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Aftermath of a Revelation

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"It should have taken effect by now, sir," the tech said to Lex, trembling slightly as Lex strode onwards impassively. He scurried after Lex. "He should answer any question you ask. Th-the compound k-kills humans but he seems to be all right so far. There's a possibility that it will e-eventually kill him but you should have time to ask whatever questions you have."

"Excellent," Lex said pushing the doors open and smiling at the alien suspended from the ceiling by his wrists.

His trap had been quite effective. Superman was now helpless and Lex's. He had limited time before the League came to rescue his nemesis but it should be sufficient to learn what he wanted to know and then kill him. The red and blue suit was dimmed from its normal garish brightness by the Kryptonite mist enveloping Superman. Lex laid a hand on the Plexiglas shield separating him from the deadly mist, burning hate battling with lingering pain at seeing him this way. His heart should have long been dead but it persisted in beating when he was around Superman.

"Lex," Superman breathed, looking far more like Clark than like his alien self.

"Finally," Lex said, gloating, "You're finally mine. What made you think you could ever escape from me?"

"Always was yours," Superman whispered, breath hitching as he shuddered in pain. "You didn't want me. You sent me away, lied to me and hurt me."

Lex frowned. He wasn't the one that made things go wrong between the two of them. He knew that. He hadn't been the one keeping secrets from their very first meeting. He'd overlooked it for years but eventually it was just too much: too many lies, too many recriminations, too many times being abandoned by a sanctimonious alien who judged everyone by standards that couldn't be met. The mental litany didn't make the pain from Superman's words go away.

"Where did we go wrong?" Lex asked quietly. "What happened that made it all go wrong?"

"You got married," Superman whispered, "And then you died and I killed her."

"Helen's quite alive, Superman," Lex said with a snort. "You didn't kill anyone."

Superman shook his head, managing to raise his eyes to meet Lex's. The tortured pain in his eyes made Lex step back in surprise. Those were Clark's eyes, not Superman's eyes. Not a surprise given the Kryptonite surrounding him. But where in God's name had that pain come from? Why didn't he know about it already?! He knew everything about the world's favorite alien. He knew even more about Clark Kent, bumbling reporter and former farm boy. There shouldn't be anything that Lex didn't know about Superman / Clark Kent!

"Who?" Lex demanded, thumping the Plexiglas. "Who did you kill?"

"You got married," Clark repeated in that same pained whisper, "And then you died. I was so scared, so alone. Never told anyone what we did. Six months. Never told anyone about her. I couldn't. Mom and Dad would have been so upset. Mom's baby died when I blew up the spaceship. You were gone. I was so afraid, so very afraid. It was starting to show. Took longer than I thought but it was starting to show."

"No," Lex breathed, mind suddenly connecting the dots.

"I ran away," Clark whispered, "Ran away out of my mind on Red K. Didn't think, didn't know. It was killing her, every second I had the ring on it was killing her."

"Oh God, no," Lex said, hand trembling where it lay on the Plexiglas.

One night, one single night. Lex had given into his lust for Clark Kent one night and seduced him, discovering that he was more 'different' than he'd thought. It wasn't just powers that set Clark apart from normal humans. Clark might look like a boy but he'd had things in his pants that normal boys didn't have. It had been wonderful but in the morning Lex had regretted what he'd done. Underage boys, even if they weren't really boys, were out of bounds for Lex, especially in Smallville, Kansas.

"You never told me," Lex growled, "How the fuck could you never tell me something this important?!"

"Boss?" Lex's bodyguard asked, sounding a little frightened.

"Shut up!" Lex snapped, making everyone back off. "How could you not tell me about this?"

"Too ashamed," Clark whispered, his body jerking as it cramped from the mist. It was starting to affect him, starting to kill him. "Too ashamed that I killed my baby. Too much pain. Too many secrets between us. Couldn't say the words."

"What did you do with it?" Lex asked, tears burning in his eyes that he refused to let fall. "What happened?"

"Was dancing and stomach hurt," Clark whispered, barely able to breathe now, "Went … back to my condo … there was blood on my pants. Barely made it to the shower before … so much pain, Lex … hurt so bad … lost so much blood. No one … there was no one I could call … No one I could trust … You were dead … I was alone … there was no one I could turn to."

Clark was crying green tears and Lex's cheeks were wet though he'd never admit it. Everyone else had backed off to the door, leaving the two of them completely alone, separated by the Plexiglas and green mist, separated by years of secrets and lies.

"She was so beautiful," Clark whimpered, his body quivering nonstop from the seizures that were starting up, "Perfect little hands … perfect little nails … red hair … pale and perfect and not breathing … I killed her and nearly died … all alone … forever alone…"

Lex's chest was burning and the Plexiglas was cold against his forehead. God, this was not what he wanted to hear, not what he wanted to know. He had been the one that destroyed what they'd had. He'd been a coward and pushed away the one person he'd cared about, married a woman who tried to kill him and destroyed Clark's heart and soul in the process.

"Cremated her…" Clark kept whispering, answering the questions Lex had asked, "Couldn't move … lost too much blood … just lay in the shower and cried …"

"Poor baby with no name," Lex moaned. "How long after I married Helen? When did she die?"

"Margaret … Lillian …" Clark whispered, "Two … weeks … after. Looked … so … much … like … you… Lex."

He stopped talking, lapsing into unconsciousness. Lex screamed, smashing a fist into the Plexiglas. He turned off the poison, turned on the vents, blasting fresh air into Clark's prison. When the League arrived, Lex was holding Superman's head in his lap, tears flowing down his cheeks.

+++++

"I was so afraid he'd finally done it when we got there," Diana was saying as Clark started to wake. "Just sitting there crying instead of gloating and attacking."

"Dude, what the hell was that with Lex, anyway?" Bart asked, toes tapping on the floor. "He didn't resist, barely even twitched as we hauled him away. I mean, WTF?"

"Hmm, the security tapes should tell us what happened," Bruce said.

He must be the one making the keyboard click, Clark thought. He sounded more grim than normal, but then so did Diana. He couldn't see since his eyes wouldn't open but his ears were working just fine. So many people breathing, little movements, feet on the floor, and fabric against fabric. It sounded like the whole League was there. Clark tried desperately to move but nothing was working. He didn't want them to hear what he'd said to Lex!

"Good god," Bruce whispered, making everyone else go to his side and Clark's heart sink. "This … why wouldn't he tell us about this?"

Clark tried to open his eyes, tried to move, tried to do anything but his body was still frozen, unable to move. He couldn't speak or move or twitch or do anything to stop his friends from finding out his guilty secret, the secret he'd kept for over a decade now. God, why had Lex formulated the mist to make him talk like that?! He didn't want people to know!

"A baby?" Diana breathed, voice trembling, "He … he had a baby and it died?"

Clark tried to scream, tried so hard. Nothing came out. He couldn't even draw a bigger breath, couldn't sigh, and couldn't twitch. He might as well be completely unconscious as far as they were concerned. He had to lie there as they listened to his whispered confession over and over. He had to listen to them talk about it as if it was yesterday. He had to listen to them talk about how they'd comfort him when he woke up. He had to listen to them make idiotic plans to do something to remember her when they'd never known her and if she'd survived he might never have put on the stupid Superman suit. If he'd been a Dad he most certainly wouldn't have been taking the same risks that he did now!

'Damn it, just leave it alone!' Clark screamed in his mind while his body refused to move. 'If I wanted you to know I'd have TOLD you!'

Eventually they left him alone to recover, their talk moving away from him until only silence and the beeps of the monitors remained. Several hours later, he managed to draw a deeper breath.
A little later he managed to flutter his eyes open. Bruce was sitting there, waiting. He'd been there all along, Clark realized, silent, still, motionless, waiting for Clark to wake up. Clark was glad he'd managed to calm down during the wait for his body to wake. Otherwise this would have been torture.

"Do you want me to stop them?" Bruce asked, eyes intent on Clark's face. "Tell them to leave it alone?"

Clark managed a fractional nod. It was all he could do.

"I will," Bruce said, standing and moving to the door. He paused, not looking at Clark. "You should have told us. You should have told me." He walked away with the recrimination floating in the air, leaving Clark to wait for his body to wake up in privacy.

Crying when you couldn't wipe the tears away sucked.

Much later, Clark sighed, pulling his suit back on slowly. He could hear them, as always. They were whispering and worrying. Damn it, this was why he'd never said anything. He didn't want people looking at him that way, eyes full of pity and pain and worry. He got over everything ages ago. His body was strong and he'd dealt with the emotional pain almost 10 years ago.

"You're up," Bruce said from the door.

"Yes," Clark said, reattaching his cape without meeting Bruce's eyes.

He knew they'd be like shards of ice just from the tone of his voice. It didn't help that Bruce had always felt like he was in the middle of the two of them. Lex had been his friend long before Clark had and he'd been there trying to keep Lex from taking the wrong path all along. Bruce had a history with Lex as deep and painful as Clark's.

"Why didn't you tell us?" Bruce demanded.

"I didn't want you to know," Clark said, turning to meet Bruce's eyes solidly. "I didn't want anyone to know. Not you, not my parents, not anyone."

"Why tell Lex?" Bruce asked, eyes going even colder than they had been.

"It was the mist," Clark said, sighing. "I literally could not stop talking. He asked me a question and I couldn't NOT reply. Where is he?"

"In the holding cell," Bruce said, lips going thin. "You shouldn't see him."

"Bruce," Clark said, shaking his head and smiling at him, "It happened when I was 16. I'm nearly 25. As painful as it was then, I've more or less come to terms with it. I do want to see him. I think I need to. And you know you can't stop me."

Bruce sighed, shaking his head in dismay. Clark put a hand on Bruce's shoulder, trying to be completely confident despite the faint worry squirming in his stomach. He'd never been able to face Lex squarely because of the whole thing. Maybe now that it was out it would be better. The whole League was waiting for him as he came out. It wasn't easy keeping his chin up and smiling at them. It was a decent smile, not one that said he was perfectly fine but one that said he'd be OK.

"Clark," Diana said, coming to his side, "Are you all right? Bruce said that you were but…"

"I'm fine, Diana," Clark said, "The mist sort of made me relive it but it happened when I was 16. I'm all right. It hurts and it'll always hurt. It's one of those things that you remember and regret forever but can't do anything about."

She hugged him and Clark hugged her back. The others had so many unspoken things in their eyes but they didn't say them to Clark's relief. They let him go to Lex's cell and left him alone with him, all except for Bruce. Bruce hovered in the background, glowering at his former friend with his current friend, angry at the secret they'd kept from him for so long.

