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When I Was Lost

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Clark leaned out of the window of his apartment, cricked his neck and just managed to see the sun rising over the tops of the buildings across the way. It was still quiet in the streets—not for long, of course, but at the moment the air still held a pre-dawn hush. Clark liked this time of morning. It reminded him of better times, when he still had a home and parents, when he'd still had people who'd truly cared for him. He closed his eyes and pretended he could hear the low cough-snuffle of calves in their pens, the sleepy chirping of the henhouse. He imagined Shelby barking when he called out his name…"Oh, Mom," he whispered, "Dad…" and let the pain sweep through him until he could push it away again.

Clark sighed—he had hours to go before it was time to work, but he had things to do, so. Time to officially start the day. He closed his window, locked it, and grabbing his soap and towel, headed into the bathroom. He climbed into the shower, a stall barely big enough to stand in as long as he only bent one arm at a time. There were positives to being tall, but it had its drawbacks, he thought, as he struggled to wash up and keep the shower curtain closed, too. The shower—the bathroom-- had apparently been built with a person five feet tall in mind. He grinned as he let the hot water wash over him, hummed a little to himself. At least it was all his, alone. He thought idly about getting a cat. The apartment felt a little cold and isolated sometimes…but mostly just after working, so. Maybe not such a good idea.

He stuck his toothbrush in his mouth and wandered out to the kitchen, flicked his electric kettle on, and dropped a spoon of instant coffee into the mug on the counter. He leaned against the counter, brushing his teeth as he waited for the kettle to boil.

With the TV as white-noise in the background, he took two donuts out of the box of day-olds and munched on them, sipped the rapidly cooling mug of bitter coffee and stared at the pile of creased and faintly greasy bills stacked on the table. Rent was due, and no matter how the landlady suggested he could pay it, he made sure to be unfailingly polite and on time with the exact amount in cash--so far had he'd been successful in deflecting her advances. He was pretty sure that one day, she wasn't going to take a smile and an appeal to her atrophied maternal sense. One of these days he was going to have to either get a new place or give that sad little woman what she wanted. Clark grimaced. Well, if push came to shove…he'd done a hell of a lot worse. And he really loved his little apartment. He didn't even mind overmuch that it tended to smell of the dumpsters from the restaurant next door—he preferred that to the smell of un-emptied buckets that had made do as toilets in that first, god-awful place. He liked that he could go up the stairs to the roof, even set a chair out there, and that he had fairly good sized windows and lots of light—he hated being in shadows. He had a bedroom with a door that actually mostly closed, and sure, his bathroom might be a step up from an outhouse, and the shower just a suggestion, but it was his alone and the apartment had a solid, lockable, door. It was all he needed. He'd be hard-pressed to find another place as clean and livable for the price.

That first year he'd been on his own, after sleeping wherever he could find a dry spot those first few weeks, he'd ended up sleeping on the floor of a place that housed ten people in a space designed for four, tops. He'd never had a moment's peace and the 'roommates' came and went at all hours. That year, he'd lost almost everything he'd had that tied him to Smallville. Someone in the place stole from him. Hell, for all he knew, they all stole from him. When he was finally able to leave, all he'd taken with him was the broken necklace he called his bad luck charm—the necklace he was pretty sure had once belonged to Lana Lang and a picture of his mom and dad. Now the photo was in a cheap wooden frame, and sat on the table next to his bed. Under the table, in the metal box he'd scavenged from the wreckage of an abandoned factory building, he kept the necklace. The metal of the box somehow dulled the pain—metal an old timer told him was lead and maybe worth a few dollars. Turned out, it was worth much more than that to Clark.

Everything that was important to him was in his apartment—everything in it belonged to him, and him alone.


The Garden was shaping up to be a bust tonight, Clark thought. A light drizzle was making everyone uncomfortable, and foot traffic was almost non-existent. Street traffic was down as well. Clark shrugged. Some nights you lost, some nights, you made the rent. He strolled his way over to the ornamental bridge that spanned a gravel river that ended at the shores of a little man-made lake; it was one of his favorite places in the park. In the day, it was an island of quiet, a place of comfortable solitude and reflection. At night, it was an altogether different atmosphere. At night, it was a place that fractured souls met and hurt each other more. Clark shook his head with a rueful smile at the turn his head had taken. Junior English had done a terrible number on his thought processes. He forgot himself enough to smile, and regretted that very much when a voice at his back crooned, "Well, well. Having a good night, are we?"

He sighed. The undercover jerk made his life, and the life of the other boys, more difficult…but Clark had a system. He didn't mind paying a fee to keep them all out of trouble, and he made sure that he was the only one who did pay. The man was…troublesome, but not in a way that could hurt Clark.

An hour later Clark was back in the park, the drizzle had resolved itself into a brisk rain, but Clark lingered while most took off for sheltered areas. He sat on a bench and let his head fall back, closed his eyes and let the smells, the sounds, sooth him. He timed his breaths to the drip-trip-drip of rain splashing its way through the leafy canopy overhead and it was better than meditation. He inhaled deeply and the spicy scent of dianthus in the nearby flower beds swept a wave of remembered warmth through him. He mused that not having to breathe the way others did, did nothing to ease the powerful, all-consuming, wanting to breathe. The body might not need the oxygen, but the mind certainly didn't believe, and shrieked around in his skull telling him he needed air now, now, NOW. He shuddered. He hated that vice bastard so much, it made him feel guilty. He knew that he could stand by and watch the man die, with laughter in his heart--and that made him feel--dirty. Disgusting. Dirtier than anything anyone paid him to do. Clark's fingertips rose to his throat without being aware, and traced the swell and dip of his Adam's apple. At this point, there'd be no sign of the fleeting red marks left by the soft cotton rope that had tightened on his neck until not even a whisper of air bled through.

This time had been intense. This time, even that pervert cop looked shocked at what he'd done. Thank goodness he didn't seem to realize that Clark should be dead, not just have lapsed into 'unconsciousness'. Clark fanned out the bills in his hand. He didn't feel the slightest guilt for having picked the man's pockets, though, it served the perv right. And still, the creep had gotten off cheap for what he'd wanted. Fifty dollars to fuck a man while he choked to death? Clark considered it payment deserved for having saved someone else from the bastard's touch.

He stood up and stared at his reflection in a puddle at his feet. The puddle cast back a picture of a boy with black pits where his eyes should be, sunken over skull white cheeks…he crushed the bills in his hand. Clark knew, he knew damn well, there was no real justification for his theft and his dad would have probably been more horrified at the theft than the job. He snorted softly. It really was time to get to work when he wasted time on pointless reflection—literal and metaphorical. He checked his pockets for his tin of mints, and walked out of the park to wherever the johns would be circling this time of night. He shoved his jeans a little lower on his hips—chumming the water.

By the time he got back to the apartment that morning, he had three kids in tow, and extra groceries from the market. He sent the girls to get cleaned up, and set the boy to helping him cook. Bread tasted good no matter how old with enough cheese and some butter. He cut soft spots away from a tomato, cut it into paper thin slices and laid it on the cheese before flipping the whole thing into a frying pan.

"Under that counter, there's some packages of Raman noodles. You want to bring 'em here?" He took the packages, handed the boy a collection of mismatched bowls. As the boy set the table he broke the noodles up inside the package and then dumped them into boiling water, pulled some soy packets saved from take-out dinners from a drawer and tossed a package by each plate. By the time the girls came back out, their makeshift evening meal was done.

While they ate, Clark collected their stories, and nodded. They were familiar as his own story. "Here," Clark said, "this place will let you sleep there, and here's one that will let you stay for a few days. You'll just need to—to—rotate between the two. This place," he shoved a flyer over, "will let you call anywhere I the country—for free. As long as you're calling a relative." Clark glared. "You know what I mean."

Only one of the girls took the flyer with anything approaching interest. Clark sighed. He did what he could, but his space was his, and he never shared it—ever.

Later that morning, he led the kids off to the shelters, wished them luck and then headed towards the library. It was a favorite place of his. A place to disappear inside his head in a pleasant way, whether through reading, or research at one of the computer kiosks. He searched a few times a month, trying to find hints of someone who was like himself. Someone who was a freak like him. He skimmed through the local papers and came up with nothing, so he grabbed an interesting book and sat in one of the armchairs nearest the tall windows, and read until hunger forced him out again.

"Clark! Run!"
"Mom. No—no!" in the blink of an eye mom was snatched from his hands—he'd been too startled to tighten his grip and she was whirled away from him. A fog of debris cloaked her from him, and in minutes everything he'd ever had was gone—his home was reduced to matchsticks, the animals dead, his dad missing, his mom…"Mom! Mom…" he hit the ground, dropped to his side and cried that he'd been spared.

Clark woke from the nightmare with a groan that in his dream had been a scream. He hated that dream, hated it so much.

That day, the beginning of the end, Clark found out that he was a freak. He'd lost his mother, been thrown through the barn and driven into the dirt of the field to his neck; he'd emerged without a scratch atop the mound of mud and wood and pulverized stone that had been his home. The pain had dissipated almost the instant he'd managed to grub his way back to the surface. He'd cried and bled and vomited dirt for what felt like hours, but under the grime, he was untouched. A freak. The only thing that had hurt him was a cracked piece of green crystal attached to half a chain, something he'd found looped through the branches of a lilac, all that was left of his mother's garden. Some…impulse had made him reach for it, and he'd been shocked to his core at the explosion of pain that shot up his arm and into his gut when he'd touched it. Disregarding the pain, he'd shoved the broken necklace in a pocket. He'd relished the violent burn of it against his hip, like acid drilling into the bone. It at least let him know he was alive. He'd wanted to hurt too, the way everyone around him hurt.

When they came to tell him that they'd found his dad, he'd sat right down on the ground where they'd told him, and cried.

And then he had no place to go, no one to help. He couldn't see going from one small town to the other so in the end, he chose Metropolis. Something called him there, and he followed the impulse. It was an impulse that occasionally he regretted.

Clark pulled his fingers through his hair, trying to get it to do something besides pouf out on one side. He blinked hard; making his eyes water a bit—tricks seemed to like it when his eyes were a little wet. They liked it too when he lined them with broad strokes of black, and tinted his lips a bit with gloss. He pulled the skin tight t-shirt a little more comfortably across his shoulders. The way it rode up into his armpits was a bit distracting. Cars drove by in a slow procession, but none of them stopped. He sighed, and moved further into the dark, a district where warehouses and old brick factories sat abandoned. Rehab fever hadn't caught up in this part of the city yet. It was always dark here, and the rain reactivated the smell of long dead beef and the overpowering scent of paper mills.

Clark ended up on his knees, grit needling his kneecaps. His mouth was wide and pulled tight at the corners and the john kept shoving in without concern for him. He wouldn’t throw up; he hadn't done that in years. He grimaced as the guy snatched up a handful of hair and pulled. Bitch, he muttered, and repeated it, quietly, nastily, to himself. Clark closed his eyes so the john wouldn't see him roll his eyes. No more than a minute or two later, Clark spit a mouthful of spunk onto the ground between his knees. He licked the rawness from his lips and nodded when the guy shoved a few bills at him. He waited for the guy to clear out, and then headed out of the alley himself, folding the money into his pocket. A little later, he was in a hotel room, legs spread while a trick worked himself to orgasm.

The night was fairly typical, and not bad pay wise. Rent was almost paid, Clark calculated while he walked. If he'd had to pay a pimp, he'd never be able to make ends meet. But he'd established early on that no one could touch him. He couldn't be beaten, couldn't be coerced—there was no leverage on a man who was untouchable. He'd had to break a knee-cap or two before he was considered too much trouble. He'd even had the other whores ask for his protection but Clark turned that down too. He had to stay on his own. It was the only safe way for everyone.

Clark had learned his lesson. People who needed him died.

Most nights Clark spent in the Garden, or the streets around the clubs. Clark didn't have to worry about being chased off from anywhere or being threatened—that kind of thing had been sorted out early on. Clark was used to modest and didn't need much more than what he had. But there were times he stepped outside the box he'd made for himself, times that were coming more frequently and it wasn't the money he could make--two or three times what he made on the street—it was the weight of guilt that drove him out of his apartment those times, and past the clubs that most tourists visited. He went beyond them to those places that were special, anonymous and only those who knew…knew. Places with people who were used to skirting the edge of the dark. Who knew how to keep a secret.

Those nights, Clark wore a necklace with a pendant, a little metal box—a gift from a 'date'. Clark let the fine but sturdy links of the chain run through his fingers. Gift sounded so much nicer than payment, he thought and smiled. That 'date' had been the first he used the necklace with. It had become a signal to those who knew, that here was a boy who'd do anything. Anything at all. When he went, Clark made sure to charge all he could, because some people thought that if they got a thing for free, it was worthless, but if it cost them their heart's blood, well then…people would know how precious a thing it was, that only they could afford.

This was the way Clark burned off a little of his guilt, paid the price for being a freak. A freak…he told himself it was penance and punishment, but a small, dark, twisted part of him loved it.


On this particular night, he found himself contemplating a bland beige carpet. It was all he could see with his head hung over the end of the table he was tied to, feet on the floor and spread wide by a bar, his ass up and exposed. The pendant was in his mouth, the little door he could open or close with his tongue in the open position. He drooled a little around it--with his head hanging down, it was difficult to swallow. The trick could care less—he was paying for Clark's ass, not his mouth. He never looked once into Clark's face, not from the moment Clark dropped his clothes and climbed on the table.

He felt everything the john did, pain flared bright, over and over across his oversensitive skin. It hurt, it stopped his breath. The client hissed a slow, quiet string of words and twisted the dildo in further, drew it out slow. "Tell me, tell me how much you hate this—"
"I hate it, I don't—don't do this—" Clark had no trouble acting out this little scene—the guy was an ass and he did hate it—him—but he was paying a ridiculous amount of money to humiliate Clark. What the heck, he'd hate it until he had to love it.

Once the scene was over, he'd lick the box closed and heal perfectly in a few short hours--alone, at home. Staying with a trick was a no go—a non-negotiable rule and nobody complained twice, not if they ever wanted to hire him again. No staying the night, no gags, no scenes without the pendent. Clark was the one who decided when the game had come to an end. What he did wasn't a Dom/sub situation—he didn't do that. The buyer got to hurt someone, and that was all they got.


It was a calm night, dry, warm, and rare in Metropolis. A faint breeze had sprung up, blowing the scent of garbage and rot away from the club district. It was the perfect night, just right for drawing out his special clients—the mild weather was always guaranteed to bring them out like roaches from the baseboards.

He was dressed to draw them in, a thin black a-shirt that showed off lithe muscle to effect and around his neck the deceptively delicate chain, the pendanttucked into the neckline. He leaned against the wall behind him, legs spread, the hands tucked deep into his pockets pulling the fabric of his artfully distressed jeans tight across his dick. Subtlety was a waste in his profession.

He played the part of disaffected hustler, dredging up a look of mild interest to give the men who walked past and fucked Clark with their eyes. It was still too early for the money crowd, and not one of them stood a chance with Clark—too poor, not the right kind of needy. They wanted him, craved him, of course, but Clark wasn't about philanthropy. Pity fucks didn't pay the bills.

A full moon gilded the street pale silver before Clark decided it was time he made his appearance in the right sort of clubs. He shifted, ready to move but he hesitated--a tall man, almost eye to eye with Clark, stopped in front of him. He sauntered up, smirking, and brought his arms up to cage Clark against the wall.

Clark snorted. Apparently this one lacked no confidence. He ran his eyes from the guy's shoes to his mouth, a slow and obviously appraising gaze that made the other chuckle. The potential client was dressed expensively but not showy, and other than that brief chuckle, was quiet as Clark examined him. Clark liked what he saw—the man was handsome, very much so, and the look he gave Clark said that he knew it. Clark kind of liked that. His soft blue eyes gave Clark the feeling that the man saw himand not just a mouth or an ass for hire. Clark blinked, and smiled. He'd decided already, regardless of what the man wanted, he was going with him—for the way the man looked at him alone. By the way the client relaxed, he knew too, that Clark wasn't going to refuse him. He bent his elbows, lowering himself against Clark until they were resting chest to chest, Clark still pressed against the brick wall. He whispered in Clark's ear, "Do you care what happens to you?"

Clark flinched—not the question he'd expected, he waited perhaps a beat too long before answering, "Of course I do."

The man smirked, disbelief plain in the curve of his mouth. He pushed himself away from Clark, took a step or two back, and then asked the question Clark had been expecting. "How much for the night, pretty?"

Clark rolled shoulders first off the wall and followed the man. He watched Clark come and his blue eyes widened, for a startled moment he looked like a rabbit in the path of a predator before he covered his brief surprise with a laugh. Clark found he liked the sound of it. "Six hundred, but it'll be worth it—whatever you want."

"Oh, I've heard about the boy with the necklace, what he'll do, what he'll let happen to him. I've got something that requires a bit of…finesse. I want you for the weekend. Do you need to--is anyone waiting for you?"

Clark laughed, about to tell him no way in hell did he do overnights, let alone a damn weekend but his mouth decided to betray him. "No one is waiting for me. And I'm going to need four thousand for a weekend."

The man stared at him, and Clark didn’t turn a hair. He waited, relaxed, certain the man would turn him down hard. Though if he did take the bait, Clark wouldn't need to work for a while. He could devote more time to work on his search. For a few weeks at least, he wouldn't have to do anything but read, sleep, not think about anything--until the dreams drove him back out to the streets.
"Done," the man said.

Clark blinked. He hadn't expected a yes, so for a long moment he could only stare in disbelief before he pulled the mask back on. He looked away, tugged at the hem of his shirt—realized he was fidgeting and froze. Tried for a confident smile but this man, something about this man was twisting the script…"I don't have many rules--" he began.

"So I've heard…" the man interrupted with a sardonic smile. Clark huffed and continued.

"--but the ones I have are iron-clad. I won’t change them for anyone or any amount of money." He traced the chain that looped around his neck. Fiddled with the tiny box pendent, the lid he could open or close with his tongue. "For one, this necklace never comes off. Whatever scene we do that doesn't require my mouth, starts when I put the box in my mouth, stops when I drop it. Okay?"

The man frowned, but agreed. "All right…can you talk with that thing in your mouth?"

"Never been an issue so far. It's my safe word," he laughed and the man smiled as if he knew a secret Clark didn't.

"Come on, then," the other said and led Clark to a very, very nice car. "Get in."


The client led Clark into an apartment that he called his studio.

