~ TheThere Series~

The There series was the first thing I wrote in any fandom, and was definitely a learning experience. I have not re-written this series, but left it as an example of my earliest writing. In this series, there are two versions of each fic - one written in Lex's point of view and one written in Clark's point of view. I hope you enjoy reading them!

Thanks so much for taking the time to visit this site and read my work.



~ Chapter II: There is Only Clark ~


Series: There

Pairing: Clark/Lex

Rating: NC-17

Spoilers: None

Summary: Lex's POV. Companion piece to There is Only Lex. Read the other fics in the series. Otherwise you may get lost and I'm not coming in There to look for you.

Author Notes: * Just for the TWoP discussion kids: No "farmboys," plenty of lube without actually using the word "lube," plain old cotton sheets (too hot for flannel!) and not one puckered hole or nipple. See, it can be done! * *****Profuse thanks to my Beta sQuad - Kel (my whip-cracking, fork-wielding beta), La Casta (my evilocity-loving beta), Edie (my happy-accidental beta) & Kathryn (my "yes, there is some Clex going on" beta). And finally, thank God for mornings after.

Archiving: Feel free to share and share alike.

Disclaimer: If they were mine, I'd make a sandwich. But they're not, so I'm ordering pizza.

Feedback: Need a penny? Take a penny. Have a penny? Leave a penny.




A foggy half-awareness cuts through Lex's dream and he tightens his closed eyes, tries to fight his way back into to it. A good dream - exceptional in fact. Dream-Clark's leg brushing his, feet curved together in some too-sappy kind of foot cuddle. Cuddle?

He can almost hear his father's words as Lionel walks in on them, "Luthors. Don't. Cuddle."

And Dream-Clark, half asleep, tries in vain to cover them - sheet tangling in their legs as he tugs it up from the foot of the bed. And Lionel's hovering, mouth working itself into a grinning, Grinchlike smile.

And now the wakefulness that pulled at him a minute ago doesn't seem like such a bad idea. Funny how that works.

All right, he's awake. No going back now, even if he wanted to - which he doesn't if Lionel's going to be there waiting, standing over their bed (their bed), shaking his finger at them in a bad Martha Kent impression.

He opens his eyes, takes stock. Reality is better than he could've hoped for. Clark's back to his chest, dark almost-curls brushing his face and God - that's exquisite. Their legs pressed close together, warm and tight. Clark's hips nesting in the curve of his lap, so close that Lex knows his hipbones are poking into Clark's lower back. His right hand hanging over Clark's waist, fingers just barely touching his stomach. God that would tickle him so badly - but it doesn`t seem to be bothering Clark. His left hand is holding - is that a shoulder?

It is. Somehow - when did he do that? His arm is tucked in the space between Clark's neck and the sheets, curving around Clark's throat, gripping his left shoulder. This is perfect - too perfect to even give serious thought to the vague feeling that he should maybe loosen his grip, move his arm just a little. But Lex doesn't really want to let Clark even breathe and swallow ever again without having to feel his touch.

He closes his eyes against the red light of the alarm clock just beyond Clark's head and slips back under the darkness behind his eyelids. Lionel's gone now - he must've gotten tired of waiting for him. And he's alone with Dream-Clark again, and Dream-Clark's really awake now - how could he not be with Lionel screaming at them like that? Awake and kissing him and God, that mouth. Those hands. Searching, finding, moving along Lex's back, his arms, his chest. Up to his face and Dream-Clark's way more confident in Lex's dream than Real-Clark was last night, and that's too bad but - but someday. Someday. And Lex isn't complaining.

But he can think of about 50 complaints when he opens his eyes again, hours (?) later and Clark is missing. All that's left of him is a vague indentation on the mattress and the empty space that Lex would normally be sprawling over. A sound from the kitchen - a pot on the stove? The kid must be insane.

Lex is shuffling - No. Luthors do not shuffle.

Lex is walking to the door of the bedroom and blinking hard against the light that pours onto his face when he opens it. Too much light, too early. So he closes the door until he's just squinting through a couple of inches worth of space and tries to focus. On Clark. Cooking?

There's something irresistible about him standing there, bathed in too-white light, muscles working as he digs through the refrigerator, examining a bottle of apricot juice with a disgusted face, finally taking out two bottles of water. Bless him for that. Lex's mouth is so dry. He could just stand there, watching for a while. But he feels a little odd about spying on Clark.

Lex knuckles the sleep out of his eyes and takes just another minute of selfish silence. Clark's bottom wiggling just a little as he cracks an egg against the corner of the counter, dumps it smoothly into a bowl, beats it with a fork. Something else - red - spooned into the egg and mixed, then salt and pepper. And milk? And Lex has to stop him. Has to stop this before he puts in - God - Grey Poupon or something.

