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Lost and Found

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Lost and Found

by AnaRae


Spoilers: Through Vortex, but the whole Nixon thing didn't happen. Challenge: Clark comes out to his parents. Jonathon takes it badly, very badly. Also hits the Clark as a rent-boy challenge. Author


When he reached the ocean he collapsed. The confrontation with his father on an endless loop in his head. On his knees, with tears streaming down his face, all he could feel was despair.

~earlier~

Clark approached the workshop nervously. His mother was out helping friends with the clean up from the tornadoes, so it was just him and his dad. It was the perfect opportunity to talk.

Jonathon had always told Clark he could tell him anything. And Clark had. They'd discussed all his gifts as they manifested, and all the normal teenage stuff as well. His father had always given him unconditional support. Hopefully, that would hold true with his latest revelation.

"Hey, Dad, have you got a minute?" Clark shuffled his feet in the doorway.

"Sure, son," the elder Kent replied without turning, "just let me finish . . . there." He turned and regarded his son. "What can I help you with, Clark?"

Clark swallowed his nervousness, this was his dad. He didn't have anything to worry about. He'd get a clap on the shoulder and told everything would be alright. That it'll all work out for the best. "Can I talk to you about something?"

"Sure son, you look upset. Is another power developing?" concern colored his voice.

"Not really," Clark hesitated, "not a power, but maybe . . . yeah, it is just as strange, I guess."

"Spit it out Clark, it can't be that bad," Jonathon was almost jovial as he clapped a hand on Clark's shoulder.

Clark took a deep breath to try to calm himself. He opened his mouth, closed it and looked down.

"Son," Jonathon was very concerned now, "is everything okay? You know you can tell me anything."

It was as if those were magic words. They gave him the courage to continue. Taking another steadying breath he looked his dad in the eye. "Dad, I'm gay."

Shock was evident in every line of the older man's frame. "No you're not." It was obviously a knee-jerk statement.

He was taken aback by his father's reaction. However, it was a shocking revelation. "Yeah, Dad, I am," Clark looked at the floor. "I've thought about it lots."

"What about Lana?" Jonathon asked confusedly.

"I guess I was just trying to convince myself I liked her cause I'm supposed to" Clark shrugged.

"No," Jonathon took a step back, "you are not gay. No son of mine is a - a faggot," by the last word he was nearly snarling.

Clark stepped back as well; he'd never seen his father like this. Yeah, his dad got angry, but never with this kind of disgust. He talked about Lionel Luther in a kinder tone. "Dad," he started.

"No," his dad interrupted, "Clark, you are not some fucking fairy. I don't know where you got the idea, but you forget it right now."

Tears started to form in Clark's eyes, "I wish it wasn't true Dad, but it is. I don't want to be any more different then I already am."

"That's not different," Jonathon began yelling, "it's an offence against God! I will not have that under my roof!"

Clark gasped, the tears breaking free at the venom in his dad's voice. "You," his voice broke, "you don't mean that."

"Yes, I do," Jonathon snarled, "no abomination against nature will stay in my home."

The boy reeled back as if hit. His dad thought he was an abomination! Then it stuck him, he was an abomination. He wasn't from this planet, he was unnatural. Sobs hitched his breathing. "Dad," it was a plea.

The look of utter disgust on his dad's face had him turning and running blindly. Not caring where he went, just that he had to get away. Chants of unnatural, freak and abomination drumming through his head.

~unknown coast~

Sunlight and the unfamiliar sound of breaking waves woke Clark. Sitting up, he stretched and blinked in confusion. The events of the night slammed into him with the force of a train. Whimpering he cradled his head in his hands. He didn't know what he was going to do. He couldn't go home. His dad had made that clear. He had no idea where he was, no money and only the clothes on his back. At a loss, he sat and watched the surf roll in.

~Smallville, same day~

Lex Luther started at the beeping from his lap top. It was 4:10 p.m.; Clark would be dropping by with his produce delivery in another twenty minuets or so. The order wasn't much, due to the storm damage, but continuing to order was the only way Lex was able to help the proud family. He knew it was juvenile that he set an alarm to let him know when Clark was due. However, he looked forward to talking to the young man. Setting the alarm gave him time to finish any work that couldn't wait till after Clark left.

He didn't really find it odd he enjoyed the company of a 15-year-old. He wasn't that far from being a teenager himself. Besides, he'd always picked his friends irregardless of age, gender or social status. The privilege of the rebellious rich. There was just so much more to Clark then met the eye. First impressions were of an awkward, bumbling youth. Once the enigmatic youth became comfortable around him however, Lex had realized it was all a ruse. Clark had grace and confidence in abundance. He was also terribly bright with a wicked wit. Lex was at a loss as to why the young man would hide himself. All he could figure was that it's hard to be different in a small town. And wasn't that something he knew all about?

At 4:30, he wandered down to the kitchen to be on hand when Clark arrived. He wondered if he could talk the boy into staying for a game of pool. Lex wouldn't lie to himself; he liked having the young man around for more than just his personality. However, Clark, being underage, ensured he would make no moves. There was no law against looking and enjoying the view though.

Thoughts on the beguiling youth, he was surprised to see Martha Kent in his kitchen. "Mrs. Kent, what a surprise. I thought the men handled the deliveries." His surprise went up when he took in her appearance. She was obviously upset; face haggard, eyes red, with dark circles underneath. He'd never seen her less than well put together. It was concerning. "Is everything alright? Nothing has happened to Clark or Mr. Kent has it?"

Martha eyed him wearily, "No, no, Jonathon's fine. Clark's. . . " trailing off, she sighed and looked away.

"What about Clark, is he okay?" Lex was concerned; it must be something bad to upset the normally unflappable woman.

"I'm - I'm not sure." She paused, "Jonathon'll be dropping off the rest of the deliveries." She turned to leave.

Lex stepped forward, reaching to stop her, "I don't understand, what's wrong with Clark?"

Not turning from the open door Martha replied in a tired voice, "I don't know. He's gone." She slipped from under his hand, leaving Lex to watch her go, stunned.