"I'm Eric," he said, as he unlocked the door and disabled an alarm. He took Clark's elbow and led him inside, turned him to face a long, stark white wall hung with oversized prints. "I'm a photographer, and I'm looking for a new model. My current model just let me know she's dropped out to have a baby." He flicked switches, and spots came up and illuminated several of the huge framed photos behind them. In almost every print, a woman, or at least her long, slim back, featured. She kept her face away from the camera, and it made the shots even more intriguing. She was wrapped in red cord in some, the red stark against her coffee colored skin, and Clark found those fascinating—he had no idea rope could be so beautiful. In others, she had something in her skin, and it took a moment before it registered. Her skin was pierced, in patterns, with hypodermic needles—their pink and black caps made a design in her back. Clark tilted his head, studied the prints. He could do that—had done something a little like that. But the designs had been cut into his skin, and held no meaning for him or, as far as he could tell, the client--the cuts had just been cuts, slices in his skin. He'd bled a lot, and the client had smeared the blood all over his belly, then jerked off on him and he'd been paid well enough to moan and groan as if he'd cared.

This, though…this fascinated him.

Eric took out his kit and spread it across a stainless steel table that sat under a row of narrow windows. "These are needles—fine gauge needles. I'll put these into your skin, if you agree to it. It will look a little like those photos. There's something about you, you're so masculine, but with this…veneer of frailty," he stopped and laughed softly. "Um, that's not quite the word…at any rate; I've never done a man before." He grinned at Clark's little snort. "Shhh," he said, "I'm being serious. To clarify, I've never created art with a man as my canvas. I'm looking forward to the contrast, male and female. What do you think…can you can do this, Clark?"

Clark smiled. "Sure, Eric, I don't see a problem."

He let Eric undress him, all very artistic and serious, and then pose him. He smiled to himself as Eric adjusted lights, and screens, puttered around with lenses and muttered to himself before taking shots of Clark, moving him this way and that, every new pose arranged to hide Clark's face. Clark thought it was a lot of time wasted pretending this whole 'model' thing was Eric's focus. But if the man wanted to tease himself, far be it from Clark to ruin his little fantasy. Clark thought that as this point the guy would have been either fucking him or sticking him or both but it didn't really matter—the meter started ticking the moment he'd walked in the door.

Eric took a long time staring at the shots he'd taken. He seemed to be in a trance--when Clark caught his attention; his eyes went wide and dark. "Lay down on the bed—on your back," he said, his voice rough and dry. He yanked at his own clothes and Clark lay down and masked a sigh. It was a surprise that Eric took so long to get to this but this? Was easy, this was nothing….

Eric slicked the condom on his dick, and asked Clark how much prep he needed and Clark shook his head. "Go on," he said, and slid the pendant into his mouth, tongued it open, just because he wanted it to hurt, a little…

Eric pushed lube into him, just enough to slick his own way, fucked him hard, ruthless--caught up Clark's thighs in his hands and pushed them towards his chest. Clark fought to breathe, used every trick he'd learned to keep himself the way the client liked, loose and pliant. He tried to sink inside himself, but instead felt every push in, felt his rim grab and pull at Eric's dick, got caught up in the sounds Eric made. He let go of any pretense of control when Eric shifted his grip to press Clark's thighs flat against his chest, fucked Clark so deep, fast, that he couldn't draw a breath let alone move—all he could do was take it. Eric strained forward, shuddered and came hard, so hard that Clark could feel the heat as come filled the thin latex, felt Eric's dick jerk inside him. He rode out Eric's orgasm on a wave of diffuse and pleasant arousal himself, unusual, but nice. He was even a little hard….
Clark was readying himself to stir, go clean up and maybe, finish himself off, but Eric reached down and jerked Clark off rough, fast, and just hair way from painful. Just what Clark needed. He felt some surprise that Eric even wanted him to get off---lot of guys couldn't care less and most of the times Clark was grateful they didn't. This was different.

Clark gasped out loud when he came, hot and slick and thick and it went on and on…distantly he heard Eric groan and felt his dick twitch inside him. It had been a long time since he'd gotten off—since he'd even wanted to.

"It's been a long time since I've been moved to be with anyone—sorry if I was too rough, I just—" Eric looked away.

Clark got off the bed and reached for his clothes, let the pendant slip from his mouth and said, "Don’t apologize, you paid for that. It was what we agreed to, right? Or at least it was implied—anything means pretty much just that."

Eric looked at Clark through narrowed eyes. "How about you leave your clothes there? Take a shower. Sleep—tomorrow the real work begins."

Clark shrugged. So Eric wanted him to spend the time without clothes…a thing like that was so minor it didn't even register. He padded into Eric's bathroom, surprised at just how ordinary and sparsely furnished it was. It reminded him that this was Eric's space but not his home, he wasn't going to bring a thing like Clark into his home….

When he came out of the shower, Eric was dozing on the bed. Clark made to walk past him out to the living room, and the long padded bench that did duty as a sofa. He wasn't asked to stay with Eric and wasn't about to ask.

"Where do you think you're going? Get your pretty ass in bed," Eric growled, and held the covers back, waiting. Clark smothered the smile that wanted to come and slid into the sheets. Eric grabbed him and wound his legs through Clark's. "I snore," was all he said. Clark slipped into sleep faster than he'd had since…since a very, very long time.


The next day, they did…nothing. Eric ordered in breakfast, they drank coffee and ate and Clark read the parts of the newspaper Eric passed to him. He went on at length about the power of the printed word, and the joy of reading an actual paper and Clark disagreed with him, countering Eric's arguments just for fun. Eric seemed to enjoy it. They walked in the park, he brought Clark along on a shopping trip for supplies, they had lunch, Eric took him home again and fucked him. It was eerily like a date--a real one, the kind Clark could only imagine. Eric talked to him like he was a normal person, as if he truly valued Clark's opinion. It unsettled Clark if he let himself think about it…he reminded himself that he was getting paid ridiculous amounts of money to act normal.

That evening, Eric behaved in a way Clark could understand. He opened all the blinds and fucked Clark on the studio floor, a thick rug protecting Clark's skin. After, Eric sat him on the padded bench, snapped on a pair of latex gloves and began to work. He cleaned a section of Clark's skin with a pad of alcohol-soaked gauze. The medicinal odor stung Clark's nose. The brief chill dissipated and Eric pinched up a bit of skin, slipped a needle in. It sent a faint electric shock through Clark, one after the other until his skin tingled, then began to burn and soon, the pain became a constant. Clark was surprised to find himself getting a little hard. The sting, sooth, sting, sooth of the needles sliding into him became the point he concentrated on. He felt himself falling into the sensation; filled up with it…he began to feel a faint stirring of something like panic. This wasn't holding his breath and waiting for the pain to stop, like usual. This was different, insidious, creeping up on him so slowly that it took a while before he understood there was nothing left of the world but Eric breathing, the pop-sting of the needles, the slow beat of some jazz in the background, his own breath, and the slick slide and sting of the alcohol….

He felt a faint tremor work through him and then Eric's hand was wrapped around his neck, squeezing gently and his voice in Clark's ear murmuring, "It's okay, I've got you, I've got you…"

The grip tightened and brought Clark back, and he felt something in his chest open, warm…he leaned into Eric's grip.

"That's it, Clark, that's it." Eric kissed his shoulder and went to the cameras and Clark moved the way Eric wanted him to do.


"Look, Clark. Look at how amazing you are."

Clark looked at what Eric made and was surprised. The pattern looped around and around itself, like a nautilus shell. It looked…amazing. Beautiful. And then it was over. Eric took the needles out, cleaned Clark's back like he cared. He disposed of the needles—"Fresh set, each time, each canvas," Eric murmured, and Clark could see that Eric was some other place, deciding on prints, how to crop and frame them, maybe what pattern to use next. Finally, he gave Clark his entire attention, led him into the bathroom, nudged him into a warm shower and blew him, slow and torturous, until Clark found himself nearly screaming when he came, the pendant bouncing open and unnoticed on his chest.
After, Eric made arrangements to do it again. Clark found himself looking forward to it.


"Hello darling, how've you been?"

"Oh, not bad, how about yourself, gorgeous?" Clark smiled, shifted the phone to his shoulder. He'd just come in from shopping and only answered because it was his favorite client.

"Ahhh, flattery, I love it. So, you've been busy…a friend tells me he saw you at a scene last week. You naughty boy. I tried to make an appointment and you told me you were busy."

Clark emptied his shopping bags on the counter, stacking cans of soup into a cabinet. "Ah, Maestro dear, I was busy. I was on the clock, dearest."

"I see. Well. Clark, listen, I don't want you doing that street thing anymore."

Eric's tone changed and Clark straightened, groceries forgotten. His own tone went a little cold. "Oh, really? You want me to what, give up the life and live with you?" be your own personal whore he managed not to say aloud.
Eric laughed. "Good lord no; you'd be bored of me in a week." He laughed off Clark's automatic protest and said, "No, darling; I have someone for you that I think you'll fit well. I think…" Eric stopped, went on. "I think you might need him as much as he needs you. Now, he's stubborn, hard-headed and you might not like him at all. If you don't care to take him on, let me know, I'll drop a word and you'll never be bothered by him again. I have…some influence with him."

An unpleasant little shiver worked its way through Clark's gut. He was…surprised that Eric had 'recommended' him to someone else. He had no doubt Eric had influence, and wielded it like a prince, careless, kindly, with absolute expectation of obedience—which he got. And after all, business was business and anything else was an illusion. "Yes, all right, I'll meet with him. Just be sure to tell him, it's only a meeting, not a contract."

"Darling, of course. I know you, after all." Eric chuckled and hung up, and Clark tapped the phone against his cheek. What he needed. He drew his fingers over his lips and licked the shiver that brought away. This might be interesting…he opened the kitchen window and sniffed. The bakery down the street scented his entire kitchen with the wonderful smell of fresh bread…he thought he should pick something, maybe coffee to go with—he was addicted to their mochas. Or maybe a bag of whole beans and see if the ridiculously complicated coffee maker Eric recommended was as good as he said it was.


Claude proved to be as interesting as Eric hinted. He was dark, polished and handsome, smooth and cold as cut marble. He only wanted one thing from Clark—everything. Clark took the contract with a sense of foreboding. Even though Eric promised him that Claude wouldn't break him apart, everything about the man told Clark it was possible.

First night with Claude, Clark was told to remove his clothes as soon as he walked in the door. Humiliation. Clark nodded. Most would be embarrassed, uncomfortable to be naked in a strange environment, but Clark was uniquely configured not to care. He was practically invincible—what did it matter to have his impervious skin exposed? He stripped off, and waited for Claude to guide him in his script.
Claude tilted his head, inspecting Clark and Clark studied Claude right back. His brown eyes were blown, there was a thin sheen of perspiration at his hairline, his upper lip…Clark's enhanced sight picked it up, that and the delicate tremors racing over Claude's hands. The man was nervous, expectant, slightly aroused…probably none of it noticeable to a person not Clark. "Have you ever wondered what it would like to be a doll, Clark? To have no feelings, no desires, no cares? Not to act until acted on?"
Not especially, he thought to himself, but only held up the necklace and said, "You know my requirements."

"I do. I'm willing to ignore the…necklace." His smooth brow wrinkled, he stared at the thin silver chain. "Why, may I ask, the necklace? Is it a fetish? A charm?" He looked more than interested, more than a client making small talk, working themselves up to the game. He looked genuinely puzzled, curious.

Clark smirked at him. "It's nothing. It's just a thing I have—which I guess would make it a kind of fetish." He shrugged, and Claude's face settled into a bland mask, smooth as glass.

"Of course." He took Clark's arm, pulled until Clark relaxed all his muscles and dropped when Claude nudged him. He lay where he fell and Claude hissed. "Yes…yes, just like that." He knelt next to Clark, stroked his skin, pinched and pulled his nipples and watched Clark not move a muscle, not react in any way except…Clark found himself slowly being aroused, almost against his will. The open box rasped against his tongue, the only movement Clark made was to swallow the saliva that the pain pulsing on his tongue brought.

Claude was touching Clark's dick now, running his fingers over it, pressing the pad of his thumb against the slit, over and over, twisting slightly, until precome welled up and was smeared around the head of his dick, gathered under the crown. Clark fought not to flutter his eyelashes, not to groan.

"Good," Claude murmured, "very good." He stood and left Clark in a heap on the floor, his breath coming thin and fast, his thigh wet with strings of precome. It took Clark a moment or two to turn his focus away from himself and back to the outer world…he smelled tea; heard Claude move around the kitchen…heard the door open and close.

He blinked.

He was naked, lying on a chilly tile floor in strange apartment, called there by a man he didn't know, who'd maybe just left him alone. He had no idea what the man planned and only Eric's word that Claude wouldn't damage him in a permanent way…his dick twitched and a rill of precome slipped down his thigh. His eyes blurred, his vision grayed until he saw only the tile under him, heard his breath, felt the slight chill of the ceramic against his skin and only his tongue moved, stroking the box over and over, the sting of the green chip making his mouth feel raw.

He heard a door open, close softly, barely a click…leather soles tapped against the tile, and Clark's eyesight swam as he tried to focus on soft brown leather, neatly tied laces. He blinked slowly, carefully. Heard the soft snick of a zipper opening, a hushed sound of fabric being pulled, pushed…cold, hard hands grabbed his waist and tipped him to his chest, his legs were pulled apart, arranged. One of those cold hands landed on his ass, pressing against the cleft, opening him….

Clark's heart was pounding painfully hard in his chest—his fight to keep his breathing even and unobtrusive was making him light-headed. For a split second he thought himself a fool for putting himself through this ridiculous act, for a severely damaged client…but his pulse was pounding in his dick too, and it twitched and wet the tiles beneath him.

Claude was pushing two, three, four fingers into him, slick and slippery with a touch too much lube—to make up for it, Claude slammed inside him, gripped his hips painfully, little bloody crescents cut into Clark's flesh when Claude pulled his hips up, making the angle better for himself.

Clark let himself go completely loose, like a puppet with broken strings, flopping a bit ridiculously on the floor but somehow, imagining looking down on himself and Claude only made him harder, made him groan against his tightly closed lips, pray for the moments Claude's thrusts drove his dick against the tiles, skidding slick and wet against the glass smooth surface and it took all of his willpower not to scream—not enough pressure, not enough friction. The frustration was only making him harder, wilder. His balls tightened, Claude gasped, a tiny sound, a quick exhalation through his nose and he stiffened, bearing down so hard that his nails cut bloody streaks into Clark's hips. The movement pushed Clark's face against the unforgiving floor until he thought he's pass out for lack of air. Clark bit the inside of his cheek bloody and trembled trying to hold still when his dick was throbbing, bobbing against the tile and spilling come.

Claude came silently, his dick trying to swell against the hot clench of Clark's hole. He held Clark against him for long seconds, until finally he pulled out and Clark flopped to his back, smearing cooling come all over his skin. Claude left, came back with a towel and wiped up the spot on the tiles…left Clark with come tightening and prickling his skin as it dried.

Afterward, he pulled Clark to the couch and used him as a foot rest as he drank a glass of wine and surfed channels. Clark fell asleep.

Right before Clark left, Claude asked, "The necklace…it has something to do with your ability to, um…perform your duties with no consequences." Not quite a question, not quite a statement. He slid his hand under Clark's shirt, dipped fingers into the waistband of Clark's pants and stroked smooth, unmarked skin. "I wonder. Does it help you, or hurt you?"

Despite the chill that filled him, Clark smiled. He arched eyebrows and said, "No idea what you're talking about, man--it's just a thing, like I told you."

Claude hmmed thoughtfully. Withdrew his hand and just asked Clark when he'd be free again.


"So, this guy you're sending to me—thanks by the way—does he have any special needs I should be prepared for?" Clark swung around in a lazy circle, tilting his desk chair back as he did, waiting for Eric to respond. He shut down his laptop and gave Eric his complete attention.
"Is that a veiled reference to Claude?" Eric chuckled.

"Mmm." Clark laughed softly, too. "Claude has been. Interesting? I'm not quite sure that's the word I want, but he is that and more. Have you ever wondered what leather pony boots laced all the way up to your thighs feel like—oh, that and walking around on those stilts blindfolded, at the end of a chain and with your hands in padded mitts?"

Eric was silent for a moment and Clark worried he'd given him the wrong impression—he wasn't angry with him over Claude, far from it. Eric had been right when he'd said Claude and he 'fit'. He'd never like the man, but he needed what Claude needed. Clark was about to assure Eric of that when an explosive breath broke the silence on the other side of the line. Clark's eyebrows shot up—it was not a sound of shock but barely suppressed laughter. "Oh…my…word. Claude is really a special little thing, isn’t he? Are you—getting along with him?"

"I can't say I like him, but he's never boring. And he's wicked smart." Clark frowned. almost too smart.

"Well, sweetness, this new fellow is completely darling, and doesn't think he has any special needs. However—"

Clark mocked Eric, "However—"

"He has one that the poor dear's not really aware of. Darling one, how are you at playing seventeen?"

"What! You're sending me a pedophile?"

"No…no. Well, not exactly. It's. Complicated."

"You mean twisted…."


"Oh, all right. But if I don’t like him—"

"Darling. I know, he knows, it's all your choice. Would I steer you wrong?"

Clark swung his leather desk chair around again, stared at the view from his new apartment. He looked over the rooftops, out towards the bay—he could just glimpse flashes from the water between the buildings mostly screening it from view. The sun hung huge and yellow and perfect in a dove-blue sky, "No. no, Maestro, you wouldn't—you haven't."


Clark was going over his books, killing time as he waited to meet with the new client. He had an appointment set for that afternoon, a sort of get-to-know-you thing. The man had seemed nice, a lot younger than Clark had expected considering…he shrugged. Not his to wonder. All he had to do was arrive and let the client lead. He'd picked out jeans and a white shirt, his standard 'first date' ensemble. It worked until he knew what each person's requirement was.

He was just about to go into the kitchen and make an espresso when the doorbell chimed. He was surprised—and irritated, his appointment wasn't for a few hours more—this was his own time.

There was a small, neatly dressed man at his door, holding a large box, from one of the more upscale department stores, not anything showy, but nice. The man seemed to be physically restraining himself from clicking his heels. "I'm sorry; I know that appearing at your doorstep unannounced is rather rude—"

Clark smiled. "Let me guess, he insisted I get this. Fine, tell him I said thanks and I'll see him in--" he checked his watch, "--two hours. In the lobby. Stress that, please."

The man made a slight face—a tiny fleeting moue of distaste, and Clark only smiled wider. Here was someone way too invested in their employer's private life. "Don’t worry," Clark said, "I'll bring him back in one piece."

