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Gene Therapy

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Gene Therapy

by Lady Ra

NOTES: This happens when Clark is 18, a senior in high school, but it doesn't follow canon at all. In my happy little universe, life continues in a happier tone following the end of season 1 in Smallville. And no red kryptonite and spaceship nonsense in my little fantasy world. Season 1 for Atlantis, as Ford's still with them.

Merry Christmas to my slash pals. They came up with the characters they wanted slashed and some of the situations. I just had to fit it all together.

Joolz wrote a book jacket blurb for me: "An engaging tongue-in-cheek romp from the Pegasus Galaxy to Comic Book World and back again. The characters manage to find time for sensual exploration in between alien attacks and geek-fests. Gene Therapy supplies everything you need for an afternoon of feel-good reading."

Gene Therapy


Lex pulled up in front of the modest two-story home and furrowed his brow. He couldn't imagine why Clark had requested he join him here. Despite his confusion, Lex got out of his car, walked up the pathway to the house and rang the doorbell.

He heard the stomping of feet and the door was flung open to reveal a girl of four to five years of age, who stared up at him, her eyes open wide.

"Who is it, Dana?" Clark's voice called from within the house.

She made a perfect circle of surprise with her lips as if she'd completely forgotten she was supposed to do more than fling open the door and stare at who lay beyond it. Her eyes lit on his head, and she said, "Hey, Mister, why donst you got no hair?"

Lex would make Clark pay for this.

Before Lex could come up with a proportional response appropriate for a five year old, Clark was there, picking the little girl up. "Dana," he gently scolded, "you can't just open the door. You need to look through the peephole."

She and Lex both looked at the peephole which, if she were on the ground, would be about two feet over the top of her head.

Clark grinned in defeat. "Or you can look out the window. You can't just open doors without knowing who's on the other side."

"Said the town's poster boy for safety?" Lex commented wryly. Not that he disagreed with Clark's words of wisdom. Especially in Smallville. After all, she'd flung open the door and a Luthor had been on the other side.

The little girl, Dana, Lex recalled from Clark's call, wiggled in Clark's arms until she was facing Lex. Then, craning her head up at Clark she said, like some determined little fiend, "Why donst he got any hair, Mr. Clark?"

Clark shot Lex an apologetic look, which in no way was getting him off the hook. After a few seconds thought, Clark said, "He's bald, Dana. Just like I have dark hair and that makes me a brunet, you've got red hair which makes you a redhead, and he's got no hair, which makes him bald."

She stared at Lex again. A pregnant silence filled the air. Then, finally, when Lex thought he might have to let out a yell just to cut the tension, she shrugged and let out a simple, "oh." Then she grinned shyly at him. "Can I touch it?"

Clark was now mouthing the word 'sorry' at him, a tortured look on his face. Fortunately, Lex's senses of equilibrium and humor were returning and he grinned back at Dana. "Sure." He shut the door behind him, and moved in close.

Clark held her as she reached out and touched his head. "It's so soft," she said in wonder.

Lex glanced up at his friend, saw he was looking back at him. Despite the fact that Dana was doing the touching, something passed between them. One of a thousand somethings that had been happening with increasing frequency over the last few months.

Lex wondered just how long it was going to take Clark to catch a clue.

Meanwhile, Dana was tugging at his sleeve. "Hey, Mister, what's your name?"

"Lex. My name is Lex."

"You should call him Mr. Luthor," Clark said formally.

Lex shot him a look. "Please. Let's not. Mr. Luthor is my father."

Clark grinned. "Fine. Then call him Mr. Lex," he compromised.

She was staring at him again.

Lex stared right back. He didn't get to be with many children, so this was something of an event.

Her brow furrowed, which Lex found amusing on someone so small, and she asked for clarification, "You not Mr. Luthor?"

Lex shook his head, very clear on that.

She smiled happily and with the air of having successfully worked out a troubling problem, she announced, "Mr. Luthor is a, is a--" her mouth screwed up in thought, "is a poopy dumbhead."

"Dana!" Clark said, mortified. "You can't say that."

Lex started laughing. "Yes, she can. That's one of the most apt descriptions of my father I've heard." He scooped Dana out of Clark's arms, saying, "I think you and I are going to be great friends."

Clark grabbed his arm. "I don't want to hear the words 'stuff of legends' coming out of your mouth. I'd hate to think you say that to everyone," he said sternly, with just a hint of anxiety.

"Only you, Clark," Lex reassured him.

Clark beamed at him.

Lex grinned back then refocused on Dana. "Now, Dana, how is it that you seem to know so much about my father, this Mr. Luthor you dislike so much? You seem a bit young to have run afoul of him and his nefarious ways."

Dana giggled at him.

He mock frowned at her. "You won't talk, hmm? Well, we Luthors have ways of making you talk." He glanced around the living room. "Perhaps the comfy chair? That should strike fear into your heart."

She giggled again.

Lex decided she was too well-trained to crack under torture and sat down on the couch, setting her on the ground. She immediately got on the couch, and settled down in his lap. Glancing up, Lex found Clark gazing down at the two of them with a dopy grin on his face. "Clark? Why exactly am I here?"

Clark blinked. "Um."

Lex waited.

"Um," Clark said again. "I, um, needed your help with something."

Not for the first time, Lex observed that Clark was very bad at extemporaneous speaking. He really needed to keep some scripted cue cards on his person to whip out when the need arose. "And what would that something be?" Lex asked, enjoying Clark's discomfiture.

"I, um, had a question about a homework assignment," Clark said in a desperate rush.

Lex looked around the room, craning his neck to glance toward the dining room table, seeing no school books. To his amusement, he noticed that Dana was helping him look, even if she probably had no idea what she was looking for. "I see," Lex said. And he did see. Clark just wanted him here.

Lex could work with that. He grinned at Clark. "Dana's homework?" he teased.

Clark grinned back. "Yeah, she needs help with her ABCs."

Looking at Dana with admiration, Lex asked her, "You already know your ABCs?"

She nodded vigorously and started singing, "ABC...," she took a deep breath, then, "EFGHIKelemenopee."

"Very impressive," Lex commented when it was clear she was done. "I expect you'll be taking over LuthorCorp in no time. Time to topple the poopy dumbhead from his throne."

Dana giggled again and buried her head under Lex's chin. He ran his hand through her soft curls, thoroughly enjoying himself.

A squall came from down the hall, and Clark motioned in that direction. "That's the baby. I better go check."

Lex waved him off, looking down at Dana. "Okay, now that he's gone, tell me why he really called me over." Not that he expected any sort of sensible answer out of her, but it's not like he had anyone else he could pump for information.

She sat up and gave him some serious scrutiny.

He scrutinized her in return, wondering if he could help turn her into someone who could topple Lionel from his throne. Or perhaps his interference would turn her into a monster, when all she wanted was to be was a ballerina. Best just to leave her alone, he decided.

"He said you was a speshool friend," she suddenly answered him.

"Ah," he said in response, grinning. Damn, she was cute.

Cocking her head, as if she could hear something in a range only accessible to dogs and Clark, she got off his lap and headed for parts unknown down the hall.

Lex got up himself, curious as to whose house he was in. Before he could even start poking around, Clark reappeared with a baby in his arms, Dana at his heels.

"And who's this?" Lex asked, nodding toward the infant in Clark's arms.

"That's my baby brudder," Dana informed him. "Wanna see?" She tugged at Clark, dragging him toward Lex. "Show him."

Clark obeyed her commands, in fact, exceeding them, when he handed the baby over to Lex. Lex's heart skipped a beat, but then he rallied, trusting himself to hold a small infant without somehow inadvertently bashing its head open. "What's his name?" He jiggled the baby a little, until he got it settled in the crook of his arm. There, he thought to himself, I can do this.

"Mark," she said proudly, as if she'd named him herself, loudly pronouncing the 'k'. "It's my daddy's name."

"And a fine name it is," Lex pronounced. He cautiously sat back down on the couch.

Dana scrambled up next to him and patted the baby on the head. "He's got a peepee cuz he's a boy," she instructed him. "Do you gotst a peepee?" she asked Lex.

Lex's eyebrows went up and he glanced up at Clark. "That sounds like a perfect question for the babysitter." That's all he needed was for Dana's parents to come home and find that Lex Luthor had been in their living room affirming for their very young daughter, that yes, he had a penis. Jesus.

Clark went for a distraction. "Do you want a snack, Dana?"

She nodded her head and worked her way off the couch.

"Coward," Lex whispered loudly at Clark.

Clark grinned back as he herded Dana toward the kitchen.

Lex snickered and looking down, found Mark staring up at him with a pair of amazing blue eyes. "Hey, there," Lex said, feeling the wonder of all this potential in his arms. This child could grow up to be anything. A scientist, an astronaut, a cut-throat attorney, an exotic dancer. Lex snickered again.

"Glad to see you're keeping yourself amused," Clark teased, as he appeared in front of him holding out a chocolate chip cookie for Lex. Dana was busy noshing on hers, more of the chocolate on her face than in her mouth.

"Is this for me, or for Mark?"

Clark rolled his eyes. "This," he said, as he brandished a baby bottle, "is for Mark."

Not wanting to miss out on the full experience, Lex reached for the bottle, passing on the cookie. Clark seemed amenable as he took a big bite out of the cookie as he relinquished the bottle.

"Is it the right temperature?" Lex asked, feeling it with his fingers. He might not have much access to babies, but he knew temperature was important.

Clark nodded, mouth as full as Dana's.

Lex grinned at them both, as he teased Mark's lips with the nipple. In less than a second, the baby latched on, sucking his heart out.

Producing a towel out of nowhere, Clark leaned over Lex, arranging it over his shoulder. Just by moving an inch or so, Lex could be nibbling on Clark's nipple. Depressingly practiced at restraint, Lex ignored the temptation.

It helped that Dana was tugging at his sleeve. "Mr. Lex, Mr. Lex."

"Yes, Dana," Lex said, proud of himself for not wincing at the chocolate fingerprints all over his silk shirt.

"Are you Mr. Clark's speshool friend?"

Ah. Back to that conversation.

Lex glanced at Clark, saw that look again. The look Clark didn't give to anyone but him. Lex specifically watched for it whenever he and Clark were with other people, and he never saw it directed at anyone else. "Yes, I am. Clark and I have a friendship that is the stuff of legends."

"Stuffin lejens?" she asked, her brow furrowed again.

That got a laugh out of him and Clark. "He means yes, Dana," Clark explained. "Lex and I are best friends."

"Like me and Ne-ne?"

Clark nodded. "Just like you and Ne-ne."

"'Kay." She started licking her fingers.

That hadn't been quite what Lex was going for. He liked to think bigger than best friend, certainly bigger than Dana and this Ne-ne, whatever that was. He wanted him and Clark to truly be the stuff of legends, wanted there to be talk of destiny, of forever, of being remembered in history books. Lex and Clark, like Lewis and Clark, like Stanley and Livingston, like Thomas Becket and King Henry II. Lex frowned and decided against that last one.

The point being, Lex continued thinking in his mind, the names belonged together. One meant less than both together.

Mark kicked his feet, and Lex gazed down at him. The baby grinned around the nipple, and Lex grinned back. Maybe he'd keep track of these kids, make sure they got into some good schools.

"You might want to burp him now," Clark advised.

Frowning, Lex considered the logistics.

"Want me to take him?" Clark offered.

"No. I'll do it." If he could run a million dollar corporation and deal on a daily basis with his father, he could burp a baby. He handed the bottle to Clark, and carefully repositioned Mark until he was in what Lex thought was the classic burp position. He gently patted him on the back.

Clark looked exceedingly nervous about the entire affair.

Feeling somewhat affronted, Lex said, "I am capable of this, Clark."

"I know you are," Clark assured him. "I just don't want him to throw up all over you."

Lex was momentarily alarmed. "Is that likely to happen?" He glanced down at Mark, sure he was ready to explode like something out of a James Cameron film.

Dana giggled. "He throws up all the time. And he poops, too. And he pees out of his peepee like this." She described an arc through the air, which, if it were true, would earn Mark an award for long distance peeing.

"Charming," Lex said, promising to make Clark pay if he was puked, pooped or peed on. The chocolate stains were already above and beyond the call of duty. Only for Clark would he allow his sartorial standards to be so compromised.

Just then, Mark let out a truly magnificent burp. They all looked at him, waiting for the encore. When he gurgled happily, Dana looked disappointed.

Lex smiled at them both benignly. "No one throws up on a Luthor," he stated unequivocally.

"In a perfect world," Clark stated emphatically, "Mark would now puke all over you."

Again, all eyes moved to Mark, but he only gurgled some more, smacking his lips a little.

Lex decided he better quit while he was ahead. He carefully stood and handed the baby back to Clark, then draped the towel over Clark's left shoulder. The baby promptly vomited all over Clark's right shoulder.

Lex tried very hard not to laugh, biting his lips until they hurt, but he heard Dana's giggle, and catching her eye, he let out a laugh. Life, Lex thought with an evil grin, was decidedly good.

Clark let out a disgusted sound, and glared at both Lex and Dana. Dana just giggled again. "See, Mr. Lex? See?" She clearly found the whole event vastly amusing.

Handing the baby back to Lex, Clark headed for the bathroom. Lex gave the baby the patented Luthor stare, making sure he understood that the one demonstration was more than sufficient, especially as Clark had taken the towel with him.

Mark blew out a bubble of spit.

Lex could handle that. However, to be on the safe side, he went in search of Clark, assuming he would find the bathroom and more towels in the vicinity.

What he found when he got there was a Clark without his shirt. Lex gave the moment its proper due, silently paying homage to the temple that was Clark Kent. The baby could throw up all over him at this point and Lex wouldn't care. In fact, maybe he could get Mark to throw up on the rest of Clark's clothes.

Mark gurgled in his ear.

"I couldn't agree more," Lex whispered back.

Dana came stomping down the hall. "Mister Lex, Mister Lex."

Lex could hardly bear to tear his eyes away from Clark, who had his face buried in a washcloth. Just as Lex was about to turn to Dana, Clark's face emerged, and their eyes met in the mirror. Another look. It was a miracle Lex didn't just spontaneously combust. Especially when the look, like this one, included a head to toe and back again component. Jesus. If Clark liked what he saw, Lex complained to himself, he wished he'd just go for it. These looks were killing him.

There was a tug on his pant's leg. "Mister Lex, Mister Lex."

Tearing his eyes away from the ones still locked with his, Lex crouched down. "Yes, Dana."

"Will you color with me?"

"Absolutely," Lex informed her. "Crayons?" It was important to know what tools he'd be using.

She nodded. "The big set." Her hands spread out to encompass a width of about two feet.

"That would indeed be a big set," Lex said admiringly. "By the way, Dana, exactly how old are you?"

Dana looked at her hand, her lips pursed, brow wrinkled in serious contemplation. Her fingers began to move, as if she were playing a riff on the saxophone. Finally, she held up two fingers for Lex, but addressed Clark saying, "Is this how many fingers, Mr. Clark?"

A towel wrapped around his neck, unfortunately hiding his nipples, Clark hunkered down and helped Dana display four fingers. "This many, Dana. You're four."

She proudly displayed her fingers to Lex. "This many, Mister Lex."

He nodded at her gravely. "That's a great many fingers." He glanced at Clark and found his friend grinning at him.

"How many fingers are you?" Dana asked.

He reached for Clark's hands and made him hold up all ten fingers, then he made Dana do the same. Finally he held up four of his own. "This many."

Her eyes grew huge and she stared at him as if she simply couldn't believe it. Her gaze shifted to Clark. "Are you that many fingers?"

Clark shook his head, grinning. "No, Lex is the old man in the room." He made her keep her ten fingers up, and then manipulated Lex's fingers until eight were showing. "This is how many fingers I am. I'm eighteen."

Lex heard the emphasis on the eighteen, wondered if Clark was making a point for Lex's benefit. He decided to do some prodding on the off chance a miracle was occurring, and Clark was actually dropping a hint. "That makes you of legal age, Clark, doesn't it?" Lex could always claim to be talking about voting, if Clark took umbrage.

The look Clark shot him was heated enough to make Lex want to fan himself. "Yes," Clark enunciated clearly. "Very legal."

Lex was ninety-five percent sure that communication was occurring. Contracts being drawn up by both parties, agreements being reached, pens rapidly scrawling signatures. "Perhaps," Lex purred, hoping that five percent wasn't about to blow him out of the water, "we could finish this conversation at the mansion tomorrow night."

This time the look was incandescent. Pilgrims could follow the light from Clark's face to find their place of worship. Which is exactly what Lex planned to do.

Before further conversation could take place, Lex was reminded by a pouting face that he was overdue for an art assignation. He stood and handed the baby off to Clark, doing his best to touch as much of Clark as he could, his fingers tingling at the velvet of his skin. When Clark let out a quiet whimper, only the underage audience kept Lex from falling down to his knees and getting better acquainted with Clark's cock.

Instead he licked his lips, watched Clark's eyes as they followed his tongue and, at another tug on his pant's leg, Lex spun around and followed Dana out to the living room.

She imperiously ordered him to sit on the floor by the coffee table and then brought out several coloring books and a box of 64 crayons. "This is an excellent box of crayons," Lex said appreciatively. He glanced at the books. "Are we working on separate projects or collaborating?" he asked.

"Colobrated?" she echoed.

"It means working together," Lex explained.

She gave it some thought and then, decisively, shoved one book at Lex. "You do that one."

Lex took a look at it. "SpongeBob SquarePants," he read aloud. "Adventures Under the Sea." He could hardly wait. "What will you be working on, whilst I journey on my undersea adventure?" He flipped open the book until he found a scene where the hero of the book was sunbathing on a tropical beach.

She showed him her book.

"Ah. Blossom, Buttercup, and Bubbles, the Powerpuff Girls." The fates were definitely tossing the dice in his favor. First Clark half naked, and now he'd been spared coloring in pink. "Excellent choice," Lex said, reaching for an array of crayons from aquamarine-blue to teal-green to ivory. He was hoping to recreate the look of the ocean on his last vacation to Rio de Janeiro.

Clark chose to enter the room at that point, re-clothed, much to Lex's dismay. Lex decided only a nice peek at Clark's ass would make up for it. "Clark, would you mind getting me something to drink?" he asked, looking forward to Clark leaving the room, thus putting his ass on view.

"Yes, boss," Clark teased. "Anything in particular?"

"Some water?" Lex suggested.

"I doubt they have TyNant here, Lex. Will tap water do?"

Lex shot Clark a look that hopefully communicated something along the line of inquiring if Clark had temporarily lost his mind.

Grinning, Clark headed for the kitchen. "I'll see what else they have."

Under the guise of choosing a color, Lex surreptitiously watched that glorious ass move out of sight. Letting out a silent sigh, Lex wondered if he'd finally, finally, get to touch that perfect ass. Three years. Jesus. Someone should give him a damn halo.

He started working on the wave tips, coloring them ivory.

"Mister Lex?"

"Yes, Dana," he answered, trying to decide if turquoise or the aquamarine-blue would work best next.

"Are you Mr. Clark's boss?"

He shook his head. "No."

"Who's you boss, Mister Lex?"

"The poopy dumbhead."

A peal of giggles headed his way.

Lex couldn't help but grin.

"My daddy has a boss," she informed him.

"Most people do."

"My daddy likes his boss," she said definitively, even as the tip of her tongue slid out between her small teeth, a sign of her serious concentration on her artistic endeavors.

"I'm very glad for your father. No one should have a poopy dumbhead as a boss."

That got more giggles.

Lex decided to blend the turquoise with the ivory to get a more subtle shade.

"My daddy says his boss is smawt. And con--consi--consenshus," she finally attempted.

"Conscientious?" Lex clarified.

She nodded, tongue once again peeking out of her mouth as she passionately, and quite creatively--obviously feeling no constraints to pay any mind to the lines--colored in pink.

"Where does your father work?" Lex asked, wondering who this paragon of a boss was. Maybe he should hire him.

Clark appeared again, handing him a can of Coke. "Her dad works at the plant, Lex. Mark McInerny."

Lex was stunned for a second as he realized that he was that boss. A sort of glowy feeling flushed through his body. He didn't often get genuine compliments and this one had taken him by surprise. Not that a Luthor needed compliments, but still.

Then he frowned and stood. "Clark, I shouldn't be here, not without an invitation. It's a bit inappropriate."

Scrunching his face up, Clark said, "Sorry. I didn't even think about it, but you're right. I just wanted--" He cut off.

Lex smiled at him. "I know, and I'm glad. And we'll talk tomorrow night." He hoped his eyes were conveying the fact that there might not be much talking going on.

The gleam in Clark's eyes told him that that was fine with Clark.

"Mister Lex, Mister Lex." Small hands were tugging on his pants again. "Where you going?"

Suddenly the front door opened and Mark McInerny and his wife were in the doorway, looking a bit taken aback.

Lex couldn't blame them.

"Lex," Mark said nervously. "Is anything wrong?"

Clark stepped into the fray. "Nothing's wrong, Mr. McInerny, Lex is a good friend, and I invited him over without thinking it through. I apologize."

Dana got up and ran to her father. "Daddy, daddy," she said, expressing her pleasure at this arrival.

He swung her up in his arms. "How's my little girl?"

"We was coloring, daddy. Mr. Lex was making the ocean for SpongeBob SquarePants."

"Oh," Mark said, a bit flummoxed.

Blithely, Dana continued on. "Daddy, daddy, Mister Lex has a boss, and he's the poopy dumbhead, and I told Mister Lex that Mark has a peepee, and he threwed up." That started up another riff of giggles, as if, all in all, this night couldn't be beat for its sheer entertainment value.

Mark sent a pleading look Lex's way. "God, he threw up on you?" He looked like he was sure a pink slip would be accompanying his next paycheck.

Lex grinned. "No, he threw up on Clark. And I happen to completely agree with your description of my father." And, he thought to himself, you think I'm a good boss, smart and conscientious. He saw raises coming Mark's way.

Mark still looked uncomfortable.

Moving toward the doorway, Lex said, "I apologize for invading your home like this. Your children are delightful. I'll be leaving now." He sent a quick glance toward Clark. "Good night, Clark."

"Night, Lex."

"Goodnight, Lex," Mark echoed faintly.

"Night, Mister Lex," Dana yelled after Lex. "Come back and color s'more."

Lex grinned at her as he beeped his car open. Looking forward to tomorrow night, he got in his car, started it up, and drove away.

The Pegasus Galaxy:

"Dr. McKay," Teyla said urgently.

"I'm working, I'm working," Rodney snapped. He was moving the crystal diagnostic tool down the array of crystals as fast as his hands could work.

"Not fast enough," Ford said tersely.

"Yes, and both of you bothering me is helping so much."

Another burst from a wraith dart hit the puddle jumper, rattling it. They all held on, then Rodney slammed the console he'd been working on shut and moved to the next one, yanking it open.

"Rodney," John's voice drawled from the pilot's seat. "What's going on?"

"Gee, I don't know. Not much," Rodney offered sarcastically as he again began to check the crystals in this new array. "Just the usual sort of facing certain death by imminent explosion or from lifesucking mutant aliens..." his voice grew louder and more strident, "while everyone wastes my time talking to me even though, apparently, I am the only one who can, once again, save the day." He slammed the console shut, moved to where Ford was sitting next to John. "Move," he barked out.

Ford moved. From the look on Rodney's face, it wasn't fast enough.

"Perhaps if you hadn't chosen this particular time to work on the puddle jumper, Dr. McKay," Teyla said formally, "the ship would not now be in need of repair."

"I chose," Rodney started to answer between gritted teeth, "this time to work on the ship, because according to the readings, that I realize none of you could possibly understand, we were about to lose life support." He shot them a tight-lipped crooked smile. "Next time, I'll just let all the oxygen get sucked out, shall I?"

"Just concentrate, Rodney," John counseled, turning the shuttle sharply to avoid another blast.

"Just concentrate," Rodney muttered under his breath. He snorted.

John glanced out the window. "How many of those suckers are there? And where the hell did they come from?"

Ford and Teyla were both craning their necks to stare out the sides of the main window. "There appear to be six of them," Teyla informed the Major.

"How did they get out here without a hive ship to launch from?" John asked, diving this time. The blast scraped the side of the jumper, not-so-gently rocking them. "Rodney, shields would be good. Anytime."

"Oh, really? You think?" Rodney slammed the console by the copilot' s chair closed and got down on the floor by John's feet.

"What are you doing?" John asked, trying not to be distracted by Rodney on his hands and knees, brushing against him. He got focused on the action outside just in time to dodge another dart. He circled around and managed to take out the dart with their rapidly diminishing weapon supply. This was supposed to have been a milk-run, dropping off trade goods and picking up food supplies. Piece of cake.

Rodney's head brushed his thigh. "Rodney?" He was not going to get an erection. He was not. The fact that flying aroused him in the first place, and danger was its own sort of aphrodisiac, it wouldn't take much for him to be at full mast.

Ford sat back down in the co-pilot's seat, looking frantically for one of the five remaining darts. John kept flying toward the Stargate. They'd be there in ten minutes if they could hold it together until then.

"Ah ha," Rodney said. "I knew it." He pulled out a damaged crystal.

"Is that a good ah ha?" John asked hopefully.

"Oh, well, not really. It just proves I was right. Now I have to fix it."

"Can you?"

"Of course I can fix it," Rodney said haughtily.

John chewed on his bottom lip for a moment, factoring through everything he knew about Rodney. "Can you do it before we get blown into little tiny puddle jumper bits? We're still eight minutes from the Stargate. No pressure or anything." He flew a zigzag pattern right through two approaching darts. Man, they were fast. Hard to get a lock on them.

"And this is different from every other life and death situation how?"

John risked a quick look at Rodney, found himself captivated by how fast his hands could move, stripping wires, rewrapping them, shifting crystals, reading the rapid fire information scrolling across his data pad. He heard the drone of a dart and instinct alone told him to ascend. When he did he could see the flash of a dart ray shoot by underneath them.

"Shit," Ford said, lifting his feet as if the heat from the ray was going to singe him.

"That would have been bad," John said. Really, really bad. Six minutes to go. It felt like friggin' forever.

"Come on, McKay," Ford griped. "Fix something. Weapons, shields, something."

