Lex hated winter. He hated summer as well, and any extreme weather that might require him to wear headgear and Lex Luthor was not a hat sort of individual. When the sun came out, or the weather grew chill, Lex retreated indoors where he would stay until spring or fall returned. Summer in Smallville had been a bitch. Winter looked to be the same. Both made Lex feel more imprisoned than he already did.
He stood at a window in the long corridor separating two wings of the house. It looked out over the rear drive that cut through the back lawn, and the gardens running along each side of the ornamental pond. The pond looked cold, its dark blue-black surface rippled with the occasional gust of wind, and the leaves scattered across it skimmed over the waves before sinking into the depths. The trees looked black too, like old bones, and like bones, rattled together with the wind surging through them. They reached up into a dull grey sky. Everything looked as if painted from Lex's personal color palette; black and gray.
The wind came up again. A swirl of white rushed past the glass, snow flurries. November was an ugly month. It was too warm to snow properly, and too cold for comfort. It was damp, and cold, and unpretty, and Lex, who enjoyed beautiful things, found the month of November disgusting. This year in particular, shut up behind cold stone walls inside a dark and dreary mansion in the middle of fucking nowhere, he was miserable.
It was two weeks until Thanksgiving. He had everything, and nothing for which to be thankful.
He raised the glass of juice he held, amber colored like liqueur, but without the bitter tang and the numbing effects. He wished it were scotch, but it was too early in the morning, even for his rebellious nature. It was apple juice instead. It was pure, sweet, and unclouded, like the boy who had delivered it. Lex drank, and tasting the sweetness of it, wondered if Clark tasted the same way.
Lex looked out the windows, thinking of Clark, and wished he were back in the city, where the view was bright and sparkling even beneath the gray skies, and the temptations were those he could handle. There were pretty boys there too, boys who could be bought, and sold, and seduced with ease and without repercussions; he still had Nick's number.
Nick was dark haired, with bright blue eyes instead of stormy green-gray, but the basic look was the same. It didn't much matter when your eyes were closed anyway and you were picturing someone else on their knees before you, making you feel so good. His eyes were closed now, remembering the last visit to his long neglected apartment in Metropolis. Nick had come at his call, eager to please, and Lex surrendered himself to his talents.
He'd murmured Clark's name in the heat of their passion, as his body opened to admit the imposter, and his eyes filled with tears borne not of the pain of invasion, but of heartache and longing. Then he'd wanted to be back in Smallville in the embrace of another. He'd closed his eyes and imagined Clark's body, not quite as thickly muscled, and longer, wrapping itself around his own. The breath against his lips would taste of something sweet and pure, not the bitterness of alcohol and cigarettes.
Nick had left somewhat richer; Lex remained unfulfilled. He'd curled himself into the tangle of silken bedsheets, wishing he dared to take what he wanted. He usually got what he wanted, it was intrinsic to being a Luthor. In this case he was dishonoring the family name, but his desires went beyond simple lust. He wanted too much this time to take it unoffered.
He opened his eyes.
A bright spot of color appeared against the gray, moving slowly up the driveway, representative of the brightness Clark brought into an otherwise dreary existence. Lex glanced at his watch and smiled; Clark was running late as usual. Raising his eyes, he followed the blue truck as it wound its way over the dull brown cobbles of the drive past the dark trees, beneath the grey skies. It came to a halt by the back doors.
There was not much in the way of fresh produce in the winter, but the Kents' had business yet the same. They had a greenhouse in which Martha experimented with hydroponics, producing hothouse tomatoes so tender one would think they were fresh from a summer garden instead. They also produced cider and baked goods, smoked meats and homemade cheeses. The juice Lex drank had been ordered from Kent Organic; Clark had brought it just last week.
Elixir o' Clark; perhaps that's how he did it. He drugged Lex with the apple juice as if it were some sort of potion, stirring passions and wanton desires, inflaming nerves and muscles with lust. Lex licked his lips, the edge of the glass, and felt his groin throbbing as the sweet flavor hit his palate. His eyes found the truck again.
Clark emerged, a bright butterfly out of season, breaking forth from the prison of its cocoon into the ugliness of winter instead of the brightness of spring. Like the blue truck, his red coat stood out in stark relief against the drabness of his surroundings. Feathery white vapor swirled around him as the warmth of his exhaled breath clashed with the cold air, and Lex, observing from above, moaned.
What would it be like, to share that breath, to taste it against his lips and feel it against his throat? The vague memories left him from the first day they'd met, when Clark breathed life back into his cold body with warm lips pressed to his, were simply not enough to sustain him. He wanted to live beneath those lips, not lie cold and dead. He wanted to give back the breath Clark had given him, and exchange a different sort of warmth, exchange a different sort of life.