"Lex," Clark said, looking at him through the Plexiglas cell door.

"You never said anything," Lex said, staring at the floor with his head bowed. He hadn't moved a muscle as Clark came in.

"You pushed me away so firmly that I didn't dare," Clark said quietly. "You barely let me speak to you for weeks, Lex. It wasn't until you met Helen that you finally let me back in. And afterwards, it was so painful to think that I'd killed her that I just couldn't do it. I never told Mom and Dad. Not Chloe, not Pete, not Bruce, none of the League, no one. I kept it entirely to myself."

Lex sighed, head bowing a little more. He looked so sad, almost heart-broken. Clark's heart hurt to see him that way. No matter what had happened, he'd never given up on his feelings for Lex. He'd given up on Lex himself, but not what his heart felt for the other man. Clark didn't want to be the one to make Lex sit there like puppet with his strings cut.

"I was an idiot," Lex said.

"I know," Clark said, laying a hand on the Plexiglas. "So was I."

"There's no way to go back," Lex said, a spot of wetness appearing between his feet.

"No, I don't think there is," Clark said sadness welling up in his heart.

"You named her after my mother," Lex whispered, voice so quiet there was no way that Bruce could hear it. Only Clark's super hearing let him hear it.

"Of course," Clark whispered, just barely loud enough for Lex to hear him. "Because I never stopped loving you. Never will, I guess."

Lex roared and smashed a fist into the Plexiglas, glaring at Clark who just looked back at him. Lex beat the glass as if it was Clark, roaring his rage and frustration and grief before finally leaning his forehead against Clark's, the cold barrier between them not half as dense as the years of denial, lies and hatred.

"I'll never forgive you," Lex whispered, tears on his cheeks.

"I forgave you when you came back from the dead," Clark whispered back, "But I couldn't trust you after that. I can't let the past go."

"Neither can I," Lex admitted, straightening up to look at Clark. "There's never been anyone else, has there?"

"No," Clark said, shrugging and straightening up, too. He heard Bruce shift behind him, his cape whispering with the movement. "I could never trust anyone after that. Lana, Lois, Ollie, everyone I was interested in. I could never trust them with that."

Lex snorted, his control and self-assurance restored. He raised his chin and smirked at Clark. The smirk didn't have as much power over Clark as it used to, not now, not after what Clark had revealed, but it was nice to see the old Lex again.

"Well, at least I have that, Superman," Lex said.

"You do," Clark said, eyes twinkling with amusement. "But of course, so do I, Lex."

Lex turned red, looking away. Clark chuckled and turned back to Bruce who looked mystified by their little exchange. Clark was glad for that. As much as he liked Bruce and as many people who speculated that Superman and Batman were more than just friends, he'd never shared the full extent of his differences with Bruce. Only Lex knew that about Clark. Clark preferred it that way.

"I'm done," Clark said, heading for the door.

"What was that about?" Bruce asked after the door had shut, cutting Clark off from Lex again.

"Bruce," Clark said, "I don't ask about your sex life. Please don't pry into mine."

"You don't have a sex life," Bruce muttered, lips going thin.

"Only memories," Clark said, managing something very similar to one of Lex's best smirks, "But the memories are more than enough to last a lifetime."

Clark decided then that if people had to know about his mistakes when he was 16, it was all right. It hurt and he hated it. He'd have preferred if no one ever found out. He'd have rather kept his daughter's life and death entirely to himself until he died someday in the distant future. He knew he'd be badgered into telling Mom and that was going to be true torture. She'd be so disappointed and sad. Chloe was rushing in with tears in her eyes so someone had told her. Lex's minions knew and they'd spread it to the rest of the world. But it was worth it in the end because of one thing and only one thing.

He'd managed to make the Batman blush!

+++++

"Come on, Smallville!" Lois snapped, tugging at her partner's collar.

"Huh?" Clark said, blinking at Lois in surprise. "Lois, I just got here."

"I know," Lois said, speaking slowly since Clark was always a little slow and never did seem to catch on to what she was saying the first couple of times, "I've been waiting for you to get here. Now come on!"

Clark stood, looking utterly confused. He followed her like an overgrown puppy. He was a good guy, a great reporter but damn, he could be dim sometimes. Lois pulled on her jacket, shouldered her purse and strode for the elevator.

"Um, Lois?" Clark asked, "Where are we going?"

"Coffee," Lois said, jabbing the elevator buttons so hard it hurt her fingers.

"Coffee?" Clark asked, utterly confused by now. "Lois, why are we going out to get coffee?"

"Because," Lois said, pulling him into the elevator by his elbow, "I need to get out of here and get some coffee. I need to talk and if I do it here, Perry's going to cut my throat. He's still not happy about that rant the other day. I need coffee and I need you to be my ear. So come on!"

"Oh," Clark said, sounding distinctly under-whelmed.

They headed out of the Planet and down to a little coffee shop where everyone knew Lois and knew when to take off when she showed up in a mood. The regulars took one look at her as she stomped in and packed their bags, getting the hell out of Dodge.

"Sit in the back booth," Mary said, glaring at Lois and smiling at Clark, "And if I hear you breaking anything I'm going to bounce you down the block, girl!"

"I won't break anything!" Lois protested taking her triple-extra large cappuccino.

"You better not," Mary said, glaring at Lois hard enough to make her flinch.

No one messed with Mary. That was why Lois liked coming here. Fellow army brats had to stick together. Lois went back to the back booth that was tucked around a corner near the bathrooms and shielded from the rest of the coffee shop. She set her back against the wall, put her purse next to herself and set her feet on the opposite bench. Clark slid in across from her, gingerly sipping his black coffee and watching her with wary eyes.

"So … why did you need coffee?" Clark asked hesitantly.

"Superman," Lois said, jaw jumping.

"Superman?" Clark asked, looking even more wary. "What about Superman?"

"He's not a man," Lois said, having to set down the coffee before she squashed the paper cup and spilled coffee all over everything. "He's not really a man and he's been lying all along!"

"Ummm…" Clark said, eyes getting very wide behind his heavy glasses.

Lois growled, wanting to break something so she didn't burst into tears. Her hero ~ HER hero! ~ wasn't what she'd thought he was. He wasn't really a he at all. Damn it, it just wasn't fair!

"I was talking to the police guarding Lex Luthor and his men," Lois said, dropping her feet and sitting up to glare into Clark's face. He backed against the wall of the booth. "And they said that Lex found out that Superman got pregnant when he was younger! Do you have any idea what that means, Clark?!"

"They're talking smack?" Clark asked, picking up his coffee and holding it to his chest just in case she smacked the table.

"Yes, of course," Lois said sarcastically, "They're talking smack and it's all a lie except that Luthor found it out while Superman was UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF SOME SORT OF TRUTH DRUG, SO IT HAS TO BE TRUE!!!"

"Hey! Keep it down back there!" Mary bellowed from the front.

Lois flinched, sitting back down to nurse her coffee. Clark swallowed hard and slowly drank his coffee, giving Lois time to drink and fume and try to decide if she was angry or sad or felt betrayed. She couldn't. This was too big, too important and damn it all, she had to know the truth or it was going to haunt her forever.

"What are you going to do?" Clark asked after about ten minutes of silent coffee appreciation and conversation avoidance.

"I have to talk to Superman," Lois said, thumping the table hard enough to make Mary look around the corner and glare at her. "I have to talk to him and get the real story from him."

"And report it?" Clark asked, cocking his head at her.

"Well, of course report it," Lois said, snorting. "That's what I do."

"You want to out Superman," Clark said, shaking his head in dismay.

"It's not outing him!" Lois protested, hating the way Clark had to act like Jiminy Cricket all the time. "It's reporting!"

Clark smiled at Lois, leaning his head on his fist. She blushed, glaring at him. She knew he was going to say something that she didn't want to hear. Every time he got that almost fond expression he said something she didn't want to hear and damn it, she didn't want him to start this time!

"He's got a duty to the public to let us know the truth," Lois snapped, trying to head him off before he could open his mouth. "And I've got a duty to report what I learn. Right now, I've only learned one side of the story. He's got to talk to me and explain what this is all about, damn it! It's not right to leave people in the dark!"

"Lois, sometimes you amaze me," Clark said, chuckling. "You want to out Superman because you're worried that he's not really a guy and you can't have fantasies about him."

"Clark!" Lois said, horrified.

"So how are you going to find him to ask for an interview?" Clark asked, eyes twinkling with amusement at her.

"I don't know, but I'll figure it out," Lois said, finishing off her coffee and standing. "Let's go. We should get back to work."

Maybe she should have vented to Chloe instead, Lois thought as they headed back to the office. At least she was a girl and would understand Lois' frustration with the problem. Clark seemed far too amused by it all and Lois regretted that she'd vented to him. Yeah, she'd corner Chloe at lunch, they'd have a nice bitch session and Lois would feel better.

+++++

Lex stalked into his office, his people getting out of the way of his scowl. He'd just made bail and been released, to widespread dismay and disgust among the public and media. But really, what had he done? Not much. He'd attacked Superman, which was a weekly occurrence. He'd questioned him. He'd let him go. Nothing there to warrant keeping Lex in jail or setting the bail beyond his ability to pay, which of course couldn't be done.

"Out," Lex said to the waiting company officials, glaring at them. They scurried away, leaving him alone.

Lex went to his computer and started searching out the old, old files of Clark Kent. There were hundreds of pictures of the six months in question and for the first time Lex really studied Clark. Not what he was doing in them, but Clark himself. Picture after picture, Lex looked and got angrier by the moment.

"Damn it, I must have been blind!" Lex growled, rubbing his forehead.

"Boss?" Hope asked, peering over his shoulder at the computer screen.

"Look at that," Lex said, pointing to the picture of Clark just before Lex's marriage to Helen. "Look at him! How the hell could I have missed that?"

"Um, missed what, Boss?" Hope asked, puzzled.

"His stomach," Lex said impatiently. "Look at that shirt! It's practically busting its buttons over his belly and I never noticed!"

"Oh," Hope said, blinking and then nodding. "Yeah, you're right. Huh. Didn't even notice that until you pointed it out."

Lex looked at her, puzzled. Normally Hope noticed things before Lex did. Its part of why she kept her job. She flipped through a few pictures, nodding at the progression, each time taking a moment to spot the obviously progressing pregnancy bulging Clark's belly.

"How could you not notice it?" Lex asked, more than a little acid in his voice.

"Too busy looking at his face and the tractor he's lifting," Hope said, shrugging. "He's got the sort of face that you just look at, Boss."

