~ The There 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.

 

 

~ Cover By Goss ~

 

~ Chapter IV: There In The Darkness~

Series: There

Pairing: Clark/Lex

Rating: NC-17

Spoilers: Season one

Summary: Lex's POV. Companion piece to There's a Light.

Author Notes: Profuse thanks to my dear betas - Kathryn, Edie, Rachel & La Casta. Special thanks to Kel, for educating me in the art of clubbing and for shoving me in all the right directions, ficwise and otherwise. Thanks also to the T.H.E.M. cast; it's been amazing, guys. I won't forget you. And finally, thank God for tongue rings and tequila shots.

Archiving: Go for it.

Disclaimer: If they were mine, I wouldn't be writing about this, I'd be doing it. Well... okay, at least I'd be watching it.

Feedback: Beat me, bruise me, make me bleed - your feedback is what I need.


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"You okay, Clark? You look a little pale."

"Fine. Just hungry I think. And you know, it's been a long day."

"We'll just have to feed you then. I think we might have overdone it with the walking. Metropolis is deceptively big and you can wear yourself out fast if you're not careful."

Lex turns back to the display and fingers a piece of steel on the model. He would rather be taking Clark's hand, pulling him into the planetarium, giving him his own version of the presentation they saw earlier. But Clark's looking pretty sick and he knows he's tired. Well, that and the fact that there are about 1,000 people in the planetarium right now.

"Lex, what are you going to do with a 10:1 scale model of the Hubble telescope?"

"Take it apart and see if I can rebuild it."

"Why?"

"Because I can."

"That's going to be a pain in the butt to carry around all day."

He has to keep reminding himself that Clark's not used to having people do things for him.

"We'll have Rafael pick it up here and take it back to the penthouse so we don't have to deal with it. Did you find anything you want?"

"Some souvenirs for mom and dad, a solar-powered radio for Pete and a set of geological phenomenon pens for Chloe."

What the hell? "Geological phenomenon pens?"

"Yeah, they have pictures of strange geological events on them. Kind of like earthy, miniature, portable, functional walls-of-weird."

"She'll love them. I got her a couple of the meteor rocks - you know, peace offering. I thought she could keep them on her desk at the Planet. They`d probably make good paperweights."

Clark's eyes widen and he glances around the store. "They actually sell those things here?"

"Yes they - right over there. Looks like they make a killing on them too."

"Hey, maybe we should go into business, Lex. We could make a fortune selling them to tourists on the highway."

He runs a hand over his scalp. He doesn't have to think twice - personal experience told him it would be a bad investment. And not one easily recovered from.

"It might work if you didn't mind being transformed into some kind of freak, Clark. Personally, I don`t think it`s worth it. You ready to go?"

Clark's smiling, pulling his wallet out. Looks like he totally missed Lex's freak reference.

"Let me go check out. Should I just tell them to put my bags with the Hubble?"

"Sure. I'll go tell the manager that Rafael will be picking everything up later this afternoon. I'll meet you out front."

While he's waiting for the manager to see him, Lex flips through the museum guidebook. They really do an excellent job with the science and natural history displays here, and his contributions do a lot to further their work and research. The same contributions that bought his name and picture out of the Smallville meteor shower exhibit. He didn't need the world knowing that he was completely incapacitated and left hairless by a bunch of rocks. Better to be the freak than the coward who just couldn`t run fast enough.

He was just thankful Clark hadn't been too interested in the exhibit - he's seen every stone of it at least a hundred times. Used to come down here and just - look at them when he was at Met. U. But now that he's living in Smallville, he's had enough meteor rocks to last a lifetime.

"Mr. Luthor? Frank O`Brien. Good to finally meet you!"

"It's Lex, Mr. O'Brien. I've been admiring the new exhibits that you've brought in - my friend and I were very impressed with the changes you've made since you came on board."

"Thank you, Lex. And call me Frank. Anything I can do for you today?"

"As a matter of fact, I purchased one of the Hubble models and wanted to make arrangements to have it and our other packages picked up this afternoon. Would that be possible?"

"Of course, Lex. I'll see to it personally."

"Thank you. Well, I don't want to keep my friend waiting."

"Right. Stop by and see me whenever you visit the museum again. We're always glad to see you here, Lex."

"Thanks again." A handshake and thank God that`s over. Exchanging small talk has always seemed like a necessary evil.

Clark's standing under the museum's awning, hands in his jean pockets, one knee bent, foot propped back on the pole he's leaning against. He could be a model with that body and that face. Lex's very own centerfold. That's one magazine he *wouldn't* buy for the articles.

He really hates to interrupt this pose, but it's pushing 3 o'clock and Lex wants to make sure they get dinner in early today. They`re going clubbing tonight and he`d rather have Clark`s stomach relatively empty by the time they get there. It's never a good idea to go clubbing on a full stomach - especially not if you're an underage, nervous teenager on your first real date with another man. And Clark's already looking a little under the weather - his face looks drawn and pale.

"All set Clark?"

"Yeah. I'm ready. Think we'll have time to just sit and relax before we go out tonight?"

"I think I can do even better than that."


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"So Clark, find anything in there yet?" Lex has never seen a boy take so long to pick out clothes. It's a simple formula, really. Something on bottom, something on top - hopefully matching - socks and shoes. But Clark's been in the walk-in closet for a good ten minutes and he's starting to worry. Maybe Clark's not up for the challenge.

"Can you come in and help, Lex? I just - I can't find..."

He pushes himself off the bed - damn it felt good to lay down - and walks through the open doors of the closet. Holy shit.

"Clark, what did you do?"

"I - I was looking for a shirt."

"They're all hanging up Clark. Were hanging up. Jesus. Look at this."

The floor is strewn with clothes - mostly dark ones. Clark's sitting cross-legged in the very middle of the pile, bare-chested and footed, wearing a pair of black slacks that he brought with him from home.

"I'll clean it up Lex. I just couldn't decide so I tried them all on. But I can't find one that fits and looks good. I don't even know what looks good."

Lex really isn't up for a fashion lesson, but Clark's looking at him like he's on the verge of tears and he doesn't want to just leave him like that. Lex has never really given much thought to clothing - never had to because it all just came naturally to him. He never had to try on more than two or three things before he found what he wanted. Probably because he decided beforehand what image he wanted to present to whomever he was going to see that day - or night.

"First of all, you don't just go through the closet, trying on everything. You have to pick your clothes with purpose."

"Purpose?"

"Purpose. Decide who you want to be tonight. Then this will be a much easier decision to make."

"Who I want to be?"

"Who you want to be. The person you want people to think you are."

"I want to be me."

"Clark, work with me here."

Exasperated flop of his arms. "I'm trying Lex. I've never done this before you know."

"Right. Think of it this way. You're a blank slate. No one knows you, no one recognizes you, no one expects you to act a certain way. They don't know where you're from, how old you are, they don't even know your name. You can create all of those things - create a new life for yourself."

"But-"

"It's only for a night. Nothing permanent, no commitments. Just one night, one club, one city. I'm going to get a drink. When I get back, I want to see who I'm going out with tonight standing in this closet. Dressed."

"Okay, Lex."

"Want anything to drink?" He throws the question over his shoulder as he walks out of the closet.

"No thanks. But Lex?"

"Yes?"

"Who am I going out with tonight?"

"Patience Clark. You'll meet him soon enough."

He can't help but smirk as he turns his back and walks into the bedroom, pulling the closet doors shut behind him. This should be good.

In the living room he pours himself a scotch. Liquor before beer, right? Anything before beer, but that rhyme echoes from his past every time he pours scotch. He learned it the hard way.

Bringing the glass to his lips, he glances at the time. How long does it take for a 16 year-old to transform himself into - another person? Ten minutes is long enough. Time's up.

When Lex rounds the corner of the closet, he finds Clark standing in front of the oblong mirror, turning from side to side.

"Wow. And I don't use that word lightly."

"The pants were easy - yours won't fit me so I had to wear mine. The shirt was the hard part. I was thinking about wearing this one, but it's - well - leather. Is that okay? Too weird?"

Clark? Leather? Is it okay? He has to be joking.

"Yes, it's okay, and no it`s not weird. Where did you find that? I haven't seen that shirt since - well, it's been years."