Clark was gone? What the hell did she mean? Surly Clark didn't run away. Lex would never think Clark to be the kind of kid that would run away from home. His parents obviously loved and supported him. Sure his dad didn't let him play football, but that was hardly something the stable seeming young man would get that upset over. Besides, that was nearly a year ago now. There had to be something going on. Lex decided he was going to find out what. Good kids like Clark didn't just disappear.

~unknown coast~

The day had passed with no revelations. None that helped anyway. As he'd sat, all he could think was that he no longer belonged anywhere. He was totally alone for the first time in his life, and it scared him. He'd never before had to face anything without the support of his parents or friends.

His friends, now there was a thought. But, no, they'd be no help. Chloe and Pete were no older than him, what could they do? There was Lex, but he didn't feel comfortable going to the billionaire with something of this magnitude. Besides, his dad was right, he was unnatural. He was an alien for God's sake. He couldn't be trusted around humans. God only knew what he could do. He'd almost killed Phelan, who's to say he would stop himself next time. And it's not like he could tell anyone. Even if he wasn't believed he had no desire to end up in a lab somewhere.

Sighing, he realized he'd come to a decision. He couldn't rely on anyone but himself. He couldn't afford to get close to anyone, either. So, it was up to him. If he ignored why, it was a heady feeling.

Resigned, he finally took a good look around. It was a lovely beach, the sand smooth and white, with liberally scattered boulders of all sizes. A short distance in either direction were towering cliffs. He could tell from the position of the sun he was on the west coast. Well, that answered the question of which direction he'd run in. He'd been so distraught the night before he'd just run blindly. Looking around some more, Clark was surprised he'd not been disturbed. Then again it was November, and the beach did look pretty isolated.

The sun was beginning to sink into the sea. Finding a rock above the high tide mark, Clark settled against it. There was no point in trying to find any place better. The part of him still reeling from his father's words, and it was a rather large part; felt he didn't deserve any better. After all, he isn't human, he doesn't deserve human comfort.

//

He woke to steel colored clouds rolling in over the ocean. There was a definite bite to the air. He still felt empty inside, but he knew he couldn't stay on the beach forever. There was still the business of living. Clark barked a humorless laugh, he wasn't" even sure he could die. He had no choice but to live.

First things first, he needed to figure out where he was. Then he could decide where to go. Since he was on the west coast the second part was easy. He'd always wanted to see San Francisco. All he had to do was travel inland till he found a place to get directions. And food, the rumbling of his stomach reminded him.

Sparing a glance at the sky, he decided he'd better get moving. It looked like it was going to rain any minute.

//

Clark trudged along, head down, hands jammed in pockets, at a walk. He had no desire to use his speed. He didn't know where he was going, why get there faster? Night had fallen, and it had been raining a cold stinging rain for at least an hour, when he finally got to a highway. He walked along the shoulder, not paying attention to the passing cars. Only looking up from his feet when a road sign appeared. Eighty miles to San Francisco. He stood and looked at the sign for a long minute, mind numb. He grimaced; at least something was going his way. He was headed in the right direction and didn't have far to go. With head bowed he continued on.

A car pulling up beside him broke his contemplation. As Clark looked at the car blankly, the window rolled down, and a masculine voice asked, "Do ya need a ride?"

It took a moment for the question to penetrate the fog in Clark's brain. When it did, every warning his parents had ever given him concerning strangers flashed through his mind. With a pang in his heart, he realized none of those warnings applied to him. They were for a normal kid. Something he now realized he'd never been and never would be. "Sure," he replied in a voice devoid of emotion.

The man in the car opened the door and Clark got in. "Sorry about getting the seats wet."

"Not a problem," the man laughed, "they're scotch-guarded, a little wet won't hurt `em. I'm David by the way."

"Clark," Clark returned the courtesy.

"So, Clark," pulling on to the highway, David began, "where ya from?"

The young man didn't think anyone would be looking for him, but it was better to be safe than sorry. "No where really," and actually, that wasn't far from the truth.

"Well, Clark, form no where, where ya headed?"

"San Francisco," Clark answered the question honestly.

"You're in luck then. I'm headed to Berkley myself, I can drop you off."

"Thanks." Clark hoped the guy was done asking questions. He really didn't want to talk. David seemed to get the hint and they traveled in silence.

Clark was watching the rain drenched lights along the highway when he felt something settle on his thigh. Startled, he looked over at David. The other man appeared to be concentrating on his driving, but his right hand had moved from its resting place on the gear shift to Clark's thigh.

What the hell, he thought. He shifted around uncomfortably in the seat. Suddenly the hand stroked and squeezed his thigh. He froze, staring out the windshield. Oh, shit, now what was he supposed to do? This is exactly why his patents warned him about strangers. This and making sure his secrets stayed that way. It's not like David could do anything to him that he didn't want, but that could give away how different his is.

"Hey, relax," David continued to stroke Clark's leg, "it's no big deal. I'm doing you a favor giving you a lift, so you do me a favor." He emphasized his words by kneading Clark's leg.

"Wh-what kind of favor?" He had a pretty good idea what David wanted. He may have been sheltered growing up, but he wasn't stupid.

"It's simple." The caresses became firmer, "you use that pretty mouth of yours to suck me off. If you don't, I'll be sure to let the police know about the newest run-away on the streets. I'm sure you don't want to go back to the no where you're from."

Clark drew a shuddering breath; he didn't know what to think. The calm, gentle voice the man used felt more threatening than anything he'd ever heard. David was so sure, as if it were a done deal. And sucking him off - a blow-job - Clark closed his eyes in despair, something he'd fantasized about. Something he wanted to do - but not like this. Not like a-a whore. He was unnatural, a freak, though, what made him think he was any better than a whore? More deserving of any kind of consideration? They, after all, were human. Keeping his eyes closed he gave his answer, "Okay, I'll do it."

"Such a good boy," David patted his leg. "You made the right choice. You've got such a pretty mouth, I'm sure you'll be great."

~Smallville, one week later~

Lex swung at the speed bag in frustration. It'd been a week, and no word about Clark. He'd gotten nothing from the Kents'. Only Martha's admission that the boy was gone. They'd made polite noises when Lex had offered his resources to help find the young man, but not accepted the help. He'd gotten the feeling from Mr. Kent, that there was something going on only the elder man knew about. It was almost as if the man didn't care if his son were found. That he was going through the motions to support his wife. And that just didn't jibe with what Lex knew of the Kents'.

