Insomnia, Lex decided, was productive. After all, LexCorp wouldn't be the force in the world of fertilizer that it was today without Lex's long hours in front of the computer, frantically juggling bank account balances, taking breaks only to exercise his wrists and hands.
Carpal-tunnel syndrome was hell on masturbation, and unless another Victoria showed up like the ghost of Christmas Past, quick relief in the shower was going to remain the height of his evening. And morning. And afternoon.
Though this resurgence of his sex drive was due more to a certain unattainable farmboy than to lovely white lines on a mirror, Lex wasn't complaining. His level of expendable income no longer allowed for the same highs, but maybe his accountant would have better news for him this April.
And while he was thinking of his sex drive, maybe Clark was still awake. Lex remembered Mrs. Kent's strained acceptance of the sleepover, her too-quick smile. All a way to prove that things had changed, that Jonathan Kent no longer hated his son's friend. And all he'd had to do was pull a trigger. If insomnia was the downside, and Clark Kent in his house at night was the up, Lex thought he could get used to...
First blood, his father had called it. Not the first stain on his soul, to be sure, but how wrong was it that his father sounded proud?
("He became a liability, Dad. He became uncontrollable." "And you took back control, Lex. You handled the problem.")
And then Lionel had let Lex bury the body himself, so to speak, and they'd had brandy afterward. Manhood earned in blood, like an ancient tribal ritual. Send a boy out after the leopard with only a knife, and then decorate him with red streaks while the cat roasted over the celebration fire.
Lex wished he could sleep. Even nightmares of gunpowder and stained grass would be better than prowling the mansion at two in the morning like a pedophile, silently making his way down the hall to Clark's room.
Maybe he could blame this on sleep deprivation. The doctors sure couldn't explain it, how Lex went to bed as usual and woke two hours later gasping, unable to breathe. He could never remember what he had dreamed, just that it felt like drowning.
The hinges should have creaked, would have added just the right touch to his haunting, but the door swung open without incident, and Lex didn't know if Clark had just forgotten to turn out the lamp on the night table, but he was grateful. Now he could ease his way over to the chair conveniently close to over six feet of sleeping Clark without stumbling, and look his fill. Maybe seeing what he had saved would soothe him.
It could have been amusing, how Clark had pushed the mountain of pillows to the foot of the queen-sized bed and tangled the sheets like the almost-child he was, but Lex didn't think he had ever slept that soundly.
Clark's breathing was full and even, his face slackened into the almost-smile etched into permanence on his skin. Lex sighed softly, bringing his hands up to cradle his head. This wasn't how he had wanted their sleepover to end up; hell, this wasn't how he wanted to end up. Staring at Clark like his tanned skin, exposed by the boxers and blue t-shirt he slept in, was ever going to be enough.
Sometimes Lex didn't know if he wanted Clark more than he wanted to be Clark. Sure, with those eyes closed it was easy to forget the secrets behind them, but Lex had secrets of his own, and he'd be willing to bet Clark's were...easier, maybe.
Less painful, definitely, despite everything his instincts told him when Clark got that cornered look, like he'd willingly give up an arm to be free of Lex's questions. The movies had been fun, and Lex wondered where Clark had put the two bags of chips and four candy bars, because that stomach was-amazingly flat. Toned, and firm, and probably covered in fine hairs that Lex's tongue could play in, on his way down to---no. No. He wouldn't do this.
"What is it? Lex?" God, now Clark was awake, probably because Lex had moaned, or something else completely inappropriate and embarrassing.
"It's called insomnia, Clark. I just wanted...to see if you were all right." Maybe if he left quickly he could escape any more questions. If he went to his office, maybe the spreadsheets for the plant's monthly profits could erase Clark's skin from his mind.
"You haven't been sleeping? For how long?" Clark sat up, rubbing his eyes.
"Five weeks and three days. Well, four now. It's been great for business." Shit, he shouldn't have been that specific. Any minute now Clark's math skills would kick in, and he would ask-
"Since the day you... Oh. Do you, um, have nightmares or something?" Trust Clark to think that he was tormented by visions of killing Nixon. The man had deserved it; there hadn't been time; he had made his choice and it was the right one; he knew it.
Lex just didn't know that it would change him. That fact certainly wasn't in the Luthor handbook for young conquerors. Lots of glory in slaughtering enemies--Achilles praised for avenging Patroclus, because the gods were selfish and liked it when you fell in line. They just never mentioned that justice was a bruising weight on the lungs that never left.
"No. I just can't sleep. No remorse worrying at my soul, after all, I did the right thing. Didn't I, Clark." Not even a question, because he knew what Clark would answer.
"You saved my father. You saved me," Clark said determinedly, right on cue. Right, Lex was a hero. The dark angel to Clark's light; one brings life, another takes it. The lines drawn so clearly even a drowning man could see them. Clark good, Lex bad, and so it ever shall be.
"It doesn't matter, Clark. I'm just tired. I'm sorry I woke you." Please go back to sleep, Clark, Lex prayed, because he couldn't speak through the weight on his chest. But no, Clark was trying again.
"Maybe talking would help?" God, Clark sounded like his mother, so hopeful. And he was reaching out now, leaning slightly off the bed and smiling like words would solve anything.
