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The Sandman Visits

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The Sandman Visits

by Artemis


Summary: Six months later, Clark is haunted by dreams. He's tried his best to have a relationship with Lana, but something vital is missing. Sequel to "The Pied Piper" and 2nd in The Awakening Series. (Originally written for the CLFF Wave VII First Line Challenge.) Challenge: CLex Fest Wave 7: The First Line... "Trust me, Lana Lang doesn't have the first clue about sucking cock, Clark, but I do." Warnings: Same Sex (MALE/MALE) relationship. If this turns you off or offends, go back now Author Notes: MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD. DO NOT READ IF YOU WANT TO READ THE STORY UNSPOILED. The story continues six months in the future after "The Pied Piper." Obviously, this is still in the alternative universe where evil Helen and evil Jor-El never occurred during Clark's sophomore year. Helen was sidestepped---as was evil Lionel---due to Clark telling Lex he thought Helen was creepy. Clark is now a junior in high school. I've followed canon, with Clark's birthday in May, and since he was fifteen when he met Lex that means our boy is now seventeen and a half. For anyone who's confused on why the sex scenes are slightly off, Clark's an alien, and as such, he's experiencing sex differently. More will become clear in the third story of the series. Thanks to my beta Rogue for all the hard work. January 2004 Archive Note: Minor grammatical corrections were made to this story from the version posted at the CLexFest Wave 7 Challenge


The Sandman Visits
By Artemis
2nd in the Awakening Series following "Paying the Piper" January 2004


"Trust me, Lana Lang doesn't have the first clue about sucking cock, Clark, but I do."

Clark shivered as the breath from Lex's softly uttered declaration tickled his ear, the warmth of Lex's body heat soaking into him from the mere millimeters that separated their bodies. Lex's smooth, dark voice rolled over him and through him, warm and oozing like melted chocolate and caramel, making his insides quiver in longing and desperate desire.

He wondered if Lex would taste like that, chocolate and caramel, and somehow he knew he wouldn't.

Lex would taste better.

His mouth opened, and he gasped as a wet tongue started playing with his ear, moving slowly and sensually as if Lex had all the time in the world. As if he had the right to do exactly what he wanted to Clark's ear and to any part of Clark's body.

And he did. Oh, he did, because Clark belonged to Lex. He'd never belonged to anyone else and never would. The utter certainty of it rang in his heart.

Only Lex.

Clark arched his neck, his head falling back as a clever tongue and a knowing mouth moved languidly, nipping at his earlobe playfully. A soft kiss was pressed behind his ear, the gesture tender and loving, before even softer lips mouthed promises of what was to come into his skin. He nibbled along Clark's jaw, and then down his neck, stopping to pay homage to the hollow just above where Clark's collarbones met.

As Lex's mouth worshipped his neck, Lex's hands had been busy, slipping under his shirts and rubbing up and down his back in soothing strokes. At the press of Lex's mouth on that hollow, a vulnerable spot he'd never known he'd had but where Clark was sure his entire nervous system was wired, his knees utterly collapsed. Like some heroine in a historic romance novel, his body went limp with pleasure as fireworks sparkled through his body and lights flashed behind his closed eyelids.

It was only Lex's hands, holding him, lowering him gently to the carpet, that saved him from falling. Not that he would have cared or known otherwise because his mind was dizzy and heat was spiraling through his veins. Everywhere Lex touched tingled, and he shuddered as palms were dragged down his bare chest and started to squeeze his hips rhythmically. He thrust upwards, seeking contact, frustrated when his body met air.

He knew Lex was above him somewhere, he could feel the body heat brushing against his skin that proved it was so. But only hands and lips ghosted along his skin. He whimpered at the dual sensation of feeling too much and not feeling enough, and he pleaded softly for more.

"Please, Lex. Please."

A dark chuckle was his only response, and that sound sent tingles down his spine. He wanted to open his eyes, to see Lex, to know this was real, but he couldn't. He could only lie there and let it happen. Whatever Lex wanted.

He wanted whatever Lex wanted.

He'd been so blind not to realize that before. As long as his abantz-ell was happy, then he was happy.

His abantz-ell was _everything_.

He felt a warm hand on his limp cock, stoking it gently and he felt the tingles zipping along his spine move down to center in this new spot. He felt an indescribable wash of hot something there, and though he wasn't hard yet, his blood danced and exploded into sparkles of joy in his cock and out towards his hips and outwards. He arched up once more, thrusting up into Lex's hand.

Soft words where whispered in his ear, meaningless prattle he couldn't quite make out, but the desire and love were clear. And maybe that was why he couldn't understand the words. Because they didn't matter, only the emotion behind them.

Silly of him. Why hadn't he realized earlier that the words had never mattered between the two of them? Lex's actions, his eyes, his voice, they all spoke a language he was just beginning to comprehend.

His legs fell open unconsciously, his thighs spread in an invitation his mind had yet to fully process. Clark moaned as a tongue started to lap and tease his left nipple. Lex's other hand, the one not stroking his cock and creating all that wonderful hotness, moved off of Clark's hip to lightly stroke at his balls. He moved his hand slowly as he explored, and his fingers slipped behind.

His body shuddered as fingers moved teasingly between his cheeks. Two hands were suddenly kneading his ass, and he didn't even miss the pressure on his cock as pure shimmers of pleasure swirled inside of him, light whirling inside of his mind. He keened, the whine high and needy in his throat, as the mouth that had been on his nipple moved to his cock, the flesh slowly hardening there as tongue and wet heat surrounded him.

He felt his body tightening, his heart contracting, and the shimmers grew stronger and stronger like waves crashing onto a beach, each one larger and more powerful than the last. His eyes flew open as his entire body trembled as a finger circled his opening lightly. He saw a flash of silver-blue, those beautiful eyes the color of moonlight and water, a message being sent he almost understood but not quite...

...and he sat up, gasping for breath, his heart racing and his body tingling in desire as he looked out into his darkened bedroom.

He flopped back into bed, his body damp with sweat. There was no slender pale form beside him. The disappointment sharp and hard in his gut, he had to squeeze his eyes shut to stop the tears that were already forming.

Two months. Two months of dreams that had been growing more and more graphic. Of ghost hands and ghost lips moving across his skin, the dizzying pleasure building higher and higher, only to be brought back to awareness, dragged from his dream-Lex into the shock and pain of reality.

The emptiness and loneliness seemed to grow larger each night, and he somehow knew that soon he would be drowning in both. Even aliens could endure only so much grief and sorrow.

Already, he felt as a piece of him were missing. A Lex-shaped piece.

He brought a hand up to his left nipple, the echo of Lex's tongue still there as if it had been real, and he felt the tingles start again, only in a smaller, lesser form. He moved his hand down, tracing Lex's path to his stomach and his slightly hard cock, and he felt a flash of heat as fingers traced along it lightly. It was when he touched behind there, though, at the puckered flesh back there that he saw small sparks skitter across the back of his eyes. His whole body hummed quietly as the memory of the smell, touch, and sight of Lex whirled in his mind.

And it sputtered to a sudden stop as he woke up enough to remember that it wasn't real. That it would never be real. The abrupt halt caused a sharp, cutting pain inside of him, and the huge hole inside his chest ached more than ever before.

He gave into the despair in his heart, grabbing onto a familiar pillow, and he curled around it and cried.

Like he had every night for the past two months.


Clark honestly had no idea what was happening to him.

Similar to the heat and x-ray vision that had sprung to life without warning, he chalked it up to alien biology and more alien freakishness. The how of it was something that couldn't be understood without more knowledge---either from an outside extraterrestrial source or through scientific exploration and experimentation---so he could only accept that it was what it was and move on.

However, unlike heat and x-ray vision, and very much like the sporadic and inexplicable floating, these new desires and needs were uncontrollable. This wasn't some new power to be practiced and mastered. He wasn't even able to consciously bring these new feelings to life on his own or through the help of anyone else.

He knew. He'd tried. As embarrassing as it was, he'd gone to Lana, begging for one last chance.

It was six months since the infamous weekend trip to Metropolis and his first peek into a slice of the exotic and exciting nightlife of Metropolis.

He'd spent that first month, that first glorious month of summer, in complete and utter denial. He'd pushed all thoughts of the weird feelings he'd felt in Pied Piper's out of his mind, and he'd been in heaven as he'd finally thrown himself into dating Lana seriously. She'd broken things off officially with Whitney, announcing that she wanted a fresh start with Clark. They'd seen each other every day, and he'd never been happier.

He'd spent July still in denial, still dating Lana, but starting to get disquieted at how hollow his happiness felt. His mind had started to drift to Lex again, and his curiosity bloomed once more about male-male sex. For purely academic reasons, he'd gone to Chloe and the Internet. After swearing her to secrecy and making up some lame excuse about being baffled about the newly discovered dual sexuality of Lex Luthor, she'd introduced him to slash.

He'd swear that was the start of it. He was positive it was his downfall, the catalyst of his doom.

He'd never read anything more erotic or purely sexual, and the emotions in the stories he'd read had been so intense. So real. He'd started to long to feel that way about someone else, the way those characters did for each other. Those fictional characters had made what he felt for Lana seem like a watered-down, childish crush.

He'd stopped searching for and reading online stories for a week after that realization, throwing himself into his relationship with Lana. They'd gone out every night, and he'd stopped by the Talon every day with wild flowers or cookies he'd baked himself.

Lana and he were meant for each other. Forever and ever with a happily ever after.

They were soul mates: born to be with each other and destined to be miserable if they were apart.

God knows he'd spent years being miserable watching her from afar. Together was what they were meant for. Having Lana to cherish and love was a dream come true.

But that reasoning hadn't explained why he'd found slash to be so extremely hot. More hot than touching Jessie, or Lana in red underwear, or even the idea of Jennifer Lopez skinny-dipping in Lex's pool. Or why the thought of Jennifer Lopez skinny-dipping with Lex was a hell of lot hotter than her skinny-dipping alone for Clark's sole viewing pleasure.

So he'd gone back online.

His favorite had been from an old television series that Lex owned on DVD called "The Highlander". He'd loved watching the series once Lex had gotten him hooked, but the fanfiction was absolutely incredible. Something about Duncan and Adam drew him. Maybe some tentative parallels between Lex and Adam, and himself and Duncan. Not that he was heroic and fearless, but he could relate to wanting to save his friends when they were in trouble.

He sometimes thought he was half in love with Adam, which got him to thinking that maybe, just maybe, he was half in love with Lex. Adam, who also wore a grey hat, but sometimes donned a white when those he loved were in danger. Because underneath all his jaded cynicism and walls of protection, he had a heart of gold. Even when he denied having a heart at all.

Adam, who was wickedly charming and captivating, just as complex and incomprehensible, and could be both utterly ruthless and completely vulnerable. Adam, who had pale skin and a slender build. Adam, who moved like poetry, and carried himself with such an innate sense of grace and poise. Adam, who was really Methos, and was someone no one really seemed to understand and who was so heartbreakingly alone.

