over his own feet. Lex sits on the edge of the bed, fingers unbuttoning the waist of the pants, and Clark moves fast enough to stop him. "I want to."

"Be my guest." Dark, heavy-lidded eyes, impossibly hot, and Lex lays back on the bed , one arm beneath his head, watching Clark. And maybe it was a mistake to ask, because his fingers aren't getting any better at this unbuttoning thing, but it slips free finally, zipper down, and a quick pull tells Clark something he probably should have guessed, though God knows if he had, no way he could have gotten through dinner.

No underwear. Nothing. Darkly sexual smile from Lex, and Clark pushes him back on the bed, licking into that swollen mouth, shuddering with the feel of Lex's hands on his body. Familiar, so familiar now and even better because of it.

"How..." Clark chokes out, lifting his head, trying to find enough air to finish the question.

"Knees or back?"

"Oh God..." All those visions of Lex are just--too much, far too much, and the words.... No surprise, Lex could make anything sound pornographic, and Clark's dazed mind is beginning to wonder if it's his voice. Try him out with a phone book one day, maybe. "I want--want to see you."

"Okay. In the drawer right there--" Clark finds himself opening it without a clear idea how he got there and half-heartedly hopes he didn't use superspeed. He's shaking, his entire body awake and alive and needy. The little bottle that would have been embarrassing to even think about forty-eight hours ago is in his hand, and Lex is lounging at the head of the bed, grin intact and it's impossible that just looking at him makes Clark's cock jump again. He gets a hand down and squeezes at the base, praying Lex wouldn't say one. Single. Sexy. Thing. Or even breathe.

"Come here." Lex rolls gracefully onto his side, and Clark sucks in a breath. Then he's touching skin, being kissed and petted and it's--not helping. It's good, it's great, but--God. His hand has a mind of its own, or is following some mental directions of Lex's, which wouldn't be much of a surprise really, sliding down Lex's back, finding the cleft instinctively and running his fingers over it. Lex hisses softly and sucks on Clark's tongue.

"I--"

"Slick your fingers first," Lex whispers into his mouth, and Clark fumbles for the bottle, getting it open more by luck than anything, and slick fingers go back, touching carefully, feeling Lex's every breath, the tiny jumps of muscle when Clark touches a sensitive place. Wants--oh God, wants to watch Lex's face when he's doing this, remembering how it felt when Lex did it to him, and he rolls them over, somehow not injuring anyone and he watches Lex when he slides a finger inside.

"Yes--" And that's good, Clark thinks, and it's hot and tight and so good inside. He's trying to be patient, but Lex is pushing down against him and saying things like more and hurry and Clark makes sure his second finger is slick enough and pulls out enough to slide it inside too. Lex arches and Clark's beginning to pant, can't help it. Amazing to watch this, see this on Lex's face, what he can do to him just with his fingers and he dips his head down, licking the soft lips and the point of his chin, letting his teeth drift over reddened skin and feeling Lex arch up against him.

"...okay?" Clark hears himself ask, and stretch, right, and every time he flexes, Lex makes an addictive sound he has to hear again and again. "Lex--"

"Perfect. Wonderful. Fucking spectacular," Lex says, and Clark can't be sure he isn't serious, arching up, heels digging into the bed. "Jesus, you're good, Clark, just a little more...."

"Okay." Condom, right, and he hunts it out of the nightstand with a stretch that just reaches. He pulls his fingers out, rubbing them quickly dry on the sheet and tears the condom open, and okay, health class was useful after all. No tearing, no air pockets, and concentrating on that is basically the only thing keeping him from coming right now. "I--"

Lex rolls up in an agile flex and Clark forgets to breathe, remembering how Lex did this to him, and then his cock is pushing right--there. There, and it's instinct, and it's easy, Lex was right, usually is, so easy to push inside, tight and incredibly, impossibly hot, slick, and Lex groans, low and steady and wonderful and okay, Lex likes it.

There is no way he's going to last long at all, and he stares down at Lex, unable to look away as he's--all the way inside, perfect, like this is what he's born to do, don't think like that, have to just--just a little--

"Lex?" he whispers. Closed blue eyes, parted lips, and fast breathing, like Lex is on the edge of hyperventilation, but Lex lets out a shivering breath, opening his eyes. Oh God.

"Yeah." Soft brush of fingers across his face. "Fuck me."

It's--God, like something he wouldn't have even believed in a fantasy, wonderful, Lex murmuring encouragement and every word sounds dirty and dark and sexy, even the ones that aren't, and he's rocking into Lex, having Lex like this. Slow, even strokes that he can't help speed up, following whatever rhythm his brain has short circuited into requiring, and he's groaning desperately, low sounds that would be embarrassing if they didn't make Lex stare at him like that, if every thrust didn't make Lex shudder and want more and more, Lex's legs around his waist, heels digging into his back and it's unstoppable, couldn't resist this if he could ever even want to.

