Lex wasn't much of a drinker really. Alcohol tended to loosen both his tongue and his temper, and neither circumstance had ever been beneficial to him. He wondered if he should stop.
His hand chose another option, and raised the glass to his lips.
He stood on the balcony and drank, not knowing how many he'd had so far, and not really caring. It had been enough that he was beginning to feel its effects as a numbness rising up from his feet. His flesh seemed to be getting heavier, sagging down from his bones as if it were trying to pull him to the floor. Despite the cool breeze tugging at his clothing, he felt warm.
Closing his eyes, he smiled down at the city, and raised his glass to toast her. He paused before taking the drink, listening to the heart of Metropolis beating all around him. In Smallville one listened and heard nothing but silence. It was dead. Here, in the wild, glittering city, one heard nothing but life. It came in the form of a low throbbing pulse rising up from the streets. The life-beat wound around the skyscrapers, and flowed beneath the blacktop through miles of subway tunnels, building to a muted roar Lex could feel resonating in the steel and concrete beneath his feet. The city was alive. Lex came home when he needed to know he was alive too.
The air battered him, gusting as it whistled through wind tunnels created by the hills and valleys of streets and buildings. It caressed his cheeks and throat like a lover as it passed, pulling at his already unbuttoned collar as if wanting him to remove his shirt. The shirt was untucked and disheveled already. There was a red mark at the juncture of neck and shoulder.
He drank. His hand shook a little, spilling a small amount of the scotch down his chest. The shiver was made of more than cold.
They'd come to attend a gallery opening, and never actually made it there, instead detouring to the penthouse. Clark had simply wanted to see it. Seeing Clark in his "dress up" clothes, standing against the backdrop of the city through the windows, Lex had wanted more. Clark's simple charm and handsome face seemed to mutate within the embrace of the city. He became something more exotic, beautiful, and desirable - almost surreal. They never made it to the gallery, and Lex drank more than he should have.
The kiss was a mark of ownership. Lex kissed Clark's mouth and it became his. He kissed the smooth line of Clark's throat, lingering at the hollow formed by his collarbone, and Clark gave him his voice. Lex had not only kissed with his mouth, but also with his hands, laying claim to Clark's body by stirring passions the boy had not even known he possessed. It was a mutual exchange. Clark took ownership of Lex as well, leaving his mark upon Lex's throat just below the sharp line of his shirt collar, and behind the curve of one ear.
It hadn't been enough, not nearly enough. Lex wanted to own not only the body, but the mind and soul as well, and Clark would not let him in to take them. Lex kissed him intent on a seduction that would mean more than fulfilling a physical need. His mind ached to know what was hidden behind the tawny green eyes.
Breathless and afraid, Clark had said, "No."
Lex fled to the balcony into the arms of a bitter mistress. The alcohol warmed him, protecting him from the wind, and soothed the hurt of rejection. It dulled his ability to self flagellate. What had he been thinking? The fragile ties he and Clark shared, however they be defined, were not nearly strong enough to withstand the burden of a physical relationship; not yet, and perhaps never. Lex clung to them as they frayed and parted, regretting his haste and his impropriety. They slipped through his fingers like sand, and blew away in the wind.
He put his glass down on the ledge. It was empty. Struck by a sudden urge to see the street, he climbed up on the flat concrete wall and braced his legs against the wrought iron railing. Above, below, and all around him the city lights shone in the darkness like the pale, ghostly bodies of Medusa jellyfish in a night shrouded sea. The wind pulled harder, plastering his shirt to his ribs while the untucked tails fluttered out behind him. A vague memory flitted through his mind, and he felt the sensation of wind through his hair as a man without a hand would feel pain in his fingertips.
Smiling, Lex peered down at the streets far below, where cars jostled and jibed on their way to unknown destinations. The city pulsed with life, swarming with people who all had fathers, and close friends, and problems understanding where they fit into the bigger scheme of things. Lex wasn't unique. He wasn't special. He might stand above them by virtue of his father's money, but in reality he was no better than they. Clark, who had nothing, by virtue of his father's debts, conducted his business on the same level.
Lex always failed to make Clark able to understand it. Clark looked up at the sky to see Lex, and didn't see him at all. They were both the same person, but Clark refused to open his eyes and allow Lex to show him that truth. There was a barrier around Clark Lex could not pass through and Clark could not see clearly for the veil over his eyes.
He moved, turning his back on the city, and closed his eyes again. Raising his arms, he leaned against the railing with reckless abandon. The iron spikes at its top dug into his calves. He stood crucified on the wind, and the pounding of his heart blended with the throbbing of the city. He melded with her, becoming one with her, and he laughed aloud at the sensation coursing through him. This is what he wanted from Clark. He wanted to be part of his very essence.
Lex wanted to show Clark how to fly.
The connection was broken by the tightening of his shirt around his body. Lex was pulled from the wind's embrace and back onto the hard brick surface of the balcony floor. As his feet touched down he stumbled, but hands held him upright, shaking him slightly until he opened his eyes and became himself again.
