Rated NC-17 for m/m sex. The characters, of course, don't belong to me. I'm only borrowing them from the WB for this strictly not-for-profit enterprise. I'm sure Lex would object to that last part, but hey... --KM

© 2002 Kellie Matthews

If it wasn't so goddamned sad it would be funny, Lex thought, idly watching Clark watch Lana with that yearning expression that said that his entire life would come to an end in the next three minutes if she didn't look at him. The fact that he was watching Clark at all was pretty sad and funny too, actually. He realized he was staring, and looked away, pretending to read the report on toxicity levels in the Luthor Corp plant's waste water that he'd commissioned, and wondered why he'd bothered. He was trying so hard to be good. He'd never been so good for so long in his entire life. And what had it gotten him? Nothing.

He hadn't laid off anyone at the plant, so now everyone seemed to think that he had bigger layoffs planned down the road and was just biding his time to lull them. He was hanging out at the ludicrously named 'Beanery' drinking terrible coffee so he'd fit in with the locals, and they all skirted his chair as if they thought he had an Uzi under his coat. He'd taken flowers to a shut-in and she'd died on him. He shuddered a little, trying to stop thinking about that, trying not to wonder what she'd seen. He'd donated a new computer lab for the school newspaper and got blackmailed by a reporter. Still, it was par for the course lately. He couldn't seem to catch a break.

The topper was Clark. And God, he didn't need that image in his head. Bad choice of words, very bad. He was being utterly scrupulous with Clark. Hell, he was throwing him at the Lang girl as hard as he could, and it . . . wasn't working. He didn't understand that. It was as if Clark didn't really want to make that work, because it would take so little effort to have her. Yet week in and week out, he kept standing her up, kept just being 'friends.'

Despite that, whenever he was near her he still looked for all the world as if his heart was tied to her by invisible threads and being ripped out of him every time she took a step away. The whole weird dance left him wondering what the hell was wrong with that girl anyway? Didn't she have eyes? Couldn't she see that Clark was worth a thousand of that idiot football player?

Jesus Christ, had he really just thought that? What a cliché he was becoming. But. . . he wanted Clark. He more than wanted him. He was following Clark around like a damned puppy begging for scraps. Pathetic. He was wet-dreaming again, which he hadn't done in years, and even though his subconscious had an impressive spectrum of past lovers, male and female, to choose from, every dream starred Clark Kent. Naked, sweating, beautiful Clark, and he really had to stop thinking about that in public. Or in private.

The hell of it was, he wasn't trying to seduce him. He was being so damned good. But no matter how good he was, Jonathan Kent still looked at him like he thought he was planning to ride up to the farm on his warhorse and exercise his droit du seigneur a la Luthor, like one of his ancestors might have. If his father was to be believed, at any rate, which Lex sincerely doubted. He almost snickered, struck by a sudden image of Clark dressed up like some Renaissance Faire wench in skirts, an off the shoulder blouse, and laced bodice. It . . . wasn't a good look for him.

"Hey, Lex, something funny?"

Startled, Lex dropped his report, scattering pages everywhere.

Clark knelt instantly, starting to gather them up. "Oh, man, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to . . . jeez, I hope these are numbered!"

"So do I," Lex said dryly, taking the smudged and slightly wrinkled pages Clark was offering him, and surreptitiously glanced around. Ah. Lana had left the building, which explained Clark's sudden interest. "Where are your shadows?" he asked. Clark looked puzzled, so he clarified. "The reporter? Chloe is it? And your friend Pete?"

"Oh, they're going to the game. Chloe wants to get into the locker room with her press credentials."

Lex laughed. "Jesus, I'd pay money to see that."

Clark made a face. "You're weird."

Lex looked at him wryly. "So I'm told. Why aren't you going with them?"

Clark looked down, clearing his throat, looking unhappy. "I'm not much into football."

Since he knew that Clark actually was into football, the obvious translation was that he wasn't into watching Lana salivate over her precious jock. Lex was getting good at decoding Clark. God, public high school was apparently one big soap opera, just like boarding school. Maybe he hadn't been so deprived by attending boarding school instead. Several boarding schools. Though if there'd been students like Clark at any of his schools he might not have worked so hard to get thrown out of them.

"What are you doing instead of watching the big game?"

Clark looked up at him, as if surprised that Lex wanted to know. "The usual. Chores. Homework."

"It's Friday night, Clark, haven't you ever heard the old axiom about all work and no play?"

"So what are you doing?" Clark challenged him, chin going stubborn.

Lex looked down at his thoroughly shuffled report and sighed. "Point taken." He squared the pages into a neat stack, closed the folder and slipped it into his Clava briefcase. "I think I'll head home and see if I can find something a little less industrious to do. After all, I have a reputation to uphold. Wouldn't want anyone to get a good impression of me, now would I?"

He stood up, taking his jacket off the back of his chair, then glanced up to find Clark looking like he'd just told him there was no Santa. Apparently Clark wanted him to stay. He supposed with chores as the alternative he understood that. For a fraction of a second he considered staying, but it would look strange for him to sit back down: someone might notice that he was apparently being dictated to by a farm-boy. He took a calculated step toward the exit, then looked back. "Do you need a ride home?" he asked offhandedly.

Dear God, did Clark have no idea how expressive his face was? That smile could earn vast sums if put to work by the advertising industry. It was irresistible. He found himself smiling back in what he strongly suspected was an utterly moronic fashion.

"Yeah, I'd love one," Clark said enthusiastically. "Mom and Dad have the truck."

Lex suppressed a grimace. Nothing like a reminder of parental presence to strengthen his resolve. "Come on, then."

He led Clark out to the car which sat, un-ticketed, at an expired meter next to the coffee-house. He smiled a little. Apparently his generous donation to the Police and Firefighters' Emergency Fund was working like a charm. Clark reached out to touch the car with a tentative hand, then yanked it back before he made contact as if he was afraid of leaving fingerprints. Lex chuckled. "It's going to be hard to give you a ride if you can't bring yourself to touch the car. Go on. It's just metal and paint."

Clark looked at him as if he'd lost his mind, something he did fairly frequently, and which never failed to amuse Lex.

"It's a Ferrari!" he said, in a voice that matched his expression.

Lex looked at his car and feigned surprise. "Is it now? And all this time I thought it was a Volkswagen."

Clark laughed. "Okay, fine, make fun of me. Jeez. Porsches, Ferraris, how many other cars do you have?"

Lex shrugged. "Three or four. Not counting the limo. I don't know, I've lost track."

That drew a shaken head and a muttered comment he couldn't quite catch but that he thought contained the word 'truck.' He repressed a smile, guessing that Jonathan Kent had just had aspersions cast upon him. He opened his door and looked pointedly at Clark. After a second of bafflement, Clark opened his door too.

"You don't lock it?"

"I don't think it's really needed here, do you?" Lex asked, settling into the glove-soft leather seat.

Clark hesitated for a moment, then got into the car. His knees were practically up around his ears, and while Lex thought that might be interesting under different circumstances, this time he just pointed. "The seat adjustment is there."

Clark nodded and put the seat back, stretching out his legs with a sigh of gratitude. "Thanks. And, um, no, I guess you don't really. After all, it's not as though anyone could actually steal a Ferrari without somebody noticing. Not in Smallville."

"Exactly," Lex said, starting the engine and easing the car smoothly out into the lack of traffic. "Though lately I have begun to wonder if there's an epidemic of vision problems affecting this little hamlet. It's really amazing the things people here just don't seem to notice."

Clark cocked his head and looked at him, frowning a little. "Like what?"

Lex spared him a brief glance. "Like you."

Clark paled, and swallowed hard. "Uh. . . what about me don't people notice?" he asked, sounding apprehensive.

Lex suppressed a scowl. That had been a distinct strategic error. His dad would be shaking his head in disgust. Driving far too slowly down Main Street, he saw a young couple standing with their arms around each other's waists as they stared into a store window, and inspiration struck. "Well, certain people apparently don't notice that you're a much better choice than the version of 'Boyfriend' they're currently running."

Clark turned red, and gave him a perfect, 'aw shucks' smile. "Thanks," he said softly.

God. Lex would almost bet money that if Clark was standing up, he'd probably be scuffing a toe in the dirt. It was more than a little unsettling to find himself attracted to such a sterling example of corn-fed Kansas virtue. He had the sudden, bizarre thought that maybe morality was contagious, and he'd caught it when Clark had breathed life into him on that riverbank. Maybe that was what was behind his sudden urge to be . . . nice. As soon as he thought it, though, he knew that wasn't it. No. Though Clark was still, indirectly, the cause.

"You're a funny guy," Clark said out of the blue.

Lex glanced at him as he finally passed the city limits sign and put his foot on the gas. "There's one I haven't heard before. So I should take up comedy?"

"No, I don't mean funny that way, though you do have a good sense of humor," Clark said earnestly.

Lex winced. "Let me give you a word of advice, Clark. Erase that phrase from your vocabulary. It's generally considered to be the consolation prize of compliments. Right up there with 'but she has such a pretty face.'"

"But I didn't mean it like that!" Clark protested.

"Why don't we just back up to I'm a funny guy and go from there?" Lex asked, giving him the out he needed.

Clark leapt at the chance. "I can never figure out what you're going to do or say next. You're not like anyone else I know. You're not predictable."

Lex smiled. "Ah, now that's a compliment. Thank you." He slowed and turned onto the state road that eventually led past the Kent farm. "Do you want me to drop you off a ways from the house to save your father the annoyance of having me on his property?"

Clark shot him an odd look, one he might, under other circumstances, have called calculating. "Uh, no."

Lex felt his lips quirk upward in a sardonic smile. "Ah, I see."

Clark grinned at him conspiratorially. "Yeah. Anyway, it wouldn't really matter tonight since they're not home. They went out for their anniversary."

"Again?" Lex asked, surprised. "Your parents left you home alone after last time?"

Clark blushed and nodded.

Lex lifted his eyebrows. "Did they threaten to geld you if you had another party?"

Clark blushed harder. "Uh, something like that."

