The First Four Years

"Clark Kent! Just the man I wanted to see."

"No." Clark doesn't look up from the iMac's fruity see-through keyboard. He might be made of steel, but Chloe's eyes have a freakish weakening effect on him. "Whatever it is, no. You've already got me writing this thing for the Torch time capsule, I have a vocabulary test in French tomorrow, deliveries after school, and I'm not even supposed to be here right now anyway..."

Now he looks up, because Chloe usually interrupts him at the first sign of resistance. It's been so long since he's been able to complete a sentence around her that he's forgotten what it feels like.

It feels weird. "Chloe?"

"Wow." She's hanging in the doorway, drinking an iced coffee and looking impressed. "That was some truly remarkable whining. You done?"

"No," he grumbles.

"Poor baby." She drops her bag and falls into a nearby chair. "I'm ditching econ today. You?"

"I'm not ditching. I got permission. Sort of."

"We've only got three weeks left of high school. If you don't skip at least one class, you'll regret it the rest of your life." She hands over her coffee.

"I doubt that."

"Seriously, Clark. It's your duty as a senior. The freshmen look up to us."

"The freshmen don't need a faculty recommendation in their portfolio," he says.

"You need to loosen up. Like, to the power of ten. All you have to do is smile and you'll have recommendations flying out your ass."

"That makes no sense."

"Yeah, well, neither do you."

He grins and leans back in his chair. The coffee's so sweet it's nearly syrup, some kind of caramel mocha vanilla concoction with lots of whipped cream and about six shots of espresso. Chloe's been drinking three a day since the Starbucks opened downtown. He's surprised she's not dead.

"So, um." She cocks her head and fiddles with an earring. "I've been thinking."

"Uh oh," he says, earning himself a flip-flopped kick to the knee.

"I was thinking," she says pointedly, "that since neither of us are currently attached we should go to prom together."

"Oh." He remembers the last time they did this, and it ended with a tornado and a pissed off Chloe. It took a few years, and a dozen turns as Lana's yo-yo, but he's finally learned not to confuse friendship with love. "I don't think that's a good idea, Chlo."

She gives him a squinty look like she can't believe what she's hearing. "We'd just be going as friends."

"Are you sure about that?" he asks. It doesn't happen as often as it used to, but sometimes he'll look up and catch her staring at him like they're fifteen again.

"Clark, I'm not stupid. I know."

Danger! Danger! says his brain, which totally fails to stop his mouth. "Know what?"

"Are you really going to make me say it?"

"I don't--" Clark's tangerine iMac makes a yippee! sound and his mailbox shows a new message from Lex. He forces his attention back to Chloe.

"I know why you and I didn't work out," she's saying. "And it wasn't because of Lana."

"Thanks," he jokes, "I feel a lot better now."

"C'mon, Clark. I'll take care of everything! All you have to do is show up and look pretty. Say yes." She moves in close to him, rests her head on his shoulder and gives him the eyes.

Clark adjusts his tie and looks in the mirror. It gives him an overall impression of brown. Brown wingtips. Big brown pinstriped jacket. Baggy brown cuffed pants. Brown tie. White shirt. Brown fedora. Brown.

Chloe's "everything" turned out to be way more complicated than he could have predicted. He thought he'd be wearing a tux and bringing her a corsage. He should have known better. That morning, she'd popped up at his locker, shoved a garment bag and hat into his hands and said she'd pick him up at six. Now he's standing in the loft looking like a rumpled brown gangster without a clue.

He runs a hand down his tie and the mirror catches the silver flash of his watch, this year's birthday present from Lex. It's the first time he's worn it and he keeps being surprised by its weight on his wrist, the way the metal band tugs at the hairs on his arm, the smooth slide of steel against his skin. Outside, a car with an unfamiliar engine turns down the driveway. The motor shuts off, then footsteps on gravel. It's a stride that could only belong to one person. Clark reaches up to straighten his hat.

"Looking good, Clark." Lex appears behind him in the mirror.

He droops. "Don't make fun of me."

"I'm not."

"I look dumb."

"You don't look dumb."

"I do!" Clark waves at himself. "I'm all floppy and...brown."

"Here, you just need a little--" Lex steps closer and slips his hands underneath Clark's jacket. Clark instantly stops breathing.

Lex gives his shirt a sharp tug in the front, at the sides, then checks the results in the mirror. Clark closes his eyes. He's had dreams like this. The feel of Lex's moving hands is comfortable and uncomfortable and he just wants to stand there forever and let Lex pull at his clothes.

A few adjustments to the jacket and Lex's hands withdraw. "There. Now you look even better."

He opens his eyes, sees Lex standing behind him, watching in the mirror.

"Chloe's going to love you," Lex says.

"Do you--" Clark looks away and loosens his tie. "Do you know what she's up to?"

"Yes." Lex comes around to straighten Clark's collar. "Looks like this year you managed to get your tie knotted without my help."

"There's always your next wedding," Clark says, feeling mutinous. "You can put me in a bowtie. I still haven't figured those out."

"I've given up marriage, Clark. I'm tired of the hospital bills."

Clark tries to smile, because it's supposed to be a joke. Lex mirrors his weak attempt and reaches up to tilt the fedora at a cocky angle.


Down in the yard there's the slam of a car door and a shriek. "Oh my god!"

Clark rushes to the window. It sounded like a good shriek, but after the last four years, he's learned not to assume things.

Chloe's Beetle is parked behind a glossy black sedan with a pointed nose and fenders as big around as innertubes. Chloe's nothing but a noisy flash of red disappearing around the corner of the barn.

"What is that?" Clark asks, turning back around and leaning against the window frame, arms crossed over his chest, hat low over one eye.

A grin starts in the corner of Lex's mouth. "I assume you mean the car?"


"It's a 1932 Ford Coupe."

"But what-- You drove a Ford?"

"It's a classic, Clark."

"But what's it doing here?"

Lex shrugs. "I thought you and Chloe might like to take it to the dance."

"Oh my god!" Chloe comes clattering up the loft stairs, headed straight for Lex. Her dress is short, red and sleeveless, with a deep v-neck and about a thousand glittering beads. "Lex!"

"Chloe, you look stunning."

"Thank you!" Exploding in a sparkle of beads, she throws her arms around Lex and goes up on tiptoe to kiss his cheek. "It's beautiful!"

"Hey," Clark says, "I could have--"

She turns to look at him, still half clinging to Lex. In her strappy heels, she just barely comes up to his shoulder. She tilts her head. "Oh, Clark. You can't find your lunch money on a good day."

"I bring my lunch," Clark mutters under his hat. He can hear Lex laughing at him.

"Besides," she says, "you didn't know what I had planned. Lex did."

Jealousy hits Clark like a frying pan to the head. It doesn't hurt exactly, but it's still a surprise. He shoves his hands in his pockets and shrugs.

Chloe and Lex exchange a look. She walks over to Clark, dress jittering with every step, and pulls him away from the wall.

"You, my friend, are very hot. A little dusty," she slaps at the back of his jacket, "but hot. Ready to wow the pants off the class of 2005?"

He offers her his arm and a smile. "They won't know what hit 'em."

In the sun, Chloe is nearly blinding. Her lips are as red as her dress, her eyes lined with black. A long string of pearls loops around her neck several times, then hangs down almost to her waist. She goes to her car to get her camera. He wishes he loved her more than he does.

"You're going to have a great time tonight," Lex says, standing next to him.

"Did you go to your prom?"

"I went to an all boys prep school, Clark."

"In the movies they always bus the girls in."

"Life's not like the movies."

His mom comes out onto the porch, raising a hand to shield her eyes from the sun. "Clark?" He waves at her. She comes down the steps and into the yard. "My. Is this your car, Lex?"

