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He Merits Pity

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Syndicate minions are off limits.

That's why, when Thomas's little pet presses close and smacks a Lois-scented kiss to one corner of Clark's mouth, his hands close around the boy's hips rather than his throat. Clark shoves Richard away, using enough of his strength to send the boy sprawling over the tiled floor near the far end of the room instead of punching him through the nearest wall like he wants.

Minions have been off limits since the day Scream Queen got a little too rough with Archer's favorite plaything and Clark hates her just for that. If not for her, Thomas's boy would be in pieces...

Ignoring Richard's sharp cry of pain, Clark directs his gaze to where Thomas stands in front of the only exit that doesn't require Clark to burst through lead-lined walls and lets a snarl yank his mouth out of shape.

"Was fucking my wife not interesting enough for you?" Clark says, spitting out the words as he feel the heat of his laser vision bubbling up behind his eyes. "Did you have to let your little toy fuck her too?"

That Lois doesn't give a damn about Clark doesn't matter to him at all.

Neither does the fact that Clark hasn't touched his wife in years without fighting her every single step of the way. Lois is his and Thomas has already crossed enough boundaries with her. Bringing Richard into it when he knows that Thomas can't retaliate against him either makes Clark literally see red.

The room goes crimson for a moment as Clark's anger at Thomas and at the pointlessness of his relationship with Lois gets the best of him. When his vision clears, there's a smoldering scorch mark on the wall right next to Thomas's head and a frown on the other man's face.

Sneering, Thomas dusts a charred bit of plaster off the front of his tailored gray suit.

"I'll send you the bill once the repairs are done," Thomas says, directing a scornful look at Clark's face that makes Clark's lip twitch with a sneer of his own. "If you're done throwing your tantrum now, I think you should just take off your costume. If you can't pretend to be civil, you might as well make yourself useful."

Thomas glances at where his young pet is still sitting on the floor where Clark had thrown him. "You too, Richard."

Unlike Clark, Richard is obedient by his own choice, not due to blackmail. The boy strips out of his suit in no time at all, wriggling out of his clothes until he stands before Thomas and Clark in nothing but his skin and the wavy, black mass of his long hair curling over the curve of one scarred shoulder.

Richard is all smiles, beaming at his boss as though Clark isn't scowling at them both with a telltale red glint to his gaze. Richard runs a hand through his own hair as he crosses the room to stand at Thomas's side and then he presses close without showing any shame or embarrassment at his nudity.

"Do you need any help undressing, Clark?"

Richard's use of Clark's real name is an open insult and everyone in the room knows it. The only sign that Richard is in anyway nervous about being in the same room as a man powerful enough to pin the world under his thumb is the way that the boy takes a subtle step back until he can hide behind Thomas's shoulder.

When Clark bares his teeth and takes two steps forward, Thomas matches him move for move. Blocking his view of Richard, Thomas's thin lips curve up with a sardonic smile that doesn't come close to reaching his eyes.

"I didn't know that a one-piece costume was hard to remove," Thomas says, smirking at the way that a growl rumbles free from Clark's chest. "If the boy has to offer his help, maybe you should consider wearing something a bit more... suitable for your skill level."

Reaching out to touch one of the golden clasps on Clark's cape, Thomas continues speaking as though the threat of being vaporized on the spot is far from imminent.

"Now are you going to take off your clothes or do I need to make a phone call?" Thomas returns to his tried and true method of getting Clark where he wants him. The merest hint of blackmail makes Clark swear as red seeps back into his blue eyes, but it works.

Yanking at his costume, Clark doesn't bother to be careful with its removal. Even if he tears the blue fabric in his anger, he can always force Brainiac to fashion a new costume for him. Undressing itself becomes an act of war and Clark strips quickly, pulling off his costume and letting it fall to the ground in tatters the way he wants to rip Thomas to shreds.

"Is this good enough for you?" Clark snarls, narrowing his eyes in a glare that should leave Thomas burnt to ash and bone. "Or should I do a trick for you, asshole?"

