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Seeing Red

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Seeing Red

by Hope Roy

When Clark had been a senior in high school, if someone had asked him if he ever envisioned himself working in the bullpen at the Daily Planet, he might have laughed at them. It hadn't been that he wouldn't have wanted to, because the truth had been that he'd liked writing more than he'd let on. He just hadn't thought he'd ever make it to someplace as big as the Planet.

Sometimes it was good to prove himself wrong.

Crazy partners, long work days, and conniving gossip columnists aside, Clark really liked his job. It challenged him, and it let him feel like he was doing something good. Anonymously stopping muggings and drug deals in the wrong areas of town was good, but he couldn't do anything to put the criminals away. He might stop them one night, but chances were they'd be back out on the streets again the next night. With the power of the press, he had the ability to expose things like that--to make them go away permanently in a way that just using his powers never could.

When he came in to work in the morning, Clark felt as though he was helping in a way that a normal human could. But while he felt that he was doing a service for the city, he didn't exactly expect gifts in return.

Maybe that was why he was a little surprised to find a box, wrapped in blue ribbon tied into a bow, sitting on his desk.

It wasn't his birthday, and he wasn't dating anyone. Had he forgotten a holiday? He was pretty sure he hadn't, unless it was something no one else celebrated, because the bullpen was going about business like it was a normal day.

Curiosity finally got the best of Clark, and he sank into his chair in front of his desk before picking up the box. It was light in his hands as he turned it over, and he shook it carefully, as though he were still a little kid on Christmas morning. He couldn't imagine why someone would have left him an anonymous gift.

Sick of guessing, Clark finally just undid the bow and popped the lid off the box. At first glance, there didn't seem to be anything inside. It was only when he looked a little closer that his eyes fell on a piece of paper, upside down from his shaking, on the floor of the box. A box seemed to be a lot of excess for just a note--an envelope would have been sufficient. Clark immediately understood why when he saw the handwriting.

Lex Luthor never did anything simply.

On the note, written in Lex's handwriting, was an address, followed by a neatly written note. It wasn't an address that Clark recognized, but it wouldn't be difficult to look it up. That would be the easy part, really--understanding Lex's intentions would be more difficult.

Come by after you get off work. I think it's about time we talked.

Clark couldn't begin to imagine what Lex thought they still had to talk about. He was pretty certain they'd covered everything in their various bouts of accusations and arguments that they'd had back before Clark had moved away from Smallville. Lex had come to Metropolis about a year later, but he and Clark hadn't really had much contact, beyond the occasional question at a press conference.

Honestly, Clark thought it was easier that way, and he didn't know why Lex was changing things.

While it probably would have been simpler to just ignore Lex's request, Clark knew that he'd end up going. If Lex wanted to see him, there was likely a good reason. Maybe if he was really lucky, he'd even manage to find out something about one of the many covert and likely probably illegal projects that he was sure Lex was running behind the scenes.

It wasn't like he wanted to see Lex again. Going would just be business.

If meeting with Lex was part of his job, he wouldn't have to think about how he sometimes lay awake at night thinking about how things could have been different--wondering if, had he made different decisions, Lex might have made other choices as well.

It was just business, because that was simpler. That was all. Clark wouldn't let it be anything else.

When Clark had first seen the address Lex had given him, he'd thought it would probably be someplace at least decent. Lex normally did things with style, and Clark had never known him to voluntarily pick a meeting place that was below his standards. Maybe that was why Clark hadn't expected an old abandoned warehouse down by the docks.

The inside of the building smelled of disuse, and the door creaked when Clark when Clark closed it behind him. There was enough light coming in through the old, half-broken windows for him to see without using any of his abilities, but it cast everything in a dusty glow, making the place seem even more neglected than before.

A warehouse wasn't Lex's usual style, and that worried Clark.

"Good to see you, Clark."

Spinning around, Clark was immediately met with the sight of Lex. There was an open door behind him, indicating that he'd probably just entered the room, and Clark didn't understand how he hadn't heard him. He'd been listening hard, and it didn't make sense that he could hear things across the world and not right behind him.

At least, it didn't until he felt the beginnings of a sickening, too-familiar pain.


"It's been a while, hasn't it?"

His voice was too casual, and Clark immediately knew Lex's intentions weren't pure. He supposed he should have known that from where they were meeting, from the lack of other people, and from just about everything about the situation, but he'd always trusted Lex to some degree. He'd walked right into whatever Lex had been planning, because he'd somehow believed that Lex would never really hurt him, and whether he'd been thinking that consciously or not, he'd still based his actions on it.

"This would probably be the right time for me to tell you that you look good, wouldn't it? After all, isn't that what people who haven't seen each other for some time say?" Lex asked conversationally as he moved closer to Clark. Desperately, Clark tried to back up, but he wasn't quick enough, and he ended up tripping and slamming his side into the ground. "But you're really not looking well, Clark. You're actually looking a little green."

"How did you know?" Clark managed to choke out as he fought to twist away from Lex.

There was something sharp, almost anticipatory in Lex's eyes as he knelt down next to Clark, setting the rock a few feet away. Whatever it was, it was completely concentrated on Clark, all for him.

"You don't give me enough credit," Lex replied, a little bitterly. "I've known your secrets for a long time, Clark--longer than I think you could handle having me know. And while I may not know everything, I know enough to know exactly... " Pausing, he pushed the rock a few inches closer to Clark, "how to control you."

The rock was too close. It was draining every ounce of strength that Clark had left, taking everything he had in a situation where he so desperately needed whatever help he could get. He didn't know what Lex was planning, and that left Clark feeling vulnerable. He wasn't used to that, and the feel scared him.

Gritting his teeth against the added pain, Clark glanced up at Lex. He didn't understand. It didn't make sense that Lex had waited so long to reveal what he knew. The number of Lex's projects that Clark had destroyed, even just back in Smallville alone--the amount of property damage that he'd caused--could have been stopped if Lex had pulled a green rock on him earlier. Looking at it from Lex's point of view, it didn't make sense to have waited.

"Despite what I'm sure you're thinking, Clark, I'm not trying to cause you needless pain."

Of course not--Lex always had a motive. Clark just feared it would end up being something that would hurt even worse--not that he was sure that was possible. Every bit of his body hurt, right down to his veins, where he could feel the blood boiling. He wondered if Lex would actually kill him.

Sighing when Clark didn't respond, Lex slipped his hand into his pocket and withdrew a small bottle and a cloth. Even from his position on the floor, Clark could see that the liquid in the bottle was a sickly green, and he guessed that it was probably meteor rock, possibly concentrated enough to kill him.

"This shouldn't cause you any pain," Lex told him calmly as he poured a little of the liquid onto the cloth. "You should just drift off to sleep."

"You're gonna... kill me?" Clark gasped out, arching against the worsening pain. He didn't understand why Lex would choose that moment to kill him, but he was well aware that he certainly had the means to. Clark was completely at Lex's mercy. If Lex wanted him dead, he would be.

There was something about that statement that Lex seemed to find funny; he chuckled, setting the cloth aside as he hooked his arms under Clark's and pulled him up so that he was resting against Lex's chest. "No, Clark. You'll wake up, and I promise that you'll be much more comfortable when you do."

Clark didn't completely believe him--he had no reason to. Lex had the means to end the life of his most prominent opposition, and to do it without leaving a trail, because Clark had entered the situation without telling anyone where he was going. He hadn't had any kind of backup plan. No one would know anything about what had happened to him. Lex had a situation for the perfect murder.

It was hard for Clark to admit fear. Admitting it made his fears real, and maybe that was the worst part, but he couldn't lie--even to himself--about what he was feeling right then. As Lex held him firmly, he couldn't deny that he was terrified.

Driven by his fear, Clark weakly tried to struggle against Lex's grip, twisting in hopes that Lex wouldn't be able to press the cloth over his face.