"It's Clark's tonight," Lex says.

She makes an impressed face at Clark and then melts into a puddle of mom. "Oh, look at you! So handsome." She wipes at her eyes. "You're all grown up."

Clark hugs her, rests his cheek on top of her head. "Don't worry. It's just an act."

She laughs. "I hate to tell you this, sweetie, but that's how it starts."

"No!" he says, cowering behind her.

"It sneaks up on you," Lex agrees. "One day you're crawling home at six in the morning, and the next you're running a crap factory in the middle of nowhere."

"And doing a fair job of it, too," Clark's mom says, giving Lex a look that makes him lower his eyes.

"Pictures!" Chloe calls. "Mrs. Kent, could you? I'll make copies."

"Sure." His mom gives Clark a final squeeze, then takes the digital camera from Chloe. "This button here?"

"Yeah, and whatever shows here is going to be the video. You might need to zoom out in order to get all of Clark's head."

"Hey. It's not my fault I'm tall."

Chloe jostles him into place by the front of the car. "Then whose fault is it?"

"Maybe you're just too short," he says, slinging an arm around her neck and looking down at her.

"Shoot, Pa." She leans into him and grins. "Y'all know just how to treat a lady."

He laughs and moves his hand down to her hip. The beads shift like sand under his palm. He can feel her breathing, the steady beat of her heart. He draws her closer and promises not to ruin this. He can be normal for just one night.

"We need Lex in here," Chloe says, waving him over.

Lex shakes his head from beside Clark's mom.

"C'mon, Lex. You're our sugar daddy." Chloe draws her free hand down the car in a Vanna White gesture, then does the same thing to Clark. "You made all this happen."

"Chloe!" Clark yelps, scandalized.

"If you insist," Lex says, strolling over to stand on the other side of Chloe. He puts an arm around her waist and his sleeve brushes against Clark's. Sandwiched between them, Chloe strikes a ridiculously glamourous pose with a lot of leg. Lex is laughing again. She beams up at him.

"Okay." Clark's mom tilts the camera and gives it a critical look. "This is trying to tell me something."

"Probably out of memory," Chloe says, going over to check it out.

Lex slides over to take her place. "Do I need to give you any tips for tonight?"


"Open the car door for her. Keep her drink filled. And be sure to compliment her on her dress."

"Oh god," Clark says, about to die of embarrassment. He glances over to make sure the camera's not running. Chloe's pulled a new flash stick out of her bra. "I hate you."

"Smile!" Chloe says.

She takes some still shots, ordering them around and insisting that his mom's hair looks fine and that she needs to get her picture taken with Clark. Lex drifts off to lean against the split-rail fence.

"Martha!" A cloud of dust and squawking chickens signals his dad's return from the fields. "This goddamned tractor's making that noise again."

"I just replaced the fan belt this morning," she says calmly.

His dad storms out of the barn. "Then it must be a new--" He stops dead in the yard.

"Hey, Mr. Kent," Chloe says, coming to the rescue. "Look at the cool car Lex got me and Clark for prom!"

"It...sure is something," his dad says. "Is this some kind of costume ball?"

Chloe grins. "Nope."

He looks over at Clark, the car, Lex. "The fence in the south pasture is loose. I'm taking the truck."

His father leaves in another cloud of dust and Clark sighs. "We'd better be going."

He helps Chloe into the car, then goes around to the driver's side where Lex hands him the keys.

"Just have it back by tomorrow." Lex probably thinks he's smiling, but he's not.

Clark opens the door. "How are you getting home?"

"My driver's picking me up."

"Why don't you come inside while you wait," his mom says. "You can keep me company in the kitchen."

"The good cookies are on top of the refrigerator," Clark tells him, leaning out the window, "and don't let her talk you into doing the dishes."

"Bye, Lex!" Chloe says, leaning over Clark. "Thanks again!"

They drive off in a flurry of well wishes and goodbyes. Clark feels like he just got married, Lex slowly disappearing in the rearview mirror.

The first thing they do is stand in line to get their picture taken.

"Didn't we just do this?" he asks, filling out the form with a pencil the size of a toothpick.

"It's tradition, Clark. In ten years we have to look back on this and cringe."

He stands in line. Chloe holds his hand and networks.

Cassie Moffit, sister to Doug and daughter of Lawrence, who went to school with Clark's dad and owned the feed store until he was killed by a hungry 4-H member last year: "Chloe, I love your dress! Where'd you get it?"

Chloe does a showy half turn. "Little place in Metropolis."

"You're so lucky. I wanted to--"

He tunes them out and shares a helpless look with Cassie's date.

Amber Bennett is class president and used to be on the swim team until one of the freshmen grew gills and started living in the pool. He'd saved her from a swarm of flesh-eating locusts just a few weeks ago. She acts like she doesn't recognize him.

"Where'd you come up with the idea to go retro?" she asks Chloe.

"I've got Jarocki for History," Chloe says. "So I did my final project on flappers just to piss him off."

"He's such a pig," Amber says.

Kelsey Frye was Clark's girlfriend for two days in third grade before she dumped him for Devin Hobb. Now she's got Jason Xu on her arm and at least half of the varsity baseball team trailing after her hopefully.

"You two look fabulous. I didn't know you were dating."

Chloe grins and squeezes his hand. "We're not. I'm just renting him."

When it's their turn, they stand next to the fake streetlamp and get their photograph taken in front of the fake Eiffel Tower backdrop.

"Classy!" Chloe says as the flash goes off. He thinks he probably had his eyes closed. The assistant takes their tickets and directs them back into traffic.

They stand next to the punch and mock the decorations, their classmates' fashion sense, the band. He keeps Chloe's cup full and eats too many chips. After the third refill, she sticks her red tongue out at him and announces she's had enough punch.

After that there's nothing left to do but dance.

It's getting late and Paris is starting to smell like old sweat socks. The silver streamers are drooping, the band's half asleep, and all the girls took off their high heels hours ago.

"This is our last school dance," Chloe sighs, swaying against him, shoeless.

"You're not actually going to miss them?"

"A little. Won't you?"

"Our school functions have a tendency to end in disaster. Fires, floods, tornadoes, that one really angry cow."

"You have a point, though nothing's gone wrong with this one."

"There was a fistfight earlier," he offers.


"You were in the bathroom."

She glares up at him. "Why didn't you tell me? Who was it?"

"I didn't tell you because you would have gone off to interview everyone and left me standing by the punch."

"I'd never leave you by the punch, Clark. I'd stick you in a corner where no one could trip on you." She grins and wraps her arms around his neck, pulling him down to her level. "Now who got in a fight?"

"It was just April and Heidi."

"Prom Scandal! Cheerleaders Gone Wild!"

He laughs. "Shh! They'll hear you."

"Do you think it had something to do with the rocks that dare not speak their name?" Her head spins around as she scans the gym for likely witnesses.

"No. I think it had something to do with Heidi calling April a skanky ho."

"Damn." She drops the search and lets go of his neck. "That's hardly news."

"Which is why I didn't bother telling you."

She sighs again. "After six years of hard work, you're finally trained, and I have to give you up. It's so unfair."

"You're giving me up?"

"Like a bad habit," she says. "Don't pout, Clark. I know you're spoken for."

He feels dizzy. "I'm not."

"Trust me. You are." She sounds resigned, but rolls her eyes and grabs his arm. "Let's blow this joint. I need a drink."

"Let me guess," Lana says. "Almond mocha with extra whip?"

"With a muffin chaser." Chloe slaps the counter. "And make it quick!"

"Hey," Lana points a finger at her. "I don't want any trouble from you."

