Author Notes: To MHC, for walking me through. Slowly. And with much help. My thanks.
Warning: implications of incest
Archiving: SSA, Level_Three
Disclaimer: I don't own any character mentioned.
Central City has its own version of the Suicide Slums--the warehouse district off eleventh, alleyways choked with garbage and human filth, maybe even bodies if he wants to look. Clark's stopped seeing a lot of it, but the smell is inescapable, thickening in his nose, something he wants to claw out of his lungs and scratch off the surface of his skin.
X-Ray vision's got its uses, more tonight than any other. A sweep of one circle of filthy bundles camped around a trashcan, tiny fire lit within--not what he's looking for. Six miles in every direction would be nice, but enough of these old buildings are still painted in peeling lead, and lead pipes still run like collapsing veins beneath crumbling brick walls.
So he walks, a painful, inch by inch scan of everything moving, mind blanked to what he doesn't want to see. He can find a needle in a haystack at five thousand miles, but tonight, it's almost being human to do it like this.
So maybe there's more than one reason his boots are caked with the slime of more miles of cracked pavement than he can count.
Fifty feet away, a human wouldn't have heard, wouldn't know what it meant if he had, but Clark's head turns, left at the next juncture, stepping over a pile of rags and debris he doesn't care enough to identify. Identical, tinkling, like ivory rubbed together, and he comes to a stop beneath the fire escape of a forgotten tenement and watches dice disappear inside a clenched, broken-nailed fist.
"Double or nothing." No flicker in any of the four, and Clark blinks to watch the dirty hand emerge from the edges of a tattered jacket--elegant even now, burns marring the sides of his fingers, dirt caked beneath yellowed fingernails, familiar and practiced flick of a narrow wrist before the dice trickle across the pavement. "Let the dice fly high."
"Meleander," Clark says, and three sets of eyes focus on him in perfect incomprehension. It's the fourth set that matters. A pause that's all beneath the skin while the body rises, unidentifiable except for sharp eyes.
"Good call. Who're you?"
It should be frightening that Clark has to think about his answer, but the jeans and boots give it away. "Clark Kent. Or did the crack burn out what's left of your mind?"
Nothing, but Clark can hear the slightest hitch in breath. Crouching, the man picks up his dice with a single swipe of his hand. "Go away. All of you."
The voice is the same, too--command beneath the raspy edge, inarguable, unanswerable. Clark ignores the ache in the center of his chest as the man straightens, pulling at his jacket like a cocktail party suit.
"Kent." It's not a familiar voice except in cadence--something genetic, trained into the DNA until it's as much a part of him as the name he was denied. "Crack didn't burn it all out. I remember. The question would be, why do you remember me?"
The hazy eyes lighten--echoes of someone else in a different life, maybe this man or another one, but Clark's not entirely sure of the separation anymore. Laughing nowhere but deep inside, a private joke that no one else will ever get. "What do I owe the pleasure?"
"Wouldn't you rather get out of here?"
He spits on the ground, and Clark can see the traces of living blood laced through it. Closing his eyes, Clark takes a deep breath. "My life's worth less than the air we're breathing. Tell me what you want."
The answer's simpler than one word, more complex than a thousand, and Clark could just pick him up and drag him out, taking to the sky. He's right. His life's worth less than nothing. Identities don't matter here at all.
"Just you." A wary shift that's pure him, though. He's never seen that before, the way the elegant head ducks. "What will it take?"
Clark doesn't expect the grin--a flash of curdled sweetness, an eighteen year old, fucked-up kid looking at him over a basketball, an even more fucked-up almost-son twisting beneath his body with bullets so close Clark could feel the air shudder as they passed.
Too-long blond hair and brilliant eyes are all that's left, but that's enough.
"All you have to do is ask."
He's in the shower for an hour.
Clark's sure it's not just to get clean, though that's a part of it. Sitting on the worn comforter, he breathes in the scent of cheap bleach and mothballs, restless, needing movement, but somehow, giving into it is a victory he just doesn't want to allow the man in the bathroom.
It's stupid. It's childish. It's still there, even with the door sliding open in a cloud of thick, soap-scented steam. Near-skeletal body, narrow hips wrapped in cheap, dingy white cotton, shaved and hair cut, it's like being sixteen again and all first-times still ahead. Clark breathes out a little and the grin tells him he's not hiding a damn thing.
"I remind you of him, right?" Casual in near-nudity, he's a Luthor even if he doesn't have the name, carries himself like nothing in the world can touch him that he doesn't choose for himself. Whatever passed from their mothers, the bodies are all their father's--lean, wiry, power encased in deceptively fragile flesh. The same arrogant tilt to their heads, that same inner belief in their own invulnerability.
