~ Stasis ~

Eyes on his keyboard, Lex watched his own fingers slide over the letters with a detached admiration of their dexterity, every key clicking in a subtle, firm declaration of his adamant intent. Words flowed from his brain to the screen on a quick current of enthusiasm, driven by the noblest of causes.


He reached for the plastic bag the police had brought him after the accident. Opening it, he ignored the watch, the glasses, the wallet. The simple gold ring surprised him, but he shrugged off the sentimentality and pulled a single envelope from the bag, setting it on the desk. His father's last futile attempt to take over Lexcorp was still sealed safely inside. Now it would never reach whatever capable hands it was meant for.

Perfectly rounded, complete vengeance. Circular and whole; wholly appropriate for the offenses that warranted it. Half a lifetime of pressure, exhaustion, stinging bites at the end of a foil his father wielded with an inhumanly capable hand. The blade he'd grown to accept as a part of his life and the cane that had mocked his guilt for months lay sealed tight in a dark steel box; he'd placed them there with his own steady hands.

The soft clump of shoes echoed against the rafters and he waited for the knock on the lead glass doors to reverberate through the room before he absently answered. "Come in, Clark."

A metallic click and the door opened, his sometimes-savior filling the room at the first step inside. "How'd you know it was me?"

He glanced over the top of his computer and Clark was unfortunately directly in front of him, his view of the young man half-obstructed by the hate he'd poured into every word on his screen. Lex pinched the bridge of his nose, fingered three keys and slapped the cover closed. The final draft could wait.

The ball was already rolling, after all.

Shooting a telltale look at the shoes of his best friend, he purposefully let his eyes drift slower than they should up the long, muscular form. "Sneakers."

Clark's chin fell and Lex took in the site of a the mop of brown, loose curls falling out of place as Clark looked down at his own feet. "Oh right. I left my dress shoes in the truck." Clark's brows pinched together in obvious concern. "Lex, are you-"

"If you finish that sentence, I'll kill you myself, Clark." He picked his expression carefully - a small smile to balance the calculating glare of his eyes. "I don't want to have to lie to you."

"Lie to me? Why would you lie to me?" Clark's brows furrowed in confusion and Lex grinned at them.

"I'm expected to be distraught."

"Anyone who knows you wouldn't expect that." Clark moved closer, walking around the desk, apparently completely oblivious to the physical boundaries Lex had so painstakingly created here in the office. "Jesus, Lex. He was... I can't imagine how I'd feel in your shoes. I'd never expect you to act a certain way. You know that, right? You don't have to play a part with me."

Invitations like that never arrived by messengers, were never delivered on silver platters with tulle and calligraphy, but Clark made it sound just as decadently excessive.

"I feel nothing."

The loose waves of hair floated a little as Clark shook his head. "Yeah, you do. You just can't admit it." It sliced deep, but the hand that reached out to grasp his shoulder wounded more severely.

Lex regarded the hand instead of the face. "You don't know anything, Clark." The void in his brain where the feelings were meant to be, where'd they'd always been before in either chaotic confusion or brilliant clarity, seemed to widen and spread as he spoke the words aloud. "I didn't mean that." He shook his head and whispered the apology, knowing it wasn't enough.

"Yes, you did." Clark's voice didn't shake with pain. It was calm and forgiving. Patient. "And you're right. I don't know much. But I know you, Lex."

"You wouldn't be here if you knew me."

"I'm here because I know you. And I know you didn't mean for it to go that far." Clark's voice softened and Lex knew he was turning away, regretting their proximity already. "I should have been there sooner."

Wrists touching the envelope on the desk, Lex rolled his empty glass between his hands, watching the drops of liquid slide back and forth in the bottom. Forgiveness came easily for Clark. It always had. Absolution was even easier, especially when he knew precisely where the real blame lay. "It wasn't your fault."

"Then you already know that I tried to stop it?"

Lex smiled up at him. "I know, Clark, and trust me, you did me a favor by failing." The leather of his chair creaked as Lex turned away from the desk and stood up, Clark's hand still resting on his shoulder, the grip tightening slightly as if Clark didn't want to let go.