Lex rolled his eyes, snorting. Lex's fascination had never been with Clark's face. Well, other than those lips. And his eyes. His cheekbones were pretty fascinating, too. And the way his hair curled around his neck. Lex shook his head, bringing his attention back to the matter at hand. As lovely as Clark's face was, there were other portions of Clark's anatomy that had fascinated Lex far more than his face.

"Boss," Hope said, straightening up to give him 'the look', "I don't want to know what you look at when you look at him. Please. That's somewhere I just don't want to go."

"You're fired," Lex grumbled, going beet red.

Mercy was doing her best not to snicker off in the corner, which didn't help the blush at all. Mercy having to hold back snickers meant that he was amusing enough for everyone else to be rolling on the floor with belly laughs. Lex Luthor was not inspiration for belly laughs!

"Yes, Boss," Hope said, "You've got three appointments this morning. Want me to cancel them or move them out?"

"Move them to next week," Lex said, sighing and closing the pictures out. Hope nodded and headed off to take care of it, perfectly calm and collected.

"Hope?" Lex called after her, making her turn and look at him with a raised eyebrow.

"Yes, Boss?" Hope asked.

"Find out what Clark Kent's schedule is for the next two weeks," Lex said. "I want to know exactly what he's doing and where he's going. Plus the normal monitoring of Superman's activities."

"Sure, Boss," Hope said, smiling and heading on her way.

"And you're not fired," Lex called after her, getting a laugh out of her.

+++++

"How could you not tell me about it?" Oliver asked Clark that evening. He'd asked Clark over to his place, ostensibly for dinner and conversation with himself and Dinah. "Something that important and you never said a word!"

"Ollie," Clark said with a sigh, "It's not something that happens every time. That's not how our bodies work. I'm male, which makes it really hard for me to conceive. What happened with Lex was a fluke."

"A fluke?" Ollie asked, more than a little hurt at Clark's refusal to admit they could have had kids together, if things had worked out. "We could have had a family, Clark! You never told me that it was possible for us to have a family, during all the time we dated. You never told me when we were having sex, for heaven's sake!"

Clark looked at him, using those puppy eyes that had always killed Ollie. No matter what, Clark had always been able to wrap Ollie around his little finger when he made the puppy eyes. Dinah sighed and rolled her eyes.

"You two," Dinah said, crossing her arms over her chest. "Clark, you do realize how much you meant to him, don't you?"

"Yes," Clark said earnestly, "And he meant just as much to me. But … guys, I mean it when I say that it doesn't happen every time. It's not like it's something that my body does naturally. Theoretically possible doesn't mean that it's automatically possible. It takes specific conditions and specific hormones being released, plus a long buildup and … well, that never happened between Ollie and I."

Oliver flinched. Their relationship had been a whirlwind. They'd met and been taken with each other, flirted and fairly quickly fell into bed with each other. Ollie hadn't wanted to wait. He'd loved Clark and wanted to be with him right away. Clark seemed equally taken but a lot shyer.

"Impatient were we?" Dinah said, poking Ollie in the ribs.

"Well, a little," Oliver admitted with a blush. "But … you could have explained it, Clark."

Clark winced at Oliver's best set of puppy eyes, shoulders slumping. Dinah just laughed, rolling her eyes at him. She'd always accepted Oliver's former relationship with Clark and treated Clark as a good friend. They were good for each other, just like Dinah and Oliver were good for each other. Dinah had made it perfectly clear that she wasn't sharing him, though.

"Look, Oliver," Clark said, "Just because my body's capable of doing it, doesn't mean that I want to! I'm a guy. I feel like a guy. I think like a guy. I like doing guy things. I never wanted to be a girl and never wanted to have a child that way. Sure, I'd love to be a Dad, but I don't want to be a Mom, thank you very much! It's not something that feels natural or right to me. That's why I never said anything to you. It doesn't feel … like me."

Oliver chuckled. When he put it that way, it did make sense.

"So why did you two decide you had to invite me over for dinner tonight?" Clark asked. "It's the middle of the week and normally we're all too busy."

"Chloe," Dinah said grinning.

"I should have known," Clark groaned, head flopping back on the couch. "She's been so worried about me ever since this came out."

"Be prepared for everyone else on the team to be getting hold of you," Oliver said with a laugh. "Chloe's been at all of us. Bruce's the only one who isn't budging."

"I think you're the only one who can bully Bruce," Dinah said, grinning. "Not even Chloe can manage that feat."

"Superman," Clark said, grinning and raising an eyebrow at them, "Has powers like no other."

+++++

Bruce stormed into Lex's office, far more the Bat than rich playboy Bruce Wayne. It didn't matter. He needed to see Lex, needed to talk to him, needed to find out what the hell the thought he was doing stalking Clark.

"Bruce," Lex said, raising an eyebrow and smirking at him. "It's been such a long time. To what do I owe the honor?"

"What are you up to?" Bruce asked, glowering at Lex.

"Up to?" Lex asked, affecting surprise. "I have no idea what you're talking about. What could I be doing that would make you think I'm 'up to' something?"

Bruce leaned on Lex's desk, glaring at him fiercely enough that his altered bodyguards stiffened and went on alert.

"Leave him alone, Lex," Bruce said seriously. "You've done enough damage to his life. You don't have any right to make it worse."

Lex smirked, index fingers pressed together in front of his lips. His eyes were twinkling with amusement that only worsened Bruce's mood. Bruce had loved that sense of mischief when they were in school together. He'd loved it when they dated after school until Lionel got wind of the relationship. He'd loved it right up until the point that Lex dumped him and ripped his heart out. Now it just infuriated Bruce and made the Bat rear up, wanting to pound him into the ground.

"Bruce," Lex said, leaning forward until they were nearly kissing, "You'll never have him the way I had him. You need to accept that and move on. He's mine. He always was, even when I pushed him away. He always will be, no matter what he says. Just like you."

Bruce felt like he'd been slapped and straightened up to glare down at Lex. His jaw was working as he fought down the urge to reach out and break Lex's neck. Years, years he'd been watching Clark and everyone always assumed that it was more than just friendship. But truly, it never would be, never could be. Lex had made sure of that years before he'd met Clark.

"Leave him alone, Lex," Bruce ground out, "Or there will be consequences."

"I'll take my chances," Lex said, still smirking, still looking at Bruce with eyes that saw far too much, knew too many things.

Patrol that night was worse than normal. The Batman did what he had to, dealt with the criminals, saved people. But it was almost impossible to focus on what he needed to do. Which was why he wasn't too surprised when he jumped for a neighboring room, landed poorly and his leg twisted, sending shooting pain up his body as he fell to the roof.

"Damn it!" Batman ground out, calling Alfred. "I don't have time for this!"

+++++

"Where is he?" Clark asked as he swooped into Wayne Manor.

"Master Clark," Alfred said, smiling gently at him, "Master Bruce is attempting to get up and go on patrol."

"Idiot," Clark muttered, heading straight there in a flourish of red cape.

Clark felt like he'd spent the last few weeks doing nothing but putting out fires among his friends. Sure, he'd had work at the Daily Planet. Certainly, he'd been saving the world as Superman. But it seemed like every single one of his friends needed to see him or to get into trouble that required his help. The surprise for Clark was that Bruce was the last one (other than Lois) to self-destruct.

"I'm fine," Bruce grumbled, trying to hobble down the hallway to the stairs with a cane while Dick tried to make him go back to bed.

"You tore a muscle to the point you can't stand," Dick protested, glaring up at the older man. "You're in no condition to patrol. You'll kill yourself!"

"I'm fine!" Bruce snapped, making Dick flinch.

"No you're not," Clark said. He strode up, picked Bruce up and threw him over his shoulder.

"Put me down!" Bruce yelped, kneeing Clark as hard as he could in the gut.

"Nope," Clark said, barely feeling it. He nodded to Dick whose eyes were so wide that they almost looked like they were going to pop out of the sockets. "I've got him. See if Alfred can bring up some food for him, will you?"

"Sure," Dick said, turning tail and running.

"I'm fine!" Bruce shouted, trying to break free of Clark's arm around his waist.

"No you're not," Clark said, taking Bruce back to his bedroom and setting him back on the bed. "And you're not going on patrol until that leg is healed. I've already asked the League to help cover Gotham while you're down. It'll be fine. Now you want to tell me what distracted you so badly that you injured yourself? If it had been a criminal attacking you it would be one thing. This was pure clumsiness on your part. What's up?"

Bruce glowered at him, clearly considering getting up and trying again to go on patrol.

"Don't forget that I'm bigger than you," Clark said with a sunny grin, "Stronger than you and I will use the puppy eyes."

"That's cheating," Bruce said, glaring at Clark.

Clark nodded cheerfully. Bruce growled, looking at his cane. Clark used super speed to put it on the far side of the room, out of Bruce's reach. Bruce's lips went so thin that they nearly disappeared and Clark chuckled at him. Bruce sighed, pummeling his pillows before settling against them to sulk with his arms crossed over his chest.

"I hate you," Bruce grumbled.

"I know," Clark said, completely unrepentant. "What distracted you?"

Bruce sighed, looking far too old. He closed his eyes and leaned his head against the headboard of his bed. Just the way he held himself let Clark know who it was. Only Lex ever made Bruce look like that, feel like that. They'd certainly comforted each other often enough over being cast off Lex-boys for Clark to know the look.

"What did Lex do?" Clark asked, patting Bruce's thigh.

"He's started watching all your activities," Bruce admitted, face dark with anger. "He doesn't have the right to do that!"

"Lex doesn't have the right to do a lot of things," Clark said with a sigh, "But that's never stopped him. All right, I'll check it out. Now, I volunteered for tonight's patrol so the sooner you promise to stay in bed and off of that leg the sooner I can get going on protecting your city."

Bruce glared at him and Clark hit him with the puppy eyes. Bruce winced, then started chuckling as Clark added a pout to the puppy eyes, looking like an overgrown kid begging for a cookie before dinner. Clark knew he'd won once Bruce chuckled.

"Fine," Bruce said, a rare smile gracing his lips, "I promise I'll stay in bed and off my leg until it heals up."

"Thank you," Clark said and stood. "I'll stop by once I'm done with patrol to let you know what I saw and did. Make sure you eat a good dinner, too."

"Shoo, you mother hen," Bruce said, waving Clark away. "And Clark?"

Clark paused by the door, looking back at his best friend and never-lover. Bruce wasn't willing to do that with Clark, for all that he clearly wanted to. Whatever he'd had with Lex had been too much for Bruce to trust anyone that way again. Clark understood. His brief romance with Ollie had taught him that he wasn't able to let Lex go either. Clark and Bruce understood each other in a way that no one else could, unless they'd been loved and tossed aside by Alexander 'Lex' Luthor.