Orgasm is so fast it shocks him, and he feels it everywhere, every nerve, shuddering, twisting, sweating, moaning and Lex's body shudders under him. Little shocks skimming over his skin like electricity and his mouth is buried in Lex's shoulder. He hopes he's only imagining the taste of blood.

It's an eternal few seconds or days before he can move, rolling lethargically into the mattress--condom discarded, check, Lex alive and looking well, check, Lex very, very hard, and long finger wrapped around that cock and Clark reaches out, twining his fingers around Lex's, speeding up the rhythm so Lex moans.

"That--"

"Good," Lex whispers, and his voice is breathless, dark, raw. Clark watches their fingers move, then pushes both aside. Licks his lips, he wants to try this, and then licks the head. Lex jerks. "Clark, you don't have to--" But wanting it, Clark can hear it in his voice, and it makes him smile a little before bracing a hand around the base and sucking the head into his mouth.

And maybe he did do pretty well, because Lex is scratching into the sheets, his shoulder, and Clark barely gets time to get used to the stretched feel of his mouth, the foreign, fascinating tastes, the heaviness before Lex is coming in his mouth. A little shocking, a lot cool, and Clark knows this at least, swallowing fast, and Lex tastes good everywhere.

"Fuck," Lex whispers, and Clark grins, pulling away with another lick and laying his head against Lex's stomach, and Lex's fingers are in his hair again, familiar petting that he's probably going to want daily for the rest of his life.

"Okay?" He can't help feeling really good. A vicious twist to his hair and he grins, wrapping an arm around Lex's waist and shutting his eyes.

"Very good," Lex murmurs, and Clark lets Lex pull him up, climbing the bed enough to drop on the pillow, get a kiss that takes his breath, gentle stroke of his face. "Get some rest."

Clark opens his eyes and looks at Lex, only a breath away, taking in the bone-deep satiation written into every line of his face, the contented little smile lingering on his lips. Breathtaking. "So, where's my poetry?"


Lex's hand on his shoulder pulls him up from sleep, and Clark reaches out across the expanse of solid night, trying to catch fingers that draw back far too quickly.

"Lex?" Sitting up, he's aware it's still full night, but there's no glow of a digital clock anywhere near this bed. His eyes adjust fast, always do, taking in the grey-dark blobs of furniture filling the room.

"Time to go," Lex says slowly, and the dim light from the cracked bathroom door lets Clark see he's dressed. Jeans and a pale lavender shirt that Clark doesn't recognize, purple shadows smeared dark under his eyes like a child's finger-paints, mouth set in a tight line that Clark can't read. Ten thousand times less approachable than even the Lex that had worried him the night before, and Clark runs his fingers through his hair, glancing at the window to confirm it's still full night.

Lex isn't--anything like uncomfortable, standing beside the bed with casual patience, like there's all the time in the world for Clark to move, but the thrumming energy is back, almost vibrating in the quiet air, and Clark thinks that maybe, just maybe, they're coming to that time for questions. All questions. Any questions.

"Let me get dressed," he answers, sliding his feet onto the cool floor, finding the bag on the foot of the bed. Jeans, t-shirt, and he can feel Lex's gaze on him as he ties his shoes, familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. As he picks up the bag, Lex's hand closes over his wrist, less confining than--wondering? Maybe.

"You're not asking." It's not even a question. Clark breathes in, cool air from the expensive air conditioning chilling his lungs if not his thoughts, but the look on Lex's face is enough.

The phone in the room rings, startling them both, but Clark doesn't look at it. "Can I drive?" The smirk almost feels real when it curves his mouth.

There's a second where Clark thinks Lex didn't understand him--a single, sharp blink, and Lex turns for the door, but then he's being pulled along, shift of fingers into his tightly, hard enough to hurt if he were human, but he's not, so he only squeezes back. Lex, who kisses him in the elevator, quick and soft and light, laced with cognac from the bar in their room, and Clark closes his eyes.

There's a garage--he'd sort of suspected as much, vast and underground, but Lex seems to know what they're looking for, and it's not the Aston. Sleek red Porsche, gleaming like new in the fluorescent garage lights, hood down and Lex pushes a button on the keychain before tossing the keys to Clark.

"West," Lex says as he slides over the door, bag in the backseat, and Clark decides that the over the door thing could work. He hears Lex's laugh as he manages to get into the seat with minimal fuss, noting that it was already set for his height, and gives a glance to Lex before turning the key.

"What's west?" Clark asks, and Lex grins--the smudges are gone as if they were never there, and Clark's feeling the current of energy like Lex's skin is feeding it to him when he kisses him. Bright, sweet, perfect in the hot, stuffy darkness and this, Clark thinks, could be freedom.

Dark blue eyes and a smile like the morning that's still hours away, and Clark catches his breath.

"Have you ever seen the ocean?"


Lex shines.

It's something he's always caught in the peripheral of his vision, like the sudden brilliance of a lighthouse in the movies during stormy nights--all muddy confusion of humid-heavy air and greyness and foreboding, suddenly cut through with something bright, white, and brilliant. Like Lex, like his smiles, like the moments when Lex forgets his last name and for brief seconds there's nothing but that.

