Betrayal is a common emotion for Lex. When you're at the top, there will always be people who want what you have, and willing to stab a few backs to get there. Personal betrayal is less common, and almost nonexistent these days since he refuses to trust anyone far enough, but it is still something he's familiar with. It's happened enough in the past, after all.
However, it's not until he walks into the main room of a rather exclusive party and finds Clark Kent with his arm wrapped around the waist of another man that he truly understands the meaning of the word.
He and Clark haven't spoken in a couple of years, certainly. And the rift was most certainly Lex's fault, as Clark really had tried to keep in touch with him, and Lex had just been too busy. And it's certainly none of Lex's business who Clark is involved with, even if it is Bruce Wayne, one of his old friends and not the most trustworthy person Lex has ever met. None of these reasons are why Lex feels so betrayed by Clark.
It's the idea of what Clark is doing. Ever since Lex met Clark, he has been trying to become a better man- better than his father. And holding Clark, his icon of innocence and family values and morality, firmly in his mind, he has succeeded. His business is one of the cleanest in Metropolis, and it took no small amount of work to get it that way.
He really has no right to feel this way. Clark never asked to become a symbol, and certainly never asked to be put on a pedestal. In fact, Lex is almost entirely sure that Clark would have detested the idea, as Clark was a simple, humble kid, and that is what made him so perfect for the position.
But now Clark has fallen, and Lex isn't sure what to do with his unreasoning anger. He wants to be furious with Clark, but as before- he has no right. Clark has done nothing but change, and that isn't wrong, just disappointing to Lex. So what should he do?
Spotting Clark and Bruce heading in his direction, he realizes that he will have to, as they say, just suck it up and deal. He pastes a smile on his face that looks real thanks to long practice, and waits with false relaxation for the pair to make their way over to him.
Bruce smiles at him. "Lex," he says. "I'd like you to meet my companion, Clark-"
"We've met," Clark interrupts him. He gives Lex a lazy smile, eyes half-lidded and sensual. "How've you been?"
"No more car crashes, if that's what you're asking," Lex says. His smile is as sharp as Clark's is heated. "One drives safer when there's no one around to save your life."
"Oh, I'm sure there will always be someone around to pull you out," Clark says.
"Less than you might think," Lex shoots back. "It's funny how there's so few true altruists left these days."
Clark's smile gains an edge. "Maybe you're just not looking in the right place."
"Possibly," Lex says. "I think I've learned where not to look, though."
Bruce has been watching them with fascination, and at this moment he breaks in with a disarming smile. Bruce always was a charming bastard, when he wanted to be.
"It sounds like you two know each other fairly well," he observes. Lex gives Clark another sharp-edged smile.
"We used to, yes," he says. "It's been years, though. People change."
Clark's smile fades slightly. Lex wonders at his reaction- what did he expect, showing up like this, a totally different person? Did he expect Lex to just smile at him like he was the same farm boy that Lex once fell in love with? No.
"People do," Bruce agrees. "Sometimes not as much as you might think, though."
Bruce's voice is gently chiding. As if he has the right to reprimand Lex, when he has his arm around Clark. Again, no.
"Oh, I'm fairly sure about this," Lex says. "Sometimes what you see is what you get." He puts a slight emphasis on the word get, and he sees by Clark's tiny flinch that the pointed reference wasn't missed.
Bruce looks at the two of them, and then gently detangles himself from Clark's grip. "I think I'll leave you two to catch up," he says, and fades away into the crowd. Clark and Lex are left standing alone, and Clark, at least, looks like he feels the loss.
"I think it's safe to say that I never expected you to be here, Clark," Lex says. "You had such wonderful ideals. I wonder what happened to the one about standing on your own?"
"Is that what you honestly think?" Clark snaps. "You think I'm whoring myself out to the highest bidder?"
"I'm sure you were very selective," Lex says, idly, like he's not feeling the pain of this conversation down to his toes. "Bruce was an excellent choice. He's always careful with his companions, and I hear he pays very well."
Clark looks stricken. Like Lex had taken a hammer and smashed is across his face like Clark had once invited him to do. "Believe me when I say this, Lex- things aren't always what they seem."
"Is that so?"
"Yeah," Clark says heatedly. "For example, I used to think that you knew me better than anyone. And failing that, you could at least be counted on to always know what was going on. But you've changed, you know. Now you can't read a situation worth shit." He turns and stalks off in the direction Bruce went, his hair bristling like an angry cat, still completely out of his control even after years and application of what is probably very expensive styling gel.
Lex considers going after him, but quickly decides that no matter how beautiful Clark is these days, he just isn't worth it anymore.
Bruce corners Lex just before he leaves. His hand on Lex's bicep is like iron, and Lex doesn't bother to try to shake himself free. Instead, he turns and pins his old school friend with a cold look.