He wasn't that lucky.

"Shhh," Lex murmured as he again took the cloth in his hand, bringing it up to place it over Clark's mouth and nose. "Just relax."

Lex hadn't been lying--it didn't hurt. The feeling of trying not to breathe, but knowing every time did, he was inhaling drugs--it was frightening, but it didn't hurt. Even Lex's touch was gentle, firm enough to keep the cloth in place, but non-threatening in a way which made it clear that he wasn't trying to cause Clark any harm

Giving one last feeble jerk, Clark finally gave up hope that he could escape. He could feel his mind beginning to shut down as blackness encroached upon his vision, leaving him with a fading feeling. There wasn't anything more he could do.

Whatever Lex had planned, it was going to happen.

Clark was never quick to wake up, preferring to do so gradually. He was much more content when things trickled into his awareness, soft and muted, slowly growing louder until he was forced to address them. In the apartment where he lived, such noises usually came in the form of a noisy tenant, the sound of footsteps in the hall, or the TV in the next apartment over. They were always mundane, everyday human things. It gave him a feeling or normalcy. He liked it.

Perhaps that was why when he began to wake, he immediately noticed that all those sounds were missing. Something was wrong, and he knew it before he even opened his eyes.

Seeing just confirmed it.

It was more than a little disconcerting to wake up lying on luxurious navy blue silk sheets when he knew he didn't own any--when he couldn't even begin to afford things that fancy for everyday life. More than that, it was scary to realize that he didn't recognize where he was. Hell, he didn't even remember getting there. And he knew that he hadn't previously been wearing blue silk pajamas that matched the bedspread.

Taking a deep breath, Clark pushed himself up and off the bed. Memories were slowly seeping back into his mind, but they were slow to come, leaving him feeling as though he were searching for something that he'd already found.

The room was definitely something Clark had never seen before, much less owned. He didn't have the money for a room so nice. Hardwood floors, expensive wood furniture, a beautiful blue throw rug--even the light blue paint on the walls looked pricey. It was the kind of thing Clark would have looked at in a magazine. It wasn't something he would have ever been able to own.

"How are you feeling?"

The voice startled Clark, and he spun around, his lack of knowledge making him feel vulnerable. The moment he saw Lex, everything came flooding back.

"I had some concern that you might feel a little disoriented."

"I did," Clark managed to say, his eyes drifting past Lex to the door behind him. If Lex had come in that way, maybe it was another way out, other than the door to the left of his bed...

"It only goes to a bathroom, Clark," Lex told him, smiling a little indulgently. "That door," he began, nodding in the direction of the door to the left of the bed, "is the only way out."

Immediately, Clark turned and hurried towards the door. Somehow it wasn't much of a surprise when the doorknob glowed green, forcing him to take a few steps back. He hadn't expected anything else--Lex wouldn't make escape so easy.

"You didn't think I'd make it that simple, did you?" Lex asked, confirming Clark's thoughts as his lips twisted upward into something like a smile. "Relax, I'm not going to hurt you."

"And I suppose you just want to have a tea party?" Relaxation wasn't possible--Clark was too on edge, and it seemed a useless thing for Lex to say.

Lex's smile grew. "No, no tea party. But we do need to talk."

"You're already talking."

"Yes," Lex agreed, "But somehow I doubt that we'll get far. I thought this might help." Slowly, without ever taking his eyes off Clark, he slipped his hand into his pocket and drew out a syringe.

Immediately, Clark felt panic surge through him. "You're not--" he tried to say, his voice trailing off. Lex couldn't inject him with that. He just couldn't.

"Interesting, isn't it?" Lex asked casually, sitting down on the bedon the bed as he held the syringe up so that it caught the light. The way it streamed through the serum inside, making it seem a more violent red than it already was, only served to make the whole situation more disturbing. "Red meteor rocks," Lex continued, "mixed with trace amounts of green. What do you think would happen if you were to be injected with this?"

"Get away from me," Clark snapped, trying to back away from Lex. It didn't matter--there was only one way out, and it was blocked with Kryptonite. He was at a dead end. Lex had him cornered.

The way that Lex seemed almost unmoved was unsettling. He didn't look as though he cared if Clark was horrified at the thought, and somehow that only made Clark panic more. "It won't hurt you," Lex told him, a hint of reassurance in his voice. "I promise."

"Your promises mean nothing," Clark spat out, trying to dodge away from Lex as he moved closer, reaching out for Clark with his free hand. "Damn it, stop!"

Lex didn't stop. Instead, he reached out and grabbed Clark by the arm, hauling him forward until he hit the bed. The blow was enough to take his legs out from under him, leaving him face down with his face pressed into the soft silk comforter. He tried to roll off it, but Lex easily caught him, pinning him down with his shoulder.

Clark didn't think he'd ever felt so frustrated. If the tail end of whatever Lex had originally drugged him with hadn't been hitting him so hard, he could have effortlessly thrown Lex across the room. Instead, he couldn't even roll out from under him. With all the amazing powers he possessed, he couldn't use any of them in a moment when he so desperately needed to.

"What do you want?" he gasped out as Lex shifted above him, straddling Clark's lower back, his legs pinning down Clark's arms. It was humiliating to the point where Clark could feel a blush rising on his cheeks.

"Just the truth, Clark," Lex told him quietly. "Only the truth."

Clark thought he was going to continue speaking, but instead Lex only brought a hand up to gently brush at Clark's neck. No words were needed to convey what that was a prelude to. The syringe in Lex's hand was enough of a clue. Clark didn't need anything more.

His suspicions were cemented a moment later when he felt the prick of a needle sliding into his neck. "Lex, don't..." he whispered, already knowing that his words were going to be disregarded.

"I'm not going to hurt you," Lex told him again as he depressed the serum into Clark's veins. "But I want answers, and I know this is the only way that I'll have any chance of getting them."

The sensation that Clark experienced following the injection was unquestionably one of the oddest that he'd ever encountered. It was weakness--human weakness--without pain, but something so free, all rolled in together until Clark didn't know where one started and the other ended. Whatever it was, it felt good.

"Well, damn, Lex, who knew that you'd ever do something to me that ended up feeling good in the end," Clark said with a laugh, smiling into the sheets. He was still pinned down with Lex on top of him, but suddenly the whole situation just seemed a lot funnier. Poor Lex, always after truth, going so far as to even make a drug in hopes that it would help him get what he wanted. Just thinking about it left Clark feeling amused, and it was almost satisfying when he felt a feral smile begin to spread over his face. "I have to admit, I'm kind of flattered by how much attention and thought you're willing to put into trying to get things out of me. Obsessed much?" he asked sarcastically, rolling over when Lex finally moved off him. "Don't worry," he added. "I think I might like it."

Lex rolled his eyes as he sat down on the edge of the bed. "You would," he replied. "At least, you would now."

"Yeah," Clark agreed, lying back against the pillows. "I'm not quite sure whether to thank you or send you flying through the wall for doing that to me. I am curious, though--why do you think I'll be any more willing to give you information now than I was ten minutes ago?"

It annoyed Clark how Lex didn't appear even a bit frightened at his threats. If anything, he seemed apathetic, almost a little irritated that Clark even bothered. "Please, Clark, don't play games. We both know that you hate hiding who you are. You want me to know exactly what you can do--you want me to know about all the times you held back, the times when you could have just killed me on the spot. Power can be a major trip for you."

Laughing, Clark crooked an arm and slipped it behind his head. He was enjoying what they were doing--enjoying lying in an expensive bed, with expensive sheets, in an expensive house, verbally sparring with Lex Luthor. Maybe he would give Lex his secrets, maybe not. It was entertaining to watch Lex try to gain them--even more entertaining to almost give them before slamming the door in Lex's face at the last minute.

