Title: A Straight Line and Clarity
Pairing: Clark/Lex, Clark/Lana, Lex/Lana
Rating: Adult, R/NC-17
Length: 1607 words
Spoilers: S6 through "Trespass"
Warnings: slash, angst
Disclaimer: Not mine, seriously. All belongs to Al & Miles, WB/CW and DC Comics.
Summary: Clark sneaks in. Lex catches him. They go for a drive.
There has been a time when he believed he could forgive Clark anything. Yet like all beliefs that eventually proves false, not only of Clark but of himself. For the word has never been 'forgive' but rather 'tolerate'.
And he tolerates him even now. Tolerates his existence when it would be so much easier to sweep him up with the others, relegate him to a cell, just take the puzzle apart with a jigsaw of his own devising.
But without Clark, none of this would have come to pass, neither the pain nor the glory. Necessity is the mother of invention. And Clark, however unwittingly, the father.
For there is honor among thieves, and Lex is an honorable man.
Yes, Clark the thief, who steals down a corridor and opens a door, whispers "Lana" and closes it behind him.
Lex sits back and watches. The reinstalled cameras emit not a hum, not a whir, silent. Other noises, yes, the coolant and motor of the wine refrigerator, the crackle of the fire, the ice sighing in his glass. What has once been pure and sudden, now strewn upon the rocks, diluted and no longer burning.
They whisper a few minutes only. He brushes her cheek, a ludicrous chasteness.
Lex rises, ascends the stairs, and waits.
Clark opens the door and startles. He composes himself and closes it.
There is no pretext of apology. Lex expects none. "She's not happy, Lex," Clark says.
Lex smiles, just six feet distant, and says, "That may be your answer, but you haven't asked the right question."
Clark stands there, holds his eyes steady. The nervousness of youth fled with everything else. "What would that be?"
"Am I," Lex says. He doesn't need to add the word happy. With all the misunderstandings, they understand each other in this.
"Are you?" Clark's hands twitch, as if suppressing the desire to cross his chest, to set himself up for a defensive wound.
"Does it matter?"
The dim light of the corridor fluctuates, but Lex knows that it's only perception, this moment hovering.
"This is neither the time nor the place," he says and turns, offering Clark the choice of escape or attack.
Clark offers neither but merely follows him down the stairs.
He goes back inside the den, makes a show of turning the monitor off. He grabs an unopened bottle of scotch from the bar.
"I take it you don't have a vehicle?"
Clark leans against the doorframe, incredulous. "Are you offering me a ride?"
Lex picks up his car keys from the desk, retrieves his coat. "Yes."
He takes the backroads. Clark, seat pushed back but legs splayed, looks out the window. They don't speak.
There is only one destination point, but Lex pulls off to the shoulder, cuts the engine. The lights dim and his eyes adjust. He unlocks the doors.
Clark still gazes out the window, but his hands, resting on his knees, tense. He says nothing.
Lex drums his fingers against the steering wheel, draws out the moment, breathes in the sudden sweat smell of fear. Intoxicating and soothing, this reluctant gift, this acknowledgment of power. His to hold and not unwisely.
It could happen just like this. A spring night and no witnesses. There would be struggle, yes, something that Lex might not survive. But Clark would be taken nonetheless.
Yet tonight the air is warm, approaching summer. There is a bottle of scotch in the trunk. To their right lies an open field and stars.
Lex opens his door and steps outside. The electronic ding of the door confuses a bird and it answers. He gets the bottle from the trunk.
Clark steps outside, boots crunching the gravel. He scans the horizon and then the sky.
Lex offers no words of reassurance.
He walks into the field and Clark, hesitant, follows. He twists the cap, lifts and swallows. "Beautiful night," he says.
Clark nods, puts his hands in his pockets. "What are we doing here, Lex?"
"Indulge me," he says, and hands the bottle to Clark.
Clark raises an eyebrow, but takes it in hand, drinks. His face wrinkles in distaste.
"It's a matter of preference," Lex says, taking that bottle for a second swallow.
They do this for several minutes, until Clark's face flushes either from discomfort or Highland peat. Perhaps both. Although Lex suspects that alcohol has never been the reason for any of Clark's behavior, he allows himself this illusion. He has few left.
