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by Alicia Malone

Title: Gentle (1/1)
Author: Aly Malone []


Clark looked up at her, the beautiful woman with fiery red hair that hugged him when he cried, that took care of him when he fell, that tucked him in at night. Tears spilled down his cheeks as he hugged himself, pressing his hands against his sides. "No," he whispered.

He still wasn't speaking very well, but he knew some words, words like 'no' and 'yes' and 'food' and 'Clark'. He understood those words.

Martha Kent kneeled in front of him. "Clark, baby, it's okay. You can hold the kittens."

"No, no, no!" Clark backed away from her, images from his nightmare the night before rolling through his head. Clark knew he couldn't touch things like everyone else could; just a gentle squeeze would break glass, bend metal, reshape wood.

Being out in the middle of the country, he'd stared curiously at animals that had been hit and were pushed to the side of the road. Somehow, Clark knew that he could do that. He could kill an animal with his bare hands, and it scared him enough to haunt his dreams.

"You just have to be gentle," Martha cooed.

Clark looked up at her. "Gen-tal?" he repeated, slowly.

"Like this," she whispered, taking his hand and stroking it. Her touch was soft along his skin, tender and soothing. He tilted his head, watching her hand. Finally, he reached out and started to stroke her hand in return. "Yes, Clark, like that!"

"Gen-tal." His smile was sunny.

Clark had and named his first pet that year.

"Gentle," Clark murmured under his breath, sidestepping the other students in the hallway. "Be gentle." It was ingrained in him to be gentle; as much a part of him as hiding all his secrets, as ducking his head to look as inconspicuous as possible. He was old enough, he'd been around other people long enough, to know how light to keep his touch, how to make the brushing of his hand against someone's skin pleasurable, instead of painful.


Clark turned at the sound of his name, barely tripping over his own feet. Heat flared over his skin and he leaned against the lockers, trying to look nonchalant. "Hey, Chloe." He quirked a half grin.

"Clark. We have a deadline for the 'Torch'. Remember that? The 'Torch'? How you told me, 'Oh, yeah, Chloe, I can write a story for you. I can write the best story you've ever read!' Does that sound familiar at all, Clark?"

"I didn't say that, Chloe." Clark rolled his eyes, crossing his foot over his ankle, his shoulder pressing against the metal lockers. He didn't apply any pressure; it'd be no problem at all for him to make a shoulder sized dent in the metal. Gentle.

"You implied. That's all that matters. Do you have it done yet? No. Is it finished and on my desk? No. Is it in my computer, ready to be printed out? No. Clark, have you even done any of it?"

Clark dropped to his knee, pulling his backpack around to set it on the floor. He dug through his bag, finally producing a couple of sheets, his handwriting scratched all over it. "Yeah, I actually did finish!"

Chloe stared at it, muttering something about teenage boys and doctors having the same script. "You actually-- you expect me to type this for you?"

"I can," Clark said, nodding. "I will. After English, okay?"

"Clark, if it's not finished by four--"

"It will be!" The warning bell rang, and Clark stood up, flashing a bright smile at Chloe, and she melted, just that tiny bit. "I'll see you at four!"

And later, as Clark typed his article, he repeated his mantra in his head, Gentle. Gentle. He knew he couldn't speed-type; he would never be able to explain to Chloe how the keys on her computer were destroyed.

It was harder for him to be gentle when he was at the Talon. Clark had to remember that no matter how sturdy they felt, mugs actually would break-- he'd broken enough in his life to know that for a fact-- and that coffee was supposed to be hot.

He couldn't feel it, not like he knew everyone else did. The steaming liquid only made his skin tingle.


Clark looked up, smiling at Lana as she set her tray on the bar and leaned toward him. "Hey, Lana."

"You look deep in thought. Homework?"

Clark blinked, then smiled brightly. "Yeah, trig's kicking my ass, trying to work through a few of the equations Lex taught me the other day." He wrapped his hand around his large blue mug, his touch gentle. He smiled at her over the edge of the mug, taking a sip of his coffee. Always sip hot drinks, sip as if they would burn your tongue.

"God," Lana sighed, tucking a lock of long brown hair behind her ear. "That class is so hard. I know they say we'll use it one day, but I honestly don't know when."

"Oh, Lex uses Trigonometry all the time," Clark said, ducking his head. Sometimes he wondered if everyone noticed how much he talked about the billionaire.

