Lex is only trying to get your attention. You see that now. Maybe in some way you've always known it. It annoys you anyway.
Because you really don't enjoy seeing him hanging by one arm from a helicopter as a vicious bunch of thugs tries to make its escape and nearly sends him plummeting into oblivion in the process.
You're not even certain what he's doing in the company of Maldivian gunrunners. But then, you couldn't explain the Paraguayan money launderers either or that drug cartel run through, of all things, the Kiwanis Club. Never mind the bizarre cult that worshipped Beanie Babies and started pulling armed robberies to raise enough cash to get the really rare ones on eBay. Lex never appears to be in collusion with any of these criminals. In fact, he seems to be trying to help you. He's just not very good at it.
You swoop in, grab Lex, ground the helicopter, secure the bad guys for the police, the usual.
Lex never seems surprised when you show up to save him, never clings to rescue the way other people do. He doesn't flail or grapple at the fabric of your suit or hold on so tight that even you feel it. He just kind of lounges against you, like being flown free of danger in your alien arms is his due, an exotic taxi ride he's bought and paid for.
You find this irritating too, this demented sense of privilege.
Once, after you'd saved him from Liberian ivory poachers, there was a bomb scare that urgently needed your attention. You had to leave him on the outskirts of town, but in a perfectly safe neighborhood, at a gas station no less, where he could call his limo driver. The next time you saw him, after fighting off a serial arsonist who was trying to set him on fire, he complained about it.
This time, when you land on the roof of the LexCorp building, you put him down less gently than you might someone else.
"So you want to tell me what that was all about?" you ask, arms crossed impatiently over your chest.
He brushes dust from his otherwise impeccable jacket. Everything bothers you today. You want him to be more rumpled than he is.
"I would have thought that was obvious. They were resisting my citizen's arrest."
You stare at him. You know that he tries very hard not to be his father, and you have to wonder if the strain is possibly starting to drive him insane.
"Is something wrong?" he asks, as if he can't imagine what would be.
"Yeah. Could you stop doing stupid shit for just one day?"
You glare at him for good measure. This works on other people.
Lex only smiles. "I didn't realize Superman cursed."
His eyes are bright and silvery the way they always are when he's amused. Their color changes often, and you know what each individual shade means.
Today, his amusement infuriates you like it never has before. Probably because Lex was so recently dangling a few thousand feet above certain, ugly death. Or perhaps it's simply that he looks so fucking smug right now, like he doesn't even realize he can shatter into a million messy pieces and no one, no matter how superhuman, could ever put him back together again.
Whatever the reason, you just want to wipe that smile off his face. You briefly consider your options. Shaking him until he snaps out of this delusion of invulnerability he's somehow fallen into. Or holding him over the ledge of the building by the sleeve of his three thousand dollar suit, with a spiteful: There! How do you like it now?
You settle for pushing him against the wall and covering his body with yours. You could pound him into the rough bricks, make the whole building crumble around the both of you. Instead, you kiss him. He opens his mouth beneath yours, and that startles you. But you don't need to breathe the way he does, and this little advantage turns the tables back again. By the time you pull away, he is panting and shaking.
You gather his face in your hands. "Don't you fucking dare get yourself killed."
You fly away before he can do or say anything. You especially avoid his eyes. You just don't want to know.
The next day, you look up from your piece on Superman's latest exploits, from which you are carefully omitting any reference to eccentric billionaires, only to spot Lex strolling through the newsroom. Your colleagues pay no attention as he passes their desks. They know better than to ask for a quote when he's come to see you. Even Lois rarely harangues him anymore.
He smiles. "Clark."
He shakes his head. "Nothing much."
Lex balances on the edge of your desk and swings his leg like a hyperactive grade-schooler. He picks up your stapler and paperclip holder and that embarrassing "Ace Reporter!" paperweight your mother gave you. He examines each thing as if he's never seen it before and puts it all back in the wrong place, like he always does. You would never guess that just yesterday he came very close to redecorating Elm Street with his insides. But then, you're not supposed to know. All of that is between him and Superman.
"So how about lunch?" he says. "I'm buying."
Lex winces at the mention of your favorite greasy spoon.
He sighs. "Okay."
You beam at him. You just can't help yourself.
In the elevator, his cell phone rings. He fumbles for it in his pocket and purses his lips as he checks the number to see if it's someone he really needs to talk to. That brings back stray bits of sense memory: the clean, warm scent of his skin when you pressed your face against his neck, the feel of his mouth on yours, the way he leaned in to your touch. You try not to break into a sweat. You force yourself to push away the thought of how close he is, how easy it would be to kiss him again. You are Clark now, no blue suit, no right to know that Lex tastes as dark and sweet as plums.