Lex laughed. "I figured. So you're making up for last time by doing chores and homework on a Friday night, is that it?"

Clark sighed and shrugged. "Yeah."

"Whatever happened to that all-American pastime of dancing to Bob Seeger in one's BVD's and running an escort service out of the living room? Or has that become hopelessly passé?"

Clark laughed. "My mom loves that movie."

"So did mine," Lex said, feeling a sudden, odd kinship with Clark's mother. "But you know there's good annoyance value there, too."

"True," Clark said, "Hmm. I wonder if any of the senior girls would like to make a few bucks," he mused.

Lex looked at him, a little startled. Every so often Clark said something that hinted that not everything under that wholesome exterior was quite as 'Ivory soap' as it seemed. Clark gazed back at him innocently for a moment, then cracked up, and Lex grinned back. He was starting to enjoy the dry sense of humor that surfaced now and then. He had the sense to refrain from telling Clark that, though.

He turned in at the sign that read "Kent Farm" and pulled up next to the house. Despite Jonathan Kent's dislike of him, it was getting to be a familiar sight. "You know, it's a shame to waste all this good annoyance value," Lex said. "I'll have to try again some other time."

Clark grinned and nodded. "Yeah. Good idea." He unbuckled his seatbelt, opened the door, and then turned to look at Lex again, a tentative expression on his face.

"Hey, you want to stay for a while? I can fix dinner."

"Is it broken?" Lex asked, unable to resist.

Clark looked puzzled for a moment, then he grinned. "Well, not yet. But I'll probably manage it before I finish, I was thinking hamburgers though. Those are pretty hard to mess up."

So, Clark's parents were away for the weekend and Clark was inviting him to dinner? Lex sensed a little act of rebellion there. One he wanted to, but probably shouldn't encourage, for many reasons. It was better than throwing another party, he supposed. "Let me see," he said thoughtfully. "I can go home and have a perfectly balanced gourmet meal prepared by my Cordon Bleu-trained personal chef, or I can stay here and have hamburgers."

Clark's smile faded and his eyes shadowed with disappointment, his gaze dropping to the ground. "Yeah, okay. I'll . . . ."

Lex found himself speaking again, cutting off whatever Clark had started to say. "To tell the truth, I'm a little tired of perfectly balanced gourmet meals. A burger sounds great."

Clark looked up, startled, eyes starting to brighten again. "You mean it?"

"I mean it," Lex said, turning the key in the ignition, shutting off the engine and wondering what the hell had happened to his sense of self-preservation. "I hope I don't regret this," he muttered.

"Don't worry, I haven't poisoned anybody yet," Clark said cheerfully.

"Yet," Lex echoed drily, getting out of the car and following Clark to the house. "Sounds like you're about due."

"Nah, Mom taught me to cook and she's good. Besides, she'd ground me for a month if I killed anybody."

Lex laughed despite himself as Clark opened the kitchen door and ushered him inside. Something seemed strange about that, and after a moment he realized that Clark hadn't unlocked the door, he'd simply opened it. It hadn't been locked. He thought for a moment about the implications of that, and decided that Smallville was even stranger than he'd thought. A Ferrari was one thing, a house was something else entirely.

Clark waved him to a seat at the table while he opened the refrigerator and leaned in, rummaging inside. He studied Clark's backside appreciatively for a moment, then forced himself to stop. As he'd noticed before, the Kent kitchen was almost unbearably homey. He wondered if the curtains were gingham. He had no idea, never having encountered the stuff in anything but a book. This kitchen was clearly more than a space for cooking in. He was willing to bet they almost never used the more formal dining room he could see through the doorway that led to the rest of the house. They ate here. Together. A family.

That was a foreign concept to him. In his experience, kitchens were gleaming industrial expanses best left to professionals. As for dining together-- he remembered a few meals at which his parents had presided and he'd been expected to attend, mostly involving a large number of guests, and formalwear. That was about it. Before his mother had died the two of them had managed an occasional meal together, but since he'd been away at school so much of the time even that had been a comparative rarity. Eating en famille had been far too plebeian for the Luthors.

He wondered briefly what it would be like to have a family that actually was one, instead of simply a collection of dynastic links. He'd always thought himself immune to such maudlin speculations, but watching Clark with his family was bringing him to that place more and more often of late. It was strange, folktales seemed to caution that being an adopted child was an unenviable situation, but that didn't seem to be the case here. It was clear that Clark meant a great deal to his parents, even though they weren't blood kin.

Or, he mused, perhaps that explained it. Having had to go to uncommon lengths to acquire their child he was consequently more valuable to them-- a simple matter of supply affecting demand. Thinking about Clark's adoption made him frown a little, annoyed that his investigators were having so much trouble turning up information about it. Considering all the information they already had, it shouldn't be that difficult to find more.

"Something wrong?" Clark asked, his voice disrupting Lex's brown-study.

He looked up to find Clark standing there with a chub of ground beef in one hand and a package of buns in the other, staring at him worriedly. He blinked, trying to keep his mind from going off on Freudian tangents and cursing his damned undergraduate abnormal psych classes. "Nothing at all," he said firmly, and changed the subject. "Is there anything I can help with?"

Clark eyed him suspiciously. "You cook?"

"I didn't say that," Lex said, deciding not to mention the fact that he'd lived alone in an apartment through most of his college career, sans personal servants. "Is there anything I can do that doesn't involve a stove?"

Clark frowned thoughtfully. "Yeah, um. . . hm. Think you can tear up some lettuce to put on the burgers? Maybe slice a tomato?"

"I think I can manage that," Lex said drily. "Where is it?"

"In the fridge, in the bin under the milk. And you can get out the mustard and catsup and stuff while you're in there. They're in the door. You like cheeseburgers or plain?"

"I'm easy," he said, and then winced a little. The truth wasn't necessarily a good idea right now. Fortunately it seemed to have gone over Clark's head.

"Okay, both then. Oh, and get out that big orange plastic bowl, too, its macaroni salad from last night." He grinned. "Mom's, so you don't have to worry about botulism."

"I'm relieved."

Lex went to the refrigerator to look for the lettuce, only to have Clark nudge him slightly to one side and reach past him to grab a huge block of cheese off a shelf. With a quick grin at Lex, he opened the produce bin and pulled out the lettuce, a tomato, and an onion, then he hesitated for a moment and then put the onion back. Handing Lex the produce he retreated to the counter with the cheese. Lex closed the bin which Clark had left hanging open, got the condiments out of the door, grabbed the bowl of macaroni salad off the shelf, and shut the refrigerator.

All teasing aside, it was clear that it was by no means the first meal Clark had cooked. He moved efficiently, kept the mess to a minimum, and cleaned up as he went. Lex did his part, providing them with lettuce, and sliced tomatoes. He'd always been good with knives. Licking tomato juice off his fingers, he had to admit that the Kent's produce really was excellent. He wondered idly if there was some combination of chemical and organic farming techniques that would let purists like the Kents feel good, but still allow his company to make a profit. It was something to work on.

He looked up to find Clark watching him with an odd expression on his face, and he lifted his eyebrows. Clark responded by turning red, and grabbing the bag of hamburger buns, big hands fumbling a little as he fought with the little tape strip that held it closed. Lex watched him for a moment, frowning slightly as his brain analyzed that behavior and came up with an interpretation that owed entirely too much to wishful thinking. He decided it was a good time to do something useful, so he stepped over to the sink and washed the knife. Before he'd had a chance to dry it, Clark reached over and took it from him, their fingers sliding together wetly for a moment. Clark stopped in mid-motion, staring at their hands, then his gaze lifted to Lex's face.

If it was anyone but Clark, Lex would said that wide-pupilled, almost dazed expression implied arousal. But this was Clark. The Clark who spent nearly every waking moment yearning for one toothy but winsome young female of the species. He relinquished the knife and stepped away with some effort, resisting the urge to shake his head to clear it. Clark blinked, finally, and turned quickly away to the cutting board that held the cheese, one hand spanning the golden brick as he brought the knife down across it, and his fingers, in a clumsy swipe.

"Clark!" Lex gasped, grabbing Clark's arm, ready to apply pressure to stop the. . . nonexistent bleeding. He stopped, fingers around Clark's wrist, staring. He was sure the knife had cut right across Clark's fingers between the first and second knuckles, but there was no sign of a wound on his smooth, tanned skin.

"Something wrong?" Clark asked with an innocence that was just slightly too studied. Innocence Lex was coming to mistrust.

"I guess I've been working too hard," he said, still puzzled. "I could've sworn that knife went right across your fingers."

Clark wiggled his fingers. "Nope. Must have just been the angle or something," he said with an earnest smile.

Lex felt the play of tendons under his fingers, reminding him that he still held Clark's wrist. He released him casually and stepped away again. "Yeah. It must have been."

Just like Lex hadn't hit him at sixty miles an hour. Just like a burst of adrenaline had given him the strength to pull two men up off a dangling catwalk, despite the fact that he'd looked like he was about to keel over and/or puke at any moment. Which reminded him-- "You believed me, the other day."

Clark looked puzzled by the change of topic. "Hunh?"

"Level three."

His eyes didn't waver. "Yeah. I did. But Dad said . . . ." He looked away then, voice trailing off.

"Your dad said there was never a Luthor born who was trustworthy, right?"

Clark scowled. "Pretty much, yeah."

"Well, he was right. Remember that. But you believed me then. Do you still?"

Clark's hazel gaze seemed strangely penetrating. "Yes."

Lex frowned. "Why?"

"Because I can tell when you're lying," Clark said, turning back to slice a piece of cheese, carefully this time.

Lex looked at the oddly wavy indentations left behind on the end of the block of cheese, and frowned. What the hell had made it look like that, he wondered, but then the substance of Clark's words penetrated his brain and he jerked his attention back to the younger man. "What?"

Clark looked at him and smiled a little. "I can tell when you're lying."

"You can, can you?" Lex asked, suddenly amused.

"Yeah," Clark said, his chin lifting a little.

"Prove it," Lex said, leaning back against the counter, staring at him.

Clark frowned slightly, then nodded. "Okay. Tell me something, and I'll tell you if it's the truth or a lie."