"Don't you have someone waiting for you?" he says pointedly. Bruce just shakes his head, mild as fucking ever. Lex knows better, though. He knows the darkness that lurks underneath the surface. Bruce is possibly even more fucked up than Lex himself, though he wouldn't take bets on it.
"He's in the car," Bruce says. "I'm on my way out. I just thought I'd stop by and correct some misapprehensions."
"No need," Lex says. "The situation is perfectly clear to me. Clark didn't have to go running to you to stand up for him."
"He didn't say anything to me," Bruce says. A little more heated now, getting angry on Clark's behalf. How sweet. "He didn't have to. I've got eyes, and you weren't being subtle."
"Sometimes there's nothing like being obvious to get the job done," Lex says. "Are you going somewhere with this, Bruce? I'm sure Clark is impatient for your return."
"I just thought I'd tell you that while we do have a business relationship, it's nothing like what you're thinking," Bruce says.
"I'm sure," Lex says sarcastically.
"He's my bodyguard, Lex," Bruce says patiently. "Not my whore."
And then Lex just stops and… breathes. "Your bodyguard." His voice is patently disbelieving. "Since when have you needed a bodyguard?"
"Since I went into business with you," Bruce says bluntly. "You have a lot of enemies, Lex. Now they're my enemies too."
"If you want to back out-" Lex starts.
"I never said that," Bruce says. "I'm not afraid of them. But I do choose to take reasonable precautions. Mostly the thugs that are hired aren't particularly daring, but there's always a chance that they will make a move at an event such as this one."
This was a danger that Lex has always ignored, so he just moves on to the next question churning in his brain. "Why Clark? And why the act?"
"Clark is a rather gifted young man, as I'm sure you're aware," he says. Oh, fuck you, Bruce. "And contrary to popular belief, a bodyguard is much more useful when disguised as something harmless. Who would believe that the pretty boy on Bruce Wayne's arm is fully capable of deflecting a lethal attack? It would be ludicrous, and all the more effective because it is true."
"So you and Clark aren't sleeping together, then," Lex states. It's making sense to him again, but then… Bruce hesitates. Just a tiny bit, but Lex can see it, clear as crystal. The truth, so painful to contemplate, especially when he has just reassured himself that it is falsehood.
"You are," he says flatly. Bruce says nothing, doesn't try to deny it. "I thought you said that he was just your bodyguard."
"I said no such thing," Bruce says. "I said he wasn't my whore, and he isn't. Do you pay everyone who shares your bed, Lex?"
A direct hit, since Lex generally does, but he ignores it. "Why?" he asks, and ignores as well the hoarseness in his voice. Unacceptable. "Why him?"
"Clark is one of the most fascinating people I have ever met," Bruce says. "An idealist and a realist at the same time. And he is a very beautiful man."
Lex doesn't have anything to say to that. He doesn't have anything to say at all. Bruce, perhaps seeing that in his face, lets go of his arm and takes a simple step back.
"We're going back to Gotham tonight," Bruce tells him. "Remember that we have a meeting in my home office in three days."
"I won't forget," Lex says, and he knows that he won't. He never forgets anything. "In three days, then."
Bruce looks like he wants to say something more, but in the end he just nods and steps away.
Lex has had three days to adjust, three days to prepare himself, and the sight of Clark is still enough to bring an unpleasant roil to his gut.
Alfred sent him into the kitchen, where Master Bruce was apparently having breakfast, but the old man neglected to mention that Master Clark was in there as well. Bruce is sitting at the table, chewing absently on a piece of toast as he focuses on the spread of documents in front of him, but Clark is leaning against the kitchen counter, wearing only a pair of soft, well-worn blue jeans and eating a bowl of cereal. His hair is sticking up every which way, and it's very obvious that he's just gotten out of bed.
There is a flutter in his stomach that feels nothing like nausea, but Lex ignores it. It had no place here. Clark and Bruce look surprisingly domestic, and Lex is honestly unsure what to do with that information. Bruce has never been domestic with anyone, much less a boy several years his junior and just out of college.
But then, Clark is different, from everyone. It really shouldn't surprise Lex that Bruce is breaking his intimacy rules for Clark. After all, hadn't Lex done the same, back in Smallville, just to have the boy with the blinding smile and the savior's eyes as a friend?
"Lex," Clark says. He doesn't sound startled, and he doesn't pause in his leisurely consumption of his cereal. Bruce looks up from his papers and smiles faintly.
"Sorry about this," he says. "We had a bit of an eventful night."
Clark snorts, and the two of them share a glance. Lex manages to hide his reaction to them discussing their sex life in front of him, but only just. Are they trying to torture him?
