In the Absence

by jenn

warning: explicit fraternal incest

Rating: NC-17

Author Notes: Caro for pre-read and encouragement, Ubertodd for doing it and making it work, and my Beth for being Beth.

Warnings: explicit fraternal incest

Archiving: Yes.

He's citybred. The endless fields that leave space unstructured, blank, like an empty canvas, bother him. Nights in Smallville had been spent hyperawake, tensing at every sound he didn't hear, wrapped in his brother's sheets, watching light flicker from the heavy moon through gauzy curtains onto the ceiling like some budget light show.

The city's a white noise of traffic and thick humanity, smell and sound and fullness. He hadn't known how much he'd missed it until he slides back in like he never left. Metropolis isn't quite Edge City, too bright and too sharp, but the closeness makes him ache with something like nostalgia. A penthouse, though, is a thousand miles from rent controlled apartments in the slums and the tract housing of a dozen foster homes, group homes, even farther from the jail cells, temporary accommodations before charges were dismissed like magic to let him go.

Lex goes to bed early, leaving Lucas to his own devices for the rest of the night. He isn't sure what that means, an itch growing between his shoulder blades like it's waiting for a knife, but when he pushes open the bedroom door a restless three hours later, Lex is a strangely small lump in the bed, a spill of moonlight giving Lucas just enough ambient light to see.

Lucas wakes up when footfalls come too close, with foreign breathing, instincts that shake him upright, an adrenaline rush that had never seems to end. Lex sleeps on, even when Lucas is inches away, close enough to slip a knife into the length of a vulnerable back.

He's not that much of a Luthor yet. He doesn't think in metaphors.

Lionel--Dad--had told him what to expect weeks before. Charm. Sophistication. Vulnerability. Spoiled. Weak. Everything you should have had, should have been, he doesn't say, leaving out that he himself had made sure Lucas didn't. First view too-fast, unexpected, blue eyes vivid in the dark night, urging him inside the car with a warm hand against his back.

He was watched like he was back in juvie all over again, but completely different. He thought he knew the angle, thought he got the reasons, thought he understood the plan, but he's beginning to think he doesn't know jack shit.

Earlier, Lex gave him a car.

He likes motorcycles--speed, quick getaways, being under the radar, just inside the shadows. Not-seen. A Porsche isn't that--a smooth, soft nose and excess horsepower, a car to see and be seen in. The keys were silver, warm and heavy in his palm, the keychain with initials he's not even sure he wants to claim. Lex had smiled and closed Lucas' fingers around them.

Lucas had wondered what Lex wanted now.

Lionel had been easy. Money for shares, a cheap ticket out of town, written out of the gene pool as the favored son was brought sharply to heel, all in one signature. Ten million dollars, more money than Lucas has seen in his entire life, endless weeks of carefully plotting, all to break that one solitary son into obedience.

Lex makes a sound as Lucas watches--something soft and comfortable, because he's never worried about waking up in the wrong place at the wrong time and telling the wrong people where he is with only a stray breath.

"Lex." It's still a foreign word on his tongue, sharp with hard edges. He says it again, just because he can. "Lex."

Maybe he's not so far off the gene pool after all--Lex is as cleanly awake as an animal. Alcohol haze still lingers in the unfocused gaze before it fixes, and Lucas watches Lex push a hand into the bed, sitting up unsteadily.

"Lucas? What is it?"

There's no good reason. Impulse has always been his enemy. But he's good at thinking on his feet. "I'm not used to sleeping this early."

"Nocturnal?" A little smile curves up the corner of Lex's mouth. "Yeah, I remember eighteen."

There's no image that Lucas can place for an eighteen year old Lex. There hadn't been any family albums at the castle. Lucas wouldn't have looked at them if there had been. "Wild?" Unable to picture the cool businessman as anything other than what he is now.

"Rewrote the history books," Lex says, still smiling in memory. It fades, though, replaced with what Lucas thinks has to be regret. "I'm sorry I can't let you out in Metropolis tonight. The city is Dad's. Chicago will be far enough away not to be able to trace you as easily." If you're careful, he doesn't say. Lucas understands the implications well enough. Next time, the bullets won't be blanks.

Lucas shrugs and Lex slips more fully upright, obviously willing to indulge him. That's new--Lucas knows it's guilt, knows, too, that it's family, or however Luthors categorize erstwhile brothers. What he doesn't know is why.

Your people sucked, Lucas hasn't told him. He'd known he was being traced for months. Edge City's a village at the slum level, everyone knew, but they wouldn't talk. He'd watched sometimes, from fire escapes and corners and quiet alleys, trying to work out who they were, what they wanted. One too many raids too close to home, and the cash from that last night would have meant a fresh start in a new city.