"Son-of-a..." Clark's voice was weak, barely there for the harshness of his breath. "What were you doing?"
Lex smiled up at him. "Enjoying the view," he said calmly. He broke away from the hands clutching his shirt and retrieved his glass. When had he drunk it all?
"You could have fallen."
"Yes, I could have fallen, but I didn't. I'm fine, Clark. I do it all the time." His smile returned. "Were you thinking I would play the part of the spurned lover and throw myself off the balcony over you?"
The brief turn of his eyes away, then back, betrayed the truth while lips created the lie. "No."
Lex's smile faded as he stared deeply into Clark's eyes. "I want you to see what I see. Nothing more. Nothing less," he whispered.
"You're drunk, Lex."
"No." Lex peered over the edge of the balcony, and held the glass out as if to drop it. "Not yet I'm not."
He let go of the glass. Clark caught it. Lex glanced over at him, and knew both of them realized he should not have been able to move that quickly.
"Would you have caught me?" he asked.
Clark quietly set the glass on the ledge. "Come inside."
"Would you have caught me?" Lex repeated. He climbed back up on the ledge.
"I wouldn't have let you fall in the first place."
"There's falling, and there is jumping, Clark. How could you justify stopping someone who wanted to jump voluntarily?"
Clark watched him warily as he walked along the edge of the railing. "Are you falling, Lex? Or are you going to jump?"
He threw back his head and laughed into the wind. His voice echoed off the buildings and merged with the honking of horns far below as he shouted to anyone who would listen. "Neither! I want to break all the rules. I want to fly!"
"You are drunk."
Lex turned and looked down at him. "No I'm not. Don't you see? It's life, Clark. It pulls you along, or you walk along with it, but either way it takes you where it wants you to go." He shook his head. "I want to go where I want to go, at my own pace, and make my own paths. I don't want to walk at all."
"Can you?" Clark challenged. "I don't think it's that simple, Lex."
"There is such a thing as gravity." He crossed his arms over his chest and turned his head to look out over the cityscape. "It will always be there, trying to pull you down, and it will always catch up with you in the end."
They fell silent. Lex watched Clark as he gazed out over the seemingly endless rows of buildings, cars, and people, and wondered what he thought of the view. As before he seemed slightly out of place. The contrast of his elegant profile and soft curling hair against the harsh lines of the buildings, somehow made him twice as beautiful and much more desirable. As he raised his head to look up at Lex again, the bright light issuing from within the penthouse illuminated his face. It made him look older. His eyes were very green.
"If you had broken the rules, and changed the path of destiny, you wouldn't be here now," he added softly.
Lex knew exactly what he meant. "Neither would you, Clark." He paused. "I'm not convinced we didn't change the path of destiny that day."
Clark met his gaze. "If we did, then we'll be fighting gravity the rest of our lives."
Behind them the wind caught the sheer curtains hanging on the balcony's French doors, drawing them outside in a fluttering display of white cloth. It seemed to be inviting the curtains out to play. Another gust danced in Lex's shirt tails again, and rifled Clark's hair.
"Come inside, Lex." Clark said. "It's cold."
Turning his head, Lex looked at the lights of Metropolis burning through the darkness. He could still see them even when he closed his eyes and listened for her heartbeat again. The wind brought the faint sound of music coming from somewhere near the river where that popular district played host to a myriad of clubs, bars, and restaurants. It was just the barest taste of a melody. The wind changed direction, and carried it away before he could identify it.
"In a minute," Lex said, he eased himself down from the ledge. He opened his eyes and glanced back at Clark. "I promise."
Clark hesitated, nodded, and started to go back inside.
He paused in the doorway where the curtains continued to be enticed outside by the wind. They swirled around his body as if they were part of his clothing, arcing out from his shoulders like a shimmering white cloak.
"I'm sorry." Lex breathed. "You just looked..."
There was no way to explain it. Lex could only stare at him, hoping something in his eyes would make Clark understand what he meant without having to speak. He couldn't say it himself. Not even drunk.
"Maybe we should go home." Clark said finally, when the silence stretched on for a bit too long. "I'll drive."
Slumping against the railing, Lex nodded. "I'm coming."
Clark turned away into the apartment.
With a sigh, Lex ran his hands over his face, making note of how his fingers trembled. He was drunk. He would probably sleep all the way back to Smallville. It was just as well.
As he began to move away from the ledge, intending to follow Clark inside, a flash of light attracted his attention. The light had glinted off one facet of the empty glass still sitting abandoned on the ledge. Lex moved over to it, and ran his fingers along its rim, noting how the wind had chilled the glass. He shivered a little. Clark was right. It was cold.
Lex picked up the glass and peered through it at the city - his city. He missed her, and wanted to stay, but a pair of green-gold eyes and the memory of warm lips against his, were drawing him back to the country.
He let go of the glass.
Gravity drew it down. Thirty-five stories below, it shattered into a thousand glittering pieces on the unyielding concrete.