A Life Less Invulnerable
The door opens and a man steps inside, hitting the light switch. He leaves the door open a few inches. The light reveals a generic motel room: cheap lamps, cheap art, and a hideously unattractive bedcover, as well as a tiny television on the low dresser across from the bed that takes up most of the room. There's a small table by the door, under the single window. The man closes the dirty blinds. He takes off his overlarge sunglasses and pushes the hood of his sweatshirt off his head so that he can remove his baseball cap as well.
It's Lex Luthor.
The glasses and the cap go on the table, followed by the sweatshirt. He's wearing pants that are obviously part of a well-tailored suit and a dress shirt with French cuffs. His tie is missing, but heavy gold cufflinks are visible at his wrists. He looks as out of place here as a circus clown at a board meeting.
He puts his hands in his pockets and breathes out impatiently, shifting on his feet.
Several things seem to happen simultaneously. There's a whoosh, the door closes, and Superman pops into existence in front of Lex, his pose resembling that of the Oscar statuette.
Lex, unfazed, raises his eyebrows. "What was so important I had to leave the office in the middle of the day?"
Superman unfolds his arms and grabs Lex by the shoulders. He bends his head and kisses Lex furiously. Lex's hands fly up to grasp Superman's arms and his head tilts back. The elegant line of his skull is silhouetted against the light from the bedside lamp.
Lex's mouth is shiny and already swelling when Superman releases him.
"I can't believe you walked into a hostage situation! Again! I am really getting tired of your death wish."
"You were in China," Lex says, unconcerned. "The gunmen weren't willing to wait. And what's done is done; they're all in custody now." His hand has disappeared beneath the cape. Superman inhales sharply.
"In any event, my way involved significantly less property damage than your concept of dramatic rescue. Do you know what you've done to insurance rates in this city? It's like my car insurance after I moved to Smallville, multiplied by ten million dollars. Not to mention the cost per hour of the lawyers debating whether you're an act of God, act of man, instance of terrorism or none of the above."
Superman shakes his head and runs a hand from the top of Lex's head, down over his jaw and neck, over his collarbone, stopping at his shoulder. "Some things are worth more than buildings."
Lex smirks. "You start pricing hand-cut Italian marble and see if you still agree."
Superman has plainly come to expect this sort of thing from Lex. Instead of debating the point, he raises his hands to Lex's collar and pulls. There's a soft popping sound and a louder ripping sound. When he lets his hands fall away, Lex's shirt and fine cotton undershirt flap around his shoulders until Lex shrugs them off.
"I hate it when you do that," Lex says conversationally.
"You love it when I do that," Superman corrects and rubs two fingers down the fly of Lex's trousers, over the bulge in his pants that is better evidence for Superman's version of reality than Lex's. He spares a moment to unfasten his cape and toss it onto the bed, where it settles like a blanket over the offensive bedcover.
They kiss again, Lex's hands roving over Superman's back. The skin-tight costume shows every flex of muscle. Lex's fingers stroke and push as if Superman is a concert piano and he is wringing soul-shattering music from the instrument.
Superman's hands leave Lex's waist and fumble for a moment at his belt. Lex pulls back.
"You too," he says as he takes over, dropping his pants and his boxers at the same time. He toes off his shoes and socks as Superman touches hidden seams and pulls the top of the suit over his head. Unlike some superheroes' costumes, his needs no rubber padding to emulate muscle. Superman bends, to Lex's evident delight, and removes the rest, the boots seemingly part of the suit.
As if he knows how good he looks, he shifts onto his knees and reaches for Lex, who takes no coaxing at all to step forward and slide his cock into Superman's open mouth.
The room is almost silent for minutes, the wet sounds they make together barely audible.
"You're so fucking good at this," Lex says, his voice ragged, his head tilted up to the ceiling as he curls and uncurls his fingers in Superman's hair. His Adam's apple bobs as he swallows, unconsciously imitating Superman's movements.
Superman pauses, letting Lex slide completely free. Lex's cock glistens redly and his face is flushed as he looks down, waiting for an explanation.
"I might cut you off if you keep taking stupid risks."
Lex growls; Superman's eyes widen. "Someone would certainly be risking death if that were to happen."
After a moment, Superman shrugs and puts his hands back on Lex's thighs. Lex doesn't flaunt his victory. He watches this time as Superman sucks him, his hips pumping, his hands fisted in Superman's hair. It would look vicious if the man on his knees weren't Superman, who takes it all and looks up at Lex like he's getting the best gift of his life.