The man made an effort not to bow and Clark dismissed him by shutting the door in his face. After all, the man was right—it was rude to show up unannounced.

He brought the box into the bedroom and laid it on the bed. He was curious—what was it that this client wanted, specific enough to send him a costume for the evening? Clark was truly curious. He opened the box, and separated layers of creamy tissue. He drew fingertips over it—it felt handmade. Interesting. In the box was a white polo shirt, a pair of plaid shorts carefully designed to look as though they'd just been scooped off the bedroom floor, and two boxes, one obviously containing shoes and one small box holding a puka shell necklace. "Well, I believe I have some idea how the script goes," Clark muttered and laughed to himself. Oh, this was going to be an interesting afternoon, he thought.

An hour later, he was showered, shaved, and dressed in the outfit which Clark noticed did not include underwear. He stared at himself in the mirror, popped his collar and smiled for a brief second. He looked…alien. He was dressed like the kid he'd never been. When he should have been dressed like this, dragging a backpack full of books instead of everything he owned, worrying about grades and whether he'd get to use the family car, he'd been on his knees, losing his childhood. A wave of anger so deep it surprised him washed over him.

He looked away from the mirror, took a deep breath and shook himself. A job was a job was a job. He tried a smile again, swept his hair back from his forehead and smiled wider. Rubbed at his cheeks until they pinked up, bit his lips to darken them. He decided against lip gloss, or any scent. He was pretty sure how to play the character the new client wanted.



Clark swung out of the lobby doors, caught himself on the handles with a laugh, and trotted over to a limo parked at the curb. He leaned in, "Hey, waitin' for me, yeah?" He grinned wide, and stuck his hand into the open window. "Clark."

The guy inside—the very hot guy inside, took his hand and shook it. Firm, warm and confident. A perfect handshake. Textbook perfect. A tiny bell in Clark's mind chimed. "Bruce—get in, Clark."
Clark slid in and looked around the inside of the limo. Took his time examining the ridiculously good looking guy sitting across from him. He tried a look of barely disguised awe and knew he'd hit the script.

"Clark, you look…perfect. You look. Wow."

"Aw, Bruce. You're gonna embarrass me, man. So, where we goin'?"

"I thought--the beach?" Bruce sounded half hopeful, as if he expected Clark to refuse.

"Yeah! Sounds—great." Clark smiled, and groaned inside. He hated sand in places sand shouldn't go. He hated getting it in his mouth and on his hands—it was a thing. But the client was always right and Bruce Wayne was righter than most, a truly obscene amount of right. He was making so much off this one date that he could donate half of this night to his shelters and still make the bills for few months in advance. He gave Bruce another huge grin and watched the man squirm as subtly as was possible.

Clark had expected a private beach somewhere, or an obnoxiously expensive beach house, but surprisingly they ended up strolling the boardwalk right along with everyone else. Bruce was charming, amusing—fun. They shared a sandwich and sodas from a tiny little storefront sandwich shop, crisp and oily fries that had Clark sucking grease and salt from his fingers and laughing inside thinking of doing such a thing with Eric, or Claude. He snorted, and got a look from Bruce.

"Here," Clark said. "Open up." Bruce opened wide and flushed a deep red, but his eyes sparkled. Clark shoved a few fries in, and made sure his fingers grazed Bruce's lip. "Good, right?" he whispered and Bruce grabbed his hand and sucked on the tip of one of his fingers—quick, but Clark felt it like an electric snap through his body.

The sun was shining high in the sky, and the back of Bruce's shirt was wet, the heat made Clark's hair curl around his ears. The smell of the ocean filled his nose. The shrill laughter of children mixed with dozens voices and odd snatches of music wove in and out of the sound of the waves, Clark found it a bit hypnotic and without intending to, he was smiling. Bruce looked over and nudged Clark's hand with his. "Are you enjoying yourself?"

"Having a great time, Bruce, great." Clark looked down the boards a bit and jabbed Bruce with his elbow. "Win me that," he said and pointed in the general direction of a shooting game.

Bruce narrowed his eyes at the display of cheap stuffed animals. "Yeah?" He asked, "Which one do you want? The giraffe?"

Clark nibbled his fries and nodded, and Bruce nodded back. "Okay," Bruce said, "one giraffe coming up."

Bruce strode over to the booth, all smiles and charm, took the gun and turned into a stranger. Clark watched in shock as pleasant Bruce disappeared--went cold and still, calculating. He could see him size up the targets, heft the fake gun, adjust his grip, his stance—and then Bruce blew the targets away, shredding one after the other. He put the gun down, shook himself and turned to Clark with a smile. "Giraffe."

Clark held his hand out and the scrawny stuffed thing dropped into his hands. He looked up at Bruce and he knew his disbelief was written all over his face. Bruce blushed, licked his lips and suddenly found the greatest interest in a water ice stand a few booths down. Clark let himself be pulled along but figured there was definitely so much more to Bruce than was immediately visible. Nice. He liked a little mystery.

They walked down to the beach with their water-ices, and strolled along the shore line. Clark amused himself by performing for Bruce, running though the sugary sand, leather flip-flops throwing up fine clouds as he ran. Bruce laughed, and watched him with glowing eyes and a happy, wide smile. In the bright, pure sunlight, Clark could see lines of care beginning to etch themselves into Bruce's clear skin. This man was more used to frowning than laughing--Clark thought he much preferred the lines Bruce made laughing. Clark whirled around and dashed back to him and some wild impulse made him throw his arms wide and wrap Bruce up.

"Thanks Bruce—thanks for this."

"Oh! Oh, it’s—it’s nothing, I—I'm glad you like it."

"Very much," Clark said, and surprised the hell out of himself by how much he meant it.

On the way back to his apartment, Clark stretched out on the back seat of the limo, and let Bruce babble frantic apologies as he slipped to his knees and guiltily pulled the zipper of Clark's shorts open. He furtively pressed his nose to Clark's groin as if Clark was unaware of what Bruce was doing, and inhaled like he was starving for air. He let Bruce suck up bruises and nip at the soft flesh above his dick, let Bruce kiss and lick his way through the nest of curls that surrounded his dick, and fucked Bruce's mouth when he begged for it, so quietly no one but Clark could have heard, "Clark, please, please, right in my throat, please." Clark shuddered, and closed his eyes; felt the gentle suction, spit and precome made the slide smoother and smoother. Saliva trickled down his balls, Bruce's steady moans around his dick had Clark gasping. Bruce loved giving head—Clark didn’t think he'd ever had anyone blow him like this, like their life depended on it. He gasped and cupped the back of Bruce's head, even though he was sure Bruce wanted him to grab his hair—sometimes the client didn't know what they really wanted—he screamed and panted and writhed like he's never had anyone go down on him before, like this was the most epic moment of his supposedly sixteen years.

"Fuck, I gotta—I gotta—fuck!" he yelled and bucked up into the tight liquid heat of Bruce's mouth and really, there wasn't a lot of pretense to his actions. Bruce was damn good and—likable. Clark groaned, low at first, louder and louder…a vibration that Clark had just begun to feel quickened and Clark realized that Bruce was jerking himself off as he sucked his dick—so hot, he couldn't wait and Clark shouted, came like he was never going to stop.

Bruce pulled off, caught most of Clark's come on his tongue and the rest ended up on his cheek, his neck; he curled over Clark's lap and moaned into his sticky, wet skin, his dick throbbing against Clark's leg as he came on the limo floor.

Clark twitched painfully—yes, without a doubt, this had been a good idea. Eric was a genius.

He called Eric after to thank him and told him he'd had a surprisingly enjoyable afternoon. He showered sand and sweat and come down the drain, repacked the clothing to send it, unlaundered, back to Bruce. It had been great fun playing a teen. No doubt he wasn't like any teen in the history of ever, but Bruce didn't seem to know that. Bruce seemed to not know a lot about people. Strange, considering how public a person he was. Clark shrugged. Regardless, his bank account was fatter, his shelters were richer, and he had the sweetest giraffe in the world staring at him from his bookcase. That had been…interesting as well.



Clark moaned and shifted a bit, and Claude hit him, a sharp slap between the shoulder blades. "Quiet."

It was the tone of his voice, more than that quick, sharp slap, that made Clark's heart skip a beat, made his breath come faster. When it was like this, he was never quite sure if it was fear or arousal that made him breathless. The bracelet winked green on his wrist, the bracelet Claude had made for him, because he'd said there were times he needed Clark's mouth free.

Clark had no idea how he'd agreed to it—sometimes with Claude he found himself agreeing to things that he'd normally refuse. They'd gone together, to Claude's jeweler, with the crystal Clark considered his penance. The jeweler had complained: how ugly the stone, how hideous the color, how cheap, but apparently used to Claude's eccentricities, had simply taken a piece of it and went to work. In a much shorter time than Clark expected, he'd received a package containing a beautiful bracelet, with a sliding bar that concealed the green chip—polished, shaped and almost pretty. At the time it'd seemed…perverted, that such a terrible thing should have been shaped into something pretty. Maybe…Claude was trying to say something about Clark. Claude seemed to know without being told all sorts of things none of his other clients seemed to understand. It made Clark nervous. It made him want to tell Claude everything. Sometimes he felt like he never wanted to leave Claude's room, never wanted to take the bracelet off…..

Clark moaned and shifted under the weight of Claude's hand.

"I said be quiet." Claude went back to the thin razor in his hand. He drew another long loop along Clark's shoulder blade, and drew the blade back when a thin red line welled up and dripped. Claude watched the red line flow and when it began to thicken, he smeared fingertips across the red. "Beautiful." He stared at the smear of red and asked, "When you take the bracelet off, how long before it all goes away? Have you ever found anyone else like yourself? Do you think there are more like you? How far can I cut—how deep?"

Clark shook his head. I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.


Bruce led Clark into the room with a hand on his elbow and a smile on his face. "Act like you're happy to be here and we'll go for burgers after," Bruce muttered and Clark snorted. He nodded, and let Bruce imagine that Clark was indeed overwhelmed by the sight of so many starched shirts and designer gowns. Then again, he might actually believe it--Eric had set up Bruce's first dates, through an exchange of cards. He didn't move in the same circles Claude did—thank god, Bruce's rather mild and generally painless kinks marked him as a whole separate animal than Claude.

They ate, and Bruce introduced him as the son of an old college buddy, taking him under his wing as a favor to an old friend. Most nodded and professed themselves pleased to meet Clark, but there were two people he recognized that night—neither likely to let on they had an acquaintance. He vividly remembered the man who blushed and moved away quickly as politely possible—he remembered the john going down on him in a cheap hotel room, then blowing his load on the guy's pale, washed-out face. After, the guy squatted in the tub, babbling and apologizing for wanting it, while Clark peed all over him. Clark grinned at the man's rapidly departing back. Peeing on him had been interesting and mildly amusing for Clark, but had made the client come like a fountain without a hand on him. Clark shook his head. It had been an interesting night, but he remembered any night he didn't have to open the box so….

The other man had picked him up in those early days on the street—he was pretty sure he'd pretended to be a student down on his luck for that one…it seemed to fuel his fantasies, even though he'd just bent over and let the man fuck him in the alleyway. The guy smirked at Clark now, and Clark wondered if he should work up a blush and look ashamed but some little devil inside made him lick his lips and throw the guy a look instead. That one hurried off too—towards the bathroom with a look over his shoulder. But he was here with Bruce and the client was paramount as long as he was working—besides, random jobs like that jerk were a thing of the past. He took the glass of wine Bruce offered him and smirked, teen attitude firmly in place.

Clark sipped and smiled to himself…when he had been a teen, Clark would never have been the kind of kid Bruce wanted. Teenage Clark would have been overwhelmed here—probably would have ended up in the bathroom, vomiting from nerves. Clark leaned back against the chair and sighed. Teenage Clark wasn't far behind him in terms of age—but mentally, it felt like a million years ago.

Bruce of course picked up on Clark's slip, but thankfully, misinterpreted it as boredom. "I'm sorry, kid…it won't be long. As soon as my guest shows up, we'll finish business and we'll go do—whatever you want."

Clark grinned at him. "I hope that means we can go home so that you can fuck me through the mattress."

Bruce blushed faintly. "Um. You're blunt. But it sounds like a good plan."

Clark let himself blush and turn his eyes to the table, and Bruce chuckled, both of them pretending like Clark was a real kid who'd misspoke and embarrassed himself. Clark was still looking down at the table when a shiver went down his spine—more like a long wave of tingling heat. A scent like all the best smells in the world combined hit his nose, a scent like Eric and Bruce doubled—tripled—so good, it made his dick stir…

"Lex—there you are. Sit."


The voice made Clark shudder and wish he could jump up and leave because he didn't understand what was happening to him, something crazy. Frightening. He lifted his eyes and found a pair of grey eyes, framed with pale sparse lashes, locked on his. The almost invisible lashes and the cold, pale color of his eyes shouldn't have been as attractive as they were, but…Clark swallowed and looked at Bruce. Bruce frowned at him, at Lex. Lex just smiled at both of them, those predatory eyes not leaving Clark.

"Lex. Please sit down. Clark, this is Lex."

"Clark…what a pleasure it is to meet you."


"Hello, pretty boy—how did your date with Wayne go last night?"

Clark moaned, and laughed a little. "Bruce had a wild idea last night. Well, wild for him, I guess. His script last night was…cute, actually." Clark shifted the phone to his shoulder and opened the fridge, poked listlessly at what he found inside. Frowned. "He wanted to walk in on me, catch me in the 'act'."


"Catch me jerking off. It was fun, actually. I had to pretend be embarrassed at first, and then get into it. Make a show of it. He came just watching me, can you believe it?"

Eric laughed softly, "Well, Pet, imaging you doing it, yes I can very well believe it. Bruce is so buttoned down all the time that his time with you is…well, sort of a safety valve, no?"

"Mmm. He is a bit tightly wound. Still, he's sweet. He's kind of strangely…innocent," Clark laughed again, and said, "and not. There's something in his eyes sometimes—" Clark shivered a bit. "Maestro, as much as I'm enjoying your call, I have the feeling that you wanted to ask me something more than how my date with Bruce went."

"You're positively psychic, beautiful one. I have a proposal…Luthor the younger has been making subtle inquiries about you, very low key but very interested. I was very surprised, more so when he invited me to lunch the other day and asked me point blank about becoming a client. Now darling, I expect he wants more than that—he had that 'challenge' look in his eyes. So. What do you think, are you up for a meeting?"

Clark grabbed a sparkling water from the fridge and opened it. "Alexander Luthor?"

"Don't be coy. You want to meet him. You should meet him."

Clark walked out to the balcony and leaned against the railing. He watched the sun start to set. The rooftops below came alive with gold and crimson, deep purple shadows sliding across the brick and glass..."I should, hmm? You have something on your mind, don't you Maestro?"

"Oh, darling—only your happiness!"
Eric hung up on a laugh and Clark drank his water and watched the skies go darker.


Clark had been hanging in the web for ever and ever and ever, his head down and a gag buckled around his head. Padded blinders kept the light out, earplugs kept sound out…he'd lost all sense of place. Time expanded for him, under the blindfold the world felt huge and limitless, as if he were endlessly falling. Until a soft, wonderfully scented hand curled around his chin, traced his cheek gently, and covered his nose. Cut his breath off until his body's instinct to fight for survival kicked in and he began to buck and twist against the restraints. Still, he waited desperately for it to come again when it went away. Without Claude's touch there was nothing, nothing but pain….

His skin throbbed from the small pain of the neurological wheel nipping tiny bites into it. It throbbed along the paths Claude had skated it: down his ribs, over his hips, between his legs. He jerked and wobbled in the webbing and moaned wetly around the rubber clenched in his teeth…he'd released everything, put it all in Claude's hands. No way to call an end. Suddenly soft lips he recognized moved against his cheek, tiny wafts of warm air…they moved, stopped, moved, stopped…Clark nodded, uncertainly at first and then more frantically. Yes. Stop. Please.

Clark woke up in Claude's bed, Claude's intense gaze swept up Clark's neck, to the thick vein throbbing near the surface, to Clark's eyes. "Let me…let me cut you. Or let me brand you. Right here," Claude said and drove his thumb into Clark's jugular, hard enough that Clark saw stars, and felt the darkness creeping in around the edges of his consciousness. When he opened his eyes again, his head was cradled in Claude's lap, and Claude was brushing the hair away from Clark's eyes and he knew right then he couldn't see Claude anymore. Claude brought out something dark and twisted in him, something not driven by guilt but driven by want. And wanting this—this thing with Claude would kill him or kill Claude. Something in him wanted to jump into the void Claude showed him, wanted to let it pull him down and drown him. Claude looked down at him and something close to warmth swam in the cold, hard depth of his eyes. "Clark," he murmured. He stroked the line of Clark's shoulders, the arch of his neck.

Claude let him go, and Clark walked unsteadily to the suite's bathroom. He showered, using the wash and shampoo Claude liked him to use. He ignored the robe, rubbing himself dry with Claude's wonderfully thick, soft towels. He lingered in the bathroom, still feeling a little high, not willing yet to completely let go of the feeling of…flying. Falling. He slid the cover over the bracelet and the darkness receded. Finally he walked out of the bathroom and quickly dressed. Claude was waiting for him at his desk in the central room. He turned to face Clark. Frowned when he saw Clark was already dressed.

Clark held his hand out to Claude—he had the bracelet on his palm. "It's been interesting, as always, Claude. But we're finished here." The desire to drown in Claude's ocean of pain had faded with the bracelet being closed but looking at Claude always brought a whisper of that feeling back. "I mean that this is done…"
"Done, Clark? What are you saying?" Claude brushed Clark's hand aside and said, "Stay. Stay with me, I'll—I'll do more than pay you, you'd be comfortable for life. I want you to stay, Clark."

Clark shook his head, and tried again to hand the bracelet to Claude, who stared at it like it had suddenly come to life. "You know how this works, Claude—I can't stay. I don’t want to stay."

He jerked his head up, snarled. Clark thought for a moment that Claude was about to rush him but he spun on his heel instead. He opened a desk drawer and took out a stack of bills. Clark wondered what in the world he had been planning—they'd never physically exchanged money—none of his clients did. "I'm…Claude. It doesn't have to end on a bad note—"

Claude clutched the money in his hand, the tendons standing out taut against the backs of them. "Jesus—just. Get out. And take that thing with you. We'll talk about this another time--"

Clark said, soft and quick, "You know I'm not coming back."

Claude froze, so quickly that only Clark could have seen it. "Fine. Tell yourself that. When you come crawling back, I'll consider letting you." He turned to face Clark. "It's not a game, this, not like what you do for Wayne or Leher or any number of faceless, disgusting johns you spread for. This is you, Clark, this is who you are." Claude threw the bills at him and Clark laughed at the shower of money.


