by Destina Fortunato

Associated Press - Metropolis, Kansas
March 21, 2016

Presidential candidate Lex Luthor was shot three times by an unknown assailant outside his LexCorp offices in Metropolis last night. He was pronounced dead at Metropolis General Hospital at five minutes past midnight.

March 20, 2016 11:47PM

Lex could feel blood filling his lungs, bright and wet, like drowning in a sea of copper.

He thought he might crawl, tried to, but his legs and arms wouldn't work, wouldn't cooperate. He could only produce a random flailing, one arm out to the side, then down to the ground. Cold pavement stretched beneath his fingertips. The chill seeped through the expensive leather of his coat.

Clark's face appeared before him. There were words, jumbled at first, but they sorted themselves out inside Lex's head: "You're not going to die. Not like this. Lex - please. Hang on. Please."

He'd heard Clark plead for causes much more worthy. Lex would have laughed if he'd had any oxygen to spare for the sound. Instead he choked out Clark's name, a spattered mass of blood and need.

That was when Clark lifted him into the sky. Or rather, Superman did.

Not the first time he'd been carried by Superman. "Secret," he mumbled, only to be hushed by Clark. A secret, yes; one more valuable than the sum total of his wealth. He'd kept it faithfully and he'd carry it to his grave. Sooner rather than later, it seemed.

Clark held him close, as if he could read Lex's mind. The wind was cold on his face. Clark pulled him in tight to shield him from the elements; his super-suit was cold where it was exposed to the sky. Beneath it, Lex knew Clark's skin tasted of soap. Lex could remember the first time he'd touched Clark's skin, the first time he'd tasted it. Smooth flesh, but never sweat. Lex had always craved the taste of Clark's sweat.

The headlines would be a riot: Lex Luthor, presidential candidate, gunned down on a city street. Mourned by few, missed by fewer still. Next to his ear an alien heart beat steadily, honestly. It lulled Lex into a dream where a superhero streaked through the sky, a harbinger of death.

He'd come prepared with a stack of pre-packaged dust cloths and a plastic bag. On every job, he lugged out everything he'd brought in; it usually wasn't much, and most things could be carried against his body. No one would notice the difference in bulk on such a gray, bland person. He passed through streets and alleys unnoticed. It was a trick of the trade, becoming the everyman, invisible because he was indistinguishable from all others. It might have been interesting to put on some leather and shades, slip on expensive shooting gloves and be ostentatiously evil just once, but he valued his freedom too much to risk it.

Instead, he tossed his average beige jacket on the back of the folding chair, slipped on cheap latex gloves, and drew on a baseball cap to hold the hair out of his eyes. The police might pick up stray hairs here and there once the job was done, but there would be no DNA match. Comparisons to other samples found around the world would prove irrelevant. He never struck in the same place twice, and he'd never allow himself to be caught in a position where he'd give up blood for testing.

The windowsill yielded up its dust and dirt easily to the miracle duster - someone had made a million off that patent. Bloodless money, requiring no investment of a personal nature. He couldn't imagine finding satisfaction in money he hadn't earned with his own hands.

When he was satisfied he would leave no imprints by leaning on the sill or wall, he packed up the dustcloths and took his position. Night work was more difficult because of the glare on the scope. City lights reflected against glass and steel made his head hurt. He'd practiced for several hours in the darkness of a Kansas cornfield with the headlights of trucks shining on him like spotlights. Not an ideal test, but it would do.

He checked his watch. Three minutes to go. He glanced up at the sky and wondered if Luthor and Superman were linked in some way, since Superman always seemed to show up when someone was picking on his old buddy. He'd even heard a rumor once they were the same person. It had made him laugh. No one was that good at disguise; he was in a better position to know than most.

He'd bought reliable information once from a contact who swore Luthor had put out a hundred or more of these hits over the past five years. It made him wonder just how deeply those ties were anchored.

Luthor hadn't specified which weapon he should use, so he pulled a high-powered rifle from his bag and quickly assembled it. He pulled out a hunk of green metal - the leftovers made good insurance - and nestled it close to him, just in case he wasn't able to carry out his mission.

One minute and counting. He was fairly certain Luthor hadn't had this in mind when he talked about bait. Probably he was thinking of a fair maiden in peril, or something equally clichd. Didn't matter. This would do nicely.

Through the scope, the doors of LexCorp came into sharp focus, nestled in the crosshairs like a woman in a lover's embrace. He closed one eye and waited.