Lucas is only methadone of the real thing, but Clark takes what he can get.
"Not really." It's a lie. "Everyone thinks you're dead."
Lucas grins, sharp and fast. "Safer that way. My life might not be worth much, but I'm attached to it." He pulls a shirt off the top of the worn dresser, holding up the plain white cotton with a parody of care. "Nice. Wal-Mart special?"
"I was in a hurry." Impulse is like that. Leaning back on one arm, Clark averts his eyes as Lucas drops the towel, but the brief glimpse is burned into his memory as if he'd been staring for hours. Lionel's golden skin stretched fine over muscle like wire. Luthor men don't tend toward bulk even when they're eating regularly.
He can hear the jeans slide on, boxers ignored. Clark looks back to see Lucas pull the zipper up, leaving the button undone, fingers pushing up the shirt, tracing the light hair edging into the open waist of the jeans. Clark can't stop the blush--it's there before he can think about it.
The filthy transient's replaced by--this. No one wouldn't recognize Lucas Dunleavy, Lucas Luthor, if they met him even once. Like Lex, that particular quality that makes them stand out even when they shouldn't. When they don't want to.
"You've been running for a long time," Clark says quietly and gets the reward of a flicker within Lucas' eyes.
"Forty-one cities in thirteen years." With an absent stretch, Lucas pads to the bed, tossing himself down as bonelessly as a kid. Inches away from Clark's thigh, completely confident in that way Clark's always envied, never been able to touch. Something about being comfortable in your skin, maybe, or knowing what's inside of it.
Clark's never had that.
"I picked up your trail in Edge City. You left a little fast."
"Big brother got a little too close there." From the corner of his eye, Clark sees Lucas flash that grin again, rolling onto his side in a single languid stretch of muscle.
"Coast City, then San Francisco. You left a trail of bodies in Springfield." Clark feels Lucas' gaze narrow. "Why here?"
Lucas shrugs. "Couldn't think of anywhere better." Lucas cocks his head, shifting onto his back to stare up at the rot-grey ceiling. It's a motel that charges by the hour. "Why were you looking for me?"
The pat answer's on the tip of his tongue--you're news, Lucas, I was doing an article, Lucas, I know how a Luthor kills, Lucas--but it's not true. "How do you get away?"
That's not what he expected to say. To ask.
Lucas grins, eyes going soft and hazy. "It's all about the chase, you know. It's in the DNA. I'm not quite interesting enough to go at full time, just interesting enough to keep up with. Not important enough to kill. Too dangerous to let live free." The blond head turns, clear eyes holding Clark's. "You know. You know Lex. He wants me dead but doesn't quite care enough to make it happen." One hand raised, Clark can see the track marks extending from his wrist, disappearing into his shirt mid-upper arm.
"He got close." So many times. Clark wonders about their exclusive little club--Superman and Lucas Luthor, Lex's most faithful hates.
"Close only counts in horseshoes and darts. Didn't you learn that? If it were important, I'd be dead."
Superman's important, Clark doesn't say.
"Besides, this is a better revenge, isn't it?" A gesture encompassing the room. "Right back to my roots. Run and hide like an animal, no identity, no money, never enough time, no one who gives a shit. He's got to get off on that when he thinks about it."
Lucas is looking at him again. "Why are you here?"
Clark shakes his head, standing up. "I need information." Picking up the bag, he throws it over his shoulder, giving a glance to the man on the bed. "Let's go."
Clark Kent's been under Lex's radar for years--a casual poke here, a prod there, like an irregular itch that Lex can't quite bother himself to scratch. The journalist's been low priority for longer than Clark cares to think about, no matter how many headlines are splashed across how many newspapers with Luthor's name in the title, Clark's name at the bottom.
So the car's a rental under his own name, a Senata cheap enough to pay cash. Lucas settles into the seat beside him, a curling, bony mass with the look of someone coming down from a long high--smoking cigarettes out the open window, ignoring the no-smoking sign with every evidence of pleasure. His hands shake when he reaches for the coffee they got at a drive-through on the outskirts of the city.
"How you're still accessing your trust fund, for one." Clark's kept up with his homework.
"Lionel's lawyers set that up." Lucas shrugs, blowing out a slow line of smoke in the general direction of the window. "Lex tried every way from Sunday to pull it, but he's not omniscient." Lucas snickers. "Not yet, anyway."
"I thought your identity--"
"Few hours on a computer here, a few pay-offs there. Someone in every city knows how to do it and they all have a price" Lucas shrugs. "Lionel hamstrung me--I can't get to anything but the interest. Probably thought I'd blow it all on women and gambling." A flash of too-white teeth. "He'd have been right. But what a way to go." Taking another slow drag, Lucas pulls a foot up onto the dashboard, staring into the windshield like a television set. "I'd say I'm good at what I do, but Lex just hasn't made a point of trying to cut me off yet."