Like now, like five days of seeing everything that Lex could have been, everything he is, and it's. Breathtaking.

"You can swim, right?"

Their junk food supply's restocked in a little suburb grocery store while Clark gets gas, and Lex is back on a strange quasi-sugar high with sleep deprivation thrown in for kicks--almost vibrating with repressed movement, and every gesture is expansive and wide, like the entire world is his playground. That may not be far from wrong, either.

"I can swim okay." Clark thinks about the few lessons he's had. "I mean, I got the standard stuff when I was a kid and all."

"Ah." Nothing else, while Lex sorts a box of cinnamon rolls like he's dealing cards, and counting them, too.

"'Ah' what?"

Lex shrugs when he finds one he likes, offering a piece to Clark. "Just curious." Shift of the entire long body and Clark glances over to catch the first stray edges of gold spray across the car and Lex from rising dawn. The night's been hot as hell, but neither of them thought to raise the top and turn on the air conditioning, and sweat's standing out on them both, soaking into their shirts, pungent and sharp and edging into Clark's hair.

"I'm supposed to believe that?" Really good breakfast--his mom would be horrified. "You're hogging the cinnamon rolls."

"God, you're spoiled." Another bite, and Clark nips Lex's fingers before taking it, grinning around warm pastry and changing lanes. The Porsche is even smoother than the Aston, and Clark's beginning to really get the appeal of expensive sports cars. "So you've never seen the ocean?"

"Nope. Not exactly a big saltwater area, Kansas." He's seen the movies and the TV shows and the surfing thing that looks really cool until someone wipes out. Visions of rising water and burning eyes and rich, beautiful wet blue waves, and it makes Clark smile a little. "How close are we? Yes, Lex, I'm channeling my inner five-year-old."

Lex laughs, feeding him another piece of cinnamon roll before sucking sugar and cinnamon off his fingers, watching the west with a calculating look. "About five hours. We'll drive through morning if you're not too tired."

"That's fine." Though Lex looks tired, like he didn't sleep at all last night. "Why don't you sleep for awhile? You look--" Tired, worried, wired, stressed, and it's been a battle not to just throw Lex's ever-present coffee out the window and tuck him into the seat for enforced rest. "Like you need some sleep. I'll just--keep going straight for a few hours. When you feel your feet get wet, consider that my way of telling you we're there."

"Salt water and expensive cars do not mix," Lex answers, but the edge of a drawl is creeping into his voice slow and easy as he settles back into the seat. "Be a good boy and don't run over anyone, would you?"

Clark grins, watching Lex's eyes fall shut, sealing off blue with silky gold lashes, and in seconds, Clark can hear his heartbeat slow, regulate, and Clark lets himself lean back into the seat and just drive.

It's been five days, it's Wednesday morning, and it would probably, maybe, be a good idea to at least call his parents, leave a message to tell them he's okay. A little late now, he thinks, watching gold and pink splash the road as the sun rises behind him. Dad's up, and Clark knows he's not up to hearing his dad's voice with that unique combination of fear and outright fury. Chloe's probably worried sick, Pete, too, and Lana--friends, family, and this isn't the first time he's looked for the guilt that should be edging into his mind. Just a little for disappointing so many people, worrying them, frightening them, and God, school--he's not even going to think about that right now.

But--no guilt. There's this car and Lex and miles and miles of perfect highway during the hottest day in May ever and it's--good.

Lex is fully asleep in seconds, curling into the seat, frighteningly vulnerable in some way Clark can't quite put his finger on. But--maybe it's the lack of stress that makes his mouth curve like that even at rest, the boneless sprawl of his body, the way he makes life feel--less like an obligation. Like it's okay, just this once, to skip out, tell the world to fuck itself, say, okay, I need this and I'm going to just do it.

But.

There's a tiny convenience store just on the side of the road--impulse, turning in and finding a shady corner, and Clark carefully leans over, opening the glove compartment to find the change inside. Pocketing a few dollars worth, he slides out and holds the keys tightly between sweaty fingers.

Chloe's number is easy to remember--she has a private line in her room, so no fear of getting Gabe or Chloe's mom. A few long rings and then Chloe's voice, thick with sleep.

"'Ello?"

"Chloe? Hey, it's--"

"Clark!" He can almost see her sit up, probably kicking whatever blankets survived the night onto the floor, groping for her balance and--yeah, she just knocked a pillow on the floor. Covering his mouth, Clark tries not to giggle at the sound of growled profanity. "Clark, where are you? Are you okay? Your parents are worried, they've been calling everywhere--Lionel Luthor is in town--"

"Lionel?" Clark straightens, looking at the car. Lex is blissfully unaware of anything, and there's a temptation in the back of Clark's mind to ask--what do you know, what have you read, what have you seen, Chloe. I want to know. "I'm fine, everything's fine. Just--taking a road trip."