I'm your brother, Lex had said, but what does that mean? I need you for a war with our Dad. I need the votes to break him. He and Lionel have been doing war games since before Lucas had his first arrest, and there's so much he doesn't know, so much history in that office he hadn't gotten, but the gist he knew, like he knew his own name and knew he'd never be accepted by Lionel as a replacement for Lex.

He'll never love you, Lucas.

I could hate you just for that, Lex.

"Want something to drink?" Lucas says, keeping his voice casual, friendly. Sharp eyes follow the flicker across Lex's face, the pros and cons being weighed in an instant, and he knows Lex is wondering what he's thinking. This flare of hope deep within, though, that even Lucas can see, that a blind man had seen, and this, Lucas thinks, is what makes Lex weak.

Maybe it makes Lucas weak, too, because he does want, even if he knows he can't have. Lex hasn't learned that yet.

"Sure." Pushing the covers back, Lex swings long legs to the floor. Flannel pajama bottoms, not so much with the Metropolitan sophisticate now, rubbing a hand across his eyes as he finds his balance.

Stepping back on soundless feet, Lucas watches Lex kick soft leather slippers aside, ignoring the conveniently placed robe, and follows him quietly into the darkened living room. Lex doesn't bother with the lights, finding the bar with the glow from downtown through the windows, pouring them each a glass of some insanely expensive brandy that before this week, Lucas had never tasted.

Lucas likes whiskey shots, likes his fixes hard and fast, straight line to his head, wipe out judgement and memory, go with instinct. When he takes the glass, though, he doesn't throw it back (grins at the memory of Lionel's face when he did that at the castle), taking a slow sip, like Lex had. The rich, sharp flavor seeps across his tongue, and Lucas thinks he might have to buy this himself.

They sit on the couch, blood-bound strangers with only a father to connect them. Two empty bullets have stretched that connection to snapping.

"You--do you know who Lionel fucked to get me?" Entirely not what he'd meant to say. He hadn't asked Lionel, hadn't even considered the question. He'd thought Lionel might not remember the answer.

Lex pauses, using a sip of brandy to avoid answering. Lucas is familiar with the tactic. Keeping his gaze on his brother's glass, Lucas waits, letting the silence stretch. Like their dad, Lex can't let a quiet moment pass.

"A little." It's pulled out of him, like he'd rather not be answering this question. "She--isn't well."

"Not well?"

Lex shifts, taking a larger drink, and Lucas expertly measures the level of the glass to how much Lex had been buzzing before getting up. Shouldn't take much.

"Dad has a unique effect on women," Lex says, and the bitterness brings Lucas' head up sharply. "Your mother, thanks to Dad, is in an institution in Metropolis."

Oh. Lucas files away the information, and the guilt, for later thinking. Lex is slumped into the couch, looking at anything but him.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to tell you that way." Or at all, he doesn't say, and Lucas nods agreement to both statements, taking another sip from his glass before putting it on the end table. "I can arrange a visit before we leave, if you--"

"No." Lex's gaze slips up to hold his--dilated eyes and strangely vulnerable mouth. Shit. "Not now. I--" Lucas stops. Lex worshipped his own mother, that's a naked fact for anyone to read on his face. "Later."

Lex nods slowly. "I understand."

The hell of it is, Lex really thinks he does.

"What now?" Lucas asks, letting his voice drop. Lex leans into the arm stretched over the back of the couch, closer. Close enough to pick up the sharp scent of detergent, the edge of alcohol. Pupils are consuming the blue into a single narrow ring.

Lucas watches Lex drain the brandy, blue eyes blinking in surprise when the glass comes away empty.

"You'll be safe in Chicago," Lex says slowly, like a drunk man does when he's trying to pretend sobriety. "I--found you an apartment there. I'll check up. My lawyer has orders to see to whatever you need."

"Will you visit me?" Lucas asks, shifting a little closer, using a slow reach for the glass as his excuse. "There? Or is this it?"

Lex blinks. "I--" He stops, trying to think, and Lucas sets the glass on the floor, holding Lex's eyes. "I can arrange it. I thought you might not want--"

"Contact with my only living, sane relative?" Lucas lets himself smile carefully. "Do you know how many foster homes I've been in? Never long enough to know anyone. Not that they noticed me. There were always too many kids and no where to put them all. They moved me all around the state, three, four times a year." Lucas can feel the tension radiating off Lex. "What kind of a man does that to his son?"

"I don't know." Alcohol is blurring Lex's reactions, but the pain's there for anyone to see.