"And you're doing exactly what to help?" Rodney challenged. "Ah, sitting on your ass, of course. How helpful."

"May I be of assistance?" Teyla asked.

John liked that about Teyla. She was able to put the personal bullshit aside to get done what had to be done.

"Yes, hold that," Rodney shoved his data pad at her. "Tell me when the top left number reaches 100." He got down on the floor again, pulling open the storage container under one of the benches. He started tossing supplies every which way searching for something.

Five minutes. They'd been lucky so far with the darts, almost like they were playing with the puddle jumper. As soon as they saw the Stargate it would be all over. "Rodney. What's the problem?" Normally, fixing weapons and shields were child's play for Rodney.

"The problem," Rodney said with a grunt, as he pushed the first aid kit to the side, "is that the Ancients were firm believers in secondary and tertiary and even quaternary backup systems. Everything..." he stared at, then tossed a pack of power bars at Teyla. "Huh. Open one of those for me, would you?"

"Rodney," John yelled, as he took defensive action again. One more direct hit and they were goners.

"Okay, okay. The problem is that because of all the redundancy, almost every system can provide back up to any other system."

"And..." That didn't sound so bad.

"But, of course, it doesn't do it the same way every time. It works at an intense number of flips as it shifts from one system to another."


"Fuzzy logical inferences per second." Rodney pulled out another set of crystals attached to a staggeringly large number of wires. "Gotcha." He pulled out another damaged crystal, and replaced it with a new one. "How's that?"

"No shields, but I got another bank of weapons. That's good, Rodney. Keep going."

"It's reached one hundred, Dr. McKay," Teyla informed him.

"Ha, beat you, you sucker. Okay, give it back." He took the device from her, pushing buttons. "Okay, here." He gave it back to her. "Same thing."

"Finish your explanation," John said. Weirdly enough, Rodney generally did better if you could keep him talking. If things got too quiet, his imagination took over and he started panicking.

"Don't you have a ship to fly?" Rodney snarked.

"Just talk to me." Three minutes. Maybe they wouldn't need the shields. Fuck. He wished he hadn't even thought that. I didn't mean it, he said to whatever capricious gods were within thought hearing distance.

"Fine. Just don't blame me if I don't..." Rodney took the pad back from Teyla. "Huh." He handed it back to her. This time he moved to the back of the puddle jumper, opening up the controls to the back bay doors.

John spoke out of the side of his mouth to Ford. "Do you see the darts anywhere?" They'd been conspicuously absent for the last minute.

Ford shook his head. "It's like they've disappeared."

"Or they're hiding," John guessed.

"By the Stargate," Ford said.

"By the Stargate," John agreed with a frown. "Crap." He risked turning around to see what Rodney was up to. "Not planning on ejecting us all into space, are you?" John asked.

"No, not planning on it. Keep annoying me and I might change my mind, though."

"Just keep talking. I want to keep your evil mastermind self engaged."

Rodney snorted. "It's like a treasure hunt. To keep life support on, I routed power from one of the secondary systems. But with shields, power and cloaking down, all the secondary systems are scurrying to back all the primary systems."

"Okay," John said slowly, peering through the windshield, feeling like a sitting duck. "And...?"

"So," Rodney said, as his hands raced to do his bidding, "I do a diagnostic so I can get the shields up. It tells me the secondary shield powers are being handled by the inertial dampening system. I go there, but too late, because suddenly the inertial dampening system needs a little boost so it takes all its power back, and something else takes over as the secondary shield power source."

"That doesn't seem very helpful," John said. Ancient stuff was usually very helpful.

"Actually it's very helpful," Rodney said. "Because it keeps us alive even when we've taken a massive hit. The problem is life support. Normally, that's the last to go. Like the heart in a human body. Every system on board is designed to shunt power to life support."

"But that went hinky first."

"Right. It shouldn't do that, ever."

"So why did it?"

"One hundred," Teyla informed him.

"Crap." Rodney slammed the control panel shut.

One minute. They should be able to see the Stargate now. Yup. There it was. And there were the four darts. John stopped the puddle jumper. "Rodney."

"Kind of busy," Rodney informed him in a sing-song snipe.

"I need you."

Rodney looked up and saw what John was staring at. "That's not good."

"No kidding."

"I need shields, Rodney. I don't care about anything else. We can lose weapons, lights, I don't care. Well, I need the DHD, too."

Rodney rolled his eyes. "Anything else while I'm at it?"

"No, that's enough." He glanced at Rodney. "Can you do it? Can you fix the shields?"

"I've been trying to fix the shields for the last ten minutes, Major," Rodney snapped out. "What do you think I've been doing? Learning to speak Portuguese?"

John put up his hands in a universal we-come-in-peace gesture. He didn't expect it to be wholly successful with Rodney, but he needed to keep him from escalating into a full-scale rant. "Rodney, tell me what to do."

"Okay. Fine. Okay." Rodney turned in a circle, eyes taking in everything.

Despite the situation, John loved watching Rodney like this. His computer-like brain pulling in all variables, drawing conclusions.

"See if the jumper will pull up every diagnostic it has."

John hadn't tried that before. At most he'd called for two or three. But he closed his eyes and thought at the jumper. Hard.


John opened his eyes to find what looked like dozens, maybe a hundred data readouts hanging in the air all around the puddle jumper.

"There," Rodney said. All eyes moved to the screen Rodney was pointing at. The dysfunction was clear to all.

"So fix it."

"Watch." Rodney moved to that console and opened it up. By the time he was reaching in, John saw what the problem was.

"It's already fixed itself," he said. And it had. Like a set of sequenced lights, the ship was compensating for errors, the problem being that the main cause never stopped long enough to be identified or repaired. "Shit."

"It's the life support glitch that screwed it up," Rodney said.

"Or maybe it's whatever you did to fix the life support," Ford posited.

Rodney glared at him.

"Back off, Ford," John said calmly. "You know as well as I do that Rodney knows what he's doing."

Rodney stared at him, and then flashed him a crooked smile. "As nice as that sentiment is, I really don't know what I'm doing. I mean, I know what I'm doing, but I don't know how to fix this. Well, actually I do, but it would require being back on Atlantis with the jumper shut down, and a nice hearty breakfast first."

As Rodney babbled on, John gave him ten seconds to figure it out. In eight, Rodney snapped his fingers. John kept his grin to himself. Then he glanced at the darts, saw they were still waiting for him. He wondered how long they'd wait before coming after him. Rodney started making the circuit around the puddle jumper, pointing at stuff, telling John to shut it off.

One by one, John shut off systems. It grew increasingly quieter as fans stopped whirring, and electronics stopped humming. It was eerie. John hadn't realized how used to all that white noise he was.

The shifting error report stayed within the systems still running, and that was an ever-shortening list. Rodney passed by a readout and moved to the next one.

"What's that one for, the one you just passed?" John asked.

"I have no idea."

"Ah." Probably a good idea to leave it alone.

"But as soon as we get back, I'm going to figure it out," Rodney swore to himself.

John foresaw hours of sitting, making monitors read out their helpful data while Rodney and Radek diagnosed to their heart's content. Nothing bothered Rodney more than not knowing. Well, except the almost dying stuff.

"Turn this one off."

John thought it off, felt the stabilizers go. "Everyone make sure you're strapped in or holding on." He and Ford put on their seat belts, and he watched as Teyla sat down and drew down the harness, latching it. That left Rodney standing. "Hold on to something, Rodney."

"Yeah, yeah," Rodney said, totally ignoring him. "Turn this one off."

"Hold on to something," John ordered, obediently turning it off. "If I have to move, you're gonna go flying." The lights went out. Rodney moved back to the life support diagnostic and away again. John guessed things were all right if Rodney wasn't hyperventilating.

"Turn this one off."

John shut it off. He glanced at the darts, saw one of them was moving. "Rodney. We're in trouble."

"Tell me something I don't know, Major," Rodney bit out. "Tell me something I can use. Turn this one off."

"Rodney, hold on. I mean it. I'm about to have to take evasive action."

Rodney must have heard something in his voice this time because he sat down and strapped himself in. John wished to hell he knew what it was because John would put it in his voice more often. A second dart was heading their way.

"That's it," he heard Rodney exclaim, and then he heard the unlatching of a seat belt.

"Damn it, Rodney, at least hold on to something."

Rodney was back down on the floor, which was fine as long as John didn't need to flip the jumper. Then Rodney would be first on the ceiling, and then on the floor again. Hitting hard. Unhappy. And if still conscious, loud. The dart started firing, and John started evading, while Ford fired back. Another dart went spinning off and then exploded.

Three down. Three to go. He could hear Rodney muttering dire imprecations. It was a miracle they hadn't taken a hit. Maybe this was a rookie training mission. It was the only thing that made sense for the way the darts were fighting. If they'd gone after him together in a concerted effort, the jumper would be nothing but debris in space. Another dart was bearing down on them. "Damn it."

He heard a console door slam. "Shields," Rodney said. "Think shields."

John frantically thought shields. He winced as the dart appeared to release its entire weapons arsenal at them in a wide spread. Even evasive action wasn't going to save them this time. Waiting for impact, he watched as the weapons bounced harmlessly off their shields. "Rodney, I love you," John said, as he careened left and then spun around to take out the fourth dart.

He heard a thump followed by a second and third bump.


"Get strapped in," John ordered again, exasperated.

"I don't know how long the shields will last. The jumper may decide to start siphoning off powers to fix life support." Rodney pulled himself up, rubbing his hip, muttering.

"Dial up the DHD," John ordered, barely listening to the Rodney background noise. "Let's make a run now while the shields are still working."

Ford punched in the address and they watched as the Stargate kerwhooshed in space, forming the event horizon. The last two darts stood between the puddle jumper and home.

John could feel the shields fizzle. "Rodney."

"On it." Rodney was peering at the remaining readouts. "Crap. Crap. And also? Crap. Shut this one off."

John did.

"Shut this one off."

John did it again. The puddle jumper felt sluggish. "Wait, we lost something." He turned it back on. "We need that, whatever it is."

"Okay. Okay."

Taking a look, John could see the error message like a ping-pong ball race from one system to another as the puddle jumper robbed Peter to pay Paul in an endless relay. No wonder Rodney couldn't find the damn thing.

Every time it bounced through the shield system, he could see it fizzle around them. Great. So, they'd be fine unless a dart ship fired on them right when the shield was fritzing. Which given their odds, was probably pretty likely. Especially as the first hit from the first dart had taken out their cloaking device with a lucky shot. Which gave him a thought. "Is the cloaking device anywhere near the life support stuff?"

"Yes, why?" Rodney snapped his fingers again. "That's it."

John loved that he never actually had to answer any follow up questions. Usually just the initial question alone got Rodney jumpstarted.

Rodney dived for the back of the ship again, reaching up to pull open a console he'd had John shut off already. Rodney started yanking out crystals. When he had a handful, he handed them off to Teyla. "Hold those."

Then he moved around the ship, opening up several consoles. When he was at the main console to John's left, he snapped his fingers at Teyla impatiently. John watched as Teyla's eyebrows did that I-willkill -you-for-this-later thing, but she undid her restraint and moved to hand the crystals to Rodney.

He started moving around the ship, pulling out crystals and replacing them with the new ones.

"Are all the crystals the same, then?" Ford asked, watching Rodney make his way around the ship.

"Yes. No. Close enough. Think of it as a different octane."

He slid in a crystal only to have the console spark at him.

"I'm thinking that's bad," John said.

"It shouldn't be doing that," Rodney said, practically pulling out his hair.

"Are you sure you read the manual?"

"Stop, your jokes are killing me," Rodney snapped. "Really, they're killing me." He opened up the console below. "If I didn't know better, I'd say someone sabotaged this ship."

That was a disturbing thought. "Do you think someone did?"

"No. At least I don't think so. Who would sabotage one of the puddle jumpers?"

John had no idea. He'd used the puddle jumper yesterday and it had been fine. And they'd had no guests between then and now. "Shit."

"What?" Rodney looked out the front windshield, totally stressed.

John's curse didn't have anything to do with the darts and everything to do with something he'd just remembered. But his gaze followed Rodney's and he saw that the last two darts had grown tired of waiting and were heading their way.

Rodney started yanking out newly burnt crystals, putting in the new ones Teyla was handing him.

Shit. John got the puddle jumper moving again, heading straight for the Stargate. Ten seconds. Another eternity. One of the darts shot at them and the shield worked. Then they were hit again, and the shield only partially worked. The jumper rocked badly, throwing Rodney and Teyla to the floor. Sparks started flying out of the back side consoles.

Even worse, it had thrown off their approach to the Stargate. He'd have to circle around again. As long as he was circling, he got a dart in his sight and went after it. It tried to run, even as it shot at him, but John was fed up and he kept after it, finally getting it in his sights. In seconds, it was gone. He headed toward the Stargate again. "Where's that last dart? And are you two okay?"

He got a 'yes' and a grunt from the back. Okay then. Five seconds, four, three.

Four things happened simultaneously.

Ford yelled, "That thing's gonna ram us!" John watched as the last dart flew right at them, barraging them with weapons fire. The shield began to flicker like a strobe light and Rodney slipped one last crystal home. John thought as hard as he could at the puddle jumper to save their asses because they were dead meat.

Everything started moving in slow motion. John could see some of the blasts make their way through the shield. He braced for impact, for the dart nose to pierce its way through the jumper's hull, for the rest of the dart to follow, to wonder if he was going to die from being crushed to death or from the vacuum of space.

John waited what seemed like forever for the explosion. He turned to look at Rodney who was back on his knees. John wished he'd gotten to have sex with Rodney at least once. And then a huge ball of light engulfed the ship, surrounded them, and with a wrenching motion like the centrifugal force of an amusement park ride, everything seemed to shift to the left.

He reached out and grabbed for Rodney, and then everything was gone.


Lex looked up from his computer to find Clark standing in the doorway. "Hey," he said back, taking a moment to admire Clark. The man was gorgeous. Lex couldn't wait to see him naked.

"You, um, you made quite a hit with Dana."

Lex grinned. "Yeah, the girls always go wild over me." Then, more seriously he said, "I hope Mark wasn't too put out by having me there."

"I'm really sorry about that, Lex. I told him you didn't know. But I don't think he cared. He was so relieved little Mark didn't puke or pee on you, that he wasn't really thinking about anything else."

Lex would have forgiven Mark even that; the unexpected compliment paid to him still warming him inside. "Just give me a few minutes to wrap this up and I'll be all yours." It was Friday at three in the afternoon and, normally, Lex would be working for several more hours. But after the could-tempt-a-Saint looks Clark had shot his way last night, Lex had arranged to stop work early and take the weekend off.

"Great," Clark said with a smile and a blush. He entered the room and moved to the stained-glass window.

Lex leched over Clark's ass for a minute, but then forced his eyes back to the keyboard. By sheer dint of will alone he got his last emails written and sounding erudite. Lex dared anyone to be a mastermind with visions of a naked Clark Kent dancing in their minds.

Not that nakedness was necessarily on the menu. Clark may be legal, sodomy aside, but Lex was reasonably certain he was a virgin. And a blushing one at that. Lex wasn't quite sure what he'd have on his hands as the evening progressed. A wild animal finally broken free of his celibate bonds, determined to work his way through every position in the Kama Sutra? Or a shy I-don't-know-what-to-do mortified tellme -you-love-me affair?

Lex was fine either way. Both had enormous appeal. He'd take Clark anyway he could get him. If it took pledges of undying faith and love, they were Clark's for the asking. And they wouldn't even be lies. Clark was it for him. Secrets and lies, meteor mutants, and years of Lana-longing aside, Clark was it. The only true unknown here for Lex was whether he was it for Clark.

He knew Clark loved him, but Clark was young, and had the right to go out and sow a few wild oats. Of course, Lex would have to destroy anyone who even dared to think about touching Clark, but that was a mere inconvenience. Granted, it would make Clark's potential multipartnered sexual experimentation difficult if his potential partners all unexpectedly left town before consummation, but Lex couldn't help that.

Finally, he hit the Send button one last time, powered down his laptop and shut it with a definitive click. He joined Clark at the window. "Something interesting happening out there?" Lex asked, knowing there was little more out there than spacious skies and amber waves of grain.

Clark shook his head, not meeting his eyes.

Lex ran that through his Clark-translator. Either it meant he was having second thoughts, or he just had no idea where to start. Refusing even to consider the first, and feeling equal to the task of the second, keeping his face serious, Lex grinned inside. Wooing Clark Kent. Where to begin? Slow and sensuous seduction? A quick grab and thorough kiss? This would be their only first time so it had to be perfect.



"Um..." Clark shot him a quick and shy grin.

Lex had to force his eyes away from Clark's lips and back to his eyes. "Yes, Clark?"

"I, um, before we, you know, I need to...I need to tell you something."

Lex wondered if Clark felt the need to tell him he was a virgin. Deciding to help him out, he said, "I already know."

Clark's eyes opened wide. "You do?"

"We can take this as slow as you want."

Clark's brow furrowed, and then he blushed and swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing up and down. "No, not that."

Lex wasn't sure what else Clark would need to tell him that was apropos to the current situation. "Clark, do you want this?"

He got a vigorous nod in response.

"And by this, are we both talking about taking our relationship to a deeper level?" This was not the time for false assumptions being made by either party.

Another head nod.

"And does whatever you want to tell me have anything to do with that?"

Clark wavered, his head going back and forth like it was a trick question.

Suddenly Lex's heart began to beat faster. It occurred to him that perhaps Clark was choosing this time, this moment, to come clean. Lex was momentarily speechless, realizing that he'd somehow come to believe he'd never be told the truth, never be trusted to quite the degree as to be privy to Clark Kent's most guarded secrets. "Is this about you? About how you're different?"

Clark nodded, eyes anxious, a little haunted.

No need for that. "You know I love you, right?"

That got him one of Clark's beaming smiles. They always made Lex feel as if he'd won the lottery. Not that he needed the money, but it would still be a rush.

"I love you, too, Lex," Clark said as sincerely as only Clark Kent could.

Lex felt a moment's kinship with the Grinch as his heart grew at least two sizes, maybe three. Those words were powerful when someone you actually cared about said them. "Tell me or don't. It doesn't matter." And it didn't. Clark was willing to tell him. That was all Lex had ever wanted.

The next thing he knew arms were going around him and he was being hugged like some giant, hairless, teddy bear. Pleased he'd said the right thing without having to think about it or plan for it, Lex sank into the hug. He and Clark had hugged before, but only briefly, and usually after they'd recovered from some calamity.

This hug was nothing like those others. This hug had love and potential woven through it, and Lex could have stayed there forever, never mind the greeting card tawdriness of the sentiment.

Clark finally pulled back, framing Lex's face with his hands, asking, "Can I kiss you?"

Lex's brow furrowed. "Is that a trick question?"

Then Clark was grinning and his lips touched Lex's lips. Lex could feel Clark's teeth, and knew he was still grinning even as they began to kiss. He could understand the feeling. Finally! It was finally happening. Whatever had started between them that afternoon by the riverbank was finally coming to fruition. The two of them. The stuff of legends. Sex. Finally.

Every lesson Lex had ever learned about setting your sights on a longterm goal and never deviating was paying off. But no boardroom deal would ever feel this satisfying--a thought that would no doubt horrify his father. Something else to grin about.

But then Lex decided he was thinking too much. He put all his concentration on Clark, on his soft lips, and slick teeth, and strong tongue, and the taste of him, and the feel of his hard body as Lex swept his hands down Clark's back and pulled him so close that nothing could get between them.

It was all right there.

Lex should have known something would go wrong. After all, this was Smallville, and the man he was kissing was Clark Kent. To expect their lovemaking to proceed without some sort of hitch was, well, the whole dream-coming-true aspect of the event had dangerously lulled him into a sense of complacency, never a wise move in Smallville.

As the interrupting noise grew louder, they both turned to the window, arms still wrapped around each other. Two streaks of flame were shooting through the sky, heading toward the land behind Lex's castle. "More meteors?" Lex asked.

Clark squinted. "I don't know."

Whatever they were hit the ground, first one, the other an instant later. "We better go see what it is," Lex said, reluctantly letting go of Clark. "Hopefully, it's nothing that wants to kill us." In Smallville, you never knew.

Clark gave him a wan smile. But then he hauled Lex back in for another kiss. "Just so you don't forget where we were," he whispered to Lex.

"No chance of that," Lex said, stealing yet another quick kiss. "I've been waiting for this for a long time."

With a grin, Clark grabbed Lex's hand and pulled him from the room.

"Ow, and seriously? Ow."

"Everyone okay?" John asked, assuming Rodney was fine if he was complaining.

"Are you kidding me?" Rodney asked. "Correct me if I'm wrong, which I'm not, but didn't we just crash on an alien planet?"

"I'm fine, Major," Teyla reported in.

"Me, too," Ford said, even as he was stretching out both arms and legs to make sure nothing was broken.

They got off lucky, John thought. Yeah, maybe they had just crashed on an alien planet, but they were alive and apparently unhurt. "We need to do some recon. See if we can figure out where we are."

Rodney pulled himself to his feet with a lot of groans and griping, one hand to his back as if he'd never walk again. But the second he got his hands on his hand-held scanner, he was all business. "The air is breathable." He let out a surprised sound.

"What?" John asked, hoping it wasn't bad news.

Mouth twisted to one side, Rodney considered the monitor. "It's exactly like Earth."

"Most of the planets we land on are like Earth," John offered. John thought that was weird and a little disappointing. Just once he'd like to find odd blobby aliens, and a purple sky with bright pink trees. Then he thought of the Wraith, and decided he was fine with Earth-like planets and Earth-like people.

"No," Rodney said with his usual you-can't-help-being-this-stupid-andI' m-so-sorry-for-you sort of grimace. "The environments we've found have been similar to Earth, safe enough to maintain life. This air is exactly like the air on Earth." He enunciated 'exactly' as if hoping that someone might actually hear that he meant 'exactly'.

"Good," John said. "Then we can go do some recon." He moved to the back of the puddle jumper and hit the panel to open the back door.

Rodney scowled at him as if his priorities were skewed.

John jumped to the ground and took a long look around. It looked like Earth. Really, really looked like earth. He dodged something that looked just like a mosquito. Ford, Rodney and Teyla all jumped out after him.

"That looks like corn," Ford said.

"Yeah, it does," John agreed, suddenly starving for some freshly picked corn, steamed, dripping with butter. Maybe they could pick some before they headed for home. Speaking of home, he took a look at the puddle jumper and winced. It looked like it had been in a spectacular fender-bender. The front was caved in from the impact with the planet, and it was pocked with small craters where the dart weapons had impacted. He hoped it would still fly. "Hey, McKay, can you tell if there's a stargate on this planet?"

Rodney punched in a few numbers. "No."

"No, you can't tell, or no, there isn't a stargate?"

"No, I can't tell," Rodney informed him absentmindedly, most of his attention still focused on whatever secrets he was wresting from the gadget in his hand.

Crap. John glanced at the puddle jumper again. "Can you fix it?"

"Hmm?" was all Rodney replied.

"McKay," John said clearly. When that didn't work, he tried again. "Rodney, puddle jumper. Can you fix it?"

Rodney lifted his head and turned to face the ship. He rolled his eyes. "Right. I'll just hammer out that dent, shall I?"

"You're not helping," John informed him. "I need to know if you can fix it. If you can't, we either need to find someone who can, or we're stuck here."

Letting out an aggrieved sigh, Rodney moved closer to the puddle jumper. "It doesn't look like there's been a hull breach," he muttered. "I'll have to run a complete set of diagnostics, and we'll need to test the hull's integrity."

"Can your gizmo do all that?"

"My gizmo?" Rodney said scathingly. "I'll have you know--"

"Save it," John interrupted him. "Can you do what needs to be done with the tools you have, or do you need something else?"

"Give me a minute," Rodney said, playing with his monitor, fingers flying.

As they neared the site of the two impacts, Lex pointed to the left.
"You go check out that one, and I'll check out the other."

Clark frowned. "Maybe we should check them both out together," he suggested.

Lex touched his arm. "If it's nothing, we'll get done faster, and then we can get back to what we were doing before we were so rudely interrupted." That was the clear priority.

Clark's eyes lit up at that.

"Besides," Lex added, "you'll hear me if I scream like a girl, won't you?" He grinned at Clark.

That got a grin in return. "Yeah, I'll hear you."

Taking that as agreement, Lex headed toward the right, following the sounds of the snap and crackle of fire consuming dried vegetation. Lex frowned when he realized he should have brought a fire extinguisher with him. Then he was upon it, and all he could do was stop and stare.

Clark jogged to where he thought the other object had landed,
seriously hoping it wasn't something bad. Something really bad, with
glowing green eyes and a bad attitude. Knowing his luck, that's
exactly what it was going to be.

But then he remembered that kiss and the passion in Lex's eyes, and he flicked his tongue out to lick his lips, imagining he could taste Lex there, and he decided maybe his luck was changing.

Happily pondering this new shift in their relationship, Clark almost stumbled when he was suddenly face to face with some sort of weird looking ship and four people. Who, at least at first glance, seemed pretty human. Armed for bear, but human.

"Uh," he said. "Hi."

He got four distinctly different responses. The slightly stockier guy with some sort of gadget sneered and rolled his eyes. The woman smiled at him. The black guy clutched his gun a little tighter, and the dark-haired man grinned and said, "Hi," back.

"Hi," Clark said again, feeling like a complete and utter idiot. "Um. Are you all right? We saw your, uh, your..." he waved at the vehicle, not sure what to call it. "Anyway, we saw it land. Is anyone hurt?"

The dark-haired guy shook his head. "No, we're fine." He took a step closer to Clark. "We're, um, peaceful explorers."

Clark's eyebrows rose at that. "Okay. What are you exploring?"

"Maybe you could tell us where we are," the woman said kindly. "Our ship was knocked off course."

Clark could do that. "Sure, you're in Smallville. Kansas."

That got a whole new set of reactions. The woman just looked confused. The dark-haired guy looked astonished, so did the black guy. The sneering guy let out a snort. "Right. Right. Smallville. I suppose you're Clark Kent, right?"

Okay. That was weird. "Yeah," he said cautiously. "I am. Do I know you?"

"Your name is really Clark Kent?" the dark-haired guy asked.

Clark nodded.