Chloe narrows her eyes. "Just hand over the coffee and no one gets hurt. I got muscle with me." She jerks a thumb over her shoulder and Clark shrugs.

"Can I get you anything, Clark?" Lana's smile is easy.

"No, thank you," he says, and his voice doesn't break and her smile doesn't change, and he leaves them there to talk.

Three tenants and two names later, the Talon looks exactly like it did before Lana left for Paris. His old table, the one with the unobstructed view of the counter, is empty, but he passes it over in favor of a spot by the front windows.

Going by her elaborate hand gestures, Chloe's telling Lana a story full of explosions and vampires and sneaking around corners in gigantic headphones. Lana's nose still wrinkles up when she laughs, but she doesn't blush as easily as she used to, and her long black hair is long gone. Two weeks ago, after a year away, Lana glided back into town with an accent, a stylish new haircut, and a wardrobe that didn't revolve around the color pink. Clark didn't even recognize her at first.

Lex wasn't fazed. He spent several hours going over her plans for the Talon, then promptly got himself kidnapped by a rampaging librarian. Just another working day in Smallville. Clark freed Lex, caught up with the enraged mutant and turned her over to the sheriff, but not before she thoroughly deafened him.

It wasn't as bad as being blind, but after two years of superhearing, the complete silence was eerie, like the jumpy home movies they used to watch when he was little, a whole world where nothing made a sound. His mom talking at the camera uselessly, his dad miming laughter, even Clark as a baby, playing with blocks and chattering in his silent alien language.

At home he sped through his chores, then hid in his room until dinner, hoping he wouldn't have to tell his parents he was broken again. By the time his mom called for him he could hear about half of what she said, her voice fading in and out like a radio tuned between stations. He ate fast and kept his head down, letting them think his sudden lack of social skills had something to do with Lana's return.

After dinner, he stopped by Lana's welcome home party at the Talon just long enough to go temporarily deaf again. Everyone was shouting to make themselves heard over the music, and Lana was in the middle of a crowd, laughing and dancing, arms over her head and glitter flashing on her cheeks. She danced her way to the counter to get a bottle of water and stopped to talk to him. He nodded and smiled and slipped out the back.

It was too early to go home so he picked a direction and started walking. Five miles out of town, his ears decided to stop ringing and try hearing again. They got some things, but not others. The little frogs in Lex's pond creaked like old floorboards, but the castle was as calm and quiet as a pile of rocks.

Lex himself was sunk deep in one of his leather armchairs. "I thought you'd be at Lana's party."

"I was. I didn't know what to say." Clark sat down on the couch. "She seems like a totally different person."

"I noticed that," Lex said. "Someone must have finally fucked the fairy princess out of her."

It took Clark a moment to piece it together. He kept getting caught on Lex's voice, his mouth, the scar splitting his lip, the casual way he said fucked, how he was sprawled in his chair, feet flat on the floor, legs spread wide.

Lex rubbed his forehead. "I apologize, Clark. I shouldn't have said that. It's been a long day."

"You're--" Not drunk, but something. Lex had a snifter of cognac and a hand-shaped bruise on the side of his head. "I don't suppose you saw a doctor for that."

"I'm self-medicating."

"Maybe you should stop."

"Maybe," Lex said.

Before Clark's body could clear it with the thinking part of him, he brushed his fingers over the bruise spidering under Lex's skin. "Does it hurt?"

"Only when you touch it."

Clark immediately pulled his hand back, but Lex only smiled. "Relax, Clark. I'm tougher than I look."

Two weeks ago he'd been trying so hard to hear what Lex was saying that he'd missed all the things Lex left unsaid. Two weeks and the past four years. Even on Clark's good days, Lex is a mystery, a language Clark learned too late, filled with subtleties he has no means of translating.

Chloe comes back and catches him staring out the window at the car.

"That thing's sexier than a fistful of hundred dollar bills," she says, licking icing off her fingers. "Do you think Lex just had it lying around in some moldy corner of his garage?"

"I've never seen it before."

"He must have gone out and bought it then." She flops down in a purple armchair.

"Lex doesn't drive domestic."

"But you do."

"That's..." Clark takes off his hat and frowns at the car. Chloe starts messing around with her camera. The bell over the door jingles and six freshmen in full prom gear come in and sit under the staircase, paired off into matching boy/girl couples. Chloe snorts and her eyes dart over to Clark.

"What?" he asks.

"Just looking at the pictures I took."

He tosses his hat onto the table. "Anything good?"

"Oh yeah." She flips through the slideshow. "I got the prom queen smoking in the bathroom, two guys in tuxes with a flat tire, Lex checking out your ass, Mr. Zielinski's drum solo--"

"Hold on. Lex what?"

"You heard me. Lex was staring at your ass like it was the last cookie in the jar. He was practically chewing on it with his eyes."

"Lex wouldn't--" Clark runs out of conviction before he can finish.

"Lex totally would. Lex has. Lex did."

She shoves the camera at him. The screen shows Lex leaning against the split-rail fence, hands in his pockets, watching Clark with his usual sense of entitlement.

"He's just looking at me the way he always does."

"Okay, but, you know that's not Lex standard issue? More like a hand-numbered limited edition they broke the mold sort of thing."

"Yeah," he says, having long ago learned to listen for context rather than content when it comes to Chloe's metaphors. Lex doesn't look at anyone the way he looks at Clark. Clark's known that for a while, but he always thought it was because of his secret. He hadn't considered it might have something to do with his other secret. But Lex is openly staring at Clark's ass in this picture, and there aren't a lot of ways to read that. Of course, he still didn't get it.

Clark obviously needs to invest in a Lex to English dictionary. "I just didn't think..."

"Uh huh." She leans back and takes a hit from her coffee. "So. I'm going to hang out here a while. Why don't you take the gangstermobile back to Lex?"

He looks up. "How will you get back?"

"I'll get a ride from Lana. This way your parents won't wonder why my car's gone, but you're not home." She smirks.

"Why I'm not..." He figures it out. "Chloe!"

"Have fun," she says, wiggling her fingers at him.

He's so flustered he's about to burst into flames. He grabs his hat, blurts goodbye, and escapes before he gets arrested for setting the Talon on fire again.

It's breezy and quiet outside, and he stands next to the car with his eyes closed until he feels less like he's going to explode. Spontaneous heat vision hasn't been a problem since his sophomore year, and it'd stopped entirely after Desiree was locked up. The heat wave broke, and Lex came out of his sex haze and stopped lounging around with his shirts half buttoned and his eyes half closed, sweat beaded on--

Clark claps a hand over his eyes and thinks about mudslides, tornadoes, the look on his mother's face when she comes to visit him in jail. The last does it, and he drops his hand and stares at the car. So, his heat vision was possibly brought on by Lex instead of Desiree. Which means Clark's body knew he wanted Lex even before Clark did, and now all of him knows Lex has been watching him for four years. He's got a lot of catching up to do.

The castle grounds are crawling with guys in dark suits mumbling into their sleeves. Lex always hires more security after he's been attacked, but they never last long. After a few weeks of them pawing through his mail and popping up in his bedroom, Lex's distrust finally gets the better of his paranoia and he kicks them all out.

Lex is at his desk and Clark lingers in the doorway until he looks up. "Clark. I didn't think I'd see you again tonight. Is there a problem with the car?"

"The car was great." He edges into the room. "I was just returning it."

"So soon? Shouldn't you and Chloe be out enjoying prom night?"

"She chased me off," Clark admits.

"Really." Lex pushes his laptop closed and comes around the desk. "Were you behaving badly?"

Clark moves closer. "Oh, I was the perfect date. Except for how I was probably the wrong one."

"Chloe wouldn't have asked you if--"

"I should have been there with someone else."

