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Firelight cast shadows across the bed and the over the walls.

An intimate calm had settled over them. It was peaceful now. Not hot and hurried like earlier. Not conveying and convincing like it would be later. The yearning didn't rip him in two at this moment. That would come tomorrow, the next day or the one after that.

But for now, the warmth tangled around him, a leg hooked over his, and soft, even breath puffed on his shoulder. A solid arm curled across his abdomen and the open, flat palm pressed against his chest. He caught and held it there.

He felt a small movement under his hand and dipped his chin to see the slender, strong fingers splayed over his heart, hopefully absorbing every beat of it. His eyes caught on the firelight licking the band of gold wrapped possessively around the slim ring finger.

It was hard not to rip it off, hard not to smash and melt it in friction between his fingers. But it was there because it was the truth. Five years of truth. He could still feel the pain of it, the agony of watching in silence as Lex took marriage vows with someone else.

But if a prize were given for the most cruel and painful moment, it had to be when he first heard about the engagement. From Lois. From the goddamn engagement announcement in the paper. Lex hadn't even had the courage to tell him beforehand. Clark still wasn't sure why he hadn't vomited up blood along with his breakfast, his lunch and everything he even smelled for a week.

He hadn't felt invulnerable then.

And he couldn't think about that now.

It was better to enjoy this moment with Lex sleeping next to him and the fresh memory of Lex inside him. Sex had said what they couldn't. All of the regret, the anger, the sense of completion had been transcribed by the physical.

And he knew that Lex was right. Separate lives didn't mean there was any less between them, it was just less often. And, god, that was hard. That was so fucking hard. It didn't help that he loved Lex beyond all logic, with the kind of love that made him willing to live this charade.

Clark tightened his grasp on the thin body curled around him. Long, strong limbs returned the embrace. Lex was always responsive to him, even in sleep. Always wanting to comfort, to assuage fear, to provide for his every need.

In the harsh truth of daylight, he was the best friend, the confidant. Lex's wife didn't know, maybe didn't even suspect. Lydia was good like that. Perhaps chosen for that. Chosen for her willing oblivion and her delight in all the things at which the wife of a political aspirant should excel.

And, God, Clark was the fucking 'uncle' to a little red-haired girl who eyed him with easy love and trust. He loved her mindlessly and devotedly. The daughter he could never call his own, but did anyway. A feminine, happy miniature of Lex that he could cuddle and hug in the most public of places. His girl. His Lily.

He turned in Lex's arms, still clutching the palm to his chest. He watched the blue eyes slit open and the small smile play across the kiss swollen lips. So beautiful, so perfect. But he knew his own eyes said too much when the smile faltered and the face slid through painful emotions.

"Don't, Clark."

Simple words and he knew that Lex was right. Don't. He shouldn't even think it because it could never be.

"I know."

He didn't want to be needy. He wanted to feel right now and right now only. He'd be Lily's 'uncle', Lex's friend and Lydia's charitable foundation board member tomorrow. Right now he was Lex's lover.

Lex's beloved.

He knew that was true more than he knew what day of the week it was or the color of his socks. Knew it better than the anguish he had withstood for this...knew it enough to live this way.

He stroked a hand across Lex's scalp, tracing the curl of veins next to his temple and Lex's eyes began to fall closed again.

"I love you, you know." Clark whispered it softly, not really weighting it with meaning, knowing the meaning was always there between them.

Lex opened his eyes and the liquid depths swirled in answering emotion. That was enough, there wasn't anything to be said or done. No touch could express the look there and words were too small to hold that meaning.

"Promise me it is worth it," Clark demanded softly and swallowed around the lump in his throat. He knew the answer already; it was and it wasn't. Lily was worth it. Superman was worth it. The presidency was worth it. The rest would never be. The rest was a casualty to the others. Except for nights like this.

"Nothing will keep me from you." Lex avoided responding to the quantification of what was never quantifiable.

Clark kissed him softly with love on his lips and tongue. Lex opened to the kiss and pulled Clark over him until he was covered, pressed into the mattress. Clark tried not to think of her now. Not to think of the moments when Lex was in her arms, between her legs. Enough that Lily had come from that; a reward for his denial.

Lex arched beneath him and moaned into his ear. Clark felt the warmth in his chest, his heart opening and bleeding love everywhere, over Lex, over the white sheets, onto the floor. Blood of his love, blood of his breath and body. He wished it were real. But he was unable to bleed for Lex that way. He sacrificed himself in ways more deadly than that.

He buried his face in Lex's neck, careful not to leave any marks from his desperate lips, but wanting to mark and scar and claim. A wet trail down the white neck and over freckled shoulders.

