Disclaimer: I only pretend they're mine.
Feedback: This is my first attempt at writing fanfic, so any feedback at all would be much appreciated. email@example.com
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Grail for introducing me to slash, inspiring me to write and for the beta.
As Clark fell to the floor, he panicked. Total physical helplessness was a terrifyingly novel sensation. The sinking knowledge that he was completely powerless made him want to throw, crush, and basically destroy everything in sight. For once in his life, he forgot about carefully controlling his movements so as not to break anything or hurt anyone. For once in his life, he was completely out of control. But the irony of the situation was that during his descent he could barely move. By the time his body had collapsed with a gentle thud against the lush purple carpet, Clark could not even summon the strength to lift his head. As the seconds passed, he felt his consciousness slipping away from him and the previous day flashed through his mind.
Clark had been eating lunch at the Talon when Lex appeared and joined him. Maybe he should have been surprised at Lex's timing, but it was hardly the first time it had happened like that. As usual, the conversation drifted to Lana.
"So, Clark, how're things with Lana?" Lex had asked while leaning back in his chair and propping his feet up on the table. "Fine, we're pretty good friends," Clark had answered.
"Why don't you spend some time with her, take her out to dinner or something?"
"Even if I wanted to, there's really not anywhere to go in Smallville."
"Why limit yourself? What about Metropolis?"
"Lex, I've never taken any of my friends to dinner in Metropolis. I don't even think I've ever been to dinner in Metropolis."
"If that's true, then I think maybe I should take you to dinner in Metropolis. As a friend." Lex gave Clark an ironic smile.
They had gone to dinner in Metropolis that night, and in retrospect, it all seemed a bit crazy to Clark. He hadn't even told his parents what he would be doing, just left them a hastily scribbled note on the kitchen table saying that he wouldn't be home until after dinner. He had realized that it was the sort of thing that never should have happened. Lex had just invited him because in the context of the conversation inviting him had been a logical, friendly thing to do. Lex hadn't even said that he was talking about that night, and he certainly hadn't mentioned a specific time. But Clark had decided to stop by the mansion anyway, just in case. He probably wouldn't even have rung the doorbell, but that hadn't been necessary. Lex had been in outside, leaning casually on his car, waiting. It had occurred to Clark to be surprised that Lex was waiting. After all, Clark knew he hadn't exactly said that he would come, but Clark had brushed the thought away like a fly, not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth.
The food, of course, had been the best money could buy, but the main attraction had been Lex himself. Lex was an enigma to Clark. Clark sometimes wondered about Lex's dark past, and there were moments when he wasn't sure that he trusted him, when he was afraid that his father might be right, but it was hard to remember that when he was actually with Lex.
Clark had a perfect memory, and he had a long mental list of moments he had shared with Lex. There were times when Clark got the feeling that Lex's eyes could see through him. Maybe it was something like the way other people must feel when Clark looked at them using X-ray vision. It was as though Lex knew all Clark's thoughts, all his secrets, and he was weighing and measuring his deepest fears and desires. The very thought made Clark shiver, but yet he replayed the moments in his mind, over and over again.
He also remembered that Lex had suspected the truth about him, or at least some of it. He had worried so much and invested so much energy into hiding the truth from Lex that when Lex told him he would stop investigating him it felt anticlimactic, false almost. Clark sort of wished he had found out, in a way. He knew it really was much better not having anyone know, yet when Clark was with Lex he wanted nothing more than to tell him everything. Of course he couldn't tell him anything.
So that evening he told him everything else. He told Lex how he felt about him, how he loved him and he how much he wanted him. Clark hadn't even really known that he felt that way until he said it, but either it had been true all along or the act of saying the words called them into being. Either way, by the time he was done speaking, it was all true. Lex understood. Of course Lex understood. He didn't say anything, but instead responded wordlessly with an eloquent kiss.
From there on the evening played itself out in an inevitable rush of events that felt so natural Clark didn't even pause to think about what was happening to him. Kissing Lex in his Porsche, fucking him and being fucked by him on the silk sheets of his bed. Isolated images cycled like a slide show in Clark's head. Lex first slipping his hand into Clark's. Lex first slipping Clark's cock into his mouth. Lex writhing underneath him during their first, but not last sexual union. Holding Lex in his arms when they were both too worn out to move. It was amazing. Clark remembered that when they had returned to Lex's room there had been a table, ready laid with a silver bowl of ripe red grapes. They had fed each other grapes, ridiculous to even think about, but they had.