"God, Clark - how can you be awake already? It's - what time is it anyway?"

It comes out sounding scratchy and half-spoken. That patented Luthor tone in his voice is just shot to hell this early in the morning.

"Early. Go back to bed."

And Clark's moving towards him, and something's - different. It's wet. Clark's hair.

"Your hair`s wet - Jesus - did you already take a shower?"

Talk about an early riser. Lex hadn't even considered the fact that Clark had chores to do before school so he'd have to be up this early everyday. But Lex doesn't want to be awake yet. Doesn't want to even think about eating yet. Can't actually believe that anyone would. Except maybe Clark.

"I was hungry. Thought I'd make you breakfast in bed. So yes, I took a shower and now I'm cooking. You should go back to bed. I'll bring it in in just a minute."

"You're going to eat breakfast now?"

"Why not?"

*Why not? Well, Clark, I can think of a few reasons. The sun's not up, the day hasn't begun, the teeth aren't brushed, and the paper probably isn't even on the doorstep yet.*

But that's kind of appealing. It's morning and they're still alone. Isolated - together. And nothing is going to come between them now, not even breakfast before the sun comes up.

"Okay Clark. But I'm warning you, breakfast makes me sleepy."

"So we'll sleep more after. Go, Lex. Bed. Now."

"Can I have a-" Before he can finish, Clark's twisting the cap off a blue bottle and handing it to him.

"Back to bed Lex. You can't have breakfast in bed if you're not in bed."

And who would dare argue with logic like that?

"O. yawn K."

Clark goes back to his pan, stirring gently, arm moving in slow circles. It's all Lex can do to keep his eyes open, taking in that beautiful back. He props himself against the door frame and just...

Are his eyes closed? They might be. They are.

Fuck. Well, he can just stand here another minute and then go quietly back to the bed. In another minute - he`s too sleepy to move now. Just another minute.

And the next thing he knows, Clark has a strong arm around his waist. A hand firmly, gently holding his arm. Leading him back into the darkness of the bedroom, the coolness of the sheets sliding against his skin. Clark's tucking him in under the crisp linens, moving the pillow under his head just a little, like he wants to be sure Lex is comfortable. And Clark's low voice slips through the comfort.

"Try to wake up just a little, Lex. I'll be in with the food in just a minute."

Lex wants to go back to the doorway, close his eyes against that light, wait for Clark's arm around his waist again. Clark's so strong and - is he thinking this? - safe. Familiar in a way that Lex knows he's never felt before. Before Clark. Before coughing up river-water and realizing that Clark had saved him. He can taste the tepid, dirty water in his mouth and he knows that Clark has brought him back to life - again.

Clark kisses his forehead, somehow that doesn't sit right with Lex, but he's too tired to figure out why. A light hand running across his head and then Clark moves away, closes the bedroom door behind him, cutting off the bright glow from the kitchen. And for a split second, a thought rapes Lex's mind. He can't let Clark see this- vulnerability - in him. He pushes the thought out, slams his mind shut. He will not ruin this. Not this time. Not this - not Clark.

Soft and just a little wet and what the hell is that? Oh, Clark's kissing him. Kissing Lex awake, propping pillows behind him, squeezing his hand.

"Mmm. So you cook too, huh?" Lex tries to focus on the plate across the room, rubs his eyes, making a show of looking. Strange how now that the food's close enough to smell, he's famished.

"Omelets and grapefruit. That okay?"

"God Clark. More than okay. I'm starving."

"This from the man who just acted like I was nuts for eating this early."

Clark retrieves the plates and bottles from across the room and presents Lex with one of each of them.

It looks - simple. But somehow elegant. Impressive even.

"Smells good. What's in it?"

"Oh, you know, standard omelet stuff. Salsa, cheese, scallions..."

And that might be funny, but it's not. Because Clark's not smiling, not joking. If there are scallions in this omelet, he's not eating it. There'd better not be scallions. Doesn't Clark know him at all?

Clark smiles wide and shakes his head when Lex takes a bite No scallions. Thank God.

"Scallions. Right, Clark. Aren't you ever going to let that one go?"

The teasing doesn't even bother him. Sure, it's childish, but Clark's young. Very young. And he's just so relieved that Clark remembered that dinner well enough to make this little joke happen.

"You sent it back twice, Lex. The second time there weren't even any left on it!"

"I could taste them."


*Let's change the subject, Clark.* Too tired to think of anything overly clever. How about - right, stick with the obvious Lex - this breakfast.

"This is really good. Made breakfast in bed for many people, Clark?"

"Um-no. Mom's recipe. Well, mom's and mine. We make `everything' omelets and just throw stuff in the pan. This one came together a couple of months ago and it's one of our new favorites."