Sneering guy snorted. "Seriously? You live in a place called Smallville and your parents named you Clark Kent? Did your parents really hate you or something?"

"There's nothing wrong with my name," Clark said testily, not liking this guy at all. "What's your name?" he asked, hoping he had a really stupid name.

"Rodney McKay," the man snapped out. "Dr. Rodney McKay."

The dark-haired guy stepped in front of Dr. Rodney McKay. "Don't mind him. He's always crabby when he hasn't eaten."

The black guy said, "He's always crabby, period."

Ignoring the aside, the dark-haired guy said, "I'm John Sheppard. This is Teyla Emmagan," pointing out the woman, "and this is Aiden Ford."

"Are you guys with the army or something?" Clark asked, noting the fatigues they wore.

Rodney stepped out from behind John. "Is your name really Clark Kent?"

Clark nodded.

Rodney stared at him for a long moment. "Okay," he started, hand out, index finger pointing at the sky. "This might seem like a really crazy question but are you from a planet called Krypton? Do you have super powers? You know, faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive?"

Clark stared at him, his heart starting to race.

Lex chose that moment to appear.

Rodney let out another snort. "Wait, wait, don't tell me. You're Lex Luthor, right?"

Lex nodded, his eyes narrowed. "Who are you?" He glanced at Clark, frowning. "Clark, are you all right?"

Clark shook his head, wishing himself a million miles from here, wishing he'd told Lex about himself, not wanting him to hear it from these strangers.

Rodney turned to John, a crooked grin on his face. "We're in Comic Book World." He turned back to Lex. "Do you know a Bruce Wayne?"

Lex nodded. "Who the fuck are you?" he asked, not liking the look on Clark's face, perfectly happy to blame it on these guys who were trespassing on his land, in yet another fucking spaceship. What the hell was going on? "How do you know me?"

"You're kidding, right?" Rodney asked incredulously. "Lex Luthor, the 43rd President of the United States, consistently plotting to take over the world or destroy it through the use of various diabolical schemes? Lex Luthor, who planned to use his overtaking of the world as a stepping stone to dominate the entire universe? Who summoned beings from the fourth dimension, detonated hydrogen bombs, created robots, clones, genetic monstrosities..."

Clark watched as the words hit Lex like lethal weapons. "Stop it," Clark demanded.

"Although," Rodney continued ruthlessly, "it doesn't explain why the two of you are together. You're not supposed to be friends. You're supposed to be arch-enemies."

Lex's face blanched, and Clark had had enough. He moved to Rodney and pushed him away. "Shut up!"

Rodney went flying about ten feet, landing with a thud into the grass.

Clark saw weapons being raised, the other three moving between him and Rodney who was slowly getting to his feet, groaning as he rubbed his butt. He didn't care if they shot him; their weapons couldn't hurt him. Clark moved to stand in front of Lex. "I don't know who you are, but you're not welcome here. Go away."

John scrunched his face up. "Well, see, that's the problem. Our puddle jumper here isn't in the best condition. We can't leave yet." He still had his weapon pointed at Clark.

Clark was trying to figure out what to do without giving his powers away. Then he remembered that they sort of knew. And he'd already decided to tell Lex. He turned to Lex, hating the pale drawn look on his face, and gave him a small smile. Moving like the wind, gathering up everyone's weapons, he grabbed Lex and moved a mile away with him.

He dropped the weapons on the ground and hugged Lex tightly. "Don't listen to anything he said. It's not true. You're not that person." Clark pulled back to look at Lex. "You're not."

"How do you know?" Lex whispered, eyes shadowed. "How do you know I don't turn into that? That old woman at the nursing home died when she saw my future. Maybe I do turn bad, maybe we do become enemies. Maybe they're time travelers and they've seen the future."

Clark couldn't ever remember seeing Lex so vulnerable. It made him want to protect his best friend from everything cruel in the world, even though Lex needed less protection than almost anyone he knew. "I love you, Lex Luthor. That's how I know none of it will happen."

"Are you sure?" Lex said, almost pleading. "I've tried so hard, but maybe...maybe I can't change who I am. Maybe I can't help but turn into my father."

"If you believe anything he's saying, you have to believe all of it," Clark reasoned. "You heard him say it, Lex. According to him, we're not even supposed to be friends. So even if somehow what he's saying is real, and he's not some crackpot, he's talking about a different Lex Luthor and a different Clark Kent, because we are friends, and I love you, and I want to have sex with you, and I won't let you turn into something that does those things. I won't." He hugged Lex tightly. "I won't," he swore again.

Finally, Lex began to hug him back. After a long while, Lex pulled back and pointed at the weapons on the ground. "Maybe it's time you did tell me what you wanted to tell me inside. I won't stop you this time."

Clark swallowed. "Promise you won't hate me?"

Lex stared at him with love-filled eyes. "Clark, there is nothing you could say or do that would ever make me hate you." He reached up and kissed Clark gently.

Clark blew out a breath and said in a rush, "I'm an alien. I came down with the meteors."

Lex blinked, then blinked again. "So I did hit you with my car?"

Clark nodded, not surprised at Lex's question. Lex had been needing to understand that day with an undiminished passion for years. He waited anxiously for Lex's further reaction, his gut churning with dread.

To his surprise, Lex grinned. "If we didn't have four weird people and two spaceships in my backyard," Lex said earnestly, "I'd push you down on the ground and have sex with you right now." He put a hand on the back of Clark's neck and pulled him close, covering his lips with his own, thrusting his tongue inside Clark's mouth like a starving man looking for water.

Clark got hard in an instant, dueling with Lex's tongue, grabbing Lex's ass, pulling him against his cock, going crazy when he felt Lex's matching hardness. He was going to come in his pants in a second and he didn't care. Lex still wanted him. The relief that shot through his body only increased his arousal. "God, Lex," he panted. "You really don't mind?"

"Mind?" Lex asked him, incredulous. "I already thought you were the sexiest thing on the planet, and now I find out you're the sexiest thing in the universe, and you're mine, and you think I'd mind? Jesus, Clark."

Clark couldn't stop grinning. Then some of Lex's words actually started to sink in. "Two spaceships?"

Lex sagged against Clark, breathing like he'd run the marathon. "God, you turn me on." He blew out a long breath. "Right. Spaceships. Spacemen." He glanced at Clark. "How did you get here safely? Were you in a meteor?"

"Spaceship," Clark said. "It's in the storm cellar."

Lex bit his lips, his eyes wide. "You have a spaceship in your storm cellar?"

Clark nodded.

"So there are three spaceships in Smallville right now?" Lex asked with a note of disbelief in his voice.

"Are we sure they're spaceships?" Clark asked. "Couldn't they be some new Air Force ship? Those people all looked human to me." He frowned. "Although they did say they were peaceful explorers and wanted to know where they were. And he called his ship a puddle jumper." He frowned. "That's a stupid name for a spaceship."

Lex was grinning again, much to Clark's relief, and looking like a kid in a candy store. "We need to go back," Lex said.

"Okay," Clark agreed, "but if that guy starts saying that stuff again, I'm taking you away."

Nodding, Lex pointed back from where they came. "Do you want to walk, or do you want to superspeed me back?"

Guessing that Lex would rather they superspeed, being the total geek that he was, Clark picked him up.

Lex frowned. "Do you have to hold me like this, like I'm the heroine in a bodice ripper?"

Clark grinned down at him. "I could throw you over my shoulder if you want."

"Oh, yes, that would be very dignified." Lex let out a sigh of exaggerated proportions. "Let's go."

In a couple of seconds, they were back at the spaceship, back with the four people who were all gawking at them.

Thank God, John thought, they're back. That's good. Or at least he
hoped it was good. Now if he could just keep Rodney quiet for a few
minutes, maybe they could figure out what was going on. And maybe get
some help. And getting their weapons back would be good.

"Sorry about that," John said with a crooked smile. "He was just kidding around. He does that."

"No I don't," Rodney said.

"McKay," John threatened out of the corner of his mouth.

"Bruce Wayne is Batman, you know," Rodney said. "And Peter Parker is Spiderman."

"Rodney," John almost yelled, exasperated with his teammate.

"Hey," Rodney said, defending himself, "if he's really Clark Kent, and he's really Lex Luthor, they should know these guys." He took a step forward, a gleam in his eyes. "Is there a Metropolis here? Or a Gotham City?"

John could see the nervous look in Clark's eyes, knew he was about to take off again. "Rodney, stop it. It doesn't matter who they are. What matters is if they can help us. And making them think we're crazy people isn't going to get them on our side. So stop with the comic book stuff, okay?"

Rodney snapped his mouth shut, shot John an annoyed glare, and crossed his arms over his chest. "Fine, shutting up now."

"Good," John said.

"About time," Ford muttered under his breath.

Clark was trying to stand in front of Lex, but the bald man pushed his way around him. "Who are you guys? Where are you from?" he demanded.

John pursed his lips, trying to figure out how to answer that.

"And who goes with the other ship?" Lex added.

"What other ship?" Rodney asked, apparently not shutting up after all.

But John wanted that question answered himself. "What other ship?" he repeated.

Lex pointed to where he'd seen the other one. "It doesn't look like this one. It's thinner and comes to a point. Looks like it's a large-sized model made for a special effects studio."

"Crap," John said. "Can you show me where it is?"

"Will you tell me who you are?" Lex negotiated. "You're on my land, and I'd like to know what I'm dealing with before I show you anything."

"Listen," John said. "If that ship is what I think it is, you're not safe. Show me where it is, and if I'm right, I'll tell you anything you want to know if you promise to help us."

Ford shifted, his face all squinty. "I'm confused. Are you two really Clark Kent and Lex Luthor? I mean, you can't be the Clark Kent and Lex Luthor I grew up on, because McKay's right. You guys weren't friends or..." his eyes went to where Clark had just grasped Lex's hand, "or more, and wasn't Clark already Superman, living in Metropolis, before you two even met? Are you really an alien from Krypton, superpowers and everything? And is this Earth?"

"Actually," Rodney began, "there are different versions of how Clark Kent and Lex Luthor met. In one version they were high school students together and Clark burnt all of Lex's hair off in a lab experiment which made..."

John interrupted him, "Could we stay focused, please." He gestured toward Rodney's scanner. "Can you pick up anything? Does the other ship register?" Maybe they wouldn't need Lex's help to find it. Not that John necessarily wanted to piss Lex Luthor off.

"This is Earth," Lex said, answering Ford's question. "Third planet from the Sun, Milky Way Galaxy. And I think our names are sufficient information for you at this time. Now it's time for you to tell me where you're from."

Ford swung around to look at John. "Is this one of those Daniel Jackson things? An alternate reality thing?"

It was a possibility. It also meant they were in more trouble than John had thought. "We definitely need to find out if there's a Stargate program here," John said softly to Rodney. "If there is, they can help us figure out how to get home."

Rodney nodded then pointed. "It's this way."

For a second John thought he meant the Stargate program, but then he realized he meant the other ship. Heading in that direction, following Rodney's lead, everyone else fell in line.

When they were standing in front of the dart, open, and markedly absent one Wraith, Rodney scowled and said, "Okay, this is bad." He turned in a circle, as if expecting an attack any second.

"Why is it bad?" Lex asked.

"You really don't want to know," Ford said, turning, his eyes searching.

"Actually, I do," Lex assured him firmly. "My land, my planet. If you've brought something deadly here, we need to know."

"We didn't bring it here," John insisted weakly, because, truthfully, they might have brought it here. He was a little fuzzy on how they'd gotten here in the first place. The last thing he remembered before that bumpy landing was thinking he was going to die painfully. Well, that and sex with Rodney. But that thought wasn't ever truly far from his mind.

Teyla's eyes closed and she nodded unhappily. "It is a Wraith. And he is alive and nearby, although my sense of him is weak."

"How do we know you're the good guys?" Clark asked. "Maybe this Wraith thing is the good guy."

"Only if you want to die in excruciating pain," Rodney snapped.

"How exactly do they kill you?" Lex asked, determined to know the facts.

"You don't want to know," Rodney answered glumly, repeating Ford's words from earlier.

Lex bit his lips for a second, visibly calming himself down. "Stop saying that," he said with a deadly calm. "Answer my questions. I can make things easier for you or I can make them much more difficult. It will be hard to repair your ship from inside a jail cell."

"Trust me," Rodney bit out, not the least bit daunted by Lex's attitude. "You do not want to run into one of these things because when they're done doing what they do, you're dead and not in a good way. Not that there's a good way to be dead, but there are a hell of a lot of ways to die, and this isn't one of the better ways. Okay?"

Lex pulled out his cell phone and flipped it open with an air of menace that made John feel like he could do more damage with a phone call than John could with his machine gun.

John put up a placating hand. "Okay. Okay. I think we all got off to a bad start. Let's start over. It's actually a good thing you're who you say you are, because you might actually believe what we're going to tell you. At least you both know that aliens are out there."

Lex flipped the phone shut. "Talk."

John could almost see how this Lex Luthor could become the scourge of the galaxy and Superman's main nemesis. There was something sort of scary about him. And Clark seemed to have no trouble letting him be in charge. Even Superman thought Lex was tough. "How old are you?" John asked Clark out of the blue.

"Eighteen," Clark said.

"Wow, you're really young." That explained a lot. "So you're not Superman yet?"

Clark just looked confused at that.

"At some point, in order to use your powers and not get caught," John said, "you take on a new persona, costume, the whole works. That way Clark Kent can have a life, and Superman can be the alien superhero."

"Like Batman and Bruce Wayne," Rodney added. When John glared at him, Rodney made a what-did-I-do? sort of hand gesture. "I'm just saying."

John turned back to Clark and Lex. "We're from another Earth, I guess. That other ship belongs to an alien called a Wraith and they're bad news. They can suck your lifeforce out of you, age you decades in seconds. And while they're doing that, they're pulling all the knowledge out of your mind. They've been looking for our Earth for a while, wanting fresh feeding grounds. The fact that a Wraith is here is really bad news. We don't want them communicating back to the rest of the Wraith."

"That's assuming there are Wraith here in this version of Earth," Lex said cool as a cucumber, as if he talked about aliens and weird shit every day. John glanced at Clark. Maybe he did.

"There's a top-secret program on our Earth," John continued, "that I can't tell you anything about, but if we could contact them, they'd be able to help us repair our ship, and send troops in to find the Wraith if we can't find it."

"And if this program doesn't exist here?" Lex asked.

John winced. "Then we have to figure out a way to do it ourselves." The four of them and two people out of a comic book. His life was too freaking weird sometimes.

"Right," Lex said. "Clark, how strong are you?"

"Really strong."

"Strong enough to move those ships?"

Clark nodded. "I think so."

"Can you get both ships in the garage without being seen? I'll give orders for no one to enter. In fact, I'll give the staff the rest of the week off." As Clark started to move, Lex added, "Get their weapons, too, will you?"

Clark nodded, went into a blur, and then the dart was a blur and it was gone.

All four of them stared at the empty space before them. "Wow," Rodney said. "That is so cool."

John tuned into Lex's phone call.

"Please have everyone out of the house immediately, Enrique. I apologize for the inconvenience; there'll be bonuses for everyone." There was a short pause, a brief smile, and then, "Thank you." He flipped the phone shut.

John had to admit if they had to run into two comic book characters, these two were pretty handy. Archie and Betty would have been a bit of a bust, help-wise.

Then Clark was back, and he was handing them their weapons, and John caressed his like it was his first-born. "Lex," John said cautiously, "I'm assuming, based on your alter-ego's maniacal success, that you're pretty smart?"

"He's really smart," Clark asserted, with a ridiculously proud look at Lex.

"Great, maybe you can help Rodney do his thing. Ford, Teyla and I will go look for the Wraith. Maybe you could go with us," he addressed Clark, thinking a superhero, even one who didn't go by the name Superman could come in handy when dealing with a Wraith.

Clark looked like he'd rather go with Lex, but he nodded. "Sure."

"Do I need to remind you to do your best not to get killed?" Rodney said sharply to John. "You're the only one who has a chance in hell of flying us out of here."

John rolled his eyes. "As usual, your sentiment overwhelms me."

Rodney frowned at him, his eyes nervous. "John..."

"I get it, Rodney. We'll all be careful." He soaked up the concern in Rodney's eyes hoping the source of it wasn't just because he could fly the jumper.

"What exactly is your thing?" Lex asked Rodney, not quite willing to take orders without more information.

"Proving on a regular basis," Rodney said primly, "that brains are always better than brawn."

Lex grinned a little, a mischievous twinkle in his eye.

John was very glad that Lex and Rodney were the good guys.

Lex watched Clark walk away with John and the rest of his team, torn
at the thought of separation, but then moved to Rodney's side.

They walked in silence for a few moments, and then Rodney said, "Sorry about before. I've been told I talk too much." His words were accompanied by a sour look on his face that make it clear that anyone who actually thought that about him wasn't really worth listening to.

Considering how much he'd hated the man the second he'd opened his mouth, Lex found him somewhat compelling. Maybe it was because he was so refreshingly, if irritatingly, honest. "No problem," Lex said. "So, Bruce Wayne is really Batman?" That was a key piece of information that would come in handy some day. Lex looked forward to it.

Rodney nodded. "And his ward is Robin."

"Dick Grayson is Robin?" Lex asked. He never would have guessed the kid had it in him.

"Do you know Peter Parker?"

Lex shook his head. "Who did you say he was?"


"Never heard of him."

"Hmph," Rodney commented. "How about Diana Carter?"

Lex shook his head again.

"No Justice League?" Rodney asked in a disappointed look.

"Not that I've heard of. Who's Diana Carter?"

"Wonder Woman."

"Wonder Woman? Superman? Spiderman? Who comes up with these names?" Lex asked, appalled. If, and when, Clark decided to go superhero, Lex was going to help him choose a much better name.

Changing the subject, Rodney asked, "Are you really smart, or was that Clark's hormones talking?"

"Smart enough to become an evil mastermind," Lex said snidely.

"Good point," Rodney said. "God, Lex Luthor." He shot Lex a quick grin. Then he frowned. "How do we know you're not really evil? You could have Clark totally snowed."

"I could, but I don't," Lex said. He sent Rodney his best superior look. "It's also possible that you're not as bright as you think." Lex taunted, still a little stung from the man's earlier comments. It was odd to realize that he became an even worse version of his father in another reality, that he had that potential inside of him. Then maybe it wasn't so odd. He knew it was there, had always known it. Had nursed the potential inside of him with a warped kind of pride. Until Clark. No, even for a while after he'd met Clark.

Rodney let out an outraged scoff. "I'm smarter than you'll ever be," he snapped out. "Smarter than anyone from a comic book."

"Jesus, you're an insufferable bastard," Lex said.

Rodney glared at him, as if Lex had been unspeakably rude to bring this small fault to light. Then he tilted his chin defiantly as if the next thing he might say would be: and what's your point, exactly?

It made Lex grin.

Rodney faltered, but then shot Lex a crooked grin in return.

"Maybe you should stick around," Lex said. "If you're as smart as you say you are, you could probably become an evil overlord."

Shaking his head, Rodney said, "Appealing, but no. I'm not big with the violence, and I hate sycophants. I'd rather be an evil genius minion with a sparkly lab and money to buy anything I need."

Lex snorted. "I'll keep that in mind if I decide I need an evil genius minion."

"Weird how you and Clark are friends in this universe. How'd that happen?"

"He saved my life and then wouldn't let me reward him."

Rodney rolled his eyes. "Aren't noble people annoying?"

"Very," Lex said with another grin.

"I'm surrounded by people who want to do the right thing," Rodney said acerbically. "It's very trying."

"Do you love him?" Lex asked, taking a stab in the dark.

"What?" Rodney said, his eyes wide. "Excuse me?"

"John? Do you love him?" Lex watched Rodney flounder and then added, "I only ask because people who try to do the right thing may be trying, but it can also be sexy as hell. Especially when they come in a pretty package."

Rodney's mouth opened and closed a few times, like a beached fish. Then they were at the house, and Rodney looked incredibly relieved. He shut his mouth and followed Lex into the garage.

Unfortunately, the Wraith found them first. And at that particular
moment, Clark wasn't with them. He'd go zipping off at super speed in
one direction, come back to them, then go zipping off in another
direction. They covered a lot of ground that way, but right now, they
could have used his help.

The Wraith shot them all with a Wraith stunner before they'd gotten off a full round. John was disgusted at himself for getting taken so easily. Teyla knew the Wraith was nearby but they'd still got taken down like a bunch of amateurs.

The only good thing was that the Wraith didn't know about Clark. The bad thing was that they all might be dead before Clark got back. The Wraith smiled that chill-inducing smile at them, considering his catch, clearly trying to decide who was going to be dinner first.

John hated the paralysis of the stunner with a passion. Nothing sucked more than helplessly watching the imminent demise of him and his team. He was just glad Rodney was out of harm's way, at least for the moment. Not that he envied Rodney being the one to find their dried out husks.

The Wraith focused on him. "You are the pilot?" he asked, practically drooling.

Stupid question, seeing as John couldn't talk. He did his best to glare through the paralysis. If the Wraith gave him a minute or two, maybe he'd be able to come up with a snappy rejoinder.

Grinning viciously, the Wraith moved to him, hand drawing back.

John winced at what he knew was coming, wishing he'd gotten heads instead of tails when he'd flipped that coin, then instantly unwished it because then he'd never have met Rodney. Not that it mattered, because he was about to become like a zillion years old.

The hand flashed down, but something blurred, and Clark was between him and the Wraith, and the Wraith let out a howl of anguish, pulling back his hand, fingers at odd angles.

Then Clark was standing, and he punched the Wraith, snapping his head back, sending him flying. It didn't stop the Wraith for long. He went after Clark with a vengeance.

John watched in glee as the Wraith failed over and over again. No matter what he did, he couldn't hurt Clark. His stunner didn't work in the entire two seconds he shot it before Clark disarmed him, snapping the weapon in two, throwing it in disgust on the ground.

Changing tactics, the Wraith moved to Teyla, hand poised over her chest. "I will kill her," the Wraith threatened.

Clark stopped.

Forcing the words out, John gasped, "He'll kill her anyway, Clark." He wanted to say more but that was all he could manage.

The Wraith's hand came down on Teyla, his need to feed paramount. John watched horrified, but before the Wraith could make sufficient contact, Clark was pulling him off of her. "What do I do with him?" he asked John, holding him captive.

"Kill him," John got out.

Clark shot him a pained look.

John guessed asking an eighteen year old to commit murder, despite how warranted, wasn't exactly fair. "Tie him up with something." It was starting to get easier to talk.

Clark vanished with the Wraith, returning in less than a minute with the Wraith practically mummified in duck tape.

Even though mostly still paralyzed, John couldn't help laughing at the sight.

After Lex turned the lights on in the garage, he looked to see where
Clark had parked the spaceships. Lex grinned to himself at the
thought. Spaceships.

Rodney interrupted his reverie, asking, "You have a good laptop?"

"The best money can buy," Lex said. "Only the best for us evil masterminds."

"You are so not going to let me forget that, are you?" Rodney said testily. But then he grinned. "Maybe I can make it up to you with a little thing called a Naquada battery. It's going to do amazing things to your laptop." Rodney suddenly seemed to notice what he was surrounded by. He gawked at the cars. "Oh, my God. Is that an Aston Martin Vanquish and a Lamborghini Murcielago?" He spun, taking in all the cars. "There must be a million dollars of cars in here," he said, astounded.

"More than that," Lex said. He pointed at the Saleen S7. "With the options I chose, that one was half a million by itself."

Rodney came to a complete stop. "Are you kidding me? I wasn't even sure if any of these cars were for real." He looked around the garage in wonder. And then, "Oh, my God, is that a MTT Turbine Superbike?" He moved to it, reaching out a hand but then hesitating.

"You can touch it," Lex said with a smile.

Rodney ran his fingers along the polished chrome of the motorcycle.

"If we have time, you can ride it," Lex offered.

"I don't know how to ride a motorcycle," Rodney said with quiet longing. He sighed then shook himself. Glancing around, he saw the ships and headed that way. When they arrived at the puddle jumper, Rodney opened the back and rummaged inside until he found what he was looking for. He held it up for Lex's inspection.

"That's going to improve my laptop?" Lex said doubtfully. It looked like a rough square of dark stone with wires coming out of it.

Rodney ran a hand over it, caressing it. "Oh, yeah. With this baby hooked up to it, your laptop will stay charged for the next ten thousand years."

Lex's eyebrows went up, and he could feel the avaricious gleam in his eyes. "You're going to leave that with me?"

"Sure. You can't make any more of them. The main element isn't found on Earth." He shrugged. "Besides, seriously? The Prime Directive was a stupid rule."

Lex grinned. He liked Rodney. And he wanted that battery.

Clark squatted down by John's side. "Are you all right? What did he
do to you?"

John was able to talk and twitch his fingers but that was about all. "That gun temporarily paralyzes you," he explained, then tried to smile. "Assuming you're not invulnerable. We'll be better in a few minutes."

"Should I go get Dr. McKay?"

"He's not that kind of doctor," John said, imaging how not helpful Rodney would be right now. Although John wouldn't mind seeing that worry in his eyes again. The problem was that Rodney's worrying usually wasn't silent. It was loud. Really, really, loud.

"I feel bad just leaving you here. Maybe I should carry you back."

John liked that idea. He'd rather recover inside than lying in the dirt. "Tap my ear, turn on my headset."

Clark looked for a second, but then did as instructed.


He got a grunt in return.

"McKay, we ran into some trouble."

There was a pause. "What?" Rodney yelled. "What? Are you hurt? What happened? Where are you?"

John realized he should have approached the subject differently for his eardrums' sake. "We're okay. Or rather, we will be. Clark's got the Wraith all tied up, but we all took a hit from the Wraith's stunner."

"Are you trying to give me a heart attack?" Rodney yelled again.

"Actually, I'm trying to keep you from having a heart attack when you see Clark carrying us in," John said as calmly as he could. "See you in a minute." He motioned with his chin for Clark to shut down the connection. Then he motioned toward Ford and Teyla. "Take them first."

Clark nodded. "I'll just be a second."

It was nice to know that he was telling the truth, and it was only a matter of seconds before he was scooped up and carried back to the castle.