It felt as though they were acting out a script that they both knew perfectly. Explanations, excuses, reasons, justifications, awkward questions, all the things Clark had feared most were conspicuously absent. Everything was so easy, like rolling out of bed, like falling down the rabbit hole, so easy it was surreal.
That night Clark realized that Lex's face was the most beautiful thing he had ever set eyes upon, and the longer he stared into his eyes, the less he seemed to know. Clark rarely got tired anyway, and as the night wore on in the windowless room, he couldn't have said whether it was midnight or noon the next day. He was willingly lulled into relegating the outside world into oblivion. At the time it seemed to Clark as though life might just go on in this new way forever, and he wouldn't have raised any objections. But, crazy as it was that he would have let himself, he must have eventually fallen asleep, because the next thing he knew, he was waking up.
Panic had gripped Clark as soon as he awoke. In one sickening instant, thoughts had raced through his mind at superspeed. What was he going to tell his parents? They must be worried out of their minds, how could he do this to them; he hadn't even told them where he was going! What time was it? How could he have let this happen? What had he done? There was an impression beside him on the bed, but Lex was gone. He scanned the room, and saw him from the back. He was dressed in black pants and a white, freshly pressed shirt, and he was working at his laptop.
And then it was as though by looking at Lex, Clark's eyes had upset some sort of precarious balance in the room, and everything had started collapsing at once. Lex spun around in his chair and, with a smile on his face, pulled out a gun, aimed it as his own head, and pulled the trigger. Without even thinking, Clark lunged across the room, knocked Lex and the chair he was sitting in over, and caught the bullet in his hand.
"Good morning, Clark," Lex said, calm as ever, not missing a beat, "you're very alert this morning, sleep well?" As he spoke he slowly picked up his chair and sat down in it again.
Clark tried to speak, but his tongue felt like play dough, which was probably just as well since he had no idea what he would have said anyway.
"Tongue tied? Too bad, it might have been nice to hear what you had to say," Lex said with a gently shake of his head. "But you see, Clark, it doesn't matter because I couldn't trust anything you say."
In a barely audible whisper, Clark stammered, "I didn't--"
"No? I think we both know that's not true, Clark. If I had any doubts a few seconds ago you just confirmed that they were unfounded." For a second Clark thought he heard disgust in Lex's voice, but by the time he noticed it, it was cool and casual again. "Interesting though, I should have known that even when you could hardly speak you would have tried to defend your moral purity."
Clark tried to summon his voice again, but Lex silenced him with a gesture.
"You know, I've never lied to you. Too bad you couldn't have returned the favor. Luckily, I'm a pretty resourceful man, and I think I have most things figured out." Lex had been leaning back in his chair. Now he drew himself up and leaned forward the slightest bit. "You're very strong, Clark, very fast, seemingly invincible, and I'm sure there's more. You were adopted around the time of the meteor shower, but it didn't take much digging to find out that your adoption was a little, unconventional." Lex savored that last word, like putting a knife in someone and then twisting it.
"However, my best efforts to find information about your biological parents have proven unsuccessful. In fact, it seems that before the meteor shower, as far as Earth was concerned, you didn't exist. That reminds me, a reporter friend of mine told me that you have a spaceship in your storm cellar, don't you? So I suppose that makes you an alien, and that would pretty much explain everything, right?" Lex poured himself a glass of orange juice and took a sip.
The moment that Clark had longed for for so many months, when all the secrects between him and Lex were finally dissolve,d came and passed like a distant memory, gone before Clark even had time to hold it in his mind.
Clark felt empty and angry. His finally telling Lex was supposed to be a release, after which everything would somehow be perfect. Lex would accept everything and finally they could be happy together. But Lex had stolen the moment, stamped on it and thrown it in his face.
"Oh, how careless of me," Lex said, his words like ice, "I neglected to mention the most important thing. I discovered your weakness as well, Clark. Fascinating things they are, meteor rocks. Let me show you my collection." With these words Lex opened his hand to reveal a remote control and pressed a button.
With a faint rumbling a whole section of the wall slid to one side and revealed floor to ceiling shelves stacked with more meteor rocks that Clark had ever seen in his life. The shock, nausea and pain were too much for him. He couldn't think straight, but some small part of him was vaguely aware that his knees were giving way beneath him. He had started to fall...
To Clark, losing consciousness had felt like a large black stain spreading over his awareness. However, before everything was completely blacked out, it began to recede. A few seconds later, when Clark regained his vision, he saw that Lex had closed the wall again.