"Everything omelets? Don't tell me." Lex doesn't want to know - he really doesn't want to know. Eating this early is already pushing his stomach to the limits (no matter how hungry he thinks he is) and throwing the thought of sardine/pickle/onion omelets on top will not help. Shit. Does not help.

"My favorite is grape jelly and bits of toast." Clark's almost finished with his already; God he eats fast. Like he's the youngest of 10 kids and had to scramble for seconds at the dinner table. Scramble? Omelets? God, that was horrible. Wait. Did Clark just say 'bits of toast and jelly?

"In the omelet? Didn't I say don't tell me? Clark you are truly deranged when it comes to food."

"And you don't really have the open mind you're always bragging about."

"Not about jelly and eggs. Jelly? Really?" Lex attacks his omelet again, determined to finish it for Clark's sake. The salsa's a nice touch, but the cheese is the best part.

"It's actually really good Lex. I'll make it tomorrow maybe." Clark sits his plate on the floor by the bed and Lex makes a mental note not to step on it when he gets up. Which hopefully won't be for a while yet.

"Remind me to leave tonight then." Lex forks another piece in and smiles close-mouthed around the bite.

"You wouldn't dare."

Clark's so adorably ignorant. He has no idea what Lex has dared do. The things he's done to former lovers - lovers? Too strong a word. Sexual acquaintances. Clark wouldn't believe him if he told him how many times he'd just walked out and never looked back. How many faces he couldn't remember even if he wanted to.

Lex puts his fork down, picks up a section of grapefruit and grins at him. No need to spoil this with confessions. Better to just reassure Clark, just in case he's not as naive as Lex thinks he is.

"I would Clark. But I won't. This is different. My old policies don't apply to -us. Unless you're seriously going to make me eat jelly and eggs."

"Steak and eggs then."

It's things like these that define roles. Moments like this - when one partner offers to please the other and sets the tone for the whole relationship. And Lex wants to make sure Clark doesn't turn into a servant. He has enough of those already.

"You know, you don't have to cook. We can go out or order in. Unless you're planning on making breakfast in bed a habit." Lex hands his plate to Clark, wipes his hands on his napkin and settles back on the pillows.

Clark stands to take the plates to the kitchen, decides the dresser is good enough for now and turns back to the bed. It's almost, almost silly for Clark to hesitate. But Lex is willing to give Clark all the encouragement he needs.

"You really shouldn't be wearing those you know." A nod to Clark's shorts.

Clark twists his neck, trying to see the back of his boxer shorts. Like he's looking for a stain or something.

"Why? What's wrong with them?"

"They're on you, Clark."

And Clark looks a little shocked - a little nervous, but there's no reason why he should. It's not like Lex hasn't seen him before. But then again - in a way, it is. He hasn't seen Clark in the daylight - in the morning sun that's streaming in through the middle partition of the curtains. He hasn't seen Clark, non-virgin, naked.

But he's about to because Clark's thumbs hook the waistband of the offending underwear and in one fast moves he steps out of them.



Clark is stunning - beautiful, smooth skin almost glowing in the dawn light, that much more amazing because he doesn't even know how breathtaking he is. He's just embarrassed. So Lex holds the sheet up in the air, making a pocket beside him for Clark to crawl into. Clark practically jumps in.

They're side-by-side, touching at all the curves of their bodies - arms, hips, thighs, legs. Just close enough to share. Body heat. And then Lex turns on his side to face Clark. And Clark matches his move, hand blessedly going to Lex's lips. He breathes deeply, chest rising so much that it brushes Clark's arm. He can't remember the last time he was this close to someone.

Lex shuts his eyes against the brutal truth that dances on the edge of his brain. He knows this is more than he's ever had. Maybe more than he's capable of having - successfully. Even with Clark. And as Clark's name forms in his head, Clark's mouth gently, slowly catches his and kisses.

It's more than a little comforting that Lex didn't have to wake up alone in the middle of the night. Clark is still - with him. He doesn't doubt the strength of their friendship, but Lex's track record with lovers is not good and he knows that Clark is very aware of his failures with - others.

The cotton sheets are cool and billow up, making a huge pale blue bubble over their legs when Clark pulls them up to their chests. Lex smiles at the innocent way Clark shifts to his other side, scooting back towards Lex, far enough to be touching. A reenactment of their earlier sleeping position. As they settle, Lex curves tight against Clark's back, arms holding on like he's claiming Clark, Clark's wet hair dampening the pillow and Lex's face.

Bare back against his chest, matching rise and fall as they breathe. Even the salty-sweet mixture of omelets and grapefruit in his mouth is delicious.

But it's not enough - not nearly enough. Clark tilts his head forward, offering Lex the back of his neck. An offer Lex can't refuse. Salty, tan skin and even *that's* not enough. Lex nibbles on a knot of bone at the base of Clark's neck.