He reaches out and runs his hands down Clark`s chest. Dim pictures tickle along the edge of his memory, but he can't hold any of them long enough to really see one.

"It was in the corner."

"It`s a little-."

"Tight. Yeah, I know. I like the way it feels, Lex. It's soft but-"

"Constricting. In a good way."

"Right. So you've met your date. Who am I going with?"

"Go wait in the living room. I'll only be a minute."

"A minute?"

"I already know who I want to be Clark."

"You're going to dress like George Bush, aren't you?"

A foot on the boy's butt and a shove towards the door. Smart-ass.

"Go, Clark."

Clark laughs his way out of the bedroom, closing the door behind him.

Lex is already stripping off his slacks before the door even shuts. He can't wait to get into his club clothes. They're so freeing - so unLuthor-like. Nothing too outrageous. Clark probably couldn't handle outrageous yet, not even on him.

Easy. He takes the perfect choice off its hanger - a Metallic black/blue t-shirt, understated - not flashy. Enough to get him noticed, not enough to be anything close to flaming. He might have his effeminate moments, but he could never flame.

He puts his arms into the shirt, thumbs hooking the collar and pulls it on over his head. Difference number one: no buttons. The pants used to be the companion to Clark's shirt. He hasn't worn these in a long time, but they still fit like a well-tailored glove. Difference number two: Tight pants that he can feel when he moves. Shoes - doc Martins. Difference number three: Shoes that he can walk in - and not have to look where his foot is landing. What else? Right.

He walks to the bathroom, slides open the drawer in the vanity. Only a couple of things in here and it doesn't take him long to pick out the one he wants. Black. Eyeliner. He traces the line around his eyes, careful to keep it thin, barely noticeable. And chapstick. Silly really, but it's the best tint that he's found. Red but not - red like Clark's lips are all the time. Difference number four: a highlighted face.

One last difference. A band of leather retrieved from the dresser, silver rings attached all the way around. A bondage cuff, but Clark probably won't know that. He takes a bottle of lubricant from the top drawer in the nightstand and slicks the inside of the cuff. He doesn't buckle it himself though - he wants Clark to put it on him.

That's it.

Cuff in hand, he steps out into the living room and finds Clark standing behind the couch, arms crossed, waiting for him. Clark's mouth drops open.

"Oh my God."

"Thanks Clark. That`s quite a compliment."

"Lex you're not - you're wearing leather pants. And a shiny shirt."

"Yes I am."

"I never thought -"

"Oh, Lex Luthor, businessman would never wear this. He's too concerned with his image to go out in public dressed like this. But Lex Luthor, businessman is not your date tonight Clark. I am."

"Lex Luthor, club hopper?"

"Something like that. Here. Put this on me."

He hands Clark the cuff, holds his wrist up and smiles.

"This is a-"

"Oh you know what that is, do you?"

"Yeah. And I know what this means too."

"What does it mean Clark?"

"It means no one else will hit on you tonight, right? They know you belong to someone."

"Very good. I'm impressed. Where did you learn a thing like that?"

"I'm not completely clueless, Lex. I do get out every once in awhile."

Lex raises his eyebrows at Clark and laughs.

"Okay, okay, Chloe told me. I went to the mall with her and we were looking at chokers to go with a dress she has and I suggested a leather one with a ring on it and she told me what it was - what it meant."

"Remind me to thank Chloe when we see her tomorrow."

"So do you have another one? I mean, for me?"

"Really, Clark?"

"Yeah. I mean, I don't want anyone hitting on me either."

"God forbid."

"You know what I mean."

"They came as a pair. Follow me."

Back in the bedroom, Lex pulls the other cuff out of the drawer and hands it to Clark.

"Aren't you going to put it on me?"

"Wait here."

Lex goes back to the bathroom, gets the clear liquid lubricant from the medicine cabinet and takes it back to where Clark is standing, waiting.

He turns the bottle up, dripping a few large drops onto his fingers, and starts slicking the inside of the band.

"The key to wearing these is plenty of lubrication Clark. Without it, you can chafe."

"I don't like the sound of that."

"It feels like a sunburn and stays red for days. Not something easily explained away to newspaper interns, especially if the mark is on your wrist or neck."

"Do me a favor?"

"I'm doing you one right now Clark. But, ask and we'll see."

"Quit talking about lubrication and leather? Just put it on me and let's go. Or we'll be staying in again tonight."

He fastens the buckle and lifts Clark's hand to his mouth, sucking gently on his palm.

"Lex, don't. I'm serious. I could have you naked and on the bed before you could say lubrication again."

"Lubrication."

"Very funny. You think I`m kidding? Say it again."

"Somebody getting a little bold in his leather shirt?"

"Don't even try to tell me you're not interested."

"I'm not int-" Clark's hand covers his crotch and Lex's voice stops working.

"I can feel how interested you are, Lex. We leave now or we don`t go at all." Clark smiles and unhands him.

"Let's go."

The elevator ride down to the lobby is silent, but they're both smiling the whole way.

The limo is waiting out front when they walk through the lobby doors, out into the muggy night air.

"Lex, a limo? Don`t you think that`s a bit much for clubbing?"

"You can never make too grand an entrance, Clark. Never. Remember that."

The driver's learned by now that he doesn't open doors for Lex when he's with Clark. Lex alone, yes. But not when they're together. It still makes Clark uncomfortable having people wait on him, and Lex definitely wants Clark comfortable. Have to tip the driver well tonight for remembering.

They climb into the limo, sit side by side on the back seat, touching from asses to knees.

Lex watches as Clark plays like a kid in a toy store. He starts with the mini-bar, swinging open the door, examining the contents, reaching for a coke then pausing and closing the door without taking anything out. Then he works his way through the myriad of switches on the control panel. When he gets to the button for the divider between them and the driver, Lex covers his hand to stop him.

Time for some fun.

"You don't want to push that one, Clark."

"Why not?"

"Oh, do you want him to hear us?"

"Hear us? Doing - doing what?" There's that little hitch in Clark's voice that Lex was hoping for.

"Talking. About leather, Clark. And the men who'll be wearing it. Men with hot, sweaty bodies. Men who are going to be looking at you like a piece of meat."

"Men that mean nothing to me."

"Men that you mean nothing to. Men that could fuck you with no strings attached."

"I want strings attached."

"Where?"

"Where what?"

"Where do you want the strings attached? I'm sure I can arrange something."

"Funny Lex. Look, I'm going to this club because this is your thing. This is who you were before you left Metropolis, and I want to know that Lex too. I'm not looking to get some hot, sweaty, leather-wearing man off."

"What about me? I'm not hot?"

"You're not sweaty."

"Not yet. Seriously though, they`re going to be drooling over you, Clark."

"I'm going there with you, aren`t I?"

"But who will you leave with?"

"Lex, come on. Stop it. I know you're not serious."

"No, I`m not. But I do have to say one thing."

"What?"

"If you go home with a leggy redhead I'll never forgive you."


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A $100 handshake for the bouncer and they're in. Strange how inflation doesn't effect bribes - it was the same when he bought his own way in a couple years ago. Well worth the price for the look on Clark's face when they step through the second set of doors.

Lights flash against the dark purple interior of the club. It's almost a technicolor nightmare; each blue-white burst of the strobe light illuminating a new set of writhing bodies in what could be agony or ecstasy. The sheer wall of heat from the ocean of humanity waving beneath them washes over Lex, and he notices sweat starting to glisten on Clark`s forehead. Already.

Lex smiles and raises his thumb to wipe a trickle of sweat from above Clark's eye. "Don't look so scared, Clark. It's not as bad as it looks. Follow me and you'll be fine."

He takes Clark's hand to lead the way but Clark doesn't budge.

"No, Lex... God. No. I can't. Too many people."

"Clark. It's okay. You're with me. I won't leave your side. I promise."

"It's. It's hard to breathe in here. This isn`t-"

"Like the club we went to after the gala? I know. It's better, Clark. Trust me. Just go slow. Deep breaths. Look at the people."

"I'm looking. That`s the problem, Lex."

"No. Look at them individually. Really look at them. They're just people."

"Okay."

"Now, take my hand. Come with me."

He leads Clark to the bar, leans over to yell his order in the bartender`s ear. Four tequila shots, salt, limes.