Lex sighs. Clark doesn't know if that's good or bad. He takes a few more steps, shifting his hat from one hand to the other and pinching the brim between his fingers.

"Not again," Lex says, leaning against his desk. "I thought you'd gotten over Lana."

"I have."

"So who is it this time?"

Clark takes one last step, something crazy pinging in his chest. "You?"

"I'm sorry, was that a question?" Lex sounds more annoyed than confused and the set of his mouth makes it clear he's not pleased.

"No." Clark sets his hat on the blotter, puts the keys down, and decides to go for it. "I want to be with you."

"At the prom." Lex's tone is bored, but his body gives him away, breathing fast and shallow and smelling like burnt nutmeg.

Clark smiles at him and Lex straightens, reaching for the keys. "I'll have William take you home."

"No," Clark says.

"It's no trouble." On the other side of the desk, Lex picks up the phone and dials the garage. "That's what I pay him for."

Clark follows and takes the receiver from him. "I don't want to go."

Lex's eyes close, his lower lip caught between his teeth. It's what he always does before sending Clark away for the good of their friendship. Clark breathes out his name and kisses him.

It's nothing like he'd dreamed. It's flat and horrible and frustrating, like spending four years studying for a test and getting the first question wrong. Somehow Lex feels both scared and smug in his resistance. Clark tries again. He knows he's good at this because he kissed half of Metropolis the summer he was high on red K. He did more than that too, but he tries not to think about it. He slows and focuses on Lex's upper lip, the crooked scar that makes his mouth different from anyone's, the smooth underside that likes to be teased with just the tip of his tongue, back and forth until Lex sighs and stops biting his lip. Clark moves in and tries to kiss away the dent his teeth made and for one world-stopping moment Lex lets him. His mouth moves under Clark's, his body presses closer, then his eyes snap open and he pulls away.

"What are you doing, Clark?"

"Kissing you?" He thought it was obvious, but Lex can have trouble taking things at face value.

"Yes," Lex says, voice clipped. "But why?"

Clark bites his tongue so it doesn't say anything counterproductive. "I kissed you because I'm tired of pretending. I know how you look at me."

"So you thought you'd just force yourself on me." Lex is vicious when cornered and even though Clark's dealt with it before it still makes his mouth go dry.

"Four years ago that might have scared me," Clark says, sliding a hand up Lex's chest. He stops over Lex's mad beating heart. "But you waited too long."

"You'd better go." Lex's blue eyes are steely, but Clark's not buying it. Lex wants him. He can feel it in the twitch of Lex's fingers, the smell of his skin, the flush on his cheeks.

"I'm not leaving."

"We both know I can't make you."

"That's true," Clark says, cupping Lex's head and drawing a thumb over the arch of his cheekbone. Lex goes completely still. "But not for the reasons you think."

"Clark." Lex sounds relieved, like suddenly his world makes sense again. "Whatever's going on, we can get you help. Did you run into something on your way here?"

It figures. Clark tries to show Lex how he feels and Lex just assumes he's on something. Though, to be fair, he usually is on something when he acts like this. He drops his hand. "I'm fine, Lex. I haven't been swimming in Crater Lake or out licking frogs or anything. I just wanted to kiss you. So I thought I would."

"Just like that."

"Well, I'm not an expert, but isn't that generally how these things go?"

"Generally." Lex seems less skeptical now, but he's still not convinced. Clark gives up on appealing to Lex's reason and just goes straight for the part that already knows what it wants.

"Maybe you wanted some warning," Clark says, backing Lex against the wall. "I can understand that. Maybe I should have said, I'm going to kiss you now."

"This isn't going to work."

"Give me one good reason."

"I'll give you ten," Lex says, fierce as a gladiator surrounded by lions. One day they're going to look back at this and laugh. Assuming they survive the next five minutes.

"Ten?" Clark grins and presses his lips to the soft skin above Lex's ear. "You've been thinking about it, haven't you? What it would be like. What you'd do to me. You've waited so long, Lex. Don't you want me?" Clark rubs against him, one hand drifting down to Lex's hip to hold him in place. Lex sucks in a breath and Clark closes his eyes. "Please, Lex. You can have me."

"Clark," Lex stutters.

Even with his eyes closed, Clark knows what's going to happen next. He can sense the change in Lex, the shift in his heartbeat, the sudden flare of energy that means Lex is revising his world.

"Open your eyes."

He does, and Lex kisses him.

This time it's like being given a list of answers instead of questions. Huge, frightening answers, but right, so right, and Clark hurries to keep up because Lex kisses like he does everything, like he invented it and doesn't trust anyone else to do it. Lex sucks at the line of Clark's mouth, moves down to bite tiny urgent messages along his jaw.

"God, Lex." Clark lets his head fall back and Lex latches onto his neck, all incisors and tongue, like he has every intention of going over Clark until there isn't an inch of skin he hasn't personally chewed on or licked.

"Where did you come from, Clark?" Lex says, kissing him before he can answer. "You look so innocent and you're such a liar. What have you been doing? How much have I missed?"

More kisses, messy and so unpredictable that Clark can only catch about half of them. He picks Lex up and pins him to the wall, bringing his mouth into view and putting it under new management. Lex twists in Clark's hands but doesn't complain, just wraps his legs around Clark's hips and kisses him hard on the mouth.

Clark's carried people before, but they're usually dead weight, unconscious or sick. Lex won't stay still, hands roaming over Clark's back, head tilting for new angles on a kiss, hips rocking, thighs squeezing. Clark has never been so aware of Lex's body, its weight and heat, the way it fits together and moves. His hands are spread over Lex's ass and he lets Lex slip down the wall just so he can heave him back up again.

"What do you want?" Lex demands, breathless and grabby. "A quick fuck in the dark? Slow and dirty on the floor? I could suck you off and send you home. We won't ever have to talk about it again."

"No. I want to touch you." Clark slides a hand under Lex's slippery purple shirt and Lex arches his back like he's been tasered. "We're not going to pretend this didn't happen."

"Clark," Lex chides, head resting against the wall, gazing down at him like an imperious marble bust.

"I know you don't believe me, but this isn't a passing thing."

"Upstairs, then." Lex pushes Clark back and drops to his feet. "I want you in my bed."

"I'd like that." Clark tries to take Lex's hand, but Lex brushes him off. Twice. "Lex?"

Lex heads upstairs and Clark follows, staring at the back of his head the whole way. It was naive of him to think he could just storm the castle, toss Lex over his shoulder and fly off into the sunset without encountering any resistance, but Lex seems to be going out of his way to make this as difficult as possible. God only knows what he's thinking. The people who are supposed to love Lex best are always the ones trying to kill him. As far as Lex is concerned, Clark's one step away from trying to murder him in his sleep. It makes love a hard sell.

"After you." Lex motions him into the bedroom like a butler.

Clark sighs and trudges forward. The place looks like something out of a magazine for bored millionaires. Only half of it makes sense, and his eyes skitter over the expressionistic rugs and confusing medieval furniture to the few signs of life, the cologne on the dresser, the book on the nightstand, the running shoes kicked into a corner.

The door closes and Lex leans against it. "Why don't you get undressed?" When Clark doesn't move, Lex blinks lazily and launches himself off the wall. "Or do you need some help?" Lex circles him once, a shark investigating a flailing swimmer.

"There's no rush," Clark says. "I don't need to be anywhere."

Lex hovers behind him. "Won't your parents wonder where you are?"

"The party at the Talon goes until six in the morning."

"Hm," Lex says, turning Clark so he faces a floor-length mirror near the dresser. "You seem to have this all figured out."

Clark looks at himself in the mirror, at the rumpled brown suit and the face that seems too stern to be his. Just a few hours ago he'd been playing dress up with Chloe. Now he's in Lex's bedroom being used as a chew toy. Somehow this has become the longest night of his life.