"Thanks," Bruce said very quietly.

"No problem," Clark said, smiling.

+++++

"So the question is how am I going to handle Lois?" Clark asked.

He'd assembled his best advisers: Mom, Chloe, Bruce and Kara. Lois was still on her 'must interview Superman' kick, making everyone around her miserable. She was risking her life on nearly a daily basis, grouching at everyone and everything. Quite frankly, after a month and half of Lois in a horrible mood, Clark was at his wit's end.

"You really think you have to do an interview?" Bruce asked, his leg propped up on a pillow on the couch.

"I think he does," Chloe said, rolling her eyes. "Bruce, you don't have to work with her. She's unbearable. Heck, Perry's even talking about transferring her to a different branch just to get her out of our hair for a while."

"Then what can you say to her?" Mom asked. "She's going to ask about the baby. That's the whole point."

"That's my problem," Clark admitted, "I'm not sure what to say that won't give away my identity."

"I could go too," Kara offered, "Tell her about my kids."

Clark nodded thoughtfully. Bruce, Chloe and Mom all stared at Kara, making her giggle. Clark chuckled. He had never shared everything that Kara had told him about Krypton and her life there. It was Kara's secret and if she chose to share it, then that was her choice. Clark wasn't going to be the one to tell them.

"You have kids?" Chloe said, astonished.

"I did," Kara said with a sad sigh. "My boyfriends weren't very pleased about it but we were young and well, that's just how it happened. It was better that way, of course. Father would have been very upset if I'd been the one to get pregnant. It would have been a bit of a scandal for the House of El as their families weren't up to our level of society. They were really cute, though. And the babies were adorable!"

"Wait," Bruce said, looking like his head hurt, "You mean you fathered the children, not bore them?"

"Of course," Kara said, cocking her head at him. "What else would I mean? If I'd been a Mother I'd never have agreed to come here to protect Kal. The twins died in an earthquake that collapsed a building on them and their father. And my little girl died in an explosion from a later earthquake just before the world started dying. I had nothing holding me on Krypton anymore so coming here looked like a good option."

"Kryptonian biology allows both genders to father and bear children," Clark said, shrugging. "So Kara can be a 'dad' and I can be a 'mom'."

"How old were you?" Mom asked, a little horrified.

"Oh, um…" Kara thought about it, "I was about 14 when the twins were conceived and about 16 when my little girl was conceived. That's average for a Kryptonian. It was a harsh world and we evolved to breed early and often."

"Take her with you and make it seem like it was on Krypton," Bruce said, smiling grimly. "That should throw Lois off the scent well enough that she won't ask about the father of your baby, Clark."

+++++

"So," Lois said, smiling a little grimly as Superman walked into her apartment from the balcony, "Can I get you anything to drink?"

"No, I'm fine," Superman said, smiling serenely at her. "I should go finish my patrol once we're done with the interview."

"Right, of course," Lois said, getting some coffee for herself. "Please, take a seat."

Superman settled himself calmly on the couch, watching her prepare coffee as if it was something of a wonder. Lois wasn't just about to admit that it was. Her new coffee machine had more bells and whistles than anything she'd ever used before but she'd finally figured out how to get a decent cup of coffee a few nights ago.

"So, what questions did you have this time?" Superman asked.

'Are you really a girl and am I completely wasting my time?' sprang instantly to Lois' mind but she didn't unclench her teeth enough to let the words slip out. She sipped her coffee, sat in the armchair opposite Superman, put down her coffee, picked up her notebook and pen, then let herself unclench her jaw enough to speak.

"There have been some … rumors going around," Lois said, doing her level best to be a professional, "And I thought you'd like a chance to comment on them."

"Rumors?" Superman asked, raising an eyebrow.

He had to know, Lois thought, with his hearing there was no way he didn't know what people were saying about him! He'd told her before that there was virtually nothing he couldn't hear if he tried and the things people were saying were right out in the open. He had to know! She did wonder if this was the best tack to take, but well, she was Lois Lane and she'd ask the question and let the chips fall where they may.

"There have been allegations that you um, well, got pregnant, and um, had a child," Lois said, proud that her voice didn't shake too much.

"I did," Superman said, looking very sad. "Unfortunately, she died before she came to full term."

"Y-you …?" Lois gaped, completely taken aback. He just admitted it?!

"Is something wrong?" Superman asked, looking utterly puzzled. Never did he seem more alien than at that moment.

"You got pregnant," Lois said, picking up and clutching her mug of coffee as the only lifeline to sanity that she had. She thought that it might be. Pregnant Superman. The image made her wish for mental bleach.

"Yes," Superman said, nodding and studying her while frowning slightly.

"A-and the baby was lost in the middle of the pregnancy?" Lois asked.

"Yes," Superman said, sighing deeply. "It was my own fault. I … I made several mistakes and my choices resulted in her death. I was young and afraid of my family's disapproval. I ran away and well, the result was my baby daughter's death."

There was a tap at the balcony door before Lois could ask anything else. Supergirl was there, smiling at her cousin. She opened the sliding glass door and poked her head in, all blond hair, innocent enthusiasm and cheerful energy.

"Can I come in?" Supergirl asked, grinning at them both.

"Of … course," Lois said, nodding approval. She hadn't expected to get both of the Super-family.

"I heard and had to come offer support," Supergirl said, hugging her cousin over the back of the sofa and making him laugh. "I hope you don't mind."

"No, no, not at all," Lois said, already rewriting her article in her head. This was too good to be true! Both of them at once, answering her questions! God, she was going to get another Pulitzer for this for sure!

"You didn't have to come," Superman said, chuckling as Supergirl snorted and settled on the couch next to her with the air of someone who didn't know what to make of the piece of furniture.

"If you're talking about Mara then it's only right that I talk about Ben-Al, Ton-Al and Kira," Supergirl said, shrugging.

She tucked her feet up underneath herself and looked at them both calmly. Superman nodded, taking her hand. They seemed to share a moment of sad commiseration before turning back to Lois.

"Who are they?" Lois asked, setting her coffee down carefully and picking up her notebook.

"My kids," Supergirl said with the saddest smile that Lois had ever seen on the perky blond. "They died back on Krypton before I came here."

"Aren't you a little young to have three kids?" Lois asked, eyeing her.

"Well, it's not like I was the one who got pregnant," Supergirl said, snorting.

"What?" Lois asked, dropping her pen and not noticing it until she tried to write something.

+++++

"What?" Lex said, staring at the Daily Planet front page in disbelief. "What the hell is this? I can't believe that Lois Lane is this dimwitted! It has to be a pack of lies!"

He read Lois Lane's interview with Superman and Supergirl, nodding at all the parts he knew were true, grumbling or laughing at the parts that were blatant lies. Kara was apparently quite good at whoppers. Clark, as always, was excellent at using selective portions of the truth to give someone a completely inaccurate understanding of the situation. The parts that Lois quoted didn't have any outright lies on Clark's part but he certainly hadn't given her the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

"He left my name out of it entirely," Lex mused once he'd read the article three times. "Damn him, he's still not letting me be a part of our daughter's life."

It wasn't until he'd gone to his lab and started working on his latest project that Lex considered that Clark might have been protecting Lex. That thought haunted him all through the day, the evening while he listened to reporters commenting on the differences between Earth and Alien biology. They speculated about how such things would change society. Gay marriage supporters were saying that it was a sign that gay marriages should be legalized. It haunted him through the night, when he dreamt of sleeping next to Clark and woke to an empty bed. It haunted him through the next day until he couldn't stand it any longer.

"I'm going out," Lex snapped, heading down to his car while his bodyguards scrambled to keep up and failed. He was going to pay for it when Mercy caught up with him later but it didn't matter. He didn't want witnesses for this.

Clark's apartment was in an old apartment building with faded paint and windows that needed to be replaced. The elevator creaked as it rose and the doors hesitated and jerked as they opened and closed. The hallway light outside of Clark's apartment flickered. It needed to be replaced. Clark's apartment door was scratched and needed paint as badly as the walls did.

It took a long time for Lex to knock on the door.

"Coming!" Clark called, opening the door to stare at Lex. "Um, Lex? What are you doing here?"

"You left my name out of it," Lex said, frowning at Clark.

He understood that Clark was Martha Kent's son but a red gingham apron with a cow on it seemed a bit much, especially when it was on top of Clark's normal rumpled button down and slacks. At least he'd taken the tie and jacket off first. He'd also taken off the glasses that normally hid his eyes, making it much harder for Lex to meet them. His eyes seemed so much more perceptive without the glass between Clark and the world.

"Well, yeah," Clark said, standing aside so Lex could enter. "I didn't think you'd want the trouble and I sure wasn't going to do something that would reveal myself. I'm making dinner. You want some?"

Lex sighed, wishing he knew why he was here. Clark shrugged and headed back to the kitchen. He continued cooking, adding more ingredients to increase the amount of food. Lex looked around, trying to figure out why he was there. There was nothing for Lex here. Clark's apartment wasn't horrible, but it was cheap, if neat and clean. Clark himself had nothing to offer Lex, other than that body that Lex had known so well one night 10 years ago.

Lex should have turned around and left but he found himself watching Clark cook, trying to make him nervous. He used to be so good at making Clark nervous. He could glance at him, quirk his lips, raise an eyebrow and Clark was blushing, stammering, ducking his head and making that sheepish grin. None of that happened now. Clark just cooked, humming quietly to himself.

"You've changed," Lex said, sitting at the kitchen table.

"I guess," Clark said, glancing at Lex and shrugging. "Probably did me some good to admit to it all. It's been bothering me even though I never admitted it to anyone."

"You're not allowed to change," Lex growled, glaring at Clark. At least he tried to glare but Clark's answering grin said quite clearly that it wasn't working.

"Everyone's allowed to change, Lex," Clark said bringing two plates of food to the table and getting a couple of beers and silverware for the two of them.

"Cheap," Lex commented of the beer, sipping it.

"I know," Clark said, eyes twinkling at Lex. "Goes good with stew, though."

If it had been anyone else, Lex wouldn't have eaten a bite. He'd had too many near-poisonings, too many people drug him, too many times where eating or drinking something someone else had given him had nearly destroyed him. But this was Clark so Lex tried the stew, nodding approval before digging in. The beer did go well with it, as did the biscuits that Clark got out of the oven halfway through the meal.

They didn't talk. They just ate together. It was odd how comfortable that silence was. Lex found himself relaxing, truly relaxing, for the first time in he couldn't remember how long. Once they were done, Clark took the dishes, washing and drying them. Lex watched, trying to figure out what the hell he was there for.

