Not Less Than Everything
This story came into being because late one night (or very early one morning, probably) I was foolish enough to quote T.S. Eliot and then claim that there was inspiration for Clex fic to be had in his poems. Elizabeth challenged me to write a story based on any poem by Eliot and promised to do the same. And here we are. The title of this fic and all words in italics are from Eliot's poem "Little Gidding". All lines are borrowed with the greatest possible respect and admiration, and with the hope that dear old Thomas Stearns won't twist and turn too much in his coffin.
Endless thanks go to Rhi and Jed, who gave valuable suggestions and unbelievable encouragement, and who both, for inexplicable reasons, fell into raptures over a bridge. You're much sweeter to me than I deserve, ladies, and I love you both.
This one is for Elizabeth, who made it happen, and, as always, for Eva - my end and my beginning.
Any and all mistakes and stupidities are entirely my own fault.
1. the end is where we start from
"I want to tell you," Clark says. "I don't want to lie anymore."
And it flows from him, wave upon wave of crystalline truth, spilling onto the floor of my office, rising to fill the void we've created between us. There is so much of it I know already, and still the words tear me open, rush inside to settle like a stream of jewels in my blood. All I can do is listen.
He paces while he talks, limbs taught with fear, steps awkward with anxiety. Years of emotion coiled in the near falsetto of his voice. He doesn't stop until there's nothing left.
I rise then, move to him through the distance that is no longer there. His eyes are questions and a pleading hope.
"I'm sorry," he says, but I don't want apologies.
The only way to draw the line, to start afresh, is with a kiss.
2. flood and drouth over the eyes and in the mouth
His lips are dry from talking, and I wet them with the moisture of my tongue. A moment's hesitation, endless and brief as a lifetime, and he opens for me, lets me fall inside. His mouth still tastes like awakening; like a first, fluttering heartbeat and drops of water in my stinging eyes. Another end there, another beginning, and I can hear the roar of the river in my ears.
Soft hair a whisper under my fingers, and his tongue reaches for mine. Tentative, uncertain, searching for the welcome he has always had. I hold him steady in my hands and delve deeper, savor the liquid heat of his mouth. The first whimper he gives is a burst of flame at the base of my spine.
I pull back, let my hands rest on the sides of his neck.
"Do you want this?"
He nods, face flushed and serious. Always so earnest.
"I want to give it to you. I want to show you."
He opens his mouth to speak, but I don't allow it.
"No more words, Clark. It's all here now, out in the open. We don't need to say another thing. Just let me show you, okay?"
A quiver in his voice, trust balancing fear, and when I kiss him again I know that I will never turn back. The bridge behind me is already burning.
3. no wind, but pentecostal fire
His hand in mine as we ascend the stairs is a promise given, a retraction of every spoken lie. He holds on with almost painful force - unbreakable, infinitely fragile - and I squeeze back, making my own promise tangible and solid among the walls that crumble around us. He follows like one who has waited to be led.
When I push my bedroom door open, the shadows of the hallway scatter in an explosion of light. The maid has left the window open, and sunshine floods the room. No tinted glass colors the world, and there is laughter hiding at the back of my throat, because the metaphor is too perfect. Today we see face to face, and all opacity is shed like a skin that's grown too tight.
The slightest touch of summer air slides across my scalp as I turn to Clark, but nothing moves in the breeze. The universe remains suspended. When he smiles at me I can look straight through him, into the beating heart of every secret. I think of the end of Dante's journey, and pull him towards the bed.
4. and prayer is more than an order of words
I kneel down on the edge of the mattress and he makes as if to sit beside me, but I place my hands flat on his chest to keep him standing. If there was ever an order of things which made sense in my life, it is this - his shape above me, waiting for my touch.
Button after button I ease the flannel apart, my hands steadier than the pulse that flutters in my veins. White cotton then, and he has to help me get it over his head, but his jeans are for me alone. Silver music of the belt-buckle like a wind-chime in the distance, the zipper's ragged exhalation, and he is hard beneath it, his cock bold against my knuckles as I ease pants and underwear down to pool at his feet. A brush of wind under my hands which must be motion my eyes are too slow to grasp, because his clothes and boots gather in a pile beside him, and he stands naked before me.