"Don't worry. I'll show you a good time." Lex's hands settle on Clark's hips.

Clark turns on him. "God, Lex, enough already. Do you honestly think I'd be putting up with this if I were just here for a fuck?"

They stare at each other. Lex's face goes through a series of expressions so subtle and complicated they're impossible to identify.

"I thought you'd go home with Chloe," Lex says finally.

"Why would you think that?"

Lex looks straight through him, like he's the one with x-ray vision. "She loves you."

Thanks to thirteen grueling years in Smallville, Clark has learned to expect the unexpected. When he hears hoofbeats, he doesn't think horses or zebras. He thinks six-legged radioactive gazelles. It works with everything except for Lex because Lex is so screwed up on so many levels that it's never just one thing. It's horses, zebras, and gazelles, along with a couple stray antelopes and lizards. It's a big noisy mess, and all the running around and yelling only masks the problem.

For the first time since crashing into Lex, Clark finally understands what all the drama is about. Lex is afraid of being alone. He's afraid of not being alone. He's afraid of pity, of being second best, of being used, forgotten, misunderstood, unloved. Lex, like everyone else on earth, though he'd unleash an army of lizards and antelopes on you if you ever suggested such a thing, is just afraid.

"I love Chloe like a sister," Clark says. "I need her to call me at one in the morning and yell because I can't use commas correctly and I'm ruining her life. I need her hair poking me in the eye when she reads over my shoulder. I need her to steal my French fries and lend me pencils, and I need her to bully me into doing the things I know I should do, but don't because they scare me."

Lex's focus snaps back onto Clark instead of three feet behind him.

"Chloe is the one that told me to come over here tonight. I've been thinking about this for a long time, but I didn't do anything because I didn't know how you'd react." Clark rolls his eyes. "And now that we have the answer to that, clearly I was worried about nothing."

"Chloe knows?"

"Chloe has pictures of you staring at my ass."

"She has..." Lex grins suddenly. "Really."

Clark sighs. "That would be the part that got your attention."

"Oh. Clark. Don't for a moment think my attention could be on anything but you," Lex says, grabbing Clark by the hair and pulling him in for a kiss. He sucks on Clark's lower lip, licking and biting before slipping his tongue into Clark's mouth, smooth as a spy.

When Lex finally pulls back for air, he's smiling like his net worth just tripled. "You have a great ass. I've been staring at it for years."

"That's it?" Clark looks down at him. "You're just fine now?"

"I could be better. You could be naked." He licks at Clark's ear and unknots his tie.

"Lex?" Clark has been a really good sport about all of this, but Lex's mood swings are giving him vertigo.

"What's wrong?" Lex says, wrapping the tie around his hand a few times. A swift yank and Clark's gasping as the tail whips out of his collar, making his skin buzz and his fingers clench. Lex drops the tie and pulls Clark's shirttails from his pants. "Afraid you'll get what you want?"

"I have what I want," Clark says.

Lex just smiles and pushes Clark's jacket off his shoulders. "Not yet you don't."

Already exhausted from the first three chapters of this fight, Clark lets Lex win this one. He shrugs the jacket off.

"I picked this suit out for you," Lex says, running his hands down Clark's chest, his fingernails making a slight hiss as they skim over the starched shirt. They swoop back up to the collar and Lex opens it, working his way down slowly, watching Clark as he pushes the buttons through their holes and spreads the placket apart, fingers brushing against Clark's skin, teasing his stomach. The last button slips free and Lex's hands slide down to stroke him through his pants. Clark shivers, overwhelmed. He can stop cars with his bare hands, shrug off bullets and bank vaults. Nothing can reach him, except for this, Lex's touch, his undivided attention, the weight of his stare. Clark makes some sound, something weak and breathy, and Lex traces the outline of his cock, nails scratching over the wool, circling at the head. "I never dreamed I'd be the one to undress you," Lex says.

"Liar," Clark whispers, and he can barely hear himself, but Lex gives him a rough squeeze and presses close.

"Shhh." Lex kisses the hinge of his jaw, catches Clark's earlobe on his tongue. "Don't say anything you might regret."

"Like the truth?"

"Especially the truth," Lex says, pinching Clark's nipple, fingers half-hidden under the white dress shirt. A few more pinches of varying degree that don't do much for Clark. He slips his hands under Lex's shirt and strokes the damp skin of his back. Lex switches to a twisting motion, resting a cheek on Clark's shoulder to better monitor his experiments. Every time Lex blinks, Clark can feel the sweep of his eyelashes, the tiny movements of his eyes as he tracks his fingers.

"Hm." Lex rejects twisting and starts rubbing with the flat of his thumb, first around the nipple, then up the sides, then directly across the top.

Feeling uncomfortably like a science project, Clark tries to distract Lex by pulling off his slinky purple shirt. Lex lets him, but moves right back to his previous position, glued to Clark's chest and staring at his nipples. Clark's just about to say something when Lex stops pinching, raises his fingers to his mouth and licks his thumb and index finger. Then he tries again.

"Yeh!" Clark can feel every ridge and line in Lex's fingertip, dragging across his skin like wet silk. He whines and clutches at Lex's shoulders.

Lex grins into his chest. "Never doubt me."

"Please. Oh!"

Open-mouthed kiss on his neck, another on his shoulder, a trail of them down to. Absolute and total whiteout. His life in reverse. Learning his birthright. Being marked by his ship. Flying backwards through a tornado. Pulling Lex from the river. Lex's wet mouth rewriting history.

Clark pulls him up, licks his mouth open and kisses him, hard and frantic, noses bumping together and someone's tongue getting bitten. He can't tell what year it is or what planet he's on, but he's got Lex. Lex and his minotaur fairy tales, his leaden dragons and warring angels. Lex with his soft skin and bald head and that split in his lip like something out of a Greek legend. Clark kisses him, slowly coming down from whatever mental field trip he'd been on. Lex pets the back of his neck and tangles his fingers in Clark's hair and tilts his head up. Clark gives Lex a few more small kisses, their bare chests rubbing together.

"Welcome back," Lex says.

"Um." Clark realizes his shirt is hanging off his arms, caught around the elbows. He unbuttons the cuffs and lets it fall to the floor.

"Anything you want to tell me?" Lex pinches Clark's nipple with two dry fingers and raises an eyebrow.

Clark swats his hand away. "What was all that about?"

"You really like it when I lick your nipples."

"I am not a science experiment," Clark says firmly.

"I bet I could make you come from just that."

"I am not an experiment," Clark says less firmly.

Lex licks his thumb from base to tip and Clark catches him by the hand before Lex can make him come in his pants. Lex smiles. "Later, then." He slides his wet thumb over Clark's palm, across the inside of his wrist, then stops at his watch.

"You're wearing it."

"Yeah." In some weird way, wearing the watch Lex bought for him is almost more intimate than what they're doing now. He'd had it on in public.

"You never do," Lex says, sounding oddly formal. "I'd thought maybe you didn't like it."

"No! It's great. I just don't have anywhere to wear it."

"You don't need a special occasion, Clark. It's just a watch."

It's not just a watch and they both know it, but Clark lets Lex win this one too. "I love it." He draws Lex closer, arms draped low around his waist. "I'll wear it every day. While I'm slopping the hogs and--"

Lex turns his head aside, hiding a laugh, and Clark kisses his ear. Going by the hitch in his breathing, Lex likes that, so Clark does it again, sucks on his earlobe then moves upwards, nibbling around the outer curve and blowing softly over it. Lex growls and pulls Clark down for a proper kiss with lots of tongue, managing to spin them around and force Clark backwards at the same time. Clark has no idea where they're going, but Lex is pressed against him, steering Clark with his entire body, hips and legs pushing and guiding like they're already naked. Clark's greedy whine turns into a grunt when Lex shoves him down on the bed and hangs over him, hands braced on either side of his shoulders, one knee pressed into the mattress between Clark's legs.