"What did she look like?" Lex finally asked once Clark had finished the dishes, put away his apron and cleaned the stove.

Clark didn't answer, he just headed into the living room. Lex followed, settling on the couch as if he owned it. He might be confused as to his own motives right now but that didn't mean he wouldn't try for as much of an advantage as he could get in this situation. Clark went to the bookshelves and pulled down a spiral-bound sketchbook. He flipped through pages until he found the right one. Clark looked at it for a long while before offering the sketchbook to Lex.

"You know about my memory," Clark said, "So what I did was keep drawing until I had something that looked like the image in my memory. That's the best picture. The following ones were mostly as therapy for myself since all this happened. I … kind of felt the need to make it more real, I guess."

Lex took the sketchbook as Clark sat on the arm of the couch. Clark was a pretty good artist, Lex thought as his heart seized up in his chest and tears tried to force themselves out of his eyes. She'd been beautiful, even born pre-term. She'd had a perfect little nose, a mouth that looked so much like Clark's. Her nose matched Lex's. He'd even captured her finger and toenails. Her hair curled in a tiny halo around her head, as red as Lex's had been when he'd had hair. Clark had used colored pencils, drawing their daughter in full color. Her skin looked like it would have been between his and Clark's, if she'd been alive and not blue from death.

Clark moved to Lex's side, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. Lex shook his head, denying his need for the comfort. Clark ignored Lex's wordless protest and held Lex through the tears he wouldn't admit to shedding. Once they'd passed, Lex took a shuddering breath and deliberately turned the page to see what else Clark had drawn.

"Oh god Clark," Lex breathed, feeling ill.

"Therapy, like I said," Clark said, sighing.

The following picture showed Clark's legs, their daughter between them, both covered with so much blood. The picture was done almost entirely in shades of red. Only the cream of the blood-covered tub and blue of Clark's shirt showed that it wasn't a monotone drawing.

"How did you survive that?!" Lex demanded, throwing the sketchbook on the coffee table.

"I've never been sure," Clark admitted, hurt showing in his eyes even after all this time. "I figured that I lost something like one third of my blood volume. I guess it was just that I was Kryptonian and very young. Too young to know enough to die."

Lex stood, moving away from Clark. Clark let him, just watching Lex. Lex paced, battling himself so that he wouldn't say anything stupid, do something stupid. Eventually he stopped and just looked at Clark. Clark looked back at him, calm and mildly puzzled by the whole evening. It was so strange, Lex thought. It used to be Lex who was making Clark unsettled. Now it was the other way around. Clark remained perfectly calm while Lex blushed and cried and couldn't figure out what the hell he was doing or thinking.

"I'm leaving," Lex said, shaking his head.

"All right," Clark said, standing and going with Lex to the door. "I'm sure I'll see you around."

Lex laughed in spite of himself.

"I'm sure you will," Lex said, taking a deep breath, raising his chin and heading out of the little apartment as benefited Lex Luthor, nemesis of Superman.

+++++

"What are they up to?" Chloe wondered, studying the data Bruce had brought her.

"I wish I knew," Bruce said, face dark with worry and deeply buried anger.

Bruce made an excellent stalker, Chloe thought, looking at the careful, precise tracking of both Lex and Clark's actions. The first meeting had occurred almost six months ago. Lex had slipped his bodyguards and gone to Clark's apartment. Chloe knew about that one. She'd gotten the story out of a confused and somewhat wonder-struck Clark the next day. The second meeting had been a week and a half after that, with Clark going to Lex's office. He'd gone without an appointment, been allowed in and stood with Lex at his window, just looking over the city for nearly half an hour. Clark had left and nothing had happened for two more weeks. Then Lex had found Clark at a coffee shop and they'd shared a table, not really talking but not antagonistic either.

The pattern continued over the last six months. They'd meet, say nothing, just spending time with each other. Then they'd part and go their own ways again.

"Very weird," Chloe said, "Have you talked to Clark about it?"

"I've talked to both of them about it," Bruce said, nearly growling. "Neither of them will say anything. They just say that there's nothing going on and I'm worrying about nothing."

"Have you considered that you might be worrying about nothing?" Chloe said, not believing it.

The look Bruce gave her made Chloe laugh.

"Really, Bruce," Chloe said, "Either make a play for Clark or let it go. You know he wouldn't turn you down."

"Don't be absurd," Bruce snapped, going into Bat mode. "I'm not going to make a pass at Clark. Or Lex!"

He gathered up his files and did his best to saunter out. It was far more of a storm than a saunter but Chloe shrugged it off. She started keeping track of Clark's meetings with Lex and decided that Bruce had to be right. Something was definitely going on but she couldn't figure out what it was.

+++++

"How long have we been doing this?" Clark asked Lex as he settled on his couch after a simple dinner of beef stroganoff, rice and vegetables.

"Hmm, about … a year and a half now, I think," Lex said, loosening his tie.

"Why are we doing this?" Clark asked, studying Lex.

Lex looked back at him, frowning slightly. They looked at each other, neither acknowledging what they really felt, the emotions they were both holding back. They knew. They knew the other one knew. But neither was ready to cross a line that they'd drawn so long ago.

"I wish I knew," Lex said, sighing. "We can't go back."

"No, that's not possible," Clark said, sighing, too. "Too much has happened."

"I wonder if we can go forward," Lex said, looking out the window so he wasn't meeting Clark's eyes.

"No idea," Clark said, settling on the couch out of touching range. "I kind of doubt it."

They looked at each other warily, too much history between them to go forward easily but too much emotion to let it go.

+++++

"I can't believe you didn't tell me that you're dating Lex Luthor!" Lois hissed at Clark, glaring at him across the table while Mary glared at the two of them.

"I'm not dating him, Lois," Clark said, sighing and leaning back, getting away from her as best he could given that he was trapped in a booth with her.

"You meet him at least every week," Lois accused him, offended by the fact that Chloe had known and hadn't said anything. "You've been doing it for nearly two years, nonstop. You see him, he sees you. You spend time together and share stuff. That's dating, Smallville!"

"No it's not," Clark protested, sipping his coffee. "Lex used to be my best friend back in High School. Its perfectly possible for us to be civil with each other without it being dating."

"You're lying," Lois said, firmly, fixing Clark with a look that was her best imitation of spearing him through the chest and pinning him to the wall. Clark squirmed, confirming what Lois already knew. "You are dating!"

"Lois!" Clark snapped, putting down his coffee with enough force to make the table bounce and Lois start. "Will you stop? We're not dating. We just talk from time to time. Let it go."

He got up and stomped out, surprising Mary enough that she came back and looked at Lois. Lois sighed, leaning back into the booth's cushions and slouching down. Mary snorted, picking up Clark's discarded cup and wiping up the spilled coffee. Lois blushed, seeing the look that Mary gave her.

"Girl, your dating skills are getting rusty if you're chasing guys off that easily," Mary said, throwing away Clark's cup.

"Oh please," Lois said, rolling her eyes. "As if I'd EVER date Smallville!"

"You're going blind, too," Mary snorted. "That is one fine man and whoever manages to land him is going to be very lucky."

"Ugh," Lois said, finishing off her cappuccino with a shudder. "So not going there."

"Your loss," Mary said, shrugging.

+++++

"Dating?" Lex said, completely astonished by the bubble of sheer joy that welled up at Clark's angry words.

"Yes!" Clark said, pacing across Lex's office like a caged animal. "Can you believe her? I tried to tell her and she just would not shut up! She's been nagging at me all week about it."

"Dating," Lex repeated, a silly grin stretching across his face.

Clark stopped and looked at Lex, giving him the look that said he knew Lex was up to something and didn't like it. Lex chuckled evilly and kept grinning. Hope and Mercy both looked nervous. He knew he had a crazy look on his face but didn't care. That joy keep swelling in his heart and he couldn't resist wanting to let the whole world see how happy the idea of officially dating Clark made him.

"Lex," Clark said, "You're making me think I need to be wearing a different suit. One with a red cape."

"How am I doing that?" Lex asked, still grinning.

"It's the look on your face and that laugh," Clark said clinically. "Every time you do that I know you're up to something. So what are you up to?"

Lex settled behind his desk, still grinning. He couldn't seem to stop. The thought of actually dating Clark, going out publicly as a couple, was making joy ricochet through him. He hadn't been this giddily happy in … ever, Lex thought. When they'd been friends during Clark's High School days, neither had been willing to be open about their attraction to each other. They'd been keeping so many secrets that it was impossible. But now they were both adults, both open with what they knew about each other, and most importantly, both able to follow through on a more serious relationship.

"Why don't we?" Lex asked.

"Why don't we what?" Clark asked, looking at him warily, arms crossed over his chest in a distinctly Superman pose.

"Date," Lex said, laughing at Clark's jaw drop. "You know, go on an official date. Somewhere public, somewhere that people will take pictures and talk and gossip and have a fit."

Clark shook his head as if what Lex was saying hurt to hear but he was starting to grin just as widely as Lex was. Mercy and Hope both had expression on their faces like the world had just come to an end. It probably had. Superman dating his arch nemesis Lex Luthor? Publicly going out as a couple? One might as well have cats and dogs living in peace together, Republicans and Democrats agreeing with each other.

"Civilization as we know it will collapse if we go on a date, Lex," Clark said, laughing and grinning that grin that Lex hadn't seen directed at him for over a decade.

"True," Lex said, "And Lois may just implode."

"So where would we go?" Clark said, sold on the idea just because of what it would do to Lois.

"Opera?"

"Ick," Clark said, making a face, "How about a football game?"

"Double ick," Lex said, shaking his head no, "I only enjoy watching football when you're playing."

Clark blushed, ducking his head and grinning at Lex, mischief in his eyes. Lex laughed, unable to stop laughing and grinning. Dating. He was dating Clark Kent. Officially! They looked at each other. Clark was looking as delighted as Lex felt. Clark suddenly stood upright, thumping the desk lightly as an idea occurred to him.

"Hockey!" Clark said, moving behind Lex's desk as Lex started looking for tickets. "But can we get tickets for the game? It's tomorrow night."

"I'm Lex Luthor, Clark," Lex said, raising an eyebrow at him, "I can get tickets to anything."

"No cheating," Clark said, "You get the tickets and I'll get the chili dogs."

"Makes sense," Lex said, nodding and buying them two tickets to the game, "From each according to their ability. No onions."

Clark looked at Lex as if he was insane. Lex blinked at him, raising an eyebrow.

"How in the world can you eat chili dogs with no onions?" Clark asked, horrified. "They need the onions to be good!"