Of course, Lex wasn't five thousand years old, and neither was he a reformed Horseman of the Apocalypse. But there was something there, shadows of Lex that could be found in Adam.

He'd told himself that was where the fascination came from. Wondering if there were bits of Lex in Adam, or bits of Adam in Lex.

He knew he couldn't be in love with Lex because Lex was a guy and he wasn't gay. And maybe he found slash to be hot, but who wouldn't? Chloe said a lot of people did. It was the intensity of the love that he found hot, not the guys. So he'd pushed thoughts of Lex's pale skin and his vulnerable eyes away to the dark corners of his psyche.

August had been an awful month. He'd stopped dating Lana, and she'd been upset at being dumped for the first time in her life. He'd been too upset himself to really care or notice that she wasn't talking to him.

Pete had been excited to be best friends with the guy who'd dumped Lana Lang, calling Clark a fool, but a fool who was going to be infamous at school. Chloe didn't say much, only watched and waited like she always did, seeing things nobody else bothered to.

His father and mother had been supportive, but they'd just sent him looks like they didn't understand him. It only upset him more, because he hadn't understood himself.

He'd been pretty sure, at this point, that he wasn't in love with Lana. Love her, yes. In love with her, no. Kissing her was wonderful, but it wasn't fireworks or bolts of lightning. No bells or whistles. It was comfort and affection. She made him feel safe.

But he couldn't deny it anymore. He felt no strong physical reaction towards her, but even this wouldn't have mattered, would have been shrugged off as alien freakishness, if it hadn't been for the dreams.

Or more like flashes of dreams. Flashes of Lex's smile and eyes so intense they caressed with a look. A brief touch of warm skin and soft lips. Just quick, almost wraithlike flashes of heat and tingles. Nothing more than just those brief momentary visions.

But something inside told him that those fleeting images were glimpses into what could be. Into the reality that could happen. And his real life started to feel like a dream.

There was no heat with Lana. Only the warm, soothing fairy tale fantasy of a future with her.

Part of him wanted the fantasy.

As hard as it was to admit to himself, he'd had to admit that as much as he loved her, one of the things he'd loved most about her was the possibility of being normal with her. Of being loved and wanted by her when no one but his parents felt that way about him.

With his new realizations, a larger part of him wanted heat.

So he'd spent three weeks fantasizing about Lex, reading voraciously about Adam and Duncan, but picturing himself and Lex. Three weeks spent wondering if he might possibly be in lust with Lex, or in love with Lex, or if he was just plain going crazy. Touching himself like in the snippets of dreams he'd had, but it hadn't done anything. No tingles. No sparks. No anything.

Maybe it was all a big, huge alien delusion and he was ruining his life. He was ruining his one shot with Lana. For the happily ever after.

So he'd predictably freaked, and he'd begged her to go to the Back-to-School dance at the end of the September. After acting appropriately pathetic and desperate, she'd agreed.

They'd never been overly physical with each other. Soft kisses and even softer touches. Lana wasn't the type of girl who pushed, and he'd always assumed she'd wanted to wait until marriage. Besides, he loved holding her, keeping her safe and close, and hadn't needed more. That night, though, he'd aggressively made out with her during the dance behind the school. He'd kissed deeply and petted heavily.

Nothing.

No tingles. No sparks. No anything.

He'd pulled back from a shocked Lana, apologized for being an aggressive jerk, and promptly ran away after saying he had to be back home before curfew. He sort of forgot in his desperation to get away that Lana, along with all his other friends, knew he didn't have a curfew.

Lana hadn't appreciated getting dumped a second time, especially after being mauled and lied to.

She'd just started speaking to him again, but then it had been two months of cold silence.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you looked at it, he still didn't care all that much since he was a wreck and almost positive he was having a nervous breakdown.

Chloe had laughed her ass off at him when he'd blurted out the entire tale in an explosion of misery and desperation the next day. She'd quickly followed up by cuffing him on the head and telling him to wise up and chase after the hot Luthor ass that his subconscious was clearly telling him to go after.

He'd pretended not to see the sheen of tears in her eyes, and she'd pretended not to notice that he noticed. So they'd hugged, and she'd fed him chocolate as she told him exactly how to go about winning the heart of a Luthor. She'd made grandiose schemes and Machiavellian plots, laying it all out in fourteen steps on how to lay siege, scale the walls of Lex's heart, and claim his prize.

Of course, he'd never listened to Chloe in the past, so he hadn't done any of it. He'd spent the entire two months brooding, haunted by dreams that grew more and more vivid every night, and the longing inside of him only grew more and more intense.

Which left him the pathetic mess he was today. He knew he was in love with Lex. Knew it down to the deepest parts of his soul, but it didn't matter. Because Lex didn't want him. Lex didn't need him.

He was stuck with a body that only hummed and shimmered at night in his dreams, or immediately afterwards when his body was still caught up in the illusion. He'd been experiencing sharp mood swings, and for the first time in his life he was crying easily and at the dumbest things.

He could only thank whatever god was watching out for orphaned aliens that he'd been able to fight off tears in the presence of others---namely Lex, because just being around Lex made him want to cry---and that no one else knew that he cried himself to sleep every night.

Or that he'd stolen the pillow Lex had given to him that night after the club, and that he slept with it every night, hugging it to himself to try to ward off the growing emptiness.

It was Lex's scent on the pillowcase, along with the memory of a kiss pressed softly on his right temple, that allowed him enough comfort to slip into sleep after the last of the tears had fallen.

He didn't know what was going on with him, and he didn't have anyone he could speak to or confide in. His parents were out because he'd die before going to them about sex. Pete wasn't an option because Pete hated all things Luthor, so the whole might-be-gay-but-definitely-in-love-with-Lex wasn't a discussion he was ready for. And Chloe he could confide in about the emotional stuff, but not the alien stuff. Not without risking that she might never speak to him again for all the years of lying and deceit.

He was left alone with all questions and no answers, and there wasn't a single person he could go to. He felt like someone had hijacked his body, or that it had mutated into something completely alien. (No pun intended, and God, did he hate that damn word.)

Was it hormones? Was he going through some weird alien hormonal thing, something as simple as finally hitting puberty, or at least the equivalent for his people? Like human males, would his desires lessen and lessen until they evened out into more sane and controllable urges?

Or was this something like the Vulcan's Pon Farr, and was he going into some sort of mindless heat? Was this some sort of drive to mate? And would it continue to get worse and worse until the phase passed, or would it only worsen until he fulfilled the impulse?

Or was it some biological drive to have sex? With Lex? Or possibly some biological drive to form a committed relationship? After all, some species of animals on earth mated for life. Perhaps his people were the same.

The whole gay or not gay thing seemed pretty much moot. Everything inside of him was driving him towards one person, and it had nothing to do with gender or sex.

Just Lex.

Only Lex.

Clark looked out of the window in his loft, staring up at the night sky and wishing he could talk to his birth parents. His shoulders drooped despondently, and he blinked back tears as he wondered what they looked like. Did he have his mother's eyes or his father's? Were they both tall like he was? Or was he short compared to others of his race? What kind of world did he come from?

Had they loved him?

Did they love him still?

Why had they sent him away?

What would they have told him now?

Was this natural, and what did the dreams mean?

As much as the idea scared him, he sometimes wished his parents would come back for him. He didn't want to leave his home, but he wished he had someone to answer all his questions.


Lex stared into the fire, his face pensive.

He just couldn't figure it out.

Clark was acting weird.

Again.

And yes, Clark acting weird wasn't exactly a newsflash. The boy, as sweet and exquisite as he was, was simply odd at the best of times and absolutely strange at the worst of times.

The boy with the lips of a courtesan and the body worth of divine worship, who was the worst liar that Lex had ever met. Unfortunate that Clark felt he had to lie all the time on just about everything. Yet, lucky for Clark that as a Luthor, Lex had a unique appreciation for anyone who had to run a con 24/7 as a fraudulent front for their lives, so he didn't take it personally when Clark lied to him. Usually.

However, he was perpetually torn in two, believing that no one in this freak hick town could possibly be stupid enough to buy any of Clark's badly told lies, yet also believing that the willfully blind and dense populace was far more dimwitted than Joss Whedon could ever write the ignoramuses of Sunnydale.

Christ, someone really needed to teach the kid to lie. Or lie for him.

Not that Lex was volunteering.

But really, the kid practically squirmed with guilt every time he prepared to lie. And the actual lying? Clark had about a dozen different tells. His body language alone betrayed him every time, and when you added in those guileless eyes and the open face?

Lex sighed, picking up his bottled water and raising it to his lips.

He couldn't get too involved. He wouldn't. Just be the kid's friend, make sure he has what he needs to be safe and happy, and just be there for the inevitable bouts of teenage angst which would drive the produce boy to come seeking advice from the eccentric bald guy in the castle.

Right.

Lex leaned forward, grabbing a small log and tossing it into the flames.

His dad had flipped when he'd had several of the fireplaces converted from gas to wood. He'd gone on and on about how it was impractical, the increased inconvenience, the additional cost, the supply and labor for firewood, chimney cleaning, and on and on. But he liked the smell of a wood fire. He found the sharp, warm woodsy scent to be calming.

It reminded him of winter breaks spent at the ranch in Montana. Of escaping from Excelsior---he'd loved the learning, but had hated being the vulnerable prey to the older bullies just because he was richer, smarter, and years younger---to spend a few weeks or a month in front of a fire drinking hot chocolate and listening to his mother and father talk about business conquests and social coups.

Lex ran his hand distractedly over his scalp as he wondered what in the hell was up with his youngest, and perhaps closest, friend.

Clark had always been overly emotional, bursting out in fits of passion about saving another one of his strays or righting some terrible wrong. He was quick to judge and quicker to condemn, but Lex often chalked it up to youthful arrogance. All teenagers thought they knew everything. It was only with experience and being exposed to the cruelties of the world at large that corrected that misperception.

Lex snorted. Of course, when taking in the average citizen of Smallville, he could only assume their collective ignorance had to do with their insular society and the fact that most of the rednecks had never left the farm---or the town---to experience jack shit.

No, he wasn't bitter at all.

Fucking Dad. He should be out conquering the world right now, taking the scientific community by storm with his fucking brilliance. Instead, he was in the back end of nowhere and stuck with Smallville as his dubious kingdom.

A real prize to be sure, and to top it all off, the damn peasants would burn him at the stake at the slightest hint of weakness, vulnerability, or culpability. Well, not literally, but metaphorically, and that still didn't make him feel any more secure in a town full of mutated humans with abilities and powers to indulge in their deep-seeded hatred of the Luthors.

Namely, Lex. It was like that damn Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoon, only instead of hunting season on ducks, it was open season on Luthors. And oops! The nearest Luthor happened to be the bald kid in the castle.

Lex glared at the yellow and red flames dancing among the logs.

