The Big Black and White Game

by zahra

For Ali. Many thanks to Andy and Wendi. Happy Birthday Criss.

Lex once threw a chessboard out the window, and the gardener ended up with a concussion. He doesn't do things like that anymore. He's become much better at controlling his emotions during chess, and his preparations start the moment he sits down.

It's important for Lex to sit in just the right chair - the red leather one without arms - with just the right amount of light - natural as opposed to electric. When Lex sits down in front of a chessboard, he considers it a meditative experience.

A learning experience.

The chessboard has to be above his hips so that he doesn't strain his back or his shoulders, and Lex prefers for it to be quiet. He's found that the staff are too spooked by the war room to actually come in, unless it's to dust, so he generally sets up the board there.

There's a lot to be said for learning something by rote, by turning it into instinct.

To Lex, supreme knowledge lies in learning from repetition, in learning from one's mistakes. Lex has made mistakes, and some of them have nothing to do with his father. Some have nothing to do with drugs. The ones that remain outside those parameters are few, but they're still there, and Lex has learned from them.

He'll be the first to admit when he's fucked up, when he should know better. However, not all lessons can be taught in the boardroom or learned in the backroom of a club. There are still a few lessons that don't require blood sports or trips to the police station, and Lex sees playing chess as another way for him to learn those lessons. To learn from his mistakes. It's a method for Lex to study his own madness, his own thought processes and faults.

Chess repeats just like history, just like Lex.

The game itself teaches the importance of repetition as much as it does the art of planning ahead. Of thinking things through. Only sometimes Lex doesn't think things through as much as he should, and that's why it took him so long to beat his father at chess. That's why his mother taught him checkers with his first chessboard -- she said he would learn enough battle strategies in time.

So while it's true that Lex's 'great foresight' led him to Hong Kong to celebrate his first win over his father, it also saw him locked out when he returned home. But even that couldn't deter his sense of fulfillment.

Winning is still winning, and chess has taught Lex a lot about life. About how to approach his problems. He just doesn't always listen. Although in his defense, it's a bit hard to listen to rational thought when the shadow of Clark Kent is towering over Lex's chessboard and blocking out the light.

It doesn't necessarily explain his other losses, but Lex isn't really thinking about those. He is thinking, however, about how nice it is to get all his favorite things in one place, he doubts anyone else has ever been this content in a war room.

"I know you're there, Clark. I'm just thinking about something. Feel free to have a seat." Not that Lex actually needs to invite Clark to make himself at home; Clark seems more than able to do that himself these days. The idea that Clark is that comfortable around him gives Lex a warm feeling, but also causes something that could be called anxiety, if only because it's too late in the afternoon for it to be indigestion.

"Have you been playing with yourself again, Lex?"

Well, in a certain manner of speaking, Lex never actually stopped. He doesn't think that that's what Clark is referring to, but he has to glance up and check because there's something about the tone of Clark's voice that makes Lex wonder.

The grin on Clark's face doesn't really help matters, except that this is Smallville and Clark wouldn't know a double entendre if Lex fixed them up on a blind date.

"I've been doing some practicing, if that's what you mean."

"But doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose?"

Lex has never heard that approach in his life. "The only way to get better is to practice, Clark." It's that Lex needs to practice, as much as practice makes him better. "We're not all child prodigies -- some of us think practice is a good thing."

Apparently it makes perfect.

"You sound like my father."

"Well, your father is a smart man." When he wants to be, and when he's not trying to incinerate Lex with his death-glare. Not that Lex can actually blame Jonathan Kent for that. Maybe he has psychic abilities or plays chess. Maybe Mr. Kent knows that Lex has taken a lot of time to show Clark how to play chess, and how the basics work.

How the concept of chess is bigger than a chessboard.

Everything is a game in and of itself, and Lex really wants to play with Clark. Especially when Clark is splayed out in the leather chair across the table from Lex, and wearing in a shirt that didn't keep up with his last growth spurt.

"I've never seen this set before. Is it new?"

"No, it's actually very old. Do you prefer the other set?"

"The one with the purple pieces?"

"That would be the one."

"Oh, I like it, it's different. All the chessboards I've ever seen have been black and white."

"'Different,' Clark? Surely, you can do better than that. The purple is supposed to be imposing, but truthfully, it just makes me think of Ancient Greece and poisoning and lots of other diversionary past times. Of course, my father always has that effect on me."

"It was a gift from your father?" Lionel doesn't give gifts; he gives lessons.

"I would've thought that the bearded king would've given that away."

"I never really noticed; I like the bald king though."

So, Clark didn't notice the mini-Lionel, but he noticed the mini-Lex. Interesting.

"I know this is going to sound kinda weird, but it reminds me of you."

"That's because it is me, Clark."

"Wait, wow. You mean that set was made to look like your family?"

"Right down to the queen, who, if you look very closely, resembles my mother quite spectacularly." Almost to the point of being slightly eerie, and when Lionel presented him with the set, Lex couldn't help but notice how both queens on the board look like his mother. All the same, Lex didn't say anything about the resemblance of one of the bishops on his father's end to Dominic.

It's just a shame how that particular piece keeps getting lost and dropped and kicked and generally flung all over the place. Juvenile, yes, but also very therapeutic, although not quite as much as when Lex tried to flush his father's king down the toilet.