"Emmhmm," Clark murmured, grinning at Lex. "But I don't need you to get that. Any secrets I have, I don't need to tell them to you in order to get power. You have no idea. Besides, maybe you're completely wrong. Maybe I don't want power. I've certainly never tried to take over the world before, have I?"

It was more than a little annoying when Lex looked at him and laughed. "You're afraid of power, Clark. That's why you always run from it. Part of you actually wants it, and you--you, not the person I'm talking with now--is terrified of that, and you'll do anything to stay away from it, because you know what you're capable of."

Irritation shot through Clark. "What do you think I'm capable of, Lex?"

Lex shrugged, but the hope in his eyes was unmistakable. "You tell me."

"You'd like that, wouldn't you?" Clark asked caustically, sitting up in the bed. "You'd love for me to tell you everything, because then this whole little manipulation of yours would be worth while."

"Or maybe, Clark, I just want to know what was so important that you'd hide it from me at my expense. You let my father fry my brain rather than give up your secrets. Were they that important? Are you still pleased with the price you paid?"

"Stop being so melodramatic," Clark snapped, rolling his eyes. "I tried to save you. I just... encountered some problems. And what about the price you paid? Was losing my friendship too high?" Pausing, Clark moved off the bed, coming to stand in front of Lex. "You know what? I'm tired of the bleeding heart bullshit. It's the past--get over it."

"Get over losing part of my life?" Lex asked, raising an eyebrow. "I'm sure you'd love that, wouldn't you? There's something in those lost weeks that you don't want me to remember."

It annoyed Clark how, even in a comment like that, Lex was still pushing for information. It was a constant, something he was always after, and Clark had almost had enough of it. He didn't need to put up with that. Lex should know better.

It was so easy to lean in close to Lex, so close that Clark's lips brushed against the shell of his ear. "Yeah, and it drives you insane, doesn't it? Knowing that you found something out, but that you can't remember what it was."

Somehow, Clark wasn't surprised when Lex brought a hand up to tangle it in his hair. It was a firm touch, an attempt to regain control. What did it matter? Lex could try to play for control. Clark could break free any time he wanted.

Except when he tried, he couldn't.

"What the hell did you do to me?" he demanded, grabbing the front of Lex's shirt. Angrily, he tried to twist away again, but Lex's grip in his hair was firm, and Clark felt an uncharacteristic burning in his scalp when he tried to fight against that. Anger surged through him--if Lex thought that sort of control was going to be all right, he damn well had another thing coming.

Lex's easy, complacent chuckle only served to further infuriate Clark. "I injected you with red meteor rock, along with trace amounts of green. I didn't give you enough green to make you feel sick, but any powers that you might normally have are gone until that goes through your blood stream. We're on even playing fields, Clark--remember that."

"I don't care what you shot me up with," Clark snapped, finally succeeding in twisting away from Lex. "We aren't ever going to be on even playing fields."

Amusement was a good look on Lex, but Clark wasn't in the mood to appreciate it. Honestly, he'd have liked nothing better than to change that look of amusement to pain.

"Physically, Clark," Lex corrected him, his eyes dancing with self-satisfaction. Clark knew what he was thinking--mentally they'd never be on even playing fields. Lex was convinced that he'd always be smarter and more adept at mind games than Clark was.

"Physically," Clark parroted. Lex had stripped him of his abilities because he'd wanted to physically be on even playing fields. Clark could only imagine how long it had taken Lex to find a way to do that. All that effort, and Clark still didn't have a good reason why. "What the hell are you trying to do?"

"Don't play the fool, Clark," Lex replied, rolling his eyes. "I've made it more than clear what I want. All you need to do is start talking, and this whole thing will be over. I'll let you walk out of here."

How generous. Lex would allow him to leave a situation that he'd been forced into in the first place. All he needed to do was give up the secrets that he'd kept all his life. The notion was almost laughable.

He wasn't entirely sure, but Clark thought he might have seen a bit of heat in Lex's eyes as Lex moved forward, invading Clark's personal space."I thought that you might feel a little more cooperative with the aid of the red meteor rocks."

"How... thoughtful of you," Clark drawled, making no move to get away from Lex. If Lex thought he was still the same naive kid who'd been unsettled by invasion of personal space, he was going to be sorely disappointed. That wasn't him anymore. He wasn't a scared little fifteen year old country bumpkin virgin.

Grinning, he leaned down and pressed his lips to Lex's, determined to make a point.

"Here I am," he leered sarcastically. "Let's cooperate."

Clark expected a better reaction than the one he received. He'd thought that, at the very least, kissing Lex would be a turnabout on Lex's attempt to unsettle him by invading his personal space. What he hadn't expected was a smooth, almost pleased grin to begin to grow on Lex's face.

"I'm open for negotiation," he replied, making no move to step away.

Something very like annoyance was beginning to bubble up inside Clark. Lex thought he was in control, as though anything Clark threw out, he was going to be able to twist it to benefit him. It was always how Lex was, but Clark wasn't willing to make things that easy--not in a situation like the one he was in.

Lex needed to learn just who he was playing games with.

Reaching out, Clark grabbed Lex by the shoulders and tossed him back on the bed. "Yeah? Well, I'm not." Lex didn't get to decide how things went. Anything they ended up doing was going to be Clark's show--he was damn well going to make sure of that. "Let's get one thing straight, Lex," he said as he climbed up on the bed beside him. "I don't bend over for anyone. If you want anything to happen, we do it my way."

Clark could have sworn that Lex almost looked excited about that, as though he'd just been presented with a new and intriguing challenge. "We'll see," he said simply, giving Clark a small, confident smile.

Damn right they would. Clark would make Lex see, because his annoyance was beginning to transform into straight-out frustration. Lex thought he owned everything--thought he owned Clark. No one owned him like that, and that Lex thought he did irritated Clark almost beyond what he could contain.

"You want secrets, Lex?" he snapped as he shoved Lex harshly back into the pillows. "Here's one: I've thought about what sex between us would be like. Never had the guts to admit it before, let alone act on it, but I've thought about it. Thought about you, on your knees in front of me, sucking me off--"

"Was that followed by a week where you could barely look at me?" Lex asked sarcastically, shifting in what seemed to be an attempt to get more comfortable. "Because I very much doubt that you ever in your life had a fantasy like that without feeling dirty after." Still looking pleased with himself, Lex reached up to thread a hand in Clark's hair. His fingers were strong, holding tight enough so that Clark could feel a burn in his scalp as Lex forcefully tilted his head to the side, just enough so that he could lean in close and whisper into Clark's ear. "You forget that I know you--know how you act when you aren't on a drug," he murmured quietly, his tone just a step short of seductive.

"A drug that you gave me," Clark reminded him, pushing Lex's hand away and out of his hair. "Don't worry about that, though--I'm kind of thinking that I like it. I might even be hoping that you have more." Grinning, he ripped open Lex's shirt, sending buttons flying everywhere.

"Depends on what you're willing to give me for it," Lex replied with a shrug, moving to take off his shirt.

Another bolt of anger ripped through Clark. "I don't owe you anything, Lex." He'd never owed his secrets, and as he pushed Lex back on the bed, forcefully climbing up so that he was directly over him, he steeled his determination that he wouldn't let Lex play him that way. He wasn't going to be indebted to anyone.

"And I don't owe you another shot of what you're on right now," Lex countered. He seemed unmoved when Clark grabbed his wrists and pushed them harshly down into the mattress. There would be bruises, Clark was sure, but Lex wasn't showing any sort of pain. Years of living with Lionel, probably.

"Who says I won't just make you give it to me?"

"It's hard to take what you can't find, Clark."

"Yeah? I'm pretty confident that I could make you talk. How many bones would I have to break before you started telling me what I wanted to know?"