It wasn't mutants that were his problem. Besides, he wasn't exactly one to be pointing fingers.

No, it was Clark's recent moodiness. Despite Clark being a creature of emotion---Lex had to roll his eyes at this thought after hearing all his life that he was emotional because, really, Lex had nothing on Clark---and despite Clark having the Kent temper in spades, along with the accompanying Kent trait to point fingers first and to think last, this recent behavior wasn't like any of that.

In the last six months, Clark seemed to swing through phases where he couldn't get far enough away from Lex or he couldn't get enough time with him. Clark would start to spend every free moment at the castle or trail along with Lex into town or even the plant like his shadow, and then abruptly would avoid Lex like the plague for days or weeks on end. And then just as suddenly, with no explanation, Clark would be back to sticking to him like glue.

It was unnerving at the very least. Not to mention, Lex kept wondering if he'd done something to drive the boy away, something that needed to be apologized for or made up in some gesture of reconciliation.

And the sudden odd behavior didn't stop there. Clark would show up, wanting to talk or spend time together, and he'd be his normal carefree, happy self. But then inexplicably, by the time Clark left, he'd be upset, angry, or so sad that Lex was tempted to offer the poor kid a hug.

This wouldn't have been odd if Lex had precipitated each change in mood by saying something or committing some action that would account for the alteration in behavior.

But he didn't. He'd gone over each occasion repeatedly, and he was confident he wasn't the cause for Clark's strange emotional imbalance.

But what really concerned him was last week. Clark had come over, wanting to play video games, and he'd left in rush for reasons unknown. He'd been sitting next to Lex, seemingly absorbed with the game, when he'd suddenly shot up and declared he had to go.

Quick exits accompanied by blatant lies to excuse the dash for places unknown were typical Clarkian behavior. The tears brimming in Clark's eyes were not.

Lex stood up slowly, troubled at what could possibly be bothering the kid so much.

Did he have another friend in trouble? Was someone close to him dying again, and the emotional fluctuations a manifestation of his distress?

Could the break ups with Lana have disturbed Clark so much that he was becoming unbalanced?

Lex snorted softly at the thought. He couldn't imagine anyone actually being so wrapped up in the town princess that they could become unstable, but then he didn't see the appeal for obsession when it came to Lana Lang. Obviously the youth of the town felt different, since Lana had her own following of meteor mutants who kept trying to woo, mate, kidnap, or kill her.

He ignored the fact that for some inexplicable reason, the same could be said for him.

He walked up to his room, still thoughtful, as he planned out what he was going to wear. While he'd be just as comfortable lounging around in sweats and a t-shirt while in the privacy of his own home, he'd had years of lectures and surprise visits by his father to know that a Luthor always looked his best regardless of where he was at. College was one thing, especially since several states had separated him from his father, but since coming to Smallville, he'd gotten in the practice of always looking his best.

However, looking like the height of fashion as he stepped out of his car and onto the farm always annoyed Jonathan Kent. Greatly. And while the entertainment value of this was enough for Lex to want to actually dress up even more to go visit Clark, he tried to get along with Clark's parents for Clark's sake.

Well, okay. That might be an exaggeration. Both parties actually had to be willing to act amiable toward each other for that to work. But on his end, he bit his tongue and kept his thoughts to himself. No reason to actually give Jonathan Kent an actual reason to rant and rave.

He'd found with past experiences with his father that having the moral high ground was a pleasant experience. Even if no one acknowledged it but himself, he found the inevitable Kent rantings to be tolerable since he knew he'd done nothing wrong. It also didn't hurt that he knew the elder Kent was being an intolerant, sanctimonious, hypocritical windbag.

For someone who liked to preach moral righteousness and goodness, Jonathan Kent hated easily and comfortably. Especially when it came to Lex.

His only saving grace, in Lex's opinion, was that he loved Clark so unconditionally and that he seemed to be a good father the majority of the time.

So that was why he was going to go change into something more casual. Because Jonathan might be a prick, but he was Clark's father and he'd at least try not to push the man's buttons.


Lex pulled up the drive to the Kent Farm at a reasonable slow speed. He turned off the lights and put the Ferrari into park, and after he got out, he clicked the remote to lock the doors.

He knew it wasn't really necessary. Mutants aside, the likelihood of an attempted theft of his car on Kent property was highly unlikely. However, as improbable as it was, it was a habit. He'd also found living with a healthy dose of paranoia had served him well thus far in life. Especially in Smallville, where so many of the citizens turned homicidal.

Besides, the little chirp was a welcome sound. It might be the most cheerful thing he heard all evening.

Hopefully Clark would be around and in a decent mood. It was slightly late, but nine wasn't too bad and he'd stopped by later in the past.

It was time to open the lines of communication. As any good leader knows, communication was key in the smooth administration of all relationships, businesses, and governing bodies. The only way he was going to be able to fix whatever was bothering Clark was to find out what was wrong.

He also had to eliminate a disquieting possibility that he'd been deliberating over for a while.

This odd behavior had been escalating in recent months, but Clark had acted oddly as far back as the beginning of the summer. As much as he wanted to believe it was a coincidence, Lex just didn't believe in coincidences. And it was undeniable that Clark's weird conduct had started after that first weekend trip to Metropolis.

He'd assumed that he'd taken care of the repercussions of his ill-conceived stop at Piper's. Clark had said he wasn't bothered, and he'd acted like his normal self on Saturday and Sunday.

Lex had talked to Clark the next morning, sitting the teenager down after breakfast, and he'd seemed remarkably unphased at having gone to a gay club and at having been propositioned by two lowlife creeps. But then, Clark had always bounced back quickly.

He'd explained how he'd taken lovers of both genders in the past. He'd been respectful and circumspect about what he revealed. He didn't say he'd fucked both men and women equally and indiscriminately in the past because he'd gone through a slut phase. He'd tried to be gentle, keeping in mind that the teenager probably associated sex with love and commitment.

Lex knew Clark wasn't an idiot. Mindless, rutting sex was practically an American icon. (The fact that most foreigners associated America with 'Baywatch' said a lot about American culture alone.) However, he also knew from past comments that Clark really didn't understand why some people preferred the emptiness of meaningless sex.

Lex really hoped he never would.

Clark seemed to calmly accept Lex's revelation, nodding and saying it didn't matter to him whether Lex was attracted to boys or girls. He hadn't had any questions for Lex, and he'd shied away from talk about the club or what had happened. He'd just assured Lex that he hadn't been bothered by what he'd seen or heard.

Lex had made sure to tactful add at the appropriate moment, when it would be taken as a point of fact and not a pretext, that he'd made a conscious choice to see women in recent years to placate small town sensibilities.

A very polite, gracious way to say that he'd only fucked women because the uneducated, homophobic bigots couldn't handle anything else.

Besides, Lex had a feeling Clark didn't have the faintest idea that it wouldn't take much for his neighbors and friends to start committing hate crimes and acts of violence. The human capacity for hatred and brutality was deep-rooted, and it was kept hidden by only the thinnest veneer of civilization.

Matthew Shepard. Ryan White. They hadn't been the exceptions. They'd been the norms.

No, Clark had no idea that it wouldn't take much to turn his neighbors and peers into a lynch mob. And he'd taken Clark's word that he wasn't troubled by a glimpse into Lex's life outside Smallville.

But that was then.

He was starting to doubt that Clark had taken his disclosure as well as he'd claimed.

Perhaps the boy was struggling with his own homophobia. Clark was sweet enough that he might be troubled that he could possibly feel such disgust and revulsion for a friend. Maybe he was bothered by what he thought these darker emotions might mean about himself?

Or perhaps Clark was uncomfortable around Lex. He could have reviewed past encounters and realized how Lex had been subtly flirting for the last two years. Maybe he was afraid that he might be hit on by his very male best friend? Or it might just be a general discomfort with the first non-heterosexual he'd ever known.

After finding the loft empty, Lex was left with no other choice than to make his way to the house. Entering the lion's den was never an enjoyable experience, but Luthors feared no man or woman. So he found himself moments later knocking on the backdoor to the kitchen, forcing a polite smile on his face as Martha Kent answered the door.

Martha was definitely more tolerable than Jonathan. While she didn't vocally deride Lex or Clark's friendship with Lex, she didn't vocally approve either. Cordial nods and greetings, polite smiles and congenial small talk, Martha Kent knew the correct social niceties.

However Lex was a master at reading people, having learned from the best. The tightness around her eyes and a smile that was just a touch too practiced told Lex all he needed to know. Whether it stemmed from the condemnation of her husband or her own displeasure of her son being near the vile Luthor whelp who had too much curiosity for his own good, Martha Kent didn't totally approve of Clark having any type of relationship with Lex.

So it was a shock to be greeted with a very sincere, very relieved smile.

"Lex, I'm so glad to see you."

Obviously, he'd just fallen through some the rabbit hole, and he was in some alternative universe where Clark's mother actually liked him.

"I'm afraid you just missed Clark. Chloe called ten minutes ago. It seems she has a flat, and the jack is missing from her trunk so he went to go help her."

Lex nodded pleasantly. "Yes, I recall Gabe debating whether or not to get her a cell phone for her birthday. I'm sure he'll be glad to know his investment is paying off."

"Investment?" Surprise colored Martha's voice, and she raised her eyebrows.

"Yes. I advised him that one of the best investments he could make in his daughter's safety was a cell phone. He was concerned it would seem pretentious for a high school junior in Smallville to have her own cell."

"Well, I can understand his concern," Martha said thoughtfully. "It seems rather excessive in some respects. After all, it's not like there's as much danger out in the country as there would be in the city. But it did come in handy tonight, so I can see the advantages."

Lex really wanted to make a rude noise to show how preposterous he found her beliefs on the relative safety of Smallville. Hell. It was her son that ran around like some knight errant or some teen superhero to save the locals from human and non-human mutants. And Chloe often led the investigations into the heart of the strange and dangerous in this town.

However, he wasn't about to get into the serious discussion he and Gabe had held about this topic. Gabe had used him as a sounding board for all the positives and negatives involved, and he'd added his own thoughts on the matter. He was confident time would show the cell phone as the boon it was. Especially if Chloe insisted on running around like Smallville's answer to Nancy Drew.

Instead, he just smiled faintly and asked, "Would you tell Clark I stopped by? I'll drop by tomorrow evening, or he can call tonight if it's convenient."

Martha shook her head, surprising Lex once more.

"Why don't you come in and wait, Lex? I'm sure Clark will be along in a bit, and I had something I wanted to discuss with you."

Lex had to actually work to keep the astonishment off his face. This was unprecedented behavior, and he was suddenly wondering if maybe Clark's strange behavior wasn't an isolated case. Maybe it was the whole Kent clan.

Maybe something had gotten into the well water.

Christ. Maybe it was another Desiree mind control thing. He could easily imagine Jonathan Kent in the shadows of the kitchen with a shotgun, waiting for the gullible Luthor heir to step inside.

