Clark had gotten swatted once, growing up. Not a full-fledged spanking—that would probably have risked breaking his mom’s hand—but he’d run out into a crowded parking lot (though come to think of it the car’s occupants would have been in more danger than he would’ve been in any collision, but that can’t have been what his parents’ lizard brains told them looking at a five-year-old boy). The shock of a couple of smacks, combined with his mother’s terror for him plain on her face, had been enough to teach him that he didn’t want anything like that to happen again.
Since then he’d only hit and been hit in earnest. He couldn’t even say what had given him the idea, if idea was the right term for something so thoughtless and visceral. Lex, on another one of his superior, self-serving rant binges, explaining why this latest project was fully justified and why Clark was the villain for stopping it. Lex, who only lived because Clark had grabbed him out of yet another false ally’s clutches, and who was going to say subtly cutting things and imply that Clark was trying to make up for the death of a whole world by stopping every minor problem in this one. Lex, who never listened when Clark explained how dangerous his schemes were, to himself and everyone around him.
One minute Clark was yelling at Lex, as usual, and Lex was standing with his jaw clenched and arms folded, vicious gleam in his eye, as usual. But the next—
At least he’d had the minimal sense necessary to superspeed them to Lex’s office first. If Clark had spanked Lex in front of the mayor and her staff, or even in front of Hope and Mercy, that Kryptonite bullet Lex sometimes got out and looked at when he thought he was alone would’ve seen use in a matter of hours.
His hand should feel different. Warmer, or—or bruised, the way Lex’s skin had bruised. That was the worst: that Clark, invulnerable, had put his hands on Lex, had reduced them both to their bodies and demonstrated just how great the gap between them was.
What must Lex think of him?
He composed a brief note to Batman warning that Lex was likely to be even more dangerous in the next few days, and letting him know that Superman might well need assistance. He wasn’t sure what else he could do.
Apologize, his mother’s voice whispered in his mind. He shuddered at the thought. Lex had cursed at first, annoyed at Clark’s presumption in ripping him away from the various assembled dignitaries at the meeting, and then when Clark had bent him over his knee, Lex had gone shocked-silent. He’d refused to make noise after that first gasp when Clark’s palm met his ass, his fluttering exhalations all but silent.
Lex’s skin had turned pale, then red. Clark couldn’t remember the sensation, but he couldn’t get the sound out of his head, the smack of skin on skin. So loud in Lex’s enormous office.
When Clark had come back to himself, Lex was still splayed across his legs, back heaving with every breath and his fingers clenched on Clark’s thighs. Not pushing away, hanging on—as if Lex needed some way to get through the experience.
It hadn’t been anything like being on Red Kryptonite. He was just fed up, and terrified that this time Lex had nearly gotten real innocents killed, and so sick of Lex pulling these tricks and never, ever listening when Clark told him how it could be different.
One underappreciated benefit of superspeed was that it allowed Clark to get out of intolerable situations with less difficulty than an ordinary human. He’d pulled Lex’s pants back up (maybe that was insult to injury, but then leaving him so exposed would’ve been at least equally appalling) and fled, and—he checked his watch—he’d been fretting for the past four hours now.
God, what if Lex told people? ‘Your beloved Superman acts so high and mighty, but he’s really just a bully. I’ve always said he treats us like children, and he made that as clear as could be.’
Clark nearly jumped out of his suit when the JL communicator buzzed.
Diana was the least bad option for conversation right now, so he blessed her gods that she was on duty. “Here.”
If she was surprised by his clipped answer, she didn’t show it. “Batman is eager to know how your encounter with Luthor ended. Your confrontation was nonpublic.”
Which meant that Bruce didn’t have surveillance in Lex’s office (oh God, Clark hadn’t even thought about that, not that he’d been thinking at all), so that was good, except now Clark needed some sort of explanation for what everyone obviously recognized as out-of-character behavior. He’d be lucky if they didn’t conclude that he was on some kind of colored Kryptonite high.
“Yeah,” he said, thoughts spinning like a centrifuge. “I figured—the public lecture thing isn’t working. I thought maybe he wouldn’t feel so much need to ignore me in private.”
“I have wondered whether a change in strategy would be advisable,” she said, which reminded him that she was in many ways a diplomat, albeit one who could take down a tyrannosaur. “If there is no alteration in his behavior, Kal-El, we may need to discuss whether one of us should attempt to deal with him instead.”
Clark almost destroyed the communicator with his automatic flinch. “Lex is mine,” he growled, and was immediately horrified. “I mean. Let’s, uh, give this a chance.” Oh, crap. Lex, clearly, had a much longer game than Clark had anticipated, and his clever plan to drive Clark out of his mind was succeeding.
Diana’s short pause was worrisome. “As you wish. But be aware that Batman is likely to bring the matter up when we meet.”
Clark suppressed his groan. Of course, because having one ethically flexible billionaire out to get him wasn’t nearly enough. “Thanks for the heads-up,” he managed, and they signed off without Clark further embarrassing himself.
Okay. He needed to be proactive here. He needed to explain to Lex that, while he was very sorry (very, very sorry) for the incident, Lex had no resulting license to continue his shenanigans. In fact, not that Lex had been asking for it, but Clark’s explosion had to be understood in the larger context of Lex pushing his limits on a weekly basis.