After three correct guesses, Lex started to try harder. After six, he started to worry. After eight, he finally figured out how to blend the truth with a lie enough that Clark at least hesitated. But he still got it right. Finally Lex stopped.

"How do you do that?" he demanded. If an innocent like Clark could read him that easily, he was slipping badly. That could spell disaster around more dangerous people.

"Hell if I know," Clark said with a rueful smile and a shrug. "And I can't do it with everyone. But I can with you."

"That's a little. . . eerie," Lex said, still unsettled.

"Yeah. I know. But I also know you weren't lying about level three. In fact, you've been pretty truthful since I've known you. Which seems a little weird, considering your rep, but then, people aren't always, or even usually, what other people think they are, are they?"

Lex stared at him narrowly, glad of the change of topic. "That's a very cynical thing for someone your age to say."

Clark shrugged. "In Smallville it's something you learn early. Everyone has things they hide."

Lex studied him for a moment. "Even you?"

Clark's expression said 'yes' in no uncertain terms just before he spun and grabbed the frying pan off the stove. "Jeez, almost burned dinner," he said, lifting the lid and putting a slice of cheese down on one of the burgers. "Rats, I forgot I needed a piece of cheese for this other burger."

"I'll get it." Lex picked up the knife and paused, staring at it. It was the same knife he'd used, he knew it was, he'd watched Clark take it out of his hand. But it was strange, now. The blade was bent in a sort of rippled pattern. Three little waves in the steel. That explained the strange impression in the cheese. Curious, he tried to bend it back, and found he couldn't, not without risking sliced fingers. It wasn't a cheap knife, it was a decent carbon-steel blade. He glanced at Clark, who was ostentatiously minding the burgers, looked back at the knife, and suppressed a smile. Everyone had things they hid, did they? He thought about the Porsche, and realized that Clark wasn't the only one who could read a lie. He managed to cut another slice of cheddar with the wavy-bladed knife and handed it to Clark.

"Should I get dishes?" he asked evenly.

Clark nodded, attention still focused on the pan. "Yeah. Cabinet next to the sink."

Lex set the table, and put out the salad, the condiments, and a plate holding the tomatoes and lettuce. Clark assembled the burgers and brought them over to the table, putting two on each plate, then grabbed a bag of potato chips off the counter and added it to the spread. He pulled a chair out and was halfway down when he suddenly reversed direction.

"Something wrong?" Lex asked.

"No, just forgot something. Back in a sec." He took off like the barn might be on fire, the kitchen door banging closed behind him. Less that two minutes later he was back. "Almost spaced these," he said, putting two bottles of Metropolis Brewery's brown ale on the table with a shit-eating grin.

Lex looked from the bottles to Clark and back. "Isn't your father going to miss those?"

Clark's grin got wider. "Nope. He drinks Bud. Somebody left these here after the party. I found them when I was cleaning and I hid them in the barn."

Lex chuckled. "Very resourceful."

"Unfortunately since they weren't in the fridge, they're not cold, just kind of cool."

"Don't worry about it. That's very European," Lex said, reaching for one, then stopping. "Wait, you're not old enough to drink."

Clark's jaw lifted stubbornly. "I bet you didn't let that stop you."

Lex grinned. "And you'd win. All right, that's my last parental moment for the night. I'm not very good at it anyway."

"Not really," Clark agreed, twisting the cap off his bottle and tossing it over his shoulder without looking. It hit the trash-can at the end of the counter, dead center.

"Now that takes talent," Lex said admiringly. "Maybe you should go out for basketball."

Clark sighed. "Nah. No point. My dad's determined I'm going to go through life as a geek."

"Was he a frustrated nerd as a kid?" Lex asked, then lifted his beer, letting the cool, bittersweet liquid fill his mouth. Not bad.

"He's just. . . overprotective."

"I've noticed. He thinks you might get hurt?"

"No, he thinks I . . . yeah. Something like that."

Lex pretended not to notice that hadn't made sense, and traded his beer for a burger, taking a moment to add mustard, lettuce and tomato. He was surprised by the first bite. After Clark's comment he'd expected overdone, possibly even charred, but it was juicy and rich, and probably hardening his arteries as he swallowed. The cheddar somehow managed to be both gooey and silky-slick and strung between his teeth a little so he had to lick it free. He couldn't remember the last time food had tasted quite so good. Sometimes simple was good. Maybe he should remember that. He looked up to find Clark's eyes on him again.

"You looking for a job?" he asked after swallowing. "I'm thinking of firing my cook."

Clark beamed. "I did okay?" he asked, his eagerness stealing a little of the cool he'd clearly hoped to have established with the beer.

"You did great," Lex reassured him, spooning a helping of the salad onto his plate. It looked boring-- old-fashioned elbow macaroni littered with chunks of bright red tomato, pale green cucumber, and dark green peppers in some sort of a creamy dressing. He tried a forkful, and found it cool, crisp and flavorful, the dressing tangy, with a hint of dill. Definitely not dull. Maybe he shouldn't joke about replacing his cook, he should just do it. He realized that Clark was just sitting there watching him eat, and he stopped and nodded at his plate. "You waiting to see if I keel over?"

Clark turned pink and shook his head, taking the tops off his burgers, then grabbing the catsup bottle and snaking a trail of red across both. He artistically cris-crossed the red spirals with slashes of yellow mustard, and ruined the entire effect by plopping lettuce and tomato on top of it before reassembling his food and digging in. He ate like he hadn't eaten in weeks, finishing both burgers, two helpings of salad, and most of the bag of chips, in the same amount of time it took Lex to finish less than half that amount.

Guessing that Clark could easily have demolished all four burgers, Lex pushed his plate away with one still untouched. "I can't eat any more. Why don't you take it?"

Clark reached, stopped, and looked at him. "You're sure?"

"I'm sure," Lex said, taking another swig of his beer, mostly gone now, though Clark had barely touched his own. Apparently the idea of beer was more appealing than the actuality of it.

"Thanks," Clark said, reaching across the table and grabbing the third burger. His arm brushed his beer bottle and almost tipped it, but he managed to catch it just in time. He looked at it, back at Lex, and smiled a little, holding it out. "Trade you?"

"You don't like it?"

Clark shook his head a little. "Not really. I guess I've got small-town tastes."

"Let me guess, you like your dad's Budweisers?"

Clark wrinkled his nose. "Not that small town."

"Pale ales then? Something a little lighter?"

Clark grinned ruefully. "Yeah, really pale. Like white." He got up and went to the refrigerator and came back with a two-thirds empty bottle of milk.

Lex laughed. "So I see. Well, I suppose it's kind of an acquired taste. Like coffee."

"I like coffee," Clark offered.

"I'd noticed," Lex said. "A good thing, considering how much you hang out at the Beanery."

Clark grinned sheepishly. "Dad says all that coffee'll stunt my growth but I haven't noticed it doing that." He uncapped the milk and lifted it to his mouth, proceeding to drink straight from the bottle.

Lex watched, momentarily mesmerized by the play of muscles in Clark's throat as he swallowed gulp after gulp, not stopping to breathe as he emptied the bottle. His professionally tailored slacks were suddenly far too confining, and he had to shift in his seat a little to get comfortable.

Clark finally lowered the bottle with a contented sigh, and looked over at Lex. Immediately his expression went sheepish. "Mom hates it when I do that," he said.

Lex swallowed until he had some moisture in his mouth again, and managed a smile. "That's her job. But you know, the Milk Board would probably pay good money for tape of that."

Clark looked puzzled. Lex didn't explain. After a moment Clark shrugged and got up, going to rinse out the bottle and put it in a recycling crate next to the door. Lex finished his beer and reached for Clark's. "You sure you don't want this?"

"Yeah, help yourself. I'm going to see if Mom left any dessert."

Lex nodded and brought the bottle to his lips. Just as his mouth made contact with the cool glass, he realized Clark's mouth had been there first. Without thought, his tongue circled the lip, searching for a hint of his taste. If it was there, it was hidden behind the flavor of hops and barley, though for just a moment he thought there was a spicy subtlety to what he tasted that hadn't been present in the first bottle. He let his tongue search one last time, and then lifted the bottle and drank, sucking the slick glass cylinder a little. When he lowered the bottle, he looked up to find Clark staring at him, lips parted, cheeks a little flushed. He felt his own face get warm in response, and he hoped like hell Clark hadn't just been watching him fellate a beer bottle.

Clark looked away, flustered, and pushed another plastic container at him. "Nuts." He said, then coughed, blushing harder. "I mean brownies. With nuts."

Lex took the container, mostly on autopilot. It really wasn't his fault that Clark was standing not three feet away with his groin right in Lex's line of sight. Though he was beginning to suspect that maybe it was his fault that Clark had an erection even his almost-fashionably baggy jeans couldn't hide. Of course, guys his age had erections every time the wind blew. And this was Kansas. But . . .

A dozen different responses occurred to him. As he tried to get his brain working well enough to analyze them, the phone shrilled, the sound startling enough that they both jumped a little. Clark grabbed the phone on the third ring, and Lex considered the irony of being saved by the bell.

"Kent residence, Clark speaking." There was a pause, then he nodded. "Yeah, Mom. I'm home. No party. Here, listen. . . " he held the phone out to the room with a little smile. Lex stayed quiet as Clark pulled the phone back to his ear. "See? Everything's fine. Hmm? No, not yet. I made dinner first. Yeah, I will. You know I will. Me too, Mom. Have fun! And don't worry if you can't get me later, the Leonids are peaking tonight and I'll be out at the telescope, okay? Yeah. Yeah, I will. Gloves too. Bye!"

He hung up the phone, stood next to it for a moment, then ran his hand through his hair and looked at Lex. "Chores," he said with a sigh.

Lex nodded. "I should go."

Clark sighed again, looking like a kicked puppy.

"Can I help?" Lex heard himself asking. Clark was damned good at that look. Maybe too good. Where Clark was concerned, he seemed to have a disconcerting lack of both willpower and good sense.

Clark laughed, shaking his head. "No offense, Lex, but I really can't see you feeding the chickens."