"That set is more for everyday use." If only because it's a never ending game with his father, and what better reminder than the chess set Lionel gave him.

"Oh, okay. But I like this one too, though."

"I'm rather partial to it myself. It was a gift."

"I like the green pieces. They're cool looking." 'Cool looking' green pieces. Yes, Lex knows all about those. He's liquefied a kilo's worth of 'cool looking' green meteors in his lab.

"They're jade, the others are titanium."

"Titanium. Isn't that used to make rings and stuff?"

"And stuff, yes. It's also used to mix metals to make airplanes."

"Jesus, Lex, what do you do to your pieces that you use airplane parts?"

Flush them down the drain for one.

"Chess can become a very passionate game, Clark. Not everything worth doing requires brute force, Mr. Football. I was kind of hoping that all those lessons might have appeased your more Cro-Magnon tendencies."

Just not the ones that might have Clark clubbing Lex over the head and dragging him back to his loft for lots of sex. Lots of hot, sweaty, loud sex, and preferably with a metaphorical clubbing over the head. Lex can only take so many concussions per month.

"I'm not a Neanderthal, Lex."


"I never said you were, and I can see your parents have worked hard to make sure that you'll be a fine, upstanding citizen someday."

God, how boring.

"Are you making a joke?"

"About your family, no. Even I don't stoop that low, Clark." At least not with regards to *Clark's* family, his own family is an entirely different matter. Lex is all about cheap thrills, like the ones he gets from putting purple chess pieces inside the miniature city of Troy, and pretending he's burned the whole thing to the ground.

Twice, he's even done it. Marble withstands fire very well.

"I never thought -- So, who's winning?"

"I am."

"So, who are you playing?"


"You're really playing with yourself, Lex?"

"Don't sound so surprised, Clark. It's not unheard of. The thing about playing against yourself is that it forces you to be honest, to pay attention at all times."

"I was making a joke before. I didn't really think you were playing with yourself."

Clark seems awful stuck on the concept of Lex playing with himself. Maybe it's something he's thought about at length. Maybe he wants Lex to demonstrate his technique right here, right now.


"You know, I could play, if you want?"

Oh, Lex wants. Lex wants very much, but he'll settle for the chess and maybe some word games. Maybe when construction is finished on his life-sized chessboard, he'll take Clark in the basement and let him play with that too. And to think that people said Harry Potter corrupted youth. As far as Lex can tell, it's only helped him to corrupt a particular youth.

"You could play with yourself?" Oh god, this is priceless. "I really think that's your business, Clark."

"Very funny, Lex. Notice the not laughing? I meant I could play against you. You know, in a real match."

In a real match.

"Clark, this isn't the same as your wrestling shows. Do you really think you can take me?"

"I can try."

An effort is being made.

That's what Lex likes to hear -- if Clark can try, so can Lex. Lex can even try to not decimate Clark in less than five minutes. He just has to focus. Sadly, it's never as easy as it looks, but he's done it time and again. It's all about finding the right incentive, the right angle for an attack.

Theoretically, a grandmaster of chess could play in the freezing cold for a goose-down anorak as well as in the blazing sun for an umbrella, and never think twice about anything else but the game. The end result, a true chess player sees the board and nothing else. The world could collapse, the sky could fall, and someone who's in the chess zone won't notice.

Lex has had that experience once or twice.

"Are you sure you want to do this, Clark? I'm not going to go easy on you."

"I wasn't expecting you to."

"Do you remember what I said about preparing for a match?"

"It's all in my head, right? I'm not your friend; I'm your opponent. I have something you want."

Most definitely, and in the chess sense too.

"Exactly. It works both ways. Chess is a matter of brains over brawn. It comes down to knowing your opponent and how they think. Winning at chess depends on whom you're playing, when you're playing, and what exactly is at stake."

"Is there always something at stake?"

"Always. What it is, though, is up to you."

Ball in Clark's court.

"Right. So there has to be something at stake, because then what's the point in us playing besides me beating you?"


"You think you're going to beat me, Clark?"

"I'd bet on it."

"Oh, really?" Lex isn't into sucker bets, but this is too good to pass up. "Are you interested in making a wager?"

"Yeah, I mean yes. I want to play for something."

"Name your price: a cheerleader, a journalist, a truck. What will it be?"

Lex can provide it all.

"The truth."

Lex always wondered what it would be like to be suddenly incapacitated, kidnapping and the like notwithstanding. Now he thinks he knows. He can hear, but he doesn't trust his ears, and he can see, but Clark Kent is definitely not sitting across from him right now offering him the opportunity he'd kill many times over for.

Lex has obviously fallen into a coma and is under a heavy anesthetic in Metropolis General.

"You want to play for the truth?"

"Yeah, like Truth and Dare only it's Truth and Chess."

"Okay, wait. Let me just make sure we're on the same page here - you want to play for the truth. Like, you get a piece and I tell you something you want to know?"


No fucking way.

"You realize that this will work both ways?"

If that's really what Clark's saying, Lex is going in with cavalries and naval fleets. This may be his only shot at anything resembling honesty for a very long time to come.

"I understand that, Lex."

Jesus Christ. Lex is not going to break out in a cold sweat. He is going to be calm; he is Zen. Lex has learned from chess players with the dispositions of Buddhist monks. He's watched as ten year-old savants beat 60 year-old wizards.

Lex can be cool.