"Yeah, but Lex is also the owner of a multi-million dollar corporation, and a scientist; two things I doubt I'll ever become."

Clark leaned forward, setting the mug down in front of him. "What do you want to do after Smallville High?"

Lana blinked, then tilted her head in that way that used to always make Clark's heart pound a little harder. "I don't know," she said wistfully. "Nell says I can come to Metropolis, but... I love Smallville."

Clark would never say it out loud, but he had a feeling Lana would always be in the small town. She was Smallville's Princess, and had been since that fateful day he crashed to Earth. His touch was gentle as he reached forward, curling his hand around hers. "Whatever you decide, Lana, I know that you'll be happy."

The smile she gave him made his heart ache for the days when he was innocent and didn't know what he really was.

Clark didn't have to be as gentle when he was around Pete. He didn't realize how freeing it was, to know that someone else knew how strong he was.

Sometimes, when they were bored, they'd go out to the far end of the Kent property and lay on the rocks by the little pond there, and Pete would test his strength.

"Punch through this rock."

"Snap that thick branch."

"Bend this old wrench. Wait, that's rusty and falling apart, I could bend that. No, no, do it anyway."

"Let me hit you with this bat."

"Pete!" Clark exclaimed, staring at his friend with an incredulous look on his face. "Hit me?"

"Come on, Clark, it'll just break the bat. I'd tell you to hit me as hard as you could, but that'd really hurt."

Clark sighed, sitting on the rock, looking up at Pete. He was bouncing from foot to foot, obviously still impressed and amazed by Clark's abilities. "Do we have to do this every time we're together?"

Pete's face fell. "What do you mean?"

"You always want me to show off my strength, or X-Ray the lake to see how many fish there are, or try to set some tree on fire. Why, Pete?" Clark ran his hand through his hair, then rubbed his face. It was a double-edged sword. He enjoyed having a friend around who knew his secrets, but it got annoying when he was constantly asked to show off.

Pete sat next to Clark. His voice was soft when he spoke. "It's just, it's cool, you know? I mean, we've been friends since as long as I can remember, and you were always the dorky gentle kid, too big for your own body, too quiet for your own good, never wanting to be noticed by anyone. And I get it now. I know why. It's ingrained for you to hide. To hide everything you are, so no one can take advantage of you."

"Well, don't you think having me punch through rocks and letting you hit me with baseball bats is kind of taking advantage of me?"

"Not really," Pete said matter-of-fact. "It's just one guy showing off his best friend. Other guys do it all the time. 'See how hard Matt can hit that ball.' 'Watch Whitney catch that football like it's nothing.' It's just a time-honored tradition between males to show off who's the best. Like, survival of the fittest or something. You, my friend, are definitely the fittest."

Clark shook his head, laughing at Pete's logic. "Pete Ross, you are definitely the weirdest guy I know."

Pete stood up, grinning again. "But I have nothing on Chloe. Now, come on. Climb that tree to the top and jump out of it."

Even though Pete knew, Clark mused as he climbed the tree to his friend's cajoling; he still had to be gentle around him. A branch, a wrench, a bat he could afford to break. Pete, he could not.

But Clark was his most gentle as he cupped Lex's head, his fingers dancing over the bumps under his skin. He wouldn't let Lex suck him off for a long time, scared to death that his fingers would break bone as he orgasmed, terrified that any of his blissful sexual moments with Lex would be marred by destruction.

He would have never let Lex do it to begin with, except one morning when he'd spent the night, Clark woke up to a hot mouth on his cock and the snap of Lex's ornate oak headboard by his hand.

"Well," Lex said, smugly, as if he were getting confirmation for something that he'd always known. "I knew you were a little bit stronger than you let on, but this--"

Clark almost ran, but Lex pinned him down, held him there by hot eyes and the Luthor will. "Clark," he murmured, brushing his lips along Clark's face, his cheeks, his nose, his lips, his neck. "Clark, you won't hurt me."

"How do you know?" Clark asked, his voice close to breaking.

Lex ran his fingers along Clark's cheek. "I just know," he murmured, deepening the kiss.

It didn't take Clark long to figure out that his strength, and the sheer amount of control it took to rein his strength in, turned Lex on.

Lex would push him, tease him, bring him to the brink, time and time again until Clark would finally curve long fingers around his skull, until he would touch Lex the way Lex liked to be touched.

Lex knew how strong he was, and Lex trusted him to be gentle.

Perhaps that was the greatest turn on of all.