He'd gotten nowhere with Clarks friends either. Chloe was in Metropolis for her internship at the Daily Planet, and had been since school had gotten out. Pete was away visiting relatives. Neither one had been around in the weeks preceding Clark's disappearance. As far as he knew, they still didn't know Clark was gone. Lana had been upset at the news, but she had no idea what could have happened. All she could offer was that Clark had seemed more distracted and withdrawn before he'd disappeared. Lex had noticed the same thing. He'd asked Clark what was bothering him, but had let it go when the young man didn't want to talk about it. Now, he was kicking himself for not pushing more. All he could think was that if he'd managed to get the teen to open up, he wouldn't be missing now.

Even though the Kents' had refused his help, Lex had put out feelers at all the shelters, hospitals, and crisis centers in Gotham and Metropolis. He knew it was the least he could do for his friend. They'd turned up nothing. It was disheartening. It's been a week and Clark could be anywhere. Although, Lex didn't think the teen would've gone far from home. There was nothing he could do but wait and hope Clark turned up, or came home on his own. Waiting was not a thing Lex enjoyed, it frustrated him. All he could do was take his tension out on the speed bag and keep looking.

~three days earlier, San Francisco~

Clark huddled on a bench in Golden Gate Park. He had no idea how long he'd been there, staring at the name and address David had given him. The man had handed it to him when he'd dropped Clark off. He'd done David his "favor" - his stomach still rolled at the remembrance two days later. David had said he was such a "good boy", that his mouth was "perfect" and "so hot". When he dropped Clark off, on some anonyms block, he'd given the teen the card. Telling him the man on it specialized in kids like Clark, and he should look him up. Clark wasn't dumb, he caught the meaning. The man was a pimp, and Clark may be an abomination, but he wasn't a whore - yet. Two days with no food, no money and no prospects had started to change his mind.

Besides, he thought, it isn't like I'm good for anything else. He was a freak, he deserved to be used. Especially, since because of him, there had been so much tragedy in Smallville. Lana's parents, Greg, Sean, Tina, Earl and he didn't know how many others. If he hadn't come down in Smallville, so many people would be better off. Like Lex, he wouldn't have lost his hair, or been attacked by all those different mutants. God, Lex. Clark pulled into himself tighter; it was the older man who had made Clark finally stop hiding from himself. He'd known for a long time Lana didn't "do it" for him. Yeah, she was pretty, but she didn't excite him. When he realized he found men attractive, he'd panicked and shoved the feelings as far down as possible, focusing all his attention on Lana, because she's what he should want. The girl next door, literally, pretty, cheerleader. Then Lex came along. The billionaire was so suave, smooth, so comfortable in his own body. Clark was jealous of the man's self possession. And Lex flirted with nearly everyone, male and female. Clark had watched, nearly in awe the first time he'd realized Lex was flirting with a man. They'd been at a restaurant in Metropolis. Their waiter had been very attractive. He'd begun flirting, and Lex had shamelessly flirted right back. It was then Clark realized he wanted that, to be comfortable with who he was, like Lex was. To not be ashamed, to not hide. He already had too many secrets; he didn't want to add to them. After agonizing over it and making sure he had no doubts - erasing his doubts had come in the form of some very enlightening and enjoyable time spent online, the miracle of the internet - he felt comfortable calling himself gay. He wasn't ready to tell his parents yet, but he figured they'd be supportive. He clamped down on that thought, the pain and rejection he felt still fresh.

He really had nothing, what did it matter what happened to him? Maybe, he thought, he could make up for the pain his arrival had caused. He was a freak and he deserved to be treated like one. Maybe this guy, he looked at the card again, Danny Prescott, was the way to go. He'd seen some pretty graphic stuff online - brutal in some cases. Realization dawned. That was what he deserved, to be used like that, to make up for not being human, for letting down his patents, for being an offence to God. Suppressing the part of him that was all that was left of Jonathon and Martha Kent's good son Clark and letting the bleakness of self-loathing and depression take over, he made his way to the address on the card.

~five years later, San Francisco~

Lex looked around the club appreciatively, he'd been in San Francisco three months already, and this was the first time he'd been out. The sleazy club was just what he needed. It was dark and smoky with flashing lights of all colors and pounding music. The perfect place to pick up an evenings entertainment. Not drugs, he hadn't touched those since he went back to college, some mindless dancing and maybe a quick fuck in the men's room - if the night went well.

He worked his way onto the dance floor, twisting and swaying to the beat. He'd settled into a rhythm with a spiked haired redhead when he caught sight of a tall brunette from the corner of his eye. Even after five years, tall, tan, brunettes caused him to look closer. He was still looking for Clark after all this time. The loss of his friend had caused him to reevaluate his life. It was how he had honored the memory of the boy who had saved his life. Lex had decided life was too short to not do what you wanted. His father losing his eyesight had reinforced that decision. While he did enjoy business, it wasn't his passion. So, while he still owned the Smallville fertilizer plant, the Talon, and a few other interests in the name of Lexcorp, he didn't run them. He left them in the capable hands of Gabe Sullivan, Lana Lang - who had turned out to have a killer business instinct - and others. He used the money they made him, and his newfound freedom, to pursue his passion of hard science, namely microbiology and biochemistry. In fact he was at Berkley to finish his doctorate.

The pulsing of the dance floor had moved him closer to the brunette. The young man was wrapped around a tall, beefy, blond, grinding and writhing like they were the only two on the floor. A surge of bodies carried him past the couple and he finally got a good look at the young man's face. Holy shit! The guy looked just like Clark! The face was a little thinner and more mature, but it had been five years since he'd last seen it.

Lex abandoned the redhead, who turned to find a new partner, and pushed his way to where he'd last seen the Clark look-a-like. He caught sight of the couple heading toward the door and hurried to catch up. He had to find out if this stranger was Clark. He looked so much like the teen Lex remembered, it had to be him. For the first time in a long time he allowed himself to hope that the boy who saved him would be found.