"How are you feeling, Clark?" Lex said, his voice deep and tired sounding. "First of all, I would advise you not to try to escape. If I see you try I can open the wall again, but the lead door and walls are all lined with meteor rock anyway, so you may as well not worry about it." Lex seemed very bored, like a teacher reading directions for a standardized test.
Clark was still lying on the floor. He was still recovering from the meteor rocks, but his weakness was not the reason he had not moved. He had no idea how to react or what to do next. He didn't even want to lift his head, because then his eyes would meet Lex's. Should he pretend that he wasn't frightened out of his mind? Should he pretend that he still had a shed of control over the situation? No, Clark was terrified by the thought of looking at Lex, so he remained on the floor, staring intently at the purple carpet. The moment wore on, and finally, Clark couldn't bear the silence anymore. "Why are you doing this?" he asked, without looking up.
"Why am I doing this?" Lex repeated, chuckling to himself. "Clark," he said, caressing his name with his voice, "What's the worst thing you've ever done?"
"The meteor shower." The words raced out of his mouth as Clark responded automatically. The guilt that perpetually lurked just beneath the surface of Clark's thoughts seized the opportunity to escape.
"No," Lex let the word hang in the air for a few seconds before he continued. Clark slowly turned his head and raised his eyes to look at Lex. Lex appeared distracted, a little annoyed almost.
"Clark, that wasn't your fault." All of a sudden, Lex was sincere and serious, his face lined with concern. "You don't have any more responsibility for the meteor shower than anyone else does. You certainly didn't launch that ship. Your parents may have done it, but if you believed that children were responsible for the acts of their parents you never would have become friends with me. Never blame yourself for that, Clark, please." Lex's last word echoed in Clark's mind.
"But I do," Clark said softly.
"What else have you done wrong?" Lex cast a cursory glance in Clark's direction, but then kept speaking as though he didn't really expect him to answer anyway. "Nothing comes to mind? It's funny how hiding something can blind you. You were so busy feeling guilty about something that you didn't even do that you never even noticed that you can't think of anything else wrong that you've ever done. Maybe you drink from the milk bottle sometimes, but you've never done anything you've really felt was wrong, right Clark?"
Clark felt as though he were being backed into a corner. More than anything else he just wanted Lex to stop talking. He shut his eyes and tried to pretend that none of this was happening.
"Do you remember Greg? He used to be one of your best friends. Remember how you watched him be crushed to death. Do you remember the football coach? After you threw him against the wall, you saw him go up in flames. What about Shawn? Remember how he froze solid when you threw him into the lake? Phelan? Do you remember how the cop shot him while you were there? The cop shot Phelan because he had a gun, because he was dangerous. But he wasn't really a danger to anyone while you were there, was he?"
The guilt flooded over Clark, but he desperately clung to the perception that somehow he was being unjustly accused. At some very deep level Clark knew that if he gave in now he would lose an integral part of himself forever so he fought against doing so with all his strength. It helped that Lex was being just patronizing enough to make Clark alternately grind his teeth and imagine forcibly ripping the smile off of Lex's face. But Clark could sense steadily increasing intensity in Lex's manner. He imagined Lex circling him, erecting a tower of logic around him that was enclosing him, ready to topple on him when it was finished.
"Don't worry," Lex's voice was like a summons, once again focusing all of Clark's awareness. "I'm not about to shed any tears for Phelan. And the others were essentially already lost to the meteor rocks anyway. And you didn't even kill any of them, really, it was only that you didn't save them, that you let them die, threw them to their dooms. It's nothing to worry about; it's not your fault."
Mocking did not begin to describe Lex's tone. This time when Lex said those words there was venom oozing from his voice that made Clark's blood run cold. No, whatever it was, Clark was sure his game ran far deeper than mere mockery. Clark could feel it eroding the remnants of his sanity.