Clark kept an eye on John, Aiden, and Teyla while they fully
recovered, and Lex continued to work with Rodney. Clark dropped in
every few minutes or so to check on them. The last time, after Lex
saw the expression on Clark's face, he decided he better tone down the
geek lust. Or at the very least he needed to take his eyes off of
Rodney and redirect them to the laptop.

The problem was that Rodney was a fucking genius. Even without the battery, what Rodney could do to a laptop was one of the most amazing things Lex had ever seen. And once the battery was connected, Lex's computer started downloading so fast he couldn't keep up with it.

Lex's laptop was putty in Rodney's hands. Rodney had just hacked into more databases in ten minutes than Lex had managed in the last year. Lex hoped he was leaving a clear trail. Some of those databases could be very useful.

In his secret heart of hearts, Lex wanted to think that if he'd chosen the route of science and truly applied himself, that he would have been just like Rodney. If he wasn't completely nuts over Clark, he'd be tempted to go after Rodney. Genius with attitude. One of Lex's favorite things. After alien superheroes with a face like an angel and a heart and soul to match, of course.

Lex told Rodney he'd be right back.

Rodney grunted at him, then called, "Get me something to eat, would you?"

Lex let out a quick laugh. He'd known the guy for less than an hour and he was relegated to class dunce and servant. Not that he wouldn't get Rodney something to eat but he had something more important to do first.

He headed for the library, where he knew Clark was babysitting. He opened the door, found Clark staring out the window. He joined him there. "You know I love you, right?" Lex murmured to Clark.

Clark hesitated then nodded.

Even softer, leaning his head in close, Lex said, "I will never be unfaithful to you, Clark. Never. Trust me on that. You're too important to me."

Clark searched his eyes, apparently saw what he needed to find and smiled. "I do trust you, Lex. I always have."

Lex smiled at him. "Good." He reached up and touched Clark's cheek. "So you know it won't mean anything if I go back and get all hot and flustered watching Rodney play with my laptop. Right?"

That got a big grin. "Geek."

Lex heard movement behind him; he turned around and saw that John was trying to sit up. Just that quickly, Clark was there, assisting him.

"You okay?" Clark asked.

John nodded. "I hate those things," he griped. "Where's the Wraith?"

Clark pointed behind the far couch. "He's over there. I wasn't sure what to do with him." He paused, winced. "I know you wanted me to kill him, but..."

John shook his head. "I shouldn't have asked you. It wasn't fair of me." He squinted up at Clark. "But I am gonna have to kill him. He's too dangerous to keep alive."

Clark looked away, nodded tightly. Then he was helping Aiden and then Teyla sit up.

John looked up at Lex. "Is he gonna be okay?"

Lex watched Clark as he got some water for Teyla at her request. "Yeah. He gets it. Violence isn't ever his first choice, but he's had to permanently take care of some dangerous creatures here in Smallville." His eyes followed Clark, admiring everything about him. "I'll make sure he's okay."

John nodded. "What's Rodney doing?"

Lex grinned, shaking his head in amazement. "Doing impossible things to my laptop."

John smirked. "Pretty amazing to watch, isn't it?"

"Captivating," Lex said.

John narrowed his eyes at him.

Lex grinned again. "Not that way."

Looking flustered, John looked away. He glanced at Ford and Teyla. "You guys okay?" He reached up for the water Clark offered him.

They nodded. "I will be fine," Teyla assured him. She glanced at Clark. "Thank you for your assistance."

Rodney burst in through the door. "Do you know how long I've been looking for you?" he demanded. "This castle is huge, and excuse me, but who the hell lives in a castle in Kansas?"

John rolled his eyes.

Then Rodney was standing in front of him, checking him over. "You're really not hurt?"

"Thanks to Clark," John admitted. "He was about to have a snack when Clark got between it and me. I think the Wraith broke all its fingers."

Rodney flashed Clark a grateful look, and then tried to pretend he hadn't.

"He also saved me," Teyla said.

Clark was blushing.

Lex wanted to drag him off and make love to him for hours. While he was definitely enjoying this science-fiction interlude, a part of him wished they'd all just go away.

"What'd you find out?" John asked Rodney, leaning back wearily.

"It's weird," Rodney said with a perplexed half grin. "None of us exist. No one I know seems to have ever lived here. No one from the Stargate program, the four of us, nobody. It may look like Earth, it might actually be Earth, but it's not a parallel universe like the ones through the quantum mirror. This one sprang up all on its own." He bounced on his toes. "It really is Comic Book World."

"Rodney," John cautioned.

"No, really," Rodney said, totally enthused. "I've found Wally West, John Stewart, Bruce Banner, Anthony Stark, Francis Xavier, Jean Gray, and Scott Summers. This is totally Comic Book World."

"Who are all those people?" Lex asked.

"Other people with super powers of one sort or another," Rodney told him. "And good guys." He grimaced. "I didn't do a search for the bad guys, but I'll bet they're out there." Then he grinned, bouncing again. "I could look."

John shook his head. "McKay, seeing as how we don't have a Stargate Program to help us out, don't you think you should probably be working on getting the puddle jumper working?"

Rodney looked like someone popped his balloon. "Fine. Suck all the fun out of my life," he snarled.

"If all the fun in your life is comic book characters," John shot back, "you need to get out more."

"Ha ha," Rodney said. He turned to Lex. "Wanna help?"

Lex felt unduly flattered. "Of course."

"Good. Get your laptop and bring some food." Rodney headed out.

Lex stared after him.

John snorted. "Welcome to my world."

Rodney glared at the ship like it was going out of its way to make his
life miserable.

"Rodney?" Lex began.


"Will you tell me who the bad guys are? So I can help Clark?"

"Sure," Rodney said absently. "You know he can fly, right?"

Lex's eyebrows went up. "Clark?"

Rodney nodded. "And Kryptonite can kill him."

"Kryptonite?" Lex's stomach suddenly hurt. "The green stone?" He'd known it could hurt Clark, but not that it could kill him.

"Yeah, every time he almost dies, it's because someone shoots him with it, or poisons him with it, or some hot babe uses it as lipstick and kisses him. Of course, most of the time it was you trying to kill him. Seeing as you're on his side in this version, he'll probably have an easier time of it."

"Do you get how much of an asshole you are sometimes?" Lex asked curiously, trying not to let Rodney's casual words of Lex trying to kill Clark bother him.

Rodney stopped what he was doing and stared at Lex. "Sorry. Sorry. It's like my brain's working so fast it can't stop my mouth in time."

That actually sort of made sense, Lex thought.

"I don't have any trouble with you calling me names, though, if it'll help," Rodney offered. "I've grown pretty accustomed to it."

Lex couldn't help but grin at that. "Is there a way to destroy Kryptonite?"

Rodney shook his head and moved back under the console. "Not that I know of."

"Who ends up being his worst enemies?"

Rodney sat up again. "Don't get mad, but you were his worst enemy. Really. So most of the bad stuff that happened to him, won't. One of the worst things you did was go to the future to find a Legion of Supervillians that you banded together to try to kill Superman."

Lex let out a sigh, wincing. "Did I ever seriously hurt him?"

"All the time, but he always recovered." Rodney grinned. "He also marries Lois Lane, which we know isn't going to happen in this world."

Over Lex's dead body. Lex wondered if he needed to pay a visit to Lois Lane. He'd think about that later. "After me, or the other Lex Luthor, who do I need to be worried about?"

Rodney thought for a minute. "Braniac. He's a consistent nemesis. He's from a planet called Colu. He's an android, super strong. Hmm. Mr. Mxyzptlk was another one who drove Superman crazy. Just figure out a way to make him say his name backwards and he'll be banished back to his own dimension."

Lex tucked all that information away, ignoring how completely nuts it sounded. Anything that might keep Clark safe was too important to disregard.

"Ooh," Rodney said. "Metallo is bad news. His heart is kept alive with a piece of Kryptonite, so he's hard for Superman to fight." He scrunched his face up. "I don't remember much about him, like where he comes from."

"Clark survives all of it, though?" Lex asked apprehensively.

"Doomsday kills him, but only for a while," Rodney said, all too casually for Lex's peace of mind.

"What does that mean?" Lex snapped.

"Doomsday and Superman fight to the death, but after a while, Superman comes back to life." Rodney waved his hand in the air. "Very long story."

"How do I help Clark fight him?" Whatever it took; Lex would make it happen.

"The details are a little sketchy," Rodney said. "The Justice League wasn't strong enough to fight him. Superman managed to finish him off, like I said, or they manage to finish each other off, but then when Superman comes back, he finds out that actually someone strapped Doomsday to an asteroid and flung him out to space. Superman goes after him and takes him to the end of time to get rid of him."

"The end of time?" It seemed to Lex that Superman might have been better suited finding out who or what had managed to overcome Doomsday.

Rodney waved his hand again. "Listen. I know it all sounds bad, but the truth of it is that if you're not around being the uber-bad guy, a lot of this stuff may not happen. Most of the bad guys got their funding from you. With your brain and money fighting on Clark's side, the bad guys may just pick other planets to harass."

Rodney snapped his fingers. "Oh, and hey, be careful of the Kryptonite. You wore a ring of the stuff to protect yourself from Superman and it ended up rotting your hand off."

Lex grimaced. "Thanks for the tip." He'd handle the stuff a bit more carefully in the future. Then he asked, "Why Superman? Who gave him that name?"

"Lois Lane." He smirked. "Fighting for Truth, Justice and the American Way."

Lex frowned. "The American Way? Why the American Way? Doesn't he fight globally?"

"Yeah, but comic books, at least the ones that were about Superman were all about the United States. Speaking as a Canadian, I thought that sucked." He grinned. "See, you can give him a better name, and a much better slogan." Grimacing, he added, "And a better costume. Not that I want to get drummed out of the comic book corp, but all that blue and red spandex? Please." He thought for a second. "The cape was cool, though. Although now that I think about it, the entire outfit, especially the red boots, screamed gay."

Rodney stuck his head under the console again, then let out an exasperated sigh. He tapped his earpiece. "Major? I need you and your gene down in the puddle jumper, please."

Clark came down with John because he was missing Lex. Once they got
to the garage, it took a while to get John to the jumper because when
he saw all the cars, Lex had to come out and give him a tour.

Rodney did his best to look like he'd seen it all, ho-hum, nothing to see here, but Clark could see the gleam in his eye, especially when John sat on the MTT Turbine Superbike, his hands caressing the shiny chrome. Not that Clark blamed him. He and Lex had only gone out on it a couple of times, but it had felt amazing.

"Maybe John could take you for a ride later," Lex said to Rodney. "Assuming you do ride," he added, looking at John.

John just nodded. "Oh, yeah. I bet you can really fly on this baby."

Rodney rolled his eyes. "Thanks but no. I prefer my organs where they are, thank you very much."

"Oh, come on, McKay. Live a little," John teased him.

"Live a little?" Rodney squeaked. "I'm sorry, but which part of the last year did you miss? Because somehow I've forgotten the lazy hazy days of not living in mortal fear."

"All the more reason to take advantage of having some fun while you're risking your life," John cajoled. "I know you want to."

Clark could tell that Rodney did want to. Really, really wanted to. And if John had pushed a little bit harder, Clark was sure Rodney would have given in, but John gave up. "Okay. Never mind. I'll take it out by myself later if we have time." He got off the bike, caressed it one more time and turned toward the jumper.

Rodney looked crestfallen, but he quickly recouped and the four of them entered the jumper.

Clark and Lex sat on one of the long padded benches, out of the way, watching Rodney talk geek while John seemed to make things appear magically out of the air. It soon became clear that Rodney was seriously unhappy.

"The problem, Major," he was saying testily, "is that even if it can still fly, which I'm not sure it can, I still haven't figured out what was originally wrong with it. We wouldn't last long with life support on the fritz. That's assuming we could even achieve escape velocity, and then figure out how to find our own universe." He looked around. "By the way, where is the Wraith?"

"Aiden's watching over him in the media room," Clark said with a grin. Aiden had been in seventh heaven once he'd seen Lex's collection of DVDs and computer games. They'd both made sure the Wraith was secure and then stashed him in a corner. Even though Clark was still uncomfortable with the idea of just killing him, he had to admit the Wraith completely creeped him out.

"And he's not dead...why?" Rodney asked with a glare.

"I haven't gotten around to it, yet," John answered, trying to shoot Rodney a look that Clark guessed was on his behalf, even though it completely flew right by Rodney.

Teyla, after Clark assured her that Smallville was safe, had gone out exploring. Clark liked her. She seemed really nice. They all seemed nice. Well, most of them. Rodney was a grump, but Lex apparently approved of him despite all the horrible things Rodney had said, so he had to be all right beneath all the grumpiness.

Clark especially liked Teyla because she didn't keep shooting him weird looks. She'd never heard of Clark Kent, or Lex Luthor, or Superman, or any of the stuff Rodney had been going on and on about, and Clark was glad. It was weird enough being an alien in the first place.

"Rodney..." John suddenly said, interrupting whatever Rodney had been prattling on about. Clark had sort of tuned him out.

Rodney had stuck his head in a console so his voice was muffled. "What?"

"I have a confession to make."

There was silence for a moment coming from the console and then Rodney poked his head out.

"A confession?"

"I spilled coffee over the life support controls yesterday. I think that's what shorted them out."

There was a long menacing pause from Rodney. Then, softly, he said, "You spilled coffee?"

John shrugged. "I cleaned it up. How was I supposed to know the Ancients built ships that couldn't handle a little spilled coffee?"

"We almost died because you spilled coffee?" Rodney asked indignantly.

"It was just one cup," John protested.

"We almost died because of coffee?" Rodney asked again.

"Do you need me to hit you?" John asked, "Because I think you're stuck."


"Could we move on?" John suggested tersely.

Rodney glared at him. "What kind of coffee? Tell me it was the instant stuff."

John rolled his eyes. "Jesus, McKay. Are you more upset that I screwed up life support and almost killed us, or that I actually wasted some coffee?"

Rodney appeared to be thinking about it. "Maybe Lex can buy you a sippy cup before we leave," he snarked.

"Do I need to remind you about Power Bar crumbs in the DHD?" John threatened.

Rodney gave him a haughty look. "Remind me all you like, Major. My crumbs never shorted out life support." He mumbled something.

"What?" John demanded.

Louder, Rodney said, "Just make sure you tell Teyla and the Lieutenant what broke the jumper."

"Hey, I defended you," John protested.

"Before or after you remembered it was all your fault?" Rodney said snidely.

"Before," John said just as snidely.

That took the wind out of Rodney's sails. "Oh," he said primly. "Okay, then." He poked his head back under the console.

"So can you fix it?"

"I don't know yet." He snapped his fingers. "Turn it on."

"The whole jumper?"

"Yes, yes, the whole jumper."

John closed his eyes for a second and the jumper came to life.

"Main monitor," Rodney demanded as he looked up at John.

The main monitor appeared in the air before John.

Clark looked at Lex, who was watching the proceedings with avid eyes, and grinned. "You are totally in geek-lust aren't you?"

Lex nodded, eyes gleaming. Then he slowly turned to Clark, although it took a few seconds for his eyes to follow. But suddenly Lex was staring at him like he was the most amazing thing he'd ever seen. Clark wasn't sure why, certain he couldn't compete with gadgets out of a sci-fi movie. And then the lust was shifting to love, and it took Clark's breath away.

Silently Clark begged: Kiss me, Lex, kiss me. Not that he couldn't kiss Lex, but he wanted Lex to kiss him. Right now, in front of Dr. McKay who was way smarter than Clark, and in front of all the coolest gadgets that Clark would never be able to give Lex.

And then Lex was kissing him. First soft, just the merest pressure of lips, then a nibble, then his bottom lip was being sucked into Lex's mouth, teased with a tongue. Then Lex's tongue was in his mouth and Lex was moaning, just a little, with every breath, as if he were doing his best to hold it in, to keep silent.

It drove Clark wild. He followed Lex's tongue back into his mouth, explored every surface, dueled with Lex's tongue, wanted to crawl inside of Lex and never come out.

But then Lex was softening the kiss, slowing it down, turning it into small kisses with gentle tongue touches, and then only small kisses, and then he pulled back and looked at Clark, like Clark was so much more than geniuses and spaceships, that he was everything Lex had ever wanted.

Clark could have sat there all day, letting Lex stare at him like that, but there was a small noise and he looked up to find Rodney and John staring at them.

To his chagrin, Clark started to blush. But then Lex was standing and pulling Clark up and tendering some sort of apology to the two men. And then he was dragging Clark out of the jumper and through the garage and Clark sure as hell hoped they were going somewhere to have sex.

"They are so going somewhere to have sex," Rodney announced.

John happened to agree but he frowned at Rodney. "You got a problem with that?"

"Well, yeah," Rodney said as if John were an idiot.

Subduing an almost painful flash of disappointment at Rodney's attitude, John snapped, "You never struck me as the homophobic type."

"What?" Rodney said, staring at him. "That's got nothing to do with it." He pointed in the direction Lex and Clark had just gone through. "It's Lex Luthor and Clark Kent. It would be like watching Batman and the Joker go at it." He shuddered. "It's just wrong."

John found his head filled with visions of Jack Nicholson and Michael Keaton having sex and it sent shudders down his spine. Then he glanced up at Rodney who now looked pensive, still staring in the same direction.

"Although, they did look pretty hot," Rodney admitted honestly. "In a totally weird, totally wrong sort of way."

"Hot?" John repeated, disappointment washing away.

Rodney stared at him, eyes wide. "Was that my out-loud voice?"

"You mean you have a not-out-loud voice?" John asked in awe. "When does it get to say anything?"

"Ha ha," Rodney said cuttingly. He moved back under the console.

John sat in the pilot's seat thinking about the conversation, waiting for Rodney to give him more orders. He thought it was remiss of the military not to offer some classes during Officer Training School on how to deal with bossy high-ranking civilians. "So two guys doesn't bother you?" he finally asked nonchalantly, as if the answer was of no importance at all.

"Doesn't bother me what?" Rodney asked in an absentminded way.

It amazed John how Rodney could be so focused and scatterbrained at the same time. He twisted in the chair and snuck a look at Rodney's ass. Rodney had buffed up a little since coming to Atlantis. Running for your life tended to do that to a guy.

But he still had his tummy, which John was secretly glad of. He had disturbing fantasies of being naked in bed with Rodney and resting his head on his stomach. It would be soft, like a pillow, but warm with a heartbeat. "So," John said, even more nonchalantly, in fact, the height of nonchalance, "you gonna let me take you for a ride later?"

It was his fantasy, right? He could pretend that Rodney would catch a clue and hear the implied innuendo.

"A ride on what?" Rodney called from below.

John rolled his eyes. "The motorcycle."

"Oh, you mean the organ donation vehicle?"

"It's a 200,000 dollar bike, Rodney."

"Excuse me," Rodney said snippily. "Let me rephrase that. Oh, you mean the 200,000 dollar organ donation vehicle?"

Rodney was clearly not going along with John's fantasy, which totally sucked but wasn't unexpected. Maybe one of these days, John would actually tell Rodney that he wanted him, or maybe just grab him and kiss him.

John's lips tightened. It was a nice idea but John didn't see himself ever actually doing it. The people on Atlantis might, occasionally, see John as a hero, but when it came to relationships, John was a complete and utter wuss. He really needed to see overt interest on the part of the other person before he'd do anything about it. It was just easier that way. Rejection sucked.

Rodney suddenly snorted. "Tell me you don't actually try those lines out on women."

John frowned at him. "Right, like you're Mister Smooth."

Rodney snorted again. "Will you let me take you for a ride?" he mocked.

John shifted uncomfortably in his chair and thought about going to see how Ford and Teyla were doing. Rodney hadn't just missed the clue bus, he'd gotten on the wrong one. Figures. Not quite the genius he thinks he is, John thought meanly to himself.

A minute later, after tinkering with the scanner for a while, Rodney snapped his fingers. "Wait a minute." He stared at John. "You said that to me. You were coming on to me."

"No, I wasn't," John avowed, with a painful flashback of being twelve.

"You so were coming on to me," Rodney said, piqued.

John thought about denying it again but stayed silent, watching Rodney as he inputted all the 0's and 1's, and then let them rattle around in his gargantuan brain waiting for a conclusion. John braced himself for whatever might be heading his way. Scorn, more mocking, disinterest, the I-like-you-like-a-friend spiel. Rejection, John said again to himself, totally sucked.

But then Rodney was lunging up from the floor, and John's face was being framed in Rodney's large hands, and Rodney's tongue was in his mouth, and John's cock was standing up at attention, begging for more.

They were in a fairly awkward half-sitting, half-standing position, so John pulled them both up so he could feel more of Rodney. A bed would be better, but for right now, standing thigh to thigh, cock to cock, chest to chest, and tongue to tongue was pretty damn great.

John couldn't believe they were kissing. In fact, he couldn't believe it so much, he had to say it. "I can't believe you're kissing me," he said between frantic kisses and nibbles and bites.

"Aren't I supposed to be kissing you?" Rodney gasped out as he made his way down John's jaw to his throat.

"Yes, you're definitely supposed to be kissing me," John quickly reassured him, in case Rodney had any intention of stopping. "I'm just surprised you grabbed me and kissed me."

"Why wouldn't I? You were coming on to me." Rodney unbuttoned the top bottom of John's shirt so he could access his collarbone.

Who knew that was such a hot spot? John groaned. "I just didn't expect you to notice," John said, groaning again.

"Do you think I'm an idiot?" Rodney asked, unbuttoning a second button, and pulling down the zipper to John's vest. He reached his fingers in and found a nipple.

"Ah," John groaned. "Do that again."

Rodney complied. In fact he did even better. He pulled the shirt away enough to latch onto John's nipple with his teeth, at which point he nibbled and then sucked and then licked, until John thought he might go out of his mind. He couldn't wait for Rodney to get to the rest of him, if he could make one nipple feel like this.

Somehow he found the thread of the conversation. "About this sort of stuff, yeah, sort of," John said.

Rodney glared at him. "Nice," he yelled, outraged. Not that it stopped him. His hand moved to John's crotch, and he was rubbing in a way that told John he'd done this before. John thrust against his hand, finding Rodney's mouth again. He had one hand in Rodney's hair, and one on his ass. God, Rodney's ass was so squeezable. He wanted to bite it.

There was, however, one thing he needed to know. "Rodney?"

Pulling back, Rodney glared at him. "What? What? Do you have something against kissing?"

John shook his head. "No, I love kissing."

"Then why won't you shut up?"

John frowned. "That's rich coming from you," he complained.

"Yes, but you're the one who won't shut up," Rodney pointed out disparagingly, even as he started working on John's belt buckle.

"Is this just for the sex or do I factor into it?" John asked in a rush, wondering when the hell he'd turned into a girl. He covered his face with his hand, almost wishing the Wraith would show up. "Forget I said that."

There was an ominous silence.

John peeked at Rodney and saw him thinking. John grimaced. Watching Rodney think about something was sometimes like defusing a bomb. You hoped you'd done it right, but as it ticked down, simply had to wait until it either blew you up into little pieces, or it didn't, and you could start celebrating the fact that you were alive.

Rodney licked his lips. "I promise I'll have my best friend slip you a note in homeroom tomorrow telling you how much I like you, okay?" He then gave John a half-searching, half incredulous look. "Are we done now? Can we get back to the kissing?"

"Aren't I sort of your best friend?"

"Good point," Rodney said. "But Radek would do it. He's a hopeless romantic."

"So you do like me?" That didn't come out right. He was still being a girl. "Wait..."

"Are you kidding me?" Rodney yelled. "What do you want? Flowers? Chocolate?" He glared at John. "I'm not giving you my last Three Musketeers Bar, so just forget it." Then he sighed. "Fine, I'll split it with you." He ran his hands through his hair until it was practically standing on end, reflecting Rodney's mood perfectly.

"Look, all I mean," John tried again, going for manly this time, "is that Captain Kirk analogies aside, I'm not much for casual sex."

"From where I'm standing, you're not for sex at all," Rodney griped. He sat down in the co-pilot's chair. "I'm guessing you don't get laid much."

"I get laid plenty," John griped. That was a complete and utter lie. Chaya had been the first in a long time, and the last. And a total disaster from start to finish. If you could even call getting glowy together sex.

"So is this like a Pon Farr thing?" Rodney wondered out loud, giving John a pitying glance. "Every seven years you shut up long enough to actually have sex?"

John threw himself down in the pilot's seat. "Shut up." He scrubbed at his face with his hands. "All I want..."

"Yes," Rodney interrupted impatiently. "Yes, I like you, I even love you. I've wanted you practically from the moment I met you. Is that enough? Please tell me that's enough. I'll give you my Three Musketeers Bar. Nothing says love like chocolate, right? Isn't there an ad that says that? Are we done? Can we get back to the kissing and the groping? I was really liking that."

John moved and straddled Rodney in his seat, sticking his tongue down Rodney's throat, his hands holding Rodney's head captive, as he rutted against him.

It took Rodney about two seconds to get with the program but then he had his hands on John's ass, and his fingers were pressing into the crease, pulling John closer, swallowing John's tongue, every gasped breath ending in a moan.

Then John was sliding down Rodney's body, and undoing his belt and his zipper, and wrapping his hands around Rodney's cock, and then he was sucking on it, and Rodney was making these amazing noises, like John was the best cocksucker in the universe and it just made John suck even harder.

Then Rodney let out a really loud groan, and John could feel his balls tighten and he kept sucking until Rodney spurted in his mouth, frantically thrusting as he found his completion. "Oh, God," Rodney said as he sagged in the chair. "Let's do that again as often as possible, okay?"

"In the puddle jumper?" John asked with a grin.

"Anywhere," Rodney gasped, his body still shuddering. Then he grabbed John's shoulder. "Come here."

John wasn't sure where he was being pulled to, but then he was standing, and Rodney was undoing his pants and pulling his cock out. He was directed back to kneel on the chair, his knees to the outside of Rodney's thighs, and his cock ended up in Rodney's mouth, and Rodney had definitely done this before.

John hung on tight as Rodney nibbled and sucked and licked John to Nirvana. Only Rodney's tight grasp kept him from falling when he came in Rodney's mouth. Then he was sitting in Rodney's lap, being cuddled close, while Rodney pressed little kisses on his face.