"I've never had family," Lucas whispers, and he reaches out, touching Lex's arm, warm through the thin t-shirt. Body temperature raised from all that alcohol, or maybe Lex is always this warm. Lucas remembers how his hand felt in the rain, warm and solid even through wet wool and silk and leather. "No one who cared whether I lived or died, unless they worried about whether the checks from social services would keep coming."

"God, Lucas." Lex is warm, a touch that settles on Lucas' face, this moment freezing in place. Perfect. "I'm sorry. I didn't know--he never told me. He never told anyone about you."

It cuts, even knowing Lionel like he does now, but Lucas nods, catching that fine boned hand by the wrist, holding it in place for just that second too long. Lex doesn't pull away, but Lucas can see the first hints of confusion slipping in, taking over. Turns his head just enough and catches the heel of Lex's palm with his mouth, a brush of teeth that makes them both shiver.

Lex even tastes expensive, like something low-class-trash Lucas would never, never have been allowed to have, never been allowed to play with.


"I never knew anything about who I was," Lucas whispers, keeping his grip, ready for Lex to try to pull away. Curiously, he doesn't even try. "Where I came from. No one had any answers." Lucas closes the distance between them so slowly that Lex doesn't have time to react before there's no where to go, Lex is trapped in a corner of the couch. The wide eyes stare up into Lucas' with absolute attention, and Lucas draws his teeth across Lex's vulnerable palm. "You know. That's all I ever wanted. Family."

"I'm sorry." And he knows Lex means it.

"He gave me up like I was nothing, not even worth the time it took to find out if I was dead or alive." The skin over Lex's wrist is stretched thin, tiny lines of veins pulsing fast beneath his lips. "Then he wanted my help. Promised me my name, money, power, just to break you. But he didn't offer me a family."

Lex starts to say something--maybe aware now of what Lucas is doing, maybe just trying to figure out a way to explain the unexplainable. Lionel didn't get it, not entirely, the real way to get through to Lex, and it makes Lucas wonder if the man knows his son at all. Money and power and all of that can hurt, but that's not the place to hit, not the way inside. This is what he's been looking for.

Lex tries to turn his head, an aborted attempt with the first touch of Lucas' mouth, freezing like he has no idea what to do, how to do it, and Lucas holds him there, using what he knows by instinct about Lex, connection--family. And the fisted hand in his relaxes, mouth softening, not fighting him, letting him just take what he wants.

He's this much of a Luthor. He knows how to take.

Lex tastes like brandy and regret and power, old bitterness beneath it all, that endless anger Lucas has just barely glimpsed beneath the polished surface. Addictive when Lucas pushes his tongue inside, his brother shivering again, and it's not entirely revulsion.

If Lucas is right, it's not revulsion at all.

"Lucas." Lex pulls back, one hand coming up to touch his reddened mouth. The disbelief is written into every line of his face. "Lucas, no--"

"You're all I have," Lucas whispers, lowering his head enough to brush soft kisses against Lex's jaw. The tang of day-old cologne and alcohol, and that--that secret Lex-taste beneath that makes him dizzy. No stubble, smooth as a girl. Power here that has nothing to do with money or security, this is entirely new, entirely different. "Just let me." He bites down into the smooth column of his brother's throat, and Lex jerks, burrowing back into the cushions, but there's no where to go.

Lex doesn't fight when Lucas pulls his hand down, lacing his fingers through Lex's and kissing him again. Tempering arousal against cool reason, that he has to do this just right or it'll all fall apart. He places Lex's other hand against his face and slides easily into his lap, breathing out in surprise at the feel.

God, yes. Closing his eyes, he bites Lex's lip, hard enough to draw shared blood, pulling back with the taste in his mouth and Lex's wide, shocked eyes.

I could hate you for having what I want, but I won't.

"Lucas." The fingers are soft on his face, touching him like he might a child or a friend, but the slow, reluctant slide into his hair isn't fraternal, isn't platonic. And Lex is getting hard against him, breathing out in surprise, and Lucas sucks in a gasp at the first involuntary buck against him. "We can't do this." Belied by the strain in his voice, the naked want in very blue eyes. Lucas thinks he'll be jerking off to memories of this moment for years. "I'm your brother."

There's no answer to that, so Lucas doesn't try, leaning his forehead against Lex's and grinding down, hard enough to hear that sucked-in breath. It's sweet and good, sex always is, but better, because it's Lionel's son he's doing this to, making him buck up and whimper, even better because it's Lex, and Lex is something he would never have been allowed to touch.