There was still no fear in Lex's face, and that irked Clark. He wanted his words to have an affect. Just for once in his life, he wanted to really get to Lex--to unnerve him in a way that he knew he was probably already doing, but that Lex just wasn't showing. He wanted to see that evidence--that result of his domination. He wanted to feel like he was in control, and he wanted Lex to show him that.

The next kiss between them was harsh and raw, a pure battle for dominance. Clark lowered himself so that he was on Lex's chest, and while he still had Lex's wrists pinned, it was quickly becoming clear who was the more experienced kisser. Lex knew how to take control--he'd done it for a lifetime. Sex had often been a weapon for him, and as Clark was quickly finding out, he knew just how to use it.

A quick jerk from Lex unseated Clark, and before Clark could do anything about it, Lex had rolled them over onto their sides. "Get your shirt off, Clark," Lex told him, already reaching for the buttons. Unlike Clark, Lex carefully undid each button until the blue silk pajama top was hanging open. "You look good in expensive clothing--in clothing I bought for you."

Clark rolled his eyes, though he was still breathing hard from the kiss. "Yeah, you would like having some blatant show of ownership, wouldn't you?" Pausing, he roughly pushed at Lex's hands, moving him away as he slipped the shirt off. "You don't own me, Lex."

Something glittered in Lex's eyes. "I'd like to."

"I bet you would." He didn't bother to try to check the sarcasm that practically dripped in his tone.

The hand that suddenly slipped down Clark's pajama bottoms and grabbed him was completely unexpected, and Clark had no chance of holding in his sharp gasp. He hadn't ever had someone touch him like that before. It was such a possessive touch, and if it hadn't felt so good, he might have been furious that Lex dared to do that.

"If I wanted to own you, Clark, I would. It's not the same as having you give it up."

"Shut. Up." He wasn't giving anything up to Lex. Not ever. Lex wasn't going to be in control--Clark was going to make sure of that. What they were doing was Clark's show, and Lex had better remember that if he wanted anything to happen.

Roughly, Clark again pushed Lex onto his back, going for his neck. He was amazed at how soft Lex's skin was there. He tasted good, too, and before Clark really knew what he was doing, his aggression had turned into an exploration. Lex felt good. What he was doing felt good. Clark was getting what he wanted, and so there was no reason to continue to fight.

"You feel so good, Clark," Lex murmured, petting the back of Clark's hair down as Clark continued to nuzzle at Lex's neck. Their bodies were flush against each other, gleaming with sweat and tangled in a mess of sheets and blankets.

Clark didn't quite expect it when Lex turned his face away, pushing Clark out of the curve of his neck. It left him feeling shocked--annoyed, even--until he realized what Lex was doing.

The slow, open-mouthed kisses that were being lazily pressed to his throat were impossible not to enjoy, especially when a gentle tongue dragged behind them. Clark knew he was supposed to be about keeping control, but what Lex was doing--it was just too good to be denied. Besides, Lex doing that for him was all about what Lex was giving him, right? He wasn't losing control just because he was letting Lex make him feel good.

"Turn over," Lex murmured, his voice rumbling pleasantly over Clark, slipping into little places that Clark had never known existed. Without even really thinking about it, he obeyed, settling easily into the pillows that Lex had just left.

Slowly, so gently that Clark wanted to scream, Lex began to trail kisses down his neck and to his collarbone before moving to scatter them down his chest. They were still open-mouthed, leaving behind traces that caught the light, allowing Clark to see where Lex's mouth had been--all over him, like Lex was learning his body.

It seemed to take ages, but Lex finally made his way down towards the area where Clark wanted him most. Both of them still had their pants on, and Clark was beginning to think that the amount of clothing was an error that needed to be corrected.

"Take my pants off, Lex," he muttered. He could feel that his eyes were half-lidded, and he imagined that they were probably heavy with heat. They had to be--he could almost feel that heat bursting out of him. It wasn't the same as when he had his heat vision or his powers, but it was just as intense in a whole nother way. What he was experiencing was the desperation for more of what he was already getting, and if Lex didn't soon do something more, he thought he might explode.

"Why don't you ask me to take them off, Clark," Lex suggested with a wicked grin. "I'm not doing this because I have to, remember--you're not in control."

"I sure as hell am," Clark snapped back at him, making a grab for Lex. He wanted that mouth back on him right then, and it pissed him off that Lex was denying him that. Stupid, manipulative little bastard...

Lex easily caught his wrist and pinned it back down to the bed. "No," he corrected, his voice barely more than a whisper, "You're not. But that's all right; I'm still going to let you have what you need. You're just going to give me a little compensation at the same time."

"Get real, Lex," he spat. "I'm not--"

Lex quieted him with a kiss, and before Clark really knew what he was doing, he was kissing back, fighting Lex that way. Their tongues smoothed over each other, still battling for dominance, but like before, Clark couldn't quite keep the pace, and Lex ended up in control of the kiss.

Clark knew that if he wanted to remain in control, he needed to stop things right there. Lex had probably slept with at least a quarter of his business associates--he knew how to take control when he needed to. Sex could be business to him, but with Clark it was always pleasure. He was a talented kisser, but he didn't know how to turn that into something he could use to his benefit. Even in the state he was in--high on red Kryptonite--sex was still just a pleasure, and he didn't know how to stop his body from being manipulated. Worse, he thought he kind of even liked that. Giving up his precious control was almost a turn-on.

But it couldn't be. Not with Lex, because Lex would use control to wrest out every secret Clark had ever had.

Still, Clark didn't feel like he could stop, even if he knew that could happen. It would be all right, he told himself. He could stop what was happening any time he wanted to. He wouldn't tell Lex anything. He was strong enough to walk away if it came to that.

"Am I the first one to touch you like this, Clark?" Lex murmured against the skin of Clark's check as he slipped his hand down Clark's pajama bottoms, cupping gently. The touch was electric, more intense than anything Clark had ever felt.

Unable to help himself, Clark felt his breathing hitch. "Yeah. Yeah, Lex..."

"And if I told you that I was going to stop, what would you do?"

"I think I'd kill you." Arching back into the pillows when Lex began to caress him, Clark had to wonder if he wasn't telling the truth. Lex's games were seriously annoying him, and he didn't have the patience to deal with them. The way Lex was moving his hand until Clark felt himself becoming hard to the point of pain was incredibly good, and he didn't ever want to think about Lex stopping. Just thinking about it seemed cruel, and he wasn't going to let Lex threaten him like that--he'd get what he wanted, regardless of if Lex actually wanted to give it. "Don't you dare stop..."

Closing his eyes, Clark felt Lex moving up and off him in order to use both hands to draw Clark's pajama pants down. The silk slid against his skin as Lex moved it down his legs, so much like a slow tease that Clark almost felt like begging. Almost. He wasn't going to let Lex reduce him to that, because this was all about his pleasure--not about what Lex wanted.

Lex's pleased hum sent a ripple of sensation through Clark's body. "You may have horrible fashion sense ordinarily," Lex told him, seeming oddly pleased, "but you look perfect naked. You're beyond beautiful, Clark."

"Flattery will get you no where, Lex, but I'll admit that it is nice to hear."

Lex chuckled. "You're much more forward when you're like this, you know that?"

"In every way but those that you want," Clark agreed. He had to admit, he was enjoying not giving Lex what he wanted. It gave him power--gave him the ability to always have some sort of hold over Lex, and he was loving that.

"We'll get to that eventually. I'm a patient man--I'll wait."

Clark was about to tell him that, no, they wouldn't get to that eventually, when suddenly Lex's hand was back on his cock, and telling Lex anything just didn't seem to matter so much anymore. "I'll tell you what, Clark," Lex continued, one of his hands slowly jacking Clark's cock while the other rubbed gently at the sensitive skin behind his balls. "You give me what I want, I'll give you what you want."