"Well," Lex hedged, "I would hate to be an inconvenience while I wait and I really should be---"

"Please."

Lex couldn't stop his eyes from widening at the soft plea.

He had to resist the urge to look around suspiciously to see if anything was out of place or if there were any differences in his immediate environment. After all, if he were in an alternative universe, shouldn't the house be a different color? Or maybe there would be an extra bush to the right, or a different clock on the kitchen wall?

He curbed his impulse, though, as hard as it was, and tried to ignore his inner alarms that were screaming that something was definitely amiss. Amiss usually meant danger for him.

He called himself a complete idiot, but he nodded anyway. "Of course, Mrs. Kent. I just hope nothing is wrong with either yourself or Clark."

He allowed himself to be ushered inside and directed to a chair at the kitchen table. She bustled to the other side of the room after receiving an affirmative for coffee, puttering at the kitchen counter. He noted with some relief that Mr. Kent was nowhere in sight.

If Jonathan Kent came up to him and hugged him, he was out of here.

Martha talked over her shoulder as she poured two cups of coffee. "Thank you, Lex. I'm fine, as is Jonathan."

"Where is Mr. Kent? Did he accompany Clark to assist Chloe with her car troubles?" Lex was very proud of himself at how affable he sounded. He didn't sound at all like he'd rather gouge out his eyes than see the man.

"Oh, he's out in the garage. The tractor was acting up today, so he wanted to take a look at it."

"I hope it isn't anything serious."

Martha shook her head as she approached the table. She pointed out the sugar bowl on the table, and took a seat across from Lex. She replied, "I'm sure it's not. Jonathan is quite adept at the maintenance around the farm." Martha smiled fondly. "Clark, on the other hand, is completely hopeless when it comes to anything mechanical. He can change a tire and check the oil on the truck, but that's about it."

Lex felt a small smile slip on his face at the personal detail. It showed how bad off he was when it came to Clark that he found this to be yet another adorable aspect to the boy.

Lack of mechanical aptitude should not be a source of warm fuzzies.

Lex took a sip of his coffee, playing for time as his mind spun with possibilities for why Martha Kent would want to speak with him. While he'd always thought her a kind and warm person, even if she didn't approve of his friendship with Clark, they really hadn't spoken in the past. He knew for a fact the Kents would rather live on the street than accept help or money from him, so it couldn't have anything to do with the farm or their finances.

Lex mentally snorted to himself. He thought the Kents were fools. He'd seen in-depth reports on the Kents finances, and he knew one bad season would send the Kents into bankruptcy. They'd lose it all, the farm, the land, the house, their possessions. In fact, he couldn't see how they'd survive Clark going to college. They were just lucky Clark hadn't ever insisted on taking a summer job, like most kids, because they would have never been able to make up for the work he did on the farm, and they didn't have the finances available to hire farmhands.

As far as he was concerned, Jonathan Kent had done it to himself. Losing the farm and house was inevitable, and he'd pointed it out when he'd first moved here. The idiot man should have accepted his offer of a loan, so whatever happened to the farm wasn't any of his concern.

Okay, it shouldn't be any of his concern. But since Clark was involved, it would be his concern and he knew it.

Fuck, he was getting soft.

Lex looked up, meeting Martha Kent's blue eyes steadily. He knew that look. She wanted something from him.

But then, who didn't.

He arranged his face into an approachable expression, smiling pleasantly. "So, how is Clark? Aside from rescuing Chloe, that is."

Bingo. He hadn't missed that she'd avoided answering his earlier question, and the worry that flitted through her eyes answered it for him.

"Clark is the reason I wanted to talk to you," Martha said quietly. "I've noticed that he seems...troubled recently. I was wondering if you knew what might be bothering him."

Lex's mouth tightened, the smile slipping off his face. Great. She wanted to use him to gain information on Clark. He knew this game very well. He learned it at Daddy's knee. "Mrs. Kent, with all due respect, Clark is my friend. Anything he tells me remains between the two of us, and I would never break his confidence, not even to his parents."

Lex raised his hands, halting whatever Martha was about to say. "And with that said, I can assure you that he hasn't come to me with any problems or concerns. If Clark is troubled by something, then you know more than I."

Martha nodded, absorbing his words. "I had a feeling you might not, but I wasn't sure." She paused, uncertainty reflected in the look she sent Lex. "Lex, I'm not sure how to say this, so I'm just going to come out and ask. Are you in a relationship with my son?"

Lex barely kept from jerking at the question. Fuck-shit-and-god-damn. It was always the fucking same. Everyone thought he couldn't possible befriend the boy for fucking simple friendship. No, he was a nymphomaniacal slut, so of course he wanted Clark for sex. But then, he'd been waiting for this accusation for years, and his only surprise was that it took this long for someone to accuse him to his face.

He straightened up, his back tense, as he looked at Martha directly. "If you're asking if we're friends, then yes, we are. But if you're asking if we've gone beyond the parameters of friendship, then I really think this is a conversation you should be having with your son. As well intentioned as I'm sure it's meant, I don't like what you're inferring, and I don't like the implication that I can't engage in a relationship that isn't sexual in nature."

Martha reached out, setting her hand on Lex's arm lightly. This time, he did jerk, moving back in his chair and tightening his jaw.

Martha shook her head, her eyes soft and pleading. "I don't mean to imply anything, or to offend you. And I would go to Clark, except...please, Lex, answer the question. I really need to know."

Lex closed his eyes, counted to ten, and exhaled softly. He smoothed out his face and opened his eyes, looking at Martha coolly. "No, we are not in a relationship. I have never touched your son, nor will I ever do so. I respect Clark and our friendship too much to do something as crass as to hit on him, not to mention the fact that he's still in high school. While I realize your opinion of me might be less than complimentary, I hold nothing more sacred than the bonds of friendship and loyalty. And if that's all, I really must be going. Please give Clark my regards."

Lex stood up and was halfway to the door when a hand on his shoulder made him pause.

"Please, Lex. I apologize. I didn't handle this well, and I didn't mean..." She ran her other hand nervously through her red hair. She continued, the pain transparent in her face. "I needed to understand something, and in order to do that, I needed to know the exact nature of your relationship with Clark."

Lex's stony face didn't soften in the slightest. "And now you know. If you'll excuse me..."

Martha tightened her hand on Lex's shoulder, cutting Lex off. "Please. Sit down. Clark will be home soon, and there's something we need to discuss."

"Mrs. Kent, I really do---"

"Lex, there's something wrong with Clark. Seriously wrong. And I think you're the only one who can help him."

Lex's breath caught, his chest squeezing tight. He was caught by the anguish in Martha's face, at how openly she was sharing it with him, and he knew she was being completely honest with him. Prickles of unease skated down his spine, and alarm replaced the anger that had been flowing through him. Kents were rarely honest.

Seriously wrong.

He turned back, sitting down, his eyes never leaving Martha.

The relief was visible, a grateful smile warming Martha's face. "Thank you, Lex. I know this must seem...I truly didn't mean to offend you earlier. But I've been very worried about Clark, and I'm afraid I wasn't sure how to approach this."

"Mrs. Kent, I'll do whatever I have to in order to help Clark. Just ask, and whatever it is he needs, I'll see that he gets." Honesty for honesty, Lex allowed the earnestness to show on his own face.

A strange look passed through her eyes, and she murmured, "Whatever it takes?"

Lex nodded seriously. "Whatever it takes."

Martha looked down, picking up her coffee cup absently before looking up, a sad smile gracing her lips. "Tell me, Lex, have you noticed any strange behavior from Clark lately?"

Lex's eyes narrowed at the slight change in direction, but nodded. "Yes. I...I have. As I stated earlier, as a rule, I don't disclose private matters, and what is said or done between Clark and myself..." Lex trailed off, but came to a decision quickly. He didn't like talking about Clark behind his back to his mother. It wasn't something he'd do to anyone else, either his friends or his acquaintances. But he wouldn't get any information unless he gave information.

"But these are unique circumstances. To answer your question, yes, I have. In fact, I dropped by specifically to talk to Clark to see if he was willing to discuss what's distressing him."

"Distressing him?" Martha echoed. She looked thoughtfully at Lex, and asked, "What do you mean?"

"He's been acting...different. He's more emotional. He'll spend days at a time stopping by at every free moment, but then suddenly spend days avoiding me. He'll be distant, acting as if he doesn't have any time for me. And other times..."

"Other times?" Martha prodded gently.

Lex shrugged. "Completely the opposite. He'll follow me everywhere. The Talon, the post office, the castle, even to the plant. I don't mind, but it's different. And at times he's almost...clingy. Emotionally needy, like he's soaking up the attention. I'd assumed it was because of the break up with Lana, and that he just wanted to be around someone who wanted him around. But now I'm not so sure."

Martha looked thoughtfully, but gestured for Lex to continue.

He just shrugged again. "I'm not sure what else to say. He's done nothing that suggested he was in trouble or that something was terribly wrong. But his behavior has been so erratic and so uncharacteristic that I've grown concerned. I was going to delicately probe into what might be troubling him." Lex looked at her carefully. "I take it you've experienced something similar, or at least something that's indicated that he's in trouble?"

Martha nodded. "Yes. I've noticed some of what you've described, though it's different for us. He's more broody, even depressed, which I attributed to the break up. He'll spend hours up in his loft refusing to talk to anyone. He seems to get more despondent every day. And yet, there's days when he's so happy that he glows."

"Mrs. Kent, you said that there's something that's seriously wrong with Clark and that I was the only one who could help him. Why don't we get to the immediate problem, so I know exactly what I need to do to rectify this."

"I just needed to make sure. Everything you've described...it makes sense."

Frustration tightened his voice, a hint of exasperation in his voice. "What makes sense?"

Martha's face grew grim, her blue eyes disturbed. "What would you say if I told you that Clark cries himself to sleep every night?"

Lex blinked, but answered immediately. "That something was seriously wrong because Clark's not the type to cry incessantly. In fact, I've only seen him cry once, and that was when Ryan died."

"He calls out your name at night."

"What?!?" Lex didn't bother to hide the shock, wasn't even sure if he could. What the fuck?

"I woke up about six weeks ago, around two in the morning. I was coming back from the kitchen when I heard Clark cry out. I moved to his door and was going to go in to see if something was wrong when he started to cry. He leaves his door cracked open, so I heard him whisper your name. I left him alone, thinking he'd be embarrassed to have his mother walk in on him."

Lex squeezed his eyes shut, feeling as if he'd been punched. Fuck. What the hell had he done or said to hurt Clark so badly?

Martha continued on. "A few days later, I woke up again. And again, I got up for a drink of water. I went to go check on Clark, but this time he was tossing and turning in his bed. He cried out your name, and a few minutes later he was crying again."