His angled eyebrows speak of embarrassment and anxious longing, an animated contrast to a body carved in breathing marble - not cold Carrerra, but Parian, golden in the sunlight, glowing from within with an inexplicable flame. An alien god wrought with so much human frailty, mine to protect and cherish from that first meeting on the riverbank, mine to worship now with mouth and hands. This is the moment, finally, when I'm allowed to tell him everything that words could not express. With the tip of my tongue I paint my creed like an endless arabesque on the canvas of his chest; with my teeth I stencil it onto the flushed peaks of his nipples; with fingers and palms I print it on his muscled back, on the curve of his ass. And every answering quiver, every moan he gives in return, is a benediction, a blessing that wipes away the past.
I bend low to take him between my lips, but his hands clasp my shoulders, raise me up. Green eyes restless as the sea when the tide turns, the intent in them no more stoppable. A gentle caress skims down the center of my back, finds its way inside my sweater a second before he kisses me. All this insecurity in his smile, and yet it is strong enough to shatter me completely.
"Your turn," he says as his lips catch mine, and after all this waiting, I'm still not prepared for this, not ready at all.
5. what you thought you came for is only a shell, a husk of meaning
He is on me now, hungry and eager, stripping my clothes off, trailing careful fingers over my skin, and there is a reverence in his eyes I can't endure. He is the innocent, the one who wears sunlight like a halo in his hair and wields the strength of an army of angels. He is the one who needs to be cared for, protected, kept safe from every shade of darkness in this world. Today he has trusted me with the key to everything he holds dear, and I should be repaying that trust, showing him what it means to me, what he has always meant. Instead I'm splayed beneath him on the bed, defenseless like a blanket of snow under the sun, and he is the one who gives, who offers.
I want to stop him, tell him that there is a sacrilege taking place here, that I am part of an abyss he should never have to understand, and I'm not meant to be treated like this. Not by him, not by anyone. He can use me, yes, any way he wants, and everything I've ever learnt of pleasure is for him now, his alone. But not this tenderness, not this stream of affection, of adoration, surging through my skin wherever he touches me, eroding foundations I didn't even know existed. I want to push him away, take control again, but all I can do is buck deeper into his kisses, my hands twisted in the fabric of the sheets.
When his mouth closes round the tip of my cock I fall apart.
6. the dove descending breaks the air
Rapture, tongues of fire from the sky, and I should have expected this. I should have known, because he made it happen once before, when I rose from the dead under his hands. Only this time it's for real - too, too intimate, and there is nothing I can hold back.
I thought I could have him fully and still remain unchanged, but there is no true act of worship which doesn't mean complete surrender, transformation of the self. I'm falling, disintegrating, and in all its blissful ecstasy, the feeling terrifies me. No lies, no clothes, no defenses, and no one should be able to get this close, this far inside. Except he is. And perhaps that is his greatest power. Not strength or speed or any of the outer trappings of divinity, but this, the unrelenting gentleness from which you cannot hide.
With one last lick he releases me, and for a second I can breathe again. Then he crawls up my body to lie beside me, and I meet his eyes. The look in them is the fire that finally consumes me.
7. Love is the unfamiliar Name
"Lex," he says. My name is raw on his lips, full of need and wonder and the feeling that shines in his eyes. I should blink against the light of it, but I don't know how anymore. "I..." He falters, and I raise my hand to his cheek. It is the simplest of gestures - the pad of my thumb tracing the blush that flares across softly curving bone - but it costs not less than everything. Even as I feel the heat of him under my touch, I know that this is what seals my fate. He tries again, half smiling, because he knows. He's seen it. "Lex, I want to come with you, at the same time. Will you show me how?"
And there it is, my control given back to me, but it doesn't mean the same thing anymore. I ease him down on his side and lay my head on the pillow next to his. As I wrap our straining cocks in the tightly woven fabric of our interlaced hands and set the rhythm that will take us where we need to go, my gaze doesn't tear away from his even long enough for a kiss. I've been shattered and put together again, and I can't stop staring at the wonder that I'm just beginning to accept. The final loss of eye contact as he throws his head back in orgasm and pulls me with him is almost more than I can bear.
8. and the fire and the rose are one
Afterwards he settles into the curve of my throat, hand cupping the back of my neck as if he can't hold me close enough.
"I love you," he whispers onto the sweat-slicked skin above my collarbone. "You know that, right?"
"Yeah," I say. "I do." And it isn't a lie. It doesn't even feel like something I can't handle. "I love you, too."
Perhaps I even deserve it.