"You'll give me what I want anyway," Clark gasped out, arching up into Lex's hands as he clutched at the sheets. He couldn't quite understand the sensations that were running through him, but they were new, uncontainable, and beyond good. Lex wasn't going to take that away. Clark wouldn't let him.

"No," Lex disagreed, "I don't think I will."

In an act of utter unfairness, he pulled his touch away. "Why don't you tell me what you are, Clark? If you do, I'll let you come."

"Fuck you," Clark spat. "Fucking touch me, Lex. Now."

Lex did. He leaned down, gently letting his tongue move over the head of Clark's cock, playing there until Clark was a moaning mess of nerves. "Just start talking, Clark," he said when he pulled away again. "I'm not letting you come until you do."

Clark could barely contain his frustration. He wanted that touch, and if he thought killing Lex would get him more, he might have taken steps towards that. Unfortunately, harming Lex in any way wasn't going to get him what he wanted, and he knew that. That might have even been the worst part--he couldn't force Lex to give him more. If he did, it wouldn't be the same.

He'd lost his control.

"I'm going to damn well kill you, Lex, if you don't finish what you started."

Lex flashed him a quick grin right before he leaned forward and took Clark completely into his mouth, sucking hard. That feeling was more than Clark could take, and he screamed, feeling his climax approaching, almost there--

Lex let go of him again.

"LEX! Son of a bitch, come on."

"Just tell me, Clark." Another flash of tongue, running over the head of his cock, down it, and then away again. "Just say it, Clark, and I promise I'll make this better than anything else you've ever felt in your life."

"You have no idea how much I'm going to make you hurt if you don't touch me right now, Lex--"

"But it's not going to get you what you want, is it?" Lex countered, teasingly trailing his fingers over the hollow of Clark's hip. "You want release badly, don't you?"

"I'm going to--" Clark began, his tone dark and angry.

Still grinning, seeming pleased with himself, Lex again leaned down, but instead of touching Clark where he wanted it most, he began to nibble and kiss at the inside of Clark's thigh. No amount of threatening made him make any move to go faster, and any time that Clark tried to reach for him and physically force him, he stopped completely.

Clark thought he might be going insane. Lex was giving him touches, but not quite enough, and it was leaving him so desperately wanting more. He had to come--his erection was hard to the point of pain, but Lex was still teasing him, keeping him one step away from what he needed.

"Lex, come on!"

"What would you do to get me to let you come right now?" Lex voice was soft, whispered against the skin of Clark's leg. It didn't matter--Clark heard him just fine. "What would you do?" he murmured, nuzzling gently at the place where Clark's leg connected to the rest of his body. It hadn't taken Lex long to figure out that he was very sensitive there, and when Lex licked him again, Clark almost cried in frustration.

"Fuck, Lex, please--"

"What would you do?" he asked again, teasing the head of Clark's cock with one hand. "Tell me."

"Damn, please, anything," Clark panted out. He was losing his ability to really think straight. All he could think of was how much he wanted release, of how close he was--

"Anything?" Lex prompted, still teasing his cock.

"I'll do anything you ask."

One firm, hard stroke, so close, but Lex pulled back and away at just the right moment, leaving Clark hanging on the precipice of what he was sure was going to be a fantastic orgasm, if he could ever just get there. "Then start talking. Tell me what I want to know, and I'll give you what you want."

It was impossible to think with Lex's hand on him like that. Everything was clouded with a haze of lust and desperation. All he wanted was to come--nothing else was important. His secrets didn't matter. Lex could damn well have them if he wanted them so badly, as long as Clark got what he wanted, and he wanted so, so badly.

"I'm... an alien," he choked out.

The moment the words were out of Clark's mouth, Lex's grip tightened, and he leaned down to take Clark fully in his mouth. To Clark's immense relief, he didn't pull back when Clark thrust his hips up, trying to get more of what Lex was already giving. His mouth was so tight and hot and wet, and Clark was finally, finally getting what he wanted.

He came seeing stars.

Waking, Clark found, could sometimes be as comfortable as falling asleep. It was different, certainly, but peaceful in its own way, and on days where he could wake gradually, it was sometimes just as nice.

As soon as he realized he wasn't in his own apartment, Clark knew it wasn't going to be one of those days.

The moment he figured out that he wasn't where he should be, Clark bolted upwards in bed, all the details of the previous night coming flooding back to him. Lex had made him want things, had done things with him. That drug had contained Red Kryptonite, and while it was obviously out of his system, he could remember craving things, saying things--

He'd said he was an alien.

Clark wasn't sure he'd ever felt as scared as he did right then. If Lex knew about him, he didn't know why he was in the same room where he'd fallen asleep. He'd have thought he'd have been in a lab. How he wasn't, he didn't know, but it had to be a matter of time. Lex wouldn't let him walk free for long. He'd probably be back any minute, and then Clark would find out what it was like to be stripped of any life that he had, to be just a thing--

"Don't look so panicked, Clark."

Lex sounded amused, and as Clark looked up to find him standing in the doorway of the bathroom, he found that he was at a complete loss as to how he could sound that way. Ruining someone's life wasn't amusing, and if Lex thought it was, he was sicker than Clark had thought.

Smiling slightly, Lex moved back over to the bed and slid on to it, letting one hand drop to cup Clark's cheek. "It's okay."

"Get away from me." He was aware of how sharp and scared his voice sounded, but he couldn't be bothered to care. Lex was... Clark didn't even know what he was going to do, but the possibilities were too overwhelming to think about. He had to get away--out of the room, away from Lex.

Panicked, Clark pushed himself up and off the bed, trying to head for the door. His fear spiked to new levels when the doorknob glowed green, just like the previous day.

He was trapped.

Struggling to keep his head, Clark forced his breathing back to normal. He couldn't ever remember being so scared. The night before, Lex had drugged him in an attempt to purposely trying to take away his inhibitions. He'd succeeded, and they'd had sex, which had led to Clark giving up the one thing he'd always tried to hide from Lex. Everything was open. Lex knew enough to put him in a lab, and Clark didn't know why he wasn't already there.

He didn't think anyone would blame him for being terrified out of his mind.

The smile dropped off Lex's face when he saw Clark's reaction. "Clark, it's okay--"

"Let me go," Clark whispered, backing away from the door. Refusing to go near Lex, he pushed himself up against the wall . He couldn't deal with everything in that moment. He was too close to Lex.


"Let. Me. Go."

There must have been something on his face, because Clark could see Lex paling, his eyes hardening with worry. "You're not thinking rationally--"

"Let me out of the fucking room, Lex!" he finally shouted, losing his temper completely. He didn't know what else to do. All he knew was that he had to get out of the room and think things through.

Clark never actually expected Lex to concede to his demands, but it was still horrible to watch Lex's face harden in determination--to know that he wasn't going to let Clark go anywhere. "No, Clark," he replied firmly, his lips tightening into a thin line. "Not yet. We're going to talk first. Come and sit down."

Talk. Just thinking that Lex had the audacity to even suggest that only made Clark feel worse. He didn't want to go anywhere near that bed ever again--Lex couldn't possibly think he was going to sit down on it and have a conversation. They'd had sex on it the previous night. He wasn't about to have a conversation on a bed where he'd made a mistake that big.

"I don't have anything to say to you. You drugged me into having sex, and then you manipulated me into telling you things--"

"Clark," Lex repeated, his gaze hard and unwavering, "Come sit down."

"Why the hell would you ask me to do that?" Clark spat. "Why would you even begin to think that I'd willingly sit back down and talk with you? And I'm sure as hell not getting back on a bed with you."

Patience was clearly not one of Lex's virtues--he was used to getting what he wanted, and Clark's refusal to go along with that wasn't being taken well. Waiting for Clark to calm clearly wasn't in his set of plans.