Clark trotted down the wet street, his hand over the money in his pocket and wondered if Claude was right. He didn't think so…not really. Maybe some small part of him craved it, but it wasn't his essential nature, it couldn't be. He hailed a cab, intending to go home but gave directions to Eric's studio instead.

He let himself into the large, dark space and hit the spots. He looked, really looked at himself in the overlarge prints on the wall. He stared at the way the needles in his skin became wings in one print, at the thick satin ribbon Eric had laced around the needles corset-style in another….he stared at all the different shapes and patterns. Without his face, it was hard to tell what was on his mind in each shot but the more he looked, the less he believed Claude. There was peace in these photos, he looked solid and centered and not the person Claude wanted him to be.

By the time he relocked the studio and headed home he was sure Claude was wrong. And he was sure he needed a new client. Alexander Luthor wanted to speak with him, very much so, Eric claimed…he'd ask Eric to go ahead and arrange a meeting.


The next afternoon found Clark still muzzy, tired in a way that was completely of the mind, his body had healed the minute he he'd taken the bracelet off, he was just….

He sighed and leaned back against the wire back of the bistro chair and waited for his new client. He wore his costume--dark, plain jeans, a white button down, leather sandals this time. He'd let his hair do what it wanted, it was a little wild and tangled but he had a suspicion that the client would like it. It was taking a chance considering what Eric had told him but…Clark got feelings sometimes, little bursts of intuition. He followed them and was seldom wrong.

Clark twirled the straw in his drink and looked around the plaza. People crowded the space, music, laughter and conversation filled the air. Clark could have listened to it all if he'd cared to, he could have heard the crack of an ice cube in a glass of water from across the square if he'd wanted to but he blocked it all out. It was all unimportant. He concentrated on appearing calm, relaxed. This was not a 'date', not yet; maybe not at all, Luthor was late and that wasn't exactly a check in the 'win' column….

He waited, nearly an hour past the time the client had chosen. He didn't mind, not really--he had nothing to rush off to, but it wasn't a good precedent to set. Clark stood, tossed a few bills on the table and started to leave when a slim, well-dressed man suddenly dropped in the chair opposite the one Clark had been sitting in.

"Sorry, I had a meeting—it ran over."

Clark nodded. "That can happen." He turned away, headed for the square.

"Hey—where do you think you're going?" The voice was annoyed and surprised. Clark turned back.

"I don't wait. I have clients, too. Wasting time waiting for you—" Clark shook his head. "I don't need you; I was only meeting with you as a favor to a friend."

Grey eyes narrowed, trained on him like a gun sight. "Do you know who I am…?" It was said half in arrogance, half in genuine curiosity.

Clark smirked. "In the circles I travel? Of course I know who you are, Alexander Luthor. Metropolis' favorite son, billionaire, and a man who…I guess doesn't own a watch. See you around."

"Damn it, I'm sorry—Eric said you wouldn't wait for me. Or anyone. Have to say, you're awfully full of yourself considering you're a whore. Or escort or whatever thing you call yourself."

Clark let the brief jab of hurt flow right over him like oil over a stone. He folded himself back into the wire chair and smiled. "I call myself a whore. My clients call me whatever helps to make it palatable for them."


Clark sighed, and just stopped himself from rolling his eyes. "Are we going to trade insults or do business? I canceled on a client who's just as busy and important a man as you are. I thought you seemed interesting, I see I was wrong."

Luthor stared at him, an ugly mottled red flush spreading across his cheeks. "If we come to some kind of understanding, how does this work? What are your limits?"

Clark leaned back in the chair and licked his lips; let his knees open a bit. Luthor's eyes went to the spot of wet on Clark's lower lip. "That's open to discussion. Something we can discuss when--or if--we contract."

Luthor smiled. "Contract. It's so formal. So dry."

"Mr. Luthor, it's anything but dry. You spoke to my friend, so you have some idea of who I am. I'm sure you're heard of me otherwise." Clark knew he hadn't been forgotten in the clubs. "These days, I prefer a more…private arrangement. If you'd care for that…" Clark slid a card across to Luthor "…call me." He stood then and walked away.

As he passed through the square, he surprised himself by hoping that Alexander Luthor called him, and that was odd, he'd never felt quite that way with any of his clients, even Eric. He wondered what Luthor's script would be. A thin rush of excitement flitted through him. He wanted to know.


"How did it go?"

"Oh well, he's kind of an asshole…."

"But you were interested anyway. I know you. You always go after the puppies."

"He's hardly a puppy, more of a wolf, that one."

"Oh love. He's so a puppy and you're already involved. You want him to call."

"Stop thinking you know me. And stop pimping me out to your friends." There was a silence, so long that Clark wondered if he'd overstepped with Eric—he hoped not. He was awfully fond of him….

"Clark…it's…I'm not a pimp. You have a…you help. I introduce you to people who I think you can help. Or who can help you."

"Like Claude?"

"Like Claude. He was a gift just for you. You needed Claude. You don’t need Bruce, or me."

"Of course I need you, Maestro. You're my best friend."

"And yet, I'm going to give you up, my beautiful one. I'm about to open my hands and let you fly."

"Are you stoned? I'm not going anywhere, cheesy metaphors notwithstanding. I'm here, whenever you need me."

"Oh Clark. I don’t know. I had a dream you were flying away from me, but you were smiling. Well, bleeding too, but my mind is a melodramatic cesspool."

Clark laughed, "That's why I love you, Maestro."

"Well, you say that now…" Eric's voice was soft and fond and Clark felt a little curl of guilt in his gut. He suspected Eric had more feeling for him than he would admit. It was…one-sided. He loved Eric, admired him, enjoyed his time with him but…was never going to be in love with him—or anyone, ever. And he was fine with that.


"So, I was thinking figures for our contract, unless you had something in mind."
"If I contract to you exclusively, I'm losing three thousand to five thousand a month. I'd need to have that much—at the least. I'm also losing dates. I get two to three hundred a date…." Clark's head was spinning, as much for the outrageous situation he found himself in, as Lex's—fuck, Lex's presence. It was….

Lex nodded. "All right. I was thinking…thirty-five thousand at the half way point, the rest to come at the end of the year. If you pull out before then, of course you wouldn't get the full amount, depending upon…when you cancel the contract."

Clark sat back, cocked an eyebrow at Lex. He smiled, "I didn't expect to have an option."

Lex looked at him in surprise. "I'm not asking for a slave."

"Well, some do. I've always turned everyone down. I need my own time, space to be myself. I…don’t know why I'm even contemplating this." Clark expected Lex to smirk, preen, remark on his irresistibility but he just looked thoughtful, serious.

"I know," Lex said. "I felt it the instant I saw you but kept pushing it away. There's a feeling…like I need to get to know you…but it also feels as if I already know you."

"Hmm. I suppose...anyway, I'm glad there's a--an—" he hesitated and Lex did smirk at that.

"An out, you mean." He put a set of keys on the table. "These keys are to an apartment of mine, on the outskirts of the city. It's nice there, almost rural but an easy drive back into town. It's yours, afterwards. And yours if you cancel at any time. I'm making you give up everything and I'm not heartless. You'll have this place, and a car. At any time you decide the contract has run its course. But as long as you're under contract, you're mine, in all senses of the word. I decide everything, from what you wear to what you eat to what you do when."

Clark gazed at Lex from across the table, sipped at the coffee Lex had ordered for them both. "How is that different from slavery?"

"Because all you have to do is say, 'I don't want to do this anymore'." Lex shrugged. "That's it. Just tell me you don’t want it and it all stops." He reached across the table, took Clark's wrist in his hand, pressing the bracelet into his skin. "You can wear this or not. It will be your only choice the year you're with me."

Clark slid his hand out from under Lex's and played with the handle on his coffee cup. "What if family needs me?"

Lex shook his head. "Let's not begin with lies." He took a bite of his salad. "This is really very good, are you sure you won't have one? My treat."

"Thank you, no. And…you're right. I don’t have anyone, it's true. I've been on my own for a long time," Clark smiled.

"Mm-hmm," Lex said. "And if you agree, you'll have an obligation to some one else. That'll take some getting used to, for both of us. But you…fascinate me. I want to know things that an investigation won't reveal."

Clark sighed. "There's nothing to me but what you've seen. I'm a whore. I'm alone. There is nothing more."

Lex pushed his barely touched plate aside and stood. "There's always something more. Call me when you decide." He smiled, bent over gracefully and kissed Clark's cheek, a brush of the lips, soft and fleeting. "Until then."

Clark watched him leave, his fingertips grazing his cheekbone. There was something dangerous about Lex, but also, something too attractive. From the moment they'd met, Clark felt this…magnetic pull towards Lex. He also realized that he'd decided the moment he agreed to the first meeting with Lex. Saying no had never really been an option. But…he didn't have to say yes right away. He pulled out his phone and punched a number. "Maestro. Are you busy? Good, give me a half hour to get there."


Lex paid to have Clark's apartment packed up and the boxes that were to be put in storage sat at the door, awaiting the movers. Lex had made an odd point that Clark bring nothing and he'd complied--had let almost everything go, gave most of it away. He'd only kept his books, some clothes, his pictures, all of it packed in this bare handful of boxes and in the bottom of one, in a beautiful wooden box a client had given him—he'd tossed the blow but kept the box--was what was left of the necklace. He sighed, thinking of the necklace and how it had more or less led him here. He turned the bracelet on his wrist. With so much changing, he found his mind on the past without the slightest bit of fond nostalgia. All that he'd done, everything he'd gone through, and it came down to this, his whole "new" life, packed into a couple of boxes, about to go into storage.

Not much to show for his two years in his dream apartment.

He took a look around the empty rooms and smiled. His first "dream apartment" would have fit in this one easily. Apparently his next apartment was large enough to swallow this one and have room for another. He shook his head. He'd never have expected this that first week on the streets, vomiting in dumpsters, his mouth thick and bitter with the taste of strangers…he frowned and tugged hard on his bracelet. He never liked thinking back on those days. He'd been so alone, so confused and scared and angry, lost and wanting to believe that someone was going to save him. And in a way, someone had. Eric had done the best he could do for him. As much as was possible, Eric was a friend. Like Bruce. He'd developed a real fondness for both of them. Claude…Clark frowned harder. Claude might have been a miscalculation on Eric's part. No fault of his—how could he have known what mixing Claude and Clark together would create?


"This is your home for the year," Lex said, dropping his keys onto a tray in the entrance way. "This is the only apartment on the floor. I like space, and I like living alone." He turned to Clark. "I liked living alone…lately I've been." He shrugged. "I'm not sure what I want. I consider this to be an experiment."
An experiment? Clark looked Lex up and down, eyebrows raised, and smirked. "You do know hiring a whore isn't exactly the same as having a relationship, don't you? It's not going to prepare you for much of anything—"

"I'm aware." Lex cut in. When he spoke again, he looked thoughtful, and Clark wondered just what it was Lex was thinking. "I'm perfectly aware that this whole 'thing' represents a power imbalance…though in some ways…" he stopped short and glared at Clark."You know, you really don’t need to refer to yourself as a whore constantly."

Clark smiled. "How about companion? Entertainment? Or--your friend Bruce likes 'buddy'." Clark grinned and Lex glared impossibly harder.

"How about you don't mention Bruce again, or any of your other clients. It…"

"Reminds you of my profession?" Clark lost interest in baiting Lex and turned to look over the apartment. It was pretty much standard décor for Lex's set. Polished wood floors, hand-printed wall-coverings, wool rugs scattered here and there, leather and steel furniture—the average filthy rich bachelor pad. Everything by a designer's book, right down to prints and plants meant to represent a personal touch. Clark tilted his head. There really was nothing about the place that said, 'Lex Luthor lives here'. "Can I see the kitchen?"

Lex looked surprised. "All right. Do you cook?"

"Sometimes, I'm not very good but it's…relaxing. I. I bake," he said and waited for Lex to laugh at him.

"Do you really? My cook rarely makes anything like a dessert, Dad's order—I mean--can you make oatmeal cookies? I enjoy oatmeal cookies occasionally." he said and sounded so wistful that Clark turned to look but by the time he turned, Lex's expression was bland and smooth and totally uninterested. "You surprise me. I wouldn't imagine baking being useful skill in your profession."

"My profession, sure." Clark said and forced the sting out of Lex's words. He was going to have to watch himself around Lex. The first way to lose yourself was to care too much about what a client thought outside of sex. A small part of the reason he'd decided to take on this year-long job with Lex was that he'd been beginning to care too much about Bruce and starting to feel conflicted in his friendship with Eric. Lex had seemed the perfect outlet, notwithstanding Eric's ridiculous assertion that Lex wanted more than exclusive sex and some--kink he hadn't yet admitted to. Clark hoped that he hadn't made a mistake. He shook off melancholy thoughts and turned to Lex. "Speaking of my profession, where's the bedroom?"

Lex smirked and turned in a way that struck Clark as being incredibly graceful. An unexpected flare of desire flashed through him, a wish to see that grace applied to himself. He could feel his cheeks warm a bit, and quickly took control, pushed that inconvenient thought away. He needed to see what Lex's script was first.

Lex led the way to a suite dominated by a bed, a truly monstrous bed, big enough to contain Lex and a football team. There was what seemed to be a wall of closets broken by double doors leading to a bathroom. Facing the bed was a small sitting area and another set of doors that opened to a glass enclosed balcony. Light was everywhere, lending the entire room a sunlit glow and Clark felt an answering burst of light inside. This was…a good place. A warm place.

"Nice," Clark said.

Lex raised an eyebrow at him. "Thanks. This is my room. I'll show you yours."

Clark was surprised. He'd thought that he'd be in Lex's bed…well, Lex had yet to reveal his script so….

Lex led Clark back out to the living room, past the kitchen, down a narrow hallway and into what looked like another apartment. There was a small living area, a tiny kitchenette and a bedroom, not quite as large as Lex's but a good deal bigger than the one in his recently abandoned apartment had been. The bed was also bigger than his own had been, and Clark liked that. The bathroom held a tub deep enough that he'd be able to soak, and a shower that he'd be able to use without parts of him constantly grazing the walls. He smiled. Okay. This was odd, but it looked promising. He'd not been certain whether he'd be allowed privacy. This was a good sign.

"Through there are the rooms that staff use when they're asked to stay, which isn't often. There's also a laundry room and pantry, I'm pretty sure…"

"Is this your private apartment?" Clark asked.

Lex shrugged. "You can get cleaned up if you like," he said, not answering Clark's question. "Take some time to get familiar with your rooms."

Clark nodded, knowing he'd been pretty much dismissed. He shut the door to his suite and noted that there were no inside locks on any of the doors within the rooms put aside for him. The living room had a TV, and whatever gadgets folks bought to go with their TVs. Clark had no real interest. His own television was small, low tech and hardly used. He was a reader. He felt a hot, tight, flash of regret for his books; it would have been nice to have old friends with him. There was a bar flanking the TV, facing that a smaller version of Lex's leather and steel couch. Clark frowned—too short and too much metal to be comfortable for him. There was no dining set, just a breakfast bar that separated the kitchenette from the living area. It wasn't very well stocked but he was sure Lex would allow for that. In fact, he found a list on the black granite countertop--whatever items you need, list them and it will be taken care of. Clark nodded. Just what he expected of Lex.

The bedroom was clean, almost Spartan but in a way that appealed to Clark. It held only a bed and night stand, the bathroom was stocked with various items that he'd need, including a disturbingly well-stocked first aid kit….

In the large closet that took up one wall, Clark found clothing, all of it his size, footwear of a dizzying variety. None of it was his. Lex had apparently already spent thousands of dollars on clothing he wanted to see Clark in. There was a mahogany valet set off to the side of the dressing room with what Clark assumed was clothing Lex had selected for him to wear this evening. Clark shrugged. He was getting some idea of the script, now.

There was another room, and Clark stepped inside, wondering what it could be. He found a small office—lines walled with shelves full of books and that made Clark smile. There was a desk with a laptop set up on it, and everything a person with an addiction to stationary stores could possibly want. It made Clark laugh softly. He sat in the chair by the desk and groaned—the damn thing was unbelievably comfortable and he got a quick flash of Lex riding him in the chair. He blushed, but then figured, what the hell…he dropped the guards he'd put up the minute he'd seen Lex again and just…reveled in the man's scent, enjoyed what it did to him, imagined having Lex spread open on the fabulous chair, wild eyed and panting for it, begging Clark to suck him in. Clark imagined his taste, how hard he'd come…his eyes flew open; his breath coming a bit faster and he was half-hard in his jeans, and wholly annoyed. Damn it…Clark shook his head. This was going to be more work than he'd imagined….

Lex sent for him and he wore the clothing he'd found. Lex didn't smile but it was in his eyes—they darkened when Clark stepped in the room.

"Sit." Dinner was laid out and Clark sat. Lex served himself and Clark. Clark waited until Lex gave him permission to eat.

"Clark," he drawled, "Eric told me how smart you were, how intuitive, that you could tease out a client's desires in a few heartbeats. I wanted to test that."

Clark dropped his eyes and blushed. Having complete control over his body made that blush a simple thing to do. "I see."
"I think you already know what I want. And what I don't want. I'm not wanting a—a friend, a relationship. I'm wanting staff at my beck and call, twenty-four seven, you understand? I don't want to wait the time it takes for a cab to arrive at my door when I have an itch."
Clark nodded and kept his eyes on the plate. Lex wanted what Bruce had wanted without the pretense of friendship. He wanted an inexperienced, awed by his surrounding, boy. Which didn't jibe with his enjoyment of Clark's sarcastic give and take…what did he really want?

He lifted his head to meet Lex's eyes and said, "Whatever you want. You paid for it." And Lex smiled.

"Yes, yes I did. So…" he pushed back from the table, food ignored and said, "I think you should earn it."

"Yes sir," Clark said, he rose from the table in one smooth move—copied from Lex. He moved down the length of the table with as quickly and gracefully as he could, sank to his knees in front of Lex. He licked his lips, swallowed as if he was a little nervous and reached out for the button on Lex's pants. Eased it open, the zipper down, and revealed completely bare skin so smooth it didn't look real; it had a slight sheen that captured his eyes and fascinated him. He'd thought the smooth even texture of Lex's skin was makeup but now he saw his whole body was that smooth and almost featureless; all of him possessed that slight marble-like sheen. Here, on his knees and close to Lex's dick, the scent that curled though Clark's body and mind intensified and his mouth flooded with saliva. He moaned inside his closed mouth and pushed his nose into the open vee of Lex's pants. He kissed along the slight swell of stomach revealed, hooked his fingers into the waistband of the pants, gently slid them down until they were even with the waist of some sinfully tiny and mostly pointless underwear. Clark chuckled, ignored Lex's quiet, offended huff. He pressed an open-mouthed kiss against Lex's warm skin, drew his lips across it, moaned as the wonderful scent intensified, flooded his senses….