Lex speaks with the rhythm of his thrusts. "You like me taking risks, you know. You like that I'm not safe."
Superman's eyes flutter closed for a moment. His lashes are thick and dark, and the look on Lex's face as he watches is something like awe.
"God you're beautiful," Lex says in one swift rush and then cries out incomprehensibly, coming in Superman's throat. Superman's hands slide up over his ass, helping him stay upright on his wavering legs.
His softening cock slips out of Superman's reddened mouth, but he's still got his hands in Superman's hair. Smiling blissfully, self-satisfied as a cat in the window on a sunny day, he lets go as Superman stands and immediately pushes Lex backwards.
Lex lands on the bed, legs splayed, looking wantonly up at Superman, daring him. The bedcover seems to insult his delicate sensibilities, and he shifts until he's entirely on the red cape. He lies there like a fine ivory carving, albeit a pornographic one, on a silk background as Superman looks around and finds Lex's pants.
Lex has come prepared. Superman's body is tense with desire, and he's on top of Lex in a few seconds, slicking his fingers with lube and pushing them into Lex's body. Lex gasps and arches, closing his eyes and letting Superman do all the work.
"Ready?" Superman asks breathlessly. Lex gives him an are-you-kidding look and raises his legs further as Superman removes his fingers. Superman's hand blurs on his own cock; Lex watches admiringly.
"Oh yeah," Superman says as he pushes inside. Lex laughs, his head tossed back on the cape, the worry lines that were on his face when he came into the room erased. Superman bends down for a kiss, their bodies tangled together.
Superman pulls back and braces himself, curling his fists in the cape to each side of Lex's shoulders, and thrusts. His back ripples and his buttocks flex, not unlike a bodybuilder posing for an appreciative crowd.
Lex clearly appreciates it, even if he can't see the muscles move. His pleased grunts are counterpoint to Superman's panting. His feet slide against Superman's sides. Somehow, Lex manages to lift his upper body enough that he can lick the sweat off of Superman's cheek. This earns him a groan and a twist of Superman's head that starts off another extensive kiss.
After a while, Superman seems unable to maintain his focus on the kiss, and Lex's head drops back to the cape. Superman throws his head up, his eyes closed and his mouth forming unheard syllables. He looks like Joan of Arc might have, gripped in God's fist. His thrusts are faster, erratic, until at last he pushes his head down against Lex's shoulder and groans out Lex's name, shuddering in orgasm.
He collapses briefly on Lex's body, but quickly rolls off, breathing hard and smiling harder. His hand reaches out for Lex's.
They clasp hands like old friends, the connection almost innocent even after the previous debauchery. Their bodies are splayed out like centerfolds; Lex has thrown up his arm and turned his head towards its curve.
Superman shifts onto his side, facing Lex, and tugs at Lex's hand. Lex looks over and imitates him, so they're both leaning towards each other, knees almost touching.
Lex is smiling, a smile the public has never seen, not even the day he took over LuthorCorp, nor the day he won the gubernatorial election.
"Seriously, Lex, I want you to stop being so foolhardy." Superman's forehead touches Lex's as he rubs his hand down the back of Lex's head with the ease of long familiarity.
"And leave other people risking death, people who didn't choose it? You know better. Also, you've got a super-beam in your eye." Lex runs his free hand down Superman's flank, lingering on the rise of bone at his hip.
"I'm invulnerable," Superman protests, obviously feeling unjustly accused.
Lex pokes him in the slight hollow of his chest. "You limped for over two weeks after that thing from Dimension X." His fingertip trails down the midline of Superman's chest.
"You're a lot less invulnerable than I am," Superman amends, catching Lex's hand in his own and raising it to his lips.
Lex smiles. "I can't stay much longer," he warns.
Superman sighs, evidently accepting the change of topic. Lex's fingers curl around his jaw, and at last he smiles back.
The video file stopped playing, frozen on the image of Lex and Clark sprawled nude on top of Superman's cape. Lois smacked Clark on the shoulder. "Show's over, Smallville. You can stop drooling any time now. I mean, if I can stop, anyone --"
"Where - where did you get this?" Clark couldn't feel his hands. His stomach, on the other hand, was making its existence very clear.
Lois snorted. "It's all over the Internet. Some perv wired this motel for sight and sound, something like ten different camera angles in each room, looking for amateur porn, and hit the biggest jackpot since the Zapruder film.