"Sit down or I'll get out another syringe of what I gave you last night--and, yes, I do have more--and we'll do this all over again. What would you prefer?"

"You're crazy." The words floated passed Clark's lips before he even really thought about them--thought about the impact they might have on Lex. It showed, too, just a tiny flash of hurt on Lex's face before he pulled up his emotionless mask, but it was enough to make Clark feel ashamed. The subject of mental instability wasn't something he wanted to bring up with Lex--not when it had partially been his fault that Lex had already had a stay in a mental hospital.

"Sit, Clark," Lex finally said again, his tone having become almost cold. "We need to talk."

Clark was shaken enough by his own previous comment--even if he hadn't intended it quite as it had come out--that he gave in and moved forward to sit on the very edge of the bed. He'd had sex in that bed the night before, had gotten twisted up in those sheets--

Clark forced himself to look away. Everything was just too much.

"Why'd you do this, Lex?" he whispered after a few seconds. Not looking at Lex, he reached down and collected his pajamas off the floor, quickly slipping them on. He couldn't understand why Lex would orchestrate something that would end up being so humiliating. Sure, Lex wanted his secrets, but the sex hadn't been necessary. It had been unneeded and degrading, at least the next morning, and Clark couldn't comprehend why Lex would want things to happen that way.

Lex didn't answer right away, and Clark didn't push. He wanted the actual answer--not a quick, incomplete one.

"I was tired of your lies," Lex eventually answered, sighing lightly. "I'd tried everything else, and I thought that maybe this would... get me what I wanted."

"And what about me?" The words came out a little closer to hurt than Clark would have liked, but he didn't think he could have helped it if he'd had another chance. Everything in his body was screaming for him to cover up, to hide under a mound of covers where no one could look at him. He knew what had happened hadn't been rape, but he still felt violated, embarrassed that he'd given himself up like that, no matter what condition he'd been in--no matter what he'd been high on. It hurt to think that Lex had let him do that.

"Clark," Lex said with a weary sigh. "You are what I want."

"That's not--don't say that."

"Why? It's the truth."

Truth or not, Clark couldn't take hearing it. Later, maybe, they could sort everything out, after Clark had sorted his own feelings out.

"Lex, please just let me go."

Maybe he sounded pitiful and desperate--Clark didn't know, but something in his words must have moved Lex to at least listen--to really look at him. "I need to know that you're going to be all right," Lex replied quietly. There was nothing in his face to suggest he was lying, but Clark wasn't in the frame of mind to to see that.

"It's a little late to ask that now, isn't it?" Clark snapped, some of his previous fire returning. "Why would you do this? Take everything so far? It's not about my secrets anymore."

Lex at least had the good grace to look guilty, even if he didn't exactly look sorry. "I'm not going to hurt you, Clark--I never wanted to. The sex--that probably shouldn't have happened, but I'm not going to lie and say I regret it."

"No," Clark laughed bitterly. "I'm sure you don't."

"I regret that you obviously do."

Really, that might have been the problem. Clark wasn't sure that he did, and maybe that was the worst part of all. Just that uncertainty--that inability to understand if he had liked what had happened--was leaving him too confused to process much. It hurt to think of Lex on top of him, inside of him--hurt to think how much he'd liked it. Would he still like it without the aid of red Kryptonite? Was he that easy?

"Do you even know if you regret it, Clark?" Lex prompted. He'd always been good at reading Clark, sometimes even to the point of understanding what thoughts were going through his mind, just from the expressions on his face.


For just a few moments, Clark saw red--complete red. Lex was gone, and all he could feel was total anger. He hurt, and he didn't know what else to do. Lex needed to stop talking, because Clark didn't even know, and everything was just so confusing, and--

"Okay, Clark. Okay." Lex's voice was soft, and when Clark actually stopped and processed what he'd said, Lex was already going towards the door and opening it. "You can go. I won't stop you."

Clark did. He moved out the door at something just short of a run, forcing himself not to flinch at the pain he encountered from the Kryptonite. It was shielded by the door, but he could still feel some of it through the wood. It didn't matter--he forced himself by it and away from the room.

He didn't look back at all.

Work, Clark found, was something that he'd always taken for granted. He enjoyed his job, but until a few weeks ago, he'd never thought of it as anything more than that. To him, it had always been just a job.

It wasn't that way anymore. The way things had become, every phone call, every interaction with a co-worker, every story he wrote was something to be appreciated. He wasn't sure how long he'd still have those things, and that, more than anything else, made him realize how much he wanted them to keep happening.

He wasn't sure how long his freedom would last.

Clark was past the point where he'd tried to deny that Lex knew. Denial wasn't going to help him. He wasn't actually sure if anything would.

That might have been what scared Clark the most. Lex knew his weakness--knew about his origins--and if Lex wanted to put him under the microscope, Clark would be there whenever Lex ordered it. There wasn't anything he could do. Running would be pointless, because Lex knew all his weaknesses. He knew that any threat to Clark's family would bring him home.

In reality, Clark was sure he was operating on borrowed time, and there wasn't a thing he could do to change that.

Maybe that was why when Perry White called Clark into his office and told him that Lex Luthor had requested an interview with him, he was sure his time had just run out. "I--Isn't there someone else?" he asked, not sure why he was protesting. What did it matter? If Lex wanted him back, he'd only be delaying things.

Perry looked at him, clearly annoyed. "No, he specifically stated that you--and only you--be the one to give the interview."

Clark felt his stomach turn over.


"Look, Kent, Lex Luthor doesn't give interviews. I don't know what your problem is, but this is big--really big--and if Luthor wants you to interview him, you will."

Clark swallowed hard. Perry didn't understand--not that Clark could condemn him for that. How could he? Perry didn't know what had gone on between him and Lex, and Clark wanted to keep it that way.

"Be there by three," Perry continued, ignoring what Clark assumed was an almost-desperate expression on his face. "Got it?"

It took a few seconds for Clark to force his vocal cords to work again, and when they did, the words came out sounding a little strangled. "Yes."

"Good. Don't screw this up."

Unable to help himself, Clark flinched at the choice of words as he made his way towards the door. "I won't," he promised, closing the door before Perry could reply.

At least if he never came back, Perry couldn't accuse him of dropping the ball on a story.

Somehow, that didn't seem quite like a bright side.

Lex's offices were just how Clark remembered them--cold and urban, completely professional, and nowhere near anything that could be considered personal. As far as Clark was concerned, they were exactly like the front that Lex presented to the world.

Lex's secretary was nice enough, giving him a bright smile and a warm welcome, but Clark somehow couldn't bring himself to really do much more than notice. He doubted he'd be seeing her again, because that would require walking back out of the office, and he didn't anticipate that Lex would let him do that.

"Mr. Luthor is waiting for you. Go ahead in," she told, giving him one last smile before going back to her typing.

Clark didn't want to. More than anything, he wanted to turn away from those doors and run. After what he and Lex had done, he didn't want to face Lex again--didn't want to end up in some cold lab, locked away. The only thing that kept him walking forward was the belief that what was coming was inevitable. One way or another, Lex would get him under a microscope if he truly wanted to, and Clark wasn't going to spend his life running. He was going to do what his father had always taught him--he was going to face his problems head on.

As if by their own accord, Clark's feet started moving him towards the door to Lex's office. As little as he wanted to, he pushed the door open when he reached it, heading inside.

The moment Clark walked through the door, it became clear that there was nothing directly threatening in Lex's office. There were no guards, no men waiting to inject him with an unknown substance, and no hint of Kryptonite at all. The only thing that was noteworthy was Lex, who was sitting at his desk, reading something on his laptop. Seeing Clark, he closed it and pushed it away towards the corner of his desk. He had Lex's undivided attention, Clark realized, even if he wasn't sure he wanted it.

