Respire

by MartianHousecat


Thanks Caro, for the excellent beta.


It wasn't his fault. Clark... Clark hadn't told him and it wasn't Lex's fault. He couldn't be expected to operate on incomplete information. They were lovers and that was supposed to mean trust - or so Clark had told him often enough, trying to combat Lex's control issues, intimacy issues, all his other associated neuroses. He always tried to cure Lex with a kiss. Those eyes so deep with yearning and so earnest, as if he could break past Lex's defenses with nary a whisper, just eyes and lips that lied. Clark should have trusted him.

It wasn't Lex's fault.

There were years of whispers before Clark learned to lie properly. One day, when Lex looked, he only saw Clark - no more of that troubling other that had been there from the start, always between them, even when they curled close together in the dark and listened to their quick breaths slow. That was victory. Nothing lingering when Clark breathed "I love you Lex, I trust you." And nothing ever made him harder. Clark was his. A too-heady release when Clark worshipped him so prettily, so purely. So honestly.

Smallville was behind them. All that enticing ambiguity was gone, but Lex found that Clark was enough. Brilliant smiles over breakfast where Lex had poached eggs and plain toast and Clark managed to convince the cook to serve him Cocoa Puffs. Lex would just favour him with a disgusted grimace - always the same one, familiar as meals together had become, as familiar as allowing Clark close to him, more so than any before, was becoming. Because Clark, with his brilliant smiles and bourgeois choice of breakfasts was worthy.

There were dinners with the Kents, every Sunday evening since Lex and Jonathan had shaken over their mutual assurance in each other's love for Clark. He was satisfied, he'd said and Jonathan had smiled - so like his son, all solidity and brilliance that filled Lex up, like he was loved. The hand clapped gruffly on his shoulder to lead him into the house had finally felt like home. Martha always had a plate of chocolate chip cookies and admonishments for Lex to eat more, he was too skinny, ready in equal abundance. Sometimes they stretched out on the porch after dinner with Martha's pie and the fine brandy Lex insisted on bringing and Jonathan would forget to protest overmuch. The sharp tang of cheddar cheese and the warm, slick of apple and cinnamon, were writ brightly in his memory, along with stars, the scent of damp hay with long easy conversations.

An interview with Chloe and one with Lois, because they were happy and open. He'd watched LexCorp stock dip, sure that he could regain it all and that it was worth it. That Clark was. And Clark was so pleased - he didn't like being hidden and secret, and delighted in the recognition of their relationship, of his place in Lex's life. And as the years passed, his stock flourished, and Lex's political career bloomed. Maybe things were harder this way, being visibly out and proud, but he took up the challenge with all the thrill bred into his bloodline and made his way.

Ruthlessness was necessary but Clark assured him that he understood with soft kisses to the back of his neck and strong, warm arms pulling Lex against his chest.

And there was Superman, saving hapless villagers from mudslides, kittens from trees, humans from themselves and standing in Lex's way. As if he'd decided that Lex merited special supervision, he was always there, ready to mete out his dichotomous brand of justice, when one of Lex's projects was just coming to fruition. Alien. More powerful than anything of this earth, even what was bred up in Smallville. But Lex was meticulous and though the alien had always managed to avoid recording devices, as if it was another one of his powers - spotting out cameras that were a tech geek's wet dream - he'd learned. Limits, failings and a green Achilles heel.

How he'd wondered though, at how the alien's face seemed to make a sieve of his memory. Dark hair, green eyes and something painfully familiar that he could never quite touch, like tonguing at some leftover particle of food that you could feel with near-insensate teeth, but eluded the nerves of your flesh. All the speeches over years of violent acquaintance and once when he'd roused its temper, its hands on his silk shirt and their bodies too close, and Lex still couldn't put a visage to the name. Title. The way its voice softened like a sometime friend - too close where no one but Clark was welcome.

Clark always waited those nights, in their darkened bedroom, ready with soft kisses and strong arms. "I love you Lex. Nothing matters but this. Nothing matters but family, but us." Hard everywhere because of It, all edges and ice, harder for Clark, with every breathy whisper and Lex burned. Let himself melt further into his lover, with every uttered caress. That was peace. Just Clark to take the edges off, to redefine Lex in his arms, drawing him in closer and tighter with every night with promised whispers. "Safe Lex, you're safe here, with me"

There was the Senate and then, the White House, with Clark standing by his side, still his innocent farm boy, even behind the ugly glasses he insisted were his favorites. Clark had conceded his wardrobe to the stylists, had even given up his beloved red sweaters, but his glasses were non-negotiable. A broken decanter and raised voices, the first time in years, had taught him that. To the mantra of "don't leave, Clark, don't leave me," he'd held himself open and given his lover everything. When thought became word Clark relented. "I have you Lex," he'd said.

Clark understood compartmentalization and that there were things that Lex couldn't tell him, but knowing that Lex would, if he asked, was everything. Lex knew because he felt it. In the crystalline assignment of business/love/passion curiosity figured low in importance. Eventually it withered.

And still It was there. Alien. More powerful than anything of this earth, even what was bred up in the labs of their defense contractors. Besides green, there was red; a Superman that might one day cease to limit his operations to mudslides, trees, and crime, was a security threat. Meticulous as ever, Lex took precautions and when Superman continued its tradition of attentions, Lex was ready. Rationalization was unnecessary - he could not allow any being to exist above the authority of his country and justice was never that which was given by one. Duty and pride, perhaps that figured, would not allow It to hold him to its judgments.

With the taste of apple and cinnamon fresh on his tongue, he ordered a trap set and Superman eliminated in his snare. To raze out its existence as he'd once burned himself clean of weakness; with the closing of its green eyes, Lex would be free of this final mystery. Limitless.

Clark missed dinner. There were phone calls; frantic bursts of invective from a president the staff had come to expect absolute control. And there were others, just as heated but with clear direction - he could not operate in an information vacuum and there would eventually be a press statement to prepare.

There was video feed, but firm in his denial, Lex had insisted on seeing the body, knowing the danger. Because it could not be him.

It wasn't his fault. Clark... Clark hadn't told him and it wasn't Lex's fault. He couldn't be expected to operate on incomplete information. They were lovers and that was supposed to mean trust - or so Clark had told him often enough, trying to combat Lex's control issues, intimacy issues, all his other associated neuroses. He always tried to cure Lex with a kiss. Those eyes so deep with yearning and so earnest, as if he could break past Lex's defenses with nary a whisper, just eyes and lips that lied. Clark should have trusted him.

It wasn't Lex's fault.

And Clark wasn't breathing.



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