Letting out a satisfied sigh, John let himself be cuddled. Rodney may not be much for sweet talk, but he said it all with the touching. And his Three Musketeers Bar. Hoping no one came by and found them in each other's laps, smiles on their faces and their cocks hanging out of their pants, John closed his eyes and fell asleep.

Lex came to his senses by the time he got Clark up to his bedroom.
"We can't have sex now, Clark."

Clark stared at him incredulously. "What? What? Why?"

Putting up a hand as if that had a prayer of placating a hormonepossessed teenager, Lex said, "It's not that I don't want to, I do. But our first time isn't going to be when we have a houseful of aliens downstairs, including one who could kill us if he got free. I want to take our time; I want to take my time touching you, getting to know you, tasting you."

Clark was shaking his head. "And talking that way is supposed to help? Jesus, Lex, don't do this to me. I'm going to explode if you don't touch me." He grabbed his crotch. "I hurt."

Lex was determined to stick to his plan. He didn't want anything distracting him when he finally got Clark naked and in his bed. It would take him at least a full day to fully explore and conquer all the new land being offered to him.

But then again, he could empathize. Blue balls weren't fun, and he supposed he was giving conflicting messages. That kiss in the puddle jumper had clearly been an invitation to carnal knowledge. But he couldn't imagine starting to feast at this banquet and have to rush. "I'm not trying to be a bastard, Clark, and I promise that as soon as we get rid of our guests, I'll make it up to you."

"They could be here for days, weeks," Clark protested.

Lex grimaced at the thought of waiting that long. It didn't matter that he'd already waited three years. During that period of time, Clark hadn't really been available, but now he was. Not only available but standing there ready and waiting. "You'll thank me later," Lex said firmly.

Clark rolled his eyes. "Fine," he said shortly. He stalked to the bathroom, shutting the door behind him.

Lex blew out a breath, not sure he would have withstood another argument. Fortunately, Clark wasn't adept at the art of seduction-- other than the obvious advantages of his gorgeous face and body--or Lex would have been screwed.

"I'm taking off my clothes," Clark announced loudly from the bathroom.

Lex groaned.

"I'm naked, and I'm touching myself." Clark's voice was husky.

Lex imagined what he looked like and his own cock started to harden. So much for Clark not knowing how to seduce someone. While his technique lacked subtlety, it was effective. He moved closer to the door, listening intently, and he could hear Clark's hand working his cock, the sound of flesh on flesh.

"Fuck," Lex said softly. He closed his eyes, striving for control, but failed miserably. He opened the bathroom door.

Clark looked up at him from where he was leaning against the sink vanity. His eyes were dark, his lips wet. He was a fucking wet dream.

Lex did not have the strength to resist. He had to touch. Moving to Clark, Lex ran a hand down Clark's chest, felt the warm sweaty slickness. "Turn around," he said softly.

Letting out a moan of relief, Clark turned, leaning back on Lex. "Touch me," he begged.

Lex watched the mirror, took in the sight of a naked Clark Kent, his tanned skin, dark hair, face and body of a god. Reaching around, Lex wrapped his fingers around Clark's cock, his other hand cradling the soft sacs beneath.

Clark groaned and closed his eyes. "God, Lex, that feels so good."

"You are so beautiful," Lex marveled, watching Clark, watching him lick his lips, thrust his hips so his cock moved in and out of the tunnel of Lex's fingers. "And mine," Lex cautioned. No one else was ever going to see this.

Clark nodded. "All yours." He opened his eyes, met Lex's in the mirror. Their eyes stayed focused on each other as Lex stroked Clark's cock, feeling his balls tighten with the fingers of his other hand.

Lex pushed against Clark's ass, wishing he was naked, too, wishing Clark was loose and ready for him to push inside. Clark rubbed his ass against Lex's cock, and then he was crying out and coming all over Lex's hand, and Lex was coming in his pants, against Clark's tight ass.

They both sort of staggered to the ground, keeping in position, so Lex ended up with his back to the wall, Clark sitting between his legs, his head resting back on Lex's shoulder. Both of them were breathing hard, trying to catch their breath.

"If that was us not having sex," Clark finally said, "I'm not sure I'll survive the real thing."

Lex snickered. He couldn't believe he'd come in his pants. Then again, this was Clark Kent, and he was finally naked, and Lex had watched him come. The real miracle was that he hadn't come in his pants anytime in the preceding three years. Lex's arms moved to embrace Clark tightly. "Mine," was all he said.

"Yours," Clark agreed again. "And that works both ways," he said firmly.

"Yes, it does," Lex said, kissing Clark's shoulder. "It definitely works both ways." They sat there for a little while longer.

"I guess we should take a shower," Clark suggested. "Maybe we could not have sex again," he added hopefully.

Lex started to laugh.

Now that Rodney knew the likely cause of the screw up, he was taking
the main console apart, handing things to Lex to clean, and putting
them back.

Clark was with John and Aiden in the media room and, even though it was getting dark, Teyla was still out exploring. She had been calling in every thirty minutes as instructed, so they knew she was fine.

Lex was hanging out with Rodney. He and Clark had not had sex again in the shower, and he had finally gotten to suck Clark's cock. It had been well worth the three-year wait and Lex couldn't wait to do it again.

Watching Rodney, Lex thought he looked much more relaxed than he'd been an hour ago. Lex guessed it had something to do with the shiteating grin on John's face.

"So," Lex said, as he carefully cleaned a crystal off, making sure the spot removal met Rodney's exacting specifications. "What's the Earth like where you're from? Where do you live?"

"Atlantis," Rodney said, frowning at a yellow crystal.


"Atlantis," Rodney said again. "The city of Atlantis."

Lex frowned at Rodney. "You're giving me shit about living in some Comic Book World, when you live in the Lost City of Atlantis?" he said indignantly.

Rodney stopped what he was doing, stared at Lex then snorted a laugh.

"Is Triton there?" Lex asked sarcastically.

Rodney shook his head, snickering a little. "No, although the city was under water when we found it in the Pegasus galaxy. But when the city came alive again, there was too much of a power drain so it surfaced."

"Do you all live there? Isn't there an Earth anymore?"

"Oh, yeah, we've just discovered how to travel to other planets and galaxies through a wormhole. Earth's still there, but we can't get to it. It was sort of a one-way trip to Atlantis unless we can find a sufficient energy source to make the trip back."

"So you're stranded?" Lex tried to imagine that, being stranded somewhere, out of contact with your home world. Lex decided he didn't want to imagine it unless Clark was with him.

Rodney nodded as he took back the now cleaned crystal and handed Lex a new one to clean.

"Did you know you were going to be stranded?"

Rodney nodded again as he replaced the crystal. "We knew the risk. Although no one knew exactly what we were getting into, with the Wraith and the almost daily dying. Nor did they have any idea that it would be the scientists keeping everyone alive." He pulled out another crystal. "Not that the military doesn't have its good points," he grudgingly admitted.

"Like Major Sheppard?" Lex teased.

"He...," Rodney paused. "He was a surprise." He tapped his forehead. "The guy's pretty smart for a soldier."

Lex took the new crystal and began to clean it. He was impressed by these people; they were true explorers. "You must be running low on supplies."

"You have no idea," Rodney griped. "We're able to grow food on the mainland, and we trade for food as well, but we're out of all the perishable stuff we brought, and most of the food we trade for doesn't taste right." He looked pensive for a moment. "Although they do make this sort of croissant sticky bun thing that's pretty good."

"What do you miss the most?"

"Chocolate. Coffee." Rodney pulled out a Power Bar and waved it at the great outdoors. "Fresh corn on the cob." He let out a lascivious moan, "pizza." He sighed. "DVDs. We've watched everything we brought with us about a thousand times."

Lex thought that could all be easily arranged. "How are you planning on getting back?"

Rodney put the last crystal in place. "You find me a space suit, being the clever multi-millionaire that you are. You can do that, right?"

Lex thought he could do that. "Yes." He flipped open his phone and called his assistant, instructing her to get a spacesuit, and no, she didn't need to know why, and he needed it immediately. After giving her Rodney's size, he hung up, satisfied. Being rich was a good thing.

Rodney was staring at him with wide eyes. "Okay," he said, looking a little stunned. He rallied, saying, "Then we teach Clark how to fly."

"Just like that?"

Rodney nodded. "Desperate times and all that."

"Then what?"

"He takes the jumper out of the atmosphere with me on it, and we check out hull integrity and life support."

"With you wearing the spacesuit," Lex said.

"Right. And with Clark there, if things go wrong, he can bring me back in one piece."

"Then what? You wait for the Nexus?"

Rodney snickered. "Right. Good one." He winced, a small crooked smile on his face. "I haven't figured that out yet."

"What do you think happened to get you here in the first place?"

"I was too busy being sure I was about to die to pay much attention," Rodney complained. "One minute we were colliding with the Wraith dart, the next we were here."

"Maybe there's something on the dart that would help," Lex suggested.

"Or maybe the Major just asked the jumper to keep him alive so it sent us here," Rodney said.

"This ship is sentient?" Lex asked in surprise.

"No, not sentient. More like a really sophisticated AI. John just has to ask it for something and it appears. Ship related," he added as a correction. He flashed Lex a crooked grin, "He tried asking for money and food, but it didn't work."

"It only works for John?"

"Annoyingly, it only works for people with the Ancient's gene. The city of Atlantis belonged to a race of people called the Ancients. Some humans have the same genetic code, and the city responds to them." He tapped his chest. "I have the gene, but it was artificially injected into me. It doesn't always take. Fortunately for me and for Atlantis, I was one of the lucky ones. But even if it does work, the Ancient technology isn't as responsive as it is to someone with the actual gene." He glared darkly at Lex. "It's very aggravating. Especially as I keep the city functioning."

Lex smiled to himself as he handed over the last crystal. Despite Rodney's immodest claims, Lex suspected he was telling the truth. "Maybe you can have John ask the ship how to get home. The ship must be hardwired to get home if it's that capable of meeting the needs of its people."

"First let's make sure the jumper can fly." Rodney flashed Lex another crooked smile. "If not, you might have some permanent houseguests." His eyes lit up. "I can help you make Clark some really cool gadgets." He closed the console. "We're done here for the time being." He tapped his headset. "Major?"

There was no answer.

He tried again. "Major?" Another few seconds. "John? Lieutenant Ford? Teyla?" He glanced nervously at Lex at the continued silence. "Crap. Let's go."

He and Lex jumped to their feet and raced out of the puddle jumper.

One second they were watching Terminator 3, and the next they had a
very pissed off and not-duck-taped Wraith on their hands. Well, he
was still covered with duck tape, it just looked like it had all been
shredded. "Shit," John yelled. Damn it, he'd just checked the Wraith
and he'd looked secure. He knew he should have shot the damn thing.
He grabbed for his gun.

He forgot they had Superman hanging out with them.

In less than a second, Clark got the Wraith in a tight hold, keeping him immobilized.

John smiled at him. "You are a very handy guy to have around."

Teyla chose that moment to join them. Glancing at the three of them, she asked, "Is everything all right?"

John nodded. "Thanks to Clark."

Seeing that everything seemed to be in control, Teyla held out a collection of green rocks in her hand. "I am unfamiliar with this stone. I have never seen its like."

The rocks started to glow.

"Fuck," said John. He knew what that was. "Get it away from Clark," he commanded. "Now." He turned to Clark only to find him looking sick, barely standing.

The Wraith took instant advantage. Spinning like a dervish, he tossed Clark at John then lashed out at Ford and Teyla. Ford smashed against the wall with a loud thud and crumpled to the floor.

John went down with Clark on top of him. He pushed Clark aside and in a split second had to decide between going for his gun or going for the Kryptonite. He chose the Kryptonite. A functioning Superman beat out an automatic weapon any day.

Teyla had let the rock fall when the Wraith attacked and was currently doing her best to stay on her feet. John started scrambling for the loose rocks on the ground. Just when he realized that it seemed as if they were everywhere, and he should have gone for his gun, the Wraith sent Teyla flying and went after John.

John dived for his gun. Or where his gun would have been if it wasn't under Clark who was in serious trouble with all the Kryptonite strewn around. He tried to push Clark over but then the Wraith was there, hitting him hard enough to almost snap his neck. As John started seeing spots, the Wraith slammed his hand down on Clark's chest. His fingers got through this time and he started to feed.

John's last thought was that they were completely and utterly fucked.

Rodney and Lex skidded into the media room, Rodney with his gun drawn.
Ford and Teyla were the only ones there, and they were both down.

Rodney ran to Ford, and Lex went to Teyla. "She's alive," Lex said.

"So is the Lieutenant." Rodney tapped Aiden's face. "Lieutenant Ford. Aiden. Wake up. What happened?"

Lex picked up Teyla and carried her to one of the couches. Then he helped Rodney get Aiden to another one. Lex searched the room. "No Wraith. He must have gotten loose." Then he noticed the green meteor rocks. "Shit." He picked up a few and showed them to Rodney.

"Kryptonite?" Rodney guessed in dismay.

Lex nodded. He held the rocks tightly in his hand. "We have to find them."

Rodney shot him a look. "No, really?"

"Why would he take them?" Lex asked, ignoring Rodney's sarcasm. "Why wouldn't he just feed on them?" He hated asking the question in the first place, but he needed facts. He had to understand what was driving the Wraith.

"He probably wants to get information out of them." Rodney said grimly. "The good news about that is they might still be alive. If he was just going to feed, they'd be here and dead."

"Why is there meteor rock here?" Lex asked, frustrated.

"I am afraid that was my fault," Teyla said, pushing herself up into a sitting position. "I did not know it would have a negative affect on Clark. I thought I was simply bringing in an unfamiliar rock for identification."

"Did you see which way they went?" Lex asked.

She shook her head. "I am sorry."

"Okay," Rodney said. "Okay." He turned in a circle as if there might be lit steps to follow, or a yellow brick road. "We find them, we kill the Wraith, and we bring them back here."

That sounded like a perfect plan to Lex, and the sooner they started working on it the better. "Let's go." He bent down to pick up John's machine gun.

"Do you know how to use that?" Rodney asked.

Lex checked the clip, checked the safety. "Yes."

"Good." Rodney helped himself to Aiden's machine gun.

Aiden started waking up. "Man, my head. What the hell happened?"

"The Wraith, which you were supposed to be watching," Rodney said acidly, "got loose, and now the Major and Clark are missing."

"I was watching him," Aiden protested.

"Good job," Rodney snapped. "Remind me never to ask you to watch my cat." He turned to Lex. "Let's go."

"Go where?" Aiden asked.

"To go find Clark and John," Lex answered. "While they might still be alive." They needed to go. Now.

"Is that my gun?" Aiden inquired of Rodney with a frown.

"It is," Rodney said. "I'm borrowing it."

"Maybe you should give it back, and let me be in charge," Aiden suggested.

"Fine," Rodney said scathingly, still holding on to the gun. "What's your plan? Hopefully it's a better one than the one you were using to watch the Wraith." He tapped the toe of his boot impatiently. "Come on, come on, we've got people to rescue."

Aiden rubbed his forehead. "I need a minute."

Rodney made a noise like a buzzer. "Wrong answer." He headed for the door, Lex right behind him, not caring if Teyla and Aiden followed them or not. Rodney might be the scientist, while the two they were leaving behind were the soldiers, but Lex trusted Rodney's motivation.

"Okay, so where would he go? Where could he hide for a while?" Rodney asked Lex.

Lex saw a broken vase down the hallway. "They came down this way." It didn't bode well that the Wraith was strong enough to carry both Clark and John around this easily. "He must have taken some of the meteor rock, or Kryptonite," he corrected himself, "to keep Clark's power at bay."

"They're smart," Rodney said. "Single-minded, but smart."

Not what Lex wanted to hear. He passed the overturned pedestal and shattered vase, and decided the Wraith had taken them out the back door. Lex raced that way, seeing further proof of the ungainly procession. Once outside, Lex realized it was sliding past twilight into darkness. There was a bright moon shining, but they'd need flashlights to really see the ground.

Before he could go back into the castle, Rodney had a maglight out which he handed to Lex. Then Rodney turned on the light attached to the machine gun. Both lights together lit up the ground and Lex saw tracks. Not a yellow brick road, but it would do. "This way."

Rodney was right behind him. "I realize it's not the most sophisticated of plans," Rodney was saying, as he kept his light beam focused on the, thankfully, obvious signs of something being dragged through the grass and dirt, "but I thought it was nicely succinct."


"My plan. Rescue Clark and John, and kill the Wraith. Elegant. Very John-like, actually. Most of his plans start out that way."

Lex let him babble, keeping his eyes focused on the ground.

"I know I'm not a soldier," Rodney continued, "and it's not like my post graduate work included classes on search and rescue missions against life-sucking aliens, but I am a genius. I can come up with a plan."

"It's a good plan, Rodney," Lex assured him. Rodney obviously liked to work through his anxiety by talking nonstop.

"Besides Samantha Carter, I'm probably the smartest person on Earth. Well, Daniel Jackson's pretty smart, too, but you can't really count him because he keeps dying. Sure, he keeps coming back, but it's hard to rely on someone like that. I know Colonel Carter's bought it a couple of times, but when she dies it's sort of a team effort, so no one's left hanging around grieving."

"Rodney, is there a point to all of this?" Lex asked.

Rodney shot him an unhappy look. "I don't want the Major to die." His face was pinched, eyes shadowed, further accentuated by the moonlight. "I hate having to be the one who saves the day."

"It's a good plan," Lex said firmly again. "We find them, kill the Wraith, and bring them back to the castle. We can do this."

"We can do this." Rodney nodded briefly, clasping the machine gun closely. "Right. We can do this."

Lex gave him a quick look, saw the resolve there underneath the nervous energy, liked what he saw, and kept moving.

Clark had never felt such pain in his life. It felt like his soul was
being sucked from his body, like there was a giant leech attached to
his chest pulling everything vital out of him. And if that wasn't bad
enough, the meteor rock made him feel like he was being poisoned at
the same time.

He was too weak to fight back. The creature had guessed what the meteor rock did to him, and stones were on his stomach and groin as the creature fed on him.

Clark cried out as it stopped, as its clawed fingers left his chest. He gulped in some air, still acutely feeling the pain of the meteor rock.

"What are you?" the Wraith demanded. "We would last forever if we had others like you to feed from."

Even if Clark wanted to answer the question, which he didn't, he had no strength to talk. The presence of the rocks made him too weak to do anything.

The Wraith put his hand on Clark's chest, but didn't puncture the skin again. He rested it there, taunting. "Tell me," he insisted, drool dripping from one side of his mouth.

Clark closed his eyes; he couldn't stand to look at the creature for another second. He wanted Lex. "Please..." he tried, but got no further. Not that this thing would show him any mercy.

"Are all the people on this planet like you?" the Wraith asked. His fingers dug in, and Clark arched in pain. "You will tell me everything I want to know."

Then someone came at him from the side and hit the Wraith, dislodging him. "Leave him alone," John yelled.

The surcease from pain was almost overwhelming. He tried to push the meteor rock off of him, but his arms wouldn't work. Clark looked around frantically, saw that he was in one of the gazebos in Lex's gardens. They had to be searching for them. "Lex..." he gasped out then closed his eyes in despair. Someone standing next to him wouldn't have heard him.

Then John was back, grabbing at the meteor rock, getting it off of him. But then the Wraith was on John, one hand around his neck, lifting him off the ground.

If Clark didn't do something, John was going to be dead in a few seconds. He was still shamefully weak, but having the meteor rock brushed off of him had helped a little. He swung his legs into the Wraith, making him lose his balance. It wasn't much, but it was enough for John to strike out and get free.

Then John was scrabbling at the ground for the meteor rock, while the Wraith centered his attention on Clark again. Clark couldn't go through it again. He couldn't. He had no idea how much life the creature had already sucked out of him. Clark backed away.

Then, suddenly, Clark's strength started to return. The Wraith lunged at him and he punched it as hard as he could. He wasn't at fullstrength, doubted he was even at quarter strength but it was enough to send the Wraith flying into a tree.

Clark turned to John. "Did you throw the rocks away?"

"Not yet," John said, opening his hands.

Clark staggered back in pain as the rocks glowed their malevolent green at him.

"Shit," John said, as he threw the rocks as far away as he could. He pulled his pistol out of his thigh holster as the Wraith was getting to his feet.

Before the Wraith could get any closer, or John could get off a single shot, the Wraith jerked as bullets started to hit him. John and Clark both turned to see Lex and Rodney shooting the Wraith repeatedly with automatic machine guns.

The Wraith took a long time to die, his wounds healing almost as fast as he was being injured. Clark guessed the lifeforce the creature had sucked off of him was helping it to heal, but eventually the bullets proved too much and the Wraith started to bleed from a dozen, then two dozen, then too many holes to count. It staggered then fell to the ground.

Clark stared down at it. "Is it dead?" God, he hoped it was dead.

John approached it cautiously, weapon pointed. Rodney and Lex joined him. Taking aim, John shot it through the head twice. "If it wasn't, it is now."

Letting out an enormous sigh of relief, Clark stepped down out of the gazebo and moved to Lex, who grabbed and held him tightly.

"Are Teyla and Ford all right?" John asked Rodney.

Rodney nodded. "Fine."

There were running footsteps, and Aiden and Teyla rushed into view. "Are you all right, Major?" Teyla asked.

He nodded, standing with his hands on the front of his thighs, bent over a little, catching his breath. "Yeah." He grinned crookedly at Rodney. "Nice entrance."

Rodney grinned, going up on the balls of his feet and back down. "Thanks."

Teyla went to Clark and put her hand on his arm. "I apologize for putting you at risk. I did not know those rocks would do you harm."

From the shelter of Lex's arms, Clark smiled. "It's okay. I'm fine."

Lex moved the fabric of Clark's tattered shirt to the side to view his chest. His fingers swept along his unmarred skin. "Did he attack you?"

Clark nodded, putting his hand over Lex's. "Do I look old?" he asked apprehensively, touching his face.

Rodney shone the light on Clark's face.

"You look gorgeous," Lex assured him, kissing him quickly.

"He didn't get you?" Rodney asked John anxiously, as the light then swung his way.

John shook his head. "No, he wanted to feed on Clark." John's hand touched his chest as if he was making sure. Then he felt his throat. "Thanks, by the way," he said to Clark.

"You, too," Clark said back. "And thanks for tossing the meteor rocks." Clark frowned, remembering something. "Why couldn't I feel them until you opened your hand? My strength was coming back, and it shouldn't have with the rocks so close to me."

John shrugged. "I don't know."

Rodney handed Aiden his gun back. "See? It was a good plan."

Aiden rolled his eyes and took the gun, putting the strap around his neck. "What should we do with him?" he asked, pointing at the Wraith.

"I can bury him," Clark offered. "Less questions that way."

Lex nodded. "At the edge of my land, please." He winced. "Given this is Smallville, salt the earth when you're done, just to be sure."

John stepped down out of the gazebo, and Clark saw him whisper something to Rodney that made Rodney grin crookedly at John. Then John turned on his own maglight, jogged a few yards away and picked something up off the ground. When he returned, he said, "Let's try something."

Clark edged closer to Lex. "Like what?"

"Can you feel the meteor rocks affecting you?" John asked.

Clark shook his head. "No."

"I have one in my hand." He held it up, fist closed. He moved closer.

Lex frowned at him.

John held up his other hand. "I'm not trying to hurt him." Glancing at Clark he said, "Can you feel it?"

Confused, Clark shook his head again. John was only a few feet from him. "But I don't know why. I should. Come closer." He had painful memories of falling over his feet when he was farther than this from Lana when she wore her necklace.

John moved until he was only a foot away. "Now?"


"Okay, I'm going to open my hand just for a second," John warned. He opened his hand, and just as Clark was feeling the pain of exposure, he closed his hand again and it went away.

Clark stared at his hand. "I don't understand."

John motioned to Aiden. "Come here."

Aiden obeyed.

John quickly passed the meteor rock to Aiden. "Close your fingers around it.

Clark could feel the cramps start immediately, even after Aiden's fingers hid it from view. "It hurts," he gasped.

"Stop it," Lex demanded angrily.

John took the stone back and closed his fingers tightly.

The pain went away and Clark tried to relax. Even for Smallville, this had been a confusing few hours, and he was ready for the surprises to stop.

John stared at his hand. "It's just me." Then his eyebrows went up. "Rodney, let's try you."

Lex stopped Rodney from moving. "I think we should end this now. I don't want Clark exposed to anymore of that stuff."

"No, no," Rodney assured Lex. "I see where he's going. If I can block the Kryptonite, too, it might be the Ancient's gene. If it is, you could take some of our blood and maybe we can create an antidote for Clark." He grinned excitedly. "Can you imagine how much safer he'd be if Kryptonite couldn't hurt him? He really would be invulnerable."

Lex's eyes gleamed as he stared first at Rodney and then at Clark. "Let's let Rodney try," he said to Clark. "Can you handle it?"

Clark nodded.

John quickly handed the stone over to Rodney who held it tightly. "Anything?"

Clark could sense it was there, but it was barely affecting him. "My stomach feels a little funny, and I know it's around, but I feel just as strong."

"That would make sense," Rodney said quickly. "The gene is stronger in the Major than in me." He handed the stone back to John. "We'll need some blood from you." He turned back to Lex. "Tell me you have some sort of mad scientist lab in your castle. I'll be extremely disappointed if you don't."

Lex grinned. "I do."

Rodney let out a victorious "Ha!" and grinned.

Turning to Lex, Clark asked, "Can you really do this? Can you make it so the meteor rock doesn't bother me?" If so, it couldn't happen soon enough. He hated how sick it made him.

"I don't know," Lex said honestly, "but I'll do everything I can to make it happen."

"I know you will," Clark said with a smile. He glanced at his watch and winced. "Jeez, I really need to go home and do some chores." Clark felt bad he'd forgotten all about it. The animals had to be starving by now.

Lex checked his own watch. "Your parents are probably wondering where you are." He did a double take. "In fact they probably think you've been kidnapped."

"They're out of town for the weekend. They'll be back Monday after lunch." He winced. "Which is why I really need to go home and do some chores. I'll be back in an hour or so."

"Great," Rodney said. "Then you need to learn how to fly."

"What?" Clark asked, taken aback at Rodney's casual statement. "Fly?"