He'll be the first to admit that the tactics for playing speed chess in Washington Square are very different from playing against the head of your residence house. Particularly when the loser will have to drink a quart of sour milk and then spend 24 hours locked in the broom closet without a toilet.

None of those experiences are anything like this. This is like playing craps with Apollo.

"And you still want to play? Clark, are you sure about this?" Lex has to ask because suddenly, he isn't sure; he's really not sure at all.

If they go through with this game, Lex is not going to hold back. He wants that to be clear from the outset. His need to win is that strong. He's just not sure what he needs more: the truth or Clark's friendship.

"I'm sure."

"Okay, before we do this, I want you to remember something: each chess match is separate and isolated in and of itself, but they all have the same inherent properties, the same goal: checkmate. The goal here isn't about the truth, it's about the game."

"You don't want to know the truth?"

"I never said that. I just want you to know that if the game gets to be too much, we can always stop."


"Clark, I don't think you know what you're saying. We've never even played a proper match. I could run you off the board in five moves, or I could sit here and take all your pieces. I don't want that to happen."

"I'm not asking you to go easy on me, Lex. Play like you always play. How am I going to learn if I don't make mistakes? Aren't you the one who told me sometimes you have to make sacrifices to win in the end?"

Lex probably did. That sounds too much like something he'd say for Clark to be lying. Clark lying. Jesus. Is this the only way Lex is going to get the truth from him, by beating him in chess? It sounds extremely Luthorian to Lex. Maybe he is a bad influence.

"Is the titanium white?"

"No, it's purely a matter of preference."

"Okay, then can I be the green team?"

The green team. Clark and Lex are about to go head to head for god only knows what, and Clark is talking about the green team. Jesus Christ out in the cornfield, Lex can't do this.

"Clark, are you positive you want to go through with this?"

Green pawn to knight four. Okay, if that's Clark's answer, so be it.

Every opening gambit says something about the tactic that Lex plans to take with his opponent, but none of those tactics are going to apply where Clark is concerned. Playing chess with Clark is not the same as playing with his father, at least not normally. That may change for this one match.

Lex is going to have to make this into a really fast match.

Pawn to king five.

"My mom made peach pie today. She said you should come by and have some when you have a chance."

Polite conversation. Clark wants to make polite conversation? No diversionary tactics are welcome here. Not today.

"Your move, Clark."

Green pawn to rook four. Jackpot. Bishop to knight four.

"That makes one."

"Jesus, Lex."

"I warned you, Clark. Are you sure about this?"

"Yes." No wavering voice, no dickering, just a simple 'yes.' Christ, why is Lex feeling nervous all of sudden? Now that he's finally got a chance at what he wants, shouldn't he take it? Shouldn't he at least feel happy about it?

"What do you see in Lana Lang?"

Obviously not.

"Lana? Um, she's pretty, and she's nice. She's the girl next door."

That's exactly Lex's issue. She's everything that Lex isn't. Literally. And she never even takes the time to notice Clark, not unless she's in trouble. Lana doesn't see what Lex does in Clark. Sometimes Lex wishes he'd run her over on the bridge.

The bridge.

"Your move, Clark."

Green pawn to bishop three.

Ah, so Clark is paying attention.

Bishop to rook five.

"Why did you ask me about Lana, Lex?"

"Because I was curious." Because Lex really isn't sure he should ask the stuff he wants to know the answer to. God only knows what the truth will turn out to be. "I'll ignore the fact that you just asked me a question without winning a piece."

"You could've asked me that at any time, you know. It's not a big secret."

No, not like all the other secrets Clark's got. Definitely not. "I'm your friend, Clark. Sometimes I have strange questions, okay?"


Green knight to bishop three? Clark knows better than that.

Pawn to king four.

Green knight to king six.

Oh. Wait. The direct approach.

Pawn to bishop five. Maybe Lex was wrong about Clark. He certainly seems to be on the attack, except that Clark's not going for pieces, he's just going in for the kill. Like Clark just wants it over with. Like he's just looking for the endgame. There's something very wrong here. Almost as wrong as Clark putting Lex in check.

Green knight to bishop two.

"I always knew you had initiative, Clark. I just didn't realize it was that much. You almost had me there." So close to 'almost' that Lex feels a need to hurry up and take Clark's knight with his king, just to clear the proximity.

Anything that close to check, this soon, is too close. Lex may not be too sure about wanting the truth, but he at least wants it as a possibility.

"Almost, Lex, but not quite. So, what's your question?"

"You first. You're the one who almost routed me."

"What's - what's it like being bald?"

It's the sort of question that Lex would expect from a child, or from Clark. Not because it's so simple, but because of the honest way that Clark wants to know. He doesn't stare and make his own assumptions. He just asks. It's refreshing, in a way that Lex suspects is called endearing.

"It saves a lot on hair products."

"I'm being serious, Lex."

"So am I. It's been a long time since I've had hair, Clark. I've been without it longer than I had it, in a lot of ways I can't imagine having hair now."

"But, I mean -- do you wish you had hair?"

"Honestly? Not really. There are a lot of other things in the world to want besides hair. Though I'm sure that if I was really desperate, I could always get implants."

"Okay. Ew."

"My thoughts exactly."

"Your turn now."