He ached; wanting, needing.
Just a touch, one gentle caress from the strong hands that lifted the box of goods from the back of the truck, was all Lex wanted for now. His eyes followed those hands as Clark balanced the box on his hip with one, and reached for the jug of cider with the other. They were strong hands, made for the hard work he performed on the the farm. They were gentle hands. Lex had experienced them both in one way or another, but never in the way he most desired.
Closing his eyes again, he sighed, seeking to still the burning heat coursing through his veins. When he opened them, Clark was gone, having entered through the kitchen to drop off his deliveries.
Lex turned from the muted gray of outdoors to the muted gray of indoors. The old Scottish castle had been reproduced much too accurately for Lex's taste. It felt old, and dark, and dreary, and was never quite warm enough for him. This was his father's house, indicative of his father's penchant for the "classics," and his archaic ways of honor and chivalry.
Yet somewhere Lionel Luthor's definition of honor had been skewed, and Lex, infused with the same virus, fought hard to regain a more accurate view. He felt the need to purge, cleanse himself of the influence of a man so self centered he'd not attended his own wife's funeral. He was finding it difficult. It was made more difficult by being trapped in exile within walls thick with Lionel's presence, weakened by the frantic need to escape via any means possible, including falling in love with the unattainable.
Clark had the scent of snow on him, but his smile was all sunshine and warmth. "Hi!"
They met at the doors to the study, where the corridor from the kitchen emerged at the foot of the stairs Lex descended. Lex saluted him with the nearly empty glass of juice.
"I hope you brought more."
Lex lead them into the study. "You have time for a game?" he asked, and prayed to the Gods he did not sound as needy as he felt.
Stay. Please, stay.
Because Clark made light where there was darkness and warmed the chill air when no one else - nothing else - could. Lex was so cold, alone in the big house that felt so uncomfortable; he felt like he was frozen not only in body but in spirit as well. Time had stopped, and he was no longer living, but simply existing. The only time he felt alive, was with Clark. Without him, Lex felt as if he remained in the waters of the river; cold, drowned, and forgotten.
Clark's face responded an instant before his voice did, twisting into a wince, and dashing Lex's hopes to the ground. "I can't. I promised Pete I'd come over and watch the game with him."
"Kansas State." One dark brow arched. "Football?"
Lex finished the juice, using the glass to hide his disappointment. He set it down on his desk and stared at it a split second before, features reschooled to their proper mask of indifference, he turned back to Clark.
"Oh." The memory of the glass haunted him. He was just as empty. "I'm not much of a football fan."
"Doesn't your father own the Metropolis Sharks?"
"Last time I checked." Lex examined his fingernails, anything to avoid looking at Clark directly. "He uses it as a tax shelter. I don't think he's ever set foot in the stadium."
"Well, to tell the truth, I'm not real into it either. I only wanted to play because I wasn't allowed, and I only watch it because dad and Pete do, but..."
Lex allowed his gaze to find Clark's face. "But what?" he asked.
Clark's lips twitched, and his face settled into a mild scowl, as if he'd never thought about not liking football. It was too much a part of his current existence to imagine anything else in its place.
"I dunno, I guess I could find other things to do." He grinned. "Like hang with you."
"As if I'm that interesting." Lex chuckled.
Just that much was all it took to buoy his spirits. The admission that Clark would rather spend time with Lex than with his father or a long time friend, opened to Lex so many possibilities; impossible possibilities perhaps, for clearly Clark's love for Lana Lang was all encompassing, and left little room for bald billionaires' sons who were of the wrong gender. How could Lex compete with a pretty young girl in the eyes of a small town boy who knew nothing else existed?
What did Clark know about passion? Passion to Clark was stealing a kiss in the darkness of a movie theater, or making out on his parents' couch. It did not involve writhing bodies, sweat, or tongues in places he'd never imagined, producing pleasures never before dreamed. It did not encompass bad language, or moaning, or the frantic cries produced by one on the verge of climax.
It certainly did not involve Lex Luthor.
Clark was fresh apple juice, made sweeter with sugar.
Lex was apple brandy; juice tainted by the sharp sting of alcohol.
"Nobody else treats me like I can think for myself like you do, Lex. You give me advice, but you make me figure things out on my own. Usually I just do what people say."
"And that makes me interesting?"
"That makes you my friend." Shoulders rolled in a shrug. "And makes me enjoy talking to you. When I'm with you, I can say things I can't normally say." His eyes found Lex's gaze. "You listen to me. I appreciate that, especially since you're so busy, and - stuff."