Lex licks his lips and stares at Clark, clearly plotting something big. "Can I take off your belt?"

"Uh..." It's got to be a trick question, but Clark can't possibly figure out how or why. "Okay."

"Good." Lex trails two fingers down the center of Clark's chest, then idly pushes a thumb into his bellybutton. Clark hisses, hips going sideways. Lex pulls back, giving him a considering look before grabbing him by the belt and flicking it open. One long, steady pull and the leather slides through his belt loops so slowly Clark can't help but squirm. Lex slips off the bed to stand between Clark's legs and pets his thighs in a way that's exactly as maddening as it's intended to be.

"How about your shoes?" Lex asks, smoothing his hands up to Clark's hips. "Will you let me take off your shoes?"

Clark tries to catch Lex's hands, but misses. "Yeah."

His shoes hit the floor with two heavy thumps.

"Now, what about this sock?" Lex rubs at the arch of Clark's foot, pushing in hard with his thumbs. Clark's toes curl and his back arches.

"You, you can have it."

"That's good." Lex strips off the sock, taking a moment to suck on Clark's ankle. "What's next, hmm? Pants?"

"Pants," Clark agrees.

Lex concentrates on his pants, unbuttoning and unzipping, the back of his fingers brushing against Clark just enough to drive him crazy. Clark rolls his head back and forth on the bed and even the light graze of fabric on the back of his neck feels like something Lex is doing to torture him. He decides to complain, stretching Lex's name into a long thready moan.

"Yes, Clark?" Lex is not taking off Clark's pants. He's just standing there, fingers tucked into the waistband.

"Pants," Clark reminds him.

Lex cocks his head, one finger tracing a lazy figure eight on Clark's belly. "What about them?"

"Take them off!" Clark tries to do it himself, but Lex catches his hands and pins them over his head and he shudders, held down by nothing more than a lie. Lex looks dangerous like this, sleek and powerful, the muscles in his arms and chest flexing as he holds himself over Clark. Clark arches beneath him helplessly and Lex dives in and kisses him, long strokes of tongue and dark, disastrous eyes. Clark wants to touch him, to grab him by the hips and pull him down, to get him naked and on his back, to sink into him and watch him come.

"God, you're beautiful," Lex says, breaking the kiss and brushing Clark's hair out of his eyes. "I had plans to make you beg until you couldn't even remember what you were begging for. But I'll save that for another day."

It takes too long for Clark to realize his hands are free, and by that time, Lex is already standing. He tugs down Clark's pants and underwear and gets rid of his other sock, then comes back up, hands sliding up Clark's legs all the way.

"So perfect." Lex noses down the crease of Clark's thigh, into the hair between his legs. Pink flash of tongue and Clark moans and clutches his own head so he doesn't break anything.

"Lex. I want you, want to touch you." He can't help the thrust of his hips. "Up here. Please."

Lex chuckles and gets to his feet, unbuckling his belt. Clark's lying the wrong way across the bed and he sits up to get a better view. Lex's pale white hands unbutton his pants, draw the zipper down and push them off his hips. He steps out of them, pulls his socks off and stops, standing between Clark's legs again. Clark presses his face to Lex's stomach. The smell of burnt nutmeg's even stronger now, mixed with something new Clark can't identify, something salty and star-shaped that makes his hands scratch down Lex's back and drag the waistband of his tight black boxer briefs down over his ass. Lex grabs Clark's head, hands fisted in his hair, breath coming in little gasps. Clark darts his tongue into Lex's navel, kisses a few ribs, licks the jut of his hipbone, then bites gently just above it, pulling Lex's briefs off the rest of the way. The elastic has left a wide red mark across his stomach and Clark follows it with his mouth.

"Oh," Lex says, sounding startled. "Clark."

Clark moves lower, down to Lex's cock. It's slim and surprisingly elegant, just like Lex. The head is rosy and tight-looking and Clark runs his tongue over it once. This is where the scent comes from, salty and orange, and he closes his eyes and sucks the head into his mouth, round and pink and perfect.

"Let's, let's..." Lex's fingers tighten in his hair and Clark gives him one last lick and lets him go. "On the bed," Lex says, pulling the sheets back. He nudges Clark down, then crawls on top of him and kisses him, one hand gripping the headboard while the other slides up Clark's arm and unfastens his watch. Lex stretches toward the nightstand and Clark turns his head and sees his watch resting on top of Lex's book like it belongs there.

"There," Lex says, dropping back down on top of Clark, legs on either side of his, their chests pressed together, cocks conspiring between their bellies, twitching with each beat of their hearts. Clark wraps his arms around Lex, spreads his fingers out as far as they go and just feels him, the rush of blood beneath his skin, the wet slide of his sweat, the constant expand/contract of his lungs.

"Thank you," Clark whispers. It's not exactly what he means, but it's as close as he can get.

Lex opens his tricky pink mouth, about to say something, but then he just smiles and leans down and brushes his lips against Clark's, tilts his head and does it again, kissing all over Clark's mouth until Clark opens, begging for him. Clark has never been kissed so thoroughly, never loved so much. He was afraid that summer had ruined him. Tearing through Metropolis without a conscience, using people, taking from them, it was all about what he wanted, but now he just wants to make Lex feel good, to give Lex what he needs. Right now, Lex seems to need his tongue.

"Mmrph." Clark slides his hands down Lex's back, over the wings of his shoulderblades, the knobs of his spine, the firm rise of his ass. His fingers push even lower and Lex shivers against him, mouth slipping down to bite at his neck. Clark circles Lex's hole with his thumb and the grunt Lex makes sounds almost angry.

"This okay?" Clark asks, stroking Lex's side with his free hand.

"Yes, fuck." Lex smacks around under the pillow and comes back with a tube. "Use this."

Clark slicks the fingers of his right hand, slides them back down the cleft of Lex's ass and slowly presses the tip of one finger in. Rocks it back and forth, little strokes that have Lex snarling and demanding faster, harder. Deeper, past the second knuckle and Lex swears, spreading his legs and pushing back for more. In and out and then two fingers until he's fucking Lex's ass with short curling thrusts and Lex is gripping his shoulders and muttering things into his neck so dirty it makes him groan. Clark rolls them on their sides and Lex throws a leg over Clark's hip, locking them together. Three fingers, and Clark can reach even deeper now, Lex twisting and biting his bottom lip so hard it bleeds.

"Lex." Clark licks the blood away, thrusts his tongue into Lex's mouth in the same rhythm as his fingers. Lex fights him, using his tongue like a battering ram and grinding against Clark's hip on a schedule all his own, either too ornery to cooperate or too turned on to care.

"Slow down," Clark says, holding Lex still and kissing his split lip.

Lex arches against him impatiently. "I want you to fuck me." He reaches down between them, grabbing Clark and squeezing. "Will you do that, Clark? Will you fuck me?"

"God, Lex." Clark blinks twice, surprised Lex's voice hadn't triggered his heat vision. Considering how dumb he feels, it probably just shorted out that part of his brain instead.

Wet tongue at his ear. "Don't make me beg, Clark."

Or possibly all his brain. "What...?"

"I need you to fuck me now."

"Okay," Clark says finally, not too worried about the brain damage. He doesn't need to go to college. He can just move in with Lex and they can have lots and lots of sex.

"Condoms. In the drawer." Rolling onto his back, Lex points at the nightstand like a spoiled prince.