"Those two aren't amateurs, that's for damn sure," she added after a moment.
Clark flexed his fingers. They worked; good.
Lois continued on, oblivious, or maybe just thinking he needed a trip to the men's room. "The eternal question of whether Luthor has any hair at all has been decisively answered. And the real reason Superman got his name was pretty obvious. "
That's not fair, his mind automatically responded. He's called Superman because you gave him that ridiculous name. He - I - never would have chosen that. Clark had his mouth open to say this when he realized what a monumentally stupid idea that would be.
He was distracted by the fact that every single person on the planet now had access to naked pictures of him. Really naked, X-rated pictures. Okay, maybe there were people in Bhutan and the Kalahari who didn't, but still.
"You okay, Kent?" Lois waved her hand in front of his eyes. "Hey, you -" She stopped, frowning the thinking-hard frown that was so like Lex's and that he'd learned to fear from either of them. "Wait. When I asked you how a small-town farmboy figures out he's gay and you said, `How does anybody figure out who they want?' - was that Luthor? Did he convert you?"
Of course Lois knew he and Lex had been friends. The wedding pictures were a matter of public record. Both times. She never mentioned it when they were writing about Lex's business and political interests; before now, she'd considered Lex's relationships fit only for the Style section.
"Yeah, right, he got his toaster in the mail six weeks later."
Lois's shocked face suggested that his caustic tone had gone a little outside of the affable Clark Kent persona she knew.
"I'm not saying - look, God knows that man could seduce Rush Limbaugh, and I just went to a very bad mental place, and do you think I should stop talking now?"
"I know I'd appreciate it." He managed to make his voice lighter, more like their usual bantering.
Lois looked down, which was her way of showing that she was grateful to have been forgiven. "Listen, Perry's going to have to put us on this. The story's got Luthor and Superman both, there's no way around it. But if you want off, I can -"
"No!" It was hard enough distracting Lois when he was reporting alongside her. On her own, she had a better than even chance of figuring out his itsy bitsy little secret. "No, I can do it. Just, you know, let's not watch that again."
Amazingly, Lois didn't point out that they were the only people at the Planet with a possibly legitimate interest in doing so. She just smiled at him, almost not predatorily, and patted him on the shoulder as she left, heading to the EIC's office. She'd talk to Perry, he knew, and figure out how awful the Planet's coverage was going to be.
The phone rang. The display showed that the originating number was blocked. He picked up the receiver, feeling queasy.
"You are the luckiest bastard in creation," Lex growled in his ear, not waiting for him to speak. "If I shouted out names in a moment of passion, like some people I know, you'd be well and truly fucked."
Clark could think of several responses to that, most of which would probably result in Lex coming over to the Planet and strangling him in front of the entire newsroom. "Um," he said instead.
"You couldn't take a minute to fucking scan for, I don't know, cameras? What is that X-ray vision of yours for?"
Lex was talking fast and emphasizing words. This was bad. It wouldn't help to protest that there weren't supposed to be hidden cameras in motel rooms, though it might send Lex off on a tangent about naivete.
"Can we talk about this tonight?" he asked, keeping his voice low, though the panic in it was enough to make some of his nearer colleagues look curiously at him.
"Yes, that's a fantastic idea. Why don't you fly through the three layers of reporters surrounding the Governor's Mansion, and we'll have a little chat."
"I know you're upset, but I really think it would help if you calmed down." He twisted the phone cord between his fingers, concentrating on not accidentally shredding it.
"I think you know me well enough to know that this is calm, inasmuch as I am neither breaking things nor making plans for your imminent and efficient murder or at least castration. Open the Inquisitor's website and tell me again to calm down."
Clark wedged the receiver between his shoulder and his ear as his fingers skittered across his keyboard, mistyping at first. The homepage opened slowly, sign of a major surge in hits. "Superman Gay Sex Tryst" blazed across the top in eighty-point type. Underneath was a still of one of the tamer moments from the motel room, when Lex was only shirtless and he hadn't undressed at all. He had his tongue halfway down Lex's throat, and Lex's hands were squeezing his ass.
Lex looked really good like that. The muscles in his arms stood out and the pale skin of his torso glowed in the bad light, contrasting with Clark's darker hands at his shoulders. Clark swallowed and paged down.
Underneath the picture, a subhead proclaimed - only sixty-point type this time - "Lex Luthor Light in Loafers." A bright blue link invited visitors to click for more pictures.
He could all but feel Lex pacing in his office, one hand scrubbing at the back of his head. "Indeed."