Not too soon, with Superman taking up so much attention and time, but Clark doesn't say that, either. Hands tightening on the steering wheel, Clark watches the road pass in dingy grey and white from a too-early snow. Melting messy and dank, blackened edges of the road where the dirty slush is piling up.
The silence is unnerving. It's another reminder, sharp and hot, of Lex and how he used silence like questions and like answers, how he could stretch it like taffy until you weren't sure when you were going to snap.
"You taking me in for those murders in Springfield?" Lucas doesn't sound like he believes it. "If I swear they were all self-defense, would you believe me?"
"Your calling card said it all." Carved into flesh and bone, something he had to have learned from an expert, gun shot to the back of the head only at the end. Clark flashes on the morgue shots and blinks them away in the time it takes for Lucas to light another cigarette. "Sociopathic, the analysis said."
Lucas grins at him. "You know my family, Clark. Brilliance, ambition, paranoia, emotional instability--"
"That's thanks to Mom." The snicker seems to echo, and Clark remembers Rachel Dunleavy during those last days when she'd laugh at nothing at all. Breathing slow and steady, wrapped in a straightjacket on a pallet in a bare room. Lost so deeply in her own mind that even Clark couldn't find her anymore. She died long before she stopped breathing. "Dead, right?"
"Six years ago."
"Figures." Lucas blows out another line of smoke, shifting in the seat. "What else do you want to know?"
Clark stares into the grey morning, the taste of smoke slicking the back of his tongue. "Everything you know."
"Personal." Taking a breath, Clark almost coughs at the feel of the air.
"Want one?" Like a magician, a cigarette appears in Lucas' free hand.
"No." Rolling down his window, Clark breathes in the smells of a rotting November. "I know you keep up. With him. What he does."
"Street only. But that's what you want, right? You did notice where you picked me up, right? Last fucking contact got all my money." Lucas purses his lips in thought. "You know anything about bank transfers under the counter?"
No. "What do you need?"
"Twenty grand." Lucas settles back into the seat. "My price. Get me my money. I'll tell you whatever you want to know."
Clark turns on the windshield wipers as he nods.
It's just starting to rain.
They overnight in a shit-town even smaller than Smallville. A gas station by the motel takes Visa and Clark gets whatever his hand encounters, watching Lucas walk the aisles like a drug lord. Too much thug in him to pull off Lex's careless elegance, but arrogant enough to make up for it. Clark's jacket is wrapped around him, half a dozen sizes too big for his current frame, but it covers the track marks. The cashier gives them an amused look as Clark pays, Lucas hand sliding slowly up his back, resting on his shoulder just long enough for Clark to twitch, but not long enough for him to think to pull away.
Separate single beds. Lucas sleeps light as a feather, breathing shallow and harsh, broken by tiny sounds that mean even sleep doesn't bring him peace. Clark doesn't sleep at all, stretched out in his jeans, shirt discarded over the edge of a chair, flipping through infomercial after black and white movie, counting off the minutes on the yellowed plastic clock beside the bed. The television news flashes on Central City, where a cheap motel went up in smoke less than fourteen hours before. Professional job, someone is telling the reporter. There aren't any suspects.
Clark pulls on his shoes and shirt, leading a groggy Lucas to the car.
It's raining like it's never going to stop.
Lucas grins over a stained wooden table. It's a trucker's diner, clean and bright, a good place to hide in plain sight. Lucas is eating for three, and Clark wonders how much of that will come back up in the car. He's a third of the way through the second stack of pancakes before he lifts his head.
"What do you think?"
"You lied." Lucas looks at him like he's a moron. He supposes he is. "You tell me that fire was an accident, I won't believe you."
"Covering possible evidence. Just in case someone's paying attention."
"You said he wasn't that interested."
Lucas spears two sausage, stuffing them both in his mouth at the same time. A flash of glittering eyes, and it's all Lex, cat with a mouse, all about playing. "Maybe I was wrong."
"Stop the fucking games." It's like dealing in circles. Lucas isn't like other people. None of the usual tactics will work. Superman should deal with this one, but Superman will get Lucas dead in less than three hours. Clark Kent's buying Lucas time he doesn't have. "Three cities in four months, ten unexplained and perfectly normal accidents right before you leave, including the evidence destroyed in Springfield. I know his methodology and he hasn't been this messy since he left Smallville. He's protecting you from prosecution and still trying to bury you. You tell me what the hell is going on."
Lucas swallows a lump of half-chewed sausage, pulling the eggs across the table. "Little of this, little of that--might have fucked around a little with some secrets. Maybe I know something worth the effort of killing me to keep silent." Lucas finishes off the eggs in three bites. "Clever with the credit card at the last place. He knows right where we are."