"A road trip?" Her voice almost squeaks and Clark sighs, worried that Gabe will hear his daughter's hysteria and come to investigate. "Clark, this isn't a joke. You have no idea--"

"Chloe, stop." Twisting his fingers in the cord, Clark takes a deep breath, hears Chloe gathering her army, ready for battle. "Just--tell my parents I'm fine, we're both fine. Okay? I gotta go."

"No." There's an edge of hysteria that makes Clark pause. "Clark, listen to me. Look, everyone's worried about you. Just--tell me that this isn't--you know, like--"

"You think Lex kidnapped me?" It's sort of funny, come to think--Clark can't help the grin, tilting his head against the hot metal of the phone booth and struggling not to laugh. "No, Chloe, I'm great, okay? I really gotta go now--don't have that much change. I-" Miss you? Yeah, but not really. "Have fun at school."

"Bastard." Edged but not afraid and Clark chuckles. "Live it up, farmboy. You're going to be grounded for the next decade for this."

"Only until I go to college."

"Won't your life be fun 'til then?" There's a pause, then Chloe's voice comes again, clearer and softer. "You're okay? Promise?"

Clark pauses, eyes drawn back to the car. They're going to have to get the hood up--Lex is going to burn under direct summer sunlight.

"Great, Chloe. Promise. Tell my parents I'm fine. I'll see you later." Hanging up the phone, Clark crosses cracked asphalt, finding the button that controls the hood of the car. It's brief work to get it fastened correctly, and Clark gets back in, breathing a little at the sudden stuffiness after a night of free air, then turns on the car, cracking the windows as he flicks the air conditioning on. Porsches are great--unlike the usual period of time of hot air that most cars seem to go through, the cool starts immediately and Clark could swear Lex relaxes further, making an unclassifiable sound that Clark tucks into the back of his memory for later grinning. Putting the car into reverse, he pulls out onto the highway.


Even Clark can get really tired. Really really tired, and it's like Lex has some sort of extra-Clark perception (and considering the suspicious number of times that Lex has been on hand when he's stressed, he's not discounting that as a possibility). Blue eyes flicker open less than an hour from noon.

"Tired?" Lex yawns, stretching as much as possible in the confines of a bucket seat, which turns out to be quite a lot more than Clark would have guessed. It's a physical effort to get his gaze back on the road.

"I'm good." Lying, and he's on his last cup of coffee. Lex grins, searching with sleep-lethargic movements for a bottle of water, shivering a little before he reaches to turn the dial on the air conditioner down and taking a drink.

"You're the worst liar in history," Lex answers with an inflection that makes Clark stiffen involuntarily. "Find us someplace to crash." Lex looks lazily through the window. "There."

The first look is so uninspiring that Clark does a double take even as he pulls into the cracked parking lot, finding what could be the only tree for miles to slide underneath. "You're joking."

"Not joking." Lighter drawl--Lex is still tired. "Ambiance. Mmm. Something."

"Right." Clark snorts and leans into the seat briefly before opening the glove compartment again. "They rent these things out by the hour, you know."

Lex gives him a little smirk.

"Mr. Kent, I could either be impressed by your experience or appalled by the fact that you know things like that."

"You're such a bastard."

"Not according to my birth certificate." Lex's eyes close briefly before he sighs. "All right. I'll get a room, you--sit here. Look pretty."

"Sweat through this expensive leather."

"I'll have the car detailed when I stop liking the idea of that," Lex answers as Clark hands him his wallet, opening the door. "Get the bag and remember to set the alarm. Porsches are a little too pretty to be left to their own devices."

It doesn't take long--and the room is just as bad as Clark had thought, and worse, because the window unit air conditioning was at an all-time low of actual cooling. Staring around the tiny, dingy, hot room, he barely notices Lex's snickering as he closes and locks the door.

"Clark?"

"Lex, I can't believe you want to stay here. God knows what that bed was last used for."

Lex snickers again and there's the unmistakable groan of old springs and Lex bounces like a kid. Turning around from his contemplation of a bathroom that he's going to be very careful not to think about too much, Clark sees the wide grin and narrows his eyes as Lex bounces again.

"Be nice."

"That bed is going to break."

"The bed will break if we enjoy using it, a very different thing." With an absent stretch, Lex begins unbuttoning his shirt and Clark sighs, gingerly sitting down beside him and pulling off his t-shirt. Warm, damp material, and still, oh God, it's hot. He's baking.

"This room is going to be an oven by two," Clark comments as he gets his shoes. "We're--where are we anyway? It's gotten hotter."

"Pacific coast," Lex answers, eyes closed, and Clark reaches for Lex, moving his slow fingers from the last few buttons. Damp skin revealed with every movement, and Clark takes a breath, letting it out slowly as he pulls it off Lex, forcing his fingers to keep from lingering. "And yes, it's going to be hot, but the nice thing about living so many places is that I can sleep anywhere."

"So glad you're thinking of my comfort."

Lex's eyes slit open, glinting with amusement. "I can tire you out if you need it."