He turns back to Clark who's still gripping Lex's hand like it's the only thing anchoring him to the world. Leads him to two open stools and sits. They have a perfect view of the dance floor from here.

He starts to point out people to Clark, hoping it`ll loosen him up.

"You see the tall guy there? He works at the caf in the Luthor Corp building. And the woman with him? A closet dyke."

"Wha--how do you know?"

He smiles at Clark. "Because I also know her girlfriend--the slender one in the purple shirt there, with pink hair."

Clark`s nodding, starting to glance around.

"What about the one there, in the leather shorts and the mohawk?"

"Steer clear of her; she's on the prowl tonight. She's not wearing her boyfriend's collar, so that means she's open. They must`ve broken up."

Clark looked down at the bracelets that he and Lex still wore. "This means nobody will screw with us, right?"

"Right. But there are always people who don't know what the cuffs mean, or choose to disregard it." He wraps his hand around Clark`s wrist, covering the cuff and squeezing firmly. "That's why I don't intend to leave your side tonight."

Clark's relaxing, looking around the club, watching people. His eyes are following a blond, leather-clad man who walks out of a mirrored door, crosses in front of them towards another door on the other side of the club.

"Why is that guy carrying a - what is that?"

"It's a flogger, Clark. It's for - he's into S&M."

"Oh."

"You know what that is?"

"I think so. But why does he have it here? I mean, what's it mean?"

"It means that the room he just went into isn't a bathroom, Clark."

Clark's eyes widen and Lex smiles. It's so easy to imagine what Clark's thinking. What he thinks is going on in that room.

"Lex do you - do you think he's in there with a man or a woman?" Somehow that doesn't seem like the question Clark was going to ask.

"Who knows? Could be either."

"And whoever it is - they're probably-"

"Blindfolded, tied up - yes."

"Will they? I mean - is he going to r- hurt whoever it is?"

"Maybe. Only if they asked for that. The customer gives certain guidelines to follow and the doms always stick to them. There's really no point to it if the submissive doesn't enjoy it too."

Clark's staring at the closed door, grimacing like he can see through it - see what's going on in there. He flinches and jerks his eyes away from the door, staring at his shoes like they're the only safe thing in the club to look at.

"Lex, is it... have you ever-"

"Yes, Clark. I have."

"And you liked it?"

"I did. It's very therapeutic."

"Weren't you scared?"

He smiles wide and leans around to catch Clark`s eyes, pulling his attention away from that room.

"That's part of the fun, Clark."

Clark nods, lets out the breath he's been holding and smiles. Raises his eyebrows at Lex when the bartender walks up and sets four shot glasses on a napkin in front of them. The bartender turns his back on them for a second and then he's back with another napkin, four slices of lime and down a shaker of salt.

Lex hands the barkeep a bill and turns to Clark, who's looking at him like he's nuts. Hasn't he ever done shots before?

"You know how to do this, right Clark?"

"Drink?"

"Shots."

"I saw it in A Time To Kill but-"

"Jesus. I have to get you out more, Clark. Give me your hand."

Clark obeys, raising his hand palm up. Lex takes it, flips it over to the fleshy part just above Clark's thumb and licks. He sprinkles salt on it and then does the same to his own.

"It goes like this Clark. Lick the salt, drink the shot, bite the lime. One, two, three. The faster the better. Got it?"

"One, two, three. Got it."

"So do it."

"You first."

"Same time? Ready? Go."

And they're both licking, drinking, sucking. Lex can't help but shake his head against the taste, and he laughs when Clark does the same and sticks out his tongue.

"That was disgusting Lex."

"It's supposed to be. Want to do it again?"

"Yeah."

Lick, drink, suck.

And Clark's stacking the shot glasses like a five year old playing with blocks.

"Clark, turn around. Look at them."

"Who?"

"All of them."

Clark nods and turns to look in the same direction as Lex. As the music pounds, the crowd parts to reveal a slender man of about Lex's height but closer to Clark's build. Long, dark hair gathered in a ponytail on his neck. The man looks vaguely familiar to Lex, his name teasing on the edges of Lex's brain.

He's wearing a black button-up shirt and leather pants. His hands move to unbutton the cuffs on the shirt, then up to the collar and down the front. He's peeling it off as he dances, looking for all the world like a hired stripper. Lex immediately recognizes the hand-sized Celtic-knot brand on the man's shoulder when he turns his back to them. Different hair, older, more muscular now, but when Lex sees the brand, he knows it's AJ. He can't help but scoff. Show-off. The worst part is, Clark's staring at AJ too.

"Lex? Who`s that?"

"That's AJ. Don't ask what it stands for. He's--a regular."

"What happened? To his shoulder, I mean? Was it - did someone do that on purpose?"

Lex nods, trying to gauge what's going on behind Clark's eyes.

"Yes. It was his... boyfriend's way of marking him."

"I'm not stupid, Lex. That's not a hickey - it`s a burn. A brand. Like my dad and I brand cattle to show they belong to us. He's... does he - does that mean he belongs to his boyfriend?"

He nods. He doesn't want to see the look on Clark's face when he says this - doesn't want him to be the one to teach Clark this.

"Yes, Clark. But it's not a regular relationship. AJ is a slave. Sex isn't a choice for him anymore. He really doesn't have many choices at all anymore. He chose that lifestyle and that is his owner's mark."

Clark looks like he`s a million miles away, eyes unfocused and staring.

He squeezes Clark's shoulder. "You okay?"

Clark shrugs under Lex's hand, his eyes glued to the mark on AJ's back.

"I just... I don't want to be anyone's slave, but... I like that. I like the idea of the world being able to see that I`m yours. That you're the only one who can touch me."

Lex knows that Clark doesn't really understand what it means. It's not about sharing an exclusive relationship. It's ownership. He leans down, forehead resting on Clark's shoulder, and kisses his back, then lifts his lips to Clark`s ear.

"It`s ownership Clark. It`s not for us."

"Couldn't it be something else though? Couldn't it be proof of - well, couldn't it be mutual?"

He knows what's going on in Clark's head. He's too innocent to grasp the idea, to accept it. So he's trying to put a spin on it and make it romantic.

"It could be. It's just not in AJ's case. Either way it`s permanent Clark - it`s there forever. It`s not a ring you can take off or a piece of paper you can burn when things disintegrate."

"Have you ever - marked anyone, Lex?"

"No, Clark. I've never been able to see very far into the future with anyone before."

"Before? So you can now? See us together in the future?"

It's a question Lex knew Clark would ask him eventually. A question he thought would be easier to answer.

"I can."

"How long?"

Jesus. Okay. How long? Well... always. As long as Clark will have him. As long as Clark can stand him.

"There isn't a time I can imagine you not being there."

"That's good, Lex."

He can't believe he just told Clark that while sitting at the bar of a levi and leather club with two tequila shots in him. That was a conversation meant for seclusion. Sober seclusion.

The music thumping in his ears, the drinks spreading their heat in his stomach, the lump in his throat. It's too much to take in right now.

"Come on, Clark... let's dance."

Clark shakes his head emphatically.

"No, Lex. I can't. I mean, I don't know how."

Thank God Clark's letting it go.

"I'll show you." He grabs Clark's arm, pulls him off the stool and onto the edge of the dance floor. He aligns his body against Clark's, back to chest and grinds hard against Clark. His hands move back behind them to grip Clark's ass, pulling them closer together. "Just move with me, like this, Clark."

Clark wraps an arm around his waist, moves with him. He leans back against Clark`s chest, tilting his face up to look at his lover.

"There now, Clark. You see? You can dance."

"Dance?" Clark's voice sounds choked. "I feel so stupid. This isn't dancing - it's fucking standing up."

He laughs a little and smiles, undulating against Clark again. "Now you understand why I like it so much."

"Exhibitionist, huh Lex? I would never have guessed."

"That's quite a big word for a guy who lost his virginity 48 hours ago."

"Lex... Don't dance with anyone else." Clark's grip is firm on his hips.

"I don't intend to, Clark." He spins in Clark's arms so that they're face to face. "I intend to dance with only you. All... night... long." He punctuated each of the last three words with a step forward and a shove to Clark`s chest, pushing him back, pinning him against a tall pillar.

"Someone feeling bold in his leather pants, Lex?"

"You've never seen me bold, Clark."

