TOWN AND COUNTRY
Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me. They are owned by DC Comics, Warner Bros/WB, Millar/Gough, etc.
Story Note: ...urban and rural slices of life.
Special thanks to writers Pepperjack Candy and Nymph du Pave...you continue to be inspirations.
JB @ New Orleans
I never liked farms much. Don't really like the country. I mean, I like the way grass smells and the big sunsets and some of it, but if you really want to know, the country is not my thing. I'm a city guy, a urban sophisticate, a fan of all-night pizza stands and stray cats and skating in the park. The crowds...the magnificent push and pull of ten thousand people trying to cram onto the subway platform.
I was never much a fan of the country, that is, until him. He's literally baling hay a few feet away from me and he's whistling and a few years ago I would have had a stroke. Blood stopping short of my brain, the quick sensation, instant death. Yeah, a few years ago, that would have been the case. Now....now it's great to sit here in the mud staring at him covered in hay and smelling worse than any Metropolis alley. It's fucking wonderful.
"You sure you don't want to help?"
He's grinning and I feel so lucky. Having secretly been a member of the low self-esteem club my entire life, it amazes me that someone as special as he could actually care about me. Love me, even. I still think this might all be some ridiculous joke.
"Yeah, I'm sure Clark."
He doesn't like to show off. He keeps so much inside, physically and emotionally. I understand. We're two of a kind that way. It's been years since we met and I find I don't remember how many. Five, perhaps. Time doesn't matter much when you're happy. It's just a human construct to keep us toiling away under the clock, anyway. We live out here based on sounds and light, just as our trough snorting pals do. I look over to those fat, giddy hogs and they are munching away and I think about how simple their lives are. Clark refuses to slaughter them although he has no problem buying pre-cut bacon by the pound. I wonder if its because he's afraid to see them actually die.
He's always hungry. We're always hungry. If there's anything I have to thank Clark for, it's for giving me back my appetite. I'd lost it one October day, in that certain field. I'd only eaten after that in order to keep breathing, but I never enjoyed it. Once he was in my life, I found myself consuming all kinds of fatty, delicious meals. Finding that a good meal truly can settle the worries of a weary heart. He's a great cook, by the way. That laser vision comes in extremely handy.
"Yeah...what do you want?"
Staying out here as much as we do lately, our food usually consists of eggs. Eggs anything. Clark loves omelets. Ham, chiles, that grated yellow cheese that used to make me ill just wondering how it was processed. Like I said before, he adores bacon. He'll eat like twenty strips in one sitting. Thank goodness I am still relatively rich, otherwise his appetite would put us on the streets.
I know he'd like to stay out here forever. I'm beginning to understand why.
Sometimes in the early morning, when the mist is still low to the ground and the sun has yet to bake the earth, he and I will go outside and lie together in the fields. Just lying there...the scent of his body and the earth and my hand in his and the corn tassels waving around us makes everything seem so simple and controlled. Anything's alright here, and everything is hopeful.
"Do you think we could stay this way and never get up?"
"Maybe you, sun god, not me."
"I wish we could."
"You're just lazy."
"I'm just happy."
Martha was over the other day, requisite cookies in tow, requisite frowning husband sitting in the truck.
"Tell him I want him to come inside...eat with us."
Sometimes he does. Often, he refuses. I'd like to think that, like butter, he's softening slowly on the counter. Biding his time until he grabs me and says how glad he is I am in Clark's life. Thanking me for keeping all these crazy secrets. But maybe, just maybe, I should thank him. In a roundabout kind of way, his influence led me to give up most of my old life. Jonathan's common sense approach to life helped to make me see I was drowning in my world of complicated business manuevers and dishonest associates. The way he, Martha, and Clark had complete faith in one another showed me there could be another way.
"Lex, you're finally gaining weight."