"I paid cash here."
"And I'm sure no one will remember the tall guy forking out a hundred dollar bill at the register for ten dollars worth of dinner. Your idea of inconspicuous and mine are completely different." Lucas shakes his head, the third stack of pancakes beginning to vanish. The bored waitress refills their coffee cup for the third time, eyes lingering on Lucas as he picks it up. Sober or drunk, high or down, Lucas turns on the smile, the one that Lex could flash across a room and make you forget your own name. Not quite the same--sleazy edges, dirty, like Lucas' idea of good sex is a quickie against the wall in alleys with your knees buried in garbage--but close enough.
Works, though, and she smiles back, slowly walking away, tired eyes turning away only when she has to. Clark drinks his coffee black.
"Kills you, doesn't it?" Lucas uses cream and sugar. Tiny paper and plastic pile growing like a burial mound on the emptied plate of hash browns.
"Not having it."
Clark remembers why he hated Lucas on sight. More than competition, more than the blood bond that gave him a tie to Lex that Clark could never have, more even than the smug amusement of an eighteen year old faced with sixteen and unsure. This. The instinctive ability to find weaknesses and probe them. Know where to push and how to hurt.
Even now, when they're suddenly running from a man who wants to bury a secret with Lucas' body.
Lucas looks at his cup, taking the last drink at a gulp before wiping fingers and mouth on the napkin, discarding it on the plate in front of him. Clark shells out the tip, leaving extra because she's lucky she's escaping Lucas' attention. He likes brunettes--Springfield told the world that.
They're five miles on the road before Clark feels the silence snap.
Lucas lights his second cigarette, smug grin in place. Clark would give anything, anything at all, to reach across and smear it off.
"The attention. Kills you, doesn't it?"
Clark feels an unfamiliar smile spread across his lips. "Should I want Lex actively trying to kill me?"
"Shows he cares enough to try. What do you get now? Think he even remembers your name?"
Clark hits the gas with a suddenly numb foot. "It's been years since Smallville."
"Time's a bitch when it doesn't let you let go. I remember, you know." Lucas smiles absently, eyes turned inward. "My brother redefines obsession, but he does it so--creatively. He thought you had secrets. You were interesting. Worth the effort, the energy. I could tell you things--but you know, right?"
The road seems to blur, and Clark thinks he can see a bridge with a single figure standing alone, a sunny late summer day through the pounding rain. "We were friends. That's why he was interested."
"And I'll bet you tell yourself the friendship ended because of something he did. Bad thing for the upstanding young Mr. Kent." Lucas laughs softly, and Clark wonders how readable his face is. "He told me so many things, Clark. You have no idea. When I was worth the effort. When I was interesting."
Clark makes a left. Back to the interstate, double back around Central City. They may make Chicago okay, or Superman might have to make an unscheduled appearance. Looking at Lucas, Clark finds he's not worrying too much about secret identities. He's driving with a living dead man.
Lex is only fourteen hours behind them at best, and Clark doesn't fool himself into thinking it'll get any longer.
"Money. Apartments. Cars," Lucas whispers, eyes falling closed. "This cherry-red Ferrari. Sweeter than a teenage virgin, topped out two-twenty on the highway. The license plate was a get out of speeding tickets free card. He gave me whatever I wanted. Whenever I wanted it."
Lucas' eyes flicker open, fixing on the windshield. "Novelty wore off." The wince is all under the skin.
"I thought it was that you tried to kill him."
Lucas' smile stretches. "Got his attention, didn't I? Pretty little brother novelty forgotten in Central City. See the lawyer, Lucas. I don't have time for this, Lucas. I'm a busy man, Lucas." Smoke trails make lazy circles in the air. Lucas breaks them with a cut of long, trembling fingers. "You're not worth the effort, Lucas. You're not interesting enough, Lucas."
Clark shivers at the malice running under that cool voice like fetid water. Old, old anger, burning cold and restless and searching. Lex without the patience or the control.
"Was it worth it? What you did this time?"
Lucas stares blankly out into the rain like he's seeing Lex's face. More years between them than just the two in age. Lucas is old in a way Clark won't ever be. "It worked, didn't it?"
Clark thinks about calling Lois from a pay phone in Fort City but hangs up the phone before the last number's dialed. He's not paranoid enough to think Lex can trace every phone call.
Lucas is asleep in the car. Age and experience should be stripped away--in a different world, Clark would be able to see the kid he first met and hated, but the lines are just as hard, etched as indelibly as history into his mouth and forehead. Sleep so light that even the slightest noise wakes him, and the clear eyes are as open and alive as an animal's when Clark opens the driver's side door.