"Ick," Lex said, laughing until his sides hurt at Clark's expression, Hope and Mercy's quiet horror and the thought of Lois Lane's expression when she found out about their first official date.

+++++

Chloe wasn't sure what had Clark so happy but she really wished it didn't include him singing under his breath as he worked. Sure, he was her best friend. Sure, he was entitled to be in a good mood. Sure, it was annoying Lois and maybe Lois would get off of her high horse and bend enough to admit that Clark had a right to be happy. But Clark couldn't sing in tune and everyone was staring at him!

"Smallville!" Lois finally snapped after 5 minutes, 37 seconds. Jimmy gave Gary a $5 behind her back. "What is up with you today?"

"Hmm?" Clark said, blinking at her in confusion. "What do you mean, Lois?"

"You're singing," Lois said, glaring at him.

"No I'm not," Clark said, surprised.

"Yes, you are," Lois said, "Badly. Off tune and only bits of the song. So stop it. We're trying to work here."

"Am I?" Clark asked Chloe as she looked at him curiously.

"Yeah, afraid so," Chloe said, "Pretty badly. What's got you in such a good mood, anyway?"

"Oh nothing," Clark said, beaming and turning back to his article.

He was quiet for a while but pretty soon started humming. After a minute he was singing quietly again, typing away without a care in the world. Chloe had to bite her lip against a grin as Lois bristled. This was kind of fun to watch. Normally it was Lois giving Clark fits. It was nice to see the tables turned for once.

"So what's up with Clark?" Perry asked Chloe quietly.

"Don't know yet," Chloe said, laughing behind her hand as Lois threw a wad of paper at Clark's head. "I'll find out soon but I'm not sure."

"He got laid," Jimmy said, nodding wisely.

Both Chloe and Perry rolled their eyes at him. Jimmy flinched and went back to work, quietly watching Lois and Clark as they tried to work without admitting that Clark was clearly up to something.

"This is Clark we're talking about," Chloe said, "Be serious."

Clark's phone rang and he lit up like the sun when he answered it. The one-sided conversation was just 'Uh-huh, yeah, absolutely! I'll be there! Yup, looking forward to it. Yes, I'll make sure there are no onions.' Perry, Jimmy and Chloe all exchanged looks at the onions comment.

"Onions?" Lois asked pointedly once Clark had hung up.

"Lois, were you eavesdropping on my phone call?" Clark asked, not half as offended as he should be.

"What is going on?!" Lois roared, making Clark rock back in his chair.

"Well, Lex and I have tickets to the big hockey game tonight," Clark said, "And I promised to get the chili cheese dogs. It's strange, but Lex doesn't like them with onions on them—"

He stopped as everyone in the newsroom turned to stare at him, not just Lois. He blinked, looking completely clueless other than the hint of mischief in his eyes that probably only Chloe could detect. Chloe took a deep breath to demand the full story but once again Lois beat her to it.

"You're going on a DATE with LEX LUTHOR?!" Lois said, "To a hockey game?!"

"We like hockey," Clark said mildly. "And this is the last home game of the season. There aren't many tickets left, you know. We were lucky to get them."

"Hell has officially frozen over," Lois said, rubbing her face with both hands, "And no one saw fit to notify me. I need coffee. Badly. Clark Kent is dating Lex Luthor and they're having chili cheese dogs for dinner. Someone tell me how I got in this Twilight Zone episode so I can get out again."

"What's wrong with chili cheese dogs?" Clark asked, making Lois groan, grab her purse and storm off.

Clark waited until Lois had exited the room and then started laughing. Chloe sighed and came to sit on the edge of his desk, looking at him. He looked back, grinning like the Clark she'd known in High School. She hadn't seen that grin in a very, very long time.

"That was fun," Clark said, chuckling.

"You're seriously going on a date with Lex to the hockey game," Chloe said, sighing.

"Yeah," Clark said shrugging. "And we're seriously having chili cheese dogs. And beer. And throwing things at the players when they do something stupid. It'll be fun."

"Hey Gary," Jimmy said, "You want to catch the game?"

"You bet," Gary said, "Should be interesting to watch."

"The game?"

"Nah, the date."

Chloe looked at Clark and he just shrugged, smiling at her before going back to his article. She looked at Perry who shrugged. Jimmy was busy trying to get tickets with Gary and talking on the phone to his current girlfriend about needing to reschedule their date. Chloe wasn't sure quite where things had gotten so weird but somehow things were decidedly off kilter.

+++++

"That was a really good musical," Lex said as Clark followed him into his penthouse apartment.

"I thought you'd like it," Clark said, smiling at Lex as they pulled off their coats. "I saw Sweeny Todd in college and loved it. I was really surprised that you hadn't seen it before."

Lex chuckled and got a scotch while Clark got himself a bottle of water. They'd been officially dating for almost 3 months now, taking turns finding things for the two of them to enjoy together. The Justice League had nearly imploded when they found out about the dates. Bruce had threatened to rip Lex's balls off personally if he hurt Clark. Clark had told Lex after the fact of the long conversation that he'd had with Bruce, clearing the air. Lex's people were just as uncomfortable with the 'romance' as Clark's friends but Lex truly couldn't see why.

They still occasionally fought as the evil Lex Luthor and Superman. Lex still ran his business as he saw fit. Clark Kent still reported on Lex's less than legal activities. Neither of them had compromised their beliefs for the other. Lex hadn't been arrested or done anything truly evil in over two years. He didn't feel the need anymore. Somehow, Clark stabilized him, making him feel like things were getting better. There wasn't that driving need anymore.

The same way the moon stabilized the orbit of the Earth, Clark stabilized Lex, just by being there.

"L-Lex," Clark said, swaying suddenly as he went pale.

"Clark?" Lex asked.

He set down his drink and went to Clark's side, frowning. This was odd. Clark was swaying, pale, sweating profusely. Lex couldn't remember the last time Clark had sweated outside of encounters with Kryptonite. Clark clutched Lex's shoulders, grip strangely weak. As wobbly as his legs were, he should have been making the bones in Lex's shoulder creak as he steadied himself. Clark shut his eyes, swallowing hard. Lex supported him, worried now. Clark's eyes opened fractionally and Lex's heart stopped. He knew. He knew what was going on now.

"Lex…" Clark breathed, leaning down and capturing Lex's lips in a passionate kiss.

The kiss reminded Lex entirely too much of that one night when Clark had just turned 16. Lex couldn't help but respond to the kiss, couldn't help but kiss Clark back. It was Clark. But he was worried and as soon as Clark let his lips go, Lex pulled back.

"Is this what I think it is?" Lex asked, making Clark look him in the eyes.

"I … I don't…" Clark said, eyes dilated and almost indigo. "Yeah, I … I think it is. I'm not … not ready, Lex. I'm not ready yet."

"Neither am I," Lex said, guiding Clark to the couch and making him sit. "I'll call Bruce and have him come get you."

"Please," Clark breathed, swallowing hard. "Hurry. I'm not sure I can control myself for very long, not with this hormone rush. It's much stronger than last time."

Lex hurried into the other room, knowing better than to stay in the same room with Clark right now. Last time he'd learned not to risk Clark's self control during one of these hormone rushes. Sure, it was exciting having Clark be so dominant and assertive but it had also scared him so badly that he'd pushed Clark away and nearly been killed marrying Helen. Things were going too well to risk loosing what they'd built in the last few years by letting their self-control be overwhelmed by mere hormones. Bruce got there in record time, fury written on his face.

"What did you do to him?" Bruce demanded as Lex met him at the door.

"Absolutely nothing," Lex said, shaking a little at the whimpering moans Clark was making in the living room. "His body had a hormone surge and he needs to be taken home. I can't do it, Bruce. I'm the subject of his current … obsession … and neither of us are ready to take it farther."

Bruce frowned, looking puzzled. He headed into the living room, stopping cold when he saw Clark collapsed on the couch, still fully clothed but clearly fully erect and very, very aroused. Bruce glared at Lex over his shoulder for a second but froze at Lex's expression.

"You're afraid?" Bruce said very quietly to Lex.

"You … don't know what he gets like when this happens," Lex said equally quietly to Bruce. "I won't ruin what we've built so far. I'm not ready to go through it all again. Not after last time. It terrified me so bad I drove him away and our daughter died for it. I won't risk that again, Bruce. If we take the next step it will be when we're both in our right minds and both ready for it. He already said he wasn't ready and I won't take advantage of him."

"I thought you already had," Bruce said, jealousy in his eyes, if not in his voice. His voice was just sad and tired.

"No," Lex said, shaking his head, "Not yet. We're … taking it slow."

"I'll take him home," Bruce said. "Thanks for calling me."

"There's no one else either of us would trust with this," Lex said, carefully not touching either of them as Bruce leveled Clark up and half-carried him out of the penthouse.

+++++

"Hmm?" Clark mumbled, burrowing deeper into the covers as someone shook his shoulder. "G'way. Sleepy."

"I have food and coffee," Bruce said, still shaking Clark gently. "Come on, Clark. Wake up. We need to talk."

"Nnnnn…" Clark groaned, pulling the covers over his head.

Bruce chuckled, sitting on the edge of the bed. Clark sighed. His head was throbbing. His stomach felt like it hadn't been fed in about three decades. His whole body ached. He could remember seeing the play with Lex but after they got back to his penthouse everything went fuzzy. Clark knew what it had to be. He'd had a hormonal surge that meant he could get pregnant with Lex.

The fact that he was waking up in his own flannel sheets instead of in Lex's silk ones meant that nothing had happened. Clark wasn't sure if he was relieved or disappointed. The fact that Bruce was there was both frightening and comforting. At least Lex had called someone Clark trusted to keep him from crossing the line.

"You have to come out eventually," Bruce said calmly.

"No I don't," Clark said. He sighed, pulling the covers down enough to sit up and groan at the light from the window. "God, I hate this. I wonder if this is what a hangover feels like."

"How do you feel?" Bruce asked, giving Clark a cup of coffee to sip.

"My head is throbbing," Clark said, gingerly sipping the coffee, "My body aches, my stomach hates me for forgetting to feed it for a decade and I can't remember what happened after we got back from the play last night."

"That's a pretty accurate description of a hangover," Bruce said, lips twitching a little. "So what happened?"

Clark shrugged, pulling over the tray of food that Bruce had prepared for him. He set to work eating the food while Bruce waited patiently. Eating the food took too little time. Far too soon he had to meet Bruce's eyes.

"I'm waiting for an explanation," Bruce said, watching Clark patiently.

"I … well, my body decided that it was time for me to have a child," Clark said, cheeks getting very red, "So it sent a wave of hormones through my body to … to encourage me to follow through on it."