She shook her head, voice trembling. "I've stayed up every night since. And it happens every night. I'm not sure what he's dreaming, but he starts to toss and turn. Usually he's quiet, though he's called out for you a few times. And every night, he wakes up and then starts crying. I've gone in to check on him a few times when I was sure he'd finally fallen asleep, and every time he was wrapped around a pillow, practically curled into a ball."

Martha paused, taking a sip from the coffee cup she still had clutched in her hands. She leaned forward, her body tense. "He cries himself to sleep as if his heart is breaking."

Lex swallowed hard, throat tight. "I don't have the faintest idea what I've done. I...entertained the idea that perhaps I'd upset him somehow, and I've thought on our past interactions. I'm baffled as to what I've done to cause...if I've said something, or have hurt him in some way, I'll..." He trailed off, at a loss for words.

What could he do? Should he admit to Clark he knew the boy wept every night? Should he pretend ignorance, but continue on as planned? Probe gently into the boy's troubles?

Lex breathed out slowly. He assured Martha, "I'll do whatever I need to fix this."

Martha looked at him, a hard look in her eyes. Lex remained silent, meeting her gaze unflinchingly. After a few minutes, it softened. She got up, refilling their coffee cups, and sat back down.

Lex repeated, both for his sake and hers. "I'll do whatever I need to fix this. Whatever Clark needs. If I've caused him distress, I'll find a way to make it up to him. To ease his mind."

"I believe you, Lex."

Lex narrowed his eyes, her voice tipping him off. He looked at her carefully, and it came to him. She knew. Or she thought she knew. Whatever it was that was bothering Clark, she either knew what it was, or she had an idea.

"You know."

She nodded. "Yes. I think I do."

Lex kept his face blank, his instincts screaming like crazy. Run, Lex Luthor, run. "Mr. Kent?"

She shook her head slightly. "No. I haven't discussed it with him, yet. I was waiting to know more before I went to him. Jonathan can be...too direct. I didn't want to approach Clark too soon and have him retreat further from us."

"And you'll be discussing it with him tonight?"

Again, she shook her head. "No. Not yet. I think this is something you and Clark need a chance to handle between yourselves. I'll speak to Jonathan in a few days."

Lex nodded tersely. "What exactly is 'this'?"

"Lex, you're smarter than this."

Fuck. That was worthy of Lionel.

He gritted his teeth, and bit out, "Let's pretend I'm not, and I need it spelled out for me."

Martha looked at him steadily.

"He's having nightmares. Can you blame him? How many times has he saved me or someone else in this town? He's probably dreaming about my death. I seem to have someone after me on a weekly basis. I'll walk him through the castle, show him all the security I have in place. The equivalent of showing a child there's no monster in the closet."

"Lex. This is happening every night. And it's getting worse."

He shook his head. She was not implying what he thought she was implying.

Christ. Why the hell did she start off this fucking conversation by asking if they had a relationship?

No. She was not implying what he thought she was implying. She. Was. Not.

She looked at him steadily, her blue eyes speaking volumes. "His heart is breaking."

"No." Lex shook his head, repeating. "No. He's just upset. Perhaps about Lana."

"It isn't Lana's name that he's crying out at night. And it isn't Lana's name he whispers before he falls asleep."

"Then I've done something. Said something to upset him. Maybe he thinks---"

"You've already said you haven't. You know you haven't. This isn't because of something you've done. It's because of something you haven't done."

"He's confused," Lex said shortly.

"He's in love."

Lex recoiled as if he'd been slapped. The sound of his chair scraping across the floor echoed in the air.

"He's in love with Lana. He's been in love with her since I've met him."

Martha shook her head, a quiet resignation in her eyes. She repeated gently, as if speaking to a skittish colt, "It isn't Lana he's calling out for."

His gaze darted towards the door, but he stayed seated. He repeated, his voice less certain, "He's confused."

Martha said nothing.

"He's my friend," Lex whispered, a thread of agony in his voice.

Martha merely continued to look at him expectantly.

"I didn't want this," he said, shaking his head in denial. "I didn't want this."

"Didn't you?" she asked quietly.

He looked at her, angry and confused. What was going on? Shouldn't she be yelling at him? Or telling him to stay the fuck away from her kid?

"I..." He ran his hand over his head, the gesture from his childhood calming. He continued, "I didn't want this. Not really."

Lex looked at her, willing Clark's mother to believe him. "I care for him. He's special. Unique. If he asked, I'd die for him. And I refuse to take advantage of him."

An odd look entered her face, but she just said, "I'm not asking you to. You said you'd give him whatever he needs. Regardless of what I, or my husband, or even yourself thinks, I suspect if we ask him, he'll say he needs you."

Lex flinched again.

Surely this much honestly wasn't healthy.

Hell, this was the Kents. When the fuck did they start being honest with him anyway? And why now? Okay, dumb question. He looked up at the kitchen clock, wondering where Clark was at. Hell, he'd even take Jonathan at this point.

He wasn't going to touch Clark. He'd thought about this. He'd reasoned it out. Clark deserved better. He deserved more. He deserved a vivacious, pretty young thing that he could play house with. The kid was just confused. He'd never shown the slightest bit of attraction or interest in Lex, or any other male, in two years. He was just mixed up after being at Piper's, feeling things that weren't real.

He was just confused.

"Lex," Martha said gently, "Talk to him. Be gentle with him. And if you don't care for him, then let him know that, so he can get over you. But if you do care, and I suspect you do, then the both of you have things that need to be let out. Because right now, hiding it is killing him inside."

Lex felt all his internal arguments come to a complete stop. Frozen. Dead. Because even if Clark was confused, he was hurting. Because of Lex. And he could do something to stop it.

He wasn't sure what, yet, but he could do something.

Lex, there's something wrong with Clark. Seriously wrong. And I think you're the only one who can help him.

Fuck. This was the fucking Twilight Zone. Any moment he expected to hear a voice-over.

Lex looked at Martha, bewildered. "You don't like me."

A statement, not a question. He'd known for years how all three Kents felt about him.

"I don't hate you."

His jaw tightened. "No, but you don't like me. You have nothing against me personally, but you would have rather Clark not be my friend. You've wished we'd never met."

Martha looked at him, a trace of pity in her gaze. "It wasn't personal."

"It doesn't get more personal."

Martha sighed. "Lex, I think you're a brilliant young man. You can be amazingly courageous and selfless at times. People still talk about how you walked into the plant and exchanged yourself as a hostage for all the kids."

Lex smiled sharply. "But you still don't like me."

She said firmly, "It wasn't about like."

"No, it was about trust."

The word was thrown out now, and it hung heavy in the air. And Lex knew that's what it came down to. It's what it was about in the beginning, and he sure as hell knew it was what it would come down to in the end. The elder Kents didn't trust him. Hell, Clark didn't trust him.

He'd killed for Clark. For Jonathan. He'd bled for Clark. Exchanged his life for Clark, as well as the other kids in his class. Had taken in people on the run from the law, risking his position and his reputation in society, which he'd desperately needed as the new CEO of LexCorp. He'd granted favor after favor for the boy's friends, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. He'd showered Clark with attention, always there when he'd wanted to talk. He'd offered to bail out the farm from its financial problems, ensuring Clark would have money for college.

And they didn't trust him.

He wasn't stupid. They thought if he knew, that he'd cut up Clark like some fucking frog in a dissection lab. They thought he'd hurt Clark. Kill Clark.

"It is about trust." Lex looked at Martha steadfastly, standing by his words.

He loved Martha. If he was honest, he even loved Jonathan, prick that he was, in spite of his narrow-minded hateful ass. They were family because Clark was family. But he would never forgive them for thinking that he'd do that to Clark.

That he would kill Clark.

Cut him open just to see if he would bleed.

Yes, he loved them. But then he loved his father, and he still hated the bastard. He was well versed in hating the family that he loved.

Absorbing the hurts they dished out because that was the way of families.

Lex held up his hand, cutting off whatever Martha was about to say. He honestly didn't want to know. Whether it was a lie or not, he didn't want to know.

"Tell me this much," he asked quietly. "Why are you asking me to talk to him? You've implied an...acceptance. Should this result in a relationship. I would think that would be the last thing you'd want."

Martha looked at him for a few moments, her face soft and wistful. She said gently, "It isn't personal. A relationship with you will be hard, and Clark has so many challenges in life already. And yes, suspecting that Clark may be gay meant mourning a life he won't have. There won't be a big wedding, or sitting in the kitchen talking to my daughter-in-law as we make Thanksgiving dinner, or grandchildren to hold in my arms. But above all that, I want Clark to be happy. You've always made him happy. It's just now he wants a different kind of happiness with you."

Martha's words lightened something in Lex. He still thought it was damn personal. Not being liked, not being trusted, not being wanted in Clark's life. It was very personal. It always would be, and he'd never forget the slight. He would never trust them. But he could understand it, and it was enough that they did accept him in Clark's life. Regardless of the role he played.

"I'm still not convinced that he isn't confused," Lex said carefully, "But I'll talk to him. We'll work it out."

Blue eyes looked at him, and Lex could see that something was being weighed. A decision was being debated. He sat still as he was examined carefully.

"Clark is unique."

Lex nodded, face expressionless. "Yes, as I've said."

"Special."

Lex nodded again.

"I never thought you were stupid."

Lex snorted softly, but met Martha's gaze steadily.

"You're extremely observant, and just as intelligent. Clark...might feel things differently. He might...this might not be a choice for him."

Lex flinched.

"He's special," she whispered, a hint of fear in her eyes. "Don't discount his feelings so lightly. Don't be so certain he's confused. There's so much we don't know...and he's never acted this way about anyone. Not this intensely. Clark rarely cried, even as a baby. It means something that he can't stop now."

She looked up, her expression lost. "Don't hurt him."

Lex closed his eyes, not wanting to look at the silent plea. What was he supposed to do? What was he supposed to say to that? He'd so carefully weighed the consequences of pursuing a relationship with Clark, seducing the boy into his bed, and he'd been forced to admit over and over that it'd be a mistake.

Mourned a life that couldn't be? Ha. He'd mourned that life, a life with Clark, long ago. And now he was being asked to exhume it. As if it wouldn't hurt to resurrect his dead dreams, dreams he still didn't believe had a chance in hell of becoming reality.

But he was evil devil's spawn, so maybe it wasn't supposed to hurt.

He opened his eyes, not even sure what his response was going to be, when they both heard the truck pull up outside. They looked at the door simultaneously, and then Lex looked back at her.

"Thank you for your candor," he said quietly, if a little stiffly. "I can't promise I won't hurt him. I'd never knowingly do so. I'd die before I'd do so. But if being in a relationship hurts him more than not being in one..." Lex shook his head. "I can't promise to give him something that would hurt him more in the long run. I won't promise that."

Martha looked at him and nodded once. "I can't keep this from Jonathan. I'll be going to him in three days."

Lex grimaced. He barely managed not to roll his eyes as Martha chuckled quietly in response.