Lex chuckled. "Thank God. So. . . ?"

"You can just come hang out. Um. . . how much did those shoes cost?"

"You don't want to know. I'll watch where I walk."

Unfortunately, darkness was falling rapidly and it was difficult for him to see where he was walking, let alone be cautious about it. After a few minutes, Clark shooed him upstairs to the barn loft that was apparently his 'secret clubhouse' to wait. Lex sat down on a bale of hay, and wondered what the cleaner would make of straw in the cuffs of his Italian wool slacks. He thought about Clark, such a strange combination of earnest and open, with mysterious and secretive. He knew he was hiding something. He would eventually figure it out. All of it.

Sometimes he thought Clark wanted him. If it had been anyone else giving him those looks, touches, and smiles, he'd have known. But every time he thought there was absolutely no way to mistake Clark's interest, Clark would turn around and moon after Lana, leaving Lex to decide that he was misinterpreting the signals. He supposed the explanation might be as simple as the fact that Clark was at that age where he quite likely didn't really know what he wanted yet. He might just be as confused as Lex, though for different reasons.

Frustrated with that line of thought, he got up and wandered over to check out the telescope. He was surprised to find it was a pretty decent one, not new, but with excellent optics. He glanced through the viewfinder, scanning the horizon, and a light caught his eye. A house. A large one. He pulled back, oriented himself, looked again, and started to chuckle. He wondered which room was Lana's. If Clark was lucky, it was one of the front ones.

"I don't, you know."

The voice coming unexpectedly from behind him made him jump a little, and he turned to find Clark crossing the loft to stand next to him. "You don't what?"

Clark smiled sheepishly and gestured toward the telescope. "Watch Lana in her room. Well, except for once, but I felt kind of . . . dirty, after. So now I only look if she's outside. Or to see if her light is on."

Lex shook his head. "Doesn't all that wholesomeness get wearing?"

Clark looked away for a moment, licked his lips, and then lifted his eyes to Lex's. "Yeah," he said, his gaze hot enough to be a fire-hazard, what with all the hay lying around.

Surprising, but interesting. Maybe it hadn't just been one of those embarrassing 'no good reason' raging-hormone-induced erections before. Clark's lips were slightly parted, his breathing shallow and rapid. Lex had a feeling if he looked down he'd find that the wind was blowing again. And there was no phone out here, except the one in his jacket pocket, which was switched off. He shouldn't. He really shouldn't. So he did.

"Do you plan to do anything about that?"

Clark swallowed hard. "I . . . ." He lifted a hand and let it come to rest on Lex's shoulder as he leaned closer, a combination of arousal, and sheer terror in his eyes. "Lex?"

His voice was a cracking whisper. He was asking. Lex wouldn't have asked. All Lex had to do was step back, shake his head, anything to indicate a 'no.' Instead he lifted his chin slightly in deliberate challenge.

Clark closed his eyes, took a deep breath as if he were about to dive into cold water, and leaned in. They bumped noses at first, until Lex turned his head a little and there. . . wide, full lips against his; a light, sweet, brief touch. Then again. Then suddenly there were hands on both shoulders -- God, he had big hands -- and Clark was pulling him close, hard, that light pressure gone as Clark's mouth firmed on his, and he felt the hot flick of tongue. For endless moments he kissed back, letting his lips part, letting his tongue seek, and find, until the eager, inexpert kiss reminded him who he was kissing, and sanity reasserted itself. He stepped back, shaking his head.


Clark looked confused, and aroused. "No?"

Lex sighed. "No. That's as far as it goes."

Frustration warred with disbelief on Clark's face. "Why?" he asked, then he flushed, and looked away. "Was I that bad?"

Lex leaned against the wall and banged the back of his head into it. It hurt. Felt like there might be splinters. Not smart. Just like encouraging Clark to kiss him wasn't smart. He sighed, and avoided looking at Clark. "No, Clark. It has nothing to do with how bad, or how good, you are. It has to do with how old you are, and how old I am."

Clark looked at him through his lashes, eyes smoldering. He really shouldn't be able to look up at Lex, since he was taller, but somehow he managed to give that impression. "Chloe said you didn't care what people thought about you."

Lex looked at him. "She did, did she? I didn't realize Ms. Sullivan was a recognized expert on Lex Luthor."

Clark had the grace to look embarrassed. "She used to live in Metropolis," he said as if that explained everything, rather implying that everyone in Metropolis was conversant with his personal life.

"I'm aware of that." Lex was also aware that her father worked for LuthorCorp. And apparently had a big mouth.

"So, she was wrong?" Clark asked, pushing.

Lex shrugged. "No. She's right. I don't care what people think. However, I do not want to go to jail."

Clark looked at him oddly. "What would you go to jail for?"

"Oh, statutory rape, for starters. Definitely contributing to the delinquency of a minor. And Kansas has this quaint little same-gender sodomy law: 6 months and/or $1000, not that the fine would be a problem. Ironic, isn't it? You can get married at fourteen, but you can't have sex until you're sixteen, and if you want to have sex with someone of your own gender, it's illegal no matter how old you are. However, when you add in the fact that you're below the age of consent, what it means is that just giving you a blow job could put me away for seventeen years. I'm sure you see my dilemma."

Clark crooked an odd little smile at him. "You just happen to know all that, off the top of your head? I thought you studied biochemistry, not law."

Lex grinned ferally. "Believe me, I have reasons for knowing."

"Oh." Clark blushed a little, and then lifted his chin, a mulish expression on his face. "Anyway, I'm not below the age of consent."

Lex shook his head. "You're a freshman in high school, of course you are."

"I'm not," he worked a hand into his pocket, drawing Lex's eyes to the one place they shouldn't go, and dug out his wallet. Opening it, he pulled out his driver's license, which he handed to Lex. "Check the birth date."

Lex read it. Computed. Read it again. Looked at Clark, frowning. "How many times did you fail kindergarten?"

Clark flushed a little, and made a face. "Actually, I just started late. They waited until I learned English. Plus they had to guess how old I was. They decided on four. Could have been more."

"Or less," Lex said, though he doubted that. More would certainly explain why Clark towered over his classmates. And the fact that his three-o-clock shadow put some thirty-year-old's to shame. He tilted his head a little, studying Clark. If it had been a foreign adoption that could explain the difficulty his people were having in finding more information. "Romanian?" he guessed, handing back the license.

Clark shrugged as he put it away. "I don't know."

"You're not curious?"

An odd expression flashed across Clark's face, and for some reason he looked past Lex to the telescope. "No, not really. I know who my real parents are."

His words brought back the memory of watching Clark with his parents after the incident with Earl Jenkins, and the bitter aftertaste of his father's mock affection. He'd seen the records. He knew his father had locked them in the plant, fully expecting them to be killed. Messy, but ah well-- collateral damage was eminently spinnable, and he wasn't too old to get himself a new heir, one that might turn out a bit more pliable, and maybe even have hair. Thinking of the incident made him frown for reasons other than his father, too. Despite having had a team of investigators go over the plant inch by inch, he still didn't have an explanation of why they hadn't died. It should have blown. Something had released that pressure valve, but he still didn't know what.


Lex startled, looking up to find Clark way too close. "What?" He was trapped. He couldn't back up since he was against the wall, and sidling away would be undignified.

"You look funny."

"Back to comedy again?"

Clark scowled. "Not that kind of funny. Sort of. . . sad, and angry, at the same time."

"Luthors are never sad. It's a waste of time," Lex said briskly.

Clark's scowl deepened. "I hate it when you do that."

"It's like breathing, Clark. Get used to it."

"I'm used to it, but I don't have to like it. Your dad's a real . . ." he paused infinitesimally, ". . . asshole isn't he?"

Lex blinked a little, startled by that word coming out of Clark's mouth, then he caught Clark looking at him a little defiantly and hid a smile. "You shouldn't insult assholes like that," he said solemnly. "Especially not if you plan to keep kissing men."

Clark reddened, but he didn't back off. "You want me," he said firmly, not at all as if he were trying to convince himself of that fact.

Lex sighed. "Did Ms. Sullivan tell you that, too?"

Clark shook his head. "She didn't have to."

"What, you're an expert on Lex Luthor now too?"

"I don't think there is such a thing. Probably not even you," Clark said with uncanny perception as he put his hands on the wall on either side of Lex's head, effectively trapping him in place, and leaned even closer. So close that Lex could feel the warmth radiating off his body, the only heat source in the chilly loft. "Sometimes, though, you look at me the way most guys look at girls. Not when anyone else is around, but when it's just us. I didn't get it at first, but I . . . reacted to it. It confused me for a while, but I think I figured it out now."

"I see," Lex said, striving for nonchalance, trying to will his body not to react to Clark's proximity and unexpected audacity. Failing. "Speaking of looking at girls," he said, feeling an uncharacteristic clutch of desperation, "what would Lana say about this?"

That got a reaction. Clark pushed away from him and went to stand by the open loft doors, staring out at the now-dark sky. Finally he spoke. "She'd probably pat my hand and tell me she was happy I found someone." He laughed humorlessly. "Funny, I think maybe she guessed this about me before I did." He didn't explain his comment, and was silent for a moment, then he sighed. "I guess. . . I guess I'm tired of wanting someone who doesn't want me back."

There was his solution, his 'out.' Plain as day. Even the worst strategist couldn't have missed it, held out practically on a silver platter like that. All he had to do was lie, and he could walk away, no harm no foul. He was good at lying. He'd done it for years, building lie on lie until sometimes even he had trouble remembering what was a lie and what was truth. So easy.

"I want you," he heard himself say. "But I can't have you." Christ. What the hell was the matter with him?

Clark turned fast, his features oddly sharpened with intensity, looking almost predatory, almost angry. "Yes you can." He spread his arms out, all flannel and cotton and virtuous and . . . needy. "You're just afraid to."

Damn it. Since when did he let anyone push his buttons like this? He closed his eyes, and instead of bringing him relief from the sight of Clark, he saw him still, in the eyes of his imagination, all tawny naked sleekness . . .