Thomas's thin lips curve up with a sardonic smile.

"Maybe you should," Thomas says, looking over Clark's nude body as though searching for some imperfection or another. It's a judging look, one that makes Clark's skin crawl. "It's Richard's birthday after all. I think he'd like --"

Clark doesn't let Thomas finish his sentence. He steps forward, large hands fisting at his sides, and stares straight into Thomas's eyes, looking into those cold eyes instead of through them the way he wants burn a hole in the other man's head.

"Say another word and I'll kill you," Clark growls.

Thomas's smile doesn't reach his dark eyes.

"Do it," Thomas taunts. "Kill me so everyone will know exactly how much you like fucking teenage boys."

Glancing back at where Richard is busy picking up his clothes and pretending as though he's not paying attention to them, the other man lets a nasty smile twist at his mouth. "How do you think they would react to photographic proof of you fucking the face of recruitment for the syndicate? People fear you, Clark. They like Richard."

Tapping one long finger against his chin in a gesture that seems too young for him, Thomas continues speaking. "How fast do you think the syndicate would get rid of you?"

"You're in those photos with me," Clark spits the words out in a nasty tone, hating the smug look that settles on Thomas's face. "You fuck him too."

"Of course I do," Thomas says. "But I'm from Gotham. People expect a higher level of depravity from me. Whatever I do, it merely adds to my reputation."

Brushing a hand over the front of his suit, Thomas smiles again and lets Clark see the dark gleam of amusement in his eyes.

"How effective could you be if everyone knew that you had to fuck teenage boys since your wife won't let you touch her? They would laugh at you."

Clark shakes his head. "I'd kill them," he says firmly, mind already made up. "I'd kill them all."

"That wouldn't change the fact that you have to fuck little boys," Thomas says. "It won't stop people from talking about how much you like it." He's trying to get under Clark's skin and it's working.

Thomas smiles with a smug twist to his thin lips, seeming utterly unafraid of Clark's tenuous hold on his temper. "You don't need to be so difficult, Clark," he remarks. "Richard won't run tattling to the media."

"No," Clark spits out. "He's not like you."

That the words are meant as an insult is obvious enough. The target on the other hand remains obscure. Clark watches Thomas' brow furrow for a moment before the lines smooth away as though there had never been the slightest question in his mind.

"Ah. Is that why you enjoy fucking him?"

Another smile settles on Thomas's sharp face and he spares Clark another narrowed eyed look of pleasure at finding another weakness. Glancing back at where Richard stands, still nude and still very much excited despite the potential for violence in the room, he snaps his fingers to get his attention.

The boy comes at a fast clip that's not a proper run and then skids to a stop between them. Richard inclines his head in a shallow bow once he's close enough and his hair parts around his neck to bare paler gold skin along with the bumps of his all too breakable spine. The sight of that vulnerable neck makes Clark hard, but it also makes him think about how easy it would be --

Before Clark can even begin to think about acting on his desire, Thomas opens his mouth and reminds him of his place in their arrangement.

"I know what you're thinking," Thomas says, wielding his sharp tone like a naked blade. "If you hurt Richard beyond acceptable limits, I fear the syndicate will have to remove you from power."

The look in his eyes darkens to something truly nasty and that twisting, almost cagey look makes Clark reckless. Stepping forward until his bare chest brushes the front of Thomas's suit, uses their slight difference in height in order to look down his nose at the other man.

"All this for one little toy... Everyone knows that you already have his replacements waiting in the wings."

Beside them, Richard flinches but otherwise stays still and silent.

Thomas remains unflappable, looking up at Clark with the remnants of a smirk on his lips. "Of course I do," he says, looking utterly unconcerned. "But you should understand this by now: I'm the only one allowed to break my toys. If Richard breaks, it will be at my hand. Not yours."

Only then does Thomas step back. "Now are you going to get on the bed or do I have to start thinking about breaking you?"