That was not going to be fun. He'd be lucky if the man didn't come screeching up to his front door, ready to pound his ass in the ground for just thinking about touching Clark.

Not that he had because obviously it was Clark that was doing all of the thinking. But in that Kentish mind, it would all come back to the evil Luthor whelp.

The back door flew open, and Clark's bright voice rang out.

"Lex!"

Lex smiled at the excitement on Clark's face, the green eyes sparkling with happiness.

Fuck. Martha was right. The kid was glowing.

How in the hell did he miss this?

"Hello, Clark. I hear you rescued a fair maiden tonight."

Clark rolled his eyes. "It was just Chloe. It took longer to change her tire than I thought it would. And I followed her home to make sure she didn't have any more problems. I hope you didn't have to wait long?"

"Never say 'it was just Chloe' to Chloe's face. Women have been known to draw blood over slights like that," Lex corrected gently. A smile tugged at his lips as Clark blushed and looked down at his shoes. "And no, not that long. In fact, I was just talking about you to your mother."

"What about?" Clark asked, curiosity in his voice.

Lex ignored the wide-eyed look Martha Kent was giving him and smirked at Clark. "The immediate future. I realize your break is coming up at the end of the month, and I know you'll be having the traditional dinner with your family. But I was wondering if you'd like to go up to Metropolis for a day some time during your break. I've received an invitation from Neiman Marcus for a showing of their more exclusive items, and I thought you might like to come along."

Clark's face screwed up in a faint expression of disgust, though Lex gave him credit for trying to sound interested. Even if it was half-hearted.

"Shopping? I guess it sounds fun."

Lex snorted. "Not quite what I would call shopping, Clark. I think you'll find it much different than what you're used to. In a good way. Personally, I don't understand how the masses can take pleasure in the so called 'mall experience'."

Clark rolled back and forth on his heels, grinning madly. "You're just mad still about the last time we went to the mall. It's not like it was that little kid's fault for throwing up on you. And it's not like that happens all the time."

Lex asked dryly, "Then whose fault was it, exactly? And I wasn't 'mad'. I was just mildly perplexed as to why someone would drag their three-year-old child to a public venue that's main purpose is to advocate mass commercialism, and then stuff the child with enough ice cream and cookies to induce regurgitation."

The teenager reached out, pushing Lex gently on the shoulder with one hand. "You're just using big words to try to make me forget that you practically had a temper tantrum on the way back to the castle."

Lex narrowed his eyes, glaring at Clark. "I had vomit in my Ferrari. I had to get it fully detailed and I'm still not convinced the smell is gone."

"You should have taken off your pants, like I told you. Then it would have just been your trunk." Clark ignored Lex's glare, raising his eyebrows and looking at him expectantly, like he was waiting for Lex to admit he'd overreacted.

Not in this lifetime.

He just shook his head. "And if I'd been stopped by the police for some reason? That would have looked real good. Indecent exposure and corruption of a minor, at the very least."

Lex valiantly ignored the snickers coming from Clark, as well as the smile that was tugging at Martha's lips. Heathens.

"Do you want to go out to the loft?" Clark asked enthusiastically. "I have a new armchair that Chloe's dad gave me. And there's no moon out tonight, so it's perfect for using the telescope."

He shook his head, trying not to let the collapse of Clark's face affect him. A disappointed teenager would not manipulate him into staying. He had some serious thinking to do, and only three days in which to come to a decision and act accordingly.

"Next time, Clark. I really should be going."

Clark's face fell even further. "You're not staying?"

Martha intruded, answering for Lex. "No, he's not. But neither are you. You didn't give Lex a chance to tell you."

Lex turned around, staring hard at Martha, but she kept her gaze on Clark. "I thought you might like to stay over at Lex's tonight. It's been a while since you've gone to a sleepover."

"Moooom," Clark groaned, shooting her a mortified look.

"Oh, honey," Martha tsked, walking over and brushing her hand over his cheek. She used her other hand to reach up and push his hair back from his temple. "You were just saying that you don't get to see Lex that often. You could stay up and talk, maybe have a movie marathon. I know you and Chloe like to do that."

Lex had to bit back a smile at the horrified looks Clark kept sending him as his eyes kept darting between his older best friend and his mother, especially when the teenager was so clearly being torn in two. Part of him seemed to be leaning into his mother's touches, and another part was fighting to move back in a dubious show of male independence.

He let this go on for a bit, Martha tsking as she brushed off dirt and leaves off Clark's shirt. The woman was obviously evil because there was no way she didn't know what she was doing, but it was pretty damn funny so he wasn't complaining.

A tiny, melancholy part of him wondered if embarrassing their children was a maternal ritual. He'd been too young to be embarrassed by displays of affection, so he wouldn't know.

Lex decided to show mercy and bail his friend out. "That's okay, Clark. If you want to stay home, I understand. In fact, I---"

"Nonsense," Martha said, shooting Lex a look. "We already discussed this, Lex. It's a Friday night, and I've already given my permission. I'll take care of Jonathan. You boys just go and have fun."

For the first time, Clark started to perk up. His eyes started smiling, and he practically bounced in excitement. "Really, Mom?"

Martha nodded. She put her hand behind Clark's back and gave him a nudge towards the stairs. "Go and get an overnight bag together. You can sleep in, but I expect you back by four. You can do your chores then."

"Thanks, Mom!" Clark beamed at his mom and threw Lex an excited look. "I'll be right back. Thanks for inviting me over!"

"No problem," Lex muttered under his breath, Clark already gone with a pounding of feet.

Lex turned back, staring at Martha in consternation. "I really don't understand you."

Martha looked at him expectantly. "I highly doubt you're going to ravage him, Lex. I meant what I said, you need to talk to him. This will give you some time alone, without Jonathan or one of Clark's friends being able to interrupt you."

Lex looked at Martha through narrowed eyes, but he couldn't see any hint of a hidden agenda. She seemed to believe in exactly what she was saying. He nodded once, briskly.

What else could he do?


Lex got up, handing Clark the bowl of popcorn, before making his way to the DVD player. He took out "The Fellowship of the Ring" and put in "The Two Towers".

He made his way back to the sofa and didn't even bother to hold back the laugh that wanted to burst out. In the one minute that he'd been up, Clark had stretched out to the full length of the sofa. His lanky frame was now hogging the couch, the popcorn bowl on his stomach, and bags of potato chips and Doritos were on the floor within arms reach, along with a half-drunk two liter of Pepsi.

"What?"

Lex just shook his head, still laughing. "You. Are you comfortable there? Can I get you some more junk food, perhaps, or maybe another gallon of Pepsi?"

"I'm hungry from all the tire changing! Manual labor can be exhausting," Clark protested indignantly. He threw a handful of popcorn at Lex. "You should try it sometime. Besides, you're the one who asked the housekeeper to send this all up."

"Hmmm," Lex hummed noncommittally. He continued in a bored tone, "Well, I suppose since you're gorging yourself on chips and Pepsi, you won't be interested in the brownies Dean made this afternoon."

Lex folded himself onto the floor in one effortless move, scooping up the remote control and his cup of Pepsi. He settled back against the sofa, and he smiled widely as Clark's voice floated over his shoulder.

"Brownies?"

"Hmm-huh."

"His homemade brownies?"

"He made a pan with walnuts, just for you. Heathen."

"Really? Just for me?" A pause, and Clark continued a heartbeat later, "Hey! I'm not a heathen! You're the one with chocolate issues."

It was an old argument. Lex was a firm believer in purity. The exquisiteness of chocolate was diminished when contaminated by nuts. It didn't matter what kind. Peanuts, walnuts, almonds, it was all the same. (The only exception was perhaps Snickers.) Clark, on the other hand, loved chocolate in all its various forms, and he loved walnuts in his brownies.

Lex thought Clark just loved eating, and his taste buds weren't discriminatory.

"Yes, Clark, whatever you say, Clark."

"It's true! And besides, it's not like I asked him to make some special for me."

Lex dryly pointed out, "No, not at all. You just pout at him every time he doesn't."

"Do not."

Lex bit his lip to stop another laugh from breaking out. He could practically hear the sulk behind him.

"I don't know why you insisted we had to watch 'Lord of the Rings' tonight," Clark muttered petulantly. "You're just a big bully. A movie-picking-brownie-elitist bully."

"Clark, I refuse to watch 'Dumb and Dumber' again. The one time you twisted my arm was one time too many."

"It's funny!"

"Clark, it's a movie written for the lowest common denominator."

"Elitist!"

Lex scrolled through the options on the screen.

"Snob!"

He selected the cast interviews.

"Meany."

Lex smiled at the huffy grumble. Several minutes of silence passed.

"Lex?"

"There's a very specific reason I wanted to watch these tonight."

Lex could hear Clark sit up, but he kept his eyes glued to the TV screen. He didn't hear Orlando Bloom speaking, instead all his attention was directed towards the teenager moving restlessly behind. Finally, when the boy couldn't take it anymore, he exhaled heavily and nudged Lex on the shoulder.

"And?" Clark demanded. "What is it?"

Lex wiped the grin off his face and leaned forward, snagging the Discover magazine off the coffee table. He flipped it open and withdrew the invitation that he'd placed in there earlier to keep it out of the hands of a nosy teen reporter-in-training.

Well, at least if Chloe had her way. Personally, Lex didn't think writing up the school's lunch menu and sports schedule was an indication that Clark was destined to be a journalist. Especially when the kid enjoyed laying out and editing the paper more than writing for it.

"Lex!"

Lex just ignored the impatient tone and leisurely waved the envelope over his shoulder. "Read it and weep, farmboy."

Lex smirked as the envelope was snatched out of his hand. The crinkle of paper filled the room. Lex leaned over, grabbing the bowl of Chex Mix from the far end of the coffee table and munched away while he waited for Clark to read the contents of the envelope.

"No way!"

A smile tugged at Lex's lips.

"I hate you."

The tiny smile turned into a full-fledged grin.

"The premiere and the cast party! You so suck!"

"Clark. Jealousy is unbecoming."

Okay, that was a lie. Clark wore jealousy well. Like he wore everything well. In fact, Clark was just becoming, period.

And these thoughts were not conducive to a friendly evening of platonic buddy bonding. He still hadn't made up his mind on what was the best way to move forward with this.

"Are you going to go?"

"Do you even need to ask?"

Clark sighed, envy and longing in his voice as he asked, "Have you ever been to New Zealand before?"

"No," Lex said as he took the second envelope out of the magazine. He held it in his hands as he continued, "I've been to Australia a couple of times on business trips when I was younger. Dad liked to drag me along occasionally as teaching exercises. But this will be my first time in New Zealand."

"I bet it'll be fun," Clark said wistfully. "And it looks gorgeous there. Between the movies and 'Hercules' and 'Xena', I always thought it looked unbelievable. Like one of the most beautiful places in the world."

He just nodded as Clark continued talking.