He wasn't sure which of them had moved. Maybe they both had. He dug his fingers into the thick, silky darkness of Clark's hair and pulled his mouth down to meet his own. Hot, wet, slick. Clark might be green, but he wasn't. He knew exactly what he wanted, and how to get it. "This is such a bad idea," he muttered against Clark's mouth.

"Good idea," Clark said, closing in for another kiss

Lex moved his hands up and pushed the flannel shirt off Clark's shoulders. It didn't fall all the way off as Lex backed him up against the wall. It was strange to feel Clark yield to him so easily. He was taller, broader, no doubt stronger, yet he let Lex do it. More, he wanted him to do it. He slid a hand up under the hem of the long-sleeved tee Clark wore under his outer shirt, moving it upward until he found skin, smooth and warm. Let his hand move higher, until his fingers crested the curve of pectoral muscle and then brushed the pebbled surface of a nipple.

Clark gasped against Lex's mouth, and reached for him, only to be stopped by the flannel that still trapped his wrists. With what felt like nothing more than a slight shrug, he freed himself, the sound of fabric ripping almost obscenely loud in the quiet of the loft. When Clark brought one hand up to touch Lex's face, half a shirt trailed from the still-buttoned cuff. Christ he was strong. It was almost a little intimidating. Would be, if Clark wasn't so damned gentle, his fingers skimming along Lex's jawline like he was afraid he'd break.

Lex could feel Clark's heart pounding hard and fast under his fingers, a faint tremble resonating through his body. He pulled back enough to look at Clark's face, flushed, almost avid, his eyes unfocused and smoky. He'd been worried that the trembling was fear, but he didn't detect that in Clark's expression at all. Just need. He eased his hand out from under Clark's shirt, slid it down instead, past his hip, centering in. Clark threw his head back against the wall with an audible 'thunk' and moaned, thrusting his hips forward.

Against his palm Lex felt a hard length straining the denim, and since Clark wore his jeans loose, that said a lot about the size of his cock. As he squeezed gently, he realized he could feel a damp spot, too. Jesus, he really was excited if he was leaking that much already. Suddenly he twisted away from Lex, and for a moment Lex was afraid he'd gone too far, but no, Clark just reached down and grabbed the hem of his shirt, stripping it off over his head, yanking impatiently at his wrists until the buttons on what was left of his flannel shirt gave and everything came off together, baring him to the waist.

Lex's mouth went dry. God, Clark was even more beautiful than he remembered, without a fever-sweat and that sprayed-on 'S' marring his skin. He looked perfect, all smooth, tanned, gleaming, muscles flowing like water beneath his skin. He reached out again, let his hand rest on Clark's sternum for a moment, shifted it to trail a finger across one nipple, which tightened instantly under his touch. Clark stared at his hand, tongue moistening his lips as Lex skated his thumb back and forth across the taut nub, then he looked up again, his chin lifted, determined. He held Lex's gaze as his hands went to his waistband, popping the button, and then drawing down the zipper with a slight sigh of relief.

Lex took his hand off Clark's chest, and waited, not moving, either toward, or away, wanting to see how far he would go. Clark swallowed hard, eyes still locked with his as he used both hands to slide his jeans and boxers down to his knees, and finally looked down. Lex's gaze followed his, inevitably. His early estimation was absolutely on-target. And he was uncut, too. That surprised the hell out of him, considering how white-bread the Kents were, until he remembered Clark was adopted, and possibly of non-American origin.

Lex thought for a moment about just going to his knees right there, but the way Clark's knees were shaking he didn't think he was going to be able to support his own weight much longer. But there wasn't any place to . . . well, except. . . God, more clichés. Was he really going to do a farm-boy on a bale of hay? He looked back at Clark, practically panting with need. Yes. Yes, he was. He grabbed the blanket draped randomly across a railing, and put one hand on Clark's shoulder as he leaned in to kiss him, urging him backward until he was in position. Dropping the blanket to fan out across the hay, he pressed against Clark's shoulder until he got the hint and sat down, then a second later he shot Lex an absolutely wicked look, and lay back, putting his hands behind his head and arching his back a little so his cock thrust out more.

In that pose, bare and hard, with his jeans around his knees and his workboots still on, he looked like something out of a porn rag. Lex was momentarily entranced, unable to keep himself from staring, his gaze sweeping down, then back up. Clark grinned at him. Judging by his expression, Clark knew exactly what he looked like. Which meant he'd seen pictures like that, and for a moment Lex's brain was off on a tangent, wondering where the hell a sweet innocent like Clark would have gotten gay porn? The answer came to him as quickly as the question. "Jesus, Clark!" Lex said, his voice coming out more of a growl. "Don't tell me your parents let you surf the Web without Net-Nanny."

Clark grinned at him shamelessly. "A six-year-old could figure out how to disable that thing, Lex."

Lex laughed, shaking his head.

Clark sat back up and reached for him, hooking his fingers in his waistband and tugging him forward. "I want to see you," he whispered. "Want to touch you." He looked up into Lex's face anxiously. "Can I touch you?"

That was just about the hottest thing anyone had ever said to him. Which was strange because it wasn't like he was inexperienced, not by a longshot. He didn't understand his own reaction at all. And he didn't want to think about it either, damn it. He wanted to . . . feel. He shook off the strange tension that realization brought and managed a smile.

"This wouldn't be much fun if you didn't," he said, his hands moving down the buttons of his shirt, flicking them open one by one, unfastening the cuffs, and then sliding it off, along with his suit coat, draping both over the railing. The cool air of the loft caressed his skin, making his already-hard nipples even tighter.

Clark stared, looking gratifyingly impressed, especially considering he hadn't even gotten to the good part yet. Lifting a hand from where he was hanging onto Lex's waistband like it was a life-preserver, he let his fingers trail down Lex's chest. They looked very dark against Lex's skin, and were surprisingly soft. Lex had expected them to be rough with calluses. Clark traced a warm line across his stomach, just above his waistband, dipping his fingers a fraction of an inch beneath the fabric.

"Beautiful," Clark whispered, watching his fingers on Lex's belly, seemingly mesmerized. "I saw skin, here, when . . . when you were hanging there, in level three. I was scared to death, thought I was going to be sick, knew I had to get to you, but for a second all I could think was that I wanted to see more."

Lex chuckled. "So, you saved my ass because you wanted it?"

Clark blushed, his gaze rueful. "I should be ashamed of myself."

Lex shook his head. "Not at all. The world runs on ulterior motives. I'm actually glad to know that-- it makes me feel a little less like a kitten stuck in a tree."

Clark laughed. "Kitten? Never. Snow leopard." He leaned forward and let his lips touch Lex's stomach briefly. "Saw one once, at the Metropolis zoo," he said against his skin. "You remind me of him. Beautiful. Bored. Frustrated. Annoyed. Caged. Dangerous."

Lex shuddered, completely disconcerted by the analogy. He forced a laugh, stifling the urge to grab his clothes and run. "Dangerous?"

Clark looked up at him again and smiled that sly smile that sometimes came out and surprised Lex. "You telling me you don't have claws? And teeth?"

It was a little strange that Clark saw him that way, and yet was still here, three-quarters naked, still willing. Still wanting. Or maybe not strange at all. Clark seemed completely unafraid of playing with fire. Lex would just have to try very hard not to burn him too badly. He reached out and tangled his fingers in Clark's hair, pulling his head back a little as he leaned down and kissed him, taking back control, sliding his tongue into the slick heat of his mouth. Clark moaned, licking and sucking at him until Lex drew back, tugged briefly at his lower lip with his teeth, and let him go again.

"I have them," he said, belatedly answering the question. "But I'm very selective about using them."

He put a hand on Clark's shoulder and pushed. Clark went back on his elbows, waiting, watching, eyes wide as Lex toed off his shoes, and then unfastened his pants and stepped out of them. For a moment he debated taking off his briefs, then decided to wait. Clark might be willing, but for all intents and purposes he was a virgin. At least Lex thought he was. . . however, his assumptions kept getting blown out of the water where Clark was concerned, so maybe he ought to check. For all he knew, Clark had been servicing the football team all semester. Jesus, what an image. He shook himself a little.

"Those are cool," Clark said, staring frankly at his groin. "Never saw anything like those before." He grinned. "X marks the spot?"

Lex smiled wryly. "Something like that. And no, I doubt they sell these at the local K-mart. Tell me something, have you ever done this before?"

Clark's gaze finally lifted from his crotch, a blush spreading upward from his shoulders. "You mean . . ." he waved a hand vaguely at himself, then at Lex. "This?"

Lex nodded. "Yes."

"Um, no," Clark said, his expression telling Lex he thought he was about to be told to put his clothes back on and that he was up past his bedtime.

Lex went to his knees on the blanket, straddling Clark's thighs. "Okay."

Clark looked startled. "Okay?"

Lex smiled. "Just wanted to know what I was dealing with."

Clearly relieved, Clark smiled back. "Oh."

Lex shook his head, catching Clark's jaw in his fingers and holding him still as he claimed his mouth again. Not two minutes later he was on his back with Clark over him, held down by the a hard, solid weight of his body. Clark's hands and mouth were impatient and a little rough as he explored. The eagerness was arousing, and Clark wasn't deliberately rough, he just didn't know how far was too far, yet. Lex would have to teach him.

For a week after Clark had pulled him off that collapsing catwalk he'd been careful to wear shirts with too-long sleeves to hide the bruises ringing his wrist. Nor had he mentioned that the first time they'd met, he'd come away with a hand-shaped bruise in the center of his chest, legacy of Clark's lifesaving technique. He bruised easily, always had, even before coming to Smallville, and while none of Clark's bruises had been particularly painful, he'd instinctively known Clark would be appalled at the thought that he'd left them at all.

He found leverage points and pushed, rolling Clark beneath him again, then pushed up, one hand on Clark's shoulder, the other on his hip, keeping him in place. Clark stared up at him, flushed, mussed, and dark-eyed with need.

"Lex!" he rasped, reaching out again. "I need. . . I want. . . ." he trailed off, apparently not quite knowing what he needed or wanted.

Lex shook his head, shifting to avoid Clark's hand. "I know. It's all right. I know."