Just for a second, my evil alter ego wants to say a really nasty comment about fine lines and age spots. But then I remember this is a woman who adores me and has no problem telling me how much I have helped her son. This is a woman who is always straight with me, who held my hand at Father's funeral and at the horrible trial afterwards...she stayed with me and Clark while that awful manhunt went on....ending with blood and shouting and Julian lying at the bottom of the stairs.
"Alright, Martha, I'll eat here."
I smile because Clark's father is giving me that gruff, ogre look and Clark is coming inside looking quite fetching in straw and sweat. He stinks and it's quite possibly the best smell I'll ever know. His mother is laughing and his father is pointing towards the bathroom and shaking his head and Clark is just giggling like the force of innocence and kindness itself and I have a family.
"Do you think they liked it?"
Of course they liked it. I have to admit I wish Clark wouldn't use so much sour cream and guacamole but it was tasty. We didn't talk much...but Martha kept giving me these beatific stares and Jonathan seemed to give Clark his patented 'well done' scowl. They are gone now. It is mid-evening and I settle in for my reading and news watching. He's rubbing my feet, slowly, in even form, and staring at me...he always stares at me while I try to watch the news and it makes me laugh because he has the most alluring, intense stare and he knows it makes me horny and that's the point. Current events worry him too much. A while back, he attempted to literally get involved, trying to save people from themseleves. It backfired, and he found himself used and abused by the very same people he saved. Thank goodness he matured out of that fantasy. Most people don't do anything but use other people. I know, I used to be a professional.
"C'mon....that's stuff's depressing."
That's not to say he's in any way intellectually challenged. I finally got him to enroll in three classes over at S.C.C. I'd much rather he take courses at Metropolis University, but junior college will do for now. He's got killer memory skills and I think he needs to spend more time around some kids his age. He needs friends. After Pete and Lana got together and Chloe cut him off, all he had was me. That's not exactly healthy. I know. Being a social isolationist either turns you into a recluse or an egotist, both of which I am guilty of being. He needs to balance, that's what I tell him...have this life we have built together and extend himself to others as well.
"Just a few more minutes, k?"
His hair is wet from his third shower of the day. I love him clean, I love him dirty, doesn't matter, but he gets self-conscious. He always thinks of me, even when I don't need him too. He jumps up to get the six-pack from the fridge and I just ease back into the chair, content and baffled and smiling. In a flash he's back of course, because he moves faster than damned anything, and he's got the Rolling Rock and the bag of pretzels and the remote and somehow he's balancing it all.
"What are we going to watch?"
Clark likes gritty dramas...sometimes though, he can be hilariously innocent... ...take for instance one snowy night watching 'Chinatown'...
"She's her sister and her mother, Clark."
....I'm a big MGM musicals fan myself. The escapism of plunging into a pool of water surrounded by perfumed waterfalls, perhaps? I burrow into his chest...I like the fact that he's gotten hairier over the years...it's masculine and protective and it tickles and I like that. In what feels like a second, I'm asleep but it's fine because I am with him.
Mornings, evenings, afternoons...we spend making this place our own. We have few visitors, but they are the people who count. When we go into town, the smiles are friendly, the detachment sincere, because they opt not to delve deeper and we opt not to feel guilty. Guilt is an overused technique of gaining attention. We don't get much mail...usually just a stock performance notice or an L.L. Bean catalog...lately I have been buying a lot of junk from IKEA but Clark says the 'Swedish Rainbow' style doesn't exactly fit Cla-Lex Ranch. Oh yeah, that's the name. I thought it was kind of odd, but he likes it and even came up with a logo for the gate. Before I met Clark, I would have found this kind of thing extremely kitschy, but now, well, I have Clark and kitcsh is cute and so is he and it's odd, you know...I was so bitter, so cynical...all those years I was alone, seemingly destined to never find love...but now he's here and I have forgotten every bitter moment of life before him.
He's gotten me here again and I can't believe I let him do this. Is that Moet? Damn, Lex, you try too hard. He's got flowers everywhere and I swear he rented out the entire symphony orchestra-- wow, is that John Williams?--all for me.