"Yeah. I need you to take the jumper up out of the atmosphere so I know it's safe," Rodney announced calmly, as if merely suggesting Clark milk a few extra cows.

"I can't fly."

"Yes, you can," Rodney, John and Aiden all said.

"I'll help you figure it out," John said, "while Rodney and Lex play mad scientist," he finished with a grin.

"Maybe we should think about dinner," Lex said. "As I said, it's late."

"I could eat," Rodney said.

"You can always eat," John said.

"Excuse me, Mr. I-only-need-hair-gel-to-survive. Some of us need to eat."

"How about pizza?" Lex asked with a grin.

Clark laughed at the resulting ecstatic looks on Rodney, John, and Aiden's faces. "Pizza it is," Clark said to Lex.

"And Coke," Rodney begged.

"Beer," John suggested.

"I've got plenty to drink," Lex said. To Clark, he added, "Call me when you're heading back over, and I'll call an order in. You can pick it up."

That worked for Clark. He wished everyone would go away for a while so he could kiss Lex before he left. Instead, he had to take the promise for later he saw in Lex's eyes. Then, using his superspeed, he raced for home.

After dinner, during which an astounding number of pizzas had been
demolished and everyone had sat around for a while in a sated stupor,
Lex made an executive decision that it was bedtime. Yawns kept
sweeping around the table, ebb for a few moments, then start up again.

He escorted his guests upstairs, put John and Rodney in the last two rooms on the left, and Aiden and Teyla in the guest suites on the right.

Then he dragged Clark to his bedroom. As tired as he was, Lex thought he might be able to rise to the occasion, but Clark, after one amorous kiss, fell asleep and started softly snoring. Lex couldn't blame him; he'd had a long day.

Lex allowed himself the luxury of staring at Clark for an uninterrupted period of time, barely managing not to touch. Not that Clark would mind, but Lex wanted Clark fully aware and conscious for their love play. He lay down next to Clark and smiled when Clark put an arm around him and pulled him close. Still smiling, Lex fell asleep.

Clark was gone when he woke up, and Lex assumed he'd gone home to do
his chores. As it didn't sound as if anyone was up yet, Lex took
advantage of the quiet to make several phone calls.

Clark returned with a box full of pastry goods. Lex showed his thanks by kissing Clark enthusiastically. Then he got out some yogurt, fruit, and juice, made some coffee, and allowed his guests to assemble their own continental breakfast.

John watched as Lex siphoned off an alarmingly large number of vials
of blood from his arm. "Sure that's enough?" he drawled

Rodney opened his mouth to answer but John cut him off. "What's the plan?"

Rodney glared at him, no doubt mourning the lost opportunity to put him in his place, but then said, "Lex and I are heading for his evil lab."

"We're going to try to take over the world," Lex added with a smirk.

John shot them both a look. "Great. If this was cartoon world you'd be Pinky and the Brain."

"Narf," said Lex with a grin.

Going back to his muffin, John said, "Well, have fun, kids."

"Although first," Lex amended, "I need to get some samples from Clark. Then Rodney can come down."

"I can help with that," Rodney offered.

Lex shook his head. "I'll do it. I'll have Clark come and find you when I'm done."

Rodney shrugged. "Fine. I'll be here, eating."

With an eye roll, John glanced at Ford and Teyla, he said, "What about you two?"

"The Lieutenant and I thought we would re-secure the jumper," Teyla suggested. "There was some damage that occurred during the attack."

"Good idea," John said.

"What am I doing when Lex is done?" Clark asked.

"I am going to teach you how to fly," John answered him. He didn't miss the look that flew between Clark and Lex. He had no doubt that Lex wanted to be the one to work with Clark, but it wasn't like John would be much help to Rodney in the lab.

But Lex didn't say a thing. Instead, he took Clark away. Teyla and Ford headed for the garage to the jumper, and that left Rodney and John, alone in the kitchen.

John had planned to sneak into Rodney's room last night, but he'd fallen asleep while waiting a sufficient amount of time to ensure not running into anyone in the hallway. He'd woken up horny and had thought about it again. But then he'd heard Teyla talking in the hallway and decided morning sex wasn't in the cards.

He eyed Rodney who was eying the pastries. As Rodney was starting to reach for one, John said, "Wouldn't you rather have a blow job?"

Rodney's hand fell away and his eyes widened. "Here?" he squeaked out.

"No," John said slowly. "But I'm betting we could find a quiet spot."

Rodney was up so fast it was as if someone was luring him with chocolate or shiny Ancient electronics. John felt flattered to be held in such high regard. Grinning, he stood, snuck a quick kiss, and then dragged Rodney out of the kitchen.

Clark sat on the treatment bed in Lex's lab and stared around. "This
lab is sort of freaky, Lex. Who were you planning on experimenting
on?" He patted the bed.

"No self-respecting evil mastermind would be complete without a lab and a treatment bed to strap his guinea pigs to," Lex said with a grin. "Rodney was very impressed."

"So a bed like this comes standard in all evil mastermind labs?"

"Of course," Lex said primly.

"So I guess I should be really glad that you're on my side in this reality, huh?" Clark said, looking at all the lab equipment.

Lex nodded as he stared at the lead lined box that held a piece of Kryptonite. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea.

Then Clark was standing next to him, holding him close. "It's all right, Lex. I'll be fine, and it will be totally worth it if this gene therapy works."

"And if it doesn't?"

Clark shrugged. "Then I'm no worse off than I am now."

Lex could hardly argue with that. He wished Rodney were here to help collect samples, but Clark had only wanted Lex to do it. "I'll work as fast as I can," Lex promised him.

"I know." Clark kissed Lex, a fierce bruising kiss. "Hey, when we're done, maybe we can not have sex down here. It'd be kind of kinky."

Lex rolled his eyes. "Lie down, you sex maniac you." Not that he wouldn't be willing. Everything about Clark turned him on. He brought the box over to the bed while Clark situated himself. "Tell me if it gets too much for you."

"I will." He lay down, his lips tight. "Go ahead."

Lex hesitated but then opened the box, wincing when Clark's face screwed up in pain, the veins on his hands growing pronounced. Lex almost shut the box.

Clark shook his head. "Just do it. Hurry."

Lex nodded, and quickly grabbed his tray. Within minutes he had drawn several vials of blood, gotten a mucus swab from Clark's mouth, some skin scrapings, and a clip of his hair. Then Lex slammed the box shut.

Clark let out a breath of relief, breathing heavily. "Jeez, I hate that." He lay there for a few minutes while Lex sat next to him, caressing his skin, waiting for him to recover.

When Clark's color was back to normal, Lex leaned down to kiss him. "I need one more sample," he said teasingly, his hand wandering down Clark's chest to his groin.

Clark's hips arced off the bed, pushing up into Lex's hand. "I think I'll like this part," Clark said.

"Oh, I think I can guarantee that," Lex promised as he started to undo Clark's pants. He pulled Clark out and started to stroke him.

Clark moaned happily. "I love your hands. I love everything about you. Even your kinky sex lab."

Lex laughed, but he kept stroking, loving the feeling of Clark hardening under his hands. "Wait until you see my kinky dungeon."

Clark shot him a look. "Really?" His back arched, baring his neck, and Lex couldn't keep his eyes off of him. He was so fucking gorgeous. It took Lex's breath away.

"Really," Lex said. "Every castle needs a dungeon. Complete with chains and whips," he teased.

Clark groaned and gasped, "I'm gonna come."

Lex grabbed the sterile container he'd prepared, and held it ready. "I could chain you to the ceiling and floor, spread eagled and helpless, and have my way with you," Lex whispered. "Would you like that?"

"God," Clark cried and then he was coming, and Lex was annoyed that he had to catch his specimen instead of being able to watch Clark's face and watch his body writhe. He consoled himself with the thought that he'd have an endless number of years to watch all he wanted.

Lex quickly capped the jar and put it aside. Then he grinned, making a mental note to show Clark the dungeon one of these days. He adjusted himself in his pants, wishing he could strip, climb atop of Clark, and have his way with him now.

But he needed to do the tests while the samples were fresh. Lex had no idea how long Clark's cells would survive away from his body.

As Clark took a little nap, Lex started preparing slides and Petri dishes.

He heard Clark stretch and then hands reached for him. "How about you?" Clark asked, kissing Lex's neck.

"You can do me later," Lex said. "I need to do this now before your tissues degrade."

Clark made a face.

Lex smiled at him. "Would you go find Rodney for me, tell him I need my evil genius minion?"

Clark rolled his eyes. "Jeez, you two need to start a club or something." But he obediently got up and did up his pants. "Thanks," Clark said, kissing Lex.

"For what?"

"For ending it that way. For saving that 'til after." He kissed Lex again.

Lex hated to stop but he forced himself to. "Go away. You're too much of a distraction."

Grinning, Clark headed for the door. "After I send Rodney down I'm gonna go check on the farm. I guess I'll take John with me." He hesitated. "I wish you were the one teaching me to fly."

Lex framed Clark's face with his hands. "We'll have lots of time to fly, Clark. I promise."

Clark stared at him, as if he was memorizing Lex and then he nodded. "I'll see you later, then."

"Okay," Lex said with one more kiss, also wishing he was the one teaching Clark to fly but knowing that this was equally important. He moved to start assembling the equipment he'd need. He could feel Clark standing by the door so he turned to look.

Clark was staring at him. "You are so hot," Clark said.

Lex grinned. "Out."

With a laugh, Clark left.

At Clark's request, they went to the barn at his home. Once they were
standing on the loft, John said, "According to the Hitchhiker's Guide
to the Galaxy, the knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself
at the ground and miss."

Clark shot him a less than appreciative look. "That's it? That's your advice?"

"Hey," John griped. "That's good advice. It worked for Arthur Dent."

Sighing, Clark looked at the bottom floor of the barn. "So, I should just throw myself down and miss?"

"Absolutely," John said with conviction.

"Okay," Clark said doubtfully. He stepped off the loft and a second later smacked down, hard.

John winced. "I think you need to work on the missing the ground part more," he suggested helpfully.

Clark glared at him from the ground.

John grinned. "Come on, try it again. Or we can go somewhere higher. I could take you up in the puddle jumper and you could jump out of it."

"If I'm up that high, and I hit the ground, I'll make a big hole," Clark said with a sigh.

"Right. Okay, then come up and we'll do it again."

Clark sighed and stood, brushing off his butt. "Are you sure I can fly?"

"Very sure. How else can you zip around the world saving people?" It was an immutable fact in John's brain. Superman could fly, ergo, Clark Kent could fly. After all, he was always flying home to have dinner with his folks.

Sighing again, Clark climbed the stairs to the barn loft.

"Okay," John said. Instead of jumping, just take a step off and try to hover. See if you can ground yourself in your center of gravity."

Frowning, Clark moved to the edge and lifted a foot. "Say that again."

John demonstrated, holding on. "Step off with one foot and try to use your strength to hold yourself steady, as if there was a hard surface under both feet. Maybe we just need to figure out what it is your body needs to believe, so it can fly."

Doubt written all over his face, Clark, holding on at first, stepped out with his right foot.

John looked him over. "Okay, keep holding on, but straighten your body so it looks like it's standing on solid ground. Use the left side of your body at first to keep yourself balanced."

Clark nodded and adjusted his body so it really did look like his right foot was resting on a piece of clear glass. "Like this?"

"Yeah." John considered him for a moment. "Okay, now, figure out where your center of gravity is. And not just physically, but in your gut, too."

Clark shot him a confused look.

John tried to explain. "When I fly planes, or helicopters, or the jumpers, whatever it is, I'm sitting down. But I still need to know where my center is, so I can get how my body is in relation to what I'm flying. I need to know where I am. Does that make sense?"

The look on Clark's face told him no.

He tried again. "When you started to run really fast, were you clumsy?"

Clark grinned. "All the time. I even knocked over a couple of trees, and I was always tripping on stuff."

"What happened to make it better?"

"I just figured out how to..." Clark's mouth opened. "Oh," he said. He shifted his body again and John could see the difference. There was a confidence there that had been missing before.

John smiled. "Now let go, and stay in that same position. Your body knows where it is in relation to the Earth. Trust that it will keep you there, the same way I trust the planes I fly."

Clark closed his eyes and let go.

John watched Clark's face as he was able to maintain his position for about ten seconds. He could see the second doubt crept in, and then Clark was falling and hitting the ground again.

Clark stared up at him. "I felt it for a second."

"I know. I could see it on your face. What happened? What did you think about?"

Clark thought about it for a minute. "I suddenly felt how there was nothing under my right foot. It freaked me out." He stood.

"Don't take the stairs this time. Jump up."

Staring up, Clark bent his knees and jumped. In a second he was standing next to John. "How did I learn to fly in your world?"

"I don't know. Rodney would probably know," he said with a grin. "What a geek."

"He's just like Lex," Clark said with a grin of his own.

"I can tell you the Superman I'm familiar with flies like this." John demonstrated the position Superman generally flew in, one arm extended, the other pulled back.


John shrugged. "I don't know." He motioned toward the edge. "Do it again, and this time try to imagine that all the molecules in the air are dense enough to support you. Or find another image that will help you believe."

"Maybe I'm not ready to fly," Clark said doubtfully. "All my other powers have just happened to me."

"You haven't flown at all? Not even when you're running really fast?"

Clark winced. "I float every now and then."

"A ha," John crowed. "If you can float, you can fly. Either way you're totally disregarding the laws of gravity." At the look on Clark's face, John grinned. "Come on, work with me here. Step off again."

Clark sighed but did as he was told.

"This," Rodney said in satisfaction, "is a great evil mastermind lab."
He stared around at all the equipment. "What did you buy all this
stuff for?"

Lex grinned. "To study the meteor rocks. I knew they were different. They kept causing mutations in the people who lived here." He put the new specimen in the sample chamber of the electron microscope and watched the screen. "Here, is this the gene?"

Rodney took a peek. "You're good at this; you isolated it really fast. Too bad you can't come back with us to Atlantis. We could use another good scientist. And Clark's powers would come in handy fighting the Wraith."

"Well, leave me your address," Lex said with a grin, "and if we're ever in the neighborhood..."

Rodney grinned back.

Lex had an uncomfortable thought. "How do we know this gene won't adversely affect Clark's power?" Lex wished he had another alien from Clark's planet to try it on first.

Rodney pursed his lips in thought. "We don't. Have you ever looked at Clark's cells under a microscope?"

Lex shook his head. "I didn't even know he was an alien until you showed up. And while I knew he was different, I wasn't going to risk our friendship by asking him if I could study him."

"Good point," Rodney said. "Well, good thing you got some samples from him. We can mix it with the gene and see what happens and hope for the best."

"How did Clark get here anyway?" Lex asked. "I mean I know he came down with the meteors, but how did that happen?" Not that Rodney's knowledge was infallible. Things were clearly different in this iteration.

"His home planet was about to explode, so his parents put him in a space pod and sent him off to try to save him."

"Is he really the last of his race?"

"No. While the accounts differ, there's almost always someone unexpected showing up from Krypton, and it's almost always a bad thing for Superman. Although he does have a sister, which actually makes no sense, because she's a younger sister, and how could he have a younger sister if his parents were killed when the planet exploded? But, whatever."


"Yup," Rodney said, combining some of John's and Clark's cells on a slide. "That's where Clark's from."

Lex let that simmer in his brain. Clark was from Krypton. His...what? Lex needed a word to describe Clark. His soul mate...Lex liked that. His soul mate was from another planet. "If this works, and we make Clark immune, it will make it easier for him to fight anyone who arrives unexpectedly from his home world." Lex smirked to himself, thinking that that wasn't something you got to say every day. "It would make it much easier," Rodney agreed. "With you on Clark's side, nothing will be able to stop him."

Lex liked that idea.

Rodney flashed Lex a lopsided smile. "You sure you don't have any aspirations to be an evil mastermind? By doing this, you're destroying any chance you have of taking over the world."

Letting out a laugh, Lex shook his head. "I think that's a good thing. Besides, now that I know you're not available as an evil minion, I'm really not interested."

Rodney snorted. "We'd have made a good team."

They would have. He and Rodney would have been unbeatable. But Lex would take himself and Clark any day.

John stared down at Clark who had hit the ground for about the
hundredth time. He was beginning to wonder if maybe Clark wasn't
ready to fly. Or maybe John was the wrong teacher. This sure wasn't
like teaching cadets to fly F111s. They'd been at it for hours and
they'd gotten nowhere.

His stomach growled. "Let's take a break."

The thankful look Clark shot his way made John wince.

Clark made them both some lunch, and when they were done, with an expression similar to one someone might have on their face as they were led to their execution; Clark followed John back to the barn.

As the sky outside began to grow dark, John wondered what Lex and
Rodney were still doing down in the lab; they hadn't surfaced all day.
He could only assume that Lex had food down there or they for sure
would have heard Rodney griping.

The day had flown. Figuratively. Clark was still grounded.

Ford and Teyla had joined them fifteen minutes ago, flinching every time Clark hit the ground. Both of them had offered advice, and while Clark had his moments when he almost looked like he was successfully hovering, he always ended up on the ground. Bam.

The door opened revealing Lex and Rodney. John's heart skipped a beat at the sight of Rodney, and he felt like a teenager. It had been a long time since he'd felt like this about anyone. Rodney searched for him, and when he found John up in the loft, he flashed him a grin. John grinned back, hoping he didn't look as dopey as he felt.

Then John saw Clark grinning dopily at Lex and felt better.

"Any luck?" Lex asked Clark.

Clark sighed. "No."

Lex pursed his lips while he stared at his friend. He tried not to feel glad that John had been unsuccessful. Lex had really wanted to be the one who taught Clark how to fly. And he damn sure wanted to be the first one Clark took flying. "Let me try," he said.

"Lex," Clark said wearily, still sitting on the ground. "I think I've had it for the night. One of these times when I fall, I'm gonna take down the barn."

Smiling at him, Lex shook his head. "I have a different idea." He glanced at all the company. "Why don't you all head back to the castle? I want to work with Clark alone." Before going down to the lab, Lex had laid out a variety of keys, and Aiden had driven the Porsche over when he'd come with Teyla. Lex had brought the Ferrari, so they had a variety of vehicles to use. He handed the keys to the Ferrari to Rodney, figuring if Rodney wasn't comfortable driving it, John would be.

Rodney took the keys. "Is it time for dinner?"

Lex laughed softly. Rodney's non-genius life definitely revolved around food. And John. Food and John. Oral fixations. "Yes, help yourself to anything in the kitchen. There's plenty. The cook stocks up on Friday in preparation of feeding Clark all weekend."

Clark let out a dramatic, "Hey!"

Lex laughed. It was true. Clark could eat even more than Rodney, who was a mere amateur in comparison. It was a good thing Clark hadn't been part of the Atlantis expedition or they'd be totally out of food already. Twice over. Lex didn't know how the Kents could afford to keep him around.

"I believe I am also ready for some refreshment," Teyla said sensibly.

There was agreement all around, and as they were leaving Lex caught Rodney's arm. "The rooms I put you in share a balcony," he said softly.

Rodney's eyebrows went up, and he reddened even as he grinned. "Try not to let Clark leave too many holes in the ground," he suggested, patting Lex on the arm. With that, the four of them left, leaving Lex with Clark.

Clark got up quickly and, moving to Lex, wrapped his arms around him. "I missed you. I don't want to be away from you."

Lex completely understood. "Me, either." He lifted his face and closed his eyes as Clark covered his mouth with his.

When they returned to the castle, they all foraged for dinner, and
lazed around the kitchen table. "God, I miss food like this," Rodney
said, staring sadly at his empty plate.

John nodded, patting his stomach. "Me, too."

Aiden belched and then looked sheepishly at his three companions. "Sorry."

John waved him off.

"I'm pretty tired," Rodney said, acting very casual. "Um, John, aren't you tired, too?"

John nodded. "Yeah, I'm pretty tired, too." He stole a quick glance at Aiden and Teyla, then manufactured a yawn, stretching out his arms.

Teyla did her best to keep a smile off her face.

"Okay, then," Rodney said, jumping to his feet, his energy giving the lie to his statement of being tired. "Let's go."

John got up a little more casually. Then he stared down at the mess on the table. "Wait, we should help clean this up."

Teyla could only imagine what Rodney might do to her if she were to agree. "I will take of it," she offered.

"Great," Rodney said, bouncing on his toes. Without further ado, they both left the kitchen, whispering and bumping into each other like two young children.

Teyla smiled at Aiden. "Do you think they truly believe they are fooling us?"

"What?" Aiden said, looking confused.

"Never mind," Teyla said kindly. She started clearing the table, pleased when Aiden helped her.

The kiss lasted a while. When they surfaced, Clark said, "You looked
so sexy."

Lex ran his fingers through Clark's hair, enjoying its thickness, enjoying even more his right to do this. "When?"

"When you showed up with your machine gun to shoot the Wraith. It was very sexy."

"Are you trying to tell me you have a secret fetish for men with guns?" Lex teased.

Clark shook his head. "Just you."

Lex put his hand on Clark's chest. "He could have killed you. If you'd been human, you'd be dead." He hoped to God this gene therapy worked. He didn't want anything threatening Clark again. "Do you have any idea how much I love you?"

Clark's eyes grew very bright and he had to clear his throat. "About as much as I love you?"

Lex gazed at Clark, thinking of the astronomical odds it took for his and Clark's lives to collide. So many things, an infinite number of things could have kept them from ever meeting, let alone staying together. All the moments of discomfort, pain, and angst that made up Lex's life paled in comparison to the good luck of meeting Clark. "Come here," he said, taking Clark's hand, leading him outside.

Once they were outside in the dark, under the canopy of stars, Lex took Clark's hands. "Hold me close."

Clark seemed only too happy to obey. He wrapped his arms around Lex and smiled. "Like this?" His hands ended up on Lex's ass.

Lex grinned. Now wasn't the time for sex, but he liked where Clark's hands were. "Perfect. Now kiss me."

Clark hummed in contentment, and lowered his face to touch Lex's lips. Lex's fingers ended up back in Clark's hair and he held on tight as Clark thrust his tongue in Lex's mouth. For someone for whom words were a tool of his trade, Lex couldn't find ones to describe how right it felt to touch Clark like this.

Two halves forming a whole. A lock and a key. The final puzzle piece snapping into place. None of them did justice to the sense of completeness Lex felt with Clark's arms wrapped around him.

He played with Clark's tongue with his own then followed it into Clark's mouth. Clark's hands were tight on his ass, his cock pressing against Lex's hardened shaft. "Can we have sex now?" Clark asked, gasping a little as Lex rocked into him.

"Just kissing," Lex whispered. "Just kissing, for now." He nibbled on Clark's bottom lip. God, he tasted so good. Lex couldn't get over it. He wasn't sure if it was just because he loved Clark so much that he tasted like ambrosia, or if it was some special alien flavor that Lex was now addicted to.

Clark groaned a little, but he didn't argue. He did press closer, shifting his leg so a thigh pressed into Lex's groin.

Lex let out a groan of his own and he rocked into Clark's thigh.

"Are you sure?" Clark asked breathily, as he kissed his way to Lex's ear to bite his earlobe.

Lex wasn't sure at all. He wasn't sure he knew his own name anymore. He knew there was a reason why he wasn't dragging Clark's ass into his bedroom. It was hard to think with Clark's tongue rasping on his jaw, like some giant cat licking the cream off its favorite play toy.

"I can have us in your bedroom in about a second," Clark offered.

Ah. That was it. "Soon," he promised. "Keep kissing me." Lex might not be Tinkerbell, but he was hoping happy thoughts, or in this case, happy kissing, might make Clark light on his feet.

"Gladly," Clark said, in between small nips along Lex's jaw.

Lex was thinking he'd be flying in a minute if Clark wasn't.

Then they were kissing again, and it was as if the world fell away. At first it was figurative. The noises around them faded. Lex couldn't have told you what time of day it was, or what the weather was like. All he knew was the feel of Clark's body next to his, and Clark's taste and soft lips, the way he gasped when Lex shifted against him. It was just the two of them and everything else didn't matter anymore.

Lex opened his eyes so he could look at Clark, to see his swollen lips and catch a glimpse of passion-hazed eyes. But what he saw was the barn beneath them. He could see the castle off in the distance, the small town center beyond that.

Lex resisted the urge to urgently wrap himself around Clark so as not to fall. He thought, in between kisses, as to how best to alert Clark to the fact that he, while maybe not flying, was certainly defying the law of gravity. Lex had to break it to him in a way that didn't end up with Clark obeying the law of gravity. Lex healed quickly, but he'd just as soon not end up in traction.

"Clark," he whispered.

"Hmm?" Clark hummed, as his tongue tickled the scar on Lex's lip.

"Do something for me?"

"Anything," Clark said fervently. "I'll do anything you want."

"What I need for you to do is stay calm. Keep breathing and don't open your eyes. Okay?" Lex kept watch as Clark struggled to not open his eyes.

"What's going on?" Clark asked nervously.

"Everything's fine," Lex coached. "Everything's better than fine. It's just you and me, touching, kissing, loving each other."

His eyes still closed, Clark smiled. "It feels great."

Lex swallowed as he looked at the ground receding. If they fell from this height, he was screwed. "Feeling calm?"

Clark nodded.

"Keep your eyes closed."

Clark nodded again.

"Remember how I said I had an idea about teaching you to fly?"


Lex stayed silent, giving Clark time to put the pieces together.

A few seconds passed. Lex felt Clark's feet move. "Um. Lex? Where's the ground?" he squeaked out. "Can I open my eyes now?"

"No, I don't think that's a good idea. I think you should just keep feeling good. Keep holding me, and get used to the idea that you can do this. That you are doing this." And you need to keep doing this, or I'm going to be in deep shit, Lex thought, as they rose even higher. They'd be passing through a cloud in a minute.

Clark held Lex tighter. "Maybe you should hold on tighter," Clark suggested nervously.

Lex was glad to do that. He wrapped his legs around Clark's hips. While there, he took a second to rub against Clark. Opportunities like this were not to be wasted, despite the risks.

Clark buried his face on Lex's shoulder and Lex could feel Clark's heart thumping in his chest.

"Shh," Lex said softly, caressing Clark's back. "You can do this. This is your birthright. Just pay attention to how it feels, what your body is saying to you."