Research always paid off. Patterns, habits - little things, so he'd know where to be and when. Like clockwork, Lex Luthor emerged from the front doors of the building, fresh from the weekly board meeting. Bulky bodyguards swirled around him, but they were only minor irritations. It was a simple thing to wait for an opportunity, as Luthor's driver brought the car around. One pull of the trigger, a slight delay, and Luthor dropped to the ground in a heap, a flailing, crawling, gasping piece of shark bait. Next, the bodyguards. Easy money. He aimed carefully, watching for signs of a hero.

The target presented itself within seconds. He would have bet his own life that Lex Luthor had called out for Superman because right on cue, rescue appeared. He fired off three shots in rapid succession, bullets that should have struck true, should have knocked Superman off his feet. His aim was the best in the business.

When Superman appeared in the window, he was startled for the first time in his lengthy career. When the window blew in on him and Superman pulled him through it, he lost control of his bowels. The thought that he might die on the pavement, just like Luthor, had never occurred to him.

He didn't have much time to worry about it.

"Wait here."

"I don't like this," Clark said dubiously. He pushed his glasses up on his nose and gave Lex one of those peculiar sideways glances, reproachful and cautious. He reminded Lex of every nerd he'd ever gone to school with. He'd never fucked any of them, but then again, none of them made glasses look as good as Clark Kent did.

"Clark, I'll be fine. I didn't ask you to come with me. You climbed in the car before I could stop you."

"This is a bad section of town, Lex." Clark leaned against the limo and folded his arms over his chest. His raincoat hunched up on his broad shoulders. He glanced at the two bodyguards flanking Lex.

"No kidding," Lex said mildly. "These kinds of associates don't have uptown offices."

Clark looked down the dark, dank alley, with its slimy brick walls and rows of dumpsters, and stepped in front of Lex. "Are you crazy?"

"Clark." Lex looked at him impatiently. Waiting.

Clark sighed and stepped out of the way.

"Thank you." Lex nodded to one of the bodyguards, who opened the limo door for Clark. "Wait in the car."

Clark eyed him, but he climbed in anyway.

It was true; Lex had done business with far worse, and certainly there were aspects of his world Clark couldn't be involved in. His own future was something easily bought and sold, but Clark's was something else altogether. No point in taking unnecessary chances.

With a wave of his hand, Lex stopped his bodyguards at the entrance to the alley. They hung behind, rejected and wary. He'd never been to this particular location before. The faint squeaking of rats in the trash wasn't far from the way he pictured the entire scenario unfolding. He would have chuckled, but it was the image he'd come to preserve, so he held his amusement in check.

"Something funny, Luthor?" Cold, distinct words. "You like it down here?"

Lex turned toward the shadows. Not that he'd expected to get a good look, but he had to be certain he was hiring a phantom and not a man. "It's a rat hole, much like any other place of business."

"Let's get this over with." The shadow shifted in Lex's direction. "My people confirmed the first payment this afternoon. I have the merchandise."

"Show me." Lex held out his right hand.

The shadow man extended his own gloved hand and dropped three silver cylinders with a faint green glow into Lex's palm. "Made to your exact specifications."

"What's the mixture?"

"Fifty-fifty. The element you gave me was more stable than I expected, so I used a larger quantity."

"Anything left over?"

"The early tests required a substantial amount of trial and error. I used the majority of it."

Lex gave him a sharp look as he turned the bullets over between his fingers. "Hollow point?"

"Yes. I only provide XTP - extreme terminal performance. They're designed with the specifications you gave me." The man handed Lex a small, heavy box. "This is what's left of the material you provided."

Lex popped the latches and counted the remaining meteor rocks. Shards and fragments; it probably added up to one intact rock. He dumped the handful of bullets into the box and handed it back. "Will they do the trick?"

"That's the idea. These should penetrate anything."

"Even his skin?"

"Well...yes. That is what you ordered, isn't it?"

"I'll be a satisfied customer." Lex smiled. "If it works, that is."

The man stuffed the box into the pocket of his beige jacket; the butt end of the box jutted out, bulky and dark. He picked up the bag at his feet and slung it over his shoulder. "We won't meet again. Deposit the remainder of the money tomorrow morning, once the job is done."

"Before you go - I'd like some idea of what you plan to do."

"What you hired me to do." He flashed a brief smile; his eyes glittered in the dim light. Impossible to see what color they were.

"You'll need bait."

"Not a problem. I've made the necessary arrangements."

They locked eyes for a moment; the man nodded at Luthor and turned away. Lex watched as he disappeared around the corner. Amazing, the way the guy seemed completely innocuous.

It was all so improbable and so normal. Lex supposed he had conducted business in a far less straightforward manner in places much more elegant than this. It suited the moment.

"Lex." The voice at his shoulder made him jump.

