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Long After Midnight

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Long After Midnight

by eleanorb

Author's e-mail: Author's webpage: Disclaimer: It would be truly scary to have any sort of responsibility for them Archive: ClarkLex (any others please ask). Category: Angst Drama / Established Relationship /Futurefic Rating: PG-13
Author's notes: For Livia's Bradbury Challenge. Thanks to K and Queen Y who encouraged the use of the thesaurus and forced me to stop picking at it.

Long After Midnight

Clark treasures these moments. The liquid time afterwards when Bruce opens up to him and talks, really talks. Moments when he's just Clark and Bruce is just Bruce and the oiled air still tastes of what they've done.

Bruce is complicated, wrapped in more layers than just the latex and Kevlar of his costume. But sex peels it away, makes him voluble, vulnerable in a way nothing else does. He's different here, there's no trace of the Bat, all the control and hostility bled out of him by what they do; what only Superman can do, make him submit. Only here can he be less than driven, less than perfect, taken, broken, remade into a man.

For Clark too there's submission, but of a very different kind. Nights like these give him a freedom he's never experienced before. Yielding to his baser instincts, dominating and satisfying his own selfish needs. And afterwards he too can be just a man.

Tonight though, long after midnight, with the edges of moonlight feathering the shadows, it's different. Tonight it's Clark's turn for confessions.

"It needn't have been like this." The words seem to come out of the blue. But Bruce knows, it's a conversation they've been skirting around for weeks.

He confirms it cautiously. "Luthor?"

"Umm...I used to...know him. When we were younger." Bruce suddenly understands that this isn't going to be easy. That he might have to draw it out of Clark one halting sentence at a time.

"It's my fault. I could could have been different."

"You were friends?" Bruce is intrigued at the admission. Knowing Lex Luthor as he does he can't imagine the coldly ruthless businessman ever being friends with anyone. Or even being interested in people who can't help him turn a profit.

"More. We were... really good friends." Even to Clark that sounds inadequate and he feels the need to qualify it. "I saved his life once."

There's regret in his tone. Regret for saving Luthor or for something else? Bruce isn't sure.

"Were you...lovers?" The coyness of the description coming out of Bruce's mouth almost makes Clark laugh. Bruce, and the Bat even more so, is brutally honest in his use of language. 'Lovers' is too soft, too girly, a word for any relationship that might have been possible with Lex.

"No." Again Bruce hears the shading of regret. "He wanted...asked...I was too young. I didn't know how I felt." Clark turns away staring into the dark beside the bed. There's a long painful pause and for a moment Bruce doesn't think he's going to speak again.

"That's a lie. I knew. I was was when I was first finding out about my powers. Testing them. I didn't want to be different, not like that, I was already...different enough that it scared me. I just wanted to fit in." He pauses, his breathing ragged. "Bruce, I was only sixteen."

Bruce murmurs sympathetically but lets Clark continue at his own pace.

They don't touch, they never do afterwards.

"I hurt him. He was so alone then. His father...what they had was so twisted. Not family, not love. But I couldn't, not then. It wasn't the same after that. Oh we were still friends but...he started to close off. I had to lie to him about who...what I was. He knew, knew I was lying." Clark curls his body up away from his partner, knees tucked up towards his chin, the simple gesture hinting at the insecurity which must have been there as a child.

"He wanted my help, my support, when he took over Luthor Corp. I wasn't there for him. He asked a favour. For old times sake. And I turned him down flat. That was all it took. We haven't spoken since."

"Are you going to tell me about it?" Clark thinks about it but decides even he needs to keep some secrets.

"It's not important. I think he gave me too much space. Treated me like an adult when I wasn't. Let me make my own - the wrong - decisions. If he'd just pushed it that bit harder it might not have turned out this way."

"Was he in love with you?"

"I think so. I stopped him from telling me. I wouldn't, didn't want to listen. Yes."

Bruce ponders on this decides on a little honesty of his own. "I think he still is. He's still trying to get your attention."

"You think so?"

"All these plots. I've been watching him. Most of it is not intended to go anywhere. It's as if he knows there are certain things you can't resist investigating. I wouldn't be surprised if he has someone at the Planet feeding you stories "

"Lois? Perry? Lois! She's so damn smug sometimes."

The subsequent pause is so long the moon, resting heavily on the horizon, has set by the time one of them speaks again.

"Do you still want..." Bruce pauses, studies his friend, " him?"

True confession time. Confessions that can only come in that dead time, that time when it's too late to sleep, too early to wake. Clark shifts off the bed, turns to stare out of the window. This is a truth that can only be told to the dark because some things are just too important for face to face honesty. He thinks he learned that from Lex.

"He's the only man I've ever loved, Bruce. "

Bruce simply accepts this. What they do together isn't about love but need and relief and respect, though it seems strange to codify it in those terms.

"Why don't you tell him? Put it right. It's not to late. It's never too late."

"It's not that simple, you know that." Clark turns angrily and the gleam of his eyes pierces the gloom. "Have you ever told Dick how you feel?"

"I couldn't. It's not the same. In my head he's still a boy. I fell in love with the boy and that's wrong on so many levels. It's not like that for you."

"But it is, don't you see. Lex was in love with the boy. I'm not a boy anymore."