"Give me a minute, and I'll get all this mess moved to the office where we can get some real work done," Bruce says. He gathers up the papers into three neat stacks with a few swipes of his hands, and leaves the room with them in his arms. Clark doesn't move, just takes another slow bite of his cereal- something sugary and for kids, like Captain Crunch or Trix. Lex knows these names because of Clark, and remembers many mornings just like this, Clark coming over right after his chores just to say hi, and staying to eat a quick breakfast of cereals that Lex had stocked just for him. Of course, Clark was usually wearing more clothes.
Lex sees a TV on the kitchen counter and reaches out to flick it on, preferring almost anything to this awkward silence. A reporter's voice spilled out of the speakers.
"-last night. Batman and Superman were both spotted in Gotham, and when questioned, Superman admitted that he is here to help clean up some of the crime in Gotham. Six arrests were made last night alone, and several more are expected as a result of last night's work. The citizens of Gotham can only hope that this unusual partnership will last a little bit longer. Superman appeared on the scene in Metropolis six months ago, while Batman has been known in our own city for over a year now. Both of them-"
Clark's snort interrupts the breathless anchorwoman's report. "What is it with these guys? They go out for one night and everyone's fawning all over them."
"They're heroes, Clark," Lex says stiffly. "They're doing good work here. They've also inspired a lot of people to do good works of their own."
"Huh," Clark says, unimpressed. "Personally, I think that they're all schizos with delusions of grandeur who have a thing for tights. Having superpowers never did anyone any good in Smallville, as you might remember. Who's to say that these guys are any better than the psycho mutants that were always trying to kill us?"
"Intentions and .actions mean everything," Lex snaps back. "Superman and Batman are trying to help people, not harm them. You used to try and save people yourself, once upon a time."
"And it never brought me anything but trouble," Clark says. "It's not my problem anymore."
"It's not?" Last night Lex thought that he'd misread Clark. Was he actually right the first time? "Since when?"
"Since people like Superman and Batman make it their problem," Clark says. "According to you, Lex, they're the heroes. I'm just a normal guy."
"You've never been normal," Lex says. There's a flash of anger in Clark's eyes, but he just smiles a cold smile.
"Then I'm in good company with you, Lex," he says. "Since you've never even come close."
Bruce enters the room then, and pauses when he notices the tension between them. "Something wrong?"
"Lex and I were just discussing Superman and Batman," Clark says. "And normality."
Bruce laughs a little, sharing a long glance with Clark. "Interesting topic."
Lex suddenly feels left out of an inside joke. "Clark believes that they're- what was the phrase? 'Schizos with delusions of grandeur who have a thing for tights.'"
Bruce chokes on another laugh. Lex hasn't seen the man this amused in years. "That's an… interesting, opinion, Clark."
"You know me," Clark says, grinning back at Bruce. Is that a smile on the man's face? Will wonders never cease. "Always have to go against the grain."
Lex feels left out of this exchange, as it's easy to see that the two of them have some sort of easy communication that Lex is not part of. He clears his throat, pointedly ignoring Clark and turning to Bruce. "Business?"
"Of course," Bruce says. He turns and heads back towards his office, and it's easy for Lex to follow him.
But before he leaves the room, he turns and looks back over his shoulder at Clark. Clark raises his hand to his forehead in an ironic salute, and goes back to eating his cereal.
Lex walks away.
Another week goes by, and Lex manages to avoid seeing Clark entirely, despite staying in the same house, which is quite an accomplishment if you ask him. Bruce isn't blind to his maneuverings, but he just smiles a patient smile, as if he knows more than he's telling. Close-mouthed bastard usually does, but Lex doesn't like Bruce turning that look on him. Not about this.
Business concluded for the time being, Lex heads back to Metropolis. Superman leaves Gotham not long after, and resumes fighting crime in his own city.
Another week, and Lex can almost think about things other than Clark for a full hour. His anger and sense of betrayal haven't left him, and in fact his dislike of the new Clark just grows every time he thinks about the boy- man, now. The Clark he remembers is soft and smiling and happy and innocent, not hard-edged and sarcastic and sexual. It doesn't fit, and Lex almost hates Clark because of it.
News reaches him of a certain underground terrorist group that has foolproof plans to bomb all of the major subway lines on Christmas day. He refuses to allow that to happen, but is unsure about what he's supposed to do about it. Lacking the ability to counteract their plans on his own, he contacts the expert.
Superman meets him on the roof of the Luthercorp tower. He reminds Lex very strongly of someone, but for some reason he can't think who. Superman is also surprisingly light-hearted at first, though he quickly becomes serious when Lex explains the situation. He promises to take care of it and flies off, a streak of blue and red nobility against the smudged purple sky.