He's wired, Clark can see that, and he wonders what he took and when he could have gotten it. The diner? Probably. Speed to stay awake from some trucker in the bathroom, jittering along every visible nerve and behind Lucas' eyes as it kicks in.
"Ashley and Martin," Lucas says, glancing out the window.
The shaking hands lock around one jean covered knee. "My money. We can do it from here. Someone will know how to get in and someone will know--"
"And sell the information to Lex before an hour's passed." Clark comes to a stop at a worn stoplight, the faded red of Superman's cape after a disaster. Kryptonian material never holds up like it should. "There's no way."
"Then figure out something. Twenty thousand or no deal."
Clark stares at him. "You're a dead man if you don't deal."
"I'm a dead man anyway and you know it. I'm going to enjoy these last few days before Lex removes me from his attention for good." Lucas seems to shrink in the coat, and he reaches into the pocket, finding a new pack of cigarettes by touch. Shaking one out, Lucas stares at his lighter, the flame dancing in the still of the car. "Twenty grande, Kent. I really don't give a shit how you get it. Just get it."
It doesn't take that long.
Lucas doesn't ask, rolling over on the worn comforter to look blearily at the money Clark spills onto the bed. The hazy eyes seem faded, refocusing by degrees, and one hand slides out, stroking along the tattered bills like a woman's skin.
"Not a bank." A smug smile curls up the corner of that mouth, and Clark wants to smash it away.
"Doesn't matter." Sitting on the other bed, Clark watches Lucas finger the bills, eyes flickering up briefly to measure Clark with another slow smile. "What--"
"I could get away with this for a little while," Lucas says, holding his eyes. "You ever--why do you care?"
Explanations aren't part of the deal. "Does it matter?"
"You want him on your ass, too?" Lucas' smile widens. "You're as fucked as I am. You know that. He knows you're with me."
Clark nods slowly, watching Lucas gather the cash in a pile, hands caressing it absently.
"You think you'll live longer? That your name will protect you? Clark Kent reporter, found with his throat slit following a story. It'll be Pulitzer Prize material. Your partner will be thrilled."
"You think I'll make it that easy?" The mattress is lumpy and uneven--Clark shifts on it uncomfortably, watching Lucas begin to stack the money with the expertise of long acquaintance with large amounts of cash in small bills. That history in gambling, maybe.
Lucas laughs softly. "I think you have no fucking clue who you're dealing with, and you've known him longer than I have."
"You think all those exposes over the years were for nothing?"
Lucas grins. "Why would he want to keep you alive? What are you worth? You're not--interesting anymore, Clark. Not even a footnote."
Clark stares into Lex's eyes, visible even in this face. "You remember me."
"Even when I want to forget." Stripped of shirt and jeans, Lucas is still on this side of emaciated, and in this light, every scar shows. "Jesus, you don't know anything."
Clark's tired of the games. Coffee's not enough, no sleep, he's been awake too long, even for this body. Looking too long. "Tell me what you know."
Lucas' eyes are glazing--even from here, Clark can see it. Fuck. He should have guessed. Standing up, Clark pushes him over, checking the bed. Nothing to see. Shit. Shit. They don't have time for this. "What the fuck did you take?"
"Take the edge off my death. I'd like to laugh in his face when he kills me."
"He's not going to be the one killing you. He has people for that. I'm trying to fucking keep you alive!" Clark wants to shake him. Something. He wants to be angrier, but the fragile, bird-like bones under his hands kill it on impact, the exhaustion stealing even the desire. He wants this over with.
"No. See, you don't know anything." Lucas falls gracelessly into the mattress when Clark lets him go. Bills are dripping off the mattress to the floor like spilled water, and Clark knocks the rest of them out of his way, looking for the drive that kept him doing this for so long. "He's not trusting this to flunkies. He's doing this himself."
Of course. Whatever remains of anger drains away as Lucas focuses on him briefly, glittering, smiling, so Luthor. Brilliant mind behind those eyes--not Lex's class, no one could be--but achingly close. Potential wasted. Used up. Burned out. Except obsession. The one thing every one of them carries in their genes as surely as the power even now Lucas radiates. Cheapened by time and ruin, but still there.
Clark doesn't even realize he's touching smooth, bare skin until Lucas' hand closes over his wrist, pinning it to his shoulder.
"Want me to tell you?" His eyes are hazy, soft. "What it takes to make him want? He doesn't do it like anyone else, he doesn't know how not to take. And God, he made me want, too."
No. No. "I don't believe you."
That grin. "You believe me. All that attention, that focus, all on you. You'd do anything to get it back. Anything to make him see you again, right? Oh Clark. He hated that you had secrets, but it kept him focused, didn't it? When that ran out--when he started believing you, when he thought you weren't special anymore...."