Clark's hands cover his ass and that mouth slides, sucks on his neck. Heat and wet and teeth on his throat. Clark's hands rubbing over his back, over his hips, then reaching down between them to touch his stomach, rub his cock hard through the leather.

He lifts his head to see Clark looking down between them, face burning and sweat soaking his hair. Lex can barely stand to look. Clark's mouth is open just a little, tongue moving to lick the center of his upper lip like he's thinking about tasting Lex right here and God that's just so fucking - public.

He laughs at the irony and Clark looks up to meet his eyes.

"Look who's calling who an exhibitionist, Clark."

"Lex, I want-"

It's next to impossible to be the responsible one when Clark's begging like that and he's this hard. He takes a deep breath, tries to not feel Clark's hands on him.

"Clark. Not here."

"Okay, right. Later."

Clark laces his fingers in Lex's and Lex lets himself be pulled along as Clark leads them back into the crowd. They stop in the middle of the dance floor and Clark turns to him, puts strong hands on his hips. Lex steps closer, letting his hands fall to his sides, brushing Clark's thigh as he starts to move. The undulations of his body guide Clark as the bass beats out a new heartbeat for him. How long have they been moving like this? A second - no an eternity. Somewhere in between because he's slick with sweat and Clark`s hair is wet against his face when he leans in close enough to kiss him.

The heated press of the other dancers is the only thing reminding him that they're not completely alone in this place. He looks up to take in their surroundings, ground himself back in time and space. And meets Dominic's eyes, staring at him like a lion stalking prey.

He leans in to Clark`s ear, yelling so he`s sure he`ll be heard over the music. "Time to go, Clark!"

Clark's eyes snap open and - thank God - he's following Lex through the sea of people that part for him as they make their way to a door at the back of the club. The cool of the night is a welcome balm to Lex's sweaty skin, and he feels half-dazed as Clark's body presses against his as they kiss in the empty alleyway behind the club.

Clark's kissing him like he's desperate for Lex's mouth, pushing him roughly against the cinderblock wall of the club, hands running fast, hard over his chest, his stomach, unzipping his pants.

"Clark, wait."

Clark's hand freezes halfway into Lex's pants and he looks Lex in the eyes. "What?"

"That was-"

A big smile, breath still coming in almost-gasps and Clark's tugging Lex's shirt up, snaking hot hands up his bare chest.

"Awesome? Yeah I know."

"No. Yes. It was incredible. But that was Dominic. He works for my father. We have to leave."

The hands stop, fall from his chest. Clark takes a step back, pushing sweat-drenched hair back out of his eyes.

"Oh. Okay."

"We'll do it again Clark, don't worry." Lex zips up, smoothes his shirt down, runs a hand over his head.

"No, Lex. It's fine. I just thought we could-" Clark glances up and down the alleyway.

"I know, Clark. And we can. We will, I promise. Another time."

"We can go home though, right? To the penthouse?"

"Yes."

"Then let's go. I just... I want to be home. I want to get out of this shirt - it's so hot - it's suffocating me."

"Leather can do that sometimes."

That's all Lex has time to say before the limo's pulling up and he's ducking inside it, Clark following just behind him. Inside, Clark's silent, thoughtful, his hand on Lex`s thigh tapping out the last of unspent energy. Lex wonders if the tequila is wearing off - wonders if Clark regrets the things he saw, the things he did. Maybe it was too much, too soon.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As soon as they had gotten in the penthouse, Lex had kicked off his shoes. They weren't as comfortable as he remembered them being.

Their leather was quickly shed and laid out for the laundry service to pick up in the morning. It would probably never be the same after tonight, but Lex didn't want to throw it out. Too many good memories there.

Clark's already stripped to his boxers and sitting on the floor in front of the TV, going through videotapes again, probably looking for another Chaplin movie to watch.

"I'm going to go take a shower. Okay Clark?"

Clark nods, gives him a quick smile, turns back to the tapes. Lex is beginning to think he was serious about watching all of them before the vacation is over.

The master bathroom has the best shower Lex has ever had the pleasure of being in. He strips off his boxers and shirt - the only thing he`d put on when they first got home from the club and he`d stripped off the sweaty leather.

Stepping into the glass enclosure, he remembers why he loves this shower - can stay in here for hours at a time. Four separate showerheads, hard-misting perfectly pressured water onto his skin. Tall glass walls in an octagon around him, tall but not reaching the ceiling, so the steam can escape. Silver bars, horizontal and vertical, lining the walls at waist and shoulder height. Thickness just right for his hands to hold. Never had cause to use them though - never had anyone in here with him. But even alone, he can never resist reaching up and wrapping his hands around them. Letting the water pelt him, abuse him until his skin is red and angry, almost burned. It's dizzying and he sways, slides his hands up, tightening his grip on the bars.

Lets go after a few minutes of stillness. Soap. Soap would be good Lex. So he drenches a washcloth, rolls the soap in it a few times, and starts lathering his body. Face first, head, throat. God that feels good. He lets his head fall to the side, stretching his neck and kneading the muscles with the soapy cloth. Down his chest, up over his shoulders, down both arms, back up the inside of each arm. Over his stomach and around to his lower back, barely aware that he's turning slowly around and around, letting each jet hit him. A step back is all it takes to rinse the soap off, and now he needs more. Soap back in the washcloth, washcloth back on his stomach and he considers how good this could feel if he just wrapped it around...

But Clark's in the living room, waiting for him and watching a Chaplin movie for Christ's sake. And he wants to wait for Clark, for tonight. So he bends over, scrubs one foot, then the other, washes his legs, quick, painfully innocent movement between his legs and he's rinsing the cloth, hanging it over one of the bars.

Lex is saturated - his skin pruning and he can't even think over the fog in the room. How long has he been in here? He checks the clock on the shower radio. Fuck. Half an hour. He reaches out to turn off the water just as the door opens and Clark peeks in.

"Lex? How long are you- wow."

He considers covering himself and immediately dismisses the idea, letting his hands drop to his sides.

"I was just finishing up."

"Okay."

A full minutes passes and Clark's blurry form is still in the doorway. A draft sweeps through the bathroom and Lex reaches to turn the hot water up - there's no sign of Clark moving yet and he doesn't want to ruin this with a freezing blast of cold air when he opens the shower door.

"Hey, Lex?"

"Yes, Clark?" He's amused, not impatient. Clark can stand there and watch as long as he wants to.

"Can I. Can I maybe take a shower next?"

Next? Or now? Not sure what Clark's really asking, but whatever it is, the answer's yes.

"Sure, Clark. Why don't you get your things and come right back. I won't be much longer." Not like he has much of an excuse to be in there even this long - no shampooing to take care of. Clark disappears behind the closing door, but he's not gone long.

Lex hasn't even turned off the water when the door cracks opens again and a very naked Clark walks carefully into the bathroom holding a small duffle bag. He tosses the bag onto the counter unceremoniously and throws a towel onto the warming rack. He hesitates just a second before reaching for the glass door of the shower and stepping in.

Lex tries not to let his eyes linger too long, but Clark's in the shower with him and what's he supposed to do? Look at the ceiling?

"Wash my back for me, Lex?"

Clark seems so at ease - so comfortable. Offering his back to Lex, head falling forward, water soaking that gorgeous mop of hair and not blushing. It's a good thing, but this is just not the Clark that he's used to. Granted, last night's lesson in sexual repression was a bit more bold of Clark, but this is - not forced at all. Natural. Clark's radiating confidence.

"Um, Lex? My back?"

There's something sad about the fact that he can't remember showering basics. Snap out of it Lex. Soap - on the shelf. He pulls his washcloth off the bar, re-warms it under the water, lathers it up. Clark will have the cleanest back in Metropolis when this is over.

Clark arches under his hand, reaches out and grips the bars that Lex was holding just a little while ago. Water channels down Clark's arms, down Lex's arms, flowing over his hands as he soaps from Clark's neck to his ass, down his legs.

"Mmm. God, that feels good, Lex. Maybe you can do the front next?"

And that`s - that`s not right. Clark's way too comfortable with this. Two nights ago he was a virgin who couldn`t say the word `fuck`. And now he's? Transformed. Forward.

"Clark, are you okay?" It's a stupid question. Of course the boy's okay. Look at him for Christ's sake. He's showering with Lex, like it's the most normal thing in the world to be doing. Like they do it all the time.