Clark kisses him, tasting salt and sleep and maybe amusement has a taste too, because it's on his tongue. Soft welcome heat that he can lose himself in, and he's in Lex's lap without quite being aware how it happened. The slow, languorous kiss continues forever, and Lex's fingers thread gently through his hair, rubbing the wet hairline with his thumbs and sucking on Clark's tongue.

And arousal's good, arousal's great, but the slow burn of exhaustion below just--Clark pulls away reluctantly and Lex grins up at him, red lips and banked heat behind his eyes. "You sure?"

"Tease." Clark grinds down just to watch the blue eyes dilate, then slides off, looking at the uninspiring brown comforter and then slowly climbing to the flat pillows, dropping on one. Even the blankets are hot. Peeling off his jeans, he wishes a little vainly for a fan. Or something.

"Yeah, like I haven't heard that before." He feels Lex crawl up beside him, collapsing in a bundle of half-naked skin, and his jeans hit the floor second later. Mostly naked skin now. And a lot of it. Clark breathes out and reconsiders how tired he is. "Come here."

Clark doesn't even think of the uncomfortably hot press of two bodies together, how it'll be hellish in this room by midday, shifting close enough to touch, close enough to brush his lips over a damp bare shoulder before settling in, Lex's fingers sliding through his hair.

"We're going to wake up cooked," Clark mumbles against Lex's arm and he hears a low chuckle.

"Whiny brat."

"Shut up, Lex."


It's a fucking oven.

Clark slowly forces himself upright, feeling the suction pull of skin from skin, and he's never felt this hot in his life. Nothing like a Kansas high summer--the humidity alone is enough to make him wonder if breathing could be a dangerous occupation in itself, and it's a few seconds before he can relax again. The arrow of sunlight cutting through the cracked blinds says late afternoon, and Clark falls back on the sweat-soaked bed, feeling Lex stir beside him, rolling into his side, bare leg brushing Clark's.

"Afternoon," Clark murmurs, and Lex makes a low, unhappy sound. "Lex. We have to find--I don't know, a polar ice cap or something. Come on."

"Don't want to." A long bare arm drapes itself across Clark's chest, fingers dangling on the rough material of the comforter. Sweat makes Lex slick to the touch, and Clark slides his hand over him, sticky and smooth, Lex's breath hot and soft on his neck.

"Lex...."

"Not until dark. Trust me--I don't do well on beaches during the hottest part of the day. Unless you want to be dealing with a large quantity of aloe vera and absolutely nothing resembling sex for the next week."

Clark mulls this for a few long seconds, absently stroking. The oven-like heat's diminishing from his consciousness with every touch, and he doesn't know how he can possibly ever think about moving. Think about anything, really, but Chloe's words are in his head, and Lionel....

Lionel Luthor is in Smallville, and there's no good reason for Lex's father to be slumming the farm territories. None at all.

"Lex, why's your dad in Smallville?" It slips out and Clark stiffens with no clear idea how it happened.

The tension's so brief it might as well have never existed at all--flash of muscles going stone, weight, then Lex pushes himself up on one arm, glancing at the window with a narrow-eyed look that seems almost as if--he's looking for something. When Lex looks back, there's nothing to read. "Do you want answers now?"

Yes. Maybe.

"Do I need to ask?"

It's another second of silence, and the room's temperature seems to plunge, sweat drying cold on the back of his neck, and he's tempted to pull away like Lex is, but--no. He won't. He lies there and doesn't move, barely breathes, watching Lex watch him.

There may have never been a possibility of Lex saying no. No, don't ask, no, I won't tell, no, not now, no, not ever, but--there might have been another danger entirely, and Clark's only aware of it when Lex slides lithely off the mattress, padding to the bag at the foot of the bed. Sitting down, he unzips, removing clothing and shoes and socks, insanely neat pile building on the floor at his feet, before coming up with the newspaper Clark had seen days before on their bed.

Turning, Lex cocks his head.

"LexCorp stock went through the roof eight days ago," Lex says slowly, as if he's measuring the words out in precise increments, as if every one of them is important. A flickering gaze down, then Lex tosses the paper to the center of the bed, and Clark slowly sits up, reaching to unfold it. One look at Lex and his hands still.

"Tell me."

"It's in there." Pulling up a knee, Lex simply watches, head tilted. Like there's nothing more important going on than kid's gossip, but they *aren't* kids, not anymore, not after this. And Lex, just maybe, has never been a kid at all. Taking a breath, Clark flips the page and the headlines tell him everything.

"Lex." A sucked-in breath, let out in shock. Like exhilaration. And like pain. "You--." LuthorCorp and LexCorp and the war Lex so rarely discussed, and here--it is.

Over. All of it.

"The words 'hostile takeover' came up in conversation with Gabe," Lex answers slowly, and Clark sees long fingers close into a fist, nails biting deep into his palm. "With my attorneys, too, who were, I think, drawing up the contracts when I left Metropolis."