He caught up to them outside; they were standing on the sidewalk, just past the bouncer, under a street light. The brunette had his back to Lex, but the older man could hear the brunette's voice. The words stopped him cold.

"Look, Mike," the brunette said, "I don't negotiate price. You pay what Danny says. Thirty for a blow, 60 for a fuck, 100 for anything fancy, 200 if you wanna make me bleed. Either you pay what Danny says or you find someone else. You're wasting my time."

Lex was shocked immobile by what he heard. The voice was Clark's, but colder, harder, and the words. Jesus Christ, $200 to make him bleed? What the fuck was that about? He missed whatever the blond said, but he must have agreed to pay because they were moving down the street. Lex watched them walk away. He definitely needed to find out if that was really his friend. And if it was, why the hell he was working as a hooker.

Right, then, who to get information from? He turned to the bouncer, who was watching the night go by. "Hey, you know who that brunette is?"

"Which one?" the guy asked.

"The one who just left with the blonde."

"Oh, that's Alex," the bouncer answered.

"Alex?" The name was a bit of a shock. If this were really Clark, and he'd changed his name, the choice was interesting.

"Yeah," the bouncer continued, "Alex Sullivan. Why'd ya wanna know?"

Lex was taken aback by the name. Alex? Sullivan? Christ, it could defiantly be Clark with a name like that. "Let's just say I'm interested."

The bouncer looked him over before answering, "Sully works for Danny. The boy's rough trade. You can do anything to him." A leer lit the man's face, "And I mean anything, ya catch my drift? He sucks it up like a sponge. Course, ya gotta have the money. That one ain't cheap."

Christ, this was just wrong. If this Alex was really Clark, what the hell had happened to him? "How would I contact him?"

"The best way is through Danny. Here," the bouncer pulled out a card, "this is the number. Tell 'im ya got the number here, finders fee ya know." The guy looked Lex over again, "It's too bad really, Alex's a nice kid."

"Yeah," Lex took the card and walked away. He had a lot to think about, and hopefully a friend to find.

//

Three nights later he was on his way to meet "Alex". Danny had been more then happy to set Lex up as Alex's first "date" of the night. Apparently the man was very popular. Danny pretty much told him everything he'd already learned from the bouncer, along with the fact there wasn't anything Alex didn't do. In fact, the boy apparently liked the extreme stuff. Lex even told Danny how he'd gotten the number. If Alex really was Clark, he owed the bouncer more than a finders fee.

Lex had set the meeting up for a diner near his apartment. A public place, yet near enough they could have privacy if they needed it. He got there early, ordered coffee and sat in the back, where he could see the door. He was surprised at how nervous he was. As much as he wanted to find Clark, he hoped Alex wasn't him. Clark didn't deserve the kind of life the man apparently led.

He didn't wait very long. He'd only been there about ten minuets before "Alex" came in. Seeing the man in the harsh light of the diner, Lex's chest constricted. If this wasn't Clark, he'd be surprised. A little older, and dressed differently, but it was Clark, or his twin. Which was a possibility, Lex realized with a jolt. Clark was adopted he remembered. There was a chance he did have a twin. Lex took a steadying breath and approached the man, who was now sitting at the counter. Lex noted that along with the standard rent-boy attire of ripped jeans and tight t-shirt, the Clark look-a-like also wore a slim black leather collar. "Alex?" he asked when he reached the young man's side. Lex's breath caught as Alex turned and looked up at him. Oh, God, it was Clark!

"Yeah," came the bored drawl, so unlike the Clark Lex remembered. He saw recognition flash quickly across the young man's eyes. "Who're you?"

Lex was hurt; he saw that Clark had recognized him. His need to talk to Clark after all these years quickly over road the pain however. If this was the way Clark wanted to play it he could do that. "Danny sent me."

"Alright then," Clark was all business now, "where do ya wanna go then?"

"How about my place? It's close by." Lex knew he was taking a chance. In his experience, regular street prostitutes rarely went to the clients' home. Preferring some place neutral, where they would have some control over the situation. But he wanted Clark with him, on his turf.

He was surprised, but pleased when Clark shrugged and said, "Sure."

They left the diner, walking in silence the couple of blocks to Lex's apartment. Lex was too lost in thought to make small talk. This man was Clark, but changed from the Clark he remembered. He was harder, jaded, and where the old Clark's eyes had been full of emotion, this man walking next to him showed nothing. The once dancing eyes were now flat, emotionless. It disturbed Lex a great deal. What happened to the happy boy he knew from Smallville? His musing was interrupted by their arrival at his apartment. Unlocking the door, he ushered Clark in.

As he turned from relocking the door, Clark spoke, "If Danny sent you, you know the prices. What's it gonna be?"

"Actually," Lex answered, "I want to talk." He stayed between Clark and the door. He didn't want to risk the young man bolting.

"Talk?" Clark snorted. "I don't do talking; get your self a shrink." He advanced on Lex, trying to get to the door.

Lex reached a hand out to stop him, "Clark, don't leave."

Clark froze, staring at the door, his voice came out cold, "What do you want, Lex?"

He grinned inside at Clark acknowledging him. He knew he had to be careful though. Clark looked ready to run at the first opportunity. He kept his hand on the other man's arm, "Just to talk. I haven't seen you in five years."

Turning, Clark finally looked Lex in the eye. He continued in the same cold tone, "I don't get paid to talk." He removed Lox's hand from his arm, "If you'll get outta my way, I have money to make."

Trying to keep the young man with him Lex asked, "How much?"

Clark looked vaguely surprised, "How much what?"

"How much would it cost me to keep you here the rest of the night?" Lex felt Clark's eyes travel over him, as if weighing his intentions.

"A grand," Clark's voice was flat.

Lex's temper finally got the better of him. He was pissed; the whole situation was fucked up. Clark Kent shouldn't be a rent-boy, and he sure as hell shouldn't be so calm about it. He knew it was unreasonable, but he couldn't help how he felt. "Think a lot of yourself don't you?" he sneered.

Clark calmly shrugged and answered, "I'm popular."

The nonchalant attitude was sending him over the edge. He couldn't keep an edge of malice out of his voice, "Are you now? And what makes you so popular?"