Superman takes care of the terrorists, and comes by to thank Lex for the information. Lex says that it was nothing, and watches him fly away again, feeling himself falling helplessly, back on the riverbank and looking into Clark's dark eyes. Clark is no savior, however, fallen from the pedestal, and Superman has taken his place. Lex needs look no further for inspiration towards morality.
In no way does this diminish his dislike of the new Clark. Over the next two months, he takes three business trips to Gotham, and though he doesn't bother to avoid Clark- he has a new hero, and he's not going to let the tarnished state of his old one bother him- he doesn't like spending time with him, either. Clark, on the other hand, goes out of his way to be wherever Lex is. Lex doesn't delude himself that it's anything like friendship, because he knows that Clark does it just to annoy him.
Normally, it doesn't bother him. Much. But Clark also seems to take great pleasure in poking fun at superheroes, Superman in particular. Lex tries not to let that bother him either, but he inevitably snaps, and they always end up arguing heatedly, occasionally at the tops of their lungs.
This time they're being (relatively) quiet, though as usual, Lex is the one seething with anger, while Clark just stands there with an amused expression on his face. "C'mon, Lex," he's saying, smirking across the island in the kitchen as he makes a sandwich. "You're telling me that it never occurred to you?"
"No," Lex grits out between clenched teeth. "It didn't. Superman is a hero, not a dictator."
"How do you know that, though?" Clark needles. He loves playing devil's advocate, and enjoys it all the more when it angers Lex this much. Which it always does. "For all you know, he could have been sent to Earth to conquer it. Just because he's doing good things now doesn't mean that he's not dangerous."
"He's not," Lex insists. He doesn't even have to think about it. That's just how it is.
"He is," Clark says. He spreads a thin layer of mayo on one slice of bread and carefully balances it on top of the towering pile that is his sandwich. Clark always did eat like a horse. "Anyone who's got that much power is dangerous. Even the ultimate boy scout can be tempted, Lex. Even Superman wants things that he's not supposed to have."
"And what would you know about it?" Lex demands, miffed. "It's not like you've even spoken to him."
"That's true, I've never spoken to him," Clark says, and is he laughing? "But he's a person when he doesn't have the tights on, right? And if he's a person like anyone else, than he can screw up just like us. Don't ever think that he can't."
"He's better than that," Lex argues back. "He's better than the rest of us put together. You just don't understand."
"I understand better than you think," Clark snaps, and he leans forward, resting his weight on his hands, pressed palm-down on the counter. All the better to glare right into Lex's eyes. "Don't get your panties in a bunch over him, Lex. He doesn't do romance. You can fall in love with him all you like, but he's never going to return the favor."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Lex says frigidly, and Clark rocks back, returning to his sandwich. He takes out a knife and slices it neatly in half.
"Sure you do," Clark says, all anger gone, melted away like it was never there. Clark is changeable now, lighting-fast shifts of mood, and Lex hates that too. "But you can pretend that you don't, if it makes you feel better. Just make sure not to pretend to yourself. Self-delusions are inevitably pointless and sometimes dangerous." He looks up, one half of the sandwich in his hands, his eyes shiny-dark under the bright white lights. "Keep it in mind."
Lex does indeed keep it in mind over the next few days, though he tries everything he knows to exorcise the thought from his brain. He hates Clark because he doesn't succeed, and it is Clark who planted the thought in his brain. Clark is forever doing that these days, making him think about things he never before considered, and he refuses to remember that he once did the same to Clark, back in the days where Clark was a wide-eyed innocent and Lex felt much older than his twenty-one years.
He doesn't feel that way about Superman. He's not some sighing schoolgirl, or Lois Lane. He admires Superman, and considers him something of an icon, definitely a symbol, and also Lex's guiding star towards being a good person, someone other than his father's son. He doesn't consider Superman in any sort of romantic light. That would be ridiculous.
Unfortunately, repeating this thought to himself until it could become his personal mantra doesn't halt the eventual surge of self-awareness. He does think about Superman that way, much the same way he used to think about Clark, though he hadn't admitted that at the time, either. Something to do with the pureness of heart, and the desire to be a part of that, as if it will leech over into him if he can just get close enough. Superman is the same way, only infinitely more tempting, with his long muscled body covered by skintight cloth instead of layers of denim and cotton and flannel.
And of course, Bruce and Clark are in Metropolis the day after Lex comes to this realization, and for the first time in his life he is unable to meet someone's eyes- Clark's, with his knowing smirk, but not Bruce who for once doesn't seem to know anything, thank god. Clark is bad enough, teasing Lex about it the first chance he gets, because of course Clark has to be observant now and can't miss the fact that Lex has realized that he's kind of in love with Superman, as insane as that is.