"Friday," Clark breathes, and flips the paper shut. A thousand images chase themselves across Clark's mind, but one he's never seen stays. Lex in his Metropolitan office surrounded by lawyers and account books and phone calls from power brokers, maybe. Lex saying--I need coffee. I need air. I need to find something. A three hour drive to Smallville, falling asleep in Clark's yard waiting for him to get home from school. A five day hooky from life. "You found out Friday."

"I found out Thursday night," Lex corrects, and leans back on one arm, studying the far wall with concentrated energy. "I--couldn't keep it out of the papers or off the news for more than twenty-four hours at best." Lex shrugs. "It's been all over the news. Everywhere." A little laugh that's either genuinely amused or Lex is an even better actor than Clark thought, and he knows how well Lex can lie. "By now, you're in there, too."

Clark shivers, pushing the paper aside. God, Dad must be a nervous wreck. Or destroying something. Neither sounds very promising. "Don't care."

"You will when we go back." Lex pauses, eyes flicking down to the paper. "Do you know what this means?"

Yes. No. Maybe.

"That you'll be offering me Ferraris and small countries for saving your life from now on?" He can see the surprise slide across Lex's face as obviously as the words on that newspaper, just as meaningful, and a hell of a lot more interesting. Grinning, Clark sits back. "Lex, I--are you leaving Smallville?"

It's a very sudden realization to have. Lex leaving Smallville.

"I can't handle LuthorCorp and LexCorp out of Smallville," Lex answers, but not as if it's important. "Even with just LexCorp, it's been difficult. I--thought about it. What I'd do. When I walked into LuthorCorp as the new owner. The first time."

"When does it go through?"

Lex smiles, slow and easy, then reaches into the bag, tossing his watch on the bed.

"In ten hours, the papers have to be signed or I will have lost my window of opportunity. Or so Ellis is probably yelling at the ceiling of my office right now." Lex pauses in thought. "Or call Ellis and give him the power to sign in my name. Either would do in this case." Lex's grin widens. "If they're not contemplating forging my signature, I'll be very surprised."

It takes a second to penetrate, or maybe it's been there all along, and Clark watches Lex remove the cell phone, dropping it on the bed. With fingers that are far too steady, Clark picks it up, turning it on and the three digit number of voice messages is-- "God." His thumb presses it off instantly.

"Ellis is making a suicide pact right this second, waiting for me to call," Lex answers, stretching out on his back. Long, lean, bare line of torso that really, at this second, shouldn't be a distraction. But it still is. Tiny beads of sweat, light catching on slick dampness, and Clark's breath catches. "My father is in Smallville looking for a way to blackmail me into no action. And I gave him a way."

Oh.

"I'm not underage anymore."

"I'm relatively sure that isn't the part he thinks I'd want to keep hidden," Lex answers indulgently, rolling gracefully on his side, tucking an arm under his head. This is--not what Clark would have expected. Lex is never this laissez faire about anything regarding business. Never lets his personal life interfere. This is--not Lex.

Or is Lex, actually, and Clark realizes his breath's been held for the other one, the businessman, to slide out, slick and smooth and charming, the one who makes these kinds of deals and likes them, the one that thrives on competition, the one that--would never, ever even dream of doing this. Ever. Five-day run across the country with his best friend with two companies waiting for one signature.

"You don't want LuthorCorp," Clark says flatly, but that can't be true. He knows that's wrong instinctively, and staring at Lex as he folds the paper neatly back together and throws it off the bed, he has no idea what to say. What to even think.

"Oh, I want LuthorCorp." Lex is smoothing the blanket of a single wrinkle that somehow appeared on its surface. When he looks up, the blue eyes are dark and filled with something that Clark doesn't know quite how to define. Hunger like something insatiable. A decade, God, over a decade of want, the kind that never burns out. "I can taste it. I can see it. I can feel it all under my hands and see my name on the top of the Fortune 500 and Wall Street will whore itself to me like a crack addict for a fix. You have no idea, Clark." There's a little pause, almost indiscernible from the normal lull of conversation. "And I don't want you to."

It takes a long second to sink in, and Clark's mouth goes dry, and he likes shock, loves it because it keeps the pain at bay, held somewhere distant. His hands close over the comforter without even thinking and he hears the tear of material between his fingers, through comforter and sheet, no way on earth to hide that. Lex's eyes fix briefly before flickering back up, one eyebrow raised with mute query and quiet amusement.

"I have one more secret." Lex drops the words between them with careless ease, and slides onto his back, arms folding neatly behind his head. "I'll trade you for it."

"What?" The word sounds strangled, almost forced between teeth that want to clench together, a body already wanting to be anywhere else but here. It's--Lex, and he's playing. Like this.

"A secret for a secret. Tell me you'll answer the next question I ask you honestly, and I'll tell you."

There are too many thoughts churning in Clark's head. Hurt's winning, the hurt that wants to get him to his feet, find his jeans and shoes, out the door to a phone wherever the fuck there is one, call his parents and tell them to come get him. It didn't mean anything at all to Lex, a fling with the teenage obsession before he moves back to his real life, one last fantasy before he grows up, and Clark doesn't know what to say.