And still. Not even close. He wants that mouth again - Clark's mouth. He pushes Clark's shoulder down to the bed, scooting back to make room. Clark, on his back, that's what he wants.

Tasting Clark's shoulder, his chest. His mouth. On him. He wants Clark on him. All of him. Grabbing Clark's shoulders, nudging him over again and then pulling Clark's weight on top of him. God - Clark's crushing him against the mattress, and Lex wants it this way. Every way. Any way.

Lex doesn't tell him anything this time - and Clark doesn`t ask any questions, doesn`t fumble or pause or hesitate. He just does. Thank God.

Hands sliding over Lex's skin. Touching, pushing, feeling, tightening around Lex's arms, his thighs, shoulders. It's impossible to think, so he tries not to. Clark's so sure of himself now. Dream-Clark must've given him lessons. Or else there was more in that omelet than cheese and salsa.

Lex doesn't even have to think twice about responding, answering Clark's hands and lips with arches and small, quiet noises of encouragement. But it's all going too slow for Lex. He's awake now, ready to get the day started. Ready to get this started.

His finger in Clark's mouth, and God, out. Then tracing a wet line around Clark's hip and sliding inside him. So tight - still so tight. And God, warm. Clark's not stopping him so he's not stopping. The boy above him arches, moans, rocks - God - back onto Lex's finger.

He can't help smiling at the reaction from Clark. Another lick, a nibble and Clark's neck tastes good on both sides. A sigh from Clark, completely unintentional Lex guesses. But it's a good indicator that Clark's ready for...

Another finger, a wet, thorough kiss and those. Eyes. Watching Lex and he knows he should ask but he doesn't want to. Doesn't want to have to have permission to touch Clark. Not even Clark's permission. Wants to take, to have without bothering to ask. But it's Clark and this is all new to him. Lex has plenty of time to corrupt him later. While they're there, at the penthouse maybe. So Lex finds himself asking permission again - just like the night before - and Clark nods.

"God, Yes. Lex. Please."

Lex bites a hot brand on Clark's shoulder and kisses his way down Clark's chest. He can't quite remember the taste he thought he'd never forget; last night seems a lifetime ago. But he wants to be reminded.

Sweet and silky and solid and God, why is he thinking in five letter words? Right. Clark.

His mouth on Clark. Tongue painting a long, thin streak along his length. Sucking. And licking. A tiny non-bite. Teeth scraping on Clark and Lex wonders if that was a good hiss or a bad hiss. Doesn`t really want to take the time to check though, so he licks away the bite and gives Clark more. More soft, more wet, more tongue, more throat.

Clark's writhing under his tongue, his hands. Lex wants this to last. He unhands Clark`s cock, unmouths it. Pulling his fingers slowly out, and he's just made a command decision. This should be reversed. Should be. Will be. Now.

Reaches up and laces his fingers in Clark's, pinning them down on the bed hard as he moves to straddle Clark's waist. Lex has him completely confined. Not exactly a threat, just - a forceful move that should seem out of place but somehow doesn't. Somehow seems so right. So hot.

Lex's lets go of Clark`s hands, releasing him. Can't play the dom this morning. Too early. Too close. Too - Clark.


"Changed my mind, Clark. It`s your turn."

Lex is asking again, strong thighs squeezing against Clark`s. Does he know? Does he understand this?

He wants Clark. Inside him.

He leans over to the nightstand, leans back with a bottle in his hand.


Clark holds out his hand to him. Lex watches - almost impatiently - as Clark slides his fingers together, spreading the slick liquid.

He lays down on Clark, chest to chest, biting his ear, breathing almost-words into it. Clark's shaking again - like last night only - it's somehow okay this time. Lex isn`t worried. It`s natural. Expected. Something.

Clark's hand reaches around Lex, and down. His finger finds him so easily - slips in, moves, stretches -like Clark`s been doing this for years. After a minute, another finger works in. Lex is fighting down the hysteria as he thinks about Clark's cock replacing those fingers. And he can't help it - he's sucking in air with every movement - like this is all new to him and Clark`s the expert. And it's Clark's turn to ask.

Lex just looks at him - Clark should know he doesn't need to wait for an answer. And he must realize it because it's only a second or two before he`s moving. Lex's chin on Clark's chest, then his forehead as he looks down between them, then Lex lifts off, scoots down a little, kneeling over Clark`s cock. Away from Clark and it's horrible, but not for long. Lex all but grabs Clark's cock. And guides him. In.