"Jesus, Clark!" Lex looked at Clark's face and his annoyance faded, because the man looked positively determined. "How long have you been standing there?"

"I was watching your back. You didn't bring your bodyguards, either. Do you have some kind of death wish? "

Lex sighed. "No, I don't. Let's get back in the limo. And would you stop with the lectures? We're not in Smallville anymore."

"At least we're still in Kansas," Clark said, with a sly look at Lex.

The bodyguards had their own limo. Lex was nothing if not efficient about his privacy. Lex and Clark rode in silence for a few miles, around and around the streets of Metropolis. Lex nursed a glass of scotch until it was warm, sipping it every so often. He watched Clark over the lip of the glass. Clark looked out the window and watched the scenery go by.

"It's going to be harder for us to see each other, as the campaign progresses," Lex said, and downed his scotch. "You won't be able to stay at the penthouse."

"I know." Clark fixed him with a dark gaze. "The limo might be the safest place right now."

"And after the election..." Lex hesitated. The subject had been circling inside his head for weeks.

"After the election, you belong to the world," Clark said. He smiled. "And not to me."

"One doesn't automatically discount the other." Lex tossed the empty glass on the seat and moved across the limo to slide in beside Clark. "Especially if I don't win."

"You'll win."

"We're a long way from Smallville, Clark. I thought I shattered all those illusions of yours a long time ago."

"You tried." Clark slid his hands under Lex's shirt and kissed him, slow lips, open mouths, no more words.

"What makes you so sure I'll win?" Lex gasped against the onslaught. No one knew how to touch him this way, not in all the bedrooms and barrooms and bathrooms of Metropolis. No one had Clark's knack for destruction, his inability to stop touching until Lex was destroyed.

Clark's answer didn't come until Lex had, and then he said: "You're Lex Luthor. No one says no to you."

"Not even the American people?" He straightened his tie.


They rode the rest of the way to the office in semi-silence, punctuated by Clark's sharp moans of pleasure while Lex stroked his dick. He might have gone down on Clark under other circumstances, but he wanted to watch Clark's face, watch him try so hard not to lose control that every muscle was tense and straining against the explosion. He put his mouth around Clark's cock just at the last moment. It was too good not to taste. Clark's hands shaped themselves around Lex's skull, clutching gently. He didn't feel fragile anymore under that touch, just measured.

The box he gave Clark produced a flash of a grin. "I feel so kept."

Lex raised an eyebrow. "Too late for that; the seduction phase of this party was fifteen years ago. Open it."

Clark opened the box. Secure in a nest of rich burgundy velvet, the flat gold ring glistened at him. Tiny diamonds slashed diagonally across its face. "Wow," he said, twisting the box. "This must have set you back a pretty penny."

"You know damned well it did." Lex smiled smugly at him. "Put it on."

The ring slid easily onto Clark's right ring finger. He clenched a fist, then stretched out his fingers. "Looks good."

"Let's hope it's your lucky charm."

"I'm going to have trouble explaining this to my editor. With my salary - "

"I'll buy the Planet and fire White."

"Lex," chided Clark. "We talked about this knee-jerk reaction habit of yours."

Lex sighed. "I know. I'm working on it." The limo pulled up in front of the LexCorp building. Lex gathered up his coat and kissed Clark, who looped an arm around him to hold him in place.

"Your meeting is over when?"

"These things usually break up around 1AM, but I'm not going to be in there past midnight. They know I won't hang around this place for that long." Lex smiled. "Use the limo. Take a nap. Be here when I'm done."

In answer, Clark held him tighter, almost hard enough to bruise. Lex pulled away with effort and pushed open the door. The bodyguards popped out of the chaser car and made their human shield, and Lex went to work.

Superman drifted gently up from the sub-penthouse floor like some sort of muscular human elevator. He floated two feet away from the balcony railing, arms folded across his chest.

Lex choked on the rare old scotch he was drinking - just a little; it might have been more of a laugh than a choke - and asked, "Why do you do that? Couldn't you buzz in like everyone else?"

"I'm not like everyone else, Lex." The mild rumble of Superman's voice was irritating.

"I'm pretty sure I'm aware of that, yes."

Superman regarded him with a calm, amused expression. "You bring this on yourself."


"Because I'd have to cause some damage downstairs to get in here the normal way."

"No, you wouldn't," Lex said softly, significantly.

At least Superman had the good grace to blush. He plucked at the gaudy S on his super-suit. "Yes, I would."

"You could come to the door."

"Come through the door?" Superman chuckled.

Lex's eyes narrowed.