"Shit…" Lex whispered. "You like this, don’t you? You want this…"

Not this, Clark thought, he just wanted…needed Lex. His fingers twitched, and he bowed his head. "Can I?"

"Shit, yes, do it," Lex rasped. "Suck me, now—just—" whatever he was going to say broke off as Clark yanked the pants down and under Lex's ass, beyond gentleness or patience now. His dick fell into Clark's aching fingers—they wrapped around the perfect weight and shape and feel of Lex's dick. He ran his nose up the length, and then worked his tongue down towards his bare, sleek skin, and then was running fingers over and over Lex's balls, learning their silken weight, the warm and above all the intoxicating scent of him…he groaned and opened his mouth over Lex's dick, screwed his mouth down until the head was blocking his throat—felt the head push past any resistance and into his throat. He stopped to calm himself and force breath through his nose. Lex was babbling, streams of filth and nonsense that should have made Clark laugh but instead had him leaking and twitching in his expensive pants.

"I'm going to fuck your throat—"

Clark groaned around Lex and Lex shouted, lifted his hips from the chair and grabbed handfuls of Clark's hair—began shoving his dick in hard and fast, fucking into Clark's throat in a way that would have had anyone else choking. As it was, Clark's eyes watered, drool coated his chin and dripped onto Lex's skin, he rocked on his heels with the force of it and his own dick was so hard, so ready that it hurt. Lex grunted and cursed and fucked harder and Clark felt it right down to his balls. Drool and precome filled his mouth and he swallowed and Lex screamed—Clark could feel the crown swell in his throat every time he swallowed and he quivered and shook and his dick twitched so hard he thought, for a second, that he'd come…

He reached under Lex and swirled his finger around the tight pucker of his hole and when it opened and almost sucked his finger in, he did come.

Lex gasped, tried not to work himself down on Clark's finger but when Clark moaned, sucked harder and writhed against his leg, he threw his head back, began cursing low and hoarse as he lost it completely. Clark tried to open even more as Lex shot hot and thick down his throat. It was the most intense feeling he'd ever experienced outside of Claude's rooms. When he came back to himself, he had his hands planted on Lex's thighs, waiting as Lex too came down slowly. Being this close to Lex was a like living a dream and Clark made the most of it, just taking in his scent, sucking and licking at him until Lex shoved him away.

"Ah—enough!" He dropped against the chair back and stared at Clark, and Clark could just imagine how fucked out he looked—he felt totally fucked out, dripping wet, hair plastered against his face, chin still wet and his pants rumpled and damp at the crotch. He took a shaky breath and waited for Lex to direct the next step….

"You should take your plate with you when you go to your rooms," Lex said, "No sense letting good food go to waste." And then he got up and left, went to his bedroom without a backward glance.

Clark sat stunned, on his knees and staring at the empty chair. He'd never felt like that--ever, not with Bruce, not even with Eric. Had never come that way before, not even when he'd first discovered his dick and all it took was the touch of his hand and intent to get him off….

Clark stared at the empty chair. He was—furious. Worse, he didn't even know why.


In the morning he woke up to a fresh outfit laid out for him, the smell of coffee in Lex's part of the apartment. He showered and dressed and went out to greet his boss, his hair still dripping because he had a feeling Lex would like it. He met Lex in the hall, but Lex barely glanced at him. He had a cup of coffee in one hand and a briefcase in the other.

"There's coffee, food—Cook will make you something else if what's there doesn't appeal to you." And with that he was gone. Clark gaped after him. What the hell had just happened?

The man was spending thousands to…keep his cook company? Clark didn't expect them to be great friends but this…this was odd. No, this bordered on fucked up. He wanted to call Eric but he had no phone. He had no car, no money, not a damn thing that belonged to him, not even the underwear he wasn't wearing because he thought Lex might want to—damn it. Clark shook his head, confusion making him angry.

There was no way Lex had to honor that contract if he broke it in a day—he also had to consider that though Lex couldn't actually stop him breaking it, Clark was sure he'd tank his business and he didn't like the idea of starting over in a new city. He had no doubt that Eric notwithstanding, Lex could—would--ruin Clark's business in Metropolis easily.

Clark walked into the huge kitchen and the woman in a crisp uniform, standing stiffly by the fridge, gave him a cold glance. "There are prepared pancakes, bacon, an egg over easy; Mr. Luthor seemed to think you'd enjoy that. There is fresh fruit also," the cook said without making eye contact with Clark.

Clark smiled at her anyway, and said as warmly as he could, "It sounds like my favorite breakfast, Miss…Mrs.….?"

She made no response except to say, "If that will be all?"

Clark felt oddly dismayed by her lack of response—normally he didn't give a shit what people thought, whores developed a thick skin pretty quick if they wanted to survive. Clark was angry with himself for feeling anything. Damn Lex. He dismissed her with a breezy wave and a smirk. "Thanks for this. Have to keep my strength up, right?"

Her eyes were as cold as when he entered and there wasn't a trace of emotion on her face. "If that's all—"

He shrugged. "I'm good."

Moments later, he heard the front door open and close. The silence in the apartment was fog thick. He frowned and carefully sampled what was on his plate. It was good—perfect eggs, fluffy pancakes that were almost as good as his mom's and reminded him of Sunday and being lazy and safe and. Fantasies.

He picked it apart, slowly ate half of it and knew he should have eaten less than that. Not if he wanted to keep his shape, not if he was expected to eat dinner with his—with Lex this evening.


After breakfast he absolutely did not hide out in his suite. He rearranged things to suit himself, killing some time, before looking over the books in the shelf. He was mildly disturbed to see that half of them were copies of books he owned. It was probably ridiculous for him to be affected by that but it made him uncomfortable to think that Lex might have picked through his belongings. Lex was already taking so much….

When Lex came home that evening, he called Clark in to dinner. Clark wore a fresh outfit that of course Lex had selected for him, and once again dinner was…postponed. Lex had him get on his knees and blow him--again, and walked away--again, though this time after eating his dinner. Clark sat through soup, salad, entrée and coffee in clammy, come-drenched trousers before he was dismissed.

The next day was a repeat of the first, and the day after that. And the next. For days he had breakfast with The Ice Queen, read brand new copies of books he'd read before, waited for Lex to come home at which time he redressed Clark, had sex and dinner and Clark was about to explode. He'd had more interaction playing sex doll for Claude than this….

"Clark," Lex said, and pushed away from the table. Smirked when Clark stood, only Clark didn't ease his way down the length of the stupidly long table, this time he stomped towards Lex and let every bit of his frustration and anger show. He had a long fuse, but like Jonathan Kent, he had one hell of a temper once that fuse was lit.

"What do you want from me, Lex?" Clark felt satisfaction at the fear--quickly suppressed—that made Lex's eyes lighten, his pupils shrink, and then blow wide as Clark loomed over him, bracketed him with hands spread wide on the chair's arms.

"Clark, what I don't want is you in my space like this—back away."

"No," he said, and dropped to the floor. He shouldered between Lex's knees, and yanked his zipper down so hard and fast that Lex yelped and had to grab at the chair to keep from sliding off. Under the straining fabric, Lex was hard, blood red and like hot steel in Clark's hand. Clark didn’t bother teasing, he just said, "Go ahead, fuck my mouth," and opened it over the head of Lex's dick and Lex moaned, grabbed handfuls of Clark's hair and shoved Clark down.

Clark's stomach flipped and churned, he was too aroused, to the point it was overwhelming. He hardly recognized what he was feeling. Lex inside of him, Lex controlling him, whether he breathed or not, how he moved…he shuddered and moaned, and Lex pulled him up and then down again with a sharp jerk. His dick popped into Clark's throat and stilled there. Clark gagged and gagged, tears spilled out of his eyes, saliva ran from the stressed corners of his mouth, over his chin—

Clark found when he managed to clear his eyes and lift them to Lex's that Lex wasn't even there with him. Lex's eyes were narrow slits trained on some distant spot. He held his lip between his teeth, no, he was biting down, so hard the flesh was white, and then a wash of pink tinted his teeth, and he was straining up, trying to get deeper. Clark wasn't afraid—not breathing for a few minutes would hardly kill him—he'd dug his way out from under the ruins of his parent s farm with dirt in his mouth and lungs and—and it hadn’t killed him, couldn’t kill him—Lex jerked and came, so suddenly it spilled back out of Clark's mouth. Lex pulled back, still coming when he pulled out, splattered Clark's chin and throat. This time he leaped out of his chair and ran from the room, trying to adjust himself as he did. Clark folded until his forehead rested on the chair seat, drawing in shaky breaths, struggling to calm the trembling racking him. He wiped the back of his hand across his chin. His hand shook so bad he just made more of a mess….

Screw Lex, he was going to break the contract, he thought. He was still thinking he would break it as he stood under a hard, hot flood in the wonderfully spacious shower that was supposed to be his for the year. He let the rush of water needle warmth into his skin. The damn contract--Luthor said that he could break it at any time. Still get the apartment, the car…whatever money he'd deposited in his account….Clark smacked his head against the tiles, jumped when they creaked. He felt a ripple of uncomfortable guilt when he saw cracks spidering across one of the glass tiles. He stomped out of the shower, glowering. What the fuck was wrong with him? This was unacceptable; he was acting like he was fourteen all over again. He flung open the bedroom door and stumbled to a stop. Shit!

Lex was sitting on the edge of the bed. He glanced at Clark before looking down again and Clark thought he looked almost…embarrassed. He rose off the bed, holding out his hand. Something balanced on Lex's palm. A phone. "I thought…you might want this. It's the latest—"

"I want my own phone back."

"This one's better, yours was a joke—it was three years old at least! This is the latest model, it does—"

"I really don't care what it does. I'd like my phone back please."

"Clark—this—you will take this one."

Clark crossed his arms and his towel fell. He ignored the slight chill, frowned harder and said, "I. Want. My. Phone."

Lex's eyes went wide—his gaze tracked from Clark's ankles to his dick and froze there for a moment until he blinked hard, and frowned. "Well, that's impossible," Lex snapped, "All your old stuff is—is--gone." He threw the flashy, bright, brand new phone that no doubt no one else had yet, on the bed, didn't even turn to watch it bounce. Impressive, Clark thought. "Use this one, or don't, I don’t care." He walked swiftly, stiffly, from the room.

Clark picked up the phone and stroked it with his thumb, staring thoughtfully at the closed bedroom door. He had the script now. He looked down at the phone and smiled. "Gotcha," he murmured.

There was a possibility that this was going to be fun.

"Get a cab, meet me in my office. Dress…you know what I want; I don't have to tell you."
Clark stared at the dead phone and sighed. It didn't take him long to get dressed, apply a little cologne he found in the bathroom, a little lip gloss from the kit he always carried with him…he brushed his fingers through his hair right before he headed down to the lobby, he didn't want to look too put together.

He was hustled right up to Lex's private elevator the minute he pushed past Lexcorp's doors—not a sound from anyone, no eye contact. Clark smirked. They knew exactly why he was there and no one was about to say a thing.

He was sent into Lex's inner office by a woman Clark was pretty sure Lex was fucking too. He glowered at her and she stared right back, the edge of her lip curling. Right before he shut the door behind himself, he heard a very unlady-like snort.

Lex gestured Clark to the sofa in the room, most of his attention taken up by the phone pressed to his ear. Clark figured it wasn't a business call, Lex looked too angry for it to be anything but personal. There was a furious light in his eyes even though his voice was clam and controlled. "I don't—I don't anything to do with that place. No, I want nothing to do—that's just blackmail."

Clark's eyebrows rose, wondering who Lex was talking to that made him so angry.

"We'll discuss it later. Yes, I guess I'll have to think about it." He hung up with a frown so deep Clark almost asked if he was okay, before remembering who and what he was to Lex. He settled and waited for Lex to explain why he called him in.

Lex turned to him, the frown smoothed away, a blank mask in its place. "Take your shoes off," he said. Clark blinked. All…right. Odd but to each his own. Clark toed off his shoes, his socks when Lex indicated he should. He was fully dressed, jacket, tie, and bare feet. Lex motioned him over, and he walked slowly over to him, the carpet felt nice to his bare feet.

Lex stopped him, turning him, looking at him. He drew his hands over Clark's shoulders, down his sides, slipped his hands under the jacket and palmed Clark's ass. "You look amazing. I knew you'd look good in this suit. I wanted to see you…he pulled Clark closer with the tie. Feathered his lips against Clark's. "Are you wearing my cologne? God…" he closed his eyes and shivered. Opened them slowly. "It's not about branding someone and cutting your name into their back," he murmured. "This means mine as well…."

Clark felt his face burn. He wanted to pull away but Lex had made himself a challenge now. He smiled. 'Well, it's definitely more subtle," he said.

Lex laughed. "Yes, I guess it is." He sank to his knees, surprising Clark. He leaned forward, pressed his mouth against the expertly cut trousers and breathed out. "Clark…" he reached down to touch Clark's bare feet, drew his fingers over the arch and upward, hand coming to rest at the top of Clark's leg. Lex pressed his palm over Clark's trapped erection, sighed into the fabric. "Clark…"

Clark was instantly blindingly hard, rested his fingertips against his fly and Lex nodded. He was about to unbutton the pants when Lex stopped him. "Just unzip."

He worked his fly open, carefully pulled his dick out. Lex lunged forward and sucked Clark in. Clark hissed--it was awfully sudden, and Lex was very, very bad at this, like he'd never done it before….Clark looked down at Lex and saw the truth of it in the strained movements, his tightly shut eyes. He'd really never done this before. Clark moaned and Lex surged forward--Clark caught him when he gagged, choked and dropped backwards, a thin line of spit dangling from Clark's dick to Lex's lip. It broke when Lex swallowed and Clark could only stupidly watch it spin away. "Sorry. Sorry," he muttered and Lex said something and went at it again.

Clark wrapped his hands around Lex's head to keep him from gagging himself again, tried to keep his grip gentle. Lex's scalp was warm and almost unnaturally smooth, like velvet, under his palms. "Slow down," Clark said. Clark began shifting his hips, slowly thrusting in, withdrawing, careful not to go to deep, and concentrated on the fact that Lex was trying his level best to blow him and that was too sexy. He wasn't going to last, terrible as it was. The mere fact it was terrible was amazing. His dick twitched and Lex startled, hummed and sucked harder. "Okay, Lex--Lex, I'm going to come, you need to—stop, Lex—"

Lex wrapped his fist around Clark, and sucked hard on the tip, determined to—Clark jerked, gasped, "Damn it," and came in Lex's mouth. He felt the shudder run through him, felt Lex struggle to swallow, felt his tongue curl around the tip of his dick, press into the slit. "Damn it!"

Aftershocks raced through him, keeping him frozen. He was almost afraid to look at Lex, whose head was resting against his thigh, hand petting the ruined trousers absently. After a minute or two, he stood and watched Clark tuck himself back and try to look less fucked.
"What about you," Clark said and Lex shook his head.

"No, you should go now.

"Right now—"Clark swallowed. He was being a fool. Lex had gotten what he wanted the way he wanted. Whatever he'd hoped to discover at this moment, he must have found. Clark put his shoes and socks on in the heavy silence, walked past Lex without a word. The only thing that made him feel better was knowing the way he looked, it was obvious what had happened in Lex's office. When he walked past Lex's secretary, he winked.


Clark waited, certain that he was ready for Lex's next move, but as seemed to be Lex's way, they didn't actually see each other again for a few days.

It felt longer, but a week passed with only the 'company' of the Evil Ice Queen dishing whatever meal she made for Clark onto his plate, her mouth tight and her eyes anywhere but on his. Clark, for his part, talked the woman's ear off, total drivel about the most inconsequential things. Revenge was almost as sweet as her breakfast rolls….

The flip-side of having so much free time, spent in such ridiculous comfort, was the tendency of memories that he preferred not to revisit rising at the most inconvenient times. He leaned into the fridge looking for something cool to drink and he heard his mother's voice. "Clark, honey, don't drink milk straight from the carton…"he looked out his windows and instead of seeing the grey city skyline, he saw spring green hillsides and his dad carving dark chocolate curls into them. He'd sit down to open a book and the first couple of lines would catapult him to a place he'd almost forgotten and he'd feel the bowed mattress of his old bed under him, or the ghost embrace of his mom's arms, smell cotton sheets, the faint scent of cinnamon and L'Air Du Temps….


Time passed quickly, and before it seemed possible, Clark was marking the days of November off his calendar. He and Lex still circled each other like curious but mistrustful wolves, a stalemate broken only by sex that left him exhausted and on edge. What Lex felt about this unsettling ballet, Clark had no idea.

On the third of as many days in a row in which Lex failed to appear or alert Clark that he wouldn't be back, Clark dressed in one of Lex's thoughtfully provided outfits, wrote a short note explaining that it was too nice a day to wait on Lex possibly appearing, pinned it to the kitchen fridge with a magnet, and left the apartment.

It was a nearly picture perfect late fall afternoon. The sun lent a pale lemon tint to streets that were bright and active despite the chill. There were people everywhere, milling about in that pre-holiday buzz, and Clark was struck with how much he'd missed watching people—how isolated he'd been without even realizing it. He soaked it all in as he walked--stopping to buy a pretzel and a coffee at a corner stand, weaving his way through the crowd at the flower vendors and enjoying the brilliant colors and mingled scents. It all seemed so bright after too many days of oh-so-subtle black and chrome and beige and oh so perfectly civilized….

His eyes caught on a bucket of sunflowers. He couldn't resist the lure of the gold and brown heads, touching their thick, prickly stems, smiling at the way they caught against the pads of his fingers, plunging him into memories again. Lilac and sunflowers, sun and soil. Comfort, warmth…love. Everything he'd lost. And here he was, still lost, still alone in a city of eight million people…he shook his head and continued down the street.

Cars rolled by on his left, one after another. Suddenly he felt—odd. His skin crawled, and as he turned to look behind himself, a long black limo slid by. He shivered, the odd feeling intensified. The limo slowed, and the rear window rolled down. He caught a glimpse of a man with long grey hair and steely eyes. Clark flinched slightly—he felt a weird spark of familiarity. The window rolled up, the limo passed him, and Clark was frozen to the spot, a niggling sense of worry licking up his spine. His phone rang, Eric's ringtone, and the brief, odd moment was gone.