His eyes locked on Lex's. "Lex, they're burying your father today."

Lex scoffed and shook his head, then he reached up and pulled the hand from his shoulder. "Is that all?"

Clark stepped back, his bangs falling forward as he looked at the ground. "He was your dad."

"He was my adversary, Clark. There are a dozen men standing over his grave right now, waiting to take up his position against me." He reached behind himself and picked his glass up from the desk.

"You don't have to worry about them. I won't let them touch you, Lex." Clark's body blocked his path, a wall of dark bulk.

Black cloth where there should be flannel and his powers of observation must be dulled by the finely-aged spirits. "Why are you wearing that?"

He gestured at Clark's suit with his glass and Clark's hand moved from his wrist to smooth down over the pitch black suit jacket. Clark regarded his own chest and arms like he'd forgotten what he was wearing. "I'm going with you."

"You're going alone, then." His own pale purple and wool version of casual should have bespoken his intention to abstain from the pointless tradition. Clark was usually more observant.

Lex watched as the young mind's gears worked out loud instead of in the stealthy silence that comes with age. Or maybe a Luthor education.

"Then I'll stay here with you."

The jacket slid from Clark's shoulders like it was trying to make an escape and Clark stepped away, tossing it to the nearby couch, a soapy, earthy scent wafting between them. Lex breathed it in deep, indulging in anything, everything he could lay his senses on. He needed stability and the nuances of Clark would do just fine today.

Lex moved as he fed his eyes, ambling to the wet bar and flipping a fresh glass right-side up, readying it to be filled. "Suit yourself. I'm afraid I won't be very good entertainment." An old habit, apologizing to Clark before an offense was committed, a safeguard against anything he might say or do.

"I'll stay, but don't do that." Clark gestured with his to indicate the flask.

"I'd offer you one, but anything this expensive should never be refused." He'd prefer to drink it neat, but the clang of the cube bouncing in the bottom was the perfect punctuation to his words and too tempting a statement to leave unmade.

"Try me." Long eyelashes met on the edges of narrowed eyes and Lex watched in amused surprise as his own smirk was reflected back to him on Clark's face.

"Brandy?" Lex turned back to the bar, righting and preparing another glass, pulling the stopper again on the flask he'd just poured from, avoiding Clark's eyes because nothing was more humorous than Clark feeling out a new rebellion and really, he shouldn't laugh right now.

"Whatever. It all tastes like shit anyway." From the corner of one carefully steady eye, Lex saw Clark moving towards him, the dark form so close he could hear the rustle of synthetic material as Clark walked.

Lex turned, handing Clark his dose of maturity, and moved to sit on the couch, counting on the fact that Clark would follow. One loud gulp made him spin on his heels and he found Clark grinning wide, throat working with the swallow, glass held up in mocking proof between them. "Well, that was fun. Now what?"

"What?" Lex shoved down a threatening headache, his brain was lagging too far behind to come up with anything better in reaction to Clark's little joke.

"I'm done with my drink. So we've done the wallowing-in-alcohol stage, right? What's next?" Clark reached out and snagged the glass from his hand, moved to the bar and set both of them down before Lex could even begin to protest, his hand hanging in the air in front of him, fingers still curled around the now-nonexistent glass.

He flexed his fingers, breaking the odd stance, and tucked his hands in his pockets, rocking back on his heels, smiling to cover too many questions.

Clark mimicked him again, this time tucking those large hands into cheap slacks and tilting his chin back, eyebrows working again as he spoke. "Are we going to burn something? His clothes maybe?"

It was too close to something Lex had actually considered the night before. Before he'd locked himself away in the only room that didn't reek of Lionel's cologne and jacked off hard and fast and angry to selfish thoughts of the comfort he wanted to go looking for in the loft of a certain friend's barn.

Clark's brash new attitude rubbed him the wrong way, sent the suppressed growl in his chest flaming across his eyes instead. "You know your way out." Lex turned his back in a purely Lionel gesture of dismissal, one he'd grown particularly fond of and could now claim as his own.