When he looks up, you are smiling like his friend.
At lunch, he is the one who's distracted. He doesn't even complain that there are no vegetables on the menu or make a face when your cheeseburger deluxe arrives.
"Hey," you say to get his attention.
"Hey," he says back, his eyes turning that warm, fond charcoal color you like to see.
"Something's on your mind."
He nods. "There's something I need to tell you."
Lex nods. "It's a secret I've kept too long."
"What?" you ask, prepared for a long, colorful tale about Peruvian emerald smugglers.
You stare. "Huh?"
You start to choke on a French fry.
"Look, Clark, I know this is kind of abrupt. But it looks like I may be getting involved with someone rather high profile, and I wanted you to hear about it from me. Not just read about it if it ends up in the papers."
It's not as if you're surprised. It's not as if you didn't know. You're just not used to him being this direct.
"Friends really shouldn't find out things in random ways," Lex says.
"No. No. Of course not. Thanks for telling me."
"I've wanted to for a long time. I just didn't think I could. You know how that is, don't you, Clark?"
"Is there anything you want to tell me?"
"Whoever this guy is he's really lucky?"
Lex smiles, but doesn't quite look satisfied.
The next time you see him, Lex is being held at gunpoint by a band of severely demented survivalists. After you save his life, you whisk him off to a private spot and yell.
"What the fuck?"
He blinks. "What?"
"We discussed this."
He shrugs. "I guess if you really want me to stop doing stupid shit you're just going to have to make me."
If you weren't Clark too, you might not understand this, not fully, not with absolute certainty. But you are. So you kiss Lex hard enough to leave bruises. Because you want him so violently. And he has just scared the shit out of you yet again. And you don't care if you are supposed to be the ultimate Boy Scout.
Lex doesn't seem to mind. In fact, he's already hard. So are you.
When he does finally pull away, it's only to say, "Not here. My place."
His penthouse has a convenient balcony for landing. You blur both of you out of your clothes and into the bedroom. He lands on his back on the mattress. He's breathing so heavily you can see his ribs moving up and down. You want to do very, very imaginative things to him.
It has never occurred to you before how handy your abilities might be in bed. So once you start, you go a little overboard. But who could possibly blame you? Superman's never had sex before.
Besides, your powers totally turn Lex on. He gets harder when you use the super speed and when you float him into the air while you're blowing him. He even likes it when you flash your x-ray vision over his skin because his bones fascinate you, although you have no idea how he knows what you're up to. It's not one of your more obvious tricks. But when you do it, Lex gasps your name like nothing has ever been more erotic.
Well, not your name, but still—
You both come again and again, too many times to count. By the end, even you are kind of tired. When you finally leave, Lex is lying boneless on the bed, like a used up rag doll. He smiles softly as you struggle to get your sticky self back into the suit. His eyes are dark shipwrecked seas.
You've seen that before. You just never dreamed you'd be the cause of it.
On Saturday, you go to the baseball game with him. This is something you do often. You both love the team, and he has season tickets. Lex wears jeans and a baseball cap, because you once teased him that he was allergic to casual wear. He jiggles his leg beside you and keeps score in fits and starts and heckles the Rockets starting pitcher who does not have his best stuff today. Lex is a vicious fan.
And the thing is—you've had sex with him. More than once. Only not, somehow.
Because it's like you're two different people, you and Superman. And you're not the one Lex begged to suck his cock. You don't even know that Lex, the one who clawed at Superman's back and screamed for more and bucked up like a wild animal when he came.
The Rockets third baseman starts a triple play, one of those rare things that people tell their grandchildren about.
"Fuck. Did you see that, Clark?"
"Mmm." You really couldn't care less.
"How do you even score that?" He scribbles something on his card.
You clear your throat. "So—"
"This, uh—high profile guy—"
That gets his attention. "Yeah?"
"What's, um, happening with that?"
He shrugs. "Too soon to tell."
You blink. You can't believe he's not going to confide in you. It doesn't matter that you already know all the details. You feel as if he's putting someone else before you, even if it is, well…you. You feel closed out of his life.
"Really?" you say, giving him another chance.
He nods. "Yeah." And starts to hector the umpire after a questionable call.
You sit through the rest of the game with this terrible clench in your chest. You're beginning to think you could really hate Superman.
You know you should just stop having sex with him, but you keep thinking that maybe next time it will actually feel like you. Only it never does. You try to tell yourself that at least it's keeping him out of trouble. Since you've been paying regular visits to the penthouse, there have been no knife-wielding maniacs, no gun-toting gangs. You're glad for that. But every time you touch him, he just seems farther and farther away.
You try not to obsess about it too much, or at least not all the time. This is important to your sanity.