"Pete's going to die when he hears about this. The premiere for 'The Return of the King' in New Zealand! I'd kill to go. You're going to be one of the first people to see it! Plus the cast party!"

Lex mentally rolled his eyes at the exaggerated groan behind him. "That isn't quite necessary."

He waved the second envelope in the air, slightly behind his shoulder. Again, it was snatched out of his hands. He mentally pictured Clark opening the envelope behind him, and he twisted around in time to see Clark pulling out the passport and paging through it. The screwed up look of confusion and fierce thinking caused a pang to go through him.

Damn, but the boy was adorable.

"Consider it part of your Christmas present. An early Christmas present, since the premiere is on December 1st and because you're opening it now."

Huge, green eyes stared back at him.

"The invitation did say 'Lex Luthor and guest'. I'm assuming you'd like to go."

The shocked look still hadn't left Clark's face, so Lex continued on casually, "We'll be taking the LuthorCorp jet. As you can see, your passport's all taken care of. Unfortunately, my father will be going along as well. Normally, he looks down on these types of venues as a waste of time. He's never cared for the entertainment industry. However, there's a few business associates that are on the guest list, and he's hoping to close some deals---"

"You're inviting me?"

Lex chuckled, not even caring that the teenager had cut him off. It wasn't as if his father was his first choice of conversation. Ever. But the dazed look was still adorably in effect, though what was really touching was the incredulity of Clark's tone.

Hell, he'd take Clark all over the world if he could. Show him all the wonders, beauty, and vast diversity of the planet if he were allowed. Some day he would be. The Kents couldn't keep Clark tied to them forever.

"Who else would I invite?" Lex asked lightly, smiling gently at Clark.

"But isn't there anyone else that you'd rather go with? Like maybe that girl you went to that thing in Metropolis last month? She...she was really pretty." Clark looked down, staring at the little booklet in his hand.

Miranda. Actually, she was utterly gorgeous. Long, sable hair that fell down to the small of her back, large brown doe eyes, and legs a Las Vegas showgirl would envy. Not to mention a body most men panted after. Surprisingly enough, she was also rather charming and intelligent.

The gossip columnists had gone crazy because he'd brought her as his escort to three events in the last five months. It was unprecedented for him, and they'd made a striking couple for the society pages.

Clark didn't exactly sound as if he liked her, and Lex remembered the teenager making some odd remarks about her in the past. He really was an idiot. With the context of the earlier conversation with Martha, the jealousy was easy to hear in Clark's tone, not to mention to see in his face.

It was the insecurity and hurt that made his heart clench.

Fuck. Clark was worth a hundred Mirandas.

He squashed his normal qualms about touching Clark and reached out to try to ease a little of that insecurity. He still wasn't convinced that a relationship with Clark was wise, but neither was it tolerable that the teenager be allowed to hurt because of the lack of a relationship.

He set his hand gently under Clark's chin, raising it until green eyes peeked up at him. He looked at Clark somberly, declaring softly, "There's no one I'd rather go with than you. No one."

He watched as Clark absorbed his words, and he could tell the exact moment when they impacted him. Those incredible eyes widened and a slow blush spread over Clark's cheeks, a faint pink that highlighted the boy's exquisite coloring. A shy look passed over Clark's face, surprising Lex.

He also found it sexy as hell.

Buddy bonding. Right. Obviously all his buddies made his breath catch and his heart race with just a demure look.

He quashed the thought that was fighting its way to the forefront of his mind. Being gentle with Clark was one thing, and he could afford to let him see how precious he was to Lex. Kissing the boy senseless was completely another.

Precious. He could do that.

He moved his hand slowly up, skimming the back of his fingers along a blushing cheek. His voice rolled out, silky and dark, with all the intensity and absoluteness of a Luthor. "No one's more important to me than you. I'd give you the world if you asked for it."

Lex's gaze traveled over Clark's features. The raven-haired boy was leaning towards him a little, nuzzling his cheek slowly, unconsciously, into the fingers that were touching him. His dazed eyes were slightly dilated, and he was breathing shallowly.

Fuck. He didn't want to seduce the boy. He tried to lighten the moment by adding, "I think a trip to New Zealand to watch the hottest movie premiere of the year, maybe even the decade, isn't much to give."

He withdrew his hand, a flash of warmth hitting him as Clark made a small whimpering noise, his body swaying slightly towards the fleeing hand. Eyes still dazed, Clark stammered, "I, um, m-my parents. They won't, I mean, my dad, um..."

Lex smiled faintly. "I know I don't have the greatest track record with your father, but I do have some small amount of charm. I planned on talking to both your parents, and I thought they'd come to see how..." Lex trailed off, and his eyes flashed, "...unique...this opportunity is. And after talking with your mother tonight...well, I'm sure I can negotiate a few missed days of school."

Clark just continued to watch Lex, an odd, almost spellbound look on his face. As if he were looking straight into his soul, and the thought made Lex shiver a little. However, he brushed it aside, continuing sardonically, "You're happiness is paramount. And we'll have Dad to chaperone us."

Clark blinked, his gaze becoming a little more aware, and confusion colored his voice. "I...I don't understand."

Lex felt a rush of protectiveness surge through him at the small, bewildered voice. Christ. Sometimes he wished he could just freeze time, just keep Clark like this forever. Young, innocent, and pure. As much as he hated it, he sometimes understood the Kents' fanaticism in cocooning their son in so many layers of cotton that Clark had no conception of how the world worked outside of Smallville.

Hell, most days, he didn't think Clark really conceived of how the world worked inside of Smallville either. There was just life on the farm and all the rules and boundaries that encompassed that life. And when Clark ventured out into Smallville, he used these same rules and boundaries to define his experiences.

It gave rose-colored glasses a whole new level of meaning, with the blinders of choice being the Kents' narrow perceptions of how the world should be. Not seeing it as it truly was.

Lord. If he could, he'd shape the world into a place Clark could love. He'd make it so nothing could ever harm or hurt this boy. And it was definitely for the best that he couldn't, because he knew that growth was often achieved through pain. And isolating Clark from the world only did a disservice to Clark.

In his opinion, one of the Kents' greatest sins was teaching Clark to hide his beauty from those around him. They'd done it so well that Clark couldn't even see his own beauty, couldn't believe that there was beauty within him. And by stifling it, Lex feared that one day that beauty would die, leaving nothing more than the empty caricature that Clark was taught to show the world as his mask.

He swore to himself for the millionth time, he wouldn't allow that to happen.

He'd never let the mask become the reality. He'd watch the world burn first.

"It's nothing, Clark," Lex said gently, shaking his head. "Don't worry about your parents for now. We'll talk to them tomorrow when I bring you home."

Clark put a hand on the back of his neck, rubbing it nervously. His eyes were downcast, and he said timidly, "I guess. I-I hope I can go. I-I'd like to. And even if I can't..." Clark looked up, his gaze soft, "...thank you for asking me."

Lex just smiled, and he reached over to grab a handful of popcorn from the bowl that was lying near Clark's stomach. "No problem. Like I said, I wouldn't want to take anyone else."

He turned back around, settling himself on the floor comfortable, and made the selections on the remote to begin the movie. "Let's start the second movie. Otherwise we'll never get to bed."

A long pause, and Clark's voice quietly said, "Okay."

No more touching, Lex promised himself. He was keeping his hands to himself, and he was going to keep it light. Make a few jokes, maybe tease Clark a little.

Buddy bonding.

He could do that.


"Hey, beautiful. I promised you a blow job, didn't I? One that would melt all the bones in your body."

Clark's eyes widened, shock racing through him as hands wound around him, one braced on his stomach and the other on his chest, pulling him back into a hard body. The hand on his stomach lowered, slipping underneath his t-shirt to brush teasingly up and down his abs. His skin tingled, goose bumps rising, and he didn't even notice the other hand moving until it was under his shirt, tweaking a nipple.

He gasped, stepping back, away from those fingers, only to press more firmly into that warm body, a telling bulge pressing against his ass.

A low heat began warming in his stomach, tingles racing furiously along his skin as that bulge was pressing into him, rocking into him with a slow rhythm, fingers teasing his nipples until they were hard and aching. So sensitive, and he hated-loved wondering when and how those fingers would touch him again. Would it be a soft caress or a sharp pinch? A gentle circling rub, or a pressing stroke?

"I'll show you, Clark. Show you things Lana can't even dream of showing you. Make you feel in ways she could never make you feel."

The whispered words brushed against his ear, the cool air tickling him. Clark shivered, not sure if it was from the breath against his ear, or the dark, smooth voice and the promises it gave.

He felt a sliver of apprehension, scared of what it all meant. Where was Lana? Shouldn't she be here? Where was he at?

"It'll be good, so good." A hand drifted down and began slowly rubbing up and down his inner thigh. "You've been curious, haven't you? Wondering what it would feel like?"

Clark's eyes fluttered shut, the sensations coming from behind and in front of him sending him into an overload of new feelings. He felt a tension build as the hand on the inside of his thigh kept moving in a rhythm that matching the one rocking into him from behind, only he never knew how far the hand would go up so anticipation kept mounting. He leaned back, some of his weight falling into the one holding him captive, as his legs fell open slightly. Unconsciously.

"Wh-what?" Clark stuttered.

"Shhhhh," the dark voice whispered, the breath blowing in his ear before a soft kiss was pressed to his neck. "Don't be scared."

Clark shook his head. "N-no." He wasn't even sure what he was denying. "Wh-what? Wondering what?" he choked out, mind struggling to concentrate.

"Sex," the voice said, smooth and decadent as melted caramel. "Lust. Desire." A soft kiss was pressed against his nape. "Love."

Clark felt something inside him break, shattering into a thousand pieces, and as those hands caressed and stroked him, those pieces were put back together into a new shape. He felt himself rocking back, meeting the thrusts that had him feeling so odd, so hot. Each grind sending sparkles of energy through his veins, shimmering and humming through his blood.

He felt as if he were being elevated from plateau to plateau, only it was peaks of pleasure he was climbing, a pleasure he'd never known before.

So confused.

So right.

The hand on his thigh slid up, cupping his groin, pressing down onto his cock. He felt a jolt of heat, a wash of heat there, where he'd never felt it before. His legs felt wobbly, and he reached out his hands, clutching desperately onto the strong legs behind his own.

"It's all right. I'll take care of you."

Clark felt himself being guided, lowered onto something soft. A mattress, the sheets carrying a faint scent of violets. For some reason he couldn't see anymore, but it didn't scare him because those hands were there, stroking him softly.

Taking his clothes off.

"L-Lex?" he called, uncertain.

"I'm here, Clark. I've always been here."

He was suddenly afraid. It was dark, and he couldn't see. And he couldn't feel hands touching him anymore.

He called out, voice trembling. "Don't leave me."

"I won't. Not ever."

Lips touched his own, softer than he would have imagined, tender and gentle. Fingers brushed his cheek, in an echo of something that should be familiar, but the memory danced away to the edge of his mind.