His father's voice in his head is awake again, slumbering while Clark coasted in his own fantasy, and it says secrets. No. Never. Not to Lex, not ever. Not this. Nothing about Lex speaks against it, loose lounge on the bed like this is nothing at all.

"Lex--"

"I want everything," Lex says in a low, thoughtful voice. "Always have. Every Luthor does. It comes with the bloodline. It's--hard to explain, Clark." No, it's not. Clark knows all about wanting everything.

"No one can have everything," Clark answers, feeling a raw catch in the back of his throat.

"I've always been an overachiever," Lex says, then his head turns. It's an accident of the light from the window that spills onto the bed now, angling liquid gold between them, and it seems to pool in Lex's eyes, lifting the darkness into something far different. Something that makes Clark stop thinking, stop breathing, maybe, and Lex grins and is on his hands and knees, gracefully crawling up the bed. "I don't settle for anything less."

So close now that Clark catches the scent of sweat and faded cologne like a ghost of the man who ran LexCorp, a different creature entirely from the stalking predator in blue boxers, but not different at all.

I need coffee, Lex had maybe said when he walked out on his lawyers, on Gabe, on his world. I need to do something, see something, get air, savor my triumph, I won. I need to take a walk, take a moment, take a breath. I need--

"Ask," Clark whispers, and Lex is in his lap, limber boneless grace and slick skin against slick skin.

--need to take a drive, a long drive, and what the hell, stop in my best friend's yard and wait for him to come home.

"Come with me."

There's a second before big storms, on those impossibly hot days with no wind, when everything goes still. Dust falls back to earth, every tree lifts from it's half-bend of heat, and the world waits for the first drop of rain to fall. It's the fresh smell of ozone that's sharp and the second of realization that something is about to happen. Is happening.

Like...this.

"What?"

Lex leans into him, pushing him back against the headboard, and it's unforgettable, the smirk, the amusement, and God, the energy, like Lex is burning ozone out of the air. And to think he's always loved storms and never knew why.

"Metropolis. Smallville. I don't care." There's a pause like Lex is thinking through some particularly complex equation, the look he gets in his lab when the chemicals are just a percentage point off what they should be and he's not quite sure how that happened. "Wherever. Doesn't matter."

It's--not what he expected, and Clark pulls back, knows it's a mistake the second he does it, but he needs the space. To think. To wonder. To breathe again, but God, Lex--nothing changes except the instant shut-down, the second that light just behind his eyes going dark, and Clark never wants to see that again. Ever.

"You brought me to the Pacific to ask me....?" Entirely too big for Clark to wrap his mind around.

Little shrug that says absolutely nothing, and Lex's body might be here, but he's pulled up behind his eyes so far Clark hurts for him.

"Why?" Clark stumbles over the word, trying to pull something together out of the blind shock. "I mean--why like this? Why now?"

There's a pause, and Lex pulls back more, Clark can see it happening, has to reach out, touch, get this. Soft bare skin that almost flinches but doesn't, because Clark's had five days to condition Lex to accept it from him. He can't help how his fingers linger just a little, tiny movements over cool slickness, and Lex doesn't pull away.

"Why not when you were sixteen and it would have not only been illegal, but gotten both our fathers involved? Not when you were seventeen and I had no idea what the fuck my future was going to be? Or why not what? It's a simple question, and I need a simple answer. Yes or no."

"Lex--"

"What would it take?" And only Lex would handle a relationship like a negotiation. Like this is something that has to be thrashed out in a series of arguments pro and con, to come to a reasonable conclusion. He can see Lex reaching for his mental arguments already, advantages and disadvantages, and it shouldn't be this easy to have an answer and not give it.

"You--don't know everything." And isn't that an understatement from hell.

"You can tell me when you're ready. I'll tell you whatever you want to know." Clark can see the little mental point being marked off. Lex--is serious. God, Lex is serious. And maybe only now it's sinking in, and maybe it really should have days ago. "You need time to think it over?"

Yes. Not really. There's this--God, this hugeness to the moment, like something out of a chick flick or maybe a romance novel, and Clark wonders if Lex will ever be able to surprise him again.

"Get dressed." And like that, Lex slides off his lap, finding the floor in an easy stretch, heading for the clothes on the floor. Dressing fast and easy, and Clark belatedly follows, but it's hard to look away from Lex even to dress, as he packs away the phone and looks up, watching Clark put on his shoes and socks with an amusement Clark classified years ago as defensive, and he had never wanted to be the reason Lex looked like that.

They emerge into a bright, hot day, and Clark gets into the passenger seat and tries to think.

The worn piece of paper Clark saw days before is folded open between them, an address scrawled across in a woman's faded cursive script.


"Whoa."

"I'll tell you about the time I went surfing when the memory is less traumatizing," Lex answers as he opens the door and steps out from the cool leather interior of the car, hitting Clark with the feel of blank heat and the smells of salt and water and sand.