"I'll be by later, okay? Like you said, what's done is done, we just have to decide what to do about it."
"I wasn't referring to a situation in which I was what got done!" Lex took a deep breath and released it. "Fine. I'll leave that window on the third floor open. Just don't get caught. I still know where to find Kryptonite and I know exactly where to shove it."
He clicked off without saying goodbye, but that was normal for Lex.
Clark let out a breath. That had gone better than it could have. (It was possible that his standards were low where Lex was concerned.)
Even though he'd insisted on it, the idea of meeting Lex again frightened him. It was long past the time when a careful plea and wide, helpless eyes could get him anything he wanted from Lex. He hated compartmentalizing, cutting off another piece of himself and showing it only to one other person, but he'd known since they began that Lex liked things neat, clean, plausibly deniable. Lex liked him that way. He'd always known that if it came to a choice between him and the things Lex wanted most - power, fortune, the love of his father if it could have been had - it was Clark who'd get left out in the cold.
Pride was a luxury for a man who led three lives about to be reduced to two. He'd beg if he had to. He'd convince Lex that nothing needed to change.
The phone rang again. His momentary surge of confidence disappeared faster than he could run when he saw the number on the display.
He closed his eyes and put the receiver to his ear. "Hi, Mom."
"I just had the news on, and -"
"Yeah," he said heavily.
"It's true?" she asked, her voice very small.
There was silence on the line. The connection was so good that he could hear her taking things out of cupboards. Baking always made her feel better. Clark had the feeling that she and his Dad were going to need an awful lot of pick-me-ups over the next few days.
"I'm sorry," he said at last.
"Are you - does he make you happy, Clark?" She'd stopped moving, waiting for his answer.
It was fortunate that he knew the answer in every alien cell of his being. "Yes."
"Even with all the trouble this will cause."
He could see it in his head, too. The people already suspicious of an alien, doubly reluctant to accept help from a faggot. The remarks, sniggers and whispers. He wouldn't mind the ones about Superman, but directed at Lex - it would be like having Kryptonite rubbed into his skin. All Lex's ambitions, almost certainly shattered, and the non-zero chance that Lex would come to hate him for it.
She sighed. "All I want is for you to be happy."
Clark knew she'd wanted more than that, fantasized that he'd be able to have children for her to spoil, but he appreciated the effort she was making. "I know, Mom. I have to go now. Tell Dad - I love you guys."
"We love you, Clark."
"'Bye," he said hastily, and hung up.
The day had been going so well. The Chinese had been extremely nice to him. Lex hadn't even been bruised by the gunmen, which had to be some sort of personal best. The sex had been, as always, spectacular.
God, or whoever looked out for Kryptonians, clearly had it in for him.
Lex had a headache.
It was likely to be with him for a while, so he'd given it a name: Superman.
"I'll have a comment when I tell you I have a comment. Don't ask me again," he snapped into the speakerphone and stabbed the disconnect button. Joanne was just trying to do her job, and he'd made it an extraordinarily demanding one today, but he couldn't force himself to be polite this time.
At some point, Susan had brought in a tray of his favorite foods. A bad sign, if the staff felt the urgent need to propitiate him. The offerings lay untouched on the conference table on the left side of the office. He wasn't hungry. Being in a fight-or-flight situation, unable to do either, had that effect on people.
The drapes were closed so he didn't have to see the crush of reporters on the lawn. Aside from the quick trip to the third floor, he'd barricaded himself in his office since the story broke. His secretary understood that if she put a call from his father through she'd regret the days her parents were born. Mercy was under strict orders to kill anyone who tried to come into the office without permission.
Joanne, when she visited early in the crisis, had scrutinized him in a way that revealed she was remembering what lay underneath his clothes.
There was a reason Lex wore long sleeves even at the gym at the height of summer and would only get naked to fuck if the lights were off and he was half-drunk. (Excepting when he was with Clark, of course.) Even his doctors didn't get to see any more of his freak body than necessary.
It seemed to be his destiny to have his life changed in permanent, spectacular ways by Clark. With Clark.
This violation wasn't Clark's fault. He knew this. If anything, Lex ought to have done a security check. Of the two of them, he was the more easily followed, and his father wasn't so retired as to stop spying on his son. Where had his paranoia been when he'd really needed it?
The door opened. Lex didn't look to see who it was. He might have to marry Mercy, since she was the most reliable thing in his life.
Not. Clark's. Fault.