"Clark--" Lex began, his tone carefully controlled. It wasn't cold, but neither was it open.

Clark didn't want to hear what he had to say. He didn't want any horrifying picture painted out in front of his eyes. He was here for an interview, and he damn well was going to get it, even if he still ended up being hauled off to a lab. At the very least, it would keep Lex from mentioning anything that had happened during their previous encounter.

"Perry White said you requested an interview," he told Lex, cutting him off mid-sentence.

Lex raised an eyebrow, but beyond that, he gave no obvious indication that Clark's behavior was anything but normal. There was a mildly surprised look in his eyes, but it vanished quickly, and he merely shrugged. "Ask away then," he replied, leaning back in his chair and gesturing to the seat in front of his desk. "You have my full attention."

Honestly, that was what Clark was worried about, but he said nothing, instead sitting where Lex had gestured. The chair alone probably cost more than he made in a month, and that somehow made him even more nervous. Twenty seconds ago, he really hadn't thought that was possible.

"You don't mind if I record this, do you?" he asked faintly, remembering at the last minute to take his tape recorder out of his pocket. He felt as though he were slowly losing his mind. Whatever Lex was planning on doing, he just wished he'd get it over with--the anticipation was the worst, most destructive part.

"No." Lex answered, sounding almost speculative. Clark got the feeling that Lex was more interested in watching his behavior than he was in any question Clark had just asked.

Clicking the recorder on, Clark opened his folder to the list of questions that he'd prepared. They weren't the best, but he hadn't really cared all that much about it, to be honest. If he got out of Lex's office at all, he'd just feel lucky to have done that--handing in an amazing interview would be secondary.

"There are rumors that you're planning to run for political office. Are they true?"

Lex gave him a little smile. "I've considered it."

Gritting his teeth, Clark gripped the arm of his chair. Just ask questions. Keep talking. "Is it also true--?"

The arm of the chair snapped under his grip.

So slowly that it almost seemed as if it were happening in slow motion, Clark watched one of the pieces fall to the floor while the other remained firmly in his hand, twisted and mangled beyond recognition. "I'm sorry," he murmured nearly inaudibly, unable to look away from the damage he'd done. It had been so long since he'd lost control like that, and the fact that he'd done so in front of Lex, in his office was just--just--

Through the haze of shock and nerves that had seemingly taken over Clark's brain, Lex's soft sigh was audible. Still, Clark couldn't bring himself to look up as he heard Lex rise from his desk, making his way over to Clark's chair--or what was left of it. It wasn't until he felt Lex's hand gently come to rest on his arm that he forced himself to look up and into Lex's face.

"We need to talk this out," Lex said quietly, bending over enough so that he could gently let his hands come to rest on Clark's knees as though Clark were a small child. "You're a mess, Clark."

Lex's eyes were gentle and calm, but Clark felt pinned down, as though he couldn't move. He didn't trust Lex's motives, and the fear of the unknown was eating at him like nothing else could.

Clark thought his fear must have been obvious, because Lex's face softened even more, and something almost close to guilt flashed over his face. "I'm not going to hurt you," he said quietly, raising a hand to brush back Clark's hair. "What I did--I know it crossed the line, Clark, and you probably have every right to be afraid of me. It's understandable, but you don't need to be."

Clark's lips felt cracked and dry when he opened his mouth, and he wet them quickly with his tongue. "Why'd you do it?" he whispered, not yet quite daring to believe that maybe Lex didn't want to hurt him.

Lex didn't hesitate at all. "I missed you. I thought that maybe if I had your secrets, the rest of you would follow. After you came down off the high that the serum gave you, I assumed we'd talk, and maybe come to an understanding. You'd be mad--I knew that--but I hoped you'd get over it, and then maybe I could have my friend back."

"You--Lex, I ended up sleeping with you." He didn't understand how Lex could think they could sit down and calmly talk about that--not after the way it had occurred.

Sighing, Lex let his hand drop from Clark's hair to his shoulder. "Do you remember what I told you that night, Clark? About how, if I wanted to own you, I would? Remember how I told you that it wasn't the same as having you choose to be with me?"

Clark nodded.

"That was all true. I don't want you locked up somewhere. At the end of the day, I want you to want to come home and be with me."

"Then why did you do this?" he whispered again, trying to blink back the uncomfortable warmth that was forming behind his eyes. Every touch Lex had given him was seared into his brain, and he couldn't stop playing it over and over again. Lex had made him want to be touched like that, and it scared him and confused him all at the same time.

As much as he hated feeling that way, he still wanted that touch.

"I didn't mean to hurt you, Clark," Lex told him, dropping his gaze. Clark had never seen him look so guilty--so sorry. "I didn't think--I didn't realize what it would do to you. I should have, and I'm sorry that I didn't."

Clark couldn't deal with thoughts like that--not in that moment. "Can I go now?" he murmured, his voice so much weaker than he'd have liked. Anger would have been better--easier to deal with, but something inside of him wouldn't let that happen.

Defeated wasn't a good look on Lex Luthor, and somehow seeing it made a part of Clark clench up. "Yes, but there's one more thing I want to give you before you leave."

Clark immediately tensed when he saw Lex making his way towards his desk. Desks were easy to hide things in, easy to line with lead. There could be Kryptonite in that desk, and Clark knew he should run, but he just couldn't. He couldn't make himself keep running. If Lex wanted to hurt him, he'd find a way to do it.

Clark thought he might as well let Lex have his best shot right then.

"Here," Lex said quietly, withdrawing a folder from his desk and tossing it to Clark. "Look through that."

Clark caught the folder, looking at it in something close to surprise. He'd expected something much more... harmful.

"You can go, Clark," Lex said gently, making Clark realize that he'd been staring down at the folder as if he'd never seen anything like it.

Jerking his gaze back up to Lex, he blinked a few times and nodded. "The interview--"

Lex smiled wryly. "The first page in the folder is a list of questions and answers. It doesn't reveal anything huge, but there's some nice information there--things that will give you a good article."

"Okay." He knew he should thank Lex, but it was so much easier to just stand up and head to the door of the office, the folder still clutched tightly against his chest.

As soon as Clark was out of the office, he felt his breathing begin to return to normal. He still didn't have an explanation for things, but Lex hadn't hurt him, and he was willing to be thankful for that, at least for the time being.

When curiosity finally got the best of him, Clark knew he'd open the folder in his hands, just to get those explanations he still didn't have. When he had to know, he'd see what it said. Until then, he wasn't going to bother.

Clark managed to quell his curiosity until he went home from work that night. The rest of his day had been fairly uneventful, consisting of typing up the interview that Lex had given him, which oddly enough, had contained some good information. Perry had been pleased.

Unfortunately for Clark, the lack of events had left his mind free to wander. The file that sat in his desk hadn't helped, and by the time he'd gotten home to his apartment, the need to know was nearly overwhelming.

The folder didn't look any different than what Clark thought Lex would normally use. It was gray and purple with the LuthorCorp logo on it, and Clark thought it might have been nearly the same design as the one Lex had given him back in Clark's senior year when he'd come to the barn and stopped Jason from assaulting him.

As soon as Clark sat down on the couch and actually opened the folder, he knew the contents weren't going to be even close to the same.

The first set of pages was made up of company names, usernames, and passwords. Every subsidiary of LuthorCorp was listed, complete with passwords and usernames that would allegedly gain Clark access to all the systems. Any company Lex owned, he could get in and see the files.

After that was a list of every person LuthorCorp employed. It was a hugely long list, but Clark forced himself to scan every column, looking for a name he might recognize. There were a few, and he marked them down to look up later.

There was more paperwork after that, some of it detailing Lex's negotiations with the government, others dealing with his financial practices--there was even information on trips Lex had taken to other countries in the last few months. Just about anything Clark wanted to know about LuthorCorp, it was there, and if it wasn't, it was likely that the resource to find it was.