Still with the flat cam voice he replied, "I'll do anything."

"Anything," Lex jeered. "And what's `anything'?"

"Anything, Lex," Clark was looking him in the eye again, "is letting them beat me. Anything is letting them tie me down and cut me open. Anything is letting them treat me like the whore I am and asking for more. Now if you'll get out of my way I've gotta make money."

Lex made no move to stop Clark as he unlocked the door and left. He'd known what Clark apparently did, the overheard conversation at the club, the bouncer, Danny, they'd all told him. But to hear Clark tell him, and in such a matter of fact tone of voice stunned him. He needed to find out what had led the young man to such a lifestyle. He needed to understand. He changed his life in memory of an innocent, caring farm boy. A boy who saved his life. The least he could do was repay in kind.

//

The next night found him back at the club he'd first seen Clark in. Lex didn't see him that night, or the next three. He knew he was obsessing, he couldn't help himself. It was his former best friend, the boy who saved, and changed, his life. He couldn't very well leave him alone. He didn't work like that. He meant it when he said he'd do anything for his friends.

It wasn't until a week after the meeting in the diner that Lex saw Clark again. It was a Tuesday night, and there were only a few people in the club. Clark was sitting at the bar when the older man came in. Slipping into the persona that served him so well in business, he approached the brunette. "Clark," he greeted the other man as he waved for the bartender.

Clark glanced over at him briefly returning his gaze to the array of bottles behind the bar, "It's Alex. What are you doing here Lex?"

Lex ordered a Long Island Iced Tea before replying, "It's a bar "Alex," he stressed the name, "I'm having a drink.

"Don't you have a business to run?" Clark still wasn't looking at him.

"Actually," Lex let a small grin grace his lips, he was sure this news would get a reaction from his old friend, "I don't."

He was right. Clark finally looked at him, surprise written on his face. Before he could stop himself he blurted out, "Why not? What happened?"

Lex allowed the grin to spread across his face. "I'm finishing my doctorate at Berkley. I still own the crap factory in Smallville, as well as a few other interests, but I leave the running of them to others."

Clark actually looked interested in talking to him. Lex had his full attention. "That doesn't sound like the Lex Luther I knew."

"That's because it's not." Lex became serious, "I'm no more the same person I was five years ago than you are."

The remark on the past had no visible affect on Clark. "What happened to make Lex Luther give up his dreams of ruling the world before thirty?"

Lex examined Clark's face carefully before answering, "You." If he hadn't been watching so closely he would've missed the wealth of emotions that crossed his friends face. Surprise and disbelief were nearly overwhelmed by guilt before the formerly expressive features were once again blank.

"Me?" Clark's voice was carefully neutral.

"Your disappearance, followed so closely by my father's blindness, forced me to reconsider the direction of my life. I realized life was too short to not do exactly what I wanted." He let some of the passion he felt color his voice, "That age was no factor in adversary. Young or old, there is no telling when everything could change. I've waited five years, hoping you were alive, to say thank you." He paused to take a calming breath; it was very nearly overwhelming to be able to finally say this to Clark. After all, Clark was the reason he was back in school and happier than he'd been in years. "Thank you, Clark. Because of you, I'm a better person."

The young man just looked at him for a long moment. Abruptly, he stood. "Freddy," he called to the bartender, "put his drinks tonight on my tab. You know I'm good for it." The bartender nodded and resumed wiping down the bar. Clark looked Lex in the eye, shook his head, "I gotta go. See ya," and he was gone.

Lex smiled bemusedly into his drink. Clark said he'd see him again. He snorted; I'm such a teenage girl.

//

Over the next months, Lex managed to run into Clark at least once a week. Always at the same club, usually midweek. They talked a little longer every time. Never anything as personal as the first time. They'd talk about trivial things, sports, politics, Lex's classes. Clark would ask questions, but let Lex do the majority of the talking. Neither one brought up Smallville, the past, or what Clark was doing now. Even without touching on those taboo subjects they were getting to know each other better then they had in Smallville.

One Monday, after nearly four months of these meetings, they were involved in a discussion on the merits of American muscle cars verses European spots cars, when Freddy finally kicked them out. Clark barely hesitated before asking Lex back to his apartment. The bald man was elated; he'd decided to let Clark dictate their level of friendship, and hadn't pushed for more than the younger man was willing to offer. Going to Clark's place was a step in the right direction as far as he was concerned.

The walk to Clark's apartment was uneventful and filled with lively chatter. Lex was prepared for Clark to live a rat hole, so he was pleasantly surprised when they stopped instead at a nice building in a decent neighborhood.

Keying in the entrance code Clark said, "I'm up three floors, we'll have to use the stairs. There's no elevator."

"Not a problem," Lex grinned, "I'm in better shape than your standard science major. Lead on."

Clark's apartment was sparely, but nicely decorated. Book shelves lined the walls of the small living room that the front door opened into. Instead of a couch, he had a couple of armchairs, clothes piled on one. From the doorway, Lex could see a tiny kitchen, barely large enough for the stove and refrigerator it held. To the immediate left a short hall with two doors lead to what the older man assumed to be the bathroom and bedroom.

"Sorry bout the mess," Clark said, grabbing the clothes from the armchair, "I don't usually have anyone up here. Make yourself comfortable, beer's in the fridge. I'll be right back."

"You've got some of everything here, don't you, Alex?" Lex called as he perused the shelves. "Have you read all of them?"

"Yeah," Clark answered coming back into the room, "some of them more than a few times."

"History, philosophy, fiction, religion, psychology, is that a Harlequin?" Lex laughed. Turning to Clark he asked, "What's your favorite?"

"Hey, don't knock the romance buddy," he flopped into an armchair. "As far as a favorite, I'm not sure, they're all interesting. It depends on my mood, I guess."

Lex continued to browse through the books. "I thought I had eclectic tastes. I've got nothing on you."

The younger man laughed, "It passes the time."

"So it does." Lex sat in the other chair. "You know, I don't think I'm ever going to get used to calling you Alex. To me you're Clark."

The brunette sighted and looked down, "Clark's gone Lex. I'm not him anymore and never could be again."