Lex turned and walked halfway across the room, just out of Clark's reach.
He was going to have to be the one to fix this. Clark was good at morals, heartfelt and long-thought-out decisions, and copy editing, but Lex was better at mixing words and action, as required now.
Clark was fidgeting, looking as uncomfortable in the uniform as he had the first day he'd put it on.
"I'm sorry I was so abrupt on the phone," he said. He'd learned that apologies were worth something to Clark, even if they seemed bizarre to him. Forgiveness was supposed to be given; if it had to be begged, it was just indulgence, not true forgiveness.
Clark, naturally, looked grateful. His eyes were still dark with worry. "I'm so sorry. I've been thinking - you can say it's just a manipulated image, with actors. I know it'll still follow you around, but the damage can be contained. You could, maybe, date some women. Unless you think that would make you look desperate."
Oh yes, Lex was going to have to be the fixer. A bad plan was better than no plan at all, but not much better.
"The clock's already run out on timely denial to make that work," he explained. "And your lovely partner just found a security camera with footage of a car from my official pool two blocks from the motel during the relevant time period. She'll break the fake ID I used at the motel in a day or so."
Clark's frown deepened and his shoulders hunched, as if he were trying to minimize his exposure to Lex's anger.
"Any other suggestions?" Lex asked, genuinely interested.
"I don't - I don't know, Lex. Tell them anything. Tell them I was blackmailing you or controlling your mind or anything. I'll admit to it. Just, please, don't make me stay away."
"Clark," Lex said, soft and shocked. "Did you really think I'd give you up like that?" Didn't he know that he was Lex's perfect secret? Like a stolen Picasso under the bed, coveted and treasured and not for the grubby fingerprints of spectators, its inherent worth unchanged even after exposure to people incapable of appreciating it.
Clark looked miserable, turning his head to hide his expression from Lex.
He didn't know. He didn't understand that Lex hadn't wanted to have to stake a claim, wanted simply to have, without fanfare, contest, or speculation, just once. He didn't understand that, stripped of the protection offered by closed doors, Lex would hold on to what was his until it killed him.
"I -" Lex stopped, searching for words Clark would understand. "Loving you isn't a choice," he said slowly, gaining momentum as he went, learning about himself even as the words spilled from his mouth. "It isn't easy. I don't even know if I'd be strong enough to choose it if I could. But I know this: if you cut me open and pulled out everything I am and everything I know, the thing at the center, the thing that's below thought and breath and sight, is the way I feel about you."
Clark was watching him, his mouth fallen open and his eyes like a storm-stirred lake. "But then why the hiding?"
Lex shrugged. "All the reasons we talked about are still there. Public reaction to a gay superhero and a gay governor -" He didn't add the part about Clark's enemies, foreign and domestic. Clark was going to figure out soon enough that Lex now had a target tattooed on his forehead. "I thought it would be easier for both of us. I have to share you with every person on Earth. I didn't want to share this. But if I have to decide between you or leaving politics and being splashed across the pages of every tabloid from now until the next millenium, that isn't a decision at all."
"Lex," Clark said, pulling him close. "I don't want you to give up who you are for me."
Lex grabbed Clark's hand and squeezed hard. "But that is who I am. I am for you. All the rest is commentary."
Clark blinked rapidly. "Uh - There's really no way for me to follow that without sounding incredibly stupid, but - Me too?"
He was doing the puppy-dog eyes. It was so sweet and silly and Clark that Lex couldn't help but smile and feel better.
It was like Clark always said - money and power could be measured, but some things were priceless.
Things were very clear to him, now.
"We'll hold a press conference tomorrow. Or I can do it on my own, if you manage to find a convenient emergency instead." He smiled crookedly at Clark, who was beginning to smile back. "I'll explain that I'm instructing that the motel owner be prosecuted for any other privacy violations he's committed, and say we'd like to be accorded the courtesy any other couple gets. We won't get it, but it's important to say it. Then we'll see what happens. The world doesn't just change, Clark, people change it. We'll change it."
Clark wasn't breathing, just staring at him.
"Enough of a plan for you?"
Clark's grin was wide and bright enough to light up the room. "You are so sexy when you're decisive. It's a great plan, but it's incomplete."
Lex raised his eyebrows. "Enlighten me."
"Before that, we're going to go upstairs and fuck until you don't know your own name."
Lex smiled, the one Clark always mocked as his megalomaniac smile. "Now that's a plan worthy of Superman."