"Darling, I've been waiting for you to call me back--" Eric began, without even a hello, "are you cooped up in that cold box of an apartment?"

"No, Maestro, I'm out walking about. And it's not a cold box; it's a…cold stage."

Eric snickered, and that made Clark smile. "I see," he said. "So, tell me, Pretty, if you're not on the Island of Misfit Boys or out with him, where is our dear little Pinocchio?"

"Oh god, please don't call him that—I hate to think what that makes me. I don't know. I've haven't had any contact with the man in days."

His friend was quite for a beat too long, and when he spoke again, Clark wasn't sure he liked that particular note in his voice…."Clark…Clark, he did tell you that you could break the contract at anytime—"
"Eric. I'm fine. In fact, this is perfect, the easiest money I ever made in my life."

"Pretty boy, if it was just about the money. I'd be happy for you."

"What does that mean?" Clark frowned, glanced around the street before crossing, dodging cars and people.

Eric sighed. "You, lover, are so dense. Are you hungry, I'm hungry. Where are you?"

Clark appreciated that Eric was willing to change the subject. "Half a block from Café Cyrano. Meet me there?"

"Baby, but of course! I'm looking forward to seeing you, it's been too long."


Sometime past twelve the next evening, Lex called Clark to his suite. Clark just shook off the last wisps of sleep and got ready—always on the clock, after all. Clark showered quickly, and after a moments thought, slid the bracelet on, exchanged his flannel sleep pants and ratty t-shirt for silk pajama bottoms and a skin-tight a-shirt. He padded barefoot across the apartment and tapped on Lex's door.

Lex tumbled him to his huge football field of a bed, smirking at Clark's gasp of surprise. His heart beat wild, hard. The bracelet made his head spin, after not being worn for so long. Clark went with the feeling, let himself go as he was held down by Lex's hands. He licked over the silk, nibbling and sucking until the fabric was soaking and every lick was a hot rasp against Clark's oversensitive flesh. It sent shivers down his spine, made him ache inside, wanting more, wanting Lex.

Clark groaned and came off the bed when Lex opened his mouth wide and breathed hot air against Clark's dick. Lex smirked and pulled at Clark's soaking pants, leaving him bare from the waist down. He rolled Clark to his face in the pillows and pushed fingers into Clark. He fucked them in and out, widened them, slipped them around and in and out until Clark was chasing the movement with his hips, pushing back to force Lex's fingers in deeper. Lex rolled a condom on, slicked himself up and pushed inside in one long slide, didn't wait for Clark to adjust to being so filled—he was thrusting the moment he was inside and Clark rode him, loving the feel, the heat, the heavy fullness. "Lex--"


"…tell me," Lex said and froze against Clark's back. They breathed in tandem, rough shaky breaths breaking over Clark's back, their skin sticking wet and warm together.

"Tell you what," Clark gasped, "how it feels? How you feel inside me?"

"No, tell me what you did with—your clients, tell me about them—what they made you do--"

Sharp pain slivered into shards, sparked and cut him inside. His eyes stung, for just a moment and then he laughed, because what else could he do? He said, "Had a client, used to tie me up--jerk off on me—fifty dollars and that's all he did. An arthritic old grandma could have tied better knots."

"You sound like the knots pissed you off," Lex huffed out a little laugh, and his thrusts stuttered a bit with it and Clark groaned at the change in angle.

"I was—life on a farm, you learn knots." He went quiet, tightened his mouth. His real life had nothing to do with what was happening here. His clients weren't paying for his heart, just his ass.

"Go on, tell me more. Did you like it? You like him messing you up, smearing you in his come? You like being helpless, out of control?"

Clark hissed yes and Lex fucked him harder, slamming into him, ignoring how Clark's groans shifted between pain and pleasure. "No you don't," Lex gasped, bottoming out. "You're lying."

"Stop—" Clark moaned, and Lex seized, muscles going tight and still. Clark felt his sweat, Lex's, mixing and smearing across his back as Lex shuddered through his orgasm. A quick sense memory of other days made Clark's stomach twist, made him go a little soft. After a moment, Lex moaned and pulled free, dropped to the bed behind Clark. The bed shook and Clark figured Lex was getting rid of the condom…Lex crawled back into bed and laid out next to Clark, nothing touching except his hand, sliding up Clark's calf, almost petting him. He felt…small. Dirty. He craved Claude right at that moment. Claude, with his blades and ties and painful toys and his way of slicing away everything unimportant….

"Turn around, Clark."

Clark shuddered again and turned towards Lex, a smirk on his face. "So, was that story enough for you?"

"Come on me. I want you to come on me."

Clark had only been half hard, but Lex's demand went straight to his dick.

"I'm not going to let you tie me up," Lex said, "but I won't move my hands. I want you to…"

Clark nodded, and stroked himself to orgasm, painting Lex's chest with streaks of pearly fluid, milking it onto Lex's skin. Lex grunted when it hit him, closed his eyes as his mouth fell open. "Hot," he gasped, and looked up at Clark. "I mean…never mind."

Clark tilted his head at Lex and smiled. "I run a little hotter than most. No one's ever commented on it before." He leaned closer, smeared his come into Lex's skin. "You liked that story."

Lex didn't say yes, he didn't say no. He rolled off the bed and headed for the shower. Clark watched him go, and then left for his own room. Lex didn't call him back, so he went to sleep.

Clark sat folded uncomfortably on the horrible little leather couch, staring at the dead TV screen for a little too long, before finally getting up and wandering out to the main apartment. He made his stealthy way to Lex's kitchen and found a plate of oven warm cookies and was surprised. He'd assumed from Lex's reaction to the information that Clark occasionally baked, that Cook didn't. He touched the thick white plate, rubbed his thumb along the gold line that outlined the edge. He picked up a cookie, remembered snitching a cookie from a similar plate that sat on the countertop in his mother's kitchen nearly all the time, holding whatever sweet his mom had made that day. His mom's plate might not have been gold-trimmed, but the plate felt the same—heavy, warm--the cookies smelled the same…Clark's felt his eyes well up and before he could stop them, the tears ran over. He cursed quietly—it'd been a long, long time since he spilled tears from heartache instead of pain…and of course Cook would pick that moment to walk into the room.

shit! "Oh," Clark said, and scrubbed his face quickly. "I'm sorry; I didn't know any staff besides myself was here tonight, I hope I didn't wake you." He pulled the manners that had been drilled into him like breathing in his babyhood around himself like a cloak. "I—took one of these—um, sorry for that too." His voice cracked a bit, and he managed a small smile. Her face tightened, and Clark supposed it was because he'd had the nerve to refer to himself as staff. "Sorry," he said again.

The Ice Queen just stared at him, her little mouth turned down a little more at the corners, her eyes shifted and locked on the cookie in Clark's hand. "You like chocolate chip, Mr. Luthor said so."

It sounded a bit like he was being accused of liking chocolate chips and he couldn't quite smother a little laugh. "Um, yes…how did he…when did he…?"

"I don’t remember," she said. She took a closer step, peered at him and if possible, looked even sourer. "Something's bothering you?"

Clark shrugged, and startled himself by telling her the truth. "I miss my mom," he said and his voice broke all together.

The cook looked startled herself, and when Clark couldn't stop another tear from falling, she snapped, "Sit down."

Clark recognized an order when he heard one and sat immediately. She busied herself at the stove and not much more than a minute later, she sat a cup of cocoa in front of him. She made a face. "It's instant—but on short notice it’s the best I can do. Now, if you want to, tell me about your mother." She handed him a small package of tissues. She leaned a little closer and said quietly, like she was sharing a huge secret with Clark, "I lost my mother forty years ago, and I still miss her like it was yesterday. My mother was very good to me, and I think, so is yours."

Clark smiled, "Yes, she was," he said, emphasizing "was' and she nodded in understanding. "I'm glad she can't see me," he said, "I'm glad my father can't see me."

He lifted his chin, ready to accept the censure he was sure she felt, hot chocolate or not. Cook shocked him by instead laying her hand over his. It was dry and thin, bony--but warm. She said, "What happens, happens. We make the choices we need to at the moment. Good, bad--" She shrugged. "Relax, drink the cocoa, eat the cookies. It will make you both happy." She waved off Clark's puzzled look, and led him into talking, about the farm, loss, loneliness. She said nothing, nodded now and then, and after a while she patted his hand and stood. "Go to sleep. Tomorrow is another day."

Clark watched her go. She didn't seem capable of smiling, the warmth she gave was thin, but Clark had a feeling what there was came from the heart. He smiled. It was nice to be able to talk to someone who didn't want anything from him. He couldn't remember the last time that had happened. He washed and dried the cup and plate, put them away and went to bed, smiling.


So Clark decided that Lex was either insane or just ungodly socially inept in a one-on-one situation, which kind of explained hiring a whore for a…lover, companion, something…. well, Eric had warned him that Lex was likely to be difficult. Typical of one of Eric's warnings, it had been lukewarm and not exactly precise. He hadn't warned Clark that Lex was going to be absolutely impossible. Rude, short-tempered, sarcastic, and so bitter it was ridiculous. Poor little rich boy syndrome. On the other hand, Lex did have the occasional moments of…sweetness. And funny—Lex could be so funny, and sometimes, even bordering on kind. He was smart and god, he was really good in bed….

Clark leaned against his bedroom window, staring into the black night, the city spread out and sparkling like diamonds, musing on Lex's general assholery when a decisive knock came at his door. "Speak of the Lex," Clark murmured, and opened his door. "Yes?"

"Come back with me to my rooms."

"Hello to you to, and--really, Lex? I mean, you could have just called."

Lex stared at Clark with blank grey eyes for a moment before blinking, and replying, "I felt like taking a walk."

Clark was startled into laughing and Lex icy eyes thawed instantly, warm enough for Clark to thaw himself and give Lex a genuine smile. "All right. Let me dress…"

"Really, Clark? I mean, you have to dress?" he drawled, but his expression was friendly, teasing and Clark didn't question whatever had gotten into Lex. If he wanted to treat Clark like…well, less like a six foot four dildo and more like a human being, Clark wasn't going to argue. Besides, he really liked a smile on Lex's mouth. It was…sexy.


They walked to Lex's bedroom, each sneaking glances at the other. Clark knew his smile was bordering on goofy, but he smiled couldn't stop, not the way Lex was smiling back. When they reached Lex's bedroom, he made short work of stripping and threw himself onto his giant bed. "Clark…" he crooked a finger and leered a comic mockery of a leer. Clark snorted and made short work of getting rid of his own clothes—still, he was a little disappointed that Lex was so quickly nude. He'd wanted to watch him reveal all that beautiful skin in a little less business-like fashion but then again, that's what this was all about. His smile came undone as he watched Lex catalogue every bit of his body, leer gone and lust in place. "Clark. You're…god, you're amazing. Just…miles of skin and muscle and…Jesus. Get over here."

Clark crossed the room, confident that he didn't have to hide how aroused Lex's scrutiny made him, how much he wanted to touch Lex back, and when Lex smiled and stretched, that wonderful smell seemed to fill the air. Clark shuddered and Lex's eyes went dark. He went to his hands and knees at the edge of the mattress and Lex hissed, "Yes, do that, crawl to me," and Clark did that, crawled to him, slow, head low and his back bowed. He looked up at Lex through the fringe of hair that fell forward to mask his eyes. Lex chuckled, it slid into Clark thick and sweet like honey. "Even crawling, you look more the predator than prey." Clark hesitated and Lex continued, saying, "I like that, you know. You being so full of power, so unpredictable…"

Clark smirked at that—and then felt a tiny sizzle of fear race through him. He'd left the bracelet back in his room; he had nothing to hide behind…

Lex rolled upwards and put his hand on Clark's face, traced the line of his lower lip. "I like seeing all that power contained because I control it. All of it." He tilted his head and stared into Clark's eyes. "Claude suspected, but he didn't know. I think I know what makes you you, Clark…."

"What do you—what—"

"Shhh. We'll talk about it later, some other time. Right now, I want you to tell me…" He leaned back against the stack of pillows nestled against the headboard, folded his arms behind his head and smiled. It wasn't the same smile he'd given Clark earlier. This smile had edges and hooks in it. "Tell me a story. Pick a client, pick one moment and tell me the story." He settled into the pillows, murmured, "Make this story better than the last one, Clark…."

In the space of a moment, all the warmth that had settled over Clark evaporated. He'd forgotten his place, but Lex had very kindly reminded him again just what this was all about. Clark sat back, pulled a smile from somewhere and fixed his eyes on Lex's cheekbones. "All right," he said. "A story." It hurt but he kept smiling though it. "Sure, I have story for you." He lowered himself on Lex, slotting their dicks together; he began a slow, rocking motion. He felt Lex begin to swell at the friction. "Once upon a time," he spoke into Lex's skin, his lips a shivering trace of feeling against Lex's pale, smooth chest. "Once upon a time there was a boy who, due to a tragic set of circumstances, ended up in Metropolis, mysterious city, the Big Apricot…"

"Mmm…yes…every good story starts with the hero in tragic circumstances …." Lex said and Clark thrust harder, angry for a moment but Lex just groaned and shuddered, lifted his hips to the added pressure. "and…then comes the journey to the promised land, right?"

Less of a promised land and more a direct drop into hell, Clark thought but murmured agreement with Lex anyway, and licked around his nipples, bit down and let Lex buck against him, gasp. He soothed the hot flesh with kisses, felt Lex's dick jerk against him.

"I—I don't want fairy tales Clark, I want sex—I want you to tell me what your johns did to you—" Lex yelped when Clark went down on him, Clark swallowed the precome that spurt into his mouth, pulled off slowly, trailing his tongue along Lex's shaft, let a string of precome spool out between his lip and the wet red head of Lex's dick before licking it off. Lex gasped and twitched, cursed under his breath. Clark went on, between each long lick upwards, gave Lex a bit more of his story….

"The first time I gave a blowjob, it was learn as you go. Before that, I was in love with the perfect girl…the idea of a perfect girl…She was beautiful, and I all I wanted was to be her boyfriend…that was all I wanted in the whole world. God, I really wanted that…" he said. Clark looked back, focused on Lex again, lips spit slick and shining and he was perfectly aware of how it looked, what effect it had on Lex. He'd practiced this look after all. "Yeah. But…we were talking about my first blow job." He stroked Lex, gripped him hard and slid his hand up until it bumped the crown of Lex's dick, rolled his thumb over the head, spreading more slick. He widened the slit, pressed down until precome seeped up, soaking Clark's thumb and the velvet smooth head. Clark bent and kissed it. Lex trembled.

"Fuck! Go on, Clark, go on…."

Clark kept jerking Lex and said, "I knelt in an alley behind a grocery store because I used to dive dumpsters there, slept behind them sometimes. This guy said he'd give me ten bucks to blow him and it been over a wee—a couple of days since I'd eaten so I said yes. He shoved his dick so far down my throat I threw up. Not much, my stomach was empty but the guy was pissed. He tried to beat me up—"

Lex had gone soft in Clark's hand; tried to push him off, but Clark wouldn't be stopped, not now.

"But he couldn't because. Because I can't be hurt. But I think you know that, don't you? And now I'm going to bed." He stood and Lex said "wait", but Clark brushed him off. "Lex, you want me to tell you stories about being on the street to get you off. It wasn't—there's not a single night I remember about it without wanting to throw up. There was never anything--hot about it. Sorry." Clark went to the door, his hand on the doorknob when Lex tried again to stop him. Clark brushed him off. "Shhh. We'll talk about it later, Lex, some other time," he said, parroting Lex's words. Right before he quietly closed the door on Lex he said, "I hope you liked the story."

They didn't talk, not the next morning, which of course Clark expected, but not for days and days after, and Clark thought in retrospect that he really should have expected it. He asked Cook what she thought about renting out Lex's half of the apartment. She just snorted and made him soup.

Lex ran a long way away, for a long time. Christmas passed with no sign of him, just a gift card in the mail with a ridiculous amount attached to it and nothing else. Clark refused to feel guilt or anger about Lex's flight. It wasn't his fault that Lex asked for one thing and couldn't handle getting another. He should have said he didn't want the truth. Clark would have come up with the same lies he told other clients. Instead of sitting in his room, definitely not feeling lonely and sorry for himself, he'd passed Christmas day having dinner with Cook and got the world's ugliest mittens from her, so ugly he couldn't bring himself to ask if she made them herself and instead kissed her on the cheek. She pushed him back, but Clark was pretty sure she'd smiled. He gave her a scarf from Lacey's that he was certain she'd probably never use. Still, it was the nicest Christmas he'd had since—a very long time. When New Year's Eve came, and still no sign of Lex, he spent the evening with Eric and they talked about everything but Lex.


They were in one of Eric's favorite restaurants, tucked into a corner, candles blazing away on the table, cozy and intimate. If he wasn't under contract, he'd make Eric take him back to his studio and fuck the man senseless out of sheer gratitude. They chatted pleasantly, about the latest gossip, Eric's new show--all society portraits that Clark couldn't wait to see. Knowing Eric, they'd have something unique and more than likely subtly twisted to say about each subject. Talk held through the appetizer and main course, and then dessert came. Clark set down his silverware and sighed. Eric raised his eyebrows—Clark felt his lip quirk. He was well aware how melodramatic a sound it had been, still—

"I don't think I can do this anymore. I…Maestro, I want to come home." He waved his hand, "God, I don’t know that the hell I'm saying—I don't even have a home to come home to, thanks to him."

"Oh my love, you can't—you won't. I know this is good for you, I promise it will be. You'll see."

"No, it's not, Eric! This is exactly like living with Claude would have been like, only Lex despises me. I feel like…" Clark threw his hand up, and almost yelled, "I feel like a whore. What?" he snapped at the people the next table over, whose heads had swiveled their way at Clark's tone—words—and snapped away at the rage in Clark's eyes.

Eric sighed, his blue eyes darkening for a moment. He reached out and cupped Clark's hand. He said, "I don’t know Clark. Maybe you're right. Would you like me to talk to him? Maybe I could—" he dropped Clark's hand and pulled a thin black book out of his jacket's inner pocket and Clark snorted. "Shut up," Eric said, "Paper's better." He tapped a thin silver pen against the page. "Let me see, I can make him have lunch with me on—"

Clark whipped the pen out of Eric's hand. "God no, please don't. I'm. I'm sorry; you don’t need to deal with my meltdown. I just have to hold on. Two more months, that's all. I'm just…lonely. You know?"

