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What He Wants

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What He Wants

by Brancher

TITLE: What He Wants
AUTHOR: Brancher
SUMMARY: Preslash. Clark figures it out. NOT A SONGFIC. Really. ObDISCLAIM: not mine, theirs; Superman created by Seigel & Shuster

What He Wants

So I'm at a party at Lex's house. I'm still not sure how I got here. Sure, he invited me; I just don't understand why.

The stone rooms of the stone house are filled with beautiful people from Metropolis. Lex must have flown them in or something. They're all young in an old, jaded way. They're all older than me, and they dress gen-X but if you look close you see the lines around their eyes and their mouths. I look close. I can't help it.

When I first got here Lex ushered me in and said, Clark, glad you could make it, and then he was gone. I stood around feeling awkward. I'm one of the tallest people here, as usual, and I'm underdressed in a gray henley and jeans; everyone here looks like they're dressed for a night club. The kind of night club they don't have in Smallville. The kind of night club where the bouncer wouldn't let me in the door.

They have things pierced I didn't know you could pierce. Some of it looks painful. Almost everyone seems to be tattooed. There are boys in mesh shirts and boys in skirts and mascara, boys with narrow runways of mohawk down the middle of their heads and boys who are shaved bald, but not as bald as Lex; that must be a faux pas, I guess. There are girls in backless shirts and girls in leather pants and one girl who, I swear, is wearing nothing but what looks like some silver paint across her breasts.

I try very hard not to look too much.

They eye me and a few of them talk to me, but I don't know what to talk about with people like this. Mostly I do my best trick, and disappear. Someone gives me a beer, and I don't like beer but I let the bottle warm in my hand and stand in the corner. Everyone flows around me, and I can watch them, but it's like I'm a ghost. Like I'm not really here. I do this in school just about every day.

The party is truly huge; in fact I wonder if Lex is paying some of these people. Like extras. I guess I never thought of him having so many friends.

Or, really, any friends at all.

I've thought a lot about Lex. He's not like anyone I've ever met. I have to be very careful around him, because I always feel like I don't have to be careful around him.

I don't understand why he asked me to come here tonight.

I don't understand what he could want with me.

He was here a while ago, but I don't see him now. He's somewhere else in one of this mansion's many rooms, somewhere in this sea of people who are all cooler than me.


These people have jobs.

I guess I didn't realize that people who dressed like this can work for a living. The one I'm talking to now, the bold girl in the silk shirt who came up to me and asked if my beer was getting stale, she's a computer programmer. She has feathers in her hair, black iridescent feathers, and glitter across her cheekbones and her throat.

``So you're Lex's protege,'' she said once she'd gotten past my invisible act and sat me down with a glass of tasteless clear stuff I think is vodka.

I'm not sure what she means and I tell her so.

``We're friends, I guess,'' I say. ``We know each other from around town.''

``Well, I heard you saved his life,'' she says. ``And I guess that's as close as anyone gets to Lex.''

I shrug. ``He's always been very nice to me,'' I say. ``Friendly.''

``Friendly,'' she says and smiles, a smile like Lex's that turns up just at the corners, and she takes a sip of her own clear drink.

Then she changes the subject. ``What do you think about this place?'' she asks,

I look around at it for a minute. The Fortress of Solitude. That's my dad's nickname for my hayloft, but the family joke comes from what people in town called this place when it was first rebuilt, stone after ancient stone. A little bit of gloomy Scotland right here in Kansas. Empty. Lonely.

No less lonely for all the people in it tonight, I think.

``It's pretty Highlander,'' I say.

She gives me a smirk. ``Cute,'' she says. I can see the thin lines at the corners of her eyes.

Cool hands come down on my shoulders and I almost jump. ``Rosemary,'' he says from behind me. ``Are you corrupting the country boy?''

She gives a cultured laugh. A very nice laugh, I think; she's probably practiced it.

``Clark,'' he says to me. He's come around to stand in front of me. He's wearing practically the most clothes of anyone here _ well, except for me. Black t-shirt, black jeans. His arms are so pale they almost glow.