"I've done therapy. Its merits are overrated." Maybe sarcasm would help.
"Stay anyway? We could talk about something else, or, or we don't have to talk about anything. We could watch the sun come up. I bet the sunrise is pretty from here." Clark was more confident now, and Lex still wasn't leaving, so Clark grabbed his arm and pulled him over to the bed.
Pushing off his slippers, Lex promised himself he wouldn't touch Clark. He did the right thing once; he could do it again. Staying on his side of the bed might be more painful than washing away Nixon's blood, but Lex had destroyed enough purity: he knew the change only went one way. And Nixon's blood wasn't touching Clark. Not from his hands.
Now the room was silent again, except for their breathing, and Lex could swear he could hear Clark thinking, just like he could feel his warmth from three feet away. Lex was stretched out on his back, looking straight ahead, except for small glances at Clark.
Who was on his side, facing Lex. Looking intent and yes, definitely thinking. If Clark asked him to play Twenty Questions, Lex was never going to speak to him again. Lex snickered. Good to know his sense of humor was still working.
But it was still quiet, and Clark was still looking at him. Lex wondered if he was supposed to start, tell Clark about the history of heroes protecting friends.
"I don't think I'm up for talking, Clark. Maybe you should just try to sleep. I'll stay, if you'd like, but I don't think it will do any good. I've tried lying in bed, and it's much less satisfying than getting work done." There, that was a good exit line. Lex hoped this one worked, because he was out of escape ideas, and he really had to leave. Now. Before he let himself do something weak.
Clark didn't answer, he just moved. Scooted over until he was almost touching Lex, and wrapped his arm around his waist, pulling him over to Clark's side of the bed. Lex stiffened immediately, and said very, very quietly, "What are you doing?"
Clark pulled the comforter over them both and answered, "Comfort. It's what friends do." He moved his arm away and continued, more uncertain now, "You need it, Lex. It might not help you sleep from now on, or tonight, even, but-it will help. Trust me." It was warmer on this side.
Clark was waiting for a response, and all Lex could think that it was much warmer on Clark's side of the bed. It smelled better, too. Trust Clark. Let Clark comfort him. Lex could do this. He could let Clark in even more, could let Clark see him.
Lex consciously worked on relaxing his muscles, on breathing slowly and evenly. Clark was his friend, and if he wanted to lie next to Lex, maybe put his hands on Lex, for comforting purposes only, of course, then Lex would let him.
Apparently Clark took his unbending for assent, because suddenly Lex was wrapped up in Clark, behind him, over him, hell, practically under him. Every part of him wasn't touching Clark, but it was pretty close.
Clark tightened his hold a bit, and Lex panicked. The heavy weight of Clark's arm over his abdomen was stifling. He'd never been able to tolerate pressure on his chest; it brought back memories of choking, unable to push back against the asthma attacks. Lex struggled forward, away, free-until Clark's whisper made him freeze. "Shh, it's okay, comfort, Lex, remember?"
Lex swallowed and tried to sound composed. "What definition of comfort are we using, Clark? I don't think full-body contact is in the Oxford."
"Lex, can't you just..." Clark sighed into his neck. "Can't you just accept something for once? No motives, no tricks. Just me, being your friend."
"I don't think Luthors are made that way, Clark. Is this how you're a friend to Chloe, or Pete? Because I doubt that-"
"Lex." Lex stopped, glad that Clark had cut him off. God, didn't Clark know that he wasn't good at this friend thing? Didn't he understand that he had killed a man? Lex didn't want to touch himself, didn't want anyone to pretend it hadn't happened.
"Shut up." Clark was telling him to shut up? Clark was trying to lead, which might be a good thing, because Lex was so tangled in lust and guilt and too much time awake that he didn't think talking was a good idea anymore.
"Just go to sleep, Lex," whispered so softly, like Clark didn't want to talk either. Like Clark maybe wanted to hold Lex all night while he slept, and this was rapidly becoming Lex's new favorite fantasy.
Maybe it would work, if he didn't complicate it with words. Suddenly Clark's arm was gone, and Lex worried until the room went dark. Then Clark put his arm back, more slowly this time, waiting for Lex. And Lex just sighed, and snuggled just a little closer. Hoping.
Clark responded by pushing them as closely together as possible, tangling everything so that Lex didn't know how he'd be able to get loose. His knees were curled up, Clark's left leg behind, his right caging his calf, their feet intermingling. Their heads pressed together on the pillow; somehow Clark had managed to wrap his left arm under and around Lex, cupping his shoulder. Lex held Clark's right arm around his waist, safely below his lungs and tight, fingers intertwined.
Lex wondered if Clark would be awkward in the morning, embarrassed at how close they were now. He wondered how long he'd have to wait before Clark fell asleep, and if the spreadsheets would notice if he left them alone for the night.
Lex considered plausible stories he could tell Jonathan and Martha, to convince them that Clark needed to sleep over every night. He decided to look closely in the mirror when he got up, to see if the stains had really faded.
He wondered if Clark's breath tasted like he'd imagined, and if it would feel better on his neck if he had hair there. Lex's last thought was that maybe sleep wasn't like drowning after all, because the weight was leaving with every breath Clark took, pushing through his back and into him.