"Pretty boy…I wish I knew what to tell you. But it's going to get better. I really do think so. Now, eat your…pie, for god's sake, all the choices there are and you choose pie. I despair. So, Bruce came to the gallery…he asked about you. Sends his love."

Clark sighed, half relieved, half disappointed at the change of subject…"Tell him I miss him—I really do, you know. Under all that strange baggage, there's a really sweet guy."

"I always knew that, darling. He knows himself better now than he did before you and that makes him stronger. I will tell him you think of him fondly. You know—" he said, and studied the check.

Clark smiled at him, and stopped himself from reaching out and taking Eric's hand. "I know Maestro, and I miss you too."

When Clark came back to the apartment, he knew immediately Lex was there but he wasn't alone. There was a stranger sitting in the living room, a book cracked open and resting on his knee and a scotch—the top shelf scotch Lex kept for himself—in his hand. Clark could hear Lex in his bedroom, moving slowly about. He wondered if Lex had been annoyed, or angry disappointed that Clark hadn't been waiting for him. Clark turned back to the stranger; obviously he was someone Lex was close to, considering how comfortable he looked in Lex's space—more than comfortable, actually. More like he dominated the space. Clark narrowed his eyes at the man. He had a familiar look to him, as if they'd met before. Definitely not a client, Clark remembered the face of every single one of them.

Clark nodded and the gray-haired man set the glass down, fixed Clark with a steely look as intense and heated as a dragon's. "So, you must be Lex's paid companion," he said. There was amused contempt written all over the man's face, and suddenly Clark saw the resemblance, plain as day. Take away the long hair, pare years off…of course. Luthor the elder, had to be.

Clark gave the man a serene smile and said, "That would be me, paid companion. And you must be Lex's father."

The man's eyebrow rose and he looked Clark up and down. "That would be me, Lionel Luthor." He stood and tossed the book to the couch. He walked around Clark, body brushing against his, too deliberate for it to be anything like accidental. The thought rose that the man was scenting him….

"My son has good taste, at least." Lionel circled back to face Clark as he spoke and Clark imagined a wounded gazelle under the interested gaze of a lion—the gazelle being himself. He wasn't sure what his next step was, Lionel Luthor unnerved him nearly as much as Lex did. Clark blinked and found Lionel bare inches away, staring into his eyes. "I can see why it had to be this one, Lex. He really is very attractive."

Clark had been so caught up in studying Lionel studying him that he hadn't noticed Lex come into the room. Lionel's pointed attention turned from him to Lex. "I expect you at dinner—seven sharp. Come alone." He whirled and was gone before Clark drew a breath.

Lex stared at Clark, his lips in a thin bitter line. "What did he say to you?"

"Nothing. He just—nothing."

But Clark couldn't suppress a shudder, and knew that Lex noted it. Lex nodded and came around the couch to pick up the book his dad had been looking at, smoothed his hand over the cover like it was a ruffled bird. After a moment he said, "My dad wants me to take over a project of his. He's been pushing me towards it for a while. It would mean leaving Metropolis and I can't see how it would be worth it when he won't grant me complete control—make it mine in more than just name. It's just another cage…" he looked at Clark, and blinked, seemed to come back from a distance. He smiled and said, "But you don’t want to hear that." He walked towards the kitchen. "I'm sorry you had to eat alone again, but tomorrow, we could have breakfast, if you'd like?"

Clark was startled by Lex's abrupt change of mood. "I—all right, yes. I'd like that. Um. I didn't eat alone though. I had dinner with Eric."
"Clark. Need I remind you that you're exclusively contracted to me—"

"As impossible as it might seem to you, Lex, I don't fuck everything that breathes." Clark turned on his heel and stormed off to his room. The man was an idiot and—and so was he, Clark sighed. Here he was, running off to his room like a three year old. He should be immune to Lex's moods by now. He should have the script locked down, and not have to keep improvising to keep up with Lex's mercurial shifts in mood. He kept letting it get personal and he needed to remind himself above all that there was nothing personal about this, nothing at all—

A soft knock came at the door and Clark felt another sigh creeping up on him. Proof that Lex was an idiot and impossible and completely annoying—He opened his door and leaned against the jamb and stared at Lex. Lex held his hands up, palms to Clark, with a small and hopeful smile on his lips. "Yes?"

"I'm an idiot," Lex said, and Clark laughed.

"I hope you weren't expecting me to argue with you."

"Um…no, no…I'm sorry. Of course you have friends. Friend. And Eric is…he's a good person in his own way. And he's welcome, you know. You don't. You don't have to sit here all alone waiting on me."

"Oh, no, I'm not confusing this. I know what this is all about for y—for me. Us, I mean. This is." Lex stopped, closed his eyes and took a breath. "I'm going to dinner with my father." He opened his eyes again. "And you don't have to stay here by yourself."

"I'm good, Lex. I'm fine here; just…have a good dinner."

Lex laughed—a short sharp bitter thing that made Clark want to—to hug him, or pat his back, or fuck him senseless. Clark had a wild impulse to offer just that but before he could open his mouth, Lex was gone.


Winter faded into spring and Clark was afraid he was falling, deeper and deeper, as they continued their long, slow, dance. Clark had long since stopped lying to himself. It wasn't about a job anymore, not for him. And in the thick dark of night, when he was alone in his room—in the apartment—he admitted it never had been. Not from that first moment he'd glimpsed Lex at that ridiculous fundraiser, the taste of Bruce still in the back of his throat and wanting Lex so much. One touch, one note, one breath, and he'd been Lex's at that moment. It had been the best moment of his life, and the worst and it felt like it was killing him.

Clark wiped his eyes and laughed at himself. God, wasn't he the very worst kind of cliché? And no one to blame but himself. Lex had let him know, time after time, that Clark was no more than what he'd been when he landed on Lex's doorstep—the whore he'd hired. But…Clark wished that Lex wouldn't confuse him by talking to him, eating with him, treating him like a—a friend, before turning around and treating him like--Clark sighed. Like what he was.

"Hey," Lex called from the hall. "Feel like grabbing lunch with me? I've got a late meeting tonight and there's no way I'm going to hang out in the office all day."

What choice did he really have? Clark stood, scrubbed his face dry and shouted, "Free lunch--sounds good to me."

They ended up walking around the city while Lex tried to explain exactly what it was he did to make the kind of money to be able to afford—to--to buy a human being like other people bought toys— Clark's mind helpfully supplied the words that Lex would never say out loud.

Eventually, the talk turned to food, spurred on by a low roar issuing from Clark's middle. Lex grinned and steered them to a little diner tucked in between a pharmacy and a discount store. "This is the place Clark—you'll like it here." Clark hesitated and Lex shoved him towards the doors. "Don't worry, Clark, the food really is good, I can vouch for their Caesar salad at least—plus it's nice and private. No one I know would eat here," Lex said, grinned as he held the thick glass door open and ushered Clark inside.

Clark knew the food was good—plain, but tasty and lots of if. He knew all about the place. He'd eaten there a few times. It had been a treat he gave himself when he could afford a lot less than he could now. If a date brought him to this part of the city and if he was able afterwards, he'd head to this little diner to eat. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes. His favorite--the dish that sat in front of him now.

"Clark…how can you eat that stuff?" Lex asked, and picked at his own salad. "It's a big, lumpy, chunk of gray stuff, swimming in wobbly brown liquid and surrounded by gelled wallpaper paste…ugh." He crammed a forkful of red and green leaves into his mouth and shuddered. Clark wasn't sure if it was the lettuce or the meatloaf that brought that on. He grinned at Lex and decided to play along.

"I have to admit, I'm startled that you even know what wallpaper paste looks like," Clark said and forked up a huge mouthful of mashed potatoes. "I mean, the idea of you doing the physical labor of applying wallpaper."

"I'm not exactly a stranger to labor—ugh. You're making me sound like a cliché."

Clark smirked. "Here," he said. "Take a bite of this and then tell me what lousy taste I have." He held out a bit of meatloaf on the end of his fork, and watched Lex take a delicate bite; his lips peeled back as if he was about to eat a bit of human flesh. He chewed tentatively, carefully.

Clark spent the rest of the meal defending his plate, and ate half of Lex's salad to try and make up for the loss of his meatloaf. "It's not fair. I had a good, solid meal here and I end up eating someone's lawn."

Lex snorted. "Poor baby, you'll get over it, I'm sure. Come on," he said, "I'll buy you a hot dog on the way home, okay?"

Lex made good on his promise-- They caught a cab in front of the MetMuseum, and Clark sat in the back, enjoying a pretty good hotdog while Lex watched him with a little smile. He smiled back at Lex, and Lex surprised him by blushing. It had been a good afternoon. He'd felt like he was wanted—more than that, like Lex liked him for being him. Clark tried his best to be careful of himself, but he couldn't help but sink into the feeling. Clark refused to examine it too closely. Knew he was playing a fool's game. He was having a harder time reminding himself that all this was temporary. When Lex leaned over him and smiled into his face, when his eyes were dark and warm and more blue than grey, Clark knew he was losing the game.

One evening, after a day that must have been exceptionally rough, bad enough to keep Lex more or less silent during dinner, Lex walked into the kitchen where Clark was sitting with Cook. Clark and Cook exchanged glances when Lex hesitantly asked—not ordered-- if Clark would like to spend some time with him, catching Clark out—Lex had oddly never spoke about what this was in front of any staff. Cook gave Lex a shrewd look, and pursed her lips, glanced back at Clark. "I'll clean away the cups." She looked towards Lex and said, "If that's all, I'm leaving for the night," and Lex shrugged nonchalantly. Clark caught the faint blush staining Lex's cheeks—by the soft snort behind him, Clark figured Cook's sharp eyes had caught it too.

"If you wish, good night, then." Lex turned, walked out of the room and Clark hopped off the barstool and followed him.


In his room on the giant bed, he fucked Clark, slow and tortuous, until Clark was biting his arm to keep from screaming. It was as if Lex wove a web to capture him: scent, heat, touch, all woven together to drag him in, drag him down. Lex folded over Clark, mouthed at his shoulder, licking lazy loops on the curve of bone, making his skin pebble up with goose bumps and then bit down, grinding his teeth into Clark's shoulder. Clark gasped at the bright shock of pain, bucked up and threw his arms wide, the open bracelet clicked against the headboard. Lex moaned in his ear, huffed and Clark lifted his legs higher, changing the angle so that Lex was hitting his sweet spot every stroke in.

"Clark, Clark…" Lex hid his face in Clark's neck. "Tell me that you like it."


Lex threw his head back, his throat taut and working with the strain, and Clark felt him coming, a deep twitch inside, a ghost of warmth and then Lex fell forward, tumbling onto him in a boneless heap. A gasp that sounded like a sob breathed out against Clark's chest.

Clark quivered, his dick jerking under the friction Lex made by shivering through the aftershocks of his orgasm. He lay there, struggling to keep from moaning, begging Lex to bring him off. Clark pushed against Lex's shoulders, trying to get him to move and Lex growled, pushed back against Clark. He pressed one arm under Clark's chin. "Don't move." Reached his free hand between them, grabbed Clark's dick, tight. He started up in a rhythm become familiar to both of them—hard and fast and guaranteed to bring Clark to the edge almost instantly. Clark hated that Lex knew that much about him, knew also that Clark was powerless against it. It didn't take much more than seconds before Lex had him shouting, coming….

Clark waited until Lex rolled off and then stood; ready to leave for his room. He hesitated for an instant. Something had changed between the two of them, Clark was certain of it, certain that Lex would ask him not to leave. When Lex bit his lip and turned away, Clark dressed quickly, ignoring the tacky mess spread over his skin. He didn't glance back as he walked across the room, and he closed the door quietly behind him.

It didn't hurt. It was the job, a job, that's all. Clark could count on the fifty thousand dollars, a killer car and an upscale apartment. Just…not what he really wanted. Not Lex. Clark laughed out loud, slamming his head back against his suite door. He laughed even harder, "You're whining? About what, you idiot? You know a dozen guys who'd kill to be where you are right now. All you have to do is bend over, and…and…" Clark slumped. Slid down until he was sitting on the floor and staring at the big blank TV screen. "Take it."


"What do you want out of life, Clark?" Lex asked, his fingers tracing the line of hair that started in a diamond in the middle of Clark's chest, thinning as it worked its way down to his navel and then thickening around his dick. Lex seemed to be mesmerized by it, petting it and carding his fingers through it…it made Clark sleepy and relaxed, he murmured in pleasure as Lex scratched lightly around his dick. After a moment he remembered Lex asked him a question.

"Life…don't want anything," he said, and sunk back into his relaxed state. He couldn't miss the frown Lex made in response to his answer. "What?" Clark asked.

"You should want something, work towards something. It's—it's what makes us all humans after all, separates us from the beasts."

Clark laughed. "Are you calling me a beast?" he asked, and rolled on his side, half on Lex, half on the bed. He rumbled. "If I'm a beast, I'm a content beast. I don't want much—anything. I have everything I need and more than that."

Lex pushed Clark off. "Beast. You're a cat, a great big, tiger of a cat. I like it. I like it when you spread out on my balcony, soaking up the sun, I like it when you let me pet you…when you roll over and let me fuck you." He grinned at Clark. "Beast," he murmured, "I think it's story time."

Clark stiffened--it was like being hit with a bucket of ice water. Lex hadn't asked for something like that in a while. It usually signaled a return to business. Suddenly Lex broke the script, startling Clark. He laid his hand across Clark's mouth and said, "No, this is my story to tell," he whispered hoarsely. "When I was twelve, two things happened that broke me. My mother died, and my father sent me away. There were…other things that happened, things I won't talk about but those two things made me a different person then the one I was born to be."

Clark wanted to apologize, offer some kind of comfort but Lex laughed, soft, bitter, and kept speaking. "I spent the next four years at boarding school. The people you know—your clients, I went to school with them. I know those people; probably know what some of them want from you. I grew to be fast, fleet of foot—had to, to avoid a daily beating. Worse."

Clark shuddered, pretty sure what Lex wasn't saying and he wished he knew which of those over-privileged, over-rich assholes he'd fucked had hurt Lex like that…"I'm so sorry, Lex, so sorry…"

"I know, Clark." Lex said. "Eventually, Dad relented. Sent for me, and I went from having no friends to having one friend, one good friend—my dad's driver. He taught me how to defend myself. Things were different after that, I was different after that. Ray…" Lex laughed softly to himself. "Well, he wanted to help me."

Clark was quiet for long minutes, mulling over what Lex told him, and what he hadn't said. He gazed at Lex, his long, lean form stretched across the bed, arms folded over his stomach, and a look of peace on his face. Clark wondered how hard it had been for Lex to learn to assume that look…he reached over and took Lex's hand, laced their fingers together. He laid their joined hands on Lex's chest. He said, "My dad taught me to drive the tractor at nine. I liked it—I felt like I was growing up, and I wanted to be just like him, my dad. We planted pumpkins that year—it was my personal project." Clark laughed. "I made fifty dollars and I thought I was rich. I bought Christmas presents that year—the first time I didn't make them myself."

He grinned at Lex and Lex smiled back, squeezed their linked hands. Said, "That's my favorite story yet. Tell me another?"

Clark told Lex stories about his life before, talked until he hardly knew what he was saying. When he woke in the morning, Lex was leaning on an elbow, staring at him.

"Damn, I'm sorry, Lex—I didn't mean to, to fall asleep—"

Lex stopped him. "I'm glad you stayed. You always left. So I thought it was, you know, a limit…." He blushed slightly and Clark was stunned.

"I always left because I thought you wanted me to."

"You mean—I could have had this before?" Lex gasped.

Clark turned to his side, facing Lex. He rolled his eyes. "Oh my--yes, you idiot! You just had to ask—or tell me."

Lex huffed. "I'm sure I'm not paying you a butt load of money to insult me."

Clark smiled, satisfied. "You are, a little bit." He rolled to his back, pulling Lex with him. Lex settled on his chest like he'd been doing it every morning for forever. He laughed, loud and happy.

"Yes, I suppose I am."


Lex had yet to make good on a promise to take Clark to the Metropolis Museum, so one lovely afternoon Clark took himself, totally ignoring Lex's sputtering indignation when Clark called his office to tell him that. He smiled to himself, listening to Lex's dire threats slowly shift to Lex wishing him a good afternoon and recommending a good place for lunch…Clark knew the call would end like that—there was a possibility that Lex was incapable of refusing Clark much—not that Clark ever planned to use that power for anything but good. After all, it made Lex happy to make Clark happy. He disconnected with a smile, and took a moment to look up to the marble façade of MetMuseum. It was a beautiful building, built of stone and marble and polished bronze, vaguely reminiscent of a Greek temple, or some 19th century architect's idea of one. He'd imagined the museum must be magical when he'd only been a boy whose horizons stretched from the back forty to the railroad trestles at the edge of town. Clark took a deep breath, trotted up the stairs. He was still thinking about Lex, how he'd never have been able to concentrate on the exhibits if Lex had come with. There was nothing worth looking at besides Lex when he was in the room…Clark laughed. God, when had he turned into such a sap?


Clark wandered through the Egyptian exhibit, imaging in what dimly lit part of it he could have gone down on Lex, strolled through the reproduction French chapel, circa 1600, thinking that he could have secretly fucked him right behind the ancient stone pews….

He was just about at the point of declaring the visit a lost cause because all he could think of was Lex, Lex, Lex. Deciding to give it one more try, he took the wide stairway up to the Contemporary Art collection, specifically the gallery devoted to Metropolis born and bred artists.

Clark was standing in front of a canvas twice as wide as he was tall, and staring--hard. Squinted his eyes and stared some more. He looked at the guide book, and looked back up at the painting and wondered, just where were the cows that supposedly the painting was about? He tilted his head this way and that but the seemingly random streaks and splotches of paint refused to become cows. There was a dry cough behind him and Clark turned.

"Still wearing it, I see. Good. I'm touched."

"I…I don't wear it in remembrance of you. I wear it because it's part of the uniform. Claude." Clark inclined his head in greeting but truth to tell, he was less than pleased to see Claude here. His heart beat a little faster; his breath came a little quicker. He was almost horrified to realize that, while he wasn't exactly hard, it wouldn't take much.

"Clark…leave with me. Come have a drink, please. The museum restaurant is decent, nice enough to sit a bit and…talk." Claude moved closer. "It's safe, exposed…you don't have to worry about forgetting yourself."
"I don't know what you mean."

"Unless you want to—to lose control. You want to come with me, I can see it. Let me help you, let me make you beautiful again, Clark, let me take care of you." Claude's voice was low and smooth and hypnotic and Clark had no idea his eyes had closed, or that he swayed towards Claude, tongue sweeping over paper dry lips and his heart beating double time. His fingers twisted and turned the bracelet.