Sneakers slapped on wood, the sound growing instead of receding and he was turned, pushed back by a powerful shove that left the distinct impression of hard fingers lingering on his collarbone and his body sprawled in an ungainly position on the couch. "What the-"

"You won't get rid of me, Lex. Not that easily." A solid wall of Clark descended on him, trunk-like arms on either side of his head, hands gripping the back of the couch, serious, deadly eyes catching his and daring them to defy.

His hands moved up in a futile attempt at defense, pushing against unmoving flesh and muscle, then slipping, falling down Clark's crisp shirt, brushing barely against the steely thighs before falling grudgingly to his own lap. "Clark-"

"Are you that drunk?"

Logic skirted the edges of his brain and he latched on to the teachings of his psychology professors with a satisfied grin. He always had Clark pegged, no matter what games he was playing. "Probably not. No, I'm not." He pushed his hands into the couch cushion and turned his head, jaw clenched and body tense with the desperate lack of dignity. "You should go."

"I'm not leaving, Lex. I don't want to leave. Not when you..." Clark's arms relaxed and the full body cage that pinned him to the couch suddenly morphed into a different thing altogether.

Clark sank to his knees in front of him and Lex shifted in acute awareness of the fact that his creative mind knew this position all too well. His sheets, his bottle of lube, hell, even his shower knew the well-worn fantasy of Clark kneeling between his legs. Only that mouth had never pouted like this one.

Lex lifted his hand, fingers tilting the sculpted chin up, thumb grazing lightly across full lips. He hadn't meant to touch, but Clark didn't react with anything but a slight widening of his eyes.

"I'm fine, Clark." The lips parted under his thumb and he leaned forward, eyebrows raised, thumb and fingers tightening on Clark's chin, cutting off the argument that Clark was about to present. "Don't. *I'm fine.*"

A nod, a microscopic shift and Clark's eyes were boring a hole through his zipper, burning with the recognition of his arousal. Clark moved back fast, eyes looking down and to the right, away from him, and Lex immediately cashed in every ounce of karma credit he had.

The bulge that Clark had unwittingly acknowledged shrank a little in the shadow of the guilt that rose, replacing the pool of heated desire in his belly with a kind of nausea he rarely felt. Swallowing hard, Lex forced out Clark's due. "I'm sor-"

"No. Don't apologize. It's... I don't care." Clark's eyes stayed locked on whatever they'd anchored to on the floor beside them, but the fingers of one of his hands inched closer on the couch cushion, almost tucking in under Lex's thigh. The contact was electric, the static energy holding a constant hum of presence against his leg.

Lex's muscles ached to move, hands itching to touch, to take, to confess all of their secret stolen caresses, to feel the oft-imagined texture of smooth, tan skin. He drew in a shaky breath, holding it steadily again as he spoke. "You don't care?"

Clark's eyes met his again and a dozen truths flitted silently between them before the shared gaze was broken and Clark's tongue slid pink and wet across cupid's bow lips.

"What I mean is, I don't mind that you... that you're..." Heavy eyelids betrayed Clark's innocence and this wasn't Clark forgiving him, it was Clark giving him permission.

"Attracted to you?" Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Now that one he *hadn't* learned from his father. That one was all his mother's.

Deep green was shut out by falling lids and Lex pushed forward on the leather, mouth sliding across softly stubbled skin, licking a line across Clark's Adam's apple as it worked in a hard swallow. He stopped just under Clark's ear, lips closing over the hollowed juncture of jawbone and neck, sucking in sync with Clark's shallow, quick breaths.

Clark's fingers claimed a spot higher up on his thigh, firmly squeezing and making their presence known, as if it hadn't been before. A thumb burrowed into the top of his thigh, digging into the rope of tense muscle.

The vibration of a moan tickled against his lips as he tasted the heartbeat pulsing in Clark's neck. He pressed his mouth harder against the flesh, head lolling back and mouth sliding up to capture Clark's earlobe and bite it gently.