"Be sure, Clark. Be very sure, because once I have you, I'll never let you go."

The words sent a tremor through him, something dark and dangerous in the tone. Excitement rippled through him, shocking him, but made something shimmer and glow inside him.

A kiss was pressed to the base of his throat, at the hollow right above where his collarbones met. The shimmers grew, his mind spinning in dizzying delight. A tongue darted in and out, causing sparkles of pleasure to burst out, spiraling through his body. Light flared behind his eyes.

"Oh!" he gasped.

A warm body settled next to him, skin against skin. The mouth continued to tease him, in that hollow, on his neck, coming to dip into his mouth as a clever tongue teased and tormented. The hands were back, stroking his sides and his chest.

Never let him go. Lex will never let him go. Clark let his head roll back on the bed, moaning.

No, never. He never wanted to leave. Never wanted to leave Lex. He belonged to Lex. He'd always belonged to Lex. It was so right. So good. No, he never wanted Lex to let go. Ever.

A hand stroked his side, slipping down to slide between the bed and the small of Clark's back. Lex's mouth teased the hollow of his throat again, nipping and licking him into a frenzy. The hand at his back pressed something, a spot that sent bolts of lightening through his body. It was if those two spots were the centers of all his nerves, and his body was being bombarded by electric pleasure. Lights flared behind his eyes, colors dancing and whirling, and his body arched as it was pushing into oblivion.

And he was caught, held, and gentled down by knowing hands and soft lips working down his body. He sank back, his abantz-ell whispering as he petted and soothed. None of the words made sense, a language that was lyrical and so familiar, but understanding was just out of reach. Something he knew, something he'd always known, but had forgotten.

He felt tears form, and he opened his eyes, blinking them back.

He felt a kiss pressed to the tip of his cock, and a tongue darted out to taste before it slid up and down his length. He felt himself hardening slowly as that wet, hot cavern surrounded him, pulling him in and out as a tongue licked at the head. Quick strokes, and then a lazy tease. Then the mouth was back, swallowing him, making a different kind of pleasure dance up and down his spine, spots of light flickering behind his eyes.

The hands held onto his hips, holding tight, and Clark cried out as Lex pulled away. Fingers brushed his cheeks once more, and then they were gone, too.

He sat up, hard and hurting, reaching out with his hands. No one was there. He was alone, and it was so dark. His eyes were open but he couldn't see. Tears began falling.

His abantz-ell had left. He'd done something wrong. He hadn't been good enough. He hadn't given any pleasure. Or maybe his abantz-ell didn't receive any pleasure in touching him.

He wasn't beautiful. He wasn't clever or smart. He was a freak, an alien. Not human. Nothing more than an animal. Maybe less than an animal. He wasn't enough, and now he was alone.

So empty. So alone.

He wasn't part of any human god's plan. He wasn't loved by any god or goddess. He wasn't even loved by his parents enough to keep. They'd sent him away, too. Sent him into exile, to be alone forever.

He wasn't loved by his abantz-ell.

He was going to be alone forever.

Clark cried, tearing falling down his cheeks, curling into a ball.

"Clark."

Clark cried harder, hiding his face in his arms.

"Clark, wake up."

He shook his head. He just wanted to be left alone. He didn't want to be sent away again. He didn't want to be left behind.

"Clark! Wake up right now!"

Clark shot up, the command ringing in his head, his abantz-ell calling him. His eyes were wide open, blinking rapidly as sleep, and the dream, released its hold.

"Clark, are you all right?"

A hand stroked down his back, strong and warm. It rubbed up and down, almost hypnotic in its regularity. It felt so good, so real. So not alone.

It still hurt inside. His penis half hard and tingling, his nipples tender. The nerves in his two special spots throbbed. And inside, it felt all ragged and torn, like pieces of him had been torn out.

He swallowed back a sob, his body trembling. Tears fell, slipping down cheeks already wet, his eyelashes spiky.

"It's okay, Clark. I'm here."

The splintered echoes of his dream-Lex hurt him, making him shudder. Arms went around him, circling him from behind, pulling him into a solid chest. They wrapped around his upper chest, hands rubbing his arms gently.

"It was just a dream."

The vibrations from Lex's voice rumbled through his chest, vibrating against Clark's back. He whispered, voice hoarse and full of tears. "Lex?"

The arms hugged, strong and lean, holding him close. "Yes."

Clark cried out, making a wild, high sound. He turned around, moving within the circle that held him, and wrapped his arms around Lex's back, clutching at the back of Lex's shirt desperately. He pressed his face against Lex's chest, tears falling faster. He wept as if his heart was breaking, all the missing pieces inside of him sharp and cutting. He felt as if his soul was bleeding.

"Shhhh."

A hand reached up, touching his head tentatively, then began stroking his hair tenderly.

"Shhhh. It was just a dream." The other hand rubbed circles into his back. "It wasn't real."

Clark just cried, the phantom touches of hands and lips still ghosting over him. The lingering desire, of the pleasure that could only be found in the dreams, still shimmered faintly in his body. His own personal heaven and hell wrapped in one.

And Lex just continued to hold him, stroking him softly.

Clark wasn't sure how much time passed, but eventually the tears started slowing as they always did. His throat felt clogged and thick, like a thousand tears were just waiting there to fall again. Tomorrow. Always tomorrow they waited.

He sniffed, lifting his head and blinking back the water still welling in his eyes. He took in his immediate surroundings, noticing right away he was still in his bed. The bed Lex had given him.

He looked at Lex, and his eyes widened and then flickered down, mortification flowing through him like ice water. Lex was kneeling on the bed, sitting back, and Clark was wrapped around him like a big Clark-blanket. He was practically in Lex's lap, part of his body draped over Lex's thighs.

The intimacy of it made him recoil in horror, and he tried to draw back, but Lex wouldn't let him go. He could have broken Lex's hold easily. Or he should have been. But he couldn't, like Lex's arms were as effective as any cage, and he couldn't break free. Something inside him wouldn't let him. Something whispered, 'Your abantz-ell holds sway', but the voice was gone before he could really understand it.

He felt so helpless. So hopeless. It had been getting worse with each passing day, and it was getting to be too much. He gave a choked sob and threw himself at Lex, tightening his arms and tucking his face into Lex's neck. His body trembled, completely beyond his control, and he felt torn in two by his mortification and his need for comfort.

Comfort from Lex.

"Is this real?" Clark whispered, his cheek resting on a red pajama top, the material unbelievably soft.

"Clark?"

"Is this real?" Clark repeated, despair and confusion in his voice. He was so tired. So tired of the emotional drain, of having the line between reality and fantasy become more and more blurred every night. He wasn't even sure whether he was still dreaming even now.

Fingers carded through his hair, stroking it slowly. The other hand began rubbing his back again. "Yes, Clark. This is real. You just had a dream. A bad dream."

Tears filled Clark's eyes, and he lifted his head, looking at Lex sorrowfully. "It never starts out that way. But it always...it hurts at the end..."

"Do you want to talk about it?" Lex voice was calm, his voice caressing Clark like silk.

Clark squeezed his eyes, water splashing down his face, and he opened them, gazing at Lex. He looked into Lex's face, the small lamp on the bedside table throwing a soft yellow light on him. He looked into blue eyes that were soft and open, filled with concern.

Heart pounding, his blood rushing in his ears, Clark gathered his courage and leaned forward, pressing a kiss against Lex's mouth. He leaned back, staring wide-eyed, waiting for a reaction.

After several moments of silence, tension causing Clark to tighten up inside, the darkness of the room beyond the small circle of lamplight seemed to stretch out towards Clark. Waiting to consume him. Green eyes blinked rapidly, trying to stop more tears from falling.

All Clark could think was, 'He doesn't want me.' He closed his eyes, feeling more pieces break away.

He jerked, startled, as cool hands cupped his face, fingers brushing his tears away and drying his cheeks. His eyes flew open, and he saw Lex watching him with a closed expression. However, the hands stayed, holding him gently.

"What was that for?" Lex asked, his voice even with no hint of emotion.

Clark moved his head minutely, shaking it back and forth slowly. "You don't know?"

"No." The word was tossed out, rippling out like a pebble tossed into a pond.

Clark's heart squeezed, and he lowered his head, resting his cheek back on Lex's shoulder. His own shoulders slumped, and he leaned into Lex in hopeless misery. "Please don't leave me."

"Clark?" Lex's confused and stunned voice drifted over Clark.

"Please don't. You leave me every night, and every night I die a little more. Please don't leave me. Please."

He felt hands on him, lifting him up, and a hand under his chin raised it so he met Lex's gaze. More tears were falling, slowly over his cheeks. Sometimes he felt as if all he did was cry anymore. He felt as if half his day was spent in tears, and he couldn't control it. Couldn't stop it. And it made him think that perhaps people really did die of broken hearts because surely you reached a point where the pain became too much, when no more tears would fall and breathing became too hard.

"Oh, Clark," Lex sighed.

Clark said in a small voice, "I feel like pieces of me are breaking off. And if you leave, then all of me will be gone. I'll be empty inside...a cold shell. Playing at being real."

The teenager shook his head slowly, fat tears rolling down his cheeks. "I want to be real. I...I don't want to be sent away again. Please don't leave me. I'll do anything."

Lex raised a hand, long elegant fingers wiping away at the awful tears. He looked at Clark intently, his eyes sharp and calculating. Finally, the blue eyes softened, and a sad look flittered through them.

"I'm sorry. I didn't know."

Clark felt that awful emptiness swallow him, Lex's rejection folding over him like a huge wave. And he sat there, stunned, as Lex leaned forward, pressing a soft, sweet kiss on his lips. He moved up, pressing a kiss on each cheek.

Clark watched, spellbound, as Lex reached up, caressing one of his cheeks.

"If I'd known you were in pain, I'd have said something." He leaned forward, pulling Clark forward and pressing his cheek to Clark's as he whispered, "You deserve so much more than me."

"Lex?" A moment passed, Clark's mind spinning in confusion.

A kiss was pressed below his ear, tenderly like in Clark's dreams. Lex's voice rolled out, smooth and dark. "You're the other half of my soul."

They sat there, arms around each other and foreheads pressed to the other's shoulder, just drinking in the feel of the other. Finally, Lex tugged Clark down, spooning behind him and pulling him in close with his arms. For the first time in two months, Clark felt safe and whole, shimmers of love dancing in his mind, a low soothing hum in his soul. He drifted off, luxuriating in the feel of a solid, warm body behind him, incredibly soft cotton sheets and warm blankets tucked over them.

The last thing Clark heard before falling asleep was the sound of Lex whispering 'Sweet dreams' as he pressed a kiss to his nape.

The last thing Lex said before falling asleep, long after Clark had drifted off, was 'What am I going to do with you?'. The quiet despair of that voice was swallowed by the dark.

END

(To be continued in 3rd story of the Awakening Series)