"Can't. I can't. Lex will—he has—exclusive contract. An exclusive contract for the year. I've got. Months yet. Months." He barely heard the words spill out of his mouth; he was so caught up in warring emotions. His heart wanted forever, wished for always having Lex, but he hadn't been fool enough to dream like that in a very, very long time. His body had been trained to want whatever Claude offered….

Claude leaned into Clark, the heat of his breath burning Clark's cheek. "Just. One. Glass. Nothing else. I promise you, Clark. Nothing you don't want."

Blood swept hot through Clark's body, filled his dick. He shuddered, remembering the pain, the pleasure—thoughts of pleasure brought a clear image of Lex to his mind, Lex's eyes, his mouth curved in a small, sardonic smile—Clark's eyes flew open. He straightened, pulled away from Claude and very clearly, firmly, said, "No. I'm very sorry. I told you once that I wouldn't be contracting with you again and I meant it. Good bye."

Claude stood aside without a word as Clark strode past him, holding his head high. He felt Claude's eyes on his back the entire way out of the gallery.


Change continued but slowly, still it was steady, constant and growing. Clark liked the direction it was headed, the way Lex talked to him—not just 'how was your day, what did you do, what's for dinner' but about what moved him, concerned him, puzzled him. Clark was altogether too happy to listen, and more than that, comment, critique, advise. And what was more amazing was this: Lex listened. Lex opened himself to Clark, and the more he did, the more Clark wanted to tell Lex, "Listen, this thing you think you know about me, well, here it is—I'm not really human anymore, haven't been for a long time, I'm not really sure how, or when, but one day I was an average fourteen year old kid and the next, some kind of…creature…that couldn't be hurt. Except by this one, weird thing."

It weighed him down, this desire to open himself to one other person, no—to Lex. But…there was something holding him back, something he didn't really understand. It wasn't Lex, it was himself. He just didn't know why.


"Listen; let's go out to dinner tonight." Lex dropped his briefcase next to the counter Clark was leaning against and snagged the apple Clark was about to take a bite from. He bit into the light green skin, and handed it back to Clark with a smirk when Clark grimaced.

"Let's talk about you eating breakfast first," Clark said and brushed him off when Lex went for his apple again. "Real breakfast, Cook made you an egg and I think, some toast." Clark bit right over where Lex had and smirked at him.

"Oh, fine—" Lex huffed, and wolfed down an egg and a slice of toast with ill grace, avoiding Cook's steely gaze. "There, are you two control freaks satisfied now?" Cook snorted and pushed a travel-mug of coffee towards him. Lex snatched it up, balanced mug and coat and briefcase and said, "So, Clark, do you think…dinner, maybe a movie?"

"I've got a better idea, let me cook for you."

Lex froze in the middle of trying to put his coat on without putting down mug and briefcase, turned his head to stare at Clark. Cook flinched away from the fridge and fixed Clark with a startled look. They both had a look of horrified fascination on their faces.

'Oh my god," Clark said, "It's not like you don't know I can cook, you know I can," he snapped and leveled a glare at Cook.

"Cheese sandwiches and tomato soup is not cooking." She did go on to grudgingly admit, "I suppose you make a decent fried chicken." Which Clark knew in Cook-speak meant that his chicken was only second to hers. He beamed when she whipped a short smile at him before donning the stone-face and sweeping out of the kitchen.

"What?" Clark laughed at Lex's expression of complete shock.

"She smiled at you--She never smiles at me! What the hell have you done to my cook?" Lex demanded. "And what if you give me food-poisoning?"

Lex." Clark rolled his eyes and nudged him towards the door. "Get the hell out and go to work, already."

Lex mock-glared at him. He hefted his briefcase and stalked out the door, breaking into a satisfied smile the minute he thought Clark couldn't see him, but Cook kept the stainless steel appliances gleaming like mirrors….


He set the table, and for laughs set it with the best linen, flowers, and candles. Delicate porcelain plates held cheese sandwiches but Clark thought Gruyere and parmesan, bacon and thin slices of yellow heirloom tomatoes would make them more appealing to Lex than just grilled white bread and orange American sort-of-cheese—anyway that's what he hoped. He'd just popped a Pino Gris he thought would go well with snooty grilled cheese sandwiches in the chiller when he heard the apartment door open. Clark whipped off the towel he was using as an apron and wiped his hands, quickly tossed it into the pantry and turned to face—excruciating pain. Pain so overwhelming he dropped in his tracks.

"Clark…you should have come when I asked. Remember when I said you were a pretty puzzle? Well…I've found some pieces…."


Clark felt dizzy, a little sick to his stomach. He couldn't remember what he'd eaten the night before—maybe it was one of Mom's forays into the world of gourmet cooking, those experiments of hers never seemed to work out very well for his stomach…he licked at sticky lips and opened his eyes, blinked a few times trying to bring things in focus. His bedroom looked weird, too dark and too big…"Mom?" He knew the minute he spoke that his mother was never coming for him again—for a brief, blazing second, he felt the grief all over again before he was in the here and now. He became aware of dull pain pounding at the bridge of his nose, a mallet between the eyes. His vision cleared, sharpened. He knew where he was, he recognized this place. He didn't know whether to laugh, or to scream.

He was naked; he was lying on a hard bed, held in the restraints at the head and foot of it. For a moment he thought he was lost in a memory. There was something painful strapped around his neck, and he felt so very, very tired, too tired to move.


"Welcome home, Clark." Clark jerked towards the sound of Claude's voice. Claude strolled out of the shadows, a small smile pulling the corners of his mouth tight. He was carrying a dark grey box. "Since your defection, I've thought about you and your gift, and I wondered…was it possible the creation of a thing as amazing as you happened only once? Well, it didn't seem likely, I thought. So, I gathered what information I was sure of and began looking for anything that pointed back to you. You were too easy to find but nothing in your history was interesting…if there was anything important about you that stood out it was—" Claude waved his hands, "spirited away. So if I couldn't find clues in your history, then the next step was to discover anything unique to you. And that would be--" He stroked what Clark had realized was a collar strapped around his neck, tapped at something attached to it. "--this. This crystal is unlike anything anyone's ever seen. It looks ordinary enough. Ugly in its natural state, but polished, and worn by you…it becomes a thing of beauty, as if its true nature is revealed just by being close to you." He held up a knife, the edge of which glowed faintly green, twirled it in his fingers. "We know a bit about it, what it can do, don't we? And no one noticed, not any other of your clients, not even your dear friend Eric. Well, Eric isn't exactly a contemplative sort, is he?"

Clark watched the knife twirl in Claude's fingers. "It's just a stone, it's not important," Clark started and Claude laughed.

"There are few places on earth where this unimportant crystal can be found, at least in amounts that make it noticeable. A few places in Russia, in France and in the United States—Smallville, Kansas, to be precise. Your birthplace, Clark." He walked closer. "In our too short time together, I noticed things. That you healed so very fast from wounds that I don't think you even knew you weren't supposed to heal from. At least, not the way you did." He tapped the stone set in the collar, traced his fingers down Clark's chest. "I enjoyed that part of our relationship. It was good for you, and good for me." Claude lifted the crystal knife.

"No," Clark shouted, "don't—" and screamed. The pain in his chest was a white-hot spear, radiating outwards from the point the knife plunged in. Blood spurt, flowed over his skin, flooded the table. Clark dropped into a deep well of pain and then came the abrupt cessation of agony, so sudden and complete, it was almost as shattering as the pain had been. The underlying constant ache he'd woken up with was all he felt….

Claude leaned into Clark's face. He whispered, "The knife's shut up in the metal box. All you're feeling now is the stone on the collar…" He ran his hand over Clark's rapidly healing chest, down his stomach, stroked over his dick. "Did you know that lead, apparently, blocks the effects of this stone?" He took in Clark's blank look. "You didn't, did you? It was coincidence you'd chosen this particular metal? Fortuitous. Or…fate." He smiled at Clark. "Tell me, Clark, did you know you couldn't die?"

Clark shook his head, "No, no, I—I'm just a guy, just—"

"Not human, sorry to say." Claude said. "Not anymore—but you must have suspected that. What I did learn about Smallville and the people who lived there was this thing, this stone, mutates you, takes what makes you human away. And that leads to the end of your story Clark. You're mine now, completely. I could argue that since you're not human, you have even less rights, less value, than a whore. You're in my hands Clark. You're a thing I own. And I don't give my things up easily."

Clark dropped his head to the table top, the room around him shimmering and fading. Was this really happening? What was Claude thinking? If he could make Claude see that this was crazy, if he could just get Claude to listen, he'd realize…Clark would offer to break his contract with Lex, or get Eric to talk to Claude, yeah, Eric would fix it. He groaned and jerked against the restraints. A full body cramp swept him, stronger than his normal reaction to the crystal. He twisted his head to the side and saw Claude smiling at him, the open box in his hands. He set the box down at the foot of the bed, reached inside the box and held up a sparkling green razor. "This stone is remarkable. The way it can be shaped, the way it holds an edge…let's try this one. I've always preferred a razor over a knife."

"Oh god, no. Claude, you don't understand—I don't understand."

"Please, Clark, don't worry. I'll help you. I'll make it all clear to you."


Clark wasn't sure if his eyes were open or not. He was afraid to check. There was no part of him that didn't hurt, and hurt was a weak word to describe what Claude had made him feel. Claude…Clark's head spun, his stomach clenched. He felt his skin knit up again, a feeling that had become familiar to him for the last day or two. He thought about Lex, wanted him near. Thought about Eric, was terrified Eric would blame himself. It was no one's fault. No, it was his own fault.

Claude had finally made him understand. He understood how worthless sacrificing himself for the guilt he felt over his parents had been. He'd wasted his life, wasted this gift Claude insisted he had. He could have been doing…god, something his parents would have been proud of, something good and worthy of Jonathan Kent's name. His life had been empty and wrong but more than that, selfish, and this year with Lex, more selfish still. Tears leaked out from under Clark's tightly shut eyelids, running pink over his pale cheeks. A waste, a waste…why hadn't anyone told him? Why hadn't anyone cared enough? "…why didn't anyone care?"

"I care, Clark. Trust me; I care enough for both of us." Claude leaned over him, stroking his cheek with a small triangular-bladed knife. "Your home town has changed, you know. They rebuilt most of it. And most of the people stayed, some against their will. A girl who lived on the fat of others, a boy who stole heat for his own, one could change shape to whoever you wanted, one who lives in a bubble of time…your Lex knows some of this. He would have found out about you sooner or later and put you in a cage, just like the mutants. I saved you from that—"

Clark jerked, and felt the skin over his cheekbone split and fire rush up his nerves. "No."

"You keep saying no, but it's all true. More or less. Lex is, uhm, let's call it in thrall--to his father. Lionel Luthor has Smallville in his bony claw of a fist. He knows. Not about you, never about you, I'll keep you. I love you. Lex never will, he just wants your cock, your mouth…I want your soul." He laid down the knife and picked the razor up again. "Ready for more truth?"

The razor cut through the air and Clark wished that Claude would just let him die, he should have made Claude kill him long ago, he should have, he—

There was a small sound, a click like a lock coming undone and Clark held his breath. There was something, something soothing in the air, Claude had just begun to turn towards that small sound. Before he completed the turn his eyes opened impossibly wide, he sighed around a mouthful of blood and dropped out of Clark's sight. Clark went wild fighting against the restraints, Claude's death reawakening a desire to live--a warm hand landed on his chest, tugged at his throat and the collar was gone, along with most of the pain.

"Clark, oh, I knew you didn't leave. I knew you wouldn't, not like that…Clark?" Clark opened his eyes, blinking to clear them and warm liquid fell on his cheek, his neck, burning the open wounds but Clark took it, he wanted it, it was cleansing him, releasing him from Claude, Lex's tears were cleaning him. He didn't know he was babbling all that out loud until Lex shushed him.

"Stop, you make me sound like a saint, and God knows there's nothing saint-like about me. Be still, all right, quiet now, let me get you loose—no, let me move this shit away from you." Lex swept the collar and tools into the lead box and pitched the box across the room, with a curse. Clark took a deep breath and ripped the cuffs away from the table, ripped them off his wrists and feet. He leaped off the table, stood heaving great breaths in and out. He felt ready to snap, must look it, judging by the wide-eyed look Lex gave him. Lex stepped back a few paces and Clark felt a twinge of sadness at that but then…he felt a boiling wave of anger sweep through him—he turned and raised his fists and battered the table into a million, million splinters.

When he was done, Lex wrapped a hand around Clark's wrist and squeezed. It pierced Clark's heart in a not altogether bad way how Lex worked to keep his smile warm and confident even as his hands shook, wrapping a blanket around Clark's shoulders. "Let's get out of here."


"Is very, very dead. And in a few minutes, there's going to be an explosion and fire that will destroy this place, in fact, as soon as we leave. It will be someone else's problem after that."

Clark blinked, just noticing the buzz of activity around him, men dressed like Satan's swat team were going through Claude's things, ripping out pieces of equipment, boxing things up—it reminded Clark of an anthill after the stick. "You killed him."

Lex shrugged. "He would have killed you. Or worse. I can't feel sorry for that."

Clark stared at Claude and after a while, he shook his head. "You can't do that. Ever again. No matter what."

"What the fuck, you're a boy scout all of a sudden?"

Lex stared at Clark, defiance in his eyes, daring Clark to argue. Clark shook his head, fought off a shudder. "Let's just—let's just leave."

As they got to the street, the building, a warehouse supposedly in the process of rehab, burst into flames. "Gas main," Lex tsked, "Old buildings, poor wiring, uncertain pipes…shame, but it happens." Clark looked at Lex, not entirely certain what to think, after what Claude had said, after everything.

Lex took his elbow and said, "I came for you, Clark. There was nothing else I could do, I couldn't—I had to come." Clark closed his eyes and as soon as his eyes were closed, Lex said, "I love you Clark," and Clark let the dark roll over him.


As per usual after an emotional upheaval, Lex disappeared. No surprise to Clark of course, it's what he had expected. He appreciated the chance to breathe and think a little himself, but in the end he really only had one choice. He generously gave Lex a few more days. When Clark was sure Lex had had sufficient time to get over the shock of having told Clark he loved him, Clark went after him.

He took his time getting dressed, for fun chose the suit he'd worn to come and give Lex lunch-time head all those months ago. This time he breezed through Lexcorp's lobby, met every curious eye with a huge smile, and got a few tentative smiles in return. He knew exactly what they were thinking--Clark wouldn't be the first whore to move up the ladder and it never hurt to curry a little favor, just in case...

Lex's secretary didn't get a chance to say anything before Clark breezed past her with a smirk and a cheery wave and let himself into Lex's office.

Lex looked up, startled. "Clark! You have to—just--go back to the apartment, please. I'll be there tonight. I'll talk to you then, promise."

Clark shook his head and shut the doors to Lex's office. "That's not going to work for me."

"What? Why—do you not get the part that says I'm the boss here? That I am in fact the boss of you? That means you're supposed to do what I say." He threw his hands up, "Is there ever going to be a time that's going to happen?" he growled, frustration coloring his words.

"No," Clark shrugged, "and anyway, I do everything you say. Except of course the stupid things." He took off the jacket and the tie, unbuttoned the collar of the shirt, kicked off his shoes and dropped onto the couch, stocking feet crossed over each other. He snagged a magazine and gave Lex a look. Lifted one eyebrow in a move he'd stolen from Eric and said, "Go. Work."

Lex stared at him, his mouth working in a way that reminded Clark of guppies. He glared, tried to smother a grin--Clark thought it was cute that Lex thought he could hide that from him. "Slave driver," Lex said and Clark snorted, opened the magazine and ignored Lex. He heard Lex walk back to his desk, and didn't miss his rather satisfied little sigh. Clark smiled to himself.

After a quiet hour, Clark figured it was time. "Lex," he said, "I think it's better if we talk now, before we go home."

Lex jerked a little guiltily and flushed, his cheeks going a hot pink. He stood, walked away from the desk, his arms hanging awkwardly at his sides, his mouth working. He jammed his fists into his pockets and tried again. "So. I know—I knew, but not about you. I suspected but kept it to myself because…I was afraid my dad would find you and then this, this would be over. And I couldn't live with that—without you." He shrugged. "I've decided to take my dad's project over, like he's been hounding me to. It's the only way to protect those poor fucked up creatures--"

"People, Lex. Like me."

"I know that, Clark. I know they're people, I know that what’s happened to them isn't their fault but Clark—they're not like you. Unless you're going to change and I don’t think you are, you're unique in not hurting anyone else. Clark, the only person you've hurt since you were infected or mutated is yourself. I wonder…" Lex sighed, went back around his desk. "Now, that means I'm going to have to move to Smallville, which is pretty much the asscrack of the world, so I thought we should renegotiate our contract—"

"What? You want to what?"

"Change the terms of our contract." He lifted a folder from the desk. "Now I've changed some aspects to make up for moving —"

"No. I want to break the contract now. I want out." Clark felt a stab of guilt at Lex's stricken expression, the way he went bright red and then moon pale.

"I-I--" Lex babbled, "--but why? I thought, I want—"

"You're completely blind. You love me. I love you. I want to be with you, but not as your toy, I want to be with you as lovers, friends, people who want to be together. Always. Idiot."

"Clark, will you come with me to Smallville?"

Clark looked at Lex thoughtfully. "Well, I've been thinking—I want to finish school, and maybe college, and discover what it is I want to do with the rest of my life…" Clark finished a little doubtfully because maybe Lex didn't want a lover; maybe he only ever had wanted a whore….

Lex looked like Clark had stabbed him—and then pulled a smile out of someplace that must have hurt him. Clark couldn't stand it; he flew to Lex and wrapped him up in his long arms. "Lex, not now, okay. But someday soon, I want to get back some of the life I wasted. I was lost for so long, and—and—I just want to find myself again." He leaned back to look at Lex, curled a hand behind Lex's neck and coaxed him closer. Clark whispered into Lex's cheek, "In case you're not sure, that means yes, I want to go with you, yes, I want you. No contract, no terms—I just need to be with you."

Lex swallowed hard. "Thank you. I would love to be a part of your new life. I want to watch you grow into your own man, Clark. I need to see that."

"All right then. First, Smallville and then—the world." Clark rested his chin Lex's shoulder and closed his eyes, lost in everything that made Lex, Lex. He heard Lex laugh, and sighed. He wasn't as lost as he had been. He felt like he'd finally found a place to call home.