"Yeah, Lex, I`m fine. Been wanting to do this for a long time. You know - me, you, shower - soap. Why? Something wrong?"

"You just - you seem different." Different. That's the word he's been looking for.

Clark turns to face him, slicks his hair away from his face with one hand, reaches out to Lex's chest with the other and closes the space between them.

"I am different Lex. I'm free here, with you. I don't have to lie to anyone here. I don't have to pretend."

Clark's hand is tracing a line from his throat to his stomach and he steps back again - away from the touch.

"You don`t have to lie?"

He says it under his breath, but loud enough that Clark should have heard him. But Clark just keeps talking.

"I don't have to worry about you judging me. I can be who I was tonight. The guy in the club, the one who did shots at the bar. The one who danced. The one in the alley with you."

"I like that guy, Clark."

"I could even be the person waiting in the room for that guy with the - thing. I could be waiting for you in there. "

"You want to be waiting for me - in that room?"

"Yes. Tonight I do."

Lex tries to recover control over his thoughts. Clark's not capable of knowing what he's asking for - not old enough, not experienced enough. He's barely deflowered and already prepared to jump into something this... advanced? No.

"Clark, it's been a great night and I know you're excited, but I think you're taking this a little far."

"No, I'm not, Lex. You said I could be anyone tonight, remember?"

Clark's mouth covers his again before he can protest, before he can tell him that it's probably the tequila talking. Clark's hands are all over him, touching, squeezing, kneading. Pausing over all the sensitive places that Lex has never told anyone about but Clark somehow knows them anyway.

He wants to stop Clark. Wants to talk about this. But God, this is really - this could be really - interesting.

Loud almost-slurp as Clark pulls away, face criss-crossed with wet streams as he leans back into the water, eyes closed and lips so, so red.

"Clark? Look at me."

Clark moves his head forward, out of the stream of water, fingers wiping his eyes open and he's looking. At Lex. Pulling Lex forward a couple of stumbling steps.

Hands on Clark's chest, redirecting the flow of the water running down it. Slick and broad and God - strong.

Clark swallows hard, his confidence wavering. He looks at the water swirling around their feet.

"Please don't tell me no, Lex. I want it. I need it."

He's never seen Clark's eyes full of fear before, and it only lasts an instant, but it's there. Fear. Not just fear that he'll say no. Fear that he'll say yes.

"Tell me what you need, Clark. Tell me what you`re afraid to ask for."

Clark moves in closer, rough stubble scraping his cheek, wet hair dripping onto his shoulder. Lex takes a deep breath and holds it. The words come softly against his ear, but there`s determination in them.

"You know that guy at the club? The one with the-"

"The mark. Yes."

"Well that's. I want that."

"You want me to-"

"I want you to mark me, Lex. Tonight."

Lex can't wrap his brain around what he's hearing. It's way too soon and not nearly soon enough. It's - God. It's Clark asking him for this. Asking him - telling him that he wants Lex to mark him, to claim him. It's the biggest compliment Lex has ever gotten. A huge commitment, a staggering amount of trust and it's overwhelming to think that Clark is already wanting these things with him - wanting these things from him.

He looks into Clark's eyes, searching. Buying time. He doesn't want to have to make this decision - not yet. Is he even capable of having this? He doesn't know where to start. Doesn't know how to do this.

Clark's asking for these things, but does he really know what he's asking for? It's not about Lex this time. No matter what he wants, Clark needs to know what he's asking before Lex can even consider saying yes. Even consider saying yes? The idea that he's even thinking about considering doing this disturbs him.

"Clark, you know this is really a big deal, right?"

"If I thought it wasn't, I wouldn't want it, Lex."

"It's - it's a bond between us, Clark."

"No. The bond is already there Lex. It's always been there. Maybe even before we knew each other. You know that as well as I do. You knew it before I did - you knew it the day I pulled you from the river. This isn't the bond. This is just proof."

Clark understands this better than he thought. And just like that, he's considering actually doing this. How would he do it though? A burn would be best - would heal the fastest and be less likely than a cut to get infected. It would have to be small too. Nothing as extreme as AJ's mark. Something simple, subtle.

"It wouldn't be like AJ's. It wouldn't be that - big, that painful."

"I don't care, Lex. I just - I want to feel it. I want to remember how it felt years from now."

Clark's waiting for his reaction.

All logic tells him to say no. All logic tells him it's too soon, too much of a risk to take. People will see it. Some of them will know what it means and the rest will ask.

"Clark, what will you tell people? They'll ask how you got it, where you got it. What will you tell them?"

"I'll tell them it's a scar that I got in Metropolis when I was there with my best friend. I'll tell them it's my souvenir."

Clark's smiling just a little at him, a kind of sly, sneaky expression that Lex hasn't seen often on Clark.

"Seriously Lex, I'll deal with the questions. I'll tell everyone the truth someday. Let them think what they want. I don't care."

"You will care Clark. You'll care when Pete turns his back on you for having me as a lover. You'll care when the guys in the locker room say you're a kept man. You'll care."

"I won't Lex. I don't. All I care about is this. I know what's important and those things just aren't. This is important. This is what I care about."

Lex has always been able to predict Clark`s next move - even his next thought for the most part, and it`s a little unsettling that Clark`s surprising him now. Clark's more mature, more sensible now than he`s ever been. Lex is still not completely convinced, but Clark's put everything on the line and Lex *can't* say no - can't bring himself to refuse Clark anything now, not after the declaration he's made by just asking for this.

He nods, and steps close to Clark, water pounding his back and sides. Clark kisses him, soft and slow, lips firm but - grateful, pliant - under Lex`s.

He pulls away from the kiss, turns Clark around, pushes him against the wall of the shower. Clark reaches to the sides, finding the bars, gripping them tightly, forehead pressed against the glass.

Lex runs his hands along the broad back in front of him, wraps an arm around Clark's waist and pulls Clark back against to his chest. He's shaking - nervous.

Clark turns his head to speak over his shoulder, profile dripping water.

"There's more, Lex."

More? Doesn't matter. Whatever Clark wants, Lex will give him.

"Tell me, Clark. Anything."

"I want to wear the cuffs we wore tonight."

"The cuffs?"

"And a blindfold."

"You want to be-"

"I told you Lex. I want to be him. The person in that room, waiting for you. I want you to - take me."

He stretches up, bites Clark's neck, whispers in his ear.

"I'll only ask you this once, Clark. Are you sure?"

"Yes." Broken, but sure. Sure, but Lex wants to be safe. Clark's new to this and first impressions are so important. Can't let fear or pain get in the way of Clark enjoying this.

"Do you know what a safe word is, Clark?"

Drops of water flip of the ends of Clark's hair as he shakes his head just a little.

"If you get scared, if you're hurt, if something's too much for you, Clark. You say your safe word and I stop. No questions asked. Understand?"

"Yes."

"Do you want to choose the word?"

"Foil?"

"Good word, Clark."

A smile, laughter behind Clark's eyes. But something else too. Hesitation.

Lex knows what he needs - direction. Don't let him think or he'll get scared. Just direct. He holds Clark's arms tight enough to hurt, then gives him a push towards the shower door.

"Then get out, Clark. Wait for me in the bedroom."

Clark's hands slide down the bars, fall to his sides. He steps out of the shower, stumbles a little on the bathroom rug on his way to the door, wrapping a towel around his waist and smoothing back his dripping hair.

"Clark."

The boy turns to look back at him, eyes lifting just a little. Face wet and flushed.

"Dry yourself off. Go lay on the bed. Lights off. On your stomach."

Lex turns off the shower and steps out, moving deliberately slow. Let him lay there. Let him think about what might be walking through that door at any second. Let him feel that anticipation before he feels the thrill of finding out.

Toweling himself off, he checks his nails - clips two because they're just a little too long. He knows how to do this. Knows he can do this. Not too much, Clark's new to this. Not too little - want to keep him guessing. It's just a matter of control - and he knows control.

How long has it been? Five minutes maybe. So, not yet. A little longer. He goes to the living room, gets the cuffs from the table where they`d left them earlier, walks to the closet in the hallway. He's not even trying to be quiet when he opens and shuts the doors, pulls out a box, digs through the contents. Let Clark try to imagine what he's looking for.