Settling. Adjusting. Shallow and slow of course, because - right - Clark doesn't know anything else. But it's too slow, not enough. So Lex just. Sits. And arches back, eyes squeezing shut against the pain. He can feel Clark looking at him in amazement, so before Clark can worry, Lex starts moving. Devouring. Laying down on Clark's chest again, closing the space.

Clark's body is tense, like he's - uncomfortable. So Lex isn't really surprised when Clark wraps both arms around him and rolls. Until he's on top, pressing Lex into the sheets again. Now *he's* not comfortable but fuck if he's going to let his face show any sign of annoyance. Because the weight of Clark is just too good.

Lex wants a piece of Clark - wants something to hold onto and keep. He's digging trimmed nails into Clark's back and sides. And clawing into Clark's stomach when he raises up and starts to move. It's better this way, his legs folded up and around Clark. Clark, on top.

Then Clark leans back, and Lex opens his eyes to see Clark almost-kneeling between his legs. Clark wraps an arm around each of Lex's legs, eagerly supporting the weight, taking that burden from him. Taking it for him. God that's so fucking - considerate. He's far from Lex's face this way, but it's okay because it has to be. Because they're close somewhere else. Everywhere else.

Thrusts. Regular, even, constant strokes. Like he'd do. Like he's imagined Clark doing a thousand times. Like he did to Clark last night. Faster and harder and it's so perfect. And it's not long, not long at all before he knows it won't be much longer. Lex is staring now, drinking in the sweat-curled hair, the half-closed eyes, the lips being licked every few seconds. Like he's desperate to taste something - to taste Lex. Lex knows that look. And he knows that Clark's just as close as he is.

And a voice that he's known for his entire life screams in his head. Don`t lose control - don`t give him that. But Lex wants to - has to - give Clark everything. Still, it`s so much to give. No choice though, not with Clark. No choice, so he closes his eyes against this. Rhythm.

Lex reaches down between them and strokes himself. Matching the rhythm Clark is beating out inside him. Hard. Fast. Hard enough to hurt. Yes, God. Pleasure spiked with pain. Pain enough that the voice quiets in his head, satisfied. And Lex is teaching Clark, telling, showing him - praying to God that Clark gets it.

He wants it - needs it hard.


And there it is - that look of recognition in Clark's eyes. And he slams into Lex, uninhibited, free. And silently asks Lex.

Like this?

Thank God, Clark. Thank God you understand.

"God. Yes. Clark."

Hot, wet sprinkles on their chests, their stomachs, and Clark doesn't stop. He keeps moving - keeps going - keeps filling. And it's the first time Lex hasn't felt empty - too soon. Clark's eyes close, his cheeks flushed and gorgeous. Mouth open just enough to let small, desperate moans escape with every exhale. Lex reaches his arms up to Clark, around his own legs, hands on Clark's back, pulling Clark down hard against him. Clark's thrusts are haphazard now - no rhyme or reason or rhythm and God Clark's loss of control is just hot. Hotter than his own maybe.

Clark's back arches and he pauses, pressing deep inside him.

Then falls onto Lex's chest as he comes. Lex holds him close, skin tight against skin. His hand in Clark's hair, mouth whispering against Clark's ear, almost-nothings that sound incomplete but he can't help it. "So good Clark. God, perfect. Torture until we do it again."

And the waking city beyond the blinds doesn't pull Lex, doesn't taunt him. Work might as well not even exist. Outside this room, there is nothing that holds any fascination for Lex.

There is only Clark.


"So we're too late for the museum. You need a full day there really."

Clark's just sitting there on the couch, watching Lex move as he thinks. They're in Metropolis - why can't he think of one place to take Clark? Maybe it's because he doesn't really want to take him anywhere. Doesn't want to leave this penthouse - this living room for that matter.

But Clark looks eager - and it's understandable. First real trip to the big city, huge and exciting and full of new things to experience.

"So we go to the park. Or the zoo. Or - hey, Lex. Take me to Luthor Corp."

It's not necessarily a bad idea, it's just kind of strange. Lex doesn't really belong at the Metropolis headquarters anymore. Sure, he worked there with Lionel for a while, but he never really had the opportunity to get out from under Lionel's wing and make a name for himself. Now that he's in Smallville, these people are watching him like some mad science experiment to see what he'll do. Or not do. It's not exactly a comfortable place to visit. His father is there though, and it's too nice of a thought to disregard. Lionel seeing him with Clark. Realizing that they're together.

"We can do that. I can tell my father that I'm not coming to work for the next three weeks. That should be fun."

"Let's go. Then we can order pizza and stay in tonight." Lex can tell Clark's not really ready for the city. Not ready for the two of them in the city anyway.

"Pizza? No, no, no. Clark, you're in the city now. You can have any kind of food you want."

"Pizza, Lex. That's what I want." This kid has got to be kidding. Metropolis is full of incredible dishes just waiting to be served. And he wants pizza? Sometimes Clark's youth is downright frustrating.