Lex touched his chin and Clark looked up to see eyes engulfing him, "Stay with me."

It was a need for reassurance, a plea for Clark to promise again that he would stick this out, that he would live this life of denial. And he would. Always and eternally, because this was life to him, this kiss, these hands gripping him and pulling him close, these hips lifting toward him, the hard cock grinding up into his stomach, but more, the man who whispered in his ear, the man who promised his soul.

He gave the only response he could. "I'll never leave."

If Clark could disintegrate and be absorbed by Lex he would. Never to be separated again, never to return to his empty, dirty apartment alone. Never to watch as Lydia tucked his Lily into bed.

But not now...not those thoughts now.

Not when Lex was beneath him, hard legs parting and wrapping around his waist, arms grasping and breath panting in his ear. Small words sprinkled in, words that no one would believe Lex spoke. Words of kindness and warmth and total patience, words of intimacy that held no perversion. And he can't wonder if Lex speaks these words to her. He can't ask those questions now. Had to believe that he doesn't.

Lex whispered, "Clark, only you, only you."

He moved over Lex, hard cock brushing hard cock and felt the sensation ripple through him. Open mouth kisses pressed unhurriedly into Lex's chest, brushing over freckles and taut nipples. The dark sounds from Lex's throat filled his bloodstream and pulsed into his cock. Why live beyond this body beneath him ardently clinging and clutching and moaning his pleasure? He slid between the legs wrapped around him, kissed down the chest and whispered his own words of reassurance against Lex's hard belly, speaking them into the cellular structure, willing them to be part of Lex, to soothe him always.

Legs on his shoulders, hands in his hair alternately petting and clutching. Clark gently licked the hollow of Lex's hip as the hands clenched and more throat murmurs reached his ears. Lex was always a talker and he couldn't wonder right now about the things Lex said to her at times like this.

Clark closed his eyes on unbidden thoughts and breathed in the spicy, sweet scent of Lex's sex. Soft kisses to the crease of thigh and leg, to the smooth skin leading to a cock that twitched in obvious need. Lex whined as Clark opened his mouth and tenderly guided him inside. So unlike the noises one would expect Lex to make, so desperate and needy and hot.

Clark ignored the cutting jealousy when Lex gasped, "So good at this, so good, so much better," as hips bucked up, thrusting the cock roughly in and out. Hands grasped his hair holding him still as Lex fucked his mouth, sliding down his throat again and again. It would be painful, it would nearly suffocate anyone else. He opened his throat more, not needing the air. Of course he was good at this, of course he was better.

Lex choked out his name, plunged deep and wrapped legs and arms and body around Clark's head as he came, convulsing and clinging with desperation. Clark loved this, his face buried like this, surrounded by Lex and his mouth full of Lex, swallowing Lex down. Full and covered and desired beyond all else.

Clark swallowed around the cock until Lex shuddered, uncurled, relaxed his arms and legs and freed him. He pulled off and pressed tender kisses to Lex's inner thighs. He glanced up to see Lex gazing at him brokenly and he couldn't take that expression. He buried his face in Lex again, placing Lex's legs back on his shoulders, lifting the hips and kissing behind the still tight sack.

Lex whispered, "Too soon."

Clark ignored him, because he didn't care if it was too soon just needed to know that Lex was still his. He knelt there at Lex's altar willing to give worship to all of him, every part Clark knew that she would never touch, that Lex would never let her touch should she dare to try.

Tongue ran a smooth line over spit-slick balls, over sweet skin leading to the hole that was his and his alone. Lex bucked beneath him and Clark could hear the whisper of motion as Lex's head tossed on the pillow above, but he dove into this place that tasted all the better for his possession of it. Lex whimpered and struggled beneath the onslaught, begged for Clark to stop, moaned that it was too much.

But Clark didn't back down, forcibly holding Lex's hips in place. He needed this. Needed it to wash away the sudden and unwanted memory of misused X-ray vision. Needed this taste and these sounds to replace visuals collected during a long ago honeymoon he had jealously followed. Because this was not the time to let himself feel that pain.

The moans from above had turned hot and humid. Lex's breathing now labored and needy. He had to be inside. He pulled away, met Lex's eyes, found them hot and glittering with desire.

"Fuck me, Clark," Lex demanded, voice gravelly and full of meaning, "Take what you need from me."

He knew, he always knew.

Clark fumbled in the blankets before he found the bottle. Lex watched with delicious heat as he spread lubrication over his hand. An overwhelming sense of rightness, nearly physical in its intensity, coursed through Clark when Lex rolled onto his stomach whispering, "Cover me. Own me."