"Never can resist a pretty boy, can you, Lex?" Clark mocks, and Lex just glares at him, wishing that Bruce didn't get a call from one of his contacts, demanding a meeting immediately. It would be so much easier if Bruce was there as a buffer, a tall, dark, brooding presence, sheer intensity of his being that usually blocks the worst of Clark. But he did get the call, and Lex is left alone to face Clark at his irritating, inquisitive worst.
"Superman is hardly a boy," Lex shoots back. "Not like some I could name." Petty, but he doesn't care. Anything to irritate Clark.
And it works better than he could possibly have expected- Clark has rounded the counter and is suddenly standing very close to him, very much in his personal space. Lex would like to back away, but his back is already against the counter, and there's nowhere else to go.
"Trust me, Lex," Clark says, very softly, and Lex is suddenly very, very afraid of the man in front of him. Not a boy, no matter what he likes to pretend he thinks. "I'm no kid. Next time you try to pretend that I am, I'll show you different."
Before Lex has a chance to draw in the harsh breath that's clawing at the back of his throat, Clark is gone, out of the kitchen while Lex blinks. When the breath does come shuddering in, it's like the best drug ever, hitting his brain at once, making everything seem too in focus for a moment. This is something that he has never seen from Clark, and he's not sure what the hell to think.
It's not until he gets home, running out on the meeting with Bruce and not even bothering to leave a note, that he realizes he's aroused.
They meet twice more in the next week or so, and Clark acts as if nothing happened. Changeable, untrustworthy, and it's just one more reason to dislike the man that Clark has become. Bruce pretends not to notice anything, but a far less observant man than Bruce Wayne would be able to see the tension between the two of them. Lex can only guess at what Bruce is thinking, and he can't even do that for Clark. Who knows what goes on behind those dark eyes of his?
Lex is sure that he doesn't want to know, and so he focuses on spending as little time as possible in Clark's company. As usual, Clark doesn't allow him to win at this game more than any other, and there really is something odd about the way that Clark turns up, fast and silent, just when Lex is sure that Clark couldn't possibly know that he is there.
Lex spends his days thinking alternately about Superman and Clark, and when he wakes up at night covered in sweat and achingly hard, he can't remember which he was dreaming about. He's confused, but since this is a state that he has, in the past, been forced to become familiar with, he ignores it. If a sweetly wistful fantasy about Superman turns into a disturbingly hot one about Clark, he ignores it and moves on.
Two weeks after the second kitchen encounter, the three of them all attend the same party in some Metropolis mansion. Bruce is, as always, impeccably dressed, but Clark shows up wearing something that isn't quite proper, all the better to play his rentboy role that both of them seem to find simultaneously useful and amusing. Clark has never and never will be anyone's toy, but he can play the part to perfection.
Bruce abandons them shortly after their arrival, saying something about a contract, and Lex somehow finds himself unable to be rid of Clark. It's annoying, irritating in a way that itches at the back of his neck and low in his belly, and he takes his irritation out on Clark without a trace of guilt.
"I thought you were supposed to be guarding Bruce's body," he snaps at Clark, and Clark, frustrating as always, just smiles lazily back at him.
"He'll be safe without me for one night," Clark says. "Besides, I can watch him from here. It's only a problem if I'm leaving the room." His smile grows even lazier, somehow thick and slow at the edges, like the amber flow of honey. "Do you think I'm going to be leaving the room, Lex?"
This is even more irritating than usual, so Lex forgets caution and the feeling of being trapped by something much more powerful than him and says, "Don't worry about your lack of virtue, Clark. I like my partners a bit older."
There's a brief flash of- something. Something hot and wild and much older than Lex has ever felt, much less been, and suddenly he's pulled back into the shadows. He opens his mouth to object, and finds one large, calloused hand pressed against his lips. Belatedly he begins to struggle, but Clark's arm is like a steel band around his chest.
Clark finds the door handle with his free hand, and the next thing Lex knows he's in a darkened room, sitting on what feels like a piano, and the door's locked and Clark's mouth has replaced his hand. Lex wants to be shocked, wants to try to push him away, but his body betrays him and he's moaning into the kiss.
Two long fingers are pinching his nipple, hard through the thin fabric of his shirt, and the other clever hand is undoing the buttons of his pants, knuckles brushing against a silk-covered erection. Lex moans again, his head going back on an arch, and he tries to undo Clark's shirt buttons, but Clark removes the nipple-torturing hand to stop him, pushing his hand away almost angrily. He goes to his knees, pulling pants and boxers down and then just staring at Lex's cock, angry red and leaking at the tip.
"You want to love him," Clark says, one hand squeezing just a little bit too hard, and it sends a sick-hot pulse up the base of Lex's spine. "But what you really want is me."