"All right, since we're on the subject of baldness and hair, can I touch yours?" Wow. Lex doesn't think that was what he was going to say. Actually, he's almost positive of it. When Lex looks back on this match later, he's probably going to flog himself.


"Sure, I mean, if you want. Is that your question?"

"Yeah, I mean yes." Lex's voice didn't crack. It didn't, and Clark isn't leaning forward across the table to let Lex touch? grope? caress that full head of hair.

Except that Clark's ducking his head to give Lex full access, or maybe Clark just doesn't want Lex to see him laughing himself into a stupor. Only if Clark is this obliging about his hair, maybe Lex needs to ask for other things. And Lex doesn't mean to get turned on, he'll swear to it in court, but Clark trusts him this much. Lex could try to behead him or something, but Clark never even hesitated. He never said Lex was a freak or a pervert.

Clark probably doesn't even know what a kink is, and this experience is not supposed to be this erotic. Except it's Clark. And it's Clark's hair, and it's soft and thick and when Lex runs his fingers through it, he swears that Clark is moaning. Maybe he just has a crick in his neck.

Whatever it is, Lex is going to ignore it, let it slide - for the sake of all parties involved. If Clark won't say anything about Lex sniffing his hair, then Lex will be deaf to any sorts of noises that he might be making. He just prays that it's Clark sighing and not him, that would be so embarrassing, but it's Clark hair. The strands are like cool water running through his fingers, and Clark's hair smells like peaches.

Oh, fuck, Lex has to get a grip. It's not like Lex has been thinking about this that long, give or take eight months.

Right. Back to the match. Now.

"Okay?" No, not really, not with Clark giving him that sunny, could be smutty, smile. Thank god Lex is sitting down already. Thank god the table is higher than his lap, or this whole experience could turn out to be extremely awkward.

"Okay. Your move, Clark."

Green pawn to rook five. Okay, a quick grab with his bishop and... and. Is Clark baiting him? Jesus. Pawn to queen five.

Lex almost fell for it, and yet he can't help but be pleased because Clark is finally playing. Now Lex won't feel guilty for cleaning the board with him. Not that Lex feels guilt during chess anyway.

Chess isn't influenced by bank accounts and society pages. The only power in chess comes from the mind.

Being smart is nothing to feel guilty about.

"You said something earlier about your mom's peach pie?"

"You didn't seem that interested."

"Just because I don't act interested doesn't mean I'm not." That comment was purely about the pie, really. Lex has never hidden how he feels about Clark, at least not from his staff at any rate. Besides Lex will do anything to keep Clark occupied. Apparently, when Clark uses his brain, he becomes dangerous.

Lex can't have that.

Pawns, pawns and more pawns. Something has to give -- Lex hates stalemates. Oh, wait, Clark's toying with his knight. Lex wishes Clark were toying with his knight, and Christ, there's nothing quite like that juvenile humor.

Lex is not snorting.

"Are you going to let me in on the joke?"

As if. "Probably not a good idea."

"Why not?"

"It was a private matter. Maybe if you get one of my pieces I'll tell you." That's it, taunt the flannel-clad god. Why is Lex is acting like he's never read Greek mythology is his life?

"Is that a dare?"

"What do you think, Clark?" Pawn to bishop four.

Green pawn to king three. There goes that piece, but sometimes there have to be sacrifices for the greater god. Clark can't see what's coming because he's already got his question ready, but Lex can see.

Lex knows. It's all about planning ahead for the big win.

"Do you like me, Lex?" Fuck.

"Do... I? Of course, I do. What kind of question is that?" Jesus, if Lex were drinking anything, he'd be doubled up on the floor right now, choking to death.

"That's not what I'm asking, and you know it."

"Okay, then you need to be more specific." He needs to not say things like that. Lex is going to lose sight of the goal if Clark keeps throwing grenades in the middle of the chessboard.

"I mean ... I mean you look at me sometimes, and I think that you have thoughts about me." And to think that Lex used to consider himself smooth.

"I think about a lot of things, Clark."

"I mean those kinds of thoughts ... I mean do you like me in the way that I liked Lana."

Like. Liked. With a 'd' on the end? "What do you mean 'liked?' Why are you using the past tense? Are you telling me that you don't want Lana Lang anymore?" All that damn work down the drain. What the hell is Lex supposed to do with a fucking coffee shop now? He should've bought a Starbucks instead.

"I - I don't know."

"Then I don't know either."

"No, Lex, that's you ... you have to answer the question."

"I plead the fifth."

"We're not in court." No, but they could be, real soon.

"What do you want me to say?"

"I want you to say ... whatever you want to say." Lex may not be feeling like the smartest kid on the block right now, but something smells vaguely off in Denmark. It has nothing to do with the way that Clark is fidgeting with the chess pieces because that's just too phallic to be believed. It has to be something else.

Something underneath the blushes and the nervous habits.

"Do you like me, Clark? Is that what you're trying to say?"

"Yes, no. No, you have to get another piece first."

"No, you don't like me, or no, that's not what you're trying to say?" Forget the game. They can play chess anytime. This conversation is far more interesting then anything happening on the board.

"You answer my question, and I'll answer yours - when you get another piece."

That's fucked up. That's really fucked up. Who taught Clark to play mind tricks like this? Oh, right, Lex did.

"I don't think it would be prudent for me to answer your question, Clark. Not because I don't want to, but because there are other things which might complicate the matter."