A collar, inches wide, dotted with silver. Lex lifts it to his throat, memories racing through his brain as he feels the cold metal studs scratching his neck. He almost fastens the buckle - wants to have that sweet pressure on his throat every time he swallows. But it's not his turn. Not tonight.

One long leather strap for the ankles, but he's not sure he'll use that. He wants Clark relatively comfortable.

He examines the collar, the cuffs. They're all still firm - not worn or softened with use. He runs a finger along the inside of each cuff; they're dry now too. They'll leave marks if he doesn't coat them with lubricant. He considers sparing Chloe the shock of seeing telltale signs on Clark's wrists and throat, then discards the idea. It's not the same if the leather doesn't bite.

He looks back in the box, taking out a strip of black silk - the perfect blindfold - and hanging it around his shoulders. He starts to turn, but at the last second remembers to get the short chain with clasps a both ends to bind the cuffs together. It clinks against itself as he tucks the flaps of the box in and scoots it back into the closet. He loops the chain around his hand to stop the noise and walks to the bedroom.

When he pushes the door open, letting it slam back against the wall, he finds that Clark is a good listener. On his stomach, stretched out on the bed, lights out.

A faint green glow from under the bed catches his eye. What the hell is that? No time to find out now. Clark's waiting for him - face buried in the comforter, arms above his head. Legs spread.

He thinks it's going to be that fast? That cut and dry? Lex doesn't work like that; doesn't want it to be so impersonal. Slow, methodical, enjoyable journeys are the key.

"You think you can just lay down, spread your legs and give yourself to me? You think it`s going to be that easy?"

"I- no. You told me to-"

"Don't speak. You speak when I tell you to speak. I don't want your ass. You already know what I want, don't you?"

Clark gives him a small nod. He smiles at Lex and licks his lips.

"I want your mouth. Get up. On your knees. Now. "

Slight motion - then hesitation.

"Do it. Now."

Clark pushes himself up, for a brief moment he's on all fours and then he kneels, hands dropping to his sides heavily.

Lex punches Clark`s arms quickly, lightly. "Put them together - in front of you."

He moves to face Clark, reaches for the cuffs. When he leans back, Clark's arms are in front of him, wrists together, turned up in surrender and he's - God - grinning.

God he's beautiful like this. No inhibitions. Nothing warring in that young mind of his. Nothing like Lex has ever known. Clark`s completely free.

He runs the leather bracelet down Clark's arm, chain swinging down and hitting Clark's thigh, making him jump just a little. Lex fastens the leather cuff tight enough on his wrist that it dents the skin. Clark's pale, but he's still grinning.

"You're not scared?"

"Not really."

Lex has to do something about that grin.

"You should be. You should be pissing yourself right now. You have no idea what I'm capable of."

A loud swallow - maybe a gulp and that did the trick - Clark's smile fades.

Buckling the other wrist, binding the two thick bands together with the short chain that connects them, he slides his hand as lightly as he can up Clark's chest to his neck. Squeezes his throat hard, lets go.

He crawls around behind Clark. Barely touches the backs of Clark's legs - one light finger running from ass to knee-hollow. And Clark sways, leaning back into Lex's touch.

Another tiny sound from somewhere in Clark's throat.

Silk sliding from around Lex's neck like it wants to be a part of this and he catches it as it falls to the bed.

He trails it over Clark's shoulder, lets it hang down Clark's chest, draws it over his stomach, barely touching his cock. Back up and over the other shoulder and he's wrapping it around Clark's head - double-looped so there's no way he can see through it. Tied deliberately tight, catching some hair in the knot. And Clark's chin lifts just a little, like he's testing it to see if he can peek under the bottom.

"Trying to cheat, are you? There. Is. No. Cheating." Each word is punctuated with a slap of the thin leather ankle cord against Clark's back.

Tiny sounds from Clark, like he can't manage to form a word.

Collar quickly buckled in place, way too tight. Clark's neck muscles strain against the leather and he tilts his head from side to side, trying to get comfortable in his newest restraint.

"Like that do you? Turn around. Let me see that pretty mouth."

Clark turns, head falling forward, huge smile spreading across his face and is rewarded with a sharp slap to his cheek. That gets Lex a hiss and the smile vanishes.

"You want my cock? It's right in front of you. Too bad you can't see it. Or touch it or taste it for that matter. Can you smell it though? I bet you can. I bet you want to taste it too."

Lex's handprint is blooming on Clark's face from the slap and Lex leans in, a knee on the bed, to lick the redness.

"That's all you get. My tongue will not touch you again tonight."

"Uhh." And that's what Lex was waiting for - striving for. That's all he needs.

Hands in Clark's hair, pulling him down roughly, making him lose his balance, face slamming into Lex's thigh.

When Clark regains his balance, Lex pushes his face back down to his cock, letting it bob against Clark's cheek, his mouth, painting a slick shimmer across his lips. He yanks on his hair again, hard enough to elicit a gasp from Clark.

"Open. Your. Mouth."

Clark smiles, shakes his head.

Clark really shouldn't be smiling at this point, not if things were going the way Lex always wanted them to go when he was a sub. But this is better - he knows Clark's enjoying it and that makes his job a hell of a lot easier.

"Open up. You can't win this game. Open those cherry lips and taste me. Swallow me."

A low moan as he drags his cock across Clark's smile, pushes between the tight, red lips, pries the teeth open with his fingers and slides his cock in.

Hot and wet and he doesn't even worry about Clark biting because he knows the boy isn't that brave - not with his hands bound and Lex over him, hands in his hair.

A choke, a gag and Clark is still smiling - around his cock - then licking. The lips close and Clark starts moving up and down on the shaft.

"That's it, little cocksucker. Suck me. Lick me. Swallow it."

Much to Lex's chagrin, Clark can`t keep a rhythm. He trying to take all of Lex into his mouth, but he's fumbling, choking a little. Maybe he doesn't know how to do it. Well, Lex will just have to teach him.

"You want to swallow me?"

A nod, head tilted up at him like he`s trying to tell Lex with his blindfolded eyes.

"Listen carefully. Exhale now. Open your throat. Hold your breath. Swallow. God - yes. Like that. Now pull back and take a breath. Exhale. Do it again. That's right. Keep doing it."

He's is a fast learner. Fuck. Really fast. Almost totally Clark's idea and if the wet, clear-white drops on his cock are any indication, he's enjoying it as much as Lex is. But he's getting too close - won't be able to finish this if Clark keeps - fuck - this up for long.

He pulls out of Clark's mouth with an agonizing suction and a loud slurp that goes all through him.

Clark's panting - flushing hot, forehead against Lex's thigh, barely staying upright. Mouth still open a little, he's waiting for Lex's next command.

"Turn over Clark. Back on that pretty little face. You`re going to like this."

He moves slowly, heavily, following Lex`s order. Turns over and God. Lex has always had a thing for backs. Clark's is broad, muscles moving under perfect, completely smooth skin.

"You're so beautiful like this."

Clark's face rubbing against the bed as he shakes his head, `no.'

"Yes you are. You're so fucking perfect. Look at you. You`re too - flawless. You need something. You need my mark on you."

"Oh, God."

That was two words. Damn, that takes balls.

"What was that? Did you say something? Surely not. You wouldn't disobey me, would you?"

Head shaking again, `no.'

"But I'm sure I heard you. You said `Oh God,' didn't you? Did that turn you on? Me talking about marking you? I will, you know. Mark you. Before this is over."

"Do it, Lex. Go ahead and try."

"Who said you could talk? We're playing by my rules, little boy. You have to wait until I tell you to speak. You want to be marked? Then beg for it. I give you permission to speak. Convince me. Now."

"Fuck. Mark me. Lex, please. God, but you can't. I don't think you can-."

"You don`t have to think. You don't have to do anything but lie there. You`re mine. Do you know what that means?"

"God. Yes. You're going to - put your mark on me."

"You sound scared. Are you afraid of being cut? Afraid I'll burn you? Leave a scar that someone will notice? You don't really want it, do you?"

"Oh God. Yes. Please, Lex. I want it. I don`t care how. Please."

"You don't know how it makes me feel to hear you beg." And that was true; Lex doubted Clark knew a tenth of the emotions that flitted through him. Power, awe, adoration, amazement, shock, unworthiness, but most of all, fear. Fear of losing this - of losing Clark. Fear that he`d be alone again someday.