"That's not what happened."
"When he got bored, when I was just Lucas, not special in any way except the blood I carried, when it didn't get him off to have me--"
"When you'd do anything to not be nothing." Lucas' eyelids slip lower, cutting off all but a sliver of pure color, the color of a Smallville summer. "He wants me now, Clark. Even if it's just my death."
Obsession. Clark closes his eyes, closing his fingers gently over Lucas' shoulder. Not Lex's skin, but his body remembers how the bones curve and fit together. Lucas is like Lex--tactile, but none of the distance. Instinctively moving into the touch, and Clark opens his eyes to watch. "Tell me what your life is worth, Lucas."
"All he has to do is ask." Lucas whispers in a voice that's eighteen. The kid who wanted so desperately it shone through his skin. A pick-up game that was like a war, because even in the smallest things, Lucas wanted. Sacrificed money and power and a father, and it was all for Lex.
"Does he know why?"
Lucas laughs softly, head restless on the pillow. "He doesn't care. He's never cared. He thinks he'll be happy once he has the world, but that'll bore him, too. Won't be interesting anymore. And he'll leave it like everything else."
"Superman interests him," Clark says, and Lucas' eyes slowly slide open. So high, God knows on what, but Lucas isn't fighting him when he shifts his hand down the broad chest. Almost smooth, bone too prominent beneath thin skin, scars making little catches wherever his fingers slip. "Over a decade."
Lucas shakes his head. "I would have done it, too. If I could. Be that. Do that." Lucas' eyes flicker. "He wanted you. He--thought you'd be enough. You could--he'd say your name and I hated you for that. For having that."
I hated you, too, but Lucas knows that.
"What do you have on him?"
Lucas' eyes roll back in his head. "He's a Congressman now."
"I know that."
"Special election." Lucas breathes out the words like a prayer. "The congressman who died. In his sleep. It wasn't suspicious, was it? You're all morons. You watched him declare his candidacy and didn't even ask why he'd want to."
Clark's mouth goes dry. "Why?"
Lucas laughs harshly. Whatever he's taking is sucking out his mind by inches. "He wants, Clark. Jesus, you don't know--"
"Focus, dammit. Tell me what--why--"
"Built on solid green rock." Fading so fast, like a fading dusk. All in the colors of blood. "All under the ground."
Clark shifts on the bed, closing both hands over the curve of Lucas' bare shoulders. Leaning down, he waits until Lucas' eyes open sluggishly, focusing. "What's under the ground?"
"Labs. People. The future."
It's--not a surprise. It should be. He knows it should be. The words slip into his consciousness, pieces falling into place.
"He killed Congressman Phillips?"
Lucas smiles, eyes closing. "Old man, easy. Little dust in his wine. Off to dreamland. Autopsy a joke."
"To get his seat."
"Stop investigation. Seat was just icing. Phillips hated him. Knew all that money was being moved around for something big. Investigate. Lex couldn't get around all Phillips could do."
"How'd you find out? How the hell would you know?"
Lucas slowly shakes his head on the pillow--refutation or just flying, Clark can't tell. A jerk and Lucas is upright, lolling in his arms like a doll that's been cut open and the stuffing jerked out. Blond head leaning forward. "How, Lucas? No one else knows."
"Guy I hired. Just wanted my money." Lucas lifts his head, so slowly Clark almost thinks he won't manage it without assistance. Finally, it flops back, a broken doll, and Clark hates that smile. Hates it. "Broke into LexCorp. Wanted to fuck with Lex a little. Got into the wrong accounts. He knew what he was seeing. Lex knew what we saw. Guy took my money and ran. Died two hours after landing in Haiti."
Fuck. Clark almost lets go, but Lucas holds him with that gaze. Lex, clear and bright, stares out. "I put it together. Lex's fingerprints are all over it."
"You can't prove any of it."
Lucas shakes his head, a slow, bobbling motion like his muscle control is gone. "I don't need to. One whisper in the right ears? Lex will be fighting for years. I can ruin him with a word." Pause. "One word, Clark. Like to you."
Jesus. Clark lets go, hands itching, and Lucas hits the mattress like a lump of warm meat. Possibilities flash in and out like a strobe light in his mind. It's beyond Pulitzer. For a politician, for someone like Lex Luthor, you don't need proof. You just need the rumor.
Clark can circle the world in flight, ignore oxygen, survive the lack of pressure in space. He can lift entire buildings. Nothing and no one can touch him except Kryptonite.
But he's never felt this powerful in his life.
Looking down, Clark sees the blanched mouth is open, drooling onto the pillow. Lucas is out like a light.