"That's not an answer, Lex." No, it's not, but if Lex studies the chessboard hard enough then he can't see Clark pouting at him. That's Lex's idea of a sound strategy.

"Perhaps not, but it's the truth. Isn't that what you were after in the first place?"

"Yeah, I mean yes, but not like that. I just - never mind."

Never mind. Never mind? Goddamnit. Lex tries to do the right thing and look what happens. Fuck this noble business.

Bishop to bishop three.

"Check, Clark. Ready to answer my question now?"

"No. No, you didn't take a piece, you just. Jesus, Lex. Already?"

Every strategy has a weakness -- some just take longer to find.

The problem with trying to find Clark's weakness is that he's playing, but not really. Clark's not deliberately losing, but he's not quite trying to win either. It's like he wants Lex to beat him slowly. This can't be right. Lex must be delusional.

"Isn't this what you wanted?"

"No, no. I wanted..."

"You wanted what, Clark?"

"Your move." Move ... move. What did? Oh, Lex has Clark on the run. All right then. Bishop to rook one.

Another one bites the dust.

"Are you ready to answer my question now, Clark?" Lex has never seen anybody look this happily miserable about losing in his life. It's like not only is Clark trying to lose the game, but he's trying to control how he loses.

What the hell is happening? Actually, Lex knows exactly what's happening here, he's just not going to admit it.

"Why are you deliberately throwing this game, Clark?"

"I'm not - I thought you wanted to know how I feel about you?"

How Clark feels about Lex? As in Clark has feelings for Lex? Oh, thank fucking god Lex is sitting down. Lex doesn't shock easily, but there's always a first time.

Lex is actually exercising a lot of control right now, but he thinks his eye might start twitching or something obvious. At least he's not tapping his foot. Lex just feels really, really happy, except that he asked the wrong question.


"I thought you made it pretty clear how you felt about me, Clark. Is there something else you want to tell me?"

"You didn't ask."

This run-around thing is getting really fucking old, except that this is Clark, and Lex is feeling something akin to worry here. He wants answers; he wants all the goddamn answers, but this is Clark and ... and messing up here could cost Lex a lot more than a measly chess piece.

"You know what, Clark? I have some things to take care of for work. How about we finish this game later?"



"I - no. We finish this now."

Clark with new and improved resolve. It sounds like Lex is talking about a laundry detergent. Interesting.

"You're pushing this really hard, Clark. Why? You're answering some questions and not others, and then you deliberately bait me. Don't interrupt because you know exactly what I'm talking about. You want me to ask you, but you don't want to tell me, is that what this is?"

Silence. Well, that answers that, then.

"All right, here's a question for you. When I hit you with my car, did you bruise at all?"

More silence and more fidgeting. This is going nowhere really fast.

"I can ask you questions, I just can't ask you these type of questions, right? You should've said so in the beginning, Clark."

"I'm just - I'm trying to make things right here, between us. There are things that I can't tell you, not because I don't trust you, but just because. Because that's how it is."

"'Because that's how it is.' That's no kind of answer, Clark. I can ask you inane things about cheerleaders and your mother's peach pie, but you dance around having feelings for me and anything else that I might remotely want to know. Am I the only one sensing a problem here, Clark?"

"Lex, I want - I want to have a relationship with you..."


"I thought we already had one."

"You're not letting me finish. I wanted to play chess with you because I wanted to show you that I can be honest with you, that I want to be honest with you because it's you."


"But you have to understand that there are always going to be things that you don't know."

Lex doesn't have to do anything. He learned that a long time ago.

"You mean that there are always going to be things you *won't* tell me, but you still want a relationship?"


"I don't have a lot of experience here, Clark, but from what I've heard, you're not supposed to keep secrets in a relationship. Theoretically at any rate."

Victoria doesn't count.

"But don't you see that's where it all goes wrong?"

Lex knew Clark was dangerous when he actually used his brain.

"People want honesty, but not really, and then when they find out that they were lied to, they get upset. But they never wanted the truth to begin with."

"Because most people can't handle the truth, Clark? You've been watching too many military movies."

"But you know I'm right."

"So, you lie to protect people, is that it?"


"Have you ever thought about how fucked up this is?"

"But it's not, I mean not really. It's protecting someone you love."

Love? Who said anything about love? Oh god, please no.

"So, you can't tell me everything, but you'll tell me some things, and I should just accept it because you care?"

"Yeah - I mean isn't it enough that I want you?"

Oh fuck.

"And that's supposed to make up for everything else that you won't tell me?"

"No, but it's a start, isn't it?"

It's a start, but it may not be the right start. There's too much uncertainty, there are too many mistakes that Lex could potentially make. He can't look to his past; he's never done anything like this before.

There's nothing like this in the USCF Handbook. There's nothing like this conversation in any book Lex has ever read at any time.

Chess as a way of life is not working here. Lex's life before this doesn't count. Lex has made a lot of mistakes, but none of them have prepared him for anything like this. The idea that he can have Clark now, on these terms, or wait and probably not have him at all.

For once Lex thinks he feels about as lost as Clark normally looks.

"I may not be exactly who you think I am, Lex, or even act how you want me to, but I want you, and I think you want me."

"I hit you with my car."

"Yes - yes, you did."

Fuck. Well, at least there's one question answered. Not any of the ones Lex's asked of course, but apparently, patience does pay off. Just really late.