And it's Lex's hands that are pulling him closer, mouth hot and hard and good, experienced, knowing, maybe that genetic history between them, tells him how to touch, where, what gets him hot, and no one's ever been able to do that. Lucas hears himself panting with every break for air, Lex holding on, freeing his hand to press it to the small of Lucas' back, rhythm established, fingers sliding under his shirt to the sweaty skin beneath.

"Lex." It hits air between them, and Lucas likes how it sounds, likes how it makes Lex bite down on his throat. "Lex, please--" Grinding down, he's so hard he aches, and Lex is giving him everything he wants. Naked need and even more naked lust.

"Fuck," Lex murmurs, and Lucas works a hand between them, peeling up the loose t-shirt until warm skin is under his fingers. Hairless, too, and it's not a fluke, he could be like that everywhere and Lucas is going to find out. Hard little nipples he twists before pulling the shirt up, material straining under his grip, but Lex lets him, and Lucas pulls his own off, too, watching his brother's eyes darken, reaching to touch without hesitation.

"Yeah." Lucas catches a breath at the first touch of callused fingers on his skin, rough thumbs circling over his skin like he's something new and entirely precious, wanted, and he'd kill and die for this. "Lex, come on--"

Lex moves fast, drunk or not. Pushed into soft leather cushions, the most expensive stuff he's ever fucked on, Lex pushing his thigh up and biting at his collar, like he's as addicted as Lucas is. Lex knows, like they've fucked all their lives, everywhere that feels too good, like that hollow by his hip and the hypersensitive area just below his navel, tonguing it until Lucas can feel sweat breaking out on his forehead, his breath ragged, thrusts uneven, wanting, needing more.

Do you know how bad our dad wants you, Lex?

Lucas shuts his eyes when his jeans are jerked down, scrape of the zipper like an afterthought, and the low, pleased sound Lex makes when he finds out Lucas isn't wearing underwear. Hot breath on his cock, and Lucas reaches for the armrest without even thinking, hands bunching in slick leather, arching up when Lex takes him in.

God. Yes.

"Lex--" It's choked out, low and thick, unlike his own voice, and Lucas is high, like he's been shooting up half the night. He hears himself laughing, reaching down with one hand to clutch a warm, bare shoulder, bucking whenever his body needs it, and Lex's rhythm is so perfect Lucas could have been doing this to himself. Scrape of teeth right there, suck harder here, and keep it up, don't stop, Lex, you know me, you'd know me even if we'd never met, you're my brother and I--

--don't hate you.

Orgasm is like an electrical shot, like sticking his finger in an outlet, and it hurts, but Lucas has always liked pain. He's shuddering, grasping at everything, the ceiling going spotty with yellow sparks and he'll feel this even when he doesn't anymore. His hands are shaking, body lost to everything but pure, bone deep pleasure, the kind of triumph that comes when he wins with a pair of threes bluffed against a royal flush.

Lex crawls the length of his body, reminding him of experience and age, the sharp differentiation between eighteen and twenty-two. Between power and never having it. Between the rich boy and the kid from the slums. Favorite son against the discard.

He wraps his arms around Lex and grinds up against him, reaching down enough to pull the sweats down and get to his mouth, suck the taste of himself out and put it back with sharp licks of his tongue. Lex, who breathes sharply and grinds against him, and Lucas feels every moan, every twist, every staccato thrust, takes everything Lex will give him with every arch of his body, every encouraging sound.

Lex comes with a shudder that moves them both, and Lucas twists a leg around Lex's, holding his mouth and taking in the groans, splash of heat between them, then just holds him when that mouth pulls loose, staring down at him, endorphin rush clouding his eyes, and later, Lucas thinks he'll see regret. Shock. Horror. Apologies he'll mean. Promises of never again that he'll want to keep.

"Come to bed with me," Lucas whispers, not quite letting go. Grinds up, just for the hell of it, and he's getting hard again already. Like Lex's body was just meant for him to do this to, like Lionel's sons were always meant to be together, one way or another.

They sit up and Lucas jerks his jeans up but doesn't rebutton them, watching Lex get to his feet, unbalanced, uncertain where Lucas had never seen uncertainty before. Even losing everything, he'd looked like he'd known he'd win.

"Lucas...." But he stops, because there aren't words and never will be. Lucas steps close enough for them to touch, running a hand between them, across the tacky remains of come on their clothes, sucking a finger into his mouth as Lex watches, eyes wide and very dark.

"Don't leave me again."

He can't have what Lex has. But he can have other things.

Lex's bed and Lex's slim, strong body under him and Lex's voice when he says Lucas' name like he's as necessary as air.

He can have Lionel's son, and Lionel never will.

That's almost the best thing of them all.

the end

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