It is also important to your job. You do need to concentrate on what you're doing at least occasionally. You're working on an editorial for the morning edition. About what else? Everyone's favorite last son of Krypton. It's supposed to be a reward for all those "exclusives" you keep getting on Superman's amazing adventures.
You're trying to focus on the flow of your copy, but images from the last time with Lex keep intruding. That vicious look of victory he got when you begged him to fuck you. How he spread his legs so wide, like every kind of wantonness, when you went down on him. The way he panted "God, Superman" without even a hint of irony.
That old schizophrenic jealousy rears its ugly head again. In the middle of a sentence, you suddenly veer off. Go on a tirade about interfering aliens. And how maybe superhuman powers upset some important balance. And what does he do to his hair anyway? The editorials manager must have heard one too many fluttering sighs from his girlfriend over Superman's blue eyes, because the next morning, there it is, in print.
The fact that your eyes are green only adds to your growing conviction that Superman has very little to do with you.
The rest of the day, people in the newsroom look at you strangely and give your desk a wide berth. Lois, on the other hand, glares openly.
"How could you?" she demands.
"So?" She actually spits when she says it. Just a little. But spit, nonetheless.
It's less entertaining when your mother calls.
"Honey?" Her voice crackles over the staticky line, but her concern is perfectly clear.
You sigh and hope she doesn't hear. "Hi, Mom. How are you?"
"I'm fine, sweetie. I just—um—is anything going on that maybe we should talk about?"
"No. Not all." You try to sound breezy. "Why do you ask?"
"Well, I just finished your article in today's paper. And it seemed a bit—are you sure nothing's wrong?"
Of course, there's something wrong, you want to say. Superman is fucking my best friend.
But you don't say it. It would only alarm your mother, in so many ways.
You sigh again. "I just—sometimes, it helps to keep up the illusion. If I don't seem like I'm too close to—you know."
"Oh. Okay. That's pretty much what your father—he figured it must be something like that. As long as everything's fine."
"Well, all right then. I love you."
"Love you too, Mom."
When you hang up, you think spitefully: See? She's my mother, calling to check on me. Superman doesn't even have a phone.
It's a petty little triumph, but it gives you enough momentum to survive the hard, middle hours of the day. Until Lex shows up, and then it's as if you've hit a brick wall. Or a Kryptonite one. Or something.
Great, you think with unaccustomed bitterness. He's here to defend his boyfriend.
"Hey, Clark," he says.
"Lex." You refuse to meet his eye.
"Got a minute? Maybe we could take a walk?"
You already feel as if you've spent the entire day sighing, but you do it one more time. "Sure. Why not?"
Outside, you curl your hands into fists in your pockets and wait for Lex to pick a direction. He heads toward the park.
"So, I just wanted to ask—is anything wrong, Clark?"
You roll your eyes. It seems to be the question of the day.
"Gee, Lex. What could possibly be wrong?"
He frowns. "I don't know. That's why I'm asking."
"Everything's fine. Just super duper."
You know how stupid you sound. Bitterness really doesn't suit you.
Lex stops you with his hand on your arm and looks hard into your face. His eyes are light gray, the familiar shade of curiosity.
"Super duper, huh?"
"What do you want me to say?" you ask tiredly.
"I don't know, Clark. It just seems like there is something you're trying to tell me."
"You're right, actually. There is. I need to get back to work. I'll see you."
You walk away. You don't have to see his face to know how he looks, that hard-agate stare when he doesn't get what he wants.
Later at home, after you've languished on the couch miserably flipping channels longer than anyone really should, you think about going to him. It would be so easy. You could be there before you even blink. You could have him naked and on his back before he even realizes what's happening. You could take him, while you're wearing the cape and nothing else. God. He'd love that. You could bury yourself so deep in his hot, sweet body that you'd practically own him. You've done every other imaginable thing to him, just not this. But you could. You could make him beg.
But he'd be begging the wrong person, and that's just…more wrong than you can stand.
You do go, finally, but not the easy way. When the butler shows you in to the study at the penthouse, Lex looks startled, just for a moment.
"I'm not who you were expecting," you say darkly.
There's just the faintest quirk to his lips. "I figured it was pretty much a toss up. But I'm glad it's you."
He frowns. "What do you mean?"
"You're fucking him."
"What does he have that I don't?"
Lex doesn't even try to hide his surprise. Then his expression turns very serious. "Nothing, Clark. Nothing at all."
"Then why him?"
"Because he was there, and he wanted to."
"I want to."
"But you won't."
So you do. Lex's mouth opens beneath yours, letting you inside, just the way he did the first time. Only it's nothing like it was on the rooftop. There is no blue suit in the way, no disturbing sense of being strangers. He is the best friend you've ever had, and that's exactly how you kiss him.