Superman turned in midair, like the hands on a clock, until he was floating upside down. His long red cape hung like a banner from his neck, waving below him in the high-rise breeze. "It didn't work."

"What didn't?"

"Your scheme. Plan. Whatever. It didn't take. I'm still here." Superman smiled an upside-down smile. "Nice try, though. The Krypton-enhanced grenades almost turned the tide."

"What stopped them?"

"Industrial plastic. Maybe not so effective on the meteor rocks, but definitely effective on the shrapnel." Another smile. "It's the superhero equivalent of padding my bra."

"Or your jockstrap," Lex muttered.

Superman tsked him and said, "Have to get the green stuff in to ensure delivery of the payload, Lex. I'd've thought you would have made that clear to your minions by now."

"Do you really think it's necessary to rub it in?"

"Hey. I didn't try to have you killed, y'know. Indulge me."

"Fine." Lex sat down on the patio chair and pulled his left shoe off. He massaged his toes. The campaign trail was hell on his feet. "Doesn't that flying upside down thing make the blood rush to your head?"

"My physiology is-"

"I don't care." Lex cut him off by throwing an expensive Gucci shoe at him. It bounced off Superman's indestructible chest and fell 100 stories into the night. Superman disappeared for a moment, then reappeared, still upside down, shoe in hand. He dropped it on the balcony. "So now we're playing fetch?" Lex asked, one eyebrow arched in amusement. "Does this mean you're my bi-"

"Watch it."

"When the blood rushes to your head, it drowns your sense of humor. Doesn't it?"

"That shoe could have killed someone!"

"Whatever." Lex rubbed his toes. What he needed was good old fashioned Epsom salts and a nice tub of warm water.

"Let's get down to business."

"And that would be...?"

"I just came to tell you. Your nefarious schemes are no match for the power of my intellect and ingenuity."

"Right, right," Lex said amiably.

"You're going down, Luthor."

"Okay, sure." Lex wiggled his toes. Definitely time to invest in custom arch supports. Also, he was going to have to call room service and get a bowl of ice for his hand. It felt as though it'd been squeezed in a vise - the vise of a thousand would-be constituents, shaking his hand and asking him to consider hog futures and grain trading and...it made his head ache.

"Hey." Superman sounded annoyed.

Lex looked up. "Sorry. You were saying?"

"I can't prove it was you, but eventually you'll slip up." Superman leaned forward, as if to impart confidential information. "And I'll be there to stop you."

"Sure you will." Lex held up an index finger and trotted back inside to get a pad of paper from the desk in the foyer. He took an expensive pen from its holder and returned from to the balcony. "Any other threats you feel like slinging around tonight? Because I really want to get into a hot bath. My feet ache."

"Another one of the perils of your chosen profession."

Lex didn't like the way Superman spat out that phrase. He glowered at the Man of Steel for a moment but flung him the note anyway. He watched Superman read it and smiled with perfect understanding when Superman incinerated it with his heat vision. "Get away from my penthouse, Superman. I'm tired."

"Clean up your act, Luthor."

"Uh-huh," Lex said, but the sky was empty. He sank down into the patio chair with a sigh. Definitely time for custom arches.

The doorbell chimed ponderously in the hallway. About a minute later, the butler ushered in Clark, whose arms were full of papers; a briefcase swung precariously from his little finger, and his sportscoat was wrinkled like it had just come from the bottom of a bag. "Sorry I'm late."

"Clark, did you wear that coat to work today?"

"What about it?" Clark blinked at him from behind glasses - it was such a shame, those glasses; Lex missed a clear, unobstructed view of his eyes - and added, "Just because you're Mr. Fashion Maven-"

"Oh, not this again." Lex rubbed his eyes. "My feet hurt, you know."

"Sorry." Clark looked contrite. "But you did say dinner, didn't you? I mean...I wore a coat because you said dinner. I haven't seen you in a week, Lex, and...I thought maybe we could get some steaks and talk about the campaign. Perry wants a few more pages to the exclusive."

Contrite, he might be, but Clark was also a bit like a ravenous dog left tied too long to its stake, hungry for information and red meat, with a dash of ambition.

"Hang on. I'll put some shoes on." The thought made Lex wince.

"I could carry you."

"Very funny." Lex padded past Clark and down the long hallway into his bedroom, where he fished old loafers out of the closet. Over his shoulder, he said, "After dinner, I need to make a stop downtown."

"That's fine. You have a board meeting tonight, don't you?"

"Yes. Food first, then business." Lex threw a glance at the bed. "And then, bed."

"Bed first, then food, then bed." Clark looked entirely too hopeful.

"Oh, no you don't. Duty calls."