He sits, lies back, settles. Clark does the same beside him. The bottle rests between them.
"Tell me the names of the constellations, Clark," he says. Lex already knows them all, has spent years going through x-ray telescope images, infrared, every image possible on the EMF scale. But this is something that he does with his astrophysists, xenobiologists, the stern white and steel of the cleanroom.
Here, he has trampled grass and wildflowers beneath his back. Here, he has Clark's voice like he did that summer. And they only had one summer, that first, before the sine wave known as their lives took the rest away. Crests and valleys. He has yet to determine which is which. Perhaps it's flattening down to a straight line and clarity.
Once, he called that fate. Now he calls it simplicity.
Clark starts off near the Milky Way, low on the horizon. "Well, okay, that one, with the two bright stars? That's Gemini. Those stars are Castor and Pollux, the twins..." He pauses, looks at him sidelong. No doubt waiting for Lex to interject with Leda and the Swan or the Trojan War, Iphigeneia on the rock. But Lex has already told those stories and here they mean nothing.
He continues on through Cancer and Leo, the backwards question, the Lion's eye. But it's all pinpoints and photons, wave and particle, dead light, finite and lingering. Lex picks up the bottle, half-empty, and swallows. He turns slightly and passes it to Clark. Their shoulders brush.
Clark drinks and falls silent. Now they are only breath and waiting. The sky moves slightly, but it's only the earth shifting beneath them, taking them with it. Gravity pins them down.
"I did say that I was sorry," Clark says, shifting. His hand touches Lex's neck, gentle, where it had so recently pinned that neck to a barn wall.
"You did," Lex says. A useless apology, the old pattern. Lex no longer accepts them. Better that that hand had crushed his trachea than do what it's doing now. But then again, Clark never had the strength to follow through, end it.
Better that that hand go through him, meet the ground. There are no witnesses here for Lex either.
That hand should not yield, let Lex rise up slightly and meet that mouth.
And like all of Clark's gifts, this one is too small, fleeting, a hummingbird only.
"Is this what you want, Lex?" he says.
What he wants is for that bridge not to exist, for that hand to have never pulled him out of that river. He wants Clark splayed out on a table and screaming. He wants Clark to go back to college and lead a good life. He wants himself to go back home and find Lana waiting for him, door open and welcoming.
"Yes," he says.
And Clark leans back down, hand no longer on his neck but bracing beside it. His mouth tastes of scotch, a past long gone, a future neither of them wants.
Lex's hand finds Clark's zipper and pulls. Clark sighs and nods.
Clark's other hand does the same. But Lex is already scotch-drowsy and limping into this. Half-hard and sensitive, he pushes into Clark's hand anyway. This will be frustrating, excruciating, and Lex doesn't care.
They kiss and it's pointless and Lex is already thinking too far ahead. He focuses and it all comes blossoming back. The bottle tips and spills into the grass.
Clark shudders above him and then stills. It's over and Lex tries to pull away, but Clark holds him down.
"Hey, I could..." he says. Clark slides down and takes him in his mouth.
Lex is drunk but it's been a while. He attempts not to look, to see Clark's head moving, eyes open. He arches and comes, arm falling across his eyes, face tight.
"Hey," Clark says moving up next to him. "You okay?"
Lex laughs and his face tightens more. He refuses to open his eyes.
Clark kisses him anyway. "It's getting late," he finally says.
Yes, much too late. Lex rises, assembles himself. Clark does the same. They walk back to the car.
"You okay to drive?" Clark says.
This concern so ludicrous, as if this were a night of errant drunkenness and no more. Lex laughs. If he gives Clark a ride home, finishes that drive, then he'll come in. They'll lie in that hammock and fumble with a lazy fuck in the morning. Clark will make him breakfast.
And then Clark will want to talk. The lies will tumble from their mouths like they always have. Lex will go to work. He'll kiss Clark goodbye.
"I think you should walk the rest of the way, Clark."
Clark blinks, has the audacity to look hurt. Lex's heart makes that old lurch, shows him a picture of Clark walking along the shoulder of a moonlit road, hands in his pockets. He steadies himself and swallows it down. Unlocks only the driver's side of the car. He doesn't say goodnight.
He watches Clark, illuminated by the headlamps, disappear into the dark before he turns the car around.