He squeezed Clark's hip a little, gently, then slid his other hand down from Clark's shoulder to his chest, brushing his fingers lightly across one nipple, then bending to suck it into his mouth, raking his teeth lightly across it. Clark groaned, his body arching, his hands coming up to clutch at Lex's shoulders. Lex hid a wince against Clark's chest, and then lifted a hand, rubbing his fingers along Clark's. Clark got the hint and relaxed his grip instantly. Quick study. Lex sucked on the tight little nub again, and Clark shuddered, breathing hard, but his grip didn't tighten. Very quick study. Lex played with his new toy a little longer, then lifted his head and blew lightly across the wet skin. Clark shivered, and arched, his cock grazing Lex's thigh.

Glancing down, he saw that it looked as if Clark was hard enough to be hurting. It probably wasn't very fair of him to make Clark try to contain himself this time. He still remembered his first time with acute chagrin. Clark had already lasted longer than he had. What he should probably do was take the edge off, calm him down a little, and see if he freaked. If so, that would be that. If not, it would be easier to play with Clark not riding the edge so hard. The problem, though, was that Clark, was clearly an alpha in beta's clothing. However, Lex knew that the trick to really being alpha was to let other people think your idea was theirs, so . . .

He let the hand on Clark's hip move inward, stroked the back of one finger along the underside of the taut shaft, and looked into Clark's face. Clark shuddered, dropped his hands to the blanket, clutching handfuls of it, and made a noise that could only be called a whimper. Lex tried not to smile. "What do you want, Clark?" he asked, letting his lips part, sliding his tongue across them suggestively. "What would you like me to do for you?"

Clark's gaze went to his mouth, just as planned. He swallowed hard a couple of times, then lifted his eyes to Lex's again. "I . . . for me? You . . . ." He shook his head. "I thought . . . we?"

He was definitely getting good at decoding Clark. And Clark had definitely spent too much time surfing the Web. Talk about rushing in where angels feared to tread. "Are we in some sort of hurry?" he asked, lifting his eyebrows.

It took a few seconds for that to percolate through whatever part of Clark's brain was still functioning, but he could tell when it did. The corners of his lips turned up, then the smile spread into a grin. "Guess not."

Lex grinned back. "Good. So, I repeat the question." He deliberately licked his lips again.

Clark finally took the bait. He lifted a hand, touched two fingers to Lex's mouth. "Could you. . . would you mind . . . ?"

He felt his smile turn predatory. "I'd love to," he said, leaning in for a quick, fierce kiss, before shifting around on the blanket, using one hand to spread a bunched corner of fabric out across a second bale, lengthening their makeshift bed. "Feet up here."

Clark lifted his feet onto the bale. Still shod. Jeans still around his knees. Lex thought about what he'd done to his shirt, and decided that it might be a good idea to get those off him. He could probably explain a torn shirt to his mom. Jeans would be a lot tougher. Since there was no way to remove his jeans without taking the boots off first, Lex tugged at his bootlaces, loosening them. As soon as he'd done so, Clark pushed his boots off one after the other, then kicked out of his jeans and boxers, and raised up on his elbows, watching, lips parted slightly in anticipation. Keeping his eyes on Clark's face, Lex leaned down and slowly drew his tongue along the smooth, untanned skin of Clark's hip.

Clark's eyes half-closed and he caught his breath. Lex licked again, trailing his tongue lower, down to the long arch of quad, then returned to draw wet circles on the tender flesh below Clark's hipbone with his tongue, until Clark lifted his hips and thrust blindly. He drew in a long breath, letting Clark's scent surround him. He smelled good. Not just the musky scent of male arousal, but something else, something . . . clean. Not soapy, just clean, almost green, like freshly mown grass. He couldn't identify it, he only knew that no one else he'd ever been this close to smelled like Clark. And it wasn't the hay. That had its own scent, dusty and sweet.

Exhaling softly, letting the scent recede from his awareness, he wrapped one hand around the base of Clark's cock, suspecting he would need that control, and lowered his head. He brushed his lips against the shaft, once, twice, before finally easing the foreskin back and taking the slick, blunt cockhead into his mouth. The muscles in Clark's stomach and thighs went taut and he made a wild, incoherent sound, but he didn't thrust, and he didn't come. Lex was impressed. He rubbed his tongue across the smooth, hot flesh, savoring the weight, and texture, and taste. Taste. Taste as unique as scent. More complex than he'd ever tasted before, and he had a wide spectrum against which to compare. Less salty, more bitter, leaving a faintly sweet-spicy burn on his tongue, like cinnamon and cayenne.

He licked again, searching for more, searching for the source, finding it, tonguing it. Clark jerked like he'd been shot, gasping. His hands came down, ghosted over Lex's naked skull, and for a moment he was sure Clark was going grab his ears and go for it, but instead his hands cupped Lex's jaw, so gently, and urged him back. More than a little frustrated by the interruption, but knowing he had to be careful not to spook Clark, Lex reluctantly lifted his head to look up Clark's bare, flushed torso to his face. Clark half sat up, slid his hands under Lex's arms with his fingers spread beneath his shoulder blades, thumbs just below his nipples, and hauled him upward until they were face-to-face. He turned his head, worried that he'd gone too far, not wanting to see rejection in Clark's storm-colored gaze.


His name, spoken almost reverently, made Lex look back again, into eyes that were full of. . . something. Something frightening, and unnameable, and . . . huge. Then they closed, shielded behind dark lashes, and Clark's mouth met his in a sweet, warm, open kiss, and Clark shuddered in his arms, gasped out a surprised-sounding "Oh!" into his mouth. Wet heat bloomed between them, and the smell of semen was suddenly strong in the air.

Clark ducked his head against Lex's shoulder. "Oh, man. . ." he said, his voice a muffled moan of embarrassment. "I'm . . . I didn't mean to . . ."

"Shhh." Lex combed his fingers through Clark's hair soothingly. He felt oddly moved, and unsure why he should feel that way. It had something to do with Clark wanting to kiss him when he came, and something to do with the fact that he wasn't in the least tempted to laugh or make some caustic comment about stamina. He knew, had this been anyone else, that he would have. Anyone else. Even someone else as inexperienced as Clark. This was. . . different. A little afraid to look at his own response too closely, he shook his head, and said something he'd never thought he would say. "It's all right. Really."

Apparently it wasn't a lie, because Clark relaxed against him. Lex kept stroking his hair, body rocking a little, on autopilot, against the muscular thigh riding between his own, enjoying the lazy suffusion of arousal. Clark made a soft, contented sound and nuzzled his neck, then lifted his head, eyes closed, wide mouth turned up at the corners as he blindly searched for Lex's lips again. Lex bent his head, pulled Clark's head back a little with a gentle tug on his hair, and took his mouth, searching out the strange spice of Clark's taste. Found it, muted, but there. Clark sighed into him, tongue sliding along his in a languid stroke. Suddenly, shockingly, orgasm washed through Lex, leaving him blind and breathless with pleasure until his heartbeat slowed and his lungs rediscovered air.

"Cool," Clark muttered in his ear.

Lex lay staring at the barn's rough siding, trying to figure out what the hell had just happened. Jesus, he hadn't even been close, not at all. He knew himself, knew his tolerances, his needs, and that just didn't happen. He knew what build-up it took, how long, what he felt like before it happened. He didn't ever come like a lightning strike from a clear sky. Christ, he'd never even gotten his briefs off. He felt heat wash into his face, suddenly identifying with Clark's earlier embarrassment. As he lay there trying desperately to come up with something sophisticated to say, Clark's fingers touched his face, almost delicately, and he felt the nudge of firming flesh against his hip.

"So, um. . . can we do that again?" Clark asked.

He laughed then, diverted from his shock, stretching in a full-body arch against Clark's warm, solid frame. "Okay, I think I'm officially declaring myself decrepit now. I can't believe you're . . . well, yeah, I guess I can," he said as they settled again, and Clark shifted against him, his cock definitely a little firmer. "Hard to deny the evidence. And yeah. We can do that again. Though you have to give the old man a little recovery time, okay?"

Clark snickered. "Yeah. Okay. What, an hour? Two?"

Lex glared at him. "I'm not that decrepit." The sly grin Clark gave him in response told him that the taunt had been deliberate, and he brought both hands down to Clark's ribs. "You wouldn't happen to be ticklish, would you?"

Clark's expression went panicked. "Oh man, no. . . you wouldn't. . . ."

Lex took pity on him. "All right, I'll let it go, this time. But don't let it happen again."

Clark looked relieved, shaking his head. "No sir, never again."

"That's better," Lex said smugly.

"Don't those feel gross?" Clark asked conversationally, hooking a finger in the waistband of his briefs. "Are you, like, afraid I'll freak out if I see your cock?"

Lex closed his eyes, wondering what had ever made him think Clark was naïve and innocent. Then he smiled, and pushed back on his forearms, sitting up. "Actually, yes," he said with a completely straight face. "I mean. . . some people do."

A half-curious, half-wary expression came over Clark's face. "Really?"

Lex nodded, still managing not to smile. "Really."

Clark's gaze shifted from his face to his crotch and back again. "Wow. Um, how come?" Curiosity was clearly winning.

"I'll tell you, but are you sure you're ready for this?" Lex asked.

Clark actually thought about it for a second before nodding. "Yeah. I am. What is it?"

"I don't know quite how to tell you this, but. . . " Lex said solemnly, and then paused momentarily for effect.

"What?" Clark demanded.

Lex sighed, looking down as if distressed. "The truth is, I'm a red-head."

Clark digested that, equally solemnly. "Hey, it's okay, I . . . ." It sank in finally. He made a face and stuck out his tongue. "Oh man, you are such a shit."

Lex grinned at him. "Yeah," he agreed. "But it's true, actually."

Clark looked puzzled. "What is?"

"Hair color," Lex said, turning around and standing up so he could take off his briefs, their steel-gray silk soaked to nearly black in places. He used them to scrub off a little, and then dropped them on the floor before rejoining Clark on their makeshift bed.

Clark eyed him critically. "I think it's more auburn," he said after a moment.