Lex had just handed him a goldmine.

As a reporter, if Clark had wanted to use the information he'd been given to infiltrate Lex's company and gain information, he could have advanced his career beyond his wildest dreams. If he'd wanted, he could have given it to Lex's business competitors--he could have ruined Lex.

Lex had given him that power.

The last page of the folder let him know that Lex trusted him not to use it.

If you don't believe me when I tell you that I'm willing to try, go see for yourself.

It was there, in black and white. Lex was offering to try to be a person Clark could live with, and while Clark couldn't understand why, he wasn't willing to discard it as a lie--not yet, anyway. Lex had a reason for everything he did, and there was a very large part of Clark that wanted to believe Lex was telling the truth.

Clark would check. Lex had known he would. After everything that had happened between them, Lex's word alone wasn't good enough anymore.

There was the possibility that proof would be.

Spotless: normally it was a word that Clark would have used to describe his mother's kitchen or Chloe's desk. He'd just never thought he'd use it to describe Lex's reformed business practices. He'd looked, spending hours going through accounts, researching employees, and visiting buildings, but he'd found nothing that was anything other than legal. Places that he'd known had housed corruption before had been revamped. The projects hadn't necessarily been discontinued, but Lex had changed them to make them more ethical and within the law.

For the life of him, Clark didn't know why.

A drugged fuck shouldn't have been enough to make Lex willing to change his life around, and as Clark stood in front of the door to Lex's living room at the penthouse, he found himself wondering just what had. Lex always had a reason for the things he did, and Clark wasn't fool enough to think that the reform was a whim. He knew Lex had a reason.

"Are you planning on going inside?"

Startled, Clark spun around. Somehow, he wasn't surprised to find Lex standing behind him. It was the way his life had been going lately, after all. "Your secretary said you were in your living--"

"I was," Lex replied, cutting him off as he brushed past Clark and opened the door. "I left to put a file away. Imagine my surprise to come back and find you here."

"The secretary didn't tell you I was coming up?" he asked tentatively, following Lex into the living room.

Lex's living room was as urban and sleek as Lex was, and Clark couldn't deny how out of place he felt when he stepped into it. He suspected that the living room alone probably cost more than his whole apartment did for a year. Knowing that made him feel out of place, and it wasn't as though he really needed that, considering how uncomfortable the conversation was already.

"She's been instructed to let you in whenever you show up. She probably called up to let me know, but as I've said, I wasn't where she thought I was. You had the necessary clearance, so she allowed you to come up anyway."

Clark didn't quite know how to respond to that. It had been years since he'd been on Lex's list of people that were allowed into his home, no questions asked. At least, he thought it had. Really, he didn't know. It was actually possible that Lex had never taken his name off the list in the first place.

"What can I do for you, Clark?" Lex asked as he settled on his couch, looking up at Clark through sharp blue eyes. He might have sounded casual, but Clark knew every move he made was being watched and assessed accordingly.

"You can start by telling me why you'd give me this."

Looking Lex in the eye, Clark tossed the folder down on the coffee table in front of the couch. It fell with a satisfying smack, and Lex looked down at it for a moment before raising his eyes to Clark's face.

"I wanted you to have answers."

"You're lying. Try again." Clark wasn't looking for excuses. Lex had ripped his most vital truth out of him, and Clark was expecting nothing less than the absolute truth in payment for that.

Slowly, Lex's lips curved into a smile. "Would you believe me if I said I wanted a second chance?"

"I might," Clark replied, his tone careful and deliberate. He wasn't agreeing to anything in a flash of emotion, because Lex was the master of twisting words, and Clark wasn't going to let him have the kind of advantage that a hastily spoken sentence could give.

"What would I have to do to prove it to you?"

"Is that your way of asking what you'd have to do for me to give you a second chance?"

Lex was silent, breaking his gaze away from Clark and looking towards the wall. It was almost eerie how closed off his face was. "It might be," he said finally.

Clark shook his head. "Give me a definitive answer. I don't want to give you an out later on."

Honestly, Clark wasn't sure why he was even entertaining the thought. Lex had abducted him, drugged him, and had sex with him. It wasn't behavior that warranted a second chance. Had Clark been most anyone else, the idea wouldn't have even been considered. Had it been anyone else but Lex, Clark wouldn't have even considered it. But for some reason, there was just something about Lex that never let Clark give up on him.

There always had been.

When Lex turned back to face Clark and made eye contact, his eyes were startling in their intensity. There was no indecision in them. "Yes."

"Why would you deserve one? You drugged me--took advantage of my lack of inhibitions." Forgiveness wasn't a light switch, and Clark wasn't going to make gaining a pardon easy. Lex didn't deserve it to be easy.

"I was tired of lies, Clark," Lex snapped, for the first time regaining some of his anger. "Your lies put me in a mental hospital, or at the very least kept me there. I was tired of not knowing. I had to know about you, not because I wanted to use anything against you, but for my own peace of mind. I had to know what was so important that you'd risk my life to keep it safe."

Guilt was a harder hit than a train. "I was just a kid," Clark murmured. It had been a bad, bad decision to leave Lex in Belle Reve for as long as he had, but he'd been scared, and he hadn't known what to do.

"And after? What were you then, Clark?"

"Scared." Having Lex know his secret had been nerve racking, and he truly had been scared that Lionel would try to hurt Lex if he regained his memory. There had been so many variables--too many for Clark to sort out well enough to feel comfortable opening up again. "You'd started becoming someone that I didn't trust or even like anymore." That had happened later, but when it had, Clark had known he'd missed his opportunity. Forcing away regret had been an act of sheer will.

"And now? What about now, Clark? You've been through my entire company. Have you found anything?"

"No," he muttered, finding it increasingly difficult to look at Lex. "Nothing."

"That's because there's nothing to find," Lex replied. "There's nothing that would allow you to label my business practices unethical. The things that were unethical are being reformed, and I know you've seen that. What's not to trust now?"

Slowly, Clark raised his head, forcing himself to look Lex straight in the eye. He wasn't backing down anymore--he wanted his answers. "What do you want?"

Lex never hesitated in his answer. "You, Clark. Only you--and a second chance."

"You're past your second chance, Lex--you're in double digits by now. Why should I give you another chance to try again?" Every time Lex tried and failed, it hurt. Clark was tired of hurting. He'd done it enough in the last few days to last a lifetime.

Lex had always been graceful in his movements, but there was something about the way that he stood up from the couch that gave Clark the impression that Lex had been waiting for this moment a very long time. "You shouldn't," he said quietly, coming forward to take Clark by the arms. Their eyes locked, leaving Clark feeling as though Lex were looking past every layer of defense that he'd ever put up. "You shouldn't, but I'm hoping that you will."

Lex's touch was warm, sinking through the fabric of Clark's shirt until he could feel it on his skin. Lex was always warm--pure, raw heat, something too intense for Clark to truly understand. It didn't make him want it any less. "I don't trust you," Clark admitted. Too much had happened for that.

"I don't expect you to," Lex answered immediately, smiling wryly. Gently, his thumbs began to caress at Clark's arms, carefully pressing down. "Trust is something to earn. I want to earn that from you, if you'll give me the chance."


Clark could feel the answer on the tip of his tongue--could see it in Lex's eyes, even, reflecting his own image back at him. He knew what he wanted.

"One more." The words came out choked and broken, but their meaning was clear. That was enough--the meaning was all that was needed. Everything else could get lost in translation.

Slowly, Lex's lips curved into a small smile. That didn't matter--Clark was looking at his eyes. Lex's eyes were the only thing that truly showed his emotions. Everything else could be manipulated.

There was a smile in his eyes.

"That's all I'll need," Lex told him quietly, right before he leaned in to kiss Clark.

Clark kissed back.