I'm not much into all this stuff. Way too many lights. These buildings are too tall and I worry when he goes out on the balcony to admire the stars. That railing is a little too thin. It's fragile and I worry he might fall. I admit the city is something to look at, but I'd rather be in the fields. I'd rather have Lex underneath me in the pond while the cattails watch us make love. It's quiet out there, just the sound of the spring bubbling up from way underground...the gentle calls of predator and the meek response of prey...the rustle. The rustle! How could city noise every compete with the rustle of grain or corn or any leaf that falls away in September, falling so serenely into the dust, dancing along the road for destinations and experiences unknown...
"Do you like the music, kiddo?"
Of course I like it. It's a long, building string-based piece and I swear I hear a harp too...and those irises are purple and he is amazing, walking around this crystal-domed room in a tuxedo and looking all cute. My neck itches and I think my pants are too short. I scratch my neck and smile at him and that really is John Williams. Whoa. It is amazing what money can do. Lex doesn't really care much for all this high life anymore, at least I hope he doesn't...I tell myself he's only doing this tonight for my birthday. He never fails in giving me memorable birthdays.
"Another slice of cake?"
It's devil's food cake and it melts in my mouth and when I kiss him he takes some and we share it and the frosting is great, I will have to get the recipe. My mom would be jealous of this cake. Gotta get the recipe. The candles are blazing and I notice the orchestra has began to softly drift away and the lights are going down and it's just us. I glance beyond him, out the panes of glass, into that jungle of steel and paneling and realize that I could feel at home here, but only with him in sight.
I'm always fine with him. I don't think he realizes how much I depend on his mind and his courage. It was here, in the city, not too long ago when I tried to be Mr. Hero. Running around in the middle of night saving people. Funny, they weren't too appreciative. Some tried to kill me. The police tried to arrest me. Loitering. Impersonating an officer of the law. I didn't have fingerprints. They all pulled at me, wanting more than I could give. No permit to fly. They didn't like that. They had hungry, desperate eyes. Like addicts. Thank you, Lex, for saving me from certain doom at STAR Labs.
"Look at that view, will ya?"
We so rarely come to town these days that when we do, Lex acts like a little boy at Christmas. We go to all his favorite restaurants and old haunts...I must admit I dig that fudge place in the Metropolis Galleria...we roll around town in one of those ridiculous cars he keeps in storage...today it was the Rolls...I almost choked when he told me, once again, that I was driving a $200,000 car. I'm going to talk to him about giving more to charity this year. He insisted on buying me some workboots and a new leather jacket...even though I didn't need them. The guy at the store...I think it was Gucci...he was aghast when Lex explained I would be shoveling manure in these $950 boots. I just laughed.
I could never be tired with him, although it is too rushed here for me. I'm glad we stay on the ranch most of the time. I miss the animals and the trees and the water. There's too much humanity here and it's suffocating and while it invigorates Lex, I know it once nearly destroyed him. For every pleasure and delight of Metropolis, there exists a dark counterpart. Zero. The Pit. Suicide Slum. I know Lex used to dwell in these places, lost and shaking and crying and nobody heard him...I wish I could have but of course I didn't know him yet. I know Lex was lost in this glittering fortress and I found him in the country, in the water, by a field, like rural baptism cum reanimation and I refuse to ever let him be sad and bound to the city ever again.
"Let's got to the opera."
Music and the city go together and I finally understand that. You don't need a full symphony out at the ranch because you've got nature for sound. I wear my tux and he smells like sandalwood and we hold hands the entire time and the ceiling is painted gold and there are little birds flittering about it and I wonder what time it is...not because I don't enjoy opera-- I do-- Puccini rocks...but I just want to get back to the penthouse and snuggle and have him all to myself.
"Look...the sun's out."
Of course, we're always together. I always have him. Whether in Smallville or Metropolis, town or country, home is in our hearts.
"Town and Country"
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