"And I suppose you want it delivered. Pizza boy to the door of the penthouse and the works, eh?" It probably hadn't even occurred to Clark that the penthouse had never seen a pizza delivery boy before.

"Well yeah, Lex. It's not the same if it's not delivered. Besides, we won`t have to get all dressed up or worry about - anything."

Worried about getting caught, huh Clark? But hell, Lex knows he's right. It's too much trouble - too much to think about on a day like today. His first day - their first day in the city together.

"You'll forgive me if I order something else for myself. So that's got the food covered. What about entertainment, Clark?"

"Well, what do you usually do here, Lex?"

Shit. Truth or lie? Easy. Well, almost easy.


"Watch old movies and drink. Go to a club, get high, get laid. Sit on the balcony and watch the city. Jack off in my bed and pass out with my dick in my hand."

Clark's laughing. Well, at least he's not leaving.

"Well, that's not going to work. Not with me here. You won't be falling asleep alone, Lex. And besides, I'm- um. Not going out on the balcony. Movies are fine, jacking off is- no longer a solo act. But, I'm not in the mood for a club tonight and I'm not watching anything in black and white."

"That rules out my entire porn collection. And all the Charlie Chaplins." The porn crack was a joke. Well, mostly anyway. And what was that about the balcony?

"You have Charlie Chaplin movies?"

Oh no. God no. Fuck no. Is it too late?

"No - no, I don't."

"You do! Lex where are they?"

It's too late. Clark all but attacks the entertainment center, pulling open drawers full of dvds and videotapes. Until Lex comes up behind him, arms wrapping around Clark`s, catching his hands and stopping his perusal of the tapes.

"Tonight - and only if you`re very, very good today." He whispers it seductively into Clark's ear, but somehow Clark isn't affected in the least.

"I'll be good. Do you have The Kid?"

Clark doesn't even realize what he just said, does he?

"Um, yes. Clark. I have the kid."

Lex is laughing throatily against Clark's hair, but when he doesn't hear Clark joining him, he stops. Peeks around Clark's shoulder. He's smiling, but not laughing. So Lex does something he's gotten so good at lately - changes the subject.

"Why aren't you going out on the balcony Clark?"

"I don't like balconies." Lex doesn't think Clark's afraid - not really. It seems more like a habit - a policy - rather than a fear.

"You don't like heights." It's supposed to be a question but somehow it sounds like a correction.

"Balconies are usually high." Admitting, not admitting. It's not a game Clark's good at playing and Lex can tell he`s uncomfortable with Lex`s arms holding him there, gently but firmly.

"What about the loft Clark? That's not high?"

"No. And I'm usually looking up - you know, at the stars."

Just don't look down Clark? Is that it?

"So how high is too high for you?"

"When I'm so high I can feel the difference - in the air. That's too high." Clark's closes his eyes, eyelashes brushing the flush on his cheeks - eyebrows furrowed, willing Lex to understand. Begging him not to tease.

And he won`t. He won`t ever tease Clark about this.

"What's the highest you've ever been Clark?"

*There's a double meaning in that.* Sometimes he wishes he could just block Shakespeare from invading his thoughts. Because now all of "Much Ado About Nothing" is playing in his head. He closes his eyes, leans his head down on Clark's back. Forces Beatrice and Benedict out of his mind.

"Um. Now I guess. Here, the penthouse. What is it? 56th floor?"

Clark's voice is shaky and when he sways, Lex steadies him. This is serious. Not some Clarkism that he can smirk about. Serious.

"Jeez Clark, this really bothers you, huh? Do you want to stay at a hotel? We can go-"

"No Lex. I want to be here. I love it here. I'm okay as long as the windows are closed. I'm fine. Really."

He wants to believe Clark, mostly because he loves it here too.

He could stay here for the entire three weeks. Never step outside. But they couldn't do that. Could they? Not really. Clark squeezes his arms, untangles himself from them and grabs his jacket, leaving Lex just standing there.

"Let's go see Papa Luthor!"

"Um Clark?" Does the boy never look in a mirror? Well, stupid question. He doesn't really need to, now does he? Except at times like these.

"I know, I know. I won't call him that. God Lex, I'm not stupid."

"It's not that. You've got a dryer sheet stuck to your sleeve." Lex reaches over and plucks it off, holding it up in front of Clark's face, the fresh scent flowing between them.

"Mom put them in my suitcase." Clark's blushing his way through every shade of red. And God, it just reminds Lex of the flushing he saw earlier on Clark's cheeks

But it's a bad time to start thinking about that. A bad time to do anything other than leave. Get Clark grounded again, head over to Luthor Corp, and get under Lionel's skin. So he shrugs into his heavy, long black jacket, silently cursing Enrique for not packing a lighter one for him.