Shifting to the other bed, Clark stretches out and knows he won't be able to sleep.
Clark opens his eyes with the first pressure on the bed--double pressure, sinking his hips into the mattress. The smell of soap and a male body almost bring him upright, but knuckles slide down the length of his cock, pressing in hard enough to make him gasp.
"Morning, Clark." Lucas settles over his hips like he's straddling a chair, comfortable, utterly unself-conscious. The towel clings to his hips by a fraying twist, revealing the thick bulge of his erection, pressing into Clark's stomach as he leans forward.
"What--?" Stupid question, stopped with the pressure of Lucas' lips. Bite of alcohol and something bitter like aspirin, before the hard push of a tongue, all conquest, all taking, no question of refusal. No question at all.
Clark grabs for the mattress, fingers lost in cheap, harsh cotton and polyester that he rips through without thought. If he touches Lucas now, he might kill him.
"He always made me want," Lucas says against his mouth, biting his lip quick and hard before retreating, grinding down with exquisite precision. "I climbed into his bed and felt him under me. He touched me like I was everything in the world."
"Stop." His voice sounds like he's been drinking whiskey for months straight, harsh and completely ignorable. Drunk on how Lucas moves, like a dream come to life. Every grind is making it more real. He can't do this and not know. "I don't--"
"You want to know." Lucas licks a stripe up his cheek, rubbing against him like a cat marking with scent. Liquid movements, like watching Lex play pool, Lex cross a room, Lex with a woman riding him, eyes closed and all control. All feeling. "How he felt. How he feels. What he does. What he wants done to him. Come on, Clark. He made you want, too." Quick hands are edging his shirt up, sharp nails cutting into his skin as he pulls the button free, working the zipper down. Cock exposed to cool air only for seconds as the jeans are jerked down his hips, then Lucas' hand's wrapped around him. Experimental jerk that makes Clark hiss. Lucas kneels up, pressing Clark's cock back, skimming the soft skin of his inner thigh. "You just didn't try to take."
"Got myself ready. Did you want to watch?" Huge grin as Lucas lowers himself down, and Clark catches his breath as the head slicks across the hole, trail of cool gel from whatever Lucas used slipping him away. Lucas teases, tightening his grip on Clark's cock, pumping it slow and hard, and Clark might come just from that. He's turning the sheets and comforter into strips of useless material, nothing can hold him.
He doesn't want to be held.
Grabs for Lucas' hips and his cock slides just--there. One push up--oh fuck, slick, tight, hot compared to the cool of the room, settling around him, humans can't be this hot, aren't, but somehow, Lucas is. Lucas, gasping sharply, nails trying to slice through Clark's stomach, but Clark works his way inside, enclosed and held and so good he sees black behind his eyelids, broken only by the low moan as he gets that last inch and Lucas is settled on him, breathing harsh and sharp, Clark's cock buried in his ass.
"Fuck," Lucas breathes, and Clark pushes his hips up, forcing Lucas to work for it. Every thrust, too slow at first, and Clark's leaving bruises to blacken on pale gold skin. Fingerprints that will show up on bone, maybe, he's holding so tight, grinding so deep. Lucas--Lucas just lets him. Hands braced on his chest, open-mouthed panting, eyes half-closed. "You know. Just how. He does it."
So close. Huge rush in his ears, like an oncoming train moving at full speed. Lucas is gasping out words that he can't hear, doesn't care about. Tight, fast, hard, hot, all spiraling together like nothing he's thought about, and he comes shocky, shaking, release unexpected. Not nearly enough, even with Lucas riding him through the aftershocks.
He rolls Lucas onto his back, pulling out, cutting off Lucas' groan with a kiss. Long, spread thighs over his, not smooth enough, but the bones could be familiar in another life. Narrow hips and a flat stomach. A familiar body in the wrong package, but it's easy to forget that when Lucas kisses him back. Tongue chasing his, somehow softening, and fingers twist into his hair, holding on.
Lucas is all taste/feel/smell, something he can track with his hands, he doesn't need to pretend. Eyes closed, he can do it all by taste. Soft little nipples that harden in his mouth, shiver for his tongue. He's going too fast, but he's waited so long, dragging his teeth across a vulnerable stomach, tongue dipping into a warm navel before a cock nudges his cheek.
He goes down with an inevitable stretch of his mouth. So hard. Pushing against the back of his throat, sweet and salty, what he wants. Pulling up to suck on the head, pressing his tongue to the slit to get more, strip away the soap with slow licks to get to the taste beneath.
Lucas is all moans and whispers and catching breath, and Clark tunes everything away he doesn't want to hear. He could do this forever, holding those hips down, taking what he wants, and the startled gasp is the only warning before he comes, hard, panting into the ceiling and chanting Clark's name, fingers tightening impossibly.