``Are you having a good time?''

``Great time.'' I raise the glass of whatever it is to him.

He looks at it and raises a bare eyebrow. ``I think you're too young to drink,'' he says. ``You know, there's dancing in the other room. Come on.''

He's already walking away. I put down the glass and look at Rosemary.

``Um, I think I'm going to...''

She shrugs and smiles. ``Nice talking with you, Clark.''


Most of the night the sound system (very expensive, digital, shiny) has been playing that kind of skittering dance music.* So cool, I don't recognize any of it.

But now Lex has put on the Stones, because the Stones are always cool, and I stop and hang back in the doorway because Lex is already there, dancing in the big stone hall.

Lex doesn't dance the way anyone else dances, at least no one I've ever seen. He doesn't make any of the right moves. But he's incredible to watch.

There's a space cleared around him, and he's dancing with his eyes closed and his arms held up above his head. His bare head snaps back and forth to the music, sinuous and low, like an angry snake's. His hands punch the air. He's so wound up, every muscle is tense, and I still don't know what I'm doing here.

But I can't move. Mick Jagger sings *God gave me everything I want* and Lex works his body like a whip. The room is seething around him with nameless computer programmers and, I don't know, systems analysts from Metropolis, and Lex has asked me to dance but I don't think I could wade into that.

*God gave me everything I want,* Jagger sings. It's true for Lex; he has everything he wants. I stand in the doorway and watch him dance, pale scion of a powerful house, so sinister and graceful with his eyes closed that it looks like innocence. He is totally composed, as always, not caring how he looks, just dancing.

And then someone comes up close to him. It's the boy with the landing-strip mohawk, shirtless and sweaty from dancing. I can see the thorny tattoos that curve around his arms, his collarbones and his ribcage.

He's close to Lex, dancing just behind him, and then closer. Wraps one arm low along Lex's belly, and draws him in. He moves more slowly, taming Lex's wild movements until they're dancing together, and Lex reaches up behind him to cup the man's head, and bring it down to his mouth.

Everything stops, then.

Except me.

They're kissing and still kissing and it's like a still frame; this is the feeling I get when I run, when I run so fast I leave trails in the corn. I can't breathe and I can't look away. I can't look away.

Because I understand. I know what Lex wants.

That's all I think until I'm outside, until I'm walking down the driveway of Lex's house, the cold air on my face.

I walk slowly. I don't run. I hold myself in until I'm far away, until I can't see the Luthor mansion behind me. Until I don't need to run anymore. I don't know how long it takes to walk all this way. I don't tire.

I don't ever tire.

And that song is still in my head.

I feel my heartbeat slowing down. It's a cold, clear night, a little mist along the ground but the sky is like crystal.

I can see the stars.

I can hear them, almost. Background radio waves. Why wouldn't I be able to hear them?

I can hear every cricket in Lowell County.

I can hear my footsteps shuddering into the ground.

Maybe I can still hear the music at the Luthor mansion. The rumble of bodies moving to it. The rasp of skin on skin.

Mick Jagger still singing, miles behind me.

God gave me everything I want...

Gid gave Lex everything he wants.

I look up, into the clear distant stars.

...Except me, I think. Except me.


  • a partial quotation from Peter Trachtenburg's "Seven Tattoos." Full quote: ``That kind of skittering dance music that makes you want to drop acid, butcher your parents and write `Pigs' on the wall in their blood.''

more notes: I know, "God Gave Me" is a solo song by Jagger with help from Lenny Kravitz. But it sounds just like the Stones, and Clark is no expert.

Also: Clark's invisible act has been referred to in precisely those terms in previous fic, but I didn't mean to steal the words of other fan writers; I had this scene written a long time ago. It's something I remember doing in my own Kryptonian adolescence, back in the days when I wouldn't take my glasses off in public.

The title of this fic came from an early discussion thread. Thanks for the inspiration, y'all.