"I'm not that busy, Clark. You know you're welcome here anytime. As for stuff, I may need a little more clarification as to what you mean by 'stuff'."
Shuffling his feet uneasily, Clark shook his head, and looked at Lex from beneath the heavy fall of his hair. The expression was somewhat sheepish. "We don't exactly have the same social status. I mean, you're the son of one of the richest men in the world. I'm - nobody."
Lex let the silence drag before responding, savoring the look of those eyes as they gazed up at him, admiring the shape and the color before they lowered again. The fall of dark lashes against cheeks flushed with cold, or perhaps embarrassment, made Lex's chest hurt. The boy was simply too beautiful. He had no right to look like he did, and to be who he was, hidden from the world on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Lex wanted to dress him up, take him out, and show the world the treasure he had found; the treasure that belonged to him heart and soul.
It could never be, not that way, even if Clark were inclined to give himself up to it, because Lex could not do it to him. Something of the innocence, the freshness and purity, would be destroyed and rendered unable to be reclaimed. It would make Clark - not Clark - and it was he who Lex desired most.
"You're somebody to me," he said quietly.
The words were so thick with meaning that no one could have missed the underlying affection. Clark never had before, in the times Lex had slipped up and allowed his true feelings to show. That was the thing about Clark; he wasn't nearly as obtuse as people believed him to be, nor so callus not to recognize affection when he saw it. He'd confessed, for example, knowing Chloe had a crush on him. He simply did not know how to react to it. In such a position Clark took the stance that keeping his silence would be better than mucking things up with his ignorance.
He said nothing to Chloe, and until now, had never said anything to Lex.
"I know," Clark replied.
There was more to be said, Lex could see it in his eyes, and in the way his voice faltered at the end of the phrase. There was a choice to be made, in how Lex responded. Taking a risk, he grasped the moment and kept it in place, unlike previous times when he'd allowed Clark to escape from the truth back into denial.
His voice was a whisper. "And yet you come back."
One step forward, and personal space merged. Lex could feel the warmth of Clark's body and smell the scent of his clothing. It seethed into his mind like a vaporous poison, grasping his heart and giving it a hard squeeze.
"You're my friend."
Friends did not stand so close.
Neither one of them spoke. Clark didn't have the words to say, and Lex's words would be too disclosing. Instead they nourished the silence, until, unable to bear it any longer, Lex raised one hand to Clark's face. His fingers brushed against the fullness of Clark's lips in a chaste kiss, caressed his cheek in a silent expression of desire, pausing there trembling, before falling away again.
Sated, but not satisfied, never satisfied, Lex stepped back and away. He turned to his desk and picked up his empty glass, holding it in his hands so to hide how they were shaking. It had been too little, and yet, too much.
Clark inhaled, and when he spoke his voice was gruff. "I have to go," he whispered.
Lex nodded. "Tell Pete I said hello."
The tension was broken by the small jest. Pete's smoldering hatred, masked by politeness, had not gone unnoticed.
"Sure." Clark turned to go, but he paused at the door, and looked back into the room. "Are you all right?"
There was a lengthy pause. "I'll stop by tomorrow."
Lex closed his eyes; behind closed lids they burned. "I'll see you then."
Go, please, just go.
The glass had cracked where Lex had been holding it so tightly in his hands. It had not actually broken. There was something to be thankful for anyway. He hastily set it down, and with swift strides he was up the stairs again, pressed to the window again, looking outside into the gray shrouded yard.
It was snowing. Large fluffy snowflakes were spilling forth from the gray skies, falling as if in slow motion to the ground. It was starting to stick, frosting the dark trees and covering the frost burnt lawn with a thin white blanket. Lex was reminded of cotton, and thought of warm blankets and soft downy pillows. Perhaps he would have a hot bath, and curl up in his bed with a book. He was, after all, not much of a football fan.
Lex flinched as Clark appeared, smiled faintly as the boy raised his face skyward and grinned at the falling snow. It fell against his bright coat, and speckled his hair with white as if he were aging in seconds. He reached a hand up to the sky and let the snow fall into his palm, where Lex knew it would melt swiftly from the warmth of his skin. Clark's simple joy, so pure and sweet, so child-like, made everything hurt that much worse.
Masochistically, Lex could not turn away. He forced himself to watch as Clark got into the truck, and drove away into the swirling snow. The bright blue vehicle quickly vanished out of sight and, the light that had momentarily banished the darkness went with it, leaving Lex bereft of its warmth once again. He raised his hand, pressing his fingers to the cold glass as if to entreat Clark's return, but there was nothing left outside but gray skies, dark water, and swirling snow.
Clark was gone.
Lex sighed, and moving away from the window, returned to his silent prison.