"Oh, God." Clark's head tilted to meet his tongue and Lex let himself smile just a little at the closed eyes and tightening grip on his thigh. The skin was warm, flushed, heating under his lips, a burning, scalding reminder of Clark's inexperience, of his age. A hand slipped up between them and around his neck and he leaned back into it.

The distant echoing urgent sound of heavy wood closing into its frame made him freeze in place, mouth sucking tight on Clark's neck. Lex bit gently, then leaned back, exasperated at the interruption, at the guilt that snuck in to gnaw at his brain. "Shit."

The hand slid from his neck to his shoulder.

"Is she home?" Clark's breath came in short gasps and Lex closed his eyes for a three count, memorizing the feel of Clark, worked up and wound tight, thighs pressing against the insides of his calves as he knelt there, waiting for Lex's cue.

Lex opened his eyes to irony and temptation personified. He wouldn't lose Clark, not for his father. Not for her. "You'd better go."

The hand grasping his thigh tightened for a moment, fingernails scratching veiled but sharp through his pants, then relenting, fingers flattening there and pushing his leg into the couch as Clark stood. "Wait. There's something you need to know about her."

Clark's pained expression cut down to him through the awkwardness, an unspoken apology for what he was about to say.

"That envelope?" Clark nodded toward his desk, but Lex didn't bother to turn. "She did that. She arranged it."

Lex slid his hands along the sides of Clark's thighs, down quickly, then back up to rest on tempting hips. "We're good, right?" He tilted his head back to look into Clark's eyes, to make sure.

Emerald met sapphire and Lex sat back, letting his hands fall as he watched emotions flicker across Clark's face like an eight-millimeter film. Confusion, hurt, disappointment, all tinged with anger.

"You already knew, didn't you?" Clark stepped backwards, maybe for balance, maybe for distance. Maybe to steady himself against the wave of guilt that rushed from Lex's thrumming body.

The corners of Clark's mouth turned down and the combination of a slow blink and a deep breath made Lex's chest ache. "Yeah, Lex. We're... good."

He closed his eyes and laid his head back on the couch, listening to the retreating footsteps. The door shut hard and he pushed himself up, stalked to the bookcase and pulled it down, the shattering glass screaming his frustration for him.

"Put this on."

Lex turned from the soft rays of watercolor light that painted his skin through the office windows.

Helen stood behind him, suit jacket held out to him from arm's length, like she was feeling out the lion's disposition before coming closer. He glanced at the face of betrayal, beautiful and always pouting, stoic and unmoved, even now. His back answered Helen's request.

"Lex, put it on." The jacket tapped against his bicep and he reached up and covered her hand with his own.

"He's still there." Lex nodded to the piece of lawn visible through a clear pane in the design. "He won't leave."

"That explains the bookcase." She moved closer, breath warming the back of his neck. Her whisper sent a stream of prickles down his spine. "You need to push harder. He's just a kid, Lex. He hasn't learned..."

Lex turned, the back of his arm brushing along her breast as he moved. "What we have?"

She shrugged and cocked her head to one side. "Do whatever you have to do to get him out of your life, Lex."

"Don't tell me you consider him a threat, Dr. Bryce." Lex loved cutting into her, even if she never bled.

Her loose hair bounced as she shook her head and shoved the jacket against his chest. "You don't know the things I do. He's a freak-"

Her eyes widened, her face tilting away from his hand like she was ready for it, but he caught her anyway, a hand on her elbow, the other raised in the air, held in stasis by a painstaking control that flowed through his veins. His father's blood, his father's control.

She dared him, eyes flashing, and for the first time today, Lex felt the smile on his face.

Without waiting for his mercy, she jerked her arm free and spread open the jacket, holding it up between them for him to slide into. "They're asking for you."

His fist closed over the collar of the jacket and he ripped it from her hands, throwing it to his desk. "Tell them I'm putting my father's affairs in order."

Her eyes followed his hands as he unbuttoned his shirt. He freed his wrists from binding cuffs and tossed the shirt onto the table, his hands tangling hard and punishing into her hair, his thumbs secure on her jaw.