"This happens how often?" Bruce asked, frowning.

"Depends," Clark said, shrugging. "Kara says it happens to her about every month and a half. For me, it's happened twice. But for a guy, you have to be in an established relationship, though for a teenager it can apparently happen regularly. It was odd that it didn't happen to me after that once with Lex but I've always been grateful. It's pretty overwhelming. I get … really wild."

"Yeah," Bruce said, blushing faintly. He looked out the window, refusing to meet Clark's eyes.

"Um, Bruce?" Clark said, stomach clenching with worry. "I didn't … do something to you, did I?"

Bruce sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. Clark set his coffee aside on the bedside table. Bruce finally turned and met Clark's eyes, smiling sadly and somewhat ruefully. He didn't look like Clark had taken advantage of him. With Clark's strength, it would have been entirely too easy to do.

"No, you didn't do anything, Clark," Bruce said, patting Clark's foot. "You hit on me, but when I told you to back off you did. You just whined about it. You're … really in love with Lex, aren't you?"

Now it was Clark's turn to go red. 'Love' wasn't a word that he used when he thought about Lex. He felt it, certainly. But Clark was still afraid that if either of them said the world it would all fall apart. Clark thought that his mistake when he was 16 was telling Lex that he loved him. It was that moment when Lex started backing off, started retreating from Clark. They'd still had sex, still conceived their child together but Lex had been distancing himself the whole time.

"Clark?" Bruce asked, making Clark look up and sigh.

"Yeah, I do," Clark said sadly. "I always have. But I can't tell him that, not yet."

"You said that a lot," Bruce said, "In between begging me to help you 'take care of the problem'."

"Oh god," Clark groaned, hiding his face in his hands. "I hope this doesn't happen frequently!"

"Break it off with Lex and it probably won't," Bruce said sourly, "If what you've said is true."

Clark looked up, feeling like Bruce had just stabbed him. He knew Bruce hadn't meant it that way, that he was just trying to help but it hurt to hear him dismiss his … relationship with Lex so casually. Bruce shook his head, looking almost ashamed of himself.

"Sorry, that was out of line," Bruce said and stood. "I should go."

"Thanks for helping me out last night," Clark said, smiling hesitantly at Bruce.

"You're welcome," Bruce said, "That's what friends are for."

Clark sighed after Bruce left, listening to his steps as he went down the hallway, rode the old elevator and then drove of in his car. Clark knew that he should get up but he really didn't want to. His head was still pounding. His body still ached. And he definitely needed to get more to eat. He needed to talk to Lex but not until he felt better. There was time. Neither of them were in a hurry anymore.

+++++

"Clark!" Kara said, nearly worried sick about him, "You can't keep ignoring this! It's been six months. You have to take the next step with Lex."

"I'll be fine," Clark insisted.

His words didn't carry much weight. He was pale, shaking, so weak that he could barely sit up. Kara sighed, helping him sit and put more pillows behind him so he could sit up long enough to eat the food she'd brought him.

"You're not going to be fine until you act on your attraction to Lex," Kara said, having to help him eat. "The hormone surges and aftermath are going to keep getting worse, Clark. You're not going to be able to function pretty soon."

"I'm only down for a day or so," Clark said uncomfortably.

"You shouldn't be 'down' at all!" Kara said, glaring at him. "You're risking your health by suppressing your reactions this way. You love Lex. Lex loves you. Why aren't you two taking it further?!"

Clark looked away, a tortured expression on his face. Kara put a gentle hand on his arm and he flinched. It took a bit for him to turn back and meet her eyes. He looked so sad and afraid, Kara thought. No one this in love should be that afraid.

"I … I scared him off last time, Kara," Clark admitted in a lost little boy voice. "I scared him so badly that he pushed me away for good. I … I'm terrified that if I make the first move it'll happen again. I don't think I could handle that. I lost him once and I can't do it again. He's said that he's not ready so I won't push it."

"You can die if this goes on too long, Clark," Kara said, biting her lip. She knew how stubborn her cousin could be when he decided something was wrong. He might just let it go until he did permanently injure himself if something didn't change.

"I'm sure it'll be all right," Clark said, refusing to acknowledge what they both knew to be true. "Lex just needs a little more time, that's all."

Kara sighed and let it go. She helped Clark eat, cleaned up the dishes and found that he'd fallen asleep. Kara moved a lock of hair out of his face, studying him. He was loosing weight, his cheekbones showing more clearly. There were lines around his eyes and mouth that shouldn't be there, especially while he was asleep. The dark bags under his eyes weren't going away anymore. Not to mention that he was sleeping way too much for a Kryptonian.

"I have to do something," Kara whispered, slipping out of Clark's apartment and flying to Lex's penthouse.

Lex was pacing in his living room, agitated and more worried than angry to Kara's eyes. His altered bodyguards were watching him, looking as worried as Kara felt. Kara landed on the balcony and tapped, making Lex jump and his bodyguards go on alert for a second. Once they recognized her they relaxed marginally. Kara wanted to smile at that despite her worries. Things had changed so much in the last couple of years.

"Is he OK?" Lex demanded, letting Kara in. He had an almost wild expression in his eyes that made Kara start crying.

"No, he's not OK," Kara said, "And he's not going to be OK. Not until you two stop trying to pretend that nothing is going on and finally make love to each other!"

"W-what?" Lex whispered, his voice horse.

He guided Kara to the couch and sat next to her, giving her tissues to dry her tears. She fought with herself for a while. This was so painful to watch. Why were they denying themselves? They were made for each other and Clark's hormone surges proved it.

"The hormone surges are getting worse, Lex," Kara said once she had her voice and tears under control, "Both in strength and in the aftermath from them. He shouldn't be collapsing this way. They shouldn't be so strong that he can't think, can't move, can't do anything but think of sex with you. And he shouldn't be so weak in the morning. He literally can't sit up right now! His body is so drained by the surge that he's unable to feed himself. You two have to do something or it's going to kill him!"

Lex went white, eyes so wide that they looked like saucers. His mouth opened a couple of times as he tried to come up with something to say but nothing came out. Finally he shook his head sadly, meeting Kara's eyes.

"He's not ready," Lex said, looking utterly heartbroken. "I won't push him when he's not ready."

"He IS ready!" Kara insisted, "That's what the hormone surges mean, Lex!"

"Then why doesn't he say it?" Lex asked, frowning at her.

"Because he's terrified that he'll scare you away," Kara said. "He's convinced that if he makes the first move you'll leave him again. Lex, I know that you two have a complicated relationship but this is very simple. Clark can't make the first move. He's too afraid to do it. If you don't want him to die, you have to initiate things. I don't care if you two have kids or not. You can choose either way. Just please … don't let my cousin die."

She started crying again, clutching Lex's hand. He pulled her into a hug, patting her back and soothing her tears. When he let her go after the tears had passed for a second time, she saw that Lex had been crying too.

"I'll … I'll take care of it, Kara," Lex said, patting her shoulder. "Don't worry. I would never let Clark die."

"Thank you," Kara said, impulsively kissing his cheek. "I have to go. I'm coming up on my own surge and I'd rather be with my boyfriend when that happens."

"What's it supposed to be like?" Lex asked, standing as Kara headed for the balcony door.

"You get all flirty, hot and interested," Kara said, blushing and grinning, "And you have hot, passionate sex with the person you care about. Then you sleep for a few hours and wake up feeling wonderful, better than you ever have. The nice part for me is that I don't have to worry about my boyfriend getting pregnant. Humans are very nice that way."

Lex sort of shuddered, a strange, uncomfortable expression on his face. His bodyguards both looked like they were going to laugh but they didn't. Lex swallowed hard and patted Kara's shoulder.

"That was just a little too much information for me," Lex said. "I think I need mental bleach."

"Sorry!" Kara said, giggling for a second before going serious. "Please, go take care of Clark. He can't keep doing this to himself anymore. He loves you so much that he's willing to kill himself rather than act on his love for you. He'd rather die than frighten you away."

Lex's eyes went dark and haunted. His mouth turned down and he nodded.

"I'll take care of it," Lex promised.

"Thank you!" Kara said, giving him a quick hug before flying away. Maybe it would finally be all right for Clark and Lex. She could only hope.

+++++

"Clark?" Lex called, letting himself into Clark's apartment several hours later.

It had taken a while to clear his agenda and deal with everything before coming over. He wasn't about to let anything interrupt them, not work, not his business, and most certainly not the world. He'd even managed convince Bruce that the Justice League should leave Clark alone until he felt better.

Lex heard an inarticulate mumble from Clark's bedroom and headed that way, leaving Hope and Mercy in the living room. Clark was curled in a ball in his bed, dark hair rumpled around his face. His eyes had deep bags under them. He barely stirred as Lex came in, sitting on the edge of the bed.

"Clark," Lex said, gently brushing Clark's hair out of his face.

"Hmm?" Clark said, blinking blurrily as he woke up. "Lex? What are you doing here?"

"I was worried about you," Lex said, "You didn't call to let me know you were all right. Do you get like this every time?"

Clark struggled to sit up, trying to reassure Lex. He failed, collapsing back to the pillows with a groan of pain. Lex frowned, putting a hand on Clark's shoulder to try and keep him still. Clark froze, pulse spiking along his throat and temple.

"I'm fine," Clark said, eyes shut.

"No you're not," Lex said regretfully, "And I've let this happen. Clark, why wouldn't you tell me this was so painful for you?"

"I'm fine!" Clark insisted, turning his head away to try and hide his face.

It didn't work. Lex could still see his expression, the pain and want and bone-deep fear that he'd been trying to keep from Lex. Lex took a shaky breath, understanding all too well what that fear was. They were so afraid that they'd destroy what they'd built by taking the next step.

"I'm not," Lex said, making Clark turn back to him in surprise. "Clark, I've only been holding off because I was afraid I'd scare you away. We're both grown men. Can we stop pretending not to be interested and admit that we want to fuck? It's been five years. That's long enough."

Clark laughed, his normal grin lighting up a face far too tired and full of pain.

"I suppose you're right about that," Clark said, chuckling nervously. "So if we do, it won't …?"

"If we do, you're never getting rid of me again," Lex said, moving closer to Clark and caressing his cheek. "I may insist that you move into the penthouse and out of this rat-trap of an apartment though."

"It's not a rat-trap," Clark said, sighing at Lex's touch.

Lex chuckled. He smiled, moving up the bed to lean over Clark. Clark whimpered quietly, trying to pull Lex close but failing because he was still too weak. He could barely hold his head up, Lex realized, so tired and so weak that his body was completely betraying him. Well, all but one part of his body was betraying him. His groin was already tenting the covers.