And then he's going down, mouth stretching and taking Lex all the way back into his throat on one smooth stroke that should be fucking impossible but instead is just fucking hot, and Lex is so ready, so turned on by this man when he didn't even really realize he was attracted, that it only takes a few fast, rough, sucking strokes before he's gone, coming down Clark's throat like it's the most natural thing in the world.
He's still collapsed back against the piano when Clark stands again, swiping the back of his hand over his lips to wipe away the glistening traces of Lex's come. Jesus. "You never were good at figuring things out," he says, and it would sound almost affectionate if his voice weren't so hard. "I'm game if you are, but make sure you're playing the right game." Lex still doesn't have any words, and Clark just nods, suddenly flipping some internal switch, and now he's Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne's paid companion, and not the man who just sucked Lex Luthor off in the music room and didn't even let Lex take off his shirt. "You know where to find me," he says. "All you have to do is ask."
And then he's gone, walking away from Lex, and Lex is too confused to remember yet the way it always hurts when Clark does that, even now.
He straightens himself up as best he can and goes back out into the party. Somehow Bruce finds him almost immediately, and Lex can see that Bruce knows what happened. Wishes just for fucking once that Bruce wasn't so observant, and he feels a sick rush of shame for a moment. Not because of sex, he's never felt ashamed of sex, but because he has, essentially, taken something- someone- from his oldest friend. Betrayal too familiar, and he never intended to do something like this.
But there's something like approval in Bruce's eyes, and Lex is way too confused to try and make sense of that, so he just nods and turns away. Makes his excuses to the hostess- what's her name again?- and heads for the door as fast as he can.
He feels eyes on him as he leaves the building, catching his breath at the first painful slap of cold December air, and when he looks up he sees Clark in one of the windows, staring down at him with an expression that he can't read from this far away.
Lex shivers with more than just the cold, and gets in his car. Looks in the rearview mirror just before he drives off, and Clark's gone.
Six days later and he's still refusing to think about it. Refusing to think about what Clark might mean about playing games, and how easy it would be to just pick up the phone and call. Distraction arrives in the form of a bomb in his office, and Superman arrives to save the day. Flying him away from the building and tossing the bomb into the ocean where it can't harm anything save the fish, and then flying him back to the LutherCorp tower. Lex presses his face against a blue-clad chest, feeling the burn of thin air from the high altitude in his lungs, and tries to breathe.
That night, he calls Clark.
Clark arrives two hours later, dressed in the expensive casual clothes that Bruce has dressed him in since the beginning of their association, and Lex feels a violent need to get them off. Clark shakes him off when his hands go to the buttons, though, and it feels like only seconds later that he is naked while Clark is still fully dressed, and Clark is mouthing at his throat, girl-soft lips and sharp snap of teeth as he jacks Lex slowly and oh-so-good. He whispers things against Lex's skin, dirty things, obscene, divine. Lex gives into it, arching his back and gasping as he comes all over his stomach and Clark's hand.
Clark looks soft in the moonlight, bringing his hand up to his mouth and slowly licking it clean. Way too early to be getting hard again, but Lex is enjoying the sight, and then he's reaching out and catching Clark's hand with his. He brings the hand up to his lips, pressing a wet kiss against the palm, and slowly sucking one long finger into his mouth.
Clark stares at him, his eyes dark in the moonlight, and then he leans down and Lex thinks that he's going to kiss him. First time tonight. And then Clark just… stops. Cocks his head to the side, then pulls his finger out of Lex's mouth, distant even before he slides off the bed and to his feet. Lex can't feel anything but dazed, things moving too fast for even him to keep up with, and Clark says, "There's a tsunami about to hit a small but heavily-populated island in the Caribbean. I wouldn't leave for less," and rips his shirt off.
Tight blue stretched out over muscles that Lex thinks that he would absolutely remember if they'd been quite like this back in Smallville, and the bright "S" on his chest is almost anticlimactic. The pants are gone in a blur of movement, and then from somewhere Clark produces a red cape and boots, and suddenly it is Superman standing in his bedroom, looking noble and serious, not intense and sexual like he had been just a moment ago.
And God. How could he not have known?
Superman doesn't even really say anything, just nods at him and blurs out to the balcony, where he takes off. Lex doesn't bother to get up and watch him fly away like he might usually, because he's a bit busy rearranging all he knows about his life.
When he's finished, he doesn't know who he is anymore, and that's the most frightening thing of all.
It's Clark Kent who crawls back into his bed four hours later, as dawn starts to creep up over the horizon. Lex is still lying in bed, not having moved an inch, but he can't help but soften against Clark as the long body wraps around his own.
"You know, I wasn't going to tell you like that," Clark says into his chest, and Lex just sighs. His brain has taken so many shocks that at the moment he's drifting in a sort of pleasant numbness. At any moment feeling with return and then Clark will be in bed with one very fucked-up man, but for now he's feeling almost peaceful.