"I want you to think about me," you say against his mouth.
"I do. I have. Always."
"That's so good," you murmur, pulling away, falling to your knees.
"Clark," he gasps.
Your hands shake as you open his pants.
"Say it again. Say my name."
"Clark, Clark," he moans, his hands moving in your hair.
It shouldn't be this overwhelming. It's not as if you've never sucked him before. And yet, as you take his cock into your mouth, that's exactly how it feels. You don't use any of the superpower trickery you were so determined to dazzle him with before. This time, you are simply Clark, and you give him what you really have to offer, passionate, ordinary devotion.
"God, Clark. Please. Please."
Lex sounds dazed and urgent and so damned good now that he's begging the right person.
Even after he comes, you can't bring yourself to let go of him. You wrap your arms around his waist, press a kiss to the soft skin of his belly.
"I love you," you whisper against his hipbone.
Then Lex's hands are frenzied, grappling at your shoulders.
"Clark." He's trying to tug you to your feet. "Get up here. Now."
You do, and Lex takes your mouth in a greedy kiss. He wraps himself around you like he wants to climb inside your skin, something he never did with Superman, no matter how frenzied he ever got. You know it's a serious sign of psychosis, but you can't help thinking: Take that, Man of Steel.
You are dimly aware that anyone could walk in, so you hustle Lex off to the bedroom. No flying. No super speed. No abracadabra of any kind, not this time. You rely, instead, on the simple urgency of lust to get him out of his clothes and into bed.
He is so heartbreakingly beautiful, naked and eager, just for you. It's like you've never seen him this way before, never touched him. You put your hands territorially all over him. And you think maybe this psychotic break you seem to be having with your alter ego isn't such a bad thing, not if it means you get to have two first times with the only person you've ever really loved.
"God, I want you, Clark."
Lex's eyes are eclipses, all bottomlessly dark at the centers, with just a halo of hot, bright at the edges. You've never, ever seen him like this.
"Don't make me wait," he pleads.
But you do, because you want to kiss him, touch him, a lot. And you have to throw everything out of his bedside drawer looking for what you need. And then you spend a good, long time getting him ready, because you are Clark now and there will only be one first time for this.
By the time you roll him onto his side and curve along his back, "please" is the only word he seems to know. When you enter him, he cries out your name and keeps saying it, the whole time, like it's an answer, like you're everything.
You don't ever want it to end, but there are some things about you that aren't superhuman.
Afterwards, you don't move, barely even breathe, just so you can keep the connection, stay inside him as long as possible, because he's yours. Yours. For once, he doesn't fidget, as if he understands, as if he's letting you savor your possessive triumph. He rests in your embrace and runs his hands affectionately up and down your forearms. You hear him sigh, and you think that this, finally, is what happiness sounds like.
You hold him tighter, and he kisses the triangle of your hand, just below your thumb. You feel his smile on your skin.
"You know, Clark, all I wanted was for you to finally admit the obvious. I wasn't trying to give you multiple personality disorder."
It takes a moment for that to sink in, and then you are desperately untangling your bodies. You have watched his eyes so carefully. Never once did you see that telltale, calculating quicksilver in them. It isn't fair.
"Clark!" He tries to pull you back down to him. "Don't."
Lex hooks his legs around yours. You can't imagine why he bothers. He knows, and he can't make you stay.
"Come on. Be fair," he says. "I gave you every chance to tell me, and you wouldn't. So I had to do something. "
He wraps his arms around your neck. Now he clings.
"So what? That makes it okay to screw with me? To put your life in danger? Over and over again?"
"If that's what it took."
"God damn it, Lex—"
"I've already waited forever. I couldn't wait anymore."
"You could have died. What could possibly be worth that?"
"You are." He runs his fingers over your face. "I love you, Clark. You have to know that. I've always loved you." He pulls you closer, so he can whisper in your ear. "All of you."
That makes you go perfectly still. It's not that you approve of his methods, and there will always be a picture of him hanging precariously from that helicopter burned on your retinas. But something in you feels healed, too. Because there has never been any Clark versus Superman for Lex. There has only ever been you.
You sigh and smooth one hand over his head, touching his bones, wishing you could feel the shapes of his thoughts. It would make things so much simpler.
"What if I hadn't been able to get to you in time?"
"But you did."
"You're never going to stop doing stupid shit, are you?"
Lex grins. "Probably not. Is that going to be a problem?"
You kiss him while you consider the answer.
When you finally pull back, "No. I guess not."
After all, you're pretty sure the crazy-dangerous shit has just been some weird courtship ritual. From now on, you're going to insist that any other stupid stuff he feels the need to do be confined to the privacy of the bedroom. You figure Lex can learn to live with that.
You know you can.