Lex looked down, and nodded. "Yeah. It got darker as I got older, thank God."

Clark studied him a moment longer, then looked up. "Can I . . . ?" he gestured to complete his sentence.

God. How weird was it to be having sex with someone who asked permission every time they touched you? "You don't have to ask," he said. "I think the permission was implied when we got naked."

Clark nodded, and reached out, trailing his fingers down Lex's mostly-flaccid cock, his touch one of curiosity, not seduction, though the sensation was still pleasant. Lex shifted his thighs a little apart to encourage exploration. Clark took advantage, his touch moving lower, cupping, stroking. More than pleasant. His cock started to harden, and he smiled a little. Not quite decrepit yet. Nice to know. Clark put his other hand in play, curving his palm around Lex's erection, stroking slightly.

"You're like Pete," he said after a moment.

Lex shot him a startled look. "You and Pete. . . ?"

Clark looked horrified. "No! Oh man, definitely not! Jeez, I've known Pete since I was in second grade. That would be like doing it with my brother or something, if I had a brother." He shuddered a little, then frowned. "Hey, you didn't mean that did you, when you said I was like the little brother you never had?"

Lex chuckled. "No, I just didn't think it was a good idea to be completely honest at that point."

"Okay, good, 'cause that would be kind of gross," Clark said, clearly relieved.

Lex thought about some of the things he'd done, seen, or heard of, and hoped Clark managed to keep his definitions of 'gross' so pristine for a long time. "I thought you could tell if I was lying," Lex said.

Clark had resumed stroking him, but he paused at that, thoughtful. "Hmm. I can. But now that I think about it, it only works if I think about it while you're talking. If I'm not really paying attention, I probably don't notice."

"So I should only lie to you when you're distracted?" Lex asked, teasing, mostly. He nudged his hips upward, hinting.

"Yeah," Clark said, teasing back, mostly, as his hand began to move again.

"So what did you mean, then? About me being like Pete?" Lex asked, fighting the urge to just close his eyes and let Clark do whatever he wanted to do. Good rhythm. Strong. Rough in just the right way.

"You're circumcised," Clark said, then he looked up, worried. "I mean, I've seen him, tons of times, like when we go swimming, or in the locker room, and stuff."

Lex chuckled. "Relax, Clark, I believe you. As for me, when I was born the concept of au naturel was still considered tacky in my parent's circle. Probably still is, I can't say as I've investigated the subject at length. I'll admit I was surprised you're not, though I suppose I shouldn't have been. It is, after all, organic."

Clark snorted. "Yeah. True." He shifted position a little, and stretched out alongside Lex, his long body warm, blocking the chill, hand still idly stroking his cock. "You've done everything, haven't you?" he asked.

Lex considered the question. "Everything? Well, not quite yet. I'm only twenty-one. It'll probably be another few months before I can legitimately say I've done everything."

"I just meant . . . "

"Yeah. I get it. Do you really want to know?" he asked, seriously. "You're not going to freak out on me if you hear something you don't want to know?"

Clark looked a little annoyed. "No, I'm not. Come on, Lex. I know I'm not exactly Mr. Metropolis here, but I'm not completely naïve. I mean, I'm here, aren't I? This was even my idea, wasn't it? So don't treat me like a little kid."

"You're absolutely right," Lex said, knowing full well that Clark really had no idea about the incredible variety of things that people did to and for one another in the name of pleasure. "So, yes. I've had sex with men, and women. No sheep, though. I hope you're not disappointed."

Clark laughed, but then he shook his head. "Nah. . . but, no. I mean, I wondered. . . ." He sighed. "What, exactly, you know?"

Lex puzzled that for a moment, then his translator kicked in and he got the question. He supposed it wasn't surprising that Clark would ask, considering his educational material. "Yes, I have. Topping, and bottoming."

Clark frowned a little, clearly puzzled. "Bot . . . ." His voice trailed off and his eyes widened. "Oh."

"Curiosity satisfied?" Lex asked, still waiting for Clark to panic.

Clark didn't. He just nodded. "Yeah. Well, no. Didn't you like it?"

Persistence, thy name is Clark. "Let's just say that like most things, if it's done wrong, it pretty much bites, but if it's done right, it can be . . . amazing."

"So, how come you didn't want to do it with me?" Clark asked earnestly, looking a little hurt.

Lex rubbed his forehead and prayed for patience. "You've got kind of a one-track mind there, don't you Clark? It's not a matter of not wanting to. It's simply a matter of finesse. I take it the concept is foreign to you?"

To his surprise, Clark laughed. "Yeah, pretty much. Want to teach me?"

Lex reached over and trailed a finger across Clark's soft, full lips. "What do you think I've been doing?"

Clark's tongue flicked out, following that touch, then he lurched forward a little, catching Lex's finger in his mouth and sucking on it, his eyes smoky and wicked. Showing off for the teacher. Lex slipped his finger free and pulled Clark down over him, twining his fingers in all that soft, dark hair, bringing their mouths together.

With the initial edge off, Clark wasn't quite as rough, but his intent, curious touches were no less arousing than before. His fingers roamed Lex's torso, skimming his nipples, then he pulled his mouth from Lex's and leaned down to suck on one tight nub. At Lex's hiss of pleasure, he lifted his head and grinned before ducking back down to try the other side. It was strange, how different Clark seemed right now. Ever since they'd climbed up to the loft, he'd been more confident, worldly and aggressive.

"Who are you, really?" Lex heard himself asking, giving voice to his thought.

Clark instantly tensed against him, but didn't lift his head. "What do you mean?" he asked, speaking into Lex's chest.

Lex wondered why the tension, and tried to explain. "You just seem different out here than you usually do. Like out here you can be. . . you."

Clark sighed and looked up, some of the tension fading, but his gaze troubled. "Yeah. I . . . it's just that it's kind of the only place that's really mine, you know? But it's not just here. I've noticed I tend to. . . " he stopped, and shot Lex a rueful glance. "Well, I think it's partly you."

Lex analyzed that, not quite sure what Clark was saying. "I'm a bad influence?"

"No," Clark said vehemently. "But definitely an influence. Not really good or bad. Part of it's that with you I don't have to hide so much."

Lex's eyebrows shot up. "Hide. . . what?"

An almost panicked look flashed briefly across Clark's face, but then he shook his head. "I just meant that I don't feel so much like a square peg with you."

Lex smiled wryly. "It helps to have another square peg to hang around with?"

"That's not what I meant, but that might be part of it," Clark admitted. "See, you never make me feel like an idiot. You listen to me. You. . . respect me."

Lex couldn't help laughing. "And I still will in the morning, so don't worry."

Clark rolled his eyes. "Lame, Lex. But I mean it, you talk to me like a real person. I can tell you things. And you let me be things that Smallville doesn't."

"Like attracted to men?"

Clark nodded. "Yeah, partly," he admitted candidly. "But mostly you treat me like I have a brain, and feelings."

"Christ. Get out of my head," Lex muttered. He could have said those things himself. Every one of them. And respect you didn't have to pay for was a distinct rarity in the Luthor world.

Clark nodded, his eyes full of empathy. Lex closed his own eyes and tugged Clark down again, finding his mouth, taking it roughly, one hand curving possessively over the tight curve of his ass. He'd been wanting to do that since that first day, when he'd been yanked rudely out of ecstatic flight and opened his eyes, still coughing, to see Clark above him, looking remarkably like a wet cat, and just about as happy. Well, all right, granted, the desire to grope his ass hadn't been his first thought, but it had been damned close.

Clark purred a contented little sound into his mouth, the vibration tickling a little, intensifying the feline metaphor. He rocked his hips against Lex's, reaching back to cup a hand over his, squeezing a little, urging it more toward the center. One-track mind was right. Okay, fine. Time to see if he really wanted it, or just thought he did. He trailed a finger very lightly down the crease of Clark's ass, pausing momentarily to circle the little opening with a fingertip.

Clark shivered, and spread his legs, snugging them up on either side of Lex's thighs, leaving himself completely exposed. That was a surprise. He'd expected that the difference between fantasy and reality would prove too vast. Curious, he repeated the action, and Clark bucked against him, turning his head, breaking their kiss so he could gulp in a harsh breath. Definitely a positive reaction. So perhaps he could go a little further. After all, a little fingerplay never hurt anyone, and Lex liked indulging Clark.

Lex lifted his hand, brought it up to Clark's mouth, and brushed his fingers across his lips. Clark took them in, all four of them, without a second's hesitation. The thought of what that hot, wet suction would feel like around his cock sent a shock of nearly-electric pleasure straight to his groin. He thrust up against the warm, smooth skin of Clark's hip and pulled his fingers free, putting them back where they needed to go, and pressing one in. It went in with surprising ease, and Clark canted his hips up and back toward Lex's hand.

"Lex, please. . ." he gasped.

Lex stroked one hand gently over Clark's ass, leaving the other in place, letting Clark get used to it. Although. . . he was beginning to wonder if Clark wasn't already used to it. "Clark, are you a virgin?" he asked.

Clark lifted his head, blinking, looking aroused, and confused. After a moment he seemed to figure out what Lex had asked, because he nodded. "Uh . . . yeah. I mean, mostly."

"Mostly?" Lex asked, stifling his amusement. "How can you be mostly a virgin?"

"I've . . . uh. . . I mean . . ." he flexed his fingers.

Lex got it. "You've masturbated?"

Clark nodded. "Yeah." The sex-flush on his skin darkened as embarrassment magnified it.

Lex closed his eyes for a moment, envisioning Clark with his pants open, shorts down, stroking his own cock, a look of abstracted pleasure on his face. Maybe next time. "I don't think that counts, anyway. Just your cock?"

Clark dropped his head and hid his face against Lex's shoulder. "Um, no, not just," he mumbled.

"Your ass?"

Clark nodded.

Lex was surprised yet again. He never would have guessed that sweet, wholesome Clark was that daring. He was just full of surprises tonight. "Fingers?" he asked, using his own the way he imagined Clark must have, stroking, searching.

Clark hissed a little and bucked, nodding again.