Huge. Massively blue, wide, high waves crashing blue-white into pearlescent sand, and it's just like the movies, but better, because no movie on earth could think up someone like Lex to add as a companion. Pushing his door open, Clark shivers at the first rush of hot, humid air, sweat beading on the back of his neck.

"This isn't a public beach," Clark answers, taking in the almost manicured greenery behind them, the sheer lack of people of any kind in any direction. The sand shifts unevenly under his feet, and it's a matter of balance to keep upright. Lex acts like he's walking on a perfectly rational flat floor, but then, Clark's beginning to suspect that with sufficient motivation, Lex could walk on water.

It honestly wouldn't surprise him.

"Luthor. Public beach. Think about that one for a second." Nothing but amusement, and Lex kicks the sand lightly, watching it catch in the wind. "No. This one is mine."

"Yeah, forgot about that." Huge. Huge. The only word that seems to be anywhere in his active vocabulary. "I can't imagine you surfing."

"That was the general agreement on the subject," Lex answers a little absently. "Including the ocean, apparently. There's footage, if you're interested."

"Good blackmail material."

Lex flashes him a bright smile. "I have the only copy."

Fair enough. Lex's hands slide neatly into the pockets of loose jeans, and Clark stops a few feet from the water, watching it lap at the sand hungrily. He sits down when Lex does, pulling off socks and shoes, letting his toes dig into the warm, wet sand.

"Why did you walk out on the takeover?" Clark asks the sand, carefully not looking at Lex, and he can feel the tension turn up a notch before dissipating.

"I needed to think." Lex draws his legs up, studying the sand as carefully as he's studied stock reports. His shoulder brushes Clark like a little shock of static electricity, fading and gone before he's even adjusted to the echoes of it. "Consider. Adjust."

"Decide?" It slides off the tip of his tongue, and Lex turns his head, looking at him with solemn attention, like an instructor surprised by a particularly bright pupil.

"Should I need to?"

Maybe. It's not like Clark doesn't know how ambitious Lex is, doesn't know Lex in ways that have absolutely nothing to do with sex or friendship. And there is no possible reason that Lex would walk out on the most important moment of his life except one.

"You're not going to do it, are you?" It's deceptively simple, and Clark lets his arm brush Lex's, just lightly, nothing to it, and the wide blue eyes meet his without a trace of anything but pure knowledge.

"It looks less likely than it did a week ago," Lex answers meditatively. "Clark--"

"Just--tell me why." Another pause, longer. "Lex, we just drove halfway across the country. You're running away from your life. I just--want to know why."

"Why did you?" Lex asks, and okay, that's a good question. Clark drops his gaze back to the sand, surprised when warm fingers trace across his jaw, gently, insistent pressure that tilts his head enough for their eyes to meet. "Clark, you came halfway across the country with me and never asked a question. I'd like to know why, too."

With a little sigh, Clark kicks at the sand.

"Is this being grown-up?" Sucks. Except it doesn't.

"I'll get you a dog." Lex is grinning a little crazily, like he's thinking of taking up dangerous hobbies like skydiving and shark-baiting. "I'll plant corn for you in the garden. Perhaps buy a decorative John Deere for the backyard."

"You--" The words cut off when Lex kisses him. Sweet, hard, wet, and it's salty and crisp, like the wind that tries to dry the sweat on his skin, and Clark doesn't think he'll ever forget this second, clear and perfect. Smooth fingers sliding through his hair and he can't imagine not having this, can't imagine a time when he could live without it. Lex pulls back and Clark breathes, holding the taste in his mouth. "You know it's a few weeks until I graduate. If they even let me after this."

"I'll pay your teachers off."

"I'm probably grounded until I start college." He's not going to think about his parents' reaction to this. Just--not going to.

"Gives you time to get used to the idea."

Lex seems a hell of a lot more confident now, and Clark frowns a little, wondering. "I didn't say yes."

"It's interesting about decisions," Lex answers meditatively, flicking sand up in the air, and Clark squeezes his eyes shut briefly to avoid getting it in his eyes. "They're usually made very fast. The time between making it and accepting it is the variable. The time it takes to rationalize it to yourself." When Clark opens his eyes, Lex is watching the water again, and Clark can see the ocean reflected in the dark blue. "Five minutes, five hours, or five days, it doesn't matter."

Clark breathes out a sigh. Five minutes, five days to find out more than either of them knew in years. Go figure. "So what's your reason?"

Lex grins, bright and brilliant, blocking out the brightness of the sun, the glare of the light off the ocean. The doubtless ten thousand reasons this shouldn't be so damn easy.

"I'll build my own empire," Lex answers softly, and Clark draws his knees up, leaning into Lex with a deep breath of salty air, shutting his eyes. A gentle hand brushes the hair off his forehead. "What's yours?"

Clark grins blindly into the sky, settling more comfortably into the sand. "I don't need one."

the end


Cited Poetry and Prose:

Adrienne Rich, Twenty One Love Poems
Edgar Allen Poe, To Helen
Machiavelli, The Prince
J Campbell, Freedom and Love



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