"You didn't make your next move, Lex." Not another yes or a no, just an observation, except that Clark looks upset. Like really upset, and ... and it looks like that piece he won is crushed. You can't crush titanium. So now Lex has got an observation, too - during that little admission, Clark flattened one of Lex's titanium rooks. The kicker is that Lex can tell that Clark doesn't even know.

He's that nervous.

Clark wants Lex's approval that much. He wants Lex that much

This has got to be killing him.

It's sure as hell killing Lex.

"Clark, you can let go of that rook now."

"What? I - oh god. Lex ..."

"Don't say anything, don't lie. Not now."

God, that look. That face. "I'm sorry, Lex."

"I'm gathering that, but I'd still like to finish the game, if you don't mind."

"But you're ... you're not mad? I mean, I broke this and -"

"I can always have another made." He can't always find another friend, even one who has secrets. Even one who makes as many efforts as he can to be honest with Lex without completely leaving himself open.

Always guard the rear, that's where most chess players leave themselves open.

Lex remembers reading that in some book about Bobby Fischer. He thinks the movie was better.

Green knight to queen four. A bishop here, a rook there.

"Why did you come here today, Clark?"

"Because I hadn't seen you today."

"So you decided to come to me instead?"


Yeah. So, Clark just got up today, decided that this was the day that he gave Lex the shot of a lifetime and voila. God, Lex is suddenly feeling very tingly, in a way that he suspects might be distinctly girlie. How tragic. How completely rattling, and damn, there goes another pawn.

"Can I kiss you, Lex?"


"I thought the victor claimed the spoils." That's what Lex always believed, but perhaps that thinking is a bit archaic. Clark knocking over the chessboard is certainly one way to see to it that there's no victor. On the upswing it's definitely made sure that Lex didn't succumb to Clark's fluttering eyelashes and other allurements.

Allurements. Christ, Lex is a sad man.

"Call it a stalemate."

"I'll call it Susan if it makes you happy." Lex will call it Lionel Jr. if it means that Clark is really coming around the table and ... wait. He's too big to sit on Lex's lap. Okay, he's not too big to pull Lex out his chair, not that Lex is really fighting it, him, right.

Like Lex would ever fight Clark over anything. Or he would, hypothetically speaking, and the whole proximity to Clark thing has vaporized his brain. Lex is going to be really pissed off if he finds out that that's what Clark's big secret is, perhaps.

Or maybe not that pissed off, because Clark is studying Lex like he's a chessboard and he's not sure of his opening move.

There's this moment of time where Lex is standing there, close enough to feel Clark breathing on him, but not close enough to be pressed against him. It's a really long moment. Lex doesn't want to have to relive it again for a while, but then there's the next moment. The one where Clark tilts his head down and gives Lex the smile that makes Lex's insides do gravitationally impossible things, and Lex has to grab at Clark's shirt because there is no fucking way that he's going to swoon. If the result is that Clark's lips get pressed to his, well, it's a bonus. It's just castling the king, and it's an even bigger bonus when Clark immediately opens his mouth without ceremony and Lex dives in.

Lex has never been one for the whole swimming metaphor where kissing is concerned but he can see how apropos it is right about now. Clark's mouth is warm and wet; it's like being cocooned in a Jacuzzi without the bubbles and with much better friction, not to mention the teeth. Clark has sharp teeth. Apparently he likes using them to nip at Lex's lower lip, and his jaw line and his ear, and Lex does not whimper, so that sound he just made never actually happened. Even if Clark's hands are on Lex's chest and at the hem of his shirt, and yes, in fact, under his shirt.

Clark is a lot better at stripping other people than Lex thought he was going to be. In his periphery, Lex can see his own shirt hanging off an errant piece of armor.

In fact, Lex has to say that Clark is a lot more natural at everything than Lex thought he was going to be. Every thrust of Clark against Lex's erection, every particle of friction is more than enough for Lex. Everything that Lex would do to make this better for Clark, Clark is already doing to make it better for Lex. Lex could feel worried or envious or he could just not give a fuck and keep urging Clark to do whatever it is that he's already doing.

Whatever the case, the only thing Lex can be certain of is that standing in the middle of the war room, with Clark staring at him like this experience is the most important game on earth, is intense. It's intense enough that Lex feels like he's in a chess zone, except he's not playing chess. Or he's playing it with a different set of rules and pieces.

Lex likes Clark's pieces. Lex likes touching them and running his hands up Clark's arms and shoulders. Maybe he's not the only one who's got a touching fetish, because Lex can feel Clark's hands roaming over his shoulders, moving around to his back and roaming lower.

Clark's fingers are rubbing right at the small of Lex's back, and god, it feels good. Clark's hands are a lot cooler than Lex would've thought, but that could be because Lex feels so warm, and the swirl of Clark's fingers against Lex's bare skin is doing nothing to cool Lex down.

Lionel could come tearing in with a freeze ray and Victoria and Dominic in tow, and Lex wouldn't stop, not for them. Not for anything when he's kissing Clark's soft mouth that tastes like peaches.

Now Lex knows why Clark's hair smelled so good. It's not a scientific fact that peaches increase sexual desire, but Lex is willing to dispute that. He's willing to write a whole thesis on the matter because he can't stop licking at Clark's mouth and nipping at his lower lip. It would be a lot easier if Clark would hold still, but if Clark was holding still then he might not be groping at Lex's hips or at his ass.