Elevator, parking garage, car. And they're speeding through the streets of Metropolis, Clark's neck strained and his cheek against the glass as he tries to see the tops of the buildings. Like he's five years old and it's just almost too tempting to hit the button and roll his face down with the window. Neat parking job in another garage and Lex is breathing through his mouth to avoid the stale-air smell when they get out of the car.

Bright sun glaring down, heating the pavement beneath their feet as they cross to the Luthor Corp offices. Lex's hand around Clark's in the elevator. Now that he knows about this - thing - Clark has with heights, he's going to make sure he doesn't forget. It might be important later.

Later meaning now - they're heading to the top - floor 175.

Lex doesn't know if he should say anything - not sure what to say if he is supposed to - so he squeezes Clark's hand every few floors and tries not to stare at Clark too hard. But Clark's eyes are glued to the numbers lighting up and darkening above the doors so he probably wouldn't notice if God was staring at him.

The top floor and fuck. Shit. Windows everywhere. Lex forgot about those. And they would have all the blinds pulled, letting the day spill in on the rich carpet. Clark pivots, turns back to the elevator but Lex is behind him, stopping him with a brief hand on his chest. Lex gives him the slightest shake of his head, hoping that's all it will take.

*Don't give in to it Clark. Fight it. We're here - it's too late to go back now.*

He lays a hand on Clark's arm, squeezing reassurance, and gives him a small smile with no trace of laughter in it. He mouths the words, hoping Clark will understand.

"I'm right here."

Clark's only response is to turn, letting his arm fall from Lex's hand, and step just far enough away from Lex.

Lex waits, makes sure Clark is ready and willing. Then turns to the secretary's desk, the smile on his face all business.

"Hi Mary. This is Clark, a friend from Smallville. Giving him the dime tour. Is my father in his office?"

Mary gives him a sly smile, then looks Clark up and down. But for all her lack of subtlety, she keeps a reign on her tongue.

"Yes Mr. Luthor. Nice to meet you, Clark. Welcome to Luthor Corp. I`ll tell Mr. Luthor that you`re here."


"Mary, could you rustle up some water for Clark? He's not feeling very well this morning." Water is the least Lex can do after bringing Clark here.

But Clark's face is all relaxed and he's actually smiling now - really big and goofy and totally Clark. And now he's pushing it. He's going to give them away and shit - not right in front of Mary. Please, Clark - the entire town will know by nightfall. All right, if he's going to smile like that, they need to start moving - away from the gossip whore.

More people Lex knows by name only because he has to, smiling and spilling politeness at them. None of them are entirely there - they seem so distracted. Dangerous game they're playing if they're not concentrating in Lionel's office. Lex is always on-point the moment he steps through the door. It's the only way to survive here.

Katie and Sandra move to touch him and they're each hanging on an arm before he can stop them. But a quick turn, a step back, and they're off of him. Shame he sank that low last year. And it so obviously bothers Clark that Lex knows these women. He's fending off the dogs and smiling, hoping Clark gets the joke.

But when he turns around, Clark is standing at a window, eyes unfocused and staring. Lex moves immediately to his side, standing too close - damn the gossip. Turning his back to the ladies, he starts telling Clark the names of the buildings in the skyline. Reaching across him to point out the art museum, arm brushing his chest. Hoping the silent message gets through.

They mean nothing Clark. Nothing.

Clark turns, back to the windows, a tiny smile on his lips.

Lionel's on the phone when they walk into his office. Lex nods sideways to Clark. A little direction and Clark thankfully gets it and follows him to the far side of the room. Lex pushes open the doors on the bookcase to reveal a bar. They'd better have alcohol for this.

He pours brandy into two wide, squat glasses and plunks ice into a third. Water over the ice. For Clark. Lionel nods his thanks and Clark mouths his. Lex just smiles and moves to sit in front of Lionel`s desk.

*Let's get this over-with Dad.*

Clark follows Lex, takes the seat on the right, back straight. Lex smiles into his glass. He can almost hear Martha Kent nagging Clark to sit up straight.

Lionel wraps up the call, staring from one boy to the other and not really listening to whoever is on the phone at all. Lionel's eyes lock on Lex's and he cracks a smile. An amused question unasked.

This is it. Have to be - have to be strong and resolute. *This situation is non-negotiable, Dad. And you`re going to hate me for it when you realize it.*

And Lionel hangs up without saying goodbye. Lex never realized how rude that is until just now. He makes a mental note never to do it again. He takes a long sip from his glass, wishing now that he`d put the brandy over ice. It`s too hot in here for room-temperature brandy. Even if he despises the feminine clink of ice in a glass.