Lex stands, walks across the room, not quietly. Pushes the door back against the wall, then grabs the handle and pulls it closed after him.

In the hallway he falls against the wall, bends over, hands on his knees for support. This is so fucking hard this time. Because it's not some trick from a bar. Not someone who's being paid to be there. It's Clark in there, cuffed, blindfolded, begging for Lex to mark him. And it's hot but it's so fucking hard. He straightens, takes a deep breath.

Keep going. Just keep going.

He walks to the living room, kneels on the floor and slides the fichus out of his way. His hand seeks the familiar panel, fingers sliding along the wood until he hits the hidden switch and the plank pops up. He lifts it out of its nest and dials the combination on the safe. It`s there - of course - under all the papers and cash, tucked in one corner of the safe. How long ago had he left it here? College maybe? Left it here so Lionel would never see it, never be able to take it from him.

His mother had it made for him after the meteor shower. "A piece of the puzzle" she called it. His puzzle. The puzzle he`s been trying to solve since he returned to Smallville. The puzzle he knows Clark is another piece of. It somehow seems right that the two pieces should be brought together this way.

He brings the ring to his mouth, silently kissing his good intentions onto the fleur-de-lis shaped stone as he walks back to the bedroom. He stops with his hand on the doorknob, turns on his heels and heads for the bathroom.

He lays the ring on the marble counter. In the medicine cabinet he finds the liquid, slicks his cock, wipes his hands on the still-damp towel he hung over the shower door earlier and slips the ring onto his finger. It still fits. Will probably always fit.

He grabs a leather driving glove off the table in the foyer and stops by the kitchen to get a lighter out of the drawer.

Back down the hall, at the bedroom door, he hears Clark's choking breaths through the wood. He opens the door quietly, leaves it open, crosses to the bed with almost no sound to betray him.

Steels himself, thumb rubbing the band of the ring for courage.

No tears. Not now Clark. Please, God, not now. No way I can do this if you cry.

"Are you crying? Shhh, Clark. It's okay - don't be afraid."

"I'm not crying. I'm not afraid."

"Is there a word you want to say to me, Clark?"

"No."

Lex tightens his grip on the lighter, fighting the urge to throw it away and just take Clark into his arms and comfort him.

Instead, he tosses the lighter onto the bed, grabs a handful of hair and pulls Clark's head up from the sheet long enough to see for himself that the silk blindfold is dry. He pauses just a moment before pressing a kiss onto Clark's slightly open mouth, allowing them one tender moment before he starts.

Clark's face falls back to the bed when Lex releases his hold on his hair.

His stomach turns at the thought of burning Clark, but he takes a deep breath and continues. For Clark.

"Where do you want me to mark you? Here?"

The green stone in the ring is cold - Lex knows because it's always cold - against Clark's skin and he jerks away from where it touches his side.

"Or maybe your back?"

Clark moans as Lex climbs on top of him, straddling his ass, and draws the ring down the indentation of his spine.

"Don't move. If you move, we`ll have to start over."

"Fuck, Lex. You can't-"

"But I can. And I will. Now."

The gem's sharp edges slice across Clark's back, tiny droplets of blood freckling up along the path of the stone. Just a scratch. Not the mark Clark's hoping for, but hopefully enough of a tease to torture him just a little.

Clark's up on his elbows, face buried in his hands, not crying. Moaning, sucking in air, twisting just a little under the fresh cut on his skin.

Lex drags his tongue along after his hand, licking the blood, tasting Clark's life in his mouth.

"So you're thick-skinned? Well, that won't help you now."

Lex's hand finds the glove and lighter on the bed where he threw them. He slips the glove on, tugging at the wrist, stretching his fingers into the fingers.

He leans down over Clark's back to whisper in his ear.

"Listen."

Clark turns his ear up, straining to hear.

Flick of the lighter and Clark gasps.

"Recognize that sound?"

A small whimper.

Satisfied with Clark's reaction and wanting to get this over-with, Lex holds the ring out in front of him, pinching the band between his gloved fingers and holding the lighter under the stone and setting. He knows the fire won't damage the stone. It was subjected to much more intense heat than this when it fell from the sky 13 years ago.

He lets the lighter die, tosses it to the floor. He lays down, pressing his chest to Clark's back, closing his eyes and breathing with him for just a second. Then he snakes his free hand under Clark's throat, wraps his arm around his throat and squeezes just a little, pressing the studded collar deeper into Clark`s neck.

He licks a small area on Clark's shoulder-blade. holds his breath and pushes the ring into the wet circle on Clark's skin, closing his eyes against the burning flesh. He's almost knocked off balance as Clark arches, head thrown forward, squirming into the pain.

Lex holds the scalding ring hard against Clark's skin until he settles down onto the mattress, surrendering the fight, conceding victory.

Clark's sags heavily, flat on the bed, arms close in by his sides, tied hands buried underneath his stomach, legs together - not moving.

Lex unwraps his arm from Clark's throat, briefly examines the indentations on his arm from the studs on the collar and peels off the leather glove. He stretches to put both ring and glove on the nightstand, then relaxes a little, sitting on the back of Clark`s thighs, hands low on Clark's back, bracing himself up.

The worst is over.

He reaches back and slips his hand between Clark's knees, runs it up to his ass, gently pushing his legs apart. He climbs off, moves to the bottom of the bed, kisses him once behind each knee.

"Turn over, Clark. One more time."

Clark rolls over on the bed, shaking with - fear? Anticipation? Excitement? Whatever it is, Lex has to stop it and he can only think of one way to do that.

Slowly, deliberately he crawls up Clark's body, kissing him lightly from thigh to neck. He lifts the cuffed wrists, moves them up, lays them on the bed over Clark's head, running his hands down Clark's arms from wrist to shoulder.

"Shhh, it's okay Clark. You're going to be okay now. I'll never let anything hurt you again. You're mine Clark."

His tongue tasting Clark's fear - the salt of sweat and the tang of soap. He squeezes, kneading Clark's neck as he firmly kisses his mouth.

Reaching down, he guides himself into Clark and whispers. "I told you in the beginning, Clark. We have a future together. Good or bad, I'll always be a part of you now."

"Oh God, yes Lex. Always a part of me." Clark's arching up into him and he can't stand it anymore - he needs to see those eyes, feel those strong hands on him.

"Do you want to look at me now? Do you want to touch me?"

"God yes. Please Lex."

Lex's hand flies to the blindfold and pulls it up, off of Clark's face. Then he reaches up to Clark's wrists and unfastens the cuffs, throws them on to the wooden floor.

Clark blinks at him, eyelashes wet with tears. "My God."

"Yes, Clark. {{he kisses Clark's eyelids, tastes the salty tears on his lips}} You said - oh God Clark - you said you weren't crying."

"I wasn't then, Lex. But you said - you said you`ll always be a part of me."

"I will, Clark. I won't forget that you wear my mark."

"And you won't ever be alone again Lex. You'll always be with me - wherever I go."

"Oh God, Clark. You`re mine - you wear my mark. My-."

Lex's eyes shift out of focus as he comes. But he sees Clark's mouth opening just a little as the scalding drops fly across his chest and stomach. Clark reaches up and touches his face - an intimacy he's always instinctively flinched away from. Until now.

Instantly, Clark's hand is on his cock, eyes locked on Lex`s, heavy-lidded and lost. Lex reaches down and wraps his hand around Clark`s. Clark jerks his hand away, letting Lex take over. Lex wraps his fist around Clark, stroking firmly with long, sure, rhythmic movements. Clark arches his back, head tilting up, eyes closing.

"God Lex. Oh yes. This is - I'm yours. Always."

Clark's other hand reaches out blindly, connects with Lex's shoulder, grasps him behind the neck. Clark pulls him down onto his chest as he comes, mixing their seed in a slick pool between them.

He's too sated to move, too tired to care that Clark is in control now, holding him, cradling his head, lips pressing against his scalp, arms tight around him.

As quiet as their breathing, Clark whispers into the silence.

"Thank you, Lex."

And minutes pass before Clark releases him with a slow kiss, rolls to the side of the bed and lazily reaches down. The pale green glow that Lex forgot to think about is cut off, blanketing the room in complete darkness.