Lex wouldn't want that, and kissing Clark is this revelation of peach-flavored water and swimming in rivers lined by trees. Lex has never seen a peach tree in his entire life, but he's willing to buy an entire orchard, just to keep reliving this experience. Just to keep thinking about Clark and winning and chess pieces being crushed by this boy who is cradling Lex's head like it's the most precious thing on earth.

Kissing Clark is exhilarating and humanizing and a million other things that Lex will think about long after Clark is gone and Lex has reassembled the chessboard correctly. But there's time for games later, there's time for discussion and dissection afterwards.

Lex wants this now.

Lex wants Clark, and he would never want to dissuade Clark from thrusting against his stomach that way either. Lex can do without all the clothing though, but ripping Clark's shirt is not the answer. Lex really likes the shirt.

"Clark, off." There, Lex spoke two whole words. He knows a lot more than that, it's just a matter of not wanting to engage his brain right now; it needs a rest after all that chess action.

Still, Lex must've made his point because Clark is letting go, but only to yank at his shirt, and yeah, wow.

Shirtless Clark has Lex thinking a lot about peaches right now, about golden yellow peaches and fuzz, because Clark has this little line of fuzz leading right down to the waistband of his jeans, and Lex can't remember the last time he ate. He can't even remember the last thing he drank.

Lex feels rather ravenous all of a sudden. His mouth is dry and Clark is wet. Clark's mouth is wet, and the noises that Clark makes when Lex runs his hand along the waist of Clark's jeans are obviously a good sign. Clark must be hungry too. Lex should take care of that.

He should definitely kiss Clark again, and perhaps rub his hands along Clark's torso that's soft like peach fuzz.

All in the name of being magnanimous, naturally.

That's what Lex keeps telling himself as he leans forward and licks at Clark's chest with long, broad strokes. Lex knows it's a figment of his imagination that Clark tastes like peaches, but he can't stop licking Clark. Lex can't stop moving downwards and nipping at Clark's ribs, at the thin line of skin right below his navel.

It's a given that Lex is going to blow Clark. At least it is from Lex's point of view, but Lex is down on his knees, and the look on Clark's face is saying that at least one of them wasn't expecting this.

It's okay, it's not like Lex is pawing at Clark's crotch, he's really only nuzzling it. Like an errant horse.

"Lex - Lex, are you... I mean, you don't have to."

Of course, Lex doesn't have to, he just really wants to. Like in that 'possible cardiac arrest if he doesn't' way. "Do you want me to?"

"I - yeah, but..."

"Then that's all there is to it." Thank God. If Clark had said no, Lex isn't sure what he would've done. Thankfully he doesn't actually have that worry anymore. Now he can just, oh, just mouth along the rather prominent erection that Clark's got restrained by his jeans.

In his next life, Lex wants to be a pair of Clark's Levis.

Lex's next life might start a lot sooner that he had thought if Clark keeps stroking his scalp that way. Lex is not going to come in his pants, he's too old for that. Now Clark on the other hand.

"Lex, I don't - oh, god." No, not with the 'oh, god,' not yet. Lex hasn't even pulled down Clark's jeans.

"Lex, please."

Jesus, Clark's begging, but Lex is not coming in his pants, he's not. "Not. Yet." That was actually supposed to do something for both of them, and it's a sad thing that Lex's own cock doesn't even listen to him. Lex is going to buy Clark a whole closet's worth of zippered jeans because button-fly are really not a man's best friend, and they're too much fucking work.

Unless Clark helps, which obviously he wants to do, so Lex will just rest on his heels until...oh. Now. Now is good. Now that Clark has pushed down his jeans and his boxers and is pretty much naked from the knees up. Lex always knew Clark was beautiful, but this is just taking it to an all-new level.

If Lex wasn't blowing Clark, he suspects he'd be really jealous.

Clark's cock is dark and full, and Lex can't believe he's not cut. Lex can't believe how good Clark smells, and when Lex leans in he deliberately paints his cheek with Clark's precome. It's hot and wet, and it makes Lex feel marked.

Marked by Clark.

The groan that escapes Lex is pure impulse, just like the impulse that makes Lex turn his head inwards so he can mouth along the length of Clark's cock. Lex isn't going to blow Clark right away, but he's been wanting this for a long time. Long enough he wants to touch and taste and nuzzle the soft, black hairs.

Lex has been waiting for this long enough that fondling Clark's balls and rubbing at that soft little patch of skin right behind them are necessary.

Lex needs to do this.

Clark's whimpers are the sweetest thing he's ever heard, and there's nothing else for Lex to do but wrap his hands around Clark's hips and pull him closer. Close enough for Lex to smell Clark's scent and nip at his right hipbone.

It's instinct for Lex to lick at the place where he should leave a mark, even when Lex knows there isn't going to be one. It doesn't matter. The only things that matters are Clark's hands dancing over Lex's scalp and the moan that escapes when Lex slides his hand up Clark's chest and pinches his nipple.

Lex's tongue can't stop licking at every exposed part of Clark that it comes in contact with. "Jesus, Lex!" Apparently Clark approves, and no, Lex isn't Jesus, at least not with his father, but it's always nice to have his talents appreciated. If he's lucky, Clark might really appreciate his technique too, and there's only one way to find out.