Clark let out a strangled laugh. "You mean besides the fear of falling?"

Lex grinned. "You won't fall."

"How do you know?"

"Because I know. Because you and I can do anything together. And right now, we're flying."

"Yeah, but not on purpose," Clark muttered, face still buried.

"So make it on purpose. Enjoy this. You can't get hurt."

"But you can," Clark protested. "What if I can't protect you?"

"You will. You always have." Lex continued to caress Clark's back. "You ready to open your eyes yet?"

Clark shook his head.

Laughing softly, Lex stroked his hair. "Okay."

"How high are we?"

Lex stared down. "Hard to tell. Pretty high."

Clark let out a moan, face still hidden. He held Lex even more tightly, as if Lex were the one keeping him up here.

"Stop thinking like a human," Lex counseled. "You're from another planet. You have powers unlike anyone in the world. You're strong, you're fast, and now you can fly."

"I have x-ray vision, too," Clark muttered. "And these laser beams come out of my eyes that can set stuff on fire."

"No shit?" Lex exclaimed. "That's so cool."

Clark snickered. "Only you would think that was cool."

"It is," Lex insisted. "You're the most amazing thing that's ever happened to me," Lex said, fingers buried in Clark's hair, legs wrapped around his strong body, as the breezes caressed them, and the lights of Smallville became small pinpricks of radiance.

Clark finally lifted his head, his eyes on Lex. "Don't ever leave me."

"I won't."

"Promise?" Clark pleaded.

"I promise."

"Because I can't do any of this without you."

"You can," Lex said. "But you won't have to. I'll be here, right by your side."

Clark studied Lex as if he were trying to memorize him. Then, he looked down. "Wow."

Lex snickered. "You okay?"

"Can I get back to you on that?" Clark's feet were moving again. "I keep wanting to land on something."

"Try and move," Lex suggested. "Head toward the castle."

"How?" Clark was still looking down. "I don't even know how I got here." He flashed Lex a nervous look. "I don't know how I'm staying up."

"It doesn't matter how," Lex said. "What matters is that you feel it. What's your body telling you?"

"That I shouldn't be up here?" Clark said with a note of desperation.

"No, that's your human mind telling you that," Lex said calmly. "Your body knows it belongs here. Listen to it."

"Listen to it," Clark echoed. He closed his eyes. "Most of my body is still paying attention to you," he said with a small laugh.

Lex smiled. "We're good together, Clark."

Clark kissed him, just a quick kiss, but one that meant business, meant ownership.

Lex licked his lips.

"Maybe we can not have sex up here sometime," Clark said.

Lex liked the sound of that. "Let that be an incentive for you," he suggested.

Grinning, Clark opened his eyes. "I can do this."

"You can do this."

"I am doing it."

"You are."

Clark looked down. "We're really far up."

"Yes, we are." Lex watched Clark. "You all right?" Lex was starting to enjoy himself.

"Yeah, I think I am."

"Want to try to move?"

"Um." Clark looked around. "I'm still not sure how." He shifted Lex a little until he had one arm free. "John said the other version of me flew like this." He held one hand out, fisted, as if it would ram though the air molecules in front of him, like the parting of the Red Sea.

They didn't go anywhere. Clark frowned.

"Maybe you need to kick your feet," Lex suggested.

"Like I'm swimming?" Clark asked. "Won't that look stupid?"

Lex started to laugh.

"Hey," Clark protested.

Lex just kissed Clark. Then he thought for a minute. He could always push away and start to fall. That would hopefully get Clark moving. If not, though, he'd be dead. Not even mutant healing would protect him from a fall at this distance. But they couldn't stay up here all night.

Deciding to trust in the fact that Clark would not let him get hurt, Lex pushed away from Clark with a rapid movement and, with an undignified yelp, started plummeting toward the ground.

Clark's cry was swallowed up by the rapidly growing distance between them.

Lex was starting to think this had not been one of his better ideas, and he closed his eyes, anticipating with dread that first millisecond of pain before his bones and brain were pulverized. But then he was being caught in strong arms, and when he opened his eyes Clark was glaring at him, as angry as Lex could remember seeing him.

"You could have been killed, Lex," Clark yelled at him. "Why did you do something so stupid? What if I hadn't been able to get to you in time?"

Lex took a moment to catch his breath then noticed that they seemed to be flying without difficulty toward the mansion. "It worked, didn't it?" he said smugly.

"Idiot," Clark muttered darkly.

"Your idiot," Lex said with a grin.

Clark glowered at him, even as he came to a graceful landing on the balcony outside Lex's bedroom suite. "Stupid, Lex. It was stupid."

Lex opened the French doors, glad he'd kept them unlocked, and took Clark's hand. "Come on, Clark. Let me make it up to you." Lex was fairly certain Clark's forgiveness could be obtained fairly easily.

"How?" Clark asked with a pout.

"How about a nice blow job?" Lex offered.

"Okay," Clark said grudgingly, although there was a hint of a smile.

"We can do each other at the same time," Lex said cajolingly.

Clark's eyes lit up. "Yeah?"

Lex tumbled Clark down on the bed. "You know how hot it makes me that you can fly?" He pressed down on Clark, letting him feel how hard he was.

Clark didn't bother to answer; he was too busy getting Lex's clothes off.

Rodney tapped on John's balcony door. "John?" he hissed loudly. He
tried to peer in through the pretending-to-be-sheer curtains. John
had better not have gone to sleep. Rodney had only been in his own
room for a few minutes.

He heard footsteps and then the sliding glass door was opening. John grinned at him. "Hey, I didn't know you could get in here this way. Cool."

Rodney couldn't help but grin back. "Lex told me the rooms shared a balcony."

John pushed past him to the balcony, checking it out for himself. He took a look at Rodney. "Nice PJs."

Rodney glanced down at himself, his hand rubbing his thigh. "They're silk." Nothing but the best for Lex Luthor's guests. Lex Luthor. Rodney snorted.

"Guess someone like Lex wouldn't let a polyester/cotton blend cross his threshold," John said. He reached out as if he was going to test the silk under his fingers, but then pulled his hand back.

Rodney reached for John's hand and placed it over his crotch.

John rolled his eyes. "Nice foreplay, McKay. This work for the ladies?"

"Yeah," Rodney said dryly. "It was always a big hit." He grinned smugly. "I do, however, notice that you haven't removed...ah..." Rodney stopped talking when John started moving his hand. In fact, moved it inside his pajama bottoms and took Rodney's cock in hand.

"Now I know how to shut you up," John drawled.

"Not sure...ah...oh, don't stop doing that...not sure Elizabeth would approve...oh...oh." Rodney was seeing stars, and not the ones in the sky. How did John know just how to touch him?

"Don't move," John warned. "I'll be right back." Then he was gone.

"What?" Rodney asked, affronted. "Where are you going?"

"Don't move," came the order again from inside the room. "I need some supplies."

Rodney bounced on his toes. Supplies. He liked the sound of that. He liked it here in Comic Book World. He liked being the guest of Lex Luthor where the bathroom was larger than his apartment, and had towels that were so soft and fluffy you could sleep on them. And a bedroom with sheets that had to be thousand count Egyptian cotton, and PJs that felt like sex when you slipped them on.

Sensual. That was Lex's home. That was Lex. Clark was a lucky man. He heard John heading his way and he grinned. Clark might be lucky, but he was luckier.

Then John was back on the balcony, and he spun Rodney around so he was facing the grounds of Lex's estate, and John was pushing him until he was up against the railing, John's hard cock pressing against Rodney's ass. Then his hand was diving back in, claiming Rodney's cock again.

All of it felt so damn good. Rodney didn't think he'd ever had sex outside, especially on a night where the breeze...Rodney laughed to himself. Even the breezes were sensual. As if even the elementals on Lex's land obeyed his dictum.

John was unbuttoning his pajama top, and Rodney let it slip from his shoulder, feeling the breeze harden his nipples. Then John's fingers were wreaking havoc on both his cock and his nipples, and Rodney closed his eyes and let out a heartfelt groan. Jesus, this felt good.

"Can I fuck you, Rodney?" John whispered in his ear. "Out here, under the stars."

"God, yes," Rodney practically yelled as John performed a particularly wonderful twist and pull to his cock that almost had him coming. Rodney got his hand under the elastic of his pajama pants and eased them over John's hand, letting them pool at his feet. It felt deliciously wanton to be naked out here. He decided there was something about Comic Book World that made you into a slut.

John's hand left off playing with his nipples, much to Rodney's disappointment, but then he heard a cap snick open, and knew even better things were on the horizon. He spread his legs. Then, going with the slut excuse, he reached back and held himself open, hoping John thought it was half as sexy as Rodney felt doing it.

"Jesus, Rodney," John exclaimed. "You're gonna make me come just looking at you."

Rodney felt positively wicked.

"You like this," John said in a voice husky with sex. "You like being all spread out for me, don't you?"

Then he was on his knees, kissing Rodney's ass.

Rodney decided he definitely liked the idea of being spread out for John.

Then John was licking him. With his tongue. Right there. Rodney let out a muffled shriek. "What...ah...don't, that's gross...ah, god that feels good...don't stop...who knew...ah...really, who knew...I sure as hell...oh my god..." He could hear John laughing between licks and tongue lapping and the soft jab of his tongue, and Rodney couldn't care less. Let John laugh as long as he kept doing that.

"You wanna come this way?" John asked in a deep sexy drawl that sent delicious shivers up and down Rodney's spine.

Rodney wanted to die this way. "Yes, yes, keep doing this, this is great, this is beyond great...ah. I had no idea...ah...god."

"Now who can't shut up," John said smugly.

"You're talking," Rodney complained. "When you're talking you're not...god..." Rodney had had no idea his asshole had this whole sensory array back there, unmistakably designed for just this. He tried to decide who to blame for failing to clearly extol the extreme pleasures of rimming. The idea of it had always grossed him out, but John was licking the converted. Rodney had seen the light.

John's hand snuck in front and fingers wrapped around Rodney's cock. Rodney shoved his hand in his mouth to keep from screaming. The other hand held onto the railing for all he was worth. The double onslaught was more than he could fight. Despite his desire to keep feeling this way forever, Rodney felt his balls tighten, his toes curl, and then he was coming so hard, his ass spasming, his cock spurting, and Rodney thought his head might explode.

Before his body had even started calming down, John had a well-lubed finger up his ass, and Rodney almost came again. He spread his legs even more, ready for anything John wanted to do. Rodney McKay: slut for hire. Maybe they'd make a movie about his life here in Comic Book World.

And then John was pushing into his body, his thick cock thrusting and Rodney wanted more, wanted it all, and he pressed back, wanting to feel John's balls slapping his ass. "Come on," Rodney urged. "I'm ready."

John took him at his word and surged forward, burying himself deep in Rodney's body.

That was perfect. No, the rimming was perfect. This was beyond perfect. This was the epitome of perfection, John thrusting over and over, his hands tight on Rodney's hips, his breath fanning over Rodney's back, every thrust accompanied by a grunted groan that got Rodney all hot and bothered. And every time John hit his prostate, Rodney saw stars.

He blinked. That wasn't a star. He looked again. "That's Clark and Lex. They're flying."

"So are we," John growled.

Rodney watched Clark and Lex for a second as Clark brought them in for a landing out of sight around the corner. He grinned in amazement. Lex had done it.

John slammed into him and hit his prostate just right and Rodney let out a gasp. Then he felt John coming inside of him, and Rodney thought maybe he came a little, too, his body never truly having lost its sexual excitement. And he knew John was right, the two of them might not be defying the laws of gravity, but they sure as hell were flying.

Teyla and Aiden were the only two who woke up for breakfast at an
early hour Sunday morning. Teyla ate an orange while she watched
Aiden cook up some eggs and something he called bacon.

He glanced at his watch. "Man, where is everyone?"

Teyla imagined they were all sleeping in after a busy night of lovemaking. She found the image of all these men with their bodies locked together in passion quite pleasing.

Aiden glanced at his watch again. "Maybe I should go wake everyone up. What do you think?"

"I think you should let them sleep," Teyla suggested. "Perhaps after breakfast, we could finish watching that movie we began yesterday." Not that she was really interested, but it would keep Aiden occupied.

"Yeah," Aiden said, his eyes lighting up. "Great idea." He turned back to his cooking.

Teyla smiled to herself as she finished eating her fruit.

A second breakfast was cooked a little after ten, right after a
guilty-looking Clark raced home to attend to his chores. He'd
stuttered out, "Oh, man, the cows," and he'd been gone in a blur.

"So," John said as he laid the biscuits on the baking roll. Omelets, bacon and biscuits. His salivary glands were working overtime. Man, he'd really missed this kind of food. "What's up first on our agenda today?"

"Clark needs to take me up on the jumper to see if life support is working."

John frowned. "And me."

"Only one space suit and it's my size," Rodney said. He turned to Lex. "Did it arrive?"

"Yes," Lex said, chopping onions. "All three of them did."

Rodney's eyebrows went up as John smiled smugly. "Three?" Rodney asked.

"For you, John and me," Lex informed him.

"I heard you just order one," Rodney said, confused.

"I ordered the other two later. I didn't imagine John would want you to go up without him, not to mention that he might need to order the jumper to do things."

"And you?"

"When am I going to get another chance to see the Earth from orbit? You think I'd miss a chance like this?"

"From what I saw last night," John said with a grin, "you'll be able to see the Earth from orbit anytime you want to."

Lex grinned back. "You saw us?"

John nodded. "Just for a second." He glanced at Rodney, remembering last night. Rodney as a lover in reality made all of John's fantasies of Rodney as a lover pale in comparison. Rodney was so there, so present, so responsive. John turned back to the oven to hide his burgeoning erection.

John could feel Lex and Rodney's eyes on his back, guessed he wasn't fooling anyone. Thank God Ford was off watching movies. Teyla had gone for another walk, after promising not to bring back any more rocks of any kind.

"In any case," Lex said, after a long moment, "Clark can protect three of us as well as he can protect Rodney alone."

Rodney shrugged. "Fine with me. Just don't get in my way."

"Just plant me at a window and you won't even know I'm there," Lex said with some amusement.

Clark blurred back into the kitchen. "Man, the cows were about to burst." He kissed Lex. "I need to set an alarm for tomorrow. I can't believe I overslept so much." He took note of the chores being done to prepare breakfast. "Need me to do anything?"

"Nope," John said as he checked the timer. "Five minutes for biscuits."

Lex got up and retrieved the omelet pan. "Pick your ingredients, gentlemen. Rodney, let's start with you."

There was some quibbling but, eventually, all the omelets were cooked, bacon fried to perfection, butter was melting on flaky biscuits, and the four of them ate every crumb. "That was great," John said, patting his stomach.

"Beyond great," Clark said. He reached for Lex's hand, laced his fingers through Lex's. "What do we do next?"

In a perfect world, John thought, the answer to that would a nap and some more sex. By the expression on Lex's face, he was thinking the same thing. Lex touched Clark's face with the back of a finger then smiled. "You have a busy day ahead of you. First you take us up in the spaceship..."

"Us," Clark said, interrupting with a frown.

"Us," Lex said firmly. "I want to see the Earth from up there. I need to. You'll protect me."

Clark frowned again but didn't argue.

John saw some interesting times ahead for Clark and Lex as they both did everything they could to protect their stubborn partners.

"Then what?" Clark asked.

"Then we give you the gene therapy," Lex said, touching Clark again. "And hope it works."

"It will," Clark said, his eyes full of trust and love.

John felt a moment of envy until his eyes moved to Rodney's and he saw the love in Rodney's gaze directed at him. That idea about a nap and sex was sounding better and better. "Maybe later I can take out the MTT?" When Lex nodded his permission, John glanced at Rodney. "Maybe you'll let me take you out for a ride."

He grinned when Rodney reddened.

"You're welcome to drive anything in my garage," Lex offered magnanimously. "By the way, what are you going to do with the Wraith dart?"

"You can keep it," Rodney said. "I'm sure you can take it apart and find all sorts of things you can reverse engineer and become even richer on."

"You sure that's a good idea?" John asked. "Maybe we should have Clark destroy it."

Rodney waved a dismissive hand at John. Then he glanced at Lex. "Do you want it?"

Lex nodded, his eyes wide. "I definitely want it."

"Just be careful with it," John cautioned. "Some of the ones we've found have been booby-trapped. You should probably have Clark be the one who takes it apart, just in case."

"I can do that," Clark said, grinning at Lex, who looked like he'd just been handed a million dollars. Or maybe a billion dollars, considering how rich he already was.

John got up, grabbing plates.

"I'll do that," Clark said. "You guys cooked." He whirred around the kitchen for a few seconds, and when he stopped, the place was spotless.

Lex yanked him down and kissed him. "You really are a handy guy to have around. Thank you." Then he stood. "Let's go try on those spacesuits."

An hour later, Lex sat on the co-pilot's seat and stared at the Earth.
He'd seen pictures, of course, but nothing compared to the real thing.
He understood now what all those astronauts meant when they spoke of
the Earth as a jewel. Quietly, he quoted, "Our home that must be
defended like a holy relic."

"What was that?" John asked.

"One of our astronauts from the USSR said that when he saw the Earth from orbit."

"I like it," John said with a smile. "A holy relic."

Lex liked it, too. Earth looked so vulnerable, one small world in a universe filled with other worlds. A universe filled with creatures like the Wraith, like those future enemies of Clark's Rodney had spoken about. A deep conviction grew in Lex that he would do everything he could to protect her. His Earth. He would defend it. He and Clark.

He glanced up and could see Clark's feet. He was sitting on top of the jumper, enjoying the view.

Rodney closed the last console. "I think we're good." He'd already taken off his helmet and his gloves, saying he couldn't work as well with them on. When he didn't implode, John had followed suit, Lex quickly after him. Rodney turned to John. "Can you ask the jumper if it can take us home?"

"Like a carrier pigeon?" John asked teasingly.

"Sort of," Rodney said with an apologetic wince. "I don't know what to do if it won't. I have no idea what happened, let alone trying to recreate it."

John sat down in the pilot's chair and asked the ship to show it where it was now, and where Atlantis was.

Two different maps showed up. One was clearly a map of Earth's solar system, the nine familiar planets, circling a yellow sun. There was a blinking light on Earth.

The other map was of the Pegasus galaxy. The blinking light on that map pinpointed Atlantis.

"Okay, that's good," Rodney said encouragingly. "The jumper gets that it's somewhere other than the Pegasus galaxy. The only thing I'm not sure about is if it gets that it's in an alternate reality." He pursed his lips, thinking.

"Don't you think that's the point of the two maps?" Lex offered. "If it was all one reality, wouldn't the jumper show it as one continuous map, one galaxy bleeding into the next?"

"I think it'll work, Rodney," John said as he felt the jumper's controls under his hands. "She's ready to go. I don't want to ask her yet, because I'm afraid she'll go now."

"Just that easy?" Rodney asked. "That seems too easy."

"You want it to be hard?" John drawled. "How about this? We have no idea how long it will take, or if the ship will survive making it back through whatever we went through to get here. And we might meet some more Wraith when we get back to the Pegasus galaxy. Does that make you feel better?"

"Much," Rodney said sarcastically. "Thank you so much."

"I live to serve," John said blithely.

Lex grinned at them both.

"Besides," John said. "I think the ship brought us here to save us, so it makes sense it can get us back. You just needed to get her back in shape to make the trip."

"Okay then," Rodney said. "I think Clark better take us back down. He can do it faster than the ship can, and we have a better chance of evading radar that way." He knocked on the window. When Clark appeared, Rodney shouted, "Can you take us back down?"

Clark nodded.

The three of them belted themselves in tightly, and Rodney gave Clark a thumbs up. Clark grinned, got a handhold on the ship and headed down to Earth.

This was almost as good as flying, John thought, as he raced down the
highway on Lex's MTT Turbine Superbike. John had ridden plenty of
motorcycles before but nothing like this. It almost made sense it
cost as much as a small house.

Rodney was behind him, clutching his waist for all he was worth, but John had felt his body relax after they'd gone a few miles, so he knew Rodney was having a good time.

He guessed that Rodney was pretty used to putting his life in John's hands when he was in the driver's seat, and this was just an extension of that. Rodney had insisted on helmets, though, and Lex had supplied both helmets and leather jackets out of his Felix the Cat magic closet, which seemed to hold anything anyone could ever want.

John had no particular destination in mind. Lex had gone over a map with him so he had some idea which roads led to where. He was tempted to go to Metropolis, but it was late, and it was a good distance away. And despite the fact that they really weren't in a hurry to get back to Atlantis, John was anxious to return.

No one at Atlantis knew they were okay; they'd be worried, and possibly searching, putting people at risk. Besides, while Comic Book World might be a fun place to hang out in, he wanted his own world back.

He slowed down to take an exit and came to a stop at the end of the ramp. "You okay?" he yelled back to Rodney.

Rodney yelled something back John couldn't understand, but then Rodney moved his hand down and caressed John's crotch, and that John totally understood. Rodney was just fine. Horny and fine. If John knew the area better he'd pull off somewhere and suck Rodney off, but he wasn't sure where they could go. Rodney would have to wait until they got back to Lex's.

But then Rodney's hand was on his crotch again, and the other was teasing a nipple, and John thought, fuck it, and he started up the bike, looking for a good spot to pull over. He felt sixteen again and he was loving it.

"So you think it will work?" Clark asked anxiously, staring at the
vial in Lex's hand. They were alone, sitting side by side at the
kitchen table. Rodney and John had gone out for a drive, Teyla was
down in Lex's gym working out, and Aiden was back in the media room
playing computer games.

"I think it will," Lex said, placing the vial down on the table. "You need to be sure you want to do this."

Clark's brow furrowed. "Why wouldn't I?"

Lex considered Clark for a moment, trying to figure out how to say this. "Clark..." He stopped, stymied.

"Just say it, Lex. Whatever it is."

"I haven't aged much in the past four years, and I suspect that I'll live a very long time. A very long time," he repeated. "But," he added, "while I may be a mutant, I'm still human, and I will most likely die before you. Everyone else you know will certainly die before you. Even people you meet years from now, they'll all die, and you'll be the one left behind."

Lex hated the look on Clark's face, knowing he'd put it there.

"You don't know that," Clark said passionately. "Maybe the Wraith took a bunch of my life away when he attacked me. Maybe we'll grow old together."

"That might be, and I hope it is," Lex said. "I truly hope that's what happens, because I'm selfish enough not to like the idea of you going on to live whole lifetimes with other people when I'm gone. Falling in love with someone else." Lex hated the idea. Hated it enough to be determined to find a way to stay eternally young and at Clark's side.

"I'll never love anyone else," Clark said fiercely. "Never."

Lex smiled at him. "While the selfish part of me wants that to be true, the better part of me, which I'm trying to foster, hopes that if I die, you will find someone to love. Living forever alone...I'd never wish that on you."

Clark dropped his head to Lex's shoulder. "I don't want to talk about this."

"I know you don't. But we need to. I guess what I'm trying to say is that once we do this, and if it works, you really will be invulnerable. And there may come a time when you're tired of living, and you won't have any options."

Clark stared at him, startled. "Lex..."

Lex held up a hand. "I'm not saying it would ever happen. I hope it doesn't. You might always be bolstered by your need to help others. But, if you don't age, if you're looking at forever, at least in mortal terms, that's a long time."

Grabbing Lex's hand tightly, Clark said, "You promised me you'd never leave me."

"And I meant it, as far as reality allows."

"That's not good enough. You'll have to find a way to stay alive. I can't do this without you." He eyes searched Lex's desperately.

"This is what I'm talking about, Clark. You might have to, someday, far in the future."

"Take some of my blood before we do this and freeze it. You can study it and figure out a way to use me to help you live longer."

Lex thought that was a good idea. "I will. I'll do everything I can to stay alive. But..."

Clark put his hand over Lex's mouth. "Stop. I don't want to talk about this. The Wraith took some of my life. You'll live a really long time. It will work out. We'll be together. And if something bad happens, like what you said, I'll leave Earth. I'll just go and find someplace where I can die. But it won't happen," he finished fervently. "We're meant to be together."

Lex heard the truth in Clark's words. They held a sort of power as if he were setting their fate in stone. He nodded. "So be it. Together." He grinned. "The stuff of legends."

Clark grinned, although his eyes were still shadowed. "Don't talk of dying, Lex. I can't handle it." He laced his fingers through Lex's. "When Cassandra showed me my future, I was in a graveyard surrounded by tombstones. My mom's, dad's, Pete, Lana, Chloe, they were all there. Except for you. Your tombstone wasn't there. And that's because you're still alive. You're still with me even after everyone else is gone."

"Whatever my future was," Lex said soberly, "killed her."

"Maybe," Clark said. "But that was before we fell in love."

"Speak for yourself," Lex admitted. "I fell in love with you the instant I opened my eyes and saw you dripping wet all over me." Lex didn't mention that if his future could be changed, so could Clark's. He didn't want to put any more pain in those beautiful eyes. Besides, Clark had convinced him. One way or the other, they'd be together.

"I fell in love with you the first time I saw you drink from one of those water bottles of yours," Clark said with a laugh.

"That's lust, Clark," Lex returned with a grin.

"You were so sexy," Clark admitted. "Everything you did looked like sex. I think I was hard just being in the same room with you. Even when I was confused about Lana and Chloe, neither of them turned me on like you." He shook his head as he rolled his eyes. "Guess I should have bought a clue that you were the one for me."

"You were too young," Lex said as he ran a thumb over Clark's lips. "Even if you'd told me you were willing, I wouldn't have touched you. As much as I wanted you, I didn't want to go to jail, and between your parents and friends, that's where I would have ended up." He leaned over to kiss Clark. "You were worth the wait."

Clark stared at him with bright eyes. "So were you." Clark leaned in and kissed Lex. Their tongues entwined gently, as Lex's hand carded through Clark's hair, and Clark's hand slid over Lex's skull.

When they pulled back, Clark grinned. "She was right."

"Who was right?"

"Dana, when she said it was so soft." Clark demonstrated what he meant by running his hand over Lex's bald head. "You're so soft all over."

Lex frowned.

Clark laughed. "I mean that in the most masculine kind of way, of course."

Rolling his eyes, Lex tapped the vial. "So you want to do this?" Despite his reservations, Lex did want Clark to be immune to Kryptonite. There was too damn much of the stuff around for Clark to be safe.