When Clark settles on his side, back against Lex`s chest, he runs his fingers along Clark's arm, up to his shoulder-blade, tracing a wide circle around the brand.

"I want to see it Lex."

"Tomorrow, Clark. It'll still be there tomorrow."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Lex?"

"Mmm."

"Lex, wake up."

Familiar strong voice somehow sad and cutting into his dream, pulling him out from under the darkness of sleep. It's Clark, of course.

"What is it, Clark?"

"It's almost gone."

"What's almost gone?" He sits up and squints at Clark's shadow across the room. Too sleepy to figure it out.

"Look. It - it healed."

He swings his legs out of the bed, throwing back the sheet. Warm feet cooled by the wood floor and he's crossing to Clark, who's standing with his back to the mirror on the armoire, head craned to look at his reflection.

The mark.

Lex lifts a finger to the burn - it`s pale now, but he`ll always be able to find it, even in the dim light of dawn.

It's only the fleur-de-lis shaped mark of the stone, the very center of the ring - no trace of the marks left by the silver setting. Not red either, only slightly raised. Faint, barely there. His mind is racing, trying to come up with some logical explanation. This was a brand just a few hours ago. He held the ring here long enough to leave a scar. A blister. And the shallow cut - it wasn't much but now it's nothing - no trace of it at all.

"Clark? How is this possible? I- it was-"

"I know. I wanted to tell you, Lex. First, you have to know that. I've always wanted you to know."

"Know what, Clark?" He shakes his head quick, trying to force himself awake.

"It`s my- well, I. I`m - not exactly normal."

His finger stops Clark's lips from moving. He doesn't think he can stand to hear Clark lie again. Not after - not now.

"Shh. Clark, listen to me. You don't have to say it. I already know. I know I hit you on the bridge."

Clark's face registers surprise - but for just a second. Then his eyebrows furrow with confusion.

"You know?"

"Before Nixon - before the tornado, Nixon he told me quite a bit. He was a bastard but he was a smart bastard, I`ll give him that."

"What did he-"

"He said you were more than you appeared to be. I already knew that." A smile there, to break the palpable tension between them. Lex is inches away and very carefully not touching Clark.

"That's it? That`s all he told you?"

There's more?

"Well, I told you he thought a ship came down in the meteor shower. You've seen the piece of metal I had. Remember?"

"Right. How did Nixon get it?"

"You know that Nix- of course you do. I think he took it before the tornado. He came to the mansion and told me that he was going to let me bid on his information. After he left I realized it wasn`t on my desk. I was looking for it when my Dad came in and then - well, you know the story. It wasn't on Nixon when they found him."

"You know that was a piece of the ship, right?"

"A piece of the ship. So there is a ship?"

Clark shrugs, nods. "Nixon put it back in my ship - it`s some sort of key. I have it."

"You have it. In your ship."

"I came here in that ship, Lex."

"You- you. Came. Here."

"In the meteor shower."

"Meteor shower."

He wants air - has to have air. Not penthouse air, not elevator air - fresh air. Or city air - doesn`t matter. Any air. Now.

He leaves Clark standing there, grabs his robe from the hook on the closet door and goes to the glass doors of the balcony. Pushes a button on the wall and the blinds retract. Flips the lock on the door and opens it, stepping out.

He heads for the low wall on the far end, stepping around the table and chairs. Leans against the cold metal of the railing, hands gripping and knuckles white.

The morning air is damp and chilly. Sick-making air. But better than inside.

Being surprised does not sit well with him. Surprises do not happen to Luthors. Luthors always have time to prepare.

Then again, he hadn't believed Nixon - not really. He probably wouldn`t have believed it if it had come from anyone but Clark. And besides, how the fuck do you prepare for something like this?

A warm hand on his shoulder. A shaking hand.

"Clark, I-"

"You hit me on the bridge that day, Lex. I know you know that, but I had to say it. You hit me. And I swam down and pulled the roof back and got you out. I was barely even bruised. I couldn't believe it. I was so scared. And then you started asking all those questions and I-"

"I've spent some long hours trying to figure out how you did it - how you saved me. I guess now I know - you`re an- you`re not. Human."

Somehow, knowing isn't as rewarding as he thought it would be.

"Yes." An unnatural pause.

He turns to see Clark, shivering in just his boxers, very obviously not looking at the city beyond Lex.

"Can we go inside, Lex?"

"No." He doesn't tell Clark about the air. Doesn't care that he's afraid to be out here. He would normally do anything for him, but not now.

"Lex. I`m-"

"You're terrified." Even he isn't sure if he's talking about the balcony or about this confession.

"I - I'm not afraid of you. I just - "

"You're afraid of heights. You trust me, but this balcony scares you. Now that is truly ironic."

Lex turns back to the city, to the skyline he knows by heart. He doesn't want to look at that face. Doesn't want to know that it's Clark telling him these things. Not Nixon. Not some nameless, faceless, emotionally barren drone. Clark. Clark's voice in his ear, Clark's arms wrapping around him, pressing cool skin along his back, arms shaking a little as they tighten around his chest.

"I didn't want to lie to you. I didn`t even know what was happening to me. Dad told me after the accident. And then-"

He turns around in Clark`s arms, not even trying to break the embrace. He needs something stable to support - something to hold onto. If Clark didn't know, then he wasn't really betraying Lex. If he didn't know that he's an- God, say it Lex - alien until after the accident, then it just makes sense that he wouldn't tell Lex. He'd just be getting used to the idea himself, there would be no way he'd go around telling anyone else.

"Wait. You didn't know? How could you not know?"

"I knew I was strong. Stronger than other kids. And I can run really fast - faster than anyone. But I thought maybe it was the meteor rocks or something. You know they can do weird things to people."

He runs a hand over his head, nods. He knows that all too well. Lex smirks, takes a small step backwards - not really away from Clark but he needs some room to breathe.

"But Dad didn't tell me until after you hit me. Remember the first time I came to the mansion? I came - to return the truck. You were fencing and-"

"I remember."

"Well, he told me that night right before I came over to give you back the keys."

That's why Clark had been so distant. So - closed off. Neither one of them had been themselves that night. Lex had opened himself to Clark and Clark had just... just left. It makes perfect sense now - he had just had the shock of a lifetime. And now Lex knows how he must've felt that night. Clark's opening himself now. And he *won't* just leave.

"I can understand why you lied. Christ, I would have lied. You just did what you had to do."

"So you're not mad?"

Mad, well - yes. That's one word. He can think of a few others.

"Of course I am, Clark. You lied to me. Several times - even when I confronted you about it directly. But I'm not sure that I would ever be able to tell anyone if I was in your shoes."

"I didn't have a choice. But now I do."

"Because now you trust me."

"Because now I trust you, Lex"

Hands clamped down on his shoulders, a little too tight, and Clark's just trembling.

"I know you`re scared shitless. Don`t say you`re not - you have to be. You`re putting everything on the line by telling me this."

"It doesn't matter. I want us to start this the best way we can."

"You want us to start what?"

"This, Lex. Us."

"You want there to be an `us.'" It's not a question.

"Of course. What did you think? That I was just playing last night? I wasn`t. I knew what I was asking for and it wasn`t your mark. It was you."

"You're telling me all of this because you want to be with me. Not just- fucking. You want a relationship."

"I want you, Lex. Whatever you can give me."

"Do you remember what I asked you the night of the tornado, Clark? You were in the barn getting dressed for the dance. I told you it was good that our friendship wasn't built on lies and deceit.

Lex swallows hard to push the lump back down his throat. He doesn't want to remember that night. But he needs to know.

"Do you remember telling me that you felt the same way I did?"

"I remember, Lex."

"You were lying to me then, but you wanted it to be true."

"Yes."

He's shaking his head, not meaning to disbelieve but just - not processing all of this well. Two strong hands on his shoulders and he lets Clark pull him in tight against his chest, face against Clark's neck, morning stubble scratching his ear.

The city air blows swift around them, his robe whipping around Clark's legs. Clark's mouth presses against his, strong and sure. Their lips part and this is the air that he needed. The lack of air that he needed. His fingers find the mark on Clark's shoulder-blade. It holds so much significance now, faint though it may be.

When it disappears, he'll replace it.

As many times as it takes.

~ FINIS ~

 

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