There's a lot more than condoms in the drawer. Clark finds a rag to wipe his hand on and digs around a little. Something makes a clanking noise and he's not sure if that funny feeling in his stomach is curiosity or panic. He finally finds some condoms hiding under a silk scarf. He puts them on the nightstand and turns back to Lex.


Lex is lounging against the pillows, one knee up, cock curved over his stomach. Thin finger-shaped bruises on his hips, bite marks on his chest and neck. He looks used and hungry, and he's watching Clark with drowsy, possessive eyes.

"You don't look at anyone else like that," Clark says. It's not a question or an order. It's just the way things are. Kneeling over Lex, he rips open a condom and then frowns at its lopsided circle. "What the hell?"

"It's Japanese," Lex says, as if this explains everything. Taking it from Clark, he drips some lube into the tip and rolls it on. Clark makes a face. It looks like he's got a balloon on his dick. A baggy balloon with treads on the bottom.

"They must have sex differently in Japan."

"Don't pout, you're going to like it." Lex gives him a few strokes with a slippery hand and Clark's eyes slam shut because it turns out the treads are on the inside and the thing's baggy at the head for a reason. Clark dimly hears Lex say something about Japanese ingenuity.

"No, don't stop," he says when Lex stops.

Lex ignores his demands and drags him down for a kiss. "Have you done this before?"

A jolt of shame hits him. "Sort of."

"What does that mean?" Lex puts a hand on Clark's face like he might push him away.

"I wasn't. I wasn't myself," Clark says. Lex's eyes narrow and Clark wraps his hand around Lex's wrist. "Please don't ask me to explain."

Lex doesn't move, but somehow still gives the impression he's smirking. "Whatever you say, Clark."

"You--" Clark growls and pushes so close to Lex their noses touch. "I didn't care what I was doing then. I care now. Do you want to start a fight or do you want to fuck?"

"I don't see why we can't do both," Lex says, arching under him like some kind of backwards lapdance.

"You don't want to fight with me, Lex." He skims a hand down Lex's body. "As much as it excites you." Palms his knee. "It's really not a good idea." Bends his leg and presses it back to his chest. Lex wriggles indignantly. Clark licks the bottom of his foot. If Lex wants to pretend he doesn't like being held down, that's up to him. Clark can pretend not to care. He catches a leg in the crook of each arm and leans forward, planting his hands on either side of Lex's head.

"Ah!" Lex says, knees somewhere in the region of his ears.

"Besides, I'm not going to fight with you. That's just no fun for me." Clark smiles, the slow scary one that shows the point of his fangs. Lex pants. "I'll fuck you, though. How do you feel about that?"

"Clark. Please." Lex's eyes are squeezed shut.

Clark rocks against him. "Please what?"

"Fuck me!" Lex is squirming so much Clark has to kiss him, but he bites Clark's tongue and that's the end of that. Clark lines himself up and slowly pushes in. Just the head at first as Lex's muscles clamp down on him, deciding if they want him there or not. Clark's trying to be careful except Lex has a leg draped over Clark's shoulder and his hands are pulling at his neck, urging him forward. Lex doesn't want careful.

"Come on, Clark." Lex curves his back, pulls his legs up higher, and lets Clark in.

It's a rush like breaking the sound barrier, a sonic boom of sex that makes him rattle like a bullet train. He's inside Lex. All those years of waiting and Lex is under him with bitten red lips and blue blue eyes. Lex prods him with his heels.


Clark moves. Long, slow thrusts that make Lex clutch and pull at him.


Clark just stares down at him, at his flushed face, the sweat beading on his upper lip.

"You're killing me," Lex complains. "Who taught you to be like this?"

"Isn't this what you wanted?" Clark leans in, licks the tip of Lex's nose. "You pushed for it, and now it's yours."

"I wanted it faster," Lex says. Clark draws back, gives him one hard drive that makes him hiccup, then goes back to slow and murderous. Lex drags his nails up Clark's back. "Fuck me. Harder."

"Sure, Lex. Whatever you say."

Confusion sparks in Lex's eyes, but it's knocked out by Clark's next thrust. Hard and fast now, just like Lex wants. Clark slams into him, tired of Lex's power games, his paranoia, his pathological need for conflict, his complete inability to just--

"Wait, wait." Lex shoves his hands against Clark's chest, trying to hold him off.

"What's wrong?"


"Not hard enough?"

"Clark, stop." Lex has two hands and a knee wedged between them now and Clark realizes he's serious. Panic wakes him from his fugue and he pulls out of Lex, hating himself for losing control, for getting angry, for letting Lex goad him like that.

"Oh my god." Clark tries to sit up, but Lex is clinging to his shoulders and isn't letting go.

"Clark, look at me. I'm fine." Clark turns away and Lex grabs his chin. "I'm fine. But you're not."


"You were right. I shouldn't fight with you." Lex gives him a crooked smile and Clark shivers with exhaustion, caught between a laugh and something far more terrible. Lex brushes his hair back and Clark collapses next to him, hiding his face in the sheets. Lex continues to cling. "It was a mistake."

"I told you," Clark mutters into the pillows.

"I wasn't listening."

Clark turns his head to the side. Lex's ginger eyelashes are spiky and he has tiny freckles on his nose. Clark could have hurt him. He exhales shakily. Lex kisses him and runs a hand down his back.

"Some prom night, huh?" Lex says.

Clark laughs once and Lex kisses him again, slow and careful, one hand on his hip while the other plays with his hair. Clark closes his eyes and Lex presses closer, coaxing Clark up onto his side, wrapping an arm around his waist and quietly saying his name in between kisses. Things are calmer now, but Clark still feels like a shaken etch-a-sketch, his plans undone, only a few grey cryptograms left behind.

"I like kissing you," Lex says softly. "I like your mouth, how it pouts and smiles, this corner that never believes a word I say."

Lex touches the corner of his doubting mouth with a thumb. Clark opens his eyes.

"I like you in my bed, tearing my sheets and making my room look smaller."

"I haven't torn your sheets," Clark says, giving the bed a casual sweep with his eyes.

Lex only shakes his head and spreads a hand out on Clark's chest. Clark rolls onto his back. He's not sure whose idea it was, but since he's feeling less like an etch-a-sketch and more like warm silly putty, he doesn't really care either. He lets himself touch Lex again, the sweet dip of his lower back, his freckled shoulders, the buttress of his collarbone.

"I like your body with mine," Lex says, draping himself over Clark, tucking his face into Clark's neck and just sort of lying on him, stroking and kissing whatever skin's handy. Lex is still hard and Clark's getting there again now that he no longer feels so out of control. He cradles Lex's head and draws him up for a kiss. It's long and hot and maybe the only way it could be improved is if they still had some clothes on so they could look forward to taking them off.

"I love kissing you," Lex amends. He props himself up on his elbows and traces Clark's lips with his tongue. He can't possibly be trying to watch what he's doing, but that's exactly what it looks like because his eyes are crossed and Clark doesn't know he's going to laugh until he does.

Lex sits up, straddling Clark's stomach. "Are you laughing at me?"

"You were cross-eyed."

"I'll show you cross-eyed."

"Sounds kinky," Clark says, flexing his stomach muscles and making Lex bounce. Lex gives him a dirty look and scoots backwards until Clark's cock nudges his ass. Reaching behind him, he strips off the condom and gives Clark a couple of firm pulls until he's hard and wiggling.

"Want to try this again?" Lex asks.


"I'm going to be on top this time."

"Sure thing," Clark says, in love with Lex's thighs. He squeezes them, fascinated by the red hand prints it leaves. He'll bite them later. Spread them apart, lie on his stomach and bite them, just a little, on the inside. He sighs.