Lex knows the average high school boy doesn't last long, so he's not really expecting a lot of Clark when he runs his tongue along the underside of Clark's cock. Right before swirling the head with the tip of his tongue and then drilling the slit.

No, Clark is definitely not going to last long with the whimpers he's making, so maybe Lex should just stop.

"Lex, no! No - don't stop."

Lex is evil. He's been told this quite a bit, and he takes pride in this fact. But Lex is just evil; he's not stupid.

"I'm not stopping, Clark. I just want you to sit down." If someone had told Lex that by the end of the day he'd have Clark Kent sitting in one of his leather chairs naked and waiting to get off, Lex would've hung them upside down by their balls until it came to pass. And if it didn't come to pass, oh well.

But now that Lex has got Clark here, he's glad no one ruined the surprise for him. He's almost as glad that these chairs don't have arms; it'll be much easier to mount Clark this way. And at some point, much later, Lex is going to explain to Clark why boys wear pants with zippers, but right now he'll just shed his and be done with it.

"Oh, god ... Lex. I - can I touch you?"

"That's what I was hoping for." Straddling Clark Kent's lap is just perverse enough not to scare Lex half to death, but with Clark gripping at his ass and pulling him closer, Lex would be willing to be scared of a lot of things. When Lex takes Clark's hand and licks a wet stripe up the middle, he's hoping that Clark is as fearless as he always appears to be. Clark's great preoccupation with Lex's crotch is definitely a good sign.

"No hair...god."

Clark has big hands and thick fingers, and Lex is being introduced to them very intimately. Lex was sure that some sort of encouragement or explanation was going to be necessary but apparently not. Clark has wrapped his hand around both of their cocks and he's flicking his thumb over the head of Lex's cock, and god. It's good.

It's better than good. It's the best thing since chess was invented back in Ancient Persia. Clark is stroking like this may be the best jack-off session ever, and all Lex can do is hang on for dear life. "Harder, Clark. Just - fuck."

Fuck. That has got to happen sooner rather than - than whatever thought Lex was just attempting to have. Clark keeps nipping at Lex's lip and flicking his tongue over his scar. Jesus, if Lex wasn't already getting jacked off, he'd certainly have to start right now. And yeah, Lex said that practice makes perfect, which makes him wonder when Clark finds time to go to school, because his technique right now is just, well, it's blowing Lex's mind, not to be too cliched.

Clark's hand job has got Lex gripping at Clark's shoulders and burrowing his head in Clark's neck like he might find some relief there. There's an awful moment where Clark tenses and Lex thinks he's had an attack of conscience or something equally horrible, like a hand cramp. And then Clark calls Lex's name, and there's this wet heat on Lex's chest that's like winning against Gary Kasparov, but it's only check, not checkmate.

If Clark stops now, Lex thinks he might die. Lex completely understands the whole post-coital lassitude thing, but he really needs to get off. Now.

"Clark, please."

And there's another moment - Lex is finding himself having a lot of those today - where Clark looks at him with those enormous eyes and a piece of hair falls across his forehead. It's a moment where Lex finds himself transfixed by the rawest look he has ever seen on anyone. It only lasts for a second before Clark starts pumping his fist again, but that's more than enough time for Lex to concede his loss.

Whatever Lex can have with Clark will be enough, and checkmate has never been this good before. Lex can feel a howl starting somewhere in his toes. It's the kind of overpowering feeling that makes Lex sink his teeth into Clark's neck in an effort to keep his grip on reality.

However, Lex's body has its own agenda, and his hips begin pistoning in such a way that Lex isn't sure if Clark's jerking him off or if he's fucking Clark's hand.

He's not really that bothered, but Lex remembers that he knew how to breathe when he got up this morning. The ability isn't coming that naturally right now.

"Lex, I - you feel so good."

"Just - oh fuck - come on." Just one more stroke, two more and Lex feels his spine liquefying and shooting out his cock. God, they have to do that again, just as soon as Lex stops panting in Clark's ear like an overworked Beagle.

"God, Lex."

Yeah, Lex can relate to that sentiment. That was one hell of a first time. It calls for a celebration, just as soon as Lex can walk. "I thought you were a virgin."

"I am - I mean I was." Was. Clark was Lex's virgin, now he's Lex's non-virgin.

Smallville is a great place.

"Just not any more, Clark?"

"Yeah." God, that post-coital thing is a lot stronger than Lex remembers it being when Victoria was in town. Maybe that's another of those Clark things. He plans on finding out, just as soon as he can stop doing something that could be considered cuddling.

Clark petting Lex and kissing his scalp are not going to help Lex's fortitude. Although, Lex tucking his head under Clark's chin probably isn't helping matters either.

"You know I was going to beat you, right?"

"Whatever you say, Lex." Oh, great, now Clark's resorting to molesting Lex's rather limp form. That's wrong. God, it feels good.

"I was four moves away from checkmate, that's why you knocked over the board."

"I knocked it over because you look really hot when you're thinking that hard."

"I do?"


"We should play chess more often then."

"I agree."


Dedication: For Ali (for being there when this was nothing). With many thanks to Andy and Wendi for beta duty, enthusiasm, and twisted humor. And to Criss on her birthday.

Notes: For Livia's Bradbury Challenge and (unofficially) Kassie's Crayola Challenge.

Feedback: Always appreciated.

If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to zahra

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