Clark rolls away, holding the taste on his tongue, regretting every swallow. Slick and salty on his teeth, across his tongue, and somewhere, he can feel Lucas get up. Crossing the room in slow, pained movements.
Eyes still closed when the sounds of dressing intrude, a bag being packed, and when the door closes with a soft snap.
Clark rolls onto his side on ragged sheets and opens his eyes to see morning, brilliant and beautiful as it opens up the horizon in blood red and yellow before he shuts them again.
It's going to be a beautiful day.
The car's gone. No surprise.
Fort City no different from any other. Clark could track Lucas anywhere, but it's fourteen hours before he finds him, slumped against solid, slimy brick. Blood trickles from one nostril, drying like cheap paint down his lips and dripping sluggishly from his chin, but his face is pure bliss.
Clark can see the fresh track marks on his arm and crouches just enough to look.
"Was it good for you?" Lex could do that too--always knew, even when he shouldn't. The blurred eyes flick open and try to fix, and Clark reaches for him, pulling him upright against the building, holding him with the weight of his body.
"How much of the truth did you tell me?" Clark whispers, and Lucas leans into him, arms falling onto his shoulders in dead weight. Head resting against his chest until Clark jacks him higher, rocking back with a knock into brick that sounds like a splitting melon.
"All of it." Lucas laughs and leans forward, kissing him. He tastes like blood, and Clark can feel the ragged teethmarks on his tongue, wonders if he did that or if Lucas did. He pulls back with a wet, sucking sound. "You'll have it. All that focus. Everything."
Leaning close, Clark licks the blood away from Lucas' lip. "I've always had it." He has. A kind that's sheddable, forgettable, never what he wanted. This is different. "Everything, Lucas." He kisses him before Lucas can ask, that mouth that's like Lex's, that could have been him in another time, another place, and feels the soft, wet spray like a fine mist, the way Lucas' mouth goes slack, body stiffening against his before it's dead weight in his arms.
Stepping back, Clark watches Lucas fall, blood sluggish as it spreads over old newspaper, running like water over the slick surface of a garbage bag to pool on the ground.
Turning around, Clark watches Lex lower the gun.
There should be words, Clark thinks. A protest, a denial, even shock doesn't explain this because there's no shock at all. Lex had watched him in the motel while he slept, followed him through miles of alleyways. He knew.
"Is the next bullet for me?"
The black-gloved thumb doesn't go near the safety. Lex's eyes flicker down briefly, taking in the cooling body of his brother, before fixing on Clark again. Clark raises a steady hand to wipe the blood from his cheek, feeling it drying his hair against his skin. The rich smell of iron seems to be everywhere.
"Should it be?"
"He told me everything." Flashes of newspaper headlines and a career that will explode. Even Lois couldn't hope to match this. LexCorp buried beneath a ton of dirt that even Lex couldn't free himself from, no different than the grave Lucas will be dropped into within days.
"You didn't stop me."
He could say so many things to that--I couldn't, I didn't know, how could I, and to Lex, it'd all be true, except Lex's instincts are better than Clark's ever will be. He knows, on the same level he knew Clark lied in Smallville and knew Clark would lead him straight to his brother. Clark still expects to deny, even as his mouth forms words. "No, I didn't."
The gun disappears beneath his coat, and Lex is just a businessman in a slum, mindbending, utterly out of place. Clark can't move even as Lex walks over, crouching beside the body, gloved hands expertly searching, money stripped away. A cheap vinyl case and a baggie stay where they are. Lex tucks the money into a pocket, looking up. "Drug deal gone bad. He sold the car for white."
Clark nods numbly, his mind already shifting, arranging the facts. He's a reporter. That's what he does.
"Six robberies last night, local dealers," Lex continues, effortlessly finding his balance as he straightens. "Twenty thousand dollars. Suspect couldn't be identified." Lex doesn't smile, but he doesn't need to. It shines out of his eyes. "He's very good at what he does, isn't he?"
Clark nods again. His skin tightens where the blood is drying cold.
A swirl of dark coat and Lex turns away, easy pace down the straight-line alley. Clark watches, wincing at the taste of blood when he licks dry lips.
"Coming?" Jerking his gaze up, Clark sees Lex's eyes are fixed on him.
"I wouldn't suggest returning to your room," Lex says conversationally as he takes the phone from his pocket, raising it casually to his ear with the press of a single button. The eyes fix briefly on Clark's face. "And I doubt you want to be seen near here looking as you do."
Clark licks his lips again. This time, his tongue comes away clean. "I--yeah."
Lex murmurs something into the phone, then drops it in his pocket. He still isn't smiling, but that steady, interested look says it all.
Clark follows him out of the alley.
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