Lex gets him outfitted with another high tech condom, lubes him up and then sinks down on him so slowly Clark stops thinking about Lex's thighs and starts thinking he might die.

"I'm going to die," he tells Lex, just in case it matters.

"That's okay," Lex says.

"The police might come."

"The police aren't going to come. You are."

"Okay." Clark brushes his thumbs along the soft inner curve of Lex thighs, cups his balls and runs a finger behind them to where Clark's dick is disappearing up Lex's ass. It's grotesque and obscene and so unbelievably hot it makes Clark want to try things he never thought he'd like. He wants to put his tongue up there, in that dark crack between Lex's legs. He rubs there with his finger and Lex shudders and finally settles his weight on Clark's hips.

"How are you doing, Clark?"

"Good." He gives a small thrust of his hips just to see what happens. Lex rides it out and something tight and fierce ripples around his cock. "Oh."

"You look so hot like this," Lex says, leaning forward and drawing his knees up under him so he can move. He plants his hands on Clark's chest, raises up a little and then sits back down. Then he does it again, each time harder than the last. Clark finds himself chewing on his thumb just so there's something in his mouth. Lex is making short little grunts and twisting down on Clark's cock and Clark gives up on his thumb and licks his own hand and the feel of his tongue dragging across his palm makes his back arch.

Hand thoroughly wet now, Clark grabs Lex's cock and jacks it, finds a rhythm somewhere in all the thrusting and grunting and gives it back to him, slick and hard, with a pause at the head to rub his thumb over the slit and Lex is shaking, thighs clenched, his beautiful beautiful thighs.

"Fuck, that's, oh, Clark!" Lex comes all over his chest and Clark strokes him through it until Lex digs his fingers into Clark's stomach and makes him stop. Clark wipes his hand through the semen on Lex's belly and brings it to his mouth so he can suck on his fingers. He feels sort of dreamy and high and he chews on the heel of his hand where it tastes like Lex and his own spit.

"You--" Lex is panting and watching him through his eyelashes. "Are you close?"

"Yeah," Clark says around his fingers.

Lex fucks himself on Clark's cock while Clark chases down the rest of Lex's come and then licks it off his hand. He has to fight with Lex a little when Lex takes his hand away, but Lex gives him two thumbs and a couple fingers to lick, so that makes it okay. And when Lex takes his wet fingers and puts them on Clark's nipples, it makes things even better. Clark grabs Lex by the hips and pulls him down harder.

"Lex. Please!"

"All right, Clark. Don't worry." Lex shifts around until he can lean down and put his mouth on Clark's chest. He bites Clark like he's a peach and then slides over to a nipple.

"Ah!" He writhes under Lex's wet mouth, wet fingers, his slippery salty skin. Lex sucks and bites and licks and Clark goes off like a supernova, blind and deadly, an exploding sun trapped in his thoughtless head. He's huge and weightless and knows forever.

When he can finally see again, he sees Lex.

"Clark Kent, you know cell phone use is prohibited on campus!"

"Shit, quiet Chloe!" Clark tries to wave a hand at her and cover the phone at the same time and ends up putting a hand over his own mouth instead. Satisfied with his bumbling, Chloe breezes into the Torch and Lex chuckles quietly in Clark's ear.

"Only four more days," Clark says to Lex. "Then I can talk to you whenever I want."

"You seem to be doing that anyway," Lex murmurs.

"Hey, don't mind me," Chloe says, kicking a file drawer shut. "Talk away. Even though I know for a fact you're supposed to be taking your chemistry final right now."

"I finished early."

"I just bet you did."

"Hmph," Clark says, swiveling his chair away, but still keeping her well within his line of sight. "She's just jealous because she took physics and they make you build things," he tells Lex.

"How many exams do you have left?" Lex asks.

"Just U.S. history and French, but no more today." There's a rustle of papers at Lex's end and a muffled conversation that Clark can hear perfectly. "Thanks for the chemistry help."

"It was my pleasure. Let me know if you need any assistance with your French."

"Parlez plus lentement, s'il-vous-plait."

"You'd be a big hit in Paris."

Chloe pulls a cd out of her bag, scowls at it, wipes it off on her pants a few times, then leans over Clark's shoulder and feeds it to the computer. Her hair pokes him in the eye.

"Ow, Chloe."

"Play nice with Chloe. I'll talk to you later."

"Mmm," Clark says because nothing else he wants to say can be said in front of Chloe. "Bye."

"Since when do you call Lex in the middle of a school day?"

Not that it stops her from knowing exactly what he's up to. He turns his phone off and slips it into his backpack. Chloe's standing with her hands on her hips and looking like she wants to slam his head in a drawer.

"Chloe, what's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong. Why would anything be wrong? Just because the last issue of the Torch is due at the printers today and you're chatting on the phone with your boyfriend despite how I still don't have your time capsule article or that stupid announcement from those administrative barbarians upstairs--"

"Hey, slow down." He turns around and puts his hands up. "The secretary dropped the disk off while I was sitting here. I sent you that story yesterday, which you'll remember because you mocked my sentence construction so hard you nearly choked. And Lex is not my boyfriend."

"You are such a liar."

He holds up the floppy. She snatches it out of his hand, shoves it in the iMac's external drive, and brings up the ad.

"God, that's ugly."

"It'll be in the back. You won't even have to look at it." He gives her a one armed hug around the waist and she sighs and unexpectedly sits down in his lap.

"I'm fried," she says.

"I know, but just think, this is the last Monday you'll ever have to come here."

"Don't say that! I can't even think about that right now. This paper is going in my portfolio. It has to be perfect."

"It will be," he says, patting her leg absently. He's lost track of how many times they've had this conversation and she's getting harder and harder to appease.

"This coming from the guy who wouldn't know what to do with a comma if he had both hands and a flashlight," she complains. "I'm doomed."

"That's it." He tries to dump her off his lap but she yips and clings to his neck. "You need to get out of here and I need a milkshake. We're skipping civics."

She swoons. "Clark Kent, Rebel Farmboy!"

"Do you want a milkshake or not?"

"You gonna steal the cow for me?"

"I thought we'd just go to Dairy Queen." For some reason this sends her off into a giggling fit. He's pretty sure he doesn't want to know. He sets her on her feet and grabs his backpack. "I'm not even going to ask how much coffee you've had today."

Her giggles trail off and she wipes a finger under each eye to catch a couple of escaped tears. "Doesn't matter. I lost track after they gave me that free one."

"I fear you."

"As you should."

Chloe locks the door to the Torch and they stroll out to the parking lot. Rule number one of being where you're not supposed to be is acting like you're supposed to be there. They've perfected the art of being nonchalant over the last four years, illegally moseying in and out of every building in Smallville, breaking laws and following leads together. He'll miss that after they graduate, and it suddenly hits him that things aren't going to be like this for much longer. They're going to leave Smallville, and everything's going to change. No more mutants. No more Torch. No more school dances. It's like standing on top of the Daily Planet and looking down, paralyzed by what comes next. He drifts a little closer to Chloe.

"Nice watch," she says, threading her right arm through his left. "Is it new?"

He looks down at his wrist. "Kinda."

"Tell me again who isn't your boyfriend?"

"It was a birthday present!"

"I just bet it was."

"Would you stop saying that?"

She smirks at him over the roof of her car. They get in and she hauls the rearview mirror down to check her makeup. "He's totally your boyfriend."

"I don't know, Chloe. I wouldn't--"

"Lex would kill lions for you." She starts the car and shoves the mirror back in place, the red and gold '05 tassel swinging back and forth wildly. "I'm just sayin'. You got lucky, pal."

"Yeah." He smiles, watching in the rearview as the school slowly shrinks behind them. "I guess I did."