"So Lex, what brings you to Metropolis? Rural life not exciting enough for you, son?" Lionel's voice is deceptive, careful, even when he's asking a question.

*You know why I'm hear, Dad. Quit beating around the bush. You just want to make me say it, don't you old man? You just want me to fucking say it. Well, good luck Dad. I'm not that easy.*

"Actually, Clark here needed a vacation. And so did his parents. They're lounging in my cabana in Hawaii as we speak, so Clark's staying at the penthouse while they're gone."

Lionel knows, nods at them both, lips pursed. Sizing them up as a couple now instead of individually.

"Tidy little arrangement." Not disapproving really. Just accusing. And full of - something.

That's Lex's cue. Time for some fun.

"We think so. We're going to take it easy tonight and then head out on the town tomorrow. Where should I take him Dad? The Gallery? River Oaks Theatre? What do you think?"

Lionel is holding himself still, muscles tensing to keep from squirming in his chair. Luthors. Don't. Squirm. And it's only easy for Lex to swallow the laugh in his throat because he's had so much practice doing it over the years.

"Lex, you don't need my advice on where to take your - friend. Take him anywhere you want. Just be careful, son. I`m not bailing you out if you get in over your head. Oh, and give Jonathan my number the next time you see him Lex. I have that time-share in the Bahamas. I wonder if he'd be interested in another trade this Fall. "

The thought of Lionel kissing Clark with that mouth, his experienced, cold hands on Clark - taking - is enough to make Lex's stomach turn. He swallows hard, steels himself against the sparkle of victory in his father's eye.

"There's no way they'd trade anything with you Dad. The Kents would never sink that low - they're not the Hardwicks."

"No son, not even close."

Father and son narrow eyes at each other, a final silent tally and riposte.

"Well, we'd better hit the road if we're going to make that movie, Lex."

He'd almost forgotten that Clark was sitting there, witnessing this poison-tongued game he's playing with his father. But a lie, from Clark? Technically though, it's not a lie. They are going to watch a movie. But if Clark's bordering on lying, then it's time to go.

"Right Clark. Well Dad, always - interesting. I'll call in daily to check my messages but I'm off limits for the next few weeks." Hands on the back of his chair, Lex literally braces himself for his father's reaction.

"Weeks, Lex? You can't just abandon the plant for a jaunt in the city. It's irresponsible and I won't allow it." Lionel's not really angry. He sounds - like he's on the verge of laughing. And his little smirk would suggest that he really is. He's saying what he's supposed to say - what he has to say. And Lex knows it.

"I've made all the arrangements at the plant, and I'm on top of things there. I can run that place from anywhere Dad - you know that. You did it for years from this office." Damn annoying to have to say these things at all, at having to play this game.

"If you think you can handle it son-"

Lex cuts him off. "I can."

And Lex is making an exit, tails of his coat trailing behind him and Clark is up and moving, following Lex out the door before it closes. They're in the hall, faces flushed and just looking at each other.

"Let's get out of here Clark. I think the altitude is getting to me too now." And Clark just follows Lex back through the office, past the worker drones, past Mary, who holds out a blue water bottle to Clark as he passes the desk. He nods his thanks to her and they're in the elevator, moving back towards the earth, away from Lionel.

Lex isn't sure if Clark's silent because he's thinking about the height or because of his and his father's little exchange. So he smiles and lightens the mood.

"Well. That was a riot Clark. What next? Wanna throw ourselves off the Freedom bridge?"

And Clark lets go of the elevator railing and doubles over with genuine laughter, shining voice echoing against the metal walls. It's too hard not to join him so Lex just lets himself go, his laughter almost lost under Clark's. It's enough to distract Lex from replaying the joust with Lionel in his head. Enough even to erase the awkwardness of his father's threat to take Clark.

And it's really good to just laugh again. To not have to think about where this is all headed. To stop analyzing for a few minutes and just be Clark's friend again. Until Clark moves towards him and in an instant he wants his lover back. Can't be just a friend anymore. Has to kiss him, feel him. Clark closes the space between them with one step and a hand to Lex's neck. No hesitating now. Wonderful to feel Clark knowing where to put his hands, kissing without reserve.

The elevator pings out a warning before they land and the doors start to move. A miracle that they separate in time to look casually apart when the first person looks in through the opening doors. A nod, a smile, and they're back on their way. Another 30 floors and the ride is over and they`re free. They step outside together and blink against the glaring sun that reflects off the mirrored windows of Luthor Corp. With a nod to the left, he leads Clark down the street towards the restaurant where they're having a late lunch. Clark reaches out to squeeze Lex's arm, and Lex catches his hand, laces his fingers through Clark's. Smiles reassurance when Clark looks around to see who's watching them. And doesn't let go as they cut a path through the city streets.



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