Clark could still remember the day Lex closed down the house in Smallville. It was one of those things; he'd been home, visiting briefly with his folks, and Lex had been in the neighborhood. Clark had flirted with telling his parents he was thinking of sleeping with Lex, but he didn't want to upset the status quo. They had big dreams for him - a low-on-the-totem-pole job at the Daily Planet was just the first step on the road toward conquering the world, yessiree, and he didn't have the heart to tell them that Lex was going to conquer the world, and maybe Clark Kent, too.

Strange, how easily those memories came back to him as he flew over the skies of Metropolis. Like a wink of the eye, the years had slipped away from him, and from Lex. It had been hard to imagine a day when he wouldn't be afraid to fly, and harder still to imagine a time when Smallville wasn't home.

Until the day Lex closed up the house.

They'd stood in the foyer, just inside the door; Lex had been a little drunk, a little angry, and Clark had been determined to get his point across. Not Clark's fault that Jonathan's moralism had rubbed off on Lex, and definitely something that could be undone. Light from the windows drifted down and made the place look livable, alive, but it wasn't; Lex's ties with Smallville were dying, and Lex wasn't going to stay laced to something toxic.

An electric charge had built slowly between them, sizzling with plaintive looks and angry hesitation. Then Lex had kissed him, had knocked him down on the ground and whispered to him, crawling over him, devouring him, promising him things Clark always wanted and Superman never would, and Clark bit down on his secrets and took what he wanted with the lie of omission rattling around in his gut.

A lot of miles had gone by since that day. Lex had become powerful, and Clark had become Sybil in a leotard. It was working, so far. Clark had all he wanted; he gave all he could.

The sun was going down and a chill permeated the air. It had been a hell of a day. Hell of a week, actually, without Lex, but his co-workers were conspiring to really piss him off this particular day. Perry had been a complete bastard about the exclusive. No one could rant like Perry. His instincts were sharper than a jungle animal and he could smell Clark holding back on him. At first Clark thought it might be about the vagueness of the interview questions, but it didn't take a genius - even though Clark could have supplied the brainpower for that - to catch on to Perry's suspicions about him and Lex. So he'd sucked it up and agreed to do another round of questions. Anything to preserve the illusion.

Lois' suspicions were on the rise as well. Clark wouldn't have been surprised at all to learn she had been following him, or having him followed. He knew it was just a matter of time until someone exposed Lex, or maybe both of them, lovers without the good sense it took to love each other from afar. He didn't care. Part of the charm of it was that Lex didn't give a damn, either, or at least not enough of a damn to slow him down.

Then there had been the grenade attack a few miles from the docks. Clever, getting Superman down there with a ship sinking in the harbor and passengers flailing around in the water; the whole world apparently knew he had a weakness for saving multiple victims. Too predictable. When the grenades had been launched in his direction, he'd taken some sheets of heavy-grade industrial plastic and used them to deflect the green-tinted shrapnel. A few pieces of that in his skin and Clark would have had a hard time making it to Lex's for dinner.

On his fifth pass by the penthouse, he saw the lights on and dropped down lower to see if Lex was home.

It had been a whirlwind tour of twelve cities - Lex was leading by twenty points in the polls. This fact did nothing to distract him from constant daydreams about fucking Clark, though it did make him feel much better about paying an entire staff of analysts to decipher the needs of the average American farmer and translate it into Lex-speak.

The trouble was, after so many years together, he was starting to feel married. Not in the ball-and-chain way (though he wasn't averse to the chains per se, if they were wrapped around him in the right way), but in the miss like crazy way. Ridiculous, for a distinguished billionaire with aspirations of being president to be thinking about a rumpled journalist like a teenage crush, but there it was. A week away from the guy and he was starting to have wet dreams about him, dreams he hadn't had since he was 21.

Take, for instance, the dream with the pond. Not that he ever got in the pond, and not that Clark was ever naked. There was just the two of them, and a pond, and a big blue Kansas sky, and a feeling of total bliss. That was the dream he hated worst of all, because it could never be like that. Hell, it had never been like that.

"Mr. Luthor, we've obtained research that shows Senators Merrill and Oberman are ready to endorse you completely. We've made some inquiries and Merrill is ready to make a statement today." Andrew passed him the files as they made their way through the lobby of LexCorp.

"Will it help me?" Lex asked. He opened the file, winced at the broad, false smile on Merrill's face in his head shot, and snapped the folder closed.

"Well, sir, you're so far ahead at this point that we don't believe you need the endorsements." Andrew grabbed the folder to prevent it from falling to the ground when Lex shoved it in his direction. "But it can never hurt."