Lex caught his breath at that image, gritting his teeth against the urge to roll Clark over onto his back, push his knees up and. . ."You really are adventurous aren't you?" He probed deeper, feeling the catch of friction as he did, and eased back before he caused pain. He didn't want that. "Sorry," he apologized. "We're not really equipped for this."

Clark shook his head. "No. . . s'okay, just need. . ." he pointed, ". . . on the desk."

Lex didn't know what he meant but he looked anyway. Oh Jesus. Vaseline. Not optimal, but definitely better than nothing. He slid out from under Clark, who protested, and then rolled over to watch as he crossed the loft to grab the jar, and was back in less than thirty seconds. As he popped the cap off Clark brought his knees up, an incredibly smug look on his face. Very deliberately Lex put the opened jar aside. Clark's smug smile faded a bit. Lex slid a palm up the hard curve of Clark's calf, and the smile came back. Lex suppressed a smile of his own, went to his knees on the floor beside their makeshift bed and grabbed Clark's hips, pulling him over to the edge of the bale.

Clark yelped and flailed a little until he realized he wasn't going to fall off, and Lex moved his hands from his hips to his ass as he came up from underneath, taking Clark's knees over his shoulders, and bent his head, tongue searching, finding. Spice, and heat, and the faint hint of something alkaline and bland. . . soap? Left from a morning shower, perhaps. Or an afternoon one. He thought of communal locker rooms and wanted to growl. His. No one else should get to see Clark naked. Jealous, Lex used his hands to hoist Clark up to a better angle and licked again, circling and teasing until he had Clark panting, before finally delving in.

"Ohfuck!" Clark moaned. "Lex?"

Clark opened up to his tongue, letting him lick inside a little. As he did he heard fabric rip, and wondered if Clark was clutching handfuls of shredded blanket. A shudder wracked him, one Lex could feel everywhere they touched, and a moan ripped out of him, as shredded as the fabric, the sound low and dark and needy. Lex's own body reacted instantly to the sound, to the taste and scent of Clark around him. He was hard, aching, the muscles in his torso taut with the effort of not moving up, and over and . . . in. God, he wanted him. The strength of it was stunningly intense. He'd never felt this need to have before. It was strong enough to be a little frightening. Strong enough that he had to resist it. He knew he did, or he might lose himself in it.

Ignoring his own need, he wet his fingers in his mouth and touched the tender little furl, and then slid one in, alongside his tongue. Clark sighed, and pushed himself against the intrusion. Lex licked again, getting him nice and slick, and pushed another finger in. Still easy. Clark's hips lifted, circled, came down hard against his probing fingers with a little grunt. Once, twice. . .

"Lex?" Clark panted. "Come on. . . do it."

Lex leaned his head against his arm, trying to control his breathing, his reactions, the way-too-meaningful need. They could play; playing was all right, easy, meaningless. Safe. But no more. He shook his head. "No. Clark, I'm . . . damn it, just . . . no."

"Why?" It was almost a wail.

God. Maybe fear would work. "You don't know me. I'm not who you think I am," he growled. "I'm not good for you."

Clark rocked on his fingers again, temptation almost past bearing. "I know you're not all good, Lex. But there's good in you."

He shook his head again, frustrated that Clark still refused to understand, wouldn't hear what he was saying. He tried to pull his hand away, only to have Clark clamp a hand around his wrist, preventing him from doing so with startling ease. He stared at the fingers on his arm, feeling anger pulse through him. And fear. He didn't understand himself. What the hell was he fighting this for? Clark wanted it, he wanted it. What was the problem? He thought of the trust Clark had in him, and knew what the problem was. He wanted that too much. And he might not be able to stop himself from using it, once he had it. It shouldn't matter, but . . . it did.

"There's not." He hardened his voice, but still couldn't look into those strangely wise eyes, knowing Clark would know he was lying. "Let go," he demanded. "I don't want to hurt you."

"There is," Clark said, his voice strangely gentle. "If there wasn't, then you'd want to hurt me."

Christ. Out of the mouths of babes. He looked into Clark's clear gaze then, finally, holding it defiantly. "I do."

Clark smiled. "Liar."

"Fuck you," Lex growled, still trying to free himself. Clark's fingers were like steel. Must be all that farm-work.

"Yeah," Clark said simply. "Please."

Lex flinched. "Goddamn it, Clark."

Clark let go of his wrist finally. "I'm not an idiot, Lex. You may not be good for me, but. . . you're right for me." He looked frustrated. "I know that doesn't make sense, I just. . . do you understand?"

Lex closed his eyes. Swallowed hard. Nodded. "Too well."

He slipped his fingers out of the hot, tight space that held them. Flexing his hand, he knew he'd have bruises around his wrist again. He didn't care. They didn't matter. Clark scooted back on the bale, and wordlessly Lex moved up over him, still between his thighs, but now on the same surface. He leaned down, held Clark's stubborn chin in his fingers, and brushed his lips across his full, soft mouth. Clark kissed him back, eagerly, greedily, pulling him down against him.

His body was hard, yet soft, and warm, his penis nudging a trail of slippery wetness across his belly, against his own cock. Blindly Lex groped for the Vaseline and dug two fingers into it. Clark brought his knees up on either side of Lex's hips, and on his shoulders his hands seemed to shake a little. Lex had to force himself not to notice. Clark had made his decision. Lex would respect it. Cautiously he smoothed the slick stuff around, and then in, and Clark moaned into his mouth, thrusting his cock against Lex's in a maneuver that nearly ended things right there.

Hanging onto his self-control by a thread, Lex lifted, breaking the contact, and moved downward a little, urging Clark to curl his hips up, reaching between them to slick himself, and then to grasp his own cock and press it into place. He held still there at the entrance, not entering, waiting until Clark opened his eyes and met his gaze.

"It's all right if you have regrets later," he said knowing he was lying, and knowing Clark knew it.

Clark nodded solemnly. "You too." He closed his eyes, and curled his hips upward, bringing his knees up.

Lex planted his hands flat, and leaned forward, letting the pressure of his upper arms behind Clark's knees take the strain of holding that curled position. Closing his own eyes, he forged his way inside. He met no resistance, just welcome. Yes. Clark was right. It might not be good for them, for either of them, but God, was it right. It felt right when he moved, eyes closed, savoring the give and clasp. Amazing.

Clark hitched his hips a little, and shifted his legs, and suddenly they were wrapped around Lex's waist, and his hands were pulling Lex down into a kiss. The new angle changed everything. His hands slipped, and he slammed down hard into Clark, who arched, gasping out something incoherent, but positive-sounding against his lips. The wild thrust against Lex's belly told an equally undeniable story. Clark liked it hard. Christ. He was gone.

He moved, thrusting in, working a hand down between their bellies to find the heavy length of Clark's penis, taking it in his hand, stroking hard, just as hard as he was stroking into him. After six strokes, Clark tore his mouth from Lex's and groaned so loud it was almost a scream, and came, his cock pulsing out semen so powerfully that Lex could actually feel each spurt against his stomach, felt Clark's body clenching rhythmically, almost painfully around him. Resisting that would have been like resisting the force of gravity. He surrendered, shuddering, letting Clark take him flying over the edge into space. Flying.

Sometime, a long time after that, the cool night air made him shiver. Lex pulled the edges of the now-ragged blanket up across his shoulders, stirring a sleepy murmur from Clark, who was bonelessly relaxed beneath him, like a sleeping cat. He smiled a little at the image. Wet cat to hungry cat to sated cat. He half-expected Clark to purr. He stroked his fingers against Clark's hair, and contemplated what they'd just done, half elated, half despairing.

Lost. He was absolutely lost. He'd been right before, to resist, to try to keep it light and playful. He should have listened to his instincts. They had crossed a line tonight. It hadn't just been sex. He'd had enough 'just sex' in his life to know. No, he and Clark had forged a connection between them that he suspected couldn't be broken by anything short of death. Not even if they wanted to. And that was a terrifying thing. He had never had that sort of bond with anyone. Never really wanted one, either. But he had one now. The question was, what was he going to do with it?

A hand worked its way out of the covers, and stroked the back of his head gently. "Stop thinking," Clark muttered. "Lemme up and I'll turn off the light. In a couple of hours the Leonids should be at peak, we can watch."

"Leonids?" Lex asked, unwrapping the covers to roll over and let Clark get up. He watched him pad over to a work-light and unplug it, plunging the loft into darkness. A moment later Clark was back next to him, big and warm, pulling the blanket back around them snugly.

"Meteor shower. Big one. Supposed to be really cool."

How appropriate, Lex thought, that there would be meteors tonight.


Comments to: kellie@mrks.org

Author's Notes:

Thanks to AuKestrel, Betty, and Beth H. for beta. As always, I am indebted. Not to mention lucky.

Soundtrack: V*A*S*T: Visual Audio Sensory Theater.

I guess I should have called this an AU, since I decided this is an AIDS-less universe. It's clearly not this universe so I figured a world with Superman in it could be a world without AIDS. Wish ours could be, too.

The title comes from the Greek word which evolved into 'meteor.' meteOros 'high in air', from meta- + -eOros, from aeirein to lift. Because they have a long way to fall.

This is my first Smallville fic. I was intrigued by the show from the first ep I saw, which was actually the second one, since I managed to miss the premiere. Fortunately they rebroadcast it. Lex and Clark are definitely in love, but their relationship has tragedy written all over it, which isn't my usual cup of tea. Not to mention the fact that there are innumerable problems posed by writing fanfic for an in-production show, the worst of which is that you live from week to week hoping they don't do something in an episode that completely negates your working thesis. Still, when something gets under your skin . . . So anyway, this story is set not long after "Jitters" and anything that happens after that can, of course, render this story completely null and void. But for that one moment in time, it exists, and is a snapshot of a universe that could, somewhere, exist.

Thanks to Maygra for kind permission to steal her ideas about Clark's actual age. Makes me feel *marginally* less like such a dirty old lady.

Oh, and um, just in case you're curious about that 'x marks the spot' comment:
And believe me, they are waaaay sexy on.

Like it? Hate it? Have quibbles? Tell me! kellie@mrks.org