Lex's long body, strong back and ass rose to meet him. God he needed this, he needed to possess him. He knelt between Lex's spread legs and bent to kiss the hollow of his lower back, the dip of his ass, spread his cheeks to kiss the dark line that led to his hole. He pressed a finger in easily and then a second right behind. At Lex's sharp sucked in a breath, Clark pushed in a third. A little harsh, a little too much, too soon and Clark didn't care.

Lex pressed into his hand, gasping, "Just hurry. I need you inside of me."

Clark nearly broke then because Lex so rarely said it, so rarely asked for this. He slicked his cock with his free hand and twisted his fingers buried in Lex's ass ruthlessly. Lex bucked and moaned with an edge of pain. But Clark couldn't wait. He pulled his hand free, wiped them both quickly on a sheet before lifting Lex's hips for a better angle. He held Lex there, suspended, his face pressed into the pillow, his ass level with Clark's cock, and he finally thrust inside. He shuddered as he breached the ring of muscle and shuddered again at Lex's whimper of pain.

He couldn't hold back and pressed harder, pushing by the spasms contracting around him and Lex squirmed against him with a terrible, harsh sound. The cry of pain seemed to force Clark to push in faster, all the way, balls deep in Lex's tight, clenching ass. His sack was tight and Lex's pulse beat strong against his cock, felt it jump at the sensation and the strength of the muscles clenched around him. Only continued whimpers of pain from Lex brought him back from the brink.

Gently, Clark lowered Lex down, moaning his own pleasure at the feel of his cock buried deep in Lex's protesting body.

Lex alternately panted and gulped in breaths, hands fisting into the sheets. Clark wanted it to hurt. He needed Lex to feel it later, needed him to feel it when he was eating breakfast with his wife and daughter, when he was pretending they were just friends next week at the party. He needed to know Lex felt it and remembered.

So Clark thrust, didn't care that it was probably still too soon. He kept moving, ignoring Lex's gasps and moans until they softened and started to sound more like pleasure. He hooked his head over Lex's shoulder, cheek to cheek, sharing breath and sound as he moved in and out, so gently, not trying to hurt now, feeling their union. And Lex was talking again, in between the needy grunts, speaking words so intimate and sweet, telling him how good it felt, telling him how much he wanted this all the time, telling him that there was nothing better than this. Telling him everything that they would never speak of outside of this bed, this room, these stolen hours. It would be a week or a month or six before they could have this again. Clark moved slowly with tenderness in each stroke, whispers and kisses to make up for the harshness of his entry.

Then Lex spoke the words Clark longed to hear, the ones that Lex never said aloud except to his child. And Clark couldn't restrain the tears that welled in his eyes. He increased the tempo as everything rushed through him in a blur of sensation. He moved against Lex, into Lex over and over and he couldn't find breath any more because if he breathed he might sob. He pushed into him again and again as Lex opened beneath him, begging for more and yes and harder and please.

He shifted his angle, felt the shock of Lex tensing and convulsing under him. Clark stilled to ride the orgasm, the ass clenching around him. His eyes rolled back in his head as Lex shuddered into stillness and softened, liquid beneath him.

Now, now, now. He moved hard, fast and found the rhythm he need. Lifted up on his hands to better thrust and felt the warm heat accepting him, drawing him in tighter. As he twisted and pushed, he lost himself in the rough slap of skin on skin and the view of Lex below him, the profile of his face crumbled in ecstasy. Finally, finally Clark felt the room tightening, pressing in on him and every sensation on earth filled him like a rush through his loins until he was coming hard with desperate words spilling out and over them both.

He collapsed onto Lex's back, heard the whimpers and knew they were his. Moments passed before he came to himself still buried in Lex, arms wrapped around that firm torso and face buried in the curve of neck.

Lex whispered, "No one but you. No one."

It was what Clark needed to hear to let go, to forgive again. This was his and his alone and he owned Lex in a way that no one else ever would. He owned Lex's soul...body be damned. Petty now to be jealous with him, petty to ever question it.

Lex was calm beneath him, breath shallow because of Clark's weight on him, but Clark knew he loved to be covered, loved the security of being draped in invulnerable flesh. Lex never admitted to vulnerability but it was there and Clark could protect him, shield him forever.

Gradually, careful not to pull out of Lex, wanting to stay inside, he turned them onto their sides. He could already feel Lex drifting into dreams, his breath slow and even. He pressed his palm to Lex's chest, over the slowing heart. He absorbed every beat of it.

This was here. This was now. Sleep.

Sleep to forget.

Forget that on this path they have chosen someone will always lose.

Forget that everyone will always lose.