He was calm, now. He was absolutely in control. His aberrational behavior was a thing of the past.
Before he could convince himself otherwise, he sped back to Lex’s office.
Lex was working at a standing desk, and even though Clark knew how fast Lex healed the sight sent a spike of red shame through him.
“Did you lose count?” Lex asked without turning around. “Or have you simply decided to increase the number?”
Clark swallowed. He’d known he’d be on the defensive from the moment he showed up. “I can’t excuse my behavior.”
Lex swiveled. His eyes were hurricane-grey and his mouth was tight with anger. “Really? You can’t even try? Time was, you’d have an explanation, no matter how pitiful. Maybe you were under the control of some alien force that gets off on physical discipline—”
“No!” Clark took a deep breath and got his voice back under control. “I can’t tell you why because I don’t understand it. I won’t let it happen again.”
“Hmm,” Lex said, and it didn’t sound complimentary. “It seems to me that a lot of things you don’t plan on happening, do.”
Clark felt cold. Then he flushed as Lex, at last, crossed the space between them and stopped mere inches from Clark’s chest. “I’ve known for years,” he said, looking up at Clark’s face, “that there was nothing holding you back but you yourself. Certainly not anything I could do. Now you’re aware of that as well. You are the final arbiter of what is just and right. So what are you going to do about it?”
His suit felt too tight, unbreathable. Lex was so close, and he was still wearing the same clothes as when Clark had—
“No,” Clark said, softly. “The League—”
“They could kill you. I could kill you, for that matter. But while you live, the world exists on your forbearance.” Lex edged even closer. They were only a breath apart. “It’s not wrong to be gratified by that. It’s only … inadvisable to be explicit about that gratification, in many situations.”
Lex thought he was making sense, but he must have seen Clark’s horrified incomprehension. “Superman,” he said, like a caress, “why don’t you ask yourself what you really want to do to me?”
Clark felt like a two-ton block of Kryptonite had dropped on him. What Lex was suggesting was impossible—he’d hit Lex, that couldn’t mean—Lex must be interpreting Clark’s behavior through the lens of his own distorted worldview—which meant that Lex had thought that what Clark did was about sex, and Clark just wanted to break into thousands of tiny pieces and dissolve away—
When he came back to his senses, he was sitting down, on one of Lex’s psychologically intimidating couches no less, and Lex was sitting across from him in a chair engineered to look like a giant mechanical spider. Lex was smirking at him.
“Don’t worry,” Lex said. “If you can’t have a breakdown in front of your worst enemy, where can you have it?”
“Oh my God,” Clark said, and dropped his head into his hands.
“Believe me,” Lex continued, “watching you squirm is more than enough payback. I don’t mind punishment, Superman. Punishment is feedback. I only mind self-delusion.”
“I can’t believe I want to sleep with you,” Clark said, and then had to fight to keep from clapping his hand over his mouth. Clearly, the stress of the day had driven him over the edge.
Lex himself was breathing a little more quickly, and there was a slight flush on his cheeks. Fortunately, Clark had more tools at his disposal, and determined that Lex’s heartbeat was well above normal, and his skin temperature was rising rapidly, along with the scent markers for—
Okay, focus. “I can’t be with a supervillain,” Clark said. “I won’t.”
“Fine,” Lex said. “If you ever leave me, I’ll wreck the world. Anything else?”
Lex smiled thinly. “I thought we were negotiating the terms of our relationship.”
Clark wondered if his brains were actually leaking out of his ears. But Lex hadn’t seemed inclined to kill him.
“If it helps,” Lex said as he leaned forward, “I’m willing to entertain the idea that some sort of Kryptonian time of mating is approaching, causing testosterone-analogue spikes and behavior anomalies.”
“That’s very thoughtful of you,” Clark said, at this point too shellshocked to do otherwise. “Wait, did you just offer to quit supervillainy?”
“Technically I believe you made the offer,” Lex said, “but yes.”
Clark considered that for a moment. There was wiggle room—Lex undoubtedly classified supervillainy and villainy separately, but on the other hand Lex wouldn’t do anything on a small scale. Also, having a breakup apocalypse didn’t sound like a good idea. And explaining this to the League would be less pleasant than a trip to the Phantom Zone.
“Yes,” he said, because you didn’t get to be Superman without learning how to make quick decisions in a crisis.
In an eyeblink, Lex was in his lap, straddling him, hands smoothing over the costume and kneading at his arms. His lips teased over Clark’s, not quite kissing. “The things I’m going to do to you,” he said, low and savage, and Clark thrust up involuntarily.
“Oh,” Clark moaned, eyes slipping closed. Lex kissed him then, tongue thrusting as if Lex were the invulnerable one. After a minute of that, Clark stood, hoisting Lex with him; Lex wrapped his legs around Clark’s waist with perfect confidence. “What do you want to do first?” Clark panted, prepared to superspeed them to Lex’s bed or some isolated beach or wherever Lex wanted.
“Well,” Lex said and nipped at Clark’s chin, “how would you feel about another round of spanking?”