Running a hand over his scalp Lex stared at his shoes. "I know, but I don't understand. I know you don't want to talk about the past, but I want to understand." He lifted his eyes to his friends face, "Please, can't you tell me what happened to make you run away?"

Clark shifted in his chair, looking around the room, his body language screaming discomfort. "I'm not sure I can. I've never talked to anyone about it."

Silence reigned in the small space. Just as Lex was about to speak, to let his friend off the hook, Clark spoke, voice soft, eyes never leaving the floor at his feet.

"It was three weeks after the tornado and the disaster of the spring formal. Those were the catalysts, my date with Chloe and almost loosing my dad. The date with Chloe was my last ditch effort at heterosexuality. I wanted so bad to like her like that, but even as good as she looked I felt nothing for her." He laughed, "Seeing all those guys in tuxes on the other had. So, that was it. I knew I couldn't be what I wasn't. I wasn't ready to come-out yet, though. Then my dad almost died in the tornado. For the first time, it hit me he wouldn't be around forever. I'd always told my dad everything. He always supported me no matter what and I desperately needed his support in this. So, one night, mom was out helping some friends, it was just dad and me. I figured it was the perfect time to tell him."

Clark paused so long Lex didn't think he was going to continue. When he did, his voice was raw with long held pain. "He called me an abomination, an offence against God. He wouldn't listen to me. He was yelling so much. He said no abomination against nature would stay under his roof. What he said, it hurt so much, I didn't know what to do. I ran, and didn't stop till I reached the ocean."

Lex was stunned, he'd known Jonathon Kent could be small minded, but he'd never imagined it would extend to his own son. He'd always thought the Kent's had the perfect family life. He remembered how upset Martha had been after Clark's disappearance. He had assumed Jonathon was the same. Although, after his own father had gotten out of the hospital, he'd gone to Metropolis to help him, so he hadn't seen either Kent in nearly as long as Clark.

"Clark. . . Alex," Lex leaned forward, placing a hand on the other man's arm. "I'm sure he just over reacted, have you tried to talk to him since then? At least to let them know you're alive and where you are."

"No." The younger man's voice became so quiet Lex had to strain to hear it, "He was right. I am an abomination." For the first time since he began his narrative Clark looked Lex in the face, "You mean you didn't call them right after you found me?"

Running a hand over his scalp Lex sighed. "No, I figured if you wanted them to know you would've called them yourself. You're an adult; your relationship with your parents is your own business. Saying that, I think you ought to call, five years is a long time."

The two men sat in silence for a while before Clark spoke, "I think you should go Lex. I want to be alone."

"Oh, okay," the older man stood and made his way to the door. "I'll see you next week?" he couldn't keep it from coming out a question. He left with Clark's half-hearted "Sure" weighing on his heart. Had he just lost his best friend again? A young man, who despite everything, he was beginning to care deeply about.

It turned out his worry was groundless. He did see Clark the next week, and the week after that. They developed a new routine, every Wednesday, after Lex's last class, he'd show up at Clark's apartment. They'd order take-out, drink beer, and talk. For someone who'd never finished high school Clark was brilliant, well read, with thought out opinions on a variety of subjects. Lex loved their rambling talks. In fact, they became the highlight of his week. The guys in his research group teased him about his crush on the young man, with good reason. If Lex wasn't discussing their course work, all he talked about was Clark. It was obvious to anyone who'd pay any attention; Lex was smitten with the man. However, their relationship was purely platonic. The older man was determined to not be the same as any of the other men in Clark's life. And that meant no discussion of sex. In fact, the subject hadn't come up since their first meeting in the diner. Lex made sure of it. No matter how much he found himself lusting for his handsome friend.

One Wednesday, over a year since their first meeting, Lex was grinning to himself as he bounded up the stairs to Clark's door. He was ecstatic, and with good reason. Two good reasons. Last week, Clark had given him his own key to the apartment. He hadn't said anything, just handed Lex the key before the bald man had left. Lex had been speechless. He took it as a sign of trust and affection, and was flattered. The second thing that had him grinning from ear to ear was he'd finally finished his dissertation. Four years it's taken him to get a double doctorate, and he was in the mood to celebrate.

He let himself in, calling for his friend as he closed the door. The apartment was silent, it was odd, Clark was always there when he arrived. Shaking off a strange sense of foreboding, Lex headed for the kitchen and the take-out menus. Clark had probably stepped out for a moment, and would be back any second. He flipped on the light and froze. There was blood all over the sink. "Oh, shit." What the hell happened? "Clark!" he called panic thick in his voice as he searched through the apartment. No Clark in the living room or bathroom, please, God, let him be in the bedroom. Fear gripped him as he reached for the doorknob. What if Clark were seriously hurt? It was an awful lot of blood.

Shoving down his anxiety, he opened the door. Relief flooded through him at the sight of the young man sprawled on the bed. It quickly fled when he flipped on the light and took in the image before him. "Clark," the younger man's name came out a strangled whisper. He was lying on his stomach in his boxers, his back a mass of cuts, some frightenly deep. Beneath the blood he could make out scars that spoke eloquently of this not being an unusual occurrence.

Lex approached the bed slowly; stunned by the state Clark was in. He could see the rise and fall of Clark's breathing. Thank God for some things. But was the young man unconscious, or merely asleep? If it was the former, Lex was prepared to call an ambulance, hell, he was going to no matter what. "Alex. . . Clark? Hey, wake up!" he was proud his voice remained steady.

The man on the bed groaned and cracked open one eye, "Lex," his voice was slurred and hoarse, "is it three already?"

"Yeah, it's three." Relief flooded him at the sound of his friend's voice. As bad as the young man looked, at least he was aware of his surroundings. "What the hell happened to you?" Now that he knew Clark was at least conscious he was pissed. He knew what Clark did for a living, but Jesus Christ, this was extreme.

"Nothing. I need to take a shower." Clark winced as he levered himself from the bed. Swaying, he managed to get to his feet.

"You need a hospital, not a shower!" Lex grabbed his arm as Clark swayed dangerously.

"No!" As hoarse as his voice was Lex could hear the steel in it. "No hospital, I'll be fine. I heal fast." With what looked like an act of pure will he straightened. Shaking off Lex's hand, he limped to the door.