"Tell the senator that he can keep his endorsement. We're doing fine without it." Lex stabbed at the button of the elevator, then drew his cell out of his pocket. He hit the number and waited impatiently until he heard, "Clark Kent."

"Busy?" He smiled when Clark chuckled on the other end of the line.

"Not too. Well, okay, yes. If you want to get technical about it, I'm busy with more copy about you. Perry ordered me to fix the goddamned interview!" Clark produced a credible bellow, one that made Lex grin.

"What's the matter, I didn't give you enough material?"

"Apparently not. I feel like we talked for hours, Lex, but I wasn't able to come up with more than a few pages of...well. You know."

"I know. I was there," Lex said. The elevator doors slid open; Lex ducked his head down. "Listen, Clark. Let's have dinner tonight." He dropped his voice, low enough that the bodyguards turned curious looks his direction. "I'm going to do some amazing things to you, later."

"It's about time," rumbled Clark. "What time?"

"I have some handshaking and baby kissing to do downtown this afternoon. Come by the penthouse anytime after five."

"See you then."

Lex tucked the phone back in his pocket and boarded the elevator with Andrew, who looked just a little more afraid than he had that morning when they left Kansas City. Lex was always of the opinion that a nervous subordinate wasn't good for business, so he patted Andrew on the shoulder. "Relax," he said, and noticed Andrew's shoulders hunching up under his touch. He sighed. So misunderstood.

On the eightieth floor, he submitted to palm print ident, retinal scan, voiceprint and a few other newish modes of secure identity confirmation before he could be admitted to his own labs. Sensitive materials didn't even begin to cover the range of items being worked on behind the huge metal doors. He scoped in on Dr. Jorgen and headed straight for him. "Do you have it, Doctor?"

"I do, yes. This way," Jorgen said. "The field appears to be stable now, though it's not completely foolproof, but with some minor tweaking, we believe the device will work quite well."

"Where is it?"

Jorgen laid a velvet box in his hand. Lex lifted the ring out and examined it carefully. "The diamonds are a nice touch."

"We had hoped you would be pleased. A man with your discriminating tastes should not have to wear a piece of jewelry that is not tailored to him."

"It's not for me," Lex said with a smile. He turned the cool ring over, then slid it on his finger. It was too big. "How is it activated?"

"By touching the diamonds, left to right, bottom to top. A sweep of a fingertip will produce the correct effect."

"Perfect," Lex said. He stuffed the ring back into its box. "Just what I was looking for."

"You're going to be gone a week," Clark said softly. "I'm having withdrawals, here." He was sprawled out beneath the sheets like a decadent god, all muscles and angles.

Lex climbed on top of Clark and kissed him, slow, methodical, until Clark writhed beneath him. "You'd be better off finding yourself something to play with while I'm gone," Lex murmured. "An amusement."

"Is that what you do, while you're gone?" Clark's eyes had gone dark.

"Does that turn you on?"

One second later, Lex was on his back and Clark was inside him, rough, without mercy, pushing deep. Lex wrapped his legs around Clark and pushed himself down, fucking himself on Clark's dick with all the force he could manage, but Clark was in control. He moved slowly, hips snapping in a slow, sharp rhythm. "You'd like that, wouldn't you," he breathed, and Lex was sure Clark was breathing for both of them. "Thinking of me, fucking him."

"Maybe," Lex panted. "I...oh, god...dammit...Clark..." Coherent speech was always the first thing to go, infuriating him beyond belief, but with Clark pressing into him, screwing him with deep strokes, he couldn't think of a reason he'd need language anyway.

"I don't want anyone else, and...I..." Clark caught his breath, then took a wet, slow kiss from Lex. His hand was wrapped tightly around Lex's cock and he pulled at it, a rhythm he knew by heart. Lex would have resented Clark's power over him if he hadn't been so busy coming hard enough to make the blood roar in his ears. Orgasms had a way of putting things in perspective.

"Not fair," Lex gasped.

Clark arched and his head tipped back, and Lex tightened his legs around Clark's waist, holding him in place for another few moments. Clark's face was a study in ecstasy, a drawn portrait of all the things Lex wanted, things he couldn't have but was going to keep for himself anyway, regardless of cost.

When Clark dropped down beside him, spent, Lex hoped Clark would sleep. It was easiest to watch him unguarded then, to see him without having to pretend not to notice too much. But Clark had other ideas.

"Why did you bring me here?" he asked drowsily, looking over at Lex. "It's the best hotel in Metropolis, but...I get the feeling you weren't just thinking of my comfort."