"What I want to know is why you didn't tell me back when it started."
Clark snorts, as if that's the stupidest thing he's ever heard. "Oh please. You worship him. Turn him into an icon just like the rest of the world. You wouldn't have given me a second glance if I'd told you the truth to start with. All you would have seen was him."
"You are him," Lex says, but Clark shakes his head, one silky strand of hair straying with the movement to brush against Lex's nipple. Superman's hair is never messy, never out of place.
"I'm not. He's just a symbol, Lex. A pretty costume so I can do what needs to be done. I'm just me."
"You're a hero," Lex says. Clark-that-was merging into Clark-that-is, and it's such a beautiful image that he almost wants to cry. The itching irritation, the sexual creature, the thing that Clark has become- not true. Clark is still on his pedestal, after all.
Clark pulls away completely at that, sitting up and staring down at Lex with eyes that are full of shadows. Lex tells himself that it's just a trick of the light. "You don't get it, Lex. I'm not him. You like to think that I'm still a pretty little angel that's going to lead you to your destiny, but I'm not. I'm Clark Kent. I'm just a guy. I eat, swear, fuck. Don't you ever dare think any different."
Lex wants to hang onto his new-found illusions, but they're crumbling around him again. No. Please, no. "You are, Clark. You're different. You're more than the rest of us. You, and Batman- you're heroes. Breaking the mold."
Clark laughs, and it's an ugly sound. "Who the hell do you think I've been sleeping with for months?" Clark demands, and more of the pieces click together. It's turning out to be an ugly puzzle.
"Bruce," he says, because he can't think of anything else. Clark nods, laughs again. Just as harsh.
"Yeah. You're gonna say that he's better than the rest of humanity, too? That he's an innocent, an icon? No, you know him better than that. It's just me you don't understand, then." Clark sounds… hurt? and Lex can't understand that. How can Clark be hurt? He's not the one breaking into pieces.
"You're saying that the person you've been all these months…" He can't even finish the sentence, but Clark, the bastard, finishes it for him.
"Is real," Clark says. "Superman isn't. I am. Get used to it, get over it, or tell me to get the fuck out. Pick one, and pick it fast, Lex. Life isn't a game of chess. You don't have all the time in the world to make your choice."
Lex doesn't even have to think about it. "Get out," he says, and Clark stills, as if he can't believe his ears.
Lex opens his mouth to repeat himself, but Clark holds up his hand, silencing him. "Too bad you never knew me, Lex," he whispers. "We could have been so much better than the pretty picture in your head."
Lex doesn't have anything to say to that, but it doesn't matter. Clark is gone.
Bruce is waiting when Lex gets home the next night. Lex doesn't ask how he got in, because he doesn't want to know. He's finally understanding the value of secrets between friends, and it's just too damned late.
"You fucked up," Bruce tells him, and Lex jumps in surprise at that. Wasn't expecting the sheer anger in Bruce's tone, or the curse. Bruce never curses. Never does anything uncouth, not these days. Except caper around the streets in a costume, stopping crime. Minor things.
Lex thinks about laughing hysterically, but decides that it just wouldn't be cool.
"He's not what I thought," Lex says, and Bruce turns on him, actually picks him up off his feet and slams him back against the wall. Jesus, stronger than he could be, except he's Batman. Batman is that strong, and why didn't he realize this before either?
"No one is," Bruce snarls. "The thing is, Clark's a hell of a lot more than you though he was, not less. Just because you're neurotic as hell doesn't mean that he should suffer for it."
"He was supposed to be-" Lex begins, but doesn't finish. Bruce interrupts him.
"What? Your salvation?" Lex flinches, and Bruce laughs bitterly, letting him slide down the wall till he's on his feet again. "No one can be someone's salvation, Lex," he says. "And you've always been so afraid of being your father's son that you can't even realize when you're not. You don't need a savior, Lex. You need your best friend."
"He's not my best friend," Lex says. Empty voice, empty inside, and he's not going to let Bruce's words in. Can't, because then he'll have to admit that he's right. "I don't even like him."
"But you love him," Bruce says inexorably. "Not the boy he was, or even Superman. You love Clark Kent as he is now, and for some reason that I can never understand, he loves you back. He's yours, and has always been yours, but if you don't get out there and deal with this, I swear to God I will take him and you'll have to spend the rest of your life knowing that I was the one who had the sense to grab onto the best thing that ever happened to me."
Bruce's eyes are dark and filled with grief, and Lex abruptly understands something. "You love him."
"I don't know what love is," Bruce says. "But with him, I might be willing to find out." He lets go of Lex entirely, and starts walking away. He pauses in the doorway. "Don't give me the chance," he says over his shoulder, and then he's gone.