"Just keep remembering the meteor shower. Those are the people whose deaths are really responsible for," Lex sneered at Clark, sarcasm dripping from his words. "Honestly though, I couldn't care less that those people are dead. I care more that you deceived me, but that isn't the real issue either. What disturbs me is that in place of a conscience you have a bottomless well of irrational guilt and an 'innate sense of justice.' That's what you told me Lana said about you, right? "
"And you asked me why I was doing this, Clark. Frankly, I'm scared shitless by the idea of an invincible, omnipotent alien with an overdeveloped moral sense and no regrets running around enforcing what he thinks is right. Look, I won't deny that there are things I've done that I'm not proud of, but that's precisely my point. The last thing I would ever do would be to try to hold people to some higher standard of behavior. First of all, you're probably thinking that you don't judge, that you just save people in trouble, but altruism is a tricky tightrope to walk. The fact is that in the end, everyone, scoundrel or saint, does whatever he thinks will help him the most and hurt him the least. Even you, Clark. To claim that you do otherwise is not only false, it gives you a convenient excuse for doing whatever it is that you want to do anyway. Altruism is merely a word people use to cloak their motives. The very idea of good intentions is an impossible one. Self interest with all of its infinite permutations is the only human motivation. The only difference between a con artist and a preacher is that in general the preachers are twenty times more dangerous because they are sincere. And there is nothing about you that is not entirely in earnest. I've never seen anyone as convinced of his own ethics as you."
As Lex talked, Clark had once again attempted to block the world from his perception by burying his eyes his his hands, but of he couldn't stop himself from hearing. The words rang in his ears and infuriated him. Who was Lex Luthor to each him about morality? He knew what was right. But really, he wasn't as sure of that as he had been just a little while ago.
"Of course, you aren't human, so let's suppose for a minute that your alien brain chemistry permits altruism to be your true motive. You are a hero. All you want to do is save the princess from the dragon. So that's what you do; you save the princess by killing the dragon. But life isn't a fairytale, Clark, and there is no certainty that the princess wants to be saved or that the dragon should be killed. In order to act you must judge and decide what must be done. And I know you. You don't just want to save the princess; you want to save the whole world. In order to do so you must judge the whole world. And who are you to judge us, alien? Whether your 'savior complex' is something you were born with, or something they taught you on the Kent farm, it's who you are. I'm not a religious man, but I think the Christians weren't too far off when they named pride the worst sin of all. Thinking that you can play God is really something, Clark, and thinking you can play Jesus is almost as bad." The final sentence came crashing down like a gavel.
"You may think I'm overdramatizing. All you've done is save some lives, rid the world of some villains. But as I said, you won't stop here. You feel that your destiny is to continue saving people on a grander scale. The weight of the world rests on your shoulders, right, Clark?"
"Lex, I may not be perfect, but what the fuck are you saying? I didn't ask for these abilities, but since I have them I feel like I have a responsibility to use them. You're telling me I shouldn't try to save anyone, but you also blame me for those I didn't save. I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't." Clark looked straight at Lex and started to raise his clenched fist in a threat before he remembered the rocks behind the wall.
"Have you been listening to what I've been saying? No one's damning anyone, Clark."
Clark ceased to resist. He was completely drained. He felt as though his very self had been wrung out of him and he no longer had any choice but to simply accept everything Lex was saying. Finally, Clark once again sought Lex's face with his eyes only to find that Lex had turned away from him.
"Lex," Clark pleaded, "stop, please."
Lex turned around to face him again and they stared into each other's eyes. When Lex spoke again it was with incredible tenderness. "You're a good man Clark, probably the best I'll ever meet. If you ever stop trying to save everyone you will remind me very much of Nietzsche's Superman."
The whole morning, everything, was like a sand castle that had been washed away. It was all forgotten. "You can leave now and it will all be forgotten," Lex said, echoing Clark's thoughts. "We'll both walk away and no one will ever know what happened. Put on you clothes. They're over there," Lex said as he pointed to Clark's clothes in a pile next to his bed. "Go home. I called your parents yesterday and told them that it was late and you'd be staying in a guest room at the mansion. They won't be worried." Lex offered Clark a hand and pulled him upright.
"How do I get out?" Clark asked as he quickly dressed. The question seemed empty now, ridiculous.
"The door's open; it's been open," Lex answered simply.
Clark turned to leave, but then he thought of something. "Lex, I'm pretty fast. I could have shot you with that gun in the time it takes you to blink. What if I had?"
"You wouldn't have, Clark," Lex responded.
"Of course," Clark had to agree because, like everything else Lex had said, it was true.
"But if you had, that would have been okay too. Because if you had done that you would have felt afterwards that you had done something wrong; you would have felt guilt. If you had killed me you would have learned more about responsibility for your actions than I could ever hope to teach you with rhetoric. You wouldn't have killed me, but if you had I would have willingly died to help you understand. You are worth much more to me than my life, Clark."
Clark forced himself to walk towards the door, wrenching himself away from Lex. As he left he heard Lex call softly to him. "Until we meet again, Clark, goodbye."