Lex watched him walk out the door, a moment later he heard the shower running. He looked around the room helplessly. Absently, he noticed the complete lack of decoration, only a bed and dresser occupied the space. The only clothes out were soaked with blood, obviously what Clark had been wearing earlier. From the bloody clothes his gaze wandered to the bed and he winced. Perfectly outlined in blood was the shape of Clark's torso.

Clark's voice from the doorway startled him, he hadn't heard the shower turn off. "You didn't get any of my blood on you did you?"

"Huh?" He shook his head, trying to order his thoughts. "Oh, uh," he looked down at himself, "no."

"Good." Clark moved to the dresser and pulled out clothes, totally unselfconscious of his nudity.

Lex couldn't tear his eyes from his friends back. Now that the blood was gone, he could see the extent of the damage. It was bad. Clark would have a score of marks joining the ones already present. "Two hundred dollars to make you bleed," Lex chocked out, remembering the overheard conversation from so long ago.

"Tell me, Alex," he spat the name, "is it worth it?" Rage began boiling below the surface, how could his friend let this happen to him? God damnit, this was Clark Kent! His friend! This kind of crap did not happen to his friends.

Clark turned and looked Lex in the eye, something unidentifiable lurking in his hazel orbs. "Yes," the young man answered simply.

Something in Lex broke at the simple answer. The anger that had been building fled, leaving his knees weak in reaction. He sat heavily on the edge of the bed. "Why?" he asked, voice soft, feeling a little lost. "Why would you let someone hurt you like that? Is it for the money? Do you really like it? How could you?" mouth snapping closed when he realized he was beginning to babble.

Pulling on sweats, Clark was silent. He stood for a long moment starring at the floor. Suddenly he looked up, anguish written across his features, "I deserve it." Turning, he again limped from the room.

Well, Lex thought, starring at the spot where Clark had been standing, today certainly has turned crappy. It started out so promising too. He took a deep breath, blowing it out sharply. Okay, think, you've got a genius level I.Q., you can figure out what's going on with your best friend. List the data and form a hypothesis. First, Clark is gay. When he told his dad, Jonathon went off the deep end. Calling him names, saying being gay was an abomination. Clark loves his dad and always believed the man was right. Therefore, he believes he's an abomination. Ergo, he deserves to be treated badly.

Lex's heart broke a little as he reached his conclusion. With the pain came the realization he was in love with Clark. He was in love with the funny, brilliant man who thought he deserved to be hurt for something that he had no control over. Well, he had something to say about that! Forming a plan of action, he went to find his friend.

He found the young man in the kitchen, starring intently at the blood in the sink as if he could will it away. Lex took a moment to study him unobserved. Clark's shoulders were slumped and he looked tired, no just physically, but mentally as well. The older man wanted desperately to erase that look from the handsome man. To hold him and not let anything or anyone hurt him again. He was determined to help Clark in anyway he could.

"Alex," no that wasn't right, not for this, "Clark, I'm gay. Does that make me unnatural too?" he didn't get an answer, not that he really expected one. "Do I deserve to be hurt like you are?" And God, wasn't that one of his worst, deeply buried fears. Something his rabidly masculine father had instilled in him.

Lex could see the tension coiling in Clark's body. When he spoke his voice was haggard, "You don't understand Lex."

He took a risk and let his emotions come out in his voice, the confusion and compassion, "I want to understand. Please, help me understand. I'm your friend, isn't that what friends do?"

Clark hunched tighter into himself, hands gripping the edges of the sink as if it were all that was holding him up. Without moving from his position the younger man spoke, voice still rough, "I really am unnatural Lex, I'm not human."

Not human? What the hell did he mean? "Clark," his voice was gentle, soothing, "no matter how you feel, you're still human. Just because you think you deserve to be hurt doesn't make you nonhuman."

Harsh laughter escaped Clark's abused throat, "I deserve it because I'm not human."

Lex's mind blanked, all that ran through it was What The Fuck! He must have made some sound because Clark was turning toward him.

"What, Lex Luther speechless?" Clark's voice was desolate. "I'm not human. Now do you understand? I'm an offence against God. Because of me people have suffered, you suffered. Eighteen years ago I fell out of the sky with the meteorites that destroyed Smallville. That killed Lana's parents, that took your hair, that produced mutants like Sean, Tina, Greg, Earl and who know how many others."

There was a depth of pain and self loathing in Clark's tone that left Lex breathless. "I deserve to be beaten, to be used. It's the only way I can make up for what I've done. I deserve to die, but I don't know if I can." He reached up and removed the leather collar from his neck. Lex could see a small green stone set in the leather. "This comes close," he stroked the collar lovingly before wrapping it back around his throat. "It's the only thing that affects me. With this little piece of meteorite I can be hurt. It weakens me enough for my body to be cut and bruised. With it I can feel the pain I deserve."

The older man sagged against the doorway. What he was hearing was unbelievable. It tilted his entire worldview. Unconsciously, he ran a hand over his bare scalp. Clark being an alien explained away all the questions Lex had had about him, though. The mangled Porsche, pulling him and Earl out of level three and all the other inexplicable things that happened around the then boy. His inner scientist, hell his outer scientist too, was jumping up and down with glee. A real live alien! However, Lex, Clark's friend, was appalled at what he heard. None of the stuff Clark said could be his fault. He'd been a kid, a sweet, kind, compassionate kid at that. There was no way blame could be laid at his feet. Somewhere, somehow, and Lex was betting on Jonathon, even if he hadn't meant it, Clark had gotten the impression he was responsible for the meteorites and their effects.

He had to say something; Clark was standing there looking at him with those horribly lifeless eyes. He reached out to touch the young man, not letting Clark's flinching back deter him. "Clark, you were a baby when the meteorites fell, I've seen pictures of you, there is no way they could be your fault. Just because you came with them, does not make you responsible for them." God, he hoped he was getting through to his friend. He'd had no idea the other man was carrying around this much pain and guilt. The stroked the arm under his palm, voice soft, yet insistent, "You are not responsible for the mutants or what they did. You stopped them. You never harmed anyone. You don't deserve to suffer because of something you yourself were a victim of." At Clark's motion of denial Lex squeezed his arm. "Yes, you're just as much a victim of the meteor shower as I am."