"No." Lex rolled on his side and looked at Clark for a long moment, then climbed out of bed and pulled on his pajama bottoms. "The penthouse is bugged."

"Well, that's no surprise. You predicted that." Clark propped himself up on one elbow. "Are you sure this place is safe?"

"I had this room and the adjoining rooms swept earlier today. It's as good as we're going to get, for now." Lex rubbed a hand over his scalp. "I have an idea about constructing a bugproof office, but it'll have to wait."

"Who's behind it?"

"Could be anyone. FBI, CIA, industrial espionage. Hell, it could even be my father. Again."

"I thought he learned his lesson a long time ago."

"Lionel never learns."

Clark toyed with the sheet. "Are you worried they'll find out about us?"

Lex gave him a look. "You know better. My image and reputation really can't be tarnished much more than they already have, but people like me anyway. I don't have any catching up to do."

"So, then, you're worried they'll find out about me."

Lex nodded and sat down on the edge of the bed, with his back to Clark. The words brought an overwhelming rush of fear, something he hadn't felt in years, since he was a child in a cornfield, scarred by destiny. "Look, Clark. This whole plan...I'm beginning to wonder if it's wise."

Clark sighed. The bed dipped as Clark scooted closer to him. "We agreed this was the best way."

"I know what we agreed to. I'm entitled to change my mind."

"Don't you think it's a little late for that?" Clark's arm snaked around his waist. "Look, Lex....wait. I don't like this. Get in the bed, or get out, but I'm not talking to your shoulderblades."

Lex's mouth twisted into a grimace of a smile despite his best efforts. He lifted his legs onto the bed and shifted so he was facing Clark. "Better," Clark said. "Anyway. We knew there was a risk, but the benefits outweigh the risks."

"I'm not so sure."

"It's not like you to waver once your mind is made up." Clark grinned at him. "Lex Luthor, Man of the Ages!"

The urge to touch Clark was so strong Lex felt his hand start to tremble. He reached out to trace the curve of Clark's smile. "Testing out this technology could be done in a safer way."

"No, it couldn't. We have to know, right? Whether or not we do it in a lab, I'm the only person who can tell you if the energy field is effective in repelling Kryptonite. What better way than in a public venue? It gives us such perfect opportunities to feud. Superman and Lex Luthor, arch enemies. Lex and Clark, best friends."

Lex just stared at him. "I know what it's like to have a death wish, Clark. You know, there are treatments for it. Therapy. Medication. Things like that."

"No death wish. Just a healthy sense of curiosity. And self-preservation. Hey, you said it yourself: Keeping up the illusion that we hate each other is the hardest thing of all."

"It might not be, someday." He immediately wished he could recall the words, because he didn't even know what he meant by them, and Clark seemed alarmed by their vague prophetic undertones.

"What's that supposed to mean? You know something I don't?"

"That's not what I meant to say. I mean..." Frustrated, Lex flopped back on the bed. "Fiction is fine, and I want to keep it that way."

"It's a script, Lex. We're following it to the letter. It keeps me sharp. I never know where the attack is coming from, and I always stay on my toes. And now, we're ready to try out the defense."

"I invented these weapons. I planned to use them against you." The thought of it made Lex sick.

"You're correcting that mistake now. Right? Your people put together the mechanism for the energy field. I mean, they fit it into a ring, Lex. That's remarkable."

Lex didn't answer. Instead, he threw his hands over his face and groaned.

"What?" Clark asked, concerned.

"I hated the idea of you," Lex said, words muffled against his hands. "I wanted to destroy the thing I wanted most. I just had no concept of how hard it would be to love the thing I hate."

"I wish I had told you sooner." Clark hesitated, then said, "But...this is the way it is, the way it's going to be. Unless you're telling me it isn't, and then...well."

Well. Lex knew what came next. "I'm okay with it Clark. Not really, but...I'll manage."

"Good." Clark peeled Lex's hands off his face and kissed him so thoroughly he ran out of air. "Then let's stop talking."

March 21, 2016 3:20AM

Lex often dreamed of flying, but it never seemed real. None of the sensations were there - the lurching stomach, the windburn on his face, the cold stars streaking by. This time, though, Lex thought he could feel the wind, see the stars, and his body recognized the sudden fall. He woke, straggling up from the depths of surreality, and looked around wildly.

Clark was bunched into a ball in an easy chair beside the bed, asleep.

Now Lex knew why he'd dreamed of flying.

He reached for the call button, but changed his mind. He'd wanted to see Clark sleeping and now he had his chance. The glasses had slid down to the tip of Clark's nose and hung precariously there. Lex thought if they slid a millimeter more, they'd drop into Clark's lap and leave him vulnerable. Not like anything could really protect Clark. They knew that, now. Or at least Lex did. He had his doubts about Clark's perception of the situation.