She was strong, but he overpowered her easily, and she pulled her punches as soon as he jerked her skirt up around her hips and pushed her down on the couch. He bit her clenched jaw and chewed red marks down to the vee of her shirt, back curved as he pressed her thighs open with his own. Face buried in her chest, he inhaled deeply, nose filling with her scent. One of her hands closed over the back of his head, pulling his mouth tight against her silk-covered breast.

He squeezed his eyes closed and reached down between them, her breath catching when his knuckles pressed into her as he unfastened his pants. Out, sweaty and hot, and his fingers gripped the lacy fabric of her panties and pulled, hard and fast, shredding them. She gasped a denial as he threw the scraps aside and grabbed her legs, lifting them up and around his hips. She shook her head but her eyes were lying and he knew it, knew she would have stopped this long before now if she'd wanted to.

The tip of his cock slid, slipping on the truth she didn't voice, and brushed all the way back, hugged and aching between her thighs. He propped up on one hand and reached down to guide himself in. She arched at the first hard push inside, flexing and moving against him, taking him deeper. He opened his eyes, made himself watch what he was doing to the boy outside his window.

Her eyes were closed, her chin tilting up and down as he took her. Her nails dug into his chest and he tucked his chin against his chest and watched the blood rising under his skin in long streaks from collarbone to belly. He drank in the lines of malice, inhaled the natural drug that raced through his veins, chasing the pain.

Her long fingers curved over the tendons on the back of his neck and he knew what she wanted; he wanted it, too. Long, silky locks to weave her fingers into, to grab and hold onto, to pull and guide him with, to bury her face in and inhale. She missed it, mourned it already and the grip on the base of his neck betrayed her regret that he would never, ever be his father.

She clutched at the back of the couch with her other hand and he leaned down to take her forearm in his teeth. She groaned and released the leather, turning her wrist to his lips. He suckled the pulse-point, teeth scraping along the thin flesh and veins, the dots of a bruise tickling to the surface against his lips. Her thighs tightened around him and he grabbed the leather she'd just let go of, bracing himself up and pushing harder, deeper inside.

She moaned and turned her head and he reached down between them, his thumb brushing through her curls, finding her one predictable vice and stroking it. Slowly at first, pressure light and rhythm loose, haphazard until she gasped encouragement, then harder, faster, in a regular cadence to match his thrusts and the grinding of her hips.

His tongue licked out to wet dry lips, tasting the memory of her sweat, her flavor. Tiny beads glistened on her temples, wetting her hair just along the edge of her face. She arched high, hips lifting off the couch with the sticky sound of sweat on leather and her fingers curled around his wrist, jerking his hand away. She cried out, rocking beneath him, and he fell deep inside as his fist sank into the cushion under her head. He slammed into her as she shook, muscles clenching, pumping around him. Her arms closed tight around his back, forcing his face down, smothering him in the warmth of her chest and shoulder, the gentle pulse inside her pulling him deeper, drawing him over the edge.

The heel of her hand pressed into his cock as he pulled out and slid up and down on her stomach,his body tense and aching, then shaking, muscles ripping control from him as he came. He arched his back, cock slipping in his own come on her belly, digging at a sharp angle into the soft flesh there as he jerked and groaned.

Blinded, he finally gave up and closed his eyes, lying heavily down on her, body spasming against the soft down of curls and the long, thin fingers that wrung the last of his orgasm out onto them. He held his breath and willed the fingernails that traced gentle maps on his back to disappear.

They finally did, and the tap of a fist on his shoulder told him everything he already knew, even before she spoke.

"The car's waiting."

"Then you'd better go." Lex pushed up off of her and stood over her disheveled body, cock half-hard and rudely wet in the air between them.

Bending to pull his slacks up, he watched Helen retrieve her ruined panties from the floor and wipe her hand and belly with them, shaking her head as she balled them up and tossed them into the trash can by his desk, straightening and smoothing her skirt and blouse.

Any other woman would have planted a fist on her own hip, but Helen's hands hung open at her sides. "What about you?"

He nodded and turned away from her to look through the window over his shoulder. A black polyester suit retreated slowly across the lawn outside.

"I've already paid my respects."



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