Lex is left leaning against the wall, feeling wrecked right down to his soul, and not knowing which way he should turn.
Bruce is out when Lex gets there- he makes sure of it. Doesn't need an audience for this. So it's Clark who answers the door, and the flash of delight that runs across his face isn't anywhere near enough to mask the wariness and hurt that settles in after. Lex takes off his sunglasses and looks Clark straight in the eye, trying to communicate something that he doesn't yet have words for. They'll come when he needs them. He hopes.
"Can I come in?" he asks, and Clark watches him with an assessing glance for a long moment before turning and walking away, leaving the door open behind him.
Lex comes in and shuts the door, then follows Clark through the twisting halls of the Wayne Mansion. The journey ends abruptly when they reach the kitchen, the site of two of their confrontations now, and Clark goes to stand behind the counter, a barrier behind him and Lex that is just a tangible symbol of the much more dangerous one that Clark has behind his eyes.
"I'm not my father's son," he says, and from the way Clark stiffens, that's not what he was expecting. Good.
"No, you're not," Clark says. Moment of surprise over, balance found again. But Lex knows that he's made the first hit, and the rest will be like dominoes. The wall will come down.
"I'm not my father's son," he repeats, and adds, "I don't need saving."
Stillness. Clark's really listening now.
"I used to think that I did. But I don't. And I don't need a savior."
Pause, like the feeling before a storm, the second before lightning hit. Either it will kill him or he'll be more alive than ever.
"Which means that I don't need you to save me, Clark," he says. "I don't need you to be that savior. I don't need you to be a symbol."
"Then what do you need?" Low and rough, and Lex wants nothing more than to reach out and touch Clark, take advantage of the sudden openness in his eyes, but he forces himself to stay still. Can't mess this up, because he might never get another chance.
"You," he says simply. "Clark Kent. Whoever that may be."
There's a moment of breathless stillness, and then Clark is around the counter, faster than a human can move, mouth pressed against his and Lex just sighs with relief. He thought that he lost this, but it's still his and he understands now. Clark isn't a symbol or an icon or even a hero- he's just a man, and he belongs to Lex.
It's the best moment of his life.
They break apart and Clark just wraps his arms around Lex, holding him maybe a little too tight, like he never wants to let go. Lex doesn't complain at all, holding on just as fiercely, and over his shoulder he can see Bruce standing in the doorway.
Bruce smiles at him, slow and bittersweet, and tips an imaginary hat. "Right choice," Bruce mouths, and Lex can read his lips perfectly well. "Good luck." And then Bruce is gone, melting away into the shadows, and Clark doesn't even tense up, though there's no way that he didn't know Bruce was there. He was probably able to hear every word that Bruce didn't even whisper, and if he doesn't care than Lex can't bring himself to do so. Something like a blessing from Bruce, and that's all he needs to lean up and take Clark's mouth with his own.
Lighting takes him all the way down to his toes, and Lex thinks that this is what it must feel like to live.
"Why did you do it?" Lex asks. Sitting in the shade of an apple tree, and Smallville holds none of the bitterness that Lex once remembered it with when Clark is beside him.
"Do what?" Clark asks drowsily. He's stretched out with his head on Lex's thigh, and he's very close to being asleep.
"Choose that life," Lex says. Clark opens one eye a crack, and there's all sorts of things there that he doesn't even need to say to express, and Lex hastens to add, "I'm not being bitter, I promise. I'm just curious. Once you wanted to be a journalist. When did you change your mind?"
Clark is silent for just long enough that Lex thinks he won't answer, and then he does. "I met Batman, and it wasn't hard for me to figure out who he was. And it was just so damned clever- who the hell would suspect the spoiled rich boy? Hiding in plain sight. So I talked to him, and we made a deal."
"And when did you start sleeping together?" Nothing but curious, and he can't even be jealous anymore.
Clark shrugs, his shoulder blades shifting in the soft grass. "Not too long after. It's so much easier, when you don't have to hide."
Lex remembers Clark's hands on his, stopping him from unbuttoning his shirt. Secret in blue hidden underneath, and he can understand that.
Clark twists till he's up on one elbow, looking Lex in the face. "He was a friend," Clark says. "Sometimes a partner. But it was always you, and we both knew it."
Lex smiles down at him, rewards the confession with a kiss, and then tugs lightly on Clark's hair. Clark settles back down, and Lex smoothes his hand through silky brown, rubbing the pads of his fingers lightly into Clark's scalp.
"I love you," he says, because he can't not. He's been trying to find the perfect moment, but none seemed to present itself.
Clark smiles sleepily up at him. "I know," he says, nuzzling his cheek into Lex's thigh. "I've always loved you. It was inevitable."
And maybe, Lex thinks, the perfect moment found him.