He dozed, off and on, waiting for Clark to wake and notice that Lex's eyes were open, but the drugs and shock overtook him, and the next time he saw Clark, it was morning and Clark was bending over him.

"Lex," Clark said fervently, and Lex realized his hand was trapped between Clark's big hands. "Thank god you're awake."

"Was last night, too," Lex began, and stopped in horror. His voice seemed to have sustained cracks and scratches. He cleared his throat and said, "I watched you sleep."

Clark's warm smile was worth the effort of saying the words. "You should have called the nurse so she could wake me."

"No way," Lex rasped. "How bad is it?"

"You, uh. You died, for a minute," Clark said. "They brought you back, but it was close."

"Really?" Lex knew he must look incredulous, because Clark went on hastily.

"But they brought you right back."

"Modern miracles," Lex muttered.

Clark's grip on his hand tightened. "I don't want to go through this again, Lex."

"Don't know that you'll have a choice."

"I do, though. We made a deal, and I'm breaking it."

"What?" Lex stared incredulously. "First you talked me into it, and now you...." He broke off, coughing.

Clark pressed a straw to his lips. "Drink some water."

So he did, and then he groped for Clark again. "Just because this backfired?"

"Especially because it backfired."

Lex closed his eyes and tried to focus. "There was no real test of the energy field. For all we know, it doesn't work."

"Oh, but there was." Clark's eyes gleamed. "The assassin took a crack at me like he was supposed to. The bullets bounced right off the shield. More than that, this guy had the refined ore in his room. Nothing. Couldn't feel it."

A smile broke over Lex's face. "That's good news..." More coughing; when Lex caught his breath, he whispered, "It's good that we're quitting all this, because I'm tired of all the acting."

"Overacting, you mean," Clark corrected him. "And I didn't appreciate that note, either."

"What note?"

"The one you passed me at the penthouse. 'Quit hamming it up' isn't exactly useful advice, Lex."

"Oh. That note." Lex chuckled. "Well, you aren't Julliard material."

"Nope." Clark kissed him gently and spoke next to Lex's ear. "It's hard enough being two people. It sucks when one of them has to pretend to hate you. My heart wasn't in it."

"I'll have to adjust my love-hate complex. And call off the other hits, too," Lex said thoughtfully. "What I go through for you..." He broke off, coughing. "What will people think if Lex Luthor isn't out to get Superman?"

"Politicians are evil by definition, but they're low on Superman's radar. Besides, you never were evil. Not that way, anyway."

"Yes I was." Indignant, Lex tapped Clark's hand, grateful Clark really had no idea how far wrong he was, once upon a career. "It's your fault. How could I achieve spectacular evil and implement my evil plans when Superman was giving me pointers on redirecting my anger?"

"That's right, blame me."

"I always do."

They lapsed into quiet, until Lex squeezed Clark's hand. "Hey."

"What?" Clark leaned closer.

"I don't think I'm meant to be President."

"No?" Clark asked.

"No. Maybe...senator. Maybe start small, work up. Go bigger."

"Maybe not," Clark said, grinning. "Luthors never do anything small. Luthors take what they want, remember?"

"I am," Lex said, and squeezed Clark's hand harder, as hard as he could. Clark's expression shifted, subtly; there was uncertainty in his eyes, and much more. Lex couldn't bear to look; it was like flying again. Stars were streaking by, and the corners of his world were folding, bringing him back to the center. "Clark?"


"Get me out of here."

Associated Press - Metropolis, Kansas
March 21, 2016

Presidential candidate Lex Luthor was shot by an unknown assailant outside his LexCorp offices in Metropolis last night. He was pronounced dead at Metropolis General Hospital at one minute past midnight. Luthor was clinically dead for two minutes but was successfully resuscitated by a team of physicians. A hospital spokesman states Luthor was released from Metropolis General this afternoon against the recommendation of the attending physician. He remains under the care of private physicians.

The shooter, who has not been identified, fell to his death from a five-story window in the GenChem building opposite LexCorp headquarters.

LexCorp executives declined to comment on the near-fatal assault.


Notes: Dedicated to Becky, with much gratitude. The structure of this story was inspired in part by Andariel's "The Cat", but the plot was inspired by a cartoon. Remember the one with the coyote and the sheepdog, who are enemies while they're on the clock and best buds when they're off duty? That's the one. Many thanks to Lanning for reassurance and suggestions, to joan the english chick for the beta, and to Carol for her honest opinion, as always.

If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to Destina Fortunato

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