"You know," Lex said, "I could do anything I wanted to you right now and you couldn't stop me."

"I know," Clark breathed, hope raging in his eyes with lingering fear.

Lex grinned. God but Clark helpless was a turn-on! He'd always found it exciting to have Clark at his mercy, whether as Clark Kent or Superman. Lex pushed him back against the pillows. Clark chuckled, breath coming faster as Lex started kissing his way down Clark's neck. His nightshirt got in the way so Lex pulled it off, smiling at Clark's little gasp and whimper of pain. He really was in bad shape but neither of them was willing to wait any longer. Five years was entirely too long!

"You love it when I'm helpless, don't you?" Clark asked, gasping as Lex straddled his hips. "Oh god, don't!"

"Don't what?" Lex asked, pulling off his jacket and slowly unbuttoning his shirt.

"Don't tease!" Clark groaned, trying to reach Lex and not able to.

"No teasing," Lex said thoughtfully as he tossed his shirt off the side of the bed, "Hmm, no teasing. I'm not sure I can comply with that request, Clark."

Clark laughed breathlessly, only to have the laugh cut off when Lex captured his lips. Lex knew Clark wasn't really up to this but he wasn't going to let things slide. Not when Kara had made it perfectly clear that Clark's life was on the line. Clark whimpered and groaned, trembling underneath Lex.

"Ok, you can tease a little," Clark whispered once Lex let his lips go.

"Good," Lex said. "So when are you going to move in with me?"

"Ask me after I rest," Clark said, running his hands up Lex's sides to latch them around Lex's neck. "I'm not exactly at my best right now."

"You will be once I'm done with you," Lex purred, "I think I'm going to enjoy you being so weak without having to use Kryptonite."

"If you wanted to use it later," Clark whispered, eyes shy, "I'd let you."

The kiss that followed was the hottest thing Lex had ever experienced. That Clark would let Lex hurt him, let him render him helpless because he knew that it turned Lex on was a perfect a statement of what Lex meant to Clark. Lex wasn't sure that he'd ever do it now that he had permission but it warmed his heart and groin nonetheless.

"This time is for you," Lex whispered, biting Clark's neck and grinning at Clark's cry, "And maybe a little for me, too. Next time it can be for me."

"Less talk," Clark demanded with a needy whisper, "More sex."

Clark was incredibly sensitive. Lex's lightest touch set him moaning. A bite made him cry out. When Lex reached Clark's erection, Clark gasped and thrust against Lex's hand. Lex grinned, stroking Clark firmly. Clark trembled as Lex's fingers played with his foreskin, eyes locked on Lex's eyes. Clark didn't take long at all to get right to the edge of orgasm.

"Too good," Clark whimpered, biting his lip.

"Spent too much time playing with it last night, did you?" Lex said, grinning.

"Lex!" Clark protested, blushing violently.

"Mmm, I know I spent the whole night thinking of you jacking off," Lex said, "But this time you don't get to touch it. Only I do. It's mine now, all mine."

"Lex!" Clark groaned, fingers clutching the sheets. "Please, Lex, please!"

Lex smiled and speeded up his strokes, giving Clark what he needed. Clark's hips rocked in time with Lex's hand, his breath hitching and whimpering through his clenched teeth. Lex bit his lip. This was almost sexier than sex, pleasuring Clark when he couldn't do a thing to stop Lex or to help him. Clark was gasping Lex's name, one arm wrapped around Lex's shoulders. Lex leaned over and kissed Clark as he came. Clark groaned, body trembling in the aftermath.

"I almost hesitate to ask how many times that is in the last 24 hours," Lex said, grinning at Clark's blush.

"You do NOT want to know!" Clark said, trembling at Lex started licking the come off of his stomach. "Oh god, Lex!"

"Mmm," Lex said, "Going to be at least once more."

"Why did we wait this long?" Clark asked reverently.

Lex just laughed and licked his way down Clark's helpless body. There were more important things than answering questions right now. Giving Clark what he needed to go on living was at the top of the list.

+++++

"I can't believe you're quitting on me," Lois grumbled as Clark packed up his desk.

"I'm not quitting, Lois," Clark protested. "I'm just not going to be working from the office."

"It's the same thing!" Lois protested. "You're abandoning me!"

Clark laughed, being careful about how he bent and picked things up. His stomach was starting to get noticeable. Eventually even Lois might figure it out, despite her legendary denseness. Chloe was studiously ignoring them. Jimmy was off on assignment or he'd be making quips and trying to help. Perry was watching with a quiet smile. He regretted that Clark was 'leaving' but understood Clark's reasoning.

"I'm not abandoning you," Clark said, putting the last of his files in the box.

"You're getting married, having kids and leaving the workplace," Lois said, snorting. "Everyone's getting married and leaving me behind. Where's my husband? Where are my kids?"

"If you'd settle down with one guy," Clark said mildly, going more than a little pink in the cheeks that Lois put it that way, "Then you'd have the same thing."

"So you are having kids!" Lois said, stabbing a finger at Clark. "I knew it!"

"We're adopting," Clark said reasonably. "And rather than have our kids raised by nannies, I'm going to work from home."

It made a good cover story, especially since everyone knew that Lex had given up 99% of his less-than-ethical experiments into cloning and the like. Lex had laughed at Clark when he'd complained that Lex could have waited a year or two longer to give them up. It would have made just a great cover story, Lex doing an experiment to combine his and Clark's DNA.

"I'm still being abandoned," Lois grumped. "Even Superman is having a baby."

"At least you got another Pulitzer out of it," Clark said, picking up the box and getting ready to go.

"It's not the same," Lois said, sighing. "Well, you're required to come by for coffee from time to time, Smallville."

Clark ducked his head and grinned. Mary had been dismayed to discover that Clark was gay but after that not at all surprised that he'd ended up with Lex. Once she knew that Clark was gay it made too much sense out of all Lois' rants over the last 5 ½ years. She kept saying that Clark had to bring Lex by without Lois around so she could meet the wonder that had taken Clark away from Lois.

"I'll do that," Clark said, meaning that he'd do it after the baby was born. "But it'll be a while. I need to get settled in at home first."

Lois gave him a quick very brusque hug that was more a pat on the shoulders. Clark said goodbye to everyone and headed out, humming. It would be odd not coming into the Planet every day but it would certainly make saving the world easier. No more having to hide in closets or find out of the way nooks to change clothes! Of course, he still had to redesign his suit to accommodate his growing belly…

+++++

"Oh thank god that's done," Clark gasped, collapsing back on the pillows.

Kara had done a wonderful job being midwife. Diana was there, too, beaming. Bruce, Chloe and Mom were in the other room, all waiting anxiously to hear the news. But it was Lex and their newborn baby that held Clark's attention as he rested.

"A boy!" Lex was saying over and over, holding their son and poring over his face, fingers, toes and curly auburn hair. "We have a boy!"

This time around it had gone so much easier, Clark thought, pulling Lex and their son closer so he could see too. It hadn't hurt anywhere near as much. Amazing what a difference taking care of yourself and having the people you loved close made.

"He's beautiful," Lex breathed, letting Clark hold him. "So beautiful."

"Yeah, just like his Papa," Clark said, holding their baby close. "Julian Andrew Luthor-Kent."

"Jonathan Julian Luthor-Kent!" Lex said, grinning as though his face was going to split in half.

"Still insisting on that, hmm?" Clark said, chuckling tiredly.

"You know I always win," Lex said, running a finger down their son's cheek while cuddling Clark close.

"Yes, you do," Clark laughed.

+++++

"Dad! Papa! Come on!" JJ said, as exasperated as only a 14-year-old boy could be with his parents. "Everybody's here!"

Why did they have to stand there, staring into space? It was time for his little sister Clara's congratulations party to start. She'd rescued her friends from death despite the fact that her powers weren't properly active yet. She'd even managed to do it so that no one realized that there was anything special about her and the rest of the family. There were presents, guests, things to do and who knew when something would happen that would make Dad have to go save the world? Dad and Papa were looking at each other, each with sad, almost regretful expressions on their faces. What in the world was wrong with them?!

"I wish we could have had the party tomorrow or yesterday, Lex," Dad said, resting his forehead against Papa's bald head.

"I'm sure Margaret would have wanted us to celebrate today, not be sad," Papa said, kissing Dad gently. "It's her birthday, Clark. It's a day to celebrate, not to mourn."

JJ made a face and headed into the other room. His parents' kissing wasn't something he wanted to see. Besides, he had to ride herd on his siblings. The twins were already getting into trouble, rampaging around the buffet. Lucy was in tears with her bear and Clara wasn't helping by teasing her. God, whatever it was that had his parents all sad and mopey, he wished they'd get over it already. There was too much to do to be so wrapped up in the past!

"Jay-Jaaaa~y!" Lucy cried, running to his side, all 4-year-old tears. "Make Clara be nice!"

"I don't have to be nice," Clara said, huffy and as 11 as she could be. "I'm the guest of honor!"

"You do so have to be nice," JJ said, frowning at her and making her flinch. "Dad and Papa are all mopey so behave yourself."

JJ rolled his eyes at her pout, collared the twins and made them stop trying to trip people. At least Dad and Papa were finally joining the party. But Aunt Lois was flirting with some guy and making him get all red in the face. And Uncle Bruce was glowering in the corner like he wanted to hit Papa. Then Aunt Kara showed up with her twins and that set his brothers to squealing and running away so they wouldn't get hugged and kissed. Darn it, how were they supposed to have a good party with all this chaos going on?!

JJ glanced at his parents and sighed with relief. Papa was taking charge, getting people organized and at last, at LAST the party could get started. At least Papa could be trusted on keeping things under control! Dad was laughing at Kara's daughters too hard to be any use on that. JJ sighed and picked up Lucy and her bear, heading for their parents.

"Relax, JJ," Dad said, taking Lucy and calming her tears. "It's a party, not a regimental parade."

He ruffled JJ's hair, giving him a one-armed hug that was warm and strong and far more comforting than JJ would ever admit.

"It's just so chaotic," JJ complained.

"You so take after your Papa," Dad laughed, green eyes sparkling. "Trust me, things could be a lot worse!"

The look Dad and Papa exchanged was a lot less mopey, finally. JJ sighed and headed over to take care of cutting the cake with Papa.

"Thank you, JJ," Papa said, giving him that little quirk of lips that said he was trying not to laugh at something. "See if you can corral the kids and get some food in them before we give them cake. They're excited enough as it is. We don't need sugar on top of it."

"Yes sir!" JJ said, grinning. Finally something clear to do and someone to help!