"It suddenly feels scary to think about doing this," Clark admitted.

"Rodney and I ran a lot of tests. The gene didn't do anything damaging to your tissues, so I truly don't believe it will affect your powers at all. All it means is that if Kryptonite is around, it won't bother you."

"It also means you won't be able to use it if you need to test something on me or if I need to fake being human."

"That's true," Lex admitted. "There are always repercussions to the choices we make. But you're eighteen now, and the odds of you having to fake being human will happen less and less. And you have me to come up with false lab tests, or to pay people off. We can handle anything that comes up."

Clark stared at the vial and nodded. "Okay. Let's do it."

"Now?" Lex asked.

"Now." Clark grinned. "Do we get to go to your kinky lab again?"

Lex laughed. "Only if you want. I can do this right here." He tapped a small case that was also sitting on the table.

"Do you have tubes to draw some of my blood?"

"No," Lex said. "I guess we will need to go down to my kinky lab."

Clark smiled. "Great. Maybe you better collect another semen sample while you're at it."

"I've created a monster," Lex said with a grin. He picked up the vial and held it carefully. "Let's go."

"I can collect some of your semen, too, if you want me to," Clark offered with a mischievous glint in his eye. "I'd be glad to."

"A sex monster," Lex corrected. "I've created a kinky sex monster." He watched Clark's ass as it preceded him out the door. Clark's preoccupation with sex totally worked for Lex.

Clark made dinner for them, after racing home to do his evening chores
and grabbing his mom's deep-fat fryer. As they ate, Lex asked Rodney,
"How long did it take for the gene therapy to take affect?"

Rodney thought about it. "A few hours. It seemed like forever." He glanced at Clark. "Still not working?"

Clark shook his head. "Not yet."

"How long has it been?"

Lex looked at his watch. "Just five hours."

"When's the last time you checked?" Rodney asked.

"About two hours ago."

"Try it again," Rodney suggested. "Got any Kryptonite around?"

Lex pointed to the lead box on the counter.

John reached for it, mid chew, and handed it to Rodney. He went back to his fried chicken. Teyla was watching them all as she ate another bite of salad, which had mandarin orange slices in it. Aiden was busy eating as well, working on his large selection of fried chicken and French fries.

Clark winced at the box then sighed. "Go ahead, open it."

"We can wait until dinner is over," Lex offered.

"No, let's just do it." Clark squeezed his eyes shut and braced himself.

Rodney opened the box.

Nothing happened.

Clark opened one eye. "Did you open it?"

Rodney pushed the open box over until it was sitting right in front of Clark. "Yup." He had a big grin on his face. "Congratulations, you are now officially invulnerable."

Clark opened both eyes and stared at the Kryptonite. "It's glowing but I can't feel it." He lifted amazed eyes to Lex. "I can't feel it."

Lex was grinning widely. "Not at all?"

Clark shook his head in astonishment, feeling like he'd been let out of prison.

"Touch it," Lex suggested.

Reaching out, Clark picked up the piece of rock and closed his fingers around it. "I can feel it a little when I do this. My stomach feels funny and the skin on my hand feels hot." He opened his hand, letting the glowing rock rest on his palm. "But I still feel strong." He closed his fist again and squeezed. When he opened his hand again, the Kryptonite was dust.

Rodney let out a whoop, and John and Aiden clapped, Teyla smiling brightly. Lex came over and gave him a very, very tight hug. "You're safe now," Lex whispered in his ear.

"I was already safe with you around," Clark whispered back.

They stared at each other for a long moment and Clark wished everyone would go away. Then he realized he could go away. He grabbed Lex and supersped them to the other side of the castle. When they got there, Clark said, "I just needed to be alone with you for a minute."

As if Lex understood, he didn't say a word, just put his hand on the back of Clark's head and pulled him down for a kiss.

It was like that kiss was a vow. Right now, they'd said their vows, and promised forever. Clark would never need anything more.

Rodney stared at the spot Clark and Lex had been standing that was now
an empty space and shrugged. "Okay, I guess they wanted to be alone."

John was okay with that. He had fried food to eat. "God, I'm gonna miss this food."

Rodney groaned in agreement.

"I like these oranges," Teyla announced.

"I'm gonna miss this castle," Ford said. "Man, it's like a resort."

John grinned. "Think anyone's gonna believe us when we tell them what happened?"

"Lex Luthor and Clark Kent," Rodney said with a grin. "I wish we'd had time to go meet Bruce Wayne."

"Ben Richards," John said. "I always liked the Fantastic Four."

"Wolverine," Ford volunteered. "X-men all the way."

"Too bad Atlantis doesn't know we're okay," Rodney said with a sigh. "It would be fun to stay for a while."

"Maybe the jumper can get us back here if we want," John offered. "If it can get us back to Atlantis, I don't know why it couldn't." Then he smiled his lopsided smile. "I'd come back here."

"Are you kidding?" Rodney said enthusiastically. "I'd come back here in a minute."

Then Clark and Lex were back, Clark looking sheepish. "Sorry about that."

John waved him off. "We were all talking about how we'd like to come back and visit, if the jumper can find her way back here."

"You're all welcome any time," Lex said graciously. "Feel free to drop in. I'll leave instructions with my staff that if any of you appear that they're to contact me immediately. Just in case."

"And if it works," Teyla said, "perhaps you could visit us in Atlantis and see our home."

Lex's eyes lit up. "I'd love to do that."

John patted his stomach. "It's been great to eat Earth food again."

"Speaking of that," Lex said. "How much room do you four really need in the puddle jumper? Can you all stay in the front cabin?"

"If we need to," John said. "Why?"

"I just thought I'd send some supplies home with you."

"Like chocolate," Rodney begged.

Lex grinned. "And more."

"Sounds great to me," John said. He looked at his team. "Anyone mind being a little crowded on the way home?"

No one seemed to mind at all.

John stared at all the boxes. They were stacked from floor to ceiling
without an inch to spare, "Jesus, did he buy out the local
supermarket?" Some were labeled, some were not. The boxes that were
labeled were enough to make him drool. Chocolate, DVDs, coffee.
There were also bushels of corn-on-the-cob and other fresh vegetables
from Clark's farm, including a box of oranges. It was going to be
party time on Atlantis when they got back.

The boxes that weren't labeled felt like Christmas, and John decided they'd wait to open them when they got home. How Lex had arranged this all so quickly was beyond him.

Lex touched one of the Styrofoam boxes. "I've sent some seeds and small plants. I realize it's a risk introducing a new species to an established ecosystem, so if you don't want to plant them, don't. But I've had them all sprayed and sterilized, so they shouldn't introduce any organisms to your planet."

John would leave that decision up to Elizabeth. Maybe they could find a small corner of the planet to grow stuff on, or create a greenhouse right on Atlantis. That might be safest. John glanced at the boxes again. "I...I'm overwhelmed."

"Yeah, I'd say it was too much, but I'll break your arm if you try to take any of it back," Rodney said with a crooked grin.

"Consider it a gift from my people to yours," Lex said with a quick laugh. "In exchange for the dart and the naquada battery. Not to mention what you've done for Clark. I know I got the better end of the deal."

If Lex thought he'd gotten the better deal, John wasn't going to argue with him.

Then they were done and all looking at each other.

Lex held out his hand to Rodney. "It was great to meet you all. I hope you can come back."

Rodney shook his hand, followed by the rest of the team, although Teyla touched foreheads with Lex, and then with Clark. A moment of silence ensued, and then there were hugs and backslapping, and a few sets of bright eyes.

Then to Clark, John said, "Would you give us a boost?"

"Sure," Clark agreed. "Now? You don't want to wait until morning?"

"As much as I've enjoyed your hospitality," John said graciously, "we have friends who are looking for us." He glanced at Clark and Lex. "We'd have been screwed if we'd met anyone else." He grinned. "Clark Kent and Lex Luthor. Unbelievable. I'll be telling this story 'til the day I die."

They settled themselves down in the front of the jumper, Rodney and John in the seats, Teyla and Ford on the floor on mats Lex had provided. Rodney had jury-rigged safety harnesses, so they strapped themselves in.

Clark gave Lex a kiss. "I'll be back in a minute." He moved to the jumper and picked it up.

Lex shook his head in amazement. Clark Kent, alien, super being. Super man. The name made sense to him now. Not that he was going to let Clark use it, but it made sense.

Lex had barely made it to the house when Clark reappeared. Then he
was being supersped to the bedroom and before he knew it, he and Clark
were naked in bed. Lex blinked at Clark. "You know there's something
to be said for building anticipation while we walk to the bedroom and
take each other's clothes off." He grinned to show Clark he really
didn't mind. It was exciting to be wanted this much.

Clark grinned back. "They're gone. We're alone."

"So we are," Lex said as he slid his hand down Clark's back. "Come here." He prodded Clark until he was lying on top of Lex. "Hmm. That feels great." Lex closed his eyes, enjoying all that naked, perfect skin next to his. He wished he could sleep like this every night. "I'll miss you when I can't have you near me all the time," he whispered to Clark.

"Me, too," Clark whispered back.

"Are you going to tell your parents about me?" Lex wasn't sure what he wanted Clark's answer to be.

Clark gave the question some thought. "In a while," Clark finally said. "I want it just to be us for right now. It's not that I'm not willing to tell everyone, but it will make things complicated, and I don't want it to be complicated. I know I love you, and we're going to be together. I know it will all work out. I'd just as soon not listen to everyone tell me what a disaster this is."

"Very wise," Lex said with a sad smile. "Because they will."

"And I can't imagine your father will be too thrilled. I'm not exactly in a position to give you an heir," Clark said.

"No, he won't be happy. But I'm done trying to make him happy. You are my primary focus from now on." He sealed that promise with a kiss.

Clark smiled at him. "I like the sound of that." Then he frowned. "Will he do stuff to try to break us up?"

"He might, but he won't succeed," Lex promised Clark. "I can handle my father." And Lex meant it, for the first time in his life. He didn't care what his father thought about him. He didn't care if his father cut him off. That alien technology sitting in his garage was going to make Lex a fortune that would put his father's bank account to shame. It didn't matter if his father didn't love him anymore--or stopped pretending to love him. Lex had more important things to care about and he was already loved by someone far worthier than his father. "Let me worry about my father. You'll have enough on your plate worrying about your own."

Clark made a face. He rolled over and flopped on his back. "Way to kill the mood, Lex."

Lex wasn't too worried about that. He ran his hand down Clark's chest and circled his cock with his fingers. "Not in the mood?"

Clark tried for about three seconds, but then his hips arched a little. He tackled Lex and landed on top of him. "Okay, okay. I'm always in the mood."

Grinning, Lex squeezed Clark's perfect ass. "Ready to make love?"

Suddenly serious, Clark nodded, swallowing.

Lex touched Clark's face, overwhelmed with the love there. This was what made life worth living. His hand cradling the back of Clark's head, he pulled him down for a kiss. Their lips met, then tongues, then their bodies were pressing closer, and Lex's legs went around Clark's hips. The only way they could have gotten closer was for their bodies to merge.

Their cocks were lined up and Clark began to rock against Lex. "God, Lex, can I..." He stopped.

"Yes, you can. I want you to." Lex gestured toward the bedside table. "Get some lotion."

Clark snuck a kiss first, but then did as instructed. "Will you tell me what to do? I don't want to hurt you."

"You won't, and yes, I will." Lex turned over onto his stomach.

Clark kissed his ass. "You're so perfect."

Lex grinned into his pillow. "Lube up your fingers, Clark." He looked over his shoulder. "You do know what you're aiming for, right?"

Clark rolled his eyes. "I'm not that stupid, Lex."

Grinning again, Lex turned back around. "Just checking." Then he felt strong hands on his ass, opening him up, and a finger touching him at the entrance to his body.

Lex let out a moan. God, he loved this. "Just one finger to start. Nice and slow." He couldn't wait until Clark was slamming into him. Just the thought of it made his cock ache and he reached down to adjust himself.

Then Clark's finger was pushing in and Lex was pushing back. "Good," Lex gasped. "That's good."

Clark's finger slid all the way in. Lex was about to coach Clark on finding his prostate when Clark found it on his own. Lex levitated an inch off the bed. "Yes, that's it," he managed to say, as Clark touched it again.

"I can't wait until you do this to me," Clark said. "I want to feel what that's like."

"It feels great," Lex gasped. "Put another finger in."

Clark obediently started working a second finger in. "God, you look so hot this way, Lex. It's making me crazy."

It was making Lex crazy, too. Clark hit the magic button again, and the added finger just made it better. Lex loved the pressure, loved feeling full. He couldn't wait to feel every well-hung inch of Clark crammed inside him. He pushed back on Clark's fingers while Clark fucked him, until they were sliding easily. "Three fingers now, with more lube," he panted. Jesus, he was hard. Hard as a brick.

Then Clark had three fingers in him and he was kissing Lex's ass, telling him how sexy he was, how much he loved him. Then Lex told him to fuck him, and Clark pulled his fingers out and then he was over Lex and on top of him, and he was sliding in so sweetly like he'd been made just for Lex.

"I'm in you," Clark said in awe. "I'm in you, Lex. I'm watching my cock slide in and out of you."

Lex could feel every inch of it. "Do it harder. Faster."

"You won't let me hurt you?" Clark asked.

Lex didn't care, but he said, "I won't."

Clark took him at his word and started pumping in and out, pushing hard, hitting Lex's prostate just right and so often that Lex was in sexual heaven, letting out moan after moan as Clark filled him with his big cock, slamming, slamming into him.

"I'm gonna come," Clark said in a gasp. "Oh, oh."

Lex grabbed his cock, gave it a few quick strokes, knowing that was all it was gonna take. He wanted to come a few seconds before Clark so the spasms of his orgasm would hit Clark just as he came. Then he was done with thinking. He was coming, groaning with the pleasure of it, blinded by the sensation.

Then he heard Clark gasping, groaning, yelling, and then he was coming in Lex's ass, slamming his way to orgasm, rocking Lex's body and it felt so damn good. Clark fell against him, and Lex smoothly rolled them to their sides, Clark's cock still locked in his body. Lex gripped him to keep him there as long as he could.

Clark was kissing Lex's neck, breathing noisily. Eventually, Clark's cock slipped out of Lex and Lex couldn't wait until he could get it back again. Between one thought and the next, Lex slipped off to sleep.

When he woke, Clark was stroking his arm, smiling at him.

Lex smiled back.

"That was great," Clark exulted. "That was beyond great. That was the best thing I ever felt."

Lex smiled more broadly.

"How did I wait so long for this?" Clark asked, mystified.

"You were waiting for me," Lex said, proprietarily. "And if you hadn't, I'm afraid I'd have to go kill anyone you'd had sex with, so it's probably a good thing you did wait."

Clark shot him a look, but then he frowned. "How about all the people you've had sex with?"

"Sex being the operative word, Clark. I had sex with them. We made love. That was a first for me."

Clark beamed at him. "So it was a first for both of us."

Lex nodded.

"And we can do this anytime we want?" Clark asked, like someone had just handed him a shiny new toy.

Laughing, Lex nodded again. "Within reason and taking public decency laws into account." He tried to remember the first time he'd had sex but he couldn't. Too many drugs made that whole period of his life too hazy for clear recollections. He knew it hadn't been like this, though. It had never been like this. The surety, the faith he had in Clark made all the difference.

Clark kissed his hip. "Can we do it again right now?"

Lex clenched his ass. "I may need a little time. I'm a little sore." He reached his fingers up quickly and covered Clark's lips before he could speak. "In a really, really good way."

Clark smiled. "No, I meant will you do me?"

Oh. Lex could do that. He glanced down at his already hardening cock. He could definitely do that. He grinned at Clark. "I like the way you think."

"Let me go wash up," Clark said, "Then we can get started." He rolled off the bed, putting that perfect ass on display as he headed for the bathroom. "Man, how do people keep themselves from having sex all the time?" Then he was in the bathroom.

Lex snickered. He'd created an insatiable kinky sex monster. He let out a happy sigh. He could live with that.

Elizabeth invited all the department heads to join them as they opened
the boxes. It really did feel like Christmas. John played Santa,
handing out boxes to various people.

John wasn't sure anyone was buying the Lex Luthor-Clark Kent story. He wasn't sure he'd have believed anyone coming back with that tale. But it was hard to argue with the bounty Lex had sent along with them. John wished Lex could hear all the oohs and aahs coming from everyone.

"How did he know?" Beckett was saying excitedly. "Look at this."

John peeked in the box that had been labeled 'For the Medical Department' and found boxes of every over-the-counter drug he could imagine. "This is good?" John asked.

"Aye, Major, it's verra good," Beckett said, his burr pronounced. "The Ancients might have every sort of diagnostic gadget known to mankind, but they don't have what cures ye when you've got a simple headache or the common cold." He caressed the side of the box, almost purring.

The botanists were almost orgasming over the plants Lex had sent. The seeds had them drooling, but the small live plants were the hit of the day with them. John had already suggested a greenhouse on Atlantis for the time being and Elizabeth had agreed, and all the greenthumbers were busy planning one.

John wandered over there. He saw one of the plants had Teyla's name on it. "Hey Teyla," John called. "This one's for you."

Teyla looked up from the box of oranges she was holding on to, a gift from Lex. He'd included a set of throwing knives that had thrilled her. She put the box down and moved next to John. She picked up the small plant. "What is it?"

He tweaked the tag so she could read it.

Her eyes lit up. "An orange tree?"

John grinned. "If it grows it will take a couple of years to bear fruit, but, yup, he sent a couple of orange trees, just for you."

She grinned back at him. "He was very kind to do that." She gently touched the small leaves. "I shall look forward to watching it grow."

The engineering department cheered at the box of tools they'd found. Elizabeth laughed when she opened the box labeled for Administration to find pens, paper, flash drives, post it notes, all the little things that make life a little easier, but that had come to Atlantis in limited quantity.

And then there were the boxes of hundreds of DVDs, from complete television shows to the latest movies. There were also CDs with every imaginable kind of music, a box of IPODs, their boxes already opened, and John was willing to guess that they were loaded with books and music that could be downloaded and shared with everyone.

There were boxes and cans of non-perishable foods--vegetable, fruits, nuts and more. There were also packages of dried mixes, ones that only needed water as an added ingredient. Muffins, pancakes, Bisquick.

And that didn't even include the chocolate, the coffee, and...there was a yell from the botanists. John turned to them.

"He sent coffee beans, and wheat, and corn," one of the botanists said, clutching the seed bags to her chest.

John wandered back over and noticed one more box that hadn't been opened. "What's in there?"

The woman opened it up and found books. How-to books. On coffee, wheat, corn, hybridization, fertilization, fermentation. How to be a farmer in easy-to-follow steps. John laughed a little, astounded by Lex. He thought it was a very good thing for that particular Earth that Lex had turned his back on the dark side of the force. No wonder he'd made such a formidable enemy to Superman with this kind of attention to detail.

The fact that he'd done all this while he was dealing with aliens, fighting creatures from other planets, being a mad scientist, and keeping them all fed and clothed, spoke volumes about what the man was capable of. He really hoped they'd get back there. He wanted to see the world that Lex and Clark would help create. And maybe Clark could come here and help them beat the Wraith.

Another box was found. "Dr. McKay," Elizabeth said. "This one's labeled for you. And John, here's one for you."

Rodney looked up from where he was devouring several chocolate bars. "For me?" he said, his mouth full.

John went and got Rodney's, groaning at its weight, placing it on the table in front of him. Rodney reluctantly relinquished his death grip on his chocolate and ripped the box open. John's box was pushed down the table to him. He left his alone for the time being, waiting for Rodney to open his.

There was a note inside and when Rodney read it, he barked out a laugh then handed it to John.




John snickered. "What'd he send you?"

Rodney's eyes were gleaming. "Laptops. Two of them. Extra hard drives. More chocolate. More coffee." He dug down deeper, pulled out a large stack of comic books. "Warrior Angel," he enthused. Digging deeper, he blushed and closed the box.

"What else was in there?" John asked.

"I'll show you later," Rodney replied out of the corner of his mouth. He pointed at John's. "What's in yours?"

John ripped his own open. There was Styrofoam inside. He took off the lid and found several six packs of beer--the particular brand he'd chosen to drink at Lex's. Tucked in the side were a few DVDs. He pulled them out. Guessing they must have been Lex's, because they weren't professional DVDs, he glanced at the contents. His eyebrows lifted. It looked like every football game that had played over the last year. The guy was scary. Football and beer.

He glanced up at Ford. "What'd he send you?" He knew Lex wouldn't have left Ford out.

Ford grinned. "My own laptop and all the latest computer games. It's awesome."

Elizabeth looked at all the bounty. "This is incredible," she said, shaking her head. "Almost as incredible as the founder of this particular feast."

Lex had sent several coolers along with enough pizza fixings for everyone. A note had been included hoping they had ovens. They did, fortunately, or Rodney and Radek would be busy constructing one.

Hoping Elizabeth wouldn't mind, John screwed the cap off of one of his beers. He lifted it high. "To the founder of the feast," he called.

Everyone lifted a drink, real or imaginary, and from a galaxy far, far away, toasted Lex Luthor.

"Mr. Lex, Mr. Lex!"

Lex turned around outside the Talon, to see Dana yelling at him excitedly.

Lex grinned at her as she scrambled down from her father's arms.

"Mark," Lex said to her father, smiling.

"Lex," he said kindly in return. "My daughter has something she wants to give to you." There was a nervousness to his voice, as if he were afraid Lex wouldn't like it.

Dana was tugging at his pants leg. "Mr. Lex, I made you a picture."

Lex crouched down. "You did? Let me see it."

She handed him a crudely hand-drawn crayon drawing. "See, it's you and Mr. Clark, cuz you is speshool friends." She gazed up at him.

Lex took the drawing, swallowing the lump in his throat. "This is for me?"

Dana nodded. "Do you like it?"

"I love it," Lex said. "It's the best thing anyone ever gave me." He cleared his throat, feeling all of his father's demons vanishing like chaff in the wind. He was free to love this child with no hidden agendas. He was free. "Thank you."

"Where's Mr. Clark?" she asked.

"Here I am," the man in question answered. He handed Lex a cup of coffee. "Here. Hey, Mr. McInerny." He crouched down, too. "Hey, Dana."

"Look what she made us," Lex said, handing the drawing over to Clark.

Clark stared at it. "Is that us?" He smiled at Dana. "Is that me and Lex?"

She nodded.

"I love it," Clark said with a beaming smile.

Lex beamed back. "I'm going to put it on my refrigerator." He thought of his pristine refrigerator that had probably never seen a refrigerator magnet, let alone a crayon drawing.

Clark frowned. "I'm not sure your refrigerator is the sort a magnet will stick to."

"Then I'll buy a new one," Lex said, very clear on that fact. He looked at Dana again. "Thank you. This was very nice of you."

"You gonna come color s'more?" she asked.

Lex glanced up at Mark. "Maybe some day."

Clark stood. "You want me to watch them on Thursday again?" he asked Mr. McInerny.

"If you wouldn't mind," he said. "That would be great." Mark glanced down at Lex who was admiring his picture some more. "You're welcome to come, Lex. You're welcome in my house anytime."

Lex stared at the ground for an instant, horrified at the sting of tears he felt. With years of practice, he pulled himself together and stood. "Thank you, Mark. I'll try not to abuse the privilege."

Mark smiled. "Although I can't promise little Mark won't throw up all over you."

Lex grinned at him. "I consider myself duly warned."

The smile on Mark's face grew larger and more genuine, and then he held out his hand to Dana. "Come on, honey, we have to go get mommy."

Dana took his hand, and as they walked away, she turned and waved at Lex and Clark.

Lex sighed. "I think I'm in love."

Clark smacked him. "Hey, you better be talking about me."

Lex laughed turning to him. "I am."

"Good." Clark took a sip of his coffee. "So, you wanna babysit with me on Thursday?" he asked impishly.

"I can't think of anything I'd rather do," Lex said teasingly, but deadly serious. "I have an ocean scene to complete."

Clark laughed, took another sip, gazing at Lex with love over the rim of his coffee cup.

Later that day, after all the boxes and their contents had been moved
to their new homes, and the kitchen staff were busy creating pizza for
dinner, John and his team, Radek, Elizabeth, and Beckett, were

"We're glad to have you back," Elizabeth said to them.

"We're glad to be back," John said. He'd tackle the idea of trying to go back to Comic Book World at a later time.

"Are you sure leaving the dart there was a good idea?"

John let Rodney handle that question. As Rodney launched into his scorn for the Prime Directive, John felt something nudge his leg. Frowning, he looked down. He couldn't imagine who'd be nudging his leg when Rodney was on the other side of the conference room table.

It was Radek. With a note. Acting like nothing was going on.

John took the note, looked around to make sure no one was looking at him, and unfolded it.





John had to bite his lips to keep from laughing. He stuck the note in his pocket and turned his attention back to the meeting.

Later that night, he found out that in addition to laptops and extra
hard drives that still had Rodney drooling, he'd also sent boxes and
boxes of lube.

After taking full advantage of the gift, he and Rodney lay on the bed. John thought of the note. "Hey, I really like you, too," he said, hoping that Rodney would understand that it had nothing to do with liking and everything to do with love.

"Good," Rodney said, as his fingers played with John's hair. "So does that mean we can have sex now?"

John snickered into Rodney's shoulder. "You still owe me a Three Musketeer's Bar."

This time it was Rodney who snickered.

John gazed down Rodney's body and he realized he still had a fantasy to fulfill. He started making his way down Rodney's body.

Rodney groaned. "John, I couldn't get it up again for all the chocolate in the world."

That wasn't what John wanted. He reached his target, arranged himself comfortably, and rested his head on Rodney's tummy. It was as soft and warm as he'd hoped. John let out a happy sigh.

Rodney's grew still for a moment, but then his hand found its way back to John's hair. "You goofball," Rodney said with a smile in his voice.

John grinned. He'd been called worse. He let the soft warmth he was lying on, and the rhythm of Rodney's heartbeat, lull him to sleep.

The End.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! December 19, 2005

Many thanks to my vunderbar betas. My stories are always so much better for their hard work. For this story that includes: Joolz, Jenn, Morr, Susan and Prentice.