"You don't understand," voice broken Clark shook his head, "I don't belong here. I'm not human, I'm unnatural, an alien. I don't deserve to be treated any better. I'm a freak who has to make amends for what I've caused."

"Oh, Clark," Lex let tears form in his eyes, "no you don't. If anyone does it's whoever sent you here. Any blame to place belongs solely with them." He stepped into the other man's personal space, daring to draw him into a hug. "You're the most human person I know. What you are doesn't matter as much as who you are."

The younger man didn't relax in Lex's arms; he did drop his head to Lex's shoulder however. Breath hitching in his chest, he spoke in a small, sad voice, "I don't think I can believe you, but it sounds nice."

Lex stoked Clark's arms for a long time before stepping back a little, "Come on, let me take a look at your back."

Clark docilely followed the older man to the bathroom, sitting on the toilet lid as Lex rummaged through the medicine cabinet. "You got any antiseptic cream? Your back looks terrible." Finding what he was looking for he turned back to his friend, "Ah, here it is. Turn around."

The brunette obeyed without protest. Lex sucked in a breath at the sight of the man's back. Up close it was a network of fine white lines interspersed with the pale pink of nearly healed wounds and the angry, seeping, red of the fresh. He pulled on a pair of latex gloves from the medicine cabinet and began spreading the ointment over the cuts. "You know, some of these could use stitches."

"No," Clark rasped out, shaking his head, "they'll be healed in a couple of days. Perk of being an alien." He laughed that humorless laugh again, "It doesn't take me long to recover. Ready to go out and do it again."

"Clark," Lex couldn't take any more. Hearing the pain and emptiness in the brunette's voice was tearing at his heart.

"Please," Clark's voice was sharp, "don't call me that." His tome softened, "I'm not him anymore and I can't be, not even for you. My name is Alex. It's who I am now."

Lex sighed, "Fine, but in my mind you'll always be Clark. The beautiful boy who saved my life. In more ways than one." He continued to work in silence. "There, that's all of them," he pulled off the gloves. "Do you have any gauze to cover them with?"

"No, I'll just pull on a t-shirt," Clark's voice was back to normal. He stood and stretched, wincing a little. "Thanks, it's hard to do that myself. I usually don't bother."

"Nobody helps you out?" Lex couldn't believe Clark didn't have anyone that looked out for him.

The young man snorted, "Lex, you're the only person who's ever been up here."

Surprise colored Lex's tone, "You don't have friends over, ever?"

"You're the only friend I have. And that's only because you wouldn't leave me alone." The brunette grinned to take the sting out of his words.

Emotion swelled in Lex's chest at Clark's words. "You're my best friend. Even if you won't let me call you Clark," the other man teased.

They shared a companionable grin. "Come on," Lex turned to go to the living room, "let's have a drink. I need something strong; do you have anything besides beer?"

Following him out, Clark seemed more like his usual self. "Yeah, there's a bottle of vodka in the freezer."

"Good, that's exactly what we need," he headed to the kitchen. "Sit down, I'll get the bottle. I think we can do without the glasses, they'd be pointless." Lex retrieved the bottle - good, unopened - and flopped across from Clark in the living room. Cracking the seal he took a hefty swig, relishing the burn.

Passing the bottle to his friend, he closed his eyes and leaned his head back. What a screwed up day. I find out my best friend is essentially trying to kill himself slowly, over something he had no control over. And said best friend is an alien. I'm not really sure about that part, though. I need proof before I can believe that. In the mean time, I believe Clark believes. Oh, and the topper to this fun filled afternoon, I'm in love with my best friend. My best friend, who lets people cut him up for money and believes he's an alien. Only in my life, Lex snorted softly.

He took the bottle when it nudged his arm. Without opening his eyes he took a long pull and held it out for Clark to take back. He could feel a buzz starting already. He really ought to eat if they were going to do any serious drinking.

They sat lost in their own thoughts for a while, passing the bottle back and forth. Clark broke the quiet with a heavy sigh, "I'm so tired, Lex. I can't keep doing this anymore."

Lex opened his eyes at the sound of Clark's voice. The man's face was a study in despair. "So, don't. Get out; find something else to do with your life." He was starting to get worried, Clark sounded so defeated. Like there was nothing left for him. For the first time since coming over this afternoon, he was afraid for his friend.

"I don't know anything else." Clark took a deep drink from the bottle. "Being a whore is all I'm good for."

"Alex," he was never going to get used to the name. He was going to have to find a way to talk the young man into letting him call him Clark. "That's not true. Alien or human, you're a very smart man. You could do whatever you want. Besides, don't you think six years as a whore is payment enough?" Lex was struck with inspiration, "You can come back to Metropolis with me. You could go to college, anything you want."

"You make it sound easy." Clark passed the vodka to the older man. "I don't think it's very easy at all. I'm not like everyone else. I don't belong here. How can I act like I do?"

The bald man took a drink, wishing it helped. Clark was stuck on the deserve/don't deserve issue. It was like a mutated form of teen angst, very dark and all consuming. If he could just get the young man to see past it, maybe he would be able to help. "You ever wonder why you were sent to earth?" Okay, so he didn't really believe the alien thing, but Clark did, and that's what mattered. "There must have been a reason. Randomly doesn't make sense. Whoever sent you, obviously meant for you to survive. They had to know where they were sending you."

"What if they sent me here because they didn't want me?" Clark countered.

Lex snorted and passed the bottle back. "Alex, if they didn't want you it would've been easier to kill a baby than to send it to another planet. Not to mention likely less costly. So, there has to be a reason. And I don't think rough trade is it."

Clark contemplated the bottle in his hands for a long time, obviously thinking about what the older man had said. Lex watched him in silence, letting him work through the implications. The brunette finally spoke in a soft voice, "You could be right." Looking lost, he raised his eyes to Lex's, "But what do I do?"

Sighing with relief, Lex sat forward and clasped Clark's hands between his own. "Let me help you." At the young man's hesitant nod of acceptance he sent up a wordless prayer, to a deity he was just starting to believe, in for everything to work out.

fin